Hi I am back with part 3 of Heartless. This first chapter picks up from the last chapter of Heartless. It might help to read that first before reading this to get a better understanding. Hope you like it.

Don't own the Hardy Boys.

The Hardy Boys

Heartless Pt. III

Mind Games


It was a very busy Friday night at Prito's. The mouth-watering aromas of the many Italian dishes filled the restaurant. Aldo Prito had recently decided to reopen his late wife's restaurant as a way to help the town of Bayport heal from both the warehouse bombing, and Heartless in general. He was so overjoyed to finally be home with his son and grandson, and very happy that his son and his friends were recovering well from their ordeal.

Aldo was even more shocked to learn that it was Chet, Phil, Biff, and Tony who had risked their own lives to save Frank and Joe Hardy. He couldn't believe how Joe had fallen to his knees with a pain in his chest, how it was Tony who'd cradled Joe in his lap and tried to comfort and protect him, and how Chet, Biff, and Phil had pushed over the huge beam blocking the door in order to save Frank.

He was not pleased, however, to hear that Angela had also been trapped inside the warehouse with the boys. Nor that Tony had gone into a panic attack after the warehouse collapsed on them, or what Angela's behavior toward his son had been. Dr. Stevens had encouraged Tony to try to work things out with Angela... for after all, she was the mother of his son. They were inevitably going to have to find a way to work out a compromise where Little Antonio was concerned. Dr. Stevens had offered to help counsel the two to help them deal with their issues, which Tony and Angela both agreed to do. Aldo had to agree with the doctor on that issue, even though he didn't fully trust Angela. He trusted Dr. Stevens, so he knew Tony would be in good hands.

As Aldo was busy going from table to table greeting people, his staff bustled about, bringing out their orders. Fenton wanted his sons and their friends to have fun and relax, hoping to put the Heartless nightmare behind them after a few weeks of being in the hospital. He wanted to treat them to Prito's for a celebration dinner. It was a way of thanking Chet, Phil, Biff, and Tony for saving his sons's lives, as well as saying that he was happy they were all recovering after being trapped in the rubble of the fallen warehouse. They invited Dr. Stevens to celebrate with them, and he graciously accepted before heading to the Prito's home for his counseling session with Tony and Angela.

"At least for now," Fenton thought to himself. He secretly knew that the Heartless nightmare was far from over. Just recently he'd received a chilling email of "You wanna play games, Detective?" ending with the Heartless crest. It was a black heart with a blood-red outline and a spiked X through it, and it never failed to make the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

Fenton flashed back, remembering the former leader of Heartless, Robert Santos's, a.k.a. Sei Duro's, chilling words. "You wanna play games, Detective?"

The detective shook the thought out of his head. "No, that's impossible. It just can't be! The Gray Man confirmed the man is dead."

However, his detective instincts were kicking in, telling him that with Heartless anything was possible. If it wasn't Sei Duro, then who? He knew he had to be sure, not wanting to cause a panic. Fenton decided to keep it to himself until he had proof. He had his colleague Sam Radley to help him find out about the supposedly dead, former leader of Heartless.

Then a roar of laughter coming from the group of teens sitting at the end of the table got Fenton's attention.

A big smile spread across his face when he realized it was Joe causing all the laughter. Fenton reached over and gave his wife's hand a light squeeze. Laura could barely keep herself from smiling. Joe was recovering well from his ordeal, and thanks to a week of physical therapy he was starting to get feeling back in his arm. Unfortunately, the knife wound left him with a scar as an ugly reminder of what Mathers did to him. However, it was not stopping Joe from moving past all that, and so he concentrated on his family, friends, and just having fun.

Frank, too, was recovering nicely, back to being the protective older brother. Fenton couldn't be more proud at the kind of man his oldest son was becoming. The way he took care of his brother with love, companion, and, most importantly, patience was just exceptional. So was how he supported his friends through good times and bad, the way he cared about people, and his need to fight for what was right. Fenton couldn't wait to see what this world had to offer him, or better yet, what Frank had to offer the world. Fenton knew one thing for certain: Frank was going to make a big difference in the world.

"I am just so glad that whole Heartless nightmare is over," Vanessa said, breaking into Fenton's thoughts as she held Joe's hand. "And everyone is okay."

"Me too," Callie added. "Maybe now things can get back to normal around here."

"You mean like going back to school on Monday?" Chet scrunched up his nose as he ate a fork-full of pasta.

"Well, after all, it is our senior year," Frank added. "It's supposed to be the best year."

"That's easy for you to say," Joe shot back. "You, Callie, Chet, Phil, and Tony. You'll be graduating, going off to college, and starting whole new lives while Biff, Vanessa, and I are still stuck in high school for another year."

"Joe, just look on the bright side."

"What's that?"

"Now you have something to look forward to," Frank replied, smiling as he teased his little brother.

Joe, giving Frank a dirty look, responded, "Yeah, whatever you say big brother."

"Yep, Joe is definitely back," Frank thought to himself. School was one of his little brother's least favorite things, but Frank knew deep down that Joe really liked school, only he would never admit it. However, in order for both brothers to come work for their father full-time as detectives, they had to complete high school and college. That was one of the things Fenton had insisted on, no questions asked.

"So what happen to all those kids Heartless recruited?" Phil spoke up, taking a sip of water.

"Well, according to what Chief Collig told Dad, the police are still trying to find their families," Frank answered. "They think most of them are runaways."

"Most of the kids will be placed in the care of child protective services," Joe chimed in. "Some will be in jail for the crimes they committed... and unfortunately some of them died in the bombing."

"That is a shame," Callie said in disgust. "They were just victims in this... being used by Heartless. I wish there was a way to help them. Gang Alley is part of Bayport, too."

"Well, actually you can, Callie," Fenton replied. "They are in need of volunteers to help with cleaning up Gang Alley."

"I definitely want to volunteer," Callie said, getting all excited. "It would be a good way to help the community, and the kids can have a safe place to grow up in."

"That's not a bad idea," Frank agreed, putting an arm around his girlfriend.

Vanessa agreed too. "Maybe we can even change the name of Gang Alley!"

Everyone else nodded in agreement.

"Man, the food was awesome as usual," Joe said, changing the subject as he pushed back his plate and patted his stomach.

Aldo came up to their table, smiling. "Thank you Joe."

Joe patted his stomach again. "I still could go for a Prito's special."

Laura raised an eyebrow at this. "Joe, don't tell me you're still hungry?"

"Mom, he's always hungry," Frank commented. "Joe's a bottomless pit..."

"Hey, I enjoy good food!" Joe interrupted, acting insulted.

"Joe, I enjoy good food, too," Dr. Stevens said, trying to stifle a laugh in order to come to Joe defense. "May I ask what a Prito's special is?"

"It is a pizza," Aldo answered, "With basically anything you want on it, and baked in a brick oven."

"It's not just any pizza," Joe simply stated, "It's the best pizza you'll ever eat."

"It's what Prito's is known for," Frank continued to explain. "When Joe orders a pizza, he won't let anyone but Tony make it."

"Well it's just... no one makes it the way Tony does," Joe cut in. "I don't know how he does it. I'm telling you, Dr. Stevens, once you've had a Prito's special... you won't want anything else."

"That sounds interesting, Joe," The doctor replied.

"Tony makes it the way his mother taught him," Aldo said, swallowing a lump in his throat. It was pretty clear the man was still grieving the death of his wife.

"Where is Tony?" Laura asked with concern.

"He is at home with the baby and Angela," Aldo answered with a deep sigh. "Hopefully the two of them are working things out. For Antonio's sake."

"You left them alone?" Frank's eyes widened.

"Is that a good idea?" Joe asked.

Aldo shook his head yes. "Tony has been really good at trying to control his anxiety. His nightmares are fewer now, and the best part is that he hasn't had a panic attack in almost a week. In fact, it was his idea to talk things out with Angela."

"It's going to take time for Tony to adjust to being home after his ordeal last summer, and with what happened a few weeks ago with the warehouse bombing," Dr. Stevens added. "But we're just going to have to trust Tony and let him handle this..."

The doctor was then cut off by a blood-curdling scream. "HELP! SOMEONE HELP PLEASE!"

All of a sudden, the front doors of the restaurant burst open. Everyone whirled around to see Angela come running into the room, Little Antonio in her arms and crying, "waaaa! waaaaaaa!"

"Angela, what's wrong?!" Frank and Joe asked in unison as everyone stood up from their seats.

"Tony... and... I," Angela began, crying hysterically and rushing up to their table, "We were in the living room talking... when... two... big guys... with guns... kicked in the front door... they grabbed Tony!"

Everyone gasped.

"Tony yelled at me... to take the baby and run... to get help!"

Frank and Joe immediately flew past her and out the door.

"Everyone stay here!" Fenton instructed as he reached for his phone, calling Chief Collig as Aldo also ran out the door.

Laura, doing her best not to panic, stayed in control for everyone's sake. She and Dr. Stevens immediately went to Angela to try to calm her and the baby down.

Phil, Biff, Chet, Callie, and Vanessa stood by in shock, fearing for their friend and not sure what to do.

Frank and Joe ran down the back alley of Prito's that lead to Tony's house. Horrible thoughts ran through their minds, not knowing what was happening to their friend. Each step they ran seemed like an eternity.

Finally, the brothers reached the front porch of the house. Frank could see the front door hanging off its hinges, hearing an eerie silence inside. Before he could say a word, Joe shot past him and into the house.

"Joe, wait!" Frank cried out, his heart beating out of his chest. He didn't know what or who was waiting inside.

"Frank... Joe!" Fenton called out as he and Aldo ran breathlessly, meeting Frank on the porch. The sounds of sirens could be heard in the distance.

"Oh God, Tony!" Aldo's face turned ghostly white upon seeing the front door.

Fenton, looking around and not seeing Joe, asked, "Where's your brother?!"

"He ran inside," Frank replied anxiously. Every part of him wanted to run in to find his impulsive brother.

Than they all heard, "Dad! Frank!"

"Joe!"

Fenton, Frank, and Aldo entered the living room, running at full speed. They stopped, horrified by the sight in front of them. The place was completely trashed, with glass everywhere, furniture shuffled around; the coffee table turned over, and crooked picture-frames on the walls. There were obvious signs of a struggle.

Joe was standing there, completely shaking, by a blood-stained couch. Frank watched as Joe stared intensely at a Polaroid picture in his hand.

"Joe?" he asked, "What is it?"

With a shaking hand, Joe handed Frank the picture.

"Oh God." Frank's eyes widened. Fenton and Aldo gasped in shock as they looked over Frank's shoulder at the picture in his hand. There it was... a photo of Tony unconscious, bound and gagged with Heartless's insignia... a big black heart with a blood-red outline and a spiked X through it. There was a blood-written message that read:

"The Prito boy is ours... Joe Hardy is next! "

"Oh God, Tony." Aldo slowly sat down, as if someone had just punched him in the stomach." What does this mean?" He looked up at Fenton, wanting answers.

"I'm afraid it's not over yet. Heartless is back and now they have Tony," Fenton said nervously as he gulped, feeling sick to his stomach. "And they want Joe, too."

The chilling words ran down Frank's spin, and Joe instinctively put his hand on Frank's arm. Frank, going into big-brother mode, started rubbing his little brother's back to let him know he was okay. There was no way in hell Heartless was going to take Joe. They'd have to go through him first. Then, he thought of Tony, praying he was alright.

"Hang on, Tony. I promise we'll find you," he vowed.

Feeling rage building up inside of him, Fenton put a comforting hand on Aldo's shoulder, looking at Frank and then at Joe while saying, "Aldo, I promise you, we'll find Tony."

Aldo nodded slowly.

"I'll do whatever it takes to protect our sons," Fenton vowed, face scrunched up with drive and determination. "I'm going after Heartless. The game has begun..."


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