Preparing the villa for Peanut's arrival became a real family affair over the next couple of months. Virgil, Scott and John knocked through the back wall of Alan's room into the storeroom behind and converted it into a nursery. Virgil and Scott decorated the room while Alan, John and Gordon put the furniture together, Tin-Tin and Ruth made drapes, cushions and soft furnishings to complement the neutral colour scheme and when everything was done Jeff hung Parker's mobile in pride of place above the crib.
Alan stood in the centre of the room hugging Tin-Tin tightly. "Thank you…all of you. It looks great and I'm sure Peanut's going to love it."
Alan had long-since given up trying to get Tin-Tin to tell him what Peanut's 'real' name was going to be and the whole household had taken to calling him Peanut despite the fact he was now significantly bigger than one. Tin-Tin's bump was huge in relation to her slim frame and the baby seemed to be constantly on the move. Jeff, to everyone's surprise, had coped well with having a heavily pregnant woman in close proximity to himself and had remained calm and stable despite everyone's earlier worries that he would break down like he had when Peanut's existence had first been discovered.
Tin-Tin had another of her antenatal appointments a couple of weeks after the nursery was completed. Alan flew her to Kansas and the pair stayed at the farm overnight as they had taken to doing on days when Tin-Tin needed to visit the hospital. Jeff had all but given up the idea of sending Alan out on rescues again and the remaining four boys, plus Brains, had fallen into a routine among themselves as to who looked after which craft and when. Gordon had resigned himself to being almost entirely island-based with the exception of rescues that required Thunderbird 4 when he would swap places with John who had taken to seconding with Virgil in Two. If Four was required then John remained on the island manning the computer while Gordon carried out whatever underwater rescue was required.
Kelly, the head obstetrician who had been looking after Tin-Tin since her first visit to the hospital, weighed Tin-Tin, measured her abdomen and gently palpated Peanut's bump to identify how he was lying. She frowned slightly and pressed her fingers more firmly just below Tin-Tin's ribs and again above her pelvis. Tin-Tin looked worriedly up at Alan and clung to his hand. "Is everything okay?"
Kelly tucked Tin-Tin's top back into place and perched on the edge of the bed. "I'm concerned that he hasn't turned yet. There's still time for him to do so but we normally like them to be head down by this stage. There's no reason to worry at the moment but I would like to see you again next week and maybe weekly from then on until either he turns or we deliver him."
"You deliver him?" Tin-Tin asked. "As in…caesarean?"
The obstetrician nodded. "If he hasn't turned then yes but hopefully it won't come to that. All being well he'll decide to head downwards on his own accord and you'll be able to deliver him naturally. If not, and he doesn't turn, then we'll have to step in and give him a hand out. I don't want you to worry, either of you. If he turns then good. If he doesn't then we deal with it. Either way, we're going to be keeping a close eye on you. Okay?"
Tin-Tin sighed deeply and Peanut kicked out at her. She rested her hand on him and smiled. "You behave, you little trouble maker. Behave and…turn round."
Alan and Tin-Tin remained at the farm rather than risk flying back to the island. The couple travelled back and forth to the hospital for check-ups and despite Tin-Tin's best efforts to persuade him to turn over, Peanut failed to do so. Eventually, at just over thirty seven weeks of gestation, Kelly decided it would be safest to deliver Peanut by caesarean before he had the chance to try and come naturally while still being the wrong way around.
The appointment was made for the beginning of the following week meaning that Peanut would be born at thirty eight weeks rather than forty. This, Kelly explained, was still classed as full-term and that Peanut would be only fractionally smaller than he might have been if he'd 'continued cooking' for another couple of weeks.
Jeff made arrangements to fly himself and Kyrano out to the farm to meet Alan so that they could offer their support while Tin-Tin was in surgery. Scott immediately gathered Virgil, John and Gordon around him and explained that he also needed to leave the island so that he could stave off the breakdown he was certain Jeff would have once the Tracy patriarch realised exactly where Tin-Tin was giving birth.
Jeff gave the boys strict instructions to behave themselves and set off with Kyrano in Tracy 2. Scott gave them a head start and then boarded Thunderbird 1 and headed for the canyon.
Due to the excessive speed that Thunderbird 1 was capable of, Scott beat Tracy 2 to Kansas. He was able to collect the pick-up truck from Thunderbird 2's cavern, drive to the farm, give Tin-Tin and Alan a hug and finally sat on the front stoop and waited for his father and Kyrano to arrive.
Jeff drove slowly up the farm's long gravel drive, came to a halt behind the pickup and climbed out. "I believe I left you in charge of the island," he grumbled light-heartedly. "So what are you doing here?"
Scott grinned and handed him a pair of mugs and a flask of coffee. "I'm here as back-up," he explained. "Just in case. I left Grandma in charge at home. I figured she'd looked after the kids in the past so…why not."
Jeff poured himself a drink and handed the flask to Kyrano. "So, where are…ah, there you are." Jeff handed his mug to Scott as he pulled Tin-Tin and Alan into a three-way hug. "How's our boy today?"
Tin-Tin rubbed her stomach and smiled. "He's still happily upside down. Alan thinks it means he'll be following you two into space when he's bigger but I'm sure he's just being awkward." She batted her eyelids at Alan and grinned. "Like his father." She waited for Jeff to release her so he could take his coffee back from Scott and then moved to give Kyrano a hug. "Thank you for coming, both of you. It means a lot."
Jeff treated everyone to dinner at a nearby restaurant and they remained there, talking quietly until Tin-Tin began to tire. Alan took her back to the farm in the car they'd been using for the last few weeks and Scott, Jeff and Kyrano followed a few minutes later in Jeff's truck.
Tin-Tin had a wash, got herself ready for bed and then wrapped herself in Alan's dressing gown and wandered downstairs to say goodnight to everyone before retiring for the night.
Alan stayed downstairs with Jeff, Scott and Kyrano to give her time to settle and then snuck into the room and snuggled up against her.
Tin-Tin had been told not to eat anything prior to arriving at the hospital in case she ended up needing a general anaesthetic so Jeff, Scott and Kyrano got up early the next morning and had a quick breakfast before she got out of bed.
Alan got up slightly later than the other three and wandered downstairs into a seemingly empty house. He meandered around aimlessly for a couple of minutes and then headed outside where he found the three men drinking coffee on the front stoop. He waved away the mug that Jeff held out to him and pressed his hand against his stomach. "Butterflies," he grumbled. "Lots of big, scary, vomit-inducing butterflies so unless you want to see the coffee again…no."
"Today's a big day." Jeff raised his eyebrows at his son. "So I think your nerves are justified. How is Tin-Tin feeling?"
Alan shrugged. "She's got a bit of every emotion under the sun going on this morning. She's scared but excited as well. She wants to go to the hospital so we can finally meet Peanut in person but at the same time she doesn't want to go in case something goes wrong. While he's…um…inside her he's safe from the outside world and cushioned from…well…everything else. Nothing can happen to him in there but he can't stay put so he's going to have to come out." Alan shook his head and slumped down on the swing-seat beside Jeff. "Sorry, I'm rambling. Tin's basically okay but she's nervous and hungry and isn't allowed breakfast. She was going to give me a ten minute head start in case I wanted to eat anything so I guess she'll be down in a couple more minutes."
Tin-Tin appeared five minutes later wearing a pair of comfortable linen trousers and a long sleeved pink flowy top. She pushed open the door, stepped onto the stoop and smiled when Alan immediately jumped to his feet. "Have you eaten?"
Alan shook his head. "Couldn't face it. Didn't drink either so I'm as empty as you are." He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the end of her nose which made her giggle. "Did you pack the last bits into your bag? I want to put it in the car so I don't have to think about it later on."
Tin-Tin nodded. "It's by the bedroom door. Everything's packed and ready to go. Do you want me to come with you?"
Alan pulled her closer and chuckled. "I'll be fine. You just stay put and…think happy thoughts."
Alan put Tin-Tin's bag on the back seat of the car along with one of Tin-Tin's lightweight jackets in case she needed it when she was finally released from the hospital. He patted his pocket to make sure that a small blue box which had been delivered the previous day was still safe. He then stood up, gave a heavy sigh and headed back into the house.
Alan and Tin-Tin arrived at the hospital almost forty five minutes before their appointment and several hours before the caesarean itself was due to take place. Alan parked the car and the pair wandered slowly into the hospital garden to pass some time.
Alan gently pushed Tin-Tin down onto one of the benches in the quiet, flower-filled garden. He sat beside her and gripped her hand. "This is nice," he murmured. "Why haven't we come here before?"
Tin-Tin shrugged. "I'm not sure. I came here with my father when you…" she looked sadly at Alan and rested her head on his shoulder. "…when you were with John. It's peaceful and calming and I…needed that when I was here the first time. A bit like now."
Alan rubbed his cheek against her hair and hummed softly. "It's kind of big and scary isn't it? To think that we'll have a little person totally dependent on us in just a couple of hours' time. Scary but…cool."
Tin-Tin smiled and rested her free hand on her stomach. "Our own little space man." She sighed, held up the hand that Alan was holding and wiggled her ring finger. "Would you take them off for me? And then put them back on again…afterwards? I know it probably sounds silly but you put them on and no-one else has the right to touch them…ever."
"It's not silly," Alan murmured. "…it's sweet and I knew you were worried about them getting lost so I…" He wriggled around until he could pull the box out of his pocket one-handed and then passed it to Tin-Tin. "…came up with a solution."
Tin-Tin stared at the box for a moment before opening it. "Oh, Alan, it's lovely. Thank you."
Alan let go of her hand so she could remove the charm bracelet from the box. She held it up into the light and smiled as the sunlight glimmered on the chunky platinum links that made up the chain. "I thought you could thread the bracelet through the rings to keep them safe," Alan said softly. "I got the first charm put on it for you as well."
Tin-Tin ran the links through her hand until she reached the charm. "Is that us?" she asked quietly as she gazed at the diamond-studded infinity symbol. "Forever?"
"Forever," Alan repeated, just as quietly. "Forever and ever and ever and…" Alan's 'evers' were brought to an abrupt stop when Tin-Tin leant forwards and kissed him. He sunk his fingers into her hair and poured all his emotions into returning the kiss. "I love you, Tin."