A/N: Though this story will focus on all the boys, I do want it especially to examine the relationship between Scott, John, and Jeff. If you think I'm staying to long on that situation, then please let me know. I want to be fair to all the lovely little boys. Also, has anyone else noticed that for a period of about a month John and Virgil are the same age? Seriously! At the very end of this story Virgil will be 8 but John won't be quite nine yet. Just thought I'd point it out.
Ages at the beginning:
Disclaimer: All standard disclaimers apply.
Summery: Its summer vacation for the young Tracy boys, and all five are determined to make it the best summer of their lives.
Title: The Lost BoysMay 28, 2049
John Glenn Tracy watched silently as the flat Kansas prairie rolled by his window. The yellow scenery with it scrawny trees and low houses was beginning to get repetitive. The annual trip to their Grandmother's house in Kansas had begun two days ago and it was now nearing its completion. Which meant that his little brothers were just about fed up with this whole bus ride.
"Why couldn't Daddy come get us?" Alan whined for what must have been the tenth time, leaning around the seat so that he could see Scott.
Scott let out a long suffering sigh, thankful that he and his brothers were the only ones on the bus, "because Dad has to stay at work until next week. Then he promises to fly out to Grandma's house and meet us."
"How long until we get there?"
"I don't know, Alan. We'll get there when we get there."
Alan sulked, flopping back against the plastic seat with a mellow dramatic huff. Scott rolled his eyes at his little brother's "immaturity" and looked over at John, who was sharing a seat with him despite the plethora of available ones. John wasn't looking at him, though. John's blue eyes were far away, and Scott doubted very much whether John was actually watching the scenery.
"Can I play, Virgie," Gordon whined, bouncing on the seat next to Virgil.
"Sit down, Gordon." Scott said, trying to quell a response from the very annoyed Virgil.
Gordon ignored Scott, bouncing higher. "Can I, Virgil? Can I please?"
"No," Virgil said, hugging the personal game device close and glaring at Gordon, "this is mine and you broke my last one. I had to pay for this one and you're not touching it."
"But I want to," Gordon whined, his amber eyes dark with anger. He leaped across the isle to the seat in front of Scott and continued his bouncing, "Scottie that isn't fair! Make him share!"
"I can't make Virgil do anything," Scott explained, pulling out a comic book, "why don't you play with Fishie or something?"
Fishie was Gordon's stuffed yellow fish he had received during his stay in the hospital for being a premature baby, and he had not gone a day without having it almost constantly by his side. He even dragged it to school, and it had been part of the source of a fight that had involved John in March. After that, Gordon had vowed never to touch Fishie again but it was a promise soon forgotten.
"Fishie doesn't want to play," Gordon stated, pointing to the seat next to Alan, "see, he's sleeping."
'You should be, too.' Scott thought miserably.
"Are we there yet, Scottie?" Alan asked, leaning around the seat again.
"No, Alan, we're not there yet. Believe me, you'll know when we're there."
"But what if we miss our stop?"
"We won't miss our stop."
"But what if we do."
"Then we call Grandma. Now go to sleep, Alan, you need a nap anyway."
"Scott I'm bored." Gordon interrupted. Scott turned to retort, but Alan, completely unfazed, beat him to speaking.
"But what if I go to sleep and you guys get off and forget me, Scottie. I don't know Grandma's number!"
"Alan, I promise we won't forget you."
"Trust me, Alan, no one could forget a pest like you." Almost as soon as they were out of his mouth, Scott wanted to take those words back. Alan's blue eyes filled with salty tears and his face crumpled.
"You think I'm a pest!" Alan wailed. "You don't love me!"
"Nice going, Scott," Virgil groaned. Helplessly, Scott looked over at John. The blond boy was the only one who could comfort Alan when he was throwing a fit and this looked like it could develop into stormy weather. John, however, was still looking out the window.
"I'm sorry, Allie. I didn't mean it. I don't think you're a pest."
Alan's wails only increased in volume. "Yes you do! You don't love me! You hate me! Nobody loves me!" Alan was sobbing hysterically now, and up front Scott could see the bus driver shaking his head.
"Why couldn't we have taken an airplane," Virgil groaned, stuffing his game device in his backpack.
"Dad didn't think we could handle Gordon and his airsickness," Scott explained, pulling a tissue out of his pocket and trying to wipe Alan's now running nose. Alan swatted him away.
"Well I say we can't take this!" Virgil said, kicking Gordon's hand as he tried to reach for his older brother's backpack and game device. Gordon let out a yelp of pain and then began to cry.
"Scott! Scott! Virgil kicked me, and he smashed my fingers!"
"Smooth move, genius," Scott yelled over the Virgil who, to his credit, did look somewhat apologetic. Abandoning Alan as a hopeless cause, Scott scooped Gordon up into his lap. "There, there, little fish. Virgil's sorry. He'll even let you play his game for a while when we get to Grandma's house to show how extra sorry he is."
Virgil opened his mouth to protest, but one warning look from Scott and it was closed again. Virgil could tell that all of his older brother's buttons had just about been pushed and if he didn't want to have his head taken off he'd better just do what he said.
Unfortunately, Alan didn't have a way of knowing when he'd pushed someone to far. Seeing the attention Gordon was getting, Alan only began to scream louder. "I told you nobody loved me! You all love Gordon best!" The last sentence had transformed itself into a scream that had Virgil, Gordon, and Scott covering their ears. Scott glared over at John, who still hadn't moved.
"John! Do something!"
John looked up, startled out of his revere by someone calling his name. "What?"
"Nobody loves me!" Alan wailed his case to John. The second Tracy child gave Alan a gentle smile. Scrambling over the seat he moved Fishie next to the window, sat in the yellow stuffed toy's recently vacated seat, and pulled Alan into a hug. "Hush now, baby, we love you. You know that."
"I'm not a baby," Alan half-heartedly protested, rubbing his face against John's shirt. John tried not to think about Alan's leaky nose and what it would now be spreading onto his clean black t-shirt as he held him.
"I know, I know. Now, why do you think no one loves you, huh? Don't we always make sure that the bigger kids don't tease you?"
"Yes," the five-year-old hiccupped, "but Scottie called me a pest."
"I didn't mean it," Scott mumbled. Gordon was now sitting on his lap with his head resting on his older brother's shoulder. His brown eyes were half lidded, and he was absently playing with a button on Scott's plaid shirt. He would be asleep shortly.
"Of course you didn't," John reassured his elder brother. He cupped Alan's chin in his hand and forced the small boy to look up at him. "Now, Alan, of course Scott loves you! Isn't it always Scott who sneaks you dessert when you're grounded and can't have any but have been extra especially good?"
"Yes," Alan sniffled, looking down.
"And isn't it always Scott that pushes you highest on Grandma's swing? Wasn't he the one that taught you how to ride your bike last summer? Hasn't he promised you he'd teach you to ride without training wheels this time?"
"Yes," Alan sniffled again.
"Then he really didn't mean you're a pest, Al. He loves you, just the same as always." John lowered his voice to a theatrical whisper, making sure Scott could hear him as he grinned at Alan, "and between you and me I think Scottie needs a nap."
Alan laughed as Scott let out a halfhearted protest of, "no I don't!"
"Better now, Alan?" John smiled, ruffling his baby brother's hair fondly.
Alan smiled and nodded, hugging John. He leaned around the seat once more, "I sorry, Scottie."
Scott smiled, "its okay, Allie. Now its quiet time, and Gordon's taking a nap. Why don't you climb up here and take one, too."
"You can have my seat, Al. I'll keep Fishie company," John smiled as he hoisted his little brother over the seat. Alan cuddled up to Scott, and was asleep within moments. Virgil pulled out his game once more while John put on a pair of headphones.
It was another hour before any of them said anything to each other. By that time Virgil's game had once more been put away and he was now sound asleep. Scott got up to stretch, laying Gordon down on the seat. The little red-haired Tracy didn't stir, so Scott decided a talk with John was in order. John had been moody since they'd left their house in Florida two days ago, but he hadn't had a chance to talk to him without his younger brothers there. Scott knew John wouldn't say a word about what was bothering him if he thought the three younger ones could hear.
John was leaning against the window; Fishie was clutched in his left hand with his right supporting his head. His headphones were on, but Scott couldn't hear anything coming out of them. He doubted John had ever had any music on them at all.
John didn't jump this time. Instead he just turned his head to look at Scott, his blue eyes solemn. "Hello, Scott." John reached up and pushed the headphones down around his neck, brushing back his golden bangs with one hand.
Scott was happy to see that John's hair had grown back to a satisfactory length, or at least long enough that Grandma wouldn't ask questions. About his birthday last year, for some reason Scott couldn't quite figure out, John had decided that if he made himself look less like him mother than their Dad might decide to find the time to come to one of his gymnastics competitions like he always did Scott's soccer games.
The only way the eight-year-old had been able to figure out how to change his appearance had been to shave his hair off. He'd done so, with somewhat disastrous results. John's hair was light enough and thin enough that having it missing wasn't obvious, but the scabs on his head were. It had resulted in some awful fights between Scott and some boys that nearly got the eldest Tracy brother suspended from school. That was nothing compared to the trouble John had been in with their father, though. Scott could never remember seeing their father so mad.
"Something you want to talk about?" John asked lightly, turning half away from his brother again.
"Yeah. Something wrong, Johnny? You've been awfully quiet these last two days. Ever since we left home, in fact."
"Scott, I'm always quiet."
"Yeah, well, I mean quiet even for you. Something is wrong."
"I don't really want to talk about it…"
"I think you need to."
John didn't say anything for a while. He just looked at his hands, folded neatly in his lap. To Scott's surprise, he saw tears beginning to form in John's clear blue eyes. John looked at him suddenly, a look of complete hurt on his face. "Scott, can I ask you something? I want you to be completely honest with me, too."
"Sure, John," Scott responded automatically in his surprise, "anything."
A slight moment of hesitation, then very quickly, "do you think I'm gay?"
"Wha?" Scott was taken off guard. Whatever question he'd been expecting, that certainly wasn't it. "No, Johnny, of course not! Er…you're not are you?"
"Well, just making sure."
"No, I'm not." John huffed, turning away again. His normally pale cheeks were flushed a bright pink and one wayward tear was falling down his left one. Scott pretended not to see it.
"So…why the question?"
"Dad thinks I am." Came the whispered response. Again, Scott was taken aback.
"Because that's what all the kids at school call me, and some parent called to tell Dad they didn't want the likes of me in their school."
"I've never heard them call you that."
"Well, they wouldn't when you're around, would they?"
"No. I suppose not." The pair was silent again for a moment, Scott not knowing what to say and John reluctant to continue. Eventually the youngest of the pair sighed, looking up at the bit of sky that he could see above their moving vehicle.
"Dad talked to me about it before I left. I tried to tell him I was to young to even think about anything like that! He was absolutely furious with me, and told me he wanted me to be honest with him. I tried to explain to him that I'm not, but he wouldn't listen to me. Then I tried to tell him I wanted to change schools and he said I couldn't run away from my problem. I tried to tell him, Scott, I really did! He just wouldn't listen."
John began to cry, hot angry tears finding their way from his eyes. Scott couldn't resist it; he leaned over and pulled his younger brother into a hug. John began to sob into Scott's neck. John tried to stop the tears, but the harder he tried to make them stop the faster they seemed to fall.
"Sh. Sh, John, its okay. Its not true, you know that."
"Its not my opinion that matters," John sobbed softly. "My opinion won't get me into NASA or into Harvard. My opinion won't get me anywhere in life! I need him to think well of me, Scott. I can't get him to love me, but I need him to at least like me."
Scott didn't say anything. This wasn't the first time he'd heard John complain about their father's lack of affection toward him at times, and his overbearing affection at others, and he was sure it wouldn't be the last. He just held John while he cried, and after a while the blond calmed down enough to sit up and look out the window again.
"You gonna' be okay, star man?" Scott asked gently, using the name only he was allowed to call John. His little brother nodded, a soft sniffle accompanying the gesture. Scott smiled and pulled the tissue, earlier meant for Alan, out of his pocket. John took it gratefully and wiped his nose.
"I'm sorry for bringing you into this, Scott."
"I would have found out anyway. When Dad gets here you two will be bound to clash about it again. Don't worry though, Johnny-boy. Grandma will rip Dad a new one when she hears about this. And she will, you know."
John nodded again. His head was starting to hurt and his eyes were sore. He rubbed his face with one hand and leaned back in the seat. He watched the ceiling in silence, Scott seated beside him, until the bus began to slow down.
"All off that's getting off," the bus driver yelled back to the boys. Scott stood up once more, leaning over the seat to gently shake Gordon's shoulder.
"Wake up, Gordo. We're here."
"Five more minutes," the little boy mumbled sleepily as Scott pulled him into a sitting position.
"Alan," John smiled, pushing Alan up to sit also and trying to make him more presentable, "we're here now. You've gotta' wake up."
"I don't wanna'." Alan mumbled.
"Me either," Gordon sighed, trying to fall over again. John caught him and made him stand up while Scott went over to shake Virgil awake.
"Come on, Virg'. Grandma's got chocolate chip cookies waiting for us."
"I dun wanna' go on the rocket ship," was the only somewhat coherent response Scott managed to get. As a later resort, Scott pulled Virgil fully upright and then let him tip over.
"Ow!" Came the seven-year-olds indignant response.
"Get up, knuckle head." Scott responded, dropping the backpack Virgil had been using as a pillow onto his stomach. John had managed to get the younger two looking somewhat more presentable and both of them equipped with their carry on baggage. Gordon even had Fishie faithfully stuck in the hand that wasn't rubbing his tired eyes.
"All ashore that's going ashore," Scott said happily, ignoring the dirty look he was receiving from Virgil. The five young Tracy boys trooped off the bus and were immediately enveloped, one by one, in the strong arms of the ever-motherly Josie Tracy.
"Scott, my how you've grown! You must be starting to catch up with your Daddy. You'll be a strapping young man soon."
"Yes, ma'm." Scott smiled, not really knowing what else to say. He was spared figuring it out because Virgil then stepped off the bus.
"Virgil!" Josie exclaimed, pulling the seven-year-old into a tight embrace. "You're getting so big! Are you eating right? I'll bet you are. Such a big strong boy!"
"Ah!" Gordon's yelp of surprise was muffled as his face was shoved against his Grandmother's body.
"My you've gotten so tall in a year, my little fish! How are your swimming lessons going? You will have to tell me all about it when we get home."
"Grandma!" Alan yelled, dropping his bag and running to throw his arms around Josie's waist.
"Hello, baby!" She said hugging him back. "You almost knocked me over there! Soon you'll be taller than Gordon."
"I'll be in first grade this year," Alan grinned up at her.
"Really. I can't believe you've gotten so big!"
"Uh-huh! My teacher said I was the bestest kindergarten student she'd ever had."
"Did she really?"
Josie let her youngest grandson go as John walked silently off the bus. She strode over and pulled him into a hug.
"Hello, Grandmother." John smiled at her.
"Hello, my star gazer. You're looking more and more like your mother everyday."
John didn't respond, not really sure how he was supposed to. Josie decided to keep up her conversation on her own terms, "you haven't been eating like you should again, haven't you? You're so skinny! Well, don't you worry, we'll soon have you fattened up to what you're supposed to."
John looked down at his to big black t-shirt and the dark blue jeans that were being held up only by a belt. He couldn't help that most of his clothing had once belonged to Scott. "I'm fine Grandma, really."
"Hm. We'll see." Grandma Tracy picked up two of the bags the bus driver had unloaded and began to lead the way to the car. "Come on, boys, I've got supper in the oven and I don't want it to burn!"
Not really knowing what else to do, the boys shrugged at each other and followed. John walked back to fall in step with Scott. A grin split his face, which still had evidence of tears on it, "Guess what, Scott?"
"Its officially summer."