Disclaimer: I own nothing. La la la la la.
A/N: Why, hello.Nice to see you. Nice to see a BRAND NEW A/U. YAY!
I understand you will not understand 90% of the beginning, unless you are gifted or have an incredibly complex mind, much like my own. But keep reading, as it gets explained.
(BTW, forgive me for the lame summary...)
Joe, 19. Nancy and Frank, 20.
****THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE IN JUNE****
2 months ago:
Amy didn't like the bed.
Not just the bed, the room. She didn't like the room. She didn't like this house.
Maybe she would have under regular circumstances, but her…situation was just making everything seem dark…and scary…she wanted to go home.
But no, Amy did not want to go home. Correction: Amy couldn't go home.
Well, obviously she was physically able to go home…she just wasn't flopped down on the bed-she-didn't-like. She squeezed her eyes closed and willed everything better. She clenched her fists in concentration. She held her breath. She curled her toes. She rolled over on her side.
Her mouth opened with a pop, and she relaxed her body.
Amy was tired. She hated being tired. She didn't want to be tired.
Her head pounded at the same rhythm of her heart. Tears slid down her cheeks. Amy sat up and hung her head and cried.
Amy cried for a long time. She hated crying. She didn't want to cry.
The floorboards creaked and Amy stiffened. She jumped up from the bed as quickly as she could and ran to the window. The street was empty and quiet, but in a peaceful suburban way. She closed the curtain partially out of fear and partially because she couldn't stand it anymore.
The floor creaked again, and a sob escaped Amy's throat.
She tentatively stepped towards the door. She pressed her ear against the flat surface. The hall was quiet. She could hear the TV on downstairs. And then…then…creak.
Amy nearly jumped out of her skin. She turned her back to the door and leaned against it. She slid to the floor, tears streaming down her face.
She extended her legs out in front of her, and pressed her hands first to her face, and then to her stomach.
Amy was scared. She hated being scared. She didn't want to be scared.
Her sobs grew louder and her hands clutched at her skin more desperately. She wanted it out.
Amy quieted. Her hands rested on her stomach again.
She didn't want it out. It was hers. It didn't matter where it came from, it was hers.
She closed her eyes. Her breathing slowed. Maybe she needed sleep.
No, no, no, NO! Her eyes flew back open. When she slept…he was back. She couldn't stand it.
She looked around her room and stifled a scream. She pushed herself way back up against her door.
"No, no, no…" Amy squeezed her eyes shut tighter with each word. When she opened them again, he was gone. He wasn't on the bed-she-didn't-like. She wasn't in the ugly-suburban-room she hated. He was not in this house.
He was most certainly not in River Heights.
Amy tried to tell herself this over and over as the night passed, but for each time she said it…the more she saw him…it…what had happened in her mind.
Amy was going crazy. She hated going crazy. She didn't want to go crazy.
She wanted to go home.
"I don't know, Frank," Joe Hardy said into the phone. "Just get the grape kind."
"But there are a thousand different kinds all claiming to taste like grape," his older brother, Frank Hardy, answered. "Which one do I pick?"
"Frank," Joe said seriously. "Just pick any damn bottle. One with a freaking unicorn on it for all I care. The instructions were simple: grape."
"Yes, Joe. I understood the instructions. It just seems like you should base your choice on not colour or flavor--," Frank began.
"Just get me a damn grape flavored cough syrup!" Joe barked, regretting it as the sentence dissolved into a fit of coughs.
"Are you OK?" Frank asked, picking a random purple bottle of the shelf. He tossed it into the basket. The handle rested in the crook of his elbow as he held the phone to his ear.
"I'm dying," Joe croaked, leaning back against the headboard of his bed. "Tell Vanessa that I love her."
"You aren't dying," Frank sighed. "You just have a cold."
"Don't be too sad, Frank," Joe comforted. "I plan to rise from the dead quite spectacularly. I'm gonna rise with strobe lights, and a disco ball, right smack in the middle of my funeral. And of course I'll need a DJ for when the guests start dancing spontaneously. Of course that'll be you. Please, Frank, please no Creed. And then I'll need a camera crew, so they can film my monumental rise for a MasterCard commercial, because this will be one of those oh-so-priceless moments. This, of course, will be where I get the bulk of my fame from, and the majority of my money. The rest of the fame will come later when I open a nightclub with the funds from the MasterCard commercial. Only my real-estate agent won't tell me that I'm setting up camp in the 'un-hip' part of town, so my only guests will be old couples, who don't drink after nine and have a strange love of loud dance music. They'll all leave before midnight, I'll go broke and then I'll have to die again."
Frank paused in the grocery store isle. "Are you sure you really need more cough syrup?"
"Frank," Joe coughed. "Yes."
"Whatever you say, little brother," Frank hung up the phone and headed towards the cash, picking up a few boxes of tissues and throwing them in the basket.
He picked register number three, the shortest line. He stood patiently behind a woman with strawberry blond hair that was humming to herself and waited for her to pay for her purchases.
Of course, the woman was paying cash, and it took what felt like fifty-thousand hours for her to give the teller the four fifty seven she owed.
Finally, she managed to fish the last penny out of her wallet, slamming it to the counter. Then, obviously, the rest of the change got pushed down by her hand, sliding to the floor.
The woman groaned, dropping to her knees. Frank, ever the gentlemen, slid down to his knees beside her, picking up any change he could find. Suddenly, he raised his head, and was almost knocked down by what he saw. Crouched before him was none other than Nancy Drew.
"Frank!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around his shoulders. Unfortunately, giving someone a hug while squatting on the floor wasn't as easy as it looked, Nancy found out, since the force from her hug threw them both down on the dirty floor.
"Oof," Frank exhaled, landing square on his butt.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" Nancy cried. Frank looked at her and blushed. She was just as pretty as he remembered. Nancy scooted off his lap, and stood up, staring down at her feet. Frank stood as well. He handed her the forty five cents he'd picked off the floor, and she put it on the counter. The teller, obviously amused by the turn of events, and most likely thinking that it was God's sweet revenge for the people who used change, sorted the money into the cash register and called Frank up for his turn.
Nancy dutifully waited for Frank at the door to the grocery store while he paid.
"So, Nance," Frank started. "What are you doing here in Bayport?"
"I'm visiting you," Nancy said, sounding surprised that Frank didn't already know. "I told Joe…"
Frank groaned. "Joe's been conked out on cough medicine for days. He probably thought he was dreaming or something. After he hung up, Jennifer Aniston probably walked in dressed as a flight attendant."
"I see," Nancy nodded, swinging her plastic bag. "Is he OK?"
"It's just a cold," Frank assured her. "Nancy, why are you visiting?"
Nancy looked taken aback. "Am I not allowed to visit you?"
"That's not it," Frank said quickly, taking one of her hands to pull her back to where he'd stopped. "It's just that it's kind of sudden."
"Your question is kind of sudden," Nancy countered.
"Nancy…" Frank intoned, giving her a look.
"Look, Frank, I'd rather not talk about it here," Nancy whispered, looking around the parking lot.
"OK," Frank replied. "As long as you're going to tell me."
"At your house, OK?" Nancy said. "We'll take our separate cars."
Frank nodded, and they both turned to leave, but their still connected hands pulled them back to the middle.
"Sorry," Nancy and Frank mumbled at the same time. Frank felt his face turn red as he turned away again and walked towards his car. His heart pounded. Her face was still imprinted in his brain. The sight of her eyes, her hair, the delicate blush rising up on her cheeks…it was almost too much for Frank to take.
2 weeks ago:
Hannah promised. Hannah promised over and over and over and over that Amy was safe.
Amy had a hard time believing that. Amy wasn't safe. Amy had stopped being safe when she met him.
Hannah smiled. Hannah always smiled. She laid a reassuring hand on Amy's shoulder. She gushed over Amy's ever expanding form.
Amy frowned. Amy always frowned. She didn't like being touched. She flinched away from all contact. Panic flashed through her mind with every glance at her stomach.
Aunt Hannah pretended not to notice.
Carson was nice. He told jokes. He tried to make her feel safe and comfortable. But, of course, she would never be safe again. How could she, knowing he was still out there? No, she wasn't safe.
Nancy was nice, too. Whenever she was home from school, or wasn't off solving a case, she hung around River Heights. She'd include Amy in whatever plans she could. Nancy did what she could to help Amy rest easily. But Amy couldn't rest easy. Not yet, anyways.
They knew that, but still, they tried. And they tried hard. That helped.
Then…then…no, it wasn't a creak. It was a snap. Amy snapped. If she hated being tired, if she hated crying, if she hated being scared, she would simply stop. She was going to make an effort. She was going to make it stop.
She went to therapy. She talked to Hannah. She let everything float around her. It got worse and then…
Once a day, Aunt Hannah and Amy sat on the front porch and drank lemonade. Amy helped make dinner. She helped clean. She made herself useful. She liked to read. She discussed books with Carson. She blushed when he complemented her attention to detail. She smiled.
Hannah made a cake. Carson gave her a gift. Her mom called. Hayden called.
She cried happy tears. She was happy. Amy was happy. She had moved on. She was going to be fine.
And that night, somewhere from the depths of her mind, she conjured up his eyes, his voice.
'Happy birthday, Amy…'
She ignored it. She took a deep breath, and ignored it.
The next morning, she woke up and smiled. She hadn't dreamed of him.
She felt her baby kicked and smiled. She loved her baby. She was going to love her baby.
Yes. Success. Amy was happy.
But that, of course, was before everything happened.
Frank and Nancy walked up to the apartment slowly. Joe and Vanessa were living together, something that Frank and Callie hadn't even considered at nineteen. Definatly something they could afford, but with their savings and the help from their parents they managed to pull it off, even with the cost of school. Frank gave Nancy a side-long glance. He hadn't told her about Callie.
"It's going to be a mess," Frank warned her as Joe buzzed them in.
"Where's Vanessa?" Nancy asked. "Doesn't she keep it clean?"
"Vanessa is staying with her mom for a while," Frank explained. Nancy shot him a look.
"Is everything all right?" Nancy questioned, thinking of the last time she'd seen Joe and Vanessa together, and how happy they'd been.
"Yes, of course," Frank replied. "But Andrea broke her leg a while back, and Vanessa is staying with her until she gets back on her feet. Unfortunately that means I have to stay with him until he gets back on his feet."
Nancy smiled. "He's lucky to have you looking after him." Frank flushed.
"Thanks," he replied, nervously swinging his shopping bag back and forth.
"No problem," Nancy laughed, watching the colour rise in Frank's cheeks.
They continued walking up the stairs until they reached the fourth floor, and then Joe's apartment.
Frank dug around in his pockets until he retrieved the key that Joe had given him and unlocked the door, surveying his surroundings with dismay.
The apartment was messy, and the hum of the humidifier in the corner distracted Frank from noticing Nancy's initial reaction.
Used tissues were scattered randomly around the floor, and dirty plates were piled on most flat surfaces. The T.V. seemed to be on mute, or maybe just losing the battle against the humidifier, but it was on in the background nonetheless. The phone hung off the hook and dangled over the arm of a chair. Laundry was piled up on the couch in a shape that distantly resembled the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
But it wasn't all this that kept him from noticing the fake-polite face she was attempting to plaster across her face.
It was the blond haired boy, lying sprawled out on the kitchen table, clutching a plate and spoon to his chest.
"Frank?" Joe croaked. Nancy shot Frank a worried look.
"Yeah, Joe?" Frank asked, making his way over to the kitchen table. He pulled back Joe's eyelid, revealing slightly bloodshot eyes. "Have you been crying?"
"Too…much coughing," Joe explained, exploding into a fit of coughs as it to emphasis his point. "Cough…syrup?"
"I couldn't find one with a unicorn on it," Frank said, taking the bottle out of the plastic grocery store bag. He walked over to the kitchen drawer and pulled out the appropriate measuring utensil. "Sit up."
Joe obeyed, sitting up on the kitchen table. He pulled his eyes open, and he nearly flung his spoon across the room in surprise at the sight of Nancy, standing silently by the door.
"Nancy?" Joe cried in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"I told you I was coming," Nancy said with a smile.
Joe scratched his head and paused for a moment before saying, "Did you?"
Nancy's smiled grew wider. "Yep."
"Huh," Joe said thoughtfully, accepting the cough syrup from Frank and downing it quickly. "God, yuck! Frank, what the hell is this?"
Nancy laughed at the sudden change of expression on Joe's face and the bewildered look on Frank's.
"Uh, cough syrup?" Frank replied. "Grape, just like you asked."
"This," Joe grabbed the bottle from Frank and stared at it. "Is NOT grape."
"Yes, it is," Frank replied. "Look, it's even got a little dancing grape on it."
"A dancing grape hugging a banana!" Joe cried, pointing at the offending sliver of cartoon banana. "You're supposed to be the brother that pays all that close attention to detail, so tell me, how the heck did that escape your eagle eye?"
"I'm sorry!" Frank exclaimed. "I didn't realize there was such a variety of grape cough syrup."
"Just, ugh…" Joe grimaced. "Just remember to pay more attention next time, OK?"
"I will," Frank promised, taking the measuring spoon from Joe and tossing it in the direction of the sink. It hit the metal with a clatter, causing Nancy to wince, which drew the attention back to her.
Nancy cell phone buzzed, and Joe swatted around his head. Frank rolled his eyes.
She flashed them the one minute sign and went out into the hall outside the apartment.
The door turned and Joe turned quickly to face Frank. "I send you to the store for cough syrup and you bring home a Nancy Drew. I thought Mom taught you not to pick up strays."
Frank rolled his eyes. "She was coming here anyway. It made sense for her to come now."
"You know what doesn't make sense?" Joe asked rhetorically. "Your slightly inappropriate crush on her, even though the last time we saw them, Nancy and Ned were very much in love."
Frank winced. "I don't have a crush on her."
"Frank," Joe said. He coughed. "You so obviously do."
"No," Frank flushed. "I don't."
"Look, Frank," Joe folded his legs Indian style on top of the table. "If Nancy and Ned weren't together, I'd say go for it. It's been a long time since Callie. You deserve it. But as long as Nancy and Ned are together, if you make a move you will look like a scum-bag."
Frank hung his head and sighed. "I know."
Joe started to say something, but stopped when they heard the doorknob turn.
"Yeah, I'm with them right now….no, I haven't…no…no, I said…OK…OK, I get it…shut up…bye," Nancy said into the phone, flipping it closed.
"Who was that?" Frank asked, leaning over the kitchen counter.
"Bess," Nancy replied, smiling. "She and George are in town, too."
"Awesome," Joe rubbed his hands together. "We should all do something."
Frank shoved a thermometer into his brother's mouth, waiting until it beeped.
"Maybe when your temperature isn't one hundred degrees," Frank sighed. "How long are you girls in town?"
"Only a couple days," Nancy answered. "Then we have to go back to River Heights. And…speaking of River Heights…that's why I'm here."
"No, Nancy," Joe shook his head. "This is Bayport."
Nancy rolled her eyes.
"It's Hannah's niece," Nancy began. "Amy."
"What about her?" Frank asked.
"She's in River Heights. But she isn't visiting," Nancy said sadly. "She's kind of running away."
"From her parents?" Joe asked, rubbing his nose on his sleeve. "Because moving in with her aunt isn't exactly the best hiding place."
"She was being stalked," Nancy shot at him, and Joe shut his mouth, all traces of amusement washed away. "She was being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. He was everywhere. He was obsessed. He killed her new boyfriend. He kidnapped her. He raped her. She's pregnant."
"God," Joe shook his head, feeling anger rise in him. If there was one thing he couldn't stand, it was jackasses who hurt women. "That's awful."
"Did they catch the guy?" Frank asked with concern on his face. Nancy's heart melted slightly despite the current situation.
"No," Nancy looked at her feet. "He was out of town before they even found her."
"And then she went to River Heights?" Joe questioned, running a hand through his already mussed up blond hair.
"Not right away," Nancy replied. "It was about four months later, and she had just found out she was pregnant. And suddenly…bam. It was all over the newspapers, TV, just…everywhere…
"And then…then she started getting threats. Scary ones. Death threats….threats to hurt her again…threats to hurt others again…and it became too much, so her mom sent her to stay with us.
"According to Dad-I've been in Florida, investigating down there, so I haven't been home-she was getting better. She was happy. She was moving on. And then…and then she started getting threats again. She got mugged outside the supermarket. She almost lost the baby.
"She's scared. Hannah is scared. The police are doing everything they can…but it isn't enough.
"So, with that being said, I need your help," Nancy concluded.
Frank and Joe exchanged looks.
"Of course we'll help, Nance," Frank answered. He gave a soft smile. "We'll always be there to help you."
"To help Amy," Nancy corrected.
"To help Amy," Frank agreed, leaning in to give Nancy a hug. Nancy smiled at the contact, and she couldn't see it, but Frank did too.
Joe, of course, did see it and cleared his throat.
They backed up.
Nancy smiled and glanced at the clock on the wall.
"What is it?" Frank asked. Nancy shrugged.
"I just thought that Bess and George would have broken your door down by now," Nancy replied. "Maybe they got caught in traffic."
Frank opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off when the door crashed open.
"Mazel tov!" Bess Marvin cried, throwing her arms in the air. You could barely make out her cousin, George Fayne's head behind her.
"It's just a cold," Joe said. "Nothing to congratulate me for."
"Not you," Bess grinned. "Me! I got new shoes!"
She stuck her foot out, rotating her heel so they could get a 360 view of the stilettos.
"That's why we were late," George rolled her eyes. "I tried to stop her, but she literally pushed me to the ground trying to get past me. I was too shocked to get back up, because pretzels are stronger than Bess."
"You're just a lightweight," Bess huffed. She looked down at her feet again and smiled.
"They were half off," Bess grinned. "And they're sooo pretty…"
Nancy raised her eyebrows at Frank, who was holding back laughter.
"They're…nice, Bess," Nancy spoke up. Bess shot her a look.
"They aren't nice," Bess rolled her eyes. "They're gorgeous."
"Of course," Nancy replied, smiling.
"So, Nan," George said, walking past Bess, grimacing slightly at the apartment. "Did you tell them everything?"
"Good," George smiled, giving Frank a hug. She approached Joe.
"I'm sick," Joe waved his hands in front of his face.
"I've shared your germs before, Hardy," George smiled, giving Joe a huge anyway.
Bess arched a perfectly manicured eyebrow.
"You have?" she questioned, cocking her head to the side.
George and Joe both flushed.
"Maybe once," George muttered. Nancy and Bess exchanged grins. Frank rolled his eyes.
"Don't I get a hug, Bess?" he asked, extending his arms. Bess teetered on her heels towards him, giving him a hug. Nancy felt something flicker in her stomach.
"Of course you do," she said, backing up. Her eyes flickered over to Joe. "Osmosis Jones over there doesn't, though."
Joe pouted. "You're mean."
"Air hugs, hon," Bess replied, air hugging Joe.
"That was the crappiest hug ever!" Joe exclaimed, sneezing. Bess took a cautionary step back.
"But you're going to have to live with it," she replied.
Joe muttered something under his breath.
"What was that, Joe?" Frank asked, raising his eyebrows. Joe flushed.
"I said that Osmosis Jones was a good guy," Joe muttered. "He was a white blood cell."
A beep from Bess' bag turned their attention towards her purse. She flipped open her cell-phone, her face melting into a cheesy smile.
"It's from Aaron!" she said softly. Her fingers tapped on the phone for a moment before she looked up.
"Aaron is the boyfriend of the month," George explained.
"What happened to DJ?" Nancy asked.
"She found out his real name was Donald Jeffery," George sighed.
"What's wrong with that?" Frank asked, looking from girl to girl to girl.
"It doesn't have potential spin off," Bess piped in. "If we ever got married and had a son, his name would be DJJ. Donald Jeffery Junior. Not cool. Aaron Junior is cute, though."
Joe raised his eyebrows. "This is how you choose your boyfriend?"
Bess nodded. "That, and cuteness, sweetness, personality, hygiene…"
"Oh, is that all?" Joe questioned.
"No," Bess replied. "There is also intelligence."
"And spin off potential," Joe added.
Bess nodded, grinning. She looked over at Joe slyly.
"You know, Joe," she murmured. "You have great spin off potential."
Joe's eyes widened.
"I'm hallucinating," he told himself. "Frank, how much cough syrup did you give me?"
Bess's face broke into a wide grin. "I'm just fooling with you, Joe."
Joe's shoulders slumped in relief.
"Don't do that," he warned. "Or I will sneeze all over your brand-new shoes."
A/N: What is this? Has Melissa learned not to end on a cliffhanger every chapter?! Could it be?! Miracle of miracles!