Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue.
A/N: Just some fluff to get us through until June.
It was a Wednesday morning. Mornings were always a prized time for Will McAvoy. Seeing as he got off work at nine every night, Will was not required to come into the office until eleven. He could peruse the news at his liking. Or, maybe spend a couple hours catching up on the previous night's games on Sports Center. When he and Mackenzie were together, it meant dragged out mornings under the covers and big breakfasts full of smiles, whispers, and light touches. Yes, mornings were Will's favorite time of day, just not this morning.
Before dragging himself out of bed, Will quickly glanced at his phone. Two missed calls from both of his sisters, and an email from his brother. While making a quick mental note to respond later, Will walked his exhausted body into the bathroom. The harsh light stung his tired eyes. His razor burned as it cut across his rough stubble. Somehow, the usual warm water of his shower felt colder today. Rinsing the shampoo out of his eyes, Will let out a dejected groan and turned the water off.
A bit later, Will emerged from his bedroom dressed. As he rounded the corner to the kitchen, he noticed a bright blue athletic jacket draped on the back of one of his dining room table chairs.
Over the weekend, Mackenzie had called Will to inform him she was going on a run and do you want me to bring over bagels from that place so we can talk about the upcoming week?
Of course he did.
He loved the bagels from that place.
And eating them with her.
Her hair was pulled back, and her face was still a bit flushed from her run. But Mackenzie arrived, bagels, cream cheese, and Will's copy of the Times in hand. I asked Manny for it, she explained when he questioned how she managed to get his copy of the paper. Will sighed, realizing that his doorman clearly knew more about where this woman stood in his life than he did.
She toed off her shoes and socks as Will took the food and paper from her hands. He tried hard not to think too much when their fingers brushed when she passed him the bagels. And then, as she padded into his apartment, he noticed her bare feet, matching his equally naked ones. He tried hard to think about that too.
Over their bagels and newspaper, they discussed what they should focus on for the week. They tried to steer clear of conversation regarding the current lawsuit being brought against them for - you know - casually labeling the Tea Party the American Taliban. Eventually, they fell into a relaxed silence, until Mackenzie declared it was10,000 degrees in his apartment and shed her blue running jacket. Fuck. She was wearing a halter-top. Her arms were slight but toned as ever, and he collarbone branched away from her shoulders delicately. But Will did not stare, and threw her an affectionate smile at her slight temperature exaggeration.
Three days later, and her jacket was still thrown across the back of the chair. How he did not notice it before, he did not know. Probably because he was too anxious about today, September 28th. He had dreaded this day for the past eleven years. And it never got any easier.
The hours of the day lugged on. Will and Mackenzie were in Charlie's office for a meeting with the lawyers about the lawsuit. Will, who was usually very vocal on the subject, was silent today. Charlie kept throwing Mackenzie questioning glances, to which Mackenzie could only shrug. She had no idea what was bothering Will. And she hated that she could not figure it out.
Later, in the bullpen of the newsroom, Neal was explaining to Will the current chapter of the saga regarding the death threats. Neal's hands flailed enthusiastically as he told Will that the posts on the message board had calmed down. It looked like the death threats were dissipating. Will only sighed, turned, and walked briskly into his office where the door slammed not so subtly behind him. That went well, Neal said to no one in particular.
On air that night Will tripped over more words than he had in years. Mackenzie spoke into his ear, instructing him to slow down and relax, but it was useless. There was absolutely none of the usual jovial banner between Will and Mackenzie during commercial breaks. The entire broadcast felt as cold as the most frigid days of New York's bitter winters. As Will wrapped up the broadcast, he repeated the date – "That's all for this Wednesday, September 28, 2011 – Terry Smith is coming up with the Capitol Report, I'm Will McAvoy, Goodnight."
September 28th. Suddenly it all clicked for Mackenzie. How could she have gone all day without really noticing the date? Especially when Will was in such a horrific mood. It was September 28th. Will was always devastated on September 28th. Always.
Twenty minutes after nine, Mackenzie had finished talking to Jim about a project for an upcoming broadcast. She immediately went looking for Will in his office, which was vacant. And then, she noticed his coat and briefcase in the corner. Where was he? Outside in the bullpen, Maggie was shrugging her coat on as Mackenzie asked if she had seen Will. Maggie only pointed to the door leading to the terrace. Giving Maggie a smile and a quick pat on the arm, Mackenzie took off.
The September air outside was warmer than usual. However, that did not stop the chill that shuddered through Mackenzie's slim body as she stepped onto the balcony. There was Will tucked into the outer left corner.
"Planning your conquest of the entirety of New York City?" Mackenzie called out as she crossed her arms and made her way to where Will was overlooking the bright lights of Manhattan.
Will didn't turn, but he bowed his head towards the ground far below, and Mackenzie knew that he had heard her. Coming to stand beside him, Mackenzie leaned forward against the railing, mimicking Will's stance. She angled her head to her left where Will stood and kept her eyes focused on him. After a moment, he picked up his head. Only then did she speak, "So, it's September 28th."
"Yeah," Will muttered looking straight ahead. His hands extended over the wall and were folded together. Knuckles white.
"Took me a while to realize the date. You know me though, never really been good at keeping track of the date, or days of the week for that matter." Mackenzie smiled, trying to lighten the sullen mood cast over them. It did not seem to help; Will's gaze was still forward and stoic as ever.
Mackenzie shifted, so that her right side was leaning against the railing and her body was facing Will, careful not to crowd him. He did not need to be completely overwhelmed right now. And while she knew their relationship was getting better, she knew its boundaries. They stood in silence for a little while until Mackenzie probed, "Have you talked to your siblings today?"
To this, Will finally responded, "Called my sisters earlier, sent my brother an email not too long ago." He continued to stare out into the distance, but his body shifted, if even a centimeter, closer to her.
"Good." Mackenzie responded. Even though she could only see it from the side, the broken look on Will's face was evident. He had not shed tears, but he just looked so incredibly sorrowful. She gave it a minute before she tried to pull words out of him again.
"Are you okay?"
Will did not say anything. He just continued to glare into the busy abyss of New York. The lights cast from the multitude of buildings around them flickered in Will's blue eyes.
"Will?" Mackenzie pressed again. She clearly was not going to let him get away with a non-answer. And somewhere in his mind, Will was thankful for that.
Will bowed his head again and quietly spoke, "It's been eleven years. Eleven." Mackenzie kept her composure, but she felt her heart break for the man before her. Here he was, Will McAvoy, the gruff, handsome news anchor who literally could triumph the world if he wanted, more solemn than ever. And only because eleven years ago today, his mother passed away.
He was so compassionate – not many people got the chance to see it. When Mackenzie did, she wondered how on Earth she was so stupid to throw it all away.
He was crushed, and she was there. To hell with where they were with their ever-changing relationship. Mackenzie raised her left hand and gently placed it on Will's shoulder and squeezed. He tensed up at first, and kept his gaze down. Yet, as she moved her hand down his back Will relaxed and looked up again.
"I just can't believe it's been so long," Will said gloomily, "It honestly feels just like yesterday I got the call from the hospital."
"I know," Mackenzie soothed as her hand kept rubbing his back. Her fingernails making him shiver as they traced squiggles up and down. "She lived a long life, Will. In part thanks to you."
Will scoffed and turned, leaning his left arm against the railing facing her, "You can't know that, you weren't there for the exhibition."
Slightly disappointed at the loss of contact, Mackenzie rested her arm at her side and reassured him, "You protected her Will. That much I know is true."
Finally meeting her eyes, Will sighed, "This day just never gets easier. I thought time would help but – "
" – It hasn't." Mackenzie finished. She placed her right hand over his left on the railing and squeezed, treading thumb over his. "I know."
Will briefly looked down where her hand lay over his. His heart filled with warmth at the innocent brush of her thumb against his. This contact was new, but not entirely unwelcomed. Picking his head up, and glancing into Mackenzie's eyes, he felt so safe. He trusted her. No one other than his siblings had ever known what September 28th had meant to him. And it had been five years since she had been with him on this dreaded day. She still remembered, and she still comforted him. Right now he did not care about forgiveness or the past. In this moment, with Mackenzie's slender hand resting atop his much larger one, he just knew he felt safe and comforted – and loved.
Will could not fight it, it was just on pure instinct, but he pulled his hand out from beneath hers and took a step forward. His arms threaded around her back, pulling her into him – his left hand covered her right shoulder and his right hand grasped lower. Mackenzie gasped, surprised at his move, but took no time in returning the hug. Her hands came up to tug his shoulders closer to her and she sunk her head into his arm. Will felt Mackenzie press her body as close to his as she could, enveloping him with her entirety. At this, Will let his eyes flutter shut, relishing the feeling of all of her. He let his fingers press into her back and drew random patterns. Allowing himself to turn his head slightly, he pressed his nose to her hair and let his breath tickle beneath her ear.
They stood like that for a few moments, just letting themselves be. Neither Will nor Mackenzie made any move to disentangle themselves from one another. The only sounds audible were the whooshing sounds of the city and the constant honking from the streets bellow. Eventually, Mackenzie broke the silence speaking into the crook of his arm, "I'm so sorry, Billy."
Will's grip on Mackenzie tightened at the use of the nickname. Her use of it had become more frequent. Especially in quiet moments when they were alone, whether it be sharing breakfast at his apartment or pizza in the office after a broadcast.
"Thanks," Will sort of grumbled, reverberating down her neck and her entire body.
After a few more seconds will regretfully stepped back. Her hands dropped from him and he squeezed her shoulder with a slight smile, "Let me just grab my coat and briefcase and I'll have Lonny drive you home."
Mackenzie shrugged him off, "Will, I can get home fine. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
Will placed his hand on the small of her back and let her back towards the AWM building, "No, Lonny's here if for nothing to chauffer me around, let's put him to use."
Mackenzie laughed at that as Will opened the door to the building, "Lonny's here for more than that, and don't you forget it."
"He doesn't let me," Will settled as they reached the newsroom.
"I'll just go grab my stuff," Mackenzie said as she walked towards her office.
Before she could disappear inside to grab her coat, Will called out, "Mac?"
"Yeah – " She turned on her heels with an inquisitive look written in her eyes.
"Just, thanks," Will's lips quirked into a slight smile, and his eyes crinkled at the edges. It was the kind of look Mackenzie knew he wore when he was thankful, appreciative, and dare she go there in love with her. Will took a slight breath and started again, "Thanks for knowing about today, Mackenzie."
With that, Will turned and went into his office. And Mackenzie turned as well, so he couldn't see her eyes well up a bit. Will rarely called her by her full name, and he had not shown her this much affection since her time back at ACN. She was so sorry for the pain he felt about his mother's death today, but she was also grateful he felt comfortable enough to let her in. It was progress.
As Will stepped off the elevator and into his apartment later that night, he flicked the lights on low and pulled a beer out of the fridge. He settled on the couch and flipped the television to the Yankees game. It had been a dark day, but he felt fifty times better than when he left for work this morning. Memories of his mother echoed through his mind all day. While he never understood why she stayed with his drunk-abusive father for so long, he respected her strength. He had never had a woman in his life quite like his mother. Will never had anyone who he could trust and let his guard down around – until Mackenzie. He had really truly loved two women in his life. One was no longer with him, but the other was. As the Yankees danced across his flat screen, their pinstripe uniforms blurring his vision, Will made a solid promise to really figure it out with Mackenzie. His mother had been gone eleven years, he didn't want to waste anymore time not having someone he could trust and love in this world.
The buzzing sound of his Blackberry snapped Will back into reality. It was an email.
Hope you're okay, Will. Get some sleep.
Will's heart soared at the single letter "M." It had been their signature signoff while they were dating. He was surprised Mackenzie was bold enough to use it tonight. Although, he thought, he shouldn't have been. Mackenzie, though slight in stature, was always bolder than he thought. It was then Will noticed Mackenzie's running jacket again. He had meant to bring it into the office today but in all the memories of his mother he had forgotten. Will typed out a quick reply –
Thank you. By the way, you left your running jacket here over the weekend. I'll bring it in tomorrow
Only a minute later Will's phone vibrated again.
Just leave it with you. I'll get it at some point. See you tomorrow, Billy.
Will let a small smile creep onto his face as he let his head fall back on the sofa. He finished his beer and watched the Yankees lose. September 28th just really was not his day. After discarding the beer bottle, he made his way towards his bedroom. Pausing at the table, he picked up Mackenzie's jacket. Will took the jacket to the coat closet near the elevator. With a smile and hope, even on his darkest of days, he hung Mackenzie's bright blue jacket up amongst his black ones. After all, she said she would get it at "some point."