Those Tracy boys

Author's note: all known biographical details taken from Chris Bentley's 'Complete book of Thunderbirds'. Standard disclaimer: My acknowledgement to Carlton plc as the copyright holders of the characters, and my thanks to Gerry Anderson and co. for creating them

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I storm into my bedroom, for once wishing it didn't have automatic doors. I'm just in the mood for slamming a door behind me. I am absolutely seething. I swear, if Alan treats me like that one more time I'm going to - well, I don't know quite what I'd do, I just know he'd certainly need the services of International Rescue by the time I'd finished with him.

Hey, whoa there girl, you're over-reacting here. Is it that time of the month or something? I walk over to the window and lean out, looking at the sea and taking deep breaths, trying to calm myself down. I should be used to it by now - I've lived with them all for long enough to know what they're like The trouble with these Tracy boys is that they wouldn't recognise an emotional reaction if you hit them over the head with it. Sometimes it gets too much for me and I find myself just flaring up.

Their father is the worst culprit at this - he deals with his feelings by pretending they don't exist. It's nearly twenty years now since his wife died, and he still can't bear to talk to his sons about her. Sometimes I feel he's got this big knot of pain deep inside him that he just can't let go. I wish I'd met Lucille. Grandma Tracy showed me a photo of her once. Gordon's got her colouring, but Grandma tells me John takes after her too; he has her build, her long slender fingers, and her habit of constantly pushing back the curl that falls across his forehead. I know Jeff loved her deeply - well any couple who have five children in as many years obviously couldn't keep their hands off each other. Grandma told me that Lucille died in a plane crash - fortunately not a plane belonging to Jeff's airline. Lucille had been to Buenos Aires for a friend's wedding, but at the last minute on her return had switched flights to a rival company so she could get back early. According to his mother, one of the things that Jeff can't forgive himself for is the idea that if he had accompanied Lucille to the wedding, instead of pleading pressure of work, then he would have been flying them in his own plane and the crash would not have happened. Of course his mother tried to tell him that they might both have been killed, but he can't let himself believe that. Too much pride, too much grief, too much guilt. The crash happened in a remote part of the Andes and though some of the passengers survived the initial crash they died later of their wounds, or of exposure, before the rescue crews could find them. I gather that was one of the reasons that led Jeff Tracy to found International Rescue in the first place.

Scott is so like his father in many ways - including the way he bottles up his feelings. Though he is easy-going most of the time, there is a dark side to him. He can get into some very black moods sometimes, and often Virgil is the only one who can get him out of them. There is a strong bond between those two., and Virgil acts as Scott's emotional safety valve. Without Virgil I think Scott would implode under the weight of his feelings - that or hit the bottle. Don't get me wrong - I've been on operations with them and Scott is brilliant as a field commander, but he takes any failures (and we do have some) personally. He is always conscious of the fact that he is sending his brothers into danger and this is the hardest part for him - he has been looking after his younger brothers ever since their mother died. His own childhood ended at that point, when he was ten years old, and he had to do some fast growing up - maybe too fast for his own good.

John is completely different. It must be hard for him, by nature the quiet type, among such a group of extroverts; he's always tended to be something of a loner. But at least he is able to articulate his feelings, either verbally, or in those diaries I know he writes.

Virgil's easy - you always know what mood he is in from what sort of music he is playing. If it's ragtime, then we're in for a good day. If it's Wagner, run - run and hide!

Gordon's emotions are always pretty near the surface. He's normally got a sunny nature, but occasionally he'll blow up, then it will just as quickly be over - must be something to do with the red hair.

As to Alan - well, sometimes I wonder what he would have been like if he hadn't been the youngest of the family. Sometimes I could scream at him to act his age, rather than his shoe size. But he seems to be maturing - slowly - so there's hope for him yet. Certainly he is getting a better control of his temper, and of the jealousy he used to show if one of his brothers so much as looked at me - a trait the others all used to exploit mercilessly.

So how do I fit into all this? That's a good question. I can still remember the first time I met the Tracy family. My mother had died when I was born, and from what Grandma Tracy tells me, Lucille and Jeff were both very supportive to my father at that time. When Lucille died, Mrs Tracy turned up at the house to look after her grandsons, took one look at Jeff and sent for my father as one of the few people she could think of who could reach him in his current state of mind. We had come over from Paris to their house in Kansas. I was only six years old, but as I entered the house even I was aware of the atmosphere of grief that hung in the air.

I remember heading for the garden, and there, under a tree I saw a boy of about my own age with blond hair. He was sitting on the ground, hugging his legs to his chest, with his head on his knees. As I approached he looked up. He had obviously been crying. "My Mommy's dead" he said, "I'm never going to see her again."

I sat down next to him. "My Mommy died when I was born. I never saw her at all." (Hey, I was only six years old here!).

He looked at me. "What's your name?"

"Tian." (Well, it was, then.)

This seemed to stump him. "Tin?" He tried again, "Tin Tin?" And so I became. My father tells me that it means 'sweetness' in his own language, so he likes to use it too. I don't think I'd even respond if I heard my old name now. I only use it on official documents.

As to how I fit into this male-dominated household, well all the boys have their own way of treating me. The older two regard me as a younger sister - maybe the sister they always wish they'd had. Scott is as caring and protective of me as he is with his own brothers. John treats me the same - in fact he even calls me 'little sister' now and again, which I find very touching. Virgil? Well sometimes I suspect his feelings for me are not totally brotherly. I often wonder what he'd have done if Alan hadn't staked his claim so openly. Gordon is the most overt in his response to me - for instance if I turn up at the poolside in a new bikini he is usually the one to greet me with a wolf-whistle - even if it means he gets a glare from Alan or a smack round the back of the head from one of his older brothers.

Alan? Well, that brings us back to where we started. Sometimes I get the feeling that to him I'm a piece of real estate that he's going to get round to developing - eventually. Surely he should realise that you can't treat people like that? He must have had other girlfriends, at college or when he was in astronaut training. With those looks he would have been beating them off with a big stick, so he ought to know how to behave. And me? Well, yes, there have been other men; some, like dear Eddie Houseman, were quite keen. But at the back of my mind I've always known Alan was the one I was waiting for.

But I'm damned if I'm going to wait forever.

Well, I suppose I could always make the first move.