Mac took a deep breath and leaned back his head. He could breathe, the pain was gone. Mac frowned. The last thing he remembered was suffocating in a glass coffin soaked in his own blood. Mac looked down. He still wore the same white tux, but it was spotless. He lifted his arms, not a mark.
"What the hell?" He heard boots pounding he looked up and grinned, "JACK! Finally, I was beginning to worry you weren't…" Jack didn't give any indication he saw Mac. Jack ran toward him full tilt, "Jack!" Mac squawked. He gasped and closed his eyes bracing for impact. Mac felt a flush run through his body. He opened his eyes and whirled. Jack had run through him. He shook his head. Mac's scientific mind froze, unable to spit out anything that would be a reasonable explanation.
Mac stepped closer taking in the activity in front of him. He froze and gaped. He saw his own bloodsoaked body sprawled on the ground. Jack and Boze desperately tried to stop the bleeding then there was a milling group of medics. Mac patted himself. He felt real, but if he was real who was that on the floor? Mac shook away the voices of the philosophy professors Mac had tried to delete from his skull years ago. He focused on his partner. Mac dropped beside Jack his heart cracking. Jack shattered apart piece by piece in front of him. Mac tried to wrap him in a hug, but his arms passed through the older man. Mac felt tears wash down his face.
"No, please, not like this. I don't want to go like this." Mac moaned, "Jack…"
I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home…
Mac's mouth went dry. He knew that voice as well as his own. He followed it and was somewhere else. He blinked and gaped at the room then grinned. It was the living room of Gramps' cabin. The fire snapped warm and friendly in the fireplace. Three stockings hung off the mantle. Two baby blue marked "Angus" and "Daddy." A pink one said "Mommy." The room had red, green, gold and silver garlands draped across the walls. Mac sniffed. He smelled apple pie, a cooked roast, and pine. Mac stepped over to the tree. Blue baby decorations peeked out from every branch. He touched a glittering rattle. His birthday was etched on the clear ball holding tiny balls. The pile of gifts under the tree were wrapped in newspaper with hand tied bows.
"Who's the biggest boy in the world?" Mac chuckled at his father babbling in baby talk. The man fell backward with a blond baby on his chest. Mac watched his Dad lean his head back fake screaming, "Ahh, the greatest tackle the world has ever seen the crowd goes wild! Yaaah!" The baby giggled and shot his dad a goofy toothless grin. Mac blinked realizing that he was the baby. He took a step forward.
"This is a hallucination…" Mac mumbled turning away. It couldn't be true. There was no way. He froze as his mom walked from the kitchen singing in perfect soprano. Mac took a step forward reaching out. Tears dribbled down his face.
"Mom?" He squeaked. His hand passed through her. Mac turned away about ready to scream.
"You know, this was my favorite Christmas." Mac turned to see his mom; the woman wasted away by sickness standing in her hospital bathrobe and gown watching the scene with a fond smile. Mac crossed to her.
"Mom?" The woman reached out and wiped his tears. Mac closed his eyes and held her hand. It wasn't wrinkled and cold like it had been that last Christmas, but warm and full of life. Mac burst into tears.
"Oh, Angus." She wiped his tears away and wrapped him in a healing hug only a mother could give.
"Am I dead?" He stuttered looking at the blue eyes so like his own. The corners of her mouth crinkled. Mac had forgotten how much of her whole face smiled when she was happy.
"I hope not, boyo, I haven't seen any grandchildren yet! Although it's not you haven't tried...but that Nikki. Who the hell taught you how to pick out women?" Mac felt himself blush and looked away. Knowing his mom had watched him with Nikki creeped him out. Mom laughed, "Oh please, I'm not a perve I don't watch all the time. I only tune in now and then...especially when you're hurt." Mom's grip on his arm tightened. Mac studiously looked away knowing her loving worry would undo him. She wrapped her arm around his and turned him toward the small family group. The younger Mom held baby Angus wiggling her finger when he gripped it with his tiny hand.
"You're four and a half months old. There's quite a blizzard outside. Gramps and Gram ended up stuck in town, so it was the three of us. We were so happy." Mom sighed wiping at her eyes. Mac looked at his feet not sure how to respond, "You know Angus you have to remember the good too, not just the bad." Mac gritted his teeth.
"I don't remember this." He growled. She studied him sadly and nodded.
"Ok, come on." She pulled him forward. Mac blinked, and he was in a hallway he knew too well. He could hear the soft voices and see nurses scurry in and out from the room. Mac shook his head.
"No, not here." Mac pulled away, spun and broke into a sprint. He had no idea how long he ran. Mac finally stopped bending over, his chest pumping to get air as he sobbed. Once he was back in control of his emotions and breathing, he looked up to find himself standing exactly in the same place, "What? That's not possible!" Mom rolled her eyes and walked to the room. She leaned on the door jam and looked in a sad smile playing on her face. Mac sighed with resignation and stepped by her side. He yelped as a nurse walked through him. He stared at Mom wide-eyed.
"Weird isn't it? I'm still not used to that."
"How long have you been here?" She cocked her head and grinned.
"You tell me? This is the last thing I remember." Mac turned to face the room with dread. It was smaller than he remembered, less scary, sadder. Mac closed his eyes. He didn't try to wipe away the tears dripping from his chin. He felt a familiar stabbing in his heart.
"Mom, why are we here?" Mom shrugged.
"I don't know; you brought us here." She walked through the people until she stood beside the bed. Mac grimaced following her. He shook when he finally stood beside her. Mom put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, "Look at your father-he's trying so hard to hold in his pain." Mom reached out and touched Mac's dad who knelt beside the bed holding Mom's hand gazing into her eyes with a smile. Mac frowned.
His dad looked so old, so much more worn than he remembered. Over the years the man had played a hero, a villain, even a monster in Mac's thoughts. Looking at him, Mac thought he looked lost and small.
"Why did he leave?" Mac managed to mumble around his clogged throat. Mom let out a long sigh and held his hand.
"I don't know, Angus. You have to know that's not who he is." Mac snorted. Mom shot him a glare. Mac narrowed his eyes daring her to defend his father. She laughed and put a hand on his cheek, "You are so stubborn and clever, you have grown into a fine man, Angus, even without us." Mac tried to pull away. He couldn't break her grip. She tugged him closer to the bed.
"Look son, look and see." Mac huffed and glared at the diorama on the bed. He was sitting beside her crosslegged excitedly telling his mom about the Christmas party they'd had at school. Mac turned away.
"I see a stupid kid boring his sick mom the day she died." Mom rolled her eyes, grabbed his chin and turned him to face the woman in be the bed. Her eyes were half open, and she had a half smile on her lips. Softly she started to sing I'll be home for Christmas. Mac felt a flush of anger.
"What? What am I suppose to be seeing? I hate this song; I hate this day, I hate…" Mac broke off and stormed out of the room. He didn't notice the crowd he walked through. Mac walked for a time then sank against the wall. He let gravity take over and dropped to the floor holding his knees wishing this would all go away and he could be home with his friends eating Bozer's pastrami.
"Angus, what do you hate?" His mom said. He looked up surprised. She crouched in front of him, but now they were in the Lab. The old treehouse helped calm him a little. Mac met his mother's eyes and stared at his hands. She leaned over and sat beside him. They were quiet together a small eternity.
"I hate that Gramps dragged me away. I wanted to be there for you at the end…" Mac closed his eyes lost in waves of misery. He felt her arm around his shoulders.
"Oh, Angus. You didn't see it, did you?" Mac studied her puzzled.
"Honey, I was terrified of dying. I hurt...Angus, you couldn't imagine." His mom looked away. Mac put his hand on her knee. She smiled, "I don't remember the end. I remember you talking and your father...and that Christmas when you were so little and your whole life ahead of you. It took away my fear. I was so happy at that moment, so full of love for your dad but especially for you. You have no idea how much a mother can love a child, Angus. It...it breaks and stretches you but gives you the courage to face anything. I could have killed a lion with my bare hands if you were in danger, Angus. I would have ripped its throat out with my teeth if I had to." Mac raised his eyebrows at the image. Mom turned toward him and ran a hand down his wet cheek.
"You were with me at the end, Angus, and you have been with me every second since then. I see your happiness, the people who have taken over for your dad and me...and your gramps...I am so proud of you, boyo. I don't have words." Mac smiled weakly. His mom laughed tears running down the creases at the corner of her eyes and mouth.
"I don't want to die, Mom." He blurted. She laughed and shook her head.
"Sometimes, Angus, you don't have the smarts of a hen." Mac raised an eyebrow.
"It isn't over; it's never over." Mac looked away studying the soothing trees rustling in the breeze out the open windows of the treehouse. Mac thought of Jack and Bozer. His heart cramped. He looked at Mom his eyes begging.
"I want to go back, please." Mom smiled and kissed him on the forehead.
"It's almost Christmas, boyo. Anything is possible."
"Ok, let's call it...time of death 11:59. The medics sat back. They mechanically set aside the equipment they'd used trying to bring MacGyver back. Jack blinked. Everything snapped into focus. His face flushed.
"Oh hell, we aren't!" Jack shoved a medic aside and bent over Mac pushing on the kid's chest.
"Jack, it's over…" Riley wailed. She tugged at his arm. Jack yanked away from her and shot her a venomous look that backed her up.
"It ain't over until I say it's over. Mac's not gonna go first, he ain't...he's just lazing around, trying to get sympathy and attention aren't ya kid? Well, it ain't working, get your ass back here, NOW!" Jack roared as he lifted both hands and slammed down on Mac's chest with all his strength. He sat back staring at the monitor willing a blip, a squiggle, anything. It continued its flat line. Jack's face caved in, and he began to sob. Riley curled around him crying.
"Mac...no, you can't be gone…" Bozer whispered crouching at Mac's feet. There was a long minute with no noise or movement except the blare of the monitor.
"Time of death 00:01 am, Christmas day." The medic said his soft whisper loud in the room.
"Jack, come on. Let's leave them…" Jack nodded and took a shaky breath. How was he suppose to live without his partner? All eyes turned when the blaring monitor's steady whine was interrupted by a blip. Everyone whirled around shocked. The straight line returned.
"Just a muscle spasm." One of the medics offered. Before anyone could say anything, there was another blip. Jack grinned and crouched over Mac grabbing the kid's cold blue hand.
"I knew you wouldn't let me down, kiddo. C'mon back. Please, I need you." Another blip. Jack stared at the monitor willing with all his being. There was another blip, then a pair, then three...Jack felt his heart starting to beat again. Soon a regular rhythm filled the small screen. The medics gaped at it.
"That's impossible." One murmured. Mac gave a soft groan, and his eyes fluttered open. Mac blinked away the dry crusted blood and winced as he tilted his head and saw Jack. Mac managed a weak smile then was out again. His heart kept beating, "That isn't how body's work."
"It's a fucking Christmas miracle." The one closes to Jack said with a grin. He turned to the others, "Let's get him ready for transport. He obviously wants to celebrate Christmas, who are we to get in his way?" Jubilation replaced tragedy in the room and not one face didn't grin or have a jump in their step as they worked on Mac.
"Bozer, where the hell did you learn to drive? Damn, you're slower than cold maple syrup." Jack groused from the passenger's seat. Bozer shot him a half-hearted glare. Boze glanced in the back seat. Nothing could sink his mood today. Mac laid curled in a ball sound asleep. He looked like death warmed over, Bozer winced erasing that phrase from his vocabulary instantly.
Twelve hours ago his best friend was dead, now here he is not only alive but going home to celebrate Christmas with the whole family. Everybody was throwing around the word miracle, but that wasn't a big enough word for the gift they'd been given.
"Maybe I should get out and push?" Jack growled. He absently rubbed the white bandage around his left elbow.
"Jack, chill. The pastrami has another hour…"
"I know, Boze, but...look you could have turned then? I should have driven; Matty be damned." Bozer laughed. Mac desperately needed blood by the time he arrived in Phoenix. He'd used up the four units of AB- they always kept on hand. It would have taken too long to get from the blood bank, so Jack demanded they take what they needed from him. Bozer knew it was two pints more than they were supposed to usually. Jack was pale even after drinking supplements and having a T bone for breakfast.
Ironically, he was paler than Mac. Mac had swollen organs from the blood that third-spaced into his abdomen, but with complete bed rest, Doc Carl assures they will heal. Mac had three cracked ribs and a fractured sternum from chest compressions, and pneumonia was a genuine concern due to the blood buildup and stress from compressions. Mac had long lines of stitches on all limbs, but Doc Carl had told him with marvel in his face, the gaping slashes had already stopped bleeding. None of the doctors their colleagues or anyone else could explain how Mac was even alive, let alone conscious, talking, and with a lot of help, walking.
"I'm surprised she's even allowing you two to go home." Jack scowled and looked out the passenger's side window.
"She let us go with some serious conditions." Jack humphed.
"Oh?" Bozer raised his eyebrow and smiled at Jack. Jack rolled his eyes. He held up a wrist monitor. Bozer had noticed Mac wearing one too.
"Sally's coming home." Jack sighed in resignation. He glanced back at Mac and smiled. She'd be so busy fussing over Mac, who was her favorite, she would barely notice he was there.
"From Europe?" Bozer said surprised. Jack laughed.
"I guess her and Sam ended up on Interpol's watch list."
"Yeah, the fourth hotel/casino they got banned from demanded an investigation, and since they'd been in five countries and won so much money…"
"How the hell did Sam get into that many poker games?" Bozer asked.
"You can ask her when they get here."
"They're staying with us?"
"Damn, any other conditions?" Bozer pulled into their drive. Jack pointed over his shoulder at Mac.
"Mac has to do absolutely nothing except maybe go to the bathroom for two months." Bozer scowled his mouth going dry.
"Two months? How the hell are we gonna manage that?" Jack shrugged.
"We're gonna have to come up with something." Jack got out and leaned in the back passenger's door. He gently shook the kid on the shoulder. Jack left his hand on Mac's shoulder a long minute needing proof that the miracle had actually happened and his partner really was alive. Mac opened his eyes and looked up at Jack. He smiled.
"You ok, Jack? You look pale." Jack rolled his eyes and offered Mac, a hand.
"Well, if someone would stop needing an oil change every three months…" Jack grunted as he helped Mac sit up. Mac held onto the front seat his eyes closed one hand across his middle. He took slow deep breaths, "Mac?" Mac turned and slowly scooted out of the car. Jack took one side, and Bozer leaned under the other. They waited until Mac nodded then inched their way toward Mac's house. Jack kicked the car door closed behind them.
As soon as they entered the living room, it exploded with celebration. Mac grinned as everyone he knew and loved welcomed him home. Riley shoved Jack out of the way.
"You need to rest, old man." She growled helping Mac to the long couch. As he shuffled across the room, everyone yelled encouragement and words of love. Mac felt hands rub against his shoulders and back as if everyone was making sure he wasn't an illusion. For once Mac didn't mind, he took in the smell of Bozer's pastrami and a mixture of baked deserts that probably raised his blood sugar with every sniff. Mac paused smiling at the tree brightly lit with garlands of red, green, silver and gold. He could see the myriad of paperclip ornaments he'd made over the years peek out as well as bows attached to cardboard cutouts each hand painted with greetings and well-wishes from everyone. Mac felt his eyes moisten.
Bozer and Riley eased him down to the couch made up with pillows and blankets. Mac closed his eyes taking deep breaths letting his pounding heart settle and the pain ease.
"Here, Miracle Baby." Mac's eyes shot open, and he glared at Matty who held out a cup of cocoa.
"Baby?" He mumbled taking a sip. He raised an eyebrow in surprise. This was not PG-13. He smiled. Creme de menthe made the thick chocolate perfectly minty.
"Well, since you're probably going to need a diaper for the next year," Matty said taking a sip of her own. Mac grinned.
"At least next year is only a week away." he quipped. Matty grinned then surprised Mac by leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek.
"Thank you." She said. Mac frowned at her tear glittered eyes.
"For helping us believe in miracles again." Mac looked down blushing. Matty chuckled then joined the milling party. Mac laid back smiling as he watched his friends and family smile and celebrated. Mac looked up as Jack came over and sat on the coffee table. He leaned forward and sniffed the cocoa Mac handed him. He nodded and sipped it himself. Mac watched Jack with a fond smile on his face. Jack met his look and grinned. As one they both reached out and bumped knuckles.
"Dude, do you realize you were dead? Like dead, dead?" Mac rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"How many times are you going to say that?" Jack laughed and shrugged.
"Until I believe it, I guess. This is one Christmas for the books." Mac smiled and nodded. He thought about his mom, was she watching him now? Softly over the noise of the party, the sound system crackled into life. Mac stiffened. Jack straightened and sighed. He set the mug down and went to stand.
"I'm sorry, kiddo. I know how much this song bothers you, I'll tell Boze to shut it off." Mac caught his arm. Jack looked at him confused. Mac's eyes were moist.
"No, it's ok." Jack sat back down giving his partner a worried look.
I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me…
"It's perfect actually," Mac said softly.
**** And there it is, Christmas done Poxelda style! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. As always thank you for reading, favoriting and following. Extra special thanks to those who take time to comment, each one is the best Christmas gift ever! I hope you all have a safe and happy season whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah or any other spiritual situation. Peace to you and yours! Pox