Disclaimer: I don't own the TBs or the Tracys with the exception of Samantha.

A/N: Finally, what started out as something that wasn't supposed to take any time at all to write is now coming to a close.

A/N: The poem "A True Mother's Love" was written by Patarica D. Nunn and the poem "When God Opens Heaven's Gates" was written by Gloria Davis Walker and both should be credited accordingly for such apt poetry for this chapter.

Epilogue

There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go. Author Unknown

The flight back to Kansas was one of the quietest ones that Grandma had ever been on with her grandchildren. John and Samantha were asleep due to the pain medication they had been given to help them with the flight home. Virgil was focused on his sketch book. Alan had fallen asleep after seeking comfort from Scott while Gordon had opted to sit in the cockpit with Jeff. She watched over her only grandchildren protectively. In the days since the avalanche, she had taken on the role of a surrogate mother figure for them. Seeing that they were all taken care of, she dozed off and didn't hear Samantha.

"I'm so sorry…Mom. Scotty's upset…us," she mumbled in her sleep. "Didn't mean…happen." Scott had heard her voice but not the words until he moved next to her. Suddenly, he was overcome with guilt at what he was hearing. He hadn't realized that she'd picked up on his emotions. Shaking a bit, he reached out and touched her face.

"Hey, Sis, you need to wake up," he said quietly so that he wouldn't wake John or their grandmother. It took several attempts before he got through to her. With a small gasp of surprise, she woke up and slowly focused on him.

"Whaddya want, Scotty?" she asked, sleepily.

"You were talking in your sleep again," he told her. "Are you okay?" She took a moment to wipe at her eyes and felt some moisture on her hand.

"Yeah, I'm alright," she muttered. Then her stubborn streak flared and she stared hard at her oldest brother. "You know what, Scott? I'm not alright. My arm and leg hurt unless I've taken pain medicine and then I sleep because the doctor who discharged me and John didn't listen to Dad about us being sensitive to meds. Not to mention the fact that our mother died in order to save me. Oh yeah, one other thing while I'm admitting reasons why I'm not alright. Why does it seem as though you are upset with me and Johnny? Did we do something wrong because when you don't think that I'm paying attention, I see a flash of anger on your face quickly followed by a guilty look? Do you feel that it's our fault that Mom died? Well, get this through your thick skull, nobody can feel guiltier than me! Mom died to save me so how do you think that makes me feel?" Tears flowed down Sam's cheeks and she angrily swiped at them. "I lived…and our mom…is dead…because of me…" Scott was so startled by her admission that he shook his head as if to clear it.

"Sammie, that's not true," he managed to tell her before she shifted in her seat to look away from him.

"Leave me…alone," she cried. "Go back…to thinking…it's my fault." Virgil had looked over at them and realized that Sam had also noticed the strange expressions he had seen on their oldest brother's face. Even though he was closer to Scott, Sam had always there for him as well and he didn't like to see her upset and God help Scott if John were to wake up and see his twin like this.

"Sammie?" Groaning silently to himself, Virgil mentally smacked his hand against his forehead. He should have known that John would hear her cries and wake up. Glancing at her twin, Sam knew that he would be angry if he suspected that Scott was part of the reason she was crying.

"'S alright, Johnny, I just bumped my arm in my sleep and jarred it a bit," she lied. She turned to look back at Scott and saw the surprised look on his face. "I'm fine, Scott, you can go back to your seat." Effectively dismissing her oldest brother, she struggled to find a comfortable position. She sat up and reached for the back of the seat in front of her when she was unable to get comfortable.

"Where are you going?" John asked, curiously.

"Just need to move around a little," she replied. "I think I'll go see how Dad is doing up front with Gordy." Scott had moved back to his seat but when she tried to stand up he was right back by her side.

"Samantha, you're not supposed to be getting up without any help," he said.

"Scott, you'd better back off," Virgil thought. "She's not going to be pleasant if you keep up and John isn't going to be any nicer."

"I'm perfectly capable of using my crutch for about ten feet," she retorted. She lowered her voice somewhat so that John wouldn't hear her before continuing. "Don't you think that you've said enough lately with your actions? How about this, you leave me alone and I ignore you so that you can keep blaming me for Mom's death? Virgil, would you hand me my crutches?" Unfortunately for Virgil, Scott had glared at him and shook his head. He swallowed nervously and looked back at their sister who was watching him with narrowed eyes.

"Um, sorry, Sis, but I'm sitting out of this battle of the wills," he mumbled, looking back down at his sketch book. For his part, John looked around at his siblings and wondered what he had missed. He knew that his twin was upset (the tear streaks gave her away), Scott was uncomfortable about something, and Virgil knew what was going on between Scott and Samantha.

"Hey, Virgil, how about you fill me in on what I have missed?" he asked. Virgil's head snapped up and he looked over at his second oldest brother.

"Um, what do you mean, Johnny?" Swallowing hard, Virgil tried to appear nonchalant and relaxed but achieved neither. John leaned forward just a little and grinned causing Virgil to involuntarily shudder at the predatory gleam in his brother's eyes.

"What I mean, is you had better spill what is going on between Scott and Samantha," he replied. "It's obvious to me that my twin is upset and from the guilty look on your face as well as Scott's tells me that he has something to do with it." Sam carefully sat back down in her seat and put her hand on John's arm.

"I'm alright, John," she reassured him.

"Not buying it, Sis," he replied, shaking his head. "You don't cry for no reason and that little lie about jarring your broken arm was so obvious to me." Unbeknownst to them, Grandma was awake but had kept her eyes closed and listened for the inevitable explosion between Sam, John, and Scott.

"John, for me, just let it go," Sam said, quietly. "What he says and thinks doesn't matter." John glared at both Virgil and Scott before speaking again.

"Virgil Grissom Tracy, if you don't tell me what's going on right now, I will come up with all sorts of ways to make your life unpleasant." The dark expression on John's face was proof enough for Virgil to know that it wasn't an empty threat. Scott had kept quiet for as long as he was willing and snapped at his next youngest brother.

"Knock it off, John," he snapped. "Virgil has nothing to do with this."

"Was I talking to you, Scott? I believe that I asked Virg to tell me what is wrong with our sister," John retorted. "Unless you're going to tell me what you did to her then I suggest you butt out of this conversation." It didn't take a genius to realize that wasn't a wise thing for one headstrong Tracy to say to another headstrong Tracy especially with two other equally stubborn Tracy siblings in the same area.

"What did you just say to me?" Scott had his teeth gritted together but it was his stance that showed just how angry he was.

"I…said…butt…out," John said slowly and clearly. "Did you hear and understand me that time?" Before anyone realized what had happened, Scott had grabbed him by the front of his shirt and jerked him. Even with the pain medicine he'd taken before leaving the hospital, the pain from the sudden movement on his cracked ribs was intense and he cried out. As soon as Sam heard her brother's cry of pain, she hit Scott with the cast on her broken arm which hurt him enough that he let go of John.

"KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF HIM!" She screamed. "LEAVE US ALONE AND DON'T EVER—"

"SAMANTHA TRACY!" Instantly Samantha stopped screaming and she, Scott, and John looked up at their grandmother. "Scott, sit down in that seat next to Virgil. John--"

"Dad wants to know what all the yelling is for," Gordon interrupted. His eyes widened when he saw Scott glaring at the twins. "Oops, I'll let him know that you have it under control, Grandma." Before he could do anything to get himself into the mess, he turned around and headed back to the cockpit.


"What's going on back there, Gordon?" Jeff asked while monitoring the various readouts on his control panel.

"Not sure, Dad, but it looked like Grandma was taking care of it," he answered, truthfully.

"Gordon, do you have any idea of what's wrong?" Jeff asked, wearily. He just wasn't in the mood to deal with any unnecessary drama from his children. It'd been rough these last few days especially with making arrangements to have his beloved Lucy's body taken back to Kansas, the funeral arrangements, contacting her family in England, and taking care of his children. Not to mention the near-constant media attention focused on him and his family.

"Um, looked like Scott and the twins weren't agreeing on something," he said. "John was breathing weird and holding his chest and Samantha was facing him." Jeff hit the autopilot switch and stood up.

"Gordon, stay here for just a minute and watch the control panel," he ordered. "I'll be right back." With a last glance at the panel, he stormed out of the cockpit and into the passenger area. His mother was standing in the center of the aisle and giving three of her grandchildren a lecture that they'd not forget any time soon.

"WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON BACK HERE?" His voice shook with absolute anger and admonishment. Grandma stopped talking and all six of his children sank back in their seats. Gordon had heard the anger and reacted just as if he were back there with them. Alan had been startled out of his sleep and reacted as his older siblings had. When none of them spoke up, Grandma turned around and pulled him aside.

"Jefferson, there are some really hurt feelings here with your children," she told him. With a quick glance back at the silent passenger cabin, she told him what she'd heard while pretending to be asleep. Incredulous at what she was telling him, Jeff kept staring back at his children.

"Scott, is that true? Do you feel that it's your brother and sister's fault that they were caught in the avalanche with your mother and that they're the reason she died?" Alan and John gasped at the question and looked over at Scott. Samantha lowered her head and cried silent tears. Virgil looked out the window and wished that this nightmare would just go away. Scott swallowed hard before he was able to answer his dad.

"Yes, Sir…I mean, no, Sir," he stammered, nervously. "If they hadn't wanted to go for another run down the slope then Mom would still be alive." The plane was silent accept for the sound of the pressurized air that was being circulated within the cabin and cockpit.

"Son, it wasn't their idea. Your mother wanted to have some time with them and it was her idea," Jeff admitted, softly. "It was a freak accident and you can't do this to yourself or to them. We can't argue amongst ourselves when we're all going to need each other to get through this. Your mother would be upset to see you acting like this. We didn't raise any of you to so blatantly accuse each other of something that was never in our control." Scott shifted his gaze to the floor, the words his dad said repeating in his head.

"It was Mom's idea and all this time I was blaming John and Samantha. But if they would have told her no then she'd still be alive. NO! I'm still blaming them. Oh God, Mom, how could I have done something so stupid? I knew that John was in the bedroom he had been sharing with Virgil and me. Samantha had been in her room writing something in one of her journals. I've been a total jerk but I can admit when I'm wrong and I'm so wrong on this that I don't know if they'll ever forgive me. Dad needs to be told about what Samantha said. She can't go around blaming herself for Mom's death anymore than I blamed them."

"Um, Johnny, I'm sorry for hurting you," Scott apologized much to his dad and grandmother's surprise. "I…I've been acting like a jerk and I didn't know the whole story." He looked at their only sister and took a deep breath. "Sammie, I have no reason for you to forgive me but I am so sorry that I blamed you and John for Mom's death. Now that Dad has told us what happened, I know that there was nothing that anyone could have done and that it was a freak accident. I will own up to my mistake but I'm also going to lay something out for you. It is not your fault that Mom died--"

"WHAT?!?!" John, Jeff, and Virgil cried out as one. Grandma studied her granddaughter while Alan looked on in open-mouthed shock.

"She told me that it was her fault that Mom died. That Mom shoved her out of the way of the falling tree," Scott admitted.

"Samantha, is that true?" Jeff asked. The only thing she could do was nod her head slightly. She didn't want anyone to see the hurt and guilt on her face. Their dad walked over to her seat and squatted down so that he was at her eye level and gently raised her face. "Samantha, it is not your fault. It was never in your control and your mother sacrificed herself so that your brothers and I didn't lose both of you. If you hadn't been pushed out of the way, that tree would have killed you as well." He could no longer hold back his tears and unashamedly he let them run down his face. "It will be a long time before I'm comfortable that I no longer have my wife at my side but it'd be so much worse if this family would have lost you as well. Your mother lives on in each of you but mostly you because you are so much like her in appearance and actions. She would not want any of you to feel guilty or weighed down with so much sorrow." Carefully, he hugged her and the last of her resolve crumbled…

"I miss…her so…much, Dad," she cried. "It hurts…so much…that I can't…take it any…more." Her brothers couldn't help the tears that fell from their own eyes when they heard the words through her broken sobs.

"Shh, I know, Sam, but I also know something else. None of us have to deal with this on our own. Our family is close because that's how we were brought up and now is no different."

"DAD, GET UP HERE NOW!" Gordon's voice reverberated from the cockpit and Jeff rushed back to the cockpit. "Air Traffic Control is asking for you to report in since we're just 30 minutes out." Once he'd radioed in to ATC, Jeff looked at his son.

"Thanks for watching over everything but did you really have to scare the hell out of everyone?" Jeff asked. Gordon couldn't hold back his trademark grin and cheekiness.

"Dad, I was asked to get you up here and that's what I did," he replied. "ATC didn't want to speak with a kid but the actual adult pilot." Unable to refute his logic, Jeff sighed in resignation.

"I know, Gordon, how you are," he said. "Thanks for holding things down up here."

"No problem, Dad. Um, how are things back there?" he asked, worriedly.

"We'll have to finish the discussion once we get home. Evidently there is a lot more going on than I realized." Jeff turned his attention to preparing for their landing and pushed the intercom button for the passenger cabin. "Everybody needs to fasten their seatbelts and we'll be landing within fifteen minutes." Gordon had already fastened his seatbelt and was watching his dad closely. He was trying to understand just what Scott found so fascinating with flying.


Grandma quickly checked to make sure her grandchildren were secure before sitting down and fastening her own seatbelt. Scott and Virgil were talking quietly to each other but she couldn't quite hear what they were saying. John and Samantha were sitting behind her so their conversation was a little bit easier to hear.

"Sammie, please tell me that what Scott said isn't true," John begged his sister. Sam only closed her eyes and lowered her head in response. Awkwardly, he pulled her to him in a clumsy hug but one that they both needed. It became more apparent that Sam needed it when she hid her face in the side of his neck and continued to cry.

"I'm sorry for…taking Mom…away from all…of you," she muttered. John pushed her away a little so that he could see her face and she could see his.

"Samantha Michelle Tracy, didn't you hear what Dad said? Even if Mom hadn't shoved you out of the way, she still would have been killed. The only difference is that you would have been killed as well. Dad's right, though, it's going to be hard and we're all going to miss Mom but at least we still have each other. As long as we have that then we'll always have Mom, too." He stared hard yet as a caring brother into eyes that matched his in shade and pain, searching them to make sure that she believed what he was telling her. He'd no reason to lie to her and couldn't even if he'd tried.

"I'm being…pretty…silly, huh?" she asked. Her words broken by slight whimpers as she slowly got hold of her emotions. "Love you, Johnny." Grinning slightly, he pulled her close again and the two of them waited for their dad to give the all clear to unfasten their seatbelts. Grandma sat in the seat in front of them and smiled to herself.

"At least that grandson of mine can make his twin see reason," she thought to herself. "Still we have a long way to go until we heal from our loss if ever."

Samantha and Scott still were a bit cool to each other the first day the family was back home. Samantha and John were holed up in his room since her room held too many memories of their mother. She and Samantha had decorated it together the previous summer before school had started. Gordon and Alan were constantly together and that meant they were always near Jeff or Grandma. Virgil and Scott could be found in their room trying to talk things out so that they wouldn't have to hold all of the pain within.


The minister finished speaking though the Tracy family remained focused on the open casket in front of them.

"Samantha and Virgil Tracy both have asked to speak before their mother is interred into her final resting place," he announced to the mourners. Virgil got up and made his way to where the minister was standing and glanced down at a note card in his hand.

"I read a poem that I wanted to share with you," he said, his voice wavering slightly. "A poem that was written by Patarica D. Nunn.

A True Mother's Love

A mother's love is consistent and patient and it will never fade.

A mother's love is warm and compassionate, even in the shade.

A mother's love will always help you through the weakest hours.

A mother's love is always like a bouquet of flowers.

A mother's love is strong and will never steer you wrong.

A true mother's love is beautiful in many ways.

A true mother's love is sincere and it takes a mother's love to conquer our fears.

A true mother's love knows the depth of love.

A true mother's love is contentment just like God's love.

My mother's love is absolutely all of the above.

My mom may not be here with us in person but she will always be here with us in spirit. Her love for us knew no bounds here on earth and will know no bounds now that she is in Heaven. Mom, I love you and…" Unable to finish, Virgil hurried back to his family and into his father's arms. Scott pushed Samantha's wheelchair up to where the minister stood and helped her stand up. He remained by her side for comfort and support should she need it.

"Thank you, Scott, and thank you for coming to pay your respects to our mother and console us in our time of need. I have chosen a poem that I found in my mother's Bible that I thought was appropriate. It was written by Gloria Davis Walker.

When God Opens Heaven's Gates

When God opens Heaven's gates as we cross that gulf so wide,

The arms of Jesus open as our soul will there abide.

When God opens Heaven's gates we'll see beauty all around,

Our loved ones, too, will greet us, as we leave this earth behind.

When God opens Heaven's gates there'll be singing angels there,

The awesome peace and joyfulness will permeate the air.

As God opens Heaven's gates and His light takes place of day,

Jesus welcomes us forever as the ones who found "The Way."

Mom, I know that you'll be at Heaven's gates with Grandpa to welcome each of us when it is our time. Thank you for being such a positive role model for us and I love you." Using the podium for support, she turned towards her mother before she kissed her fingers that barely showed with the cast on her arm and gently touched her mother's cheek. Scott helped her back to her wheelchair when she whispered that she was done.

"Thank you, Scotty," she told him on the way back to where their family was sitting. Grandma was dabbing at the tears in her eyes while their brothers were openly crying. Once the mourners moved away so that the family could say their private goodbyes, Jeff went to his wife's casket. He leaned over his wife's still form and kissed her softly on her lips and told her that he would always love her and never would he forget her. Scott had come up to his side and placed his hand on his dad's arm. Jeff wrapped his arm around his son and gave him a small hug and walked off so that Scott could have a chance to tell her goodbye.

He stood there much like his father had before him and though the tears poured down his young face. He said his silent goodbyes and he too leaned over and kissed his mother on the lips. Virgil came up next and said his goodbyes. He placed a folded sheet of paper in the casket next to his mother. He quickly kissed her and ran off to where the family had sat.

John slowly made his way to his mother's side. Jeff was just a few steps behind him in case he needed support. He carefully placed his crutches to the side of where he barely maintained his balance.

"Mom, thank you for saving us like you did. I wish that you were still here with us. Sam and I feel so guilty because we survived and you didn't. Why did you have to leave us? We need you. I love you." He began to sway unsteadily as his emotions began to build and his dad, worried that he'd fall, reached out and held him close. John turned and buried his face in his dad's jacket. He cried hard for the loss of his beautiful and loving mother. When he'd calmed down enough, Jeff handed him his crutches and helped him back to the family area. Virgil quickly sat down next to John so that they could grieve together. They both looked back towards their mother's casket just as Scott pushed Sam up to it. With the help of both Scott and her dad, she was able to stand between the two of them and say her own goodbyes. Not caring that she would be overheard she said them aloud.

"Don't worry Mom. I'll look after the Tracy men for you. I can never replace you and I would never want to but I'll be there anytime my brothers need me. When Gordy and Ally cry, I'll comfort them just as you would. I'll make sure that Virgil doesn't stop playing piano or his artwork. You already know that I'm always there for John. I'll keep an eye on Dad and Scott but you know how they are. I miss you so much already Mom. You weren't supposed to leave me. We never will have the chance to talk about my first boyfriend and you won't be here to show me how to apply my makeup. I won't get to have the mother/daughter talks that all of my friends have." Her dad and brother held her close to them while she cried for their loss.

"Daddy, take me over to John, please." She settled back in her wheelchair and he pushed her to where John was sitting. John reached out his hand and held hers while Virgil wiped her tears with his handkerchief. They all turned their attention to Gordon and Alan being brought up to see their mother one last time. Their heart wrenching sobs tore at all of the hearts of those that waited to pay their final respects. Scott and Jeff each held them and tried to comfort them but they struggled out of their grasp and ran to Sam. She let Alan sit on her lap as she held Gordon next to her. Jeff and Scott rejoined the family. Grandma sat next to Jeff and held her son close to her. Scott picked Gordon up and held him on his lap. Finally the service was concluded and the casket was closed and slowly lowered into the ground. The remaining Tracy's made their way back to the limo and home again. They were unaware of that the paparazzi had been taking pictures of them throughout the graveside funeral. At least they were all unaware except for Samantha who saw the pictures the next morning and threw the newspapers away before her dad saw them.


Samantha and John's injuries healed and with a lot of guidance and talking with their wise grandmother, they got through the death of their mother. Being the star-gazers that they were, each selected a star that they designated as their mother's star. It was a year later before they realized that they'd chosen the same star. Scott stepped up to help his dad with his younger siblings and reassure them when they had nightmares and missed their mother. He dealt with his emotions and loss by talking to Virgil and Samantha. Virgil painted and played piano as a way to remember their mother and occasionally would talk to either Scott or Samantha. Gordon and Alan never hesitated to talk to any of their older siblings, Dad, or Grandmother. On more occasions than any of them cared to count, the Terrible Two could be found in one of their older sibling's bedrooms. In time and with lots of love from their family, they all came to terms with their loss. It still hurt but each day the pain lessened until it was more of a dull ache and void instead of the raw, intense pain it had been.


A/N:Life goes on and though we never fully get over the loss of a loved one, we do get to a point where we can look back at the past with fond thoughts and thankful that they were in our lives for even just a while. I speak from experience because not a day has gone by in the last seven years that I don't remember my dad. Usually it's when I least expect it and I tell him that I miss him and love him still.-sam1