Guess who watched Wonder Woman 1984 last night? I envision this being a three-chapter fic. Warnings for MCD, one canonical and (later) one non-canonical, mentioned not graphic.
Jeff sat at the bedside, one hand anchored to his son's, the other rubbing his eyes. He'd always hated hospitals. It was a necessary part of International Rescue, but he despised what it meant.
It meant he'd failed as a father. Again.
And this time it was Scott, so that failure was doubled.
Not for the first time Jeff wondered what on Earth he was thinking when he created the Thunderbirds. What was going through his brain when he thought that sending his sons out day after day to rescue strangers was more important than his sons' lives.
Of course, he knew what he had been thinking, what had driven not only himself but his boys too. They had all lost Lucy, they didn't want anyone else to go through that, not when it was within their power to prevent it.
Was it in their power? Jeff often wondered if the injuries and near-death experiences were worth it. The boys all agreed it was.
Now? Now, he wasn't so sure.
Scott had died twice already, once in Two and once on the operating table. He was in a coma, and the doctors were not making comforting noises.
Virgil and Gordon were traumatised. Digging their eldest brother out, saving his life…it left wounds. And of Scott didn't recover, Jeff wasn't sure they would either.
John and Alan may not have been physically present at the rescue, but they were, along with him, listening in.
He wouldn't forget the sounds of Scott's screams, the sounds of Virgil pleading, the sounds of Gordon counting chest compressions, ever.
The door opened and Jeff looked up. He started. The one person he never wanted to see. The one person he could literally kill right now stood with his back against the door, that familiar smirk on his face.
'I promised you that you'd regret turning your back on me, that you'd regret making me out to be such a bad guy. You made me, Jeff.'
'I never forced you to become like this. You were already walking the path. I tried to get you to see, to stop. But you wouldn't listen. You never listened to me or anyone else. Not even Lucy.'
'Yes, well. We both know what choosing you over me cost her.'
'Don't you dare talk about her like that, Belah!'
The Hood stared at Jeff. No one had called him by his given name for almost 30 years. Not since Lucy had chosen Jeff over him. He'd almost forgotten it.
Jeff sighed. What more could this man, his former friend, want from him? What more would he take? Lucy was gone, he'd lost eight years of his life because of this man and now it looked like he was about to lose his eldest. If - if - that happened, Jeff doubted iR would stay running.
'What do you want, Hood?'
The voice was worn, tired. Broken. Belah paused. What did he want? He'd achieved almost everything he'd put his heart to. Destroying Jeff and his family was all that remained.
It was not the triumph he had always dreamt it would be. Rather, it tasted like ashes in his mouth.
An idea began to form in his mind. A teaching from the monastery he'd been brought up in. A way to undo the past. Could he do it? The 'should he do it' didn't enter his mind at all. If he could get Jeff to wish it, maybe Jeff would suffer the consequences rather than him. That had always held him back.
'What if I could offer you a way to change all this.'
Jeff's head shot up. His eyes narrowed as he watched the Hood closely. There had to be a catch, a trick. He'd long known about the mind control powers the man had, but if he had not done this himself then there had to be a catch.
The Hood watched in amusement as the questions flashed through Jeff's mind. And he saw the moment his mind was made up. Jeff betrayed it with a glance at his useless eldest and a squeeze of the boy's hand.
'Explain yourself. If you could do that, why haven't you?'
'Because, my dear Jeff, it involves a trade. One I am unable to make.'
'You get one wish. Any wish. Save Scott. Bring Lucy back from the dead. Any wish.'
'And the trade?'
'You have to give up that which is closest to your heart.'
Jeff paused. He could save Scott - or Lucy. If he saved Lucy then Scott would never have been in this position. Jeff would happily give up International Rescue if it meant keeping his sons safe.
Seeing the indecision, Belah pressed his advantage.
'No one would remember this life, only you and me. Your boys, Lucy, none of them would remember her death because it never happened.'
Jeff was torn. In the early days he'd asked Brains if going back in time was a possibility. Could he save Lucy? Brains had spent weeks researching. The ultimate answer was yes, it was possible. But the ripples would create a completely different timeline, and who knew what would happen. Plus, somebody had to die. It had stopped him then.
This, though, was different. Fairly certain that the Hood was laying a trap yet uncertain what that trap was, Jeff thought hard.
'Why can you not do it?' Jeff asked again. Belah smiled. Jeff was looking at the probabilities, looking for the trap. He was pretty sure the man had - would - miscalculate.
'I have thought long and hard about it, Jeff. But I have almost everything I have ever wanted, and I'm not willing to give something up to achieve that last wish.' The 'not when I can get you to do it for me' went unspoken out of necessity.
He didn't like the smile, but Jeff couldn't fault the reasoning. Could he give International Rescue up, his lifelong dream, and replace it with a different life? If Lucy had lived, would iR have ever been his dream?
'This is a once only offer, Jeff. And I need your answer now.' Put the pressure on, stop the man thinking, and he wouldn't see the flaw in his own thinking.
Jeff looked at Scott once more. The doctors had already told him to consider switching the life support off, to make plans for organ donation and funeral arrangements, but he hadn't. Couldn't. Didn't want to accept that his eldest, his pride and joy, was not coming back.
He would give anything to save his family.
The Hood held his breath. Had Jeff worked it out? But then he watched the man bestow a tender kiss on the boy's forehead and his heart leapt. He'd won!
'What do I have to do?' Jeff asked. Belah held his hand open, and a citrine stone appeared. It was large enough to fill his hand, and he gestured to Jeff to take it.
'Think carefully, Jeff. Wish for the wrong thing and you'll regret it. Make the right choice.'
Jeff nodded. He could simply wish Scott better, but it wouldn't prevent another near disaster. No, he knew what to wish for. If Lucy had lived then none of this would ever have happened.
He took the stone and closed his eyes.