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We Keep This Love (In a Photograph)

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Nancy’s bright hair makes her easy to spot, even from his position across the train platform. He watches as she peers through the crowd, noticing him with a grin and a tiny wave, before he pushes off from the wall and starts to make his way over to meet her. He’d practically had to fight Ryan to be the one picking her up, he imagines telling her as she laughs. The man had been ready to push him down in the driveway until Carson had stepped in to - heavily, mind you - imply that maybe Nancy and Ace could use a little ‘alone time’.

That part he might keep to himself, actually. It was bad enough that Carson acted like he was in on some big secret every time he got off the phone with his daughter; he didn’t need her wondering why both her father figures were trading smug smiles every time the four of them were in a room together.

He realizes too late that he’d gotten caught up in his thoughts and that Nancy was suddenly standing less than a foot away from him. “Hi.” he murmurs, the memory of their last - somewhat awkward - reunion tugging at the back of his mind. (He almost wished his arm was still in a sling. Then at least he’d only have to worry about what to do with one of his hands).

“Hi.” she replies in the same tone, her own hands twisting nervously in the strap of her bag, but a beaming smile on her face. It was the same smile he’d seen during their almost daily video calls for the past month and a half, but he hadn’t thought to prepare for the way it makes his heart flip to see it directed at him, live and in person.

“H-how’s Columbia?” he manages to only stumble over the first word, but it doesn’t really seem to matter because suddenly Nancy drops her luggage and launches herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck and clinging to him while his arms instinctively wrap around her, pulling her closer still as he breathes in the fact that this is really happening, that it’s not a dream he’s going to wake up from to find the calendar mockingly reminding him there was another three days until her holiday break started.

He’s not sure how long they stay there, wrapped up in each other while the rest of the world moves around them, but when they finally pull away he knows his smile is as bright as hers. There’s a lot they still have to share - he hasn’t told her about his first day interning with John Sander yet, and she has a copy of the Daily Spectator with her first front page article stowed safely in her bag - and a lot - the distance, their schedules, missing each other - that they still have to figure out. But as he holds out his hand and Nancy takes it in hers, intertwining their fingers as if it was the most natural thing in the world, Ace can’t find it in himself to worry.

Whatever happens, they’ll figure out a way to solve it. Together.

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(She finds the photo less than a week later; sees it hanging on the inside of his locker when she stops by the Claw to help them decorate for the holidays. Bess is beside herself at somehow being one of the last to know, but Ace can’t really focus on anything other than the look in Nancy’s eyes as she pulls him in for a kiss.)