Well, I'm back! This story though is just a one-shot deal with Nancy as the central character. It takes place between chapters 31 and 34 of Magnolia and Wildfire (the excerpts are from those two chapters) with a few references to Past Transgressions. If you haven't read either one of them, it's okay but you may be a bit lost since there are a few spoilers in here! As far as a direct sequel goes for MW, I have no intention of writing one in the near future. If I do, it will probably be a one-shot like this one. I'm actually really happy with the end of MW so we'll leave it at that. As for this new story, it was inspired by something I wrote 20 years ago this year (man, I feel old) that had a similar story line. I was sitting in a noisy cafeteria where I was going to college and the story just started flowing out onto the paper. It made me realize that I wanted to be a writer. I also thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher but decided against that eventually (thank God for small miracles!). I hope you enjoy this and let me know what you think! You know how much I love reviews!
Please Don't Leave Me
The woman narrowed her eyes as Nancy walked away. She didn't get far as she walked right into a soft mass standing in the doorway. Looking up at what she walked into, Nancy's eyes went wide when she saw who it was. Thinking quickly, she kneed Nathan hard in the groin doubling him over and scrambled around him while he was down. She ran down the hall, whispering into her comlink for Frank. All she got was static. Nancy knew she shouldn't panic even though she was trapped and had to find a way to Frank and freedom.
She stole a look behind her and found the woman, whom Nancy now recognized as Lt. Mitchell, giving pursuit while Nathan hobbled behind her. Nancy round a corner at the end of the hall and saw the exit at the other end where she came in at. She knew on the other side of the door was the van waiting to get her and Frank out. Looking frantically around, she wondered were Frank was and what was taking him so long. Nancy looked at her watch, noting the time. He was late! She looked behind to face her pursuers only to find an empty hallway. Confused, she turned to walk down the hall toward the exit but stopped as Nathan came around from another hallway in front of her. He held a gun in his hand, his arm extended.
Nancy had no time to cry out as she heard a soft ping of a silencer and felt pain in her chest. Darkness engulfed her before she hit the ground, an image of Frank in her mind.
The bright light came suddenly, almost blindingly. One moment Nancy was standing in the hallway of Powers' laboratory, the next a large room with unending white walls and ceiling. The walls seemed to radiate white light all around her as she began walking, unknowing where to go or where it will lead her.
"Hello?" she called, her voice echoing back. There was no response yet she knew she was not alone. Ahead of her, a figure stood, seemingly materializing before her. As Nancy approached, the person's features became more focused as if a lens were shifting. She knew it was a man, dressed in a black tuxedo and holding a small box in front of him. "Hello?"
Nancy gasped as the man finally focused, his face and kind smile instantly recognizable.
"Hello, Nancy," Ned replied, his smile never wavering. "I've been waiting for you."
"But, how?" she asked. Nancy pressed her fingers into his chest, feeling his solid body as if he never died. Once she touched him, her memories began to dissipate as if they were but dreams. "Was it all a nightmare?"
"I was hoping you would save a dance for me," Ned said softly. He held out the box revealing a lovely corsage made with a star-gazer lily, Nancy's favorite. Still somewhat confused, Nancy held out her wrist for him to put the corsage on. She never even realized that she was no longer clothed in black as she was in London but in the same dress she wore when the nightmare all began. Ned held out his hand just as a beautiful waltz began playing around them. The bright white room dissolved revealing the River Heights Hall where her father's banquet had taken place. They were the only ones there even though the music continued to play. "May I have this dance?"
Nancy smiled broadly, her memories of her life completely gone. All that mattered to her now was being with Ned. Their dance seemed to last forever as they glided across the floor. Nancy never felt so happy as she was in that moment though there was something still bothering her. It didn't quite feel real but yet it did. Ned's face was real. He felt real but there was something off. She looked up into his eyes and saw not joy but sadness. Their dance stopped as Ned's smile wavered for the first time.
"I'm sorry, Nancy," he replied though he still held her close. "I have to go. I just wanted one last dance with you."
"What…what are you talking about?" she asked, her eyes beginning to water. "I don't understand. We're here together and that's all that matters."
"I'll be waiting for you," he whispered. Ned leaned over to kiss her forehead and said nothing more though his eyes spoke a thousand words. Before she could object again, Ned slowly let go of her hand and walked away, the blinding light making his body disappear. The River Heights Hall was gone and the white light returned. Nancy soon heard footsteps echoing around her, letting her think that Ned had come back. She twirled around looking for the source of the footsteps but there was no one around her. When she turned once more, Nancy eyes set on a woman standing in front of her. Her hair shone brightly as if the white light were within her though Nancy knew the hair to be the same strawberry-blonde as her own.
"Hello, Sweetheart," the woman replied in a kind voice. Nancy knew her but yet she didn't. Realization soon hit and tears flowed freely down Nancy's cheeks.
"Mom?" Nancy rushed to the woman and embraced her tightly, not wanting to let go. She could feel Kate's arms wrapping around her, the warmth calming Nancy. "I have missed you so much."
"I know, honey," Kate whispered, her hand stroking her daughter's hair. "You have grown into such a fine young woman and I am so proud of you."
"Where did Ned go though?"
"He moved on, Nancy," Kate said sadly. "He's been waiting for you though to him, it was only a matter of minutes. Time does not matter here."
"What do you mean?" Nancy looked at her mother confused. "I've been here for hours it seems."
"Sweetheart, no," her mother replied, taking Nancy's hand. "It may seem like hours to you but you have been here for almost a month. Like I said, time does not matter."
"Do I have to leave? I want to stay with you and Ned. That's all I want. Just to be with you."
"If that is your decision, then you can stay," Kate replied though Nancy had a feeling there was a 'but' coming. "I am just here to help you in your decision and then guide you to where you need to be."
"But I'm in Heaven, right? I can't go back."
"No, this is not Heaven. Consider this place more 'in between' than anything."
"You mean Limbo?"
"Exactly. From here, it is your choice whether to go forward or to go back."
"I've already made my decision. You heard me."
Kate gave Nancy a sad look but the smile returned. The room changed again revealing a field of tall grass and wildflowers. A breeze blew gently, whipping Nancy's hair. Children could be heard in the distance though they could not see them. Kate looked out into the field, her face a mask of peace. Nancy's dress changed once again to a light sundress similar to what her mother was wearing.
"What is this place?"
"I come here to watch those I left behind," Kate replied, turning to face her. "It's very peaceful especially when the children are at play."
"It's beautiful," Nancy said, taking a hair away from her face. "How can you watch though? There doesn't seem to be a TV or anything to watch from."
Nearby, a room materialized, revealing a man sitting at a desk, caressing a photo frame. Nancy didn't need Kate to tell her who it was since she knew the room all too well.
Carson sat, never flinching as she spoke, a single tear rolling down his cheek. Nancy walked over to him and noticed the picture in the frame. It was taken the year before for their annual Christmas card. Nancy and her father looked so happy in the picture, not knowing what was to happen the next month when the whole nightmare began. Some memories began to come back to her, including the moment she almost killed her father. Nancy stepped away quickly almost tripping over her own feet just as Hannah came in, carrying a tray of food. She set it on the desk beside Carson but he continued to ignore her. The housekeeper looked sadly at him then turned away without a word. Before she left the room, he spoke causing her to stop.
"I don't know what I'll do if I lost her as I did Kate," he replied, never looking up from the picture. "I almost didn't make it the last time I almost lost Nancy. This is just too much for me. I want her home and safe!"
"I know, Carson," Hannah replied gently, returning to the desk. "She is going to be fine. Any day now, Frank will call and tell you she's awake. You have to have faith that it will happen."
"Hannah, what if he calls and that is not what he says? When he called at Christmas, my heart broke. It was the last thing I wanted to hear."
"Frank will call and Nancy will be okay." The room disappeared as quickly as it appeared leaving Nancy standing in the field once more.
"Was it really that hard for him, Mom?" she asked, looking over at her mother.
"Right after the accident, I watched him from here and wanted to reach out so badly to tell him everything would be okay," Kate answered. Tears were forming in her eyes though they did not escape. "He seemed so worried that he wouldn't be able to care for you once you came home, just as he did the day you were born. His worries seemed to be for naught though since you are such an amazing person. You are kind and generous and you have so much more to give."
"I feel as if I failed him though," Nancy said softly. "I almost killed him and I feel like I betrayed him for leaving when I did."
"Yes, you left but you had good reason to and he knew that. He and Hannah would have been in great danger if you stayed. You took a leap of faith and so far, you have helped so many just with what you are achieving. What would be more of a betrayal to him is if he found out you did not want to go home for selfish reasons."
"But I can't face him!" Nancy cried. "He would be better off without me!"
"You can't be serious, honey," Kate said. She grabbed a hold of her daughter and held her tight. Kate then took her daughter's face in her hands and looked deeply into the bright blue eyes. "He forgave you a long time ago. Don't ever think that he would be better without you. You are his rock and what keeps him going day in and day out."
The mother and daughter stood there for a few moments, the children still playing in the distance. A soft cry of a baby broke their own silence as Nancy pushed away from Kate. A bassinet stood under a tree, its pink accents blowing in the wind. Curious, Nancy walked slowly over to see a baby lying in the bassinet.
"Would she be better off without you, too?" Kate asked. Nancy looked at her mother confused then back to the child who stared up at her with bright blue eyes. The young woman picked up the child as another wave of memories returned, this time of her finding out she was pregnant.
"This is your daughter, Nancy. Her life hangs in the balance just as yours does for whatever you choose here becomes her fate as well."
"You can't put that on me!" Nancy cried. "She'll be fine without me!"
"No, she won't, honey," Kate replied gently. She took the child into her arms and cradled her. "The two of us have been having some quality time before she's born. Like I said though, if you decide to stay, she will too. Do you want to do that to her? Do you want to do that to your family?"
Nancy stood there watching her mother cradle the baby. Kate made faces at the child and talked in a funny voice as Nancy contemplated. She knew she couldn't do that to her daughter, to her father. As she stood, another voice broke the plane of silence, one that melted her heart as much as seeing Ned once again.
"Please come back to me."
"Frank," Nancy whispered as the remainder of her memories came rushing back.
"He's waiting for you, Nancy. Do you really want to stay here and let go of him? Of her? Of your father?"
Nancy looked back at her mother, the child now sleeping in her arms. Kate looked beyond Nancy and the young woman turned to see a door standing before them in the field. Nancy walked over and looked through the window. She saw herself lying in a bed as Frank sat beside her, holding her hand.
"I wish you were here, Nan," his voice echoing around her.
"That is your path, Nancy," Kate replied with a sad smile. "All you have to do is open the door."
Nancy was silent, looking from Frank behind the door to Kate and her daughter then back. She was torn but she knew in her heart that she couldn't stay with her mother. There were too many people waiting for her and she knew her purpose was not over yet. Nancy placed a hand on the doorknob but just before she opened it, she ran back to her mother, hugging her.
"I'll miss you, Mom," she whispered into Kate's shoulder.
"I know but I'll be here waiting for when you return. I will always be with you no matter what." The mother and daughter embraced once more before Nancy turned back toward the door. "Remember, all you have to do is open the door."
Nancy placed her hand on the door once more but this time she opened it. As she entered the room, she looked back but her mother and the field beyond was already disappearing in a flash a bright light.
Nancy hovered just below consciousness. She felt the stiffness of her body but felt something else there. A jolt or more like a kick from within. She couldn't quite place it as her eyes roamed beneath the lids. There was something else too: this time the warmth of someone's hand. A voice all too familiar to her yet sounding so far away. Nancy knew his voice as she knew her own father's, the voice begging for her to return to him.
What happened she thought, struggling to come forward to answer the voice. A memory returned to her. That of a man with a gun who shot her before Frank could get there. Frank! That was who called to her through the haze. But why does it feel like someone is kicking me in the stomach? Nancy asked herself. Slowly, she moved her hand instinctively to her belly, the feeling the bump. Then she remembered the baby. She was pregnant and obviously, the baby survived after she was shot.
Nancy slowly opened her eyes, the room around her blurry as she tried to focus. Once everything around her became clear, she heard the tell-tale sound of a heartbeat monitor nearby. Nancy looked down to see a head lying on the bed next to her. It was the one person she wanted to see most, his fingers still wrapped around her hand.
Frank's eyes were closed, a soft snore releasing. Nancy smiled softly and began running her fingers through his hair gently so as not to awaken him. She didn't know how long it had been since the shooting but she didn't care. He was there and that was all that mattered to her.