Merry Christmas, Darling

zeilfanaat

Category: Drama

Ratings: G/K

Warning: A/U

Disclaimer: "Doc" is not mine. It is produced by Dave Alan Johnson & Gary R. Johnson. No infringement intended. There is an original character though, two actually, so those belong to me.

Spoilers: None

Summary: A young man receives a letter a few days before Christmas, and wonders if he should open it.

Archive: i2eye Fan Fiction, FanFiction. net

Challenge: i2eye Christmas Challenge 2008. This story won the following awards: Best Drama: Merry Christmas, Darling (DOC), Best Short Story: (tie) Merry Christmas, Darling (DOC), Best Original Character: (tie) Mrs. Crane - Merry Christmas, Darling (DOC), Best Original Character: (tie) Wesley Crane - Merry Christmas, Darling (DOC).

A/N: Here's another story I wrote last year. Timeline wise, I'd say somewhere beginning Season 1 or 2. This story was originally divided into several chapters, but I decided to post them all in one go. Oh, if you haven't seen it yet, I also posted a crossover story with Sue Thomas: F. B. Eye (Christmas Through Your Eyes).

Finished: 24th of November, 2008

* * *

22nd of December

A young man opened the door and walked towards his bunk, where he sat down. He pulled out a still unopened envelope from a drawer, and stared at it for a moment before placing it on the nightstand. Leaning back against the bed side, he simply stared. He had received the envelope two days ago, had recognised the handwriting, and had been debating with himself on when to open it. He knew he would open it. He wanted to open it, and read what the letter said. But he was also afraid… afraid of what it wouldn't say…

* * *

18th of December

She poured a cup of coffee for her husband, and a cup of tea for herself. She had finished writing all the Christmas cards, but she still had one letter to go. A break was in order though. She needed a little time before starting on the letter, because it was bound to be a hard one to write. Glancing over to her husband, who was reading a medical journal, she sighed softly. Feeling her gaze on him, her husband looked up, and she smiled at him, before putting the cup of coffee on the small table next to his chair. He returned the smile, although he seemed to have picked up on the fact that she was gathering up strength for something. She had been writing Christmas cards all morning, but he thought she had finished them a little while ago. Then his eyes caught the empty sheets of paper, the pen next to it, both ready to be used. Immediately he looked back at his wife, and the look in her eyes confirmed his suspicion. Anger flooded through him, and he resolutely turned back to the article he'd been reading. She sighed. Oh yes, this would be the hardest by far.

* * *

22nd of December

It had been over seven months since he had left home. Staying home had simply been impossible – more than he could deal with at that point. The pressure to perform well had been always there – from school to sports to music. And it wasn't just pressure from his parents, although that was bad enough. No, his grandparents had been breathing down his neck ever since he could remember. Well, not both sets of grandparents, Grandpa was much better in that respect; but Grandma had died when he was nine, and Grandpa hated travelling alone. Not that he blamed Grandpa – he wasn't exactly young anymore, his hearing had deteriorated early on in life, and he walked with great difficulty. No, while he was sad that Grandpa hadn't been over more often, he didn't blame him in the least.

Unfortunately his other grandparents had been around more, and they were more demanding. Oh, he loved them, no doubt about it. He just didn't love their plans for him.

Still, despite the pressure from grandparents and parents alike, he had been able to deal with it quite well throughout the years. So why had it been different those last few weeks?

Well, obviously his announcement that he was going to join the army had something to do with it. A lot actually.

Now that he thought about it, it was probably the reason why it had been different. Usually his mother had always supplied the centre of rest – sure, his mother was demanding in her own way, pushing him to get good grades or at least do the best he could. But when he wouldn't get a good grade or didn't quite get the result they had all been hoping for, as long as he had been trying his best, his mother would be satisfied. And if she was satisfied, his father would accept it more easily too.

Oh, his father wasn't that bad really. He just had high standards, not only for his son, but for himself as well. It didn't make for an easy life, but that wasn't something he minded. It had helped him culture a certain perseverance level, encouraged him to never give up, and it was certainly useful in his current profession.

Unfortunately when he had told his parents he wanted to join the army, they had not thought of his perseverance being a good quality. His perseverance was prone to running over into sheer stubbornness. They had argued that it would be a waste of his skills, his intelligence, his life. His mother had not said those words out loud, but it had definitely been implied. His father on the other hand, had had no qualms about vocalising his objections. He never had been shy about making his opinions known of course, but at home, his wife would not allow him to think his opinions were always the correct ones. This time she hadn't objected. At least, not in the presence of their son. Of course she had told him why she didn't like the idea of him joining the army, and while it might be considered a cliché, which she had admitted as well, she just had been afraid of his safety. You never knew where they'd send him, and if he would return safely if at all.

And he sympathised with his mother's worries. But he really thought he could make a difference in the army. And despite his father's arguments, his skills would definitely not go to waste.

So, despite his parents' and grandparents' objections, he had joined the army anyway. He just regretted the way he had left…

* * *

18th of December

She had sat down at the table and had picked up the pen. After having written the date, she wrote:

"Dear Wesley,"

Now she was thinking about how to continue. Sure, she had written her son many letters already in the months he'd been away, but this time she hoped her husband would agree with what it said. What she really wanted was of course that her husband and son would be reconciled, but so far, each time she had brought it up, with either her husband or her son, they had both stubbornly refused. Neither seemed to be willing to take that first step.

Once again she looked at her husband, who still wore a frown. He hadn't turned a page yet in the last ten minutes or so, so she knew he wasn't really reading.

"How are you doing, Dear? Having a good time? Your father is reading a medical journal right now, and I have spent the morning writing Christmas cards."

She thought for a little bit, then continued writing about something funny that had happened recently. She also told him about the fact that his father had acquired a new colleague at work; something he hadn't been very happy about in the first place, and even less when the doctor had actually arrived in New York.

"I am sure the new doctor cannot be as bad as your father makes him out to be, but I have already heard some rumours from other people about it being a strange man, so there must be some truth to it at least. I hope to find out at some point."

Pausing for another moment, she thought if she should say this, but then figured it couldn't hurt.

"It is quiet without you here."

She put down her pen. "We need to talk," she said, determined to stop marching around the elephant in the corner of the room.

"About what?" her husband asked, not looking up from the article.

"You need to accept what Wesley has chosen to do."

"Well, it's not like I have a choice, now do I?" he said with an annoyed tone.

"You know very well what I meant. And you of all people should know what it is like to have your father disapprove of what you do."

That got his attention, and she could see the flash of hurt before it was quickly covered up. She hadn't wanted to say that, but perhaps it should be said.

"That was uncalled for," he said.

She sighed. "Maybe, yes. I didn't mean to hurt you, but... all I am saying is that our son is only following his heart and his principles. Ingrained principles. Our principles. Is it not unfair for us to then turn our backs on him?" she tried.

"He is the one who left," he muttered, but there was less fire in his reply as he considered her reasoning.

"Would you have stayed?" she asked quietly, remembering that day vividly. The situation had escalated, and things had been said that should never have been said, things they had not even meant. And other things had been left unsaid, and she would not forget her part in that. She had always pointed it out to her husband when she disagreed with what he said - except this time. No, she could not and would not forget her part in the whole situation.

Her husband remained silent, and she knew he was considering her question seriously.

* * *

18th of December

He knew what she was doing. He had known, the moment he saw the blank paper and the pen next to it, that she would write a letter to their son. Each time she did, she tried to reason with him. And after all the Christmas cards, no doubt would she try even harder, the Christmas spirit already settling in. He'd been prepared for her arguments, he would not be swayed. But he had not been ready for her to bring up his own experiences with his father. And now that she had, he was forced to consider it, for his mind would not let it rest.

Growing up with a surgeon as father had not been easy. His father was a perfectionist, his mother not far off, although she had softened somewhat over the years.

He was fortunate enough that he was actually interested in the medical profession, for otherwise he would certainly have become the black sheep of the family. The arguments for not becoming a surgeon, or at least a specialist, but a 'mere' family physician, had been bad enough. Had he been interested in becoming anything else it should have been of a status equal that of a surgeon. Otherwise chances were he would have become nonexistent for his family.

But wasn't that exactly what he was now doing to his son? He had always told his son that he should work hard so he could become anything he wanted. So when did that change into working hard so he could become that what his father wanted him to be? When had he changed into his own father? He swallowed. He loved his father, but had always strived for gaining his father's acceptance, no, more than just acceptance, he had longed for his father to be proud of him for what he had achieved, instead of his father looking down on him, or being disappointed for what he had not achieved.

Why had he let this get so out of hand? Why could he not have been proud of Wesley for doing what he wanted to do? That was after all what had started it. Ashamed he thought back to the day Wesley walked out. He had said exactly those things that would have sent him packing as well, had his father said those things to him.

"No," he finally answered his wife's question. She had watched him, watched his face change, and now her heart made a small jump of joy. Was this the breakthrough she had been hoping for?

"I've been such a fool," he sighed. His wife rose and went to sit next to him. "I should have seen I was becoming my father in that respect." He looked at his wife. "I should have realised it."

She sighed. "It is not strange, it is quite usual actually. After all, he has been the only role-model as a father, so unconsciously you model yourself after him."

"Maybe, but still... I always thought I'd be a better father - but I actually caused our son to leave." He looked at her again. "Can you forgive me?"

"I can; I do. But it's not me who you should be asking..." she said.

* * *

22nd of December

He had stared at the envelope long enough now. He needed to know what it said. He had never been sorry to read the others from his mother, so why should he now. Oh, he knew of course. Every time he'd opened one of those letters, he had always checked to see if his father had signed it too. And each time he had been disappointed. He decided that this time he would not be disappointed. This time he would not expect his father to have signed. Having made up his mind, he opened the envelope and pulled out the sheets. His mother's elegant handwriting - the same as had been on the envelope - was easy to recognise.

"New York, 18th of December

"Dear Wesley,

"How are you doing, Dear? Having a good time? Your father is reading a medical journal right now, and I have spent the morning writing Christmas cards."

He smiled despite himself. It was just how he envisioned them, sitting in the living room during the weekend, relaxing from a tiring week. He continued reading, smiling occasionally about a funny accident at his mother's job, or when she told him of his father's new colleague.

"I am sure the new doctor cannot be as bad as your father makes him out to be, but I have already heard some rumours from other people about it being a strange man, so there must be some truth to it at least. I hope to find out at some point."

Again he smiled. "So do I," he muttered quietly.

"It is quiet without you here. I miss you, Wes."

He swallowed. "Miss you too, Mother, he sighed.

"Now, I'm not sure if you're sitting down or not, but if not, you should. Please don't throw this letter away once you've finished reading."

Frowning, he wondered why his mother would say that. After all, he kept all of her other letters.

"Your father and I had a talk today. About what happened. We've all made mistakes, but we are both willing to admit that. We are very sorry about what happened. I'm sorry I ever let it get this far; I'm sorry I did not stand up for you when you needed it. I hope you'll forgive me."

He nodded. "I forgave you a long time ago, Mother."

"Your father wanted to say something to you as well..."

Suddenly the handwriting changed, and he recognised his father's handwriting.

"Hey Wes,

"As your mother said, we are both willing to admit our mistakes. I am sorry for looking down on what you chose to do with your life. I am sorry for trying to make you do something I wanted you to do. I am sorry for driving you away. But most of all, I am sorry for hurting you. I hope you'll forgive me.

"I am proud of you, Son.

"Love,

"Father"

He swallowed, blinking back tears. The handwriting changed back again.

"We would love to see you, but we understand you might not want to see us yet. Still, would you like to come home for Christmas?

"No matter what you decide though - know that we love you.

"Merry Christmas, Darling.

"Mother"

* * *

25th of December

Hesitantly he stood at the beginning of the street. He had been able to get Christmas off, and after having read and re-read the letter over and over, the emotions threatening to overwhelm him, he had finally decided yesterday to make the trip to his parents. He had given them no notice beforehand, afraid he might decide last moment not to go after all. Yet here he was. Slowly he started walking towards the house that he had walked away from seven months ago. He knew there would be more talking ahead. But the letter had indicated that it would be really talking, and not so much yelling. He was looking forward to seeing both his parents again. He did not like to admit it, but he had actually missed them... both. The closer he got to the house, the more confident his steps became.

When his mother opened the door, she shrieked - something he had almost never heard his mother do - and immediately enveloped him in a back-crushing hug. His father came hurrying towards the door as well, stopping when he saw who it was. Father and son held each others' eyes for a few intense moments. Then they smiled. "Merry Christmas, Mom. Merry Christmas Dad."

"Merry Christmas, Son."

There was still enough to be said, but for now all that mattered was that they were together again, as a family.

Wesley Crane was home.

The End

For those who are not so familiar with DOC, doctor Oliver Crane is a rather unsympathetic man (at least in the beginning of the series, although he mellowed somewhat over the years). Think of him as the Myles Leland the Third (Sue Thomas: F. B. Eye) of DOC. Much like Myles did not like Sue joining the team, Oliver Crane did not appreciate doctor Clint Cassidy coming to work at the clinic, hence the reference in the letter.

We know Oliver Crane is married, but we never saw his wife. We did see his parents, doctor Franklin Crane and Dolores Crane, in the last season, and learnt that surgeon Franklin Crane did not think much of his son the family practitioner.

In other stories I've written about Oliver's wife, and then I figured I could use this title to find out more about Oliver's background. So there you go. Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, let me know – zeilfanaat.