Gentle Rain (Part Seventeen)

Title: Gentle Rain
Warm Rain Series
Part Seventeen
Author: Gumnut
27 Feb 2019
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Rating: Teen
Summary: Sometimes it is so gentle, you don’t realise it is happening.
Word count: 5441
Spoilers & warnings: Virgil/Kayo, Scott/OC, Gordon/Penelope, spoilers for Warm Rain up to this point in the timeline.
Timeline: Six months after ‘The Proposal’, almost a sequel.
Author’s note: For @scribbles97​ I literally wrote all day today. Over 5000 words in one day, bringing to total of this fic to over 50,000 words. I’m kinda chuffed at that 😀 We’re nearing the end of this mammoth undertaking (for me anyway), so get ready to hold onto your hats. I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any, don’t bother.

-o-o-o-

Life settled down for Em. Time moved on.

She returned to the house in Margaret River and put herself back together. She cut herself off from the rest of the world and gave herself some time simply to recuperate. It had been easy to forget amongst all the drama of Virgil’s illness that she had suffered a loss of her own. Arriving on her own doorstep had finally enabled her to start processing the state of her own mind and body.

There were advantages to losing her legs. At least now gardening was a little easier. She threw herself into it, tackling the long-neglected cottage garden her mother had so adored. Em hadn’t been able to tackle it hampered by the hoverchair of her previous injury, but the ‘scoot gave her so much more flexibility and she took as much advantage of it as possible and got her hands thoroughly dirty.

When she wasn’t in the garden, she could be found sketching in her diary. She was more of a doodler than anything else, but it was relaxing and that was her aim.

If those doodles turned into a pair of eyes more often than not, it was just part of the process. Words were written in that diary also. Angry words. Sad words. Words of healing.

She let herself go for a month. She could afford it. She wasn’t rich like the Tracys, but with her inheritance from her parents, her business, and the royalties from her father’s books, she had enough to keep her going.

But the Drive eventually drove her back. She called it the Drive simply because that is what it did. An unavoidable need to move forward and achieve. She needed to do something. By the end of that month the Drive was literally kicking her out of her own house.

Time to return. Time to start living again.

Time to reconnect with the world.

-o-o-o-

Virgil and Kayo went to the lighthouse.

On the coast of the South Island of New Zealand, it was a place full of memories. It was also a place full of stairs, something Kayo had been rather pointed about when they were deciding where to go. As a compromise, Virgil bought another hoverchair since Scott was still waltzing around in Thunderbird imPatient. He didn’t give this one a name, considering it little more than an interloper. It was used minimally. As his strength slowly returned, Virgil used those stairs as part of his rehab, going up and down them several times a day.

Kayo glared at him when needed.

A good percentage of their time was spent simply being together. Lying in bed talking, dozing, reconnecting on a level the day to day of International Rescue often denied.

Virgil found the time to just sit and breathe. Ironic since it was something that had so recently been denied him. Sitting on the balcony far above the cliff and ocean below, he could close his eyes and just feel the planet around him.

They also took the car out retracing their trips from the past. There was no Lamborghini this time, just a BMW sedan. Though in deference to Virgil it was a deep forest green.

John checked up on them daily like clockwork. Alan and Gordon actually dropped in a couple of times.

Scott, they didn’t hear a word from.

Virgil worried about his brother.

John said he was fine.

Gordon said Scott was an idiot.

Alan told him not to worry.

Kayo begged him to calm down.

Protect the invalid. Virgil stewed on top of the worry.

He tried contacting his brother. John wouldn’t let him.

“Virgil, Scott is fine. Don’t worry about him.”

“Why hasn’t he called?”

“He’s busy.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No, I’m not.”

“What about Em?”

“What about her?”

“Where is she?”

“She went home.”

“I know she went home, John. Stop placating me. It isn’t working. What the hell is going on?”

His brother’s hologram kept a straight face and Virgil’s shoulder muscles bunched up.

And his ribs complained.

For crying out loud!

“I’ll speak to him. Get him to call you.”

“Why the hell can’t I call him?”

“He’s busy.”

“John!”

“Calm down, Virgil, you are supposed to be relaxing.”

“Shove it, John.”

“Well, if you are going to be like that…”

“Damn it! This isn’t right!”

“Of course, it isn’t right.” And there it was, just under the surface of his stoic brother’s expression. Something was wrong.

“John?”

“I’m sorry, Virgil. I’m under orders.”

“Orders?”

“From the Commander of International Rescue.”

Virgil stared.

“You need to rest, Virgil. Please leave it be.” But John’s expression said otherwise. The Space Monitor was obeying orders, but the brother was pleading for help.

Virgil and Kayo flew out of New Zealand later that day.

-o-o-o-

Scott Tracy was a man of decision. And once that decision was made, he became a man of action.

International Rescue could no longer function as it was. His father’s dream was dying at the risk of his family doing the same. Em was right, it was time for change.

He bundled his brother and sister off to a safe place to recover and ordered John to keep an eye on them.

He brought IR to an almost halt, only John was deployed full time and his job was to direct other emergency services to any and every situation that came up, bar the worst.

Scott spent the remainder of his convalescence liaising with his godmother.

Their relationship with the GDF Colonel had been touchy since the incident that saw the death of the Hood. He suspected his godmother was suspicious about that death and who had killed the bastard. Scott hadn’t admitted anything and had no plans to do so.

But he needed the GDF. More importantly they needed him.

Casey was as hard as nails, but he was harder. Plans were laid out. An initial seven response teams, trained by International Rescue, one for each major region of the planet. Each team echoed the skillset of the original International Rescue crew, but doubled the number. Scott created curricula, conduct philosophies, mission statements, negotiated technologies and argued with Val Casey and her superiors until the early hours of the morning.

Tracy money was deployed.

By the time he started rehab, the groundwork was in place.

“Slow down, Scott. It doesn’t all have to happen overnight.”

“The longer this takes, the more people we lose.” He didn’t look at his brother’s hologram.

“You still have your recovery to consider.”

“I’m fine.”

“You are not fine.”

“I’ll live.” He didn’t have to look at John to feel his frown.

“Virgil is still asking after you.”

“Let him ask.”

“He has a right to know.”

“He lost that right the moment he quit.” And yes, it hurt, no matter the illogic.

John sighed. “Give him a break, Scott. The man nearly died.”

“I noticed.”

“Then why are you being an ass?”

“Shut up, John.”

The resultant silence finally had him looking up, but John was gone.

-o-o-o-

Gordon was having flashbacks to his WASP days. The fourteen aquanauts assigned to him for training were elite. A couple of them even made Gordon feel a little inadequate, though none of them had an Olympic gold medal to their name. At least he had that up his sleeve. Three men and eleven women made up his team and they all kicked ass.

It was quite refreshing to speak aquanaut and be regularly understood.

And he had to admit, he was learning a few new things himself.

Fourteen specialist submersible craft were slated for construction. None of them were quite at the level of Thunderbird Four, several key technologies had to be kept under wraps for safety’s sake, but they were all nice little vehicles above and beyond the GDF’s current equipment.

Tracy Industries was to build the machines and lease them on reasonable terms to the GDF, but they ultimately still belonged to the Tracy family.

Gordon had to give his eldest brother credit. Only a month after he had broached the subject with the family and convinced everyone to agreement, the Commander had the skeleton of the new IR Network up and training had begun.

Apparently becoming a Thunderchick was a sign of prestige.

He snorted at the name. That hadn’t taken long to evolve. Whether the support craft were to be called Thunderbirds or not, remained to be seen. Probably not, but the spirit was there at least.

John had come down from Thunderbird Five to partially train his fourteen communications and space specialists. There was no replacement for Thunderbird Five, but with Penelope’s assistance, combined with a GDF network upgrade, the plan was to have a small team to man TB5.

His middle brother was hesitant, physical people were not his thing any more than space was Gordon’s thing, but Scott had given him complete control. Psychology was a large part of space exploration in any case. John was able to pick and choose those personalities to his heart’s content.

Gordon had to clamp his mouth firmly shut when the first candidate turned out to be Ridley O’Bannon. He’d nearly blown a blood vessel keeping the laughter and comments contained.

Well, whatever kept his reclusive brother comfortable.

In more ways than one.

Alan was having the time of his life surrounded by astronaut space jocks, several of which were considerably older than him. Tracy Industries was supplying small rescue spacecraft for that part of the deployment, none as big or as strong as Thunderbird Three. Ultimately all the Thunderchicks were to take on the situations they were capable of…and Scott was preparing them to be capable of a great deal. This left the Thunderbirds to be used when their full capability was needed. This would cut down the callouts and the stress on the current system, and create a team to be called on when the disaster was so big, no one team could manage it by themselves.

Gordon would no longer have to worry about being trapped beneath the ocean with no other brother able to reach him. He was training others not only to save civilians, but to protect each other.

Scott, of course, had taken on the team leaders. Gordon was quite glad to keep his nose out of that little get together. Scott’s temper had been caustic through the entirety of this exercise. It was as if the anger was driving him.

But Gordon knew it was more than that.

Virgil’s absence was like a gaping wound. They all felt it. Even Grandma was a little lost. Brains muttered regularly about the absence of his fellow engineer, and Alan’s wistful musings for his second biggest brother rarely went unnoticed.

Scott was flailing without his support.

Sure, he was a man driven. He was accomplishing amazing things. But he wasn’t sleeping and he sat at his father’s desk into the early hours of the morning, a pale lonely figure in the darkness.

Gordon had attempted to step in where he knew Virgil would have, but Scott had ignored him. Not even acknowledging him at times.

John had been forbidden to relay anything to Virgil or Kayo. Gordon personally thought this was childish, and he knew childish.

He had even tried to contact Em at one point, but she appeared to have gone incommunicado as well.

What the hell had happened between those two anyway? One minute they were all lovey-dovey, the next she’s jumping on a plane and Scott didn’t even notice. He hadn’t even mentioned her name since.

The only person who knew how Scott Tracy could be unravelled was Virgil. And Virgil wasn’t here.

Until he was.

-o-o-o-

His boots hit the tarmac with a reassuring thud.

And as a bonus, his ribcage didn’t complain about it.

The sea air blowing through the still open hangar door was so familiar it hurt. Walking out onto the runway increase the wind blowing through his hair. He couldn’t remember having been away from Tracy Island for so long, ever. It had become home. More than the ranch in Kansas, more than anywhere else. It was home.

He took a deep breath and revelled in it.

There was a twinge, but he chose to ignore it. He was better than he had been, and he was getting better every day. He was going to conquer it eventually.

Kayo had flown them home. She had had her own words with John. Strong words. Virgil felt he needed to apologise to his younger brother. The poor man had gotten so much crap over this, it wasn’t fair.

Since his brother wouldn’t tell them anything, Kayo had delved into her network. And she had a good one. Within minutes they knew about the IR Network, the Thunderchicks, and the rampaging changes his brother was enacting.

What it couldn’t tell them was the health of their brother, mentally or physically. They did find one report where he had torn the head off one of their recruits. The recruit had paid him back in like a moment later. Apparently, that woman was now at the top of her class.

Whether that was a good thing or not remained to be seen.

They had picked up Tracy Three where they had left her at the local airfield and flown home.

And god, it was good to be home.

The seagulls perched on the cliff above the runway yelled down at them. Virgil couldn’t help but smile.

And, of course, sitting silently behind him was his beautiful ‘bird.

He didn’t look at her. To look hurt.

So, he stood staring out at the ocean, waiting for Kay to finish post-flight.

“Hey, bro!” And Gordon was leaping out of the elevator and jogging towards him. Before he could reply, the aquanaut had him in an embrace that threatened to break those newly healed ribs.

“Gordon, hey, ow.”

“Oh shit.” The younger man dropped him. “Sorry! You okay?”

Virgil grinned and wrapped his brother in a much gentler hug. “Great to see you, bro.”

Gordon responded much more tentatively. “You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Gordo, and getter even better by the day.” His smile returned and he truly felt it. He held Gordon at arm’s length. “God, it is good to see you. Missed you.”

His younger brother took that opening for what it was and smirked. “What, Tin not keeping you enough company?”

His answer was a swat up the back of his head as Kay came up behind him. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

As Virgil laughed, Gordon rubbed the back of his head. “Uh, no, not really. Details not required.”

She leant over and put an arm around her brother, whispering in his ear. Gordon turned bright red and Virgil’s eyes widened. “What?”

Kay looked back at him and smiled that smile. Oh god. “Kay…”

“Not to worry, love. Gordon’s not going to tell anyone, are you?”

His brother shook his head slowly, a rather stunned expression on his face.

What the hell did she tell his brother?

Did he want to know?

Ugh.

The wind kicked up and messed with his hair, his familiar red shirt hanging open and flapping in the breeze. “So where is everyone else?”

“Grandma’s upstairs waiting for you. Brains is in Kansas overseeing design work for Tracy Industries. Alan is at Cape Canaveral. John is with him.”

“John’s down here?” Virgil frowned.

“Has been all week. Been bitching about it the entire time, too. Thank god for Ridley.”

“Ridley? Who’s Ridley?”

Gordon smirked. “That one takes a little explanation that should probably come from John.”

“O-kay.” Now the big question. “What about Scott?”

Gordon sobered immediately. “Grumpy ass is upstairs. I warn you, it bites.”

Virgil straightened at that. A hand landed on his arm and he was looking at Kay. The green of her eyes punctuated her expression. She wanted him to stay calm. She had told him repeatedly on the flight over. Stress was not good for his recovery.

A grim smile. “Don’t worry, I’m an experienced chew toy.”

Gordon’s eyes bugged out and he burst out laughing.

Virgil frowned, realised exactly what he had said and felt the heat rise up his neck.

Kay just smiled, turned to Gordon and said, “I told you so.”

His younger brother started to choke and Kay laughed out loud.

Virgil couldn’t help it, he grinned despite himself.

God, it was good to be home.

-o-o-o-

They headed to their rooms first before tackling the Commander. Gordon grabbed Grandma and there were some heartfelt hugs in the hallway. Grandma even had tears in her eyes. Virgil would readily admit that he hugged the woman somewhat tighter than normal. He had so missed his family.

Particularly Scott.

He vaguely remembered asking his brother to discuss the issue of his resignation at a later time, yet neither of them had followed up on that. Scott had virtually disappeared in Wellington, flying out for days at a time and when he had been at the white house, he hadn’t spoken, his expression closed.

Virgil had to watch while his brother systematically shut himself away. Virgil had tried to approach him, but he had been shouldered off, told he was ill and needed to rest. Unfortunately, that had been true. He hadn’t the stamina to take on Scott Tracy. The man was hard work.

Kay had attempted to help Em, but she had backed away as well. Something that had been so beautiful had simply fallen apart in front of them. Em returned to Perth. Scott returned to Tracy Island. He hadn’t seen either since.

He couldn’t help but feel it was at least partly his fault.

He left Grandma and Kay talking with no doubt in his mind that eventually they would follow him, but taking the opportunity for what it was anyway. He headed down to the comms room to find his brother.

Scott wasn’t hard to find. Virgil could hear him in the elevator.

“I don’t care, Stephens. The prototype needs to be ready by Monday for testing.”

“Mr Tracy, the suppliers have failed to deliver. We cannot build the craft out of thin air. I’m telling you we will be unable to meet the Monday deadline and unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it.”

“Goddamnit, Stephens-“

“Sir! With all due respect, when was the last time you slept?”

His brother slammed his fist down on the desktop and killed the connection just as Virgil stepped into the room.

“Interesting take on staff relations.” He said it quietly, but his brother’s head shot up immediately.

“Virgil!”

“Hey, Scott.” He attempted a small smile.

His brother stood up and Virgil grinned at the movement. “So good to see you on your feet, finally.” He hurried over, genuine happiness as his brother reached his full height and stepped around the desk towards him. He had never been so glad to look up at the man.

“Good to see you on yours.”

Virgil grabbed his big brother and hugged him, for a moment, so caught up in seeing him standing there, all other thoughts fled. The arms that wrapped around his back only intensified it all.

“Great to see you, Virg.”

“Likewise, bro.”

But then the moment passed and reality stepped in, forcing them to separate. A wariness loomed between them.

“So, what’s up with Stephens?” Stephens was the CEO of one of their manufacturing plants in Texas. The man had known the family for years, had watched the boys grow up, in fact. He was an extremely experienced and loyal employee.

One who didn’t deserve to be yelled at.

“Thunderchick One Alpha was supposed to be ready for a Monday demo, but she’s not going to make it.”

“Thunderchick?” Virgil couldn’t help but smirk. “Who came up with that?”

“I have no idea, but apparently it has stuck.” He shrugged. “It works.” Scott eyed him a moment. “Dare I presume you know about the IR Network?”

Virgil gave him a flat stare. “I’m engaged to your security officer. What do you think?”

And there it was. That one word. ‘Your’. Not ‘our’. Scott’s expression dropped in temperature. “I will have to remember that.”

Virgil narrowed his eyes. “Remember what?”

But his brother didn’t answer, turning back to the desk. “Great to have you back on the Island, Virg. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some work to do.”

So that was it, was it?

“I don’t think so.”

“What?” Scott sighed. “What do you want?”

“I want you to talk to me. Like I have been begging you to, for the past month.”

“You were supposed to be resting. You are still supposed to be resting.”

“I’m fine.”

“That’s exactly what you said right before you died! Excuse me if I don’t believe you.”

Okay, so he probably deserved that. “I’m sorry. I will be more careful in the future, I promise.”

“You damn well better.”

“I didn’t know I was that ill!”

“Well, you were and we nearly lost you! Do you have any idea how that felt?”

“You know what, I know exactly how that felt! It’s not like you haven’t nearly died on me in the past.”

“Not as many times as you have!”

“Really? Are we in competition here?”

“Apparently you are going for the damn championship.”

“I never intended to hurt you!”

“Well, you did, Virgil, and then you damn well quit on me.”

It hit home, but he had had the same argument with himself over the last month so it was old fodder. “I had to.” He swallowed. “I can’t ask you to watch anymore.”

Scott stared at him. “What?”

“You said it yourself. It hurts to watch. I can’t ask Kay or you to go through that again. And I certainly have no wish to either.”

“So you quit.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Without discussion or compromise.”

“What can be said? What compromise is there?”

“You don’t know because you’ve never considered it.”

“I have considered it.”

“Well, while you were thinking about it, I’ve built it.”

Virgil swallowed his retort. “What do you mean?”

And there was fire in his brother’s eyes. “Seven teams of ten, new equipment, joint co-ordination between International Rescue and the GDF, with ultimate command decisions from IR. We’re expanding, Virg. You won’t have to be at every rescue anymore.” Scott activated the holographic interface. Blueprints and personnel files filled the air above the woodwork.

“I didn’t think I would be at any rescue anymore.” But he moved closer to the desk where a hologram of Thunderchick Two Alpha rotated slowly. Smaller than his ‘bird, she had a nested underbelly rather than a full-sized module to carry, just big enough to hold Thunderchick Four Alpha rotating quietly beside her. “How did Brains come up with these designs so quickly?”

“He didn’t. He’s been planning this kind of deployment for years.”

“Really?” But when he thought about it, there had been late night speculations with his fellow engineer and now looking at the spinning hologram he could see where his ideas had been incorporated. “Well, I’ll be damned.” It came out wrapped in some wonder for the genius who shared the island with them.

“We always end up underestimating him.”

“Apparently so.” He straightened. “Looks great. Best of luck with the venture.”

“Virg, c’mon.”

“What?”

“You know I can’t do this without you.”

“You could have fooled me. You’ve been doing plenty fine without me. In fact, you have refused to even speak to me.” He took a step towards his brother. “Why?”

Scott’s expression hardened. “You quit.”

“International Rescue, yes, not our family. Somehow you seem to think they are one and the same. But apparently now you need my help so I’m okay to talk to now.”

“I will always need your help!” A deep breath. “I wasn’t the one who walked away.”

Virgil blinked. “Again, you could have fooled me.”

“Goddamnit, Virg.”

“What the hell do you want from me, Scott? I have done everything everyone has asked of me since the damned accident and yet I’m still getting yelled at.”

“Who asked you to quit?” Blue pierced him.

Virgil’s lips thinned.

“Did Kayo ask you to quit?” Scott’s arm shot out, gesturing to the rest of the house.

“No. Not that it is any of your business.”

“Of course, it is my business! You are often too damn accommodating to everyone. It is one of the reasons you nearly got yourself dead.”

“What?!”

“You put everyone else before you, Virg. And it damned near killed you.”

“So now I work too hard at doing as I am told?” He scoffed. “Scott, half the reason you are still alive is because I didn’t do as I was told.”

“That is not what I mean and you know it!”

“Then what do you mean?”

“You need to realise just how important you are!”

“To International Rescue?”

“No, to me!”

Virgil drew in a breath and swallowed his instinctive reaction. “Scott, I am aware of how important you are to me and vice versa. What I want to know is why you’ve been ignoring me these past weeks.”

Scott turned and sunk his boot into the side of his father’s desk.

Virgil jumped. “Perhaps we should continue this discussion in the gym.”

His brother eyed him. “There is no way in hell you are sparring with anyone.”

“Then perhaps you should spar with me.” Kay entered the room wearing a simple high cut t-shirt and shorts. The emerald in her navel caught the light as she moved. Her feet were bare.

“I don’t have a death wish.”

She snorted. “Hasn’t stopped you before. Besides, I haven’t had a good spar for a few weeks now.” Kay caught Virgil’s eyes in apology.

Scott looked down at the desk, fiddling with the holograms. “Kayo, not now, I-“

She walked up to him and grabbed his arm, bending it backwards.

He swore, twisting out of her grip, reflexes automatically attempting to throw her.

She resisted and suddenly both his fiancé and his brother were in an all-out fight.

Shit!

Virgil stepped back out of the way as the two of them moved closer to the balcony and the open space available there. Fists hit flesh and feet hit hardwood. Scott was dressed in his usual clothes, shoes included. Kay wore little at all. She seemed so small next to his brother, but Virgil knew they weren’t an even match. Kay could take any of the brothers on their best day, much less Scott still undergoing rehab.

He had to trust her not to injure his brother.

Scott’s stance grew more aggressive as the fight moved on. Kay countered his every strike and it frustrated the man to no end. A grunt, a yell followed by a curse, he managed to flip Kay over his shoulder, but she bounced back as if it was nothing.

“Kayo-“

“You think I’m stealing your brother, don’t you?”

“What?!” The word was flung from both Scott and Virgil. He stared at his lover as she moved in to tackle his brother again, taking advantage of his distraction.

“You think I made him leave International Rescue.”

“Kay!”

“Kayo, I don’t know what the hell you are playing at-“

“Well, I did.” And with that she flipped Scott over her shoulder and he crashed to the floor. Virgil’s heart missed a beat, but his brother glared up at her. She didn’t stop. “He’s mine. I got sick of losing pieces of him to other people.” She snarled the words. “All he does is try to help others and what does he get for it? Injury after injury. He died.” And green eyes were looking up at him, undefined emotion in their depths. “And it hurt. It hurt me. It hurt you. It hurt all of us. And we screwed up. Tried to protect him from himself. But we can’t do that. He is who he is. I realised that over a month ago. You, Scott, you haven’t worked it out yet. Stop shutting him out. He goddamn loves you and you’ve been hurting him for weeks now.” She was panting, her fighting stance still in place despite the fact Scott hadn’t left the floor where she threw him. “I could never replace you, Scott, and I would never want to. Trust me, there is room enough in his heart for both of us.”

A flash of tortured green eyes and she turned and strode from the room. Virgil stared after her a moment before making to follow.

“Virg!”

“Not now, Scott.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

He hurried after Kay.

-o-o-o-

Where the hell had that come from?

She didn’t go far, just into the kitchen to grab a glass of water.

A matter of seconds and Virgil was behind her, his hands hovering as if afraid to touch her.

“Kay?”

“I’m sorry, Virgil. I owe you an apology.”

“What?” His tone was one of exasperated confusion. “What the hell, Kay?”

“I didn’t do it on purpose. I guess…I was just scared. You scared me.”

“I scared me.” His hands settled on her shoulders, drawing her close. A kiss in her hair. “Love, I don’t do what I don’t want to do.”

“I treated you unfairly.”

“I’m an adult. I make my own decisions.”

She turned around into his arms. “Really? Would you have left International Rescue if I hadn’t been so upset?”

He stared at her.

And she saw the dots connect and the realisation in his eyes. “Kay?”

“I love you.” She reached up and kissed him, drawing him down to her, wrapping herself around him. “I’m sorry.”

“So am I.” His breathless voice, despite the love behind it, chilled her. Too many echoes of recent events. He must have sensed something because he cleared his throat. “But I reserve the right to make my decision regardless.”

Her hands grabbed his shoulders. “Don’t sacrifice yourself for me, Virgil.”

“I believe that is my choice, too.”

“Virgil-“

He held her shoulders and caught her eyes with his own. “Trust me, Kay, please.”

She stared up at him, soft brown sketched out her reflection in his irises.

How could she anything but?

-o-o-o-

The air mostly cleared after that. Virgil considered asking his fiancé to kick his brother’s butt on a regular basis – it might prevent a pile of problems in the future. Scott’s mood improved somewhat and Virgil slipped into the project alongside him. Whether he was part of International Rescue or not remained a question unanswered. He just did what he needed to do. If his brothers reacted as if he had never left, he had no say in it. Of course, both Scott and Virgil still had rehab to consider and there was much in the way of complaints about that, from both eldest brothers and Gordon who, as always, had the wonderful job of kicking their asses into doing the exercises.

Virgil found himself in the pool more often than not, breathing being the main focus of his recovery. The water softened the exercise and Kay made sure he treated the gym with respect. Scott often joined him in the pool for similar reasons and the two brothers managed to spend enough time together to heal over the last few months.

Only one question still stood between them.

Em.

“Scott, you can’t let her go.” Virgil sat on the side of the pool, breathing heavily. He still had moments like this and it annoyed him to no end.

“She’s already gone, Virg.”

“Scott, you let her go. Go and get her back.”

“You make it sound so simple.”

“It is!”

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“Don’t sound it.”

“Shut up and give me a minute.”

Controlled breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Slowly he self-regulated.

Damn injury. So sick of it.

“Scott, c’mon, you two were great together. She could kick your ass better than I ever could.”

“Hah! So that’s the reason. You want re-enforcements.”

Virgil levelled his gaze down at his brother in the pool. “Really, Scott? Have you forgotten who I’m marrying? I have no need of re-enforcements. Kay can kick your ass any day of the week.” He sighed just a little. “You were just so happy. I’ve never seen you like that with anyone else.”

“She…” And his brother drifted off, his face full of thought.

Virgil’s voice was soft. “Go after her, Scott.”

“I-“

“Scott!” Gordon dashed out onto the balcony and shouted down at them. “We have a situation. In Perth. Scott, it’s Em!”

-o-o-o-

End Part Seventeen.

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