Author's Notes: As you start reading this one, keep in mind, this story starts out the night of the NewsNight 2.0 anniversary party and continues on from there in my own little alternative universe. So, in this fictional world, there has never been a voicemail or stoned Will. But that also means that Brian Brenner has never been brought in to write that disastrous magazine article. Let's focus on the positive…no Brian Brenner. 'Nuff said. Read on…
Will was quite certain that he wasn't trying to be mean spirited about it. Really, he wasn't. That's what he'd told himself as he had arranged to have Woody boarded at the veterinarian's office the weekend of that first NewsNight anniversary party.
The dog wasn't used to a lot of people around and the last thing he wanted was constant barking or, worse yet, constant marking of his territory during the little get together. He was protecting the dog and the partygoers. Yeah, that was it. He was not trying to hold their dog hostage.
He did notice the way Mackenzie looked around the apartment though. Not in the way someone appraises the furniture or notices the artwork. No, she was looking for Woody… or at least for signs of him. Dog hair on the furniture or food dishes on the floor. He saw the look on her face when she found no trace of an animal in his home.
But he pushed that out of his mind.
For two diehard workaholics a dog had seemed like an incredibly stupid idea. But he'd seen the way Mac had looked at the rescue puppies they had passed by one weekend out in Montauk visiting friends. They had still been in that phase of their relationship where one simple look or touch from her sent him into overdrive trying to meet whatever demand she had just made. One little bat of her eyelashes while she was looking at the mutts was all it took. Oh, who was he kidding, he had always reacted like that to Mackenzie…but the dog thing had seemed like a truly crazy idea looking back at it now.
They took the scruffy little thing home that weekend and Mackenzie had promptly named him Woodward. He took mercy on the poor pup and began calling him Woody instead. They'd had that dog for just over a year before it all went to hell. There really had been no question of who was keeping him. Mackenzie had kept her tiny little shoebox of an apartment even after they'd moved in together and the place didn't allow pets anyway. Of course, he had no idea Mac already had it in her head that she was going to traipse off to Iraq, so it was no wonder she didn't try to keep him.
The damn dog almost seemed to take the break-up worse than he did. He swore the poor thing was going to starve to death that first week. Will took to feeding him Chinese food right out of the carton. That's how desperate he was to get Woody to eat. Eventually, they both returned to normal. Well, as normal as either of them were ever going to be without her. They both seemed to become quiet, reclusive introverts after she left.
Will actually had to lock Woody up if he brought another woman into the apartment. He had learned that the hard way after his first blind date threatened to sue over "that mangy mutt who nearly bit off a finger." Woody didn't take kindly to Mackenzie being replaced. Will would quietly reassure the dog that wasn't likely to happen.
And so, a few days after the anniversary party and after the chaos over the Bin Laden capture quieted down, Will figured he was safe in arriving at the office a bit later than usual. He slept in a little, slowly prepared for work while reading The New York Times and drinking his coffee. That's when he realized the housekeeper still hadn't showed up. This was also the woman who kept Woody company and took him for walks until Will got home. When the clock neared ten and there was still no sign of her he started to wonder what the hell he should do. He left her a post-it note on the kitchen counter asking her to come to the office to pick up the dog when she made it in.
Wonderful, he thought to himself. He was going to have to bring the damn dog to work. Was there any possible way he could keep Mackenzie from noticing this? Not likely. Woody had grown into a fifty-pound bruiser who still thought he was a lap dog. He was a presence that was for sure.
Will tried to sneak into the newsroom, but that was hard to do when you were a six foot three anchorman being pulled through the room by the mutt from hell.
"Woody!" he yelled, trying in vain to get the dog to stop running.
He was sure he left behind a newsroom full of laughing journalists.
"What the hell was that?!" he heard Sloan yell.
Yeah, he had made it through the office totally unnoticed.
Will released the dog from his leash once he had firmly shut his office door behind him and pulled out a rawhide bone from his briefcase, hoping it would keep Woody busy for awhile. The dog, however, was in full bloodhound mode sniffing every square inch of the place. Will saw the door crack open and Sloan pushed her way in.
"Shut the door fast!" he yelled to her.
"Is today take your dog to work day or something?" she asked.
"No, it's take your dog to work because the housekeeper-slash-dogsitter didn't show up and I didn't want to come home tonight to find a pile of shredded leather furniture sitting in my living room."
"Since when do you have a dog anyway?" Sloan asked.
"Since he was a puppy. Was there something you needed Sloan?" he asked tersely.
"Good talking to you too Will. I get the point…I'm leaving" she said, pushing open the door. Unfortunately, Woody took off right behind her and made a bee line for Mackenzie's office.
"Wonderful. Thanks Sloan!" Will yelled, following the dog.
If anyone was surprised to see their boss stalking across the room after a dog they didn't mention it, but probably only because they soon heard yelling coming from Mac's office.
"Woodward!" she yelled. "Oh hello to you too sweetheart!"
Will followed the sounds of her endearments and found her lying on the floor with Woody splayed across her, the dog licking her face excitedly.
"I guess your dog likes Mackenzie" Sloan said, smirking from the corner of the room.
"He was always a little too attached to her" Will admitted.
"Sounds just like his owner" Sloan remarked and stalked off.
"Woody, get off her" Will admonished, trying to grab hold of his collar.
"He does not need to get off me. He missed me, didn't you boy?" she asked the dog. Woody responded with an enthusiastic lick to her face.
"I didn't think you'd want dog hair all over that black skirt Mackenzie."
"And I didn't think you still had him. Where was he last weekend?" she asked.
"At the vet's. He's not good with a lot of people."
"No he's not, just like his daddy. But, you like me don't you Woody?" she asked the dog.
"We'll just let you get back to work Mac. Come on Woody" Will called, pulling the dog's collar. Woody simply growled at him.
"I think he's happy right where he is Will."
"Right now Woody" Will said more firmly.
The dog sat next to Mackenzie and looked at him, tilting his head back and forth, but making no move to leave the room.
"He's fine here Will, really."
"Fine" he said stalking off. First she breaks my heart, now she steals my dog.
By mid-day, Will could see to whom his dog pledged his allegiance. Woody even followed Mackenzie right into the afternoon run down meeting and laid down next to her chair the whole time.
Will watched as Charlie smirked from the corner.
"Smart dog you have there Will" Charlie said through his laughter.
As the day progressed, and Will became quite certain he wasn't getting his dog back, a few thoughts occurred to him. One, where the hell was the housekeeper anyway? None of this would have happened if she had shown up for work. Two, he missed his dog. And three, he missed Mackenzie. Not necessarily in that order.
By that evening, Will finally learned from Rosa's husband that the poor woman had fallen on a patch of loose asphalt outside their apartment building and wouldn't be in for at least a week due to a seriously sprained ankle. Right, time to see what Woody and Mackenzie were up to.
He walked quietly up to Mac's open office door and peeked inside. He could just barely make out the tip of Woody's tail protruding from underneath her desk.
"Has he been in here all day?" he asked.
"Except for a couple of trips outside to do his business, yes" Mackenzie told him.
"He's going to be here all week just so you know. Rosa sprained her ankle."
"Well, that's too bad. But now I'll get to see Woodward a bit more" she responded, reaching under the desk to pat the dog's head, he assumed, as his tail began to thump rapidly against her desk.
"I wasn't trying to hide him from you Mackenzie" he said with conviction, even though he wasn't sure that was the truth. She seemed to know this and cocked her head to the side appraising his statement.
"He isn't my dog anymore Will. You have every right to hide him from me if you want to."
Damn, he hated these conversations. The ones that started off innocuously enough but somehow ended up back at Brian Brenner and cheating and a life where he and Mackenzie weren't together anymore. Thank God they never had children. If talking about a dog they had shared for a year was bad how the hell would they have handled custody arrangements?
"You can come over and see him if you like?" The words slipped from his mouth almost against his will. What the hell are you thinking, he wondered? You have just gotten to the point where looking at her doesn't hurt anymore. Where working with her was fun and enjoyable and challenging and everything it used to be. Why the hell are you trying to complicate that now? Because you miss her you idiot, his inner voice screamed.
"You wouldn't mind?" she asked.
"Goodnight Woodward. I'll see you soon" she whispered to the dog and urged him out from under her desk.
"Come on Woody. Let's go home" Will called, but the dog didn't budge from Mackenzie's side.
"Now Woody" he said more firmly. The dog whined and laid his head on Mackenzie's lap. Will knew the feeling. He didn't want to go home without her either.
Mackenzie grabbed the dog's leash and hooked it to his collar and led him over to Will. "See you soon Woodward" she reassured him.
Will wasn't sure who was looking forward to it more: him or the dog.
More Author's Notes: Many thanks to the ladies of the Newsroom Writer's Group, who urged me to continue this one way back when it was just an idea and about 500 words. Thanks Tracy, Steph, Katy, Gina, Ash, Millie, Judith, Chloe, et al. Can't wait to start discussing season two with you all!