Discalimer: I do not own the newsroom
This first chapter is mostly setting and I'm a dialogue whore so... Hope you like it. I have most of the next chapters written already so I'll update in a few days.
CHAPTER 1: Mistakes
That night Will went to his apartment to another sleepless night, the events of the past days loomed over him. He allowed the memories to run riot in his mind for a few minutes, giving in to the sensations that accompanied them. He couldn't stop thinking about them, from his bleeding out on his apartment over the damn antidepressants to finding out Mackenzie didn't hear the voicemail, to getting rid of the whole TMI scandals, to the sorority girl coming to work for News Night, to once and for all being able to put on a goddamn good news show.
Mackenzie appeared in his mind, her eyes bright. He sometimes found her self-righteousness obnoxious, but there was a part of him that wished he could be so self-assured, so confident in what they were doing. She was not conflicted. How was it that they were both so driven by duty to the show, and yet he could give it up in the blink of an eye while she fought tooth and nail for it?
As he tossed again on his bed he thought about the voicemail.
She hadn't heard it. All these months he thought she had rejected him when in fact she never even knew about the message. All the nights he spent hating himself for having sent it, regretting every word, regretting how she didn't feel the same.
It was such a relief to find out that she hadn't heard it, of all the stupid things TMI had done to ruin his life these past months, he was feeling kind of grateful for this. Actually, he was feeling extremely good about this, he wasn't ready for her to hear that message; hell, she wasn't ready to hear it and no matter how much her puppy eyes melted him to the ground. They just weren't ready.
His phone rang; Will picked it up immediately "who is it?"
"Billy" someone sobbed.
"No Billy, it's me" there was only one other person in the world who called him by his nickname.
"Katie, honey, what's going on? Why are you calling so late?"
"I left him" the woman continued sobbing
"What? What do you mean? Left who?" Will stammered.
"Michael! Billy, I left Mike!" Katie clarified.
"Why? What happened?" Will asked worried
"He fucked this woman from work!"
"What? Oh my God, Kate, I'm so sorry, did you catch them?"
"What? No" Kate replied. "He told me himself, he came home from work and started crying and he told me- apparently it happened this morning. I just couldn't take it and I packed and got in the car. I'm coming down to New York, Billy. Can I stay with you?"
"You're coming right now?" Will sat up on his bed.
"Yes, I'm driving there; I'm going to get there in two hours or so."
"You really shouldn't be driving Kate, not in the state you're in" Will said worriedly.
"I had to get out, Billy. You must understand. Please let me stay with you."
"Of course you can stay; I'm not saying you can't. But did you call Beth?" Will knew Kate always told everything to their sister.
"Yes I did, she didn't pick up and then I remembered-"
"The cruise" Will finished for her.
"Yeah, she doesn't get back till next week"
"No, Billy I didn't want to do that to her. She's in Los Angeles with her best friend; I don't want to spoil her vacation."
"Shouldn't she be going to classes by now?"
"Not yet, she doesn't start till September"
"Well, OK I'll wait for you. Please drive slowly, no need to rush here."
"I will. Thank you Billy. I didn't know what to do."
"Come on, what are brothers for? Love you. Drive safe."
"Ok, love you too."
Oh God, Mike. He was such an amazing guy; Will couldn't believe he would cheat on his sister like that. They always had such a happy marriage. If Will was honest, he wanted the kind of marriage they had. They were high school sweethearts, and it really seemed like they had been together forever. How could Mike be so stupid to mess with what they had?
"I had sex with somebody else because I love you, I know that sounds messed up, but it's the truth." Mackenzie pleaded.
"How can you expect me to believe that?" The pain he was experiencing didn't seem to have anything to do with what he believed or didn't believe what she might say now or not say. The mute fact of his sweet Mackenzie having lain down with her ex-boyfriend, of all people, of her having taken off her clothes and her underwear and opened her legs repeatedly, had embodied itself in words only long enough for her to speak them and for Will to hear them before returning to muteness and lodging inside him, out of reach of words, or reason, like some swallowed ball of razor blades.
"Say something, Billy."
"When did this start?"
"I don't know. Four months ago."
"Well, maybe you should just keep doing it" he said. "Maybe you should just go and be his press aid, while you're at it."
"Is that what you want me to do?"
"I don't know what I want."
"It's not at all what I want; I want to be with you". Mac tried to touch his arm
"Yeah, right". Will said, stepping back from her. "But not before fucking your ex-boyfriend for four months."
"Yeah, you said that already." Bitterness sweeping into his voice.
"I know, but I really am. I know I should have told you right after it happened, but I couldn't bring myself to do it." She started sobbing. "It's over, Will. You have to believe me; it is really, really over." Her accent thick with emotion.
"Except apparently I don't do for you physically what your ex does!"
"Ohh" she said, closing her eyes prayerfully.
"He may suck as a human being, but he's definitely winning on other fronts."
"OK" She said, squeezing her eyes shut tighter, her hands on her head. "Go ahead. Do what you have to do."
"Sorry, I thought you liked talking about him."
"OK" she grimaced, her eyes still shut. "Maybe you want to just get all your sarcastic remarks before we seriously talk about this. Do you want to just do that and get it over with?"
"Actually, Mac, I just want to strangle you right now."
"OK. You can do that. It would sort of be a relief from what I'm feeling."
"I don't actually have anything else to say." He announced defeated. "I think we've pretty much covered the main points."
She nodded "Good."
"Except I don't want to see you again. I don't want to be in the same room with you again. I don't want to hear that person's name again. I don't want to have anything to do with either of you. Ever. I just want to be alone so I can contemplate having wasted two years of my life loving you."
"Yes, Ok." She said, nodding again. "But also no? No, I don't agree to that."
"I don't care if you fucking agree."
"I know you don't. But listen to me." She sniffed hard, composing herself, her tears had softened her face and reddened her lips and made her very pretty, if you cared about her prettiness, which Will no longer did.
"Will, I want to stay with you- I still want to stay with you. I know it must be horrible for you to have found out about this, I can hardly imagine how horrible. But I told you because I decided to stay with you; I want us to work through this, please. Please, Will, I want to stay with you, don't do this, please don't do this." She reached for him.
"Don't. Don't you fucking touch me" Will hissed flinching away "You did the worst thing you could possibly do to me" He stated. "The worst thing and knowing very well it was the worst thing, and you did it anyway."
"I'm sorry, Billy" she said weeping afresh. "I'm so sorry you see it that way. I'm so sorry this happened."
"It didn't 'happen'. You did it. You fucked Brian."
"For God's sake, though, it was just sex, just stupid sex. What's that compared to love?"
"Love? You want to talk about love now? How about the fact that I did nothing but love you? Look" he said, calming down. "I don't want to shout anymore, but you have to help me here and not be disingenuous about what you did or why you did it, or I'm going to shout your fucking head off."
"I'm not being disingenuous, Will. I love you"
"I mean it; you need to stop with that bullshit before I get more angry. I'm going to leave the house and I don't want you to be here when I get back." His voice cold with disdain.
"I know, I know." She said "I know you want me to go. I understand. But I have to tell you one more thing before I go, just so you know. I want to make sure you know that it's like being stabbed in the heart for me to leave you, Will. It's like having my skin ripped off my body." She cried.
"You'll get over it" Will said coolly.
"Maybe, but do you see what it means that I'm feeling this? Do you see what it means about who I love? Do you see what's really going on here?"
The sight of her pleading eyes became, at that moment, so painful, that he began to shout in spite of himself. "And whose fault is that, Mac? Why wasn't I enough for you? Why did you have to fuck somebody else? Who was it that always needed more time to think it over? How much fucking time do you need? Do you think there's anything that you just said that's going to make me forgive you? Do you think I didn't know you were like this every fucking minute of the time? And love you anyway, because I couldn't help it!"
"That's not fair, oh that's not fair, Billy"
"Fuck fairness, and FUCK you!" He slammed the door behind him as he left.
"Kate" Will said opening his door.
Kate went straight for his arms, hugging him fiercely. Will somehow managed to close the door.
"It's going to be ok." Will whispered while he stroked her hair back from her face. She looked like she had aged twenty years. "Let's get you settled."
Kate let go of him and took her bag with her, Will showed her his guest room, this was no time to talk, she needed rest.
"Thank you, Billy" Kate tried to smile.
"It's nothing, try to sleep Katie, we'll talk in the morning."
She nodded and began unpacking. Will could see that her clothes were obviously packed in a hurry. He closed the door and went to his kitchen. He decided that as he wasn't going to get any sleep tonight, he might as well eat his bacon sandwich.
Will woke up on his sofa to the smell of eggs. His eyes shut open and he saw Kate serving breakfast. For a moment he thought he was 12 years old and his mother was setting the table. He rubbed his eyes and stood up.
"Good morning, sleepyhead." Kate waved at him, although there was a smile on her face, her eyes looked red and a little bit swollen. Will waved back and went to his bathroom. There, he brushed his teeth and splashed some water on his face. He didn't even bother to look in the mirror, he knew he looked terrible.
He went to the dining room and sat down; Kate was already eating her breakfast.
"Why did you sleep on the sofa, Billy?" Kate asked as she put her glass of juice down.
Will didn't answer right away; he was enjoying the food too much. It had been a long time seen he actually ate breakfast. So used to toast and coffee to get him through the day. "I was working on some stuff and I fell asleep."
Kate looked up, she didn't believe him. How was it that she could always see right through him? "The food's really good" Will tried to change the subject.
"Thank you" Kate led that one slide "It's the least I could do for letting me stay with you."
"It's nothing Kate; you would do the same for me"
"Yes I would, I have actually" Kate tried to smile at him. Will immediately looked down; this was not the direction he wanted this conversation to go this early in the morning.
"What did you put on these eggs?" he tried again.
"Oh just salt, really" Kate let him off again. "So, do you have to get going, what time you go to work?"
Will looked up from his plate "I… I actually wasn't planning on going to work, not until later in the day, I thought you might need me."
"Thank you, Billy but that's really not necessary. You have to go to work" She insisted.
"No, I don't, my little sister needs me." Will took Kate's hand across the table.
Kate held onto his hand like a lifeline. "I'm sorry, Billy" Her eyes watered.
"You have nothing to apologize for, come on." He smiled. "Remember that time you had to rush Mel to the hospital because I gave her strawberries? The one thing she's allergic to!"
Kate smiled. "See? You really shouldn't be apologizing; I was the one that almost killed my own niece!" Kate started laughing.
Will called Charlie and told him he had a family emergency and would be arriving late for work. He called Lonny too and asked him to pick him up later in the day. For now, he was going to spend the rest of the morning with his sister.
Mackenzie got into the newsroom early as usual and saw that Will wasn't in his office. She started working on assigning the stories of that night and her mind got so caught up in it that she didn't notice when Charlie came into her office.
"Mackenzie" Charlie called.
She was startled "Charlie! You scared me I didn't see you there." She breathed heavily.
"Come up to my office, Reese wants to talk to you." He gave her a look.
"Oh God, now what?" she said rolling her eyes.
"I'm not sure yet, but with Reese is never good, is it?"
"No it isn't. Is Will coming too?"
"He was called as well but he isn't here."
"He's not here yet?" Mac asked frowning.
"No, he called and said he had a family emergency. He'll be getting here in about two hours- at least that's what he said." Charlie muttered.
"Family emergency? None of Will's family lives in New York."
"That's what he said, why would he lie?"
"I don't know. It just seems unlikely is all."
"Well you'll ask him when he gets here. Now follow me." Charlie said turning to leave.
"You could have just called me up on the phone, you know?" Mackenzie said still sitting at her desk.
"Yes" Charlie said turning around "But that would have meant I would have to spend a few more minutes with Reese. He's already in my office waiting for us." He grinned.
"Ahh, then do you mind if I make myself a coffee first?" Mac said mischievously.
"Not at all, make me one too."
"Budget cuts?" Mackenzie asked.
"If you're not going to care about the ratings then we have to make budget cuts to sustain this whole thing." Reese stated.
"But what does that mean exactly?" Mackenzie asked settling down her coffee on Charlie's desk.
"It means less money for your show" Reese said in a condescending tone
"I know what budget cuts are!" Mac said enraged "I meant, what am I supposed to do about them?"
"You have to fire some personnel and get interns to do the job for free." Reese explained.
"What? You can't expect me to do that, who am I supposed to fire? We're already tight as we are!"
"I don't care, just look for a work that's easy, fire that person and get an intern to do it."
Mackenzie was feeling completely exasperated, how could Reese be so cold hearted. "Look" she said, trying to compose herself. "We already have interns doing most of the work, and by the definition you just gave me the only people I can fire are some reporters and a few of my technical staff, I can't do that, those are people who followed me here from Washington and I won't do that to them."
"I could care less about the people who followed you here; you have to fire someone, today."
Mackenzie heard all this but couldn't really process it. It had been a long time since something made her feel so shitty, she was going to have to fire someone today.
As Mac lay by herself after sex, she sank down into sadness and loneliness. She began to silently cry for Will. They had spent so few nights apart over this year that she'd never had a chance to miss him and appreciate him the way she missed him and appreciated him now. As Brian slept beside her, she started gathering her things in the dark room; she dressed and left his apartment.
Driving that night had been very difficult over her tears, at one point she had to stop in the middle of a deserted street and try to calm herself down, she finally made it home and went straight to bed, curling herself up and smelling him in the sheets. Sleep finally came, giving an end to her torturous feelings.
"Good morning, honey" Will kissed her cheek.
She opened her eyes to his smiling face and for a second everything was perfect, he was finally home and he loved her and they were happy. But then thoughts of last night rushed to her mind and she had to hide her face in the pillow before Will saw the guilt.
"I'm jealous" Will said
Mackenzie froze "What?"
"You were getting to sleep this whole weekend while I had to give 4 seminars and catch the redeye to New York. I'm exhausted" He explained, lying down next to her.
"Oh, I'm sorry Billy." She whispered calming down. "But you can sleep now"
"I'm sorry I couldn't spend this weekend with you. I really am- it would have been a lot more fun than having to talk to mindless college students."
"It's ok, Billy." Mac said hugging him
"No it's not, it was your birthday and I couldn't spend it with you". He said kissing her head. "I'll make it up to you next year, I promise. We'll go on vacation, just the two of us." He held her tighter.
Mackenzie wanted to cry.
"Mac?" Charlie asked concerned
She snapped out of it, shaking her head in defeat. "I'll find someone to fire by the end of the day."
"Good" Reese nodded.