A/N: Yes! Another Hardy Boys fic! It's like we can't stay away from these guys, they're just so lovable. Anyway, this one goes out to the Marching Band, which will be taking away our life for the next two months.
"I want to know have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?" Creedence Clearwater Revival
Joe looked up smiling when Frank walked through the door. It wasn't often that Frank was out later than he was. He opened his mouth to ask his brother about his night when he saw that the dark-haired boy wasn't alone. Oh.
He threw himself back onto the couch, his good mood completely gone. How could he have forgotten about Cathy? She had moved to the town half-way through the school year, enrolled in all geek courses, and picked up a boyfriend, his brother, within two days.
And, yeah, Joe knew that Frank was smitten. He hadn't seen his brother this much in love since Callie had left him a year ago, telling Frank that she couldn't take the cases anymore and moving to Wisconsin with her parents. And Joe didn't blame Callie, not after he'd killed his own girlfriend.
But Cathy was different. Though Joe and Callie had never exactly been bosom buddies, they'd gotten along as best they could for the better part of three years, and had a fair few laughs together. Cathy had already targeted Joe as her victim, her arch enemy.
Joe loved and trusted Frank more than anyone on Earth. He'd been saved by his brother more times than he cared to count, and had returned the favor just as often. They were closer than most brothers, which made it so much harder when Joe realized that someone was trying to cut him out of Frank's life.
Pretending to be engrossed in his book, Joe held completely still, living by the principle that if you can't see them, they can't see you.
"Hey, Joe, you had a good night?" Frank called to him from the doorway, ever the big brother. Their parents were out of town and would be gone for almost three weeks. It was their twenty-fifth anniversary. The boys had convinced the couple that they were trustworthy enough to be left alone, but Joe hadn't factored Cathy into the equation when their parents had left.
Popping his head above the couch, looking warily at the Amazonian red-head standing just as tall as Frank, an inch taller than Joe, the blond replied. "Just kicking back with Remarque." He pronounced the last name remark and hoped that was right, because Cathy would do anything to rip him…
"You mean RAY-mark, right, Joe?" When Cathy smiled, she showed all her teeth. Like a dog. Joe gulped and turned away from her, holding the book closer to his body and wishing it was hardcover. He'd once seen a hardcover 1,000 page copy of Atlas Shrugged stop a bullet.
Frank kissed Cathy then. Joe could hear it, and imagined the girl as a succubus, stealing Frank's soul. That wasn't overreacting, was it? "Good night, Cathy." Joe called, hoping no one would detect the iciness in his tone.
Cathy smiled up at Frank, then turned to Joe. She looked like she wanted to attack him. "Joe, will you help me with my car? It's making a weird noise." Joe snorted at the description but made to get up anyway, pausing for a moment over the cane resting beside the couch. He shouldn't need it, right?
"I didn't notice anything." Frank said, bemused. Joe shook his head, marveling at his brother. Had Frank always been so dense? "And I can help you fix it."
Again, Cathy kissed him, stealing more of his soul. Joe shuddered, then slinked forward, because he knew that Frank would be disappointed if he just flat-out refused to help his girlfriend, even if he happened to be dating a she-devil.
It was cold outside. Winter in Bayport brought temperatures that could drop well below zero, and while that night wasn't quite as frigid as it could be, it was still definitely below freezing. Joe shivered slightly, trying not to appear affected by the temperature. It wasn't smart to show weakness to a wolf.
When they got out by Cathy's car, the tall girl turned to him, eyes narrowed. "I thought I told you to stay away from my boyfriend." Her voice was like daggers, but Joe merely tilted his head, hot with anger.
"He's my brother, and it's my house. Sorry for living." Joe shot back, blue eyes flashing.
"You will be." Cathy promised quietly. "You may have been the dynamic duo before, but those days are over. Frank has me. Why would he need you?" Joe had figured out long ago that Cathy was most likely certifiably insane, or at least majorly OCD. She had an idea that she wanted Frank, and only she should be able to have him. The biggest threat to her happiness was Joe, Frank's partner and confidant.
Joe glared at her, trying to figure out if it was okay to go against all his morals and punch a girl who was really Satan's spawn. "Get out of here, bitch," Joe settled on, biting out every word, "And leave my brother alone."
"Oh, why would I do that?" Cathy simpered getting into her car. She waved goodbye to Joe, dangling something from her hand. Joe looked, then frantically felt at his neck. The necklace he always wore, the one Iola had given him when they were fifteen and just starting to go out, was gone.
"Hey!" Joe yelled, throwing his arm into the car only to have Cathy slam the door on his hand. Joe let out a scream as the unexpected pain shot through his fingers. He glanced at the house, knowing Frank must have heard him. Cathy had to have thought the same thing, for she was out of the driveway before Frank appeared at the door, knife in hand. The Hardy brothers had a right to be paranoid about some things.
"What happened, Joe?" Once Frank realized there was no attacker, he dropped the knife onto the table just inside the door and went loping out to his brother, who was doubled over around his right hand. "Hey, let me see." Frank gently pried the hand out from the comforting pressure and touched each of the fingers, feeling every bone. The hand was swollen and bruised but hopefully unbroken. "What happened?" Frank asked again.
He watched his brother crumble before him, folding in on himself in a totally un-Joe manner. Joe was lively and animated and always ready to tell a story, especially if he was the main character. "Nothing. Just slammed it in the hood when I finished checking it out. Her car's fine." If Joe could have his way, he'd leave a pipe bomb under Cathy's hood, but Frank didn't need to know that. He was crazy about Cathy. And Joe wasn't about to mess that up.
Joe painfully flexed his hand, smiling at Frank as best he could. "I'm fine, bro. Need some ice, though." He took a step and wavered, teeth clenched as his knee buckled. Immediately, Frank's arms were around him, and his brother's voice was in his ear. "Tired, buddy?" Joe could only nod.
The leg wasn't from Cathy, or any other person. It wasn't from falling over his own two feet, or off the boat. He'd been shot on their last case, right below the knee. It was a miracle, the doctors said, that no bone had been shattered. Only muscle had been damaged, most likely permanently.
Which is why Joe had to let Frank have Cathy, because he was the reason why his brother couldn't solve crimes anymore. He had been impulsive, clumsy, and had paid dearly for it. But after his accident, they just couldn't take cases anymore.
That had been four months ago, and they hadn't solved crimes since. Now Joe's leg was healing. He could walk straight, except in the early morning or when he was tired. He could occasionally painfully run. He couldn't wrestle, or play football, or run track, or solve cases, so he'd taken to reading and playing golf with Chet. It was a poor substitute, but one Joe took in stride. He was only disappointed that he'd let Frank down. He would never be able to fix that.
With Frank helping him, Joe got inside and on the couch, picking up All Quiet on the Western Front with his good left hand and gratefully letting the icepack sit on top of his right one. Frank sat next to him, watching. Joe knew that Frank worried about him. Bayport was a small city, but it was still a city, and a month ago Joe had been jumped. He'd been able to swing his way out of it, but barely.
"You like Cathy, Joe?"Frank asked suddenly. He'd picked up a Rubix cube and was absentmindedly fiddling with it. There were several lying around the house. Joe would mess them up, only to watch Frank put them back together again, because that's what Frank did.
Joe looked at the book until the words blurred. "Yeah, I like her." He murmured, thinking about how fast Frank seemed to have fallen for this girl. Maybe she was a demon. "I like her fine." He let one hand touch the base of his neck, feeling for the necklace that was supposed to be there.
How is the first chapter? You will hate Cathy even more within a few chapters. She's a witch.
Please, please review.