Hi, everyone I'm back with Aftermath the sequel to Pressure. First off I want to thank everyone for reading, reviewing or following my last story Pressure you are all wonderful. Again thank you to my beta reader elven buddy who is doing a wonderful job.
I decided to revise my story a bit, there still will be a trial, you'll get to know Henry a little bit more, and other characters and most importantly you'll find out what happened to Joe. aside from Frank and Joe, Fenton is one of my favorite characters. I love stories where he is more involved especially where his boys are concern. So I wanted to explore his family history a little bit, it will give Frank a better understanding of who he is after all everyone knows he takes after his father. In addition, for all you Frank and Callie fans there will be something for you too/ hopefully you'll like Callie in this she's going to be the strength that helps Frank to keep going to find Joe.
I have my story outlined and I only have the first Chapter done, it takes place right where I left off in the last chapter of Pressure. So what do you think?
The desperate search for Joe continues as everyone deals with the Aftermath of Jack Hayden's abuse/ Frank learns a Hardy family secret/ Fenton must deal with a personal issue of his own childhood that he regrets passing it on to Frank. Can they stay focused on finding Joe/ Can Joe hang on? Plus, The trial for Jack Hayden is a fast approaching. Henry suddenly refuses to testify against his abusive father/ Frank suspects it has to do with Joe. *It would help to read (Pressure rewritten) first, it would make this story since
After taking an hour or so to cool off, Frank made his way back to the barn, finding everyone sitting around the table eating and talking and generally having a good time.
Laura saw him and immediately got up and hurried over. "Frank, where's Joe?" she asked anxiously.
"Isn't he here?"
"We got into a bit of an argument," Frank glanced over at Henry before turning back to his mother. "He must still be angry with me."
"You know he can't go off by himself."
"He was heading towards the stable, he's probably still there if that's where he went."
"Hey, I can't find Duke." Chet announced as he hurried into the barn. "I went up to the house to check on him and the back door was wide open."
Alarm bells started to go off in Frank's head. Frank glanced over at Con as the police officer rose from where he'd been sitting at the table. "Everyone stay here. Baker, call the Chief."
"I'm calling Fenton." Laura reached for her phone, doing her best not to panic, wanting to stay in control for everyone else's sake. "Frank, go find Joe!"
Without a second thought, Frank took off running towards the stable, with Con not far behind him. Horrible thoughts ran through his mind, not knowing what was happening to his brother. "Oh God let him be okay." Each step they ran seemed like an eternity.
Finally they reached the stable where they could hear Millie causing a ruckus in her stall. Bursting through the door Frank exclaimed, "OH MY GOD!" He stopped in shock, Con practically bumping into him; there at their feet lay Duke, covered in blood. It was obvious to them both that the dog was dead.
And there was Hayden, standing next to the dog, gripping a knife, dripping blood. "Put the knife down, now!" Con ordered, aiming his gun that he'd pulled out of its holster at Hayden's head.
Dropping the knife, Hayden made a dash for it, trying to escape. He was quickly brought to the floor though, having been tackled by Frank who'd anticipated the move.
"Where's my brother?" Frank hissed at the man.
"I don't know." Hayden panted as he stared up at Frank, a grin on his face.
"You son of a bitch! What have you done to my brother?"
"I don't know."
"You're lying. Tell me where he is...or I'll crush your windpipe." Frank snarled, giving the man an icy stare as his hands gripped Hayden's throat tightly. "Where's my brother!?"
"Frank! Stop!" Con pulled the elder Hardy boy off the teacher. "You don't want to do this."
"Go ahead, kill me." Hayden taunted him. "It's what I would do. You're just like me."
It was at that point that reinforcements in the form of Chief Collig, Sam, and Fenton arrived with numerous other officers. "Frank!" Fenton exclaimed in surprise, prying his son off of Hayden.
Finally Frank let go, keeping his gaze locked on Hayden. Together, Con Riley and Officer Baker hauled the teacher to his feet, pinning him against the stable wall.
This time Hayden stood face to face with Fenton. "Where's my son?!" Fenton demanded, narrowing his eyes and giving the man a death-glare. It was taking every last bit of the strength he had to stay in control and not kill the man himself; finding Joe was his main priority, every second counted.
"I don't know." Hayden said firmly.
"Riley! Take him to the station! Maybe he'll feel like talking there." Chief Collig ordered. "Then I want a full scale search for Joe started."
"Yes sir!" Con slapped a pair of handcuffs on Hayden's wrists before walking Hayden out to the waiting police car, trailed by Fenton and Frank. The crowd watched as Hayden was deposited into the back of the car, all wondering the same thing: where was Joe?
Sam and Charles Morton as well as all Frank and Joe's friends eagerly volunteered to help in the search for Joe. The more people looking, the faster they hoped he'd be found, after all. Callie stayed with the other women, helping them to clean up; she wanted to stay nearby in case they needed her, they were both upset, understandably so.
Feeling guilty, Henry hung back, unsure of what to do now. All he knew was that Joe was missing and it was his fault, everyone must hate him now.
Tire tracks were found on the far side of the stable. The road at the back of the property, not too far from the stable led to the highway. The Mortons discovered that the lock on their back door had been hacked off, and inside the kitchen a large knife had been taken, presumably used to kill Duke. Hamburger meat was missing from the fridge; they suspected it had been used to lure the dog from the house.
Frank and his father were in the stable searching for clues. "We have to find him Dad, before it's too late. Joe and I had an argument, I have to apologize...I have to make things right..." The elder brother's voice cracked as he confessed to his father, letting the tears fall as he gave into his emotions.
Fenton Hardy put his arms around his son, who practically fell into his arms crying. When Frank mastered himself, he released him and instead laid a hand on his shoulder. "We'll find him Frank."
Frank nodded, not replying as his eyes continued to scan the room. Suddenly, Frank spotted something on the ground. Picking it up, his heart skipped a beat; it was Joe's leather wallet.
"It's Joe," he showed his father.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," Frank answered as he scanned the wallet's contents. "His credit cards and cash are still inside. Which means..."
"Which means Joe left it behind to indicate he was here," Fenton finished for his son. Anxiously, they finished searching the room, not finding anything else.
"I will find you, Joe." Frank vowed. "I promise I will find you…"
Saturday 6:45 pm:
"Where are you Joe? What has Hayden done to you?" Frank stood next to his favorite oak tree, his hand clenched around Joe's wallet, the only clue that Joe had managed to leave behind. The warm evening breeze blew through his hair as he watched the sun set over the pond.
Normally, Frank would have enjoyed watching the beautiful scene, but right now it was the enemy. It was now nearly three and a half hours since Joe had gone missing. That was too long in Frank's book. He felt as if his little brother was slipping farther and farther away from him with every minute that ticked by.
Mr. Morton had willingly and wholeheartedly given his permission for the authorities to search his property for the younger Hardy boy. All the Hardys' friends had spent most of the day expressing their concern and helping in the search for Joe.
Henry pretty much kept quiet and out of the way. That was fine with Frank as he wasn't ready to deal with him just yet. Considering how angry he still was, Frank didn't trust himself around Henry at the moment. Everyone, including Chief Collig and his officers, was still searching for his brother and they had yet to find a single sign of Joe's whereabouts.
Earlier in the day, Frank had gone down to the barn where the women were still cleaning up from the party. He'd found both his mother and Mrs. Morton in tears, completely devastated by the day's events. He'd stayed with them for a bit, offering them what comfort he could. Everything was going to be fine...they'd find Joe soon...all while trying to convince himself of the same.
He hadn't really known what to say to Mrs. Morton, other than that he was sorry for what Hayden had done, both to her home and dog. The last thing he'd wanted was to see his friend's mother hurt like that.
It was at that point that Frank could feel himself sliding into hopelessness and despair. His life without Joe...just the possibility was enough to make Frank think part of his soul was dying. He shut his eyes, blocking out the sight of the world, thinking to himself, "If Joe's dead...I'll want to die too."
He didn't get the chance to continue his inner monologue as that was when he was suddenly grabbed by the arm, the with a tight grip. Frank opened his eyes to discover his beautiful girlfriend, practically dragging him away from everyone else. Callie would be considered small next to his six foot one frame, but people often didn't realize just how strong she really was. She was very capable of knocking some sense into him...as he knew she would be now, just by seeing her expression.
"Frank Hardy, don't you dare talk like that! Don't even think about it! I'm glad your mother didn't hear what you said; she certainly doesn't need to hear that kind of talk. If you continue talking like that, it means you're giving up on Joe." She said firmly, voice not wavering at all, in spite of her stifling a sob.
Her large hazel brown eyes bore into his brown eyes and added, "Joe may be impulsive and careless at times, and lord knows he's been through a lot at such a young age; but he's always managed to pull through because he's a fighter. And that's something you need to be right now."
It was only then that Frank realized that he must've been thinking out loud, leading to Callie overhearing him and thus leading to his girlfriend's tirade.
"So don't ever underestimate your brother, Frank. I believe he's alive," She swallowed a lump in her throat. "Have some faith that he will come back to you. Joe won't leave his big brother…not like this." Frank shoved the thought from his mind, his eyes wandering until they came to rest on Chet who was in the process of digging his dog's grave.
Suddenly the horrible image he'd witnessed earlier that day came back to him. If Hayden was capable of using a knife to kill a dog...if he could do that to an animal...was it possible he'd done the same thing to Joe? Frank shook his head violently, trying to escape the mental image.
He was a man of facts and logic. He needed proof, solid proof. He needed to see Joe's body for himself before he could ever believe his brother was dead. Until then, Frank would remain hopeful that his little brother was alive.
A small smile spread across his face as he glanced again at his girlfriend. "Thank you Callie." He really didn't know what he'd ever do without her. "You're right; Joe is alive. I can feel him". Unconsciously he ran a hand over his heart, rubbing the area as it ached.
Frank looked up at the sky, praying silently, "I know I don't do this very often, but please God, help me find my brother." He felt tears flowing down his face when he thought of Joe.
"Frank, are you alright?"
Frank turned his head to see Fenton coming up beside him as Callie discreetly moved away. "Yeah, I just came up here to clear my head, I'll be fine." He cleared his throat and finding his face wet from tears, quickly wiped them away. "I feel like I'm trapped in a nightmare that I can't wake up from, no matter how hard I try."
"I know what you mean." Fenton agreed as he put a comforting arm around his eldest. He knew exactly how he felt as he was feeling the same way; fear, worry, and anger were all warring against each other, fighting for dominance.
He was doing his best to keep it together and not fall apart for the sake of his family. He knew he was being a little hypocritical though, telling Frank it was okay to be open in regards to his feelings when he himself did the complete opposite. But Fenton could not afford to fall apart now, there was too much to do in order to find Joe and put a stop to Hayden.
With that, his thoughts turned to Joe, his baby boy and soon to be high school senior. His youngest had been through a lot of rough patches; more than any other kid his age. Iola's tragic death had definitely been the darkest time of his life.
Fenton had never forgiven himself for that poor girl's death. That day should never have been allowed to happen. A young girl had lost her life, her parents, his friends, had lost their daughter; a brother had lost his sister and his youngest son had lost the love of his life. All of that had happened because of Fenton.
Then his thoughts turned to his first-born and soon to be Princeton man. Fenton could not be any prouder of Frank. Although Frank had had his share of rough moments, his life had never been quite as dark as his brother's. He'd never thought of himself as a normal child while growing up, Fenton knew. He'd always kept to himself, often being criticized by outsiders, for being antisocial and insecure.
Frank had always been a quiet, serious child and been very intelligent. Fenton had never seen any child conduct himself with the pose and maturity that Frank did. Frank's intelligence sometimes worked against him though. He'd found socializing and making friends hard as a child because he'd been more advanced than most other kids his age.
There had been times that Frank would have preferred to stay stuck in his room, studying, rather than going out to play with his friends. Fenton and Laura tried their best to always encourage their son to go out, have fun and just enjoy being a kid. After all, childhood only lasted so long. But, Joe turned out had been the magic solution. He'd always managed to push his big brother into being more outgoing and social.
Even though Frank took after Fenton in so many ways, often the elder Hardy regretted that being antisocial was one trait his son had inherited from him. Hiding how he felt was something Fenton Hardy was very good at and it was probably the worst part of himself he could've passed on to his children.
Fenton had never imagined, when he'd decided to become a private investigator, that his decision would ever put the people he cared for, that was to say his wife and children, in danger. Some of the criminals he'd dealt with over the years had lost their lives during altercations with him. It was only natural he supposed that they or their loved ones would want revenge though he had nothing to do with his enemies' life choices. Fenton couldn't even count the number of times either of his sons had fallen prey to his enemies.
Frank and Joe were Fenton's world. From the day Frank had been born, to be followed by Joe a year later, he'd promised to love them and to always keep them safe...and now he'd failed them both. He was supposed to be this big, world-famous detective, how had he failed in protecting his own children? A missing child was every parent's worst nightmare. The thought of Joe lying somewhere badly hurt or worse...Fenton pushed the thought out of his head. "No, no, Joe is alright."
The whole nightmare had started with the incident at school involving both Joe and Henry not more than a few weeks ago. Joe had quarreled with the teacher; it ended with Hayden in the hospital and Joe in jail. All because Joe had found out that, his teacher was abusing Henry at school. That led to Joe finding out that Henry was Hayden's son and not his only victim; other students were involved too. Hayden had threatened to hurt Frank if Joe told anyone about what he knew.
Then his mind flashed back to the image of Frank, tied to that dirty old bed as he, Sam and the police had burst into that basement and found Hayden standing over his eldest son, ready to beat him with that belt. As for what the bastard had done to Joe...Anger ripped through Fenton as he thought of his baby boy shut in that rat infested closet.
Fenton's mind next flashed back to when they'd found Henry, lying on the kitchen floor all battered and bruised; the kid had almost died at the hands of his father. Henry was the star witness in the upcoming trial. Fenton's plan had been to remove the boy from his abusive home and place him with a loving foster family. He'd promised Joe that he would find Henry a place where he'd feel safe and secure; Fenton had thought that the Morton family would be the perfect place.
But now Fenton was beginning to regret his decision. How had this happened? How had his actions led to this? Hayden had found his way to the farm, killed an animal and now Joe was missing.
The guilt and shame were eating at Fenton because he was responsible for all of this, he should never have put the Morton family in that situation; they'd just lost their daughter for Pete's sake! He should never have put Henry on Charles and Donna Morton's shoulders. And then there was Frank...he'd asked his son to trust him. He thought back to that conversation with his son...
Frank turned away from the doorway to glance into the hallway where he saw his father striding towards him.
"I know you're not happy with this arrangement with Henry." Fenton said, he could see the evidence on his son's face the closer he got. "I need you to trust me."
"Dad, I know you have your reasons and I trust you," Frank answered, hesitating a beat before voicing his concern. "I have to ask; they won't get hurt right? The Mortons have already dealt with so much because of Iola."
"I know you're concerned son. Charles and Donna are both aware of all Henry's issues. They aren't alone in this; Chief Collig, Dr. Reese and I will stay in touch with them to make sure everything's okay. And they'll keep us informed of any problems as well."
"Frank, I'm so sorry. I asked you to trust me and then let you down. Now the Mortons' house got broken into, their dog was killed and your brother is missing." Fenton blinked back tears. "God…I won't be able to live with myself if Joe…"
"Dad, don't do this to yourself. Joe's alive; I know he is." Frank stopped his father from saying any more. "Hold on to this," he handed Joe's wallet to his father. "This is Joe's way of telling us that he's still with us."
Fenton closed his eyes, clutching Joe's wallet, he drew it to his chest where he held it. He didn't trust himself to speak and so only nodded as a single tear ran down his cheek.
"Do you really think everyone's going to blame you for what Hayden did?" Frank asked gently.
Fenton didn't answer, instead he just opened his eyes. The sad look gave Frank all the answer he needed, although he suddenly saw his father in a different light. Standing before him was not the strong, fearless detective that everyone normally saw. What Frank saw was just an ordinary man, one who hated the term, "famous".
Fenton Hardy thought of himself as just a normal human being. Being a detective and solving cases was just a job, albeit one Fenton enjoyed greatly. Becoming famous had never been his intention. Looking at his father now, Frank saw the stress and worry of a man who felt as though he'd let everyone including his own sons, down. And that was a heavy burden Frank knew.
"You didn't let anyone down. You did what you thought was best for everyone, like you've always done." Frank continued hoping to ease his father's pain. "If anything it's everyone else, Joe and I included, who owe you an apology. We took advantage of you because you go out of your way to help people; we know you're a man of integrity and outstanding character. Everyone respects you."
"Maybe you felt obligated to find a place for Henry to live because of the promise you made Joe. But Dad, it wasn't fair of Joe to ask you to do that; that's not your responsibility."
"The same goes for Mr. and Mrs. Morton. You explained the situation, as well as Henry's issues to them. They could have refused. However, they didn't; because they trust you, just as Joe and I do."
"Thank you for that." Fenton smiled gratefully at his son. "I don't know if I'd use the word obligated." Fenton rubbed his chin. "Then again, maybe I would. Nobody holds a gun to my head, making me do the things I do, I do it of my own volition because I care about people. I've tried to make the world a better place for you and your brother; to show you that there are some good people in the world. I do it because I love you both."
Fenton continued on grimly. "However, I am responsible for all of this and I need to know what happened."
For a brief moment neither of the two spoke, each lost in their own thoughts. "Then I'm responsible as well." Frank huffed wearily. He wasn't going to let his father take the entire blame; not when he felt just as guilty and had played his own part in the situation they were now in. "Lately, my thoughts have been all over the place dealing with my own issues."
"Maybe if I hadn't blown up at Joe the way I did," Frank began telling his father everything, feeling even more guilty as he continued. "He wouldn't have gone off by himself. Maybe I should've gone with them to pick up Henry at the hospital. Maybe I could have prevented them from stopping and letting Henry get his hair cut."
"Wait. What? They made a stop." Fenton cut in. He just looked at Frank, blinking. He was shocked, this was something he hadn't known about.
"Yes." Frank nodded as he noted the undertone of anger in his father's voice. "Con said Henry had asked if he could get his hair cut..."
"They were not supposed to make a stop." Fenton's anger began to rise. "They were supposed to come straight here from the hospital." Fenton couldn't believe what he was hearing. How could they have been so careless?
Finally finding his voice, Fenton began firing questions at his son. "Did any of them say where they'd stopped or mention seeing anyone following them? Were they paying any attention at all to their surrounding?" He took a calming breath. "Both Con and Joe should know better than to do what they did."
Frank just shook his head, now feeling even guiltier since he couldn't answer his father's questions. "I don't know. I didn't get the chance to ask them. I was livid when I saw Henry's new haircut, after everyone went down to the barn to eat dinner, I stayed back and had it out with Joe."
"Why on earth would Henry's haircut make you so angry?" Fenton's brows knit together as he struggled to understand.
"I take it you haven't seen Henry yet, have you?" It was more a statement than a question.
"No, I've been a little preoccupied with trying to find your brother." Fenton fired back. "That is completely out of character for you...I understand that you're dealing with your own issues, but your job was to keep an eye on things while you were here."
"I also know that when Joe's hurt or in trouble, your judgment becomes impaired. So obviously, this issue has to do with Joe." He concluded.
"Henry cut and dyed his hair blond to look like Joe." Frank was still fuming over that. "It's more than just a haircut; it's actually a combination of things. There are some disturbing things about Henry that I think you need to know about. I probably should've told you this sooner. Basically, I think Henry is becoming just like Hayden."
Fenton just stared at his son; Frank knew it was time to let his father know what else had been going on.
Frank took a deep breath and launched into the story of Henry's odd behavior; the drawing depicting Joe as a superhero, Henry's angry reaction to Biff's punching Joe in the shoulder. He told his father about how Joe seemed to be in denial, always defending Henry's actions as normal, concluding with why he and his brother had been arguing lately.
"I had a feeling there was something going on between you two." Fenton asked directly, "What about the nightmares?"
"The nightmares?" Frank repeated.
"Yes the nightmares." Fenton nodded. "Ever since Joe got home from the hospital, your mother and I saw the underlying tension between you both. We noticed that Joe wasn't acting like himself, being quiet and distant is more like you than it is like him."
"I know he's dealing with a lot; your leaving soon has only added to the strain he's under. The panic attacks have gotten worse haven't they? I'm pretty sure that's why he's been having nightmares."
Frank gazed up at the evening sky, remembering the promise he'd made to his brother, before looking back down at his father. "I'm sorry Dad; I can't really answer that because I made a promise to Joe that I wouldn't say anything. He promised me he would continue with his therapy."
Fenton sighed wearily. "Alright, I'm not going to ask you to break a promise you made to your brother. You're entitled to your secrets, but you also have to know your limits. It's important for your mother and I know what's going on when it comes to your health."
"Okay, that's fair enough," Frank, agreed. "Once we have Joe back I promise we will sit down with you and Mom and talk."
"Okay, fair enough." Fenton, agreed. "And I look forward to hearing more; believe me we'll be talking about this." Fenton said steering back to the subject at hand, "But, right now finding your brother is top priority. Con was on his way to take Hayden to the station, so I'll talk to him there. First though, I need to have a chat with Officer Baker."
Having said that, Fenton left and made his way towards the farmhouse to find the elusive officer.