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CHAPTER LIST

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

EPILOGUE

CHAPTER 3

Joe squeezed his eyes shut. The garish yellow wallpaper and the too-harsh lighting were making his head swim. If he looked at the walls, the large lemon-coloured sunflowers seemed to almost leap from the paper. "Ohhh," he moaned, turning onto his side and burying his head in the pillow. "Frank?" He squinted at his brother through the one eye that was visible above the large down pillow. "Frank?"  

Frank sank down onto the mattress next to Joe. "I'm right here." He rubbed his hand up and down his brother's arm, trying to soothe him. "The doctor'll be here soon." 

"You hate me, don't you?" Joe asked pitifully. 

In spite of his worry that something might be really wrong, Frank couldn't help but chuckle softly. "Yeah, I do, Joe. You want to remind me why I hate you?" 

"I don't know but, man, you'd have to hate someone to put him in this room, with these flowers hanging all over when he's got a headache that's this bad." Joe moaned again and dug his face deeper into the pillow. "Can we go now?" 

"Soon as the doctor gets here and has had a chance to look at you," Frank promised. "And," he continued when he heard a light rap at the door, "here he is." Crossing the room, he opened the door to Castle Rock's only physician. This was hardly the old country doctor he assumed would be in a small town, and judging from the doctor's amused _expression Frank obviously hadn't hid his surprise very well. 

"Not what you expected?" The grinning, longhaired man that stood at the door couldn't have been more than thirty years old. His hair was tied back, showing off the one golden stud and loop that adorned an ear. "I'm Jerry Weaver. Doctor Weaver. Brad said that your brother's suffered an injury to the head." Weaver eased himself past Frank and went to kneel next to the twin bed where his patient lay, tossing a worn knapsack down beside him. "How long ago was that?" He smiled down at Joe who had rolled over onto his back and had given him a weak wave. 

"It was early this afternoon." Frank sat on the second twin bed and offered his brother a reassuring smile.  

"Look," Joe cut in, "it's just a headache. And I'm tired and hungry. It's not a big deal."  

Frank could hear the exasperation creeping into his brother's voice. He knew it wouldn't be long before he lost his temper completely. It was just a matter of waiting for the explosion. 

"You know," Dr. Weaver said softly, responding to the tension in Joe's voice, "I think that you're probably right. You didn't feel dizzy earlier today? Say about a half an hour after you hit your head? No?" He gently probed the small bump that had formed under the blond hair. "That's a nice knot you've got there." He raised a finger in front of Joe's eyes and drew it back and forth a few times. "I want you to follow my finger with your eyes, not your head. Okay?" Satisfied with what he saw, he sat back on his heels. "Any nausea? I know you said you're hungry now, but how about earlier? No, huh." He turned to Frank. "Has he been slurring his words? Having trouble staying awake?" 

"No, no slurring. He did fall asleep in the car for a bit." 

"Did you have any trouble waking him?" At Frank's shake of the head, Weaver turned back to his patient. "I think that you've diagnosed this case correctly, Dr. Hardy," he said, smiling. "I'm not saying that you didn't take a strong blow to the head, but I don't think that we're looking at a concussion. Do you concur? Good. Now what I'd like you to do is get a good night's sleep. No travelling by car. The motion is only going to aggravate your headache and the dizziness. I'm going to give you something for that headache. It's a little stronger than aspirin, but nothing that's going to put you out. Do you have any allergies that I should know about?" Patting Joe on the shoulder, he stood up. "Why don't you close your eyes and rest for a few minutes?" 

"So he's okay?" Frank sagged with relief and followed the doctor to the door. "Is there anything I need to watch for?" 

"I don't think so. His pupils are normal and he had no problems focusing or following movement. He seems alert enough. I want you to get him to take these two pills tonight." Weaver reached into his knapsack and pulled out a sample packet containing painkillers. "They'll relieve some of the pounding. I know that he didn't complain about it to me, but judging from the tightness around his eyes and the dark circles under them, he's probably suffering with it right now."  

Frank turned the packet over in his hands. It was a brand he was familiar with. "We were really hoping to get back on the road tonight." He looked at the doctor hopefully. The place still gave him the creeps. 

"You and your brother are free to make whatever decisions you want." Reaching for the straps to his pack, Weaver slung it over his shoulder. "All I can do is make recommendations. Travelling isn't going to do any damage, but I can guarantee that Joe's headache can and will get worse if he doesn't get some rest." He looked back at teen lying on the bed and then back to Frank. "It's up to you." 

"I guess a few hours sleep isn't going to make a difference," Frank sighed. "Can you let the Wellwoods know we'll be staying tonight?" 

"Good choice." Weaver opened the door and stepped into the hallway. "I'll tell them and I'll ask Maddie to bring up that snack she was making for you."  

"We're staying?" Joe's quiet question came as soon as Weaver had closed the door behind him. "I can handle the car ride if you're up to doing most of the driving." 

The urge to let his brother persuade him into driving, if only to the next town, almost won out. But one look at Joe's worn features and sunken eyes made him shake his head no. "I'm pretty tired too. I don't know if I'd trust myself behind the wheel." It was playing dirty, since Frank knew that Joe would never push him to do anything he wasn't up for, but he also knew he'd have a fight on his hands if he said they were staying for Joe's sake. "Just for a few hours, okay? We'll leave at the first sign of light."  

"Okay," Joe agreed wearily. "Just a few hours." He took the glass of water and tablets his brother held out for him. "You'll wake me up at dawn if I fall asleep?" 

"I will." 

"Promise?" 

"I promise," Frank said, taking the drained glass. "Now lie back and get some rest. Try to sleep. Everything'll be fine." Taking a duvet that had been draped over the arm of a chair, he shook it out and covered his brother. "Comfy?"  

"Yes, mom," Joe sighed, snuggling deeper into the warmth of the duvet. "You try and get some sleep too, Frank. Just make sure you bolt the door first."

 

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The Hardy Boys belong to Simon and Schuster and the Stratemeyer Foundation. The Hardy Boys Fan Fiction author(s) of the Hardy Detective Agency have just borrowed them for an adventure or two. The author(s) promise to give the boys back when they are done with them. The authors do claim copyright to any original characters in their stories. Please do not borrow original characters without express permission of the author(s) in question.