Left By The Wayside

by Criminally Charmed

Disclaimer - Do not own Thunderbird.

AH - OK, I wasn't sure I was going to post this. See, I wrote this one-shot for Supernatural (which I don't own either) at Christmas and I felt it was one of my best pieces of work. Obviously, the readers did not agree as it only received ten reviews. Sigh. So I said to Sammygirl1963 that I didn't think I would post anything else.

Yeah, I was sulking.

But this story came about because of a random comment my mom made at Christmas. So - here we go and I really hope you enjoy it. I will post faster as I have already written several chapters. Oh, and when you see all the titles for the chapter, it will make sense.

Chapter One – You can't save everybody


Jeff heard the call from his middle son over his wrist communicator, but he completely ignored it. Not since the day he had helped dig through the snow on that mountain in Colorado, had Jeff felt so desperate at a rescue. Jack Roy was somewhere in this burning facility.

Jeff and Jack had gone through astronaut training together. When Jeff had married Lucy, Jack had been there. When Scott was born, Jack had helped Jeff keep it together. As each son was born, Jack had been there with a cigar and a smile. When Jeff started Tracy Enterprises, Jack had helped him start up his business.

Jack had grown bored with corporate life shortly after Gordon's birth. The man had returned to NASA and quickly climbed to a lead position in research. Jack had often joked that he had only "hung out" with Jeff long enough that he was considered too old for heading back into space. The one time Jack had gone on a space mission, he had become nauseated, much to Jeff's amusement.

Too old, Jeff snorted to himself. It was more than seventeen years since Jack had returned to the space program and Jeff was six months older than his friend. Yet look at what Jeff was doing.

"What the hell is Dad doing?" Gordon muttered to John. Thunderbird Five was still down and would be until early fall. It had been less than two months since the Hood's attack and the space station had required major repairs after the missile had ripped through Five.

The blonde astronaut shrugged. He tried not to judge what his father and brothers did when he worked with them on the ground. It was easier – if often scarier – to be on his 'bird, supervising everything from the stars. "I'm sure Dad knows what he is doing, Gordo. Have a bit of faith."

Virgil ran up behind the pair, standing not far from the mobile command post. "The commander isn't responding on the communicator. He can hear me but he's not answering. Scott told him to get out of there, but he ignored him and went further in."

John and Gordon looked at each other and then at Virgil. Without another word, the three middle Tracy sons ran into the burning complex.

Another piece of equipment fell to the ground, smashing to bits just missing Jeff's head. The former astronaut ignored it as he desperately searched for his old friend.


The sound was so faint over the roar of the flame and the groan of the collapsing facility, Jeff almost missed it. Turning his head toward the whispered plea, Jeff saw the outstretched hand from underneath some fallen equipment. Moving swiftly, the Tracy patriarch was next to the hand and forced the remains of what seemed to have been a cabinet – it was hard to tell from the damage – and finally uncovered Jack Roy.

"I have you," Jeff said calmly as he kneeled beside his old friend.

"Knew you'd come, space-case," Jack muttered.

"Excuse me -"

Jack interrupted as he coughed up some blood. "Farm boy, you can't kid a kidder. I remember when Lucy died. You sat there for hours, rocking Alan. That little boy was in so much pain. He was banged up all to hell and traumatized beyond belief. Whenever Allie would fall asleep, you talked. About Lucy, about the accident, about how there had to be a way to save people before a disaster became a tragedy. I knew you, Tracy. There was no way that you would sit back and accept it as "just one of those things". When you packed up the family and headed to some dot on the map island, I wondered. Then when the first time the Thunderbirds showed up, saving the day – I knew. You had found a way."

Jeff removed his helmet, disregarding the increased risk. "Yeah, you snake-oil salesman. Should have known I couldn't put one past you."

Coughing again, his blood spraying softly, Jack chuckled. "The boys – are they all in on it?"

Nodding, Jeff gave a small smile. "Yep. Even Allie. Did you see that mess with the Hood on the news?" Jack grinned a bit then nodded back. "Allie stopped that monster. My baby. He was the one who fought off the Hood and his goons long enough to save the rest of us on the space station. We got back down and then…"

Jeff's voice trailed off for a moment. He really didn't like to think about how close he had come to losing Alan that day. There were nights he barely slept for the nightmares.

"So the Sprout was the hero, huh?" Jack chuckled. "Atta boy. Always had Lucy's spirit, didn't he?"

Making himself busy, Jeff tried to figure out how he was going to get Jack out of the burning building without causing more harm than good. As far as he could tell, his old friend's body had been pretty much crushed, with scattering of burns from the heated metal. Jeff was sure if it had been anyone else, they would already be dead. But then Jack hadn't been called Mule because of his first name. He was pretty sure if "stubborn" had a picture underneath it in the dictionary, it was Jack's mug shot.

"Yeah, he's a lot like Lucy," Jeff muttered. "Drives me crazy at times. Begged me to have him be home-schooled for years. After the incident with the Hood, I offered to let him do exactly that. What does he say? "Nah, Dad. I want to go back to school. The coach has been trying to talk me into trying out for the track team. And I know I can pull my grades up. Fermat is talking to some of his geekier peers about finding spots for me in some of the study groups. I love you guys, but there is more of the world than this island." When I tried to argue, the kid just smiled and said, "Dad, I was always scared of something happening to you guys if I wasn't here. Well, I was here. And I still almost lost you. I have to have faith in you. After all, you guys are the Thunderbirds, right?" Took my breath away but then I reminded him that he was a Thunderbird also. Well, in training."

"That's a teenager for you," Jack grinned. Jeff would have been equally amused, if not for the blood staining his friend's teeth and lips.

Reaching up, Jack grabbed Jeff's hand. "I'm dying, space-case. You can't save me. But I'm glad it was you that found me. I wanted to tell you -" Jack gasped in pain before continuing. "I wanted to tell you that were a great friend. I know you carried me through the first part of training. I couldn't have gotten to lead this project if I didn't have the background. I loved this. Ten years of research. We were in the process of shutting down this location -"

Jack choked again before spitting out blood. "Lightening. A damn bolt of lightening. Who would have thunk it, huh? Did you get all of my people out?" When Jeff nodded tightly, Jack smiled. "My project is done. It will change the world, you know. You have your boys as your great legacy. This is mine." Sighing, Jack reached up and grabbed his friend's hand. "Like I always told you, you can't save everyone, right, Jeff? Give the boys hugs from Uncle Jack, OK?"

Jeff wanted to argue when he realized the hand he was holding had gone slack in his.

"Dad!" John called out as he ran into the room, followed by Gordon and Virgil.

Virgil kneeled beside the fallen man, thinking that he looked familiar. Checking him over quickly, he shook his head at his family.

Gordon grabbed his father's helmet and forced it back on. "Dad, we gotta get out of here. This place is gonna collapse any minute now."

The four Tracys fled the scene of death and destruction, leaving behind one body – and a piece of Jeff's heart.

A/N - Yeah, I wounded Jeff emotionally. And I will do worse.

Review and stop me from sulking. - CC