John was sitting in the chair with one hand around Virgil's and the other resting on his brother's chest. He'd been trying to talk as much as he could, but his throat was becoming increasingly dry and sore. But he knew he had to keep it up. A nurse had come in and upon hearing the sound of his voice, got him a pitcher of water and a glass. And so he sat, talking endlessly until he felt the gentle squeeze of his brother's hand.
"I swear it, Virg. When Scott saw that painting of the snakes…I thought he was going to have a fit. Then he swore Gordon put you up to it, so when he heard it was all you… You know, he got mad at me, too? After all, I took you to the zoo and everything. We had a great time though, that day. We really should…"
The squeeze was gentle and weak, but it got John to stop in mid-sentence. John jumped to his feet and saw that his younger brother's eyes were open and blinking.
"Virgil!" John cried, though he was mindful to keep his volume low.
John saw that Virgil was looking up at him, though his eyes appeared dazed and unfocused. John took his hand from Virgil's chest and pressed the call button. Then he put his free hand on the side of Virgil's face, his thumb caressing his brother's cheek.
"I'll get the doctor," he informed his brother. "You're going to be fine now."
A nurse came in then and didn't need John to tell her that Virgil was awake. So she called for the doctor, who came in a minute later. And all the while, John kept talking to Virgil.
Jeff woke with a start, hearing a familiar and never ending sound. Then he looked around, and realized what it was.
"Tracy," he said sleepily just as he activated his cell phone.
"Mr. Tracy," Brains said. "The b…b…your sons are away."
"How bad?" Jeff asked, sitting up and turning the light on.
"Not too b…b…serious. S…Scott wanted me to t…t…inform you."
"Thank you, Brains," Jeff replied. "Let me know if anything serious comes up. I do want to speak with Scott when they all return."
Jeff disconnected the call, then lied back down. He saw that it was almost 3am, so he tried to get more sleep. The next call woke him a couple hours later, Scott informing that there wasn't a problem, everyone was fine, and that they'd talk later. It was the third call, at half past 5am, that threw Jeff for a loop.
"Tracy," he said, not expecting another call from the island.
The caller was in tears, and his heart sank immediately. "Dad?" John's whisper came through.
"John?" Jeff asked, hearing his son in tears. "Don't tell me…"
"He's awake!" John interrupted. "He squeezed my hand…then he opened his eyes!"
"Did he say anything?"
Jeff heard John take a few deep breaths, then he reminded his father, "He couldn't, Dad. The tube down his throat, remember? To help him get more oxygen."
"Oh, right," Jeff said. He'd obviously forgotten.
"I got to stay in the room as the doctor started looking him over. Says Virg looks pretty good. But they wanted to take him for scans and X-rays. So while they've got him for that, I wanted to call you."
"That's fine, John. How long has he been awake for?"
"Only about fifteen minutes. I didn't want to leave him right away, not just when he woke up."
"I completely understand that, John. I'm going to call the others and let them know. Then I'll be on my way to keep you company. I'd also like to see Virgil for myself, and speak with the doctor."
"Not a problem," John said. "The doctor said they'd have Virgil for a little while, so I'm going to use the opportunity to grab some coffee and food. I should be in his room when you get here."
"I'll see you there."
Jeff disconnected that call, the dialed the island.
"Hello," a groggy Gordon answered.
"I know you must be tired," Jeff said. "But I need you to get everyone together."
"Something wrong?" Gordon asked.
"Just get everyone," was all Jeff would say.
It took a few minutes, but then Jeff heard that everyone was gathered.
"I just heard from John. Your brother has just woken up!"
There was a flurry of excitement from the island's end. Jeff heard pieces of multiple questions, but the voices were talking on top of one another, so he couldn't make them out properly.
"One at a time!" Jeff laughed after the commotion ceased to die down.
"What happened?" Scott's voice rose above the others. Then the others quieted down.
"John just called me, but he didn't say much. All he said was that Virgil had squeezed his hand, and then he opened his eyes. The doctor then looked at him and said he was looking pretty good. Virgil is now having scans and X-rays done. I'll be leaving in a little while to keep John company and to see Virgil for myself."
"Let us know what's going on later," Penelope broke in.
"Either John or I will call later when we know more. Until then, I want you all getting some rest."
A chorus of "Yes, sir" came from his three sons, as well as Penelope, who then laughed a bit.
Once the call was over, Jeff quickly showered and dressed, then he rushed to the hospital. He found John sitting alone in Virgil's room, just staring into his cup of coffee.
"John?" Jeff softly asked from the doorway.
John looked up with red-rimmed, but dull, eyes.
"John," Jeff sighed, quickly entering the room. "Did something happen?"
John shook his head. "He hasn't been back, haven't heard from the doctor either."
"Then what's wrong?"
"Just…I don't know. Everything. Stress, joy, relief…"
Jeff nodded, understanding what John was trying to say. He dragged a chair next to John, where he put a comforting hand on John's back, rubbing it soothingly. It wasn't much longer when Virgil was brought back in, his doctor following right behind.
"Mr. Tracy," the doctor said cheerily, "I hoped you'd be here."
"How is my Virgil?" Jeff impatiently asked.
"Fairing much better now. The scans of his internal injuries look much improved, and his concussion has healed. So far I find no signs of any brain damage, though when he's more awake and coherent, we'll be able to ascertain any signs of traumatic amnesia. All that being said, I do want him to remain here for a while longer. He does still need intensive care."
Jeff nodded, taking a few moments to let everything soak in. "So, he's doing much better, but he needs to stay here longer?"
It was the doctor's turn to nod. "Just to be sure. Plus, he's just woken from a coma, he still needs hospital support."
"And familial support as well," Jeff added.
"I wasn't going to ask you to leave."
The doctor excused himself then, and Jeff looked over to Virgil, who had fallen asleep. Then Jeff turned his attention to John, who was sitting in the chair with his elbows on his knees and Jeff could see him shaking slightly.
"John?" Jeff whispered, sitting next to his son.
"He's going to be fine…" John answered, looking up and over at his father.
"Yeah, he is," Jeff smiled. "We're all going to be just fine. Why don't you call the island and give them the latest? I just gave them the bit I'd gotten from you. I want some one-on-one time with Virgil, anyway. Plus, it doesn't look like you got breakfast."
John shook his head. "Wasn't real hungry before. Sure, I'll call home, and get you a cup of coffee while I'm out."
John shakily got to his feet, but was steady once standing. Jeff watched as John walked slowly out the door, then turned his attention to Virgil. Knowing that his son was merely asleep kept Jeff silent, but his attention was strictly on Virgil.