Disclaimer: I acknowledge that the Thunderbirds characters depicted in this story to not belong to me but would ask that anyone wishing to reproduce this document anywhere else, please contact me first. This applies to ALL chapters.
This chapter has been re-posted due to a few changes with dialogue and grammar.
Many thanks to my wonderful friend and Beta, Amanda for all her help and support. Reviews are very welcome either via e-mail at or in the review box.
Readers, please be aware that this fiction is strictly TV verse.
In the days prior to IR, Virgil and Alan struggle to deal with the fall-out of a fatal accident during a family reunion at the race track. Whilst Jeff Tracy must truly consider the implications of asking his sons to join him in his plans for a better future…
Chapter One –Reunion
Jeff Tracy sighed and glanced up at the clock that sat on his desk for what seemed like the tenth time in as many minutes. He sat back, allowing the heavy metal pen in his hands to drop onto the all-important contract that now cluttered his mahogany desk. Chewing his bottom lip slightly, he sipped at the rapidly cooling coffee that sat atop of the pile of other paperwork he was yet to reach, before letting out another sigh. Regretfully, he glanced between the clock and the papers on his desk, weighing up the likelihood of keeping to his scheduled plans. Solemnly arriving at a despicable acceptance, he reached for the videophone in his pocket and dialled.
It only rung a few times before the recipient answered.
"Hey Dad." His oldest son smiled back at him through the ample colour screen. "Where are you?" He spoke loudly, the sound of revving engines drowning out his voice.
"Hi Scott, I'm still in London. This is taking longer than I thought so I'm just calling to let you know I might be a bit late." He winced at the words; his sons were expecting him and he hated to let them down. "I'll make sure I'm there as soon as I can be though. Okay?"
Scott seemed unsurprised by the revelation. "Sure Dad. I'll let the others know. How long do you think you'll be?"
Jeff shrugged, sighing once more and running a hand through his hair. "I'm not sure Scott, a couple of hours at least. I've got to close this deal." A wave of guilt threatened to overwhelm him; he felt he was disappointing them. "Tell Alan I'm sorry. Are John and Gordon there?"
"Yeah." Scott nestled his sunglasses in his hair. "Gordon got here last night, John this morning." He rubbed his eyes. "It's nice, being all together. It doesn't happen very often any more." Scott added wistfully.
Jeff knew his son well enough to realise that that was Scott's way of reminding him how important this get-together was. Since they'd all left home and excelled in their chosen careers, his boys had become men. Men who had busy lives of their own. Even Alan, still in the final stages of his education in Colorado led a busy life that seemed incompatible with his own. Jeff Tracy was a busy man, however his sons had always been the most important part of his life and he missed them dearly. Almost as much as they missed him and each other. His only reprieve was the fact that the project he was working on at the moment would allow them all to spend a lot more time together. Something he was planning to discuss with them over the weekend, if he ever got there. "I know Scott." He nodded eventually. "How's Alan?"
Scott's smile widened. "Well, he's putting on a brave face but Virg seems to think he's worried about the transmission."
Jeff shook his head in reply. "He shouldn't be. He's only just had it rebuilt after the last time." He rolled his eyes. "I'm telling you Scott, if that car breaks down again I swear …." He shrugged. "I don't know what I'll do but it won't be pretty."
Scott laughed. "You're not the only one. Alan's not exactly pleased at the fact that he still hasn't managed to complete one race this season yet."
"Well hopefully he will today." Jeff raised an eyebrow. "Listen, I'd better go Scott. I'll hopefully see you in a couple of hours."
"Sure, see you." He closed down the link with a sigh, hoping his father made it in time for the race.
"That Dad?" Scott turned to see Virgil walking towards him. A cup of coffee in either hand. "Here." He sipped from one of the cups, handing the other to Scott.
"Yeah, he's going to be late. I think he might miss the qualifier." Scott took a sip from the hot liquid as he leant against the wall, adopting a similar pose to his brother. "How's it going?" He gestured to the red Ferrari GX10 series, a classic that his youngest brother had bought nearly nineteen months ago and had been racing ever since.
Virgil rolled his eyes. "Well it looks fine to me." He shrugged. "Between you and me, I think Al's getting paranoid. There have been so many problems with it, he really needs to just get a race under his belt to get some confidence back in the car." Virgil went about removing the top half of his overalls and tying them loosely round his waist, revealing a white shirt.
"I thought the car was fixed now." Scott frowned.
"Well, it is." Virgil ran a hand across his forehead. Inadvertently smearing a thick layer of grease across the tanned skin. "Ferrari US have had it for the last three weeks and they've gone over everything. They re-fitted the whole transmission system after the gears went; they put in a new clutch, new everything…" He trailed off, rubbing at his temples and leaving more grease behind.
"So what's the problem?" Scott finished the coffee and placed the paper cup inside the one his brother had discarded.
"There isn't one. Al's so paranoid something's going to go wrong because it's broken down so many times before…." Virgil trailed off again. "He really needs to complete this race. Even if he comes in last, it'll do him good…"
"To regain some confidence in the car. I get it." Scott smiled, as his brother turned to face him and he burst out laughing.
"What?" Virgil asked, frowning as Alan walked over, joining his older brother and laughing loudly. "What is it?" Virgil repeated.
Alan coughed, smirking. "You've got err …grease all over your face." He smiled widely, looking across at Scott's grin.
"Maybe that's because I'm the only one doing any work." Virgil griped good naturedly as he grabbed a nearby rag and disappeared into the small bathroom.
Scott smiled, reminded of how good it felt to be around his brothers again. Since leaving for the Air Force the occasions when all five of them could spend time together where rare. He had been really looking forward to spending some quality time with his brothers this weekend and he knew how important this race was to Alan.
"You alright Kid?" Alan turned to him, his smile still fading.
"I'm not a kid Scott." He replied automatically. "I'm fine, why wouldn't I be?"
Scott smiled knowingly. "You're not nervous?" The question had already been answered in Scott's mind by the way Alan hopped from foot to foot softly.
"Nervous, me? No!" He exclaimed frowning at the theory. "Why would I be?"
Scott ignored the question. "What times the qualifier?"
Alan walked over to the car, reaching inside and pulling out his racing suit. "About an hour, I should get changed." He paused. "Virgil and Sam are going to go over the car one last time."
Scott raised his eyebrows; Sam was one of Alan's mechanics and a good friend of Virgil's. "Sam's here? I haven't seen him. Is Kenny here too?"
"Nah Kenny's at a wedding, of course Sam's here." Alan smirked. "This car doesn't go anywhere without at least one of them." He slapped a hand on the roof before pausing. "I think he's gone up to the roof, Gordon wanted to watch the Lamborghini's." He glanced at his watch, before taking it off. "Can you take care of this for me? It doesn't sit right when I've got my suit on." He handed the watch over to his brother.
"Sure, I'll go up and join Gordon. Is John with him?" Scott turned and began to walk off as Alan kicked his shoes off and Virgil reappeared.
"I think so." Alan's muffled reply could just be heard as he pulled his shirt off over his head.
Scott turned to Virgil. "I'm heading up to the roof to watch, you coming?"
His younger brother shook his head as he wiped his hands on a rag. "Nah, Al wants me to go over the car again. Can you do me a favour though?" He didn't wait for an answer. "If you come across Sam, ask him to come down and give me a hand."
Scott nodded "Sure." He called as he made his way out of the paddock they'd been assigned. Strolling out into the sun, Scott replaced his sunglasses. Thoroughly pleased that the weather seemed to be holding out he made his way up onto the roof, unable to remember a time he'd felt so content. Immediately spotting his two brothers, he headed over to where they leaned over the railings with Sam.
"Hey!" He called out; slapping a hand on the back of the tall, blonde dark skinned man, they all knew as Sam.
"Shush!" Was his hissed reply as the blonde man turned to face him; he gestured down to the track below them. Scott followed his line of vision; directly below them he could just make out Virgil's form in the pit lane. Glancing alongside it he noted the only straight of the track running parallel. He was just about to enquire exactly what Sam's fascination was when the sound of screeching tyres and the high-pitched whine of straining engines could be heard in the distance. Scott watched as six or seven screeching Lamborghini's, ranging in colours flew past at high speed.
"Amazing!" Sam enthused to the oldest Tracy. "Did you hear that? Perfect!" He shook his head in admiration. "Music to my ears."
Scott laughed loudly. "You never change Sam. How are you?"
The mechanic took Scott's outstretched hand and shook it with vigour. "Good, good." The reply came. "You? How's the Air Force treating you?"
"Great!" Scott smiled. "It's been a while. We'll have to catch up later, how about a drink tonight?"
"Hmm." The mechanic pondered. "Last time I went for a drink with you, I spent the morning after seriously considering giving up alcohol." He paused, raising his eyebrows. "Of course I'll come!" He grinned.
"Great," Scott laughed again. "Oh, by the way. Virgil's looking for you; he wants a hand with the car."
"Oh the car." Sam groaned. "You know I have nightmares about that car." Scott grinned. "I'm serious" The mechanic whined as he headed for the stairs. "Bad, bad nightmares." He pulled a face before reaching the stairs, humming the death march loudly.
Still smiling Scott turned his attention to his two brothers. He noticed John was frowning as he turned toward the younger redhead, both looked completely relaxed.
"You can't have a yellow Lamborghini Gords, it's just wrong." John was arguing playfully.
"And what's wrong with yellow?" Gordon replied a little testily.
"Well nothing, as a colour." John was saying diplomatically. "It's just it's not a car colour."
"Not a car colour!" Gordon exclaimed. "Okay, if it's so not a 'car colour' then explain to me why three of the Lamborghini's on the grid were yellow. If it was so unpopular they wouldn't make them yellow would they?"
"He's got a point there John." Scott came between them, leaning against the railing and glancing down to where Virgil was guiding Alan out of their paddock. "They're lining up." He pointed over to where fellow competitors where lining up their cars for the qualifier.
"I sure hope that car runs okay today, Alan's getting real stressed about it." Gordon confided to his two elder brothers. "You can't blame him for feeling frustrated when the damn thing keeps letting him down, can you?" The sound of impatient revving of engines floated up to their ears; that guttural roar that only a Ferrari could produce.
"Sam said he needs to take it easy." John commented as he shook his head. "Whew! It sure is hot here for England." He wiped a hand across his brow.
"Don't complain!" Gordon raised both hands up in the air to embrace the sun. "It's great, this is the first time I've been to England and it hasn't rained! I'll bet you any money you like it rains before we leave."
Scott smirked. "Yeah, well you'd better cover up, you'll burn pretty easy today Kid."
"Hey!" Gordon exclaimed. "Just because Alan's not here, don't think you can get away with calling me a Kid. I'm not ten years old anymore."
John laughed loudly. "No matter what you do, you and Alan'll always be the kids, Kid." He smirked as Gordon playfully swatted his arm.
"I meant both of you." Scott shook his head.
"There they go!" John called, the sound of screeching engines reached them as the ten or so competitors tore into the first corner. All three brothers raced across the roof to the other side to see Alan take up eighth position behind a blue Ferrari.
"Alan can take that number 43." Gordon said with confidence. "Last time, he was in seventh position before the gears went. I thought he did pretty well considering he only had first, third and fifth gears." Scott nodded, his eyes glued to the straight for any signs of life as they walked back across the roof. "And when the starter motor went, he qualified in fifth position." Gordon continued to no one in particular. Due to his commitments at the WASP, he had regretfully been unable to make a lot of Alan's races. Despite that fact though, his only younger brother would fill him in on every single detail. Scott knew that if Alan had confided his anxiousness about the car in anyone it would have been Gordon.
"There he is!" John pointed into the distance as the screaming engines became louder and the matchbox cars of the distance came closer. "He's coming up on the inside." John gave an instinctive running commentary. "He's passed the blue one, I don't believe it! He's … He's going to … He's taken the red one too!" They raced across to the other side of the roof to see them come out of the corner.
"Yes!" Gordon called out. "He's holding it. If he can keep that position, he'll qualify in sixth place."
"How many laps Gordy?" Scott asked over the sound of screeching tyres.
"Two left." Gordon said distractedly. "The blue one's overtaken the red one. John, look! He's getting closer to Al!" He paused. "Is it me or does that safety car look like it's about to come out?"
John followed Gordon's arm looking down to where his younger brother pointed at the silver car, its green lights flashing. "It's probably just …" John trailed off as it pulled out onto the track and increased its speed.
"Something's wrong." Gordon turned to Scott instinctively, as if his oldest brother had all the answers; a habit born of his childhood. "Where are they?" He breathed heavily as he stared intently towards the end of the straight, waiting for the cars to appear.
John and Scott shared a concerned glance, before Gordon's elated cry of, "There they are!" Turned their attention, they both glanced down to see the cars entering the pit lane. "And there's Alan, behind 56. Thank God!" He sighed.
"Come on." John called as he headed for the stairs. "Let's get down there and find out what's going on."
Entering the paddock, Virgil could just be made out as he ran towards Alan's car as it came to a stop. The car was barely stationary when Alan jumped out, pulling off his racing helmet and the heat resistant hood before ripping open the collar. Virgil threw him a bottle of water, before turning to push the car back into the paddock with Sam's help.
Whereas John and Gordon headed to Alan, Scott jogged over to help his chestnut haired brother.
"Need a hand?" He smiled, helping to push the car backwards.
Virgil nodded, grateful for the assistance. "Ever feel like you're just the gofer?" He gestured over to where John and Gordon where eagerly questioning Alan. The comment gave rise to a dry laugh from both Sam and Scott.
"What happened?" Gordon asked urgently, as Alan gulped down desperately needed water.
"I don't know." He gasped for breath as Scott, Sam and Virgil approached him. He was hot, flustered and breathless. "It was Jim Matterson, I don't know what happened. One minute we're going…" He paused for breath. "Great guns, the next. He's spinning round in my rear view mirror." Sam nodded before disappearing. "The control tower cut the radios, where was I?" Alan asked, still gulping at the water.
"Sixth, in front of Mark Jamison." Gordon informed him, looking up to the board for conformation. "Well done."
Alan nodded, smiling at the compliment and the fact he'd managed to hold the position in front of his rival. "Thanks."
"You'd better get out of that suit." Scott told him, resting a hand on his shoulder. "You look like you're overheating."
Alan allowed himself to be guided into the paddock, were he began unzipping the race suit. "Hey Al!" He turned to face the voice of his second eldest brother. "Car okay?" Virgil asked.
Alan nodded. "Brakes were a bit spongy but the gears were okay." He seemed pleased and Virgil smiled a reply as Sam came back in.
"It was Jim Matterson." He confirmed. "He's okay, looks like one of the bearings went and the stub axel snapped." There were shocked gasp and audible winces from Virgil and Alan. "Back, nearside apparently. Spun him into the wall. He was lucky."
"I'll say!" Virgil agreed.
"Oh well," Alan shrugged. "I guess that's one less for me to worry about." Five sets of incredulous eyes turned on him. "What! The guy isn't hurt." He defended himself. "I was just saying."
"Well don't!" Scott growled.
"I can't believe you just said that!" Gordon frowned disgusted at his brother.
"I'm starving!" Alan stretched, ignoring them. "Anyone want to get something to eat?"
Scott just shook his head, illustrating his disapproval.
"Sam and I had better check these brakes out." Virgil said as he pulled open the rear compartment revealing the engine.
Alan nodded nonchalantly. "Okay, you three coming?"
Scott frowned at his brother. "I'll tell you what; we'll go find you something to eat. You stay and help Virgil and Sam get YOUR car ready."
Alan pouted for a few minutes and looked as if he was going to argue, but he just nodded. Scott's message was clear enough.
Jeff Tracy raced up the stairs to the roof breathlessly. He spotted his three sons and headed over. "Have I missed anything?"
"Dad!" They chorused. Each taking their turn to clap him on the back as he leant against the railings, gazing down to the track.
"They're just lining up." Scott informed him. "They're running late, had to redo the qualifier after an accident." He added. "Alan qualified in sixth position, fourth in his class." There was a definite proud tone to his voice.
"That's excellent. Is that him there?" Jeff pointed out the red Ferrari, white stripes running over the roof and the number 33 emblazoned on either side, front and back.
"Yep." Gordon said excitedly. "I'm telling you, if he drives like he did in the qualifier he could make a podium position today." John nodded in agreement.
"Is this the race or the warm up lap?" Jeff asked as he slipped his jacket off.
"Warm up." Scott told him. "You get your work done?"
"Yes son, I did." Jeff smiled; he didn't really want to elaborate on that until an appropriate time; perhaps over supper tonight. "Say, where's Virgil?"
"Oh, he's down in the pit lane with Sam. In case Al needs any help during the race." John said distractedly. "You see that white one, second from the front on the left?" The others nodded as the cars pulled into formation on the grid. "He's British, real idiot. He pays three mechanics $2, 00 each to look after his car twenty four seven whilst we're here, they even have to pick him up after the race. They drive his car back. Pathetic huh?"
Gordon nodded his agreement as Scott piped up. "Maybe that's starting to rub off on Alan. I noticed he wasn't too eager to help Sam and Virgil out today. He'd be lost without them, and it's not like they're getting paid two grand. In fact, without Kenny this weekend they could use the extra help."
"Alan does appreciate them helping him." Gordon defended his younger brother with a sigh. It was so typical of Scott to look out for people abusing Virgil's good nature. Yet, he thought, it was typical of him to defend Alan too.
"I know that." Scott said testily. "I just think he should show it more."
"How many laps John?" Jeff asked, reaching into his jacket to place a pair of sunglasses on.
"Twelve, father." John told him in reply.
"And I take it the car's running okay?" Jeff asked again.
"Fine Dad." Gordon told him. "Virgil and Sam have checked the brakes and the gears seem to be okay."
"Thank Goodness for that." Jeff sighed. "Right. Well if this is a warm up lap, I'm going down to get a drink. Anyone want one?"
Several shakes of the head later, he was heading for the bar. "This vacation is just what Dad needs." Gordon said suddenly. "He's been real stressed out recently with the Business and this new special project he's working on."
Scott nodded. "Yeah. Well let's try and keep it as stress free as possible. Huh Gordy?" Scott nudged his brother.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Gordon asked innocently.
John coughed pointedly but Scott elaborated. "The last time we had any time together you and Alan ruined it!"
"Ruined it…" Gordon began defending himself but both brothers spoke over him.
"Yes!" They chorused.
"You got drunk and brought that gigantic plastic fish back to the hotel." John was about to explain further when the lights and revving of engines caught his attention. "They're off!" He called before Gordon could retaliate.
"Go on Al, come one." Scott silently pleaded as they headed into the first corner. His brothers were less discreet in their willing Alan on and joined the cheering crowd as they raced across the roof to see them come out of the bend. Tyres screeching with the pressure and engines roaring as they flew past and into the distance.
It was the sickening but loud screech that grabbed everyone's attention. Scott looked across to John who looked at Gordon. They raced to the other side of the track as the safety car went out and a cloud of smoke could be seen on the horizon. Then the original loud pop, was followed by more sickeningly loud bangs… …