Maelstrom.

There isn't really a point to this…I just wanted to write something about the #2 clip from ep 5 and also write Charlie.

(This is what comes from getting into weird non-arguments with a Swedish DJ about the moral bank balances of Russia and USA on twitter 'til half four in the morning.)

Also: loving all the fics that have been posted this week! They're all sooo good! So nice to see this fandom so alive again now summer's back :)


She scoffs at him as chases her ridiculously narrow heels across the bullpen.

"Absolutely not."

"Mac –"

She whips around so fast that her hair actually stings his nose as he comes to an abrupt halt for fear of bowling her over. There's steel in her eye that he's familiar with, even though she saves this particular glare for special occasions.

"Billy, you need to go home."

What the hell is her fascination with that nickname? Does she know that the three-brick deep wall he has built up inside him since she left cracks every time she says it? Does she know that he wilts about half a centimeter at the lilt of her accent and timbre of her voice?

He opens his mouth to protest once more, but she holds up her hand threateningly, as though she might hit him with it, patience running thin.

"Forget it Will. You are in no fit state to be on air tonight - you'll only make yourself worse. So for once in your life will please do what I'm telling you to do and go home."

Her voice was throaty and sounded harsh, but the softening of her eyes revealed that she wasn't really angry with him. She was worried. He made her worry a lot. He thinks he should probably stop doing that. But right now he's more intrigued at the warm trickling sensation in his abdomen as he watches her.

They've attracted the attention of their staffers as well. That awkward, yet by now familiar buzz as everyone in the bullpen tries to act like they are continuing to work whilst they keep one eye and ear free at all times to ensure that they don't miss the breaking developments in the ongoing saga of Will and Mackenzie.

The group gathered in the conference room doesn't bother; they just blatantly stare and whisper.

Mackenzie has her back to them and Will doesn't care. Though maybe soundproofing that glass isn't such a bad idea…he has a feeling that inter-office arguments aren't going to die any time soon. And sometimes he's not even involved - he doesn't mind so much when he's watching other people's romantic tiffs.

He zones back in as Mackenzie tilts her head, something clearly on the tip of her tongue. As it turns out she is actually somehow magically aware of the scene at the back of her head, because she snags his jacket sleeve and hauls him just a little further towards the edge of the room.

She struggling, like she's not sure she should say this because he might take it the wrong way. Or maybe she doesn't think she should say it. He wishes she just would because he needs to find out. She's been so distant recently that he finds himself hanging on every word she gifts to him, before getting pissy with himself because he's been trying so hard not to have those precise feelings.

"You – you know you have a family here, right? A - a family who love you more than he ever did?"

Oh. So a bit of both those things then?

He feels terrible. She looks like she wants to throw up. Or possibly just run away. One of them.

He nods slowly, his brain struggling to cope with the combined reactions to Mac's face, Mac's words, and what those words may mean. He's trying to speak or at least make a noise, but the problem seems to be that his tongue is stuck to the bottom of his mouth and his body seems to have stopped producing saliva, because what else could explain his mouth turning to sandpaper?

He doesn't want to go home, though. He doesn't know why, but where he usually pictures his apartment in his mind at the end of a long day, all he can see is a massive black hole. Uninviting, dangerous-looking, and empty. Oh, and dark, did he mention that? He wants to stay here, in the light; where its busy and where he's not alone. Mackenzie is warm; she's standing fairly close to him.

She also seems to know where his mind is at, which he has always thought was simultaneously creepy and yet exceedingly comforting…and maybe a bit hot.

"Just – just promise me something." She looks at him uncertainly and it dawns on him that she is waiting for a response. His tongue still isn't working. Okay, so maybe there is something to her theory about him going on air tonight being a really bad idea. Not having the ability to talk would be a fairly fundamental issue with doing a broadcast tonight. He nods. His muscles are still working. Win!

"Just, don't mix the pills with the alcohol this time, okay?" She's trying to smile to make it light and in jest, but Mac could never lie with her eyes. It's one thing he has never understood about how she could have kept an affair from him for so damn long. "I don't think I can handle finding bleeding on the bathroom floor again."

He really wants to hug her. Screw the audience, he just wants to feel her next to him. Against him.

He doesn't.

"If you need anything, you call someone – alright? It can be me, or Charlie, or…or Nina. Whoever. Just - just have someone there alright?"

It would never be Nina. And he thinks Mac knows that right now. He hopes she does.

There are only two people in this Newsroom – okay, four (he caught Joey and Jake watching the 911 broadcast a few weeks back) – who know about this situation and he wants it to stay that way. Actually, he's kind of always liked that the only person who knew the whole story was Mac. She was the only one who really knew him – knows him.

He mutes the small voice in his head which picks another great moment to voice in a questioning tone why the fuck he is with Nina rather than the woman in front of him. That is not a line of thought he wants to go down right now. He doesn't want any strings right now.

But just the way she said 'Nina' – the way he could tell she was forcing herself to acknowledge and respect that…it killed him a little bit inside. He could feel bits of himself freezing over…just like his body would be doing just now, fifteen hundred miles away….

She's waiting for him to answer again, but she seems to understand how difficult this is for him. He loves and hates her for it, for different reasons.

"You might want to talk to Habib in the next couple of days as well?" She says it tentatively, like she knows she's stepping over a line here; and she is. Because that is something his girlfriend should say. Except his girlfriend doesn't have a fucking clue. And he doesn't want her to.

He sighs, his eyes flickering shut as he tries to rustle up any liquid he can to lubricate his mouth and regain his power of speech. It occurs to him that he isn't crying. He's not altogether sure why he's surprised at this, because many many years ago he swore to himself that he would never cry over this man again, but there you go. He feels like maybe he should…because it should be genetic or something. But he is not. Is that wrong?

When he opens them again, feeling quietly confident that he can now manage a basic sentence in thanks, he finds Mackenzie's eyes wide and much, much closer to his own than they had been a few seconds ago. Her hands come up to hold him steady and he realizes that he is swaying. But he catches a wiff of her scent and he can't bring himself to push away.

It occurs to him that her eyes are not wide because he's swaying (which, admittedly, can't be a good sign), but because he's fairly sure his lip just brushed a part of her face, and they really are far too close. And everyone is watching. And he's doing this to her and he's a massive dick.

But he still can't pull himself away.

To his relief and utter, devastating disappointment, one of her tiny, delicate hands moves to catch his shoulder, anchoring him, and the other curls around his neck as she presses a gentle, but much safer kiss to his cheek, before wrapping herself around him and holding him there as tight as she dares.

This is so, so wrong, and yet so fundamentally, instinctively and elementally right. He'll take what he can get, and that kiss was like a brand to his skin, yet it has a left a warm, soft feeling diffusing through his skin and into his bones rather than an angry welt.

He must be killing her, but she's doing this for him anyway, because he realizes in one brilliant moment that she really wasn't kidding when she had insisted oh so long ago, that she realized her love for him only when she no longer had his. Because this was love. And he had branded her a liar and mocked her with his for it. And now he thinks that maybe he's the one who doesn't deserve such devotion.

"Whatever you decide to do, I'll call you later. I'll check on you, okay?"

Because he hopes she knows that he is absolutely not going to tell Nina. Her voice seems to have gone a little dry and he hopes she isn't crying, because he's not sure he can handle that.

As she gently pushes him back out of her arms, everything he was feeling before she came and informed him in no uncertain terms that he was not going to do the show that night, comes rushing back and somehow, despite all the anger and the guilt over his earlier actions, he now feels light headed. Like that feeling you get when your blood sugar plummets just before you black out from the pain. Except he can still see Mac standing there.

She tears her eyes away from him and nods to someone over his shoulder. He feels a hand there and turns to find Lonny standing behind him.

Turning back to Mac he catches the end of whatever look she and Lonny had been sharing and the quick transition of her face as she tries to look innocent.

She has a show to do. And Reece is breathing down their necks trying to get both of them fired. And Reece got rid of Lonny three and a half months ago. But he's here.

Mackenzie blushes faintly and pushes him off towards his former bodyguard, trying to pretend like it didn't mean anything again. But it did. It just wasn't supposed to.

He squeezes her hand briefly, hoping that she understands that, even if she doesn't want it or like it. Her head just drops and she doesn't look at him again.

It's a long walk to the lift with his silent companion.


Mac watches him go, faintly aware of the burning stares on her spine and the back of her neck, but she just finds herself slumping against the nearest desk as she watches Will and Lonny head around the corner.

"He had a meltdown?" A quiet voice rumbles in her ear. She jumps.

Her hand is at her throat, pulling at her necklace (a nervous, anxiety tell that she had picked up in the Middle East.)

A weight at her shoulder steadies her, and she finds herself slightly leaning into Charlie, deeply wishing that she could just vanish into thin air right now. Her eyes don't move because Will is just about to turn the corner, but she nods dazedly. She can hear the older man tutting just behind her, his hand squeezing her shoulder reassuringly.

Had he just seen that scene? Oh fuck it! They were in a massive, oval, glass-divided room – everyone had seen that scene. Just like everyone had watched them have it out eighteen months ago after her stupendous technological failure.

She hopes they have at least been entertaining for their staffers, even if they are slowly ripping each other to pieces.

"You sent him home for the day?"

"Yeah." She clears her throat, knowing that Charlie didn't really need to ask, he is just keeping her from diving inside herself. She steels herself to look at him, finding his soft, crinkled eyes gazing back at her, offering unspoken comfort.

"You should go with him." He nods after Will and Lonny. Her heart sinks.

Charlie doesn't know.

Charlie doesn't know that even though in spite of everything she would have followed him if he'd asked (because she was pathetic like that), she couldn't contemplate the idea that she would arrive back with him and find her sprawled out on the sofa or the bed. And she really doesn't want to be the one to tell him.

He is looking at her strangely, and she hurries to cover it up, straightening herself and blinking furiously. Because really, she feels so utterly tiny right now.

"Lonny, uh, Lonny is going to go home with him and make sure he gets home safely. I told Will he should call one of us if he needs to, and that even if he didn't, I would call him later just to check. He'll be fine Charlie. He just needs some space. You know what he's like about his father."

She isn't sure whom she's trying to convince, but neither of them are buying it and Charlie's looking at her with a mix of incredulity and disappointment. In her! Oh, how she really wants to scoff at that. But she knows it was not her place to.

"Mac –"

"God, Charlie, he has people to call if he needs to. He'll be fine."

She looks at him, shocked. She had just snapped. At Charlie! At Charlie! In the middle of the newsroom! And damn him, he knows them too well.

"What else happened Mac?" She's fairly sure that she's seen a rabbit wear the facial expression she can feel on her face right now; one time when she was a kid and she made the mistake of joining her father and cousins on a fox hunt. That adorable little animal, and accidental victim, had haunted her dreams for weeks afterwards.

"It – look, it's nothing to worry about. Will just needs time, and if he needs someone he'll call –"

"The only he people he has are you and me." Charlie presses quietly.

She hesitates. Because she's curious and she's scared.

What if Will went home and told Nina why he was so upset last night? What if his father had already come up in conversation and Nina has known for weeks? She doesn't know close they are.

She knows how private Will McAvoy is about his family, but these days she is so insecure – she is so sure that she doesn't really know him, that she's lost him (and not just in that way) somewhere – that she's not a hundred per cent sure she can trust her instincts about him any longer.

"I'm going to get back to the meet –"

"No, no, no." Charlie snags her wrist in exactly the way she had done to Will ten minutes before, and pulls her into the nearest office – Will's of course.

She feels like a little girl who is getting dragged away by her dad because some kid at school hit her. Oh. Second childhood metaphor in two minutes; the psych she had seen after she been stabbed said that meant something, but she couldn't remember what right at this moment.

"You're not going anywhere near that meeting until you tell me what's wrong with you, or I'll send you home, just like Will."

She kind of wants to cry, because Charlie is like a second father to her, and she had always felt so safe with her dad. But the problem is, he is also that to Will. In fact, as of an hour ago, he is the only father Will has now.

"Charlie, I am begging you to drop this? Please?" She has to do this, because right now this place needs a backbone, and Will is gone so it's going to have to be her. Truth be told, she really needs a distraction at the moment. She needs to put all her focus somewhere right now. Somewhere other than... "These guys need me right now, so I'm asking you to let me –"

"They can handle a couple of hours without you, Will, though –"

"Will doesn't need me."

They both shiver at how cold and final her voice becomes in a matter of seconds. She's horrified to realize how low and malleable her defences are right now – she keeps letting things slip and she's always been better than this.

"Will has always needed you." Charlie tells her softly, firmly; a wild, confused fire burning behind his eyes as he tries to put the pieces together. His brow furrows, confusion melting into frustration. "Don't think I haven't noticed the change in him these last few weeks. He seems a bit happier. And you guys were still doing the show –"

He looks at her questioningly and she swears she feels her heart crack, finally. Damnit that she's been such a damn good actress, because maybe, if Charlie had spotted the signs in her the way he had in Will weeks ago, then they would be somewhere different right now.

"I thought –" But he stops as the dam finally breaks as a tear slips past her eyelids and takes the remaining doubt he had about them away. She doesn't sob, but she can't help the small whimper that betrays her and escapes her mouth.

Charlie is on her in an instant, old yet surprisingly firm arms wrapping around her and crushing her to him, determined that he can fix at least one of them before the day is over. Mac could laugh at that – the poor guy is clueless. But she lets him hold her. Lets him try and soothe her, no matter how futile she knows it to be, because she's certain that this pain is the kind that always stays with you.

"He is happier." Oh god, what is it with her body today – every muscle apparently determined to betray her mind.

"Tell me." He coaxes. She can only imagine how bewildered he must feel right now – after that emotional lapse he had seen out there with Will and her in the bullpen, and now this, what she's telling him now. They don't make any sense to her, so there's no way they can make sense to him.

This has to be the end of this conversation. She can't take this. She needs to go back out there and forget this ever took place. She pushes him away from her, just as she had done to Will; but when she sees the hurt in Charlie's eyes, she rests her hands on his forearms still gripping her shoulders, giving them a gentle squeeze, and trying to convey how much she appreciated that without words.

He manages to grasp the underside of one of those arms as she lifts the other one to dry her eyes and try to blindly fix her face and calm her breathing.

"Mac." He presses, squeezing her arm in return.

She takes a deep, calming breath before she looks him in the eyes, relieved to feel that cloak of confidence, her mask, falling over her body again now that she has had that moment to herself, that release. It is all she has had to protect herself these last six weeks.

"You're right in a way. Will is seeing someone. He's just not seeing me."

Charlie's, usually amusingly endearing black eyebrows shoot up, the confusion once more dancing behind his eyes as she watches a million questions form there.

She needs to leave before he starts asking them.

She slips her arm down his and out of his grasp, stopping to give his hand a brief grasp before she hurries to the door, stopping once to fix her make-up in the reflection, before squaring her shoulders and exiting.


Ten minutes later, Charlie has made some calls, and just to add to the drama, Jim knocks on the door at the same moment when he curses Will's name and throws the telephone back down at the receiver. It misses and the whole contraption falls to the floor.

He looks at Jim, who is staring at him wide-eyed and curious, looking just a little bit protective, like he's certain he knows what – or who – this is about.

Charlie doesn't know what to do now.

It's all so messed up.


So I can feel the angst slowly beginning to loosen. I hope I'm not boring you with it now :p Episode 5 looks promising.

Thanks for reading!

Note: Everyone who has reviewed, followed and favourited Hello, Goodbye and Let Her Go, thank you so much! Amazing, touching response! :) Finishing next chapter of Let Her Go RIGHT NOW!

Ax