Title: The Risk to Bloom
Pairing: Frank Hardy/Nancy Drew
Summary: A case requires an older Nancy and Frank to once again pose as a married couple. But this time there’s no Bess nor Joe to be distractions, and the nature of the case itself helps bring feelings that have been long-buried to the surface again. Sometimes you have to accept that doing what’s best for you might hurt someone else...and you have to do it anyway.
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And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin
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Nancy Drew has never in her life been accused of being a girly-girl. That title went to Bess, who was more than happy to wear it, along with any crown or ribbon that came with it. That said, she still liked to look her best; she scheduled regular hair cuts, had a wardrobe of clothing that, while not overflowing, had rather high-quality clothing, and somehow she managed to keep her nails long and have them manicured every three weeks. Whether she’d want to admit it or not, she had been raised as the only child of a well-off widower who was happy to shower her with the best of things, and so--abrasions and tears in her shirt sleeve aside--she often looked quite nice.
Not at the moment. At the moment, her hair is sticking up in places, a mess due to her running her hands through it too many times. Her long nails have been gnawed as far down as she possibly could. And Nancy couldn’t care less.
She should have said no when offered the assignment. It’s an emotional time bomb just waiting to go off. She knows this.
Except it involves a ring of kidnappers going after children 18 months old and younger.
Except she saw one of the couples who have had their son taken, and the memory of their faces makes her blood boil.
Except she knows that she really is the best one for the assignment.
Except Frank Hardy is the agent playing the husband and father (and oh, god, they have to play parents to an infant from a foster agency) and that alone should have made her say no, immediately and without a second thought.
Instead, that alone made feeling she thought she’d managed to bury long ago strangle her common sense just long enough for her to blurt out yes. And now she’s facing the most awkward case of her life.
History assures her of it.
She pretends she doesn’t know what to do. Nancy’s paced the length of her room back and forth more than a dozen times, opened and closed doors without removing things, fiddled with figurines. Finally, she lets out a long sigh, pulling her hair back into a messy pony-tail, and gives in to herself.
The lid to her jewelry box is removed carefully, and she removes a single ring from it. Nancy holds it up, studies it carefully (as if she hadn’t memorized every facet of it long ago) and watches the way the gem catches the light.
She studies the ring, one she meant to get rid of long ago, and things of sand. Of tombs and bombs and emotional walls finally breaking down. Of learning the taste of his mouth and not feeling guilt for the action, because her soul, or something like it, sings this is right.
And yet, after the case is solved and the bad guys sent away, she and Frank had...well, talked, if you can call less than five minutes of awkward sentences a talk. And for the first time, they decide not to take the jump into adventure and mystery. Into the unknown. Instead, they both insist that they’re happy with their significant others back home, and when they leave each other at an airport in DC, Frank only kisses her cheek.
She should have gotten rid of the ring. And yet, Nancy had kept it, and she slips it on to her finger, now, on impulse. It still fits perfectly.
The same intuition that helps her so often in cases stirs in her mind now. It tells her that this case--that she’s agreed to and refuses to back out of--will change things.
Nancy just wishes she knew which things.