After-effects

Chapter 16

International Rescue were called out to a mine collapse early the next morning. Scott, Virgil and Gordon set off in Thunderbirds 1 and 2 only to find themselves turned back roughly half an hour out from the island when some of the local villagers managed to free the trapped miners, completely unscathed, via a long-forgotten exit that someone had spotted on an old map of the mine.

The rest of the day passed quietly both down on the island and up on Thunderbird 5. John, as usual, kept a close eye on the computer screen that showed where the various family members were at any given moment in time. The six coloured spots on Tracy Island stayed within a relatively small area as was normal but John watched with interest as the two spots in Kansas spent the day travelling from one location to another before finally ending up back at the Tracy homestead as the sun began to set.

~#~

Jeff called up to Thunderbird 5 at his usual time, just after dinner. He found John in the control room but there was a noticeable lack of Alan which John explained was because the youngster was still trying to avoid any unnecessary confrontations with Jeff.

"He's very quiet, Father," John told Jeff. "He's been kind of following me around like a lost lamb and doesn't seem to know what to do with himself. He's not supposed to be up here yet and is desperately trying not to get in my way but at the same time he doesn't want to be alone so hasn't really let me out of his sight much all day." John looked around at the closed door behind him and shrugged. "It's made keeping an eye on the Kyranos a bit difficult but I can tell you that they've been to see Doctor Sumner, or at least they've been to the surgery so I assume they saw someone, even if it wasn't him. They had lunch after visiting the doctor and then spent the afternoon at the hospital. They're both back at the farm now and if I were to hazard a guess I'd say that Tin-Tin put herself to bed as soon as they got back. I can't decide if that's a good sign, a bad sign or if it's just a sign that she's still not entirely happy with her father, in much the same way that another certain someone, who's also gone to bed, isn't happy with his."

Jeff sighed. "I'd guess at a combination of tiredness, a busy day and the latter of your three options," he replied. "Tin-Tin's been brought up to respect her father so she won't actively stand up to him but it doesn't mean that she'll do exactly what he says either. Putting herself to bed and equivalently out of reach is a passive form of protest and one that she can do without fear of any physical repercussions of any kind."

John nodded thoughtfully. "Look, Father, I don't know if you've spoken to Kyrano since he left but if you haven't then now might be a good time. He's on his own at the end of a long and stressful day and I'm sure he'd appreciate a call right about now. What do you reckon?"

"I think you're probably right," Jeff replied. "…and I'm sure Kyrano would appreciate that you're thinking of him." Jeff paused and reached up to scratch his head. "…although I might neglect to mention that you've been watching his and Tin-Tin's every move all day."

John chuckled. "Not all day; just…part of it; and it's not like I don't normally keep my eye on everybody; it's just they're not with everyone else like they normally are."

"True." Jeff shrugged. "Well it doesn't look like Alan's going to show his face while I'm still here so I guess I'll take my leave of you for now. I'll call you tomorrow, John but if you need me before then..."

"…I know where you are." John smiled as he tapped the computer screen. "I always know where you are!"

~#~

John sat quietly for several minutes and then tried to access the video phone on Jeff's desk. The phone returned an engaged tone so he repeated the process for the phone at the farmhouse in Kansas and smiled when that was also engaged.

John watched the spots on his screen for a moment longer to make sure that Jeff and Kyrano were completely settled and then he sent out a quiet ping. "Tin-Tin," he whispered. "Are you awake?"

The screen of John's watch sprang to life when the ping was immediately answered. Tin-Tin's face was pale and her eyes were red-rimmed from crying. "John?" she croaked. "Is that you?"

John nodded and gave her an encouraging smile. "It sure is, Honey. I thought you might appreciate a friendly face, right about now. I would have got Alan to call but I wasn't sure how well he'd be received."

"How is he?" Tin-Tin shuffled herself up the bed until she was sitting on her pillow. "I didn't see him before we left." Twin tears escaped from her eyes, rolled down her cheeks and slipped down her neck to soak into the soft green silk of her blouse. "I didn't even get to speak to him. I didn't get to speak to him and he's not here. He…he…he's not here, John."

John watched helplessly as Tin-Tin let out a sob. She put a hand over her mouth in an attempt to remain quiet and tears fell unchecked from her eyes. "Aw, Honey, don't cry. I know he's not there but I also know that loves you, with all his heart and that he was desperately unhappy when he found out that you'd gone. He couldn't stay down there without you, so he's up here with me." John chuckled softly. "The thought of losing you literally drove him from the planet, Tin and if that's not a sign of how much he cares for you then I don't know what is. Do you want me to fetch him?"

Tin-Tin let out a gasp and nodded. "Oh yes, John, please. I'd give anything to speak to him. Anything."

"Nothing required, Honey, I just hate seeing you both so upset." John glanced at his computer screen to check that Alan was still in his room. "I tell you what, I'm going to take you to him rather than the other way around 'cos he's…well, I think he's in bed. He's not on speaking terms with Father at the moment and I was speaking to the island before I called you so…" John shrugged. "I'll have you there in a minute, just…hang on."

~#~

John waved his hand across the access panel outside Alan's room and the door swished opened. Alan was lying stretched out on his bed with his back to the door and made no move to acknowledge his brother's entrance into the room. John held a finger up to his lips to tell Tin-Tin to keep quiet and then unbuckled his watch and held it securely in the palm of his left hand. After silently nodding to Tin-Tin he crossed the room, crouched beside Alan and gently gripped his shoulder.

"Hey," he whispered. "Are you awake? I've got someone who wants to talk to you."

Alan flopped forwards, away from his brother. "Don't wanna talk to anyone. Tell 'em to leave me alone."

John rolled his eyes at Alan and swapped his watch into his right hand. "Shut up and take my watch, you idiot," he murmured, holding it in front of Alan. "…and just…look."

Alan wrapped his hand around the watch, moved it up to where he could see it and let out a breathy squeak. His shoulders began to shake and his breathing became erratic as he fought to keep from breaking down completely. John sat on the floor and rubbed his back supportively, "Easy there, Big Guy. Calm down and breathe. Come on."

Alan shuddered and hugged the watch to his chest as he rolled onto his back and then fidgeted around until he was facing John. He uncurled his hands, pressed the watch against his forehead and let out a long, shaky breath. "Thank you."

John nodded sadly. "It's the least I could do. Now, are the two of you going to behave if I leave the pair of you in here together?"

Alan snorted and held out his left arm as he nodded. "Take that...just in case."

John nodded again and unbuckled Alan's watch from around his wrist. "Take as long as you want," he murmured softly. "…and come and find me when you're done. I'll make you some cocoa and we can talk, okay?" John patted Alan's shoulder and gathered his legs beneath himself in preparation for standing up. He managed to get to his knees but then found himself wrapped in Alan's arms as his brother hugged him tightly. "I know, Al. I know. I'm not going far. Talk to Tin-Tin then come and find me when you're ready."

John returned Alan's hug and then pressed him gently back onto the bed and ruffled his hair. "Behave."

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