Disclaimer: DOC does not belong to me. The show is created by the Johnson brothers.
Spoilers: You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello.
Summary: Missing Scene where Nancy puts together the photo album for Elaine, with some help from Clint.
Challenge: i2eye Fan Forum's 3rd Anniversary M/S & A/S Challenge. DOC #4. This story won the awards for Best Missing Scene (tied with my other story, 'Betrayal of Trust'), Best DOC Scene (tied with momofboys' 'Whisper in your ear'), and Best Dramatic Scene.
A/N: First off, I apologise to those who haven't seen this episode. If you have any questions about what seems to have happened before this, please ask. A big thanks to tisme73 for beta-reading!
Finished: 5th of February, 2011
"You may not have been sharing each other's lives in the past, and maybe there's nothing you can do about that, but you can do something about the time you have now," Clint said quietly. Nancy nodded, and in a choked voice said, "Thank you," as she put her head against Clint's shoulder, still torn apart about the news that her mother had cancer. Clint held her. He may have been a small lad when his father got the same disease, but that moment when he had heard about it was etched into his mind. He had already lost his mother, and his Dad and he had just gotten back into a semblance of normalcy… and then that terrible news. It had turned his life back upside down.
He wished he could have spared Nancy that pain, just as he'd often wished he could have saved Raul's mother somehow, but he knew that wasn't in his control. That he had to surrender to the Lord. All he could do was be there for them, like he was just holding Nancy right now, offering comfort in whatever way possible. It still broke his heart though, to see this woman he deeply admired, go through such pain.
At some point, Nancy had calmed down somewhat, and Clint suggested they go to his apartment, instead of sitting on these hard wooden stairs in the basement. Nancy agreed, and together they went upstairs. Once there, Nancy sat down on the couch, while Clint got them some tea. Taking her first sip of the hot beverage, Nancy looked up over the rim of her cup to look at Clint.
"Thanks. For everything."
Clint shrugged. "It's what friends do."
Nancy gave a small smile. She was sure not every friend would have gone to such measures just to get her and her mother to talk. It must have been hard for him too, to know Elaine was sick yet be unable to tell his friend. That thought made the smile disappear, as she once again realised how much time she and her mother had missed, and how short a time they now had left. Now that she finally had her mother back, she realised how much she still wanted to share with her, both in the present and the future, but also of the past. The picture of her mother and her in the pink outfits jumped to mind. At least that was something they had shared. But what about all those times her mother had not been there? What about school camp, or graduation, or…?
Suddenly an idea popped in her mind. Pictures. Her father had always made sure to bring a camera, and all too often he would have a couple extra developed and he would frame them. When you entered his apartment, you would find a picture of her or of both of them somewhere.
Would her mother like it though? Would she like to see all she missed, or would it just be a painful reminder of the fact that she'd missed it?
"Hey Clint?" she started hesitantly. "Would you… would you mind taking me over to my Dad's place for a bit?"
"Of course not," was the country doctor's steady reply. "You plannin' on staying there tonight?"
"No, I just... I want to make a picture album for my Mom, but most pictures are still at my father's place." Suddenly she realised something. "Does Dad know about Elaine having…?"
Clint shook his head. "I could no more tell him than tell you, at first. And Elaine wanted you to know it before he did. She did say, that once you knew, she would like Paul to know too. She gave me permission to share any details about her condition if you were to ask."
Nancy nodded. "Do you think… would you come along when I… when I tell him?" She wasn't sure she wouldn't break down again once she told her father, and she didn't know how her father would react to the news.
"Of course," Clint said with a nod. "And I think making that picture album for your mother is an excellent idea."
"You really think so?" Nancy asked.
"Yes, I do."
A small but genuine smile briefly lit up her features. "Thanks."
"Nancy, Clint! I didn't expect to see you two here again today," Paul said as he opened the door to his apartment. "You ok?" he asked his daughter. It seemed like she had been crying, though she looked like she had calmed down somewhat. Still there was an anxiousness in her features that he had not often seen.
"Yeah," Nancy said, not wanting to have this particular conversation at the doorstep. "Can we come in?"
"Yes, yes, of course." The door opened up wider, and Nancy stepped inside, followed by Clint. Paul sent the doctor a questioning look, but Clint looked down for a brief moment before returning Paul's gaze. Paul wasn't sure he liked what he saw, and hurried to close the door and see what his guests had to say. They had taken off their coats, but they were still standing.
"Do you want anything to drink? Or eat maybe? I was just about to start dinner, but if you want to join…?"
"No, eh, maybe later." Nancy bit her lip. "I eh… Mom and I talked today."
At the mention of his ex-wife, Paul raised his eyebrow. He hadn't been impressed with his daughter's behaviour earlier that day, and if it hadn't been for the fact that Elaine had told him to leave Nancy be, he would have gone over and would have had a chat with his daughter. She may be an adult, but he was still her father.
Nancy cringed slightly, as if reading his mind.
"Mom came by earlier… and well, I shouldn't have said those things – not like that."
Paul nodded. Apparently they had raised her well enough for her to realise that.
"So we talked," Nancy said, looking down. "We really talked." Tears started to form in her eyes, and Clint put a comforting hand on her shoulder. His touch grounded her, and she put her hand on his – both as a thank you and to keep the connection. She took a deep breath, looking back up at her father. "She told me she has cancer."
Paul blinked. He hadn't expected that. "Wh… cancer?" he stammered. Nancy nodded, biting her lip. "Apparently it can't be treated."
"But…" Paul felt as if he had taken a step back from reality. Elaine? Cancer? That couldn't be. She was always so strong, so… full of energy. Sure, she had seemed a bit weary earlier, but he had put that down to the situation with Nancy. His voice seemed to have taken on a mind of its own, asking a string of questions, *which were mostly answered by Clint as he seemed to know the most about Elaine's condition. Nancy kept a hold of Clint's hand which still rested on her shoulder, and suddenly Paul's mind seemed to kick back into gear.
Nancy had just had a real talk with her mother, which had apparently gone well, and then she'd heard this devastating news… No wonder she had been crying.
The brief thought that the first person she'd gone to was Clint and not himself was quickly pushed back.
"Oh Sweetheart," he said, and within moments, Nancy was in her father's arms, both drawing comfort from each other. They stayed like that for quite a while.
"Hey Dad?" Nancy asked, as she handed Clint the last plate to be dried and put in the cupboard. "I plan to give Mom a photo album with pictures of the time she missed."
"Oh, I'm sure she'll appreciate that," Paul said. Relieved, Nancy breathed a little easier.
"I'm glad you think so too, because I kind of need your help."
"You need photographs, I imagine," Paul said gruffly.
"Hmm, I think they're in a box somewhere… why don't you start making some coffee and I'll go find them."
It took Paul ten minutes, but then he had found the right box.
"I found them!"
They all moved to the living area. There, they sat down, each with their cup of coffee. Nancy opened the box and took out several envelopes with pictures. Written on each envelope was the activity and the date.
"I think it's best if we all look through these envelopes and select a few pictures that you think would be nice for the album. Then we can go through those together afterwards to make a final decision. What do you think?"
"Sounds good to me," Clint said. "You sure though you don't want to do this yourself, or just with your Dad?"
Nancy waved his concerns away. "No, no, I welcome your help. Unless you don't want to of course…? I'm sorry, I kind of took up a lot of your time already." She realised she had assumed he would help, but she also knew him well enough that he would say so if he had something else to do.
"Oh, no, don't worry about that. Besides, how often do you get a chance to riffle through your childhood pictures uncensored," Clint added with a wink, plucking an envelope with pictures from her hand. Nancy frowned. "I changed my mind!" She reached for the envelope to try and get it back, but Clint held it out of her reach.
"Too late now, I'm in."
Paul grinned at the goodhearted bantering, glad to see his daughter smile again.
"Alright, stop it you two – otherwise we'll never get through that box." He reached into the box and took out a stack of pictures from one of the envelopes.
"It might also be a good idea to write the date and activity on the back. Makes it easier for when you put them in the album later," Clint suggested after looking through the first few pictures of a school play Nancy had played in.
"Good idea," Nancy said, standing up to get a few pens. Within minutes, everyone was sifting through pictures, putting a few on the side when they thought it was a nice one. Sometimes they'd smile, either at memories in Nancy or Paul's case, or at the thought of Nancy being this young in Clint's case.
What had started out as a rather sad evening, had become one of laughter and companionship. In the end, Nancy had a selection of pictures that she was happy with. Now all she had to do was put them in an album, but for that she needed the album itself. They put the other pictures back in the box, and Clint and Nancy said their goodbyes to Paul.
As Clint dropped Nancy off at her apartment, Nancy thought back over the day. It had been quite a day, sending her emotions all over the place. Even Clint had caused anger. She'd been angry at his interference, angry because he had forced her to face Elaine. But in the end, she had realised – even subconsciously – that he had only done it as a friend. And if she was quite honest, despite her initial anger, he was still the one she had turned to when she had been told of Elaine's incurable illness.
She looked down at the stack of pictures. They were already in the order she wanted to put them in the album. First thing tomorrow she would buy an album and put the pictures in. Her mother would be leaving tomorrow, going back to Florida. Before she went, Nancy wanted to give her the finished album.
"Nance?" Clint's familiar voice shook her from her reverie. "You ok?"
Looking up in his compassionate eyes, she smiled. "Yeah," she replied. And for the first time since this afternoon, she meant it. Her mother's illness had not gone away, but Nancy was determined to make the best of this time she had left with her.