The ramblings of a Nut who should be doing something else – Adelaide, South Australia

No-one is losing their Dad today

Title: No-one is losing their Dad today

Author: Gumnut

Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015

Rating: Teen

Summary: Exactly how not to do it.

Word count: 5,145

Spoilers & warnings: Thunderbirds Are Go S1 Ep1 & 2, in fact if
you haven’t seen these two episodes, this isn’t going to make much sense.
Interwoven episode tag.

Author’s note: This fic is affected by two things. Firstly, it is the
first complete fic I’ve written in nearly ten years, so my writing muscles are
very much rusty. Secondly, brand new fandom! I’ve only been here for a matter
of weeks and I’m so in love with the Tracy boys, it has become an addiction. It
has been a long time since a fandom grabbed me like this, and I’m having sooo
much fun! This fic is very intertwined with the first two episodes of the first
season – that first scene (I love it!), but I felt it had some ramifications,
because ouch! So this is a possibly happening in the background of the episode.
Also, total Virgil fan 😀 And anyone who knows me from other fandom, knows what
happens to my favourite characters 😀

Disclaimer: Mine? You’ve got to be kidding. Money? Don’t have any,
don’t bother. Scenes parroted from the episodes are definitely not mine.

 

His hand missed.

The roaring wind caught the beleaguered hot air balloon, lifting it up,
tossing it sideways, and ripping its tethers from the basket. The basket hung
suspended a moment, then flipped, throwing its last passenger into freefall.

His yell was taken by the wind.

“Dad!” The boy beside him struggled and Virgil grabbed him, yanking him
back to the safety of his ship’s overhead hatch. Calculations raced through his
head. Possibilities.

He stabbed his commlink, yelling over the wind, “Thunderbird Five, I
need you now!”

There would be only moments. Lowering the hatch, he threw himself at
the controls. The kid was pleading for him to save his father.

“No-one is losing their Dad today!” No-one.  John was in his ear. “John, what’s my time
window?”

The answer was maybe enough.

He shouted over his shoulder at the kid. “Strap in!” And threw TB2 into
a dive. He rode gravity until it wasn’t enough and kicked in the rear
thrusters, sending them screaming past the falling man. Virgil brought her to
pacing drop beneath him, the VTOL gear halting their descent, but not their
fall.

The seconds counted down in his head.

Darting back into the centre of the cockpit, he secured his tether, and
with an almighty shove, flung back the overhead hatch.

The ship’s plummet tore him from her confines and within a second he
was falling beside the screaming man.

This time, his hand didn’t miss.

“I’ve got you!”

Another second ticked by.

He remotely triggered the VTOL, slowing her fall.

Damn, this was going to hurt.

He wrapped himself around the struggling man, protecting him as much as
he possibly could, as the hatch rushed up to meet them.

Then there was Thunderbird, metal and pain. He grunted and the man fell
off him. He vaguely heard the VTOL ratchet up into a hover. John was yelling in
his ear.

He squeezed his eyes shut a moment, forcing away the stars, before
rolling over onto his knees. Oh god, there was going to be hell to pay for this
one. He could feel the bruises forming.

But now was not the time. He struggled to his feet, pleased to see the
father and his kid clinging to each other. Totally worth those bruises.

A somewhat staggering step back to his seat, and he was answering
John’s increasingly urgent calls. “This is Thunderbird Two, mission complete.”

There was a relieved sigh at the other end of the line. “Good job,
Virgil.”

He signed off and took a moment to sigh himself, before plotting his
course to the nearest hospital. The son seemed fine, but the father had taken
that fall with him, and it wouldn’t hurt for both of them to get checked out.

He rolled his right shoulder…ow…probably wouldn’t hurt to get himself
checked out either. At home. With a hot shower. And coffee. What was it with
balloonists and the crack of dawn anyway?

-o-o-o-

It was afternoon before he made it home. He managed the shower but
missed the coffee due to another trip down his chute to save some scientists
from a seaquake.

He forgot his shoulder until he couldn’t target their underwater
habitat with his grapple guns. Damn arm trembled when he put pressure on it,
throwing off his aim.

Scott succeeded in latching on first try with the grapple gun in
Thunderbird One, even though he knew the scout ship wouldn’t have the grunt to
hold the habitat by itself. The thought of TB1 disappearing below the waves was
enough motivation for Virgil to grit his teeth and make his body behave.

The day was saved yet again. This time it was three scientists he
dropped off at the nearest hospital.

And then home.

And then the Hood.

Seaquakes. An argument with the GDF. An argument with his brothers.
There was coffee this time, but once again he was flying down his chute. As he
hit the bars to swing himself into his ship, his shoulder screamed in protest
and he stumbled as he landed, but there was no time. He shoved the overhead
hatch closed.

This time there was an entire city to save. A solar collector had
fallen out of alignment and in just the right position to fry downtown Taipei.
Scott, of course, beat him there and was in the thick of things before Virgil
could even assess the situation.

Grab the dish and move it. Once again, he found himself struggling,
this time with the magnetic claw. He grasped the dish perfectly, but the moment
he fired up the VTOL to lift the dish, his arm spasmed, jolting the yoke. He
lifted up his hand and watched it tremble. What the hell?

He didn’t have time for this!

Unfortunately, the dish was still attached to its foundations and he
was unable to move it. Then Scott was climbing to free it and Virgil’s priority
had switched to rescuing the crew.

Slaving TB2 to autopilot, he dashed into the hold to grab his Jaws of
Life exoskeleton. He only hesitated momentarily, steeling himself as the metal
wrapped around him. He expected complaint from his arm, but none came. He
blinked and flexed the claw. A little tingling, a twinge or two. Okay. And he
was off and running.

Everything went perfectly well until he had to grab and hold onto the
edge of the personnel carrier to save his own life.

-o-o-o-

Kuan-yu knew the laws of physics. He was an engineer, it was his
business. The force required to crumple the door to the collector station was
considerable, so there was no surprise when the man in blue and green and
sporting metal arms was easily able to lift the beam that had fallen on Teller.
The logo on his helmet flashed in the morning light.

International Rescue!

The IR man hurried the three of them out of the crumbling building. They
stumbled over rubble, clambering as fast as they could, desperate to get away.

And then the sky was falling. The huge dish had come off its supports
and was roaring, screaming, down towards them.

Kuan-yu opened his mouth to yell but was suddenly swept from his feet.
His hands automatically wrapped around the harness that lowered over his head,
and he was flying, the dish groaning down the mountain below him.

A blue man was riding the edge of it like a surfboard.

There was a muffled yell behind him. He twisted in his seat, but he
could see little. Then a booted foot swung into view. There was another yell.
And another. His rescuer must be hanging onto the edge of the carrier. Kuan-yu
immediately began looking for a way to help him, but the harness was secured
and he could not raise it.

His glance flickered down to the settling dish, looking for the other
blue man, but he was gone. A moment later his world slipped into shadow and he
looked up to see the massive green bulk of the world-famous Thunderbird Two.

There were expressions of awe, but Kuan-yu was overloaded and out of
words.

The ship swallowed them up.

-o-o-o-

There was a moment of silence when the carrier came to a halt,
suspended just above the deck of the ship. The lighting was dim after the
brilliance of the morning sun, and although the engines of the craft were
dominant, they lacked the chaos of the moments before. All he could hear was
the panicked breathing of his two workmates.

A click and the harness holding him to the carrier disengaged.
Hesitantly Kuan-yu pushed it over his head and slid out of the seat. His shoes
touched the metal of the decking and the bass roar of the ship’s engines echoed
up through the soles of his feet.

He took a few steps around the end of the carrier, his eyes seeking out
the blue and green man, not entirely sure he had made it and not sure he wanted
to see if he hadn’t.

The IR man was there. On his knees, head down, metal arms awkwardly
splayed out to the side. A hologram of Thunderbird Two hovered above one arm.
Suddenly his tense shoulders dropped and Kuan-yu could hear a muffled expletive
and then something about surfing.

“Are you okay?” He couldn’t help himself.

The man’s head shot up and piercing brown eyes fixed on him. “Shouldn’t
I be asking you that question?”

I’m not the one still on the floor. He thought but didn’t say. Teller
and Jane had come around the other end of the carrier and both were staring at the
IR man.

The man on the floor seemed to realise it anyway and blinked before
clambering to his feet with a grunt and whirring of gears. He fiddled with the hologram
on his wrist, the ghost of the rear thrusters flaring for a moment, the ship’s
engines changed thrum and they all staggered slightly as it moved around them.
Apparently finished with the hologram, he walked awkwardly over to the other
side of the bay and backed himself up. There was a thunk, and the exoskeleton
separated itself from him. The reinforcements unfastened from his boots and
hips and lastly, he slid his arms from the claws. There was a hiss as his right
arm came free, he wavered, and Kuan-yu was moving before the IR man pitched
forward in an attempt to plant his face into the deck of his own ship.

It was awkward, but he caught him. There was a gasp of pain when his
hand touched his right shoulder, so Kuan-yu struggled to lower the much larger
man to the floor using mostly his left side. Fortunately, he was still wearing
his helmet, so the soft clunk when he connected with the floor should have been
less painful than without.

The eyes under that helmet slid closed.

“No! No, sir. You can not sleep! Stay awake!” He prodded the man gently
and his eyelids flickered.

Kuan-yu felt around the base of the helmet, looking for a release. The
man needed air and Kuan-yu needed to assess him for injury. His fingertips
fumbled across a latch and there was a soft hiss as the helmet came loose. He
gently lifted the protection off the man’s head to reveal his pale face and
mess of thick dark hair.

“Scott…” The word was faint.

“Jane, go and see who is flying this ship and see if you can get help.”
He glanced up at his other workmate. “Teller, sit down before you fall down.”

The technician wobbled himself back onto the carrier.

With those two occupied, Kuan-yu turned his full attention to the
almost unconscious man beside him. “Sir, can you hear me?”

His eyelids fluttered. He was obviously fighting to stay conscious.

“Can you hear me, sir?”

“Scott?” His eyelids fluttered again.

Kuan-yu felt gently around his scalp, checking for a head injury. It
wasn’t long before he found one either. There was a considerable lump towards
the back of the right side of the man’s head. Fortunately, there was no
bleeding.

There was also the concern for the man’s arm. His uniform unzipped at
the front, so Kuan-yu gently pulled it down just far enough to peel back his collar
slightly. He drew in a sharp breath at the sight of black bruising. This wasn’t
a new injury, it was at least twenty-four hours old. What the hell was this man
doing saving lives in this condition?

Jane burst back into the compartment. “There is no-one flying this
plane!”

“What?!” Both he and Teller spoke at once.

“There is no-one in the cockpit!”

Teller and Jane started talking over one another. He looked down at the
IR man again. Was he really on his own? In his condition? How the hell was this
plane still in the sky?

No, there had been another blue man. His heartrate picked up. No, no,
this wasn’t the time to panic. He took a breath. “Both of you – shut up!”

There was a sudden silence. The engines thrummed through the ship.
Teller and Jane stared at him.

Beneath his hand, the IR man moved. “I have to…” Those eyes were fully
open once again and narrowing in on him.

“Sir, sit still. You collapsed and must remain calm.”

The eyes blinked at him. “Who are you?” There was authority in that
suddenly deep voice.

“Lin Kuan-yu, Senior Engineer at the Taipei Solar Plant. You saved my
life and the lives of my two colleagues, not fifteen minutes ago.”

“Oh.” The man inhaled, held the breath a moment, before releasing it
between his teeth. “Okay. Sorry about that.” And despite Kuan-yu’s resistance,
the man sat up fully. He wavered a moment and Kuan-yu prepared to catch him
again, but he rolled to his feet, stumbling, but standing firm. His eyes darted
across the three of them. “Are any of you in need of medical assistance?”

Jane and Teller both answered no. Kuan-yu suspected Teller did in any
case and would be checking him over once he had the IR man seen to. Brown eyes
looked at him in question. “No, I don’t, but you do.”

“Let me worry about that.”

“But who is flying this plane?” Jane’s voice had an edge of hysteria to
it.

The man swallowed. “Let me worry about that too.” He stepped back a
moment as if to steady himself. “I’m sorry…”

And with that he staggered somewhat through the still open door and
latched it shut behind him.

-o-o-o-

Virgil clung to the wall. The world refused to stop spinning. What the
hell? The pain in his head. His shoulder was screaming at him.

He wasn’t fit to fly.

He had three rescued persons on board. And he couldn’t fly. He stepped
away from the wall and staggered to the pilot’s seat. He could barely stand up.

Sliding in he scanned the controls. Where were they going?

A sudden image of Scott riding the dish down the mountain…

He slammed the transmission console. “Scott!”

“Virgil!” There was concern in his brother’s voice. “What’s wrong?”

“You okay?” His console flickered in and out of focus for a moment.

“Fine. You?”

He swallowed. There was bile in his throat. “Not good.”

There was a silence on the other end of the line, before Scott’s
controlled voice returned. “Can you fly?”

The world was spinning again.

Then it flickered as Scott’s hologram appeared on the dash. “Oh, god,
Virgil.”

“I’m sorr..y.” And the whole world tipped sideways.

-o-o-o-

Scott reached out to catch the hologram of his brother as it slipped
sideways and out of view. His fingers caught nothing.

“John!”

His younger brother’s hologram flickered on beside the empty shell of
TB2’s cabin. “Thunderbird One?

“Virgil’s in trouble. He may have lost consciousness. Can you remote pilot
Thunderbird Two?”

John’s eyes widened before darting to his controls. He frowned and
muttered something under his breath. “One moment.”

Scott held his breath.

There was another muttered word, then John’s face relaxed. “Confirmed,
Thunderbird One. Thunderbird Two is now under remote pilot.” John looked up at
him. “But there are still three rescued persons aboard.”

“What is Virgil’s status?”

John could seem cold to some people, but Scott knew he was anything
but. “Rapid pulse, low blood pressure…what the hell happened?”

“I don’t know. But we will find out. Where are the three engineers?”

“In the pod bay. They are mobile.” John frowned. “One is banging on the
door to the cabin.”

“What is Gordon’s status?”

“Mission complete and heading home.”

“Advise him of our situation. Tell him to beach his ‘Bird as soon as
possible. Bring Thunderbird Two to a hover. I’m going to board her.” John’s
acknowledgement was brief.

Both Thunderbirds were out over the Philippine Sea, TB1 a little ahead
of her sister. Scott accelerated up and flipped back over his position to
settle above his brother’s green behemoth.

He’d already fried one jetpack today, but he’d learnt a long time ago
to always pack a spare or three, so moments later he was landing beside TB2’s
overhead hatch. “Thunderbird Five, please release the hatch.”

A gentle shove and he had the hatch open just enough to slide in. He
slipped it closed behind him.

The cabin was eerily quiet despite the VTOL burning brightly outside.
“Virgil?”

He found him half slumped off his chair, almost beneath the console.
“Virgil!” Scott hit the seat controls, releasing it and moving it backwards
slowly.

Virgil began to slip boneless to the floor. “I’ve got you.” He grabbed
his brother under the arms and as gently as possible, halted his fall. A little
manoeuvring had him on his back beside his pilot seat. “Virgil!”

“Sc-t?”

“What happened?”

“S-rry.”

“For what?”

Any answer Virgil might have given him was lost in a sudden banging on
the cockpit door. “Hey, you need help. Let me help!”

Virgil’s eyes slipped closed and didn’t open again.

“Virgil!” He touched the man’s cheek. His skin was cold. “Virgil!” No
response.

What the hell had happened?

Professionalism kicked in. The patient was breathing shallow but
rapidly, heart rate up. “John, give me his vitals.” His brother’s hologram
appeared beside him and rattled off numbers. Scott peeled back an eyelid, then
the other one. He frowned, a possible concussion?

“Scott, he has all the symptoms of hypovolemic shock.”

“He’s bleeding?!” His hands skimmed over his brother’s uniform. He
couldn’t see anything obvious. The zip of his uniform was pulled away slightly
from his collar. Scott pulled it down quickly, revealing pale skin and dark chest
hair.

And a massive spreading red and black bruise radiating out from the
man’s right shoulder.

“Aww, hell.”

“Damn it, sir, you need help!” There was another thunk from the other
side of the cockpit door.

Scott’s eyes darted momentarily between his brother and the door,
calculating. “John, we’re going to Darwin. Alert the hospital. You plot and
initialise, take One, I’ll take Two once I have Virgil secured. Tell Gordon to
go home and grab Tracey One to meet us there.” A breath. “Mission status?”

“Seaquake generators have been nullified. The source of the
transmissions has been located – in the middle of Northern Australia,
approximately one hundred kilometres north west of Tennant Creek in the
Northern Territory. Kayo is on her way.” His brother’s hologram blinked out.

Scott swore, torn.

No time.

Fingers briefly touching his brother’s cheek, he stood up and strode
over to the cockpit door.

-o-o-o-

Kuan-yu nearly fell through the door as it was suddenly shoved open. A man
in IR blue caught him.

This one was taller. “Where is he? He needs help.” Kuan-yu shoved past
the man into the cockpit only to find his saviour on the floor out cold.

The other man eyed him as if to assess his intentions before darting
through the cockpit door. He returned a second later with a collapsible hover
stretcher and first aid kit. The IR man stabilised his colleague’s spine. “Help
me get him onto the stretcher.”

The two men grunted as they lifted the bigger man. “A few less pancakes,
Virg.” It was muttered under the man’s breath and Kuan-yu wasn’t sure he had
actually heard it.

There was the snap of fittings and the hardware attached to the prone
man started to come away. The IR man lifted off the bulky protuberance over the
man’s left shoulder, undid the belt, the toolkit  came off, and the green sash unbuckled,
exposing more of the blue uniform beneath.

“Thunderbird Five, you have control. Commence flight plan.”

There was no acknowledgement, but suddenly the plane shuddered, the
engine roar shifting from around them to the back of the vehicle once again.
Kuan-yu staggered a step as the ship suddenly changed direction and
accelerated. Much faster than it had before.

The IR man didn’t flinch, his hand on his compatriot, keeping him
still. Once the flight had stabilised, he hurried him from the room.

Kuan-yu followed.

“Where are we going?”

“Darwin.”

“Australia?”

“Yes, we need the hospital there.” He slammed open another door to
reveal what was obviously the medical bay. Depositing the stretcher on the
examination table in the middle of the room, he secured it. Medical alarms
filled the air.

“Damn it, Virgil.”

Checking the patient again, the IR man grabbed a laser cutter and
started tearing off the man’s uniform. Kuan-yu quickly moved to the other side
to help. He tugged at the man’s left glove, the tough material giving way as
velcro released the padding. He found the fastener for the hologram display and
pulled it away, depositing it quickly on a nearby shelf. The man’s fingers were
a road map of calluses. He struggled to pull off the glove. How on Earth did
the man put these on in the first place? There was a brief flash of light and
the IR man flickered the laser cutter at the crucial point and the glove came apart,
falling off in Kuan-yu’s hands.

The laser cutter had certainly done its job. Most of the patient’s torso
was now exposed revealing the extent of the massive bruise down the man’s right
arm and chest wall.

The IR man was muttering under his breath as he cut the last of the
uniform off the patient’s left arm. Discarding the laser cutter, he grabbed an
IV and set up a fluid transfusion. “He’s bleeding internally.”

“No kidding.” Kuan-yu couldn’t keep his eyes off that massive, swollen
bruise.

A blanket was draped over the prone man and an oxygen mask placed over
his face. Most of the alarms quietened. A hand brushed the patient’s forehead,
fingers gently moving through his dark hair.

And Kuan-yu found himself pinned by a pair of startling blue eyes.

“What happened?” There wasn’t any accusation in the tone, but the man’s
stance was one of a lion over its cub.

Kuan-yu held up his hands. “I don’t know! He saved us and collapsed. I
tried to help him, but he refused.”

The man’s shoulders dropped a little and whispered, “Typical.”

“He does this regularly?”

The eyes snapped to him again. “What is the status of your colleagues?
Are any of you in need of medical assistance?”

Again with the hands up. “No, we are fine. Teller has some bruising,
but he’s okay. They’re both down with the carrier that hauled us in.”

The man released another breath. “Do you have any medical training?”
His hand once again touched the patient’s head, fingers in his hair as he
cupped his crown lightly.

“Basic first aid. I’m the designated first aider on site at the Solar
Plant.” He took a breath and held out his hand. “I’m Kuan-yu.”

The tall man reached over and took his hand, clasping it only briefly.
“Thank you.” Another glance at the patient. “Can you stay with him? We are on
approach to Darwin.”

“Sure.”

Yet another glance at the prone man. “Thanks.” And he was out the door.

-o-o-o-

For Scott, the next half an hour was one of the worst in his life.

The moment he set foot back in the cockpit, John was in his ear
agitated that he had lost contact with Kayo.

Kayo who was in the middle of the Australian desert on her own.

And he couldn’t do a damn thing.

“Colonel Casey and the GDF are with her.”

“And how useful have the GDF been in the past? They mean well, but
ineffective, John, ineffective! Why the hell do you think International Rescue
exists in the first place? Because they can’t do their damned jobs!”

TB2 trembled under his fingertips as he took control of the ‘Bird’s
descent. “Tell Brains that he needs to finish her ‘Bird. This has gone on too
long. She needs her own wings.”

“Scott-“

“Do we have clearance to land?”

John spouted off landing conditions. “Helipad’s to the north. Ambulance
attending. They have the patient’s details. I have Thunderbird One.” A shadow
passed briefly over the windows as Thunderbird One overtook them and
disappeared off into the distance. Darwin appeared on the horizon, the brief
spark of civilisation in the subtropical swamp, stark against the green and
blue of the Timor Sea.

He came in hard.

The air screamed around him as Thunderbird Two shot into the hospital’s
air space, her VTOL engines roaring as he applied braking thrust over the
helipad. Her mass always fooled him. She was slower, but more powerful than TB1.
Pure grunt force.

The ship lowered, her landing struts deployed, and they were down.

He secured the console and was out of the pilot’s seat before the VTOL
jets had fully retracted. Through a couple of doors and once again he was
listening to medical alarms.

“His blood pressure is still dropping.” The short Taiwanese man was
hovering around his brother, obviously at a loss of what to do, but wanting to
do something nonetheless.

Scott didn’t answer. He hurriedly detached the hover stretcher from the
table and activated its jets. Making sure the IV was secure and his brother
strapped in, he put the stretcher in motion towards the cockpit. On the
periphery of his vision, Kuan-yu followed.

Moments later, he was breathing in the hot moist air of the Australian
northern country as the cockpit hatch lowered them to the helipad. There were
doctors, there were nurses, there were numbers being called back and forth. His
brother was whisked away.

A dark-haired nurse was asking him questions.

He had responsibilities.

Turning back into the ship’s shadow, he almost tripped over Kuan-yu.
Recovering quickly, he motioned the shorter man towards the nurse. “Get
yourself checked out.”

He leapt back into his brother’s ‘Bird.

-o-o-o-

Three days.

Three goddamned awful days.

Kayo was safe. Scott picked her up in Thunderbird One himself. He was
the closest. The remains of the Hood’s hideout were secured by the GDF for
further investigation. The shouting match he had with Colonel Casey over that
likely didn’t help his case, but she had been a friend of the family for a long
time, she knew the reasons behind his anger. She would forgive him. He’d
apologise later.

Three days.

Gordon flew in with Tracey One, Alan beside him.

John hovered. Literally. His hologram appearing in various places, not
all fully authorised, as he monitored Virgil’s condition.

Three days.

With John’s help they worked out what had happened. John, after all,
had been complicit in the cause of the injury. There had been words.

Delayed concussion and a chipped humerus. A chipped bone which could
have been a minor injury if it had been attended promptly. But no, it had been
ignored, and the bone chip had eventually nicked a blood vessel. The bleed had
been a slow one, but it had the time it needed to do damage.

There had been surgery. Now there were questions of whether his brother
might lose the use of his arm, even the arm itself.

Three days.

Scott found the tether Virgil had used in the rescue of the two
ballooners. A good twenty metres of reinforced nylon cord. Twenty metres. A
fall of twenty metres could kill a man.

It nearly had.

He dropped his head to the bed. Why?

He knew why.

Damnit, Virgil!

His brother’s left arm was draped with tubing, feeding his starved body
with the fluids and nutrients it so desperately needed. Scott stared at
fingers. His brother had large hands, callused and worn with hard work, yet
still nimble with an instrument or paintbrush. He reached out and brushed his
own fingertips against the pale skin.

“Scott?” It was barely a whisper, but when he looked up a pair of
blurry brown eyes peered back at him.

Scott felt his cheek muscles drag his mouth into an almost smile. “Hey,
Virg.” Equally as quiet.

The brown eyes darted around a moment, a frown creasing between them.
“What?”

“Hospital. Darwin. Thunderbird Two is safe and secure.” She was sitting
right next to her sister under heavy guard at the local GDF airfield. He
swallowed. “There was a situation.”

Virgil’s fingers brushed against his. Scott wrapped both hands around
his brother’s single hand.

He knew why Virgil did it. He knew the reasoning, the lack of
alternative. Those two ballooners would never know exactly how lucky they had
been and what had been risked. His fingers tightened convulsively.

“Scott.” His brother’s eyes were clearing, his voice that bit stronger.
“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

-o-o-o-

Six weeks later and it was hard to tell if any of it had happened.

The bandages were off and Virgil had recovered most of the movement in
his arm. There was still work to be done and he was still grounded, but the
outcome was looking more positive by the day.

John had been dragged back to Earth and there had been some honest
discussions, some yelling, of course, but mostly sane discussion. New
strategies on how to snatch a free-falling victim out of the sky – it did
happen often enough, so they really should be prepared, especially since Virgil
had so kindly shown them all exactly how not to do it.

The reiteration on reporting all injuries on occurrence was getting a
little repetitive however. Virgil, of course, claimed he didn’t know it had
been that bad. And besides, exactly when had he had the time to do anything
that day – he hadn’t even managed a decent meal in the entire twenty-four
hours!

Scott had backed down at that. He knew he shared the guilt with his two
brothers. Nobody had reported anything, but then he had them working a
twenty-four hour stretch without a decent break.

Brain’s announcement that Kayo’s ‘Bird was finally finished was a
welcome distraction. And Grandma’s threat of a homecooked meal had the effect
she had no doubt planned as they all ran for cover.

Scott found Virgil in Thunderbird Two.

Swearing.

And surrounded by discarded food wrappers.

“I’m going to kill him.”

Scott raised his hands placatingly. “Now, Virgil, he said he was going
to clean it up before he handed her back to you.”

Virgil raised his fist full of wrappers, knuckles white. “I’m going to
kill him!”

Staring at his angry brother, Scott couldn’t help but smile. The white
knuckled fist belonged to his right hand. It took a moment for the bigger man
to connect the dots, his eyes dancing back and forth between Scott and his
curled fist, but when he did, the anger bled away to be replaced by an ironic
smile.

Scoot wrapped his arm around his brother’s shoulders. “See, there is
wisdom in Gordon…somewhere.”

That brought out a much-missed Virgil chuckle. Scott ruffled his hair,
before darting out of the retaliation zone.

But he wasn’t fast enough and Virgil lunged to grab him.

His hand didn’t miss.

-o-o-o-

FIN

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