After-effects

Chapter 22

Alan stayed on Thunderbird 5 for another week and ended up flying Thunderbird 3 down to the island himself after John was hurt in an unfortunate accident.

The space-loving Tracy had taken the opportunity to give himself a rare evening off and left Alan monitoring Thunderbird 5's main systems. He made himself a mug of coffee and had climbed just over half way up the red anodised ladder leading into the astrodome when he caught the mug on one of the rungs, slopped hot coffee over his hand and then lost his grip on the drink.

The mug flipped over in mid-air and then dropped like a stone towards the floor below. John made a futile grab before it passed out of reach but failed to catch it and could only watch as the lavender-coloured drinking vessel destroyed itself against the hard metal floor at the base of the astrodome's access tube.

John shook his head and sighed softly. "Just one, quiet, uneventful night off. That's all I want. One night. Just…one. Damn it." He looked up towards the astrodome and then back towards the broken crockery and sighed again. "Down it is, I guess. Mop, bucket, here I come."

John was unaware that coffee had splattered the ladder on its journey towards the floor. The rungs directly below the astronaut were liberally coated with the liquid and as John began to climb down he placed his leading foot on a particularly slippery patch. Instinctively he reached out in an attempt to gain a firmer purchase on the ladder but a combination of coffee, anodised-metal and frustration got the better of him and he very quickly found himself heading towards the floor.

~#~

He hit the ground with a sickening thud and lay still, momentarily stunned by the fall. He took stock of his body, blinked hard and then sent a silent thanks to the heavens that he was still in one piece. This positive thinking lasted a further thirty seconds until John tried to push himself up off the floor and immediately found himself wracked with excruciating pain.

He let out a howl as his left arm buckled beneath him and he collapsed back to the floor, breathing heavily. Using his right hand he tentatively pushed himself into a sitting position and then sat, cradling his left arm gently against his chest. "Damn that hurts."

~#~

John sat at the bottom of the ladder for several more minutes before he finally risked moving again. He inched his right hand slowly and carefully up his left arm and tapped the button on his watch which would connect him to Alan.

"Hi John." Alan's cheery reply sounded loud in the corridor where John was sitting. "How are the stars looking this evening?"

John let out a short chuff of laughter and then immediately regretted it when the movement jarred his arm. "I'm sure they're looking just fine but I can't confirm that personally. I encountered a…um…a problem and I'm going to need you to come and help me."

It was obvious to John that Alan hadn't looked at his watch prior to that moment because the younger brother suddenly gave out a confused 'huh?' followed by "Um, John, what am I looking at?"

"I'm not sure," John replied. "I can't tell from here but I'd guess it's either my chin, chest or maybe a part of the wall. Whatever it is it's all you're going to get 'cos I'm not moving until you get here. Please, Al, just get here."

Alan frowned to himself. "Okay. Hold your horses a second." Alan brought up the screen showing Thunderbird 5 and located John's lilac-coloured spot. "I'm on my way."

~#~

Alan's years in International Rescue had prepared him well and he pulled the first aid kit from the wall by the door, strode from the room and headed towards his brother. He rounded the corner into the corridor where John was sitting and broke into a run when he spotted him on the floor. "What happened?"

John turned pain-filled eyes towards Alan and grimaced. "I fell," he replied. "…from about half way up. I wasn't concentrating as well as I should have been."

Alan squatted on the floor beside his brother and glanced upwards. "Crap. That's a fair drop, John. What have you hurt? Apart from the obvious, of course."

"Just my arm," John told him. "…or my shoulder. Or…maybe both, I don't know."

"Oh," Alan murmured. "That kind of wasn't what I meant by obvious. I…I meant your face. Look." Alan reached out a finger and gently pressed it against John's cheek. He pressed another against John's temple and then held both blood-coated fingertips out to show his brother. "You're a right mess."

John rolled his eyes and groaned. "Well that's just…fantastic." He looked at the floor around him and sighed. "You're going to have to check for foreign obj…oh jeez, that stings."

"Sorry." Alan pulled the antiseptic wipe back off the gash on John's cheek and winced when the blood was immediately replaced with a fresh trickle. "This one's nasty but it looks clean. I can't see any coffee or mug or…anything that's not supposed to be there." Alan held the wipe against John's face with one hand while he rifled through the first aid kit with the other. "Look over here a minute so I can stick it shut."

John did what he'd been asked and sat quietly while Alan steri-stripped the gash on his cheek. He closed his eyes when Alan began to investigate the cut on his temple and resisted the urge to swear when his brother was forced to use a set of medical tweezers to remove a sliver of earthenware that he found there.

"Sorry," Alan whispered again. "I'm being as gentle as I can but I need to make sure there isn't any more in here."

John gave the tiniest of nods and sighed softly. "I know. You just keep doing what you're doing and ignore my grumblings. I'm just another rescue case at the moment and you know how they can get."

Alan smiled softly as he stuck the last steri-strip in place and then set about cleaning the remaining blood from John's face. "You could never be 'just another rescue case', John and as strange as it might sound I'm glad I'm up here with you."

John cracked open one eye and stared at him. "Says the guy who's spent the last week and a half griping, complaining and eating me out of house and…er...space station."

Alan flushed red and looked at the floor. "Yeah, I know I've been a pain," he murmured. "It's just…what I meant was that I'm glad I was here today…when you did…" Alan waved at John, the broken crockery and the corridor in general. "…this. If I hadn't been then we'd have had to scramble from down there and you'd have been waiting for ages for someone to come and help you."

"I know," John replied. "…and I'm glad you were here as well. I wouldn't fancy sitting here on my own willing Thunderbird 3 to fly just that little bit faster." He sighed loudly. "This should never have happened."

"It was just a stupid accident, that's all." Alan told him. "…unless you planned to throw your coffee on the floor and roll around in it?"

John rolled his eyes at his brother. "No, I can categorically state that I had no intention of doing such a thing. The coffee had one purpose and one purpose only, which was to be drunk; and no, before you ask, I didn't even get a sip of it. It was too hot and it decided it'd rather kill itself than cool down…that's throbbing like stink, before you start poking at it."

Alan had shuffled over to John's left shoulder and was staring at it with a distasteful look on his face. He had refrained from touching it but was fairly sure that it would hurt John, a lot, once he did. "It's definitely out," he said softly. "…and it's kind of swelling up. I can't see properly past your shirt but I'd say it was more than just your shoulder."

"Yeah," John agreed. "I reckon you might be right. Damn it, I like this shirt."

Alan pursed his lips together and nodded slowly. "I'll get the scissors."

~#~

Alan carefully cut along the seams of John's shirt and gently pulled away the brown and white plaid fabric. Despite Alan moving as slowly and cautiously as possible he still jostled his brother slightly and by the time he was left in just his undershirt, John was drenched in a cold sweat and shaking badly.

Alan wrapped a foil blanket around his brother and leaned forward to pull him into a gentle hug. "Are you sure you want me to try and get it back in? If just getting rid of the shirt hurt that much?"

John nodded against his neck. "It won't hurt so much if you get it back in and once you've done it you can hit me with a heavy duty dose of something strong and then take me home and deliver me to Virgil. Agreed?"

Alan lifted his arm behind John's back and glanced at his watch. "Agreed but you're going to let me at least get some muscle relaxant into you before I try it. I'm not as practiced at it as Virgil and I'm not as strong as Scott and the last thing I want to do is make things worse."

"I have faith in you," John replied softly. "Get it done then we can go home."

Alan rubbed John's back and then gently pushed him upright. "Stay up there while I find you some drugs, okay?" Alan kept a wary eye on his brother as he rifled through the first aid kit and pulled out a vial of Diazepam. He held it up so John could see. "Agreed?"

John nodded and turned his head away so as not to watch Alan setting up the injection.

Alan filled the syringe and squeezed the plunger slightly to flush out any air bubbles. He cleaned a small patch of John's good arm with a wipe and carefully injected the drug into the muscle in his brother's bicep. That done, he capped the syringe, dropped it into a small pouch in the side of the first aid kit and then sat on the floor beside John while he waited for the drug to take effect.

~#~

Alan sat beside his brother for almost ten minutes. John was quiet and had slumped sideways against him so Alan reached out and gently patted his arm. "Hey. You awake over there?"

John let out a soft sigh and nodded. "Guilty as charged. Currently stuck though and won't get moving unless you give me a shove."

Alan carefully pushed him upright and held him in place when he began to sway. "Well the drugs seem to be working and you're definitely relaxed. Are you ready to try this?"

John slowly unpeeled the fingers of his right hand from around his left arm and cradled it gently. "Do it."

Alan took hold of John's damaged arm and very slowly brought the forearm towards his body. John grimaced as his brother began to rotate the arm in a clockwise direction and then yelled loudly when something crunched in his upper arm.

Alan froze and he stared at John who had his eyes screwed tightly shut. "I knew this wasn't a good idea. What do I do now? John, what do I do?"

John let out a shudder, cracked open his eyes and and reached out to pat Alan's arm. "Not…your fault," he breathed. "Something…broken. Virg'll fix it. Try again. Ignore…" John swallowed deeply before continuing. "…that."

Alan looked doubtful but repeated the manoeuvre on John's arm. He supported the upper arm as much as he was able and tried his hardest to ignore the uneven, crunchy feeling the movement created. John clamped his eyes shut and his teeth together as Alan manipulated his arm and then let out an agonising, pain-filled howl when it reached the point when the socket should have reconnected, only to have it fail to do so.

He let out a shuddery, pain-filled gasp and slumped against his brother who wrapped his arms around him. "I'm sorry," Alan croaked. "It's not working. It's just…it's not working and I'm hurting you."

John hung limply in Alan's arms, breathing heavily. "Told…before. Not…your…fault. Broken. Need Virg."

Alan clung to his brother and sniffed loudly before lifting his arm and jabbing the buttons on his watch. "Dad," he cried. "Dad, please answer."

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