Disclaimer : Hardy Boys does not belong to me. The characters too do not belong to me except Elieen John.
This story has Frank as a troubled, disturbed teenager, this is just to show that no one's perfect. And also, it is always Frank who looks out for Joe as a big brother, comforting him and always doing the logical thinking. This time Joe is going to be after his brother, trying to do the logical stuff and the brawn stuff. Come on, give Frank Hardy a break :-)
Six weeks ago -
"You will never escape me ,
I will make your life miserable.
I shall haunt you for the rest of your life until you beg for death"
The voice kept whispering in his head as he ran. His legs were aldready weak and he felt like passing out. He could aldready feel the light headedness taking over. Finally when exhaustion threatened to overwhelm him, he stopped, trying to catch his breath and make sense of his surroundings.
"Frank? Is that you?"
The eighteen year old teen turned, startled to hear the familiar voice.
"Con?" Frank said weakly.
Officer Con Riley was standing in front of him with a God-what- happened-to-you? look.
Frank felt the dizziness take over him.
"Frank are you alright? Do you need help? what has...woah! woah! Frank. Frank?"
Frank Hardy passed out but was caught before his head hit the road.
"Frank? Frank wake up." Officer Riley kept calling.
"What are you looking at?" Shouted officer Riley at a teenager who was gaping at the incident like it was a part of a Tv show. "What do they teach in schools these days? Call the bloody ambulance aldready!"
End of Flash back.
With the seventeen year old,easy going, blond haired, Joseph Hardy at the wheel the van was unusually silent. Joe kept stealing glances at his brother, but it remained the same way it had been six weeks back; the face devoid of any emotion. Even if Frank did happen to show any emotion it was only anger and madness. Since six weeks back, things were never the same between him and his brother. Frank's anger sometimes turned to insane talk or he would just walk out of the house without telling anyone and come back only the next morning. It worried his family and mostly his mom. The brothers' father Fenton Hardy , world famous private detective had cut his tour short and rushed home when he had heard what happened . But no amount of coaxing or talking had made Frank talk. His madness only got worse. Till today something Joe never understood was, how his brother who wasn't supposed to be back from Kansas until that evening six weeks ago had landed in the Bayport General badly hurt.
Joe sighed and parked the car in his usual parking spot and the brothers got out.
"The others will want to know." Joe said looking at Frank's face waiting for any trace of expression.
"No." came the reply. Joe wasn't surprised, this was the reply he had been expecting but he felt sorry for Callie though. There was not a single day his brother's girl friend hadn't called to find out how he was and yet Frank acted like a jerk and never talked to her. Finally, when Callie came to the extent of cutting her tour short in England, he briefly told her what had happened to Frank. Joe could guess Callie had been shocked, but he also knew Callie would never show it. Yesterday when Callie had called asking if Frank had talked, Joe had to give her a negative reply. To his surprise Callie said she was prepared to wait even if it meant till the end of the school year. That only saddened Joe more. True, he and Callie never got along on most things but Frank was one of those things they actually got along. Coming to think of it not only Callie would be worried, but also the rest of the gang. But how much ever he tried, Frank never listened.
The brothers had almost reached the school building now.
"You could try. You know ?" Joe told his brother silently.
But as usual Joe got the silent treatment from his brother. Inside the school Frank and Joe were first greeted by their ever friendly, plump, red haired friend Chet Morton.
"Oh! I missed you guys" Chet said as he took turns to hug both his friends.
"Hey Chet! " Joe greeted back.
"Do you guys know, I went to this awesome planetarium exhibition and bought a live model of a nebulae burst. I tried to figure how it works, no success though. All of you must come see it. You might actually be able to figure something out Frank" Chet said grinning enthusiastically.
Joe couldn't help smiling too. He knew Chet was worried about what had happened to Frank but he was wise enough not show it. He had started a topic on space, one of Frank's all time I love to talk about topics. If there was something Joe knew about Chet, then it was the fact that Chet would move heaven and hell to make his friends happy. Joe wouldn't be surprised if he found out Chet had spent his entire year's savings on that nebulae model just to start up this topic with Frank.
"I'll try Chet." was Frank's reply.
Joe noticed that Chet wasn't a bit dissapointed by Frank's answer. Joe was about to say something to Frank when they were interrupted by Mrs. Bob their Principal's personal assistant.
"Mr. Hardy" boomed the elderly woman coming towards Frank, Joe and Chet.
Joe noticed that behind her was a girl who was as old as his brother .
Joe noticed the girl had black hair which she tied up into a way those Chinese girls did, With their hair tied into a bouncy bun held with those slide view clips. ' dosen't look a bit Chinese ' thought Joe.
She wore a simple loose white top and pants. Her dress made her resemble a girl from the seventies.
Most certainly not from around here, Joe thought. None of the girls in Bayport dressed as simple as that.
"Mr. Hardy" said Mrs. Bob to Frank "this is our newest student. She has just joined here. Would you mind showing her to her classes today?"
Joe looked at Frank afraid he was going to say no but to his surprise Frank replied yes. But then Joe realized Frank might have accepted just to get away from the others and further questions.
"Excellent ! Thank you Mr. Hardy".
"Frank Hardy" Frank introduced himself and he held out his hand.
" Elieen John . you can call me Lina."
Lina said and shook Frank's hand.
"This is my brother Joe and my friend Chet" Frank said with no expression in his face.
"Hey Lina " Joe said as he shook her hand. Chet too grinned broadly and shook Lina's hand.
"Its nice meeting you" she said.
"So you ever lived in Bayport before?"Joe asked her.
"Where did you live before ?"
" My family and I are from China." Lina replied
"Wait, you are Chinese? you have a first class American accent and looks babe" Joe said looking at Lina top to bottom.
Lina smiled. "Ever heard of emmigrants ? " Lina asked still smiling. Joe felt felt a sense of calm around the girl. He didn't know why. But it was like he had known her for ages.
"We moved to China five years ago. Before that we were very much American." Lina said.
"Bet you know kung fu huh?" Chet asked and
Lina laughed . "I might"
At that moment Vanessa and Tony joined in.
"Hey, who's your friend? " Vanessa asked as she kissed Joe on the cheek. Joe kissed her back.
"Lina, my girlfriend. My girlfriend, Lina." Joe said introducing. Vanessa just shook her head and smiled at her boyfriend's dumb humour.
"Hi , I am Vanessa." Vanessa said shaking Lina's hand.
"Tony Prito" Tony said shaking his hand too. "I believe you are with Frank, Phil and me."
"So, tell me Lina, how was your time there ?" Vanessa asked eagerly. Joe knew his girlfriend was very much interested in the cultures of countries. He grinned at her with a knowing look.
"It was pretty nice. Might find it a bit difficult to blend in, but once you have, you can't help but like it." Lina replied.
"Cool" Vanessa said her eyes brightening "we must really talk during lunch"
Joe smiled. Maybe from now on, he wouldn't have to listen to his girlfriend's lectures about the tribes of Arctic or education in Japan. No offense to his girlfriend though. He really really loved her, but the problem was he never really understood what she was saying half the time.
"I'll show you to your class." Frank interrupted as he pulled Lina from his friends.
"Oh. Yeah." Lina said serenely.
Joe looked surprised. In an instinct Joe looked past Frank and saw Phil Cohen waving goodbye to his mother. Aha! So Frank doesn't want to be under Phil's X- ray vision.
"It is really nice meeting you guys." Lina said , before Frank pulled her away to acquaint her with Bayport High. Guess, Frank thought showing a girl around would be much better than facing the gang.
At that moment Phil reached them. "Should I get my eyes tested ? or did I just see Frank ?" he asked.
"Don't worry man, you did." Joe replied. He knew it was only a matter of time before his friends started bombarding him with questions. And no sooner did he complete that thought, they all started asking him questions like bullets shooting out of a gun.
"Joe, what happened to Frank?"
"Where did he go ?"
"How did he get home? "
"What did the doctor say?"
"Did he talk to Callie?"
"Did he talk you about what happened?"
"Did your father figure out who did this ?"
Joe felt like his head was going to blast.
"Guys. guys. guys! Stop. I have absolutely no idea what's going on with Frank"
"But Joe, Frank basically tells you everything." Vanessa said, with a frown.
"Really Van, don't you think I'd aldready be doing something , if that's the case ?" Joe said sadly.
"Its like I am an outsider to him you know, all Frank does is give insane talk about betrayal, hell, blah blah blah. Do you know what he did when dad tried to talk to him ? He just slammed the door right across dad's face. I don't know guys,..." Joe sighed deeply "Frank is acting like he is absolutely out of his mind and I don't know what I am going to tell Callie when I see her in class today."
"We are really sorry Joe" Chet said as he patted Joe on the back.
"I don't want to go into the details guys." Joe says "I 'll tell you when I'm ready"
"That's agreed man." Biff said giving Joe a hug.
"If it helps, Tony and I will try figuring things out in class." Phil said with sincerity in his voice and Joe felt thankful.
"You're welcome buddy."
"Oh! Callie, this is so very sweet of you" Vanessa squealed with delight.
God! Girls, they squeal for every single thing , thought Joe, as he kept toying with the noodles in his plate. Vanessa was going crazy over a piece of British jewellery that Callie had bought for her in London.
Callie had been sweet enough to go around the malls of London to look for the perfect gift for everyone. Joe had got a leather jacket with the the letter J embroided on the left side, Biff had got a new soccer ball and Chet had got a nice sweater with the the england flag in the middle of it to use for winter. Everything they had wished for, Callie had read their mind and had bought it for them. Now, the only people left were Tony, Phil and Frank.
"Did it cost like too much?"
"No Van, just twenty pounds" Callie replied
"Twenny. not Twenty" Joe and the others at the table shouted, except Vanessa of course.
They had spent almost half a day trying to correct Callie's American pronunciation.
"Look at you now, you are a perfect Brit. Two months in Britan, and you have aldready signed up for their I want to be a Brit program " Joe said, shaking his head mocking at Callie playfully.
"You are a jerk as always Joe, a funny one though, Vanessa must have lived through hardships of seven lives to deal with you" Callie said smirking at Vanessa and then at Joe.
Vanessa just shook her head. "Very funny Callie" Joe said back.
"Hey guys! Look, Frank, Tony, Phil and Lina are coming" Chet said enthusiastically.
At that moment Joe noticed Callie's face turn to concern. Joe could only feel sorry for her. He had told her in class, not to expect much from Frank and she had agreed but all the same he knew that some where down her heart she was hoping.
"Callie! Its so good to see you." Phil exclaimed.
"Where is the duchess in you?" Tony sang teasingly
"The disease is worse than we thought" Joe replied from the background and Callie punched him playfully.
"You must be Lina, I am Callie. We didn't get a chance to meet in the morning "
"Oh! Yes Frank's girlfriend. Its a pleasure."
Biff Hooper." Biff said as he shook hands with Lina
Frank snapped out of his reverie at the mention of his name, he looked at Lina wondering how she knew Callie was his girlfriend. Then as if answering his thoughts Phil leaned towards him and whispered "I told her."
Frank just nodded in acknowledgement.
"Hey guys ! Look what I brought for you." Callie said as she gave Frank a gift wrapped in red, Phil a gift wrapped in green and Tony a gift wrapped in gold.
Phil and Tony started unwrapping their gifts , Frank just simply stared at his.
"You're supposed to be unwrapping it, you know ?" Joe murmured.
Frank just glared at him, but Joe maintained a steady gaze looking directly into his brother's eyes. He wasn't going to let Frank destroy Callie's mood after she went through the trouble of doing so much for her boyfriend. Finally, Frank gave up and slowly started unwrapping his gift.
Phil had received a book on various advanced computer applications and Tony had received a lot of international stamps for his stamp collection.
"Oh gosh! I really don't know what to say Callie this is really sweet of you" Tony said as he hugged her.
"Yeah!This is so cool!" Phil exclaimed excited.
"What about you Frank ? How do you like your gift ?" Callie asked
Frank had received books on the wonders of space, myths of space, Constellations and Famous astronomers and scientists.
"Thank you Callie" Frank said "its really what I would have bought for myself. I like it."
Callie smiled. Joe sighed in relief.
"Oh! Lina, there are some other gifts that I bought as extras in case I had forgotten someone in the neighborhood,...uh, just a second, its got to be here...Ah! Here!"
Callie pulled out box full of unwrapped antiques, designer handkerchiefs, lipsticks, vial of perfumes and powder compacts.
"Hmm. That's very nice of you Callie, if you don't mind I'll take that set of 150 safety pins."
"Safety pins, nice joke, you are funny and sarcastic"
"Oh! I wasn't being sarcastic. I really meant it when I said safety pins."
"Still kidding huh ?"
"Nope" Lina said serenely.
"Safety pins ?" Callie asked incredulously as she searched her box ; in the corner of the box there was a small pack of safety pins.
"Safety pins ? Safety pins ?" Joe and Vanessa asked together as if the fact had not been registered the first time. And then Joe broke out laughing,
"Oh ! God ! Safety pins, never have I ever seen a girl ask for safety pins when there are... when there are..." Joe broke out into a fit of laughter again "when there are accessories that every other girl in Bayport would want"
"You know, you are a part of our group now you can choose whatever you want" Phil said patting Lina on the back
"Yep. Phil is right Lina. You are a friend now." Biff said encouragingly.
"I know and I am choosing what I want. They are called safety pins for a reason you know ?" Lina said calmly.
"Alright. Here you go." Callie said as he tossed the pin pack to Lina. "You know, if you ever change your mind, tell me."
"So, Lina tell us about yourself." Biff said trying to start a casual conversation. "where are you living now ?"
"Walker's street. My house is two blocks away from the park"
"Two blocks away from the park ?" Joe asked nearly jumping out of his seat "Lucky goats ! Frank, did you hear that ? Con lives one block away from that park."
"He's right. Have you met him ? " Tony asked.
"You mean Officer Riley ?" Lina asked smiling.
"The one and only" Joe said grinning broadly.
"Aunt Martha says he's a charm for young women his age." Lina said.
"That he is." Joe agreed.
"What about your mum ?" Callie asked.
"Let's say she's building a world of her own on earth."
"Then what about your dad ?" asked Chet.
"He does his thing."
"What does he do ?" Vanessa asked.
"It changes according to his state of mind. His residence is somewhere in Pennsylvania. It doesn't make a difference though, he basically lives in a caged room. Occasionally, he gets out, learns something, does it, regrets it, runs and eventually goes back to his caged room for another heated thinking session on what to do next." Lina replied serenely.
"Woah ! That's some weird father you've got there." Joe replied.
"So you live with your aunt ?" Frank asked and basically everyone at the table nearly jumped off their seats at Frank's voice except Lina. He had been so silent the whole time that they hadn't even expected him to talk.
"Aunt Martha and Uncle John." Lina replied.
Frank didn't know why, but he felt compelled to ask that question. It was a weird feeling. Instinctively as he had been doing for the past six weeks he reached for his jeans pocket and took out a bottle. It was only then he registered the fact that he was around people and most importantly Joe. If Joe saw what he was doing, going to hell and looking into his family's faces would be the same. His hands had already started trembling. If Joe saw it he would be in hell of a trouble. He was also becoming restless and irritated. It won't be long before I pass out Frank thought. He tried to do what he had been practising the past six weeks; Imagine white rooms, shut out the voices, shut out the faces, move back into the white room, keep moving to the far end of the mind.
Frank wasn't sure how many minutes had gone by since he had dazed out but he was soon startled by his brother's voice.
"Frank, did you hear that ?" Joe asked excited about something. Frank glared at his brother annoyed. But Joe didn't seemed to have noticed his annoyance.
"Lina is interested in becoming a private investigator, like dad."
At first Frank was confused. He didn't really know how his dad's profession got pulled into the conversation, but then again he was dazed out the whole time.
"Was interested. " Lina corrected and serenely looked up at the ceiling as if reminiscing about old times
"Seriously ? You have no idea how cool that profession is. Coming to think about, it makes me wonder how Frank and I never thought of that. Right Frank."
"About what ?" Frank asked annoyed.
"Lina's idea, of course " Joe said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "We could sharpen our skills the way she does"
"I am not sharpening anything Joe, its just a form of entertainment when you see Sherlock Holmes."
"Its brilliant !" Biff and Vanessa exclaimed.
"What idea ?" Frank asked annoyed yet curious.
" Lina watches these crime investigation channels and tries
to figure who the murderer or the thief is before the show reveals it themselves." Callie explained calmly.
Frank had to admit it was a brilliant exercise to the mind.
"You have to come home one day, dad would be surprised." Joe said.
The bell soon rang indicating that lunch period had ended.
Frank knew he had to get his locker fast. He stumbled out of his class room and dashed past a few juniors in a hurry. He stumbled again and nearly fell if an arm hadn't caught him.
"You alright ?" Lina asked.
Frank looked at her in surprise. There was no way she could have caught up to him so fast.
"Ye...yeah." Frank stammered.
"What do you want ?"he asked a bit harshly than he had intended. He winced at his own tone. It was the effect of the drugs, he couldn't help it. But Lina didn't happen to show any expression of hurt or anger.
"You left this." she said and held out his physics book.
"Oh! umm... thanks."
"You're welcome." she said serenely and disappeared into the crowd that was slowly forming as the last bell had been given.
Frank stumbled again. He was starting to feel lightheaded. Everything seemed doubled to his eyesight and his legs were feeling weak. He nearly fell face first again, only this time Joe caught him.
"Frank ? What happened ? Are you ill ?" Joe asked in concern.
"I'm fine." Frank snapped at his brother "what do you want ?"
"I just came to tell you that I've got practice today."
"Fine." Frank mumbled struggling to maintain consciousness.
"Hey, I can cut practice if you want me to take you to doc..."
"Oh! Shut up and mind your own damn business Joe, I said I am fine" Frank snapped loudly.
Callie, Biff, Tony, Vanessa, Chet and Phil joined the brothers at that moment.
"Frank, Joe was just..." Callie began
"What part of 'I am fine' don't you people understand ?" Frank shouted.
"But Frank..." Chet started.
"Oh shut up!" Frank shouted loudly, causing students to turn in their direction.
" , is something wrong ?" Their Math teacher Mr. Ronald , asked strictly.
"No. " Frank replied and he ran out of the school before anyone could question him.
He lost track on how long he had run, he kept running and a familiar sense of déjà vu filled him. This was exactly how he had felt when he was escaping that wretched lunatic. Memories flooded him. Frank collapsed near an alley, not even bothering to find out where he was. The man's blood was in his hands. Frank tried to stay awake, but soon he gave in to the darkness.
Frank didn't know how long he stayed unconscious until he felt someone shaking him. He tried to push that person away.
"Please Frank, don't push me away, I am trying to help you."
Frank tried to speak but he wasn't able to open his mouth.
"You'll die here Frank."
It took a few moments for Frank's sub conscious mind to know that it was a girl's voice.
The girl put a hand around his back and pulled his other hand to her shoulders steadying him.
Frank didn't know for how long but the last thing he knew was, he was being placed upon some concrete and he heard some gong sound in the distance.