Summary: While taking some time off after a rough mission with SG-1, Jack goes on vacation with his brother to relax before the holidays, only to wind up in a bigger mess than the one that sent him out there. MacGyver crossover.
Characters/Pairing: Established Sam/Jack, Established Mac/Nikki
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Family, Whump
Note: This fic was written as a Christmas present for my wonderful evil brain twin, who wanted a whumptastic story. Oh, the crazy things we come up with together. ;)
No One Can Better This
The creaky old bus jerked to a stop, brakes screeching in protest just moments before the door swooshed open to release its passengers. Jack climbed out of his seat and pulled his duffle out from beneath it, stretching stiff muscles that had been idle for the long bus ride from the train station. Letting an old woman step out before him, Jack slowly made his way off the bus.
Stepping into the brisk Colorado mountain air, Jack felt his face break out into an instant grin. There was a satisfying crunch under his boots as the snowy, icy mixture crackled beneath his feet. Normally when he traveled to the middle of nowhere it was to visit his own isolated haven in the woods of Minnesota, but this time he was visiting a place he hadn't been to in quite some years—his grandfather Harry's old place. Sharing his vacation with his twin brother only made it that much better; it'd been months since they'd seen one another, and even longer since Jack had been to the cabin.
When MacGyver had proposed the idea, Jack had initially been fearful about trekking up in the mountains to find the old place in shambles, but his twin had assured him that he'd been by every once in a while to look in on the place and clean it up. Jack was really looking forward to this trip, especially after the hell he'd been through recently with his team's last mission.
Shaking his head, Jack refused to let those horrid memories interfere with his current happiness, even if it was just going to be for a while. He spied a familiar, friendly face amongst the small crowd at the bus stop waiting to pick up their loved ones. Ambling forward while shouldering his duffle, Jack looked up as Mac met him half way and they embraced in a quick manly hug, slapping one another on the back.
"Good to see ya, Mac," Jack said with a genuine grin.
"You, too." MacGyver leaned back to look his brother up and down. His brows furrowed slightly with concern. "But…honestly, you look kinda rough. You lost some weight, Jack. Damn, you're skin and bones!"
Jack shifted uncomfortably and shrugged.
Mac's face grew serious, a frown marring his boyish features. "What happened?" He waved Jack toward his truck; it was Harry's vintage Dodge pick-up, looking newly restored. "Rough mission?"
"Uh…you could say that." Clearing his throat, Jack made a face. He tossed his duffle in the bed of the truck and then climbed into the passenger seat. "I don't wanna talk about it, okay?" he said without the usual brashness that accompanied those words when he used them on Daniel.
"Sure, Jack. Okay." Mac just nodded and turned the key in the ignition. The old truck rumbled to life and the tires crunched on the snow as they pulled out of the bus stop parking lot.
Settling back in the seat, Jack raised his hands to warm them by the vents blasting out heat—it was a new addition to the old truck for sure. They spent much of the ride to the cabin just engaging in simple small talk without touching upon anything too personal, which suited Jack just fine.
Jack was glad to enter into a nice warm and toasty cabin. He knew Mac had gotten there a few days earlier, and was impressed to see the enormous pile of firewood stacked outside. There was a smaller stack indoors beside the wood stove, too, to ensure there were dry logs ready to burn at all times.
Despite the difference in furnishing and much of the now updated décor, the familiar smell of their grandfather's cabin brought back some decent memories. Jack and Mac had spent many hours there with Harry, though unfortunately not when they were kids, but later on in life when they were reunited with their grandfather after a long number of years. The cabin in the middle of nowhere became somewhat of a sanctuary for the brothers. Jack figured it had become that for Harry as well during their visits, even though he'd never have admitted it.
"You can take the big room if you want. I've been staying in there the last few days, but I can just move my stuff out into the bunk room," Mac offered, pulling Jack from his memories.
"Nah, don't worry about it," Jack said quickly, waving a hand dismissively. "I can handle the small quarters for two nights, no problem."
"Are you sure?" Mac looked at him in concern. "Because I can just as easily move my stu—"
"It's fine, Mac," Jack interrupted swiftly. "Keep your stuff where it is." When his brother finally nodded at him, Jack took his duffle down the dark hall and pushed open the creaky wooden door to the small spare room. It was more of a walk-in closet than a room, the bunk beds taking up most of the space, but it was fine. Jack could deal with lying on a cramped twin bunk for just two nights. It was still bigger than the cot in his quarters at the SGC.
Tossing his duffle on the floor, Jack plopped down on the bottom bunk, careful not to bang his head on the bed above. He stretched out on his back, planning just to rest for a moment before rejoining his brother.
When Jack didn't come out of the bunk room for a while, Mac went over to check on him and make sure everything was okay. Leaning in the doorframe, he quirked a small amused smile when he saw that his brother was fast asleep. Quietly entering the room, he dragged the quilt off the top bunk and draped it over Jack.
As soon as he'd seen his brother get off the bus Mac had known Jack was troubled. Other than the fact that he was far too pale and skinny, Jack's expression had just been…off. There was something in his eyes that was just not right—haunted. It left Mac feeling uneasy, concern for his brother making him want to find out what had happened, despite the fact that he knew the answer to his question was probably classified. He was familiar with classified himself, and even though his work with the Phoenix Foundation meant he was allowed to know about the stargate under Cheyenne Mountain, it didn't mean he was privy to mission reports. He could easily hack into the system however, but he didn't want to betray Jack's trust by going behind his back.
Wandering toward the cabins small kitchen, Mac decided to get started on dinner while his brother rested. Although he was mostly vegetarian himself, Mac knew that Jack definitely wasn't and had shopped accordingly when he'd gone out to stock the old place with food. Knowing his brother appreciated some good Mexican food as much as the next guy, Mac pulled out the ingredients to make a couple burritos. Beef for Jack and veggie and rice for himself.
It was late by the time they'd finished eating, and MacGyver warily watched his brother rise from the table stiffly before waving at him and ambling off to bed with a muttered, "G'night, Mac."
Heading over by the old pot-bellied wood stove, Mac opened up the hatch and stuffed in a few more logs to keep it going throughout the night. The stove threw off an enormous amount of heat, effectively warming the entire small cabin.
Finding the heat comfortable rather than stifling, Mac changed into some sweats and a t-shirt before sprawling on the couch with a book.
MacGyver didn't remember dozing off, but the next thing he knew he was jerking awake and almost falling off the couch when he heard a strangled cry of pain. For a moment he had a 'Murdoc' flashback, remembering the number of times the crazed killer had come after him, but Mac quickly regained his senses when there was another cry.
"Jack." Gasping, Mac scrambled off the couch, untangling his legs from the afghan over him and hurrying toward the bunk room. He found his twin brother thrashing and yelling in his sleep. Quickly flicking on the table lamp, Mac called out to him, knowing better than to try and wake Jack physically when he was in such a state. He'd made that mistake once and only once, back when he'd visited his brother at home after Jack's return from spending four months in an Iraqi prison so long ago. Mac had earned quite the shiner that night. Jack had been sick about it and his wife at the time, Sara, was worried, but Mac insisted that the mistake was his and he would be fine. Of course his brother had held onto the guilt for quite some time after that, but that was Jack for you.
Still unable to wake his brother, Mac grabbed a pillow that had been tossed to the floor and firmly chucked it at Jack's head. The whack seemed to jolt him back to awareness and he sat up, breathing hard and squinting in the light from the bedside lamp.
Mac cursed under his breath when he noticed the quilt had slipped down around Jack's waist, baring his naked torso and revealing an alarming number of fresh pink scars. They looked like knife slashes. He felt bile rise in his throat and his mouth hung open as he stared at his twin in horror. "Jesus, Jack. What the hell happened to you?!"
Jack pulled a hand through his sweat-dampened hair in agitation, setting the unruly silver strands in even more disarray. He shook his head, barely taking a moment to get his breathing under control before he flung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, storming past Mac and out of the bunk room.
MacGyver was so dumbfounded by his brother's reaction that it took him a moment or two before he followed. He tracked Jack to the back door and stepped out into the bracing cold on sock-clad feet, the frigid wooden deck draining every bit of warmth from him.
His brother stood at the edge of the deck, barefoot and bare-chested, only clothed in a pair of worn out sweats. He stared out into the snowy darkness, short, sharp breaths puffing out in clouds of condensation. Jack was unnaturally still, fists clenched by his sides and shoulders impossibly tense.
In the glow from the bright nearly-full moon in the black sky above, Mac could see that the scars on Jack's chest were mirrored on his back. Grimacing at the sight, MacGyver schooled his features so his brother wouldn't mistake the concern on his face for pity. "Jack." He heaved a sigh when his twin didn't respond. "Jack, come inside. It's freezing out here."
Jack didn't move, but his shoulders were trembling. Whether it was from the cold or the nightmare, Mac couldn't be sure.
Turning back into the cabin, Mac grabbed the afghan from the couch and then hurried back out on the deck. He strolled up behind his brother slowly and gently draped it over him, holding onto Jack's shoulders when he didn't pull away. "C'mon Jack, let's go inside."
Jack finally allowed Mac to steer him back into the warm cabin and over to the couch. He sunk down heavily and continued with his expressionless staring as Mac sat down beside him.
They stayed in the dark like that for a long while in silence, the only light being a faint warm glow from the wood stove.
"It was bad, Mac," Jack said roughly after a while, his voice low as he continued staring ahead.
MacGyver didn't say a word, giving his brother room to talk—or stop talking if he chose. He was patient, offering silent support.
"They tied me up for three days…" Jack continued, his voice soft and strained. "Told me my team was dead. Beat me, cut me up. A slash here, a slash there. Nothin' too deep, just enough to wake me up, keep me alert. Enough to hurt like hell an' keep me bleeding, like they were trying to drain me slowly." His body shuddered.
Lowering his chin, Mac was glad that his brother couldn't see his face. He was horrified and angry at what had been done. Knowing Jack wouldn't go into specifics of who his tormentors were or where was difficult to accept. He felt useless; there was nothing he could do. The damage was already done.
Why hadn't anyone bothered to contact him once Jack was back safe? Probably because Jack didn't want him to know, he thought ruefully, shaking his head. Damned stubborn ass. No wonder he took on Grandma MacGyver's maiden name. The O'Neills were a stubborn bunch, that was for sure. It suited Jack well.
"I thought I was gonna bleed out an' die there…" Jack started talking again. "No food, no water. Three days that felt like weeks. I've had worse, but somehow this…this just felt like it was it." He cleared his throat. "Then outta nowhere comes my team." Jack quirked a small, distant smile. "Danny, Teal'c, an' Carter. Like three angels out of the mist. They saved me."
Mac didn't know what to say to that. He despised violence even though he understood that sometimes it became a necessity. Putting an arm around his brother's shoulders, he decided it was best he didn't say anything. Mac was just incredibly grateful that Jack had such good friends looking after him, and considered himself very lucky that he hadn't lost his brother.