DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters. For which we should all be grateful. Because I make them do odd things, like this. I apologize in advance.
Warnings: 1) This is rated T for subject matter just to be on the safe side. The subject in question is not graphic in any way, but if mentions of "feminine products" disturbs you for some reason... please, go back now. 2) This is me in all my unbetaed glory; I was too impatient. I have read it over several times but I'm sure something has slipped past me. Please point out any gross spelling/grammar errors (kindly, I beg you) and I'll try to figure out how to edit them.
This is so ridiculous, Nancy Drew thought to herself as she dug frantically through the small handbag in her lap. Wallet. Cell phone. Penlight. Keys. There's gotta be something in here. She took out the bulkier items and tossed them on the empty passenger seat beside her. Then she began to sift through the smaller items left in the bag.
Pen. Mascara. Comb. Breath mints. Hair tie. Lock pick.
Nancy let out a frustrated sigh. It was getting dark in the car due to the rapidly fading sunlight. She glanced around outside of the car at the mostly empty parking lot and then at the blue-green numbers on the car's dashboard. It was still early. It wouldn't hurt to turn on the lights for a minute.
She reached up and flipped the switch on the dome light, the dim bulb casting a faintly yellow glow within the car interior. Then she dived back into the black hole that was her purse.
ChapStick (Classic Strawberry flavor). Twenty-six cents. Wrappers. Nail file. Eye liner. Make that thirty-eight cents… Nothing. I can't believe I wasn't prepared for this!
With a low groan, she carelessly dumped everything back into the handbag. She tilted her head back against the headrest, one hand reaching up to turn off the light and the other moving to rub her eyes where she could feel a headache forming. I am so not in the mood for this. And there couldn't be a worse time for this to happen. The suspects will be meeting at the north end of the National Park in a couple of hours, and we still need to scout the area and find a good hiding place. The nearest convenience store is at least twenty minutes away. I don't have time to leave and then come back, but I can't just wait either. Who knows how long we could be out here? Where's Bess when you really need her? She's always ready for these types of emergencies.
She stared around the campground parking lot, her oceanic eyes taking in the handful of vehicles and narrowing when they landed on a brown roofed building on the opposite side of the parking area. Maybe the visitor center's bathrooms would have what she needed? She quickly climbed out of the car and made her way towards modest building, her toned legs swiftly covering the distance and her long red-gold hair fluttering in her wake.
Five minutes later, Nancy was back in the rental car empty-handed and nearly desperate. She picked up her purse again and this time extracted her cell phone. She dialed two numbers and stared at the LCD display for a few seconds before hitting SEND. She took a deep breath and waited somewhat nervously for the person on the other end to answer.
This had the potential of being a very awkward conversation.
They met each other at the front of the store near the check-out lanes, each with several items in his hands. The six foot tall blonde's arms were loaded with foodstuffs, while his slightly taller and darker companion carried a half-full basket.
"Joe, I'm not paying for all of that junk. Put some of it back." Frank Hardy rolled his dark eyes at the pout his younger sibling threw at him, but he still couldn't control the slight twitch at the corner of his mouth. It seemed sometimes his brother was seventeen going on five. Good thing I'm used to it by now.
"Aw, c'mon, Frank, it's just a couple of snacks to hold us over for the evening," wheedled Joe, as he carefully juggled his burden. He surveyed the items in Frank's basket, noticing three deli sandwiches, three bottles of water, and some fruit. "That stuff won't last very long and who knows when we'll eat again! You wouldn't want me to waste away."
He smiled disarmingly and waved a yellow bag of onion-flavored chips in Frank's face in an apparent attempt at winning him over. Judging from the slight wrinkle of Frank's nose, his brother was not impressed.
"Okay, first of all, those aren't going to hold you over any longer than the sandwiches will. And second of all, there's no way I'm riding in a car or even standing anywhere near you if you eat those. Besides, your breath might give away our position," Frank argued, only half-joking. He eyed the assortment of goodies in Joe's arms critically.
Joe sighed. "Oh, fine. I'll put back the Funyuns." At Frank's pointed look, he added reluctantly, "And the licorice… and I guess I can do without the Ding-Dongs. But I'm keeping the Oreos, Coke, and M&M's! You can't expect me to fight crime with low blood sugar."
He placed the discarded snacks on a nearby shelf, ignoring the glare from a disgruntled employee stocking shelves down the aisle. Joe then proceeded to dump the rest of his merchandise into the basket Frank was still holding, while Frank merely looked on long-sufferingly. When he was finished Joe stepped back and flashed a cheeky smile at his sibling, clear blue eyes glinting in triumph. Frank rolled his eyes again but didn't say anything. He knew from experience that resistance was futile. Joe was somewhat spoiled but it was fair to say that it was probably at least partially Frank's own fault.
In unison, they turned and made their way toward the lines. In typical Walmart fashion, there were about a million lanes but only a handful of cashiers. They chose the nearest express lane. There were three people in line ahead of them, and after a few seconds of waiting, Joe started to fidget impatiently.
From the corner of his eye, Frank could see him swaying ever-so-slightly from side to side. He tried to ignore his brother, a skill he had become practiced at early in life. After eyeing the magazine rack for a minute, Joe finally picked up one of the tabloids – the one featuring an article about Brangelina's secret alien child - and began flipping through it. By this time, the first person in line had finished paying and the cashier started to scan the second person's items.
The second person was an older woman with just a few boxes of cereal and a carton of milk. As the cashier totaled her amount, Joe replaced the tabloid and crossed his arms over his chest, bored again. Frank noticed the older woman pull out a small coin purse and begin counting out nickels and dimes. He mentally groaned and stole an inconspicuous glance at his watch. This was the only express lane open, and the other lanes were either closed or lined up.
Normally, Frank would have no problem waiting patiently, but by this point Joe was beginning to whistle a tune between his teeth, and Frank knew that with a stakeout ahead this was just the beginning of a very long and trying evening. To give Joe something to do and thus relieve himself of Joe's fidgeting for just a little while longer, Frank pulled the bag of M&Ms from the basket and handed it back to Joe. "I don't like plain. Go find the peanut ones."
As Joe headed off to complete his impromptu assignment, Frank sighed with relief and offered a sympathetic smile to the tired-looking cashier, as the little old woman meticulously counted out her change. He glanced at the total on the register. Three more dollars to go.
Just as he started to let his eyes wander over to the same rack of magazines that Joe had been looking at, he felt something vibrate in his front jeans pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and checked the caller ID. Almost instantly, a fond smile tugged his lips and he slid the phone open to answer.
"Hey, Drew! We're still coming, I promise. Joe just needed to stock up on sugar and caffeine first. I hope you're in a patient mood tonight."
There was a very brief moment of silence before Nancy's voice came through the speaker. "Hey, Frank. Um, are you guys already on your way here?"
Frank's brows furrowed slightly. Was it just him, or did Nancy sound a little quieter than usual?
"Well, we're still checking out, but then we'll head straight out to you. It should take us about half an hour."
"Oh, thank God," Nancy said with a sigh of relief.
He waited a moment, and when Nancy didn't immediately continue Frank felt his curiosity turn into concern and quickly asked, "Why? Did something happen? Are you okay?"
"What? Oh, no, I'm fine, Frank. Really. It's still pretty dead here. I'm just glad I caught you before you left the store. Are you at that gas station?"
"No, Joe claims the food there is too stale for his tastes, even though I've seen him eat some pretty questionable food in his lifetime. I swear one time I caught him eating a potato chip that had been lost in his bed sheets for who knows how long. Anyway, we're at the Walmart a little farther in town. Did you want anything while we're here? I grabbed some sandwiches and a few apples to share, but we can pick up something else if you'd like."
"Thanks. Actually, if you don't mind doing me a huge favor, there is something I'd like you to get for me… Um, is Joe there with you right now?"
"No," Frank answered slowly. That was a weird question. "He went to go grab something else. Why? What do you need?" He felt his concern return. Nancy sounded kind of nervous. Or maybe embarrassed? He was starting to wonder what he'd gotten himself into.
"Okay, uh, it's just… Could you…I need you to…" He waited patiently while Nancy apparently composed her thoughts, and finally he heard a sharp sigh of frustration and then, "Ineedyoutobringmesometampons."
Frank's frown increased as he tried to decipher that rush of words in his head, but then a second later his brows shot up and his mouth dropped open slightly. His grip on the phone and the basket tightened subconsciously and he could feel the faint traces of heat in his cheeks before he forced himself to relax. He looked around, but whether it was to confirm that nobody was overhearing the conversation or that nobody was noticing his sudden discomfort he wasn't sure. He was suddenly very glad Joe wasn't standing next to him after all. His brother would have a field day with this.
"…Frank?" Nancy's hesitant voice snapped him out of his surprised (mortified) state.
"Yeah," he said, voice noticeably an octave higher. He cleared his throat discreetly and tried again. "Yeah, Nan, no problem. Just tell me what to get."
There. That sounded pretty "cool, calm, and collected" considering the circumstances. Maybe this wouldn't be such a big deal. It all depended on how he approached it. If Frank acted casually, and treated this like an every day conversation, Nancy would likely feel more at ease talking to him about this, which would in turn make him feel less awkward.
It was a good theory anyway.
Nancy lifted her flushed face from where it rested against the steering wheel and sat back, relieved. At first, she'd been worried that Frank was about to freak out on her, but he'd quickly composed himself and assured her that it was okay. She then started to feel a little ridiculous at how dramatic she was making this situation out to be. After all, Frank had a long-time girlfriend; this probably wasn't the first time he'd received this kind of request. She'd once had Ned bring her a tampon from Bess in a similar "feminine emergency", and her boyfriend hadn't seemed too embarrassed at all. So maybe she was just overreacting. She and Frank were practically brother and sister –
Well. Maybe that wasn't the most appropriate way to describe their relationship. It was probably better to say that they were very, very good friends, almost like family… Okay, just very, very good friends.
She could hear Frank mumbling "excuse me" a couple of times and she waited until she was sure he had had enough time to get out of line and start back toward the aisles before she started to describe what she needed him to look for. Now that she had managed to get past the initial embarrassment of making her request, she felt a little less self-conscious and she only hoped that Frank wasn't suffering more than he was letting on.
"I don't really care what brand you get, just make sure that it comes with an applicator. That's all I really care about at this point. Oh, and if you can help it, don't get anything that says 'light' or 'heavy', just 'regular'."
"Applicator, and 'regular'. Got it. Anything else?"
She almost laughed at the business-like tone of his voice, but decided that she didn't want to risk possibly embarrassing him further.
"Um, nope, that's it." She paused, then added sincerely, "Thank you, Frank."
She could hear the smile in his voice when he replied. "You're welcome, Nancy."
Frank Hardy strode purposefully through the store, reading the signs above the aisles until he finally came to one helpfully marked "Feminine Care". He came to an abrupt halt, his firm resolve waning now that he'd reached the destination. After a deep breath and a brief mental pep talk, he slowly made his way down the empty aisle until he found the section he was looking for.
A great wall of pastel packaging stood formidably before him. Somewhere in this collage of shiny plastic and glossy cardboard there was a box of "regular" tampons with applicators.
He was a detective, and a pretty good one at that, if he dared say so himself. This should be pretty simple and quick. He should have no problem finding something before Joe discovered he was missing and came looking for him. Joe teased him enough about Nancy as it was, and the last thing he wanted was to give his brother more ammunition to work with.
He surveyed the packages immediately before him and quickly realized that this section was dedicated to napkins and panty-liners. What the heck are "wings" and "overnight wall protection" about?
Deciding he didn't really want to know, he walked a few steps down until he found the brands of tampons. This selection was slightly smaller, much to his relief. He reached out and picked up the first box he noticed. It was small and white, and while it was clearly marked "regular" there was no mention of an applicator. He frowned and put it back. He picked up the next box, which was a little bigger and blue. It was labeled "light" but it also read "applicators" under a picture of a narrow white tube. His eyebrows rose slightly. So that was an applicator. His nose wrinkled involuntarily. Gross.
Replacing the blue box, Frank searched for something similar marked "regular". He couldn't find any in the same brand so he looked farther down and his obsidian eyes narrowed when they found a box marked "regular" with a similar picture of an applicator.
He snatched it up and doubled checked the label. But then he paused. Scented? Was that a good thing or not? Nancy never mentioned anything about that. Callie was allergic to most scented soaps and body washes. What if Nancy had the same problem? Wouldn't she have said something? Could she have forgotten?
Frank briefly entertained the idea of calling her back to ask, but immediately dismissed the thought with a shudder. One conversation on the topic was bad enough, and he wasn't looking forward to another one. He'd never even had this kind of discussion with his girlfriend. While they'd known each other for a long time and had been dating for a few years, Callie was still pretty discreet about the topic, and the only time she ever mentioned her periods was when she was experiencing back aches or headaches caused by them. Frank sometimes fetched her ibuprofen and offered a back rub, but he'd never been asked to buy anything or accompany her while she shopped for these items. He'd just have to figure this out on his own.
He again scanned the shelves until he found another potential product. Regular? Check. Applicators? Check. Unscented? Check. Finally, a winner! Now if he could just get back in line and check out before Joe saw he was missing. With any luck, Joe got distracted in the candy aisle and Frank could pay for this without him ever knowing –
"So… this is new. Or is there something you just haven't been telling me?"
Frank nearly flinched at the sound of his brother's voice so close by. He hadn't even heard anyone walk up behind him.
He turned to level what he hoped was a neutral gaze at Joe. He had nothing to be ashamed of and he refused to let his younger brother make him feel uncomfortable about this.
Joe, however, showed no signs of wanting to emulate Frank's maturity, instead continuing to smirk mischievously. Frank sighed in defeat. He could see where this was going.
"You know, if you wanted to get rid of me so you could do more shopping, all you had to do was ask. I would have understood perfectly. There's no need to be so underhanded about it-"
Let the mockery commence.
"Very funny, Joe. It's for Nancy. She called and…" Frank started to explain when he caught movement over his brother's shoulder. A skinny girl about thirteen was nervously making her way toward them and eyeing the section they were monopolizing. She caught his gaze and quickly looked at the floor, cheeks tinting pink. Frank could empathize. He really didn't want to be here either.
But Joe didn't seem inclined to move. He dumped the bag of peanut M&Ms into the basket hung on Frank's arm. And then, much to Frank's consternation, he casually began picking up and examining several of the packages, all the while continuing the conversation. Loudly.
"For Nancy. Riiiight. I understand that there are some things that should remain private, and if you have a thing for…" Joe craned his neck to read the labeling on the box in Frank's hand. "… for tampons… Tampons, huh? If that's your dirty, little secret, I'm more than happy to leave you to it."
By now there were a few other people besides the teenage girl in the aisle with them, and they were all casting furtive glances at the two young men. One middle-aged woman frowned at them suspiciously before turning and making her way out of the aisle. The others merely seemed curious. Even the girl, who had stopped several feet away, was feeling brave enough to look Frank up and down, noticing the box gripped tightly in his hands. A shy smile pulled at her mouth, revealing pink braces.
Joe, either oblivious or determined to make Frank suffer, was still perusing the shelves, and was even pondering aloud over some of the products. "I wonder what the strings are for. Oh. Never mind… Applicators? That sounds painful… Super Plus, huh? Says 'it can withstand even the heaviest amount of…' Oh, dude, that's nasty."
"Joe!" Frank hissed, slapping his brother's hand before he could grab another box, maturity gone. "Cut it out!"
Joe just blinked at him innocently. "What? You're not the only one allowed to get in touch with your feminine side." Hearing the girl stifle a giggle behind him caused a crack in his straight face, and then he was laughing.
Frank shoved Nancy's tampons into the basket with one hand, grabbed Joe's arm with the other, and then proceeded to drag his too-easily-amused brother out of the "Feminine Care" aisle and back toward the check-out lanes. He only made one stop – the medicine aisle to grab Nancy a bottle of pain relievers. If she was anything like Callie, she could probably use them. And when Joe was through with him, Frank would probably need them too.
Joe was still laughing when they got back in line. "Oh, man, you should've seen your face! I've never seen you look so horrified! That was perfect. I should've taken a picture."
Frank huffed, only slightly more relaxed now that they were away from their little audience. "Glad you find it so funny. Do me a favor, though? Don't tease Nancy about this. She's embarrassed enough as it is." I really don't want to hear it anymore than I have to, either…
"Aw, just a little? Please?" Joe mock pleaded. Frank gave him a look and shook his head. Joe decided Frank just didn't have enough sense of humor to appreciate his jokes.
"Alright, alright, I won't say anything… I'll just have to take all my amusement out on you." Joe smiled benignly.
"Great. Thanks," Frank muttered, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Joe just snickered in reply.
This time the line moved faster and soon Frank was unloading his basket onto the conveyor belt. He sent Joe an exasperated look when the blonde grabbed a couple of Hershey's bars from the display next to them and added them to their pile.
"Joe, do you really need more chocolate? You're going to make yourself sick." He went to put them back.
"They're not for me."
Frank paused, and looked at Joe in silent inquiry.
Joe shrugged nonchalantly. "They're for Nancy. According to Vanessa, some girls crave chocolate around that time, and I'm not sharing my stuff with her."
Frank blinked at Joe for a few seconds before he smiled fondly. Joe tried to act all macho and unconcerned, especially around people like Callie or Nancy, but Frank knew his brother was more considerate than he liked to appear.
"Good idea, Joe. That's really nice of you."
Joe shrugged again and looked away. "Yeah, whatever."
Frank graciously allowed him his out.
Two hours, one bag of Oreos, one pound of chocolate, and a liter of soda later, Joe was fighting off sleep even as his leg was bouncing a thousand times a minute, Nancy was humming the same song for a consecutive ten minutes through a mouthful of Hershey's, and Frank was seriously eyeing the untouched bottle of Aspirin.
It was, as he had predicted, going to be an extremely long night. And they hadn't even left him any peanut M&Ms.
*shakes head* Honestly? I don't even know why I wrote this. I think it was a form of stress relief when I was having my own issues a while ago, but then I never finished it. Then I re-discovered it a few days ago and thought "why not?" I suck at being funny though. And I'm weird. *hangs head*
Review anyway, please!