Author: AliciaLily PM
Everything seems fine in the land of Hardy until Joe starts receiving mysterious cards in the mail and Frank gets a call from someone in his past. Part Five in my series but you don't have to have read the previous stories to understand. :pRated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Romance - Frank H. & Joe H. - Chapters: 30 - Words: 70,773 - Reviews: 375 - Favs: 55 - Follows: 99 - Updated: 08-18-12 - Published: 02-04-09 - id: 4840710
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I have to say, I'm very sorry to those of you in the medical field or to those of you who know about radiation/bone marrow transplants. As many of you know I haven't updated this story in awhile (har har) and the extensive research I did into the topic over a year and a half ago has since…gotten a bit muddled. I'll do my best as far as accuracy goes and I will try and refresh my memory as best as I can but…well, I'm so dang excited to be writing again that I don't want to stop my forward momentum. I'd like to get as many chapters done as I can before life drags me back. SO, in conclusion I apologize for any inaccuracies or vagueness when referring to Frank's treatment. Perhaps in the future I will return to these chapters and fix my mistakes. Over and out.
Nancy couldn't believe what she was hearing, "what?" she managed to choke out as she looked down at her and Frank's hands clutched together. For some reason she was having a hard time looking at Frank, afraid that if she did this moment would shatter apart and she would find herself still asleep, alone in their bed back at home.
"Nan," Frank whispered softly, "look at me, please."
Slowly, she looked away from their hands and up at Frank's smiling face. "Yes?"
"I'm so sorry Nan, to put you through all this," Frank squeezed her hand again.
Nancy's brows drew together, "What are you talking about?"
"I'm sorry," Frank repeated, "I don't know what happened, I don't know what's going on but I can see on your face that you're hurt and upset. I'm so sorry for putting that look there."
"Oh Frank," to Nancy's horror tears started leaking out of her eyes. She raised both of her hands to cover her face and mumbled, "Don't be sorry, don't be sorry. Please, please don't be sorry. I'm-I'm-I'm…"
"Shh," it took all of Frank's strength and a great deal of pain to raise his hand and run it down Nancy's hair. He gently pulled her head down to rest on his chest as she cried. "I do love you Nan, I love you."
"I love you too, Frank," she whispered into his chest. When she heard his sharp intake of breath she suddenly realized how her position could be bringing him a great deal of pain. "Oh my God!" She flew backward off the bed and stood up. "I'm so sorry, I just keep messing up…did I hurt you? Of course I hurt you. I'm so sorry."
It had hurt-immensely so-but it had felt better to have Nancy near him after the terrifying unsure fog he had been living in. "Come back," Frank motioned to the bed. "It's okay, let's talk."
Nancy hesitated but came back to sit on the edge of the bed. When Frank grabbed her hand she looked at him, "Are you sure?"
Frank tried not to show how much it hurt as he nodded his head, "Yes."
Nancy was silent for a few minutes, "You remember…us?
Frank nodded and began to tell her about his dream, the one of them standing on the beach after Bernie and Mary Anne's vow renewal. Frank looked down at their hands and lifted up Nancy's unadorned left hand. "Where's your ring?"
"Um…" Nancy looked down and remembered, in the depths of her sadness last night, taking the ring off and placing it on a chain around her neck. "It seemed to upset you so much I thought…" she pulled the chain out from under her shirt to show Frank.
"Oh," Frank looked sad, "I really am sorry Nancy."
"Don't be sorry," Nancy said quickly, hating all of his apologies for something he couldn't control. "Here," she unclipped the necklace and pulled the ring off the chain and began to put it on her ring finger.
"Here, let me," Frank said and reached over to slide the ring back where it belonged. "I'd like to kiss you, but I don't think I can pull myself up that far…you'll have to come to me."
"Are you sure?" Nancy asked.
"Stop worrying and get over here and kiss me," Frank smiled.
"Okay," Nancy returned the smile before she leaned over and kissed Frank softly on the lips. The kiss wouldn't go down in the history books as the most passionate kiss of all time but it was certainly the most heartfelt and loving kiss either had ever experienced. In that moment, it was just the two of them and their shared love for one another.
Someone tapping on Frank's hospital room door had them breaking apart but they both smiled at each other as they waited for whoever it was to enter.
Fenton and Laura entered the room first followed by Frank's doctor, "Hi Mom, Dad."
"Glad you're awake son," Fenton said with a smile.
"Hi honey," Laura smiled and came to stand on the other side of the bed with her husband.
The doctor stood at the end of the bed, "You're looking a little better Frank." He looked down at the chart in his hands and then looked back at Frank, "We'll be prepping you for your first round of radiation here shortly."
"But I thought we didn't have a bone marrow match yet?" Frank asked.
"Joe finally called us back," Fenton explained.
"Is Joe here?" Frank asked.
Fenton shook his head, "not yet, he'll be here as soon as he can."
"What if he's not a match? Shouldn't we wait to start the treatment until we know for sure?" Frank looked from the doctor to his mom and dad and back again.
"I'm afraid we don't have the luxury of that kind of time," the doctor looked at Frank with regret in his eyes. "Your tests from this morning are quite alarming. It seems that the toxin in your system is mutating and multiplying at an incredible rate. If we don't do this now, I'm afraid of what the consequences might be."
"Which are?" Frank asked.
The doctor shrugged, not sure what to say, given that he had never seen anything quite like this. "My best guess? Memory loss, paralysis, loss of certain limb function, liver failure or possibly death." The doctor looked at the Hardy's and Nancy, who sat looking at him in shock. "I'm sorry I don't have more specific information but it's for that reason I feel it necessary to start preparing your son for a bone marrow transplant. In my opinion, it's his only option and it's the best course of action."
Fenton seemed to be the only one in the room able to speak. He cleared his throat and in a voice thick with emotion, thanked the doctor.
Joe watched as New York came into view out of the plane window. In a few minutes he would land in New York and in no time after that he would be at the hospital, able to see his brother with his own two eyes.
He couldn't help but feel as if he had failed his older brother, letting Beatrice slip through his fingers, literally walking away from the retribution he so craved. Of course logically he knew that retribution could wait…that the only choice he had was to come back and save his brother.
When the plane landed Joe grabbed his bag out of the luggage compartment and disembarked. He walked out of the terminal and headed toward the line of taxis. "Joe!" he looked around to find the source of the voice and stopped when he saw Vanessa running toward him. He dropped his bag and opened his arms so she could jump into them. He hugged her back, "Joe, you frustrating stupid idiot, I love you." She smiled and kissed him full on the mouth.
"Hey, who are you calling an idiot?" Joe laughed and kissed her again.
"I must have called you a hundred times in the last couple of days and you answered like, two of those calls," Vanessa mock pouted.
"I was in the middle of the woods!" Joe protested. "There was mud and water and dirt and I lost my watch!"
Vanessa laughed, "I can see that," she looked down at his trashed sneakers and muddy pants. "I'm surprised they let you board the plane looking like that."
"I'm a very important man, babe. Of course they did," Joe slung his arm over her shoulder as they walked out of the airport. "How did you know when to pick me up?"
"You're not the only one with detective skills in this relationship," Vanessa informed him and motioned to where she had parked the car.
"I guess not," Joe chuckled and threw his bag into the trunk of Vanessa's car. When they were driving out of the airport parking lot, Joe's hand resting on the back of Vanessa's seat he looked at her, "Thanks for picking me up, how's Frank?"
Vanessa's face grew serious; "They're prepping him for his first round of radiation right now."
"Oh," Joe settled back in his seat and watched the city rush by. He suddenly felt very tired, the last couple of days of little sleep catching up to him."
"Did you get to sleep on the plane?" Vanessa asked sympathetically, as usual reading him like a book.
"A little," Joe lied. In truth, he had been too keyed up…full of guilt and worry to settle down and truly sleep.
"He's going to be okay Joe," Vanessa took one of her hands off the steering wheel to run her fingers through his hair. Joe nodded but didn't say anything. "He remembered his relationship with Nancy this morning."
Joe jerked his head back around to face Vanessa, "What?"
Vanessa smiled, "Yep, he said he dreamed of a conversation he and Nancy had on the beach at Bernie and Mary Ann's wedding. When Nancy came out of the room and told me she could barely get the words out through her tears. I've never seen Nancy this emotional before."
"She and Frank have a long history," Joe murmured. He was silent for a moment, thinking about everything. "I always knew they belonged together and that five year period when they didn't talk to each other was so frustrating. I'll never forget Frank's expression when he realized that Nancy and I still talked regularly." Joe chuckled softly. "It was obvious from day one, even when they were both dating other people, how they felt about each other. They're so perfect for one another."
"I know," Vanessa sighed, "They're both annoyingly right about everything all the time."
Joe laughed, "Yes, they are."
"Can we please just wait a little longer?" Frank pleaded with the doctor as the nurse moved around the room getting things ready.
"We've already waited a long time," the doctor shook his head.
"You said that after I had this treatment my immune system would be shot and nobody would be allowed to be in the same room as me without a lot of protective gear…or maybe not even then. I just want to see my brother when he gets here. Please," Frank put forth the same argument he had been using all day to delay the doctor.
"I truly am sorry Frank, but I've let you push this off all day. We really can't wait any longer," the doctor nodded to the nurse who reached down and released the brake on Frank's hospital bed. They wheeled Frank out of the bedroom and into the hallway where two people he hadn't expected stood "Bernie? Mary Ann?" Frank smiled tiredly.
"Hello," Bernie's booming voice filled the hallway. "Now just what have you gone and done to yourself?"
"Don't you listen to him, Frank. He's old and crotchety. Take care of yourself, we'll be seeing you later." Mary Anne smiled at him.
"Thanks for coming," Frank smiled at the cute couple. Fenton and Laura stood off to the side and smiled at the exchange. Frank looked at his parents, "No word from Joe?"
"I'm afraid not," Laura answered her son sadly, "But Vanessa went to pick him up. He'll be here when you get out."
"Okay," Frank nodded and turned to Nancy. "See you in a bit."
"See you," Nancy agreed and leaned over to kiss Frank lightly on the forehead. She watched as Frank was wheeled down the hallway toward the bank of elevators.
Joe rushed into the hospital and quickly followed Vanessa to the elevators, "What floor is he on?"
"Seven," Vanessa answered as she pushed the button. Joe willed the elevator to move faster, he wanted to see his brother before he went in for treatment. The floors slowly moved by as Joe grew more and more anxious.
"Come on," Joe murmured under his breath. When the elevator finally reached the seventh floor her burst out into the reception area and looked around wildly.
"This way," Vanessa led him down one of the hallways toward a waiting room. When Joe saw his parents he rushed forward and gave them both huge hugs.
"Frank?" Joe asked.
"I'm sorry son, you just missed him," Fenton said, a look of regret on his face. "But you'll be able to see him in a couple of hours."
Joe's face fell. In a couple of hours there was no telling what kind of shape Frank would be in, if he'd be able to talk or if Joe would even be allowed in the same room as him.
He had missed his chance.