Some Things Deserve a National Holiday Ch. 3 (FINALLY!)
For Katy, and also Steph and Millie, who were particularly persistant.
The original (since November) delay (believe it or not) was the music. Love Will's guitar and him playing with Jim, but it is a recipe for mental implosion. So Thank you Tyrone Wells.
And Happy Independence Day everyone :)
If Mackenzie had thought the party had been going steady before, she felt an even greater buzz now. Will was on his third song, and Gary had miraculously pulled a harmonica from somewhere. She was dancing with a hysterical Jim after they had both just watched an even tipsier Maggie tumble to the floor, pulling a slightly scared and now dazed-looking Martin with her.
It was an old Van Morrison song, Brown eyed Girl. Mac knew it was a tease – everyone would think it was about her (her hazel eyes would just about pass for the lyrics), but she knew better.
She and Will had been on holiday in the Seychelles as an anniversary present for their first year together, and on their last night on the beach, Will had gotten hold of a guitar and had been playing to the crowd gathered around a bonfire near a local beach bar and grill. The restaurant owner had a daughter of about five years old, and she had become besotted with Will. Everyone found her adorable, and she had huge brown eyes. So before she was sent to bed that night, Will had decided to sing her a song, and afterwards, her father had had to physically pull her off of Will as she hugged him; and everyone was laughing.
However, no one on the boat knew this story; they all assumed he was singing about Mac. Strangely, she felt no desire to correct them. Now that she thought about it, the lyrics suited them pretty well now.
The night was going better than Mackenzie could have imagined. She couldn't remember the last time she had enjoyed herself more. Everyone around her – people she adored – were laughing, and smiling and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process. Jim's arms were around her, chortling into her shoulder as he watched his girlfriend try and untangle herself as Sloan and Tamara helped pull her up and a bemused Charlie helped Martin. It was a weird cross between a foxtrot and a waltz, and Mackenzie couldn't stop smiling. She could see Will trying to sing whilst holding back laughter and Gary's harmonica was getting more staccato as he laughed into the instrument.
As Will played out the last few chords, she pressed herself into Jim, pulling him into a hug that he happily returned. "Why don't you go play something and let Will get a drink? Maybe take Maggie with you and sit her down for a bit."
"That's no guarantee that she won't fall over." He joked as he pulled back from her, grinning. She laughed, and he pressed a quick kiss to her cheek as he wandered over to Will. She went to get a couple of beers and turned to find Will standing behind her, hand held out, and a cheeky smile on his face. She handed him the beer, returning the smile.
"Well played, sir."
"Why thank you." They looked over to Jim as he started playing something Mackenzie recognised as a Strokes song.
They were slightly apart from the rest of the group. Mackenzie curled up on the bow, beer in hand a peaceful, happy look on her face. Will was next to her on the other side, addicted to the look on her face.
"Having a good time?" He asked softly, a matching smile playing on his face. Opening her eyes again, she smirked.
"No one would ever guess you were an investigative journalist." He bumped her playfully with his beer bottle, the ice cold of the drink feeling like fire on her warm skin. Her smirk softened. "I'm having a brilliant time, thank you."
They stared at each other for a moment longer, before each looked back over at the staffers, a comfortable silence falling between them.
For the next few minutes, they simply sat, amused by their team. At some point they moved closer so that their shoulders and arms rested against each other. Every so often, one would comment on something one of the staffers was doing and they'd giggle.
The smile still hadn't left Mac's face and Will twisted around, hesitating. After a moment, Mac felt his gaze on her face and looked at him.
He looked slightly dumbstruck for a moment, knowing that if he asked this question they'd never hear the end of it…but he couldn't help himself. And maybe he didn't want to hear the end of it...maybe he could live with hearing it forever. "Do –"
But before he could finish his sentence Jim called over to him. He hadn't heard the song finish.
"Will! Duet!" Cheers instantly went up and peer pressure told him he'd be over there playing in less than a minute. He turned back to Mac, sighing in slight exasperation. There was a knowing look in her eyes, but she looked amused all the same. She pushed him off his perch, laughing as he lost his balance momentarily and blinked innocently when he looked back at her.
"Yes please, minstrel."
He grinned wryly. As if he'd ever be able to refuse.
Mac giggled again as he watched him meander back over to where Jim and the guitars were waiting.
When they'd finished the song, Will looked up and couldn't see where Mac had gone to. There was a gentle nudge to his shoulder and he glanced to his right to find Jim looking pointedly at the stairs leading to the upper deck. Immediately understanding, he subtly made his excuses claiming he needed a cigarette and some quiet for ten minutes. Most of the staffers catcalled and yelled things like "old" and "getting on in life", which two years ago would have severely tempted him to fire them - now it just made him smile and laugh.
They were all – Jim, and maybe Charlie too, he thought – far too drunk to notice their bosses' absence, for which he was silently grateful.
There weren't as many lights up here, and it took him a moment to spot her, sitting across from the railings on a lifeboat trunk, her knees brought up to her chest, her head resting on her arms. She was silhouetted perfectly against the moon and the ethereal light of Manhattan's glass towers.
"Hey." She didn't look round immediately, but when she did, there was a small smile on her face as she beckoned to him to join her.
"How are the kids?" He smirked at the analogy. They really were the parents of this misfit family, with Charlie being the perfect crazy grandfather.
"Drunk. Having a good time. How about you?" He pushed an escaped strand of hair and felt her lean into his touch.
"Just a small headache. Needed some air."
He was surprised, though pleasantly so, when she leaned into him properly as her head came to rest against his chest and his arm naturally snaked around her shoulders. He leaned his head on her hair, watching the city drift by them.
"You've enjoyed yourself though?" He felt her smile into his chest making him smile in return.
"Yes indeed, Mr. McAvoy."
They stayed that way for a moment, just being with each other and holding each other.
After a few moments, he heard Jim's guitar play a few chords again before he struck up a song that Will didn't know. It was slow, and relaxing and nice.
Call me on the phone
Call me anytime you like
When you need me you know I'll come running, running
Tell me how you feel and I will
Listen til I understand you
Let the worry roll right off your chest
I am on your side
And you're forever mine
There's no other love
You're all I'm thinking of
"Do you know this song?" He asked. She lazily shook her head; he loved the feeling of her snuggling into him – but he had a better idea. "Are you feeling well enough to dance?"
A pause. "So long as it's nothing fancy like earlier."
"Not what I had in mind." He gently pushed her away from him and stood before her, taking her hands to pull her off her perch and into him. In a second she was moulded to him, one arm twisting behind his neck, the other curled to his shoulder as she head found its place on his chest.
He didn't think that he would ever get used to this. Well, get used to it again, really. He'd gone five years without having her in his arms, without waking up with her curled into his side, having her grab his hand when she felt like it, putting her hands in his coat pocket on a cold night or sitting across the table from her at dinner.
Over the last few months they'd definitely been closer. She'd started brushing his arm before he'd go on air, and he would brush her shoulder and joke with her and flirt with her more than they had since she'd returned. It was a pleasant ghost of what they had one had. But it was hope and it made him feel good.
He felt a shift on his chest as Mackenzie snuggled a little closer.
When I have to go and you're feeling all alone
Know that when I'm gone I'm only waiting waiting
Just to see your brown eyes light up
When you see me walking in
When I run my fingers down your skin
The soft slap of the water lapping against the side of the boat, and the low creak of the wood as it shifted from port to starboard, somehow sounding more old and reliable than worrying and dangerous could just be heard over the quieter hum of music and laughter coming from below. Mackenzie had never actually felt safer than at that particular moment.
She was engulfed and warm and snug in Will's arms, his softness and strength anchoring her in a moment when she felt she may not actually be earthbound, still. Whether that was as a result of the alcohol, her family downstairs, the magic of this night that Will had arranged, or even just the presence of the man himself, she honestly had no idea and had no inclination to care at this particular moment…or for the remainder of the evening…possibly never as long as Will's arms never let her go again.
She felt his nose rub along the side of her head as he shifted next to her. "What are you thinking?" He murmured into her ear, the ghost of a smile audible even through the bone of her skull.
She tucked herself closer to him, pressing her face into his collarbone and letting herself exhale as she became aware that her lips were now brushing his neck. He didn't seem to be fazed at all – if anything he was holding her more firmly…though the parts of her body where his hands met her waist had become so warm that they were now slightly numb and she could not be entirely sure.
"Well," She smiled against his skin, picking carefully over her words. "I was just thinking how amazing you've made this night." She could feel him grinning against her hair. She pulled back, needing to see his eyes, all of a sudden not feeling close to him. Will felt her shifting and twisted, buoyed and giddy about the twinkling happiness shining reflecting the light of moon high above them.
"Really Billy, tonight was perfect – I mean it. Everyone's had a great time…'
"No awkward set-ups or love triangles this time around." He joked.
"You're still dry and you're clothes don't smell of wasted champagne." She quipped, her smile crinkling at the corner of her eyes, as Will laughed softly.
Their eyes had locked and when neither of them immediately came up with something new to say, Jim's song seemed to amplify in the silence.
When I said those words to you
I swore that I would see this through
And nothing in the world could change
Promise I have made
I am on your side
And you're forever mine
There's no other love
You're all I'm thinking of
The warm July air became heavier and the silence seemed to press them together rather than press into them. The magical feeling that Mackenzie had been extrapolating about all evening suddenly felt real to Will. There was a spark, an electricity in the air that was jolting the blood in his veins and the pulse in his heart. He slowly ran his fingers along her spine until they met and clasped his fingers together, trapping her there.
"What are you thinking Billy?" She asked raspily, darting between her partner's eyes, desperately hoping to find what she was looking for.
A rogue firework exploded somewhere off to the left as Will finally pushed them both out of limbo by pressing his lips to hers, flattening his palms against her back, unable to have her close enough.
She responded instantly, clamping her hands to his neck and his cavicle, needing no encouragement to close all distance between them.
All there was was Will. His mouth, his hands, his chest, his warmth, his love. She felt the rest of the world simply melt away as their mouths moved perfectly in sync with each other and he surrounded her. The earlier fireworks were nothing to the flames that were spreading through her now as she felt Will's heartbeat increase under her own skin.
She offered no resistance in opening to him as he entwined them further, raising a hand from her waist to caress her cheek. She couldn't understand how he could be doing this so wonderfully and so thoroughly, and yet still seem to be so calm and gentle with her…she could feel herself getting feverish the longer she stood there with him, freely allowing him to plunder her mouth and reclaim her as his own.
At an unknown time later (she had completely lost herself), Will finally broke the seal holding their lips together. Mac instantly pressed her forehead back to his, refusing to move further away from him.
Allowing her eyes to slowly open as she felt herself slowly float back to earth as gravity took hold once more.
She settled her gaze on Will, delighted and perhaps mildly overwhelmed to find her happiness reflected in those gorgeous blue eyes that she adored so much. She couldn't help the exceedingly girly giggle that her body forced her to emit as it took account of what had just transpired, here, on the deck of this boat, in the middle of the Hudson, over five years since they had last stood like this, held each other like this, and enjoyed each other like this. Yet in this moment she could almost feel that if she wanted to she could forget that those years ever happened; but she wouldn't. And that was okay.
Because right now Will McAvoy was in love with her again; he was holding her, and kissing her; and she was home where she belonged, with a job she loved and friends she cherished and a life that meant more than just chasing a story so you still had a job come six pm.
Newsnight 2.0 had not only revolutionised the cable news cycle after a long period of stagnation, but she truly felt that the last few years had revolutionised Mackenzie McHale. It helped her grow into the woman she had found somewhere in the dry sandss of Afghanistan. So maybe it was fitting that this was all happening on the Fourth of July.
"You're thinking too much." He said quietly, nuzzling his nose into her face, dropping light kisses across her cheek bone until he reached her ear and pulled her back into the crook of his neck. She went willingly, suppressing the urge to resume the kiss in exchange for a few minutes of him holding her close again…not that she doubted there would be plenty of time for that in the days, weeks and years to come.
"Just thinking how grateful I am that we got here." She mumbled, scared she was going to kill the mood. Will huffed, worrying her inspite of one of his thumbs running from the hollow at the small of her back to the very top of her spine, curling around her neck and lovingly holding her it there as he pressed a kiss to the side he had access to.
"It's over Mac. I'm just as grateful that you're taking me back." She let out a small puff of indignation, but tightened her grip around his body and returned his kiss.
Will's hand found it's way to one of hers, curled tightly into the shirt on his back. Clasping it in his own, he brought it round to their sides, in the albeit small space where their bodies met, before shooting her a smile and resuming the slow waltz that they had been enjoying before things had gotten even...well, more enjoyable. She grinned.
Was it really accpetable for two people over the age of forty to be grinning like adolescents in such a public and blatantly obvious way, she wondered.
Okay, so it wasn't really public. And either way they did not really care…she was just interested in the answer, because she was not entirely sure she would be able to stop for the foreseable future; and in Manhattan smiling from ear to ear was more common among lunatics than your average disguntled New Yorker. At least she wouldn't be alone when they sectioned her.
Will leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead before leaning down and capturing her lips once more as she fell into him again, allowing herself to melt in his embrace once more. She could get used to this.
After half an hour of whispered conversations and jokes, and a rather fierce debate over which constellation they could see (interspersed with a few more kissing interludes), they reappeared downstairs to find the group quieter, though more relaxed than subdued; all sat in a wonky circle around the edges of the deck.
The beer and burgers seemed to have settled heavily in everyones' bones, keeping them weighed to their positions, rather than up and dancing. There was lazy chatter and friendly games creating a gentle buzz among the team as everyone took a little rest and recuperation in good company, enjoying the chance to let their hair down instead of running around the Newsroom at a hundred miles an hour. Even Ellen, Matt and a Jacob had joined them.
"Hey, who's driving this boat?" Will teased his friend.
"We dropped anchor about twenty minutes ago." Matt grinned slyly at the two bosses. "Clearly you two were too preoccupied to notice."
Everyone laughed, knowing looks on all their faces as Will settled down next to his old friend.
"Well, at least you were aware that you had dropped anchor this time." Mac teased back. "As I recall, last time you were a little tipsy and couldn't understand in your hung-over state, why seven hours later we were still off Delaware."
She managed to get another laugh from everyone as she settled down next to Will, accepting a beer from Ellen as Will's arm slipped around her shoulder.
She didn't particularly care that everyone was watching or that everyone knew – she was more than happy to share this with her family. Catching Charlie's eye (who was propping Martin up) she caught his wink, along with a happy look from Jim, seated on his other side, who was holding a sleepy looking Maggie against his chest.
She felt a slight nudge against her leg to find Sloan prodding it with Will's guitar. She was looking past Mac, gazing hopefully at Will - even resorting to puppy dog eyes!
Will tried to look at her sternly; exaggeratedly shifting his arm so that is was further around Mac's shoulders to state his wishes. Sloan just pouted.
Mac leaned forward to grab the guitar in her own hands before turning back to Will with a hopeful expression of her own clear upon her face. He sighed exasperatedly causing everyone to laugh once more as he rolled his eyes, taking it from her and pointedly ignoring the victorious grin that spread across her face.
She stretched her leg to reach across and nudge Jim's foot with her own, but he was already reaching behind him for his own guitar.
Everyone seemed to wake up a little bit – it was only a little past midnight after all, and a few requests were mumbled from around the boat. Mackenzie settled back into Will's side, her beer clutched loosely in her hand.
"Just play Billy." She muttered happily, watching her family around her, revelling in the warmth of the man seated beside her. She felt a soft kiss to the back of her head before his breath blew across her ear.
"Happy Fourth of July, Mac."
I think it's probably too late for apologies on this one, so all I will say is I hope you enjoyed it, and for those of you who were waiting, that it was worth it! xx
If you're really interested in the full playlist ('cause it took me so much effort!):
Superstition – Stevie Wonder performed by William McAvoy
The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding performed by William McAvoy
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison performed by William McAvoy
You Only Live Once – The Strokes performed by James Harper
Better Together – Jack Johnson performed by James Harper
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen performed by James Harper and William McAvoy
Twistin' the Night Away – Sam Cooke performed by James Harper and William McAvoy
Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys performed James Harper and William McAvoy
Dancing In the Moonlight – Toploader performed by James Harper and William McAvoy
See the World – Gomez performed by James Harper
All I'm thinking of – Tyrone Wells performed by James Harper
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley performed by James Harper
The Lady is a Tramp – Tony Bennet & Lady Gaga performed by James Harper and Kaylee Rosario
Drops of Jupiter – Train performed by William McAvoy
Make Me Smile (Come up and see me) – Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel performed by James Harper and William McAvoy
Don't Stop – Fleetwood Mac performed by James Harper and William McAvoy
Half the World Away – Oasis performed by William McAvoy
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd performed by James Harper and William McAvoy
Last Request – Paolo Nutini performed by James Harper
Music in my Soul – Sandi Thom performed by James Harper