Riley + Mac + First Aid - Shirt by Emachinescat
A MacGyver Fan-Fiction
Summary: Tag to 5x12. "Minutes after burying her feelings for Mac once again, Riley found herself helping him take off his shirt." In which Riley takes care of a bruised and feverish Mac on the way back to Phoenix.
A/N: I watched the new episode on Sunday, and I loved it. However, I felt it was very unrealistic that Mac was sent on another mission after the beating he received from Murdoc, or that at the very least he would still be very sore. And that even the few hits his opponent got in during the fight in the tower would have been that much more painful and debilitating. And most importantly, I felt this would be a very good time to make a MacRiley fic and get some hurt/comfort to boot. This is nearly my first time writing Riley in a fic, and it's definitely my first time writing from her POV. And it's also my first time writing romance of any kind in this fandom. That's a lot of firsts. *deep breath* Okay, let's do this. I hope you enjoy! :)
Riley + Mac + First Aid + Awkward
Riley watched with growing concern as Mac levered himself to a standing position, noticing immediately the way his right hand migrated to his ribs and stayed there. As he traveled from the telescope to the seat across from her, his movements were slow and measured, and he held himself tautly, his arms rigid, shoulder muscles coiled like snakes ready to spring. He looked like an old man as he hobbled to his seat and slowly, carefully lowered himself down. A small, unconscious sigh of relief puffed from his lips at the more comfortable position.
Despite her worry, Riley couldn't help but grin. Mac glanced up and chuckled a bit nervously. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing," she said, then bit her lip to stop a mad giggle from escaping. "It's just – you are reminding me way too much of my grandfather right now."
Mac laughed. "Well, that's one way to keep the door closed," he joked, and though his tone was light, Riley noticed the way his fingers tapped on the arm of the chair. "Just imagine me as your doting old grandpa."
Riley rolled her eyes, barely managing to stop a comment about how he was already halfway to grandpa status with his wardrobe alone, and instead addressed another, more pressing issue.
"You're hurting," she observed. It wasn't a question, but, as usual, Mac treated it like one.
"No, I'm fine," was the immediate response.
"You might be getting better at lying, but I can see right through you."
"You're hobbling around hunched over like an eighty-year-old dude who just escaped a nursing home," Riley deadpanned.
Mac opened his mouth to protest, realized it was futile, and sat back against the seat cushion, now looking for all the world like a sulky child. "It's not that bad," he assured her. "That guy I fought didn't even hit that hard."
"Like he'd need to, in the state you're already in," Riley retorted, crossing her arms over her chest.
"What are you talking about?"
It was painfully obvious that Mac knew exactly what she was talking about. "Oh, I don't know," Riley said, sarcasm dripping from every syllable. "Maybe something about how you were beaten within an inch of your life less than 48 hours ago, and since then, you've denied most medical attention, gone on another mission where you've been running around and getting shot at and got another beating–"
"Hey," Mac interrupted, his own stance becoming defensive. "I got in some good hits on that guy, too. And, if you'll recall, he was the one unconscious on the floor at the end of the fight."
Riley knew he was right about that, but it didn't erase the image of Murdoc slamming his fist into Mac's face over and over and over again. It didn't make her forget the way Mac had been tossed into a heavy metal support like he was a rag doll. And it certainly didn't take away the pain of watching her closest friend drag himself across the floor on his stomach, trying desperately but unable to escape from the madman coming to kill him. She felt her fingernails bite into her palms.
Finally, when she trusted herself to speak, she acknowledged, "I know."
Mac regarded her curiously, a touch of worry drawing fine lines between his eyebrows. "You're never this worried about me after a mission, Riles. What's up?" When she didn't answer immediately, his eyes dropped to his knees and he asked, "Does it … have something to do with, you know, our earlier conversations?"
"What? No! Of course not!" In hindsight, perhaps she had responded a bit too vehemently. She plowed on, ignoring the burning in her cheeks. "It's just that I already thought it was crazy to send you out in the field so soon after the whole Murdoc incident." Mac raised his eyebrows, though his eyes were guarded.
Exasperation reared its head, and Riley all but jumped to her feet, throwing her arms up in the air. She noticed with some satisfaction that Mac startled at her sudden movement. "There is no way you can be fine," she retorted, and suddenly, without her permission, words and feelings began spilling out faster than she could reign them back in. "Mac, Desi and I were forced to watch as Murdoc nearly killed you. And don't say it wasn't that bad, because he was about to light you up with your own cutting torch." She noticed the slight wince at her indelicate wording before Mac's face smoothed over once more. Perhaps her words had been too harsh, but he needed to take his health more seriously!
"According to medical, you have" (she counted these off on her fingers) "a concussion, a couple of cracked ribs, major abdominal bruising, and a bruised spine! Most people – normal people – would still be in bed, doped up on pain meds, covered in ice packs, not dodging bullets and getting into more fights!"
When she paused to take a breath, Mac cut in. "Most normal people don't have our jobs. People's lives don't rely on most people's abilities to do their jobs."
"That may be true, but that doesn't change the fact that you're not even close to recovered yet." She held up her hand as he started to protest. "Don't bother denying it. I've been able to see it in the way you move, and the pain is in your eyes. Murdoc did a number on you, Mac. And then that guy you were fighting got in a few lucky punches. I noticed how hard it was for you to get up after you were hit."
Mac sighed. "Look," he said gently, "I appreciate the concern – I do – but I'm fine. Yes, I'm sore, but like you said, a lot has happened over the past few days. I'll go home, get some rest, and shake it off."
Riley shook her head. "That's not good enough, Mac. You need to let me check you out." She regretted her choice of words as soon as she said them, but Mac graciously didn't acknowledge them at all other than to grimace in distaste.
"I'm fine," he parroted his earlier lie, and Riley huffed in annoyance, fed up with his stoicism. Awkward or not, he was hurt, and she needed to make sure there was no new, significant damage. She shoved her discomfort aside, put on her no-more-nonsense-I-mean-it face, and ordered, "Shirt. Off. Now."
Mac gaped at her, and Riley immediately felt heat flood her cheeks as what she'd just said caught up to her. Still, she was not someone to be cowed by awkwardness, and she resisted the urge to grab a parachute and take her chances outside of the jet. "I know that after everything we've talked about today, it might be uncomfortable," she admitted. "But you already have some hairline fractures from Murdoc. I can tell you are hurting, Mac, and I have to double check that there isn't any new, serious damage."
Mac hesitated for a handful of seconds before he shrugged stiffly, then winced at the pain the motion produced. "Whatever you say, doc."
Riley averted her eyes as Mac lifted the hem of his shirt; she felt her heart hammering in her chest and hated herself for it. A muffled grunt interrupted her thoughts and she turned around to see Mac floundering, shirt pulled halfway up, covering his face. His arms were caught in the sleeves, hands thrashing around. Riley almost laughed at the pitiful sight of Mac stuck inside his own henley but quickly sobered when her eyes alighted on the deep, vicious bruises, courtesy of Murdoc, that had now fully blossomed on his rib cage. They matched the swollen cut on his cheekbone.
"Here, let me," she offered, and minutes after burying her feelings for Mac once again, she found herself helping him take off his shirt.
This whole door thing is gonna be a cinch, she griped to herself, sarcasm bleeding from her inner monologue. She stepped back, nearly tripping over her own feet in her haste to re-establish a professional distance between herself and her shirtless friend she was desperately trying to quell her feelings for. Once she wasn't so close, she let out a breath that she hadn't even realized she'd been holding.
She now allowed her eyes to rest on Mac, and her heart pounded, but not out of tension – sexual or otherwise – as she'd feared. Instead, anger pulsed like lightning through her veins. She was finally getting the full picture of what had been done to Mac over the last few days – she'd only gotten a glimpse of him when they'd dunked themselves into the icy river – and it made her want to march right into the black site and do something to Murdoc she might later regret.
Mac shivered slightly in the cold air, and he'd wrapped his arms across his torso as if shielding himself from the cold – or Riley's eyes. Still, she could see clearly the battalion of bruises congregated around Mac's ribs, dripping down his abdomen and even a few spotting his chest. She noted the presence of more deep red splotches that hadn't had time to turn into bruises yet, and her anger swelled once more, this time directed at Mac's newest assailant. Mac had been right when he'd reminded her that he'd managed to hold his own and overtake the guy, but not before the dude had gotten a few good hits in himself.
Mac's voice, more uncertain, more vulnerable, than Riley could remember, cut through her reverie, and she shook her head, blinking back threatening tears. Mac had been beaten up plenty of times before. This wasn't even the worse he'd been hurt. But this… this was personal. Murdoc's slimy touch infected every bruise, every broken rib, and she knew that if he turned around she'd see the ghastly purple and black swelling on his spine. She cleared her throat, trying her best to put the image out of her mind. She wasn't successful.
"Sorry, I – Mac…" She trailed off, dragging her eyes away from the mottled, well-honed torso and meeting blue eyes that held whole worlds in them – worlds of sadness, uncertainty, grief, fear, regret … and longing? She swallowed.
"Riles – do you mind? It's pretty chilly in here."
Riley could have smacked herself – she'd forgotten the whole purpose for this excruciating venture. "Right, yeah. Sorry." She crossed the distance between them, crouching beside his chair. Hesitantly, she reached out her hand and rested it gently on Mac's ribs. His skin was warm, maybe a little too warm, and the muscles beneath tensed at her touch – or maybe from the pain, she couldn't know for sure. "This is going to hurt," she warned.
A breathy chuckle. "Trust me, I know. I can't tell me how many 'broken rib checks' Jack did on me over the years." His words, paired with the longing in his voice, were enough to ease the tension Riley felt rising between them at close quarters, and she bit her lip as Jack's face, always smiling, too far away, flashed in her mind.
"Okay, then." These were the only words she could manage as she wondered vaguely what Jack would have thought if he knew the feelings they were trying to fight. He'd probably love the idea of Mac and Riley as a couple. The two people he cared about more in the world, together! Either that, or he'd be grossed out, since they were both his "kids." A small grin played at the corners of her mouth at the thought as she carefully felt for fractures. The fond smile faded as she was forced to feel along the darkest parts of a bruise, and her heart dropped when she pushed on a rib and felt it give slightly. This time, Mac cried out in pain.
"Looks like this rib's had it," Riley commented wryly. "That guy you fought finished Murdoc's work for him."
Mac huffed breathlessly in response, his whole body rigid. Beads of sweat appeared across his chest despite the chill in the air. Riley checked the rest of his ribs as quickly as she could, finding two more fractured, then made Mac stand so that she could make sure his back didn't look any worse. Thankfully, though it still looked like hell – getting thrown full-force into a metal support would do that to a person – it didn't look like it had suffered any new damage.
"Okay, sit," Riley ordered, and helped a swaying Mac back into his seat. His whole upper body was covered in a sheen of sweat now, and his eyes had a glassy quality to them. Remembering the warmth of his skin beneath her hand, she swore, leaning forward to press the heel of her hand against his forehead. They were face to face now, close enough to kiss – stop it, Riley why are you even thinking about kissing him at a time like this?! – and she allowed her hand to linger on his warm, damp forehead a bit longer than strictly necessary. He leaned in slightly, though she didn't if it was because he liked her touch or because her cool hand was soothing.
Finally, she pulled back, and he blinked at her, eyes brimming with exhaustion. He offered her a small, rueful smile. "Feverish, huh?"
"Well, dunking yourself in a cold river will do that to you."
"Yeah, cold stress sucks," Mac agreed. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," Riley said after a quick self-evaluation.
"That's good," Mac said, and his eyes, though hazy from fever, were warm and kind and in that moment embodied everything she loved about him.
"Let's get you patched up," she offered, willing her eyes once more not to drift to Mac's bare chest. Good grief, she thought bitterly. The last thing she wanted to do was objectify Mac, especially after all the times she'd been objectified by men in the past. But her gaze seemed to have a mind of its own…
She left in a rush, retrieved the medical kit, and began carefully binding Mac's ribs. She felt his breath, warm and muggy, on her neck as she leaned forward to secure the bandages, and she felt goosebumps prickle across her skin. When she'd finished, she passed him some ice packs, a bottle of water, and four ibuprofen. Mac took the proffered goods, settled back painfully into his chair, and then, after a few awkward beats, asked, "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"My, uh, my shirt. Can I… have it back?"
For the umpteenth time, she felt a blush rise and seriously considered crawling underneath the seat cushion and not emerging until the jet touched down. "Oh, yeah, of course," she all but stammered, and passed him the shirt. It became abundantly clear very early on that with his broken ribs, he was going to need help with this bit, too.
Steeling herself, Riley helped ease the shirt over Mac's head, the opening catching on his nose. She carefully tugged the fabric down, avoiding the swollen, cut cheekbone. When he was fully clothed once more, she realized just how close their faces were, and she found her eyes drawn to his lips. Her breath shuddered deep within her; it would be so easy to travel the few centimeters with her own lips… Mac, she noticed, heart stuttering, had shifted his gaze as well.
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and, with difficulty, stepped back. The expression on Mac's face was hard to read – he appeared disappointed, but she swore she could see a tint of relief as he offered her a slight smile. She imagined he felt much the same as her – elated at the close call, coupled with frustration at having to put off their obvious feelings once more – and the satisfaction of knowing that they had made the right decision. Even if it wasn't entirely clear where they stood, Mac and Desi were still together. And Riley didn't think she could respect a guy who would kiss another woman while he was in a relationship – even if that other woman was Riley herself. She certainly wouldn't respect herself for pursuing a man with a girlfriend. Even if that man was Mac.
They sat in a strangely contented silence until Mac slowly dropped off to sleep, exhaustion, pain, and fever finally coaxing his eyes closed. Riley stayed awake much longer, content to watch Mac sleep. He'd curled up in his chair like a cat, his arms loosely holding the ice packs to his ribs. Finally, sleep beckoned her as well, and she allowed herself to drift, her legs drawn up under her.
She dreamed of open doors.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed! I didn't want to stray too far from canon at this moment (well, let's be real, I wanted to, but I don't think it is in character for Mac or Riley to pursue any kind of romantic relationship while Mac is still dating Desi), but I did want to end it on a hopeful note. After all, I firmly believe that MacRiley is end game. I also really love the slow burn. :) Oh, also, I cannot remember what kind of shirt Mac was wearing at this point in the episode, but for the purposes of this story, I needed it to be a Henley and not a button-down lol.
A quick note about my writing – my posting may be a bit erratic for a while, as my husband and I are in the very involved process of buying a house, purging our belongings, and getting five-years worth of accumulated apartment clutter packed up. We only have a month to pack if we close on time, and I'm teaching four college courses and am super behind on grading papers… Basically, real life is kicking my butt a bit right now. But I plan to tackle some story requests as soon as I can.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)