It wasn't the weather, as simple as it may be to lay the blame with the rain and wind. It wasn't lack of sleep, despite the reality of her fatigue. It wasn't even the looming exposé that had stolen her thoughts every waking hour. There was a palpable reluctance to admit defeat, yet she couldn't deny the true source of her tireless mind. It was the unrealised wishes & nightmares that controlled any hope of sanity which had taken her. Lying on her bed covers shivering and crying at midnight, every midnight, had spun her out of control. Over a year of sly looks, screaming matches and tense broadcasts had finally allowed them to reach a tipping point. They were becoming themselves, as emotional scars began to heal. It tore her heart apart even more. No matter how many times she caught his eyes on her, or felt his hands gently touch her body, or teased him with only love in her eyes, she knew this was all it would be. This was the only thought she needed, the single reminder that came to her every evening after the rush of the day had dissipated, that would leave her sleepless and sobbing.
Hustling into the cab she threw herself against the cold leather seat. The numbers 6.27 flashed brightly in Mackenzie's eyes and she turned away mumbling the address of the studio. The jolt of the cab woke her. Blurry and confused she threw a couple of twenties at the concerned looking cab driver and stumbled out.
I knew this would start catching up to me. . . Five straight nights now.
Taking measured steps towards the doors, she felt dizzy in her high heels and a few steps later she felt herself falling. Arms were suddenly around her.
"Mackenzie?" the voice asked.
Looking up she found herself choked up all over again. Will stood next to her, tense and beautiful in his trademark blue sweater. Pulling herself away she smoothed down her hair to try and gain some dignity.
"Sorry." she mumbled and hurried towards the door attempting to avoid his piercing gaze. He always knew everything about her, but she couldn't have him pressing her for information this time.
Sliding into the elevator she felt Will enter quickly behind her. Mackenzie pulled out her cell phone and checked her emails as a pathetic distraction from his looming presence. Sometimes she forgot how tall he actually was. When they reached their floor he let her leave first and she hurried into her office, slamming the door and sinking dejectedly into her chair.
Five cups of coffee later Mackenzie was animated heading the run down meeting. No matter what every night had sucked from her, she seemed to always find her way back when everyone really needed her. As the broadcast approached she found herself drowning in statistics and desperately trying to learn how to read all of these graphs accurately. Calling out desperately to Sloan she fumbled her way through all the papers on her desk.
Hearing her door open she began to speak, "Thank God. I need you-"
Glancing up she found that there was no beautiful economist before her, but a suited up broadcaster.
"Will? Sorry, I was calling for Sloan."
Will grinned and twisted the knife in Mackenzie's gut all at once. "I thought I'd tell you she isn't in the office and save you from calling her name for the next 15 minutes with no hope she'd show."
"Ah, I see. Never mind." Relaxing back in her chair she pulled the glasses from her face and rubbed her eyes gently.
Will moved carefully to lean against the desk next to her. "Mac. Are you- I mean. How are- I, uh."
Breathing out carefully Mackenzie replied with as much fake confidence as she could muster. "I'm fine, Billy. Just a bit tired and tense. Only lack of sleep I promise."
She knew technically she wasn't lying, but she couldn't meet his eyes all the same. Mackenzie body instantly tensed when she felt Will's hand fall into hers. Thinking she might genuinely fall down dead right there Mackenzie couldn't hold in a sigh when he started to run his thumb across her skin.
"Mac I-" Will began, but he was interrupted almost immediately by the door swinging open and Jim leaning in. Pulling their hands quickly away from each other, Will stood and with a final what seemed like regretful glance he disappeared out the door.
Knowing better than to mention the odd situation he had walked in on Jim just relayed what he had come in to tell her, "Will's copy is ready for you to look at. Do you want me to bring it into you?"
Mackenzie finally let go of the breath she had been holding and nodded.
"I'm Will MacAvoy. Goodnight."
The last few words of the broadcast filled her ears as she pulled her headset off and rested it gently on the table in front of her. The familiar sense of doom and pain was getting closer. Just a few hours now. Turning she saw Will leaving the studio. He searched for a moment, caught her eye and motioned for her to come to him. When he reached his side he smiled. There was a kind of pity in his eyes that didn't rest well with Mackenzie. However she soon realised that it was not pity for how pathetically in love with him she was, but pity for her supposed inability to sleep.
"I'm sorry about how badly you're feeling. I've felt the same, as I'm sure you remember. Managed to not thank the audience for washing us in while though."
A giggle escaped her and she felt a bit lighter.
"Y'know if I can ever do anything to help-" Will murmured, running his hands along her shoulder.
Leaning in she felt a flash of that feeling of him again. Intoxicated Mackenzie almost confessed to what had really been happening. Those blue eyes had been the death of her all those years ago and here she was falling all over again.
"Will?" A voice called from the newsroom and the moment was gone. There was reluctance in him to move away, but soon enough he was gone and she was left breathing hard and fast. Pulling herself together she moved towards the doors into the studio and it was then that she saw them. Across the room, past the staff merrily chatting and packing up for the day, Will was pulling a tall, fair haired woman into his embrace. Mackenzie studied them, shock holding her in place, and then proceeded to torture herself by comparing herself to the woman. Tall almost as tall as him, nothing like me. Long blonde hair, nothing like me. Incredibly large breasts and wide hips, nothing like me. I suppose he's decided that nothing like me is exactly what he wants.
It ripped at her. Tears were pricking at her eyes and Mackenzie had to force herself to breathe through it. As Will and his friend left the office, she saw Sloan enter. Sloan took in the pair, eyes widening and then her eyes locked with Mackenzie's. Her face dropped in the kind of pity Mackenzie had become accustomed to within the walls of this office.
Mouthing 'don't' Mackenzie burst through the doors and charged straight into her office and straight into the back drawer where she kept her bottle of whiskey.
Hours had passed. There wasn't a soul in the whole place, the cleaners long gone. Mackenzie was drunk off her face crying on the floor behind her desk. Miserable and pathetic was all she felt and she didn't know how she was going to find her way home. She hadn't seen this coming and so had forgotten all the supplies she needed to keep in the office to get away with nights like this. A toothbrush, change of clothes and mascara was usually all it took to ward off probing questions. Maybe she could call Sloan. It would involve admitting to the whole sorry situation, but it was better than Will finding out. God, if Will ever found out. . .
Pulling herself up she glanced at the clock on the wall. 2.25 am. Shit. Mackenzie just hoped Sloan didn't hate her too much after this. Her hand reached out towards the phone, but in that instant she heard a familiar whistling coming into the office.
Oh. . . Jesus.
It's two thirty. What the fuck was he doing back in the office? Why wasn't he banging blondie? Questions rushed through her head so fast she forgot to do the one thing needed to keep her in hiding. She should've turned off her lamp. The whistling had stopped. Footsteps were coming towards her. Shit. Shit. Shit.
Doing the only thing she thought might save her, Mackenzie threw herself into her chair, nearly throwing up with the movement, put her glasses on, attempted to straighten up her clothes and opened the last document she had been working on.
"Mac?" His voice was confused. She couldn't really blame him. Everyone was always gone before midnight.
As he opened her door she turned slightly and took a deep breath.
"Oh, Will. What are you doing here? What happened to the blonde?" She couldn't help herself from snapping at him. It possibly would have been a better idea to just ignore it all, but she was drunk and pissed off. Not the kind of combination that lead to diplomacy.
He seemed a bit taken aback. "I didn't think you saw that."
"Who gives a shit what I saw. Only matters what you did." Mackenzie could feel those all too familiar tears forming again and cursed her tendency to cry when she was angry.
"Well, what you did matters too." Will snapped.
"You know what, Billy." His name was poison in her mouth. "I have spent the last, god knows how long, trying to repent for my sins. I condemned myself to exile, and nearly got myself and someone else killed, I came back here to try and make it up to you, and all I've gotten is more of a broken heart, and some kind of alcohol dependency. "
Mackenzie saw Will's eyes flick to the bottle of whiskey she had left thoughtlessly on her desk. She was too far gone to stop now. The pin had been pulled and the grenade was going to blow.
"I'm DONE. No more of this Will. You've gotten what you wanted. I'm as miserable as you. I love this show and these people, so I'm not going to let you take that away from me. . . I'm going to forgive myself, because I finally realised that I don't give a shit whether you do. I can't. I was dying trying to find my way back to you, but if your feelings weren't clear before, as I may argue they weren't at times, because apparently you are cruel as well as unforgiving, they certainly are now. No more possibilities and that's fine."
Mackenzie knew half a bottle of whiskey was making her words harsher than she may have otherwise intended, but as soon as they were out she knew this was what had been keeping her up at night more than usual. This conclusion had been sitting in the back of her mind for the last few weeks, and her being determined not to acknowledge it seemed to have lead to her insomnia. It wasn't what she wanted, not even in the same universe as what she wanted, but she was drowning living like this and she knew, as excruciating as it felt to finally shut down the smallest possibility of getting him back, she knew that this was what she had to do for herself. For once she had to take care of herself, instead of taking care of him.
Expressionless Will stood by the door, while Mackenzie, with tears streaming down her face, collected the few belongings she had. Eyes fixed on the floor she flew out of the newsroom and down onto the street to find a cab.
The tears, screaming and cab ride had sobered her up. It was after three now and she knew there was no hope she'd make it to work in four or so hours. She calmed herself by making a cup of tea and deciding to call Charlie and Jim once a reasonable hour arrived and let them know. For once in a long time, she was going to have to drop the ball. She tried to convince herself that even Mackenzie McHale got the flu and that they would have no reason not to believe her. Will would know. . .
Pulling her blanket from her bed she curled up on the couch and listened to the rain start to fall against her window. The sound made her feel even lonelier than before. In an attempt to drown it out she plugged in her phone and shuffled her music.
Kiss me, like you want to be loved. Want to be loved. Want to be loved. This feels like falling in love. Falling in love. Falling in love. . .
The steady thrumming of the beat comforted her, if she could ignore the lyrics.
Settle down with me. And I'll be your safety and you'll be my lady. I was made to keep your body warm, but I'm cold as the wind blows, so hold me in your arms. . .
Her eyes were fluttering, the alcohol catching up on her, and she couldn't believe that she might actually fall asleep.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
The soft thrum on her door was almost too soft for her to hear. Yet as soon as the first knock came Mackenzie was sitting straight up and breathing hard. She wondered if she had actually called Sloan after all and just forgotten, though it seemed unlikely considering that when she glanced at the clock she saw it was nearly four. Perhaps it was someone intending to murder her. Right now that didn't sound so bad. It would mean she'd never have to go back to work.
Dropping the blanket at her feet she padded across the room and peeked through the spy hole in her door. Jumping back Mackenzie gasped and threw her hands over her mouth. There is no way. . .
Frozen in place, she just stared at the door for a minute.
"Mac. Open up." His voice was gruff, frustrated.
Moving in what felt like slow motion she reached out and flicked the latch before stepping back again. Getting the message he opened the door carefully and stayed motionless in the hall. Eyes closed, tense, soaked from head to toe with fists clenched Will stood in front of her. A lifetime passed, neither speaking nor looking at each other.
"I don't know how I got here. It seems all roads lead me here." Will whispered like if he talked to loud she'd go off again. With them arguing had always progressed to yelling, and then to screaming.
"Mac, I've seriously fucked up. I wish there was a word stronger than sorry, because I know sorry will never be enough. I need you to see . . ." He trailed off like words were alluding him.
Mackenzie was shell shocked. She'd felt a lot of things when it came to Will McAvoy, but seldom was she surprised. After he let her in all those years ago, there was little she couldn't predict. She never saw this coming and it made her mad.
"You wear your best apology, but I was here to watch you leave." Fresh streams of tears were falling and she couldn't help but feel ridiculous. "All the times I let you in just for you to go again. . ."
"I know, I know, I know." He was murmuring under his breath as he moved towards her closing the door behind him.
"Billy, this is the last time I'll ask you why you break my heart in the blink of an eye. . ."
His hands reached out and grasped her arms, pulling her closer towards him. Mackenzie looked up at him and was startled to see tears gathering in his eyes as well.
"I was so fucking terrified of you Mackenzie. You come into my life like a tornado, destroy everything in your path and then put it all back together better than it ever was. I was in awe of you. I still am, so I messed around. I've loved you every moment I've known you and sometimes it feels like maybe even before then. You startled me back into truly feeling and I resented that. When I saw you again, for the first time, it was like nothing had ever changed. I was deeply in love with you all over again. I didn't know what else to do, but attempt to hate you as passionately as I love you."
Mackenzie wasn't breathing. That she did know, even if nothing else made sense anymore. She widened her eyes in an attempt to get him to confirm that was how he truly felt. Will nodded furiously and reached up to cup her face.
"This is the last time you tell me I got it wrong." Mackenzie whispered.
Stroking her cheek Will replied determinedly. "This is the last time I say it's been you all along."
"This is the last time I let you in my door." Mackenzie promised.
Will made her a promise right back, "This is the last time, I won't hurt you anymore."
Tentatively his lips brushed hers. Breaths shallow and measured their eyes closed. Will pulled at Mackenzie's waist until she was completely against him. There was a pause, no movement.
"Kiss me." Mackenzie breathed.
There was no need for her to tell him twice. Despite the age they had waited Mackenzie was glad for Will's care. He ran a finger across her lips before running it along her collarbone and then down to grasp her hand in his. Her eyes fluttered shut and his lips kissed hers. Once barely, then again, harder this time, confidence growing he opened his mouth slightly and Mackenzie nearly fainted from the feeling. It felt like gravity was too much and she would fall at his feet, yet it lit a fire inside of her. Suddenly desperate for him she laced her fingers through his hair and grinned at the moan she caused.
"Jesus. . . Mac." He was gasping and she was falling.
Her fingers moved to his collar and then slipped to his top button. Focused she undid the first one, then the second and third. Will tilted her chin and kissed her again as furiously as she had always wished for.
"Are you sure- I mean we just- We don't have to-" Will was stuttering, obviously fumbling for the right way to ask the question.
Trailing kisses along his neck and pulling him closer to the bedroom was the only answer she could give. Words were not at her immediate disposure in the state she was in. Receiving her obvious answer Will took control and Mackenzie felt herself being pushed towards and then onto her bed. Carefully he undressed her, leaving kisses when ever skin was exposed. He undid her shirt and kissed her stomach. He unzipped her skirt and kissed her thigh. Passing out became a very real possibility for Mackenzie. Will sat up and began to undress himself, but Mackenzie reached out and stopped his hands before they could release one button. Laying him down as he had done to her, Mackenzie caught his eye and left them there as she undressed him.
There they were, both nearly naked, shaking from the tension and in the kind of love that had almost evaded them. Lifting herself up Mackenzie lowered herself across his lap. Both gasping at the contact Mackenzie felt Will harden. He pulled her down and attached his lips to her breasts. Cursing furiously under her breath she couldn't help but buck against him. Sliding out of his grasp she slid her body down his and removed the last piece of material separating them. He was more beautiful than she remembered. Moving deliciously slow she teased him for a minute before taking everything into her mouth. She couldn't hold back the moans when Will grunted and grasped at her hair. He could only take it for a short time before he pulled her back up to his face and kissed her. Mackenzie couldn't fathom that this kept happening. He was kissing her.
Will rolled her over and stripped her as she had him. Taking an eternity every part of Mackenzie was kissed until he turned her into a beautiful mess. Unable to breathe to tell him what she wanted, all that she needed, Mackenzie grasped Will's face and begged him with her eyes and a deep kiss. Shifting her hips Mackenzie braced herself. Will moved and both of them moaned.
"Oh Jesus fucking CHRIST, Billy. . ." Somewhere between a scream and a cry her voice seemed to encourage him, and Will began to move faster. Their moans were running together, both of them entirely overwhelmed by force between them. Will kissed her neck and then proceeded to bite and suck at the skin there. Mackenzie thought she might actually pass out from the contact and found the only thing that would keep her from imploding was running her nails across the skin on his back. She soon found that her actions were sending Will insane and their movements quickened even more until they were a flurry of limbs and moans and touches.
The tension was growing. Groans turning into screams and touches turning forceful. Mackenzie could sense what was about to happen, but there was nothing she wanted but to feel it. Taking a gasp of air she tensed and screamed out Will's name. Will pulled her into his arms as she rocked desperately. A stream of curse words spilled from her lips along with mentions of divine figures and she couldn't help but cling desperately on to him as she began to ride the wave down. In his arms she felt safe and utterly exhausted. Mackenzie felt Will begin to tense and so she started kissing his neck gently and whispering confessions of love. When Will finally stilled inside of her he kissed her once carefully on the lips and said the words she had always known were on the tip of his tongue.
"Mackenzie McHale. I am eternally in love with you."
Grinning Mackenzie kissed him right back and said, "Will McAvoy. You are a fool . . . and I am forever in love with you."