Fifteen Minutes Later
Scott Tracy had a worried frown on his face as he made his way down the hallways of the luxury villa that was his home towards the door to John's room. He had landed with Thunderbird One a few minutes ago and been surprised when he returned to the lounge to see Virgil but no sign of John. When he'd asked where his immediately younger brother was he'd been told that John had a migraine and had gone to bed.
Normally he would have accepted his father's assessment of John's condition and left it at that, John was known to suffer from migraines though it had been along time since he'd had an attack this sudden and this severe. But he'd always had a strange sixth sense where his siblings were concerned, quite how it worked Scott had absolutely no idea, and right now it was screaming at him that something really wasn't right. Not wanting to unnecessarily worry his father and two other earth side brothers he hadn't told them about his feeling, they probably wouldn't have believed him anyway.
Stopping outside the door to John's room Scott sighed and considered if he should go inside, if only to shut the little voice screaming at him that something was wrong up. On the other hand he knew if he woke John then there father would not be pleased with him at all. After a moments thought he squared his broad shoulders in determination and pressed the control that made the automatic door slide aside, allowing him into the darkened interior of the room.
Moving quietly so as not to disturb his sleeping brother Scott made his way past the small private work area that they all had in their rooms, to the sleeping area and approached the bed where John lay lost in unconsciousness. The moment he arrived at the bedside and gazed down on John's sleeping face knew that his feeling had been right.
John's face was unnaturally pale; practically the only colour there were the first hints of the tan that John was just starting to regain. He was completely caked in sweat like from a really heavy workout. Alarmed and concerned he reached out and put his hand on John's forehead and almost recoiled at the intense amount of heat coming off John's body, yet he was huddling up in the bed as if trying to keep warm and as Scott watched his brother started shivering.
Scott stared at John for a few moments his mind reeling. John didn't have a migraine, but a very sudden, very vicious and very heavy fever. But where the hell had it come from? John had been perfectly fine earlier and nothing had happened to him on the rescue, Scott would have been immediately informed if something had happened. After a moment he mentally shook himself, now was not the time to worry where John's fever was coming from, they just had to deal with it.
"I'll be back, John," he said softly before racing out the room.
Jeff Tracy looked up in surprise from the magazine he was reading when he heard Scott come into the living room on a run. He opened his mouth to issue a reprimand for unnecessary running in the house, only for the words to die on his tongue as he saw that look on his eldest sons face.
"Scott," he asked in concern. "What is it?"
"It's, John dad," Scott replied. "I just went in to check up on him, and something is seriously wrong, something far worse than a simple migraine attack."
Jeff frowned in concern. "What do you mean, Scott," he asked, noticing out the corner of his Virgil and Tin-Tin stop the game of chess they had been playing to listen in.
"He's running a really high fever, dad," Scott explained. "At the same time he's as pale as a ghost, sweating like he's run a marathon and shaking like he's cold when he's practically burning."
As Scott spoke looks of concern appeared on the faces of everyone who was listening. The symptoms Scott was describing definitely did not fit with the migraine, which was what John had seemingly been suffering from when he'd gone to bed. After a moment of concerned silence Jeff snapped into action.
"Tin-Tin," Jeff said.
"Yes, Mr Tracy," Tin-Tin replied.
"Go and prepare the sickroom."
"Yes, Mr Tracy," Tin-Tin answered standing up and leaving the room.
"Virgil go and find, Gordon. Then bring a stretcher were going to have to move, John to the sickroom."
"Yes father," Virgil answered also getting up and silently berating himself for not realising earlier that something more was wrong with John than a migraine attack. He should have insisted that John go straight to the sick room and lie on the diagnostic bed so they could have determined what was actually wrong. Without saying anything he left the room in search of Gordon, he had a rough idea of where the auburn haired aquanaut would be so hopefully it wouldn't take him long to locate him.
"Scott can you go and get, Brains and meet us in the sickroom."
"Sure thing, father," Scott answered then he also left the room for Brains lab. Since the lab was usually where the scientific genius could be found he would check their first.
Jeff for his part sighed and also stood up heading for John's room with a worried frown on his aged but still handsome face.
As soon as he entered John's bedroom Jeff knew that Scott was right and that something was seriously wrong with John. John had twirled around so much in the bed in his feverish sleep that the blankets had sort of wrapped around him forming a cocoon with only John's blond hair visible. Jeff rolled his eyes even as his concern grew. John had only ever done that when he was ill, it had used to drive both him and Lucille crazy as they had often feared he would suffocate himself.
Jeff moved up the side of the bed and carefully peeled back the layers of bedclothes to reveal his son's face. John's face was really, really pale and completely caked in sweat just as Scott had said. Before Jeff's eyes John tossed in his sleep again and made a sound that sounded like a soft whimper. The sound set off even more mental alarm bells in Jeff's head. Not only was John extremely feverish all of a sudden but he seemed to be in pain as well.
"Oh, John," he said softly reaching out to check John's temperature at his forehead and back of his neck, only to recoil when he felt the incredible amount of heat John's body was generating. John's fever was dangerously high, they had to get him to the sickroom now so they could try and diagnose what was causing it and start trying to bring it down.
Gently he unwrapped the cocoon of blankets that John had woven around himself so his son's body was completely clear of the blankets. John wasn't wearing anything save for a pair of boxer shorts. He really does look ill, Jeff thought worriedly. Looking at John so pale and shivering obviously suffering badly with his sudden fever Jeff couldn't help but feel helpless.
At that moment the bedroom door opened and Virgil came in followed by Gordon who was manoeuvring an antigrav stretcher and looking understandably worried. John's sudden illness had them all concerned. Except for Alan and the boys grandmother, both of whom still did not know. Inwardly Jeff sighed, he was going to have to call them and fill them in on what had happened. His mother he knew was back in the states, visiting an old friend who'd just lost her husband of sixty-two years, he knew she would return as soon as she was able to. But Alan would be a different story as Thunderbird Five would still need to be manned. Alan would have to stay there and would probably feel utterly useless and helpless; Jeff knew he would in that situation.
"He doesn't look good, dad," Gordon said looking worriedly at John. "But what's with him looking like he's just been through a workout?"
"I don't know, Gordon," Jeff replied. "It doesn't make any sense, but we're not going to get any answers here. Let's get him to the sickroom."
It was surprisingly easy to get John to the sickroom. Worryingly John did not show any sign of waking up when they moved him from his bed to the stretcher or from the stretcher to the sickroom's diagnostic bed. He remain deeply unconscious and unresponsive to the world, a fact that was causing Jeff grave concern.
Brains arrived at the sickroom a few minutes after them.
"S…s…sorry Mr Tracy," Brains said apologetically even as he looked worriedly at John. "I h…h…had to l…l…lock down an e…experiment."
"It's okay, Brains," Jeff answered. "You know what to do?" He nodded to John.
"Y…y…yes, Mr Tracy," Brains answered as he moved over to the controls of the diagnostic bed and operating them with practised ease.
The bed beneath John's body lit up, as did a small unit on the ceiling above the bed. A fan of light similar in appearance to the laser fans popular in nightclubs and discos projected from the ceiling and began to slowly sweep along the length of John's body from the top of his head down. Additional sensors built into the diagnostic bed scanned John from below; between them the two sets of scanners built a complex three dimensional picture of what was happening inside John's body.
"John's b…b…body temperature is reading out at 106 degree's," Brains read off the scan results displayed on the diagnostic beds control stations screen. Beside him Tin-Tin was doing the same on another screen.
"White blood cell count has shot up," Tin-Tin reported worriedly knowing that it was not a good sign at all. Rather it was the sign that something major was wrong and that John's body was mobilising all its defences to counter it. "There is intense stress on every single system in, John's body."
"Do we know what's causing it," Jeff asked.
"According to the s…s…scan John is suffering either from a sudden s…s…severe case of flu, acute food poisoning, or he has m…m…meningitis," Brains said worriedly.
As Brains said meningitis Jeff gasped in horror. Like every parent he knew the name of that disease; knew and feared it. If John had meningitis then they had only hours to save him if that.
"What do we do," Gordon asked fear in his voice. He had seen the effects of meningitis back when he had been with WASP; a friend of his had lost her young daughter to the disease. The prospect that they could now loose John to it terrified him.
"We have the d…d…drugs to counter meningitis," Brains replied reassuringly. "They will also h…h…help with countering food poisoning b…b…but their effectiveness on flu is limited."
"Administer them Brains," Jeff instructed.
"Yes, Mr Tracy," Brains replied and moved over to the secured, sealed medicine cabinet to prepare the drug which was administered by injection straight into the patients blood stream.
Brains keyed his access code into the electronic lock and immediately the lock emitted a soft click as it disengaged. Brains opened the cabinet and searched through the medicines stored there until he found the correct vial.
Taking the vial from the cabinet Brains retrieved a pressure injector from a drawer before filling the compartment inside the injector with the correct amount of the vial's content, before returning the vial to the cabinet and closing it, which automatically triggered the lock.
Carrying the pressure injector in the palm of his hand he returned to John's bedside. Carefully, gently he pressed one end to the side of John's neck before pressing a small button on the side discharging the medicine contained in the injector straight into John's bloodstream.
"Now what," Gordon asked.
"Now we wait," Jeff replied. "We've done all we can do. It's down to John now. Someone should stay here to keep an eye on him."
"I'll do it, dad," Scott said to everyone's total lack of surprise.
"Okay, Scott," Jeff replied. "Keep an eye on him and inform me immediately if his condition changes."
"But first off lets move him to one of the other beds," Jeff said. "I don't think John would appreciate waking up on the diagnostic bed."
Everyone nodded in agreement and without speaking Scott and Virgil moved in to take their sleeping, amazingly rapidly recovering, sibling off the diagnostic bed and move him to the comfort of one of the other beds in the sickroom.
Three Hours Later
Scott sat comfortably in a chair besides John's bed, doing what was for him a rare pastime. He was reading a book; a historical fiction novel set during World War Two, and was trying his level best to loose himself in the story while he waited for John to wake up. In the last few hours John's condition had improved greater – the fever had broken nearly an hour and a half ago and he was looking much better. Though oddly he still remained quite warm, at least he had been when Scott had last checked.
Scott was just turning to the next page of his book when a soft groan came from the bed. Looking up he smiled when he saw that John was stirring. About time, he thought putting his book down on his lap and raising his wristcom.
"Dad," he said and Jeff Tracy's face instantly appeared over the watch face.
"Go ahead, Scott," Jeff said.
"John's starting to come around."
"I'll be right there," Jeff answered then broke the connection from his end.
Scott lowered his arm and looked at John's sleeping features as his brother continued to stir from his sleep. After a few moments John's blue eyes opened only for John to immediately shut them again with a groan as the lights sent sharp stabs of pain down his optic nerves and into his brain.
A second later though he opened them again and blinked rapidly until his eyes adjusted to the brightness. As soon as he could see properly he frowned slightly as he look up at a ceiling that was not his own, there were none of the glow in the dark stars present that there were in his room over his bed.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, John," Scott's voice abruptly said from beside him, making him jump slightly. Turning his head to the left he saw his older brother looking at him a relieved smile on his face, behind Scott he could see other beds and realised with a jolt that he was in the sickroom. "How are you feeling," Scott asked.
"Great," John replied his voice dry and crackly. "Thirsty."
Scott nodded. "Wait there," he said. "I'll go and get you a drink."
"Okay. Scott what am I doing in the sickroom? The last thing I remember is coming back from the rescue, getting a migraine and going to bed."
"You didn't have a migraine, John," Scott explained. "But something far worse, we suspect it was the start of a meningitis infection, we had to bring you here and give you a shot of norexaline to clear it. You gave us quite a scare."
"Don't be its not your fault, John," Scott replied getting up from his chair. "Dad will be here to see you in a minute. I'll go get you that drink."
John nodded and watched as his older brother left the room, almost colliding with their father who was coming the other way.
"Hello son how are you feeling?" Jeff asked.
"I'm fine dad," John answered. "In fact I feel better than fine now. Scott told me how ill I was, I'm sorry to have worried you."
"Its not your fault, as long as your feeling better now."
"Does that mean I can get up?"
Jeff laughed slightly at the hope he heard in John's voice. Like his siblings John hated being confined to bed for any length of time. For a few moments he studied John closely trying to determine if John really was feeling better or just acting to be allowed out of bed. After a moment he determined that it was the former.
"Alright," he said at last. "I'll go and get you some clothes. But I want you to take things easy for the rest of the day and if you start to feel sick again you are going straight back to be bed. Clear."
"Yes father," John answered smiling. Jeff smiled back and left the room to go and get some clean clothes for John.
John watched his father leave, then leaned back in the bed. He hadn't been entirely truthful with his father and with Scott, he did feel better, in fact he felt brilliant. That wasn't the problem, what was, was the strange feeling that was pervading his body. A feeling that something inside him had changed, how he didn't know, just something, some instinct told him that something in him was different now to before.
For a moment he contemplated saying something about it to his father when he returned. But decided against it, he had no way of proving it after all. So with effort he pushed it out of his mind and sat back to wait for his father to return with some clothes.