Nancy was glad that she could now put the last week and a half behind her. It was now a couple of days past the theater fiasco and she was at her house with Ned, Frank, Joe, George, Bess, Carson, Hannah, and B.D. Hawkins. As soon as Bess and George had heard that it had finally ended, they were on the first plane back to River Heights and Nancy couldn't be happier to have them here with her.
Dom had already been booked for two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, assault, and kidnapping. The police were still trying to get answers out of him, but he was refusing to tell them much of anything and he had even gone as far as refusing to retain a lawyer.
She was exhausted, too, because she, along with Frank and Ned, had spent a lot of time at the police station giving statements and answering a plethora of questions. And not to mention all of the media coverage that had been surrounding this, she was ready to crash into her bed and sleep for days. She still found that everything was weighing down on her emotionally and she still wasn't able to talk about it with her father and her friends.
But she owed this little celebration to her friends and family. They had been concerned about her and this was a chance to show that she was at least, holding up. They were now sitting around the table, eating a five course meal that Hannah had spent all day preparing.
Nancy glanced at Ned and frowned. He had been acting weird ever since the theater and she couldn't figure out why. And it was really starting to bother her because she could sense that he was putting up a front for everyone else.
They continued to eat and enjoy each other's company as the night progressed. Finally, Ned pulled her to the side when everyone moved into the den.
"Can I talk to you?" he asked.
Nancy nodded. "Of course."
She followed him out onto the back deck and he walked to the edge of it. She walked up behind him and put her arms around his waist. "What's going on?"
He gently pulled her arms away and stepped away from her. Nancy looked at him confused, but didn't say anything and waited for him to say something.
"Nancy, I know I left you the other day when you were stabbed, and I'm sorry for that," Ned began.
"Ned, don't worry about it," Nancy said.
"I am because I hate that I let Frank Hardy get to me," Ned said. "I hate that I got into a fight with him in the hospital parking lot because I was stupid enough to care about what he was saying."
"Why are you bringing this up?" Nancy asked.
"Nancy, I need to know where you stand," Ned said.
"Stand where?" Nancy asked. "Ned, I have no idea what you're talking about."
Ned took a deep breath. "Nancy, when we were in the theater with Dom and he told you to choose, why did you choose me?"
"What?" Nancy asked.
"Why couldn't you choose me? Why not Frank?" Ned asked. "You're supposed to love me, so why did you choose for him to live over me?"
"You're serious," Nancy stated.
"You bet I am," Ned said.
"Are you really that insecure that you would want me to actually choose? " Nancy asked. "I chose Frank because he had managed to get free. I knew that he would stop Dom before he even tried anything. Does it make you feel better about yourself? I mean, are you really that shallow?"
"No, I think you're the shallow one," Ned said.
"What?" Nancy asked.
"I think you like it when Frank and I fight over you," Ned said. "I think that may be why you always string us along."
"Ned, I don't understand why you are doing this," Nancy said.
Ned sighed. "I'm tired, Nancy. I'm tired of it all."
"So, what re you saying?" Nancy asked.
"I think maybe we should get away from each other for a while," Ned said, softly.
"We've tried that before," Nancy said.
"Maybe the outcome will be different this time," Ned said.
Nancy slowly sank down on the ground and stared out into the night. What was going on here? Why did he have to pick this time to do this to her? Was he really right about her?
"I'm sorry, Nancy," Ned said.
"Just go," Nancy whispered.
Ned walked over to her and gave her a kiss on the top of her forehead and she heard him walk away. She thought after Dom's capture, everything would get better. But she had been wrong; everything seemed to still be crashing down on her.
She didn't want to cry, but she couldn't stop the couple of stray tears that fell down her face. She didn't want to waste them on someone who didn't even want to be around her. She heard the back door open and footsteps come up behind her. She didn't even have to turn around and see who it was.
"Hey," Frank said, softly.
Nancy looked up at him. "Hey."
"You mind if I sit down?" Frank asked.
Nancy shook her head and scooted over. He sat down beside her and looked up at the stars. "Beautiful night," he commented.
"Yeah," Nancy agreed.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the quiet of the autumn night.
"I didn't come out here for anything, Nancy," Frank said.
"I know," Nancy said; and she really meant it. She was quiet for a few moments and then she spoke again. "He wanted me to choose, Frank."
"I heard him, Nan," Frank said.
Nancy shook her head. "Not Dom–Ned."
"Did he tell you that?" Frank asked.
"He asked me why I chose you over him," Nancy said. "He didn't even consider it being for the best."
Frank sighed. "Don't worry about what he thinks, Nan. You made a choice that saved us all. I've never hidden my dislike for Ned and I'm not about to worry about insulting him. I've been cordial to him for years, but it's only been because I didn't want to hurt you."
Nancy opened her mouth to say something, but Frank interrupted before she could.
"Let me finish," he said, holding up a hand. "He's stupid, Nancy. He is incredibly stupid and foolish if he's willing to let you go because of something so petty. He needs to open his eyes and realize what he has right in front of him."
"Frank, I–" Nancy began.
"I told you I didn't come out here for anything and I mean it," Frank said. "I'm just a friend trying to lend a helping hand to a friend in need."
Frank held out his hand and looked at Nancy. Nancy met his gaze and then looked at his outstretched hand. She then gave him a small smile and put her hand in his.
"Hello, friend," she said, softly.
Frank chuckled and squeezed her hand. Then they stared at the night sky, each lost in their own thoughts.
"So, tell me something," Nancy said.
"Anything," Frank said.
"How did it really feel to hit him?" Nancy asked.
Frank just laughed and gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
Author's Note: Well, it's the completion of another story. I know you Ned worshippers aren't too happy with this outcome, but I did what I felt was right. And some of you may be scratching your head about the five attempted murder charges so let me clarify for you: he tried to kill Nancy twice, Nikki, Frank, and Ned–so that's where I get my five.
I thank everyone who read and reviewed this story. I think this may be my favorite one so far and you have all been very vocal about your love for it.
And just so you know, I do have a sequel in the works. It may be a while before I can get to it because it is in the thought stages right now. Once I work out how I want it to proceed I will start posting again.
Again, thanks to everyone for their support!