Alan made his way into the airport, escorted by his social worker. She was carrying his large backpack that contained his entire wardrobe and sketchbooks from Pastor Wood's house. As they reached the gate, Ms. Alexander turned to look down at her charge. The boy stood, bracing himself against the crutches in his hands. His leg was encased in a cast, to protect his healing ankle. Ms. Alexander knelt down in front of the boy whom she'd grown fond of since he'd come to be in her care all those years ago. Looking past the gate Ms. Alexander spotted John. He waved at them with a big smile on his face. Ms. Alexander smiled back and waved back before returning her attention back onto Alan.
"Well, I guess this is good bye Alan." Ms. Alexander reached up with a gentle hand and brushed back some of Alan's blonde hair from his face. "I am so proud of Alan."
Alan's eyes watered slightly as his farewells became all the more real. His lower lip wobbled with emotion and he sniffled in attempt to combat the tears that were welling rapidly in his eyes. "Why?"
"Because you're so brave; Alan…this has never happened with any of my other foster children before. Words cannot even begin to express how happy I am for you." Ms. Alexander placed two gentle hands on Alan's shoulders. "You've got your family back; this was something you've always wanted. Now I want you to go and meet your dad and brothers and make your place in this world like I know you can."
Alan's bottom lip trembled as the tears spilled over. Dropping his crutches to the side, Alan hugged Ms. Alexander tightly. He buried his face into her shoulder and sobbed. Ms. Alexander struggled to contain her own tears as she hugged the boy that she'd grown quite attached to. They swayed from side to side, Alan balancing on the tips of his toes as he hugged his case worker around the neck.
"Hey there buddy…are you ready to go?" A soft, yet deep voice spoke from behind Ms. Alexander. Alan only buried his face deeper into Ms. Alexander's shoulder, making Ms. Alexander hug him tighter. The younger boy's shoulders shook with the force of his cries. Ms. Alexander knew that it was now or never and she'd pulled away from Alan, drying his tears with the edge of her suit sleeve.
"There's no need to cry sweetheart…you should be happy. Don't cry because you gained the family you've always wanted…smile. All I ask is that you give me your million watt smile and go." Ms. Alexander hugged Alan again, this time more gently before she stood and handed Alan his crutches. Turning to John, she hugged the older blonde fervently before giving him Alan's backpack. "I want you and your family to take care of Alan. He deserves all the love that he's missed out on these last six years."
"I promise, we will take care of Alan…no matter what. We lost him once, we're not going to do it again." John hugged Ms. Alexander tightly, before releasing the woman to loop his arm around Alan's shoulders. "Ready to go Sprout?"
Alan's eyes continued to water, but as the tears spilled over once more…a big wide smile spread across his face. He nodded yes, but John could see that Alan was scared. Ms. Alexander hugged Alan one last time, before she pushed Alan gently past the gate…John following close behind. As Alan and John made their way through the terminal, John glanced down to look at the watery eyed little boy. John had done it. He'd vowed that one day, he'd locate his baby brother and like a miracle from heaven, the path had been illuminated.
John had found Alan and he'd managed to bring their broken family back together. Alan was alive and no longer among the missing. All those years lost, all the tears and heartbreak…all of it had not been for naught. They had him back. They actually had their little Sprout back. John hadn't told his brothers that he'd found Alan…he wanted to surprise them. Only their dad knew and before John left that morning to go retrieve Alan from the airport…he'd found the life darn near squeezed out of him. Their father had been elated at having his youngest son back, but he was still a nervous wreck.
"Are you okay?" John gently clasped Alan on the shoulder as he walked.
"I'm scared." Alan admitted quietly, his voice hiccupping as he struggled to quit crying.
"There's nothing to be scared of. Dad can't wait to see you again." John replied.
"What's dad like?" Alan inquired, his voice revealing his fear and apprehension.
"Well, let's get on the jet and you can be my co-pilot. You've got your Dramamine?" John and Alan approached the jet, before John opened it and helped Alan to board the massive craft. "I'll tell you about dad while we fly. How does that sound?"
Alan looked up at his big brother, disbelief shining in his eyes as he realized that John was really his big brother. At one time it'd been a dream for Alan to have family…he'd dreamed for years (ever since he and Devon were separated) that he could actually have a family.
"Good." Alan allowed John to help him into the co-pilot seat in the cockpit.
Alan gazed out the windscreen of the private jet and felt as though his heart were in his throat. Not far in front of them, Alan could make out the obvious island and it was humongous. John had been telling him a little bit about their family, all that he'd missed since his abduction six years earlier. John had gotten permission from his father to tell Alan about International Rescue and to see the look on the boy's face had been a surprise.
"So you mean that dad was there with me after that landslide last month?" Alan looked over to John nervously.
"Yes, he Scott and Virgil were all there. Gordo wasn't though…he's still too young, but Virgil is in training." John replied with a large smile.
"So are you part of…? Alan's eyes met John's and the boy's eyes widened noticeably at John's nod of confirmation.
"I am…the space station isn't finished being built yet, but when it is…I'll be going up there and living up there among the stars." John pressed a series of buttons before speaking into his headset's microphone. "This is Tracy One, do I have clearance to land?"
"Yes you do John…what? Did you just decide to take the family jet out for a test flight?"
"Haha…nice try Scott. No, I had some business to attend to on the mainland." John paused briefly before continuing to speak. "Where's dad at?"
"He just left to meet you down in the hangar." Scott replied.
"Well, perhaps it'd be best for you, Virge and Gordo to come on down…I've got someone with me that I want you to meet." John started to bring the massive jet down onto the runway.
"Don't tell me you brought your girlfriend home to meet us…because I don't approve in case you're wondering." Scott retorted laughingly.
"Very funny Scott, no…you know I don't have a girlfriend. No, he's a he, rest assured." John started to lower the jet. "I'm coming in to land, I can't talk right now."
With that said, John disconnected from his conversation with his brother. As he brought the jet down closer to the ground, John could see from the corner of his eye that Alan had begun to cry again. Taxi-ing the jet into the hangar, he disengaged the large craft and turned it down to rest. Alan remained quiet, but when he looked over…his eyes met with John's.
"Don't be scared Alan…you have no idea how long we've all waited for this day." John stood up after completing the flight check and moved to crouch before Alan. "You are my little brother…and I am so happy that I found you, but I know several people who have been waiting to see you since the day you were taken from us."
John brought Alan in for a hug and rubbed his back comfortingly, allowing the boy to cry into his shoulder. "Let's go."
John helped Alan stand and he'd steadied the younger boy as he grabbed his crutches. Alan followed John, finding his heart was racing 90 to nothing in his chest. John and Alan descended from the giant craft and walked down the stairs. When Alan and John were on the ground, they'd looked around before stilling. There standing before them was a man, wearing a forest green polo shirt and black pants. He stood there silently for a few moments.
"Alan?" The man spoke, his voice seemingly quiet in a whisper…but to Alan it was as though he'd shouted from across the room. "Alan…is that really you?"
All of a sudden, the memories hit Alan. The memories of the four older boys, gathering together in a massive group hug. The older man, his face suddenly clear to Alan and then he knew. This man was his father, the one he'd been longing to have for years.
"Daddy?" Alan's voice remained choked up. All stilled in the hangar before both Jeff and Alan quickly made their way to each other. Alan, hobbled along until he'd reached Jeff and Jeff raced forward, dropping onto his knees; his arms tightening around the small boy as he dropped his crutches with a loud clatter to the ground. "Daddy!"
"Alan!" The tears overflowed from Jeff's eyes as he hugged his son tightly to him. He never wanted to let him go, not after six years had been stolen from them. Not after he'd just gotten his little boy back. "Alan…Alan….oh my Alan."
Alan buried his face into his father's shirt and his shoulder shook with his sobs. The young boy squeezed his father tightly, finally feeling like he'd found where he belonged. John stood not far behind them, his blue eyes shining with tears at the tear-jerking reunion. He looked up at the soft footsteps and he spotted Scott, Virgil and Gordon walking in. The three brothers saw their dad on his knees and started to move forward, but John intercepted.
"What's wrong with dad?" Virgil whispered anxiously.
"Nothing's wrong…he's just…happy." John replied in a whisper of his own.
"Why's he on the floor though?" Gordon began to move over to his dad, but John again got between them, fiercely hugging the young redhead. "John?"
"Let them be for a while longer…please. They haven't seen each other in ages." John turned Gordon around and hugged the redhead close.
"Who?" Scott inquired right as their dad moved to stand up.
"…" John opened his mouth to speak, but he stalled when his dad turned around, his face red and wet with tears. Alan's face was equally red from crying. Gordon, Scott and Virgil looked down at the little boy with a look of curiosity. John took that as his cue to speak up. "Alan."
"The boy…from…that pastor's foster home?" Scott pointed at Alan inquiringly…the little boy looked familiar.
"Yes…except, he's ours." John spoke softly as he released Gordon from the hug and strode forward to hug the little blonde boy. "He's our Allie."
Alan hugged John tightly around the waist. Scott, Virgil and Gordon all remained quiet as the news sunk in. Gordon was the first to recover from the shocking news. The sixteen year old boy strode forward, step by little step and stood stock still before Alan. The little blonde looked up nervously at Gordon, before Gordon drew Alan in for a hug.
"It's really you?" Gordon dipped his head to rest his cheek against the tuft of blonde hair.
"It's me…" Alan's voice became choked up again and he sniffled.
"Hey, buck up buttercup…don't turn on the waterworks for little ol' me." Gordon relished in the touch from his one and only little brother, it was a touch he hadn't felt in a long time. "Welcome home Sprout."
Scott and Virgil recovered around the same time and together they both stepped forward and pulled Alan away from Gordon to hug him close themselves. It just felt so right. They felt complete again.
"Allie." Virgil murmured as he squeezed Alan tightly.
"Sprout, it is you." Scott ran his fingers through Alan's hair, finally feeling as though everything was once again right in the world.
When Scott and Virgil separated from their hug with their lost little brother, brought back to them…they were immediately drawn into a group hug that Jeff and John initiated. The father and his five sons all hugged tightly, none of them wanting the hug to end. When the family decided to take their reunion back up to the house rather than remain in the hangar, they all did so gladly.
As the day changed into night, the family took pleasure in making up for lost time. They all sat around, telling Alan stories of all that had happened since he'd been gone and Alan told his family of his time spent in foster care and what he learned – good and bad. As the night drew to a close, the eldest blonde noticed that his little mini-me seemed to be on the fast track to forty winks.
"Okay Sprout…I think it's time that you went to bed. You've had a long day and tomorrow will only be longer if you don't recharge your batteries." John stood up, before grabbing Alan's crutches that he'd propped up beside the couch. "Come on, I'll show you to your room."
Alan could barely keep his eyes open…his eyes kept drooping and it made John smile slightly. The boy would no doubt be experiencing jet lag as well as feeling the effects of time change. He'd basically been up for two days, having been unable to sleep the night prior according to Alan. He nodded at John before scooting off the couch and hugging each of his family members, wishing them each a good night.
"Night…" Alan spoke softly, but his family heard the exhaustion in his voice and they'd bid a good night with pleasant dreams.
John walked beside Alan as he escorted him up to his bedroom. Alan wasn't exactly talkative, John could see that he was ready to fall asleep, so he hurried to get Alan to his bedroom, into his pajamas and off to sleep so he'd feel mildly human the following day. As he opened the grand bedroom, he noticed Alan appeared hesitant to enter.
"Come on Sprout…it's okay." John stepped past the threshold of the room and motioned for Alan to join him in the large bedroom. "Let's get you ready for bed."
Alan made a face before looking down at the floor sadly. Using the crutches to support himself before scuffing at the floor with his cast free foot. The little blonde mumbled something unintelligible before John knelt down before him with a small smile.
"There's nothing to be scared of. Everything in this room is yours." John rubbed Alan's arm gently, trying to coax the boy into looking up at him.
"Really?" Alan tentatively raised his gaze up to meet John's identical gaze.
"Really…now come on, let's get you in bed before you fall asleep." John stood and ushered Alan into the bedroom, before pulling the door shut. John turned on the bedroom light, illuminating everything for Alan to see. The boy's eyes might have widened at the immense size of the room, but to be honest…Alan was so tired right now, he probably wouldn't even notice if a clown riding a unicycle singing 'I'm a little teapot' rode past him.
John helped Alan ease his jeans down over his plaster cast and into his pajamas, before he lifted Alan up onto the massive bed. The little blonde scooted down under his blankets before John sat on the bed.
"Are you happy you're home Allie?"
Alan gazed up with tired eyes at John before giving the older blonde a tired smile. Nodding slowly, he spoke up. "Yeah, but I don't wanna go to sleep."
"How come?" John tucked Alan in to bed gently.
"I'm afraid I'll wake up and it will have been a dream." Alan replied honestly.
"Well, I can say now that…that won't be happening." John gently ran his fingers through Alan's hair, smiling at the little boy. "Now go to sleep…but first, if you need anything…I'm in the next room across the hall."
"'Kay." Alan closed his eyes as the fatigue washed over him. John remained right beside Alan until he was sure the little boy was sound asleep. When John was sure that Alan was asleep, he turned out the light and crept from the room.
Making his way into his own room, John prepared to go to bed himself. He felt exhausted, and not just fatigue…he felt emotionally drained.
Crawling beneath his own blankets, John slipped into sleep. As he slept he was bombarded with the memory of being informed by the doctor and social worker that the paternity test was a positive match. Back then it had almost taken his breath away. He'd been in the hospital, being treated for a dislocated shoulder after the landslide buried him beneath the rubble.
Alan's social worker had heard of the accident, since she was the main contact for a lot of the children that Pastor Woods fostered. She'd shown up at the hospital to make sure everybody was okay and had received a call from the doctor with the results of the paternity test. Pastor Woods had gotten John under the pretenses that he needed to come visit Alan after surgery, but in reality…he'd taken John with him to meet with the doctor and Ms. Alexander.
They'd informed him the test was positive and that Alan was in fact his long lost baby brother. He'd sat in shock for the most part, but almost immediately afterward he'd gone to see Alan. They'd all agreed not to tell Alan until he was out of the hospital and feeling better. John was just about to be discharged from the hospital when they'd broken the news to Alan.
John became aware of a second presence in his bedroom and he'd opened his eyes. There looking slightly uncomfortable was Alan. The little boy was balancing on his crutches and John wondered what the problem was. He was still tired. Glancing over at the clock, John noticed that he'd been asleep for a little over three hours. Looking back up at Alan, he whispered.
"What's the matter bud?"
Alan hesitated slightly. "I had a bad dream…" Alan looked down at the floor in shame. "Ray…he…"
John didn't allow Alan to finish his statement. He perched up on an elbow before lifting the blankets to invite Alan to sleep with him. Alan smiled appreciatively and laid his crutches on the ground before crawling up into John's bed.
"Do you want to talk about it bud?" John whispered as he waited for Alan to still his movements.
Alan shook his head no, but he leaned in closer to John. "Please don't make me."
"Alright then….go to sleep bud. I'll make sure that Ray doesn't bother you." John pulled Alan close before tucking the thick blankets around his slight form. Alan smiled gratefully again before he closed his eyes. John watched Alan carefully until Alan's breathing became even. Wrapping a gentle arm around the younger boy, John couldn't help but to hug him close. "It's good to have you back Sprout."
With that said John closed his own eyes and drifted off to sleep himself. All was right in the world again and the Tracy family could sleep easy knowing they had their lost lamb back with them again.