|Lessons in Recreational Drug Use
Author: shan14 PM
It's not planned. But then again she isn't sure what she expected when she agreed to eat those cookies. First on her list had been hearing the rest of his message, and when his request had been that she join him, possibly in the hope that neither of them would remember, she'd thought very little beyond what she wanted to know or what the consequences might reap.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Will McA. & MacKenzie McH. - Chapters: 10 - Words: 52,207 - Reviews: 152 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 48 - Updated: 04-23-13 - Published: 10-11-12 - id: 8602140
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Ahhh, so it appears I let this get mushy. I'm trying to avoid too much mush. But I think Will would be mushy as well as petrified... and they still have a long way to go ;)
Thank you to all the wonderful, darling people who reviewed the first chapter! I hope this continues to be enjoyable! At some point we will switch perspectives. Mackenzie has lots of feelings about this baby too, but for now we're sticking with Will. Enjoy!
Mackenzie wakes on Saturday morning with the heavy set of blankets over her body and the warm press of a mattress under her cheek.
The bright New York horizon is spread before her out the windows, and a glance at the bedside table tells her it's only 7 o'clock. She stretches against the crisp sheets and thinks of waking in this bedroom years earlier – always as the sun rose, because Will doesn't believe in vertical blinds.
It's soothing, but she misses the warm weight of Will resting up against her side; an arm slung over her stomach.
She's pretty sure that if she got up she'd find him asleep on the lounge.
He sleeps on the lounge because it's easier.
He's never claimed to be courageous; people just keep giving him that title. They mistake intellect, a short fuse and a somewhat inconsistent morality for strength and valor. But he's not a strong person – he scares fucking easily; and right now he's about as scared as he's ever been.
That's why on Friday night when Mackenzie had fallen asleep pressed to his chest, he'd spent a good ten minutes debating the merits of falling back against the couch with her, and then had picked her up (so light and lithe in his arms) to carry her into his bedroom.
On Saturday morning she'd shuffled sleepily into his kitchen. He pressed a cup of coffee into her hands without thinking, because that had worked on the morning almost two months ago, and then startled when she turned and poured it straight down the sink.
She hadn't said a word, just reached up to take a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water, sipping it delicately without turning to face him, and Will had had no idea how to deal with the silence.
It wasn't awkward, it was just there. And Will had wanted to shot the moron who ever suggested things would look better in the morning.
Instead he walked out of the kitchen and into his bathroom to shower.
Minutes later he'd gotten out and wandered back towards his bedroom, a towel slung low around his hip because sometimes he's an idiot who likes to tempt fate and if the towel slipped, well, at least she might have said something – but she was gone from the apartment with only her empty mug and glass sitting by the sink.
Will had spent his Saturday with a glass of scotch and The Great Escape playing on repeat, all the while considering ringing her to enquire what the fuck they're going to do next.
He still doesn't know what they're doing, but at least he's certain her silence means she's just as lost as he is.
She doesn't call him on the Sunday, and on Monday morning when he arrives at work early she's already sitting in her office, greeting him with a smile and an enquiry about his weekend in the same cheery voice she'd been using months ago at the hospital. Will fights the urge to pinch himself.
Has he walked into an alternate universe? Perhaps if he clicks his heels three times and begs real nice he'll wake up and find that Friday night was a dream.
"It was fine," he tells her, smiling tightly, stepping fully into her office. He shuts the door behind him because she had asked that they keep this private; he just hadn't realized that meant they weren't going to acknowledge it at all.
He struggles to find something to say now that they're alone, finally settling on "How are you feeling?" and wincing when she flinches slightly.
"I'm fine. It's been a good morning so far."
He crinkles his brow but then thinks, Oh, morning sickness. So that's really a thing. And then, at least she's talking.
"Was it bad last week?"
He's hovering awkwardly by her door so he steps forward and seats himself before her desk. Mackenzie sits up straighter but seems to settle; she shakes her head imperceptibly.
"Not terrible, but not the nicest way to wake up."
Again he wants to say he's sorry. Sometimes it feels like they both spend their days apologizing for fucking up the others life.
"I tried calling you on the weekend," he tells her, but then remembers that he never worked up the courage to do so. He flounders for a second, a bashful flush settling on his cheeks, and Mackenzie smiles knowingly at him.
"Obviously I never did, though," he finally murmurs.
She watches him carefully a moment, but then – as if letting him off the hook – she tells him, "I did the same. I wasn't sure what to say."
We've never been in this situation before, Will thinks.
There's always been someone to blame for their problems. Whether it be Will's temper or Mackenzie's utter deterrence to consequences; her obvious betrayal or Will's time spent punishing her.
Now, however; well, they've both fucked up, but at the same time he doesn't feel like they've made a complete mess.
There's a small niggling sensation in his chest that escapes whenever he stops and lets himself feel about the situation. Because this isn't something they can fix, or make go away, but at the end of the day they've created something incredible.
A child. They've created a child.
"Mackenzie we're having a baby," he tells her, and his voice wavers with awe at the end.
She's silent a moment, avoiding his eye, with her gaze settled on her lap. It takes him a second to realise what she's doing, but she has a hand resting over her stomach, and Will feels both grounded to the spot and floating a million miles away at the thought that their child is there, under her hands.
Seven months. He's still absolutely petrified.
Mackenzie glances up and smiles at him – a full, honest smile that quivers with fear and Will reaches a hand across the desk to grasp hers. It trembles under his fingers but he squeezes tight and she seems to take comfort in it.
"We're having a baby," she murmurs back to him; looks to say something else, but then Jim steps through the door talking, startles only when he notices Will there.
The moment is lost in the split second it takes for Mackenzie to shift her hand.
He catches her attention in the newsroom later that afternoon by laying a hand on her shoulder and squeezing delicately.
It's something they used to do early on in their relationship – they tried so hard to be professional in front of the staff so Will had started pressing his fingers into her waist and shoulder and the curve of her spine in passing. At first it had been a way to catch her attention, then a good morning, or a good afternoon, and soon it had been a way to say I've missed you, or you look beautiful, or will you follow me into my office please because I really need to kiss you.
He'd avoided touching her for as long as possible when she returned, but slowly it has slipped back into their manner. He squeezes her shoulder when he wants to talk to her in private, or needs her time, and lately it's become a way to say thank you, or that show was good or even, we're getting there.
Today, perhaps, he just needs to feel her close because now their lives are entangled.
She follows him without question into his office, clutching her portfolio tight to her chest. She takes the seat opposite him when he sits and then there is a moment of silence. He's getting rather used to their silence.
"Sloan wants to lead with the debt ceiling," he starts.
"Sloan always wants to lead with the debt ceiling," Mackenzie mutters. "She's been agitated since August. And why is she telling you now, not me? She's supposed to be my person."
Will ponders it a moment; "I don't yell at her?" he throws back.
"Neither do I!" she pauses, "Most of the time. Sometimes I get a little annoyed. But you try fitting everything into 42 minutes!" she leans back and crosses her arms indignantly.
"I also understand what she's talking about."
"Shut up Will," Mackenzie runs a hand across her cheek and then smiles boldly. "Was that all?"
"I'm really not in the mood Will."
"To discuss this?" he gestures vaguely between them.
"To discuss anything! And there's nothing to discuss. I don't know any more than I did on Friday night and when I do know more I'll tell you. If you want to know."
"I do," he nods emphatically.
She huffs gently and then leans back, running her hands through her hair. It's out today and wisps softly at the end, curling towards her cheeks and framing her face. She looks pretty; and that isn't a way Will would normally describe her.
Usually, in the privacy of his mind, he's much more verbose. She's beautiful, yes, breathtaking, definitely; but there's a softer meaning to pretty that makes him think of warm summer evenings and chasing butterflies, and the rosy hint of colour in her cheeks today reminds him of both.
It's not hard to imagine a daughter, or even a son, with her soft waves of hair and clear eyes.
"I do want to know Mackenzie," he presses, because he thinks it's important. He wants her to know that he's in this as much as she is, even if he's loath to think about it beyond pregnancy.
Pregnancy he thinks he can deal with in an abstract way. It doesn't affect him, really, because he's not the one with a baby growing within him.
But a child is his. A child makes him a parent and that's a full time job that he can't skip out on, or retire from – and he doesn't want to think about that three days into knowing it.
"Have you started your script?" she asks, nodding towards his computer. Will shrugs indifferently and then nods.
"I've thought about it."
She makes a face. "I'll leave you to it. Please stick to what we discussed this morning. I know Sloan can be persuasive, but it's important that we start with West Virginia because –"
"Election Day. I know."
He nods, smiling. She rolls her eyes at him.
"Sometimes I'm not so sure you do know what you're doing," she tells him. "You're a lawyer and a News Anchor Will, you're trained to evade and pretend."
Sometimes she knows him so well it hurts.
"You look pensive. It's worrying," Charlie tells him following the broadcast. He has a bottle of scotch resting in the crook of his elbow and Will accepts the ACN mug without question.
"It's been a long week," he tells the older man.
Charlie makes a face. "It's Monday, kiddo."
He sips delicately at his drink.
They sit in silence, watching the camera operator and technicians clean up the studio. Will relishes the burn down his throat and the moment of calm Charlie affords him.
"Can you tell me?"
"Not yet," he sighs. "But I will."
Charlie gets up, patting him on the shoulder. "You know where to find me."
On Monday evening Will goes to bed early because he'd spent all weekend staring at his television screen. It's a good idea initially because he's exhausted, and he's half asleep by the time his head hits the pillow, but then he wakes at 4 in the morning and can't get back to sleep.
His body feels tight, like the muscles are stretched and they ache beneath his skin. He's stressed and uncertain and they're two feelings he hates living with. He knows, intellectually, that it's perfectly normal to feel like this, but he can't shake the feeling that there's something more and it's eating at his sanity.
He trudges into his kitchen and pulls the milk from the side door, taking the cereal from his pantry and then a bowl from the cupboard. He's been a fan of early morning cereal ever since he was a little boy.
Sometimes his brother would join him and they would hide under the dining room table, sipping the last of the milk from their bowls until they had milk moustaches across their lips.
Will pauses with his spoon halfway to his mouth, swallowing the final mouthful of cereal and then, glancing around the room surreptitiously, brings it up to his mouth to drink the milk.
He sets the bowl down on the table and grins to himself in the dark.
By the time the sun has risen over New York he has an old photo album spread before him on the coffee table and is sifting through it relentlessly, searching for a photo that he's only half sure exists, and the memory that comes along with it.
He pauses; fingers poised over the fading curls of paper, and then lifts the photograph delicately from its hold.
A young William McAvoy, aged three, with his legs tucked deftly beneath his bottom and a pillow resting across his thighs sits before him. Snuggled in the crook of his arms and dwarfed by his frame is a baby, barely hours old; his little sister Annie.
One of his first memories is holding her close in the early hours of the morning. His mother had been asleep in the room down the hall and he's sure his father was hovering nearby. He's doesn't know who took the photo, perhaps one of his aunts; there were always so many of them shuffling through his house in the early years.
Four children in seven years was no easy task, and as the eldest it had been up to Will as much as anybody to be in charge of the others.
After Annie had been Michael and after Michael, Claire. There had been a fifth child, another boy, and Will can remember coming home from school with Annie lagging behind him, only to find the youngest two with wide eyes at the dining table and no adults in the house. He'd made them a late lunch, because Ma and Pa had left before they'd eaten, and as the four of them had sat chewing on cheese sandwiches his Aunt Catherine had come blustering through the front door.
Apparently there wasn't to be another brother.
Will can still remember his mother's vacant eyes and his father's distant rage.
Now, he runs a finger across the blurry crown of Annie's head and tries to remember how fragile she had felt in his arms; like fine china, he thinks. That's how his father had described it.
He picks up his phone without thinking and only curses himself when the line connects and Mackenzie's soft voice answers, muzzy with sleep.
He pinches the bridge of his nose, annoyed with himself. "I'm sorry to wake you."
"It's okay, I was already up."
Will doesn't believe her, but is grateful for her words.
"I just wanted to...I want," he pauses, swallowing, and hears Mackenzie sigh down the line.
"Will. I'm terrified," she tells him. "I don't know what I'm doing and I'd never even really thought about having children before this. Before you," she corrects.
"Me too," he adds. "But are you happy about this?" he asks, and maybe that's what's been bothering him these past few days; why his skin feels like a livewire in a storm. He knows all the bad and uncertain feelings, but he doesn't know any of the good ones.
"I think I am," she tells him.
Will feels his shoulders fall and his breath relax and the pounding in his ears subside.
On Wednesday morning Mackenzie isn't at work and it takes Will a moment to realise why.
He feels funny the whole way through the morning meeting, even though Jim takes charge, and by the time the team have scattered to their desks leaving Will with a report on illegal immigrants to sift through and a promise to listen to Neal's proposal, the tremor that had lessened after their early morning phone call has returned.
There's a soft knock on his door around midday and Will calls the person in without glancing up. He only notices the silence, and then Mackenzie's presence, as she lowers herself into a chair.
"We need to talk about this," she says, and he feels his blood run cold.
"I don't want to tell anyone yet, but you know that."
"Yes," he agrees.
"Are we telling them you're the father?"
It's the first time anyone's referred to him as such and it hits him for the first time then. He's a father. He has a child. Wow.
"I'd like that," he finds himself telling her. He also finds it's the truth. Her smile, when it comes, it true and bright, tempered only as she bites her lip.
"Listen, Mackenzie," he leans forward; the door is closed but he wants this conversation to be theirs and no one else's.
"I don't know what this means for us," and she nods her head in agreement, "And I'm not ready to even think about what's going to happen in seven months. But I'm not going to run away from you."
"I know," she tells him, smiling beautifully.
She reaches beside her and it's only now that Will realizes she came into the room with an envelope. She places it on his desk, sliding it across to him.
"I know you said you weren't ready to think about seven months from now, but would you like to see what it looks like now?" she questions, slightly teasing.
Will fixes her with a glare and then picks up the image. He can't make heads nor tails of it, but he can feel Mackenzie's eyes on him. Ever so slowly she stands and edges around his desk until she's perched beside him.
"That's the head," she points out, and Will makes a funny noise of astonishment, surprising himself.
"How big?" he asks roughly, and Mackenzie giggles.
"About the size of a kidney bean."
He snorts. "We made a kidney bean?"
"It will grow," she tells him sternly.
Will thinks, in the small locked off part of his brain that isn't freaking out, that he's never heard anything sound so wonderful.
"Apparently it has fingers and toes and only a little webbing between them, so it's beginning to look less like a frog. It's also losing its tail."
"It had a tail?" Will glances up at her; can't help but grinning.
So sue him, he's holding the first picture of his child in his hands. He's allowed to feel overwhelmed.
"Its brain is developing, soon it will start creating neural pathways, and its lungs are also developing."
Mackenzie's voice is hushed, awe filled and tinged with excitement. Her eyes are bright and her lips are cherry red and Will can't help but watch her as she whispers.
For the first time in five days he relaxes and thinks, we'll be okay.