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Oxygen + Pneumonia

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A feeling of relief swept through his aching body. Jack had gotten his message! Jack's familiar grin swam in and out of focus. 

"Whoa, whoa. I got you." Jack sounded concerned as he grabbed Mac's arm. "What did they give you?"

Mac was unable to answer, only nodding towards the tank on the floor.

Jack, still holding on to Mac, rolled it over with his foot and read the label. His voice sounded worried.

"Let's get you checked out hoss."

During the car ride Mac began to feel better, his head had cleared and he found himself chatting about anything and everything. 

Jack pretended to focus on the road but he kept an eye on Mac through his peripheral vision. He couldn't dismiss the feeling that something wasn't right.

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Jack couldn't sleep. After Mac had said he was fine and refused to be checked out by medical, Jack insisted he stay at Mac's house for a few days.  They had some time off before the next mission and Mac had been ordered to rest. Jack rolled over again and sighed. He decided to pace the house for a bit hoping that would tire him out. Pausing before Mac's bedroom door, he listened carefully. Mac must have been asleep because the only sound Jack heard was a gentle snore. Smiling to himself he walked back to the couch and stretched out again. He had been foolish to worry, Mac was fine.

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Around 3am, Jack was awakened suddenly. He sat up, listening closely, trying to identify the sound. He heard it again, the sound of congested coughing from Mac's room. Jack hurried so fast he almost tripped over his blanket.

Mac was lying on his back, his mouth partly open, desperately trying to draw in enough air. It looked like he had tried to prop himself up with his pillows. Mac clutched his chest as another coughing fit racked his body. His breath came in rasping gasps and Jack cold see his lips were turning blue. He scooped Mac up and rushed outside to the car. 

While buckling him into the passenger seat, Mac tried to say something, but couldn't. He pulled at Jack's hand, his eyes pleading for help.

Jack held his hand tight.

"You're going to be alright, just let me get you some help, ok? I'll be here the whole time."

He hurried around to the driver's side and started the car. He held Mac's hand the whole way, feeling every shuddering breath and violent cough.

Mac's head drooped forward, losing the battle for consciousness.

Jack shook his shoulder, "Mac? Mac! C'mon you have to stay with me, we're almost there."

Mac didn't respond.

Jack pulled out his phone and called ahead to let the medical team know they were coming. He kept glancing anxiously at Mac and occasionally tried to wake him. The only sound from Mac were those terrible raspy breaths.

Jack had barely stopped the car before he was out and carrying Mac to the building. They were met halfway by the medical team who took over. 
Director Thornton pulled Jack aside. 

"What happened?"

Jack felt dazed.

"I don't know... he was fine and then he wasn't. I need to be with him, you can debrief me later. Do me a favor, call Bozer and Riley."

Jack hurried towards medical.

Mac seemed quieter and not quite as blue. An oxygen mask covered his face. There were various other tubes and a monitor was softly beeping. Jack pulled aside one of the doctors.

"What happened?"

"It seems that he has developed pneumonia, which is not unusual considering he was forced to inhale large amounts of nitrogen earlier. He's lucky it's not worse."

Jack opened his mouth to ask a question, then hesitated.

The doctor understood.

"He'll be fine, he just needs a lot of rest and care."

Jack thanked the doctor and sat in the chair next the bed. He took Mac's hand and rubbed the back of it soothingly with his thumb as Mac started coughing again.
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Riley and Bozer crept into the room quietly. Mac was asleep and breathing easier under the mask. Jack still held his hand tightly and was also asleep, his head next to Mac's on the pillow. The two drew up chairs on the other side of Mac. 
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Mac slowly became aware of something on his face, but the weight on his chest was lighter. He opened his eyes and blinked at the bright hospital lights. Turning his head from side to side he could see Jack was asleep on his pillow and Bozer and Riley seemed to be dozing in their chairs as well. Mac smiled to himself and closed his eyes again. His family would keep him safe.