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Mac feels every ache as he slumps down in a couch in Genervive’s apartment. He hit the ground hard after the van blew up, and judging by the way all the skin on his shoulders and the backs of his legs protests contact with the couch cushions, he’s got the equivalent of a pretty decent sunburn going. 

Jack’s argument with his ex-girlfriend in the other room is making Mac’s head hurt. He just wants to sleep, but he can’t afford to, because they’re in a lot of trouble. A lot . Like, if they can’t get to the bottom of this they’ll spend the rest of their lives in a Dutch prison, trouble. 

He knows he should be doing his thing, figuring out a way to get them out of this mess. But the aches and pain and exhaustion are drowning that out. They’re on their own, and while it’s far from the first time that’s happened, this time scares him more.

Jack will be fine. The man’s had a bug-out plan ever since Mac’s known him. If anyone’s ready to ditch everything they know and go on the run for the rest of their life, it’s Jack. He’s rubbed off on Mac plenty, and Mac has been able to tell that he did the same with Riley years ago. Her backpack is basically her world. As long as she’s got that, she’ll be fine. As a matter of fact, with her, they might not even need to run. She can get them out of the country and set them up somewhere with a totally fresh start.

It’s Bozer Mac’s worried about. This isn’t his world. He’s never been into the whole survivalist thing, and he always seemed uncomfortable with how free Jack was talking about how if things went bad he’d be ready to bolt. Granted, until a few months ago it probably just sounded like Jack was a conspiracy theory nut, so there's that. But still, Bozer’s always seemed a little put off by the concept of living on the run. 

He should probably get up and go find Bozer and talk to him. But when he tries to stand, every muscle and burn makes itself known, and he sinks back into the couch with a groan. 


Jack’s ears have got to be homed in on the ‘Mac is in pain’ frequency. Mac can count on one hand the amount of times he’s successfully avoided Jack finding out he’s hurting. Which...still kind of sounds like a lot, but in Jack’s words, Mac is ‘the most injury-prone agent I’ve ever met’. So he has lots of experience. 

“What’s wrong?”

Mac sighs. “Just achy. Hit the ground pretty hard.”

“So did I, hoss, but you don’t hear me moanin’ and groanin’.”

“That’s because you haven’t let yourself sit down yet, old man,” Mac snarks back. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed you changing your mind about the chairs four times.”

“Yeah, but you’re too young to be gettin’ creaky.” Jack shakes his head, glancing over to where Riley is curled practically in a literal ball in an armchair, snoring. She can sleep in places that would make Mac think twice, and he’s afraid it’s born of a lifetime of finding places to avoid Elwood’s rages.

“Lean forward, hoss,” Jack says. Mac does it without thinking, then yelps when Jack’s hands come down on his shoulders. 

“Whoa kid, what’s the matter?”

“Think I got a little scorched,” Mac hisses out through gritted teeth. 

“A little, huh? I can smell the singed hair from here.”

“That’s probably you.”

“I don’t got enough hair to singe.”

“Fair point.”

“You were supposed to argue with that.” Jack sighs. “Well, come on, let’s see how bad it is?”

“Here?” Mac coughs, glancing at Riley in the chair and Genevive in the kitchen. Riley’s not going to be that weird about it, but…

“No, hoss, in the bathroom.” Jack shakes his head and walks around to the front of the couch, holding out a hand to help Mac up. He chuckles as Mac swats away the offered hand only to collapse back into the cushions with another pained wince. 

Finally, he accepts the help and stands up, hobbling, leaning on Jack, to the bathroom. Sitting down made everything stiffen up, and he feels like he’s ninety. This is gonna be something I regret when I actually am that old. Then again, he might not have to worry about that. The way this job’s going, I’ll be lucky to make it to thirty.  

He starts to pull his shirt off, then groans. The cloth rubs painfully against the burns with every movement of his shoulders. 

“Let me help,” Jack says.

“I had a jacket on, how did this even happen? ” Mac grumbles. 

“Fire likes you, hoss.” Jack shrugs. “Don’t know what to tell you about that one.” His fingers skim the burns with the same light gentleness they always had in the Sandbox after Mac was less than careful in the harsh sun. “I’ll see if Jen has some aloe we can use.”

Mac’s sure, judging by the look of the house, that Jen has one of every skin care product known to man. 

Jack’s hands move down his back to his waist, then stop.

“I think it’s the same...all the way down,” Mac mumbles, flushing from more than the heat of the burns. 

“I’ll take your word for it. That is not something I want to see again,” Jack says, making a mock-disgusted face. 

“The kilt incident was…”

“Not your fault. I know. I heard it seventeen times. Once in Gaelic I think.”

“No, that was just me trying to talk around holding the flashdrive in my teeth. Because no pockets .” Mac shakes his head. “I don’t even know Gaelic.”

“Maybe you should learn. Language of your ancestors and all that.”

“Jack, when would knowing Gaelic ever be a useful skill?”

“You know how many people said that about knowing Dutch?” Jack says, spreading his hands in a wide shrug. “Proved ‘em all wrong today.” 

That, Mac can’t deny. Jack steps out, and a minute later comes back with a bottle of something pale blue. “Hope you don’t mind smelling like lavender.”

Mac would take smelling like the ranch stable to get rid of the pain at this point, but he doesn’t say that to Jack. 

“I’ll do your back if you can do the rest,” Jack offers. Mac agrees, and leans on the sink while Jack works the aloe into his skin. It hurts at first, but then the pain fades into a soothing coolness. Jack leaves the bottle when he’s done, and Mac waits until he’s closed the door behind him before shedding the rest of his clothes and finishing the job. 

When he steps out, his clothes are sticking slightly to him, but all in all it feels much better than half an hour ago. He glances at Jack. “You need any?”

“My jacket did its job just fine,” Jack says. “But...I’ve been avoiding those chair seats for a good reason.” 

Mac shakes his head and leaves the bathroom and the half-empty aloe bottle to Jack, and steps out into the living room to talk to Bozer.