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Nancy Drew and the Tipping Point Mystery

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*

Sometimes Nancy wonders what it would be like to see him. What it would be like to really see Frank without the need of a case to play alibi. It's a tantalizing thought that she doesn't permit herself to indulge in often. Down that road lies dangerous territory.

Still, she does wonder about what spending time without a case to keep them focused would be like. Where would things go if they were given free rein?

She turns away from the question. She already knows the answer.

*

Nancy watches him through lowered lashes, leaning over the autopsy report of Jane Chalmers' driver. So intent on the file is he that she begins to suspect he's forgotten her presence entirely and she smiles indulgently. She's wondered about this too, the comfort and ease that hangs between them at times borne of their shared passion for investigations.

When Frank's jaw clenches tight, troubled perhaps by something in the report, her fingers itch to slide soothingly over its familiar lines. She's pictured herself tracing his features so many times she can feel the texture of his skin beneath her fingertips with ease.

He looks up and catches her staring. She stills and orders herself to hold his gaze without speaking. It's an endless moment before he clears his throat and says, "Can you take a look at this?"

She nods, her pulse racing when she leans over and he rests a hand against her back.

*

The times that they've touched each other with something other than a case in mind are precious few. She doesn't count the times it's been a ruse. Frank's kiss is always too chaste, his hands too careful. Nothing real. She doesn't feel like dry tinder too close to a flame.

The times when she's been in Frank Hardy's arms, it's always too much and never ever enough. They're fleeting moments of weakness which feed dreams of hands on heated skin, mouths meeting in hard, hungry kisses. Dreams that leave Nancy lying, sweat-soaked, in her bed with a dull, unsatisfied ache between her thighs.

*

She licks dry lips and risks a glance at Frank. He's pointing at something in the report, murmuring a possible theory, and shows no sign of awareness of the effect his proximity has on her. When she tries to focus, her mind rebels. She tries to think of the case, of the missing young woman, and fails. Instead, the skills that make her so adept at piecing together clues takes the feeling of his hand on her back and the heat of his body against hers and assembles a fantasy of Frank's hands moving over her, his body thrusting into hers.

Nancy only just stops the moan.

It takes monumental effort to do so and she closes her eyes for a moment, letting her hair fall forward to hide her face.

"Tired?" Frank wonders.

She nods, telling him about her sleepless night. Investigating a missing senator's daughter does keep a woman up at night but not as much as knowing who's sleeping in the room next door. A matter made no less simple by the fact their rooms are connected by an adjoining door.

She's had far too many dreams about that door opening in the night.

"First thing you do when we find Ms. Chalmers," Frank teases, reaching out to tuck her hair away from her face, "get a good night's sleep."

Nancy's eyes close when his fingers brush her cheek, the touch soothing and she's tempted to lean against him. For a moment, she nearly does. "I'm planning on it." She looks at Frank and he's watching her intently. "You should too."

Frank nods slowly, his breathing erratic. "Yeah, I should," he agrees, voice unnaturally quiet.

Biting her lower lip, she reaches out to brush the stubble on his jawline. "You look so tired." These moments are the ones in which their non-relationship has always lurked. She thinks it says something about their own fear that it takes exhaustion and sleep-deprivation to let their guard down and get to this point.

Nancy's never been one who needed to be safe, at least she thought she wasn't, but the way she's clung to Ned for so long makes her wonder. What she's feeling right now isn't safe, it isn't steady, it's explosive and she's scared to death and she's not alone.

She can see the hint of fear in Frank's eyes, the uncertainty that comes with their feet landing on the forbidden ground of their feelings. Her fingers pause on his jaw and she watches them for a moment, as if waiting for them to decide their next move. They slide up toward his hairline and Frank's breath goes from erratic to harsh as she looks up at him. Nancy knows she should step back, make a comment about the case, change the subject; she should be doing anything but this.

Except she doesn't want to stop.

Frank's hands, which had been hanging limp at his sides, come up again to rest on her waist. She feels the subtle pressure exerted, guiding her forward and she goes with it. They're both waiting for the other to say something to stop this and they both know they're not going to.

In years past, this would be the moment Bess or Joe would bust through the door with news. This would be the moment when she and Frank would fly apart and give each other guilty looks, finding outlandish reasons to bring Ned and Callie into the conversation but Joe and Bess aren't here.

Frank's lips twitch into a quick smile, he's nervous, and so is she. It's a conscious effort to keep from trembling and she tilts her head upward, mouth inviting his. She thinks she hears a whisper of her name before he bridges the gap and kisses her.

The first touch of his lips is tentative, both of them not quite believing they're doing this, and Nancy smiles. She hears a sound which might be a soft chuckle and then Frank's grip on her tightens and the kiss deepens.

Pressing closer, she pushes her hands into his hair and holds on as she meets his kiss. He stumbles back against the table, both of them laughing, and braces himself against it. Nancy shivers when his hands move to slide up and down her back, her body reacting eagerly to the promise that his hands imply.

Frank pulls away briefly, lifting her up and turning to sit her on the desk. Standing between her thighs, he laughs when she growls in mock-frustration and grabs him by the collar.

Yanking him back into the kiss, Nancy's aware of the excitement thrumming through her. She's kissing Frank, Frank's kissing her, and there are no games and no one to fool. For once they're not even trying to fool themselves. The freedom of it is intoxicating and she's more than willing to let herself be carried off by it.

When they part, sucking down ragged breaths, Nancy smiles and bumps noses with him. Frank chuckles and brushes a kiss over her forehead. They stay together for a moment and then he steps back and helps her down. She turns to look at the now-crumpled report with him at her side and they go back to work.

Frank's hand rubbing her neck absently is the only sign of a change.