Hello once again fellow fanfic writers and readers. I'm finally posting a story that started life ten years ago when I was inspired by a real-life event that I wasprivileged to witness between two best friends. I wish dearly I could thank those two people for the inspiration for this story. It's been through several drafts and long periods of writer's block, but I think now it's really finished.
I would like to send a big thanks to ScribeOfRED for beta reading this for me, for making it far better than it was and for pushing me on to complete it. You're a star :)
I'd also like to note this story is very similar to a couple that have been posted in the last few weeks. Any resemblance to those stories are purely coincidental, I assure you.
I don't own Thunderbirds - those rights belong to Carlton, Gerry Anderson and all respective owners. I'm merely borrowing them for a while.
Three and a half hours he had lain awake, staring at the ceiling. His body weighed heavily with exhaustion, but his brain was still working overtime, stoking the fire of insomnia.
Closing his eyes had only led to the same gut-wrenching images assaulting him, taunting him with their unrelenting presence. Dust and darkness enveloped him in a suffocating squeeze, holding him to ransom trapped in the debris, alone and afraid...
Not again. He didn't want to see those images again.
He threw his arm over his eyes to hide his thoughts, only to feel the rough edge of his cast scratch his face. A broken arm – a small price to pay for saving a life.
He sighed heavily, the weight of the world on his mind again. Sleep was not his friend tonight, but he knew one thing that had never refused to keep him company.
Throwing the sheets back, his sweat-laced skin raised with goose bumps as it was exposed to the cool air. His room was haloed by the moonlight's rays, but somehow he didn't feel he was in heaven's presence. Angels had wings, sure, but usually they were of the feathery kind, not cold, metallic and ten feet long.
Shadows stalked the hallway and the lounge, silent watchers in the night air, just as he had wanted it. No invasions to his privacy or unwanted noise to deter him from sifting through the debris that was the mess in his head. Just him and a glass of scotch.
Confident he was alone, he walked over to the drinks cabinet, dropped in some ice, and lavishly poured a generous helping of his favourite amber vice. It was downed in one swig.
He winced as the bitter liquid bit at his throat. It was a brief bite, but soon he could feel it start to soothe his nerves and calm his sleep-deprived spirit.
"It's a little early to be starting on that, don't you think?"
Scott winced again, only this time it was the voice that bit at his nerves. He'd been caught red-handed, but it wasn't that he was concerned with.
It was the fact he'd been caught by his nurse-maid.
He looked over his shoulder in the direction of the doorway, to see the silhouette of his brother leaning against the door frame. Cross-armed, he didn't appear to be in the greatest of moods.
Correction: one very pissed nurse-maid. Even better.
Picking up the half-empty scotch bottle, Scott casually walked over to his father's desk with a hint of a cocky swagger, clearly meant to show the intruder he wasn't about to back down from his actions; that he was still in control. The other man watched, and, though still cloaked by the dark, Scott could imagine his actions were making the younger man itch with irritation. The thought made him mentally smirk.
The glass hit the wood with a dull thud, a baseline to the high-pitched chinking of ice rattling against the sides. Leaving his hand on the glass, Scott sneaked a glance over to his audience in complete defiance, almost willing him to come over and do something.
Neither of them moved.
After a moment Scott sighed again – a habit he wished he hadn't inherited from his father – and poured himself another drink. The move had his favoured effect, as his brother shifted and gave his own terse sigh.
"If me drinking bothers you, you can always go back to bed."
Virgil stepped from the shadows, his body language tense. Normally Scott would have welcomed his brother's presence with open arms, but tonight the last thing he wanted was to face a lecture on how he should be more responsible. For tonight that was the last thing he wanted to be.
He couldn't hide the sarcastic tone that edged his next words as he lifted his glass in a toast. "Care to join me?"
Virgil walked towards the sofa to lean on its back. He gestured to the glass in open defeat; when his brother was in one of these post-rescue moods he was difficult to negotiate with. "Help yourself. It's not like you'd listen to me anyway. You certainly didn't on our last rescue."
And there it was. The start of the Idiot's Guide to Being an Idiot lecture from the younger Tracy. But before Scott could counter Virgil pressed on. "What bothers me, Scott, is that you don't trust me enough to listen. Even now all you want to do is be rid of me so that you don't have to listen."
Scott scoffed at the statement – partly because there was some truth to it, but more in that he couldn't believe how wrong his brother could be. Any other time he would openly admit to his brother's error in judgement, but the headache he was nursing meant he wasn't in the mood to concede defeat.
A brief flash of hurt sparked across Virgil's face, but he quickly extinguished it, covering it with a look of anger. He suddenly erupted. "You know what, Scott? Why should I bother. You want to go ahead and drink yourself into a stupor then that's fine by me. Don't let me get in your way." With that he turned to head for the door, intending to retreat back to his room and leave his mess of a brother behind.
"Finally, that little nagging voice in my head has gone! I can try and get some peace around here."
The elder man moved over to sit in his father's chair – an unconscious show of his authority to the younger. Running a hand through his hair, he watched as his younger brother stormed back up to him, all five foot eleven of him tensed from head to foot.
Scott screwed his eyes shut, bracing himself for a right hook to the jaw. But it never came.
Instead Virgil was walking away from him again, not giving his brother the satisfaction of a well-deserved smack. In his head, Virgil was done with Scott. But his loyalty to the bonehead made his heart stop him from walking away. He was torn. He was raging. He was hurting too.
The tension between them was thicker than the tropic air. The heat radiated from them both like Thunderbird Two's jets on takeoff.
Seeing his brother hovering, Scott decided to take control and grab the proverbial yoke. "I don't know what your problem is, Virg, but the sooner you work it out the sooner we can all relax around here."
This time it was Virgil's turn to scoff in disbelief. "I've got a problem? I've got a problem..." He trailed off, shaking his head as though he'd just been told the moon really was made of cheese. He stalked back to Scott's position behind the desk once again and slammed his fist down on its polished surface. "My problem is you! And your problem is you don't know when to stop acting like a jackass."
And that was the match that lit the fuse. Scott couldn't hold back any longer. His anger flared like a firecracker as he stomped his feet and stood from behind the desk, towering over Virgil in an attempt to reclaim control over the argument, even if just by inches. His voice grew in intensity. "Speaks the master of the art. You've been in a foul mood ever since we got back. I offered to talk but no, you stormed off straight after the debrief – God knows why."
"Oh there we go: Mr. Scott I-know-it-all-and-screw-everyone-else Tracy is holding a mirror up to me to see what he can't. That's rich, Scott. That's rich, coming from you." An accusing finger was pointed hard in his direction.
At this, Scott's nagging headache was threatening to turn into a screaming migraine. Picking up the glass, he started to make his exit. But Virgil wasn't about to let him escape so easily. "I noticed how you omitted some of the finer details of our last rescue from the so-called debrief. Care to tell me why that was, Scott? Afraid Dad would agree with me and say you were wrong for a change?"
Scott's voice took on an edge of warning. "I don't have to listen to this. I'll talk to you when your head has deflated."
Virgil was definitely pushing all the right buttons, but not necessarily in the right order, as Scott continued to walk away, his shoulders tensed and jaw clenched. He was still trying to hold back, Virgil could tell. "And there you go, running off to avoid listening to me again! The very same action which caused you to break your arm."
At that statement Scott froze, his last ounce of restraint broken. He turned to face the source of his anger with any and all the calm he could muster without resorting to physical violence. It was proving very difficult.
"I don't run away from anything."
"Oh really Scott? Then why did you run away from the safe zone into that building when I told you – warned you – it was unstable?"
"There was a boy trapped inside! We had precious seconds to get him out."
"I was two minutes away! I warned you the structure wasn't sound and so told you to wait for me with the Domo but oh no, you have to run in without a thought for your own safety." Virgil's hands flopped by his side in exasperation. He couldn't figure what part of 'jackass' his brother didn't understand.
"It's funny you should mention that Virg, but I could've sworn that was the whole point of being a 'rescue worker' – risking your life to help save others," Scott retaliated, not even attempting to hide the sardonic twinge to his tone.
"But not at the risk of your own life! Jesus, Scott..." The younger man shook his head, feeling the need to bang it against something hard – his brother's wooden noggin, for starters. He ran a shaky hand through his chestnut locks, mirroring Scott from earlier. "Do you realise how close we could have come to arranging your funeral? This close!" He held up his index finger and thumb millimetres apart to express just how close he meant. "When the roof collapsed it could have crushed you. A loose beam could have fallen on your back, breaking your spine or severing your spinal cord. You could have been paralysed or killed in a heartbeat." He stumbled over his words as his thoughts assaulted him at speed.
"God, you exaggerate at times Virg." Scott smirked, though this time there was an air of fondness, knowing his brother too well. "None of that happened, though, did it? It could have, but it didn't."
"So that makes it all right then, does it, Scott? That gives you the perfect excuse to run into a collapsing building to try to save a little boy's life? Knowing you escaped with a broken arm to rescue his body?"
As soon as the words left his lips Virgil regretted even thinking them. He was a sensitive soul, compassionate about the feelings of others. But Scott's erratic behaviour of recent had wound him up so tightly it had gagged that compassion and he'd let his guard down, allowing the statement to slip.
His eyes instantly shot away from Scott in apology and shame. A painful silence befell them, the tropic air suddenly clammy and sour – the words hard to swallow. Virgil could feel his brother's eyes boring into him like a corkscrew.
"Body? You mean...?"
Virgil ran his hands over his face, breathing a low, woeful sigh. He nodded grimly. "Yeah, I mean..." His head shook with regret. "I'm sorry, Scott, I didn't want to tell you like that."
Scott's mouth opened to reply, but nothing came. His throat felt thick and sticky, the words clinging to the walls and the inside of his mouth. Finally he could muster little more than a croak when he found his voice to speak. "He was breathing when I got to him...He was unconscious, but still alive. His pulse was strong...I lay over him to protect him when the building fell...He wasn't hurt..."
Virgil walked over and placed a gentle hand on his brother's arm, quietly coaxing him back over to their father's desk and the chair that waited behind. His brother looked as though he was about to collapse with the weight of the revelation. The fact Scott had allowed himself to be escorted away was a sign he'd been hit hard with the news.
Scott bowed his head, waves of shock rippling through his mind like a tidal wave. When he eventually looked at Virgil, his haunted eyes told of an ache he never wanted to feel: deep, tortuous failure.
"How? What happened?"
"John called the hospital to enquire about him. He...he died on the way to hospital; he went into cardiac arrest. They weren't able to resuscitate him. I'm so sorry, Scott."
To say he felt like a block of ice had been dropped in his heart was an understatement. When the building had collapsed he had thrown himself over his charge to protect him, feeling the rumble of the ground as bricks and mortar rained down around them. He remembered his vision flashing white after being hit by a stray brick, then nothing as the calming world of unconsciousness claimed him. The next he knew was being brought to by a very worried but very upset brother; a brother who, somehow, looked like he wanted to hug Scott for all it was worth, and strangle him at the same time.
Funnily enough, said brother was wearing a similar expression now, only withholding out of sympathy at seeing Scott's reaction.
That poor mother...Scott could only imagine what agony she was going through.
His thoughts must have been picked up on the Tracy bandwidth by Virgil, who said, "His mother must be hurting like hell." His mellow tone heavy with regret.
Scott wet his lips and attempted to find his vocal chords again. "I can only imagine. But it's the risk we have to take to help people."
Scott took a deep breath to compose himself, knowing his every move was being studied. He could sense Virgil stiffen at his last words, so he chose his next ones carefully, lest he not make his true feelings known. "Even in hindsight, knowing what the outcome is, I still wouldn't hesitate to run in again to help that little boy."
Gingerly he looked up at his younger sibling, perched on the edge of their father's desk in front of him. He was expecting that statement to turn into a tornado of accusations and angry, bitter words being hurled back at him, but instead he was greeted with a deafening breeze of silence.
Virgil wasn't buying a word of it.
Virgil lowered his head in despair, shaking it in disbelief that his brother still didn't understand the point he had been trying to make. He knew Scott was right – that what they did was risky, and sometimes sacrifices were called for – but to be knowingly reckless? That was a different matter entirely.
It was selfish.
This time it may well have been a broken arm and a concussion. The next time, it could be a broken neck.
Virgil scrunched his eyes together, trying to block out the images that were on a semi-permanent rerun before his eyes. Seeing Scott rush into the building and ignore his warnings. Hearing the snapping and crumbling, helpless to stop it. It all angered him, made him even feel betrayed by the one brother alone he called his 'other half' – the yin to his yang. The fact his older and questionably more experienced commander had not trusted him to heed his words stung deep.
He would never forget finding his commander amongst the debris, his body covering the little boy's in a fashion he recalled from childhood when the boys had curled up together to protect each other from their nightmares after their mother's death. Scott's protective need to shelter Virgil from the outside world had remained with him for several months, until the fear of abandonment had itself abandoned them, to leave behind the tattered remains of what resembled some kind of peace. But the need to look out for his brother emotionally had never left Virgil – their bond far deeper than simply the blood that pumped through their veins.
Such blood may have made them family, but their love made them brothers.
It was with huge relief that he had rescued his brother from the ruins – for many days now he would be sending several prayers of gratitude that he did. It did not, however, mean he had forgiven Scott for his blatant stupidity.
When Virgil eventually tried to find his voice of reason, it was but a low whisper that Scott could barely hear.
"Even if I begged you not to?"
It was the same voice of an eight-year-old child asking why it had to be their mother who had been so cruelly taken from them.
Briefly stunned, Scott frowned at the question. Virgil never begged, especially not to him. It felt like the last wish of a man on death row – a last ditch attempt to make his brother see sense.
He had never seen Virgil so upset, so vulnerable and open like a fresh abrasion to the skin. One left red-raw and bleeding, still smarting from the cause of the injury.
Leaning forward, Scott tried to make out the expression on his brother's face. But Virgil hid his face away from his prying eyes.
"I'm okay," Scott began tentatively. "I wasn't seriously hurt. All right I hold my hands -" he glanced at his cast. "Hand up and admit I was maybe too hasty and should've waited for some backup. But by the time you had unloaded the equipment we would have been too late. The building was almost falling when we –"
"You don't get it, do you?" Virgil snapped, taking Scott by surprise, his anger now unmasked for his brother to see. "You honestly think it's okay to disregard me and charge in just to save time! As ever, here comes the knight in shining armour to save the day once more. Well, I hate to inform you Scott, but you're just as mortal as the rest of us."
Virgil's patience had finally snapped, Scott having tread on the wire and tripping the alarm of anger. Scott was shocked by his close sibling's sudden attack, thrashing out like a wild animal backed into a corner. It was a primal fear – one filled with anguish – that Scott rarely witnessed in his usually calm and collected friend. Scott was beginning to understand just what it was Virgil was trying desperately to admit but failing to put into words.
Scott ruefully shook his head, his eyes trained to the floor in pale apology. "Virg, you know I'd never hurt you. I rushed in without waiting for you, but..." His sentence trailed off, any conviction he tried to place in his words dying along with his voice. Scott's own mind was showing him images of the boy he had tried to save, all filtered in lifeless grey. "I had to help him...he was so small..."
So small...just like you were, Virgil.
The mild shock still in his system, Scott leant forward onto his knees and cradled his head in his hands. How cruel and unrelenting fate could have been, to insist their actions be ineffectual for the outcome of such a young, innocent life. And to let his brother find him as he did...
Scott's duty as protector to his siblings he had willingly abandoned, to risk his life for a life. Sometimes his role as eldest brother put him at odds with his role as field commander, and the confliction was never easy to judge.
Scott knew he was being watched again. The tenseness in his shoulders. His remorse-soaked stare into the darkness, and beyond. He felt a gentle hand placed on his shoulder but never flinched, knowing it was a gesture of sympathy not hurt. Virgil had a remarkable ability to calm his temper in a split second, as though a bucket of ice water had been thrown over the flames of his anger.
The soft, friendly voice confirmed it so in one word.
Such a contrast in tone pierced him inside like a knife.
Virgil had watched as the elder man drowned in the news that had broken his heart. Seeing that alone had washed away his anger, but he was still riding on a wave of hurt.
Scott shook his head, not acknowledging the call of his name. "He didn't deserve it. He had his whole life ahead of him, only for it to be snatched away."
The hand on the shoulder was squeezed gently in a bid to give some reassurance, but it failed. Scott didn't react. Instead he began a mantra of "I could've done more...I should've done more..." above a soft rocking motion of his upper body. He was still adamant he hadn't done enough.
Virgil sighed, aggrieved. His pep talk had been to try and dig Scott out of such thoughts, not bury him further.
He lent forward and placed a warm hand on his brother's cast, saying, "Scott...you did all that you could, and that's all anybody could ever ask of you. But promise me, please, you'll never do something as rash as that ever again."
At first Scott didn't move, as though frozen to the spot. But gradually the pair of ice-blue eyes looked up, searching the honey-burnt ones of his best friend. A silent questioning look passed between them, Scott asking why he should make such a promise, if he indeed could. Questioned Scott, "But what about his mother? She has to carry on living, knowing I failed her." He looked away, as though the answer might be too much to bear.
There was no immediate reply. Instead Virgil manoeuvred himself round and knelt down in front of Scott in full submission, as if to ask for his full attention for what he was about to say.
He placed a tender yet reassuring hand atop his brother's good one, making sure he didn't let go – a desperate need to keep him connected. His voice sincere, his words chosen carefully, Virgil spoke with an air of affection that contrasted the bitter words he had spat only a few moments ago.
"I know you did everything you could to help that little boy; nobody here on Tracy Island would doubt that for even a millisecond."
There was a 'but' hanging in the air.
For a brief moment Virgil looked away, composing his thoughts. Scott frowned, for once unable to read his brother's actions. "Virg? What is it?"
When their eyes reconnected, Scott inwardly gasped. He saw such a haunted expression of fear he had never witnessed in this particular brother's soul. He hated to admit it, but he wanted so desperately to look away and forget ever seeing what he had in Virgil's eyes.
Softly spoken were the next words of the younger man, "I think the world of you, you know I do. God if anything..." Virgil bit his lip, afraid to continue lest his next words curse him. "Scott, if anything happened to you I don't think I could live with myself. I couldn't carry on living, not without you."
The words hit him like a sledgehammer smashing glass. The tough shell of Scott Tracy had been shattered in a simple sentence as the realisation dropped like a stone in his mind.
All his life Scott had protected his brothers.
The only thing he had failed to protect them from was him.
His heart began to race as he felt his brother's anguish-laden words pierce his soul. How could he have been so blind? "I didn't mean to...If I'd realised...Damn it."
He was lost as to how to answer such a statement, and Virgil saw it write itself clearly across his face. In one swift move Virgil gently grasped Scott's shoulder, pulling him closer to him to shield him from the outside world. Virgil knew neither of them was ashamed to show their emotions – rather he knew Scott was always reluctant to let his guard down for anything and show any form of weakness, even though it simply made him appear more human for doing so.
The embrace was welcoming for both men, and the hug became tighter as the need for reassurance grew – one Tracy passing strength to the other unconditionally.
Scott may have been the one to carry such weight on his shoulders, but Virgil was the one who carried Scott.
Each held on tightly, not willing to let go for fear they would fall. Keep holding on, brother mine.
Scott felt himself shudder at the thought of if things had turned out differently. The very thought that his brother could have been saying the very same things to him but through six feet of earth, wishing to a god above that he had been able to save Scott. Like a house of cards in a gust of wind the loss of his support would have made Virgil topple. For it wasn't just that Virgil was Scott's lifeline – it worked the other way too.
His brother must have felt the shudder as he pulled back slightly to take in his brother's face again, before leaning forward to rest his forehead on Scott's. There he closed his eyes, inviting Scott to feel the warm silence pass between them in waves of energy. Scott made no move to pull away – instead he placed his good hand on the other man's shoulder and held on just as tightly.
They both knew they needed this – to reassure their bonds, to affirm their trust. But most of all, to know that the other was still there, very much alive, with a heart beating fiercely, driven by love.
Scott too closed his eyes, and sighed; only this time it was a more contented sigh. And there they remained, feeling the wash of love and spiritual bonding soak them. It was soothing, calming. It helped to reinforce their infamous "psychic" bond that was unique to the two siblings.
No sounds spoken, but a thousand words expressed.
"I couldn't do it without you," Virgil's whisper floated through the still air. "I don't want to do it without you."
"I know..." Words failed him, just as his own idiocy had failed to make him see the daggers of pain his little brother had felt. He knew had the roles been reversed he would have been the same.
"Your life is so precious to us...to me..." A lump was beginning to form in Virgil's throat again. "You're the one who keeps us strong...I need you to keep me strong..."
Scott opened his eyes and stared at the floor beneath him, expecting it to open up and show the fiery pit of Hell reach out its tendrils to him. He didn't exactly feel strong right now. Right now he felt like his guts had been ripped out.
He realised now what Virgil had been trying to say.
Scott's "worthless" life was Virgil's whole life.
Another immeasurable period of silence passed before another word was spoken. This time though the croakiness in Virgil's voice had subsided a little. "I swear if I have to bury you so soon I'll personally hunt you down and kick your ass all the way into Hell!"
A soft snort from Scott acknowledged the statement, knowing his brother meant every word. He relaxed a little as the tension of the moment broke. He felt the grip on his shoulder tighten briefly, then push back from him as autumn-hued irises searched his winter-blue ones.
This time, however, the elder found himself greeted with a look of sorrow mixed with knowing. He feared Virgil was waiting for a promise Scott couldn't make, and knew he couldn't make. Such an expression made Scott hate himself. All this time – all his life even – he had tried to shield his brothers from everything the world had thrown at them. Their mother's death; growing up and working to achieve all they had; the hardship of getting International Rescue running off the ground; holding life and death in their very hands, not knowing which way their fates would turn at any given time, all the while pulling their strings like a puppet.
For all those difficult times the four younger brothers had looked up to him for reassurance, for decisions, for confidence. And each and every time Scott had done his best to live up to their expectations by giving them something to hold on to.
His brother was now searching for that same tether again.
A ghost of a smile appeared on Scott's lips. It slowly began to grow as Virgil's words swam around in his head in a sea of understanding.
"You know, Virg," he began tentatively, uncertain how his words were going to proceed, or indeed be received. "I can't promise to live. I can't promise not to get killed whilst trying to rescue people, or even stop myself from doing something stupid." Virgil's shoulders sagged a little at the last part of that sentence, the hurt flashing across his face. "I'm a leader, and at times I've got about two seconds to decide what the right thing to do is. But...I can promise you one thing..." Scott looked deep into his brother's eyes, trying to convey with every cell of his body that what he was about to say he meant with all his heart.
"I promise I'll never disregard the worth of my life again."
Here he was – Scott Tracy, son of the billionaire ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy. An ex-pilot of the U.S. Air Force, having served several dangerous missions and been awarded a medal of honour for his actions. He had survived countless rescues, overcome life-threatening injuries and was sure he had barely scraped past a few dates with the Grim Reaper. He was the oldest and strongest of five brave brothers, Field Commander of the largest rescue organisation in the world, and at thirty-two years old the man to whom all his siblings looked up to and admired.
Scott Tracy – man of steel.
Yet when he saw a small glint of a tear well up in his brother's eye it was enough to turn him into a pool of molten metal.
His grip on his emotions slipped, and he felt a tear sliver down his cheek. He bit his lip to stop it quivering.
Virgil couldn't help but give a small laugh, seeing his hero of a brother melt before him. It was a nervous release of relief, knowing his "yin" was not as clear-cut black and white as he tried to make out he was.
"I'll make sure I hold you to that promise, brother." Virgil reinforced his own promise with a light slap of his hand on Scott's shoulder, then used said shoulder to lean on to lift himself back up onto his feet.
The moment quickly began to dissipate between the two men, and both were anxious not to feel embarrassed by such open emotions. Virgil wiped his eyes – the last physical trace of their conversation gone, but certainly not the psychological one.
Scott rose from the chair and ran a hand back and forth through his hair, letting a soft sigh escape his lips. Both gave a nervous laugh, not really knowing what to say to each other after baring their souls.
It was Scott who broke the deadlock. "You know, a simple slap upside the head and a 'Don't do it again' would have sufficed, rather than all that drama, Virgil." There was a certain twinkle in his eye that said he appreciated the gesture though.
A smile spread across Virgil's lips, an outlined expression of "Any time, Scott" sketched across his features along with a shrug of his shoulders. "Want some coffee?" he offered.
Scott shook his head, feeling the lack of sleep and emotional outbursts seep the last of his energy. "I'll pass thanks. Think I'll try and get some sleep."
Virgil nodded, his quick visual assessment of his brother concurring. With a stretch of his arms he began to make his way to the door, only to pause at Scott's parting words.
"You don't have to be my keeper, but I'm glad you are."
With that, Virgil's lips turned up into a full-blown, teeth-showing genuine grin. He wasn't completely sure he had convinced his brother of his value, but he knew Scott wasn't a man to back down on his word.
And he knew for as long as he was around, Scott would always have him right by his side to carry that promise.
Scott sighed softly, only this time it was in the midst of a dream.
The nightmares were returning again in full force – angry splashes of colour thrown against a black background, smells of burning and death surrounding him, enveloping him.
But this time he wasn't afraid. This time was different.
He wasn't alone.
Feeling the strength of a thousand men, he banished the thoughts away to the edges of his mind. He kicked the debris aside, fought his way back to the surface and to where the light shone.
Up to a hand that reached out and grabbed his, and pulled him from the chaos into peace.