Virgil Tracy was without doubt the epitome of stoicism and steely resolve. Always cool and collected Virgil could forever be counted on to be the immovable force that was the anchor in the face of any situation, so why, in this particular situation were his palms sweaty and his skin tingling as if he'd been slapped?
He had a dark sense of foreboding today, though he had been on many rescues more dangerous than this in his relatively short life. The butterflies in his stomach were tap-dancing on his bladder but there was nothing to be done now, they were already airborne.
He heard Scott's voice buzzing in his ear as though from some great distance, even though they were perhaps a few metres apart.
Virgil nodded mutely and then, realising his older brother probably couldn't see the gesture, swallowed before replying croakily,
Scott was always at home in the air, it was no wonder he had excelled so in the Air Force, many said he should've been born a bird, flight was so much a part of who he was. It was almost like he became part of the craft when he flew- as if it was an extension of his self- acutely tuned in to everything around him and able to react perfectly to any situation. Virgil was the most grounded of the Tracy brothers in many ways, both by his outlook and his preferences. Scott and Alan seemed to live for the thrill of cutting through the air with the sky as their limit- and now it seemed even beyond that- John always had his head in the stars, literally as well as figuratively, and Gordon seemed more comfortable on water than on land. Virgil preferred to be building or fixing fantastic machines rather than controlling them, though that was not to say he didn't have the same thrill down his spine when it came to mechanics as his brothers-quite to the contrary in fact- but he had never been as at ease in those sorts of environs.
A trait he certainly did share with John was his more retiring nature, his eldest and younger brothers were the more outgoing of the family, always exuberant and at the centre of attention, radiating confidence like a beacon. Virgil only tended to let himself show his true thoughts and feelings with the people he trusted, which was why he had never let his artistic or musical talents take him to the world's stage- when they undoubtedly could have done- and only displayed his gifts for the benefit of those he cared for.
He faintly heard the oddly comforting tone of Scott's voice once again, and realised he should be paying attention
Getting complacent kiddo? He mentally chided himself and sheepishly responded,
"Sorry Scott, what?"
"I said, let's go!" His brother responded, half impatient, half excited, sounding more like impulsive Alan than the ever-responsible field commander and Jeff Tracy's eldest son –two labels Scott had to live with, but was more comfortable shedding when with Virgil.
The familiar roar of engines enveloped his senses like a blanket and the chestnut haired pilot took a steadying breath as he was inclined to do, before spurring himself into action, acutely aware of the hammering of his heart against his ribs.
Once in the air, Virgil's natural instincts kicked in and he relaxed, enjoying the ride. It was soothing to be in the skies away from the chaos and noise his life on the ground usually involved. Flying was something all men had appreciated ever since the Wright brothers, and the Tracy brothers certainly followed the trend, once soaring, all troubles seemed to drop away.
He checked his altitude and then Scott's progress just as his elder brother contacted him through their communication system.
"How you doing Virg?"
"Not long now."
The darker Tracy was flying level with him now and Virgil was grateful for Scott's presence, Jeff and Lucille's first son had a way of steadying the others by existence alone, and luckily for Virgil he was usually the one graced with the elder's company. The downside of this, however was that Scott had the ability to read him like a book and tell upon sight how Thunderbird 2's pilot was feeling- meaning it was hard to hide anything, especially his anxiety up to now. That was probably why Scott was making the effort to keep talking to him to soothe his frazzled nerves.
"Let's do it!" Scott's voice cracked loudly against his ear-drum and Virgil winced, though glad for Scott's usual enthusiasm, praying it to be infectious.
He could almost feel the wind, as if tangible whipping around him and knew Scott was now hovering above him. He reached for the controls and pulled down towards himself, but nothing happened. He tried again, his brows furrowing in consternation. Nothing. He realised something was wrong, he was gradually beginning to descend more rapidly now, and was losing control, the wind buffeting him off course. Panic started to swell in his chest and rose to the back of his throat like bile, seizing his heart in an iron grip.
"Scott- I've got a problem… nothing's responding to me." He said tightly, trying to keep calm. He'd been in worse situations than this surely? Scott wouldn't let him crash and burn, he wasn't about to die today. He kept trying the controls, but he might as well have been trying to 'drink tea like the aristocracy do' as Lady Penelope had tried to teach him- it was both impossible and hopeless.
He heard his brother's sharp intake of breath over his radio as he realised Virgil's position, though the plummeting pilot knew his blue-eyed brother would be trying to hide his own fear from Virgil so as not to worry him. The wind was screaming in his ears in an angry cacophony, his vision distorted by tears the wind ripped from his eyes that streamed down his cheeks like rivers.
Too late Scotty, I'm worried.
The ground was yawning up towards him, looking set to swallow him whole, and Virgil felt new tears of fear prick his chocolate eyes.
"Virgil, the back-up, try the back-up!" Scott barked urgently through the communications system, and Virgil bit back a whimper, his shaking fingers fumbling for the reserves, knowing there were only moments- heartbeats- between him and a painful end. Filled with dread his usually graceful fingers fluttered clumsily but could not gain purchase on the back-up, and he knew now that it was the end.
Alan, Gordo, Johnny, Dad…. .Mom… Scott…
Suddenly he felt a weight on his shoulder and Scott was there, his strong fingers squeezing his younger brother reassuringly, a tight smile on his face though his bright blue eyes held such terror Virgil was sure his oldest brother should've been crying hysterically. Scott's nimble hand shot out and ripped away the lime-green pouch below Virgil's shoulder, cutting away his failed main chute, before tugging hard on the silver ring on Virgil's left side, which should activate his reserve parachute.
Virgil felt himself yanked forcibly upward with the power of the wind catching the chute, and he was sure he'd never felt such a blissful sensation. He was flying again, not falling, the sky and ground blurring around him in a whirlwind of colour as the strong draught of the wind in the parachute dragged him up and about, her fingers like a gentle caress against his cheek, nothing more than a breeze.
The steering toggles now blissfully in hand, Virgil slowed his descent and took a gentle glide to the ground, though this easy decline still felt like a suffocating eternity. He heard no more from Scott but was aware of his brother floating gracefully below him. His throat was still tight but his heart-rate began to slow down as the blind panic drained out of him. Virgil knew he had never been happier to see the ground as he landed, but as soon as his full weight was on his feet, his legs buckled and gave way, and he fell to his knees on the ground. He knelt there for a moment, his forehead resting in the dewy grass- which was the comforting vibrant colour of Thunderbird Two- his artistic fingers buried into the earth, clutching terra-firma like a lifeline.
He heard the soft squeak of regulation boots against the grass and slowly raised his head to see Scott standing in front of him, the sun shining behind him, wreathing the eldest Tracy boy in a halo of bright light. Scott smiled brightly, his dimples deepening and wordlessly offered his younger brother a hand up, which Virgil took gratefully. Scott squeezed his hand reassuringly on the way up and once Virgil was firm on his feet the younger threw himself at the older in a crushing embrace, which Thunderbird 1's pilot returned equally as tightly.
"You scared me there Virg." Scott murmured quietly into his brother's thick chestnut hair.
"I knew you'd come through for me," was the tight response.
The fraternal moment was then interrupted when the slender auburn-haired camera-man who had been recording the misadventure on the boys' behalf came over to them. It was always an available option to have a videographer jump with parachutists if they wanted, and the brothers had decided it would be a nice idea to have a tape of their first accelerated freefall jump together without any instructors or interference, just good old brotherly bonding. That hadn't worked out so well.
"Whoowee, got a 'lil hairy up there for a while didn't it? Well, anyways, here's the tape, treasure the memories guys!" He tossed the tape of the sky-dive to Scott who caught it with a harsh snatch and narrowed his eyes at the retreating back of the videographer, looking as if he were strongly considering going after the guy to give him a piece of his mind- or a taste of his fist. Virgil caught Scott's eye and shook his head gently and Scott shrugged in acquiescence, slinging an arm around his younger brother's shoulders the same moment he dropped the tape on the ground and stamped neatly on it.
"That's one rescue I don't need reminding of."
Virgil heartily agreed.
Now did you figure out they were sky-diving before I let it slip? I tried to keep it ambiguous so you'll have to tell me how I did there! Put it in whichever verse makes you happy, I guess it could work for the movie or the TV show. The reason for this was a little Virgie and Scott brotherly fluff, some little creative outlet for my Thunderbirds cravings as I don't have the time to do anything full-blown or multi-chaptered at the moment.
All characters belong to Carlton etc and are the intellectual property of those wonderful Andersons. I'd appreciate reviews very much and you can all have Ben and Jerry's ice cream and virtual hugs if you do, this was my first foray into Thunderbirds fanfic so be gentle I beg of you!
Thank you muchly for reading!