I'M BAAAAAAACCCCCKKKKKKK!

All existing characters copyright WWE inc. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The management makes no claims regarding any person's lifestyles, real of fictional. I have received no compensation for this work. The management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone appearing to be under the influence of any controlled substance... sorry, wrong intro...

Brothers By Choice

Gilbert Hardy was dying. The doctors had given him six months to live and that was almost a year ago and now as the cancer ravaged his body, he knew that this was it. Family and close friends had been by his bedside since he'd been readmitted for what was probably the last time, but today there were only two visitors: his sons, Matthew and Jeffrey, known to millions of wrestling fans as the Hardy Boyz, team Xtreme, and many other nicknames, each sat beside his bed, waiting for the end.

"Boys. I'm glad you're here." Gil wheezed, the oxygen tubes doing very little to help.

"There's something I've been wanting to tell you for a long time."

"What?" Both boys leaned in closer.

"You know that your Mother and I had been trying to have children for several years before we got lucky with the two of you, right?"

"What are you talkin' about, pop?" Matt asked

"Matt, Jeff, you have a brother." Gil started to cough harshly, his body bouncing with each hacking breath.

"What?" Jeff asked "Dad, but how..."

Gil looked up at his two sons. "It was two years before you came along Matt. We thought things were gonna be perfect now that we had a son. Then I got sick and couldn't work for a year and your Mom, God bless her, she tried to hold things down, but we just couldn't manage with a new baby. We gave him up for adoption."

"You mean I gotta 'nother big brother?" Jeff squealed "Yay!"

"Why didn't you tell us before?" Matt asked

"You boys have made quite a good life for yourselves. I didn't want to burden y'all with stuff from the past." Gil smiled

"It wasn't a burden, Dad." Matt answered "I just wish we'd known sooner so he could be here with us all."

Gil closed his eyes, breathing deeply several times. "It isn't that easy, son. Your mother and I tried for a couple years to find him, but the agency either lost his records or something. It was only until about two months ago that I finally got a reply."

"What did they say?" Jeff asked, his green eyes glowing with anticipation.

"I dunno, son. I never got around to reading it." Gil said, his voice wheezing loudly. "It's on the desk in the study with all my other junk. Do what you want to with the information, I just thought it was a good idea to let you two know before..."

He smiled at his sons and just like that, he was gone. Matt and Jeff each held one of his hands as the emotions they'd both been hiding were finally set free.

"Bye pop." For once, Matt was unashamed of the tears flowing down his face. "Say hi to ma for me." Jeff, on the other hand, was wailing away like there was no tomorrow.

Always the protective one, ever since the day their mother passed, Matt went over to his brother and let him be used as his support.

"Shhh, Jeffro. Things are gonna be alright. You still have me." Matt cuddled his brother tightly. "Remember that promise I told you I made before Momma died?"

"Yes?" Jeff sniffled

"Well, even though Dad didn't make me repeat it, I will. I'll still always be here for you, Jeffro. We may be miles apart physically, but I'm always with you in spirit." Matt held him, letting all his pent-in emotion leave his system.

"So what do we do now?" Jeff sniffled

"I guess we let the doctors do their thing, and then we move on." Matt gripped his brother's shoulder one more time as two nurses entered the small room.

Several trying emotional days later, Matt was finally getting a chance to go through some of his father's personal papers, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Thank God for Gilbert's lawyer who had seen to the disposition of all the other stuff, or Matt might still be going over things right now. At the bottom of a pile that Gil had jokingly referred to as his in-box, Matt found a letter from the North Carolina department of Adoption and Child Services.

He opened it and read...

"Dear Mr. Hardy, we apologize for the delay in getting this information to you. Regarding case number 4376-24B, we have discovered the following..." It went on to give a list of particulars regarding the brother that Matt and Jeff never knew that they had until a few days earlier. Matt's eyes widened as he continued to read.

"Whatcha doin'?" Jeff walked in, fresh from unloading some of the furniture that Gil had left to a local charity, and saw the letter. He snatched it out of Matt's hands.

"Gimme that!" Matt reached for it, but Jeff waved it out of his grasp.

Jeff read it and his playfulness immediately vanished. He became all serious. "Is this legit, Matty?"

"Yeah, bro, it is." Matt responded "The big question is what do we do about it?"

"Whaddaya mean, dude?" Jeff demanded

"Well, should we find this guy or what?" Matt asked "I mean, it's been almost thirty-five years since our folks gave him up. I'm sure he has a life now and does he want us in it?"

"I'd say we do it if only to tell him about Dad." Jeff answered "He was his son too."

"But what if he doesn't want anything to do with us?" Matt was being cautious. He didn't want to rush into something as potentially life-altering as this without thinking everything through.

"Matty, live a little!" As usual, Jeff was ready to throw caution to the wind. "If we don't, you'll be second-guessin' yourself until you're sixty!" He slapped the letter on the desk. "There's a current address on this. Let's check it out."

"I guess you're right, little bro. What's the worst that can happen? He says he wants nothing to do with us..."

"Yeah, but there are prob'ly millions of people out there who'd die to have me as a brother... and at least one or two for you."

"Very funny, Jeffro." Matt wished he had something handy to throw at him.

"So how we do this?" Jeff asked

"I guess we should contact the agency and see if they can set up a meeting." Matt responded

"Yippee! I'm gonna have another brother, I'm gonna have another brother..." Jeff sang, skipping out of the den.

"I hope he's nothing like you, Jeff." Matt thought "I don't think I could take having two of you in the family.

Matt did call the adoption agency and ask them to make the necessary arrangements. The woman Matt spoke to told him that she would set it up, but it might take a few days to get everything set. She took Matt's cell as a contact number and promptly hung up.

After three days had gone by, and still no word from the agency, Matt sorta forgot about it. After all, both he and Jeff were back on the road and rarely crossed paths, so there was no reason to contact Jeff. It would just make him even more antsy. He really wanted to meet this brother and the delays were eating at him.

It was on the fourth day when Matt received the call he'd been waiting for, although he didn't know it at the time.

"Hello?" He answered his cell, in the middle of the locker room, getting ready for his match.

"Hello..." A long pause. "Is this Matthew Hardy?"

"Yes, who is this?" Matt answered

"Well, I guess you could say this is your brother." The caller answered

Matt's legs gave out and he collapsed on the bench.

"I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, but I've been on the road a lot."

"Me too." Matt answered

"The agency said you were interested in a face-to-face meeting. Are you still?"

"Oh hell yeah!" Matt shouted. Damn, he wished Jeff were here right now!!!

"Okay. What's your schedule like... better question, where are you right now?"

"Phoenix." Matt responded "But, Jeff, our other brother, is in Denver."

"You know where I live right... I'll be home on Saturday say around six."

Matt quickly checked his itinerary for the week. He had nothing, which was good. He only hoped Jeff's was as clear. "Saturday works for me, but I'll have to check with Jeff."

"Cool. Then I'll see you on Saturday. If Jeff can't make it, we'll just work around it."

"Works for me. I'd love to stay and chat, but I gotta go. I'm on in ten minutes."

"Sure. I'll see you in a few days then. Ciao!"

Matt hung up. He quickly dialed Jeff and ran into a private locker room to talk.

"What's up Matty?" Jeff asked. From the background noise, it sounded like he was in the middle of a riot.

"Jeff, he called." Matt shouted

"Who called?" Jeff had to shout to hear himself over the crowd.

"Our brother." Matt shouted back.

"Holy fuck!" The background noise suddenly quieted. "You ain't toyin' with your little bro, are ya?"

"Hell, no, Jeffro. I'm meeting him on Saturday. You free?"

"If I ain't, I am now! Where?" Matt could hear the excitement in Jeff's voice.

"His place. L.A., man. Six o'clock."

"I'll meet you at LAX at some point. I'll let you know when I can get a flight." Jeff answered. Matt could hear the anticipation in his voice.

"Same here, bro."

"Uh, Matty... what if he doesn't like us?" Jeff suddenly asked

"Oh well. At least we know. And why wouldn't he like us? Come on, what's not to like?" Matt said, trying to boost Jeff's waning confidence.

"Yeah, you're right, bro. I can't wait until Saturday." Jeff replied, his excitement level bouncing back up. Neither could Matt, but he'd learned that if he anticipated something too much, it never lived up to it.

So, that is why, at a quarter to six on Saturday evening, Matt and Jeff were driving through downtown Los Angeles, nervously awaiting what might happen within the next few hours. Well, Jeff was nervous. Matt was still trying to negotiate rush hour freeway traffic.

"Keep your eye open for North Alameda on the right." Matt said "If we miss our turn, it'll be a bitch to find it again."

Jeff nodded. A few seconds later, he pointed excitedly. "There it is!"

Matt turned, then took the next right onto East Temple St.

"Look for 524." He said "It's on the right."

Jeff watched the number flashing by, a gnawing in his stomach growing the closer they got to the house.

"There it is!" He pointed

Matt looked out the side window at 524. Not what he'd expected. The house looked like it had seen better days. The paint was flaking, the roof was missing a few tiles and the yard looked like it hadn't been mowed in weeks.

"You sure this is the right place?" Jeff asked

"This is the address I got." Matt replied, turning into the driveway which to it's credit looked like it had been retarred recently.

"Oh well... maybe he just moved in or somethin'." Jeff answered

"Or somethin'." Matt echoed "Let's go." He now felt very nervous as well. "I hope the car is safe."

"I hope so too. It's my car, remember?" Jeff replied

The Hardy took the steps to the front door and both stood staring at it. Then they both reached for the knocker at the same time, this made them laugh and lowered their individual tension levels one notch.

Any doubt that either man might have had was shot down the second the door was answered. If you took the heads of Matt and Jeff and stuck them in a blender, mixed well, and then poured the results out, you'd have a pretty close approximation of the man who stood in front of them.

"Andrew?" Jeff asked

"That would be me. You must be Matt and Jeff." He said it like meeting long-lost relatives was nothing out of the ordinary. "Come on in and make yourselves at home."

"Wow!" Jeff whistled. If the outside was any indication, both Matt and Jeff expected the worst. But the inside of the house was the complete opposite: spotless, well-appointed, and looked like a lot of money had been spent on it.

"I guess you like it. Grab some seats, guys."

Matt sat in one of the high-backed chairs adorning the fireplace, while Jeff sprawled on the sofa.

Their host sat in the other high-backed chair and studied them both.

"Well, normally I would ask what brings you to this neck of L.A., but I think we all know that answer already."

"Yeah." Matt answered. Jeff continued to stare at the room.

"I'm sorry to hear about Gil, though. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him."

"Andrew..."

"Sorry to cut you off, but" Andrew said "I only use that name on legal crap. Most of my friends call me either Tom or Tommy... I don't really mind either way."

"Tom?" Jeff queried

"My middle name." Andrew, or Tom as he would be known from then on, answered. "If you don't mind me asking, how did you find me?"

"Well, it was all Gil. I guess he wanted us to know the truth before he passed on." Matt answered

"Until I got the call, I didn't even know that I had family." Tom answered "My adopted parents never talked that much about my birth family and I assumed that that meant I didn't have anyone out there, or I might have done the research a little sooner, if that makes any sense to you."

"Yeah, it does, dude." Jeff had finally stopped gawking at the room. "You do all this yourself?"

"Yeah, right." Tom answered "I had it done. I can't even draw a stick figure, much less decorate a house."

"Are you sure you're related to us?" Jeff smirked

"Don't mind Jeff." Matt apologized "I'm still trying to figure out where all his artistic-ness comes from. I can't draw worth a damn either."

"Maybe he's the adopted one." Tom answered "You guys want a drink?"

"Sure... beer?" Jeff answered

"Whiskey?" Matt said

"Be back in a minute." Tom left to mix.

"What do you think?" Matt whispered once he'd left

"Seems like a nice enough guy." Jeff answered

"He's got your eyes..." Matt said

"He's got your chin." Jeff added

"Thank God he doesn't have your hair." Matt joked, causing them both to laugh.

"Did I miss something?" Tom returned with the drinks.

"So, you guys got any questions for me... take this however, but I feel like I already know you."

"Millions. And I'm sure there's some stuff you don't know about us." Matt replied

They talked for hours about their childhoods, family, and what their individual lives had been like. One thing they never discussed what their work. Which was too bad, because if they had, they would've learned one thing: Tom had been an aspiring wrestler. He'd put his dues in in the Carolinas for several years before leaving the business to become a financial analyst for a large corporation. Recent economic woes had lead to downsizing, of which Tom had become just another victim, and he was now looking to get back in the game.

"You two staying in town for a while, or do you have a flight to catch?" Tom asked

"Not until tomorrow evening." Matt answered.

"I'm available until Monday." Jeff responded

"I wasn't sure. If you need a place, I've got a spare room you can use for the night instead of going to a hotel." Tom suddenly yawned, followed by both Matt and Jeff.

"Sorry, I didn't sleep much last night." He apologized

"Neither did I." Matt added

"All the excitement, I guess." Tom got up and stretched. "Anyway, the room is yours is you want it... it's only got one bed I'm afraid, but it's a king size."

"Great. More rumors for the fan sites." Jeff groaned

Tom looked quizzically at him. "You mean all the jokes about Hardycest? Don't tell me you actually read that stuff?"

"No!" Jeff retorted "Well, only if I'm really bored..."

"You told me you never looked at that stuff!" Matt looked sternly at Jeff.

"Not the Hardycest, but there are some good stories out there." Jeff answered "There's this one author I really like... he wrote this one series about you and me and... I'll tell you about it some other time."

"That means you are staying?" Tom asked

"I guess so. I'll get our bags from the car." Matt answered

While Matt went to get his and Jeff's overnight bags, Tom and Jeff continued the conversation.

"What site?" He asked

"Fanfiction-dot-net." Jeff replied

"Never heard of it." Tom stated "What kind of stuff do they have?"

"Everything. I just read the wrestling fics though." Jeff replied "It's a good time-waster."

"Jeff, how much stuff did you pack?" Matt's voice came from the porch.

"Better go help. He sounds like he's in pain." Tom laughed

"Nah, man. That's just Matty. He tries to rope me into everything..."

"Jeff, if you don't get your ass out here and grab your own fuckin' luggage, I'm gonna leave it here." Matt shouted

"Rope you? Sounds like dude just gave you a fuckin' ultimatum." Tom patted Jeff on the shoulder before holding the door for Matt, who walked past carrying only one bag and wearing a triumphant grin.

"Where's my stuff?" Jeff whined

"Duh, dude. Look outside." Matt pointed while he walked past.

"Second door on the right." Tom gestured. "Bathroom's next door."

Jeff walked past a few moments later, lugging three times the baggage.

"How long you planning to stay, man?" Tom looked "Jesus Christ in a taxicab!"

"Matty, why did you bring all my stuff?" Jeff complained "I'm just gonna hafta load it back up tomorrow!"

"I didn't know which ones you needed." Matt said from the depths of Tom's upper floor.

Jeff looked at Tom like "You see what I have to put up with?"

"He's your brother." Tom laughed

"So? He's yours too." Jeff retorted

"You want some help, Jeff?" Tom said, a little condescending.

"Mm-hm." Jeff replied

"Okay." To Jeff's surprise, Tom grabbed all the bags that Matt had complained about carrying and in one trip carted them into the bedroom, where he dropped them on the floor.

"Just so you two know, I'm leaving at noon tomorrow. I gotta personnel meeting in Connecticut. Until then, my house is your house. 'Night, guys."

"Good night, Tommy." Jeff grabbed him in a warm embrace.

From where Matt stood, he could see that his new brother was a little put off by Jeff's effusiveness. He stepped in.

"Jeff, I don't think he likes that." He cautioned.

"Oh." Jeff seemed disappointed.

"It's not that, Jeff. I've just never been a hugging type of guy." Tom explained "Anyways, I'll see you in the morning."

In their room, Jeff and Matt prepared for bed, neither one saying a whole lot. It had been a day of firsts for them all, and it was going to take a while for everything to be digested, emotion-wise.

"Are you glad you came?" Jeff asked, curling into a ball on his side of the bed.

"Yeah, Jeff, I am." Matt replied "I really am."

In his own room, Tom was thinking along similar lines, but his mind was going in five different directions. You see, his meeting the following day... it was with Vince McMahon.

TO BE CONTINUED

Just a warning... this one is gonna be a real work in progress for me... I'm completely switching focus on this story, but don't worry, this will live up to my standards in terms of rude language, gore, and graphic dude-on-dude sex!

As always, reviews are welcome!

Sorry for the delay, but you would not belive how many times I typed Eric by mistake. Maybe I shouldn't have killed him off after all?