Monday had been a difficult day; first they had to tell everyone about Jerry's lawsuit and that lawyers would be coming in on Wednesday to depose many of the staff.
The day was made even more difficult by Superstorm Sandy barreling up the East Coast and threatening to drown most of Manhattan. Regardless of what was occurring around them the news still had to go on but by early afternoon Will and Mac were sending home all staff that weren't absolutely critical for the broadcast.
The remaining skeleton crew had to balance everyone's workload and put on a quality broadcast despite the storm raging outside and by the time the broadcast was over Will was exhausted.
He finished changing and surveyed who was left in the already darkened room. "Jim? How are you getting home?"
Jim looked up from where he was shuffling some papers into a bag and then gestured to the control room, "I have a ride with Herb."
"Good." Will continued scanning the rest of the room, "Everyone else gone?"
Jim nodded, "Yeah, most took off as soon as we started the broadcast. Mac is the only one left."
Before Will could reply Herb entered, "Ready to go?"
Jim flipped on his jacket, "Yeah."
"Be safe guys." Will waved after them.
Will watched them leave and then turned to where the light was still on in Mackenzie's office. He peered in the door to see her not prepared to leave at all, instead surrounded by papers and notebooks.
He stepped around the glass wall and leaned on the door jam, "Shouldn't you be getting ready to leave?"
Mac looked up at him, startled, "What are you still doing here?"
He shrugged, "I was checking to make sure everyone had a safe way home. What are you still doing here?"
She released a heavy sigh and gestured to the papers around her, "I'm being deposed on Wednesday. I'm refamiliarizing myself with the details."
Will narrowed his eyes, "You are aware that just outside your window New York is being beat to a pulp by Mother Nature?"
"Hence the not choosing to do my work on the terrace this evening." She retorted sarcastically.
Will sighed and looked to the ceiling. "How long do you plan on staying?"
She shrugged indifferently, "Until I'm done."
"And then what?"
She looked at him with an unmasked air of annoyance, "Then I'll go home."
"How? The taxis have stopped running." He pointed out.
Her eyes widened for a fraction of a second before she shrugged and returned her attention to the papers in front of her, "I live less than a mile from here. I'll walk."
Will shook his head in disbelief, "In this weather?! Mac be serious!"
"It's just a storm Will!" She snapped back.
"A storm with high speed winds carrying debris and flash flooding!"
She sighed in exasperation and crossed her arms, "And what would you like me to do about that? Would you prefer I just stayed here for the next two days?"
Will bit on the inside of his lip, refraining from releasing a short tempered retort, "How about you let me give you a ride home? My car service is going to be here in 8 minutes. That's plenty of time for you to pack all this up so you can go through it in the comfort of your own home."
Mac rolled her eyes, "I don't need you coddling me."
Will snapped and he slapped the glass door, "DAMNIT MAC! I'm not! I just want to make sure you get home safely. Same as everyone else who works on this show. Now, stop playing a fucking martyr and let me for once offer a helping hand without you biting it off!"
Mac just stared blankly at him before silently nodding and beginning to gather her things.
Satisfied but not happy Will turned to leave, mumbling, "I'll get my stuff and meet you in the elevator lobby."
She said nothing when she met him in the lobby and followed him to the waiting car. No words were exchanged until he offered a half hearted "Good night." as they stopped in front of her building.
He was caught up with his own thoughts and at first he didn't notice that when the car stopped again that they were still more than a block from his building.
"What's going on Marshall?" He asked the driver.
Marshall turned in his seat, "I'm sorry Mr. McAvoy, the road is flooded, I can't get any further."
Will sighed and leaned forward to peer out the windshield. Sure enough there was about a foot of water where the road dipped ahead.
"Do you want me to drive you to a hotel?" the young driver asked.
Will shook his head, "No, I don't have anything with me. I'll just walk the rest of the way, it doesn't look deep on the sidewalk."
After assuring Marshall and sending the car off Will walked the remaining block and a half to his front door. The flooding seemed relatively confined but the water was cold and in some spots rose above his knees. Thankfully it was shallower around his building's door and the few sandbags appeared to have kept the lobby dry.
However, Will let out a groan when he noticed the lack of light. He looked to the young man standing by the door, "Don't tell me..."
"I'm sorry Mr. McAvoy. The electricity has been out since early afternoon."
Will sighed and hung his head, "I assume that includes the elevator?"
"Yes sir." Manny nodded, "I've unlocked the rear stairwell though."
Will nodded dejectedly and slowly made his way up the 27 flights to his apartment. By the time he entered through the small back door he was exhausted and cold and his knee was killing him.
He quickly changed out of his wet jeans and into sweats but he was still freezing. No power meant no heated water for a hot shower and if the electricity had been out since the afternoon than that meant the apartment had been without heat for the better part of 10 hours. Will put on his thickest socks and a wool cap but he still felt chilled down to his bones even after trying to bury himself in bed.
It only got colder as the minutes ticked by and after shivering miserably for nearly an hour Will finally gave up, reaching out he grabbed his phone to try and find a hotel room.
20 minutes later he had succeeded in nothing but draining most of the remaining battery power in his phone; the hotels were either closed or booked solid. Sitting on the edge of his bed he glanced at the clock, it wasn't even midnight yet.
He sighed, it was less than ideal but he knew ACN still had power which meant it still had heat and if he had a better chance of sleeping on a warm office couch than in his freezing bed. Plus he could shower there.
He packed a bag in case the power was out long term and called his car service while changing back into a pair of jeans.
"I'm sorry Mr. McAvoy, we've sent all the drivers home." The dispatcher explained, "You were the last pick up scheduled, we weren't even supposed to be on the streets that late. The weather is just too bad."
Will scrubbed his hands over his face, "It's okay. I understand. Thank you for having Marshall stick around earlier this evening."
He hung up the phone and stared at his packed bag before looking out the window. The violent gusts of the storm were seeming to calm down and the office was just over 3 miles away; he could walk that before 1 am and still get some decent sleep.
Before he could change his mind he shouldered the bag and descended the 27 floors back to the lobby and outside.
Almost an hour later he was soaked and freezing and trudging slowly up the abandoned sidewalk. If he hadn't felt so wretched he might have been in awe at the absolute abandonment of the city that never sleeps but he was too wrapped in his own pitiable state. The tall buildings created a wind tunnel effect and the rain stung at his face and the wind pushed against him. Additionally the cumulative 54 flights of stairs combined with the cold and the wet to cause his knee to act up more than normal and he was disgusted with himself when he actually begun limping, slowing his progress even more.
As he continued against the weather his thoughts flashed back to the past month and inwardly he cursed God and the universe until each step he took was matched with an internal blaspheme.
Before long his thoughts turned more terrestrial and he cursed Jerry Dantana for being an immoral douche and Eric Sweeney for lying, and the Taliban fighters who blew up Sweeney's jeep giving him a TBI, and Herman Valenzuala for lying to protect his friend, and Charlie's source for being a jackass, General Stomtonovich for misleading Charlie and Mac and Mac for making herself miserable and pulling away and taking the blame and not answering his phone calls and not letting him drive her home and still wearing that perfume that drove him nuts and that blouse that made her eyes shine and those skirts and heels that did crazy things to her legs and caused his imagination to run wild.
Damn her for being so intelligent and quick but sitting silent all month because she felt guilty, damn her for loosing her confidence,damn her for being the best EP in the business but trying to constantly resign. Damn her for pulling together the best group of young journalists around and then abandoning her post as team leader, leaving him to do the job. Damn her for trying to leave and becoming so withdrawn it was almost as if she already had.
About the time he was working up an internal rant he realized he was approaching her block. He honestly had no intention of going to her place, but it was on the way to the office. Somewhere in his mind it registered that if he was only at her building now, that meant it was another mile to the office and he was cold and wet and tired and his knee hurt and most of all he was pissed.
Gratefully registering the lights on in the building he pushed the buzzer before he could convince himself to just keep walking. When she didn't answer he pushed it again and again, not caring if he was waking her up, he was pissed at how she had been behaving and he couldn't turn back time and he couldn't stop the lawsuit and he couldn't control the weather but he sure as hell could try to fix Mac.
"Who the..." Her voice finally came over the speaker. Will cut her off, "It's me, let me up."
"Just let me up Mac."
There was a long pause of static before he heard the buzz of the door and he closed his eyes in gratitude as he escaped into the blessed warmth of the lobby.
A short elevator ride later he was heading down the hall toward her door. She was waiting for him in slim flannel pants and a tank top, leaning against the door frame, arms crossed and annoyed look on her face.
Her body language slowly changed as she watched him limp toward her; she stood straight and her arms dropped to her sides and for the first time in over a month and a half the name, "Billy..." fell from her lips.
It was enough to make Will stop in his tracks and look at her. Seeing the look of absolute concern on her face was enough for him to loose hold of the anger that had been driving him for the last 20 minutes. The wind went out of his sails and his shoulders slumped.
She disappeared from the doorway and reappeared a moment later with a large terry towel she immediately placed around his neck as she grabbed his hand and pulled him into the apartment and shut the door.
"Okay, give me this and take off your shoes." She ordered, grabbing his bag from his shoulder and starting on his jacket before he had the chance to say a word.
It was just as well because as his anger abandoned him so did any sense of what he was going to say. He decided to just do as she instructed for now as he toed off his sodden sneakers and joined Mac in divesting himself of his jacket. She took it from him and hung it up as he rubbed at his hair with the towel. When he pulled it away from his face it was to find Mac standing not two feet away, lower lip between her teeth. Her hands began to reach out to him before stalling and pulling back until her arms were wrapped around herself.
"God, you're shaking...you're freezing Will! What the hell happened? Why are you here? Why were you out there? Why are you limping? What happened to your leg? Are you okay? Did you get mugged? Do you want me to call the police? God, do you think they'll even come in this weather? I should still call..."
"Mac!" Will interrupted her rambling and she stopped, looking up at him with wide worried eyes.
He couldn't help himself from smiling. He was cold, wet, cranky and in pain but for the first time in far too long he was seeing human emotion on Mackenzie's face and was given a spot of hope that maybe all was not lost.
"I wasn't mugged Mac." He assured in a calm, steady voice, "My knee just stiffened up. There's no power in my building, I couldn't find a hotel room and the state of emergency order is still keeping the cars off the streets so I was walking back to ACN for the night. I got distracted when I realized I was near your place and I thought you might take pity me and save me from having to keep going. I'm sorry for freaking you out."
She blinked at him. "You were walking from your place to ACN?"
He gave an innocent shrug.
She shifted her arms so they were crossed in front of her chest, and the warmth he had seen in her eyes a moment ago hardened, "Need I remind you how not more than 4 hours ago you lectured me about walking from ACN to here? A distance significantly less than the little stroll you just took."
Will rolled his eyes, "I know, and I get it but you were just being stubborn, I had no choice!"
Mackenzie shook head in clear annoyance and bit at the inside of her cheek. "Go take a warm shower and get into dry clothes. We can't have you catching pneumonia." She waved a hand in the general direction of the bathroom and turned to her living room without looking back.
Will sighed and watched her go before peeling off his wet socks and wordlessly moving to the bathroom.
Pulling on his dry sweatpants and sweatshirt Will finally felt human again. Mackenzie's apartment was warm enough he didn't bother with socks and he went in search of his reluctant hostess, finding her on the couch, coffee table covered with the notebooks and papers she had packed up from her office earlier that evening.
He paused before deciding the best bet was to sit in the chair on the opposite side of the table. Mac flicked her eyes up at him and silently gestured, directing his attention to the small corner table. There was an ace bandage, a glass of water and a bottle of ibuprofen, a heating pad and a mug of hot cocoa.
He stared at it for a moment before looking back to her, "This is for me?"
She looked back up to him, "No it's for the other bloody moron who walked 2 miles through flood and hurricane with a busted knee."
Will shifted where he sat and looked away, "Well, thank you."
"Your welcome." She mumbled without looking up.
Will took the pills and wrapped his knee, closing his eyes in relief as he placed the heating pad on the aching joint.
"You look exhausted." Mackenzie's voice pulled his eyes open to see her watching him.
"So do you." He replied steadily.
She ignored him, "You should go to sleep. I don't have a spare room but you can take the bed."
"And where will you be sleeping?" Will tried to keep his voice neutral.
She gestured around herself, "Out here. I end up falling asleep on the couch half the time anyway and most likely would have tonight regardless if you had come over."
He raised his eyebrows, "I'm not going to kick you out of your own bed Mac."
She shrugged, "Seriously, it's fine. You look like you're ready to fall asleep sitting up and I know I'm going to be up looking through all this for at least another couple of hours."
He leaned forward to try and see some of what she was looking through, "Why? Your deposition isn't until Wednesday after the show. It shouldn't keep you from sleeping tonight."
She shook her head, "There is a lot here, Will! I was the one who sent Jim to New Hampshire, approved the drone panel, approved Cyrus West and then I was the first person Jerry told, I gave him the go ahead to get started, I went with him to meet Sweeney the first time, I authorized bringing other staff members in on the story, and that was all last September alone. There is so much here and nothing I did was inconsequential. I can't let a single detail slip!"
Will relaxed back into his chair, "Mac, it's not that important to drive yourself to your wits end."
She looked at him in disbelief, "Did you even read the complaint?"
"Yes I read it." He nodded, "But denying yourself sleep is going to do nothing to prevent them from filing."
Mackenzie returned her attention to her notes. "I didn't invite you in because I wanted a lecture."
Will tilted his head and crossed his arms, "I'm not trying to lecture you. I'm just trying to point out that you can prep all you want for this deposition, which is really meaningless, but we still have a show to run and you're not going to be able to do a good job of that for long if you don't get some sleep."
"Well I haven't exactly been doing a great job to begin with so no problems there." She mumbled.
"Mac..." He sighed, scrubbing his hands over his face.
"No, Will." She looked up again, conviction in her eyes, "I know what I did and you need to stop whatever you've been trying to do and admit it too. I'm radioactive. Nothing is going to get better for you or anyone as long as I'm here. Some needs to fire me, convince Leona to settle with Dantana and then move on with the show!"
"No." Will set his jaw and stared her down.
She looked at him and rolled her eyes as she leaned back on the couch, "You say that but..."
"Mackenzie," He cut her off, and leaned forward again, demanding her attention,
"Listen to me closely, I'm saying No. I'm not going to do this show without you. If it comes down to Leona firing anyone you're not going alone. You got that? I approved airing the show, I didn't catch the shot clock, I didn't trust Dantana but I didn't spare the time to question what he did. These past few months you've seemed to have forgotten that we're partners in this thing and I'm not going to take it any more. Leona would not have brought in Lowell-Taylor if she wanted to settle, we're going to make a go of fighting this prick and that means we need you to stop self-flagellating and making Dantana's case for him."
She stared at him for a long time as he tried to decipher the emotions flickering through her eyes, refusing to be the one to break eye contact first. Finally she broke and looked away. "You should go to bed."
He sighed, "I'm not taking your bed and leaving you to continue worrying yourself ragged."
"Well, I've still got work to do and you've been dead on your feet since before we even left the office so it's either go to bed or fall asleep where you're sitting and I think your knee would prefer the former." She looked pointedly where the heating pad still rested on his outstretched leg.
Will sighed, as much as he was loathe to admit it, she was right, he was tired and continuing to fight with her would just be fruitless as the depth of his frustration seemed to be no match for the depth of her guilt. That didn't mean he was willing to capitulate, he just needed to get some sleep without letting her think he'd given up.
He slowly smiled when he struck upon an idea, "There is a third option."
Mac looked over to him with arched eyebrows, "And what would that be?"
"I can sleep on the couch." He replied triumphantly as he stood and moved over to where she was sitting.
She looked at him in clear exasperation, "I told you I'm okay sleeping here and I'm not stopping working."
Will shrugged as he situated some throw pillows at the other end of the couch and began to lie down, forcing his outstretched legs into the non-existent space between Mac and the sofa cushion. "I don't care where you sleep or if you keep working but you can't force me into your bed. Unless you want a cranky anchor with a sore knee tomorrow then I would scoot over or something because you're sitting where my legs need to go."
If looks could kill he would have been dead at that moment but again for a fraction of a second he caught something warm and familiar in her eyes as she looked at him. It was gone in a moment and she slammed shut the notebook in front of her and moved from her place on the sofa, leaving him the space.
"You're an ass." She muttered as she stood, arranging the strewn documents into piles.
"So you've told me many, many times." He smiled innocently back.
She shook her head and grabbed her notebook, "I'll be reading in my room if you need anything."
"Goodnight!" He called after her in mock cheer.
He watched her stalk away before closing his eyes. He knew he would still be sore tomorrow but thankfully Mackenzie's couch was long and comfortable and it wasn't long before his tired body pulled him into a deep sleep despite the tumult in his mind and in his heart.