The third thing Joe noticed about the guy who opened the door was that he was pretty hot.
The first thing he noticed was that the guy was mostly naked under his robe. The second thing he noticed was that it was Frank's robe. And that's why he made a point of checking on the third thing. Joe was a pretty open-minded twenty-first century kind of guy, but he still wasn't usually in the habit of checking out every guy he met. Or any guy, under normal circumstances. But he'd gotten into the habit lately, because his brother was the most freaking oblivious detective on the entire planet. Although that seemed to have changed.
"Yo," he said. "Frank here?"
"Um," mostly-naked-guy said with a kind of sideways glance that made Joe instantly distrust him. "Um. I think he's in the shower. Should I give him a message?"
"Yeah," Joe said, hefting his bag on his shoulder. "You could tell him Joe's here."
No flash of recognition, which meant the guy had to be new. That was kind of reassuring. Joe would have had to turn in his detective cred if it had turned out Frank had been hiding this from him despite all of Joe's best efforts to be nosy and invasive.
"His brother," Joe said, when it became obvious that naked guy didn't know who he was. "His favorite brother. The brother he invited to stay with him for the weekend."
That got a reaction out of naked guy. Mostly thinly veiled panic, but Joe wasn't feeling terribly sympathetic. Naked guy thought he had problems? Joe was stuck looking at naked guy.
"Seriously, aren't you getting cold?" he asked, pointedly staring at the barely fastened and extremely borrowed robe mostly-naked-guy was wearing. "It's below zero out here. And icy."
"Um," naked guy said again. He was taller than Joe, and muscular in a goes to a gym kind of way, not the chases bad guys and fights for his life to stay in shape kind of way. His hair was a few shades darker than Joe's, his eyes kind of a muddy brown color. Joe gave him another once over because he could tell he was making the guy nervous.
"Listen," Joe said. "I'm a cop. And if you don't tell my brother I'm here in the next ten seconds, I'm going to start thinking you murdered him and you don't want me in there because you're having sex with his corpse or something-"
Naked guy threw the door open so fast it bounced off the wall and nearly slammed shut in Joe's face. "No! No, no, sorry. Come in. Frank didn't mention he was having company for Christmas, that's all. I, ah..." He tugged on the borrowed robe. "I wasn't expecting company, that's all. Sorry. No, Frank's fine. Fine. He's in the shower."
Joe could hear running water coming from the back of the apartment, so that was probably true. "All right." He shouldered past naked guy and let himself into the apartment. It looked pretty much the same as it had the last time he'd been there, except the lights were dimmed and there were a few lit candles flickering. "And I'm not really a cop."
Naked guy gaped at him for a second. Joe gestured at the door. "You're letting the snow in."
"You're not a cop?" Naked guy repeated, sounding indignant. "That's a felony! Impersonating an officer-"
"It was cold and you didn't look like you were in any hurry to let me in." Joe crossed the living room and headed for the small hallway that led to the bedrooms. "If you want to, you know, put pants on, or something, I won't stop you."
That finally got a reaction out of naked guy who reached out and grabbed Joe's arm before he could walk into the guest room. "Hey, asshole, you've obviously interrupted something here, so why don't you go get yourself a hotel room and call ahead next time, all right?"
Joe dropped his bag outside the guest room door and flexed his arm a little, letting the muscles tense under naked guy's grip. "Dude, you're going to want to let go of me."
"Like hell!" Now that naked guy wasn't gaping at him, he was proving himself to have a heck of a temper. Joe, no slacker in the hothead department himself, was amused to be the one keeping his cool for once. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm in the middle of something-"
"My brother," Joe interjected, unable to let that pass. Naked guy was perilously close to pissing him off.
"Listen, what's it gonna take?" Naked guy tugged on his robe again and shot a glance past Joe toward the master bedroom. The shower was still running, but if naked guy wanted to get rid of him before Frank knew he was there, he was running out of time. "Just go crash at a hotel for the night."
"I'm good here, thanks," Joe flashed a toothy grin that was about as far from friendly as a grin could get. "But hey, if you feel like your style might be cramped, feel free to clear out. I'll be gone eventually and you can get back to whatever you and Frank have got going on here."
"Christ," naked guy muttered. "Are you sure you're his brother? Cause you're doing a hell of a job cock-blocking me here."
Joe rolled his eyes as he stooped to pick up his bag. "Man, can we never use that word while talking about my brother again?" He let himself into the guest room and dropped his bag on the bed. "I'll make myself scarce in here while you guys-" he eyeballed naked guy again. "-do whatever."
Frank being gay - or bi, Joe figured bi was slightly more likely considering that Frank had been pretty obviously into Callie for years before they split - didn't bother him. Joe didn't really give a crap who people slept with as long as everyone was consenting. Admittedly, where his brother was involved, Joe was slightly more particular. For starters, Joe and Frank were close enough and spent enough time together that Joe was going to be stuck with whoever Frank ended up with. Plus, Joe was perfectly aware of the fact that he could be just as over-protective as Frank on his worst Big Brother power trip and he was getting the asshole vibe from naked guy.
Seriously, Frank finally admitted he swung that way and this was the first guy he hooked up with? Joe thought it might be time to stop being quietly-supportive-baby-brother and start being pushy-obnoxious-baby-brother. Frank could do better.
He heard the shower cut off in the other room and eyeballed naked guy. "I'm begging you to put on pants before Frank gets out here."
That seemed to get naked guy's back up. "Listen, jackass. No one wants you here. So why don't you get the hell out before I throw you out."
Joe didn't blink. "Try it, asshole." He was fairly certain that Frank would kill him if Joe started a fight with his boyfriend. He was also fairly certain that naked guy was going to back down pretty fast. He smirked when naked guy sputtered and glared but didn't make a move. "Right. I didn't think so." He unzipped his bag and started unpacking, setting his computer on the bed and digging around in the bag for his ipod. Headphones were going to be his best friend if naked guy turned out to be sticking around for a while.
Actually, a hotel was sounding pretty good. Especially if this guy was spending the night.
He was debating whether he wanted to just give up and repack, or wait until he knew for sure whether Frank was planning on having company for the night, even though it meant running the risk of being trapped in a room with his brother and hopefully-no-longer-naked guy. So he wasn't exactly paying attention when naked guy lost his cool and tackled him.
He fell sideways against the dresser, wincing as his ribs hit the wood hard enough to bruise. "Son of a-" he twisted around just in time to catch an up close view as naked guy's robe swung open. "Oh, for-" Joe grimaced and nearly missed blocking the clumsy punch naked guy threw. He deflected it with his arm and grabbed his opponent's wrist. Naked guy didn't try to pull away, instead he lunged forward and grabbed Joe by the front of his jacket and dragged him away from the dresser. Joe was fairly certain he could have dealt with the situation without anyone getting hurt but then his feet tangled in the comforter and he fell, dragging naked guy down him him. Joe winced as his head hit the carpet and groaned as naked guy crashed against his ribs and drove the air out of his lungs.
Crap. Frank was going to kill him.
He sucked air into his lungs and tried to ignore the naked guy lying on top of him. "Tie that robe, man," he gasped. "I'm begging you."
"Am I interrupting something?"
Joe closed his eyes briefly, sparing a moment to wish that he had just turned down Frank's invitation and stayed on campus for the weekend. "Just getting to know each other," he said, tipping his head back to grin at his brother.
Frank was leaning in the doorway, barefoot and bare-chested, his hair still wet from the shower. His face was remarkably free of expression except for one eyebrow that was slowly trying to climb over the top of his head. "Should I leave you two in privacy?"
Naked guy was scrambling to his feet and Joe grimaced as the robe flapped open again. "Frank!"
"I'm not sure which question I want to ask first," Frank said thoughtfully. "A number of them spring to mind. Like, David, why are you naked? And how did you get my robe? And is there a good reason why you were straddling my brother?"
"I can explain," David said, hastily pulling the robe shut.
"Wait a minute," Joe interrupted. He propped himself up on his elbows. "Isn't he your boyfriend?"
"I- boyfriend?" Frank frowned at him. "I don't- No. He's my partner."
Joe frowned right back. "Semantics."
"He's my partner for my Aristotelian Ethics class," Frank said. "We're working on a paper. I'm not sure when that turned into you two rolling around naked together."
"There was no rolling!" Joe protested. "And if he's not your boyfriend why is he naked? What's with all the lit candles?"
"This was a bad idea," David said.
Frank crossed his arms. "If you thought he was my boyfriend why are you rolling around on the floor naked with him?"
"There was no rolling!"
"I should go," David said. "I'm just going to, uh-" he gestured toward the door. "I'm going to go."
Frank eyed him. "Keep the robe. And keep your hands off my brother."
David flushed bright red as he slipped out the door. Frank leaned out after him. "And put out those candles before you set off a fire alarm!"
Joe flopped back onto the floor, laughing. "Oh, god."
Frank stepped into the room and stood over Joe's head. "Do I even want to know what that was all about?"
"Probably not," Joe admitted. "I think David thought he was going to be your partner."
"I'm slightly concerned that he got into my closet without me noticing," Frank said. "I might be slipping."
"Dude, if he'd been packing a gun instead of a hard-on you'd have been screwed." Joe grinned at his brother as Frank grimaced at his word choice. "If you buy me dinner I promise not to tell Dad about this."
"You were the one rolling around with a naked guy," Frank pointed out. He offered Joe a hand.
Joe grabbed the hand Frank offered him and let Frank do most of the work hauling him off the floor. "Yeah, but he was your naked guy. Wonder what Dad would have to say about that?"
Frank twisted his hand free and smiled serenely down at his brother as Joe glared up at him from the floor. "And you were the one who let a naked intruder get the drop on him. Which do you think Dad would approve of least?"
That was a no-brainer. In the Hardy family letting your guard down was the ultimate sin. "I'll buy you dinner?" Joe offered. "And we never speak of this again?"
"That sounds like a fair compromise." Frank offered Joe his hand again and pulled his brother to his feet.
"I have two questions," Frank said as he wandered back toward his room for a shirt. "One - why did you think David was my boyfriend?"
"Naked dude wearing your robe?" Joe said.
"Yeah. That might have given anyone the wrong idea." Frank reappeared, buttoning a shirt with one hand and carrying his shoes in the other. "Question two: What made you think I was going to have a boyfriend in the first place?"
Joe shrugged into his jacket. "Aren't you kinda-" He waggled a hand back and forth and waggled his eyebrows.
Frank smirked. "Is that why you've been so weird lately?"
"Weird?" Joe objected.
"You've spent the last two months talking about gay rights, going on rants about institutionalized prejudice, and casually mentioning that you think Kurt from Glee is the best new entertainer in Hollywood. Have you ever even seen an episode of Glee?"
"I've watched some of the musical numbers on YouTube," Joe said.
"Because you thought I was coming out of the closet?"
Joe eyed the ceiling to avoid Frank's grin. "Well, sort of, yeah."
Frank hooked an arm around Joe's shoulders and hauled his brother against his side. "You're pretty awesome, little brother. When you aren't poaching my boyfriends."
Joe rolled his eyes. "I'd never poach one of your boyfriends. Especially if that guy's an indication. He's kind of a douche, Frank."
"I'd noticed," Frank said dryly. "If it makes you feel better, I won't be dating him." He sighed. "Unfortunately, I think my ethics paper is going to suffer for this fiasco."
"It could have been worse," Joe said as they headed for the door. "Imagine if I hadn't shown up when I did. I think David was five seconds away from climbing in that shower with you."
"I don't think I've ever been happier to see you," Frank said.