... ... ...
Leona and Rebecca left together, giggling about Daniel Craig as they went. The remaining three occupants of the room exchanged bemused, still concerned, looks, actually drawing comfort from the fact that the others had witnessed it too. It happened.
When it seemed that neither of the men was going to speak first, Mac stepped in. "What do we do now?" she queried, wondering aloud what had been running through her head since Leona's point blank refusal to accept their resignations. Mac knew that resigning was the right thing to do. They fucked up. They should have found all of the holes in the story before it went to air. They should have been held accountable before now. Or, at least, she should have.
Will looked to Charlie to provide the answer to her question. Charlie looked back at Will then glanced to where Leona had stood when she declared that they should get back the trust of the public. Then he turned his focus to Mackenzie.
"We do what she says."
"Charlie, we -"
"We do what she says... McMac." Charlie smirked as he teased her, but it lacked the usual sparkle in his eyes. He was as uncertain as Mac was.
"I'm hoping she'll forget that nickname once she's sober," Mac muttered, choosing that subject, rather than presenting Charlie with arguments he was already aware of.
"I think it's cute," Will contributed.
"Do I need to threaten to kill you again?" Mac retorted.
Will smiled at her, his eyes firmly fixed on hers. "Please do."
And she couldn't stop her lips from quirking into a smile of their own.
"Just don't do it while I'm in the room to witness it," Charlie quipped, heading for the door.
"You're gonna leave me here with her?" Will called after him.
Charlie chuckled. "Go home. Go to bed. Busy day tomorrow."
"Charlie -" Mac tried again.
Charlie stopped and regarded her with absolute seriousness this time. "We do the election broadcast, then we try again."
"And if she won't accept it?"
Charlie sighed. "Then we do as she says... Night, McMac."
And then he left.
Will was standing when Mac turned back.
"Do you think she'll accept it?"
"I think she meant what she said."
"She needs to think rationally. Once she's had time to think rationally she'll -"
"Mac," he interrupted her, offering that look that seemed to say that he understood; that she didn't need to say it; that, for her own sake, she should try to let it go. "We'll try again tomorrow."
"It's the right thing to do, Will."
"And if she won't accept it?"
"We carry on as we have for the last two months: We don't make the same mistake again."
"The show has been shit the last two months." This was the first time she had said that out loud. She knew they had both been thinking it; she knew everyone had been thinking it but it had been easier - or maybe necessary - not to voice it.
It was a familiar look of sadness that Will wore now. She always got the feeling that he was not sad because of the situation, but rather because he couldn't make it better for her. How many times had she seen it? How many times had they been in a scenario where he wanted to make her feel better when she had created the mess herself? How many more times?
"We'll try again tomorrow," he repeated, softly.
"Things can never be how they were," she observed, knowing she was right because she knew she would never be the same. She would not trust people. She would not trust herself. She couldn't be the EP he needed if she couldn't trust herself.
'I trust Charlie and Mac.'
And how could he trust her now?
They had done an adequate job of avoiding all of this for two months but it needed to come to a head.
"If Leona won't accept -"
"Mac, maybe things shouldn't be as they were. Maybe there was a deeper problem we both overlooked and that was the foundation for the mistake..."
She got the distinct impression that he wasn't just talking about the most recent mistake.
"... We'll be looking for it. We won't let it happen again."
"How do we regain their trust?" How do I regain yours?
Will smiled. A smile that filled her with warmth; offered her a comfort she hadn't felt in months. The answer to her spoken query, "Perseverance." The answer to her unspoken question: You already have.
"And you'd be happy to do that?"
"I want to fix this. However I am permitted to."
She had lost track of whether they were talking about the show or their relationship. Of whether they ever were talking about their relationship or if that was just wishful thinking on her part. So she wasn't entirely sure what his answer meant; or, rather, how much his answer meant. She felt the beginnings of a headache creeping in.
She gave a brief nod to acknowledge the response she may, or may not, have fully understood, then, "Charlie's right, we should get some sleep." Things would hopefully be clearer in the morning.
Will nodded and joined her to walk to the elevator.
"Although, I don't think that's what Charlie meant," he remarked, casually.
Mac frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Charlie said, 'Go to bed' not 'Go to sleep'."
"Well, what else -" She managed to stop that stupid question before it was out but knew it was obvious where she had been going with that opening. "Why would he suggest that?" she asked instead, suddenly angry with their boss.
Will shrugged. "He probably thought it would make us feel better."
"Does he not know us at all?" she murmured as she stepped into the elevator that had just arrived.
Will chuckled as he followed her in. "I think he knows us better than we do."
"What?" she asked in disbelief.
He leaned across in front of her and pressed for their floor then, straightening up, he turned to face her, his body coming up parallel, opposite hers.
"I meant what I said... I'm staying. Whatever happens. Whether or not Leona accepts our resignations... I'm not losing you again."
"You don't need to look so horrified."
"You're tired and emotional and -"
"And completely in love with you."
Her mouth snapped shut, not having anticipated that retort.
"Who knows what tomorrow will bring, Mac. You need to know that I'm not going anywhere. I love you. I never stopped. And..."
He no doubt knew that the pause would draw her eyes to meet his instead of looking down in the anxious uncertainty they had drifted to.
"... I trust you."
There followed the strange sensation of having been punched in the chest, yet filled with extreme pleasure. She decided that she must be asleep.
Will stepped closer to her. "You're very quiet," he smiled, patiently.
She automatically smiled back at him and opened her mouth to speak but found that she had no idea what to say. She could only come across a complete jumble of incoherent thoughts.
Will laughed. "It's okay, you weren't to know."
His hands came to rest, ever so gently, on her hips, even as the elevator came to a stop.
"It won't make everything go away," she managed to whisper.
"Yes it will," he countered, "Not forever. But for long enough."
"Long enough for what?"
Despite the doors being open, he edged nearer to her. "To prove to you that we can - and will - survive anything," he explained, then his weight pressed her delightfully against the wall and he kissed her.
Well, they kissed each other, because she was an active participant. It felt simultaneously new and familiar. His lips moved just as she remembered them; she easily found the rhythm to respond. Her hands slipped round his waist, flattening against his lower back to encourage him closer. Not that closer was actually possible.
Hands roamed; tongues duelled; lips caught in alternately tender and scorching caresses.
At some point, the elevator doors had closed, Mac noticed when her head fell back to welcome Will's lips on her neck. When contact with a particularly sensitive spot sent sparks right through her core, a giggle rose unbidden. She failed to bite it back.
Will pulled his head away, cool air dancing across the damp skin he vacated. He raised an eyebrow. "Giggling?"
She smiled at him, partly defiantly, partly in absolute pleasure. "I was just thinking that Charlie was right: I do feel better."
"I'd prefer you not think about Charlie when we're -"
"I think we both need to think about something or we won't leave the elevator."
"I'm okay with that," he grinned, dangerously, pushing closer again.
She accepted his kiss. He kept it slow; kept it tender; kept his hands still on her waist as his touch supported his earlier admission. She hoped her response conveyed that she felt the same.
When they eventually parted she suspected it was because his restraint was about to run out. She knew hers was.
"Your place or mine?" he enquired as they caught their breath.
"Yours is closer," she reminded him, pressing to open the elevator doors.
They slid open, revealing the familiar walls of their floor, and everything came flooding back. Suddenly leaving that box felt like returning to reality. And she didn't want to go.
"Mac?" Will queried, having noticed that she hadn't followed him out.
She met his eyes and watched him realise what was wrong. With a patient smile he held out his hand. Breath shaking, she placed her hand in his and took the steps needed to cross the threshold. He gave her a soft kiss when she arrived in front of him.
"Remember," he whispered, "Whatever happens tomorrow, this is not going anywhere."
She nodded, comforted by that knowledge, at least. "I love you," she told him.
His smile widened and they shared another gentle kiss.
"Let's get out of here."
He draped his arm across her shoulders and led her in the direction of their offices. She wound her arm round his waist, content in spite of everything else that they had to face.
Tomorrow could wait. She was going to make tonight last as long as possible.