What it takes to say I love you. Ch. 1

Based on a prompt from Lilacmermaid33 over at LJ. "Mac is attacked, and she doesn't know where else to turn."


It's a Friday night and it's been a long week at the ACN studios for the News Night team. The republican primary race has been keeping everyone working late into the night as they vet the candidates vying for the nomination, and everyone's stress levels had been pushed to Max.

They'd managed through the Iowa caucus, but with New Hampshire set for three days' time, the workload was relentless. Will and Mackenzie's relationship, which had steadily been gaining some strength since August, was being put to the test almost as much as their journalistic skills, with stress and exhaustion resulting in several heated debates which spilled over into arguments and caused their staffers to give them a wide berth until they had calmed down again.

Mac had announced at the end of that night's broadcast that in reward for the hard work they had all put in this week, (although they were due in on a Saturday) they didn't have to be in until 2pm tomorrow. A cheer went up along with a lot of thank yous; and Will shot her a small, apologetic smile. She hadn't consulted him on this, but he knew that she wasn't just reacting to the staffer's stress levels; she was judging this by how strained their relationship was getting – which always ended up spilling out into the bullpen, and neither of them felt the News Night crew should half to deal with them.

Will only went for one drink. Between watching Mackenzie's exhausted face and how she still somehow managed to interact with the staff (like a good boss should do, he thought) whilst he quietly sat at the bar nursing a whisky; and trying to ignore pointed looks from Charlie, Will had only been able to handle one drink.

He had left early, thanking the staff for their hard work before walking over to where Mac was getting more drinks for her and Sloan at the bar and quietly apologising in person for being an asshole. She smiled wearily and did the same herself, placing a gentle hand on his arm and shaking her head saying she knew it was just stress. He finally managed to smile back at her, his heart feeling a little lighter.

"Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow then." She nodded softly, and he placed a gentle kiss on her cheek before leaving, not caring that everyone could see them. He was too tired to care; and after the work she had put in this week, particularly in putting up with him, he wanted her to know that he appreciated it and that he cared that she was being so patient with him after his effective radio silence on the issue of "them" since his hospitalisation.

Despite his weariness, however, he hadn't been able to sleep when he got home. He'd had to grab a beer from the fridge because all he had been thinking about since he had left Hang Chews was how soft Mac's cheek had felt when he'd kissed it. He couldn't actually remember if he'd kissed her since she'd come back into his life. He didn't think so, he'd have remembered.

He began once more to lose himself in the history of their relationship; from the day he'd met her to the day she had left him, broken, with no clear path to take, and then the last twenty, wonderful months when she had against all bets come back into his life. And despite his grudging attitude, he was incredibly glad that she had.

His phone rang, and he put off answering it, once more thinking about the soft smile on her face as they'd said goodnight earlier, until out of the corner of his eye he saw the caller ID. Well, he saw the photo on the screen – he was a little light-headed to see the writing from the corner of his eye. A jolt of excitement and anticipation shot through him, though he couldn't decide whether he wanted to take her call or not.

Despite the fact that he had decided two things in the last two months that essentially meant he wanted a relationship with her again, he simply had no idea how to tell her this.

Yet…that smile earlier…

He picked up his phone.

"Mac?" he said softly. There was no sound from the other end of the line. His heart sank slightly. She was probably drunk – she had either dialled his number by accident or she was too pissed to speak. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was nearly one in the morning. Wow. How had that happened?

"Mackenzie?" He sighed. "If you're drunk you should really go to bed or you're going to be horrible in the morning. We have work, remember?"

There was a slight sound from the other end. And then again, but it was almost a moan. This caused Will to frown. Where was she? He couldn't hear anything else so he assumed in bed, but…

"Mackenzie, please talk to me? Are you okay?"

"Will?" She sounded confused, very drunk, and weak; but he was relieved that she was answering him.

"Good, Kenz? Are you at home?"

A moment's pause.

"No." A slight chill ran up his spine.

"Do you know where you are?"

"Sloan. Sloan and I went to a club for some drinks." Her words were slurred and it sounded like she was struggling to get them out. "I left and –"

Ideas were starting to run through his mind that he really didn't like. He had a funny feeling that he knew what had happened, and why Mackenzie was calling him, and all he knew was that whatever had happened the only way he would stop panicking was to get to her.

"Mackenzie? Where are you?" He heard a sob down the phone line and he instantly knew his fears were conformed.

"Mac sweetheart, where are you? I'm going to come get you." He dived up off the sofa, his head suddenly a lot clearer, and started shoving his feet back into his shoes. For a second, phoning Lonny crossed his mind, but he knew he would take too long to get here – he'd call him once he was with Mackenzie.

"The club across from…ow." He knew instantly where she was talking about – there was a jazz club that Mackenzie and Sloan liked to move onto after Hang Chews. But he was more concerned about the end of her sentence.

"Mac?"

"It hurts, Will." Her slightly cracked, dry voice moaned.

"Mac, I'll be there in ten minutes. I'm not going to put the phone down, okay."

"Will?" She moaned.

"I'm coming, Mac, I'm coming." He was jamming the elevator button so hard that it might get stuck, but he didn't care.

"Mac, is there anyone else there? Can you get anyone to help you? Actually, no," He thought about what he was saying and that she was a drunk, beautiful women alone on a Friday night, "just ignore what I said Mac. Hang on, I'll be there soon."

After hailing a taxi he offered the driver double to cut a few lights. It took him less than ten minutes. Maybe six. He spoke to her all the way through the journey, but he hardly ever got more than a moan or his name in reply. He had no idea what she or – he shivered again – someone else had done to her, but that didn't matter. He just needed to get to her.

Jumping out, he could just see lines of punters spilling out of the bars, gathered around tall tables smoking and drinking, all enjoying the fact that it was the weekend. He couldn't see Mackenzie anywhere. He desperately pressed his phone to his ear.

"Mackenzie, where exactly are you? I'm outside the Jazz Club." He was wildly spinning on the balls of his feet doing 360-degree turns to make sure he hadn't missed anywhere.

"Side…" he heard her mutter and he looked along the street to see where she would mean. Three doors up and across from the Jazz Club was a small alley that he knew cut through to 43rd street. He ran to it.

There seemed to be a small vacuum of people around the entrance to this alley and he couldn't see anyone, though there seemed to be a few bins, an old Volvo and a few empty beer barrels here and there along with some garbage bags.

"Mackenzie?" He called out, slowly advancing into the alleyway. "Mackenzie?"

He saw a slight movement behind one of the bins and hurried over. Hidden, slumped against the wall a few feet behind the bin was Mackenzie. A mixture of fear, anger, and – love? His heart and head were buzzing. Her head was slumped on her shoulder, her phone tucked between her shoulder and her ear. Her legs were a little tangled, her tights ripped at the top, and three buttons protruding from the waistline of her skirt seemed to be gone, he could see a faint red mark on her stomach. One shoe was missing.

His eyes moved to her face. There was a scratch running down her from her left eyebrow to her cheek, her lip was bleeding, and she had a cut in her neck too. The back of her hair seemed to be damp and stuck together as well…but the key was that her hand bag was missing. So she had been mugged. Will's throat felt very dry as he looked down at the apparently unconscious woman in front of him.

"Mac?" He managed, sinking to his knees and cupping her face in his hand. Her eyes opened blearily, and latched onto him, squinting. As soon as she realised who it was, they filled with tears and her mouth began to tremble. His thought his might have heart broken (again), and he gently pulled her forward into his arms, trying to ignore the small cry of pain as she did so.

"Have you called an ambulance?" He asked into her ear. She shook her head, mumbling into his shoulder,

"Just wanted you." He shut his eyes tightly trying to keep it together, and pressed a fierce kiss into the side of her head that wasn't bleeding.

He let her cry into his shoulder as he dialled 911 into his mobile and asked for an ambulance, holding her close and running a soothing hand up and down her back, placing his bomber jacket around her shoulders.

He didn't suppose that it could have taken that long for the ambulance to reach them – it was still quite early for drunken calls on a Friday morning in Manhattan, but Will was convinced she was going to pass out at any moment. He applied his palm to where her head was bleeding, and when she moaned into his neck, he had to soothingly tell her that it was okay. Even though he knew something was terribly wrong.

She seemed a little too elucidated for a concussion; and the ripped tights and shirt were putting scenarios into his head that he didn't want to think about.

So it was a long ten minutes.