For the awesomely awesome, Victoria! Not quite the rating you requested, but hopefully this will suffice until THAT Muse reawakens? ;)

Thanks, as ever, to Tricki xx #cares

She took a breath, ran her fingers over the name tags of the files tucked beneath her arm and frowned at the impending conversation.

Get on with it, McHale.

He was packing his briefcase when she swung the door open to enter his office. He had already changed into his jeans and a polo shirt, and she tried to ignore the broadness of his shoulders beneath the light blue material.

"Hey Will, good show tonight."

"Thanks, you too." He read the spine of a book before placing it on the table behind him and sliding another into his case.

"I mean it, really good show." She was stood at the corner of his desk, being watched with confusion and incredulity. "How you got the real facts out of that Congressman was just, well, it was just brilliant to see."

He put down the sheath of papers and turned to her fully. "What have you done? Or not done?"

"What? No, I'm just saying-"


"I found a stack of performance evaluations buried under congressional research…"

"Due when?"

She mumbled a reply.


"Tomorrow, okay? Tomorrow! I screwed up and now we have fifteen evals to do by tomorrow!"

"We? When did my name get mixed up in this?"

"When Charlie had Millie type, bold and underline…" she flipped open a file to read, "'To be completed by both Managing Editor and Executive Producer only'. There are also a few exclamation points on there."

"Damnit, Mac!"

"I know! I'm sorry! But with the Congress and the Bill and-"

"Alright, alright…" He sighed, pulling out a thick tome from his briefcase; there was no point carrying it around when apparently he wasn't going to get a chance to read it tonight. "Alright. Lonny's downstairs and I have bourbon so..."

"We're going to your place?"

"Unless you want to stay here when they turn the AC off and Consuela is vacuuming around your feet?"

She followed him out of the office, falling into step despite her heels and his long strides. "Her name's Abigail and she's from Wisconsin."

"Not the point of this conversation."

"I'm just saying she's not the stereotypical-"

He thumbed for the elevator, "Why are you still telling me this?"

"Because I haven't eaten since the 2pm rundown and if I don't keep talking, my stomach will take over for me."

They stepped into the cubicle as he pressed for the foyer. "Chinese?"

"Yes, please," she grinned, the doors sliding shut.


It took them over an hour to take the four blocks to the good Chinese place and then the other six to Will's apartment, thanks to Mac suddenly remembering that it was that Chinese that had the amazing Kung Pao Chicken and that she needed it despite having already pre-ordered their choices.

"How many of those have you eaten?" Will asked, hearing her scrambling into the takeout box for another spring roll.

"What would be a better answer for you?"

"As long as there's one left for me."

"Would you settle for one bite?"

He flashed her a look as he settled the bags on his kitchen island. "So, how do we do this?"

"The evals?"

"No, the chopsticks."

"So, the evals?"

"Yes, the evals! Is it a grading system? Bullet points? A short yet comprehensive essay?"

"Let's go with grades."

He passed her a bottle of beer and sat on the opposite stool as the radio began playing blues into the room. Seeking out the Sweet and Sour Pork and the spare bite of spring roll, he said, "Okay, shoot me some names. Let's keep it loose, like word association."

She smiled at his chopstick gesticulation and picked a name, "Tess."












"We don't have a Caleb on our staff."

"Well, who am I thinking of?"

"Can we do this properly?"

He nodded with a sigh, skewering a slice of beef from another tub.

"Okay... Tess." She took a scoop of rice with her chopsticks, "Hardworking. Loyal. Quick. Feel free to chime in here anytime."

"Reacts quickly, creatively and discreetly to unforeseen situations in which a team member may require support."

"...where did that come from?"

He smirked, swapping his takeout box for another, "She made me 'Obama good, Osama bad' signs when I was high. Kind of endeared me towards her."

"...That's what was on your desk during the broadcast?"


"Remind me to tell Mitch to alter the camera angles tomorrow."

"Who's next?"

"Martin. What was that face?"

"What face?"

"That face you just did when I said Martin's name."

"I'm just… I'm not a fan of Martin."

"Martin? With the hair and thing?"

"I know who Martin is."

"Martin with the hair and the-"

"I know who Martin is! I just… I don't like the guy." He swigged his beer, "He's a diligent worker but seems more suited to a daytime, less morally-idealistic format news programme. Like E!News."

Mac began scribbling on the form, "Diligent…worker but…seems…more…suited…"

"You're writing out loud, MacKenzie."


"You want another beer?"

"Please," she smiled.

Two and half hours later and they only had a couple of boxes to check and T's to cross. Surrounded by a cache of empty takeout containers, beer bottles and emptying glasses of bourbon, their conversation had turned to the news and the week ahead. They spoke of the team's strengths and weaknesses, Maggie's progression and Martin's hair and the thing.

Will mentioned he saw their old colleague Mike Hubert at an event last week; Mac laughed, remembering the party he threw to celebrate his divorce and how Will had lost a bet and had to make a grand entrance in a wedding dress.

"I still can't believe you went through with that."

"A bet's a bet, Mac."

"Yes, but the fine detail you put into the execution of your loss is what amazes me still."

"The garter?"

"The garter."

"That thing was tight."

"I think they're more suited to the daintier of thighs. Not quite the male-high-school-baseball-player's thigh. Though I have to say taking it off you was an enjoyable end to the night."

He smirked, lifting his tumbler to his mouth to hide its progression to a grin. Yeah, that had been a good night. "Listen, it's getting late, why-"

"Right, yes," Mac's smile dropped immediately as she began to shuffle together the papers. "I'll call a cab."


"No, it's fine." She jumped off the stool, collecting together the takeout boxes and tossing them into the trash.

"Mac, I-"

"Honestly, Will, its fine. It's late and I've kept you long enough with all these evalua-"

"MacKenzie," he tugged on her arm and spun her away from the countertop from which she was wiping fallen rice. "Let me finish: It's getting late. Why don't you stay here seeing as it is past midnight and pouring with rain." He took a deep breath; he was still clutching her arm and she had long since taken off her shoes, shrinking down to a height where – upon his stool – he was a full head taller than her. Regardless, she never looked small to him; she could look petite and, God knows, short when she took off those damn heels, but she was never small.

She had the biggest personality, intelligence and was the most stubborn person, outside of himself, he knew. She was also the most beautiful. Infuriatingly beautiful. He had spent so damn long refusing to acknowledge the fact, trying his hardest to forget.


He had another sentence to his speech; he was going to tell her that he would take the couch and she could have the bed. He was going to do the gentlemanly thing and not make her leave his apartment under the cloak of midnight during a storm. He was going to sleep separately, in a separate room and remain separate.

But then she unthreaded her arm from his grasp and, never losing eye contact, began unbuttoning her shirt.

His gaze dropped; anyone's would. The most infuriatingly beautiful woman he knew was undressing before him and holy hell if he couldn't do anything but watch.

She flared her shirt with her hands; the action flashing a hint of black lace bra to mesmerised eyes.

His hands grasped hers, stilling her descent and sending a waiver of fear into once-steadfast gaze. She looked down, an overwhelming desire for a hole to open up right below her feet, sending her crashing through twenty-eight floors and into a one-woman sized sinkhole straight down into the burning core of the Earth. That could possibly, possibly feel worse than that moment right then.

She could blame it on the beer and the bourbon; she would swear off the stuff if she didn't expect to want to drink three hundred times what she had already drank to forget what just happened.

The sting of tears was beginning as she closed her eyes, burning embarrassment and humiliation coursing over her chest; but she could also feel his finger crook beneath her chin and lift her eyes to meet his.

It was his turn to stare steadfastly whilst his hands continued the assault on her shirt. He pulled it from her skirt, jolting her balance before he smoothed his hands down her arms, allowing the material to pool to the floor.

His hands fell to her hips and delicately traced over her skin of her waist, before pulling her into him as his name escaped on her breath. He kissed her.

For the first time in five years, he kissed her and Christ if she didn't want to collapse into him and just stay like that forever; make up for lost time and not move from that spot until douchebag was erased from both their minds and it was only them again.

His arms encircled her as her fingers squeezed his thighs. She wasn't entirely sure who moaned first, but she suspected it was her.

It was gentle, it was loving, and it was everything she remembered it to be and more. She wasn't usually sentimental about things like kisses, hadn't been before she couldn't kiss Will again. Cliché but true.

She pulled back. Somehow, she disentangled herself from his lips and asked, "Will, are you sure?"

His eyes didn't waiver, his reddened lips barely quirked and she was almost questioning whether he had had Botox because nothing moved; except his hands. He unzipped her skirt and it fell to the floor.

"Well, okay then." She leant into again, her hands moving on a journey up his thighs as her lips met his in a much more passionate, almost desperate embrace.

His touch was moving up her waist, towards the black lace bra she still wore when he pulled back suddenly. "I just realised who I thought Caleb was! You know that guy-!"


He smirked; he God damn smirked.

"Oh you're gonna pay for that."

"Bedroom. Now."

She tilted her head, her defiant nature coming to the forefront despite her thumping heart. "Or what?"

He just smirked again as he hopped down from the stool and lead the way.

She followed behind him as he shed the polo shirt. Yes, she was stubborn, but she wasn't stupid. Not anymore.