I wrote this a long time ago. It was originally supposed to be part of a story that originated from the song I'll Wait for You by Joe Nichols. I finally gave up on that. So this is just a bit of X-Mas airport fluff. I've decided that I'll let writing the real mysteries to the writers who are good at that and stick to humorous fluff oneshots myself. I've written so many little oneshots that were originally supposed to be parts of real stories but could never finish them. I wanted to post this one in the hope that it will bring a smile to somebody's face.
"No way," said Frank Hardy shortly. He steered his younger brother away from the Krispy Kreme store at the airport. "I'm not riding in a plane with you for 4 hours after eating a dozen donuts. You're hyper enough as it is." He softened his words with a grin. Like Joe, he was excited at the prospect of getting home to his family on Christmas. The Hardy brothers had been on a tough case in Texas for a week and were finally about to return to their home in Bayport just in time for Christmas.
Mock pouting, Joe followed his brother. As they passed gate 3C, he rummaged in the pocket of his jeans. He pulled out various random items including his keys, wallet, loose change, some bits of unreadable paper that had obviously gone through the wash, and some other unidentifiable objects. "Shit," he mumbled under his breath. Frank watched amusedly at all the junk Joe collected in his voluminous pockets.
"Looking for these?" Frank asked with a smirk, holding up a pair of tickets that he'd pulled out of his own pocket.
Joe grinned sheepishly. "Why yes, have you become a mind reader now?"
Frank snorted. "No, just smart, as always. Did you really think I would let you lose your ticket again?"
"That was an accident! It was years ago. I was young!" Joe said indignantly. "Besides, it was your fault," he added as an afterthought.
"Sure Joe, it's always an accident. And it was only two years ago. Do you call that young? And what do you mean it was my fault? Dad gave you your ticket and you lost it. End of story. I had nothing to do with it."
"I just misplaced it or dropped it," Joe muttered. "And besides, I was younger… younger than you!"
"Misplaced is the same as lost, Joe," Frank informed him. "And you'll always be younger than me; you're my baby brother." He ruffled Joe's blond hair. Joe ducked his head and looked around to make sure that no cute girls had seen that show of brotherly affection.
"Yeah, well, whatever," Joe replied with an indifferent shrug. He ran a hand through his wavy blonde hair to mess it up again the way it was before. Unfortunately, he hadn't combed his hair since they'd started the case, having been too tired to do anything but sleep. Now, it was matted and tousled, even though you couldn't tell looking at it. Joe's hand was stuck.
Realizing he'd left Joe behind; Frank looked over his shoulder and laughed out loud at Joe's predicament. His chuckle was loud enough to attract the attention of a nearby attractive brunette that giggled behind her ticket at Joe.
Joe scowled at Frank and quickly caught up to him with long strides, yanking his hand forcefully out of his hair with a loud, "ouch!" Now both the brunette and her friend were giggling. "I think I took out half my hair. It's never going to grow again," Joe muttered. "Quit smiling. It's not funny."
"C'mon Joe, you have to admit, that doesn't happen to normal people very often."
"Shut up," Joe scowled again, harder, "Like your hair is always all combed and neat, Mr. Perfect."
"At least I comb my hair," Frank returned good naturedly. "Unlike some people."
"I'm a guy. I don't need to comb my hair. You're just a geek… and a girl. I bet you even have a comb up your sleeve and a mirror in your pocket, just in case."
At this, Frank burst out laughing, causing a few more glances in their direction. "Dude, you're calling me a girl! I don't listen to Shania Twain!" he said, just a little too loudly.
"Shut up!" Joe exclaimed, frantically shushing. When they'd moved to a more secluded part of the airport, it was his turn to laugh. Frank looked at him for a minute before realizing his mistake. He smacked his forehead and with a roll of his eyes, sighed heavily. Now he'd never hear the end of it. Joe was now laughing almost hysterically and he clutched his side. "I only heard that on the radio and it got stuck in my head. How do you know the name of the artist?"
Frank blushed deeply. "Same way you did. Heard it on the radio and kept it on the station just a little longer than you. I don't usually listen to that, you know that."
"Are you kidding?" Joe asked incredulously. "You always listen to pansy music. I wouldn't be surprised if you listen to country… or worse… classical music secretly." At this, Joe violently mock shuddered.
Frank rolled his eyes again. "Joe, you know I don't. I heard it the same way you did. Besides, I listen to the same rock as you do."
"Whatever," Joe mirrored the look on his brother's face. He held out his hand. "Well?"
"Where's your comb?"
"Joe, I didn't say I had one." Joe gave him a look. "It's in my duffel. Hold on." Frank set his spontaneously packed bag on a chair and pawed through it, searching the contents. He finally held up a simple, black, travel size comb. Joe heaved a sigh of relief as he accepted it. "What?" Frank asked.
"For a second there, I thought it was going to be a pink, Barbie comb." Joe ducked Frank's fist with a chuckle and held it up to his face. He sniffed.
"Now what?" Frank wondered.
"You even wash it!" Joe asserted.
"Joe, hurry up and comb your hair, would you? I don't want to be seen with you. Your hair's all sticking up on the side that you put your hand through."
"It's all your fault," Joe groused as he ran the comb through, only to get it stuck again. He tugged with all his might, but the little comb was wedged inside his tangled hair.
Frank sighed. "How is it my fault this time?"
"You're the one who messed it up in the first place!"
"Joe," Frank replied patiently, "When was the last time you combed your hair? On that date with Vanessa? Oh right, you didn't. You just washed your hair."
"Yeah, well, you have girly shampoo and you smell like a girl," Joe returned, having nothing to do with the conversation at hand.
Frank shook his head. "Whatever. You done yet?"
"Does it look like this is working?" Joe asked irritably. "No," he answered himself, "so shut it."
"Do you need a little help?" Frank asked after a moment after Joe had given another mighty tug but still failing to get the comb unstuck.
"No I don't, in fact… maybe a little," Joe finally admitted.
Frank took a firm grip on the comb. Joe braced himself. Feeling nothing for a few seconds, he turned to look at his brother. "Wha…OWW!" he exclaimed loudly.
"You know, if you wet your head, it might be easier," Frank said nonchalantly.
Joe groaned, massaging his sore, tingling scalp. He smoothed his hair down, careful not to get his hands stuck again. "I give up."
Frank looked down at his watch. "It's 12. What do you want for lunch?"
Joe looked down at his own, completely different, high tech watch. "No it's not. It's 12:02," he corrected with a special little brother smirk. Frank rolled his eyes exasperatedly. His brother knew exactly how to push his buttons. "I already told you what I wanted. And your eyes are going to get loose if you keep rolling them like that, big brother."
"No. You are not eating donuts for lunch. What else do you want?"
Joe fell silent. As they passed another store, his eyes lit up. Frank warily followed his brother's gaze to a, A & W store. Joe was watching a girl drink a root beer float. "Fine." He followed his energized brother to the counter who was bouncing up and down like a kid again.
Joe ordered, then turned to his brother expectantly after the gum chewing girl no older than themselves took his order. "Well?"
"What?" Frank asked, cautious again.
"'Cause I only have seven dollars and I need them to buy Christmas presents and I know that you always have extra money." Joe looked at Frank pleadingly. "Please?"
"I almost forgot about Christmas presents!" Frank exclaimed.
"How can you forget about Christmas?" Joe asked disbelievingly. "You must be getting old there, big brother."
"Joe," Frank started, annoyed, "For the last time, I am only one year older than you."
"I hate to interrupt but are you going to pay or not?" the girl at the counter asked in a bored tone.
Joe gave Frank another look with a flash of puppy dog eyes and he finally gave in, taking out his bulging black leather wallet and paying for Joe's float. "Thanks, bro!" Joe said brightly.
The brothers made their way to a bench to sit down while Joe drank his float, slurping loudly. Frank watched him in distaste as Joe enjoyed his float.
"What is so good about that float?" Frank asked. "Gimme a sip. I want to try it." At Joe's hesitation, he added, "Joe, I bought that with my money!"
Joe handed the float to his brother after another moment of hesitation and a long slurpy sip. "Don't take too much," he cautioned. Frank just rolled his eyes as he took a sip of the float through the red straw.
"It's not that good," he commented with a twinkle in his chocolate brown eyes as he waited for the reprimand that was sure to come. Joe didn't disappoint.
Cuffing Frank on the back of the head and grabbing his float back, he said vehemently, "It's just your desensitized old taste buds, old man."
Frank just shook his head and didn't bother to reply.
"So," Joe started, around a mouthful of ice cream and root beer, "What are you going to get me for Christmas?"
Frank turned away. "I just bought you a float, didn't I?"
"So, just call that your Christmas gift. C'mon, lets go check out the shops."
"What? No!" Joe's face reflected his horror. Frank clenched his jaw to keep from grinning at the look on his brother's face. "You can't do that!"
"Why not? At least I bought you something you like," Frank replied calmly. He picked up his bag from the ground and began to get up.
"Aww, come on Frank," Joe protested, "You've got to get me a present."
"No can do, Joe. C'mon, let's go. I've got a lot of shopping to do." Frank began to walk away from Joe in the direction of the myriad of stores in the airport.
Joe quickly got over his initial shock and caught up with his brother with long strides. "Where are we going first? Should we split up and meet back here?" Frank suddenly stopped and Joe collided into him hard. "Ow." His brother just glared at him. "Now what?" Joe asked.
"There is no way we're splitting up here."
"Why not?" Joe asked confusedly. "We could get all our presents by ourselves and not have to wait for somebody that takes forever deciding what to get and then arguing about the price with the salespeople."
"Those jeans were on sale! It was in the catalog. I was right. And that's why my wallet is full and you only have seven dollars, because you buy everything you want when it's not on sale. And I don't take forever. At least my mom doesn't still buy me my clothes." Frank smirked as his comment hit home.
"Mom barely ever gets my clothes anymore!" Frank just gave him a look. "Don't look at me like that! … well, maybe sometimes."
"Yeah, because you always get bored when we're clothes shopping and leave before we actually buy anything. I swear, you've got the shortest attention span --"
"Yeah, well, I don't need that many clothes unlike some people!" Joe cut in.
"You usually end up stealing my clothes anyway."
"I do not steal your clothes!"
"Of course you do. Look at what you're wearing right now. My shirt, my old sweatshirt, and you would be wearing my belt to hold up my jeans if I wasn't wearing it because you lost your own belt."
Joe was unable to think of a retort because what Frank said was true. "Just be glad I'm not wearing your underwear," he replied with an impish grin.
"You've never worn my underwear," Frank shook it off. Then he stopped. "Have you? ... no, you wouldn't. I don't even want to know all the clothes you've worn of mine." Joe laughed. It was fun to keep Frank on his toes. It was his job, after all. "Well, let's check this place out." Frank pointed to a standard shop that sold a wide variety of things. "We should be able to get most of what we need here. That's why I stopped in the first place."
"Okay. Don't forget to get your loving little brother his present." Joe gave Frank an angelic smile and put an innocent expression on his face.
"Joe, we already went over this –" Frank started but Joe was already gone, having spotted an ideal present for his girlfriend. Frank sighed and followed Joe into the store. Little brothers…
-- 20 minutes later --
"Frank, can I borrow some money?" Joe asked.
"Joe, you already owe me twenty dollars," Frank heaved another exasperated sigh.
"Please?" Joe gave him a puppy dog look that every little brother seemed to possess.
"Just twenty seven dollars."
"Just twenty seven dollars?! How are you going to pay me back forty seven dollars?"
"Very quickly?" Joe guessed. "I bought almost everybody's gifts but I don't have enough for your present or Callie's."
"Fine." Frank pulled out his bulging black wallet and handed a twenty and ten to his brother. "Keep the change."
"You mean for free?" Joe asked.
"No, you have to pay me that back too." Joe's face fell and Frank turned away from him to hide his grin. "Make Callie's present good. Don't give her the same crap you gave her last year."
"Hey, I ran out of money," Joe replied defensively.
"And now that can't happen. So go," Frank waved him away. "You're lucky it's Christmas and I'm in the spirit of giving."
Joe snorted but bit back a smartass remark. He was borrowing money from Frank, and not for the first, second, or last time. And Frank hadn't gotten his present yet. Not a good time to get on his bad side.
"Thanks, big brother. I owe you."
"Yes you do and you better pay me back soon. Don't forget," Frank warned.
"Yeah, yeah, of course, whatever," Joe answered, distracted by a pair of girls that walked past them.
"I know, I know! I'm paying attention. I'll pay you back." Joe gave his brother a winning smile.
"Before New Year."
"Frank!" Joe protested. "How am I ever going to get the money that soon?" He gave Frank a shot of his puppy dog eyes and of course, Frank gave in.
"Fine. Before the end of January," Frank said grudgingly. "But if you don't have the money by then…"
Joe gave him an angelic smile before going to buy the remainder of his presents.