This story is a Nancy/Ned rewrite of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mystery Secrets of the Nile, so if all the Nancy/Frank in that book got you excited, this isn't the story for you. It's rather like Third Person Point of View's Nancy Drew book rewrites (which are awesome, by the way), in that the setting is the present (the book was originally published in 1995), the detectives and their friends are old enough to drink, and some of the plot holes have been fixed. This will be the edited for TV version - while I'm not going to censor the language, which definitely includes a lot more cursing than the source material, I will take out any adultish scenes I think you wouldn't see in a PG-13 movie.
Also, reviews will probably make me update faster, so if you liked it, please let me know. ;)
"Beat you!" Nancy Drew declared breathlessly, as she pounded up the last step to the landing outside Ned Nickerson's apartment. She flashed her longtime boyfriend a bright, sassy grin.
"Did not," Ned declared, catching up to her. "Or at least you wouldn't have, if that woman with the baby stroller hadn't been there."
Nancy pulled the ponytail ring out and tossed her reddish-gold hair as Ned keyed into his apartment. "Hey, it still counts," she told him, and glanced down when her cell phone chirped, indicating a new voicemail.
"Nancy, it's Frank. Can you give me a call on my cell ASAP? Thanks."
Nancy frowned as she listened to Frank Hardy's recorded voice. His usually calm tone had an edge of urgency to it. New case, she decided, as she pressed the Return call button on her phone. While she waited for the call to connect, she unzipped her bright blue parka. Her five-mile run with Ned through his neighborhood had been pleasant, but chilly; Chicago was cold in November.
"Miss a call?" Ned asked, returning to the living room with a glass of water for her. He had already gulped down half his own; his handsome face was gleaming with sweat, as was hers.
Nancy nodded, accepting the glass gratefully. "Frank," she mouthed, as the phone finally clicked through and began to ring on the other end. Ned rolled his eyes and dropped onto the couch, reaching for the remote. He turned the television to ESPN, but muted the volume.
Frank answered on the second ring, just as Nancy was becoming engrossed in the ticker running across the bottom of the screen. "Hello?"
"Frank? It's Nancy."
"Thanks for calling me back so fast. I was worried you and Ned went on another one of your crazy no-cell-phone getaways."
"After ten minutes without hearing from me you start freaking out?" she laughed, sitting down on an arm of Ned's couch. "Calm down, Hardy. Big case?"
"When is it not?" Frank asked rhetorically. "You available?"
"Depends," she asked cheekily. "Are we talking something on the 'cat up a tree' end of the spectrum, or 'disgruntled Cold War spies' end?"
"Yeah, Drew, I routinely blow up your cell when stray dogs go missing," Frank said sarcastically. "You up for a trip to Egypt?"
Nancy glanced over at Ned and noticed that, while his eyes were glued to the screen, he definitely seemed to be engrossed in her call. "With you, anytime," she said, lowering her voice to a sultry purr. She had to giggle when Ned cut his eyes at her.
"Glad you said 'anytime.' Six-thirty tomorrow night from JFK."
"Damn." Nancy glanced at her watch. Just over twenty-four hours to pack and get a flight from O'Hare to JFK. At least it would be a good excuse to stay the night at Ned's, she thought, giving him a wink.
"I know it's short notice," Frank said, "but I really, really need you on this."
"Surely the case hasn't already baffled the incomparable Hardys."
"More like we need some girls, so if you have any favors to call in with Bess, now's the time."
Nancy made a shocked sound. "Hardy, there are numbers you can call for that sort of thing... And there are easier ways to get Bess to go on a double date than flying her out to Egypt. A good bottle of champagne will generally do it."
Frank sighed loudly into Nancy's ear, and she grinned. "Nancy—God, you never make this easy, do you. I need you to pose as my wife. And Bess as Joe's—"
Nancy dropped the phone, prompting Ned to turn and stare curiously at her. "Shit," she muttered, groping for it between the couch cushions and accidentally pressing a few numbers on the keypad.
"Hello? Ouch. Nancy?"
"Sorry, I misheard you. What the blue fuck was that?"
"I said," Frank repeated slowly, "that you and I need to pose as newlyweds. Along with Joe and Bess."
"That's what I thought you said," Nancy muttered, moving to sit next to Ned on the couch. "Uh, why?"
"I was getting to that, before you went nuts," Frank replied. "Joe and I were contacted by a guy from the State Department named Jonathan Kimball. He wants Joe and I to impersonate two brothers, Cole and Cooper Addison. They're having a double wedding tomorrow, and they were planning a honeymoon together in Egypt—"
"Really?" Nancy interjected. "Together? That's... really weird."
"Hey, not my department," Frank replied. "Anyway, everything was cool until the State Department got a tip that the Hajji planned to kidnap the brothers in Cairo and hold them for ransom."
"Brand new terrorist group."
"Hooray," Nancy said sarcastically. "And they're interested in the brothers because..."
"Well, they haven't been around long, but they've been focusing on American tourists. The State Department really wants to wipe these guys out, but they need intel."
"But why the Addisons? Are they loaded?"
"Their father, Charles Addison—"
"I've heard of him," Nancy said. "He's on the Forbes 100 list."
"Investment banker, and one of the richest guys in America, despite the economic meltdown. His sons joined in on the family business, and Charles and his family used to live in Cairo. That's why the brothers wanted to go there. So we just go as them..."
"And we're the bait."
"Basically." Frank sighed. "Which, yeah, incredibly dangerous. The Hajji won't know any better because apparently Joe and I have a close enough resemblance to them—Kimball says I look like Cole and Joe looks like Cooper. And I thought of you and Bess because Cole's fiancée, Rebecca, is tall and has long reddish-blonde hair, and Cooper's fiancée, Nikki—"
"Looks like Bess," Nancy finished with a sigh. Ned had his hand between them, palm up, on the couch, and Nancy placed her own palm over it.
Frank paused for a second. "Look, Kimball says he'll have a dozen agents watching at all times, but it's going to be really, really fucking dangerous. You and Bess need to know that going in."
Nancy went quiet for a second, glancing over at Ned. Really fucking dangerous? She ate that for breakfast most mornings, with a side of chloroform. But posing as Frank's wife? Frank's life would be the one in danger, once Ned found out.
Nancy and Frank had known each other a long time—longer than she and Ned had known each other or been together. There had always been a spark of mutual attraction between them, and though they had shared a few kisses, their relationship had never gone any further. Now, though, she and Ned were serious, and while she couldn't be sure about Callie and Frank's relationship, she definitely didn't want to get in the middle of that. Oh, if only she could just pose as Ned's wife instead. She wouldn't have to have any awkward conversations with Frank, wouldn't have to play it off when they were sharing the same hotel room, or however he had it worked out.
"Hey, Nancy?" Frank interrupted her thoughts. "If the thought of playing my wife freaks you out—"
"I—" Nancy began. "It's... kinda, yeah. Look, can I call you right back— Did you say the brothers work with their dad?"
"Yeah," Frank said slowly. "I don't have a lot of time on this, so if I need to find some other people to play Rebecca and Nikki—"
"No, no. I think we can work it out. Give me five minutes."
Once she had sworn to Frank that she would call him right back, Nancy hung up the phone and turned to Ned, who had abandoned all pretense of actually watching the sportscast. "Shit," Ned cursed. "When I see that look in your eye—"
Nancy scooted in close to Ned and picked up his hand, stroking it slowly. "Ned," she cooed, making her eyes wide and innocent. "How much vacation time did you say you had?"
Ned tilted his head back until it was resting on the back of the couch and squeezed his eyes tight shut. His voice was tense. "You mean that time we were going to use as vacation so we could get away from cases for a while? That time?"
"Yeah," she said softly. "You think maybe... you could use that time so we could go to Egypt together? As husband and wife?" At the suddenly avid look in his eyes, she hastened to add, "Well, for a case."
Ned's brow furrowed in suspicion. "The catch being that it's hella dangerous."
Nancy nodded. "Frank wants me to pose as his wife, but you and Frank bear a close resemblance already..."
Ned nodded. "Plus, if you were playing his wife, I would literally murder him."
Nancy was pretty sure he was joking. Mostly. "So this is a good compromise."
"So, I gather that Bess will be playing Joe's wife, so... where does that leave Frank?"
"I thought of that," Nancy said with a grin. "So you'll do it?"
Ned heaved a huge mock sigh. "The things I do for you..."
Nancy gave Ned a smacking kiss on the cheek, sweeping up her phone and hitting the Redial button. Frank answered on the first ring, this time.
"Okay," Nancy said breathlessly, "we'll do it. Well, Ned and I will do it, I have to call Bess and see if she's free, but I'm sure she will—"
"Hang on, Ned?"
"Yeah," Nancy said defensively. "Look, you and Ned look really similar, so if you look like Cole, Ned does too. I mean, hell, Cole is practically, literally, his middle name. And Joe and Bess can be Cooper and Nikki—"
"Need I remind you, Kimball asked me and Joe to pose as the brothers."
"Because you look like one of them," she said. "Ned can take care of himself."
"And that leaves me playing what role, here?" Frank asked. "There is no third brother."
"But you said they work with their dad," Nancy pointed out. "So it's not out of the question that they would have a personal assistant accompany them on this trip. Maybe even two."
"If you're about to say George—"
"You read my mind."
Frank was quiet for a minute. "I don't know," he said.
"Look, if these guys are that dangerous, and you're worried even though we'll have a dozen agents covering us? Then there's safety in numbers. Bess'll need all the help she can get, so having Joe and you or George around here all the time will just make her safer. And I think Ned and I can play really convincing newlyweds."
After another few minutes of playing devil's advocate, Frank finally heaved a huge sigh and conceded defeat. "Look, I'll have to clear this with Kimball, and does Ned have a permit to carry?"
"Yeah, we both do."
"Let me call him, and you call Bess, and I'll let you know what he says. He might not approve this little scheme of yours, Drew. In the meantime, though, get passport photos for everyone and email them to me so they can dummy up our passports and visas. And don't worry about packing—Kimball said they'll take care of that for us. Since we're impersonating rich bankers—or maybe their personal assistants," he said darkly, "he wanted to make sure we look the part. New wardrobes and everything."
"Well, you just gave me the best selling point ever for Bess," Nancy laughed. "Okay, Frank, call me back with the go-ahead, and we'll see you tomorrow at JFK."
Joe Hardy glanced at his watch. "If they don't get here soon, we are barely gonna get through security in time," he groused, running a hand through his blond hair.
"Relax. Nancy said they wouldn't be here until four, and I'm sure we can get through in two and a half hours." Frank Hardy, the elder of the two brothers, leaned back in the booth and took a long swig of his beer. Despite his reassurance, he raised a finger, gesturing to the waitress that he was ready for the bill.
The waitress, a long-legged redhead, maneuvered gracefully through the crush of commuters milling in the tiny airport bar and landed at their table with a grin. "Sure you don't want another round?" she asked, glancing between the two brothers.
"I sure would," Joe said appreciatively.
Frank kicked him under the table. "We'd love to, but we have to get to our gate," he apologized, flipping open his wallet and handing over a credit card. Since Kimball hadn't provided their new documents yet, he had his own wallet, bulging with credit cards and credentials.
Joe scowled at his brother as the waitress sauntered away, hips swinging, with Frank's credit card. "Hey," he objected, rubbing at his shin. "What was that for?"
"You're about to be married, Cooper."
"And you just handed out ID with your real name on it, Frank," Joe retorted. "We're not married yet."
"Fine, just rub it in," Bess Marvin said.
Frank and Joe glanced up. Nancy Drew, her long reddish-gold hair in an elegant twist, stood grinning at their table, her purse slung over her shoulder. Ned Nickerson, tall, dark, and very handsome, was at her side. Bess Marvin's long blonde hair was styled straight and fell halfway down her back, and she carried what was doubtless an expensive small duffel emblazoned with some angular logo. Her cousin, George Fayne, looked businesslike and slightly uncomfortable in a black pencil skirt and pale blue button-down, small stud earrings gleaming from her ears. Bess, Nancy, and Ned were dressed in upscale casual, all the better for their insanely long flight.
Frank slid out of the booth and wrapped Nancy in a hug, carefully avoiding Ned's narrowed gaze. "Good to see you," he said when he pulled back.
"Good to see you too," she replied, blue eyes sparkling. "Joe."
Joe nodded at them, and once Frank had signed the credit card receipt, the six of them headed out.
"They're gonna ask if we have any bags to check," Bess pointed out, as they approached the check-in counter. "And I guess I have to check this, which is a crock of shit. Fascists," she muttered, looking down at her bag. "And, why the hell am I not allowed to wear my own clothes? What if this Kendall—"
"Kimball," Frank corrected mildly.
"Whatever," Bess said, waving her hand. "Anyway, what if he actually got me boot-cut pants to wear." She shuddered dramatically. "I will not look all stumpy on this trip."
"Oh, like you would ever look stumpy," Joe reassured her, bumping his shoulder against hers. "But you do have a point. If we don't see Kimball soon, we'll be in trouble."
"Mr. Cole Addison? Mr. Cooper Addison?"
The six of them turned to see a man in a skycap uniform approaching with a cart full of expensive-looking black leather luggage. Frank scrutinized him carefully, amazed that this was the same man he had seen the day before at his house. Kimball was tall, forty or so, with silvering dark hair, cool eyes, and a triangular scar on his right cheek. He looked entirely different in the uniform.
Kimball handed over an envelope marked "Cooper Addison—CONFIDENTIAL." Joe opened the flap and peeked inside.
"Everything you should need is in there," Kimball said. "Good luck."
Frank nodded. "I'll call if we run into any problems."
Kimball shook his head vehemently. "No. We can't take that risk. I've provided three cell phones in the kit; use them if you need me, but we have to be careful. The Hajji can't know that we're working together."
"Well. Nice guy," George commented as Kimball hurried away, her hands on her hips. "Okay, let's get through security, which, by the way, I am really looking forward to getting my shoes off in this fucking tight skirt. Bess."
"It makes your ass look great," Bess defended herself as they moved toward the Air Egypt desk.
The attendant at the counter took their tickets and passports with a smile, and Frank held his breath. The documents had been forged by the State Department; they had to be perfect. Even so, he was nervous.
"Very good," she said. "And how many bags will you be checking?"
The six of them manhandled the luggage onto the scales, while Frank and George kept the laptop bags they were using as part of their cover. After the screamingly frustratingly long wait at security, collecting shoes and belts and passports and pocketbooks and laptops, Frank made a beeline for the Air Egypt first-class lounge near the gate.
"We can actually get in here?" Bess breathed. "Oh, wow. Awesome."
Frank was having his ticket checked at the door when George felt a tap on her shoulder. "Sorry, I forgot this one," Kimball said, handing her a duffel-sized shoulder bag, in matched black leather to go with the rest of the set. She nodded and gazed after him curiously, then walked into the lounge with the rest of the group.
Once they were seated in one of the lounge areas, Frank took the envelope from Joe and surreptitiously distributed the contents. Two ring boxes went to Joe, and two to Ned. Frank handed out their dossiers as well, then peeked into an inner envelope. He let out a low whistle.
"Hmm?" Nancy asked.
"First-class tickets. And spending money," he said, then pulled out the three cell phones. He, Joe, and Nancy each took one.
Ned took Nancy's out of her hand, gazing at it appreciatively. "High-end," he commented.
In the meantime, Joe took the rings out of their boxes under the table and handed Bess her engagement ring and one of the plain gold wedding bands. She squealed when she saw the ring, a glittering pear-shaped diamond surrounded by tiny sapphires.
"You think I'll be able to keep this?" she asked, admiring the way it looked on her finger.
"Yeah, right," Joe replied, trying to put the band on his ring finger. "Shit. I told him my ring size."
"I think that one's mine," Bess said with a giggle.
On the other end of the table, Ned handed Nancy her engagement ring, a clear square-cut diamond flanked by a trio of smaller diamonds on each side. She looked down at it with a soft smile on her face.
"Here," Ned said, "let me do that."
The flush that was already in her cheeks rose a little when Ned took her hand and slid the engagement ring onto her finger. She looked up at him and their gazes met for a long, silent moment. Frank swallowed the sudden bitterness he felt rising in his throat, and ripped his gaze away from them with effort.
"Hey, can we get a drink in here?" George commented, hefting the duffel onto the table.
"What's that?" Frank asked.
"Oh. Kimball caught up to me and said he'd forgotten this one." George stood, smoothing down her skirt, and looked over at the bar. "You guys want anything?"
"Hell yeah," Joe replied, rising from his chair. "Let's get a round before I have to settle in with the old ball and chain."
Bess made a face at Joe. "Yeah, you'll be eating those words later," she told him. "Old ball and chain," she muttered under her breath.
Frank looked at the duffel to keep from looking at Nancy and Ned, who were exchanging wedding bands with far more gravity than Joe and Bess had. That was when he noticed the pair of eyes visible over an International Herald-Tribune, staring right at the same duffel bag, from across the room.
George and Joe returned to the table with four beers and two cosmopolitans. Joe glanced over his shoulder as he put his beers down. "Hey, Frank," he said quietly.
"Yeah," Frank confirmed, just as quietly.
George glanced over her shoulder as well. The man, noticing their scrutiny, abruptly rose and crossed to the restrooms.
"Okay. Let's get our cover IDs set and get rid of the dossiers," Frank told the table quietly.
George rolled her eyes, taking a long sip of her beer. "I'm a fucking personal assistant," she said.
"I don't think personal assistants say 'fuck' that much," Frank commented, and earned a glancing blow from one of George's pumps under the table.
Half an hour later, all of them pleasantly buzzed by the alcohol, they headed out, taking their seats at the gate. Frank noticed that the man they had seen in the lounge was now three gates down, still supposedly engrossed in his newspaper. Frank had taken possession of the duffel, since Kimball hadn't put a name on it; he had to admit that not playing Nancy's husband left him feeling a little at sea, no matter how much she protested.
Four security officers approached the desk just outside the gate, and Frank's already heightened awareness kicked up a notch. The attendant at the gate took the phone off the hook and cleared her throat.
"Ladies and gentlemen on the six-thirty flight to Cairo, we will be going through a routine, random second baggage screening. Please line up near the tables to the left of the gate. Proceed in an orderly way and we'll be finished with this quickly. Those couples traveling with small children—"
Frank tuned out the rest, shuffling with the rest of the passengers toward the tables. The bored-looking security officers were already gloved and checking tickets.
When Frank was motioned over to the tables, he held his breath again as his passport was checked against his ticket. A large officer with a gleaming shaved head motioned for him to put his duffel on the table, and unzipped it.
Then his eyes widened, and Frank watched with rising horror as the officer reached simultaneously for his weapon and the radio clipped to his shoulder.
"Bomb," Frank read the man's lips. "Repeat, we have a possible bomb at Gate E23."
Then he brought his gun out of his holster and pointed it straight at Frank.