He fucked up.
A lot of people think that a lot of the time when it’s shit and stupid and untrue, but Will absolutely, certainly, without a doubt fucked up.
How, he doesn’t even know.
He’s been up for hours, running on adrenaline and caffeine. The Sandy Hook shooting has thrown practically everyone in the newsroom for a loop, that’s for damned sure. Maggie (poor, messed up Maggie) and Tamara keep sniffling into their monitors when they aren’t busy on the phone, shouting across the room, or (in Maggie’s case) snapping at Jim. Neal has immersed himself in Twitter feeds, Reddit, and a metric fuck-ton of other internet sites with equally ridiculous names. Gary, Tess, Kendra…all of them. Busy as beavers and probably even more exhausted than Will and Mac combined.
Fuck. The thought of her snaps him back to reality.
And reality, well, bites.
Once upon a time, he would have been able to snap himself out of wallowing in the Land of Fuck-Ups by remembering he had the power to fire Mac at the end of every week.
But that was before.
Before Mac with her doe eyes and drive and lip bite that is every bit as adorable as she thinks it is cut through one or two of the myriad walls he’d put up after she ran his heart through the potato ricer and fed it to him with a rusty spork. Why the hell anyone invented the spork, Will doesn’t know. Clearly they were suffering from rampant stupidity and misfiring synapses.
Mac, for all her faults and flaws and the way she’d left that Mac-sized hole in his heart that’ll never be filled again, is his EP.
No, his EP and his best friend.
He’s too tired to shout, too tired to work up a scathing look to shoot at her from the news desk, too tired to figure out exactly where he had gone wrong today.
Unclipping his mic, Will lags at the desk, not sure if Mac will come in and engage him in a shouting match (he’s getting so sick of communicating solely via shouting with her lately) or not. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he lets out a long sigh, the kind that seem to take forever to end but feel so damned good while you’re doing it. After loosening his tie, he decides Mac isn’t, in fact, going to come in, so he pushes back his chair and rises. A few vertebrae in his back audibly shift; the snap-crackle-pop makes him groan. How the hell has he gotten so old, so fast?
When he reaches the newsroom, Will frowns. No hustle, no bustle, nothing. No one, save for Don, who rises almost sheepishly from behind Neal’s computer.
“It’s like a damned ghost town in here,” Will mutters.
“Yeah,” Don agrees, haphazardly shoving Neal’s chair back in place with a well-aimed kick to the wheeled base. “Mac sent everyone home. Had to kick Kendra out. Rough day.”
“Yeah,” Will grunts, then shifts his weight awkwardly from one foot to the other.
“Well, I gotta give Elliot the run-down,” Don says, and nods as he passes Will for Elliot’s office.
And, just like that, Will is alone again.
It’s in that precise moment that Will decides he hates being alone. What family he has left is far away and don’t understand him, things didn’t work out with Nina, half the time he thinks his audience hates him… The list could go on and on, but Will isn’t some sad old fucker sitting at a dive bar regaling a haggle-toothed bar keep with the sad saga of his life, so he clamps right the fuck down on that line of thinking.
“Fuck it,” he grumbles to himself, practically punching the elevator ground floor button with his fingers.
Soon enough he’s outside in the nipping December cold. After pulling up the cowl of his wool coat, he rubs his hands together briskly before sliding them into soft, supple leather gloves that had been a gift from Mackenzie one Christmas long ago.
He doesn’t feel like being alone, but he doesn’t want to be with anyone. That makes no fucking sense, but that is how he feels. His feet begin to move, brain on automatic pilot, and soon enough he finds himself a few businesses down from Hang Chews. More likely than not, the staff is there. Shitty food and all, they love that goddamn place. Maybe he can go in and have a drink – just one.
But he never gets the chance for that drink.
Just then Mackenzie comes spilling out of the door, hair mussed, cheeks flushed, and utterly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, completely bombed off her ass. The door swings shut loudly behind her and she begins hailing a taxi. She isn’t even at the damned curb; she’s still in the doorway of the bar.
“Mac,” Will calls against his better judgment, wondering why the fuck Tess or Maggie didn’t come out with Mac to make sure she got safely into a cab.
“Oh, look! It’s Don Quixote!” Mac frowns, her hailing momentarily stopped. “Fuck, that’s wrong.” A beat. “No, I’m Don Quixote, and you’re my ass!”
“I think you mean donkey,” Will offers from his safe distance.
Grimacing, and then gnawing on her lower lip in that way that gets to him every damned time, Mac shakes her head, which lolls from one side to the other like a little, drunken rag doll. “Noooo, I mean ass.” Straightening up, she squares her shoulders and suddenly rushes at him. “You’re an ass, Will MacAvoy. I mean it, Billy. You. Are. An. – Oooooh, fuck me.”
Down she goes, slipping on a patch of ice, landing on her ass.
Will immediately rushes over to her, offers her a hand.
“No, no, no,” she practically slurs. “’m my own woman, Will MacAvoy, ‘n I can pick myself up, dust myself off, ‘n land on my own two feet.”
“All right, all right,” he says as placating as possible, backing away with two hands palm-up in the air, showing he means no further assistance. It isn’t often that Mac gets plastered, but Will remembers well enough to let her do what she wants. Hell, even when sober, that’s usually the best way to approach dealing with her.
It’s quickly evident, though, that Mac can’t pick herself up, dust herself off, and land on her own two feet all by herself. She makes a good effort, positioning herself on all fours. But when she rises to her feet, her ankle immediately rolls over, her face contorts in pain, and Will knows there is a situation.
Before Mac can protest, Will is by her side, supporting her tiny frame with his arm.
“C’mon,” he tells her, steering them toward the curb to properly hail a cab. “I’m going to look at that ankle.”
Mac’s eyes widen and her nose wrinkles. “In the cab? The lighting’s crap, it stinks in there, and I really doubt it’s the most sterile en-vi-vi-me—place to conduct a medical exam,” she protests through garbled speech.
“No,” Will says calmly, helping her into a taxi. “At my place. You’re too fucked up to know your address and I don’t remember it, either.”
Surprisingly, Mac doesn’t put up a fuss. She snuggles against his arm in the cab for the duration of the ride. Whatever he’d done to piss her off earlier, however he’d fucked up, it isn’t at the forefront of her mind for the moment, so Will doesn’t plan on reminding her that some four hours earlier she’d acted like he was somehow worse than the gunman at that elementary school. Instead, he slings an arm around her shoulders, fingers brushing against the soft, soft ends of her hair.
It isn’t until they’re in Will’s building, in the elevator, that Mac objects to anything. The drunken haze is dissipating moment by moment, but not quickly enough to sober Mac up enough that Will would trust any address she gave him. She tells him he shouldn’t have brought her, she can take care of herself, and she doesn’t want to trouble him. He ignores it all and, when the elevator doors open on his floor, scoops her up in his arms and carries her to his place.
He lays her down on the couch. She smiles almost stupidly up at him as he removes her shoes. He’s sure the four-inch heels are more to blame for her spill than the inebriation.
“You’re a good man, Will,” she murmurs.
“These shoes suck,” he announces, turning one pointy-toed high heel over in his hand. Red leather soles, transparent toe box cut across with diagonal leather stripes. They must be new; he hadn’t noticed them before. And he would have.
“I take that back.” Propping herself up on one elbow, she reaches a hand out for the shoe. “These shoes,” she insists, “do not suck. They are practical, fashionable, long-lasting, and make my legs look incredibly sexy. You suck, Billy.” With that, she huffs and lays back down.
“I won’t argue with the last point,” he concedes, gently prodding at her ankle with the tips of her fingers. He is a leg man, and Mac’s rank high in the pantheon of gorgeous gams.
“Hurts,” Mac says under her breath, and Will releases her foot.
“I’m sure it does. That was quite a spill.”
“Yeah. That wasn’t my finest hour.”
Snorting softly, Will retrieves some ice from the freezer and a small hand towel. The corners of his mouth twitch as Mac squeals when he presses the ice pack against her ankle. Then she sighs and scoots far enough up the couch so there is room for him, too. Picking up her delicate, perfect feet, the ones he had massaged more times than he could count (and had given a disastrous pedicure once after losing a bet), Will sinks down into the cushion and lays them across his lap.
Eyes growing heavy (it had been a long day, the longest one he could recall in a while), Will absentmindedly runs his fingers along the arches of her feet.
“I take it back,” Mac whispers after a long silence.
“What?” Tipping his head to the side, Will looks down at her. Christ, she’s so beautiful with her dark hair spilled out around her like a halo, her makeup faded, the corners of her eyes crinkling up the way they do when she’s drained.
“You don’t suck, Will. And you are a good man.”
His smile is slow to curve but it radiates in every pore.
Right now, he is anything but lonely.
That’s a damned good feeling to have.