This is my 2nd alternative to the second scene of the video posted on the Newsroom's facebook page on the 10th of July.
Two eyes, a hand, and then he found himself forced against the wall as the full force of Mackenzie McHale's wrath met him, invading the limited amount of space between them, and emanating from every inch of skin and pore on her body as she forced him into a corner, undoubtedly to give him a good hounding over the stunt he had just pulled.
"Are you out of your MIND?!" She yelled.
There it was.
"I agreed with –"
"I don't care if you agreed with him, if you wanted to sign a public declaration with him, if you to endorse him for the presidency – you don't leave something like that on our table for our viewers, that's not what we do Will!" God, that fire in her eyes. It burned him delightfully. "The AUMF, seriously? You know the Daily Show just slammed Fox for this LAST NIGHT? Fox! The Five! The same people you dubbed the Taliban – Hannity! Hannity, Will! And Ann Coulter! You – God. It was on all the morning shows this morning – everyone is talking about it again, and you just left it hanging there! Jeez – "
"You don't think you're maybe overreacting just a little bit?" Her hair whipped his face so fast that he feared there might be a few scratches across his cheek.
"You know, maybe, maybe I would be…if this was the first time something like this had happened." She put her hands on her hips and leaned back a little out of his space; her face falling and becoming somewhat more vulnerable.
He felt the mood change instantly. It went from fiery and combative to cool and dejected.
"Billy, either we're a team and you want me in your ear, or I've finally outstayed my welcome and I should be helping you find a suitable replacement. What's your pleasure?"
Now he was speechless. Was she seriously considering leaving? She hadn't – he had had no idea that –
"You can't leave." The words tumbled out of his mouth before his brain had a chance to process them. Mac raised an eyebrow, unconvinced.
"Well, you keep leaving us, Will. You keep leaving us behind and frankly I'm getting tired of it. There's no point in me being here if you're just going to ignore me."
"I want you here." He said quietly. Mac scoffed.
"Really!" He protested.
"Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to be a little more convincing than that."
She said sadly, before patting him lightly on the chest where her hand had been holding him to the wall – wait. Her hand had been on him the whole time? How on earth had he not noticed that? Her shoulders dropping as though a large weight had just been placed upon them, she turned and started walking towards the door.
Had the last few weeks of secret meetings with Habib been for nothing? He was slowly chipping away at this wall and he was about to let her walk out the door…again.
No. Not this time.
He leaned forward and grasped her wrist, sharply pulling her back to him. She barely had a moment to question what he was doing before his other hand had found her waist and he had placed the most gentle kiss on her lips.
He felt her melt instantly, molding herself to him in exactly the way she had done in the old days. That is, before she froze. His intention (if you can call a split-second impulse an intention) had been to catch her off guard, but now she had obviously remembered where she was.
He felt her start to disentangle herself, but put his other hand at the base of her skull, tightening his grip a little to hold her there, even gently squeezing her waist.
He didn't try and deepen the kiss, kiss her harder, nor did he pull away. He just held her there. Briefly opening his eyes, he found her large brown ones staring back at him, startled and confused, obviously unsure about what he was doing and whether she should be making any moves here.
He ran his thumb across the back of her head and tugged her closer, trying to get her to relax a little. Only when she let her eyes close, and he felt her hands tentatively climb his chest to rest on his lapels did he kiss her again; loosing himself in the gentle pressure she returned.
"I'm trying Mac. I swear I'm trying." He mumbled against her lips, opening his eyes again to see hers crease into a small frown, feeling the line of her fingernails scrape across his clavicle as her grip on his lapels tightened.
He figured she didn't have much incentive to be reassured right now. She was right – this wasn't the first time in the last few weeks that he had broken off on the air. And each time he did he knew he was hurting her (and the staff). It was why had had started going back to Habib.
He felt her right hand unfurl and spread across his chest above his heart.
"You have got to stop caring about people you've never met liking you." She said in a frustrated tone, though (he was glad to hear) just a little breathless. Two large brown eyes were looking up at him and he found himself drawn there. "I don't quite understand how, given your behavior, but you happen to have a large group of people in the next room who know you a lot better and for some reason like you quite a lot. There is the slight possibility that they all need their heads examined, but there you go."
He couldn't help a small smile. "Can we talk about this?"
"What do you think we're doing?" She asked rolling her eyes, before she remembered the rather close and somewhat intimate position they were in. She blushed, pulling herself away before he affirmed his grip once more so that she did not get far. Even in this horrific light, he thought she looked beautiful like that. This seemed to catch her by surprise.
Still seemingly unsure of what to do with this newfound contact they seemed to have started, he slowly put her hand on the arm that was curled around her waist.
"I get it. Look, why don't you –"
The door burst open and Charlie Skinner charged through the doors, stopping just short of the pair in front of him, and doing a double take as his eyes catalogued their proximity and the suggestive positioning of Will's hands.
Will and Mackenzie could only look on as they watched their boss slowly work out what had been going on before he walked in. A knowing smirk crossed his face before he tried to school his expression into a more diplomatic look, but he didn't try too hard.
"And here I was thinking you'd be pulling out the thumb screws and the rack." He said airily, grinning at Mackenzie.
"You were listening?" Will asked exasperatedly and Mackenzie felt her face get hot again.
"I've been listening more often than you think recently." Charlie addressed him in a more clipped, serious voice. "You've been giving this poor girl all kinds of trouble."
All three of them knew there was a deeper meaning behind those words, but much like Will had just done, Charlie let them hang. There was a moment of silence.
"Do you mind?" Will asked, silently bemused by Charlie's impeccable timing.
"No." he shrugged nonchalantly, and as his boss' eyes shifted to Mac, who was too busy staring at the wall to notice, Will knew that he was staying here for her; that he was worried about her. And Will's possible intentions.
"Look," Mac ignored Charlie and turned back to him, "Why don't you join us at Hang Chews for once. You can talk to the staff and mend some fences, and then you and I can figure out why you're still letting this get to you."
Will studied her for a moment. She looked tired, he noticed, simultaneously wondering why he had not noticed it before.
"Okay." He agreed, trying to show her without words that he was being serious.
She squeezed his arm, reassuringly, and he let his hand finally slide out of her hair, reluctantly dropping to his side given the presence of the News Division President.
Will glanced over Mackenzie's head to see he was grinning again.
"I'm off to get my wallet then." Charlie said briskly.
"You're coming too?" Mac turned in Will's arm, the amusement clear in her voice.
"Wouldn't miss this." Charlie winked at her.
She chuckled to herself as she watched him leave, knowing he was only doing it out of support, that he would leave them alone and he was just looking out for her, for all of them.
As the door closed she could hear Will breathing behind her, and she unsteadily turned back to him to find him staring at her.
Kissing him had been – well let's just say she wasn't complaining. But she knew it wasn't real…not yet. It was just potential; not certainty, but she appreciated the gesture all the same. She still dreamed of the day when he would pull her into his arms and kiss her like she was the last person he would ever kiss. Just like he used to.
People often talked of dreams becoming reality. She often found it sadly ironic therefore that her dreams had been a reality.
"I'm still mad at you." She admitted quietly, her eyes flickering to the studio door.
"I know. And I'm still mad at you." He said honestly.
She already knew that of course, but it didn't stop the hurt any less each time she was reminded of it. This time, however, she could see a determination in his eyes that hadn't been there before, and the hurt dulled for a moment as a tiny bubble of hope dared to expand inside her.
They exchanged small smiles before will forced her to turn around and kept his hand lightly at her back as they walked out into the bullpen.
Later that night as he watched her thumb through his wallet, he smiled to himself, believing that tonight they had finally crossed a bridge.
The relationship they had these days was a maze of angst, guilt and desire, but
if they could just cross the next few bridges a little bit faster then maybe life would get better for them.
Four days to go people! EXCITEMENT! Be sure to check out all the clips and interviews that are appearing, especially from Jeff and Olivia! :D
Thanks for reading!
NB: sister story is called "Labyrinths".