MacGyver had tadpoles in his boot. Seven of them.
Water-logged boot on his lap, MacGyver watched the tadpoles swim inside it. His hands were cold and wet from balancing the dripping boot, and MacGyver looked up for a better place to put the tadpoles.
He was sitting in a small, square room. The white walls had no windows or door. The sheets of the bed he was sitting on were white as well. On the corner of the bed was a familiar aviator jacket.
"Jack," MacGyver said quietly.
He glanced at the tadpoles, then raised his head again. There was a window on the wall now, showing a field and a stream crossing it.
"Stream. Which means water, which will be a good place for tadpoles."
MacGyver shifted, but couldn't move. He looked down to find the sheets tangled around his legs.
MacGyver looked at the jacket, but it was gone. It hadn't been Jack's voice, anyway.
His fingers tightened around his boot, except the boot was too small now. Too small and too hard. Liquid made his fingers slip, and there was suddenly another hand beside MacGyver's, steadying the glass.
MacGyver blinked at the glass. Seven bits of ice bobbed in the water and condensation made his fingers slippery.
"Mac, you with me?"
MacGyver's eyes followed the hand up the arm to Pete's face. Pete watched him with an expression of intense worry, his brows so close together that they were practically one continuous line.
MacGyver shifted his gaze past Pete. Yes, he was pretty obviously with Pete. Unless Pete wasn't really there, like the tadpoles being ice. Or Jack's jacket being gone.
"Jack," MacGyver said again. Where was Jack?
"Jack's not here. It's me, Pete!"
MacGyver blinked at him. "I know."
Relief flashed across Pete's face. "Mac!"
"That's my name."
MacGyver offered Pete a grin, but couldn't really concentrate. The room had changed, too. It was bigger and homier, though the two broad windows still opened to a field and stream. A multi-colored rug was spread on the floor, and the plain sheets were instead a plaid quilt.
He was still tangled in the quilt, though. Trying to shift himself free, MacGyver only managed to spill some of the water onto his and Pete's hands. Pete extracted the glass from MacGyver's hands and put it on a bedside table with a weary-sounding sigh.
Pete was wearing rumpled field gear that looked like it had been slept in. Fatigue lined his face, and Pete barely took his eyes away from MacGyver.
MacGyver looked to the side. It was just him and Pete in the room. He wasn't sure where the room was, though.
Or why he was hooked up to a monitor, with wires he hadn't noticed going from his arms and waist to a small screen on a rolling table. His vitals were scrolling across the screen.
"Where am I?" MacGyver asked Pete.
"A cabin in Florida," Pete said, his tone and vague answer making it sound as though MacGyver had already asked. Which MacGyver hadn't.
"Where's Jack?" MacGyver asked.
"I don't know, probably halfway across the Pacific right now."
"Halfway-" MacGyver turned his attention fully to Pete, sluggish brain finally processing just what Pete had said. "Wait, Florida?"
Jack sucked at navigation, but MacGyver could usually keep him somewhat on track. Besides, even Jack would have noticed the Gulf of Mexico!
"Yes, Florida." Pete leaned back with a sigh. "Just… don't worry about it, okay?"
MacGyver furrowed his brows. "No, how did I get here? Jack and I were headed for the Phoenix Foundation."
"When were you-" Pete broke off. "Oh, well, you did."
"What?" Pete asked.
"You aren't making any sense."
Pete leaned forward, his expression suddenly excited for some reason. "Mac, you are listening!"
"I'm trying, Pete," MacGyver said, amused.
Pete steepled his hands in front of his mouth, as if hesitant to go on. MacGyver felt a jolt of alarm that sent the heart rate monitor beeping louder.
"Woah, it's fine, Mac."
MacGyver shook his head and spread his hands out. "Just tell me what's going on, Pete? Why am I hooked up like some kind of-of… experiment?"
Pete clasped one of MacGyver's outstretched hands, his touch comforting. "First, Mac… what's the last thing you remember?"
"Coming back from Costa Rica with Jack."
From Pete's expression, MacGyver got a feeling like he'd given the wrong answer to two plus two.
"What? What, Pete, just tell me!"
"Mac, calm down," Pete urged.
The beeping monitor was getting on MacGyver's nerves. He yanked off the probes, ignoring Pete's protests.
"Just tell me, Pete!"
"Mac, you and Jack returned a week ago."
MacGyver stilled. "What?"
"You returned from Costa Rica a week ago," Pete said, slow and calm. "And when you came back, you got interested in the smuggler reports the police had passed onto us. Sound familiar?"
A lump in his throat, MacGyver shook his head. He'd done the whole losing his memory thing once, he would not-
"What happened? Why can't I remember?" MacGyver asked.
"I don't know," Pete said. "Something went wrong on the mission when you left to investigate yourself. They'd laid a trap for you-"
Pete nodded. "Are you sure you want to hear?"
MacGyver nodded as he forced his breathing to slow. So he had a few gaps in his memory. It would be fine. Pete could explain, then he'd remember.
"I don't know what happened next," Pete said, making MacGyver's heart sink. "We spent the next two days chasing down every clue we could find, always one step behind the smugglers who'd captured you."
"But," Pete said, smiling a little, "We did find you. You were so out of it when we found you, I'm sure they must have kept you drugged most of the time, if not the entire time."
MacGyver managed a weak smile. "I've been told I make a horrible prisoner when I'm conscious."
"You obviously tried to escape a time or two," Pete said. "I'd hoped you would remember, so we could fill in the gaps, but… oh, well. Whatever they used on you probably messed up your memory for a few days, that's all."
"A few days… Pete, I'm missing five days before the mission!"
A long pause, then, "...two."
MacGyver hesitated as well, but had to ask. "Two what?"
"Days." Pete sighed, glanced aside, then met MacGyver's eyes. "Mac, I… I don't know what they gave you. The doctors ran all the tests they could think of, but you came up clean."
"Well, you know how hard I crash after tough missions." MacGyver tried to grin. Failed, and said what Pete had left unsaid. "I've been out for three days?"
Pete's appearance made sense now. Knowing Pete, he'd rarely left MacGyver's side the entire time. Pete was a good friend like that.
MacGyver tried to sort the pieces into place, but kept coming back to the three days unconscious. The very idea exhausted him, though MacGyver was suddenly afraid of going to sleep. What if another three days passed?
Pete answered the unspoken fear. "I think the worst has passed. You never stirred the entire first day, but you've been talking and moving off and on during the last couple days. Sometimes you made sense, and sometimes you talked about tadpoles."
MacGyver stared blankly at Pete. He didn't remember any tadpoles.
"Mac? Mac, don't give me that look, please."
MacGyver blinked. Pete looked spooked enough, and MacGyver wasn't in the mood to reassure him. He needed reassurances of his own.
"Who did it?" MacGyver asked.
Pete's wince answered him.
"You don't know?"
"We may have a name," Pete said. "Apparently, he isn't normally associated with the smugglers; they just so happened to have a job in the area that he knew would grab your attention."
"If he wasn't one of them, then they talked," MacGyver said. "Name, Pete."
MacGyver looked at the wall for a long moment, processing the name. He shook his head with a sigh when nothing came to him.
"It's probably a fake name, anyway. Research hasn't found a thing," Pete said.
"And I'm guessing Riggs escaped?"
Pete said, "We thought we had them all when we ambushed the last base. But charges had been set to take down the whole underground base. We never saw a back exit, but Riggs and his men -he reportedly came with two- got out somehow."
"Without me," MacGyver said.
"No time, I guess. We had the base secured five minutes after arrival. And you, Mac…" Pete chuckled softly. "Trust me, Mac, you were out of it. There's no way they could have escaped with you in tow. Or, they weren't in the base when we arrived. We're still looking into him."
"I'll help," MacGyver said immediately.
"Pete," MacGyver wheedled. "Come on, Pete, don't look so worried. Plenty of people have come after me."
"Maybe," Pete said gravely. "But Riggs is the first person to catch you and keep you for so long. I don't know how reliable your input when we found you would be, but you said he never touched you. Someone who put that much effort to catch you and keep you alive and relatively unharmed, Mac…"
Pete trailed off. MacGyver grimaced slightly and turned back to the window. With the fog lifting from his mind, he noticed movement outside at the treeline. Phoenix agents, patrolling a perimeter Pete had undoubtedly set once MacGyver was inside the cabin.
"He'll be back," MacGyver finished.
A/N: Welp, that was fun. Keep an eye out, because I plan on writing a sequel for this. No title yet, though.