Jeff watched from his office window as his sons splashed noisily in the pool. They had spent the last week training furiously, trying to sharpen their own skills and become accustomed to the newest member of International Rescue. While all of his sons acted like a well-oiled machine on missions, introducing someone new always caused a few kinks.

Jeff's eyes softened as they fell on his youngest child. Of all his sons, he had worried the most about Alan. Alan was so headstrong, prone to leaping first and asking questions later. Such an attitude was bound to cause some waves for his older brothers. At times, Jeff despaired if Alan would ever become a true member of the team.

The past week's training put to rest any more thoughts along that line. Alan had worked harder than any of them, as if desperate to prove that he was up to the challenge. He took his brothers' criticisms in stride, no longer lashing out as if offended by some personal slight.

It helped, too, that the older brothers had finally stopped giving Alan such a hard time. An understanding had been reached amongst the five of them, largely due to John. Once his sons realized where they stood with the others, they were able to work together as fluidly as ever. Jeff was more confident than ever that International Rescue was going to be an even larger success than he had imagined.

Jeff had also spoken to Alan in private about his recent behavior at school. He had been deeply impressed with Alan's efforts, seeing him put forth the effort he knew was there. Alan had glowed under the praise, though he tried to brush it off as nothing. Jeff would not be deterred; he knew how difficult it had been for Alan, and he had promised to pay a little more positive attention to Alan and his schoolwork in the future. The very words seemed to lift some dark cloud off of his youngest son, and Alan's attitude around the compound had become much better.

Jeff let out a chuckle as he watched Alan and Scott shove Gordon into the pool, only to come under attack by John and Virgil with water guns. Glancing back at the papers and files piled high on his desk, he left his office to join his sons by the pool.

The world could wait for now.


Finally! Whew! Sorry it took so long to write. Thanks to all of you for being so patient with me while I finished. ?