Summary: Joe and Bess discuss the Nancy/Frank dilemma and decide to take matters into their own hands. ND/FH
AN: This story does line up with the other ND/HB stories I have written, but was could also be read as a standalone fanfic. I know this one is short, but really felt like it should be included. And besides, I loved Joe's description of Frank when he's with Nancy too much not to use it. (In order, this goes between 'Holding Hands' and the book 'Secrets of the Nile', followed by 'Uncertainty')
Disclaimer: I do not own Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. If I did, things would be different…obviously.
"Well, that was the most awkward dinner that I have ever been at," Joe bluntly told Bess after they had snuck out of their rooms to meet outside.
"Yes," she agreed, "for a celebratory 'we solved the case' dinner it was terrible."
The day after the criminals had been caught and statements had been filed with the local police station, the sleuths and company had met for dinner before parting ways again tomorrow.
At the restaurant, Nancy had sat on one side of their table between Ned and Bess while Frank sat across from her between Callie and Joe.
Joe ran a hand through his hair. "I've seen Frank in stressful situations before. I've watched him stare down everything from thieves to murderers to bombs, but I have never seen him as tense as he was tonight."
Bess sat down heavily in the chair nearby. "Did you notice that Nancy seemed avoid eye contact with Frank? There was no doubt that Ned would have reacted to that."
"I saw," he agreed. "Frank was trying to minimize the attention he gave Nancy too, which was amazing since they were directly in front of each other."
"What would Callie have done if they had acted normally?" Bess asked.
Joe shrugged. "What she always does. Get jealous, get mad, but refuse to give him up."
A sad little smile slipped from Bess. "Ned does the same thing, but add to that list asking Nancy to stop solving mysteries."
A disappointed laugh escaped Joe. "Callie's too smart for that. She knows that asking Frank to be something he's not would cross the line. I still can't believe that Ned would say something like that to her."
"I've lost track of how many times Ned has 'suggested' that Nancy take a different career path. The latest one he's been pushing is journalist," Bess divulged as if she was spitting something sour from her mouth.
Her eyes grew bright as she pulled Joe to sit next to her. She held onto his arm, as she asked, "What's he like when he's with Nancy? What's different than with Callie?"
Joe stared at the wall beyond Bess as he answered. "He looks at Nancy like she's wonderful. When Frank is with Nancy, he's just Frank."
"It's the same with Nancy, " Bess replied. "Around Ned, she seems weighed down, like there are chains all around her. But with Frank, our girl is free."
Joe sighed. "They're too afraid of change."
"They're in love," Bess said.
"With each other," Joe finished. "And there's nothing we can do to make this easier."
"Well," Bess said, "We have a choice too, it seems. We can support them and encourage them to choose what will make them happy. And as soon as they are both single we can arrange a surprise get together for them. Or, we can try to end it now."
"Try to break-up two long-term relationships, hurting the people we care about in the process?" Joe asked with raised eyebrows.
"I don't like it either, " Bess admitted. "But I'm afraid of what will happen if we do nothing. They're both stuck and without a push in the right direction we'll eventually be attending the wrong weddings."
Joe cringed. "There has to be a place in-between we can aim for. During the next case we all work together, we just drive them towards each other more. Make them see how right they are for each other. Push them to a breaking point."
Bess bit her lip, mulling over the idea for a few moments. "That could work."
Joe shook his head, "It has to work."
A month later…
Bess ran to catch her ringing cell phone before the call reached voice mail. "Hello?"
Joe Hardy's voice greeted her. "Bess, you are about to get a call from Nancy. We just got offered a case in Egypt that we need you both on. It's the perfect chance to put our plan into action."