So, Mac and Pete were on the way to the hospital...
This part and the next one will be a little shorter - I didn´t want to pack too much story into one huge part. The last one will be longer again...
Then the constant beeping of the heart rate monitor. And the low hiss of oxygen supply.
The next thing MacGyver noticed while he slowly regained consciousness were the slightly uncomfortable oxygen tubes reaching into his nose. They were somehow pressing against the inside of his nostrils because he was lying on his side, with some cushions or pillows behind his back that stabilized his position.
Then he realized that one of his arms was bandaged to his body to immobilize the arm and the wounded shoulder. Mac felt a little woozy, and his body seemed kind of numb – probably due to the medication, he assessed somewhat automatically. With his eyes still closed, he took a deep breath, tried to adjust the position of his head to the tubes in his nose and raised his free hand to feel for them. But he never reached them because someone held on to his hand as soon as he started to move it.
“Shh, MacGyver… Stay still… you shouldn´t move.”
He knew that voice, but he hadn´t expected it. He turned his head a little towards it and blinked his eyes open. Slowly Willis´ face came into focus.
“Willis?” Mac asked hoarsely. “Why..? Where..?” he had to cough. His mouth and throat were dried out and a little sore.
“Hi, Mac… Good to have you finally back.” Willis smiled at him.
Mac raised his eyebrows questioning.
“Finally? How long have I been out?”
“A little more than a whole day. It´s Saturday evening.” Willis told him. “You had us guessing and worried again when you stayed unconscious after the anesthesia wore off. How do you feel?”
Mac took a moment to think about his answer.
“Quite okay, actually.” he admitted. “Rested. A little lightheaded, but I guess I owe that to the pain medication… thirsty.”
Willis nodded and turned to pick up a cup of water with a straw in it. His other hand supported Mac in raising his head a little.
“That´s good to hear.” Willis said while he helped him drink.
“Willis, how come you are here with me? Where´s Pete? Where are we, after all?” MacGyver asked after he had settled his head back on the pillow.
“Whoa, Mac. Slow it down.” Willis smiled. “We are at the Monterey Community hospital. Dr. Thompson performed the surgery to remove that bullet from behind your shoulder blade here. I´m here, because Pete ordered me to aid the forensics team in gathering evidence from the lab and the main house on the cartel´s land. They had found several computers that are being transported to the Phoenix labs at the moment. Pete has stayed with you since you arrived yesterday, but he was so worn out when I came here about two hours ago, that I ‘kind of’ ordered him to get some rest. I promised him, I´d watch over you.”
He took a step aside to allow Mac a view at a recliner in the corner of the room. Pete had sunken into it, his head dropped to one side, sleeping.
MacGyver nodded slowly with a small smile on his face. All the information needed a moment to register. His woozy mind bit by bit remembered what had happened the day before. Relieved by seeing Pete alive and well, Mac´s curiosity was spiked by something Willis had told him.
“Computers?” he asked.
“A lot. And quite high-end.” Willis said. “I only had a first look into them, right where they were discovered, and it looks promising. Seems like you have not only found their drugs and weapons, but also one of their main operation bases. I do have to take a closer look through all the data, but with this information we might be able to take down the whole cartel in California.”
“Wow.” Mac was silent for a moment. “I certainly didn´t count on that.”
“None of us did.” Willis admitted. “From my point of view, I´m just glad, that my educated guess on where you were headed was right… I´ll accept everything else as a bonus.”
“Your guess?” Mac echoed.
“After Harrison had reported you missing, Pete asked the police to help search for his car.” Willis explained. “It was found on the marina parking lot. Pete took me with him to your houseboat, but you were already gone. The only thing missing from the files on your desk was the satellite picture of the property on the coast. Somehow I knew you wouldn´t go after something obvious like their warehouse.”
“Some of my ‘can´t leave a puzzle alone’ nature starts rubbing off on you, hm?” Mac smiled again.
“I´m afraid, yes.” Willis returned the smile. “I´m just relieved that both of you made it out of there alive. I understand, you took that bullet while saving Pete´s life?”
MacGyver nodded silent as he recalled the moment.
“Pete told me you appeared out of nowhere.” Willis continued. “That must have been close.”
“Way too close for my liking.” Mac replied, remembering how he had collapsed because of the pain and the bleeding.
In the next moment both men fell silent, when they heard the rustling of clothes in the corner. Willis turned and took a step aside only to see Pete straighten himself and wake up. As Pete realized that Mac was conscious, he was up on his feet in an instant and hurried to the bed.
“MacGyver! You´re awake! At last!”
Mac only managed to raise his hand a little before Pete held on to it.
“Pete, calm down!” Mac said smiling at his friend. “I´m fine… mostly.”
“Yes, mostly…” Pete echoed and turned to Willis. “Have you notified Dr. Thompson?”
“Not yet. He´s awakened only minutes ago.” Willis told him. “I didn´t want to leave Mac alone… I´ll get him right away.”
He left the room while Pete concentrated back on MacGyver. Mac was still smiling.
“I´m feeling quite okay, really.” Mac reassured his friend. “I guess I needed the rest, like two months ago. I was exhausted yesterday.”
“I´m relieved to hear that.” Pete said, his face dark with concern. He squeezed Mac´s hand gently. “You probably don´t want to hear that, but you had me really worried…”
“I appreciate that, Pete.” Mac´s smile was still there.
Only a moment later Willis was back with Dr. Thompson. Pete reluctantly let go of Mac´s hand and stepped aside to make room for the doctor, who only nodded to his patient.
“Hiya, doc.” Mac greeted him and tried to adjust himself a little on the bed, but a warning look from the doctor made him freeze again.
Without a word Dr. Thompson conducted a quick check-up on Mac´s condition and then turned to Pete and Willis.
“Would you excuse us for a few minutes?”
When both men had left, he turned back to MacGyver.
“Willis has told me, you´re feeling well, given the circumstances?”
“I´m a little immobile, somewhat dizzy, but the exhaustion is gone.” Mac admitted. “No pain so far…”
“That´s due to the heavy medication.” Dr. Thompson sighed. “The surgery to remove that bullet was complicated. It had grazed the inner side of your scapula and caused a small hairline fracture. That´s why I have decided to immobilize your arm. You ought to be very careful. If that shoulder blade breaks you´re in for a lengthy rehab.”
“Oh.” Mac´s smile had faded with the doctor´s explanation.
“I´m also concerned about your lungs.” Thompson continued. “We have to observe you closely to make sure you won´t develop any pneumonia after you almost drowned in the Pacific and inhaled some water… Have you got any trouble breathing?”
Mac shook his head silent.
“Good. But we´ll stay with the oxygen support until tomorrow.” the doc told him. “Apart from that you were lucky – again. Nothing broken, only bad bruises, some cuts and a mild concussion.”
“When do you think am I going to be allowed to get out of here?”
Thompson´s face showed a lopsided, irritated grin.
“We´ll see.” he sighed deeply. “You´ll have to stay a few days at least for observation. Give it time, MacGyver.” He eyed Mac probing and paused for several seconds. Then he looked intense into Mac´s dark eyes. “How about yourself, Mac? Given, what happened in the last three days? Given, I don´t know a lot about it… Director Thornton hasn´t told me much…”
MacGyver took a deep breath and gave himself a few moments to recall the last three days.
Almost getting shot at my houseboat, being taken to the safe house, getting into that verbal fight with Pete, escaping, driving off on my own, taking down the cartel with Pete and the DEA arriving, saving Pete´s life in the last possible second and waking up in a hospital one day later… A lot had happened, he thought. He still felt the relief. The inner pressure hadn´t returned.
“Good.” he replied with an earnest smile. “Real good… I know there´s some work ahead of me, but I´m all right, doc…honest.”
Dr. Thompson´s expression softened a bit. He couldn´t detect any remains of the façade he´d seen so often during the last months.
“I´m glad to hear that.” he answered slowly. “Now try to lie as still as you can, don´t move that shoulder and get some rest… I´ll send Pete Thornton and Willis in again, but don´t overdo it. Remember, you will have a few days time to talk about everything… I´ll look after you tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, sir.” Mac nodded with a boyish grin. Inside he knew the doc was right. He felt himself getting tired already. “Thanks, doc.” he added as Dr. Thompson left the room.
Only Pete Thornton returned a few minutes later and took his place in a chair next to MacGyver´s bed.
“The doctor seems to be pleased with your condition.” he stated.
Mac only nodded. He wasn´t too happy about the prospect of having to stay in the hospital for several days. He wanted to be part of the investigation, wanted to help Willis dig into those computers. But the doc was right. It was better than a long rehabilitation because of a broken scapula. Pete sensed his frustration.
“What´s the matter, Mac?”
“Oh, you know me.” Mac sighed. “I don´t like hospitals. I wish I could work on those computers with Willis… by the way, where have you left him?”
“He had to get back on the jet to Los Angeles.” Pete explained. “We need whatever he can find the sooner, the better.”
“What about the bloodhound?” Mac asked, remembering that Lee had mentioned it. “Did you go through with it? Did the bait catch something?”
“Only small fish.” Pete smiled. “But they add pieces to the puzzle.”
Mac nodded silent. Bit by bit he felt the exhaustion return. His energy was almost used up. His eyelids were getting heavier. Pete must have seen it, because he suddenly leaned forward and held on to Mac´s hand again. Pete´s expression was serious as he looked directly into Mac´s brown eyes.
“Thank you once more for saving my life.” he said with a lump in his throat.
“Don´t mention it.” MacGyver replied, evenly serious and squeezed Pete´s hand a little. “That´s what I do for the people I care about.”
Pete observed his friend quiet for some time, before he spoke again.
“Now please, get some sleep, Mac. You need to rest. I can stay with you if you want me to.”
A tired smile played around Mac´s lips as he nodded.
“I´d appreciate that…” His voice trailed off, while his eyes already slowly closed. He drifted off into a calm sleep within the next few moments.
MacGyver was awakened late in the next morning by something cool touching his chest. Out of reflex he flinched back a little and instantly knew, why Dr. Thompson had ordered him to lie still. A stinging pain shot through the back of his shoulder. Mac froze at once and gasped in pain. With his eyes still closed he instinctively felt for his shoulder with his free hand. But someone quickly held on to that hand, preventing him to do so.
“Shh. I´m sorry, MacGyver. I didn´t mean to wake you.” He heard the doctor´s voice.
Mac blinked his eyes open and looked up into the apologetic smile of Dr. Thompson. He was still breathing heavier with the throbbing around his scapula. He felt it with every breath he took.
“I guess, the painkillers wore off…” he replied hoarsely after a moment.
Just then he noticed that the uncomfortable oxygen tubes in his nose were gone. Thompson nodded and squeezed his hand.
“In order to reduce all the side effects, yes, mostly.” he admitted. “How bad is it?”
Mac tried to take a deep breath, but stopped mid-way with the hurt it caused.
“Not too bad, but clearly there.” he answered. “It came as a surprise since I felt nothing yesterday.”
The doctor nodded, let go of Mac´s hand and laid the stethoscope aside. He hurried to prepare a syringe and emptied it into Mac´s IV.
“This should help within a few minutes.” he explained. He observed closely how Mac closed his eyes again and tried to loosen up his tense body a bit. After some moments the anguished expression slowly disappeared from Mac´s face and he looked up at the doctor.
“So that´s why you asked me not to move.” he teased with a lopsided small grin.
“The damage to your scapula may be small, but it is there.” Thompson told Mac. He had to smile back. “But it should lessen soon. The good news is that we´ve had no complications so far, and your lungs are also recovering well. My prognosis is still optimistic. If you don´t push it and follow my orders, we should be able to get you out of here in a few days.”
Mac nodded, as he sensed the pain diminish even further. His breath got slower and more regular, and his body relaxed.
Dr. Thompson straightened himself.
“Director Thornton is outside.” he said. “Shall I send him in, or do you want to rest?”
MacGyver´s eyes focused within the second.
“It´s okay… Send him in, please.”
It took a few minutes until Pete Thornton entered the room with agent Coleman in tow.
“Good to see you awake, Mac.” he greeted him with a smile. “You do remember agent Coleman?”
“Sure.” MacGyver nodded and adjusted himself a little on the bed, so he could face the two men more comfortable.
Coleman took a place at the foot of Mac´s bed.
“It´s good to see, that your injuries weren´t as serious as it had seemed at first sight.” he agreed with Pete.
“The doc said, if I behave myself, I should be out of here in a few days.” Mac replied with a boyish grin, looking at both men. He noticed that Pete sighed, wanted to object, but kept quiet.
“So? What brings you here?” Mac asked after a small pause. “What can I do for you, agent Coleman?”
“Dr. Thompson is satisfied with your progress.” Pete cut in. “So he allowed us to get your statement about what happened before we turned up at the cartel´s property… that is, if you´re feeling up to it already.”
MacGyver´s gaze locked on to Pete´s worried eyes.
“Yeah, I am.” he answered firm. “No problem. What do you want to know?”
Coleman took out a pen and a notepad.
“Just start Friday afternoon when you arrived at the vista point.”
MacGyver took a deep breath and nodded.
They had spent the rest of the morning and some time into early afternoon until Mac was done with telling his story, Coleman had asked many questions and Pete and Coleman had related their side to what had happened. Pete had left them for a short while after midday to call Willis in the Los Angeles labs and check if there was any progress with the evidence. He had returned with the good news that the tunnel had been cleared from the rubble in the meantime, and the forensics were in the middle of assessing the drugs and weapons in the storage. Some parts had even been recovered from down there already.
But something had bothered Pete. Although Mac had been getting tired after the long questioning, he had sensed it from the moment Pete had returned. So, as soon as agent Coleman had been satisfied with Mac´s answers and had left them alone, Mac turned to Pete.
“What´s the matter?” he asked. “Something wrong?”
Pete shook his head but avoided MacGyver´s gaze.
“No, I´m just thinking about something Willis has found out.” he replied. “I´m okay.”
“Pete?” Mac kept insisting. “What is it..? Spit it out!”
Pete hesitated again before speaking up.
“Willis was able to prove that those computers were the origin of the initial attack on the computer systems at Phoenix Research. He also identified some chemicals from their lab and found a file, which contains different mixtures and formulas. They designed and mixed the drug used on you during the torture in that lab, MacGyver.”
He turned to his friend with a haunted expression and Mac held his gaze silent for a moment.
“I know, Pete.” he said calm, but serious. “I´ve seen what they kept in their lab.”
The haunted look on Pete´s face instantly mixed with sorrow.
“You´ve seen it? But how do you…”
“I´m fine, Pete.” Mac cut him off and paused for a few seconds. “Yes, it brought back some memories, but I can handle it… please, stop worrying.”
“I´ll try.” Pete nodded, but sighed deeply. He dropped into the recliner the hospital personnel had provided him with two days ago.
“But after all that is good news. This should add to all we´ve got against Chen and tie the cases together.” Mac added.
“It sure does.” Pete agreed. “We´ll get them, Mac. All of them. You made it possible.” His face lightened up a bit.
Both men were silent for some time, sunken into their thoughts. Suddenly Mac focused into the distance and turned his head a little. Pete recognized the look instantly. MacGyver was following an idea.
“I know that expression of yours…” Pete asked. “What are you up to?”
At his words Mac´s eyes came back to focus on Pete.
“Has anyone talked to Chen? Has anyone been to the prison already?” Mac asked back.
“Not that I know of.” Pete frowned. “Everyone´s busy with all the new evidence and the guys that got arrested on Friday. Why?”
MacGyver took a deep breath. His expression turned dark and serious.
“Pete, I´ve got to ask a favor.”
Pete leaned forward. Somehow Mac´s tone made him concerned. Mac´s dark brown eyes showed that he was unsettled, but also determined.
“Well, name it. Whatever you need.”
“I want to be the first one to talk to Chen as soon as I get out of here.” he stated firm. “I want to be the one to confront him. I need to be the one to tell him that his plan has failed.”
“And tell him that his brother is dead?” Pete opposed surprised. “That´ll only make him another enemy of yours.”
“That´s what he already is, Pete.”
“So, what for? Vengeance? Retaliation?” Pete got a little upset with his friend. “Mac, that´s never been your way of handling things…”
MacGyver remained calm and serious.
“No.” he responded. “Closure. He thinks he still owns some part of me. I need to show him that it´s over. That he has no more power over me, my emotions and my fears. That he wasn´t able to break me apart.”
Pete was stunned silent.
“Are you sure about that?” he asked after seconds that had felt endless. He eyed Mac probing.
“I am.” Mac nodded. “Will you accompany me? We also need to show him that he wasn´t able to break up our friendship and trust.”
Especially because he did come real close, Mac added mentally to himself.
Pete sighed deeply, but finally gave in and nodded. He got up, strode to the bed and reached out to take Mac´s hand.
“Sure. I´ll arrange everything… Now get some sleep, you look exhausted.”
“Thanks, Pete.” Mac held on to Pete´s hand and allowed his eyes to close. He relaxed and was sound asleep within moments.
The stuff is already there. I just find a different way to use it.