Title: In the Lobby
Description: After Jeff and Lucy Tracy disappear on a family vacation, Virgil and John find themselves as the lone guards in a hotel lobby while the other boys search for the missing couple. Movie-verse. Response to the March fan fiction challenge on Toreshii no Airando.
Universe: Movie-verse, though it could really be taken as that or TV-verse in terms of characterization.
Archive: Sure, just give me an e-mail and we can talk about it.
Disclaimer: The copyright to Thunderbirds is kept by Calrton, Universal Pictures, and Gerry Anderson. No profit is intended to be made from this story; it is strictly for entertainment purposes only.
A/N: The challenge for March was to write a story where Virgil and John are trapped together. I decided to go a little bit less literal with this story, but the boys are most definitely trapped as you will see. This piece is a companion piece to The Winds of Advent, and Part II leads into the very first chapter.
A huge thank-you is required for this story; I sent Ariel D Part I at the beginning of the week with a plea for it to be read for Friday. Not only did she finish it before Friday, but she finished it for Thursday so that I could officially have it posted before the contest deadline (since I can't seem to read dates properly and thought it was due for Friday . . . )! Thank-you.
In the Lobby
"They're late," declared Virgil Tracy, his hazel brown eyes darting in the direction of the hotel entrance with much suspicion. "Mom said they'd be back in time for us to go skiing."
"Uh huh." Standing beside his brother, eight-year-old Gordon frowned and gave the same resolute look. "And she said I could go snowboarding!" He looked sideways to his younger brother Alan, as if in hope that the four year old would give his argument some support. When that proved useless, he turned his head even further in an attempt to make eye contact with the other member of the family who shared Alan's mop of blonde hair. John, however, kept his eyes locked on the burgundy coloured carpet, and showed no sign that he had even noticed his brother's pleading gaze.
"Enough, guys." The eldest child's voice cut the argument cold. Glancing around at the bustling throng of people that occupied the hotel lobby, Scott Tracy bit his lower lip and thought for a long moment. "They're probably just delayed at the station. There're only so many monorail cars, and the resort is pretty busy right now with holiday traffic."
"Virgil, stop it!" Scott hissed, giving his younger brother a look that was suspiciously familiar. Though at the age of fourteen it was already obvious that Scott was a younger version of his father, he had inherited his mother's piercing blue eyes. He also, at the age of fourteen, knew how to use the icy gaze to his advantage.
Clamping his mouth shut, Virgil shook his head, an action that sent waves of mildly curly chestnut locks falling about his eyes. Though his eyes were a deep brown more akin to those of his father, he carried many facial features that were similar to Lucy Tracy. They were not always obvious at first, and only after careful consideration did a person see that the boy indeed looked a great deal like his mother.
And so, Scott Tracy found himself quite unable to fight with his younger brother any longer, for the slowly growing resemblance between the boy and mother was proving to be mildly unnerving. Scott was, after all, a typically obedient young man when it came to dealing with his parents, and he had no intention of talking rudely to his mother in any reincarnation. A different plan of action was needed, then.
"How about this," the older boy proposed, spreading his hands in front of him in a gesture that he had learned from his father. "I'll go and look for them out by the station. And," he looked towards his two younger brothers, Gordon and Alan, the latter of whom was now chewing ferociously on a large candy bar, "I'll take you two with me."
"Aw!" Wrinkling his nose, Gordon stomped his foot and glared at his brother. "Why do I have to go?"
"Don't you want to find Mom and Dad?"
The words worked like magic. As quickly as the red flush had appeared on the ginger-haired boy's face, it vanished. "Yeah! I wanna come with."
"Why do I have to stay?"
"Because!" Scott sighed in exasperation, "Virgil, Dad told me to look after you guys before he and Mom left before lunch. He said to stay in the room until four o'clock, and then to come down to the lobby to wait for him and Mom to return. And he said specifically to keep an eye on Gordon and Alan. So, they're coming with me."
"But you need to stay here, in case Mom or Dad come back this way. If I don't find them in half an hour, then I'll come back too. Deal?"
Virgil thought for a moment, his eyes darting quickly to the thin and gawky boy that stood to his right. "John staying too?"
"You bet he is," Scott replied quickly, "because someone needs to keep an eye on you."
"What?" cried Virgil in exasperation. "I'm not eight, Scott!"
"No, you're ten. And Dad would kill me if I left you alone."
"He's not that much older than me!"
"Virgil!" Folding his arms across his chest, Scott sighed again and tried to fix his brother with the strongest glare he could manage. "It's not that you're immature, it's just that . . ." His eyes also trailed in the direction of the sandy haired boy, twelve years old and looking all for the world like he wanted to disappear. "Well, you know . . ."
Neither boy needed nor wanted to say what was running through both of their minds. There was no doubt as to how trustworthy John Tracy was. Both Scott and Virgil were, as young as they still were, willing to trust their lives with their quiet and introverted brother. But there was no doubt as to why John was willing to stay put in the hotel lobby.
"I think John would like to stay here," Scott finally admitted, trying to meet the blonde's gaze that was painfully directed towards the floor. "Right, John?"
After a long and drawn out silence, save for the noise of bustling patrons about the lobby, John tilted his head upward and gazed at his brother with an unwavering and quite unnerving gaze. "Sure," he finally muttered, shrugging his shoulders in apathy. "Whatever."
Knowing that he wouldn't get anything more from his brother, Scott simply nodded, took Gordon's shoulder in one hand and Alan's in the other, and began to direct the two in the direction of the door. "Stay right here, then. I'll be back in half an hour, all right? Virgil?"
"Sure." Looking the part of a man who had been beaten and was too tired to get up, Virgil threw his hands up in the air and replied, "Try and hurry, okay? I still wanna go skiing one last time before Dad decides it's time to go home."
"All right, I'll hurry." Hand on the hotel door, Scott turned his head and glanced at his brothers once more before he left. "Stay out of trouble."
Ten seconds. That was all it took, John noted methodically, before Virgil started bouncing from foot to foot in exasperation. Already it seemed the boy couldn't stay still; whether that was due to a desire to not be left behind, or a desire to simply be doing something, John didn't know.
"Scott said to stay here."
Virgil immediately stopped his prancing as his brother spoke. "I'm not leaving. I'm just sick of standing here."
"Someone has to," John replied softly, his blue eyes quickly taking in the other men and women in the room. There were no familiar faces, only strange ones that glared back at him with a sullen indifference.
Ignoring his brother's words, Virgil made his way to a side of the room where an empty couch was available. He fell onto the packed cushions with a dull thud, and took to immediately drumming his fingers on his knee.
In the distance, a bellhop hurried by with a load of suitcases on a trolley; the metal wheels of the cart made a sharp grinding noise as it was pushed from the edge of the carpet onto the marble floor that composed much of the rear of the lobby. As quickly as the man appeared he was gone, only to be replaced by another and seemingly endless stream of employees and customers. Shadows of men and women drifted by on the stark cream walls, and distorted and twisted images of human beings seemed to cower in the polished glass of mirrors and windows.
Quickly feeling overwhelmed by the commotion, John followed closely behind Virgil, sitting down beside his brother on the side of the couch that was furthest away from human activity.
"Why do you do that?" Virgil asked after a moment, his fingers ceasing their motions long enough that he could wipe a loose strand of hair back behind his ear.
Knowing full well what his brother was talking about, John simply shrugged and countered, "Do what?"
"That." A finger was pointed in his general direction. "Y'know, act like everyone doesn't exist."
John bit his lip and tried to hold back the response that was trying to leave his mouth. He knew that Virgil knew exactly what the answer was - had been told it twice already, in fact, once by each parent - and was simply pushing the matter because he was angry and wanted to take out his frustrations on the nearest possible object.
"Why," he answered, after several minutes of contemplation, "do you sit there and do that little . . ." he struggled for the word, "thing with your fingers?"
"I dunno." The younger boy shrugged. "Trying to keep my fingers in shape. Guess I'd like to be playing a piano." He frowned. "I'd rather be skiing right now, though." He glanced towards the doors of the hotel, where outside a soft layer of snow was falling. "Why is it that you don't talk to anyone?"
"I do. When something needs to be said." He glanced briefly at Virgil, wishing that his brother could take a page out of his book and stop asking awkward questions. "I don't otherwise . . . because talking doesn't do anything."
"Then why do you talk to Mom? Y'know, about stuff?"
The words stung, and John turned away from Virgil so that he looked towards the bustling activity in the lobby. Suddenly he felt very trapped by his own brother, and the horrendous and unending humdrum of movement was more appealing than continuing the conversation.
"I'm sorry," a softer, more controlled voice, apologized from behind. "John, I didn't mean it."
"It's all right," the older boy finally replied thickly. "No one ever does."
No one meant to misunderstand him. No one, or at least very few people, meant to comment on his quiet nature. No one thought to do anything about the already tall and gawky boy who sat at the back of the class, silently taking notes. No one bothered to try and understand him when he turned in a perfect test paper, or when he politely asked a question that was beyond their level of comprehension.
They didn't bother with him - and he, understanding how much his presence meant, had come to the conclusion that it didn't matter if he bothered with them. So many times he had wished he could change, and so many times already, in twelve years, he had discovered that change didn't come easy, or at all.
No one reached out, and he never gave any indication that they needed to. That was what hurt the most. No one tried to understand him. No one really wanted to.
Except . . .
"You're cool, John. Really."
It was a subtle reminder that there were those people out there who loved him. That much John knew and understood very well. But it was one thing to be loved, and another thing to be understood. On one degree he was very much blessed. On the other –
"It's all right, Virgil." He turned back to his brother and tried to give him a reassuring smile. "You don't have to pretend that I'm normal. You won't be the only one."
A momentary awkward silence gave way to Virgil's declaration, "It's all right. I don't mind." He returned the smile somewhat hesitantly. "D'you think they'll be back soon?"
"I honestly don't know." Unlike his brother, who had also showed symptoms of wanting to be directly involved with something, John had no qualms about sitting back and waiting for things to transpire. If something was beyond his control, then it was beyond his control. He would worry about his own task and make sure that he accomplished it to the best of his abilities. "But I'm going to stay here and wait."
The two sat silently then, watching as various families gathered their luggage, dragged crying children, paid their bills, and left the hotel. As the noise gradually impeached on his senses, John closed his eyes and tried to convince himself that he was hearing static from a radio. Radio kits were his passion, aside from the stargazing that he did every week with his mother, and the thought of being enclosed in something so familiar almost eliminated the feeling of unease that was working its way into his mind.
"They left fifteen minutes ago," Virgil finally spoke, his voice thick with boredom.
"They have fifteen left." Shaking himself from his thoughts, John continued, "So we can't do anything yet."
"Why don't you work on your piano piece? You know, the Minuet."
"On what piano?"
"Use your knee. You were doing it before."
Snorting at his brother, Virgil leaned his head against the back of the couch and looked at the ceiling. "You know, you have a weird sense of humour."
"I wasn't joking." Perhaps his brother wasn't too far off, though. It wasn't his sense of humour that was strange - it was the level of his thinking for a boy his age.
Thankfully, Virgil didn't pursue the topic. There was an advantage, John noted, to being stuck in a hotel lobby with the younger boy. Of any of the five Tracy children, he was the most subdued next to John and didn't always feel a need to be talking. The silence was refreshing.
Thank you God, for little things . . .
More minutes passed by, until Virgil was snoring lightly on the couch, exhausted from the previous week spent skiing, and John found himself immersed in the task of counting the number of crystals on the hanging chandelier. He didn't notice at first when a figure approached the couch. He didn't notice the two proceeding ones either, until one of them gave his shin a good hard kick with a snow boot.
"Hey!" Blinking his eyes so that his concentration broke, John suddenly became aware that three members of his family had returned.
"Sorry," Gordon mumbled, looking completely nonplussed and apologetic. "You were staring at the roof."
Rubbing his shin, John replied, "A simple greeting would have worked." He looked to Scott for confirmation, only to see in his brother's eyes an emotion that seemed to be raw fear. "Scott?"
Looking toward his sibling who was still fast asleep, Scott answered, "Wake up Virgil. We need to go."
No matter how hard he thought, John could not remember a single moment in his entire life when his older brother had looked so scared. The fear was almost tangible, and by the expressions on the faces of the two younger boys, Scott was carrying whatever knowledge it was that worried him inside of him.
"Where are they, Scott?"
Blue eyes met blue eyes, and a silent thought was shared between the two. It was a feeling of worry, a sense of concern, and a subtle nod in the direction of the other boys that suggested whatever had happened needed to be kept from the general consciousness.
"The train is delayed," he finally replied absently, and his voice was touched with a hint of hoarseness.
"Can we wait at the station, then," John asked quickly as he reached a hand and gently shook Virgil on the shoulder. When the younger boy groaned, he whispered, "Virgil, we're leaving."
"Not the station. No. Not the station."
All four other boys looked at their brother at that moment. "You talked to the conductor," Gordon suddenly put it. "What'd he say? Isn't the train coming in?"
From the level of his brother's waist, Alan looked up with his still toddler-like face and asked, "Scotty, you said we'd find Mommy. Mommy's not here."
"No, she's not," the older boy finally admitted, as crystalline tears began to pool in his eyes. "We have to go to the hospital. There's been an accident."
FIN Part I