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Everything's Okay in the End

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Mac didn't know why everything always went wrong on their missions. This was a simple one, sneak into a relatively unsecure building, find the files, get out. The "get out" part was when everything went wrong. Of course the vault had to have a computerized security layer that they didn't know about. That was why Mac and Jack were currently running down the hallway, with the loud alarm screeching above them. Jack had already run out of bullets, so if they were caught, they were dead.

Mac suddenly slid to a stop when some more of the guards cut them off from the front. He turned around, but the guards had caught up to them from behind to. Surprisingly, the guards hadn't shot them on sight.

They want us alive.

Which meant they weren't going down without a fight. Mac could tell the guards were surprised when Jack punched the first one, it seemed Jack had come to the same conclusion he had. So he followed Jack's lead, focusing on all his training he had received to fight. He was a decent fighter, but nowhere near Jack's level. Jack had already took down a few guards in the time Mac fought off the first one who approached him. They seemed to underestimate him, which was their downfall.

All was going well, until something pulled him back. He choked, he couldn't breathe.

What's happening? Why can't I breathe?

Mac slowly became aware of the chain around his neck, Jack's dog tags. Someone was strangling him with the chain of the dog tags.

Mac clawed at his neck, trying to get his fingers under the chain to try and pull the chain away from his neck. But he couldn't, the man was holding on too tight.

Mac continued clawing at his neck, his legs went weak from the lack of oxygen. He fell to his knees, thrashing against the chain around his neck. He looked up and met Jack's eyes, who was staring at him with horror and confusion, after taking down the last man.

He doesn't know I'm suffocating. He doesn't know what's happening.

Jack pulled out a gun he stole from one of the guards, "Step away from him, or I'll shoot you."

No, no, no, there isn't time for that. Please Jack, help me, help me.

Mac opened his mouth, trying to say that to Jack, but only a chocked gasp came out of his mouth. Suddenly the confusion on Jack's face cleared up, their was a loud gunshot and the pressure around his neck was released. Mac curled over, gasping and trying to catch his breath. He flinched when he felt someone's hand on his shoulder, but relaxed when he realized it was Jack.

"Hey kid, deep breaths. You're okay. Come on, breath with me."

It took Mac some time, but eventually he was able to copy Jack's breaths. He sighed, sitting up.

"Sorry about that," he said, frowning when he heard how raspy his voice was.

Jack shook his head, "No reason to apologize. Let me see how bad it is."

Their was no point trying to hide it, so Mac lifted his chin, showing Jack the mark he felt on his neck.

Jack cursed when he fully understood what had happened, "He choked you with my dog tags. I'm so sorry."

"How is that your fault? It's not like you choked me."

"If I hadn't given it to you.." Jack trailed off when he noticed Mac's flinch.

Mac wanted to slap himself.

Stupid, stupid, you shouldn't have flinched. He didn't mean it like that, he still cares otherwise he wouldn't have said that.

But Mac couldn't help feeling hurt, he knew it was irrational, just one of his insecurities, but still he couldn't help it. They had exchanged dog tags a long time ago, as a promise of their partnership and to never leave the other behind. Mac felt safe every time he ran his fingers over the chain, knowing Jack was always with him.

But now, now he wanted to take it off. He could feel the cold chain biting into his neck, stopping him from breathing. And he could feel the chain around his neck. He quickly pulled the chain off, before he could get into a panic attack.

Jack looked at him surprised, but Mac felt relived. It was like a pressure was released from around his neck.

"I'm sorry, But I can't, I can't."

"Shhhhhh, it's okay Mac. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't have to wear it."

"But, but I promised, we promised-"

"This doesn't have anything to do with our promise," Jack said gesturing towards the chain in his hand, "I already have your word and that's enough."

Mac didn't let go of the chain though, it seemed to calm him down, it was something to keep his hands busy with. Instead he slipped it into his pocket.

"Come on. Let's get to exfil, so we can get you checked out."

Mac smiled, getting up and following Jack.

Jack did really care.