By Spense

TV-Verse (although it could be read any way, I suppose).

"Al! ALAN!"

The voices were intrusive, and not welcome. He moaned and moved his head from side to side to try to escape the sounds, causing fireworks to explode in the darkness. This diminished his hearing, much to his relief.

"Alan! Come on, kiddo. That's it." The voice was back, and not anymore welcome than before. Alan groaned again, as the pain slammed into him. Now he could feel an ice cold hand lightly slapping his hot face.

"Alan. Open your eyes," the voice demanded.

No, he really didn't think he wanted to do that. However, the voice was unrelenting, and the slaps were shaking his head from the inside out. Alan managed to peel his eyelids back, at least a little. Maybe that would shut the voice up.

Light slammed in, feeling like a solid thing that caused his head to explode once more, and elicit another involuntary groan. He shut his eyes again quickly. Not worth it. Definitely not worth it.

"No Alan, open your eyes for me. Come on, you can do it. There you go," the voice finished in satisfaction as Alan finally managed to pry his eyes open fractionally.

"Go 'way," he muttered at the bright light and the voice emanating from it. Bright blurs sent stabbing pain through his head. Slowly the blurs focused into indistinct ovals, and eventually coalesced into the faces of three of his brothers, Scott, Virgil and Gordon. Only sometimes there were six of them. Or worse yet, nine.

"Hey," Scott said with a smile, brushing Alan's hair back off his face, sparking yet another wave of pain. Alan groaned again.

"Stop . . . slapping me," he managed to whisper hoarsely, only then realizing how much his chest hurt as he drew breath in order to speak.

Gordon gave an inadvertent bark of laughter at Alan's comment, earning a glare from Virgil, and completely ignored by Scott. Scott was too focused on Alan, his eyes searching his younger brother carefully.

"Welcome back," Virgil turned back to Alan and smiled.

About all Alan could manage was to blink a couple of times and wonder why Virgil was covered in gray dust. You could hardly see the blue of his uniform. He dismissed the thought and let his eyes begin to slide shut of their own accord. That certainly felt better.

"Uh-uh. Stay awake now. Look at me," Scott commanded. "Come on, kiddo. Look at me," he repeated more strongly as Alan was slow to respond.

Alan's eyes wandered over to focus slowly on his older brother. It was taking a supreme effort of will just to keep them open at all, and he kept seeing two of Scott. When did Scott acquire a twin?

"Damn," Scott muttered under his breath, just barely in Alan's hearing. His hearing may have been marginally working, but his comprehension wasn't even at that level. He wasn't sure why Scott was swearing, and even though he knew his father wouldn't like it, Alan just didn't really care. He just wanted to sleep.

"What?" Virgil was saying from someplace far away.

"Pupils sluggish and unequal," came Scott's reply from just as far off.

"Hey, Al! Come on, stay with us here." Gordon's voice sounded like a thunderclap practically in his ear. Alan snapped his eyes open again, groaning, to see Gordon grinning at him.

"That's better," his brother commented, satisfied.

Scott and Virgil were looking worried, but Alan wasn't sure why. He was just tired. "I'm 'kay. Just need . . . to . . . sleep," he slurred.

"Yeah right," Virgil muttered more to himself than to his brother as he moved to fit a c-collar around Alan's neck. That sent another spasm of pain lancing through Alan's chest and head, and his vision swam.

"No . . . don't . . ." He managed to stammer, trying to move a leaden arm to stop his brother's actions.

"Sorry, Al, but we have to," Virgil said compassionately, all the while continuing his task.

"Gordon! Do you have the backboard yet?" Scott's voice was calling.

"Here!" Gordon's voice was fading away, and black was edging into the edges of his vision. Sleep sounded wonderful, and Alan tried to edge sideways into it, hoping his brothers wouldn't notice that he wasn't paying attention.

Pain flared suddenly in unimaginable intensity, flinging Alan back into wakefulness with a scream.

"Sorry, Alan. Sorry. We're all done now. It's okay," Virgil soothed. "Quiet down."

His tone calmed Alan, until he realized he was even more uncomfortable now that he was lying on something hard and flat. Suddenly he realized that he couldn't move and he panicked, trying to get free.

"Scott!" He barely heard Virgil call, then chaos filled Alan's mind again in his panic.

"Alan. Alan! It's okay, settle down," Scott was saying, bringing him back to the present. "We've got you on a back board. Calm down!"

Alan realized that Scott was trying to say something to him, but the claustrophobia, pain, and difficulty breathing was making it impossible for him to focus. Scott's hands were suddenly on his face, stroking his forehead and cheek, trying to sooth him. Although it made the pain worse, the coolness of his bother's hands felt good.

"Alan, look at me," International Rescue's field commander ordered sternly.

Alan swallowed hard and tried to obey, as he'd been trained to do. He finally got his eyes to focus for a moment, and was able to make out Scott's face, streaked with dirt and sweat, looking at him seriously.

"That's better," he commented. "Now I need you to settle down. Once you do that, you'll be able to breathe easier, okay? Can you do that for me?"

Alan managed a shaky, faint, "Yes, sir", as he couldn't nod his immobilized head.

Scott smiled. "Good man." He studied him for a few moments until he was sure Alan was steadier. His older brother's familiar expression comforted Alan even more.

Finally satisfied, Scott turned his head to look over at something off his right side. "Virgil, we're ready!"

He was interrupted by a loud crash, and suddenly more gray dust was filling the air. Waving his hand to clear the air and coughing, Scott looked sharply at Alan, then looked up demanding, "Everyone all right?"

"Fine," the chorus came back, with Gordon adding, "Let's get out of here!"

"On our way," Scott responded. He turned back to see Alan's eyes on him, and smiled. "We're on our way Alan, hang in there."

"Hurts . . ." was all Alan managed to get out due to the burning pain in his chest.

Scott's gaze softened. "I know. We'll take care of that back on the board TB2, okay?"

" . . . 'kay . . ." Alan said in resignation. Now would be better, he thought as he began to fade out.

He could hear snippets of conversation around him, and the feeling of movement as he faded in and out of awareness.

"Got hold of . . . Brains . . . recommends hospital first . . . Dad . . .set up an IV."

Alan struggled back towards consciousness at the word. "Dad?" He whispered hopefully. If Dad were here, he'd take care of the pain. Make it go away. Alan's head was still swimming. " . . .Dad!"

"Shhh Alan, no, Dad's not here," Gordon's disembodied voice informed him. "Virgil's working on raising him . . . John . . . communications . . .landing soon . . ."

The blackness closed in, receded, then closed in again. Alan frowned. Then suddenly he was moving, and his stomach was protesting in earnest as his head swam once again.

The world was a cacophony of voices, movement and light. Alan didn't like it, and wanted it to go away. The movement made him dizzy and sick feeling, and the voices were just plain annoying. Like in a bad dream, they were telling him not to try to move, to wake up, to answer them, to tell him where he hurt. He hurt everywhere, they should know that.

Then he could move again, and that was no relief at all. His head swam and his chest felt like TB2 was sitting on it. He whimpered as every movement made his chest feel like it was coming apart, and making his breath catch. Breathing was just a painful chore. The nightmare continued to worsen as voices around him gave orders in an overlapping canvas.

But like any nightmare, the voices were familiar - they were his brothers, but in the wrong situation, saying the wrong things. They wanted him to wake up, but like most bad dreams, he couldn't, or he couldn't keep his eyes open for longer than a few seconds.

Then there were bright lights and he finally could open his eyes and keep them that way. The room was strange, with lights on the ceiling, and he couldn't move his head. "No . . ." he whispered, overwhelmed by the feeling of being trapped again. He struggled, trying to get free.

Gordon's face appeared above his. It was dirty, almost sooty, except it was gray. Why?

"Easy, Al. Come on, you have to calm down!" Gordon's hands were on his face, one on either side, forcing him to focus. "Look at me!" He said forcefully.

"That's better," he said in relief, smiling as he met Alan's wavering vision. "You're okay. You're in a hospital. Dad wanted you checked out immediately."

"Dad?" Alan whispered hopefully, latching onto that one word, once again.

"He's waiting at home, kiddo, impatiently," Virgil grinned as he moved into Alan's line of sight. "Probably more anxious than even you. We're on our way as soon as Scott finishes talking to your doctor." Virgil smiled again. "You're lucky, kid. Bad concussion, and a couple of pretty nasty broken ribs. You're going to have a face that's going to be gorgeous colors, and a couple of shiners that will be spectacular." Virgil gently touched Alan's hot, tight face.

"Yeah, Al," Gordon laughed. "You've got to remember to duck the next time the ceiling starts to fall in."

"Wha . . ." Alan managed, trying to grasp the flow of words. Then, in horror, he felt a cough building in his chest. As the pain flared intolerably, blackness began to move in and he could sense a flurry of movement around him.

Then he was aware again, opening his eyes reluctantly at the annoying tapping on his cheek. Words gradually coalesced in his brain.

"Wakey, wakey, Alan," Gordon was ordering.

Alan glumly pried his eyes open obediently. Gordon could be relentless if he wanted something. He could also be remarkably inventive if you thwarted him for any length of time. He focused slowly on Gordon's faintly smiling face.

"That's it. Not much fun to cough right now, is it," his brother commented sympathetically.

Alan realized something was covering his face and he panicked. The face above him holding the mask morphed from Gordon into the Hood. Alan cried out in alarm.

"Easy, Al. Easy!" Gordon's voice changed the face from the Hood back into the familiar form of his brother, Gordon's features solidifying slowly, as he turned to speak to somebody.

"He's getting really claustrophobic. Can we unstrap him from the stretcher and cut the O2?"

Alan hardly understood the question, and definitely didn't comprehend the answer, and moreover, didn't care. But Gordon apparently did.

He turned back to his younger brother. "Sorry Alan, no can do. We'll have to wait until we're home. Don't want you puking all over everything, or having those busted ribs damage a lung. The Doc says you have to stay immobile and flat for the trip home. Then we can take it off. Okay? At least it's a stretcher now, and not the back board."

Alan focused on a single word out of Gordon's comments - home. "Dad?" he tried to ask.

Gordon removed the mask and bent closer. "What was that?"

" . . . Dad . . ."

Gordon smiled as he replaced the mask. "He's burning up the airwaves. He even tried to talk to you via Scott's wristcomm, but you were too out of it. He's worried as hell. He'll probably be aboard Two before Virgil can even cut the engines."

Alan didn't grasp one word in five of Gordon's conversation. "What . . .?" He struggled to understand. He just wanted to see his father. What didn't Gordon understand about that?

Gordon said gently and clearly, "You'll see Dad in just a little while."

"Okay, we're out of here!" Scott's cheerful voice thundered in Alan's head, and he gratefully released his tentative hold on consciousness just to escape it.

Alan recognized the vibration of the engines enough to realize he was on board Thunderbird Two. And it was making him nauseous. He opened his eyes. That was worse. The familiar sick bay swam around him sickeningly.

"Hey, that's good. I didn't have to wake you this time. Don't you just hate neuro checks?" Gordon was saying cheerfully.

Alan vaguely remembered somebody tapping his face, and Gordon's voice, and himself desperately wanting to sleep. But he didn't know from when or where. Gordon's face suddenly split sickeningly into three, then six, then back to one.

"Uh-oh," Gordon's voice said warily. "Feeling sick?"

Alan couldn't answer with the mask over his face, and that realization brought the claustrophobia crashing down around him again. He panicked, and felt the bile rising in this throat. Suddenly the mask was gone, and Alan felt his stomach convulse. Then his head was loose, and hands were helping him turn his face to the side, and he was spewing miserably all over everything in front of him, his breath catching in wrenching pain. Concerned voices were everywhere, and he heard Gordon saying "Not now guys - I'm kinda busy!", and his vision just faded out.

He came back to consciousness again to the feel of a cool, wet, cloth on his face. The sour smell of vomit turned his stomach and it cramped horribly again.

"Uh-uh. Oh no you don't," Gordon's voice intruded. "I'll clean up after you once, but that's it!" He finished cheerfully.

Alan opened his eyes to see Gordon smiling at him in sympathy while he bathed his face in cool water. "Aren't concussions a bitch?"

Gordon didn't seem to expect an answer, which suited Alan just fine. He didn't think he was capable of making a reply, even if he wanted to. He closed his eyes, bonelessly limp, listening to Gordon's bright patter.

Voices intruded again, causing Alan to be resentful. He just wanted to sleep. That was all. Was that too much to ask?

" . . . yeah, puked all over . . ."

"Doctor said he'd be just fine with rest . . ."

A voice asked a question. It wasn't the words, but the voice itself that got Alan's attention, and made him struggle desperately towards conscious thought.

"Dad?" He whispered hopefully. There was no change in the cacophony of sound. He took a deep breath, wincing at the effort it took, and wished he could dislodge whatever was on his face. "Dad!" His loudest wasn't very loud.

There was a change in the feel of movement around him, and the mask was removed and he opened his eyes, struggling to focus.

His father's smiling face was above him. "Hello son. Welcome back."

Alan exhaled in relief. " . . .Dad . . .?"

"Right here, Alan. You're home and we'll have you more comfortable in a couple of minutes." He caressed Alan's forehead in a motion that was as soothing as his voice. The touch was refreshingly cool and light against the heat and swelling in Alan's face.

"Head hurts," he managed to say faintly.

"No doubt," he heard someone comment in the background as his father answered. "I'm sure it does. You received quite a crack. Well, we'll have you settled in a moment. Hold on."

Then there was more movement, causing Alan to fade out with a whimper, in sheer pain. Then he was comfortably sinking into a soft mattress and pillows, able to move again, to his great relief. He shifted slightly, nestling into the supporting softness and exhaled lightly. Fine. But where was . . .

"Dad?" he managed to whisper, desperately fighting sleep for a moment longer.

"I'm right here son," said the deep rich voice, bringing with it the comfort and safety it always did, whether the words were uttered in love, command, praise or reprimand. "You're just fine. All you need to do now is rest. All right?"

" . . . stay . . .?

A rich laugh, echoed by others in the background. "Of course. I'll be right here, son."

A soft wry voice remarked, "Good luck even trying to make him leave!"

"Ummm," was about all Alan could manage as a response. So tired. But all was right with his world now, and he just let everything fade to black.


NOTE: This story actually began as a writing exercise one evening last week. Just for a lark, I wanted to see if I could tell a story from the point of view of somebody who was pretty out of it. I had a few extra hours so I gave it a shot. I liked the way it turned out, so I decided to post it. You just never know what's going to happen when you sit down at a wordprocessor! And, as always, the beta work of Lynn and Boomercat is much appreciated.