Chapter Thirteen

It wasn't long before Alan was up and around and back to his usual, pre-Hood level of energy. He felt wonderful, like a 10 ton elephant was off of his back.

Scott and Virgil had discovered the source of the magnifying agent. The Hood had been using Onaha, directing her to add it to the granola bars that Alan loved. It had been a process of elimination. What had been everyplace Alan was? At home, at school and at the clinic. There were few constants.

When Brains had analyzed one of the bars, an extra ingredient had come up - one that was not on the recipe that Onaha had given him, and one that matched a list of herbs only available in Malaysia and the substance found in Alan's blood stream.

Alan felt much better when that fact was uncovered. The final few sessions with his doctors had gone well, and his father was intimately involved. He'd ended up talking about how it felt being the youngest of such an exceptional family, and other things that he never thought he'd bring up. IR was never mentioned, but Jeff did tell him quietly one day, that if he needed to talk about it, to go right ahead. Alan just didn't feel the need.

However, in one of the last sessions, Alan brought up something in spite of himself. Something that he'd kept hidden for many, many months.

Jeff was not in this particular session, spending some time on the phone in a borrowed office attending to business. Dr. Taylor had asked him if there was anything else he wanted to talk about before he went home tomorrow.

Alan got quiet all of a sudden, becoming very thoughtful.

"Alan?" Dr. Taylor asked with a gentle smile.

"Yeah . . ." Alan said slowly. "There is." He looked at her seriously, as though gauging her ability to understand, and his desire to even bring it up, then continued. "Just before I went back to school, I found some things of my mother's in the basement."

The doctor nodded in understanding. They'd talked about Lucille to some extent. "Go on."

Alan looked down, and wouldn't meet her eyes as he continued. "I found some letters and stuff that she'd kept that nobody had ever looked at. They were from my Dad."

Dr. Taylor nodded again, and let him find his balance, not pushing.

"I guess Mom wasn't supposed to get pregnant again. But she did. Dad was afraid it would kill her and wanted . . . wanted the pregnancy . . ." He trailed off. Looking up at her, he said the unthinkable. "Dad wanted me aborted," he said baldly.

"Oh, Alan," Dr. Taylor said gently. "Did you talk to your father about what you found?"

"No," Alan said. "Dad makes it clear in the letters that he was worried about her health, and that he loved her and couldn't live without her. Mom wouldn't do it. I guess they really, really fought. Then three years later, he was stuck with me and Mom was gone anyway," Alan finished bitterly.

"I see," the doctor said thoughtfully. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe your father would have been overjoyed to have both of you after your birth?"

Alan just shrugged and looked blindly out the window. "But she died. And he always sends me away," he whispered, finally articulating his greatest fears.

"Alan, your father has some very specific reasons for sending you to school. You and I have already discussed that with him. Your education is very important to your father. But it sounds like you're still unsure and that we maybe need to talk some more about it. But as for the other, how many letters did you see?"

"Three. One was an e-mail, another was a letter and the last was a card."

"Did it occur to you that it was only one side of the story? That there was more communication involved that you aren't aware of? Communication that your father could shed light on?"

Alan cocked his head thoughtfully. "I guess," he shrugged, not completely convinced.

"Did you not talk to him about this because you were afraid you already knew the answer?"

"Uh-huh," Alan said quietly, after a long hesitation.

"Then I think we need to hear your father's side," she said with a smile.

Alan's look of horror and his "No!" clashed with her punching the intercom and asking an aide to locate Mr. Tracy and send him down to the room.

She sat back and looked at the sick expression on his face. "Alan, so much of your issues are your lack of faith in your place in your family. The age gap does make a difference in how you are treated, no question, you're still a minor whereas your brothers are legal adults. But why do you think that it would make a difference in how much they care about you?"

Alan swallowed hard. "I don't know," he whispered.

She smiled again. "I think maybe we're finally getting to the heart of the matter."

A tap on the door interrupted them, and Jeff Tracy was escorted in. He was immediately aware that something more than just the usual was going on. Alan looked sick to his stomach, and had seemed to shrivel in his chair. Jeff had rarely seen that kind of obvious nerves from his youngest son. Something had really rattled Alan, and he just couldn't fathom what it was.

"Alan?" he asked, concerned, beginning to move towards his son.

"Sit down, Mr. Tracy," Dr. Taylor said pleasantly but firmly, directing him to a chair.

Against his better instincts, Jeff sank down slowly into the chair indicated, instead of going to his son.

"Alan found a few things several months ago. We've been discussing them, and I've been trying to convince him that there is more to the situation than what he's seen."

"Alright," Jeff said slowly, completely confused.

"Apparently, he found some communications between you and your wife that she had saved from the time of her pregnancy with Alan."

Comprehension began to dawn slowly on Jeff as he realized, horrified, what Alan may have found. "Oh my . . ." he breathed softly, hoping against all odds that he was wrong. He looked over at his son, who seemed to curl into himself even more. The strength of personality and scrappiness that was such a part of him had completely vanished, leaving him looking unusually vulnerable.

"The letters were in regards to your wishes for that particular pregnancy."

Jeff closed his eyes in pain. He would have spared Alan this with all he had in him. Alan should never have known. Opening them again, he looked once again at his son, wondering how he was going to fix this.

"I've tried to tell Alan that there is usually more to a situation than meets the eye. I don't know that he believes me. I think he needs to hear it from you."

Jeff nodded slowly. Taking a deep breath, he leaned forward. "Alan." When he didn't respond, Jeff repeated himself. "Alan. Look at me, please."

Alan reluctantly looked up at his father.

"Alan, I'm so sorry you saw any of that." Jeff measured his words carefully. So much depended on this. "That was not a good time in my life, or in Lucille's." At the clouds beginning in Alan's face, he continued quickly. "Not because of you. Never because of that."

"What you don't know is that when Gordon was born, Lucy had a horrible time. Gordon was pre-mature, and we almost lost them both."

Alan nodded slowly. He'd heard that before.

"That was bad enough. We were told that it would be dangerous to have another child. So we decided that four was enough. But we were busy with four young sons and a growing business. But then, Lucy was pregnant again two years later." He leaned forward, trying to give emphasis to his words. "Lucy miscarried within three months and was desperately ill. We almost lost her. For three days, I didn't know if she would survive."

Alan looked surprised. He hadn't known this.

"None of the boys know this. All they knew was that their mother was very ill. I couldn't . . . just couldn't tell them that they had lost a sibling. They still don't know. But she pulled through." The pain from that time was evident on Jeff's face and he continued.

"Then, well, we kept planning to implement a permanent solution, but time kept getting away from us. Then, she was pregnant again with you. I lost it. I couldn't go through the loss again. Not only losing the child that we had come to want as we did the last time, but sitting in the hospital, afraid I'd lose her as well. I was so frightened. I pressured her to terminate the pregnancy."

Jeff lifted his eyes and made sure that Alan was looking directly at him. His son's eyes were huge as he processed his father's emotional reaction to the memories.

He smiled slightly. "You inherited your stubbornness from your mother. Why she didn't miscarry from the pressure I put on her, I'll never know. I put her through hell, by not dealing with my fears, and trying to impose my will on her. We fought until she was hospitalized from the stress. I finally saw reason."

"Alan, you weren't real to me then. I wouldn't let you be real because I was so afraid. I couldn't let myself get attached to you before you were born like I had my other children, including the child who miscarried, because I couldn't go through the pain of losing a child again. The last time had been horrible. I could focus on Lucy. She was there, and maybe I could do something to save her."

"But you were real to her. Thank god. I've prayed in thanksgiving for that every day since your birth. Thankful that she was stronger than I was, and that you were real to her, because she was right, and I was wrong. And when the deadline was past for safely ending the pregnancy, she made sure I knew that you were there, and alive, by making me feel you kick and move."

"Then, when you were born, and I looked into your blue eyes, I was so grateful for her strength, because she was right. I've never been so grateful to be wrong in my life. And grateful to Lucy for her perseverance."

"I've lived in gratitude for the years we had, and for that fact that because of her strength, I had both of you, in spite of myself. Then, when she died in the avalanche, I had you. You are so much like her, with her strength of will. It was like the last gift she left me - a piece of her that was an unexpected gift."

Jeff paused. "Maybe that's why I've been so protective of you. Because I nearly didn't have the chance to have you at all because of my own weakness and shortsightedness."

"Then why do you send me away?" Alan finally found the courage to whisper.

"Send you away?" Jeff looked horrified and puzzled.

"To school."

"Alan, I don't send you away. I send you to school. We've talked about that. There is so much in life to experience. I hate having you away from home. But we live on an island, so closed off from everything and everybody. I'd be remiss if I didn't send you out into the world to learn and experience life. I miss you so much when you're gone. Just as I missed Gordon. But how can I be that selfish?"

Alan wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep from breaking down. His worst fears hadn't come true. He'd finally heard what he so desperately wanted, and had feared wasn't so.

"Alan," Jeff said softly, "I'm so sorry that you had to live with this. I wish you had felt that you could have come to me. I'm so sorry you didn't feel you could. I'll regret that for the rest of my life that you felt unable to approach me. I am so sorry."

Alan looked up at his father, eyes huge with unshed tears, desperately trying not to break down. He was fourteen for heavens sake! But at the look of undisguised love on his father's face, he couldn't help it. Tears began to stream down his face, but before he had time to be embarrassed, Jeff was over next to him, and gathering him in his arms.

Alan let go, and sobbed out his relief to the comforting murmuring of his father. And the soft shutting of the door as Dr. Taylor left them alone to heal and renew their relationship.


It was late when the celebration barbeque finally wound down on Tracy Island. Alan was tired when he finally got to his room. Shutting the door softly behind him, he leaned on it, looking around. It seemed so long since he'd been there.

Somebody, probably Ohana, had cleaned it while he'd been gone. He reflected that he'd not seen so much of the floor since he'd moved in.

A reflection of the moonlight on the dresser caught his eye. Puzzled, he moved forward. A smile crossed his face as he realized what it was.

His IR pin, the one he'd angrily thrown in the trash, sat in the middle of his dresser, demanding attention. Grinning, Alan touched it. All was - finally - right with the world. Tomorrow, he started training with Scott on TB One. Life was good again, all right.