I have no idea what possessed me to write this! Blame the channel that's showing Thunderbird's re-runs. My mate thinks I'm crackers ...
Soft footsteps padded the hall outside the bedroom. Jeff Tracy smiled. The quiet, measured paces were familiar, a gentle cacophony that lulled the family into sleep, as peaceful as the rattling of the old generator on the farm, or the chorus of night insects that sang to the golden moon.
Scott Tracy, the eldest son of Jeff and resident insomniac, was doing his rounds. His father knew all was well if Scott's footsteps had reached his door without speeding up. Jeff glanced at his clock, not surprised to find it was nearly three in the morning. Soon Scott would retire, the house would fall silent until nearly five, and then John would wake and perform his rounds.
Jeff's middle child was as used to little sleep as Scott, though for entirely different reasons and once assured his family were still safe, he would go to watch the sunrise. Jeff had often wondered at this strange sleeping pattern his boys performed. As the star-gazer of the family, John, by rights, should have been given the insomnia, but these things happen, as Lucille had said, and they probably happen for a reason. It didn't seem to matter than none of them could see that reason.
Thinking of Lucille, as always, both saddened the single father and made him desperately grateful he had known her at all. That she had given him five wonderful sons to remember her by had been the best of their relationship.
Rolling over, Jeff allowed his thoughts to wander to his other children. Virgil, the second born, was a heavy sleeper, deep and restful and a full eight hours was what, his father suspected, gave him the rock-like dependability and calm he was famed for. The Tracy temper ran just as hot, of course, but it was slower to flame. The sleeping bear, his brothers often referred to him as, but his music and love of the arts lent Virgil a softer, sophisticated air. More gentle than the stern Scott, the younger boys often turned to Virgil to be mothered. Scott was for protection, Virgil for comfort.
Quiet, intellectual John was the siblings confident, while Gordon, fourth of the children, was for fun. The copper haired Tracy was relaxed, laid back and, like Virgil, had no trouble finding peaceful sleep. While not as academically minded as his brothers, Gordon's genius fell heavily on the side of complicated pranks and fast talking. Quick witted, a joke was never far away, and rain clouds quickly dispersed before his cheerful optimism. A water baby at heart, Gordon used any stresses or anxieties he had to plough through the swimming pool, until all was forgiven, accepted or a solution found and then he simply swam for pleasure.
Naturally, Jeff's thoughts ran their course and turned to his youngest son, Alan. The child was nothing short of a miracle, in his father's eyes. Lucille had held on long enough to bring him into the world, before leaving the infant alone in the wrecked carriage of the monorail train. It had been snowing, Jeff remembered. Those soft flakes tickled his skin even now.
Shivering, Jeff rolled over again, but the memories rolled with him, and he relived the moment he had first seen his baby. Jeff had been working nearby, Lucille on her way to visit him after a spur of the moment shopping spree while the other boys were in school. Jeff had salvaged as much of her purchases as he could, because, he had told those who'd asked, Lucille had wanted them for Alan.
The crash had shaken the city, literally. Having known she was on her way, Jeff had tried to contact his wife and through the poor connection, he had heard her cry that her labour had started. Jeff's heart had stopped for the second time that day. Grateful that Lucille was alive, but terrified as the baby wasn't due for another four weeks, Jeff had somehow bypassed the rescue workers and the security and found his wife's carriage.
It was carnage. The force of the crash had pushed the roof up, tearing it from the sides and leaving half the area exposed. None of the other eight passengers had survived, and the tally went up when Jeff found Lucille. On the floor, propped up by the seat, she sprawled limply, her head lolling to one side. The floor beneath her was stained a small amount of blood and birthing fluid. The snow fell onto her open, sightless eyes and onto her heartbroken husband's face.
Jeff whispered her name, tears running unchecked and knelt beside her. She had removed her coat and in death she gripped the bundle tightly. Jeff's already shattered heart twisted and with unsteady fingers, he drew back a fold of cloth.
It was the only word his mind could provide. His other sons had been born after term, large and healthy, howling and red faced. This little one was pale and as silent as his mother and so damn tiny. Lucille had wiped the gore from him, as best she could, he saw. A lump in his throat, Jeff ran the back of his fingers across the child's cheek.
With a startled cry, Jeff pulled the boy out of Lucille's cold embrace and into his own, tugging his coat around the minuscule impossibility. Although hating leaving his wife where she lay, Jeff did as she had done, and focused on the life in his arms. Wasting no time, he ran out of the wreck and to the nearest emergency vehicle, babbling, thanking Lucille, thanking God, thanking the wide eyed ambulance man as he took Alan into the shelter of the warm vehicle. Then, weakly and as if sensing his father's distress, Alan had opened his eyes and emitted a soft wail.
Jeff was immediately at his son's side, getting in the man's way he was sure, placing a large, warm hand over his son's crown and telling him brokenly that he was there.
"Its all right, baby, Daddy's here," he'd sobbed, and the rescue worker had paused in his check to glance at him.
"Sir? Is this your child?"
"Yes, yes," Jeff agreed. "He's mine. My wife – oh God! My poor Lucille!"
Alan cried right along with him.
"You were in the crash?"
"No, my wife," Jeff sobbed. "She's … but she held on long enough. The accident induced her labour, but she did it. All alone and she … she was all alone."
Jeff tore his eyes from Alan's small – tiny – face and looked fearfully at the man.
"He's not due for another four weeks."
The man nodded, quick, practiced hands doing their job even as his mind whirled. "He's a little weak, cold and I bet he's hungry, but he's doing fine so far," he said, hesitantly. "He needs to get to a hospital now, sir."
"I'm coming too," Jeff said, wiping his eyes and gazing down at his baby with fierce love. "I can't do anything for Lucille, but I can be sure Alan won't be alone."
"Alan?" The emt smiled, preparing the child for the journey and making Jeff sit down. "My Dad's called Alan."
"It's a good name," Jeff said, eyes riveted on those of his youngest child's.
"Yes, sir, it is."
The man jumped out of the back, closing the door even as he radioed his partner to get back to him. He didn't hear as Jeff spoke again.
"Lucille liked it."
Thinking of that horrific day, Jeff sighed, rose and slipped on a robe. Opening his door, Jeff Tracy began his own rounds of the house. Where else had his son's got it from, after all?