WHAT YOU SEE….
Isn’t Always What You Get.
by Ann ♥♪HB♪♥
Arriving at the hospital in one piece, he waited impatiently for the automatic double glass doors to slide open to admit him. Rushing as fast as he dared without causing a problem for patients and hospital staff and with terrible fear gripping his heart, he reached his brother’s floor.
Looking down the hallway, he spotted the security guard standing in front of the door. Feeling slight relief, he still wasn’t going to feel better until he saw his brother was okay.
Hearing loud arguing suddenly begin outside his door, the injured Hardy listened for a moment, frowning as he did so. Struggling to sit up, and after pulling out the IV, he reached for his robe lying at the end of the bed and put it on. He recognized one of the voices. With what seemed like superhuman effort, he walked toward the door, which felt much further away than he knew it to be.
Opening the door, he stood in shock as he saw two guys arguing. A security guard…..and….
“Joe?” Frank asked incredulously, looking at his brother. It was Joe, but….
“Frank, are you okay?” Joe asked anxiously from the hallway. Frank nodded slowly, his dark eyes still looking in puzzlement at…..Joe’s dark eyes. And hair.
“What…?” Frank asked, trying to guess what possible reason Joe could have for trying to look like his big brother. Why dark instead of Joe’s blond hair and blue eyes?
“Do you believe me now?” Joe asked the security guard.
“You look different than when you told me earlier about the danger your brother was in.” The security guard looked at Joe in confusion. “But, yeah, I believe you. Go ahead.”
“Thanks,” Joe said. He was about to step into the room, but Frank grabbed his arm with surprising strength for someone recovering from such an injury and pulled him in and shut the door.
“What is going on?!?” Frank demanded. Joe was trying to decide exactly how to start, having been so thankful that Frank was okay, he hadn’t had time to figure out how to explain to his brother what all was going on. The fact was he had really been hoping to have it all taken care of before Frank found out.
All of a sudden Frank swayed as dizziness assailed him. Seeing his brother about to pass out as he paled, Joe reached out to catch him. Carefully, he helped Frank back to his hospital bed.
“You’re doing one of my tricks, taking the IV out,” Joe noted, eyeing it lying over to the side.
“Joe, what is going on?” Frank’s eyes slid shut, waiting for the dizziness to cease. His younger brother looked at him in concern and called the nurse.
After she came, fixed the IV back, and gave Frank a short lecture, she left. Which meant it was time for Joe to explain, according to the look his brother gave him.
“Um…..,” Joe started. He ran a hand through his dark hair that, despite his efforts, was naturally trying to curl again.
“I’m waiting. What is going on?”
“It’s a long story, but I could make it a short one?” Joe offered, half joking. Seeing his brother’s serious expression remain unchanged, Joe sat down in a nearby chair to get his brother up-to-date.
“Okay…during the time you were asleep, I needed a break from the hospital and went to get some pizza nearby,” Joe said as he snuck a quick look at his brother. “I had your phone as you figured out, since you knew to call me on it, yeah, my battery was out – again, so I was doing right by having a phone with me.”
“Forget the defense, Joe, just tell me what happened.”
So Joe told Frank about the mob boss calling Frank’s phone, Joe’s plan, and how it had worked. Frank was silent for a few moments after Joe finished explaining.
“So you’re supposed to meet Gino to get the ledger, and then what? You think you’re going solo on this?” Frank’s expression informed his younger brother that his answer had better be ‘no’.
“I called Dad,” Joe said defensively. “You are just supposed to be getting better, healing.”
“Wait, back up. Does Dad know about your plan? Is he here?”
“Uh, he’s not here yet.”
“Your omission is pretty loud, Joe.”
“I couldn’t exactly tell him over the phone. The dude got your phone number; he could have been listening in. So I texted Dad with an SOS in code. He was already on his way here after hearing about you.”
“So I’m supposed to meet Jimmy with the ledger in less than five hours?”
“Well, sorta, but it’ll be me, not you.” Joe’s expression was every bit as determined as Frank’s.
Joe had no doubt, even though his brother’s face was calm, that Frank was boiling mad. His jaw moved slightly before he spoke. And when he did, it was clipped.
Joe waited, knowing whatever he said was not going to be the right thing. He’d learned that.
“What were you thinking?” Even as his brother asked that, Joe fought to remain quiet, despite his desire to answer the rhetorical question, to defend his actions. He could hear the words being spoken before they were even articulated by Frank. “We are a team; we don’t go off without the other’s knowledge.” He held up a hand to stop Joe’s words of defense. “I know, you were worried about me. I understand that. But, Joe, how do you think I’d feel if something had happened to you?” Frank was silent, the feeling of indescribable fear that always hits a person when they’ve almost lost a loved one still fresh in his mind.
“I do know and I was thinking I needed to do what I could! That’s why I did it, Frank!” Joe took the opportunity of Frank’s quietness to jump in. “I had to….” Wrong words.
“Had to? You had to?!?!?” It was never a good sign when the normally controlled Frank repeated himself.
“What’s going on?” asked a deep voice from the doorway, the quality the same as the two males arguing.
“Dad!” Joe exclaimed, thankful beyond words for the interruption. Giving dark haired Joe an arched brow look, Fenton moved over next to the hospital bed to check on his eldest.
“Are you okay, Frank?” Fenton asked gently. First things first. Then Joe was going to explain.
“From the injury, yes, from what your youngest has been doing, no.” Frank’s tone was matter-of-fact. Joe watched as Fenton turned to regard him seriously. He could tell his dad was waiting for an explanation. A good one.
“Joe, start talking.”
So he did, and very quickly caught his dad up to speed. Fenton closed his dark eyes a moment before opening them back up to look at his dark haired son…..his youngest one.
“Joe….you should have told your brother.”
“But, Dad, he was out! And I had to–,” Joe broke off his sentence when Frank cleared his throat. “I felt I needed to go take care of this.”
Fenton felt tempted to smile but refrained. His sons rarely fought, and when they did it was most always based on concern for the other’s safety, when it came right down to it. Their respect and their brotherly love was very obvious.
“Joe, no one is blaming you for the trouble Jimmy has caused, only the way you went in alone.”
“Dad, Jimmy is not going to let Joe just walk out of there,” Frank stated, his eyes clearly indicating he didn’t like the situation one bit.
“We’ll time it so the police will be there to arrest Jimmy and his mob,” Fenton said.
“Joe still has to get the book from Gino–,” Frank started saying.
“Does anyone want to hear the rest of my idea?” Joe interrupted. Fenton and Frank both looked over at Joe.
“Better be an improvement over your last one,” Frank muttered. Joe was undeterred by Frank’s lack of enthusiasm however. In a low, but excited, voice he mapped out his idea to his father and brother. When he’d finished explaining, both of the other men were nodding their heads in agreement.
“It’s crazy, but it could definitely work,” Frank said and his father nodded.
“We’ve got one shot at this,” Joe said. “So we better make it count!”