This is just a quick little oneshot that's been floating around in my brain, just begging to be put to paper. Happy reading!
Disclaimer: If you recoginze it then I don't own it.
"So this is how it's going to end."
The feminine whisper echoed throughout the room and he looked up in surprise. Nothing had been said for hours and hearing her soft cry tore at his heart. He wanted to speak up, say something encouraging, just to give a little bit of hope, but no sound escaped. Because as disturbing as the words were, it had not been a question…merely a statement of fact that both had been avoiding for days.
She was watching him intently, waiting for him to disagree; instead he just shook his head. "Yeah, who would have thought that this is how we would…" his voice trailed off. Just because he was finally coming to terms with their future it didn't mean he could say the words aloud.
Across the room she let out a bitter laugh. "Go. Expire. Meet our maker. Die."
Apparently she had no problem saying it.
Silence descended upon the pair, and he watched as her shoulders slumped in defeat when he didn't reply. He knew she was trying to pick a fight again, but he didn't have the strength to do it anymore. That's all they had done since their capture…actually since the case started.
Frank Hardy had always prided himself on his calm, logical manner, but there was something about Nancy Drew that drove him insane and he was pretty sure that the feeling was mutual. And now, after all these years, what ever sexual tension remained between the two had become impossible to act upon…so they lashed out. It was the only thing that kept them feeling in control of their emotions.
It's not that they hadn't been happy to see each other when the case started, but all too soon they realized that they didn't have the same relationship as in the past. Ten years had gone by and they weren't the same people they were at 18. Expectations, priorities, in essence, real life, had sent them separate ways and the only thing tying them together anymore was a string of empty promises.
And so, they fought. Any topic, case related or not, they pushed the others buttons to the point of broken furniture and tears. Unknowingly, this behavior is what led to their current imprisonment.
The case had been going on for weeks with no real leads and everyone was anxious for an end. The assignments for the day had been divided amongst the room of investigators and Joe, wanting a break from the snipping, had told them he was going to go with another group.
So caught up in their pissing contest, they were easily overpowered by the man they had been interrogating, and they had crossed three states before anyone realized the destructive duo hadn't checked in.
The first few days in their dinghy cell had been alright. They had stayed positive, pushing aside all their issues to come up with a plan of escape. However, the tension slowly ebbed back in when the food and water started arriving after longer intervals and in smaller portions, and by the third day of no contact with their captor all they had left was their anger. They had reached that point two days ago.
Frank glanced over at her again and noticed that she was barely keeping herself upright anymore. Her eyes were fighting to stay open and he realized in that moment that her body was starting to shut down.
He felt like a bucket of ice water had been thrown on him. The true horror of their predicament crashed down on him and he realized they really were going to die. She was going to die.
That instant of clarity snapped him to life and he crawled across the floor, kicking up a mountain of dust in the process. His own body was screaming in protest at the sudden movements, but he didn't slow until he was by her side.
"Nancy." He coughed out as he leaned back against the wall next to her, trying to catch his breath. He got no reply and he jostled her body with his right arm. "Nancy! Wake up."
"I need you to wake up."
"Sleepy." She weakly replied.
"I know you are, but you need to stay awake. You have to stay awake for me."
"I can't." she whispered insistently.
"Nancy, I know how much you hurt right now and I know you think it will be better if you go to sleep, but you can't." His voice started to crack as he pleaded with her. "I'm scared that - you might - things will be bad if you go to sleep."
"I am too, but you don't get to give up. You've never done it before and you don't get to start now!" He was getting desperate and if it meant getting her angry again, so be it. At least she would be conscious.
"Frank. I'm. Tired."
"I don't give a damn Drew! You're not going to leave me like this! You don't get to die on me!"
"Why not?" He could feel her stirring a little more next to him and he knew he had finally struck a nerve. "What's the point anymore?"
"What is wrong with you?! What happened to the gun-ho woman I use to know?"
"She got tired." She let out a frustrated growl. "Tired of fighting all the bad guys. Tired of disappointing all the families that were looking to her for help. Tired of letting her friends and family down."
He was quiet as her words sunk in. In all their arguments this had never come up. He contemplated everything she had just admitted and he realized that this was her way of justifying to herself that she could give up.
The low growl startled her and she turned to him in shock.
"Bullshit!" He cried a little louder. "I get that the job can be demanding. I deal with it every day too, but you don't get to make that your excuse. You have too much going for you to just throw it all away because you're tired."
"We aren't getting out of here! What part of that do you not understand?" She took in a deep breath before she started talking again much calmer. "Just drop it Frank. Fighting with you is just one more thing I'm tired of. I don't want to do it anymore." She was pleading. To stop the fight. To let her die.
"This could be worse." The words were barely audible.
"I said this could be worse." He spoke with more confidence.
She answered on instinct more than anything. "In what way?"
He sighed. "Well, we're here together, right? They could have separated us, or taken only one of us, or killed us straight out. But no, they kept us alive and together. That's got to be something. So I repeat; it could be worse."
If it was a sob or a laugh that escaped her he wasn't sure; he was just happy for a reaction. "You've always been the optimist. I want some of what you're smoking."
This time it was his turn to laugh. She was making jokes. This woman who minutes before was begging to die was now able to joke. She was confusing and frustrating and stubborn and he couldn't picture having her any other way.
His laughter was contagious and she soon joined in, her sweet sound in perfect harmony with his deep baritone. The two enjoyed the brief moment of elation and as the chuckles faded away a sense of peace descended.
Frank felt her hands start to move up his body until they wrapped around his arm. She tentatively laid her head on his shoulder. He knew that she was hesitant about seeking comfort from him and the overwhelming need to reassure her of his presence was becoming too much for him to handle.
Throwing caution into the wind he gently untangled himself from her grip and shakily stood up. Her look of shock quickly turned to confusion as he began to push her away from the wall. When there was finally enough room he slid between her and the wall and dropped back to the ground with a grunt. His arms slid around her waist, drawing her back into his chest. Realizing that she was efficiently trapped she settled herself in more comfortably, placing her hands upon his own.
"It's okay, I forgive you."
"You don't even know what I'm apologizing for." She whispered in confusion.
"It doesn't matter."
His tone indicated the topic was closed but her inquisitive nature got the better of her. "Why not?"
"Because regardless of what you do, I'll always forgive you, no questions asked. We've been through too much for me to not trust you implicitly. If you did or said something it was for good reason, and, more often than not, I usually deserved whatever you threw at me." He gave her a small squeeze. "But for what it's worth, I'm sorry too."
A small smile played at her lips as she repeated his words. "It's okay. I forgive you."
He smiled too and leaned forward a bit, placing his chin on her shoulder. They were content for a minute, but Frank knew that he needed to keep her talking if he was going to keep her alive. "What are you thinking about?"
"I don't know if now is the time to be bringing this up."
"Hey, I've got all the time in the world right now. Try me."
She went silent and for a second he thought she hadn't heard him. But she soon sucked in a large breath. "After all these years, how come the only thing we are getting is an ending?"
"An ending. To the story of us. All we're getting is an ending. We never got to have a beginning or middle."
"Nan, you're not making any sense."
She huffed in frustration as the tears began pooling in her eyes. "It's just we never got a chance to give us a try. We're going to die before anything gets to happen. We only get the ending."
He sighed deeply. The conversation of them as a couple had been avoided their whole friendship. It's not that he hadn't wanted to be with her, but it just never seemed to work out. There had always been something in the way and now when all the obstacles were finally gone it was too late.
"Do you think we could have had a good story?" Her soft voice broke through his thoughts.
He didn't hesitate. "It would have been magical."
"You think so?"
"Yeah, I really do. Far better than any fairy tale imaginable."
"How do you know that I would have been accepting of anything you had to offer," she teased.
"I would have won you over with the Hardy charm." She let out a snort. "Hey, it's not just Joe who has it. I know how to turn it on pretty good too."
"And after winning me with your charm?"
"We would have gone off on some romantic getaway-don't ask where- and because of who we are, we would have found a case which ruined any chances of it being a normal vacation."
"We always did seem to find trouble, didn't we?"
"It was always your fault."
"Was not!" She cried indignantly.
"Shhh. Don't interrupt." He waited until she put her tongue back in her mouth before continuing. "When the case was finally completed, I would have proposed and given you the ring of your dreams."
"How would you know what kind of ring to get me?'
She giggled. He knew her well.
"After a ginormous wedding -you have way too many friends- we would have gone on the perfect honeymoon. Seven days of never leaving the hotel room…best money ever spent."
You're a pig." She slugged him in the leg.
He ignored her. "After that, we would have come back to Chicago, got our own agency started, and bought a big house with lots of extra rooms and a yard for the dog."
"Why would we need extra rooms?"
He could hear the smile in her voice and he let one of his own slip out as he got caught up in the fantasy. "Regardless of how much practice it took, I would have gotten you pregnant. It would have ended up being the best day of my life when you shared that you had a piece of us growing in you. And though you would have ended up cursing me all through labor, by the time you got that little girl in your arms, you would be ready to go through it all again just to give her a sibling. A little boy the next time around."
"One of each. I like that."
"Yup. And through it all, the good and bad, we would have been happy because we had each other."
As he completed their story, he grabbed her hands within his own, lacing their fingers together. He could feel her trembling against him and he felt himself start to shake as well. It wasn't fair that they weren't going to have a chance at everything he had described. He could hear her mumbling to herself and before he could stop himself, he spoke aloud.
"What's wrong, Nan?" He asked in a strangled voice as he tried to calm his emotions.
"I don't want just an ending!" She gasped out.
The words echoed throughout the room. The tears streamed freely from both as they stared determinately at the wall before them, each one thinking of the dream they were being robbed of.
She was struggling now as she tried to explain everything she was feeling. "Frank, just so you know, I have always lo-"
"Shh." He placed a kiss in her hair before whispering into her ear. "It's the same for me too."
Her grip tightened as she turned into his chest and started weeping unabashedly. As weak as he already was, it didn't stop him from lifting her onto his lap and cradling her to him. He buried his face in her neck and let his own anguish out.
As time passed they finally quieted down, the occasional sniffle signifying to their counterpart that they were awake. It wasn't until she had stopped shifting in his arms did he get worried again. Her breathing had become more relaxed and he knew that she was almost at the point of sleep. He shook her lightly and she groaned in protest as her early words escaped again.
"I'm just so tired."
"I know baby, I know. But do you think you could try just a little bit longer?"
She didn't say anything, but he knew that she was reliving everything he had said. He sensed the exact instant that she had made up her mind, because he could feel the strength radiating through her. "Okay." He felt her head bobbing furiously. "Okay, I'll try."
And so they sat there, gaining strength every time they heard the other take a breath. And they thought about their completed story…not just the ending.