Disclaimer: As much as I wish I could lay claim to them, I can't. The Thunderbirds and those gorgeous Tracy brothers belong to others.
Days passed, and Virgil steadily improved. But while Virgil improved, John became more and more distant. Jeff noticed when it first started, and he was sure it didn't take Scott long to catch on. Virgil wouldn't have noticed since he was still recuperating, while Gordon and Alan were spending most of their time with Virgil since they'd nothing else to occupy their time.
"Scott, a word please," Jeff said, sticking his head into the command area where his two eldest were working.
"I'll be around," John sighed.
Once John had disappeared around the corner, Scott just looked at his father and shrugged.
"I've been trying," Scott said. "John's just not talking."
Jeff's brow furrowed in thought, trying to imagine what would make John behave so strangely.
"Do you think it's about the database search? He took it pretty hard that it took him so long to find the island," Jeff suggested, merely bouncing the idea off his eldest.
"Possible, but not likely. We've been over that," Scott replied. "You, me, Gordon… nah, I don't think so. It's something else."
"I just want to know what."
And with that, father and son sat in contemplative silence.
After leaving command, John went downstairs to find his three younger brothers playing a board game. He watched from the window for a minute, and seeing that they were doing just fine as a trio, he turned and walked away. But it hadn't gone unnoticed.
"That was weird," Alan noted, being the only one who would've seen John.
"You're gonna have to be more specific, Al, because weird is common around here," Gordon quipped while Virgil stared at his letters.
"John, he was at the window, but he didn't come in," Alan explained. "He's been weird lately, too. Quiet and stuff."
"He's the quiet one, Sprout. It's kinda what he does," Gordon supplied while Virgil placed tiles on the board.
"Ha! Adding ers to play makes players, with double word score!" Virgil exclaimed, much to Gordon's dismay. "Who's rocking now?"
Gordon could only glare, then looked over at a worried Alan. "Go pester him, or something, if you think it's a big deal. Johnny's just being Johnny- all quiet and weird."
"Fine, have fun. Never any fun getting your butt kicked at Scrabble anyway," Alan muttered before leaving the room.
It didn't take Alan long to find John, it just took a bit of a hike. The older blonde was sitting by the beach, one of his favorite spots on the island.
"Mind some company?" Alan asked, sitting down next to his brother anyway.
John just shook his head, he knew better. "What's up, Al? Tired of losing?"
"Ha, ha. How do you know I didn't just win?"
John cast his brother a look. "Right… I know your Scrabble record."
"Not my game, but Virgil wanted to play."
"It is his favorite game."
"And yours… which is why I've been wondering where you've been?"
John shrugged, he didn't have an answer.
John met his brother's eyes, but still said nothing. He couldn't make sense of anything himself, how could he explain it to Alan? So instead, he reclined onto the sand, and stared up at the blue sky.
"Okay John, you're starting to freak me out here. Do I need to get Scott or Dad or Brains or…"
"I'm fine, Al. Just…weirded out, I guess. I'm fine, really."
"Color me not convinced," Alan said, sitting so that he could talk to John better.
"I can't explain it."
And he was saved from having to try. "There you are!" the brothers heard, and looked to see Scott coming towards them. "Hiding or something?"
"Or something," John echoed, settling back down.
The oldest and youngest exchanged both looks and shrugs. Then Scott asked, "What's going on?"
"Ask him," Alan said, pointing to John. Then he told Scott about the infirmary window.
"John?" Scott asked, drawing his name out.
But John was on his feet and heading back toward the house, leaving two worried and confused brothers behind.
John wandered back to command, finding his father at his desk. His father was looking at some papers, but John wondered if he was really concentrating on them.
"Hey Dad," John said, stepping into the room slowly.
"Hi son," Jeff replied, putting the papers down. "Was trying to catch up on paperwork."
"Only trying," Jeff confirmed, noting his son's smirk with relief.
"Why only trying?"
"Too much else going on around here… still," Jeff answered. "I know Virgil's going to be fine, sooner rather than later, thankfully."
"You." Jeff looked John in the eye has the answer was given.
"I know," John sighed.
"I just don't know. Scott's been doing the annoying round-about method, which doesn't really help matters. Even Alan tried. But I can't make sense of anything in my own head, how can I explain it to anyone else?" John posed the question he'd thought of earlier.
Jeff leaned back in his chair, kicking his feet onto the desk while John settled on the sofa. "I think I may know part of the problem."
"Care to enlighten me?"
"You usually need a day or two to get used to being back on the island. You didn't get that this time, you got thrown into a serious situation where your habits and patterns were thrown to Hell. Now you're trying to settle back in and process everything that's happened. And we keep bugging you."
"I wouldn't say bugging…"
"You wouldn't?" Jeff asked with a quirked eyebrow.
"Minorly irritating is more accurate."
"Potato, po-tah-toe," Jeff replied, earning a smile from his son. "John, now I get it. You just need a little more time to readjust and process. I'll field your brothers, you head up to the Point. Just be sure to get back in time for dinner."
"Thanks, Dad. For everything."
And with that, John was gone. Alone again, Jeff picked up the papers and started to read them over.