The Divine Right of Kings by: Vinsmouse
Summary: How will the Hardy's deal with the consequences when their home is invaded by criminals? Story takes place when the boys are 14 and 16, I'm assuming there's more like 14-18 months between the boys rather than an exact year.
Warnings: Violence; child abuse; angst
Disclaimer: I don't own the Hardy Boys, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
That summer day had started as many of them did. Joe slept as late as his mother and the sun would allow. Still wearing pajamas he stumbled down the stairs and into the kitchen. A bowl of cereal and glass of juice later sleepy blue eyes were open wide, sparkling with life. "Hey mom, is Frank still here?"
Laura smiled at her youngest son. In spite of seeing it every day, she was always amazed by her son's process of waking. "He's in his room. I think he said something about doing some research."
"Research? Doesn't he know it's summer?" Joe was incredulous.
Laura chuckled, Joe was certainly predictable sometimes. "I'm pretty sure he knows, but maybe you should remind him.."
Joe nodded as he pushed away from the table. He had only taken a couple of steps when a knock at the back door drew his attention.
"Go on upstairs Joe, I've got it," Laura said as she intercepted him. With a smile she pulled the door open. "Yes can I..." She gasped as a gun was shoved into her stomach. A second man pushed past a stunned Laura, grabbing Joe and shoving a gun in his face.
Joe turned at his mother's gasp. He had just registered the fact that the man at the door was holding a gun when a second man rushed into the house. He stared at the gun, his eyes wide with terror. Joe, along with his brother, wanted to be a detective someday. They had even solved a couple of small cases already, but at the end of the day he was only a fourteen year old boy.
"Don't move. Don't make a sound."
Joe, if he could have spoken, would have told the man neither order was needed at the moment. He couldn't speak, his vocal cords as frozen as his body.
"Is there anybody else in the house?" he quietly asked. With no answer forthcoming, the man turned to Laura, now standing near the table, his partner keeping a gun trained on her.
Laura shook her head. Silently she prayed that Frank would hear the strange voices and go get help.
"Sit down." Laura sat, though every nerve in her body wanted to run to her son, pulling him away from the man and his gun. She didn't though. Having been married to Fenton for seventeen years, she had learned that one had to wait for the right chance as there might only be one. Sitting quietly she began to take note of what she was seeing. The large man currently tying her hands behind her, stood at least 6' 2" with bright red hair and brown eyes. His only remarkable feature was a rather large mustache, worn in the style of an old west cowboy. The other man was even more ordinary looking. Of average height, his dark brown hair was slightly long without being overly so. Behind a pair of black rimmed glasses were the calmest blue eyes she'd ever seen. As Joe was being moved into a chair, Red gagged her. Using only her eyes she did her best to comfort her son as he too was tied and gagged.
"Keep an eye on these two," Blue eyes said. "I'm going to go check out the rest of the house." Having already turned away, he missed the look traded between Joe and Laura. Moving quietly, he searched through the downstairs. He wasn't surprised to find it empty. Anybody on the first floor would have certainly heard his questions, with the result that they would have ran or attempted a rescue.
Carefully he moved up the stairs, being sure to make no sound. In the upstairs hall, he paused, listening for any telltale noises. Within seconds he heard a tapping sound, like somebody using a keyboard, coming from one of the rooms. Throwing open the door, he aimed his gun at the only occupant.
Frank looked up as the door opened. Pushing himself to his feet, he confronted the man who had invaded his room. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"I want honesty and cooperation, as to who I am...you don't need to know that." He was met with swift resistance as he grabbed the boy's arm. "The blond boy downstairs and the woman, your brother and mother?"
"If you've hurt them..."
"They're fine," he interrupted the oncoming threat. "If you want them to stay that way, you'll do what you're told. Understand?"
"Good. Now we're going to search the rest of these rooms and then we'll go back downstairs. If you try anything my partner will make sure your family pays the price. Lead the way...what is your name anyway?"
Swallowing back his anger, he forced himself to provide the answer. "There isn't anybody else up here." He didn't want to help the man, but he was anxious to see his mother and brother, to assure himself that they were unharmed.
Blue eyes snorted. "You'll forgive me if I don't believe you but I've already been lied to once." He motioned the boy to start walking. In only a few minutes the circuit of the upstairs was complete and they were moving back to the first floor.
Frank couldn't hold back the relieved sigh as he took in the sight of his family. They were tied and gagged, clearly frightened, but otherwise they hadn't been hurt.
"Sit down Frank," Blue eyes ordered.
Going up against two armed men would be suicide; Frank sat. Working quickly, Red had him tied in only seconds, but as he reached for a gag Blue eyes shook his head.
Blue eyes moved over to the blond. He could feel the eyes of Frank and his mother boring into his back as he squatted in front of the younger boy, putting him at eye level.
"Leave him alone," Frank growled as the man reached for Joe. He visibly flinched when the blue eyes turned to stare at him. There was no anger, only a calm coldness that scared him more than any anger could have done.
"Quiet or you will be gagged." Turning back to the blond, he reached for the gag, pulling it down and leaving it to hang at the boy's throat. "What's your name?" No answer and his hand came up to lay on the boy's cheek. He smiled grimly when the boy flinched. "Tell me your name."
He swallowed in a too dry throat, desperately trying to find the moisture so he could answer the question. "Joe," he finally managed in a small whisper.
"I'm an adult Joey, you're a child. Children should respect their elders, call me sir," he calmly ordered. "I have some questions for you Joey, will you answer them for me?"
Nobody had called him Joey in years, but he didn't dare object. He looked towards his mother and Frank. Seeing a small nod from his mom, he gave one of his own.
Blue eyes smiled. "Did your parents teach you to be honest?"
"Yes." A stern look and he flinched. "Yes sir," he quickly corrected.
"If you lie to them, do they punish you?"
Joe wasn't sure why these questions were being asked, but he didn't think he would like the reason. "Yes sir," he fearfully replied. He shivered when the man turned to stare at his mother. "Don't hurt her, please," he pleaded. He had suddenly realized why he had asked those questions.
The man reached towards Joe, as if to caress his cheek. The sudden slap sounded loud in the silent kitchen. "You forgot to say sir," he calmly explained.
Joe blinked rapidly, determined not to cry in front of this man. "Don't hurt her sir, please."
The man smiled. It wasn't a pleasant smile. "Have you ever heard of the Divine Right of Kings Joe?"
Joe stared, what?
"Answer me," blue eyes snapped the command.
"Um, I think I remember it from History class sir."
"Tell me what you remember."
Joe glanced at Frank. He could see his older brother was as confused as he was. "They, kings I mean, were appointed by God and only had to answer to him...sir."
The smile was more genuine this time. "Very good Joey," he praised, much as a teacher would a prized student. "I'm going to tell you something that you might not have learned in History class. You see Joe, this Divine Right meant that an ordinary person couldn't punish a king, or a future king for that matter. Therefore during the Stuart and Tudor monarchies a post was created at court, that of the Whipping Boy. The Whipping Boy was a companion to the young Prince. They spent their days together, studying, playing, much like any two friends or brothers might. Are you with me so far Joe?"
"Yyes sir," Joe nervously answered.
"Good," he smiled. "There was one important difference between the two, however, and that was what would happen if the Prince misbehaved. This was when the Whipping Boy would fulfill his role at court, taking the young Prince's rightful punishment. The idea was that the Prince would be punished by seeing somebody he cared about hurt due to his actions." Standing up, he moved behind Joe, quickly releasing him from his ropes. "Stand up," he ordered as he jerked him to his feet. Pushing him to the table, he ignored the calls of the older boy as he shoved Joe down so that his upper body rested on the kitchen table. "Grip the sides of the table Joe and don't move," he coldly ordered.
Shaking with fear, Joe reluctantly did as he was told. He listened in terror as the man explained to his mother and Frank what was going to happen.
"I'm sure you've figured out what happens next, haven't you mom?" The blue eyes smirked as the blonde woman shakily nodded. "While we're here young Joe will be our whipping boy. Every time one of you lies to us, disobeys an order, speaks with disrespect or tries to escape, he will take your punishment." Turning away, he bent over the table, placing his mouth next to Joe's ear. "I'm sorry Joey, I don't want to hurt you but they have to learn," he apologized in a voice only the boy could hear.
Joe breathed deeply, trying and failing to calm himself as the weight was removed from his back. Every sound was magnified in the horrified silence filling the room. Then over the normal sounds, the ticking of the clock, the hum of the refrigerator, he heard a sound that froze his blood; the swish of a belt being pulled through loops.
His back erupted in fire as the belt lashed against him, the thin pajama top offering no protection. Joe bit his lip. He didn't want to cry out, his teenaged dignity recoiling at the thought of giving into the pain. It was a futile effort, as he'd known it would be. The ordinary sounds of the homey kitchen were soon hidden by the sobs coming from the youngest Hardy. He didn't know how much more he could take, he was sure he would pass out any minute. The thought had barely passed through his mind when the lashes ended. Joe wasn't aware of anything but the sticky feeling of his bloody shirt and the sound of his breathing as he did his best to ride out the pain.
Suddenly he was pulled to his feet, his arms once more being tied behind him. He paled as words of praise sounded in his ear, the whisper too low for anybody else to hear. How could he talk to him like that, almost like he was his father?
"You did very well Joey. I'm proud of you. Let's just hope a repeat won't be needed." Squeezing his arm in a comforting gesture, he led the boy over to his mother. Pushing him to his knees, he tied Joe's ankles together. "I won't make you sit in a chair, I know it would be painful right now." He frowned. Reaching down, he jerked the boy's hair, pulling his head back until he could see his eyes. "I'm sure you were taught proper manners Joe."
Joe gasped as his head was forced back. Swallowing hard, he nodded as best he could with the man's hand gripping his hair. "I'm sorry...thank you sir," he forced out in a dry whisper. He nearly lost his balance when Blue eyes shoved his head forward, releasing his hair at the same time.
"Keep your eyes on the floor unless I tell you otherwise," he coldly ordered.
Joe nodded. He was actually relieved to have an excuse not to look into the eyes of his family. He was having a hard enough time holding himself together, if he saw their fear and pain he was sure he'd lose it.
Frank glared at the man who had hurt his brother. Only the thought of what he might do to Joe kept him from voicing the anger and hatred he was feeling. "What do you want with us?" The sixteen year old had never tried to negotiate with a criminal before, but finding out what they wanted seemed like a good starting point.
Blue eyes frowned at the boy. Stepping over to Joe, he jerked his head back and slapped his face hard enough to bruise. "What did I tell you about disrespect Frank?" he asked the older boy.
It had happened so fast that Frank didn't even have time to protest. "I'm sorry sir, I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean any disrespect," he softly apologized.
"Apology accepted," Blue eyes said, releasing his hold on Joe. "Now what was your question?"
Frank licked his lips. He'd never been so nervous in his life. "What do you want with us sir?" he asked, forcing himself to remain polite.
Blue eyes smiled. "Much better Frank and to answer your question, we just want a place to stay until later tonight. If you," he continued, his eyes scanning over them all, "behave then we will leave you in peace. If not, well let's just say you won't like the consequences." Stepping behind the chairs, he removed the gag from the woman before motioning for his partner to join him near the back door.
"What are we really gonna do with them?" Red asked, his voice just loud enough for their prisoners to hear if they were listening.
"I'm wounded Red, do you think I lied to Frank?"
Red looked between the family and his partner, confusion washing over his face. "You mean we're really gonna just leave them here?"
"As long as they behave. Look Red, killing them won't do us any good, in fact it'll make things worse for us."
Red nodded, "Guess the cops would try harder to find us, wouldn't they? Hey Alex, you gonna let me play?" he asked. His eyes were shining with anticipation as he let them roam over the two boys.
Alex sighed, "We'll see Red, we'll see."
On the other side of the room, Laura and Frank were leaning forward as far as their bonds would allow. "I'm so sorry Joey," Laura whispered. "If I had known he would hurt you I wouldn't have lied to him."
"Are you okay Joe?" Frank softly asked. He exchanged a concerned look with his mother when Joe only nodded, never looking up. "Please look at us Joe," he plead. He couldn't explain it to himself, Frank just knew that he needed to look his brother in the eye.
Joe shook his head. He wanted to look up, wanted to see the love and concern he could hear in both their voices. Yet, he didn't dare to disobey Blue eyes. As bad as the earlier punishment had been, he couldn't imagine how bad it would be if he were being punished for his own disobedience.
Frank jerked as a hand landed on his shoulder.
"Do you resent your brother Frank?"
"What?" Frank was shocked that such a question would even be asked. "Of course I don't."
Alex sighed, "Then why are you trying to convince him to disobey me?"
"You heard me tell him to look only at the floor unless I told him otherwise, yet here you are telling him to look at you. How is that not asking him to disobey me?" He moved to where Joe kneeled on the floor. Grabbing a handful of hair, he jerked his head back. "Then you compound it by being disrespectful. You will show me respect," he ordered, each word punctuated with a slap to Joe's face, first one cheek and then the other.
"Please stop sir, please. I didn't mean to be disrespectful or to make Joe disobey you. I forgot, I swear I just forgot sir. Please don't hurt him anymore," Frank begged as tears fell from his dark eyes.
Alex released Joe. "Don't forget again," he growled.
"I won't, I promise I won't sir," Frank cried.
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