After-effects

Chapter 13

Jeff and Scott remained on the beach for some time, talking quietly and then just lying on the sand in quiet companionship. Their quiet musings were eventually disturbed when a loud rumbling noise rolled across the beach.

Jeff looked quizzically at Scott. "Anything I should know about?"

Scott shook his head. "It's just Virgil getting Tracy 2 off the beach. I hope he thought to get Gordon well out of the way before he moved her. He…I don't think he realises just how close he came to not making it back this morning. It was dark when he crashed so he wouldn't have seen the worst of the damage. You need to prepare yourself before you see her; it's not…she's not a pretty sight right now."

Jeff sat up and brushed the sand from his shirt. "In that case I think we should head back. Virgil might need help; either with the plane, or with Gordon."

~#~

Gordon was pacing back and forth in front of the door down to the hangars when Jeff and Scott walked back into the house. "You okay over there?" Scott asked as he approached.

Gordon stopped pacing and wandered across the room to meet his father and brother. "Virg won't let me help down there," he explained. "He said that he and Brains would be able to move T2 and told me I had to stay up here and wait for you. He said to tell you that we found Mirabel running in front of the door when we down there to find Brains. It looks like Alan tried to take her out and then took Three when he couldn't get the hangar door open. Oh…crap…"

"Don't worry, Gordon, I already know about last night's escapades, especially where your brother's concerned. I'll be having words with him at some point but for now let's just say that I'm just glad everyone came out of last night pretty much unscathed. The plane is incidental, it's either repairable or it's not. Thunderbird 3 is more complicated but ultimately is also a thing and therefore the same rules apply."

Gordon stepped forwards and hugged his father tightly. "Thanks for not getting mad."

Jeff returned the hug. "It wasn't your fault, Gordon. If I was going to get mad with anyone it'd be Alan but, to be honest, I think there was more than enough of that yesterday and it culminated in your brother stealing the biggest, noisiest craft on the island and nearly wiping you out in the process."

"Don't remind me," Gordon shuddered. "I'm only glad that it happened when I was on my way back home rather than when I was flying out. On the way back I was on my own so it was only me who could have been hurt." Gordon pulled out of Jeff's embrace and snorted loudly, "…and let's face it, that happens on a pretty regular basis anyway."

"It happens too often," Jeff grumbled. "…no matter how many safety features Brains puts in place to protect you. You've always been a trouble magnet, Gordon Tracy and I don't see that changing any time soon."

~#~

The door to the hangars swung open and Virgil stepped through, followed by Brains. Virgil stopped and looked appraisingly at Jeff. "Good morning, Father. How are you today?"

Jeff chuckled low in his throat. "If you're wondering if I'm going to start shouting again then you don't need to worry. I've had some time to think and I've also had a long chat with your brother." He glanced at Scott who nodded gently, "Virgil, Gordon, I'm sure it'll surprise you to learn that, in the not too distant future, you're going to become uncles."

Gordon's reaction was similar to Scott's had been in that his eyes became wide and his eyebrows shot upwards. Virgil's reaction was, in contrast, harder to read. He let out a quiet huff, cocked his head to one side and swallowed deeply. "When…how…" he muttered eventually, looking at Scott. "You could've said something."

Scott flinched at the hurt displayed in his brother's chocolate-brown eyes. "It's not mine, Virg." He paused and thought for a moment, "I'd like to think that Dad wouldn't have gone quite so far off the rails as he did yesterday if it had been mine, but honestly, it's not."

Virgil frowned and was about to reply when Gordon let out a yelp. "Tin-Tin," he shouted. "The stupid little…That's what yesterday was about? Tin-Tin and Kyrano and Kansas and…and…my God, what an idiot."

Scott let out an undignified bark of laughter, threw his arm around Virgil's shoulders and pulled him into a loose headlock. "Do you get it now?" he asked light-heartedly and then laughed as Virgil tried, and failed, to free himself. "'cos I have to say, Virg, that the half-fried aquanaut got it almost straight away."

Gordon's response was drowned out by Scott's yelp of surprise as he found himself tumbling onto the carpet when Virgil wrapped his left leg around Scott's right one and, without warning, dropped to the floor.

Scott laughed loudly and untangled himself from his brother before clambering to his feet and dragging Virgil back up off the floor. He shook his head at his brother and then gently poked his rib cage. "You okay now?"

Virgil looked across at Gordon who grinned back at him. "Yeah, sorry, had kind of a brain fart moment there. So…Alan…?"

"…is going to be a father." Jeff looked at Gordon who had gone pale. "Gordon, are you alright?"

Gordon shook himself. "Um...yeah. It's just…doubly lucky that Tin-Tin wasn't in the plane when I…dropped it. That…well that would've been…bad."

Jeff closed his eyes and remained quiet for a moment. Scott shared a look with Gordon and nodded briskly towards their father. Gordon winced and then shrugged. "Dad, are you okay?"

Jeff reached up and gently rubbed his eyes with the thumb and middle finger of his right hand. He let out a sigh and then looked at Gordon. "Just…thinking," he replied. "Scott told me earlier that he thought your mother would be looking out for the baby and that she wouldn't let anything happen to him or her. I…I thought you might like the sentiment."

Gordon was fully aware that he had inadvertently disturbed his father's mellow mood and he nodded a brief reply. "I do," he whispered. "...and I think Scott's probably right. There's no way Mama would let anything happen to the baby."

~#~

Brains remained with the Tracys for the rest of the morning. Scott and Virgil were worried about how Jeff was going to react to seeing the state of Tracy 2 but it turned out that they should have been more worried about Gordon's reaction than their father's.

The five men wandered slowly across the hangar to where the bright blue plane sat forlornly atop a pair of Thunderbird 2's elevator cars. Jeff shook his head sadly and wrapped Gordon in a tight hug when he felt the aquanaut recoil at the sight of the mangled Tracy 2. "Too often, Gordon," he murmured. "Far, far too often."

Gordon sniffed against Jeff's chest. "I thought she was okay. Really I did. I thought maybe some of the undercarriage would need repairing and something to do with the door or steps or…something round there. I didn't realise she was properly trashed."

Jeff rubbed Gordon's back. "I'm not sure I know the correct definition of properly trashed but I'm sure your brother and Brains looked the plane over when they brought her in earlier. Virgil, Brains, what do you reckon?"

"She's salvageable, M-Mr Tracy," Brains replied. "It'll take a-a-a-a while but she'll fix up fi-fi-fine. She'll be as good as n-n-new once we're d-done."

Virgil nodded. "It's all either external or wiring, Gordon. She's fine on the inside so I don't expect any problems in there although we'll be going over the internal wiring with a fine toothcomb to make sure there are no hidden problems."

Gordon nodded but made no effort to remove himself from Jeff's embrace. Jeff patted his head and rocked him gently. "She's only an object, Gordon. Nuts, bolts, metal and plastic, that's all she is. She got you home in one piece, kept you safe and sound and Brains and Virgil will fix her up and make her fly again. She did her job, Gordon; she protected you…and that's the most important thing."

Gordon nodded again and then sighed. "Can I take Four out for a while this afternoon? I need some time to think, to get my head on straight; to just have some…me time."

Jeff thought for a moment before replying. "After lunch," he suggested. "You can go for as long as you want but you'll have to stay nearby in case a rescue gets called in. There's not enough of you left here for me to let you go freely, no matter how much I'd like to."

"I understand," Gordon nodded for a third time and then finally extricated himself from his father's arms. "I don't need to go far, just…down. Where it's quiet and dark and…" He shrugged and then looked across at Virgil and Scott who were talking quietly to Brains. "…away."

Jeff followed Gordon's gaze and smiled. "You scared them again," he murmured. "…so it's only natural that they're going to be shadowing you for a while. Look, if you're feeling up to it you can have an hour or so in the pool before it's time for lunch. If you make your escape now you can probably get up there without being caught."

Gordon smiled broadly and sidled sideways until Jeff was positioned between his brothers and himself. He then backed slowly away until he was approaching the elevator that led up into the house. He was well aware that Scott had been watching him since he had begun to move away but assumed that Jeff must have signalled his eldest son to remain in the hangar rather than follow Gordon back up into the house.

Gordon reached the elevator and sent a smart salute in his brother's direction before stepping inside. Unseen by the aquanaut, Scott nodded briefly and turned back to his conversation with Virgil and Brains.

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