Yay! It's the first chapter of my new story! Okay, for all those who may become confused, this story takes place about four or so years before the movie!!Oh, and Tin-Tin and her family have not yet been rescued by Jeff Tracy, so they do not appear in this fic.

Okay, everybody clear? Goody! Right, I hope you enjoy! Warnng - this chapter is pretty long for a first chapter, and they're only going to get longer, I'm afraid!!

Standard disclaimer; DO NOT OWN, BUT OH SO WISH I DID!!

It was about 6:30pm on a hot summer evening, and the sun was shining brightly over Tracy Island. However, despite the aura of absolute paradise that surrounded the Tracy family in their luxurious villa, this particular time of day was always the most chaotic. The reason for this was simple. It was feeding time at the zoo.

Jeff Tracy stood in the hallway beside the dining room, the aromas of a freshly cooked meal drifting through from the kitchen. He stood in this spot for a particular reason, one which had long ago turned into a habit. It had become almost a daily ritual, and was one of the many ways in which Jeff amused himself before the carnage that took place at the table.

Taking a deep breath, he put his finger to the stop-watch on his electronic wrist-watch and stood as far against the wall as he could.

"BOYS, DINNER'S READY!" he yelled, pressing the button on his watch.

There was a moment of silence, and then the stampede began. Distant at first, and very faint, but it soon neared him and increased in volume as more pairs of feet joined in the chorus of stomping. Jeff smiled to himself as voices began to echo down the corridor.

"Ouch! Virge, that hurt! You stepped on me!" an angry voice was yelling.

"Whoops! Sorry, Gordo! Not my fault you've got giant flippers instead of feet!" a second voice replied, before bursting into laughter.

A tall, brown-haired figure sprinted around the corner, wearing a grin the size of Venus. He ran up to the dining room entrance, slapped his hand against the door-frame, and jumped up and down in glee.

"Ha! Yes! I win!" he celebrated, pointing triumphantly at the angry copper-haired figure who had appeared around the corner. He then turned to Jeff and smiled expectantly.

"Fourteen seconds." Jeff reported, clapping Virgil on the shoulder. "That's this years' record, Virge."

"WHAT?" a loud voice exclaimed. Jeff's oldest son, twenty-year-old Scott, had just run up to join them. "He beat my record? Darn!"

Jeff chuckled, pressing another button on his watch so that the face returned to showing the digital time. More running could be heard, getting closer by the second, and Scott stood back so that he would not be bowled over. Moments later, two more forms raced around the corner at top speeds, almost colliding with Gordon. Jeff's second-eldest, John, had been racing the youngest occupant of the island, Fermat.

"Aaand Fermat wins!" John cried, mimicking the voice of a sport's commentator. They were both bending over and clutching their knees, panting for breath.

"Fermat!" Virgil cried, sounding slightly exasperated. "You shouldn't be running around like that after the attack you had earlier."

All heads immediately snapped round to the small eight-year-old boy, who had gone a little pink and was wheezing slightly.

"You had another asthma attack?" John asked worriedly. "Fermat, why didn't you say?"

"It was only a l-l-little one." Fermat stuttered, turning a brighter shade of pink from embarrassment. Jeff ruffled his dark hair affectionately, smiling slightly. He considered Fermat to be a sort of nephew to him, as his father, Brains, was Jeff's closest friend.

"Well, just be careful, Fermat." he said, kindly. "We wouldn't want you passing out at the dinner table, would we?"

Fermat smiled up at him and shook his head. "N-no, Mr. Tracy. So, who w-w-w-got here first?"

"MEEEEE!" Virgil cried, doing a small celebratory jig. John snorted and shook his head.

"You are such a child." he stated. Virgil stopped the mad dance and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Oh, and that's coming from you 'Mr. still-watches-Tom-and-Jerry-every-morning'?" he said, sarcastically. John just stuck out his tongue at Virgil and crossed his arms over his chest, making Jeff laugh loudly.

"Now, that is childish, John!" he chuckled. "Besides, Virgil won fair and square so he has the right to celebrate."

"Fair and square?" Fourteen-year-old Gordon cried, pointing accusingly at Virgil. "He trod on my foot! I was in the lead until he attacked me!"

"Me? I wouldn't have been forced to stamp on your foot if you hadn't jumped on top of me from the stairs!" Virgil retorted crossly.

John put up his hands in a peaceful gesture. "Calm down you two, and stop acting like toddlers! Go and sit down at the table."

"You heard what 'Granny Tracy' said!" Scott grinned, patting John gently on the arm. "Now do as you're told, and don't forget to wash behind your ears!"

Everybody laughed, except John, who frowned and slapped the back of Scott's head. Jeff intervened before Gordon decided to join in and things got out of hand.

"Okay, boys! Dinner's getting cold. Let's go and eat!" he suggested loudly. Everybody agreed with enthusiastic nods and expectant grins.

The Tracy family, plus Fermat, filed into the dining room quickly. As they sat down, Jeff suddenly realised that somebody was missing from the table. He looked around the room, but could not spot the small form of his youngest son.

"Hey, where's Alan?" he asked. Gordon lifted his plate and made a show of looking underneath it, frowning in concentration.

"I can't see him here, dad." he said seriously. Virgil punched him in the arm gently, but he was smiling.

"He's probably just in the bathroom, dad." John remarked. "I saw him by the pool before you called us all to dinner, so he must have heard you."

At that moment, a small blond-haired figure entered the room. "Sorry I'm late." he said, slipping into his place between Fermat and Gordon.

"That's alright, son. We only just sat down." replied Jeff. He picked up the serving spoon and began to pile up Scott's plate with the hot macaroni cheese. John and Virgil poured Fermat and Alan glasses of juice, as the jug was far too big for either child to hold without the threat of spilling it all over the table.

"Who won the race?" asked Alan, passing Fermat's plate to his father.

"I did!" Virgil said proudly, setting his own full plate down in front of him. "Fourteen seconds! That beats Scott's record hands-down!"

"Say, Sprout, why didn't you race?" asked Scott, handing him a smaller portion of the pasta. "It's not like you to miss out on a chance to beat one of us to the table."

Alan shrugged, taking a sip of his juice. "Dunno. Just felt like walking, I guess."

Jeff smiled at him as he served himself a helping of pasta onto his own plate. "Trying to be a rebel, huh?" he chuckled. "I'll have to keep a closer eye on you. It seems that being a year older has put some wacky ideas into your head!"

Alan giggled, grinning up at his father. Two days ago, it had been Alan's tenth birthday, and he appeared to have take great pride in the fact that his age 'now had two digits instead of just one', as Alan had so quaintly put.

"Hey dad, what was it you wanted to talk to us about after dinner?" asked Scott, taking a bite of pasta and chewing energetically.

"What's this?" asked Gordon, looking from his father to Scott. "You wanted to talk to us? Nobody told me."

Jeff held up a hand to silence the questions on everybody else's lips. "That's because I haven't announced it yet." he smiled. "Scott's reading between the lines again. What I was going to tell you, is that there's a family meeting in the living room after dinner. That includes you, Fermat, you're family."

Fermat beamed happily at him, and Jeff favoured him with an affectionate smile.

"Dad?" Gordon ventured, his eyes sparkling with curiosity. "What are we discussing?"

"You'll find out later." Jeff chuckled, tucking into his own meal. Gordon looked over at Scott, practically bouncing in frustration. Scott just smiled and offered him the salad.

"You're cruel." Gordon muttered, trying to kick him from under the table. However, as Jeff was sitting in between them, he only succeeded in catching his father's leg by accident.

"Gordon, please don't kick me." Jeff asked, not even looking up from his meal. Scott and Virgil snorted into their plates, trying and failing to hide their obvious amusement. Even Fermat was giggling into his glass of juice. Only John and Alan were able to keep a straight face. John because he was the most talented when it came to keeping his cool, and Alan because the youngest Tracy didn't appear to have noticed anything amiss.

Gordon blushed scarlet, mumbling an apology and quickly occupying himself with his pasta. Jeff laughed inwardly, knowing that his son hadn't intended the blow to land upon his legs. It had, of course, been aimed at Scott. What surprised Jeff the most was that, even after all these years of him sitting in between them at the table, they had still not worked out that the reason behind this was in order to prevent Gordon from kicking his older brother. The water-loving Tracy had done this since he was a toddler, and Jeff knew that it would be a long time before he grew out of the habit. Despite Gordon's continual complaints of ''I'm old enough'' and ''For goodness sakes, I'm fourteen!'', the teenager was still a child at heart.

Dinner passed by without too much fuss, which was a phenomenon in itself. This was mainly because Alan, who was often the primary source of the noise, was not talking as much as he usually did. No, he seemed decidedly subdued for a ten-year-old Tracy. He ate his dinner in relative silence, regarding his older brothers as they discussed planes, cars and sport - the normal conversation at the Tracy dinner-table.

Once they had finished their desserts, Jeff left the boys to clear up the table and headed for the living room. He wondered if they'd be able to complete their task without breaking any plates. It wasn't the youngest two he had to worry about, however. It was Gordon and Virgil who were often the culprits to crockery-related accidents, as they had a habit of trying to throw the plates Frisbee-style towards each other. This was mainly an attempt to antagonise Scott, and it usually worked, too. Scott had a habit of 'freaking out' whenever one of his younger brothers was doing something that was less than desirable, and lobbing plates across the room slotted into this category quite nicely. If Gordon and Virgil were up to their usual tricks, Scott was probably flapping about worriedly in a fruitless attempt to stop them.

Jeff chuckled to himself at the mental image, sitting down in an armchair and smiling at the line of photographs along the mantlepiece. The newest one was of Scott in his junior air-force uniform, standing beside the nose of his F-20 fighter jet and grinning like a maniac. John had taken this picture just after Scott had been offered a position in the Air-force base in Boston, and Scott's face had shown his reaction towards the exciting proposition. It was safe to say that he had been rather happy about it.


Jeff turned towards the door, spotting his youngest son. He smiled warmly.

"Come on in, Alan. Did you finish cleaning up the dishes?" he asked. Alan nodded, grinning slightly.

"Virgil dropped one by accident, so Scott made him sweep the whole dining room as a punishment!" he said, sitting down on the couch opposite Jeff and rubbing at a black bruise on his knee.

"Alright, there's no need to sound so happy about it!" grumbled Virgil, striding into the room and plonking himself in one of the chairs. "Stupid older brothers."

"Virgil." Jeff warned. "Scott isn't stupid, and he has the awards to prove it. He'll give you a full-length lecture on his early college graduation, if you'd prefer-"

"NO!" Virgil said hurriedly, looking both scared and disgusted at the idea. "That's alright, I take it back. Scott's not stupid."

"Glad to hear it." Scott remarked, entering the room with John, Fermat and Gordon. He and John sat on the couch beside Alan, Scott putting an arm around the youngest Tracy's shoulders. Fermat plonked himself beside Gordon on another couch, looking expectantly at Jeff.

"Right, let's get to the point." Jeff started. "As you all know, it'll be another three days until Brains gets back from the technology conferences in San Diego." Everybody nodded the affirmative, wondering where the Tracy patriarch was going with this one.

"Well," Jeff continued. "I have business that I need to discuss with one of the engineers there, so I'm planning on heading down there tomorrow morning and staying until Brains needs to come back."

"So who's in charge whilst you're gone?" asked Gordon testily. Jeff smiled.

"Scott, of course. That means you have to do exactly what he tells you to do, just as you would do me if I were here, understood?"

Gordon plastered an innocent smile on his face. "Me? Why do you even have to ask? Of course I'll follow the captain's orders!"

Scott snorted. "Yeah, right. And pigs might fly."

"Really?" cried Gordon. "How do they do that, then? Do they use their tales to propel themselves upwards, or do they have wings that erupt spontaneously from their backs?"

Virgil and John both dissolved into laughter at Gordon's matter-of-fact tones. Fermat looked slightly confused, seemingly trying to work out the scientific theory behind flying pigs. Scott just glared at the copper-haired Tracy as if he were trying to figure out the best way in which to squash him.

"Alright, boys, that's enough." Jeff chuckled, holding up his hands. "As I was saying, Scott will be left in charge for a few days, so please behave yourselves and try and do what he says. Furthermore, I was wondering if you'd like to come with me, Fermat? I know your dad would love to see you, and you could stay in the science museum during the conferences if you wanted to. There's a good friend of mine who has volunteered to look after you for me when I'm away. What d'you think? Do you wanna come?"

Fermat beamed and nodded his head. "Y-yes please, Mr. Tracy. That'd be g-g-g-fantastic!"

Jeff grinned at him and turned his attention back to his other sons. "Alright then, so it's agreed. Everybody okay with the arrangements?"

There were four, deep-voiced answers of ''Yep!'', and Jeff turned to where his youngest sat.

"What about you Alan?" he asked. Alan did not respond, and all members of the room turned to look at him. The small blond-haired boy had fallen asleep on the couch, his head pillowed on Scott's shoulder. Scott's face softened into an affectionate smile, and he gently brushed his fingers over Alan's cheek.

"Alan?" he called softly. "Alan, wake up buddy!" The boy stirred slightly and opened his eyes, blinking wearily up at his big brother.

"What?" he asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes. Jeff smiled and stood up, coming to crouch down in front of his youngest son.

"I think somebody needs to go to bed." he said softly. Alan didn't even bother to argue, he just nodded groggily and stood to his feet.

"What have you been doing today, Sprout?" chuckled Scott. "Whatever it was, you've used up all the fuel in your tank. It's only seven-thirty and you're already dead on your feet."

Alan leaned forward and hugged him. "'Night, Scotty." he murmured. Scott ruffled his hair and planted a gentle kiss on the boy's cheek.

"Sleep tight, Alan." he said, giving the boy a soft shove in John's direction. The eighteen-year-old pulled Alan into a hug and kissed his blond locks, telling him that he needed to eat more sugar in order to stay awake longer. Scott guffawed and clipped the star-loving Tracy around the back of the head.

"You're setting a really bad example, you know." Scott sighed. "You're addicted to sugar, that's your problem!"

"Am not!" John protested. "Just because I can survive eating a chocolate bar without going completely hyper! You're just jealous!"

"I absorb sugars too quickly, it's not my fault!" complained Scott. "And besides, you just use your unnaturally slow metabolism as an excuse to eat way too much chocolate!"

"Well, I don't show it do I, fatty?" John retorted. Scott bristled. He wasn't in the least bit fat, but his muscular build was broader than John's and had always been something he had found annoying. No matter how much John ate and how little he exercised, he never put on any weight. It was a trait he had inherited from his mother's side of the family.

"What did you just call me?" Scott growled, leaning towards John menacingly. John smiled and patted his cheek.

"C'mon, podgy! I'll let you burn off some of that puppy fat chasing me around the pool!" he offered calmly, before springing to his feet and sprinting out of the door with Scott hot on his heels.

"And they call me immature!" Gordon commented, shaking his head. He released Alan from the gentle head-lock he'd been holding him in, and Jeff put an arm around the youngster's shoulders.

"C'mon, son. Time for bed." he said, leading Alan towards the door. Before he exited, he turned back towards Fermat. "Fermat, you need to go to bed a little early this evening too, okay? You've got a big day ahead of you tomorrow. You can stay up another half an hour, then I'll help you to pack a few things in a bag before bedtime, alright?"

"Yes, sir." Fermat agreed, pushing his blue glasses back up his nose. Jeff smiled at him, then turned and herded his youngest out of the room. They walked down the long corridor and up a flight of stairs before finally reaching Alan's bedroom. For convenience, Alan's bedroom was situated next to Gordon and Scott's so that the eldest could keep and eye on the two trouble-makers. This floor was also closest to the movie-room, where Scott and John were often found during the evening as they watched their favourite classics on the massive screen.

"Go get into your pyjamas and brush your teeth, I'll be there in a minute to say goodnight." said Jeff, giving Alan a gentle shove into his bedroom.

He then went out onto the balcony at the end of the corridor and looked out onto the tropical jungle, inhaling the scent of the wild vegetation. He loved the island, especially its seclusion, but one thing was worrying him. He didn't know how to care for the plants in this sort of environment. That has always been Lucy's forte. Jeff had been considering the possibility of hiring a gardener for quite some time now, but there was one small problem. How could he employ somebody to come and work on the island without telling them the secrets of International Rescue? He wanted the person to be somebody that he trusted deeply, somebody that he knew he could count on. But he had never known a botanist, so that made things difficult.

He sighed deeply and entered the house once more. I'll think about it at a later date. Right now, I need to concentrate on getting Thunderbird 2 finished. Once that's done, we'll be ready for action. But Brains says that the modifications to the engines could take another year to complete, so we've got quite a bit of waiting to do. On the other hand, Thunderbird 1 will be ready for action in only a few months. I know that Scott can't wait to try it out. He's always loved fast planes, and his training with the junior air force last summer has left him itching for more. I bet he's gonna fall in love with that vehicle the minute that he sits in the pilot seat.

Jeff pushed Alan's door open, peering inside. Alan sat on his bed under the duvet, blinking desperately in an attempt to keep awake. Jeff smiled fondly, moving into the room and perching on the edge of the bed.

"You brushed your teeth?" he inquired. Alan nodded his head, grinning to show his father the pearly whites. "Good boy. Right, time to go to sleep."

Alan scooted down under the covers, snuggling into the pillow and sighing in content. He smiled when his father handed him his large, brown teddy-bear, and Alan's little arms encircled the soft toy lovingly. Jeff leaned down and planted a long, gentle kiss on Alan's forehead.

"Goodnight, son. I love you." he said softly. Alan pecked him on the cheek and smiled.

"Love you too, dad. 'Night."

Jeff ran a hand through the blond hair - so very much like his mothers - and brushed a finger over Alan's cheek tenderly. Then he stood up and walked to the door, pausing at the entrance long enough to regard his son as he lay on the bed.

He's growing up so fast. I really can't believe that he's already ten. What happened to my little blue-eyed baby that used to stretch from my chin to my navel? Time has flown by so quickly without you here, Lucy. But I know that you're watching over us all. And I bet you're thinking the same thing as me - Alan will always be our baby, no matter what happens.

He smiled lovingly at the small boy, who was still quite short for his age, and flicked off the light-switch. Alan's breathing had already evened out, indicating that he was fast asleep. Jeff sighed again, cocking his head to one side and smiling.

"Goodnight, little one." he whispered, and then he closed the door on the sleeping form and headed off down the corridor in search of the rest of his sons.

Within the bedroom, Alan Tracy rolled over in his sleep, grimacing subconsciously as the movement caused a slight twinge of pain. Yet he slept on peacefully, his small arms hugging the stuffed animal tightly, unaware of the dangers that awaited him in the not-to-distant future.

What happens when Alan starts feeling unwell, and Jeff isn't there to look after him? Will the boys notice any change in Alan's behavior? Find out in the next chapter!

There we are, chapter one is finally up! I know it's a bit of a slow start, but I had to set the scene and time-frame. I promise there'll be more action in the next chapter! I will try and update tomorrow, but as these chapters are a little but longer than in my last story, I might not be able to post it until Sunday evening. Hope you liked it! PLEASE REVIEW, and give me lots of feedback, I'd like to know what you thought about my story so far.