Tackling Stress with Coffee
by zeilfanaat

Category: Humor
Ratings: G/K
Disclaimer: DOC does not belong to me. The show is created by the Johnson brothers.
Spoilers: Captain Supremo: Have Tights, Will Travel
Summary: Missing Scene where Clint and Nolan discuss Clint's strategy over a cup of coffee. Decaf of course. Or is it?
Challenge: i2eye Fan Forum's 3rd Anniversary M/S & A/S Challenge. DOC #2
A/N: For those who haven't seen the episode (or series), Nolan talks very slowly, which makes him sound rather monotonous. Now, it's very weird, but when I typed what Nolan was saying, I found myself typing very slowly… it's a weird experience to have your fingers channelling a character.
Thanks to tisme73 for reading this over for (and catching) mistakes! Any remaining mistakes are mine. Also thanks to her, this Missing Scene is about twice as long as it would have been otherwise. So if there are any complaints about that, there ya go.
Finished: 29th of August, 2010

It was early in the morning when the two men entered a cafe. The two made for an odd pair. One of them wore a neat suit, large glasses and looked sleepy. Next to him, ordering and paying for the coffee, was a man you could easily place on a ranch somewhere on the countryside. The boots, jeans and hat were the testament of the man's origins. He was relaxed but definitely more alert.

"There ya go, Nolan. One cup of decaf," the cowboy said as he nodded at the waitress, and gave one of the coffee cups to the sleepy looking man. Picking up his own coffee, they walked towards an empty table.

"Thank you for inviting me for a coffee, doctor Cassidy," the man with the glasses said after taking a sip of his decaf coffee. He even talked as if he still needed to pick up speed after rolling out of bed this morning. "Although I must comment on your own choice of regular coffee. As I told in my seminar, 'caffeine is never your friend'."

"Sorry Nolan, but what with the coffee bein' this expensive, I want some real coffee for my money," Clint Cassidy said as he put his cowboy hat on the table, next to his cup of strong, non-decaf, black coffee. Even after a couple of months in New York, he still found it curious the folks down here had so many different types and flavors of coffee. All he wanted was strong, black coffee. "I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the seminar though; I was on duty at the ER."

Nolan didn't seem impressed with his reason for not drinking decaf. "That is alright. Ms. DeWitt informed me of the reason of your absence. As for your reason for not drinking decaf, I am of the opinion that once you get used to decaf, you do not even want the regular coffee anymore*. In fact, in most cases after working in a stressful environment such as the ER for an evening, most people would drink caffeine to stay awake at a time like this. As a consequence, not only will they be irritable - or suffer other consequences due to stress - because of lack of sleep, but also because of the caffeine." The man turned towards the doctor again with an appraising look. "You however, did not seem to be experiencing the effects from lack of sleep, even before we got our coffee."

Clint grinned widely and said, "Like I said yesterday, it's an interesting business you're in. I must admit, usually when I work a night-shift at the ER, I tend to sleep in a little and arrive here at about the same time as the rest of the folks."

Raising an eyebrow, Nolan replied, "That's an interesting concept of 'sleeping in'. Do you usually get in this early, doctor?"

"I'm usually up with the roosters – well, if we had any here in the city that is – but I usually do some things at home. About once or twice a week though I just come in early to get some paperwork done before the patients start arriving, and there are a couple of patients who prefer to come by before their job starts. Just like I had a patient this morning already." Clint paused for a moment to see if his coffee had cooled down a little. "I'm glad you didn't mind going for a coffee at this time of the morning. Not many people arrive at the clinic this early. It's nice to have company for a change," the country doctor said, waiting a little longer for the hot beverage to cool down some.

This time both eyebrows went up. "Interesting. Your morning ritual does not seem to be too affected by a shortage of sleep."

Clint chuckled. "In between growing up on a farm and going to med school, I never did get used to sleeping in."

"Does lack of sleep never lead to a shortness of temper or other stress related symptoms?" Nolan asked in his monotonous tone, even if he did seem interested in the answer.

"I'm just a human, so it does happen, but it doesn't happen very often."

"Hmmm. Unfortunately that cannot be applied to all of your colleagues. They seem to be in a perpetual state of irritability. Their stress level is way too high. Even a small thing can set them off, and cause irreparable damage to team dynamics. Something needs to be done." Nolan seemed to be lost in thought, even though he was still talking out loud. Then he looked at Clint. "My mantra does not seem to be as effective with them as it usually is in these cases."

Clint shrugged, "Well, I could venture a guess why that is." Nolan Newman looked at him questioningly while leisurely taking another sip of coffee, so Clint continued. "If a patient has a life-threatening problem, it doesn't help to think 'little worries are no big thing' and 'they're all little worries'. If someone's health depends on it, you just can't go around thinking it's no big thing."

The other man blinked owlishly. "I can see what you mean, doctor. But what the people at Westbury seem to quarrel about is not about the health of patients. It is about small, every day things, that should not be big worries." Clint nodded, he couldn't counter that. "However, it does not explain why you seem to be unaffected. You mentioned the mountain air, but…"

Clint chuckled. "Guess I'm just used to a different lifestyle. Actually, your mantra is kind of similar to how I live. Whenever I get stressed out, I pray, and I remind myself God's got everything under control. From His perspective, a lot of our worries are indeed just no big thing at all."

Nolan tilted his head a little to study the doctor from Montana. "You are a very interesting person, doctor Cassidy. You most certainly are not from around here."

That elicited a laugh from the country doctor. "Oh, you'll find many people agree with that."

"It is unfortunate that we cannot impose your life view on each person in the clinic." He considered something, and looked at Clint again. "When you invited me for coffee this morning, you said you had an idea that could help reduce the growing level of irritability between your colleagues?" Nolan asked slowly, somehow managing to make the monotonous sentence sound as a question. Clint swallowed some of his coffee.

"Back home in Montana, when I was in High School, I was an assistant to the baseball team's coach." Nolan blinked at the seemingly sudden change of topic, but remained silent. "Some of the team members did not get along at all, and it showed in the way the game was played. We'd gone to the next town for a competition, and the tension was high. Every little thing would result in a fight. Even as they were starting to warm up, they'd throw each other dirty looks." For a moment, Clint paused, gauging Nolan's reaction. The stressology doctor looked at him, intrigued by the story and what it could possibly have to do with Westbury clinic's stress level.

"Then some players of the other team started to throw insults at our team about their bad game. All of a sudden, our players stopped bickering amongst themselves, and it was as if someone had flipped a switch. 't Was as if they all came to some sort of understanding, and just like that, they became a team. That game, they played well together, as a team, not as individuals. That's when I first saw that there's nothing like an outsider functioning as a common enemy to draw people together."

For the first time, Clint thought he could detect a slight, genuine smile on Nolan's face. After a moment, Nolan nodded. "I think I know what you mean. You think that by giving the people at Westbury a common enemy, they will stop fighting over little things and instead work together." He looked at Clint expectantly.

Clint nodded. "Yep, there ya go." His eyes narrowed and he couldn't help the smile forming on his face. "And I think you'd make a great common enemy, Nolan."

This time, Clint did not have to wonder if he imagined the smile. "I will take that as a compliment, doctor Cassidy," the stressologist said. "However, I am unsure of how to go about it, having never considered purposely becoming an enemy."

Chuckling, Clint shook his head. "I don't think a lot of people practice that on purpose. But I think I can help you a bit with this." Suddenly he remembered something and he smiled, "Besides, I think you've already got one enemy."

At Nolan's inquiring look, he explained, "Nurse Nichol seems to have already marked you as the enemy. What happened?"

Nolan swallowed quickly, and his fingers tightened around his coffee cup. "I thought all food in the fridge was community property, so I accidentally ate her muffin."

Clint laughed. "Oh boy, that probably didn't go over very well."

"That is an understatement. I tried to make her embrace the mantra, but she did not seem to be willing to cooperate. In fact, I believe if it hadn't been for doctors Crane and Hebert, I'm not sure what would have happened." The man shuddered as he slowly related the story. Still grinning, Clint could well imagine the scene.

"Right, well, I suggest you don't antagonise nurse Nichol any further." When Nolan sighed in obvious relief, Clint had a hard time keeping from laughing. "Derek - doctor Hebert, doesn't seem particularly upset with you yet, but I think if you would keep getting in his way and keep telling him to stick to your mantra, that ought to do it," Clint thought aloud. Nolan nodded. He could do that.

"What about doctor Crane?" Nolan asked. "So far he has been my greatest supporter. Although, even though he may not realise it, his irritability level is about the same as nurse Nichol's. Perhaps I could use that to my advantage?" Again the doctor of stressology looked at the family practitioner for confirmation.

"Well, the fact that doctor Crane has been your biggest fan may just be working for you now. The folks around the clinic tend to be a bit more critical with friends of doctor Crane."

Nolan nodded pensively. "You may be right, doctor Cassidy. I've noticed a distinct sense of hostility from nurses or other personnel every time after I spoke to doctor Crane."

"Right, and the fact that Nancy's not your biggest fan, doesn't give you any brownie points either. I guess you just treat 'em like you're going to treat doctor Hebert, and they won't be happy with you either. That should draw them together."

"That still leaves doctor Crane," Nolan pointed out. Clint thought for a moment. "Well, usually to become doctor Crane's enemy, all you have to do is become friends with nurse Nichol, but that wouldn't work this time." He saw Nolan shudder again at the mere thought. Suddenly Clint's eyes lit up. "You know, Nolan, in some ways, nurse Nichol and doctor Crane are not so different... they both do not appreciate someone taking their lunch..."

Nolan considered the idea and its implications, and slowly nodded. "I see. Yes, that could just work."

"Now Nolan," Clint said, becoming serious again, "I got to warn you - once you've got both nurse Nichol and doctor Crane against you, it ain't gonna be fun being you." As Nolan blinked at him, he added, "You're probably gonna end up at the butt end of a practical joke or something."

After another moment of consideration, Nolan nodded at his habitual speed. "I see. However, that is when the victory is complete," he theorised. "A common objective to drive out an outsider instead of each other."

Clint nodded. "So, that's the plan. You sure you want to go ahead with it?"

Nolan took his last sip of his cup of decaf, taking a look at his watch. "I am. It seems like this would be a good time for me to return to the clinic, and set the plan in motion. I would like to thank you for this insightful conversation, doctor Cassidy."

"Nolan, the pleasure was all mine." They said their goodbyes, and Nolan slowly walked out of the cafe and towards the clinic.

With a satisfied nod, Clint swallowed the rest of his coffee, savoring the taste, knowing there was only decaf at the clinic at the moment.

The End

* This opinion is only the invented opinion of Nolan Newman. The author of this missing scene completely disagrees with Mr. Newman's opinion, and will never say that decaf tastes better than regular coffee!