This story has been in my head for a while, but it took a long time to write (I had to keep stopping for a cold shower).
The story follows on from various episodes, and also continues from the events of Boomercat's 'All fall down'/'Heading home'. So thank you Rosie for letting me use these and thanks also to Purupuss for proofreading
The Tracy characters were created by Gerry Anderson and his team and are now the copyright of Granada Ventures. Tammy is my own creation.
Before anyone asks, this story was written as a one-shot and my Muse has no plans to continue.
Author's postscript: following a review I received on another site, I would like to point out that I am a professionally trained remedial massage therapist. The nearest equivalent in the US seems to be 'physiotherapist' but in the UK that is a different job title, requiring different training. There also seem to be some differences in training and regulations between the two countries.
Tamara Webster, Tammy to her friends, poured herself a mug of herbal tea and sat at the counter in her kitchen, enjoying the peace of the morning. The spring sunshine was streaming through the window and she looked out onto a garden bright with spring flowers. Her dog lay dozing in his basket after his morning walk, his paws twitching as he chased rabbits through his dreams. In the background the radio played quietly, tuned to her favourite classical music station.
Tammy ran her own business, working from home as a remedial massage therapist in a quiet suburb of Auckland, and found her work interesting and varied. She opened her diary, looking through the day's list of appointments and checking that she had all the relevant record cards handy. Mrs Blake for her arthritic knee….Mr Fraser with his high blood pressure….young Freddie Saunders who had torn a shoulder ligament playing tennis…Patricia Wilson with her carpal tunnel syndrome…. An average sort of day. The last appointment of the day was for Scott Tracy. Tammy sipped her tea as she mentally reviewed her professional dealings with the Tracy family.
Her first patient had been Gordon. He had contacted her several years ago, not long after she had started up in practice on her own. He explained that he had just resigned from WASP to live on his father's Pacific island and was looking for a therapist he could come and see for regular maintenance treatments. At first she wondered why a man of his age would need such therapy until she looked at the medical notes he sent through to her. She had dimly remembered his name from the last Olympics, mainly because the press had made such a fuss over the 'athlete coming back from the dead to win gold' theme. At the time she had put that down to journalistic exaggeration, but reading these notes she realised that, for once, the stories in the press had been an understatement.
Gordon was an easy patient to work with. His injuries had healed well, though he still bore the scars. There were one or two trouble spots, the worst being his left wrist and right knee and ankle, where there was a lot of scar tissue. Gordon was fully aware that his injuries might lead to problems later in his life, which was why he was already actively pursuing maintenance therapy. Tammy was determined that her monthly treatments would do everything possible to delay the onset of arthritis, keeping him mobile and pain-free for as long as she possibly could. His muscle tone was good from his daily swimming, and his relaxed an easy-going nature meant his stress levels were low. In fact he often had her laughing by the end of the session from his jokes and teasing.
Gordon had been a patient of hers for just over a year when one day he rang. She remembered the day well as she had been reading the newspaper account of the dramatic rescue of the Fireflash airliner by the mysterious International Rescue organisation, who seemed to have sprung out of thin air.
"Tammy, I know I'm due to come and see you this afternoon, but I wonder if you could see my brother Virgil instead? He's been in a car crash and hurt his shoulder."
Tammy's professional instincts were immediately on the alert. "Has he had X-rays? I can't touch anyone if there's a suspicion that they might have any skeletal damage, especially to the neck vertebrae."
Gordon shook his head, "No, our doctor has checked him out and there's nothing broken – he's just a bit sore. Can I bring him along?"
Tammy had been checking her diary. "Yes, bring him along with you. I've got some spare time this afternoon, I should be able to see both of you."
When the Tracy men arrived, Tammy's first thought was that she would never have guessed that they were brothers. Virgil was brown-haired and brown-eyed and had a more muscular build than Gordon. He looked the type who would have played American football at school, a guess that he later confirmed, as well as saying that he normally kept fit by playing tennis or working out in the gym, either using weights or in bouts or wrestling with his other brothers.
Not that he would be playing any sports in the near future, from the look of him
"How did this happen?" Tammy had asked, as she looked at him lying on the couch.
"My car went off the road" he explained. "I was trying to brake and one of the tyres blew. I veered off and the car tipped over."
His back and sides were bruised and battered where he had been thrown around in the cab, and he had pulled several muscles in his right wrist, arm and shoulder from holding on to the steering wheel as he had been flung around. But like with Gordon, his background muscle tone was healthy, and she had always found bulky muscles easy to work on. Her deft hands eased the pain in the damaged areas and loosened the other muscles that had tensed up from the trauma, so that when he finally sat up he was able to move a lot more freely.
It had taken a couple of treatments to get him fit again, but she had enjoyed his visits. He had a gentle voice and they were able to discuss their shared taste in classical music.
The next Tracy brother she had met was Alan. Again Gordon had phoned, asking for her help, and had brought him along. When she opened the door, Tammy recognised the face as one she had seen on TV only a couple of days earlier, being presented with a racing trophy at Parola Sands. At the time she had not realised that this was another of Gordon's brothers.
However, when she had seen him on TV, the man's face had been a normal colour, not an angry red. Her first thought was 'Why has Gordon brought him to me? I can't treat sunburn!' – but as they entered the house she realised what the problem was. Alan was walking with great difficulty, due to the fact that the muscles in his back and both legs were all in spasm.
The young man explained that after his race he had become engrossed in watching some of the other drivers, and had not realised that he had been standing in one spot in the hot sun for a long period until both his skin and body started to protest – by which time the damage was done. Luckily the sunburn was confined to his face, neck and hands, so she was able to work on his rigid muscles without hindrance.
"Ooh! That feels wonderful!" he exclaimed as his body began to relax under her fingers.
"See? Told you she was good," said Gordon, who this time had remained in the treatment room with his brother.
From his prone position on the couch, Alan turned his head to grin at his brother. "Now I know why you come here so often, Gordy."
"Yeah, well I keep asking her to marry me so I can take her back to the island, but she keeps turning me down. You're a cruel woman, Tammy."
This was part of Gordon's regular banter, so Tammy only smiled. "What would I do on that island of yours all day? And what would all my other patients do without me?"
By the time she had finished, Alan was able to move normally again.
"Ah, that feels so much better," he said as he stood up from the couch and stretched. "Tell you what, Tammy, if you don't fancy Gordon here – and who can blame you? – you could always marry me instead."
"Get away, the pair off you," said Tammy, secretly flattered but making shooing motions with her hands. "Gordon, I'll see you on the 22nd as arranged?" she said as she ushered them out of the door.
However, Gordon did not make that next appointment. The day before he was due, Tammy received a phone call. The call was voice-only but the caller had a young, male voice with an American accent.
"Hi there, you don't know me, but I'm Gordon's brother John. Gordon's asked me to call you. He's been called away on urgent business and he won't be able to make his appointment tomorrow. He's very sorry about this, but he was the only one who could go. He'll be back in a few days and asks if he can have another appointment – maybe next Tuesday?"
Tammy was leafing through her diary. "Yes, Tuesday will be fine. 3pm?"
"OK, I'll tell him. Thanks!"
Tammy put the phone down then turned up the sound on the TV again. She had woken to the news that the Empire State Building had collapsed during the night, New Zealand time, and there were two men trapped beneath the rubble. She kept the TV on all day, following the bulletins between appointments, and like most of her countrymen, had sat up into the small hours of the following morning until the victims were safely rescued.
When Gordon did finally turn up for his appointment the following week, she was shocked at the sight of him. His left shoulder and side were a mass of bruises which were just starting to turn yellow.
"What on Earth have you been doing?" she had asked.
"Er, well, I was diving and got caught in an underwater rock fall" he said sheepishly.
"And your father sent you away on business in that state? Those bruises aren't fresh."
He shook his head. "I can't fool you, can I?"
Tammy smiled. "My teacher at massage school always said no-one has any secrets from their masseur. The body doesn't lie."
She started to work on him, trying to reduce the swelling around the bruised areas and the abused shoulder joint. She also noticed that his hips and lower back were unusually stiff. "You've been sitting around a lot in the past few days, haven't you? Lots of meetings on this business trip – or was it the airline seats? I thought all you millionaires travelled first class?"
Gordon gave a sardonic grin. "Yeah, well any seat gets uncomfortable if you sit in it for long enough."
It was not until some time later that Tammy met the last of the Tracy brothers. She answered the phone one day to see a dark-haired young man with blue eyes. "Hi there," he introduced himself, "I'm Scott Tracy. I gather you are Gordon's miracle worker."
Tammy smiled at the handsome young man. "Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but how can I help you?" though she did not really need to ask as his right arm was bound across his chest in a sling.
Scott gestured to his arm. "I hurt my shoulder picking up something heavy, and Gordon said you could fix it."
Tammy checked her diary. "I can't make any promises until I've seen it, but can you get here for 4pm tomorrow? I'll see what I can do then."
Scott arrived the following day, with Virgil in tow. He gave her a smile. "Hallo, Tammy. I'm just here as chauffeur as Scott's not allowed to fly at the moment. I'll sit in your waiting room while you sort him out. I can listen to your radio while I wait."
Tammy showed Scott into the treatment room. She helped him remove his sling and shirt, then examined his arm and shoulder, feeling around the joint and moving the injured limb gently to see the extent of the damage. She came round to stand in front of him "You say you were lifting something heavy when you did this?"
Scott nodded. "That's right."
Tammy shook her head and folded her rms. "Mr Tracy, any thing you say to me in this room stays here. This shoulder has been nearly dislocated. You have torn all the muscles around the shoulder cuff, as well as the attachments on the scapula and down to the level of your sixth rib. This sort of injury happens when a load is placed on the arm suddenly from above. So let's try again. As I guess I would say you were rock-climbing – it's Alan who is into that, isn't it? – slipped, and had to grab on to something. Am I getting warmer?" She paused, frowning, "but even that wouldn't explain the force needed to do this much damage. So, Alan was falling and you reached down from above and grabbed him as he fell?"
Scott smiled at her. "Gordon said I wouldn't get much past you." In fact it hadn't been Alan but a heavily-built fireman who Scott had managed to grab just as the stairway collapsed beneath him. Luckily Virgil had been just behind them and was able to catch Scott round the waist and pull them both back from a five-storey drop.
Tammy set to work, first using ultrasound to stimulate healing deep within the shoulder joint, then getting to work on the damaged muscles. It was when she moved onto the rest of Scott's back that she realised that working on him was going to be a lot more difficult than on his brothers.
Scott Tracy was obviously the sort of person who bottled up his feelings, and his neck and shoulder muscles reflected the emotional tension. Though well-toned, his muscles were not relaxed like Gordon's or elastic like Virgil's, but had the consistency of steel hawsers.
"Would you say your life was stressful? I wouldn't have thought there was much to wind you up on that island of yours."
He grunted, and not just because she had just found another knot in his back. "I thought you'd met my kid brothers?"
"Scott, what do you like to do to relax?" Tammy often asked that as a way of helping her patients unwind. She knew Gordon liked looking at the ocean, while Virgil relaxed by painting or listening to music and Alan had talked about his girlfriend.
"Relax?" Scott said the word as if it was not in his vocabulary.
"Yes, do you have any hobbies?"
"I like flying. I have a wonderful plane, sleek and fast. I enjoy the way it responds to my control." The enthusiasm in his voice was clear.
"What sort of plane is it?" an ex-boyfriend of Tammy's had been a pilot and she was used to this kind of talk.
"Er, it's an experimental model. A friend of my father's designed it. Oh, and I like sky-diving too."
Tammy thought about this. "Both these are things that require concentration, hobbies that generate adrenaline. What do you do when you want to chill out?"
"Oh, I go for a run round the island, or I work out in the gym."
"Hmmm." Her probing fingers found another knot and worked to loosen it. "You're a light sleeper too, aren't you? – and an early riser."
"You can tell all that from my back?"
"You'd be amazed what a patient's body can tell me about the life they lead."
Tammy said no more, but carried on working. By the time she had finished, Scott was fast asleep on the couch. He was the last patient of the day, so she left him there while she went and made a drink for herself and Virgil. Half an hour later she returned and shook him gently.
"Scott, time to wake up. I've made you a fruit tea."
He sat up, rubbing the back of his neck. "Boy, I feel like I've slept for a week. Your couch is so comfortable." He took the mug.
Tammy smiled. She had heard this from patients before and shook her head. "It's not the couch, it's just that you are now properly relaxed. The best bed in the world is no good if the person lying in it is still full of tension. Scott, the amount of tension you are carrying in your muscles is not healthy. If you are not careful, you could end up having a stroke or a heart attack before you are forty." She paused, marshalling her arguments. "This plane of yours, you keep it well maintained?"
"I assume you check it over after it has done a certain number of hours flying time?"
"Every hundred hours." The pride in his voice was plain.
"OK, well I want you to think of me as the mechanic for your body. That shoulder of yours is going to need several more treatments before it's healed, but once that is better I'd like you to come and see me once a month to keep your stress levels down."
That had been nearly two years ago Since then, Tammy had encountered the other Tracy brothers on several occasions (she had never realised being a playboy was such as risky occupation) and both Gordon and Scott had continued as regular patients. Though regular was hardly the right word to use for Scott he had frequently had to cancel his appointments at the last minute, or rather, get Alan or John to cancel for him. He was always very apologetic about this, explaining that their father had to send him off on company business and always offered to pay for the missed appointment.
As Tammy finished her morning drink and stood up the news came on the radio. The first story was about an explosion at an oil terminal in Libya. International Rescue had been called to the scene.
Tammy opened her diary again and put a line through Scott's name.
No, a patient had no secrets from their masseur.