A/N: I don't feel like waiting until next summer, so i'm trying to put something together here. Enjoy. This is post 1x10.
August 8th 2011.
"Has Will already gone?" Mackenzie McHale surveyed the remaining staff of New Night who were picking up their things and clearing out of the office for the evening.
"He left about ten minutes ago," a sullen looking Jim responded. "Mac, we're all..."
"Going to get a drink?" she finished his sentence.
"Well I was going to say rooting for you, but we are going to get a drink as well." He tried to manage a grin, but it only came off as a grimace, despite his best effort.
Mac smiled in response. "I suppose it's always good to have someone on your team, you know I'll always be on yours, but I'll pass on the drink tonight. I have some things to take care of." She patted him lovingly on the shoulder and headed back to her office to gather up some things. Jim had become less like a coworker and more like a brother to her in the years that they had been together. She hoped that his situation with Maggie would work itself out, but she had her own domestic woes to deal with in the mean time. Honestly, she hadn't had a real night of sleep since they had found Will unconscious on his bathroom floor.
In the cab ride downtown to her apartment she felt perplexed. What had the message said? She had been so excited about Will's sudden desire to work again, that she honestly hadn't thought about what it said until the block three commercial break during the show that night. When Nina had said, "I'm trying to help you," had it been more than a warning about the possible tabloid?
No, she couldn't let herself think that he had chosen that night to profess that he still loved her. Things like that never happen for real. It was probably that he wanted he to come over for some 'ding dong bin laden's dead' sex or something like that. No. Will wouldn't solicit sex from her over the phone. Ugh it was infuriating!
What she wanted more than anything else in the world was for Will to love her again. She wanted a second chance. He had been very serious earlier tonight when he answered her question about true love always winning. It encouraged her to keep a tiny space open to cherish the possibility of a future with this man whom she loved so desperately, but had hurt so tremendously.
She was in such a daze that she didn't realize that the cab had pulled in front of her building. She handed the driver some cash and went in.
"Good evening Ms. McHale." Her lovable doorman greeted her. "There's a package for you."
"Hi Benny, thank you." She said as he went to retrieve her package from behind his desk in the hall. He handed her a brown shopping bag that she looked quizzically at.
"It was just sent over a little bit ago, not sure from whom." He smiled, "Have a nice night!"
Trying not to show any signs of excitement upon receiving a surprise, she bid him goodnight and headed for the elevator.
The second the elevator doors opened she practically ran down the hallway to her apartment, unlocked the door and ripped open the bag. There was some tissue at the bottom, and on top of it a card.
She clumsily opened the envelope and pulled out a plain white note card on a thick card stock. It read in familiar handwriting:
Thanks for the pajamas. Now it's your turn to get some sleep. Stop thinking about the message.
Without thinking about it, she pressed the card to her chest and squeezed it. His note may have been brief, but knowing that he appreciated the all nighters that she had been pulling at his hospital bedside warmed her heart. Then she reached in the bag and pulled out a tissue wrapped parcel. Inside was the softest cotton pajama pants and tank top that she had ever felt. They were a soft pink with a pattern on the legs and a solid cream-colored top. There was also a matching long-sleeved wrap top. In her hands it felt cool and velvety.
She smiled widely and reached for her phone. She texted Will; "definitely not thinking about the message. you were amazing tonight, please eat something and take your medicine! I don't have enough energy for any more hospital stays."
About five seconds went by and then she heard her phone buzz. "if I had known that being in the hospital was the best way to get you to my bedside, then I'd have done it sooner."
Her eyes went wide in shock. She had expected an attitude, but not a sexy one! "I don't want to be at your bedside. It was very uncomfortable."
buzz buzz. "But hospital beds aren't big enough for two."
He's actually flirting with me, she thought. "Which is why I'm enormously relieved that you are home. are you high? ;) " she hated to ask, but it wasn't worth wondering about it all night.
buzz buzz. "nope. leave me alone Mac, I'm supposed to be resting."
After a few moments Mackenzie realized that she was smiling like an idiot into her phone. She finally got up and headed to the bathroom to shower before putting on her new pajamas and passing out for a well-deserved dreamless night of sleep.
In midtown Will McAvoy had an equally dorky grin on his face. After three months of thinking that she was rejecting him, every conviction that he had held about his relationship – or lack thereof- with Mackenzie was overturned. The curtains had been drawn and the light had come in. He didn't know for sure how she felt, but he knew that she hadn't rejected him, and her insistence on the message as well as her admission that it had been her at Northwestern, had changed his entire perspective.
It was far too much to digest right now, especially with the mother load of a news report he had given that night. The one thing that he did know though, was that when he realized that she had never received that message, his life took a turn for the better.
Will managed to get his normal afternoon appointment with Dr. Habib rescheduled for first thing Wednesday morning. He hadn't gone into work until late afternoon on Tuesday, due to other checkups and tests from his recent hospital stay, and his only real contact with Mac had been during the show. On the outside it would not have appeared that anything between them was different, but he knew that something was. It scarred the living daylights out of him.
"So all this time, you thought she had been rejecting you, based on a voicemail that she never received?" the young doctor asked.
"Pretty much." Will gruffly answered, "I think the worst part is that for the past three months I have been such an ass to her. I knew I was being hard on her, but what I did with the whole Brian thing, is making me feel like the biggest jerk."
"Well it's good that you realize that you were punishing her. Now what are you going to do about it? How did she react when she discovered that the message was left?" Dr. Habib felt like getting Will to forgive Mackenzie, a woman he'd never met, would probably be one of the greatest triumphs of his career. Will needed to learn how to move on in a healthy way from things that hurt him.
Will thought about it for a moment, "At first she didn't react, like she hadn't really thought about it, and then she started pestering me non stop. It was cute actually."
"Where was she when you were in the hospital?" he asked.
"It was her that found me in my apartment, and she stayed by my bedside pretty much the entire time. Even though I treated her like crap." Will was letting the guilt build up inside of him.
"So now you know she wasn't rejecting you because she never got your message, and despite the fact that you have treated her horribly, especially in the past three months, she was the one who found and stayed by your bedside in the hospital. Other than guilty, how does this make you feel?" He waited for Will's answer by doodling a little on his notepad.
"Like there's a shot in hell that she's still in love with me?" His eyes were bright with excitement.
"So whats more important? Her still being in love with you, or you being able to forgive her?" Dr. Habib was feeling pretty good about this progress.
"Both. I need both of those things to happen." Will answered resolutely.
Mac was sitting at her desk working on reading through the love/hate mails they had been receiving from the show on Monday. She was happy to see that their ratings had not dropped. In fact they had gained a substantial amount of viewers in the younger age bracket. This was great news; indeed, they would have to keep up the work. The more kids from Camelot there were to watch them, the better, in her opinion.
She looked up as Will entered her office and sat a Starbucks cup on her desk. "What's this?" she asked.
"A latte." he stated simply.
"Umm, thanks?" she answered as she took a sip of what turned out to be a cinnamon dulce latte. It was delicious and the Dulcinea reference was not lost on her. "Yummy," she said after taking a sip and noticing Will looking quite pleased with himself, "how are you feeling?"
"Excellent," he answered, "still can't eat anything that tastes good, but it should be better in a couple weeks."
"Well we'll have to go out for vindaloo once you're cleared for spices." she joked.
Will instinctively grabbed his stomach and made a funny face, to which Mac chuckled. "We will," he said.
The moment seemed to linger until there was a knock on her office door. It was Charlie. "Just the two fools I was looking for." He greeted them as he patted Will on the back and stopped in front of Mac's desk. "Well the rating are good, and Leona is pleased, well she's pleased with us, I think she may have killed her son by now and put his body in the trunk of her limo. And more importantly, we are the popular kids on the block now, so we better not screw it up. Feels good to voice an opinion doesn't it?"
Will kept quiet, but the expression on his face betrayed his satisfaction. Mackenzie spoke up between sips of her latte, "Absolutely, it's very satisfying."
Will finally spoke up, "If I'm going to receive death threats I'd rather they be a result of me saying something I actually believe in."
"Me too McAvoy, me too." Charlie answered, "Can you meet me for lunch later? I need to go over some stats with Mackenzie, and I think you will find them exceptionally boring."
"Sure," Will answered, "I'll see you later, you too Mac." Their eyes met and held for a minute before he turned around and exited her office.
Mackenzie was completely unaware of the ridiculous look on her face as she watched Will leave, but Charlie was not. "What did you need to go over with me?" she asked after a few seconds.
"Nothing." Charlie answered as he sat down opposite her desk. "How are you and Will?"
Mac crinkled her nose in confusion before realizing he had not come down here for a business meeting. "We're okay?" she answered, "Maybe a little better than before the article. I don't know what he's thinking."
"Look he hasn't told me anything, but I did know about the message he left you." Charlie said.
"You did?! What did it say?" Mac asked excitedly.
"It's not my place to tell you, and I don't know the specifics anyway, but what I do know is that the look on Will's face when he realized that you had never heard it was one of the happiest I've ever seen him give. Certainly the most happy in the past four years." He paused for a moment to let his words sink in, "Don't give up on him Mackenzie. He's spent a lot of time thinking you ignored what he said, and now he knows that you didn't."
Mac thought for a moment. "So bringing Brian in. He did that specifically to punish me. God, he probably feels like shit about that, no wonder he's been so..."
"Nice?" Charlie finished her sentence. Mac simply nodded in agreement. "Look he may not have completely gotten over what happened before you left, but he has definitely leveled the field a little bit."
Though she thought that getting this kind of advice from Charlie seemed a bit strange, she didn't have a lot of friends to ask, and he knew the two of them better than anyone. "What do you think I should do?" she asked.
Charlie considered her for a moment. "It depends on the outcome you want. If you want Will to forgive you so that your working relationship becomes stronger, then I would be really nice and make sure you don't give him any inclination that you are interested in more than that..."
"And if I want more?" She asked.
"Then keep giving him a hard time about everything and go out of your way to frustrate him." He smiled at her as he answered. "Do you know what you want?"
"I've been working thirty feet from it the past eighteen months and I'm about to go insane if I don't get it. I just, love him, so much." She looked bewildered as she spoke.
"Then keep doing what you're doing." He stood up and headed for the door, "Mac, you know how long it takes wounds to heal, he's getting there."
Mac nodded as Charlie left her office. Sitting and waiting was so difficult sometimes, but she knew that there was nothing she could do to make Will forgive her faster. She just had to keep on the narrow path, and hope the light at the end of the tunnel would come sooner rather then later.
The next week things around the office had resumed their usual pace. Mackenzie and Will were expected to attend a meeting with all the other anchors from the varied programs about how the network was going to cover the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Neither was particularly looking forward to the meeting, but they needed to be team players with the network. Having leverage with Leona didn't excuse them from everything.
"Will, are you ready to head down?" Mac poked her head in Will's office about ten minutes before they needed to be downstairs. Will was just putting out a cigarette and standing up from behind his desk.
"Ready as ever." He said as he followed her through the door into the newsroom. She felt his hand every so slightly touch the small of her back as they walked to the elevator bay.
When the doors opened they stepped in alone. As soon as they closed Will started speaking abruptly. "Are you ignoring me?"
The shock on Mac's face was obvious, "What?! No! Not at all! Why would you think that?"
Will eyed her with suspect, but her reaction was genuine. "I just didn't expect you to give up so easily."
'Oh' Mac thought, 'he's on about the message.' She then chose her words carefully and took a small step to fill the space between them. Her free hand touched his arm. "I was just trying to give you space to decide what you wanted to do, that's all. Do you want me to pester you more?" She asked innocently.
Suddenly the air in the elevator became very hot as Will gazed into Mac's eyes. "I wouldn't mind that," he finally said.
Mac smiled and noticed that they were almost at their designated floor. She frowned a little when she realized that this close contact was soon to be over. Before she knew what was happening, Will hit the emergency stop button.
"Will what are you doing?!" She shouted in alarm, but before she could do anything else, he had her backed against the wall of the elevator, his face mere inches from hers. His hand came up to touch her face.
As he gazed intensely into her eyes he said, "Mac, I just need you to know that I'm trying." It had been a long time since they had been this close and he savored in her smell. He pressed his forehead against hers.
The sensation of being so close to Will had immediately turned her on, but she wasn't sure if now was the time for this to happen. She finally spoke, "I want you to keep trying. Please don't stop." Her words were honest, and she wanted nothing more than to press her lips to his, but this had to be his choice, not hers.
He inched away from her so that he could look into her eyes, his hands on either side of her face. The desire to kiss her was so strong, but he knew how it would affect him and he couldn't afford to go into this meeting in that state. He took his thumb and ran in down the length of her nose, which made both of them smile, backed up and pressed the emergency button again, which immediately started the elevator. Having worked in the ACN building for a long time, he knew how long it took for the elevator being stopped to actually trigger an alarm, and he figured they had about ten more seconds, but now wasn't the time to push the limits.