“MacGyver, don’t tell me you didn’t read the fine print. I don’t let them go when you get here, I let them go when you’re dead,” the killer says as he pulls out a gun with his free hand, the fingers of the other hovering over the buttons on the remote control, ready to pull the trigger and kill Mac’s friends.
Mac thinks fast. A Swiss Army knife is all he has got and no matter how smart or how fast he is, he will never outsmart or outrun a bullet. Or, maybe he would, but not his friends. And he can’t allow them to get hurt or die because of him. What he’s always feared the most was, that one day, he would be unable to save his friends. They’re his greatest strength but also his ultimate weakness. It was only a matter of time before someone realized that and used them against him.
This guy did.
“On your knees, MacGyver,” the killer orders, looking very pleased with himself. But when Mac hesitates, the man frowns and once again mad gleam returns to his eyes. “I said, on your knees! Or should I first kill one of your friends? You’ll still by able to save the other two afterwards, when you finally do as I say!” His voice rises and rises until he’s almost screaming.
This is it. There’s no way out of this. Mac suspected as much on the ride here, but knowing it, truly knowing it is a different matter entirely. Still, before he does this - and he knows he will, his life means nothing measured against the lives of his friends - he needs to be sure he won’t die in vain.
“How do I know that you’ll let them go?” Mac asks challengingly. “That you won’t kill them the moment I’m dead?”
The killer looks almost offended as he takes a step closer. “MacGyver, I might be a sociopath and maybe, maybe even slightly mad, some say, but I am a man of my word. And I do give you my word, right here and right now: the moment you breathe your last breath, they” –he taps the trigger button on the remote control, making Mac’s heart jump– “will be free to go and continue to pester the world. I don’t care. I just want to experience the delicious feeling of killing you.”
Taking yet another step closer but still keeping safely out of reach, the killer aims his gun straight at Mac and his face hardens. “Now, quit stalling. Down on your knees. You or them, that’s the only two options you have left. Choose.”
The choice is really no choice at all, then. Dropping to his knees, Mac closes his eyes, takes a deep breath to calm down his racing heart and whispers, “Thank you.”
Thank you for letting it be just me. Thank you for giving me the chance to save them. Thank you for sparing their lives.
A shot rings out.
There’s a shot, a single shot that thunders through the scrapyard followed by nothing at all. The silence seems to last forever.
They all look at each other - Jack, Riley and Thornton - and Jack’s heart leaps to his throat.
Then the red dots disappear from their chests as the remote controlled machine guns swivel away and settle down, safely disabled.
“You’re free to go,” the killer’s voice echoes off the junk piled up high all around them.
“Just like that?” Thornton yells back, her eyes sweeping their surroundings.
There’s a pause. Then, “We had a deal, MacGyver and I. He honored his part - now it’s my turn.”
He honored– Jack’s eyes widen. No. No way. Impossible.
He starts running, ignoring Thornton’s and Riley’s shouts.
Jack rounds a dangerously leaning heap of stripped down car parts, skidding on the dust and gravel - and falters. Because there, among the car wrecks, a body’s lying on the ground, blue jeans, a blue shirt and… blood, so much blood soaking into the thirsty ground.
“No, nonono,” Jack whispers, over and over again as he pushes forward faster, his legs pumping harder to get to MacGyver as quickly as possible.
And then he’s there, dropping to his knees by Mac’s side. “Mac, Mac? Answer me!” Jack shouts, running his hands over Mac’s chest - still, too still, warm but still! - and up his throat, searing for his pulse and finding none, getting blood - Mac’s blood! - all over his hands.
“You-you’ll be alright. You’ll be alright, buddy!” Jack says, trying to smile through the tears gathering in his eyes. “You’ll be okay. We’ll call an ambulance. They’ll fix you in no time. You’ll be–”
Thornton and Riley run up to him and stop abruptly, Riley whispering a shocked, “Oh my God!” as she hides her face in her hands and turns away, unable to look at Mac.
Jack shoots them a look over his shoulder. “Call 911! Call for help! Call-call someone, anyone! Mac needs help! He needs… he needs–” His voice breaks.
Jack breaks. He sits down hard on the dusty ground, unashamed of his tears, soaked and splattered with his best friend’s blood.
Mac’s dead. MacGyver’s gone.
The funeral’s a simple affair. Just family and Mac’s closest friends. There’s Mac’s grandfather, standing at the casket with Bozer at his side, and even Mac’s dad came. Riley, Thornton, Mac’s old friends from the army… and Jack, apart from the others, there but not really, unable to join them.
He quit the Phoenix Foundation that morning.
“I can’t do it anymore, Patty,” he told Thornton. “Not without Mac. I’ve stayed for him. He wanted to do this, that damn goody-two-shoes with a bleeding heart, and so I stayed with him, for him. But without him here, I can’t.”
Thornton looked at him across her desk. “I thought you liked your job, Jack,” she said. It wasn’t a rebuke, she wasn’t trying to convince him to stay. She understood him very well.
“I did. But I liked him more,” he replied and then he left and he didn’t look back.
“Hey, Jack,” Bozer says quietly as he approaches him.
The funeral ended and Jack didn’t even notice.
Jack clears his throat. “Hey. How are you?” he asks. Mac would want him to look after his friend, but right now, all Jack can do is simply exist. When Mac died, the foundations of Jack’s world crumpled. Being Mac’s back-up, his bodyguard, that used to be Jack’s purpose in life.
Bozer shrugs, looking at MacGyver’s grave. Jack understand how he feels better than anyone.
But then Bozer clears his throat and says something unexpected. “Before Mac… before he went out to meet that guy, before he left, he gave me something.” He pulls a white envelope out of his pocket and hands it to Jack. “He asked me to give it to you if-if something happened to him that day.”
Reluctantly, Jack takes the envelope. It’s slim, almost weightless.
“I don’t know what’s in it but it seemed really important to him that you have it,” Bozer adds, then he claps Jack on the shoulder and without waiting for a reply, he walks away to join Mac’s family.
Jack doesn’t open the envelope till he’s alone at home with a bottle of whiskey sitting open on the table in front of him; he’s not a fan of drinking problems away but he can either get drunk or do something even more stupid.
Because he was right, the loss of Mac, it’s killing him by degrees, bit by bit, minute after minute…
I’m sorry. I couldn’t have your death on my conscience either.
That’s all. That’s it. A damn apology. For dying, of all things! The idiot! The damn stupid dumb… self-sacrificing idiot! Jack takes another gulp of whiskey.
His phone rings. He ignores it, allowing it to drop into voicemail. A moment later, the phone starts ringing again. And then again. And then again. Someone’s very determined to reach him, not content with simply leaving him a message.
“What?” Jack snaps when he finally picks up.
“He thanked me,” a voice on the other end tells him. A very familiar voice. The killer’s voice!
“You bastard!” Jack roars, jumping to his feet. “You son of a bitch!”
“Yeah, yeah, you’re angry, you’ll kill me, et cetera and so on,” the killer mocks him, dismissing Jack’s fury. “But why did he thank me, Jack? I was pointing a gun at his head, I was about to shoot him - he knew I would do it! - and he said, ‘Thank you.’” There’s bewilderment in his voice now. “Why? Why did he do it?”
“I’ll get you for what you did to him,” Jack states coldly, ignoring the man’s question. “I’ll make you pay for murdering Mac!”
“Hm,” the killer says, “I think you’re right, I shouldn’t have done that. My life would’ve been so much more interesting if I had let him live. What an intriguing cat and mouse game we could’ve played.” A sigh. “Alas, what’s done is done.”
Jack’s seeing red. He’s never been so enraged in his life. He will get this man. But simply catching him and letting him rot in prison won’t be enough, nothing will be enough but–
“I will kill you,” Jack enunciates carefully. “I swear on Mac’s grave. I’ll find you and I’ll kill you.”
“Yes, you should definitely try, Jack,” the killer agrees reasonably. “And in the meantime, while you’re at it, we could maybe talk about MacGyver, what do you say? Nobody knew him better than you. And I need to know - I need to-I need to understand, Jack! - why the ‘thank you’! Why?”
“I’ll tell you - right before I put a bullet in your head,” Jack says and hangs up.
Setting his phone down on the table gently, Jack picks up the bottle of whiskey and hefts it in his hand - and then he throws it across the room where it shatters against the wall, spraying shards and alcohol everywhere.
Jack doesn’t need to get drunk anymore. He has a new purpose in life. He’ll find the bastard who murdered MacGyver and he’ll put him in the grave, he swears.
And Jack’s always been a man of his word.