Series: Ultimate Happiness #24
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3639
Character(s): Nancy McNally, OFC, OMC
Category(ies): Drama, Family/Children, Friendship
Crossover Shows: - No Show -
Summary: Nancy built invisible walls around herself to try to shield the blow that she was walking into a grim situation.
Nancy’s cell phone buzzed and she reached over to answer it. It was a rainy Saturday in late June and she was home alone. Rupert joined her on the couch but kept his distance as she ate her lunch. Scooter and Jimmy went to the Guggenheim and then lunch. Fitz was spending his afternoon with Meenah. Lauren and Jeremy had gone to pick up a new bike for him. After the fourth of July, he would be gone for three weeks, biking on the many trails of Vermont with a group from school. She did not recognize the number as she picked up.
“We’ve been in a car accident. We’re at the hospital.”
“We were hit by a car and they won't tell me about Mum. You have to come to St. Luke’s.”
“I'm on my way kiddo. Are you alright?”
She was already up and running around; had to make sure she had everything. Nancy felt confused as she rushed out to the car. She tried to take deep breaths but it was difficult to breathe. OK, she had to get it together. She would be no use to Jeremy and Lauren pulled into the hospital on a stretcher.
Jeremy told her that someone had sped around the corner when Lauren had the green light. She slammed into the backside of Lauren’s Volvo. The car began to spin and then hit a telephone pole. He had a dislocated shoulder, broken arm, sprained wrist, sprained calf muscle, and lacerations. They would not give him any real information on Lauren, as he was only a minor. Nancy needed to get to them but first she had to make another phone call.
“Fitz, its mom. Where are you?”
“In Central Park with Meenah.”
“Jeremy and Mum had an accident. I am going to St. Luke’s.”
“Are they OK?”
She could hear the frantic tone of his voice and it hurt that she could not comfort him.
“I don’t know muffin. You need to meet me there.”
“Should I call Uncle Jimmy?”
“No, no. I don’t want to call anyone until we know what the situation is. Your grandfather should not be worrying if he doesn’t have to. Meet me at the hospital.”
Nancy hung up the phone, pulling out of her parking space. She had no idea how she made it to the St. Luke’s parking lot. The whole way there, she could not shake that something bad was happening. Nancy built invisible walls around herself to try to shield the blow that she was walking into a very grim situation.
She rushed to Jeremy in the emergency room. He was sitting on a gurney and still looked shaken up. He started to sob as Nancy embraced him. She whispered it was OK to cry; found herself doing the same thing though she fought it.
“Are you his guardian?”
“Yes, Dr. Nancy McNally.” She extended her hand.
“I'm Dr. Pendleton. Jeremy is going to be fine. The arm was a clean break so eight weeks in the cast and he should be alright. We popped the shoulder back in and he took 12 stitches on the upper arm from a deep cut. It’s best for him to stay off the sprained calf muscle for a few weeks. We wrapped it and he can walk but we want him taking it easy. The same goes for the wrist.”
“There went my bike trip.” He grumbled. “What about football? Practice starts in August.”
“Well, the arm will still be in cast but all of your other injuries should be healed. I don’t foresee it stalling your play once it comes off.”
“Thank you doctor. Now about my wife?”
“Well Mrs. McNally’s injuries were a bit more serious. She suffered a concussion, cuts, bruises, and a deep laceration on her forehead that required stitches. She blacked her eye and broke her wrist when she threw her arms in front of her face as the airbag popped up. She complained of stomach pains and that concerned me. I want to keep her overnight in case there are internal injuries that we are unaware of.”
“Internal…” Nancy couldn’t even finish the statement.
“We haven’t found anything but honestly it could start as something small. Monitoring her for the next 24 hours is critical. We will give her another MRI just to be sure.”
“I need to see her.”
Fitz and Meenah came rushing through the ER. Nancy held her hand out for her son.
“Is Mum alright?” he asked.
“I'm going to check on her now. You and Meenah stay with Jeremy.”
“We are coming too.” Jeremy said. “I mean, if its OK with the doctor.”
“Sure. We’ll all go up but she should only have one visitor at a time.”
Nodding, the whole family piled onto the elevator. Jeremy was in a wheelchair. They went up to the 6th floor and Nancy peeked in through the glass. She looked to be sleeping.
“She is not sleeping. Go in; she has been asking for you.”
Nancy opened the door, walking softly into the room. She sat on the edge of the bed and stroked Lauren’s face. She opened her eyes.
“Hey. Is Jeremy alright? I kept asking about him but they wanted me to calm down. They told me they would let me know but no one has said a thing. Nancy, I was so scared. If anything were to happen to him…”
“Shh baby, Jeremy is fine. He is outside and so is Fitz. What happened?”
“The asshole flew around the corner when we had the light. I don’t remember anything but the impact. We just started to spin; I could not get control. The ground was really wet.” She started to sob and it looked as if it hurt her to do so. “Oh God Nance, all these things went through my head. What if daddy would have been in the car? Jeremy would have been in the back seat. How was I going to look Fitz in the eye knowing I killed his best friend in the whole world? I left the house without telling you I loved you and I am never, ever going to do that again.”
“Shh, shh, its OK.” Nancy pulled her close but held her gingerly. She stroked her hair. “Everyone is OK. I love you too and we are going to be fine. C’mon now, lets wipe these tears. The boys are outside and are anxious to see Mum.”
“Do daddy and Jimmy know?” Lauren asked.
“No, I wanted to make sure you were alright before I called them.” She leaned and kissed Lauren’s lips softly.
“God, I must look awful. I feel awful.”
“You are still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. These wounds will heal baby. You are still with me and that is all I care about.”
She felt her throat closing so she went to the door to get the boys. Against hospital rules, they rushed in. They hugged and kissed Lauren, feeling better once they saw her. She must have asked Jeremy if he was OK five times. He assured her that he was.
“OK boys, you have to get going. Jeremy, they are going to let you go so I need you to go home with Fitz and Meenah. Fitz, you have to tell your grandfather and Uncle what happened. I hate to put that on you…”
“Don’t worry, I can handle it.” he replied, kissing Lauren. “I love you Mum.”
“You too darling; both of you. Please drive safely.”
“We will. Promise.”
They left and the McNallys were alone. For a while, they just held hands; there was not much to say. Nancy tried to calm down her rapidly beating heart…she did not want to lose it in front of Lauren.
“Nancy, you should go home.” Lauren said about two hours later. They had settled in with ancient episodes of The Gilmore Girls.
“No, you have to eat and get some rest. I know you and I mean it. At least they are going to feed me here.”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“Don’t make me cry.” Lauren covered her eyes. “Go, and you can spring me tomorrow. I am sure I will be more than ready to leave.”
Nancy nodded, standing up. She wanted to talk again to the doctor before she left.
“Call me before you fall asleep.” Lauren said.
“I promise. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Nancy assured Scooter and Jimmy that Lauren would be alright when she arrived home. Jimmy tried to comfort her but she kept him at arm’s length. She said she needed a shower and some Motrin…she was beat.
“You have to eat something.” Scooter said. “I will make you a plate of spaghetti; Meenah made it. Jeremy ate a full plate so we know he’s going to be OK.”
“That child is an angel. OK, I’ll eat. Just let me take a shower. Where are my boys?”
“Jeremy is sound asleep in his room.” Jimmy replied. “Fitz and Meenah are hanging out in his room. Everyone is OK.”
“Yeah.” She nodded slowly. “OK, um I'm going to shower. I’ll be back soon.”
She left her umbrella and purse right there in the kitchen before heading upstairs. Jimmy made another plate of spaghetti for himself, joining his father at the table.
“Should I try and talk to her?” he asked.
“Not yet.” Scooter replied. “You know how she is; her first priority was making sure the family was alright. Now she has to come down. Give her a little time. Not too much, but a little.”
Jimmy nodded, eating his food. It really was delicious and he tended to eat when he was worried. He felt as if he should be doing something though there was nothing to be done. Lauren would be home tomorrow so he didn’t have to go to the hospital to look in on her. They had already spoken by telephone…he wanted to make sure for himself she was alright. She told him to look after Nancy tonight; she was going to bottle up her feelings. Jimmy promised he would.
“I'm in the mood for ice cream.” Scooter said. “I'm going to have frozen yogurt.”
“Because Lauren would want me to.”
About two hours later Nancy made her way back to the kitchen. Who would believe it was just seven o’clock? She had gone upstairs, checked on Jeremy and Fitz, and then closed herself up in her room. She put on some music so Fitz would not hear her sobbing her heart out. Nancy McNally had seen a lot, faced a lot, and had been dealt many hands but today was the scariest day of her life. For just a split second, maybe even less, she thought she lost the person she loved most in the world.
How would she live without Lauren? The question might have to be answered one day but Nancy was not ready for it. They had so much life to live, bottles of wine to drink, and mornings to sleep in. Lauren was her best friend in the whole wide world. She knew her secrets, fears, and weaknesses, yet still loved her more than life. She knew how to make the perfect cup of coffee. A hug from her could make all of Nancy’s problems melt away.
The thought that she was going to lose all of that, even if it were a long time from now, only made Nancy cry harder. After a while, she got it under control and made her way to the bathroom. A long, hot shower made her feel a bit better. She stayed in longer than she had to; Nancy was almost afraid to leave. Out there, she would face the looks and questions. Even if they were from her loved ones they would be difficult. Once the water cooled, she had no choice but to get out.
There was a note from Fitz on her bed. ‘Meenah and I went out. Be back before curfew. Love you, Fitz.’ She smiled as she dried off. Dressed in purple pajama pants and a tee shirt, Nancy pulled her hair into a ponytail and went downstairs. Scooter left her plate in the microwave. She heated it for another minute while pouring herself a glass of red wine. She walked through the den where Scooter and Rupert were watching the Mets game, and settled on the deck. She was not out there alone. Jimmy had three citronella torches lit. He was smoking a cigar and nursing a glass of bourbon.
“Daddy will be glad to see you eating.”
“What are you still doing here?” she asked.
“I didn’t want to leave him. I couldn’t leave you.”
“You cannot be fine because I am not fine.”
“Lauren is going to be OK. She’s coming home to us tomorrow.”
“When Fitz said…”
“When he called I was scared Nance. I didn’t know how I was going to look at Scooter and tell him something had happened to his baby girl. I didn’t know anything. How was I going to be able to comfort my family?”
“She is going to be OK.” Nancy’s voice cracked.
“But for a split second…”
“For me, it felt like an eternity.”
She started to cry again and when she felt Jimmy’s arms around her, Nancy let go. She cried as she had in the bedroom; cried as if she had never shed a tear. He stroked her hair, the same thing she would have done to Lauren if she were upset. He whispered softly in her ear and she started to come down. It started to feel as if it was really alright and not the opening act to very bad things. As she pulled herself together, Nancy looked at her food with less of an appetite than before. She would have to force down something or Scooter would give her the look. He had definitely channeled some of Doug Pierce with that look.
“I have to eat some of this.” She said absently.
“Yeah, you better. You don’t want Scooter giving you the evil eye. I know your appetite is nil but I think it will make you feel better.”
She nodded. The spaghetti was as good as it smelled. A few forkfuls went down easy, the next few were forced, and then she gave up. Jimmy ate a bit too. He was going to have to work out for days.
“I meant for…you know.”
“You are always the strong one; the one who holds it together in hard times. Your strength is one of the most beautiful things about you. Still, sometimes it is OK to fall because I'm here. If you ever need a hug, a shoulder, or an ear I am here.”
“I know. I'm fine, though I do need you for more than your body parts, Mr. Pierdon.”
“But body parts are definitely at your beck and call.”
Nancy went to speak but instead just laughed. Her laugh was healthy and vibrant. When Scooter heard it from the den, he was able to relax and enjoy the baseball game a bit more. She gently slapped Jimmy’s arm.
“You're awful; stop that.”
“I just wanted to make you laugh. I win.”
“Definitely.” She replied, hardly stifling her laughter. She softly kissed his lips.
They were quiet for a while, holding hands.
“When I met Lauren all those years ago I never thought I would be here. To be sure, I thought she was amazing the first time I laid eyes on her. Luck in love has never been my thing. You just don’t think you will ever get this, this thing we have with another soul.”
“What is your secret?”
“My secret to what?” she looked at him.
“I am madly in love. Its not as if we didn’t have some rough patches. I bet you didn’t know she dumped me once…worse couple of hours I've ever experienced. When we walked past that point, made up, I promised myself we would be alright. We have been.”
“Forever and ever amen, huh?”
“Yep.” She looked at her platinum band. “Why, did you have something else in mind?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I'm asking you.”
“You and my baby sis are perfect for each other. She could not ask for better and that makes me happy. We’re a great family and without you we would be missing an awfully big piece.”
“We have a good life. I am happy and I just want her home with me.”
Jimmy understood that. He remembered when his wife was dying; she just wanted to be at home with him. Time was too precious to waste at a hospital. He knew his company was not quite the same, though appreciated, but he wanted to stay with Nancy if she wanted him to. She felt selfish saying she did so she lied.
“I think I need to call it a night. Thank you though.”
“Anytime, and you know it.”
She kissed his cheek, saying goodnight and going into the house. After putting her dishes in the dishwasher, Nancy went back to the den. She sat down beside Scooter; Rupert put his big head in his lap.
“Are you OK?” she asked.
“The Mets are getting their asses kicked.”
“Yeah.” She smiled.
“I'm fine.” He looked at her. “You don’t have to worry about me.”
“I could say the same thing.”
“You could, but I'm the dad. Its my job. Give me a hug.”
Nancy took a deep breath, exhaling when Scooter’s arms went around her. When they pulled apart, she scratched behind Rupert’s ears.
“I'm alright; seriously.”
Lauren groaned a bit as she shifted on the bed. She was finally home and that was all that mattered. Last night in the hospital was the pits. She hardly slept, though they finally allowed her to. The bed was hard and uncomfortable. She was lonely without Nancy and the noises of their old house. She cried until she was too tired to do it anymore. When Nancy arrived in the late morning, Lauren would have jumped up and cheered if she were not so sore and tired. God, it was good to be back in bed with her pillows. Nancy smiled as her wife immediately cuddled up and fell asleep.
“Is Mum hungry?” Fitz asked down in the kitchen.
“She might be but she is more tired than anything. She is sound asleep. I just wanted to come down and let you guys know that. I'm just going to go up and you know…”
“Hover.” Jeremy replied.
“Cute. You two should get a comedy routine going.”
“I didn’t say anything.” Fitz said.
“This time. Jeremy, I do not want you overdoing it today.”
“Promise.” he held up his hand. “Hill’s coming over for a little T-L-C.”
“Not too much TLC; you're staying in the den.”
“I will talk with you guys later.”
Nancy went back upstairs. For a while, she stood in the doorway just looking at Lauren. She seemed content, and Nancy hoped she was having sweet dreams. Unable to help it, she climbed into bed beside her. Lauren sighed softly as Nancy stroked her hair.
“Hey baby. Don’t wake up; I just want to talk a little. I love you so much. I'm going to take care of you while you don’t feel well and you're going to let me. You know why? I'm going to do it because you make my life better. Letting me do that for you, for just a little while, is my profoundest happiness. Soon you will be feeling fine…we can take walks and have dinners out. I will draw your baths and massage your feet. The History Channel will play while you cuddle in my arms like you always do. The smell of your skin, of your hair, it brings me peace. It brings me joy.”
“I love you too.” Lauren whispered.
“You never listen to me. Didn’t I tell you not to wake up?”
“I have this thing…I have to listen to you when you talk.”
Nancy kissed her softly, moving her hand down to stroke her shoulder.
“I thought I lost you Lauren.”
“I'm still here.”
“Don’t do it boo boo. I used to, when we lived in DC and you would have to go for stretches of time. It hurt too much.”
“How did you stop?” Nancy asked.
“I couldn’t, and I'm telling you from experience not to start. We are together and will live everyday to the fullest. When the time comes and one of us has to go, we will be waiting on the other side to be together again.”
“OK. I don’t want to think about it anymore.”
“Good. It will pass, I know it will. Waking up in my arms tomorrow will help.”
“All these years have only made me love you harder and deeper. I wasn’t even sure it was possible.” Nancy said.
Lauren smiled, but soon she was drifting again. Nancy told her to sleep; told her she would be quiet so Lauren could relax.
“Just don’t leave.” Lauren took Nancy’s hand, holding it up to her chest. “Stay with me.”