Bring our Starman Home
Author's notes: So I've become hopeless Thunderbirds trash due to the new 2015 CGI series Thunderbirds Are Go so areas of my knowledge may be patchy when holding up as a Original Series Thunderbirds fan-fic. The one thing that has really confused me is the boys ages; there seems to be no general consensus as to whether John or Virgil is the second eldest son, (though maybe in TAG John is perhaps older), but in this fic the age order goes: Scott, Virgil, John, Gordon, Alan (mostly because I like that best). I'm also totally going to be going by fanon that Virgil is the most medically knowledgeable brother. It's pretty safe to assume all the brothers have had at least first responder training, but the fandom likes to think that Virgil is the most adept and who am I to argue with fanon; you guys were all here way before me. The stupid amount of research I've done for this will probably be obvious, but if I do make any mistakes, I apologize. :)
Reviews are always incredibly welcome! I love hearing your feedback! :D
"...and you're still monitoring the meteoroids?"
"Gods," John gasps, from his perch on the ledge of Thunderbird 5's big bay window, his gloved hands pressed against the glass like a child at a sweetshop, "you should see the sky from up here, Father!"
Jeff Tracy smiles at John from the vidscreen's holographic projection, studying the figure of his middle son who has his face pushed right up against the window's thick, reinforced glass and is gazing out into the abyss of space. He's taken down the shielding and is using the window in lieu of his telescope eyepiece, and that alone tells Jeff just how enraptured the boy is. In fact, he's not even making notes on the shower, he's just watching. And with his own two eyes instead of his fancy gadgets.
The young astronaut has an old-fashioned book laid open in his lap, his hand resting limply on the open pages to mark his place, but it's obvious he's no longer interested in whatever he was reading. There's a mug of coffee too, resting on the side, its china old and chipped and bearing an out-dated version of the Tracy Enterprises logo, but its contents are probably long cold by now. Jeff laughs as John's nose bumps against the glass as his boy strains to catch sight of something streaking, glittering past the window. He can see the warm puff of John's breath creating condensation on the glass as he calls out softly to his Father.
"It's golden Father, the whole sky is golden. It's beautiful." The light from the meteors flashing past is reflected gold in his boy's pale hair and it creates sparks of constellations across the wide blue of his iris.
"That's my boy." Jeff would reach out and ruffle that hair if he could. If John wasn't a good three hundred and twenty seven miles away from Earth right now. "And you're sure there's no danger posed by these things?"
"Nah." Their Space Monitor chuckles, still enamoured with the view. "They're going to break up in the atmosphere way before they ever hit Earth."
"And the UWF station?" Jeff Tracy asks his son, thinking of the hundred or so personnel aboard the United Word Federation's largest orbiting satellite that hangs in low Earth orbit a hundred or so miles below Thunderbird Five and a good quarter rotation to John's west.
"They'll be clear, easily. Nothing to worry about, Father. The asteroid the meteors broke off was primarily iron based, and should be easy for their scanners to detect. They've got enough weapons and deflection shields over there to deal with any meteors way before they come close to hitting them."
"F-A-B John. And Five is far enough out from them...?" Jeff's brows curve together in concern as he leans forward at his desk, as if to get closer to his boy, even though it's physically impossible.
"We should be." John is laughing on the screen, "The shower is coming down pretty far orbitally to our west, and I don't anticipate any problems up here. That storm in Hawaii has blown itself out too, so it's looking like a quiet night for International Rescue. Spectacular show though. Is Alan watching this?"
"The meteors? I've good reason to suspect he's up in your old spot on the roof again, thought I'm not sure if he's more interested in watching the comets or if he's just trying to give me a heart attack by climbing all over the roof." They both laugh at that.
"Our Allie's the best climber out of all of us; so don't let that heart give out on you yet old man." John teases lightly, his eyes still fixed on the grand display still streaking past his window. Earth, hundreds of miles below him glitters like thousands of fireflies are just waking up; lights springing on all across the Southern hemisphere as it rotates away from the sun. On screen Jeff takes a moment to stretch and yawn; night is setting itself in on Tracy Island and is taking its occupants with it. John seems unaware though, his gaze fixed on space and his fingers absentmindedly play with the soft paper pages of the old book in his lap, his thumb stroking over the spine.
John knows full well he can get whatever books he likes to keep himself occupied digitally over Five's systems, but the young astronaut has always insisted that there's something very special about feeling real old paper under your hands as you read. He often explains, to anyone who will listen, that real books have that distinct, old-paper almondy vanilla smell he loves because of the hundreds of organic compounds in the pages, which release chemicals as they break down over time. His brothers seem to appreciate that knowledge much less than he does. Alan, in particular, had called it gross and has given John's bookshelf shifty, worried glances ever since. As much as he knows e-books are practical, John, as an author himself, likes to have something solid, tangible to look at and lose himself in as he reads.
It's the same reason he has literal printed copies of a few of their family photos up on his 'bird, instead of holographic frames. There's the one that sits on his workstation, depicting of all six Tracy men plus Grandma grinning out at him from their Island home. It had been taken last summer with all of them standing by the pool and Gordon on the end is poised, his grin mischievous as he's about to push Scott, Virgil and Alan in all at the same time, fully clothed. Fish never could resist water.
There's a candid shot of Virgil, his face framed by sunlight and his brush to an easel as he paints. It's taped to John's bunk, next to the actual gouache; a warm, friendly landscape that Virgil had painted on the Island with palm trees and the beach and their house to remind him, Gordon had teased, where his home was while he was getting lost in space.
Speaking of the little devil; there's a photo of Gordon after the Olympics, with his wet hair and gold medal, that hangs on the back of his door. Propped up on his side table, next to his alarm, there's a picture of Alan and Scott with the elder's hand resting on the younger's shoulder. Scott's face is split with a huge, proud big-brother grin as the kid had just won his first motor race.
There's also the little silver frame on his bookshelf, tucked between Mission to Mars by Buzz Aldrin and a battered old Star Trek novel with Spock's face solemn on the peeling cover. It's the one that has the photo of Mum. Lucille's eyes are blue and soft and cradled in her arms is baby John, the day he was born. His Father's arms are around them both and there are warm smiles on both their faces.
"That is true, did he get the chance to tell you about that competition he..." Jeff, who has a very similar smile on his face at that exact moment, as he thinks about his youngest boy, is suddenly interrupted by the urgent blaring of an alarm aboard Five. Jeff's face contorts in concern as John leaps up from his window spot and dashes over to the console, his long fingers flying over keys, trying to work out what's going on. He's dumped his book cover up, on the sill, and Jeff recognises it as of the old NASA textbooks John has had since collage.
"What the...?" John mumbles, his brow scrunched in confusion as he swipes data around on his screen, both hands nimble and rapid over the touch monitors and track pad.
"John? What is it?" Jeff leans in to his screen, checking his volume settings as his son's voice crackles with static and he tries to gauge a reaction off John's expression for a clue as to what is happening. The alarm is still blaring and Jeff knows it's not one of the International Rescue ones that Thunderbird Five usually gets. It's not somebody calling for help.
"Oh god..." Suddenly, all the blood seems to drain from John's face and he swears explosively, in a manner so unlike his calm, level headed son that a sudden, cold fist of fear clenches around Jeff's heart as he works out exactly what that alarm is for.
It's a proximity warning.
It's then that the mechanical, automated female voice of Thunderbird Five begins counting, calmly and clinically, down from ten.
"That shouldn't be possible... Dad! Dad, there's an off course meteor." John's face is verging on grey as he swipes across the display again. "Weapons aren't going to cut it. It's passed through the deflection shielding. Dad... It's going to hit Five, it's going to..." The automated voice of his 'bird reaches six in its countdown and John staggers away from the console, shell shocked and on the verge of panic in a way that John, the calmest of them all, simply never is.
"John. John! Listen to me... Listen!" John turns and Jeff chokes on the sheer raw fear in his son's eyes. Fear that's never present on John's face, no matter what the situation. "Suit up and get low, hold on to something and..."
"There's no time, Dad! It's going to hit life systems. I can't get the shielding up. It's going to..."
But the voice has reached three and then two and then John doesn't even hear her call one over his Father's voice screaming his name into the microphone and the rushing, ragged exhale of his own breath as John pushes out his final gasp of air, emptying his lungs. With both hands he grabs out desperately, clinging onto the closest thing he can; a metal water pipe set into the wall. He wraps both hands tightly around it and squeezes his eyes shut just before the meteor hits and everything explodes.