Okay, I WAS going to post this once I'd actually finished it as a two-shot, but it's nearly midnight where I am right now and the ridiculous lack of fanfiction posted today has made me want to do something about it. So here you are:
WARNING! There is lots of smiling and fluff ahead. Need I say that it's Will and Mac? A couple of other ships in here too, though.
4th July 2012
"The cars arrived yet?" Will called over to Jim from where he was pulling his leather jacket over the casual shirt he had just changed into. Jim nodded an affirmative back to him, before turning back to where he and Neal were cramming as many beers into two cooler bags as they could.
"Remind me how you pulled this off?" Came Don's voice from behind him, sliding a pair of shades into his hair and loaded with a backpack full of what looked like more beer and a couple of plastic bags filled with picnic food.
"A friend owed me a favour." Will grinned as Don smiled impressed, back at him. He dropped one of the bags on the table, holding out his hand. Will shook it.
"Nice one, boss."
"'Bout time we had some relaxation." Don picked up his bag again and shot a strange look at Will.
"Eh, we can relax. You still have work night to do my friend." He winked mysteriously at Will, causing Will McAvoy's gaze to follow him as he moved away towards his girlfriend who had just exited Mac's office with her giggling boss and a near hysterical Maggie. The girls had all changed into more casual, and definitely more summery things. Sloan was now in a boarders with a star-spangled banner spilling across her t-shirt; Maggie in a cute 60's dress also in a rather patriotic combo of colours, and Mac…Will didn't realise that his breath had hitched slightly. She had allowed her hair to grow a little, so that it spilled over her shoulders and half-way down her upper arms. She was dressed in a white flowed and slightly pleated skirt at the bottom, and a sleeveless, loose red (cotton) shirt; all three of them sporting sweaters of some kind.
Will was slightly disappointed at this…he had been hoping that Mac might get a little chilly out on the river and he might then gallantly offer her his jacket. He supposed he could drag her outside for a longer period of time and maybe the wind on the water would help him along a little.
Wow. Desperate much there, William? Maybe…but he and Mac were still doing their crazy dance, though it must be said, getting progressively closer and closer. It was like one of those kaleidoscopes where the circles gradually seemed to get closer and closer the more you turned the dial.
He knew they'd get there soon…and he had a funny feeling about tonight.
About seven months earlier...
It had been a completely ordinary day when it had hit him. Not at all what how he had dreamed he might one day forgive her – on some important night like an election, or a breaking story; not when she had had one of her moments of complete brilliance and saved the show, and not on a special occasion like a birthday, or New Years or a celebration of any kind.
Mackenzie had simply been stood off camera for once as opposed to in the control room. It had been a hectic day and one of their segment guests had cancelled at the last minute prompting a flurry of activity and panic as the team tried to find a suitable replacement as the show started. Will wasn't overly worried however. With Mac in control, and Jim by her side, he knew they'd sort it all out. But the change in the schedule had prompted Mac to step into the studio for a few minutes as she explained the new order of things to him and the camera crew, all whilst simultaneously having a conversation with Herb in the control room. Sometimes he marvelled at how the bumbling, adorable Mackenzie that they all knew and loved could just turn into this ferocious and passionate journalistic machine whenever they went on air.
And that was when it hit him. When he realised that he no longer felt a need to forgive her, because when you love someone there just comes a point when they have somehow automatically redeemed themselves; and you want them back more than you can be bothered to be angry with them anymore. And how can you not love someone who brings out the best in you?
After the show that night, he gently pulled her into the office and poured them both a glass of Bourbon that Charlie had given him. He passed one to her and raised his own.
She smiled curiously back at him, taking a sip. "What's the occasion?"
He couldn't take his eyes off her. It was like he was reliving the first day he'd met her – like she had so rightly said once "You were in love from the day you met me." And that was completely true. Despite the terrible cliché, that day he had genuinely felt like he had been hit by Cupid's arrow, struck by a bolt of Zeus' lightning, or had a tonne of bricks dropped on his head. Basically, insert your cheesy love-at-first-sight analogy here…
You had me at hello? Anyway…
He knew he wasn't quite ready to tell her the real reason for this drink, so he settled for the slightly less significant one.
"The occasion is that you, Ms McHale, have once more spectacularly proven yourself to be the best EP in the business." He settled on the edge of his desk, happily watched her neck and cheeks flush red at his compliment. She smiled, pleased with herself, and then seemingly tried to brush it off.
"Well. Doesn't sound like a bad toast to me."
"I mean it Kenz." She stopped abruptly mid-swallow as she heard him utter that nickname for the first time in over four years. He could see the meanings and connotations and possibilities buzzing around furiously behind her eyes, and inside that made him smile. But again, he wasn't ready for her to know any of this yet…well, at least know it for certain. She was a smart one, his Mackenzie.
She seemed to understand that this was all she would be getting from him, and slowly took another mouthful of Bourbon. For some reason, just watching her drink was mesmerizing – even though he'd seen her do it a million times.
"Thank you. For coming back and giving me a good kick in the ass to…well, to do whatever it was you did." He tried to express as much of what he was feeling as he could in his smile, since he didn't seem to be able to put it into words. She smiled weakly back.
"Turned your vocabulary to mince, apparently."
They both managed a small laugh as she downed the remaining measure of her glass and dropped the hand holding it loosely to her side.
He had a need to be nearer to her; to feel her, to hold her. He walked forward and gently took the tumbler out of her hand, placing it gently onto the desk with his own, before pulling her to him and wrapping one arm around her waist, and the other holding her to him at her shoulder. Not that he would have needed to force her to stay. Seconds after he had embraced her he felt her arms slip around him.
"Will, are you okay?" She sounded slightly worried, and as guilty as he felt for sending her mixed signals, he had to smile at the notion that the first thing she did was assume something was wrong. On the other hand, given the shit he had put her through this last year and half, she might have good reason to…
"I'm absolutely fine." He spoke quietly into her hair. And he knew that they would be; now it was simply a matter of time. Mac's hold on him tightened as she snuggled deeper into his chest.
He watched as Don awkwardly slipped his food-ridden arm around Sloan's waist, pressing a light kiss to her cheek, and making some joke or other about Maggie's little American flag which seemed to be tucked into the knot at the back of her hair in place of a hair clip. He was quickly and playfully admonished by the women, as Sloan gave him a light slap on the back and Mac stole his sunglasses, which he had no hope of getting back without dropping the bags and hence crushing the supplies (which Gary told him in no small threat as he passed would "ensure a very unpleasant night for Don Keefer.")
They all laughed and Will realised that Mackenzie was watching him watching him, a smug smile appearing on her face as their eyes met. Will smiled back, raising a questioning eyebrow as he did so. She threw the glasses back to Sloan and walked over to him.
"What are you smirking at Ms McHale?" He asked airily.
"Oh, I was just admiring how well my work in the life-ruining-business seems to be going." He couldn't hide the smile that spread across his face as he turned to her. Her gaze was no longer on him, however – nor was it on Don and Sloan. Maggie and Jim were huddled together as she looked anxious about something and he and Neal seemed to be calming her down. Will nudged her elbow to get her attention.
"Your work in the life-ruining business? Credit where it's due. Don managed to sort that one out all on his own."
"Oh! So now I'm not a life-ruiner? Just very smart and with a women's knack for knowing things?" Her eyes were twinkling and he knew she was teasing him – flirting, even. And he loved it.
"Like you said, 'true love always wins'."
"Actually I think you'll find that you were the one who said that." He tilted his head slightly. "Well, you said 'yes', anyway. But Jim and Maggie I'm definitely taking some credit for. Even Jim says so."
"You've always been more optimistic than me Kenzie." He saw the blush that crept across her cheeks and neck as he used the name he had used to call her (he had been doing it more and more recently).
"So how optimistic are you feeling about tonight? Do I need to give you a pep talk?"
"Oh good God no! Please, no. I'm nowhere near that bad." He teased back, loving the outrage that was somehow expressed on her face as she smiled, and hit him on the arm.
"Hey, my pep talks are awesome." Will raised his eyebrows and took another swig of the water he was holding, trying not to laugh.
"This was a brilliant idea though Will, thank you." She was smiling at him again in a way that just made him melt and want to take her in his arms. "Everyone's really excited about it."
"My pleasure. It was the least I could do after we had to cancel the anniversary party this year." He rocked nervously on his feet for a moment. He had recently developed this habit whenever they got too close or two quiet and intimate in a conversation. She just made him feel nervous. "Are you excited?"
She looked at him, trying to gauge what exactly he was asking. To her delight, she found the reason she was hoping for shining through his eyes, but decided that she wasn't going to make it that easy for him. She crossed her arms, leaning closer to him slightly.
"Did you bring it?"
He chuckled, shaking his head, smiling. God, he just couldn't stop smiling. "My guitar's sitting in my office."
Mac bit her bottom lip, her eyes crinkling. "Then yes, Mr McAvoy. I am excited."
They simply looked at each other for a moment, lost in this small moment – one of many that they had been sharing these last few months. It was broken by Jim's voice finding some volume over the chatter of the News Night staffers.
"Alright everyone! We're moving out!"
April 19th 2012
It was five months after their Moment in Will's office, and the two of them found themselves there again, at a half after midnight, wearily sitting side by side on the edge of Will's desk drinking Bourbon.
The night before, just as they were putting the finishing touches to Will's apartment for the second anniversary party of News Night 2.0, they had received a call from Charlie telling them to hot foot it back to ACN because a massive story was breaking.
Drearily, they had obliged and found that the rest of the staffers had already been called in. There were developments in Syria and the team would need to focus and pull together as the UN had finally brought in Kofi Annan and UN observers to see what they could do with the situation.
The more they did research into it, the more sceptical Mackenzie became – just because she was passionate about doing News Night properly, didn't mean she had to be so passionate and optimistic about the implications of the content matter they were pursuing. Will felt the same; perhaps even more strongly given their differing views on the UN – and they quickly accepted that they were going to be too busy working on the show over the weekend and the following days that the party was pretty much cancelled.
Though he felt really shitty about not being able to give their team, who for the last two years had worked their asses off, a decent party to celebrate two years of outstanding journalism, he did feel a slight sense of pride when he saw that not one of them complained, instead busying themselves with any and all research that might be relevant to their coverage of the crisis in Syria.
And so it was that thinking on this, well after midnight with Mackenzie quietly beside him, that he decided that they would have a party. A party to rival the best that any of them had ever been to. It was strange what stress did to the psyche…
He told Mac his plan – though she looked half asleep as he jolted her back to reality with his ideas – but once he had explained it to her, a weary smile crossed her face and she reached behind for the Bourbon, the scent of her perfume wafting past his nose and making him feel even more light headed than he already was from the alcohol.
She poured another measure into each of their glasses and then raised her glass to his with exactly the same look she had seen in his eyes five months ago when he had done this exact same thing to her. Her voice was slightly hoarse after their evenings' work, but he didn't care. He just beamed as she made her toast.
"Happy Anniversary Billy."
To everyone's surprise and great excitement, when Will had said "cars" he had left out the limousine part. Four limos were parked outside of the AWN tower with drivers holding doors open for the staffers spilling out of the building equipped with drink, food, music, and tucked away somewhere were some fireworks.
Mac and Sloan stood gaping at the sight before them, before turning to each other and giggling like school girls.
"Oh my god this is so cool! You two are the best bosses EVER!" Sloan proclaimed as she grasped hold of Mackenzie's arm, bouncing on her heels. This, as she was in high heels, was as much measure to insure she didn't fall over as it was a means to express her excitement. Mackenzie just let out a half-exasperated, half-exited laugh.
"I had nothing to do with this. This was all Will."
"Someone say my name?" A voice came from her shoulder. She spun around immediately, although placing her other hand on Sloan's wrist to ensure she didn't trip.
"Will! You never mentioned this part!" She beamed at him.
"Ladies, might I accompany you to your chauffeur?" Mac noted the guitar case slung over his shoulder as he offered an arm to each of them.
"Will this is so cool! It's already going to be the most amazing July 4th ever!" Sloan cried, excitement still in her voice as she beamed at Don handing over his load to one of the limo drivers.
As they reached the second limo, Will extended his hand, helping Sloan into the vehicle. As he turned to do the same for Mackenzie he caught a knowing look on her face.
"Have you actually told them where we're going?" He grinned, and then shrugged, fake nonchalance oozing from him.
"It may have slipped my mind." He wished that the image of her looking at him like that could be permanently imprinted on the back of his eyelids.
"Do you remember way, way back when I told you that you just had a way of doing things?" Mackenzie asked softly, genuine love still clearly audible in her voice as she gazed at him, feeling slightly overwhelmed at the effort Will had gone to for them herself. It was his turn to beam back at her, holding her gaze for a moment, before he leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, feeling the hand that was tucked into his elbow put a little more pressure on it as he did so. He pulled away, but only slightly – enough to see her eyes closed, a serene, happy expression on her face.
"Get in the limo, Kenz."He murmured to her, smirking. She giggled and allowed him to help her into the limo where Charlie, Don, Sloan, Gary, Martin, Jen and Tess were already assembled.
She knew what the staff was in for, and she couldn't wait to see their faces.
The hand that had helped her into the limo was placed next to hers in between their thighs, and it tapped hers gently as Will passed her a glass of champagne that Charlie had been pouring from the complimentary bottles in the little side-bar.
"Cheers!" Will suggested, toasting her glass first, with a wink before he and Mac leaned forward to share the toast with their co-workers.
Mackenzie had been right in thinking that her staffers' faces would be a picture when they finally arrived at their destination.
A small, private jetty down by the ferry terminals had been lit in up in fairy lights for the holiday weekend, and as the rest of his staff got out of the limos and gathered their things, Will walked over to a smartly dressed man in a cap and shook hands warmly, chatting to him. At the bottom of the gangway, a decent sized boat – clearly one of those ferries that they used for parties and weddings (like you always saw in those movies, Mac thought) – was moored; also beautifully lit up by fairly lights and lanterns.
Cheers and appreciative whoops went up mingled with a few exclamations of wonder and disbelief as the team all made their way towards the gangway, many patting Will on the back or the shoulder as they passed him.
"You knew about this?" Charlie's voice said quietly in her ear. She turned to look at him.
"I knew nothing about the limos, but I confess that, yes, I knew about the boat. Matt's an old friend of ours and he owes Will a couple of favours, so Will booked it after we had to cancel the anniversary party."
Charlie looked from her to Will, impressed. "The man certainly knows how to throw a party."
Mackenzie smiled. "Got your Bourbon somewhere there Chief?"
Charlie looked affronted, before throwing an arm around her shoulder and smiling. "What a ridiculous question to ask, Mackenzie McHale! They actually gave you a Peabody?"
"They gave me three." Mackenzie answered dryly, leaning on him and enjoying how chilled and relaxed the atmosphere was compared to the day they'd had.
Fourth of July broadcasts were always busy and hectic. Admittedly generally predictable, but because there was always a certain pattern to them – covering the President and Congress's speeches, making sure there was a historical segment and a block on veterans and current conflicts, and then how people were actually celebrating, all of which had to be fitted in around the actual news (after all, they had to put it first being "The Media Elite") – it always made them more crazy. Routines, for some reason, always made themselves very hard to stick to; so the fourth of July was always a hell of a day.
"Mackenzie McHale! Get over here!" Matt's voice called over Will's shoulder. She smiled back at him, waving in greeting, and excusing herself from Charlie's arm as she ran forwards and launched herself at her friend. "Heeey! Missed you too Mac! Five years is a completely unacceptable amount of time to give someone the silent treatment!"
He held her at arm's length and looked her over. "And God, don't you look delicious." He winked at her as Will rolled his eyes and she laughed.
"What can I say? I knew you'd be here, so I felt I needed to make an effort."
"Behave you two!" Will said – only half serious. Mac grinned at him mischievously.
"Oh Mac, you haven't changed a bit." Matt smiled, kissing her cheek. "We're nearly set to go here, so give me a shout when everyone's on board. I'm gonna help these guys load up. I'll catch up with you once we're out!"
His voice faded as he hurried off down the gangway and she and Will leaned back on opposite sides of the gangway, admiring the beautiful summer sunset over the Hudson and reflecting off the glass jungle of Manhattan.
"Don't you just love this city?" Will asked quietly. Mac looked over at him thoughtfully, enjoying the peaceful look on his face as his eyes travelled along the New York skyline. She found herself smiling again.
"Better than a town, outside a town, outside Lincoln?" She teased gently. He looked back at her warmly.
"Oh, New York feels more like home than that place ever did."
"Yeah?" Her eyes had darkened slightly, and she was biting her lip again. He saw it clearly and it made his heart skip a beat and, as found out a moment later, his voice drop a notch.
"Most definitely." That second seemed to last minutes.
"Come on you two! Quit flirting and let's go celebrate being freed from Mackenzie's tea-drinking, crown-wearing, poncily-dressed ancestors."
Charlie had arrived, and they both burst out laughing before Mac sobered up and shot him a sour look, causing Will to double up and push her in front of him down the gangway as Charlie began to crack up too.
"You're always far too pleased with yourself Charlie Skinner." Mac called over her shoulder, her slight annoyance fading with every second that Will's hand remained moulded to the small of her back.
You will be amazed to know that the next chapter is actually pretty-much written, finished and ready to go, so I'll post it in a couple of days once y'all have had a chance to read this one x