Chapter 5
The same afternoon

To the brothers' surprise in walked their friends Callie, Vanessa, Chet, Tony, Phil and Biff. "Hi guys" the brothers chorused in one voice as was usual. Callie, of course came up to the left side of Frank's bed, to give him a kiss. Pulling away she gently clasped his hand. "How are you feeling Frank?" Phil asked. The look the brothers shared at the question was not lost on their friends as Joe could pratically hear his brother's voice in his head. 'Do they know?' 'When Dad told me he was going to call them, he didn't mention telling them anything. I think he wanted us to tell them'. Joe hesitated. "Guys there's something we need to tell you" he looked away, tears slipping down his cheeks. Besides Frank, Vanessa was the first to notice her boyfriend's tears. "Joe? Baby what's wrong?" Instead of answering he took her hand, gently but firmly, looking to his older brother for help in telling their friends. "First" Frank suggested. "You better sit down". "What is it Frank?" Chet asked as he sat, his usually cheerful face now clouded with worry. "I don't know exactly how to say this considering I just found out like half an hour ago. Guys I'm" -"Dying" finished Joe, his voice flat but still cracking with emotion. All around the room there were various reactions: the girls gasped softly, Phil went pale and leaned forward to grab a handful of the sheets, Tony choked on a mouthful of water he'd been in the process of swallowing. Chet and Biff were shocked but were trying hard to hold onto their emotions.

To break the ever growing silence, Joe decided to ask his brother another question. "Frank? Why were"- Joe paused and corrected himself. "-are you so protective, big brother?" The brothers were oblivious to anyone but each other, although the others were listening closely. "I think" Frank said thoughfully. "Part of it had to do with our bond. But then again an older sibling's instinct is always to protect the younger ones. To do all they can to shelter them from pain." Another knock sounded on the door, the group of teens called together, for the person to enter.

An unfamilliar orderly walked in. "I'm sorry but visting hours are over for all except family members." The teens nodded as one by one they said their good bys to Frank and Joe. Once the Hardy boys' friends had left the room and were a safe distance down the hall, Samuel resumed his normal voice. "Ha, both Hardy boys are here this time! And Frankie'll be dying pretty soon. Why not end both their lives? That way Joey won't have to mourn his big brother's death" Samuel asked himself out loud. Frank who had frozen in fear when he heard Samuel's voice, now regained his voice. "No! You better not touch a hair on his head!" Frank hissed furiously, pointing a finger at his younger brother, who sat there paralysed with fear as he realized they were in the hands of a terrorist.

Keeping eye contact with Frank, Samuel moved to stand behind Joe, his gun pressing into the younger Hardy's right temple. "If you don't surrender and come with me right now, your brother's dead. Got it?" Joe's horrified gaze met Frank's. 'What do we do?' Joe seemed to be asking Frank wordlessly. 'For now nothing. Wait! I can hear footsteps in the hall!' Silently more peple entered the room. Samuel, oblivious, didn't realize that a number of police officers were behind him, waiting for an opportunity to overpower him. Frank, realizing this alerted Joe to their presence, telling him to act like he was unawares so that Samuel would not be alerted. " Well, Frankie- boy? Are you coming or will I have to shoot little bro?" Frank pretended to think for a second. "I don't know. I mean if I go with you, are you going to hurt Joe anyways or leave him alone completely?" Samuel, stunned at the honesty of Frank's question, paused and lowered his gun so that instead of pointing at Joe's temple it was pointed at his stomach.

Frank, acting like he had decided to go with Samuel, slowly swung his legs to the right side of the bed. Samuel, thinking that Frank was coming with him, lowered his gun until it was pointing at the floor. There was the opening that the police and Fenton had been looking for! Fenton leaped forward, catching the escaped serial killer unaware, sending them both crashing to the floor. Because Fenton Hardy had had the element of surprise on his side, he was quickly able to subdue Samuel and grabbing him firmly by the arm, he dragged him over to Con Riley who was standing at the head of the bunch of police officers. Con turned to see his officers. "Jameson! Phillips! Bring DeShannon to the station and book him for both attempted kidnapping and attempted murder". The two officers saluted Con then broke away from the group and took Samuel from Fenton's grasp, grabbing his arms. "You son of a bitch!" Fenton hissed at the prisonner. " If you dare hurt a hair on either of my sons' heads you will PAY! And that's a promise!" "Give it up Hardy!" Samuel snapped back at the irate father. "You pretend to be this protective father, but in truth you're never around when they"- he stabbed a finger in Frank and Joe's general direction "-need you most".

Fenton reacted like an angry male lion. Roaring his rage, taking a step forward, he slapped Samuel full across the face. DeShannon's head snapped to the side. Con quickly nodded to the group of officers that were with him as if to say 'Get him out of here'. They obeyed hurriedly, hussling Samuel out of the room. Glancing at the boys, Con gauged their reaction. Joe had a murderous expression on his face but as Con watched, amazed, Frank lay a calming hand on his younger brother's arm, instantly calming him. Turning back towards Fenton he copied the movement. "Fenton" Con called softly "it's ok. It's alright; your boys are safe". "D-Dad?" Frank called in a somewhat weak voice. That snapped the older Hardy out of his reverie instantly. "Yes Frank?" he immediately turned towards his eldest son. "I'm…." gasp "Having a ha"… gasp "hard time breat" gasp "breathing. Hurts". Fenton hurried over to take Frank's pulse on his left arm as Joe slipped an arm around his brother both for comfort as well as warmth.

Joe's chest started heaving and a scream was ripped from his throat as Frank's pain intensified. Against his will Frank cried out: his chest felt like it was constricting, like his breath was being cut off. Joe, despite how bad he was feeling his brother's pain, moved so that he was sitting behind his brother. Frank leaned back into Joe's embrace, wordlessly asking Joe to support him. "I'm here Frank", Joe whispered. "I won't leave you. I'm here".

As Fenton and Con looked on in horror Frank began to shiver uncontrollably and breathe even shallower than he already was, in Joe's embrace. Joe watched in growing horror as Frank started to cough up blood, first just a trickle leaked from the corner of his mouth, then it began to get worse. Joe, despite his efforts to stay strong, began crying. This was it he knew. These were Frank's last minutes. Fenton got up and left intent on going to get a nurse as well as Laura, so that she could say good-by. "Frank", Joe managed to plead through his tears, "don't leave me! Please big brother, stay with me! I need you so much. I can't live without you." Joe glanced at Con. Tears were unshamedly running down his face too.

Con could feel his heart breaking. He could hear Joe, who was still pleading with his older brother, begging him not to give in. "Please Frank! Stay with me! " He watched as Frank slowly reached up to clasp his younger brother's hand. "I.." cough. The blood was getting darker. "love…" Frank almost couldn't talk the blood was coming at such a fast rate. "you". Frank took a final breath and gently squeezed Joe's hand before his eyes slid closed for the last time, his hand limply falling from Joe's, his dark haired head lolling back until it was resting on Joe's shoulder. "NOOOO!" Joe screamed. "NO! FRANK! No" He moaned, tears falling down his face like a waterfall. "Don't leave me". Con left the room to give Joe some privacy and give Fenton and Laura the news. But before he did that he had to go inform Dr Wilson.

Five minutes later Con Riley met Laura and Fenton Hardy outside the elevators that would take them to the second floor of the hospital's west wing. Taking off his police cap, he sighed 'Why me' he thought to himself. "Fenton, Laura" he began looking each parent in the eyes. "Frank-he-he-he passed away a few minutes ago". He paused and glanced at the floor. "I'm sorry" the police officer whispered, "Frank was a good kid". "NO!" Laura screamed. "FRANK!" Fenton's strong arms were circling her as he tried vainly to offer some comfort. "My baby!" Laura wailed. 'Dear Lord' Fenton prayed. 'Give me the strength to get my family through this'.

Stepping outside for a minute, Con made a call on his cell phone to headquarters. So as to not worry his trainee officer Con decided to keep his voice as light and as carefree as possible until he could talk to Chief Collig. On the fourth ring Jameson picked it up. "Hey Jameson. It's Officer Riley". "Hello Sir". "Is the Chief nearby Jameson?" The answer came back positive. "Can I speak with him for a moment? It's very important". The next thing Con heard was the phone changing hands, then the Chief's voice came over the wire". "Hey Con! What's up?" "Hey Ezra" Con replied. "I-I"- Con stopped unsure of how to continue. Collig could pratically hear his friend's hesitation. "What is it, old friend?" "I-I need to talk to you. The hospital's quiet; can I come back to the station now?" The reply came instantly and without hesitation. "Sure Con. I have the next three hours free, come on back". Con sighed. "Thanks Ezra. I appreciate it" he replied gratefully. And with that the two police officers hung up.

About fifteen minutes later Con drove up to the police station and parked his cruiser in his assigned parking spot. Hurrying inside he went straight to Collig's office and knocked on the open door. Looking up from his desk, Collig greeted Con with a smile until he saw the look on Con's face. Getting up quickly, he walked past Con and closed his office door with a SNAP! and hurried over to Con. Guiding his friend to the chair in front of his desk, Ezra knelt in front of Con. Taking his friend's hand, he squeezed it in support, then asked, "Con…what is it?" Con took a deep breath and looked his friend and superior officer in the eye. "Okay, this isn't going to be easy for me to say.. so just keep quiet till I'm done alright?" He waited for his friend to nod. Con couldn't hold it back anymore. Finding out Frank would not survive an infection. The chances were high. Frank was dying. Seeing Samuel holding a gun on Joe in order to get Frank to come with him. The battle between Fenton and the terrorist. Frank about to die. Fenton leaving the room to get Laura. Frank dead in Joe's arms.

Con looked at his friend. Ezra Collig blinked, trying to comprehend what Con was telling him. Frank Hardy? Dead? It couldn't be true, it just couldn't! Frank was so young. So strong. He still had a life to live! Ezra got up, walked around his desk, settling in his chair and looked across at Con. "Oh my god! Con…are you serious? Please, please tell me you're joking!?" But Con just shook his head sadly, tears running down his face. Collig buried his head in his hands, blinking furiously. "How are Fenton, Laura and Joe taking it?" the police chief asked his voice breaking from emotion. "Well they're all upset which is understandable, but I think Joe's taking it the hardest".


Meanwhile back at the hospital, Dr Wilson entered Frank's hospital and knew instantly without a doubt that the Hardy brothers were the closest siblings she'd ever seen, or heard of. Only his older brother's death would get Joe crying as much and as hard as he currently was, deseprately pounding on his brother's chest doing chest compressions and giving mouth-to-mouth every 5 seconds, trying to revive him. Slowly Amanda approached the youngest Hardy. "Joe?" the doctor put a gentle hand on the teen's shoulder. Joe gasped and looked up at the doctor, his baby blue eyes almost swollen shut because of his crying so much. "Joe, I need to see Frank. We need to do a few tests on him. I promise I'll bring him right back to you". Dr Wilson made as if to take Frank from his younger brother, but Joe just continued his efforts.

After several more minutes Joe reluctantly stopped and tenderly kissed his brother's forehead. 'What a minute!' Joe thought to himself. 'It's warm. Dead people aren't supposed to be warm'. "A-Amanda?" Joe's voice was unsteady as he addressed the doctor who was still in the room. "Yes Joe?" "He-he's warm. Is this some kind of trick?" After blinking for a second before feeling the older Hardy boy's forehead. If what Joe was telling her was true, then Frank was... no how was that possible?

Yet as her compassionate hand brushed his forehead, Frank's eyes opened. "Joe?" "Ohmigosh! Frank!" Joe pratically leaped onto his brother's hospital bed and after pulling him up gently, engulfed Frank in a humougous hug. "I was so scared, I thought I'd lost you. What would I do without my other half?" Now Joe's tone was teasing. "I don't know Joe. However know that you'll never lose me. I'll always be here".