It's about two weeks later, when John's ribs no longer feel like they're going to forcibly eject themselves from his chest cavity every time he moves, that the boys decide it would be good to get him some fresh air, and they take him outside.
It's done with a whole lot of fuss and worry and concerned faces, plus what feels like a whole mountain of blankets to keep out the chill, and he's a little doped up on the good drugs courtesy of Doctor Caldwell, but then they're outside, all five boys huddled around the edge of the pool together, staring up into the inky blackness of the night sky, far above them.
John, tucked between Scott and Virgil, with Alan at his feet and Gordon curled about his hip, seems to sink into the sky, letting it fill his vision with the familiar comfort of his constellations. He can name almost every light in the sky above him, and his smiles to see the LucilleX10-37 glittering, twinkling merrily; looking down on them all. She doesn't twinkle that that from space, from his window on 'Five, but John knows the stellar scintillation is because of the way the light travels through the many layers of the Earth's atmosphere - the light of the star being refracted many times in random directions, as it hits changes in the density of the air. He doesn't mind the difference; it's surprisingly pleasant, a nice change to watching the stars distorted by the reflection of Five's ugly, artificial lights in his viewplane's glass.
John sighs softly; he's content for now, finally back to looking at his stars.
Suddenly though, a comet, bright and gold and glittering, streaks across the sky leaving a hot, fiery trail behind it and all five of the boys gasp at its brilliance. Something hard lodges itself in Alan's throat. He'd been sat watching meteoroids like this when...
"John." Virgil's voice is soft but tense and the middle brother looks across at him, tearing his eyes from the sky. Two's pilot has gone rigid against John's side. "Is that one of the meteors that..."
"Nah," John sounds out, his intonation a little slurry under the heavy-handed drugging he's been given, "They're long gone by now. 'S more likely part of Five's debris field coming down through the atmosphere." He sounds thoroughly miserable about that and he gets Virgil's arm coming up and tucking around his shoulders, squeezing gently. It helps a little, and John leans into his side. Scott then slumps down on his other side; their eldest brother resting his head carefully against the top of John's good arm. Alan's fingers tighten on his trouser leg.
There's a long, uncomfortable silence between them; stretching out awkwardly as they all crane their necks back to stare mournfully at the sky. The only sound that can be heard is the lapping water and the creak of a deckchair as someone shifts, until that is, Gordon, the little shit, flings an arm up to point at the sky, just as another comet streaks across it.
"Look John!" Their resident goldfish cries out. "There goes your toilet seat!"
Scott, who'd been deep in thought, is the one who jolts hardest at the sharp shout, and he begins to splutter incoherently, taken totally off guard by the joke. Little Alan laughs out loud, the sound bright and heady and it's actually kind of refreshing to hear.
"Nah, Bathrooms the other side of 'Five." Virgil grins, catching on and sharing a conspiring glance with Gordon. "That's probably his porn stash." And John reaches out and somehow manages to swat him around the head for that one.
"Not likely." Scott muses, staring up into the blank abyss of sky above them. "The only stash they've managed to smuggle up there is all that chocolate Alan got given on Valentines." Big brother teases lightly, a grin spreading across his face to match his brother's.
Alan just groans at that though, muttering something about a waste of good chocolate, before a more comfortable, companionable silence falls over the five brothers.
"My lady is destroyed, isn't she?" John is the one who breaks the silence this time; a soft, broken murmur into the endless darkness. His voice is glum as he watches another piece of his book collection burn brightly across the sky (and won't that give NASA enough to talk about for weeks; foreign object sighted by telescope – could it be aliens? A new meteorite? A Satellite? No... It's just one of John Tracy's textbook manuscripts, see, he's even doodled in the corner of that page – a little squid getting squished by a spaceman... Sorry for the scare NASA).
"Ah we can rebuild her;" Virgil shrugs, the movement rocking the tight knit band of brothers. "Dad's already got the plans up and on the go. Brains has some great new schematics for you to look over when you're better." Two's pilot tightens the arm around John's shoulders again, pressing his little brother close. "What we can't rebuild, is you." He adds softly.
"I was so sure I was going to die." John admits quietly, and he feels the arm tighten even further around his shoulders. Scott tenses and Alan sucks in a sharp breath. Gordon, for some reason, chooses to simply smush his face into John's knee, muttering something unintelligible that he never repeats. "We face danger on rescues all the time, sure" John adds, "but that's easy; it can feel there's no way out but it's easy to keep calm and laugh death in the face, but this was... just... there was no way out."
"You're alive." Scott reminds him, his cheek soft against John's shoulder; he can feel the vibrations as his eldest brother talks. "Your heart is beating," there are fingers pressed against his chest to prove it, "and you're alive."
"Thank god." Gordon grumbles, his head now thrown back nonchalantly. There's tension around his eyes though, as he stares up at John's comet-studded cosmos. Gradually, they all go back to watching silently, with only the occasional soft comment shared between them; a oh man look at that one, and one you know, the nucleus of an atypical comet is constructed of compact ice and... lecture from a certain spaceman and then there's the I'm glad you're all here that gets whispered into the mix as well, though no one is quite sure who it came from. It's beautiful, in a sad, tense kind of way.
Slowly, John's breathing begins to even out, his head drifts gradually down towards his chest and his eyelids gently flutter closed.
"Aaa... Come on," Scott, stretches his shoulders, working out the kinks and he smiles softly at his sleeping brother. Gently he scoops Johnny into his arms, blankets and all and Scott presses a firm, dry kiss to his brother's brow. "It's getting cold out here." He comments to the others, all rising and eager to follow Scotty back inside, "Let's bring our Starman home."
Authors Notes: AAAAAAAAAA It actually got finished AAAAAAAA. Oh man, I've been running so many different lil projects (if you're not already following me on tumblr and are savvy, feel free to snoop at them in my tbirds tag) that I totally forgot about posting up the last chapter of Starman (thankyou for the prompting guys!). I started writing this fic just after the first episode of TAG came out and look where we are now. Bless these lil dorks.
If you liked this fic, it would mean the world to me if you dropped me a review to let me know. 33
You are all sparkly stars and John would love you.
Thanks for sticking with me! Look out for more Tbirds in the future :)
- Lenle G