Late night blues: a short mood piece for Alan

Author's notes. This piece was inspired by the music 'Angel in blue' by General Lafayette (available on Kazaa). For those who can't get hold of it, trust me, it features a blues trumpet solo that will turn your knees to jelly.

My acknowledgement to Carlton plc as the copyright holders of the characters, my thanks to Gerry Anderson and co. for creating them, and to a certain mad friend for installing the koi pond on Tracy island.

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As the last notes of music died away Alan put down the trumpet and turned towards the window. John had the room on the far side of the space station so he could watch the stars. That suited Alan fine - he never tired of looking at the Earth spread out below him. From the station's geostationary position above the Pacific he could see from the western coast of America across to Asia and India. He loved watching night and day track across the planet's surface, and the ever-changing pattern of clouds. Right now it was night over the Pacific, and as the station kept to the same time as Tracy island, that meant it was 'night' on board as well.

He stretched, still feeling the tension in his shoulders. It had been a long day, starting this morning when he had received a call to say that a town in the Australian outback was in danger of being surrounded by a bushfire. His brothers had had to work hard helping the townspeople to create a firebreak and evacuate the injured. They were probably all sound asleep by now, worn out by their efforts, but up on the station, unable to do more than follow their reports on the radio and worry, he could still feel the adrenaline running through his system. Alan often wondered if this was how his father felt every time he sent them off on a mission, but somehow never quite had the courage to ask him.

Still, at least music was a way of unwinding. He picked up the trumpet again, his fingers stroking its smooth curves. He could still remember the first time he had heard trumpet music - the high, clear notes had made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Luckily his father had been more than willing for him to have lessons at school. Music was one of the few memories he had of his mother. He could remember sitting next to her on the piano seat, watching her strong, deft fingers flashing over the keys. Another memory, she was holding his hands and placing them on the keys, smiling down at his efforts to copy her. As he grew up it had struck him as strange that, though his mother was never mentioned at home, and there were no pictures of her around, his father did not seem to mind, in fact seemed to encourage, all his sons' musical talents. When he had asked Grandma about this she had said "I sometimes think music is the only way your father can bear to remember your mother. When one of you plays - Scott with his guitar, or Virgil on the piano - he can see her still alive in you. He loved her so much".

To Alan his trumpet was also important because it was something only he could do. When he played he was a person in his own right, not just the youngest in the family. International Rescue had been operational for five years now. He was now the same age Scott had been when he went on his first mission, older than Virgil when he had landed the Fireflash, yet to his brothers he was still the baby of the family, and always would be.

He sighed, then glanced over at the photograph in the frame beside his bed. It was one John had taken a few years ago in the garden. He and John had come round the corner to see Tin Tin sitting beside the koi pond. John had raised his camera. "Call her", he whispered softly. Alan had called her name, and she had looked up at him with a dreamy smile just as John had pressed the shutter. Alan smiled to himself. That was something else he had that his brothers did not. They might tease him, and try to make him jealous, but he knew how she felt about him, and that was enough.

He smiled once more at the photo, then pressing the switch on the backing tape, he lifted the trumpet to his lips and began to play 'Angel in blue' again.