Waiting

Rating: PG
Summary: He's not mad at her...
Season: based on a line from the season 2 Invitation to the Set.
A/N: Thank you, Victoria, for your encouragement with this. And for sharing my love of The Newsroom.
Date: 7th July 2013

... ... ...

"For a minute - just a minute - you forgot that you were mad at me."

... ... ...

"I'm not mad at you."

It startled Mackenzie when Will burst into her office with his announcement. Her face furrowed, wondering why he had suddenly decided to tell her that. "You're - ... What?"

The door closed behind Will as he walked further into the room. "You said I forgot that I'm mad at you."

She had said that, but, "That was two days ago."

"And we were interrupted before I had chance to respond."

"I just assumed you were glad of the interruption."

"I was. I thought I was. But then your words wouldn't leave me alone and I - ... I need to tell you that I'm not mad at you."

He was pacing; agitatedly waving a hand around as he spoke. It certainly didn't look like he was happy to be telling her that.

"Will -"

"I'm mad at me, Mac. I'm mad at myself. But I am not mad at you."

Mac's frown deepened. "Why are you mad at yourself? If anything, you should be mad at me. I deserve it."

"No, you don't." He stopped moving now, fixing his eyes on her as he reiterated, "No, you don't, Mac."

Mac felt silenced by the intensity of his gaze. She wanted to argue but the words wouldn't come out, because, even more than that, she wanted to believe him.

"You've been back over eighteen months and you have done nothing to justify me being mad at you. You've turned the show around; you've stood by me; you've done everything in your power to protect me. And you've done it all while I was punishing you; and testing you, and having you followed around by your idiot ex boyfriend. I should not be mad at you anymore."

That sounded like there was a 'but' to follow and Mac felt compelled to ask, "But you are?"

Will shook his head, adamantly. "No."

Though it hurt to even think it, all the pieces fit together for another theory. "But you want to be?" she asked, softly.

He didn't answer verbally but she could see it in his eyes.

She tried to ignore the churning in her stomach and directed as much force as she could into her next words. "That's why you're mad at yourself: Because you want to be mad at me, but you're not."

Will's eyes didn't leave hers and the sorrow in them somehow made the pain worse.

"I'm also mad at myself for wanting to be mad at you."

"Quite a predicament." She was convinced now that she would have preferred it if Will hadn't come to her office.

Will nodded. "Yes. But I wanted you to know that I'm not mad at you."

Mac laughed, humourlessly. "I feel so much better now."

She did. But she didn't. In fact, she had no Earthly idea what she was feeling. She couldn't decide whether or not any of this had been a compliment; whether they were moving forward; whether she was pleased that Will was at least thinking about his feelings regarding her; whether she was mad at him for not being over this yet. She hoped the latter wasn't true, but she suspected it was in the mix.

Will held her gaze across the office, his expression one she was very familiar with. It seemed to apologise: 'I'm sorry, I can't say what you want to hear.' She often wondered if he ever would be able to.

So this had to end as these things always did. She would assure him it's okay; allow him to carry on trying to figure out what the hell he wanted: Because she cheated on him, so it was hardly fair for her to expect him to fall into her arms.

"Well, thank you for letting me know," she said, as sincerely as she could - she did want to be pleased that he wasn't mad at her.

"Now you're mad at me," he observed, quietly.

She shook her head, hoping she could convincingly convey a denial when, really, she wasn't sure of it herself. "No, I'm mad at myself."

Will laughed this time, but it was similarly free of amusement. "Quite a predicament."

Mac couldn't offer anything but a sad smile and Will acknowledged it with a barely perceptible nod. Then Mac's heart sank even further as he moved towards the door.

He stopped, though, before he opened it and hesitated for a moment. Mac watched him, wondering what would happen next; refusing to hope that their relationship was about to shift in the direction she longed for.

Agonisingly slowly, he turned only his head , meeting her waiting eyes with solemnity. "I am trying, Mac."

And her heart skipped. "I know you are."

Will nodded again and moved as if to leave. But, again, he stopped.

"Will you wait?"

Mac felt tears prickle at her eyes as her throat constricted. It had always been her intention to wait. She had hoped that one day they would be back together again but they had never talked about it. Will couldn't possibly have missed the fact that she was still in love with him, but his intentions had never been discussed. He had been steadfast in his avoidance of telling her what his voicemail message had said: That hadn't seemed like a positive sign. She had longed for this moment, but never truly expected it. For all she dreamed of a fairytale ending, she had forced herself to be realistic.

She nodded now - keeping it to just two bobs of her head so as not to appear too enthusiastic. "I'll wait."

And Will smiled at her. Really smiled. A look of genuine delight that lit up his entire face. A look Mac had not seen for years; a look she had missed keenly. It filled her with warmth; set her heart aflutter with anticipation and brought an answering smile to her lips.

And for a moment that Mac didn't measure, they stayed right where they were. Just smiling at each other and absorbing the meaning of what had just been said.

When Will did eventually speak again, his smile was still in place. "We'll get there."

"We will."

"See you at the rundown."

"See you at the rundown."

Will swung open the door and disappeared into the newsroom and Mackenzie stared at the door long after he was gone. Her smile wouldn't leave her lips and she gave up swiping at her tears when they continued to fall regardless of her early attempts to stop them. Every so often her smile would widen into an excited grin and she would just about manage to stop short of emitting a squeal of anticipation.

It wasn't quite the happy ever after she was longing for but they were definitely on approach to it: She could wait.

The End