A/N: Written for the delightful prompt: Will and Mac are parents, they have a little girl and throw her a birthday party, from the even more delightful late-for-dinner over on tumblr. I really went to town with this. I adored writing it, even if it did take me forever. I'm going to be returning to Ella's world, I know it ;)


Ella McAvoy turns five on a Thursday.

Her parents do remember; after they forget.

ooo

It's not that Ella is a quiet child - because she's not.

At age four she could tie her shoelaces and recite the alphabet and write her name, and her parents names and her address.

She knows all about the moon and the stars because Will bought a telescope when she was three and the pair spent countless evenings out on the balcony mapping the night sky and googling constellations. She went through a dinosaur phase, where she would only respond to things by squawking like a pterodactyl, but much to Mackenzie's relief that only lasted a few weeks, because soon Ella discovered that dinosaurs were extinct and decided to throw her attention to species of animal that were actually living (dogs, mostly, and that's how they ended up with Henry the black labrador).

She knows her numbers all the way to a hundred, and most of them the way after that. She has a slight lisp, however, and Will likes to tease her, because it means she'll never be a news anchor.

(From the age of two, Ella has announced to everyone and anyone who will listen to her that when she grows up she will be an anchor like her daddy. Will's teasing generally results in tears, and Mackenzie always knows when he's been niggling at her because Ella's sobs grow loud and hiccuppy)

But if he's honest, Will hopes she goes much further than a News Anchor. He knows that most of his career was spent on matters that weren't really important, even if he and Mackenzie have finally produced a show that he's proud to be leading, but he hopes that Ella has more in life, because god knows his daughter is bright and capable of it.

She's talkative and restless and loves nothing more than running through the park with Will and Henry on a Sunday morning - he's taught her how to pitch and hit a ball and has almost convinced Mackenzie to allow her to play soccer on Saturday's. She sings loudly in the shower, and when Will questions her on it, she tells him its because all the characters on tv do it.

He just nods and lets her get back to a soapy rendition of Old McDonald's Farm, whilst promising to wind back her television viewing.

To Ella, what the people on television say is gospel, because daddy is on television and obviously everything daddy says is true. Will and Mackenzie once had a three hour debate with Ella, trying to convince her that there wasn't really a way to travel back in time, despite what the nice man in the bowtie with the blue box would have her believe.

Will's not even sure when she started watching british television, but he finds her with BBC American on all the time - apparently she likes that they sound like her mother.

So no, it's not that Ella isn't a loud, inquisitive, energetic child - because she certainly is.

It's just that every now and then her parents fall into the never ending whirl-wind of work, and Ella has never once complained to them about it - and so they are liable, when the Middle East is on the brink of destruction and voter laws amongst states keep changing and the economy (which always, always seems to be in a mess) is being hammered into their heads by Sloan - when all this is happening, they are liable to forget, and then feel guilty.

And that is how Ella McAvoy finds herself on live National News, on her birthday, with her hair in messy pigtails and wearing a party hat, telling the good people of America why it is so important that Sesame Street not be cancelled.

ooo

But to really understand the story, we need to rewind to Tuesday.

ooo

On Tuesday's it's Will's turn to wake Ella, because unlike her parents, the child would sleep until the end of time if they allowed her to.

It's perhaps the most wonderful thing about their daughter, Will thinks, that from the moment she was born she adored sleeping. Not like her parents, who have trouble finding the time to even lay in bed, instead Ella gets sleepy around seven, falls asleep within minutes, and then doesn't wake until the combined forces of an alarm clock and some firm shaking work to get her up in the morning.

It's more of a blessing than they could ever have asked for, because their strange working schedule means that Ella falls asleep on the soft lounge in Will's office, her special blanket (given to her by Jim when she was only days old) tucked to her chin, and then wakes in her own bed hours later.

Mackenzie picks her up from school each afternoon and the two girls have afternoon tea in the park. Ella tells her about maths lessons in the morning, and the boy, Thomas, who she sits next to, who never ties his shoelaces, and the paintings they do in the afternoon of the sun and the trees and the people. Ella's paintings cover every possible surface in her bedroom, and her parent's room, and the kitchen. And her parent's offices, and their workmates offices, and once Maggie even snuck a particularly colourful one of Will onto the front of the newsdesk before broadcast.

After, Mackenzie walks her back to ACN and Ella is left to her homework and her crayons and her toys in one of their offices - every few minutes someone will pop their head around the door and Ella will chat with them about Dora the Explorer, or the state of the economy, or the colour of the butterfly she's drawing.

(She usually discusses the economy with Sloan, because the little girl is very good at nodding and humming appropriately, and Sloan only ever wants someone to listen to her rant before she approaches Will on the subject).

At five o'clock Will, Mackenzie and Ella have dinner - sometimes in their office, or sometimes with the rest of the crew in the newsroom. Sometimes, if Ella's been very good, they'll go out to fancy restaurants or nice diners and mummy will have a glass of wine, because - as she says - it makes work more fun, and daddy always rolls his eyes and orders a diet coke. He's not allowed to drink adult drinks before the news, Ella learns, because mummy is afraid that it will make him silly on the television.

And sometimes, if they've been very organised or the day is very slow, they'll go home and Ella will sit at the stool in the kitchen with her legs swinging beneath her whilst her parents move around each other in the kitchen - they turn the music up loud and Ella sings along with her dad, because they both sound wonderful, Ella thinks, but mummy has been banned from singing, except on birthdays.

She likes the night at home the best, because no one is watching them and she can be as loud as she wants and mummy and daddy are always much more relaxed. Mummy leans back against daddy's shoulder and daddy hums and presses kisses into her hair.

Afterwards, the three head back to ACN and then Ella is put to bed with a story, her hair stroked back from her forehead by Will whilst Mackenzie sits at the end of the lounge and rests a hand on her daughters foot. They kiss her goodnight and turn the lights down low and then Ella is asleep, whilst the rest of the world continues - the news is broadcast and Mackenzie runs the show and Will signs off with a charming goodnight and everyone congratulates the other on another successful evening. Will picks Ella up, sleepy and lax in his arms, and carries her to the car, where she very rarely stirs. They arrive home and the little girl is tucked into bed and then her parents collapse, exhausted on the lounge, or in their own bed, and finally - they sleep.

Until morning, when they take turns waking the little girl up lest she sleep her life away.

It's Tuesday, and Will stumbles down the hall, hands trailing along the wall to keep him upright as the alarm in Ella's room begins to play a song from Dora the Explorer.

He's a little more awake by the time he opens her closed door. He tugs open the curtains across her window and the bright, yellow room floods with light. Ella, already slightly waking, shuffles in the bed to avoid it hitting her face and her little hands curl in fists to rub at her eyes.

Will pauses, wonders if she'll wake, and then chuckles to himself when her breaths deepen once more.

Hell will freeze over before his child wakes of her own accord.

"Ella,' he calls instead, leaning down to shake her shoulder.

It takes three goes, but before the forth, her tiny eyelashes flutter open and then she's blinking blearily at him. She hates waking, almost as if he's torn her from some wonderful world. And he supposes he might have - her dreams are surely filled with even more weird and wonderful fantasies than her everyday life already is.

"Good morning," he tells her, and she frowns at him in protest.

He learnt long ago not to wake her and then let her get up on her own, because she's just as likely to turn over and fall back asleep, so instead he holds his arms out and Ella lifts her own, slowly. He grips under her arms and hauls her up, and really, one day he's not going to be able to do this, because already his elbow is screaming and she's ridiculously tiny for her age. She curls into his shoulder and tucks her head into his neck, her limbs clinging to him like a monkey as he carries her out the bedroom door.

Mackenzie is already in the kitchen and Ella lifts her head sleepily to press a kiss to Mackenzie's cheek in passing, a soft "good morning mama," passing her lips, and delighting her parents.

Mackenzie is only mama in the early morning, when Ella is too sleepy to form more words, and it makes Mackenzie glow whenever she hears it, much to Will's amusement.

He drops the little girl down into a chair at the table and then turns to find a steaming mug of coffee pressed into his hands by Mackenzie.

Yes, he thinks, accidentally ending up with a daughter was probably the best thing the pair ever did, because he can't imagine his life without the brown haired little girl, or her mother.

"Thank you," he rumbles, and Mackenzie trails her hand down his chest when she passes him by.

She sets a bowl of cereal in front of Ella and presses kisses into the girls cheeks until she grumbles with laughter - she curls up on the chair and her cheeks are pink as she squirms but by the time Mackenzie finally relents, Ella's eyes have cleared and she's awake enough to start munching on her cereal.

Mackenzie makes a face because she's never liked milk, but Ella adores it - she soaks her cereal in it and takes delight in slurping it all up, much to her mothers horror. And Mackenzie like bagels and toast and cream cheese, so Ella sometimes steals little bites of her breakfast when she's busy reading the newspaper. Will settles across from them and steals half the paper from Mackenzie out of habit and Ella leans against his shoulder to read the headlines, even though he's pretty sure she only understands a few of the words.

He admires her dedication, however, and reads her some of the headlines in the hope she'll learn more.

It's when he has his coffee mug halfway to his lips that Ella gasps out loud - high and breathy and completely shocked - and Will stutters and almost spills hot coffee down his fingers. Mackenzie drops her piece of toast and has her hand on Ella's shoulder in an instance.

"Big Bird!" Ella exclaims, pointing to the paper, and Will lets out a deep breath because of course it was something to do with television and not, as he first suspected, his daughter about to implode.

He shares a glance with Mackenzie and it's times like this that he really loves her, because they may not always be on the same page about, well, anything, not least how to raise their daughter - but they agree on all the important things, and they share something now because of her, the ability to look up and know that the other just had their heart in their throat, or that the other is feeling the exact some sense of pride whenever Ella does something startling or amazing (everyday, her general existence, Will likes to believe).

He thinks half the joy or parenting comes from the child themselves, and the other half is shared between he and Mackenzie, because they created Ella, and only they feel for her as parents do - they share an irreplaceable connection now because the little girl currently scanning the newspaper article on big bird is completely unique, and they adore her.

"What is it Ellie?" Mackenzie asks, because she likes to remind everyone that Ella's name is actually Eleanor, by calling her all variations of the name, even though everyone else has called her Ella from the day she was born. Will likes to roll his eyes at that, because Mackenzie is the only person in the world to call him Billy, and he thinks perhaps she just has problems following the rules.

(Though he has noticed the way Ella's eyes light up whenever her mother calls her name, like it's something sacred shared between only the two of them - and he can understand that. It stills sends shivers down his spine whenever Mackenzie whispers his name)

"Why is Big Bird in the newspaper?" Ella asks, serious and concerned and Will scans the article quickly to make sure it's nothing too sinister. Not that he's sure what he was expecting - it's a giant yellow puppet.

However, now that's he's glanced over the first few lines, he can sense a small meltdown coming and he shares a glance with Mackenzie. This is one of those defining moments he thinks. A bit like the decision to let your child believe in Santa, or the Easter Bunny. Do you let them live the lie, or expose the truth? He doesn't know.

He holds Mackenzie's gaze and then drops his hand to run across the crown of Ella's head. "It's a story about Sesame Street," he tells her. "They might have to cancel the show because the network is running out of money."

He speaks slow and careful and rubs a hand against the nape of Ella's neck. He doesn't know how she's going to react to this - on the one hand she can be practical as a doorknob, but on the other she does shares Mackenzie's genes.

Meaning she's liable to burst into tears at any moment - and the widening of her eyes would suggest it.

"Ella," he mumbles, hoping to forgo the dramatics, but she just takes a deep breath, pushes off from her seat, and then walks from the kitchen down the hallway.

Will tilts his head to watch her round the corner, and then glances back at Mackenzie who shares a similar, perplexed look.

There's a moment of silence, and then Will begins to worry, because Ella has never been quiet or even remotely sane about most things, and then suddenly there is a loud crash and he and Mackenzie are dashing down the hall into their daughters bedroom.

She's spread across her bed with her feet still planted firmly on the floor, and Will can just imagine her throwing her head face first into the mattress. The pair hovers at the doorway and watch as she starts to knock her forehead into the soft blanket.

"Ella?" questions Mackenzie softly, stepping into the room and settling on the edge of the bed. She runs a hand down her daughters back and stills her head bangs, and Will would chuckle if he didn't think it would earn him a glare because Mackenzie's voice is soft but needling, and he knows that means she has no fucking clue what to do.

"Ellie, darling?"

Ella turns her head to gaze up at her mother and her brown eyes are dark and stormy and wide. She purses her lips and Will steps closer, coming to stand behind Mackenzie so he can see her.

Ella sighs, and with perfect, overdramatic intones, sobs; "Why can't we have good things in the world?"

Will bites down so hard on his lip that he almost draws blood, but it stops the laughter - instead he turns his face and wanders out of the room because Ella will be inconsolable and Mackenzie's always been the one better able to deal with her drama.

As it is, there's no chance any of them are going to be on time for work and school.

He pours himself a second mug of coffee and settles down with a pen and the crossword.

This is Tuesday.

He's pretty sure he loves his life.

ooo

By Wednesday Ella has the combined forces of Tess, Kendra and Jim working on her Sesame Street story, to the point where, when Will enters the conference room to find the three typing busily at their laptops, and Ella sitting at the end of the long table with a notepad and a packet of crayola's before her, but no bright drawings on the paper, he mistakes them all for working on their actual jobs for a moment.

"Where are we on Kuwait?" he asks, and Tess is the first to give them away, because her cheeks flush red quickly.

Ella glances up but then studiously ignores her father, and Jim is left biting his lip, trying to find words to explain.

"We were getting to Kuwait. But then Ella wanted us to help with her...homework?" he offers, and Will crinkles his brow.

He's pretty sure Ella's homework hasn't included anything more difficult than spelling words and simple addition, and he's also pretty sure that Ella breezes through it.

"Really," he grunts, and then turns towards the four (almost five, he ignores) year old.

"Ella?"

He uses his fatherly tone of voice, because it's the most likely to work, and it makes even Tess sit up straight and take a deep breath.

"Yes daddy?"

"What did I say about stealing my journalists?"

Jim makes a noise at the 'my', but Will ignores him, instead levelling his hands on his hips and fixing the small child with a glare.

Don keeps needling at him, telling he's gone soft ever since Ella was born, but Will is sure that he's still capable of being as menacing as he ever was. Though Mackenzie would tell them all that he was this soft to begin with, and really it's hard to argue against when he melts under his girls gaze.

He's momentarily distracted, however, and that's enough time for Ella to slip from her seat and sidle up to him, tugging at the hem of his jumper, and really, he needs to find some resolve, because he immediately crouches down to her height even though it makes his knee scream.

"Yes?" he asks, because she only ever bites her lip when she's angling for something.

"Jim read me all the stories and he said they're going to stop Big Bird."

"Ella," he sighs. He did his own googling yesterday, because he knew she wouldn't let the point go - it took Mackenzie a quarter of an hour to convince her to get dressed after the breakfast meltdown, and even then Ella spent the entire ride to school moping.

"Ella, it might be true that Sesame Street ends soon, but sometimes that happens, especially on television."

He thinks the show's fucking lucky, actually; not many others can boast a runtime as long as there's.

But apparently that means nothing to an almost five year old.

Her eyes grow wide and Will can't help but feel that he's just murdered her favourite toy, or something. Which would be impossible, because Ella hasn't let her stuffed elephant out of her sight since she was three.

"Daddy, they can't end Sesame Street! Where would all the animals go? It's there home!"

And she sounds so heartbroken, so earnest and betrayed that Will can imagine how Tess, Kendra and Jim fell for her. He gestures for them to get back to work - proper work, not Sesame Street work - over Ella's shoulder and then with energy that he really shouldn't have, lifts the little girl straight up into his arms. He balances her on his hip, a skill he never thought he'd possess - then again having a daughter has taught him lots of things, like how to braid hair and throw a tea party and really, when the hell did he become this person, he thinks sometimes? It's like one morning he woke up and a little brown haired alien had taken over his life.

"Let's go see mummy," he suggests, because mothers seem to hold special healing powers that fathers just don't, and he's particularly fond of calling on those powers when ever he's at a loss.

"Daddy, can you please tell the people about Sesame Street, please?"

Now he pauses, because what does that mean, he ponders? It sounds dangerous.

A bit like the time he and Mackenzie opened the floor to suggestions and Neal spent an entire hour pitching stories that sounded straight out ofParanormal Activity (and that's a few hours of his life he'd be happy to get back, though the press of Mackenzie up against him was wonderful, and led to lots of clinging that night).

"Pretty please, daddy. You can tell everyone about how they're going to take away Big Birds home. Pretty please with cherries, because the people listen to you. Mummy said it's because you look handsome, and all the ladies like looking at you," and really, Will thinks, who on earth has Mackenzie been talking to, because he's pretty sure she wouldn't be saying that to Ella.

The little girl is playing with a strand of his hair and she's leant up against him, her other hand curled around his neck.

"Please," she begs, pressing a kiss to his cheek, and Will feels his resolve slip entirely, right in the middle of the newsroom, with his crew scattered around him and the outline of Mackenzie becoming clearer down the hallway. He crumbles, and sighs sadly, because this probably means at some point this week he'll be commenting on Sesame Street to his viewers.

Really, he thinks, setting Ella down so she can run towards Mackenzie.

Once upon a time he had resolve.

ooo

That was Wednesday.

Now it's Thursday, and Ella is five, and her parents do remember her birthday, because they're her parents, even if they are a little absentminded.

They wake her together with tickles and lots of giggling and when the little girl has finally caught her breath she finds herself snuggled between Will and Mackenzie on her bed. She gets three special presents in the morning, sent over from her grandparents, aunt and uncle in England, and then more from her aunts and uncles across America. In total she has four aunts and uncles, and twelve cousins and even through she's only met most of them once or twice, she talks to her cousin Amelia in England and her cousins Katie and Rebecca in Minnesota on skype every weekend, and she adores them all.

They send her a beautiful knitted jumper and a skipping rope, and from her grandparents she receives a hardcover copy of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. She gasps in delight and clutches the books to her chest and then demands to call Grandma Eloise and Grandpa Eddy straight away to say thank you.

Whilst she's chattering to them on the phone, Will corners Mackenzie in the kitchen, and it takes a quick hand around the curve of her waist for her to realise he's being serious.

"We have a problem," he tells her quickly, and she darts her eyes around, confused.

"What do you mean?" she asks. Surely nothing can be wrong. It's their daughter's birthday and they remembered, and they bought her presents, and she's on the phone to her grandparents, which keeps them happy. Short of the end of the world there is very little Mackenzie can imagine could possibly be wrong at the moment.

And if it is the end of the world they're either all going to die, or they'll have to wait until 8 o'clock to report on it, so they have plenty of time.

"Will?" she needles, because he's gone silent and the crease between his brows is worrying. "Billy?"

"Should we have thrown her a party?" he asks, and Mackenzie's eyes widen.

She hadn't even thought of that.

Should they have?

"I don't know," she mumbles, tipping her head forward to rest on his shoulder. "Dammit."

"Yeah."

"It's these moments that remind me that we're making this up most of the time."

He chuckles in response and the warm hand up her back is soothing.

There's a ring on his left hand, even thought they're not, technically, married. He proposed, rather by accident, when Ella was barely three months old, when the small child had been crying inconsolably for days on end and both were at their wits end. Will had been called into work on the Saturday morning and then just not turned up. Mackenzie had received a call from Charlie asking where he was, and when they'd both realised that Will had disappeared, Mackenzie had all but collapsed in terror.

Hours later a bedraggled Will had turned up at the door, eyes wide and begging for forgiveness and Mackenzie had simply tugged him into her arms, kissing his forehead and shushing his apologies, as long as he promised to never fucking disappear again, no matter how tired he was.

They'd gone to bed that night and undressed each other for the first time since Ella was created, kissing and touching and stroking and exploring and when Mackenzie was curled into his chest with her ear pressed to his heart, their little girl finally, finally asleep - out had tumbled the words, "Marry me?"

Five years later and they'll get around to it, eventually.

But sometimes she's sure that they don't need a piece of paper. What they've built is stronger than any law.

"Does it make us bad parents?" she whispers now against his collarbone. She can hear Ella talking down the phone excitedly, and she thinks they've done a pretty decent job. Considering where they started seven years ago, it's a miracle that they've made it here at all, she thinks.

"No," he grumbles. "Maybe?"

"Who would we invite?" she asks, incredulously.

"Exactly!" Will agrees. "Up until now she's not really had her own friends. Just ours. And she sees them every night."

"Does she have her own friends?" Mackenzie asks, tilting her head up suddenly.

She supposes Ella does. She's as at school every day, she spends lunchtimes out in the playground, and now that she thinks about it, Ella does tell her lots of stories involving other children after school.

"Oh dear," she murmurs. And then, "Ella!" she yells.

The little girl comes sliding down the hallway on socked feet, handing the phone to her father and stopping before her mother.

"Yes," she chirps. Her hair is in lopsided pigtails; with a bright green ribbon that Mackenzie can't recall buying, twisted around one.

"Would you like to have a birthday party with your school friends?" she asks. She crouches down so she's at Ella's height, and it's just as well, because the child's eyes light up and then she's launching herself at Mackenzie, hugging her and sending her toppling backwards. She only just manages to catch Will's eye as he chuckles, a hand balancing her, as Ella starts telling her the long list of friends to invite.

"Crisis averted," she tells him minutes later, when Ella has disappeared back down the hall.

Will merely chuckles, pinching her side, and daring her to follow him down the hall and back into their bedroom.

ooo

Will adores how the crew have all embraced Ella as their unofficial niece.

It's 4:30 on Thursday afternoon and Ella is red faced and cheeky smiled. Her dress is bright and her feet, covered by stockings, dangle from where she sits at Neal's desk. There's a round chocolate cake with five pink candles sitting before her and the entire newsroom is dark save for their bright flicker; the room alive with the excited singing of Happy Birthday.

Will is leant against his office door, well out of the way, with Mackenzie in front of him. They don't show affection at work, not really - they fight and they glare at each other and sometimes, sometimes they'll share a moment - but they rarely do much more than a simply squeeze the others shoulder.

However, the room is dark, and they're not exactly hiding anything - their daughter is the one being sung to - so Will enjoys a moment to wrap an arm around her waist. He presses a kiss to her hair and then leaves his lips there, swaying her from side to side and chuckling as she giggles.

Ella looks fit to burst with excitement and Will isn't sure if it's the sugar, or the adrenaline, or a heady combination of it all, but he's never seen his daughter so excited - and this is a girl who's day is made whenever she sees a puppy.

Somebody, perhaps Jim (though Will wouldn't rule out Don, who has a surprising weak spot for the five year old) has placed a bright pink, glittery party hat on her head and it clashes horribly with the green ribbon she's insisted on wearing - and really, Will doesn't know where the obsession with pink comes from - he and Mackenzie never encouraged it. Her room's been painted a pale yellow from the moment she was born and he refused to dress her only in pinks when she was a baby. Even if he spent a good 6 months explaining that no, his child wasn't a boy, and yes, it was perfectly normal to dress a girl in blue.

But Ella loves pink and sparkles and fairies and colourful lights, just like she loves going to the baseball and walking past construction sights and playing with toy cars and telescopes.

"We did good," he mumbles, and squeezes Mackenzie's middle.

He kind of adores being a father, and though there's no way either one of them is willing to go through it all again, he's glad Mackenzie was insane enough to get him high in the pursuit of a message all those years ago - they wouldn't have this crazy life without it.

Someone, Maggie perhaps, yells for Ella to blow out the candles and make a wish, and then Ella's face scrunches up adorably as she blows on everything - there's one stubborn candle that takes three goes, and by the end of it Ella looks fit to burst, but everyone is cheering and demanding to hear her wish and Ella glances up when the lights turn back on, completely ignoring everyone else to instead scamper across the room to her parents.

She launches herself at Will just in time for him to grab under her arms and she monkey's up his torso, curling her limbs around his body.

"What did you wish for Ellie?" Mackenzie asks, rubbing a hand up her daughter's back, and with everyone's eyes on the three of them, Will suddenly knows exactly what the little girl wants.

He really should have seen this coming.

ooo

And thus ends the story of how Ella McAvoy turned five; how her parents almost forgot, but still managed to throw her a wonderful party with her friends weeks later; of how she was showered in love and hugs and kisses by the crew of News Night and ACN; but most importantly, of how she ended up sitting on her father's lap, party hat still securely strapped around her chin, on live National News that evening.

It's a slow news evening, so Will doesn't feel too unprofessional starting the story towards the end. His ratings lifted when Ella was born, and there's always a lurch upwards whenever he's spotted with his daughter by the tabloids - people love her, and he can't blame them. Ella is utterly charming.

So, he's sure they'll understand that it's her birthday and she has a story to share.

What he isn't expecting is his daughter, all of five and precocious to her toes, sitting up primly and rattling off information like it was on the teleprompter - like she could read it off the teleprompter. Will sits and watches her, utterly astonished, and he can hear Mackenzie swear low and amazed in his ear as Ella launches into a passionate plea for the people of America to save what, she thinks, is the "best, most funniest, most entertaining, and educational, children's show on television."

The show comes to an end and when the final credits are rolling Will can't help but press a kiss to Ella's forehead and hug her close; let Mackenzie do the same as she runs around the news desk.

"So I can be an anchor now?" Ella asks, and Will should have known that was what she was aiming for.

He chuckles and sits her up on the news desk, fixing her falling party hat.

"You, Ella McAvoy, can be anything you want."

ooo

In the weeks that follow a small, but strong, national campaign grows and gains followers and then gains support and finally money.

Sesame Street is saved and when the journalists write about it, and when the news reports on it, they all mention the little girl, Will McAvoy's daughter, who we'll all be listening to in thirty or so years when she runs the country.

Ella receives a special colouring book and a signed letter of thanks from Big Bird, Elmo and the gang, and Will has it framed and hung in her room - her pride and joy; and she takes it to school the next week to show as news.

Now, it's a Saturday morning and Will is leant against the kitchen bench, sipping his coffee slowly.

The apartment is quiet and he can only hear Mackenzie's soft steps as she pads towards him to wrap an arm around his waist. He curls her against him and she hums into his chest and then down the hallway, they hear Ella's loud voice, ordering her stuffed animals around her bedroom.

Will chuckles and Mackenzie sighs, melting against him.

"We're not prepared for this at all, are we?"