I mentioned that I would have liked Mac to have either punched Jerry (of course) or the wall when the elevator was closing. Apparently, because I said it, I then had to write it... ;)
With thanks to CSIAngel for the beta x
"Jim…" Charlie said, motioning for him to take the rest of the staff into the newsroom and out of Will's office. Mac somehow folded herself even smaller to let them pass her; a few touched her arms in support on their way past, others just had no idea what to do or what to say.
There was a collective sigh from the three remaining in the room before MacKenzie explained about the shot clock and how Jerry had excused his actions. She didn't know whether to cry or throw up.
Charlie was pacing in angry bursts, spinning back around to them to say something but the words dying into a frustrated grunt. He paced again and turned, "Where is he? Right now? Bring him to me. I don't know whether to punch his teeth in or fire him first."
Mac's head was still bowed, "He's gone. I fired him already."
He grunted again, happy it had been done but he really wanted to have been the one to- "Jesus Christ, you punched him?" Charlie practically laughed out loud in pride as she unfolded her arms from around her chest.
She looked down at her hand, only now noticing the swelling and blood around her knuckles. "No, no, I punched a wall." She had shoved her hand under her arm almost as soon as she had, the pain radiating through her fingers but, a cathartic pain. "But in my head it was his face."
Will wrenched her hand into his, taking a closer look at the lacerations covering her skin. "Charlie-"
"I'll get the first aid kit," he announced, leaving the room.
"It's not fine, but I don't think it's broken," he said, cradling her hand in his and gently moving the knuckles to check for fractures.
Her voice was barely above a whisper when she said, "Everything's broken." Her eyes were still looking at her hand when he looked up. Her jaw was set tightly but her chin was quivering. She looked little, defeated, gutted. "I broke it."
Will couldn't find his voice.
"I'm sorry, Will," her head snapped up and she was staring straight into his eyes. "I'm so sorry. I ruined everything again. You tru- you trusted me and I fucked everything up again. I-"
He probably could have found the words to comfort her, to make her stop blaming herself; but, instead, he pulled her into him. He cupped the back of her head as she pressed her face into his shoulder, his other arm encircling her tiny frame.
Her hands were around his back, the injured one awkwardly sticking out, when her body began to wrack with sobs. She couldn't remember the last time she was held when she cried.
Normally she would have been able to hold it all in, usually until she was trying to turn her brain off to sleep. Of course, that always cued a replay of the day, the week, the year, the last five; her successes, her fuck-ups, everything.
What was short-lived as potentially her most triumphant moment in journalism, a turning point in world politics, the exact reason she got into this fucked-up game in the first place, was ruined.
The story that was going to change everything for the future, for the show, for… for her and Will: gone.
She had had eleven months to build the story and, occasionally, her mind would travel to when they told Will. How happy he would be at the bump in ratings, how he would react, how he would celebrate.
How he would forgive her and kiss her and love her again.
Everything was riding on this story and now everything was broken and it was all her fault.
She could smell his cologne, faint but still there. His hand was splayed over her back, holding her tightly against him. It was exactly what she had been hoping for after the story had broken, but without the heavy, dark, dull pain of disappointment, grief, guilt.
She pulled away, embarrassment colouring her cheeks as she swiped angrily at the fallen tears. "As soon as the retraction airs, I'll hand Leona my resignation. I'll release a statement saying it was all my doing and you had nothing to do with it. You can get a new E.P and keep the show."
"It's for the best, Will. I'll go back to DC and see what I can get out there. Maybe I'll go to London, my brother had something for me there before… before Charlie brought me here," she sighed; she couldn't believe it had come to this.
He was silent. His hands were curled around the edge of the desk, his jaw set tightly.
"Will, say something."
"What's the point?" His voice was clipped, but the more he spoke, the louder he became until he was pacing around the office in search of a cigarette. "It seems your fight or flight urge has kicked in and you're going again! Run away, MacKenzie! Syria looks like it'll be a good place to end up!"
Outside the office, Charlie pulled Jim back down into his seat; the first-aid kit still in his hand as he waited for them to hash it out.
Mac had her arms wrapped around her chest, her injured hand on top and beginning to throb. "Will…"
"No. No, okay? You left me last time after you fucked up, you're not running away this time." He found a blessed cigarette in a jacket pocket he hadn't worn since the winter. "You know why? You didn't fuck up! Not without help at least."
"It took three of us to green-light the story, so three of us will have to try to resign before Leona can fire us."
"No, Will. It should be-"
"Goddamn it, MacKenzie, you're not listening to me," he grabbed her arms. "You're not leaving this time. I… I don't want you to leave."
Why did he have to have those bright blue eyes? Even in the dim light they shone the brightest blue. He guided her to the table and pulled his chair out so their knees touched.
"You… you don't want me to leave?"
"No. I don't think we'll have a choice once Leona hears of tonight's show, but I don't want you to leave."
"This shit isn't on you. I'm the managing editor, Charlie's the President of the News Division; we all had a hand in this, this isn't solely on you. It's mainly on that dickweed Jerry."
"What are we going to do?"
He took her hands in his, gently stroking his thumb over her injured knuckles. "We are going to do the retraction, speak to Leona and then go get very, very drunk with Charlie and whoever of the team can keep up with us."
"And then what?"
"We walk that bridge when we get to it."
She smoothed her hands over his, their fingers curling together. "I can't believe this happened."
"I can't believe Charlie hasn't found the first aid kit yet," he smiled, so happy when he saw the tilt of a smile on her lips.
"We need to talk to the guys," Mac sighed, taking her hands back and tucking her hair behind her ears. She stood up, "And then we go get very, very drunk."
"So very drunk," Will nodded, standing up and tucking the chair beneath the table. "Let's go."
"Will?" She asked as he placed a hand on the door handle. She swallowed, looked to her feet and back up to him beneath her bangs, "When you said you didn't want me to leave…?"
He turned to her, "We walk that bridge when we get to it."