Title: The Proposal
Warm Rain Series
23-27 Oct 2018
Fandom: Thunderbirds Are Go 2015/ Thunderbirds TOS
Summary: Was it worth the risk?
Word count: 9084
Spoilers & warnings: Virgil/Kayo, mild language, somewhat graphic depiction of injury, angst, Virgil!Whump
Timeline: After 'Green Dragon' and before 'Goodbye'.
Author's note: Because vegetacide wanted to read more. I have been staring at this all day, I think some of it works, the rest is a blur. I hope you enjoy it anyway. Please note that this story makes reference to various previous events in the Warm Rain storyline, some of which are only archived on Tumblr (they are scraps of fic). There is nothing major and it can be read without the reading the other stories, but if you are interested, you can find a list of the entire universe in timeline order here – gumnut-logic dot tumblr dot com slash master-story-list - scroll down to the bottom for the Warm Rain listing. Please enjoy :D
Disclaimer: Mine? You've got to be kidding. Money? Don't have any, don't bother.
She had only had a split second to realise what was happening before he barrelled into her, his sheer mass wrapping around her, ever the protective idiot she loved.
There was snow and rock. She lost her belay rope, the world just spun sickeningly.
In the confusion a sharp spire of rock loomed, Virgil reached, his arm blue against all the white.
And he screamed.
She had never heard him quite make that kind of sound.
And their fall stopped.
The snow roared around them, but they had stopped moving.
He was trembling around her, his right arm the only purchase they had. His eyes were clenched shut. "Virgil?"
"I can't…" He cried out as something hit them and they were falling again.
And the horrible snap of tightening rope as they came to a complete stop mid-air.
The snow fell away.
The mountain fell quiet.
And they spun idly over a thousand foot drop held only by his tangled rope.
With the exception of his left arm still holding her so desperately to him, Virgil hung from his harness limp. She gasped when she discovered the torn uniform from the inside of his right elbow to his waist where the rock spire had gouged him on their way down. His blood dripped into the abyss.
She checked his harness, his blessed baldric securing him to his line. She clipped her harness to his line, securing the both of them as they swayed in the wind. She made sure they were inseparable.
Where the hell was his helmet? Snow peppered his dark hair.
She wrapped her hand around the back of his neck, supporting him, drawing him in closer. His eyes were dazed with pain. "C'mon, Virgil, work with me here."
He blinked and finally focussed on her, only to have the wind spin them around, snow fluttering in her face. He moaned in pain, his eyes scrunching shut.
He shuddered. And to her horror, the arm holding her slipped. She slid down as her harness took her weight.
The links snapped tight and held.
He was staring at her, his chest desperately trying to draw in breath, his left arm pulling her towards him. "K-" His eyes shuttered.
Desperate, she pulled him to her. "Damnit, Virgil, don't you dare do this to me." She switched frequencies. "Thunderbird Five, I need you now."
John's voice was tense in her ears. "We have control of Thunderbird Two. Moving her to your location."
Virgil was touching her helmet. "Kay?" He left red smears on the plexiglass.
"John's got Thunderbird Two. He's bringing her around. We'll be down in a moment. Hang on, Virgil."
His lips were white, his brown eyes ever so intense. His arm tightened. Voice ever so quiet. "Can never let you go." And he smiled at her, their lazy spin above certain death ignored for an unbelievable moment. "Marry me?"
Her eyes widened…and the air was consumed by the roar of VTOL as Thunderbird Two tore around the mountain.
TB2 came to a hover below them, edging ever so slowly up to their position. Her roar had snow shivering off the precipice above them. God, Kayo hoped they didn't cause another avalanche.
"Kayo, I'm coming down." Her brother's voice in her helmet seemed to come from a distance above the roar of VTOL.
"Get aboard Thunderbird Two, I will be there in seven point four minutes."
John was coming down.
She turned her attention back to Virgil, but his eyes had closed, his face slackening. "Virgil?" She drew him closer and his head lolled onto her shoulder. "John's coming, love."
He didn't answer.
A thin rivulet of blood dribbled from his mouth onto her uniform.
Terror welled inside her. God. "John, hurry, please hurry."
Thunderbird Two opened her overhead hatch, the platform at its full height. Ever so slowly she edged higher until the platform was under their feet and Kayo could stand.
Virgil's considerable weight slumped heavy into her arms.
Still TB2 rose, until their ropes were slack and she could lower Virgil to lie on the platform. She pulled her knife and, with some difficulty, sliced herself and Virgil free.
The moment the last strand separated, the platform began to descend. She separated their harnesses and she was moving, training kicking in.
First aid kit, assess the patient. Breathing, shallow and fast, pulse, fast, bleeding, oh god the bleeding. Broken white bone shone through the red. Her throat tightened, her lips drawing to a hard, tight white line as her fingers moved, wrapping and putting pressure on what she could…and what she probably shouldn't.
When he cried out in pain, she almost strangled on her own breath. "I'm sorry, love. I-I have-"
He coughed and the whole right side of his ribcage shifted. His eyes shot open, and he was choking.
She moved as if mechanical. Get him onto his left side, open his airway, clear obstructions. He coughed blood on the deck. Oxygen. Check breathing.
It was a mantra, insulating her from what was happening. He was a patient, a victim, not the man who had, moments ago, asked her to marry him.
Retro rockets fired above her, heard through the still open overhead hatch, and John was leaping through the opening, catching himself with a wobbly stumble as he landed feet first on the decking.
"Eos, Virgil's vitals please." And the AI's calm voice rattled off numbers over TB2's speakers. None of them were good. Kayo caught her brother's eyes, their green tense and vibrating. "Hover stretcher."
And she was running.
Thunderbird Two's rear thrusters fired and the ship was moving, fast.
With her brother at hand, they were able to secure Virgil and get him to the medical bay. Eos flew her lover's 'bird, the AI taking instruction from John as they made a dash for Auckland and its largest hospital.
John set up a fluid IV. Kayo set up a heme replacement transfusion. They gave him oxygen. They strapped what they could. He continued to breathe. Wetly.
Kayo bit her bottom lip clean through.
She left him as they entered approach to Auckland, Eos relinquishing TB2 to Kayo for landing. She thanked the AI with as few words as possible.
Exercising International Rescue special privilege, she was given immediate permission to land on the hospital grounds. As this was their closest major hospital, this wasn't the first time Thunderbird Two had scorched their lawn.
Settling Virgil's beloved 'bird, she secured the craft. John was already moving, spouting off vitals, medical history as he guided Virgil's hover stretcher to the platform. She leapt on as it began to lower.
Then there were doctors, nurses, more numbers, more medical words, and she was following a flock of personnel into the cavern of a hospital.
Until she could go no further and was left staring at the doors they'd taken Virgil through.
They swung back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…
A pair of hands gently touched her shoulders and she jumped, her breath catching in her throat.
John's eyes, green, but so like his brother's. She stared.
"Kayo?" His voice was soft, calm as always.
"He asked me to marry him." The words fell from her mouth. And all her calm, all her experience in the field, everything that held her together, fell apart. She stared up at John and his kind eyes.
She was shaking.
A tentative arm wrapped around her shoulders. "He's strong, you know that."
She knew that. She loved that about him. She loved him so much.
She straightened her spine and swallowed. Take control.
"W-we need to see to the climbers in the cargo bay." The three survivors of the rescue. The fourth had been swept away as Virgil had grabbed Kayo to prevent her from the same fate. She had unhooked her belay trying to reach the woman, so she had not been secure when the avalanche had hit. Which was why Virgil had grabbed her.
Which was why he was injured.
"He saved my life."
John lowered himself to her eyeline. "He is strong, Kayo. He will be fine."
She gently laid her hand on her brother's chest, the feel of the smooth spacesuit almost alien. She unintentionally left red smears.
She started and stepped back out his reach. "I have to go and secure his – Thunderbird Two." And she turned and left, leaving John staring after her in the hallway.
Scott hit New Zealand airspace barely after making cruising height, Tracy Two responding smoothly, though not as fast as he was used to. The cockpit was silent despite the presence of Gordon next to him. The rest of the family was just as quiet back in the main cabin.
John's calm report had taken them by surprise. Thunderbird Two had left on a simple mission - four climbers had been stranded on a mountain in the Andes. Kayo had accompanied Virgil as Gordon had asked for the day off to see to one of his projects. The TB2 pilot had been quite happy at the prospect of spending the morning with his girlfriend instead of his brother. The smile on his face as he had flipped into his chute had been somewhat devilish. Enough to have Scott wondering whether he should have sent Alan instead.
His lips thinned. There was a possibility that he should have.
Regardless, the result was a shattered ribcage. His brother had almost been gutted by a chunk of rock while attempting to save Kayo.
Not that Scott would have acted any differently, but…he sighed, dropping his head slightly.
"Virg is one of the strongest men I know." Gordon's voice was quiet, but firm.
The description John had given him. A piece of rock had opened up his side, hooking on his ribs, shattering several of them, puncturing his lung and damaging his liver, before gouging further under his right arm. The image was stomach curdling.
"Scott, he will be okay."
"You don't know that."
"Scott." Amber eyes caught him, fixing him in place. "I know."
"Zulu-Kilo-Tango-Romeo-Two, you have clearance for approach."
Scott returned his attention to the jet. There was still a landing, customs and a thirty kilometre car ride before he could see his brother.
Fingers brushed his arm. He looked at Gordon. The faith in the younger man's eyes lifted him just enough. "He will be fine."
Scott let the air out of his lungs, looking away. "He better be, or I will kick his ass."
John was aware of the strange looks he was receiving, but he didn't care. The IR logo kept everyone at a respectable distance and the hospital had kicked out the press two hours ago.
Kayo had not returned.
The roar of Thunderbird Two launching and tearing off over the hospital had been loud an hour and a half ago. Eos had reported her return to Tracy Island not long after. He had heard nothing since.
Hospital chairs were as uncomfortable as hell on a good day. After several months in space they were painful. He really should stop jumping back to Earth without acclimatization time. It hurt. In his bones. And worse, he had nothing to occupy his mind. Not even his tablet.
Stir crazy was just around the corner.
But then the Tracy clan arrived.
Scott was on him immediately, report demanded, despite the fact he had spoken to his brother not five minutes ago. "Nothing has changed. He is still in surgery."
John frowned. "Didn't you bring her with you?"
"She took Thunderbird Two back to base. I assumed she would return with you."
"She said she was going to take Thunderbird Shadow. She isn't here?"
"Not that I know of."
"Then where the hell is she?"
"Thunderbird Shadow has not left Tracy Island."
"What?" It was a chorus of both John and Scott.
"Not according to the ship's transponder."
Scott shoved his face into his hand, exasperation leaking out between his fingers. "Eos, can you locate Kayo?"
"I will attempt to do so."
"You know she won't be found if she doesn't want to be." Two painfilled blue eyes stared at him. "She's upset, she may just need some time."
"She needs to be here." Those eyes spat anger. "He will be asking for her."
A hand landed on John's arm and another landed on Scott's. Their grandmother stepped between them. "Please don't quarrel, boys. Kayo will do what she must. She loves your brother, you know that. She will be here when she is needed."
Scott nodded once, but didn't say anything further, stepping away from all of them to hover in the corner, looking a little lost for a moment before digging out his tablet and taking a seat. The tablet suffered a blistering glare.
John turned to his grandmother. She was staring at Scott, eyes glistening. "Grandma, are you okay?" Stupid question. "Did you want to sit down?" He offered her a chair.
The hand gripping his arm squeezed gently as she looked up at him. "I'm as best I can be, honey. How about you go and wash up."
And he realised that he still had Virgil's blood spattered all over his uniform. No wonder everyone had been staring at him. "Yes, yes, thank you, Grandma, I will do that."
He escaped to the men's room.
Loving Virgil Tracy made her vulnerable.
She had known it from the very beginning, but she had pushed it aside labelling it no different from loving him as a brother. Love hurt, it was the nature of the emotion.
She was wrong.
Yes, she loved her brothers more than life itself. But Virgil, he had been her brother, but now…that rock may as well have gutted her, it hurt so much. His lax face, his head on her shoulder.
His smile as he asked her to marry him, all the while bleeding away.
She closed her eyes, hiding the sight of the room she shared with him. Hiding his jeans discarded on the bed, the red flannel he so preferred, the abandoned sketchbook he had been playfully cartooning with the night before, goofy pictures of his brothers and the celebrities on the holovid they had been half-watching before becoming far too interested in each other to care.
She could smell his cologne.
She could hear his beautiful voice.
But he wasn't here.
And it was too late. There was no going back. It was almost as if part of her had broken open, a seal no longer airtight, and she had let him into a place where she could hurt more than she had ever imagined.
And love him more than she had ever known was possible.
And he dangled his death in front of her.
How dare he.
Anger was a familiar friend. It warmed and it fuelled, it protected her from pain.
It made her invincible.
She shed her blood-spattered clothing, ignoring his fingerprints, the smears. Stripped naked she walked into their ensuite and quickly showered the pain from her body.
His toothbrush stared at her.
His towel mocked her.
She threw on a spare uniform. She was International Rescue. She was stronger than this.
Grabbing his prepacked overnight bag, she turned her back on the room and stalked to her chute.
She had somewhere to be.
The world came back slowly, piece by agonising piece.
What the hell had he done this time?
He started awake.
And immediately regretted it. Two hands were holding him to the bed ever so gently, but his entire right side was on fire. His brain was fog. The pain was disorienting.
He opened his eyes to find a blurry approximation of his eldest brother.
His mouth opened but nothing came out. His throat was parched. There was something on his face. He fumbled to remove it.
"No, you have to keep that on. You need it." The mask was replaced.
It was hot, cold, humid and confining. But oxygen, he needed oxygen.
"What happened?" Augh, his throat was like sandpaper, his voice muffled. What the hell did he do? A frown. "Where's Kay?" Oh god. They had fallen. "Where is she?!" His heart stopped. An alarm screeched.
"Hey, Virgil, calm down. Kayo is fine."
He took in a breath, his heart still thudding in his chest. "Where is she?"
His brother's eyes shifted away a moment. "She'll be back soon."
"W-what aren't you telling me?"
"Nothing. She's fine, Virgil. I promise."
Please be okay. "Okay." He swallowed and forced himself to calm. "What about me?"
"You are going to be okay."
Virgil frowned. Scott looked awful. The blur was clearing enough to outline grey smudges and worry. "Are you okay?"
Exasperation. "No, Virgil, I am not. Because my brother managed to fall off a mountain and gouge a hole in his side big enough to park his 'bird in."
"Wha-?" Virgil again tried to sit up and again was held back by his brother and the pain in his side. "What did I do?"
"Will you stop moving!"
"Stop scaring the crap out of me!"
"Then stop scaring me!"
"I don't even know what the hell I did!" And he was panting, desperately trying to get a deep enough breath. His heart was hammering. An alarm.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?" And Gordon was there. Little brother Gordon. Funny Gordon. What were those spots?
Oh, he couldn't get enough…
"Virgil, look at me." Soft, brown eyes, lighter versions of his own. "Slow breath. In. Out. Calm. Another. In and out. Breathe slowly and calmly. Let your body catch up." He did as he was told. Calm. So tired. He could just drift.
So he did.
Gordon dragged his oldest brother out of the room. A nod in John's direction and his space brother took their place inside.
"What the hell do you think you were doing? You were supposed to keep him calm!" Scott was considerably taller than Gordon, but he was slumped and looked no better than a scolded child. "Hell, Scott. I don't get it. You know better than that."
"I know." He ran a hand over his face. "I…Where is she, Gordon? He needs her here. He doesn't want to see me, He needs to see her. Where the hell is she?"
Gordon and Scott spun around. Kayo stood in the door. Immediately Scott was in her face. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Tracy Island." And when Scott didn't back down, she flared up. "Cleaning your brother's blood off my hands."
Scott took a step back.
There was too much anger in the room. "Hey, guys, c'mon."
Kayo's eyes turned to him. They were so cold, they burnt.
Shit, she was hurting bad. "Tin?"
She flinched, just barely, but he caught it. "How is he?"
"As well as can be expected. But not as good as he could have been if you were here when he woke." And Scott was still angry.
She flinched again.
Gordon rounded on his brother. "What the hell is your problem?"
Scott closed off immediately. "Nothing you need concern yourself with, Gordon."
"Well, I beg to differ because you keep taking out chunks of those around you and sooner or later it's going to be one of my chunks and I want to know why I'm giving it up."
"Oh, for the love of…Kayo, go to him." A wan smile, followed by a glare at his brother. "I'll take care of this one."
Kayo nodded once, taking a step back and slipping into Virgil's room. An overnight bag dangled from her arm.
The moment she was gone, Gordon turned back to Scott. "Spill."
John looked up when she entered. Her brother looked so tired, his green eyes dulled, his red hair limp. Without looking at Virgil, she walked directly up to John and placed a hand on his arm. "You look awful. Go and get yourself some rest, John."
He smiled awkwardly. "I declare pot and kettle."
"Yes, well, I didn't jump off a satellite to save my brother and sister."
"No, you fell off a cliff."
"You win on sheer distance, John." She leant up and kissed him gently on the cheek. "Thank you. Now go and look after yourself. I'll take care of Virgil."
And now she let herself look.
He was so pale, his dark hair contrasting against his skin. The mouth she had kissed this morning was hidden by an oxygen mask. The arms that had wrapped around her in love, lay limp on the sheets, one wrapped heavily in bandages.
John touched her shoulder and squeezed gently before ghosting out of the room.
Kayo sat down beside the bed.
"Hey, gorgeous." Her voice was so quiet she hardly heard herself.
The bed was elevated. Virgil had compromised his right lung, damaged his liver, nicked a major vein, and broken most of his ribs down one side. That side was a mass of sutures. A drain was trying to keep his lungs clear of fluid. He was strung together with bailing wire, duct tape and hope. The risk of infection was a horrible number, and pneumonia a definite threat.
She reached up and pushed a stray hair out of his eyes. A small smile. He hated his hair without product in it to keep it in shape. It was rare she saw it loose outside the shower. Personally, she thought he looked scruffy and cute when it was dishevelled. There had been several wrestling matches between them on the topic, her reaching to tousle it and him wriggling to escape.
Because she could, she reached over and messed it just a little.
But he was too pale to be cute. The shadows too large under his eyes.
She trailed a finger down his cheek, skipping around the oxygen mask. "You are beautiful, Virgil Tracy."
"I know." And he was smiling. Those gorgeous brown eyes opened and found her. "Hey."
"Hey." She couldn't help but smile a little back. "You're in big trouble."
"I figured." His eyes tracked over her as if checking for injury. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. Thanks to you."
"Good." His left arm moved a little unsteadily and reached for her. She leant over him, bringing herself closer and his hand touched her cheek. "Beautiful."
Lifting up the oxygen mask, she gently kissed him. "I have to keep up with you, don't I?"
She placed the mask back over his face and ran a hand over his forehead and temple, down to his cheek. "Please don't do that again."
He cleared his throat. "I'll try. But no promises."
Her lips pressed together, the emotion threatening to overwhelm.
He caught her hand. "I'm sorry, Kay, I truly am, but if I can save you, I will. You know that."
The man had taken bullets for her. She knew it too damned well. "Next time, I will save you."
And there she saw it. A flicker of fear in his eyes. Her stomach clenched. "But now is not the time to discuss that." She eyed the cardiomonitor. "Take a breath, love."
She watched his chest rise and flinch.
She ran her fingers through his hair.
Scott stared at Gordon. "What?"
"Now you are just getting repetitive. What the hell is going on, Scott? This isn't you. What dog upped and peed in your cornflakes?"
"No." And he purposefully moved into his brother's personal space. "I want an explanation. Virgil's not here to kick your ass, so you'll have to put up with me." A glare. "Spill."
The fury in Scott's eyes was something to behold. How the hell Virgil tamed it with so few words, Gordon had no idea. They would just have to make do.
It looked for a moment as if Scott's hair would literally ignite. Gordon's eyes widened. But an incomprehensible sound passed his brother's lips and his whole body slumped and fell into a chair, his head falling into his hands, his elbows on his knees. Muffled. "Shit."
Gordon let out a breath he didn't realise he had been holding and sighed. He sat down next to his brother and tentatively placed a hand on his shoulder. "C'mon, bro, tell me."
"I should never have sent them out there."
"I should have sent Alan."
He was beginning to have his suspicions. "And exactly what difference would that have made? Virgil would still have tried to save him. Kayo would still be sitting beside his bed."
Scott head shot up. "How do you know? You've seen Virgil's reaction to a threat to Kayo. Or don't you remember the bullet wounds?"
Gordon rose slowly from his seat. "You have got to be kidding me. You honestly think Virgil would be unprofessional enough to put his relationship above the mission?!" He stared at his brother, his voice dropped to a dangerous whisper, his own anger flaring. "How many times have you risked your life for Virgil? How many times has he risked his for yours? For any of us? Just because Kayo is his girlfriend-"
And Scott was standing and in his face. "He shouldn't have to make that choice! He shouldn't be put in that position. And neither should she."
"What is the difference between risking Alan and risking Kayo?" It hurt either way.
"He wants her for his wife!"
And Scott groaned throwing his head into his hands again, planting himself once again on the horrible plastic chair. "Damn."
"H-how do you know?"
"I told him." And John was there, eyes ever so tired. And sad. He sat down beside Scott, lay back and closed his eyes. "God, I'm tired."
And how the hell did he know? Gordon looked between his two older brothers. Something still wasn't adding up. "Well, I think that is great news. In fact, I think it is fantastic news. But it still doesn't explain why big bro has his panties in a twist." He glared at Scott.
The glare wasn't returned, but his brother did look up, his face pained. "Did you see Kayo when she walked in? Did you see what this is doing to her? Can you imagine what would happen to either of them if they lost the other? To Virgil? To Kayo?" He swallowed, voice quiet. "I saw what it did to Dad."
It made sense, sure, but…"And what the hell do you think you can do to prevent it? We've been risking our lives for years, Scott. How is this any different?"
His brother's eyes dropped to the floor. "It is." A breath. "It just is."
It was Kayo on the second day who discovered the fever. It was low grade, but the doctors moved fast, pulling out the antibiotic big guns and filling his bloodstream with chemicals that would hopefully take out the infection before it became a major problem.
Unfortunately, due to the damage he had done, by evening he was hot, irritable and worsening.
"Kay, I'm so sorry."
He had been saying it repeatedly for most of the afternoon. A combination of the pain, the painkillers and the fever. He made it very clear that the last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt her and he knew that was exactly what he was doing.
She sat holding his hot hand, her eyes on Scott on the other side of the bed. His pain mirrored her own. "I know, Virgil."
"So sorry." And he drifted off again, exhaustion freeing him from consciousness.
She kept her face straight, letting her anger burn beneath the surface where no one could see it, but it could keep her going.
"Kayo, why don't you take a break. Get a drink."
She shook her head. "No. I'm fine."
The nurses came and went. The doctors appeared like seagulls, a flock of them jabbering about the patient like he and his family weren't even there. Scott flared up on several occasions. His commanding voice deployed to get answers.
Unfortunately, they weren't the answers he was looking for. They were doing their best, there was a lot of foreign material in the wound, it was inevitable, they were giving him the best treatment. The answer Scott was looking for contained 'getting better', but Virgil continued to get worse. Pneumonia flared up.
"It was almost inevitable in this case." Kayo stared up at the young doctor. "We will do our best, that I can guarantee."
She looked back at her lover, his beautiful hair damp with sweat, his face gaunt, his breathing laboured and shallow. Pain was etched in every shadow on his face. Consciousness was intermittent, passing indiscriminately and rarely fully there in the first place.
He was still apologising and it hurt more each time he said it.
"Marry me?" Her heart lurched. His eyes were open, but glazed over with illness. His hand twitched as if to reach for her.
She leant over and wrapped her fingers around his.
"Please, Kay. Love you."
Scott's eyes were full of her pain. Her mouth twitched and she grabbed for control. He knew. Goddamnit, he knew. Anger flared and she cherished it. Her eyes flashed at him and she saw their impact. He flinched and looked away.
"Please, Kay." Virgil's voice was rough and faint. His heart struggling to oxygenate his body, beating so much faster than normal, it gave him no rest. "Please."
"Yes, Virgil." Her voice cracked. She looked up and Scott was gone. Her eyes closed. "I will marry you, love. I will." She tightened her hand around his and she couldn't hold back the tremble.
"Please, Kay." And he was drifting off into exhausted oblivion again.
She struggled to find the anger. She needed it. She needed it.
Two arms wrapped around her and Scott was drawing her away gently. She didn't want to go. She couldn't.
So familiar. So much taller. So much her brother.
He kissed her hair.
She was trembling. And she was clinging.
Desperate to find the anger to sustain her.
Scott was brushing her hair with his fingers like he did when she was a little girl and she had fallen over and hurt herself.
She screwed her eyes shut.
"Let it go, Kayo."
"No." Her voice was barely there.
The anger flared. She wanted to hit something. Good, it gave her strength.
He sensed it in her, and looked down, his expression as shredded as she felt. He looked as if he wanted to say something, but knew there was nothing he could say that could possibly make anything better. His mouth relaxed, but he drew her in tighter.
"Love you, little sister."
Damned Tracy brothers were all the same.
She gently squeezed his arm, but didn't say anything, not game to open her mouth. She took a step back and stumbled into the chair, returning to Virgil who was restless in his sleep.
She took his hand once again and simply held on.
John had to keep his spacesuit on. It was awkward, but he'd had no time to acclimatise so he had to pay the price. His brothers had brought in a spare, so he wasn't stinking the place up, but it was uncomfortable despite all the support it gave his system.
It also made him stick out like a sore thumb in the hospital corridors. Eyes wandered in his direction at all times.
He ignored them.
Gordon sat beside him. It was rather redundant to just be sitting here. There was nothing they could do. Scott and Kayo were in Virgil's room. Virgil didn't even know they were sitting there.
But he still sat. Where else could he be?
The obvious answers scrolled through his mind, but he rejected them all. This wasn't logic, it was emotion. And sometimes emotion had to be catered to.
"Have you ever...you know...like Kayo and Virgil?" Gordon's voice was ever so hesitant.
John shrugged. "Maybe."
Of course, Gordon immediately latched onto the dangled fish. "Maybe? I think you'd know, John."
"Okay, yes, I have." A pause. "I am."
"You don't know her."
"Obviously. But why not?" Gordon's eyes were wide. "I hope that is going to change." He frowned. "What have you been up to on that tin can, Johnny?"
He had to smile. "More than you know, fish boy."
But his brother didn't smile back. "Why haven't you mentioned it before?"
John shrugged, looking down. "I don't know. Didn't want it to change." Another shrug. "Happy to let it evolve."
He looked sideways at Gordon. The devout curiosity on his brother's face, flickered with suspicion. He couldn't help but smile again. Then grin. "Hey, as I said, you don't know her."
Gordon frowned, then glared. "Who?"
"Woah, the girl next door? Haw, go Johnny."
He rolled his eyes. "Well, if we are going for confession time, what about you?"
Gordon shut down immediately.
"Hey, I told you my...secret. Now it's your turn."
John could almost see his brother mentally attempting to wriggle out of the question. Why? He was the one who had asked it originally.
"Nothing to tell."
"Could have fooled me."
"Is it worth it?"
"Everything is a risk."
Gordon shifted in his seat. "I've been thinking about what Scott said. About Virgil and Tin. And Dad." He looked down. "Is it worth it?"
John sat up straighter. "I would like to think so. After all, all life ends. If you look at endings and don't value the journey, nothing is worth anything. You may as well give up now." He licked his lips. "I can't live like that." He looked at his brother. "And I know you don't. You can't possibly or you wouldn't be here." Gordon had already been through so much in his life, his mental discipline and outlook had to be strong.
"I don't." He rubbed his hands together. "I guess I'm just scared."
John blinked. "Of what?"
"Losing." And to his astonishment, when Gordon looked up he had tears in his eyes.
"Hey, speak to me, Gordon. What's going on?"
His brother snorted. "Nothing." He shook himself, looking away. "It's just Virg and Tin, and Scott, hell." He looked down a moment. John waited. "What if we lose him? What happens then?"
"Family happens." He hesitated, then reached out and put an arm around his brother. "That's why we have family." He squeezed his shoulders just lightly. "But that is not going to happen. You've said it yourself. Virgil is strong, and he has Kayo in his corner."
Another snort. "Virg is in enough trouble already. He's really going to have to grovel to get out of this one." Then a smile and roll of his eyes. "Rehab is going to be a bitch."
"I'm definitely going to be offplanet for that. I heard enough about Guatemala to last me a lifetime."
"Hey, I'm still reeling from the saga of the bullet wounds. Kayo destroyed the gym. Scott broke the legs on Dad's desk and Virgil still hasn't stopped complaining about what Alan did to Thunderbird Two."
"Mentioned it last Thursday. I thought Alan was going to throw his breakfast at him."
"Maybe he should."
"I'll mention it to him."
There was silence for a moment. Just two brothers, side by side, waiting in vigil for a third.
"Gordon, if you ever want to talk...you know that's what family is for, too."
"Yeah." A pause. "Thanks, bro."
"And she is definitely worth the risk."
Scott was exhausted. Physically fine, except for the backache these damn chairs gave him. Emotionally, he had little left.
Kayo had finally drifted off to sleep beside Virgil's bed, her head pillowed on the covers, his hand still in hers.
Virgil was in an uneasy sleep, his brow crumpled, muttering just softly, Kayo's name on his lips more than once. His temperature had stopped climbing and had actually dropped just a little, though it was still perilously high. Scott had hope that they had hit the worst of the infection and that is was recovery from here on.
He was clinging to hope.
Watching his sister's face as his brother proposed in delirium over and over again...
Hell was not a sufficient word.
No matter how many times she answered, Virgil just did not hear her.
Such an important question. Damn it, Virgil, why?
He rubbed his face with his hands
He had tried to get her to leave the room, to stop the torture, but she had refused. The only thing left to do was to stay with her and protect her from what he could.
"Scott?" The voice was quiet and hoarse, but when he looked up Virgil was looking directly at him.
"Hey." He edged forward. "How are you feeling?"
Virgil blinked, running his tongue over his lips. "Like shit. What the hell happened? Where's Kay?"
Shaking off the déjà vous, Scott nodded in Kayo's direction. His brother turned his head just slightly, looking down. "She's exhausted. Been here all night." And day. And night. And day.
Virgil frowned. "She okay?" He reached out his left hand.
Scott caught the hand before it could touch his sister. "She's okay, if you're okay." Tired brown eyes asked questions. "What do you remember?"
"Rescue. Mountain. Andes?" Scott nodded. "Avalanche? Where's Two?" Inevitable question. At least he asked about Kayo first.
"Two is home. Kayo flew her back."
His brother's eyes darted to the sleeping woman again, his hand attempting to twitch out of Scott's grasp. "She's okay?"
"Kayo's worried about you."
Virgil blinked slowly and, for a moment, Scott thought he had lost him again, but his brother's stubborn streak forced his eyes open again. "What happened to me?"
He'd better handle this better than last time. "You are going to be okay, Virg. You've cut yourself up and broken a few ribs, done a bit of damage, but you've had surgery and you should be fine."
"Why 'm I so hot?"
"You caught yourself an infection. You've been out of it for a few days."
"Oh." Again with the slow blink. Maybe he should wake up Kayo. He let his brother's hand go. Virgil turned to the woman sleeping on the bed beside him and touched her hair. "Kay?"
Kayo startled out of sleep, her eyes latching immediately onto his brother. "Virgil?"
"You're awake?" Scott's heart lurched at the vulnerability in the question.
Virgil frowned. "I think so." It was almost comical.
Her face lit up, she grabbed his hand and held it to her. "So happy to see you." There were tears in her eyes.
Scott stood up quietly and slipped from the room, giving them some privacy.
He had some family to tell.
Virgil didn't stay awake for very long. Exhaustion taking him from her yet again. But this time he slipped quietly into a true sleep, his chest rising far more calmly and slowly. Intellectually she knew they weren't out of the woods yet, but emotionally...he was there again. The man she loved was there.
She was still holding one of his hands, the familiar calluses rough on her finger tips. He had blue paint caught up in the cuticle of his little fingernail, the finger he used to blend paint on the canvas. Elegant hands used for so many things.
The first tear landed on his ring finger.
The second on his thumb.
And then they all blurred together. She pulled his hand close, hugging it to her. There was no anger left, only relief. More tears fell and she found herself sobbing, great heaves of emotion spilling out onto the bed covers. Oh god, oh god.
She tried to pull it all in, but she couldn't.
She was lost.
Tanusha Kayo Kyrano, kickass martial arts expert, International Rescue's covert operative, and lone sister to the Tracy brothers, let her head fall to the bed and cried her heart out.
Virgil's condition slowly improved. As soon as he was coherent enough to realise that both Scott and Kayo had been in his room for days on end, he kicked both of them out. Kay looked awful and Scott not much better. It hurt to see how much he had hurt them.
But now he had to concentrate on getting better and not hurting them anymore.
And getting home.
He knew that was a while off, but he longed for familiar surroundings, his own bed and an escape from the continual intrusions on his privacy.
At one point he woke up to find a young Asian doctor standing at the end of his bed. This shouldn't be unusual, this was a hospital after all, but the man just stood there, the expression on his face cold. He held a tablet in his hand, and a stethoscope hung around his neck. He did nothing but look at Virgil with creepy green eyes. It weirded him out.
It had been one of those rare moments when none of his family had been in the room. He was just on the verge of saying something when Kay walked in. She eyed the doctor with a frown. The man stared at her for a moment, muttered something and, ducking his head, excused himself.
"What did he want?"
Virgil forced himself not to shrug. "I have no idea, he was here when I woke up. Didn't say a thing. Kinda creepy."
Kay stared at the door a moment.
"What is it, love?"
"I…don't know." Thoughtful. She turned back to him. "Anyway, good news. They're moving you out onto the ward today. Scott's arranged a private room."
Well, that was a step in the right direction.
And it was. Two weeks after that with some definite begging on Virgil's part, he was released to go home. The list of restrictions was longer than the arm he could hardly move, but he was going home. A similar list of medications was acquired and he found himself in a car on the way to Auckland Airport.
Alan drove, refusing to allow any chauffeur the opportunity to jolt his brother's healing injuries. Kayo sat in the backseat with him and he quite gratefully leant against her.
"It will be wonderful to be home."
"Mm-hmm." Kay had been a little quiet over the last few weeks and it had him wondering what she was thinking. He had no doubt his illness had been hard on her. It had been hard on all his family. He didn't need to look at any of them twice to see the toll it had taken. Even Alan was a little quieter than usual and come to think of it, Gordon hadn't told a joke in the entire three weeks since he woke up. He glanced at his fish brother sitting on his other side. That was something he would need to investigate.
John had returned to Thunderbird Five last week, desperately needing the rest, he claimed. Gordon's laugh at that, had seemed out of place.
It appeared that Virgil had missed a few events while he was out of it, and no one was talking. Even Scott looked like he had a bee in his bonnet he was trying to hide.
Virgil frowned. It was frustrating to not be in the know. Usually he could feel the pulse of his family, but at the moment it was all over the place.
Kay…he would start with Kay.
The airport was as busy as any airport, but Alan drove them off to a side gate, flashed some ID and next they were at the wingtips of Tracy Two.
"Door to door service, huh?"
Alan grinned. "Thought you'd like to avoid the paparazzi."
"Thank you!" The thought of having to roughhouse his way through cameras in his condition was terrifying.
Gordon leapt out of the car, turning back to help Virgil edge his way out. As he sat on the end of the seat panting just a little, Scott waltzed up with a very familiar hoverchair.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding."
His big brother grinned. "Nope. Thunderbird imPatient rides again."
And some smart ass, read Gordon, had slapped a big number two on the sleek black and silver paintwork in bright green paint.
Kay whispered in his ear. "He's not that bad, really."
"You mean 'she'."
Kay grinned at him. 'C'mon, love, it will be over before you know it."
He groaned. "Revenge is a dish best served anytime, isn't it?"
"Most definitely." And she kissed him on his ear. "Now get in the chair, love. I want to go home."
Several groans and a couple of winces later he was hovering up the steps to Tracy Two. A wave at Auckland Air Control and Scott launched them smoothly into the air.
He was finally going home.
Tracy Island was a paradise. Beaches, palm trees, stunning tropical weather and every amenity they could ever want. But none of this mattered when the mind that was supposed to be enjoying it all wasn't happy.
And Kayo wasn't happy.
Mostly with herself.
Virgil was getting better every day. She had already found him in the gym once, attempting to lift the smallest of weights with his damaged right arm. Part of her had wanted to scream at him, but instead she had simply walked up to him, taken the weight out of his hand and set it aside. Crouching down she looked him in the eye.
His immediate guilt was comical, but as she maintained the calm stare, it slowly sunk in. She didn't need to say anything. She could see it in his eyes, her reflection shining on his brown irises.
She flinched. "Don't be. Just don't do it." And she stood up and walked away, her opinion clear.
She didn't find him in the gym outside scheduled rehab from that point on.
No mention was made of his proposal. She suspected he didn't even remember it. Part of her ached to hear him ask again. Part of her dreaded it.
She loved him, she had no doubt. It was impossible not to.
But she didn't know if she had the strength to marry him.
This was the second time he had been seriously injured since they had been together, both incidents because he had saved her. Both times she came off without a nick and he nearly died.
Of course, those two weren't isolated incidents either. He had been injured seriously several times before that. Hell, he had crash landed Thunderbird Two on at least two occasions, one of which saw him seriously injured. And there was the train in Guatemala.
No, Virgil Tracy was far too familiar with injury.
And Kayo wasn't sure whether it was worse to be the injured or to be the one who had to watch.
She loved him with all her being.
And it made her vulnerable.
Could she marry Virgil Tracy?
Could she survive him?
She doubted it.
That only left one more question.
Was he worth the risk?
Virgil's voice froze. He coughed and his ribcage reminded him of why that was something he should be avoiding. "I did what?"
Scott looked sad. There was no other way to describe the expression on his brother's face. The evening was cool and they were sitting on the balcony, a glass of whisky each. Kayo, Grandma and two of his brothers had skipped over the ocean to New Zealand for a supply trip and would be gone overnight. That left Scott with Virgil, and Brains somewhere in the depths of his labs.
Virgil took the opportunity to spend some brother time with Scott. It was something they hadn't been doing much of late and he missed it. And he also knew there was something bugging his big brother. This was an opportunity to address it.
He had never expected this.
"Do you remember any of it?"
"I-" He thought back. He remembered snow. He remembered the terror of realising Kay was unsecured. The mountain was falling, but he had her. Thank god, he had her, he could never let her go.
Never let her go.
Never let her go.
"Oh god." He dropped his face to his hands. "I asked her to marry me."
"Yes, you did."
"And I forgot." His throat was trying to strangle him. "How could I do that?" And what was her answer? What was her answer?
Scott's hand landed on his knee. "Hey, Virg, you had a good reason."
He looked up at his brother. "How could I do that to her?" No wonder she had been quiet these last weeks. He had tried to corner her, but she had been, well, not avoiding him, but more avoiding serious conversation. "How could I do that?"
Scoot looked uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, but I think you need to know. For Kayo's sake."
"What did I do?" The expression on Scott's face was terrifying him.
His brother sighed, his voice hitching. He shifted his chair around so he was facing Virgil fully. "Virg, you had a very high temperature during the infection, you were on pain medication, you were agitated…"
"What the hell did I say?"
"You asked her to marry you…several times." Scott's eyes hurt. "Pleaded, actually."
He stared at his brother, voice lost.
"I tried to get her out of there, but she wouldn't budge. She stood by you the entire time."
His brother held his hands up. "Just me. And Kayo. I promise."
Oh, hell. Oh god. Oh for – He dropped his face into his hands. How the hell? "Shit."
"I'm sorry, Virg."
It was too much. How could he have? How could he now? The glass of whisky in his hand hit the deck with a resounding smash. "Shit."
He needed a stronger expletive.
Scott gripped his shoulder.
"She loves you, Virgil."
He knew that. "And I hurt her."
"You saved her life. And not for the first time."
"And what do I do now?"
Scott held up something small in front of him. The diamond ring he had given his brother for safe keeping all those months ago sparkled in the evening light. "Make it right."
Hesitantly, he reached out and took the piece of jewellery and held it in his fingers, the green of the emeralds taunting him. Voice tight. "She deserves so much better."
"There is no better." Blue eyes drilled into him. "Only you."
There was no mistake. Virgil was avoiding her.
Living together made it difficult, but the injured engineer still managed it. Twice she had hunted him down only to find him in the hangers doing some 'essential' job for Brains. Another time found him doing something that involved a do not disturb sign and a locked door. When they were alone he was quiet and kept to himself.
He had also stopped drawing, and the piano was being neglected.
Something was wrong and she was worried.
She approached Scott and asked him if he knew anything. Her brother hesitated a moment before suggesting that perhaps Virgil just needed some time.
Kayo immediately knew that Scott knew something, but she trusted him. So she took his word for it and let it sit for a while.
On several occasions Virgil did approach her, she had the distinct impression he wanted to say something, but didn't. She sensed that whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant. She grew to fear he would finally get the words out and something would come to an end.
This was getting them nowhere.
So, she decided to take the bull by the horns. She cornered him and asked if he would like to take a walk with her along the coastal path. It would do him good.
She left him no option other than outright refusal. He acquiesced.
So that evening they set out on the path that followed the coast from the villa, around Thunderbird Two's runway to the other side of the island. Their pace was slow, Virgil only just out of the hoverchair, movement still restricted, but she wasn't in a hurry and neither was he.
They had walked this path many times. There were so many memories dancing around each step she took. Each time they ended up on the same short cliff on the other side of the island, looking over a reef enclosed lagoon, staring out into the ocean. It really was the perfect spot to have a life defining discussion.
They stood staring out at the sunset, the wind gentle tonight, fingering her hair.
"You know I love you, don't you?"
He turned to look at her, startled. "Of course."
His eyes caught the fire of the sunset and she stared at him for just a moment longer. "Do you think we have a future together?"
Staring. "I hope so. God, I hope so."
She bit her lip and reached into her pocket. His eyes followed her every movement. "Then, Virgil Tracy," she swallowed and held out her hand, palm up, the platinum ring she had purchased just days before in her hand, "will you marry me?"
He stared at her, his eyes widening, darting between her face and the ring, its wide band etched with green dragons. "Oh, hell, yes."
And something inside her blossomed. She couldn't help it, she broke into a smile, followed by an outright grin as his eyes lit up, absolute joy in his stunned smile.
But then he was fiddling with his pockets and his hand came up with a simple white gold ring, its single large diamond bracketed by two emeralds. His head tilted to one side, his smile almost puppy like. "Marry me, too?"
She let out a laugh. "You idiot. Of course, yes."
And there was fiddling of rings on fingers and she was in his arms and he was kissing her, she was kissing him, and oh god, the world sang around them.
And on the other side of the island one big brother, who probably shouldn't have been watching, let out a resounding, joyful whoop and scared the shit out of a flock of seagulls roosting on the villa roof.