Hello? I come from a land far, far away and long ago... (ie 2013)
So I checked the date I wrote this: the 10th of September 2013. Wow. Therefore, it is full of Will/Mac angst. Also, not my most thorough editing. Plz excuse.
Set in (now AU - happy days!) 2x06. Because I can only write when there is angst involved.
She felt good. It was probably just the alcohol, but never mind; it was nice to feel so chilled for once. Just so very relaxed and lightly buzzing.
The past few weeks had been so tense and fractured.
Genoa, Will, Nina…just as soon as one problem had appeared another one had seemed to come along. The threads of the rope she was dangling by seemed to be getting thinner and thinner. But right now she felt good.
Don had just left. She had actually really enjoyed their little heart to heart. She wished he and Sloan would just get it together already. They had no idea just how precious the time they were wasting was. But she did.
Wait – no. She was not going to dwell on that right now – she was feeling good, so why spoil it. Who knew how long it was going to be before she would feel like this again. The odds weren't great on many happy, laughter-filled days in the newsroom any time soon.
Two hours later and Shelley kept her in a plentiful supply of Martinis and now she couldn't walk. The buzz was gone, the relaxation turned to depression.
After the fifth – or maybe it was the sixth – she had seen through the façade, the mirage that the alcohol had created in her mind, and now it was voraciously helping her clear it away and reveal reality. The reality that her actions should probably be the dictionary definition of 'fucked up'. And her life now reflects this.
It's coming on for three am and she's alone in a bar, her face distinctly wet from what she can only assume are drying tears and she has an array of glasses in front of her, all of which she consumed, and she's now in her forties and she's a total failure. The man she loves is currently tucked up in bed with a blonde, leggy, intelligent girlfriend, and no matter what she does or how she tries, she can't fall out of love with him; though admittedly, she hasn't tried all that hard. Mainly because she's convinced that if she does try, she'll be even more broken than she already is. It's pathetic, right?
Shelley appears at her side and places a gentle hand on her shoulder and tells her it's last orders. Mac half shrugs at the dreg-filled cocktail glass in front of her, indicating she'd like another. She's already had so many, why go home before closing now.
She considers calling Jim, because she's seriously doubting her ability to get herself home right now…it's a long walk to from the door to the curb on heeled, drunken feet. And then she'd actually have to stay standing long enough to hail a cab.
She decides against it. She'll brave the merciless sidewalk outside because Jim is with Hallie tonight, and she wants him to have a happy relationship. Although she was pissed at him for losing the Romney interview, the romantic in her thought it was very sweet, and actually thinks Hallie is a girl with her head screwed on right and she might be good for Jim. She wants him to be happy. She can't be happy so she wants to help make sure others are. Jim and Hallie, Don and Sloan. God – Don earlier. So adorably yet frustratingly shy about himself! She thinks she should maybe put some more effort into helping these two along.
A small sob escapes the back of her throat as she thinks of these youngsters who have a whole wonderful romantic adventure in front of them. She really, really hopes that none of them fuck it up like she has.
She leans her head back against the soft cushioned wall of the booth and allows her eyes to close and darkness to envelop her as attempts to get a hold of herself. Shelley must think she's a catastrophe. A sad, middle-aged woman with no life. Which isn't exactly untrue. Sadly.
She doesn't know how much time passes before she hears the chink of glass on wood, and she's grateful that Shelley has finally brought her a distraction from her thoughts – another drink.
"Thanks Shelley." She slurs, stiffly pushing her back straight into a sitting position again – she's been sitting here like this for so long that there is some doubt as to whether her hip bones will actually allow her to stand up when the time comes.
"I don't really know if I should let you drink this."
Wait. That voice isn't Shelley's. It isn't even female.
She freezes, terror and panic tearing at her insides.
This can't be happening. He can't be here. Not now when she's beyond pissed, her make-up is probably streaked across her face and she can't think or see straight.
What fucking right does he have to be here? He should be curled up in bed with that - that – that woman he has. She is none of his business anymore, at least outside of work; he has made that perfectly clear.
Anger has speadily replaced the panic, and she's sorely tempted to throw this latest drink in his face. She just wants him gone. He has no business being here.
Fuck. She's going to have to open her eyes and look at him at some point.
"Well, that's not really your decision, so thanks for playing waiter, but I'm fine here so you can leave now."
She's fairly sure neither of them can remember when she last spoke in that tone of voice to him before. She's never been this cold with him since she came back because she was repenting, and trying to earn forgiveness. But now she's just done.
"Seriously Billy, it's three in the morning, I am having a drink and you have somewhere else to be, so I think you should go."
Good question – what was he even doing here?
"Mac." His voice is sharper now. No tentative humor lilting his voice now. "For Gods sake, are you even going to look at me?"
"It's not something I'm feeling particularly inclined to do right now, no."
"Fucking hell", he murmurs under his breath, and he can feel him slide into the seat across from her, can feel his legs shift near hers under the table.
"Mackenzie?" He pushes, imploringly.
"WHAT?" She snaps, her eyes finally flying open as she fights the urge to release a scream of frustration. "What are you doing here Will? I have to put up with this all day, so I deserve the time to myself at night, okay?"
She glares at him and she think he looks hurt – she thinks he has a fucking nerve.
He schools his face and levels her gaze, clearly not done fighting her about this yet.
"I'm here because Shelley called me and told me you were drunk and she didn't think you could make it home safe by yourself."
She can't help the confused laugh that escapes her as she processes this information, and she says it more to herself than to him, "Why on Earth would she call you?"
There's a moment of silence as she stares at her drink, frowning, puzzled at how her life makes no sense.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She startles, forgetting that he would have heard her say that. His eyes are definitely hurt this time, his jaw set, and she thinks that maybe, now that she thinks about it, that was a little harsh. But she genuinely wondered. Shelley knew that Mac came here more with Sloan and Jim than with Will.
Okay, fuck. Now she's starting to feel bad, and she absolutely does not want to feel any kind of positive, or weak emotion towards him right now. Not when he's just come from Nina Howard's bed. Not when he's going back there.
"Not – I mean – not that – I just would have thought she'd have called Jim or Sloan or Don or someone, that's all."
"Don?" Will frowns in confusion.
"He was here earlier – we were talking and…anyway. Just – I dunno, maybe they didn't pick up or something?" Again, she's kind of talking more to herself than him as she tries to fathom Shelley's logic in her head. The mood is kind of calming now. She's too drunk and too tired to be in a fight with him right now. Or at least she thinks she is until he speaks next. She just wants away from him.
"I'm your friend Mac."
She closes her eyes at this, because even though she knows he's trying to be nice to her, those four words kill her because they're not what she wants to hear. Not what she wants to be reminded of. She can feel the tightness in her chest and the burn behind her eyelids as her throat runs dry and all this threatens to overwhelm her again.
She takes a breath and lets the oxygen wash over her.
"I know Billy." She says quietly, the regret and sorrow resonating across the booth. "I know, that's why I don't want you here, okay. You're my friend and you're here in the middle of the night to get me home, and we used to be – and it's just too weird now, this is too much and I need you to leave. I'll get a cab and I'll be fine."
It's the alcohol talking; she's gone and said too much.
Will's eyes widen and she quickly looks down again, because she would rather be anywhere right now than under his ridiculously gorgeous blue-eyed gaze. It used to melt her and make her swoon, now it just makes her want to cry because it will never be like it was before ever again.
"Mac." He says it softer this time, his voice reaching out to her.
"Go home William." She says more firmly. "Go home. Nina's going to wake up and wonder where you are, and no girl wants to be told that her man left her in the middle of the night to help out his drunken ex, so get out of here."
If she was more sober, it might occur to her that Will being here for her in the middle of the night isn't exactly meaningless, but she isn't, so that though slips quietly by without her noticing it.
She leans forward to pick up her cocktail glass, ignoring how her vision seems to swim as she does so. She downs half of it in one gulp and swirls it in her hand as she prepares herself for another one.
"Is this a regular thing?" He asks quietly. She laughs. Fucking nerve.
"That's really absolutely none of you business."
"You're my EP, Mac –"
"Yes! Yes – I am your EP. We stop there. Charlie goes around drinking all day and you don't raise an eyebrow, so don't question me either, right?"
"Charlie grew up in the fifties and spent five years in Vietnam, so –"
"Well I spent three in the Middle East, so stop talking about this."
His face tightens at that, and Mac's pleased that she's finally caught him out on something. He knows fuck all about her time in the Middle East because he's never asked. Even if he did she doesn't think she would tell him. She tried to tell him whilst she was there and he clearly wasn't interested, so she's not going to verbally reiterate it all now.
"Fine, you're my EP, but your also my friend –" that fucking word again! " – and –"
"At work, Will. I'm your friend at work. So this is my time now, and it's none of your business."
"I think friend' is a fairly 24/7 thing." He replies coldly.
"Well since we haven't seen each other outside of work ever, excluding a work party over a year ago and possibly when we used to do late night phone calls, I'd say our friendship is more a 18/5 thing tops."
She's pulling punches tonight and she doesn't care. She's sick of him pretending that he doesn't know how she feels, and that he's almost nonchalantly condemned her to this for all eternity and hasn't given her any allowances for it.
She takes another massive gulp of her Cosmo, and relishes the way it burns the back of her throat as it goes down.
"My dad used to down drinks like that." He says it almost casually and Mackenzie wants to punch him.
"Well, I think we've already established that your Dad and I have a few things in common, so I guess it fits." She laughs bitterly.
"Stop it!" He spits, leaning over and wrenching the glass from her surprised fingers. She glares at him, outraged at his boldness and crosses her arms, leveling her best 'look' at him. "I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that,"
She laughs harshly at him, reaching around for her bag, so absolutely done with this conversation.
"We both know that when it comes to me, you don't forget anything Billy, so try another one would you?"
His mouth drops and she wants to smile, because there is no way she would be able to say this sober, and she finally feels like he is seeing some of what she is really feeling.
She manages to get out of the booth fairly smoothly, but the strap of her purse gets caught on the corner of the table and makes her stumble.
Firm hands catch her around her waist and she can feel him at her back and she wants to die right there and then; remember this as the last thing she'll ever feel, because she knows that if time doesn't stop then this will haunt her for weeks and months to come.
"You're definitely not capable of getting home on your own, so fuck the smart talk and let me help you okay?" His voice sounds gruffer and more strained than a moment ago, but the eight cocktails help her not to care – convince her that maybe he deserves a bit of payback.
She does feel a little dizzy though – now that gravity has taken hold – and so she doesn't protest when Will's hand moves t her upper arm whilst the other slips around her waist and he keep her upright as he walks her towards the door.
"Wait, wait! I need to pay." She mumbles, reaching for her purse.
"I already got it."
She spins around, furious at him, but goes too fast and he has to catch her again. All this touching just might kill her anyway.
"That wasn't your place. We already a had a conversation about –"
"Yeah, and it ended up with you forgetting your purse, and that was when you were sober, so yeah, I went ahead and got the cheque."
"Well don't." She replies petulantly. Will sighs, shaking his head at her. He doesn't understand, and she wants him to. She wants him to know how much all of this is killing her – has been killing her slowly and painfully every day since she got back.
She grips the forearms that are holding her gently and tries to get him to look at her.
"Will?" He looks like he's breathing through his nose to calm himself down, but she needs to him to pay attention before she loses the nerve to say this. "Billy?"
He looks up, his eyes wide and lost and hurt; probably reflecting hers, she thinks. She hates that they're so in sync, even now, all these years later.
"Billy, you're killing me." She says softly, trying not to pity the confused look that takes over his features. "I'm sorry, but you are. Coming here to pick me up, paying my bill – you can't do that anymore, it's not your job."
Realization dawns in his face and she sees it harden.
"Whose fault is that?" He hisses indignantly.
"Mine, I know!" She cries, trying to hold back tears again. "I know, but the difference is that I want it to be and you don't,, so this is basically torture. And I know you're mad at me and you always will be, but you were never cruel, Billy."
She's shocked him into silence and she wants the ground to swallow her up, because after Brian she swore she would never let him hurt her like this again.
"You're not cruel. But you've been throwing this in my face along with various punishments for two years! Believe me, if this was a boxing match I'd have already been down in the ring for thirty now, but it's like you're still punching me.
"You win, alright? I give up! I gave up a while ago, and now we're friends 18/5, but it needs to stay that way or I'm going to crack…okay?"
Ironically on the word 'crack', her voice snapped and the tears broke free, and she tries to turn away to hide it, but he won't let her. Instead, going against everything she just said to him, he pulls her tight into him, tucking her head under his chin and wrapping his arms around her holding her fast.
She doesn't try to fight it. She simply can't. She's too tired, and too drunk, and too fragile to try and escape.
And his warmth and his smell are treacherously comforting.
She sinks into him as her fingers curl into the soft sweater under his jacket and she hides her face in his neck.
He holds her as her body wracks with sobs, one hand smoothing up and down her spine, attempting to soothe her as he gently sways from side to side.
He's being so incredibly gentle with her and it's breaking her apart.
"I love you Billy." She sniffs out. The swaying stops abruptly. "And I know you don't to hear this, but I am so fucking sorry. Always. For everything."
She presses a watery kiss to the juncture of his neck and collarbone, before hiding herself in his shoulder. She thinks his arms tighten around her, but she can't think straight and she doesn't want to know if she's wrong.
"Mackenzie." His voice murmurs somewhere above her ear. She ignores it, determined to just stand here forever, and never face the outside world again. "Mac?"
She whines pathetically into his shoulder, clutching herself to him harder, but he's still trying to pry her away from him.
She can feel his hands in her hair and on her neck, trying to pull her head back so he can see her – but she's a mess and she doesn't want him to. One drops back to her waist and she knows he has given up.
"You said 'I want it and you don't'…what did you mean?"
God, he cannot seriously be bringing this up. She has nothing left to lose now though. She's already drunkenly confessed everything to him.
"Your job." She mumbles into his jacket.
"My job?" He muses, and she knows he's going back through their conversation. She also anticipates the tightening grip on the back of her neck and he waist when he realizes what she's talking about.
"You want this to be my job?" He repeats in an amazed voice.
"You already knew that." She moans in an annoyed voice, giving him a small slap on the chest for being an idiot.
"No I didn't." He says in a hoarse voice.
She scoffs. This guy is a genius, so he has to be lying right now. She turns her head so that she's not speaking into his clothing and shakes her head sadly.
"If everyone else in the God damned world knows then I don't understand how you don't."
She knows she sounds embarrassed and it takes him a moment to figure it out. He finally manages to tilt his head away from her enough to get a good look at her.
She dreads what she must look like, but she holds his slightly awed gaze determinately.
"Mac –" He looks so uncertain and so suspicious that she thinks she might break there and then all over again. Does he really not know? Has she not been completely obvious by being the most submissive (excluding work, of course) and apologetic person imaginable over the last thirty months? Yes, she's been counting.
For the love of –
"Will!" She hisses, frustrated, fingers clinging in his shirt and pushing him back in frustration. She has to leave now. She can't handle this tonight, and she needs to get as far away from him as possible. Get his smell off her clothes, and his face removed from the back of her eyelids.
She makes it as far as the door (which she admits – grudgingly – in her state is a near miracle in itself) before Will's hand once more clamps around her wrist, and it's not fair, because he is taller and heavier, and soberer – no, sober – sober…whatever, he is not drunk and she is and she falls (literally) back into him.
Can he not just let her go?
She spins around, feeling the alcohol slowly dissipate from her veins as the anger awakens, as she tries to resist the urge to hit him with a heavy object.
As soon as she does, Will's arms lock around her and his gaze is piercing and fierce.
"You want that to be my job?"
She really wants to scream at him right now. But she's in a public, though empty, bar, and she just wants to get away from here.
'Billy –" She's trying to breathe through her nose to calm herself down, but that just makes it all the more noticeable when his nudges hers and she freezes. He can't actually be serious. No, really he can't.
"Mac." His warm breath skates across her face as his low, dangerously alluring voice floods her ears and her senses.
She wants this so badly. Three months ago she might even have given a few limbs to have him this close to her and coming closer still, but right now she would rather be thrown in boiling water. Because this isn't fair of him.
It's mean – it's even cruel. And that's not how she wants to remember him when this is all over (although maybe it would be easier to live with this mess if she could).
He nuzzles her cheek, and she finally finds the strength to push him back just in time.
"Don't. Don't kiss me." She says in a low warning.
She manages to open her eyes and finds an angry pair looking back at her.
"You're sending fairly mixed signals here, Mac." He says in a frustrated voice.
"Mixed signals?" She hisses back.
"You never answered!" He explodes.
"You never answered that fucking voicemail, and I told you not to if that's how you felt, and then you never did, but now you're telling me that you want this to be my job, but you don't want to kiss me, so yeah! I don't know what the fuck is going on in your –"
"I NEVER GOT THE VOICEMAIL!"
Mackenzie isn't exactly tiny, but she's petite. But she's fairly sure Will has never heard her yell like that before, ever. She can only ever actually remember using this tone twice before. Once with Brian, and then once again during a breakdown after a particularly harrowing story about child victims that she and Jim had covered in Afghanistan. But Will didn't know about either of those.
He was looking at her in shock. His grip had loosened slightly as his eyes had widened and she took the opportunity to take two steps back from him before she really did wallop him one and would have to explain to Charlie tomorrow why Elliot would be covering for their star anchor.
"I never got the voicemail, Will, so I have no fucking idea what you're on about, but whatever – answer me this: why didn't I get the voicemail?"
She knew she had him. Saw the dawning realization in his eyes and took some spite-driven pleasure, as he understood why she didn't want him anywhere near her.
"Sorry Billy. But for once, this isn't my fault." She snapped at him.
A small protesting part of her begs her mind to pay attention to the devastated look in Will's eyes as he realizes what he's been doing, and what that has meant to her. But she does not. She just can't. She is too far-gone now, she can't go back.
"If it's upsetting you that I never answered your stupid voicemail, then take it up with the person who is currently in your bed."
She hated that she broke when she said that. If she could just have held it in for a few minutes longer – maybe even a minute – then she could have made a run for it and he would have missed it.
"Mackenzie, I – "
"No, Will, don't try to justify yourself. You're punishing me and fucking her for something that she did. Is that what I was supposed to do? Screw you over again and you'd have just welcomed me back?"
She doesn't mean to say that. She's just…the blood has boiled in her veins and it's making her lightheaded and she can't control what she's saying. Or maybe it's still the alcohol. Maybe both.
She's broken, so it is no wonder that she can't do anything right.
He can't kiss her. Because surely only hours ago, maybe less, he was kissing her. And running his hands and his lips all over her body, making her moan. And Mac knows this because the memory has been constant, painfully burning at the edges of her mind and the forefront of her dreams for nearly six years.
"You want it to be my job?" He whispers. He's the one crying now, silent tears spilling over his eyelids and onto his cheeks. And she can't bring herself to feel sorry for him. She laments the loss of them, but she's been doing that for years; this is just another reason.
She feels like this is it. There is a feeling in her gut that is telling her it is now, and that she has the chance to end this now, the way she should have done months before.
Coming back here was a terrible mistake. She feels vindicated that at least she tried, but this was doomed from the beginning.
But she can end this now. It's already painful, so what the hell.
She's in awe with herself at the cold, calm delivery she manages. She has effectively just ended the most important relationship in her life, and she can by some miracle still see straight.
Will's eyes pop. She feels nothing. She's numb.
"I wanted it to be your job."
And there it is.
She swore she'd never lie to him again, but she figures this is okay. One: because surely she's the victim here? Two…well, two, because the pain has to stop somehow, and it has to start with this.
But if this is the end then she wants to hug him, kiss him, just one last time…it's just that she has spent the last few minutes making a rather big deal as to why she didn't want him to do that.
Then again, she has spent each day since they were together wishing she could do that, so big deal. She's managed so far. And she definitely couldn't live with herself if she was responsible for making Will cheat like she did. She doesn't particularly like him right now (even though she loves him – go figure), but she won't do that to him.
Instead she drops her gaze and gently grazes his hand with hers as she walks past him and out into the night.
As she slides into a cab, she can see him in the shadows of the glass door, watching her, making sure she is safe, and she finally allows herself to break. Properly break, not that half-ass fury-tainted stuff she had pulled earlier.
She's incredibly grateful that the cab driver doesn't question her. She vaguely supposes that this is New York and he's seen stranger things. She hopes he has.
If you're thinking there could be more to this, there is. But it is unfinished and reads as a little too defeatist now that we actually have Mr. and Mrs. McAvoy on the go. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
It's been a long crazy, brilliant, stressful year. I don't actually really know why I'm posting this. I feel a little defunct as a Newsroom writer now that Will and Mac - whose angst was basically the main engine of my creativity - is pretty much resolved. But mainly because Lilac keep badgering me still, all these months on. This is for the girls - you know who you are.
Coming back to this is all a little experimental, but thanks to anyone who took the time to read this. Ax