He could see from the look in her eye, Mackenzie was livid; more than livid she was hurt, and more than hurt she was livid. Alone in his office at last, Will was prepared for the colossal tongue-lashing she'd probably been rehearsing in her head all day.
“What is it you want me to say right now?” Will asked, genuinely, as the quiet, misleading look of calm settled her lips into a straight line. She’s a woman predisposed to hysterics, and he’s positive he brings out the most of her (the best, the worst, the most), without a doubt. To laymen, to anyone who hadn’t spent years of their lives consumed by Mackenzie McHale, that outward calm would’ve been enough.Will recognized the danger of her anger where it lurked, and tried to laugh about how it was so very Mac that she could be so angry with him, now.
He didn’t hate her, he was nearly positive that was true, at least. Even if she looked like she hated him then.
“I accepted…” Mac started, lost her train of thought, and started again, “I accepted that working here, working with you, would hurt me a great deal, it just would. I figured after all I did to you, I shouldn’t let that stop me from giving you a good show.” She cleared her throat, and took a deep breath, trying not to wish so desperately that she could just see through his thick skull, straight into his brain, and figure out what the hell was going on in there.
Will blinked; he sat across his desk from her, and looked in her face, again. About to call her out on her use of the word give, she'd dragged him kicking and screaming to a good show, and he was the one that gave it, but she still looked murderous, even if out of sorts, and he thought better of the correction. She still seemed to be struggling to find the words, and she was. Mackenzie tried to keep her irate thoughts in rational little lines, but her anger didn’t feel so cooperative.
“I took this job, because I wanted to do this, do the news, for Charlie, with you, even though it would be mortal agony to have an office ten feet from you and your indifference for me.” She felt her pulse quickening, threatening the calm she was striving to look.
“Indifference,” Will muttered under his breath. Lots of things in his life would’ve been easier if he could feel but one moment of indifference for her, and he couldn’t believe she had the nerve to say something as ridiculous as that to his actual face.
Finally, Mac looked up at him, stared at him hard, at the wrinkle forming between his eyebrows.
“I wrote you hundreds of emails, called you dozens of times...” The frenzy in her voice threatened again, but she tamped it down, into a steady, soft tone, half in disbelief that she was supposed to read anything else from his silence but indifference, “The logical explanation for your lack of response, of course, being that I brutally hurt you, and you moved on.” It wasn’t meant as an accusation, but the wrinkle between his brows twitched. “It doesn’t matter- you don’t love me anymore, the first time I walked through the ACN doors I knew that, and came anyway, because I believed we could have a professional, working relationship.”
“One where I’m indifferent?” The word just tasted bad to him, and sure, he sounded hung up, he could admit that’s what it sounded like; but she pressed on, and he was gladder for it.
“I need you to understand,” She said, voice trembling, coming to the point, “I never would’ve taken this job if I thought there was a chance I’d hurt you again, Will.” She bit her lip to look at him, but his eyes weren’t on her anymore. “If you would’ve told me- I mean, any indication, that you were… I mean, a non-compete clause? Seriously? Seriously? If you were going to go nuclear it should’ve at least been on me- if I would’ve known-”
“That’s not your fault,” Will trusted the softness in her voice this time, the calm that really was settling. Resisting the urge to physically soothe her, to reach out and stroke her knuckles, or wrap his arms around her and just be sorry together, was difficult; laying his palm flat against the desk, he sighed. “I took the non-compete clause, I went nuclear; it was an overreaction, obviously, and it was a long time ago, and I did it, not you.” He took a slow sip of his coffee, long gone cold, and tried to imagine what the glassy look in her eye meant then.
“You can do the same show without me,” She offered, trying to prove she was serious. “The staff knows what they’re doing, it’s all very settled, I don’t have to be here if-” If you don’t want me here, she couldn’t bring herself to finish the thought vocally, but he met her eyes and she’d bet he knew.
“Is this your way of trying to get out of caring about the ratings?” Smiling half-heartedly, he still wasn’t sure what to say to her, what would be alright to say. Of course the non-compete clause looked like an overreaction now; he just remembered the feeling, of her being brought in against his will, and he’d done the only thing he could to try and mitigate that feeling.
“I really have to care about the ratings now, don’t I?” With a deep inhale, Mac felt like something cosmic had shifted between them; just inches of distance, but a shift nonetheless. She was still pretty sure she was completely furious, a non-compete clause but… there was nothing to be done.
“Only if you don’t want me to get fired.” He joked, because what else was he supposed to do.
“Expect lots of kitten-centric stories in the rundown, I hear a lot of people like stories that are kitten-centric,” she smiled, and eased herself out of his office chair.
“I thought you were going to yell at me,” he confessed; not all the waves of anger dissipated, but some of them had.
“I thought I was, too,” Mac’s smile softened, and she dragged her eyes away from the way he was looking at her. “It’s only four thirty though, there’s still hope I could yell at you today.”
“Right, right… Looking forward to it, Mac.”