The Tin Man and his Dorothy

The stress of Brian and Casey Anthony and Anthony Weiner and TMI and everything lands Mac in the hospital during 1x08.

So this is what I did instead of revising for my Dutch test this morning…and I think my result may reflect my negligence. (apologies LovelyMeryl…Ik studeer voor twee maanden en ik spreek een kleine beetje Nederlands, maar vanmorgen ik voelde me ziek…and in such situations one should always curl up with a story :p) Really hope that was right… :p ANYWAY…

(It's kind of two stories set in the same time period that I've put together, so I hope it works.)


Mac watched as Lisa made her piece about children and abortion, and although it was unexpected and she knew they'd be getting letters about it in the morning, she was so damn glad that someone had actually raised an intellectual argument that she felt slightly faint.

She closed her eyes, and tried to ignore the feel of Brian's gaze on her back, taking comfort in the fact that Maggie and Jim were standing beside her – her two ties to normality this week – two people whose presence reassured her that she hadn't just imagined the show they'd been working on only a week ago.

"Okay. Let's get back to what Casey was like in high school."

It was like a mental slap and she opened her eyes again, a sigh of frustration – or maybe it was depression – escaping, unbidden from her. She looked in disbelief at the screens in front of her, her eyes burning. It wasn't that she was surprised that the argument had been turned back to the topic – what Lisa had just said was highly controversial, and any anchor worth his salt would have done the same; it was that it was that topic, and it was Will who said it.

Will – her amazing, brilliant Will – Will who was a successful anchor and prosecutor, and in her eyes, advocate of facts – was talking like Nancy Fucking Grace! And it killed her.

She knew that somehow all this was partly to punish her (for what, she had no idea) but although there was some truth in his argument about getting numbers up for the debates, he had given himself away by inviting Brian here. For whatever reason, he was out to make her as miserable as possible…and it was sure as hell working.

The remainder of the broadcast passed excruciatingly slowly for Mackenzie. Even in the segments they weren't talking about Casey Anthony, she felt that they were somehow tainted by what they had done; what they had – so ridiculously suddenly – become.

As soon as Will had bade the viewers goodnight she silently grabbed her stuff, slung her headset on to the work station and made her way out the room, refusing to make eye contact with anybody, and (with a slight tinge of guilt) leaving Jim to wrap up; but she was sure he understood.

It was as she was pushing out the glass door that she first felt it. A wave of dizziness hit her like a monster truck in the face. She held onto the handle for a minute to steady herself, but she tried to think through the haziness. She hadn't realised it, be she'd been so engrossed that she'd been standing practically without moving for a whole hour. Sure, she'd been giving instructions, but she'd stayed fixed to the screens watching Will vomit over everything they'd built over the last year. Fair enough, she thought.

She made it maybe three more steps before it hit her again, and darkness crept in and quickly back from her pupils, sort of like a dark wave coming into the shore before heading out to sea again. Balancing on the wall, she pushed herself forward…yeah, that was right…she hadn't eaten since –

She was only vaguely aware of the darkness coming back and the floor suddenly rising to meet her.

There were vague, echoing shouts in the distance, but they were too muffled for her to understand. She was out before she could feel her head connect with the large plant pot guarding the entrance to the control rooms.

OOOOO

"MAC!"

Brian had been only steps behind her and had watched her fall, trying to run to catch her but falling just short.

There was another shout behind him that he vaguely recognised as Will, and sure enough, seconds later the anchor was kneeling beside him on the floor, already pressing two fingers to Mackenzie's pulse.

He grabbed her shoulder to shake her gently. "Mackenzie? Mac can you hear us?" She didn't move.

"Someone call an ambulance!" Will yelled at the various peoples who were approaching from every direction after hearing his and Will's initial shouts.

"Oh my God, Mac!" The weedy producer guy – Jim – kneeled down on the other side of Will and the two of them shared a look as Jim pulled out his phone, only to be stopped by a hand on his shoulder. Looking up, Neal already had his pressed to his ear and was looking anxiously down at his boss.

Spotting something, Jim darted forward again, and gently put a hand under Mac's head on the floor. Drawing it away again, there was a worrying amount of blood on his hand and the three of them instantly looked back and turned her over.

She'd obviously hit her head pretty hard on the plant pot; there was a good one and a half inch gash on the side of her forehead just under fringe, which was sticking unpleasantly to it.

"Hey. Don't panic, head wounds always gush." He heard Jim say.

Looking round, he could see why. Will had gone the colour of a sheet of A4 and seemed rooted to the spot. Jim had noticed and was quickly pulling his sweater off and grabbing Mac's large notebook from under her arm. Folding the sweater on top of the notebook, he slid it under her head to elevate it just as Maggie came hurrying through the gathered group and handed him a tea towel from the kitchen and a glass of water.

Jim was busying himself – apparently taking the initiative with whatever medical training he had – and was checking Mac's pupils and whatever and pressing the towel to her injury. He passed on whatever information he had to Neal and there was a silence as Neal's call ended and apparently all they could do was hang around and wait.

"She's just passed out, Will." Jim said in a strong but quiet voice, clearly trying to reassure the guy. Brian felt a twinge of annoyance – it wasn't as if Will had a monopoly over Mackenzie anymore. He was clearly still in love with her though, and seriously needed to get over it because even more clearly still, he was too much of a wimp to do anything about it. When he thought about it that way, Will didn't strike him as the type of man Mackenzie would go for.

His thoughts were diverted by the arrival of a fairly panicked looking Charlie Skinner. "One of the office girls called to say Mac had collapsed. What the hell?"

Brian watched as he caught sight of the immobile Mackenzie on the ground, shock flashing across his face. His gaze then moved to the three men kneeling next to her, looking for some sort of explanation.

Jim looked uncertainly at Will, who hadn't seemed to have regained the power of speech quite yet, and took it upon himself to explain the situation to Charlie. Brian rolled his eyes, letting out a chuckle.

"Is something funny to you?" Will spoke up in a surprisingly loud voice before Jim could even open his mouth. Brian looked round at him, eyebrow raised.

"Nothing but you. Seriously man, you need to get a grip."

"Brian, don't you think it's time you left?" Charlie said in a level voice, clearly trying to prevent a fight. They way Will was looking at him, Brian had no issues in believing that he would take him there and then if he opened his mouth again. But he seriously doubted Will's ability to move off his knees without giving him time to move out of range so he looked back at Charlie.

"Will the three of you get it out of your heads that you're the only people in the room who care about Mackenzie? There's actually a whole group of people here in case you didn't notice; not just Will just sitting there gormlessly."

"And what exactly have you done?" Will seethed, getting redder by the second. This only amused Brian.

"I tried to catch her."

"Oh, yeah…great job." He hissed back. They hadn't been aware of it but they were actually getting closer.

"GUYS!" Maggie's voice sounded above all the others. Everyone looked round in surprise at how loudly she had shouted, but she was actually looking rather incensed at the two men crouched next to her boss on the floor. "In case either of you have forgotten, Mac's the one we're supposed to be worrying about here, not which one of you has the greater claim to her."

"Which, by the way, at this moment is neither of you." Charlie chipped in, giving Will a long, hard look. The whole thing made Brian totally incredulous about this bunch of idealists.

Only Mackenzie could have created something like this. She really was unique. It shut him up though; and as he shot a sidelong glance at Will, the older man also looked suitably admonished. He was now looking so determinately at Mackenzie that he might have been trying to bring her back to consciousness through pure force of mind.

OOOOO

The next ten minutes passed in an atmosphere of quiet anticipation. Will wanted to know what the hell was taking the ambulance so long to get here – they were in Manhattan for crying out loud! How long does it take?

Just as he's reaching the point where he was going to call and find out where it was, the hand next to him twitched, and as he looked down at it to check that it actually moved, he almost missed the flicker of Mackenzie's eyelids and crease of her brow as she groggily started to come round. The collective sigh of relief was nothing to the overwhelming skip his heart gave inside his body as he slowly leaned over and gently tried to coax her back to consciousness. He could hear Charlie, Jim and Brian saying things too, but he wasn't listening.

"Mac?" he spoke softly, not wanting to freak her out or scare her – she probably had no idea what had just happened. She blinked blearily and frowned up at the small group gathered around her, and then seemed to groan.

"Thanks for joining us," Brian joked to no one in particular – to no one, actually; they were all too busy wanting him to shut up. "That was scary, Mac."

"Brian, I'm going to say this nicely once; please get away from me."

"I was just trying to help Mac."

"Nice, but we've already spoken about how happy I am that you're here." Mingled with the slight twinge of guilt he felt, Will was also pleased by her answer. He could tell that Mac was in that place – where she had so often been whenever he had to drag her out of bed for work in the morning – where she felt that she was the victim here, and anyone who was annoying her was fair game. There was a part of him (a rather large part) that was delighted that this time it happened to be Brian.

The journalist moved away, looking bitter.

"A little harsh?" Will asked, barely keeping the smile of his face.

"Yeah, I'm sure you're devastated. Help me sit up?"

"Okay guys, give her some space."

The crowd slowly pushed back, some actually disappearing to leave, satisfied that Mac was okay. Will gently put his arms under hers to help her sit against the wall; Jim fidgeted as if to move forward and help, but they didn't need it.

When she was settled she looked a little dizzy; Will's hands resting on her leg and shoulder.

"Mac?"

"Just a little light-headed."

He said nothing at first, just passing her the cup of water that Maggie had brought. "I suspect that's what caused it in the first place – am I right?"

She looked guiltily up at him as the cup reached her lips. "Will! –" She began beseechingly, but he shook his head firmly and cupping her cheek in his hand, he made her look back up at him.

"Kenz, for the rest of the week, you eat when I do."

"What? You eat like a horse, though!"

"You eat like you're anorexic."

"I'm not!"

"No, I know – you're just a workaholic." He sighed, trying to get her to stop looking at him with those eyes that had undone many past decisions, and to just do as she was told for once, "Kenz, clearly you haven't realised this yet, but you're bleeding. You smashed your head off that plant pot."

Mac frowned at him for a moment, wincing as he wobbled slightly and pressed harder on the cut. "Ouch. Well that explains why my head hurts, I guess."

"Jeez, Kenz –"

"And speaking of injuries, you should maybe come down off those knees before you turn in to the Tin Man and stay that way?" She started humming the tune to "If I only had a brain…" though it sounded it bit like she was doing it whilst she was drunk.

"Don't try and subdue me with musicals, just shut up and let me take care of you. There's an ambulance coming for you."

Her face fell in an instant, "Oh, come on – Will!"

"Mackenzie, you have a gash on your head the width of two fingers! It needs sutures!" He had been quite (unintentionally) loud – people were staring – but she was being ridiculous. They glared at each other for a second. "Look, I know you don't want to go, but it's that or you're going to sit here in ACN bleeding out." As soon as he said it a look of horror crossed his face as Mac's somehow paled even further. Before he could say anything else, however, they were once more interrupted by the annoying voice of Brian Brenner.

"Mac? Ambulance is here." Brian stepped forward rather arrogantly just as Jim was about to do so, earning himself a few glares from the remaining staffers behind him.

"Did I not tell you to leave me alone?"

"Mac, it's a hospital – don't be such a baby!"

Will had had enough. Grabbing Mac's hand, he placed it on top of the tea towel so that she would hold it there, and stood up so quickly and fluidly that he surprised himself, quickly invading Brian's personal space.

"Why don't you stop being so insensitive? You know that she's fri -" He felt a small but urgent tug on his trouser leg and looked back down at Mackenzie, who suddenly looked much smaller and more vulnerable. She shook her head, and Will looked from her to Brian, and back again before quickly changing tack. "Just give her some space, okay? She said she wanted you to go away, so why don't you do the decent thing and respect her wishes?"

Looking utterly confused and more than a little put-out that Will clearly knew something he didn't, he moved away to the back of the group, still keeping his eyes fixed on them as though trying to read their lips. Will crouched back down to Mackenzie.

"Hey, Mackenzie? You're not going to have to go alone, okay? I can go with you, or – or Jim –" Jim stepped forwards, nodding slightly, and instantly proving Will right that she had told at least one other person why she hates hospitals.

"Can you come?" Her voice was barely audible and he felt another, rather larger pang of guilt shoot through him. His hand twitched as if to reach for hers, but there were almost twenty people watching him and he felt a little self-conscious.

"Yeah, of course I can." Out of the corner of his eye he could see Neal leading the paramedics into the room. "Alright everyone, we'll see you tomorrow. You can get out of here."

Taking it as a direct order from their boss, the staffers scattered, many calling out 'get well' wishes to Mac. He wasn't overly surprised at the small knot of people who hesitated, lingering. Jim stepped forward, Maggie hovering behind him. He knelt down and put a hand on her shoulder. "You okay to go?"

"Yeah, Will's coming with me. But thanks, Jim." He nodded, shooting her a smile, before getting up and steering Maggie away and saying he'd walk her home. Charlie was next.

"You take it easy Mac, okay? Don't rush back if you can't."

"It's okay, Charlie. I'll be fine by tomorrow." Will rolled his eyes and glared at her half-heartedly; she just looked back at him defiantly. Charlie couldn't help but laugh at the two of them.

"Right you two, see you tomorrow. Feel better, Mackenzie." He tugged Brian, who had also been wavering, and started talking to him about the article.

Mackenzie closed her eyes and let out a shallow breath as the medics started asking her questions. She felt a gentle tickle on the side of her head, and opening her eyes she found Will pushing the hair on the side of her head that wasn't bleeding back behind her ears.

There was an odd look on his face, but she smiled softy, letting her eyes close again. Someone was telling her not to go to sleep, but she found herself not caring to listen. It was the gentle, warm pressure of Will's hand fitting into hers that forced her eyes to open once more. He was looking worried.

"Stay awake a little longer for me Kenz, okay? Please do that?"

Even in her dizzy state, she knew she wouldn't refuse him. She blinked blearily and then nodded, trying to focus on what the paramedics were asking her; Will's thumb gently soothing on the back of her hand encouraging her to keep going.


Hope you've all had a satisfactory hate-Brian time in this fic ;)