From a prompt :

When Mac went to Afghanistan she cuts her hair. Will finds a pic.

It was months since he had made any conscious effort to reach out to her, or at least stopped himself from doing so. He remembered how his heart would skip a beat when he'd see a mail from her sitting pretty in his inbox, but that was the first week. He'd heard rumours that she had left the country for an international assignment. Good for her, he'd thought.. and even better for him that he had no chance of bumping into her one fine morning.

The mails were relentless. There would be a new one every day. He had frustratedly stopped himself from tearing up whenever he read her name as the sender because yes, it was *that* frustrating to know that they'd almost been in heaven, together, just a few days ago. In his wildest dreams, he could not have imagined to WANT to be away from his Mackenzie. But it was happening, and he could not believe himself. The mails had continued, he had started conditioning himself. He pretended it no longer mattered. One fine day, he managed to put a filter to her emails so that there would just be a simple counter beside a label named 'Gone'. Warily, he watched the counter grow by 1 every single day. It hurt, it hurt like hell. He didn't know what to do.

Some days later, he had no idea how many, and if he was not the presenting anchor, he would have no reason to, Charlie walked into his cabin after another mediocre broadcast. Will could not care less about the broadcast. Nothing seemed to excite him anymore. It was as if someone had unplugged a crucial power line to his life.. and he had no backup. But yes, he was very much concerned to see Charlie in his cabin, because they had not talked every since Mac had left.

"Why aren't you including the Afghanistan feeds in your rundown?", the old man asked..

"Why on Earth would I include Afghanistan? Who wants to see Afghanistan?!"

"I know you don't do that kind of news. But the situation is heating up there. If we don't start coverage at the right moment, we'll miss the bus. I know you're not doing it because of her, but .. "

Before he could complete his statement, Will sat up straight in his chair, the urgency in his eyes evident.

"What are you talking about?"

"Mac. Afghanistan. Don't pretend like you don't know, Will."

Will felt the blood in his face drain out. Charlie saw it too and suddenly realised he'd delivered the verbal equivalent of a body blow to his main anchor. Will just sat there, trying to process what he had just heard. Charlie explained and gave him all the details, about how Mac had just told him that she was going for an international assignment but never told him the details, about how he had been shocked to find out about Mac through a rival News show and had later found out that she was embedded in a very dangerous battle-zone. Will refused to react. Charlie felt terrible. If only he had known. He found it impossible to believe that Mac had not tried to tell this to Will. Surely, she would have..

"Did she not call you?", he softly whispered..

"I changed my number the day she left.", Will managed to croak..


Will acted like he did not hear the last part of that conversation and flipped open his laptop. It was not his email he went to but the media centre which had the Afghanistan feeds. He played the most recent one. It read, filed by Mackenzie Mchale. His throat went dry.

The footage was grainy, anyone would be a fool to expect better quality than that. He heard her before he saw her, her narration as the camera panned slowly over the ruins of a battlefield and some lone shots being fired in the craned his neck anxiously like she was physically present in front of him, but just round the corner. Charlie put a supportive hand on Will's shoulder. Will winced slightly but then relaxed, acknowledging his care.

Finally, the camera was on her. She looked exhausted, the bulletproof jacket hanging on her sides telling him she had lost a considerable amount of weight. He shifted his gaze to her cheeks, they'd shrunk. They were no longer the rosy cheeks he loved stroking the back of his hand against. Her eyes were blank, not those gorgeous orbs of brown that sparkled when she took his name. And her hair.. oh God her hair.. it was jagged and rough, cut drastically so that it just reached below her ears. There were no fringes above her eyes, no strands of hair of any considerable length. Will felt sick.

She cut her hair.. she cut her hair..

He thought that for some time and before he realized it, that was the only thing he was saying.

"She cut her hair, she cut her hair.. she cut her hair", his pace now frenetic.

Charlie looked at him anxiously. Will had paused the frame and was tracing a finger on the part where her hair ended. His finger now traced the gap between her current hair and the hair she had when they were together. Will felt like a criminal, a perpetrator. It felt like he was punishing her, when it was the other way round all the time. How could he punish her when it was going to take a lifetime just to come to terms with what she had done with him? He was not punishing her, he was trying to cope with the amount of love he had for her and the degree of betrayal he had suffered. He was suffering. She was not supposed to suffer, GODDAMMIT!

He continued to mumble the same words again and again.. his gaze fixed on the screen. Charlie tried to shake Will out from this stupor but it was of no use. Charlie realized he had had to give Will his time and quietly left his room, instructing the others not to disturb him.

Tears stung Will's eyes now, threatening to overflow. He blinked them back harshly. His mind went back to when they were together. How he'd comb his fingers through her hair, how he loved how perfectly they fell around his hand. How he loved smelling her hair.. how her hair would trail on his chest when she fell asleep, sprawled across him. How he loved putting that awry strand of hair behind her ear..

But it was all over. She cut her hair.