Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to review on this, it means so much to me! Special thanks to Whirlgirl, Sunny and Big Sis (hehe!) as I cannot respond directly to you, thank you, your reviews were really appreciated!
Oh, and before I get killed... maybe Silver Bee didn't quite mention stabbing Alan in the head... that might have been me. Sorry! But she gave me the idea, so it is not all my fault! But it is not hers either, so be nice, Alan-fans! Sorry – it was a very long story that isn't quite what it seemed!
Enjoy, and please let me know what you thought?
Shutting the door softly behind him, Scott quickly turned the key in the lock, automatically sticking it on the hook by the door. With a wry smile, he couldn't help but note that he could only just reach the hook, even now. There would be no fear of anyone going for another adventure tonight. Placing John's bag gently on the floor – he knew full well what would be inside – Scott shrugged off his coat. Hanging it up next to his brothers', he winced inwardly at seeing how obviously wet they were. Kicking off his shoes and letting them lie where they fell, Scott made a mental note to move all three pairs before his father got home. The mud stains were more than evidence enough that the boys had been out in the field; there hadn't been rain like this for quite a few weeks.
Crossing through the kitchen, Scott got as far as the bottom of the stairs when a sudden idea hit him. Spinning on his heel, Scott quickly re-entered the kitchen, pulling down the first three mugs he laid eyes on. Opening the fridge, he swiftly pulled the milk out, using his foot to prop the door open until he was done. Reaching above his head, he grinned when he caught sight of the cupboard door still slightly ajar from where John had been raiding it beforehand. Within a matter of seconds, the powder had been measured out, and somehow Scott managed to juggle the three mugs over to the microwave, rather uncertain how he managed to not spill anything. A couple of minutes later, the microwave signalling it was finished, Scott was ready. Placing the three hot chocolates on the tray he had managed to dig out from the back of the cupboard, lining them up in order to make room for the plate of biscuits. He had found them in the back of the cupboard the day before by accident, and as they clearly hadn't been touched for some time, the eldest brother really didn't think that anyone would miss them.
Now fully laden, Scott carefully made his way up the stairs, desperately trying not to stand on the end of his wet jeans. He knew from past experience that was not a pleasant experience, but for now, he would just have to be careful. His eyes flickering over to Virgil's room the moment he reached the top of the stairs, Scott grinned when he caught sight of the darkened room. Why was he not surprised that Virgil was not in his room?
Automatically heading towards John's room, Scott paused outside of the shut door. Leaning close, he could make out the voices of his brothers within, and finding his grin growing even wider, he nudged his elbow against the door.
"Erm... can someone let me in?" Sounding rather pathetic, Scott could only wait as the footsteps sounded across the room. Within a matter of seconds, however, Virgil's head appeared around the doorway. On seeing sight of the laden tray in Scott's hands, his face split into a grin and he pulled the door open rather violently, shooting John an apologetic look afterwards. John, however, only had eyes for the steaming mugs in Scott's hands, his gaze flickering momentarily onto the cold drink standing by his bed. Ignoring the guilt that had suddenly appeared in John's eyes, Scott carefully set the tray down on the edge of the desk, shooting Virgil a look as the youngest member of the family present inched closer. Immediately, Virgil backed up, grinning guiltily and causing his biggest brother to reach over and ruffle his hair fondly. The last few hours had seen the return of the Virgil they loved rather than the moody teenager that had taken his place. Little did Scott know he was mirroring his brothers' thoughts. Only they weren't thankful for Virgil's return, but Scott's.
"I'm gonna get cleaned up, save me some." Scott announced, suddenly jealous about the way both brothers were in their pyjamas, snuggled into their dressing gowns as well. Shivering slightly as he left, Scott broke into a jog, almost throwing himself into his room. Yanking his t-shirt over his head even as he wriggled out of his jeans, Scott was soon dressed as warmly as his brothers. Sparing a quick glance at his phone, Scott was instantly worried to find that he had over ten missed calls. They hadn't been outside that long, despite what it felt like. Flicking it open, he frantically hit a few buttons, his heart returning to its normal speed when he caught sight of who all ten were from. He had no desire to speak to Mandy. If it wasn't for her, Scott knew that tonight would not have happened; that he would have had more time for the boys. Tossing the phone onto his bed, Scott left again, only pausing to do a quick detour into the bathroom. Grabbing the nearest towel, he dragged it through his hair as he made his way back into John's room.
One glance at his younger brothers, and Scott knew they were up to something. Both were wearing identical innocent expressions that Scott knew instantly meant they were guilty of something. Watching them for a moment, his eyebrows raised as the corners of Virgil's mouth twitched, Scott sighed, his gaze flickering over to the tray. Both of the boys were clutching mugs, but somehow, it didn't come as a surprise to their elder sibling to see his cup was missing. Letting the towel rest around his shoulders, Scott simply stared, wondering who was going to break first. As John merely stared impassively back, even though his eyes were dancing in amusement, Scott switched his attention. Virgil had been struggling to contain himself anyway, but as soon as Scott fixed him with the "look", he cracked, dissolving into giggles.
"Problem, Virg?" Scott asked innocently, sharing a grin with John. Shaking his head, Virgil shakily put his mug back down again, struggling to get a grip on himself. No sooner had he managed it, however, when he glanced at Scott again and was set straight back off again.
"I don't even have to do anything," Scott commented lightly, winking at his star loving brother. Taking another swig of his drink, John smiled fondly at the sight in front of him. The sight of seeing Scott and Virgil in the same room and yet both of them being so relaxed was not something that had been seen for a number of months. After a few moments, Virgil slowly managed to regain control of himself, his breathing slightly erratic. Crossing the room, Scott came to a stop behind him, flicking the towel from his shoulders and running it through Virgil's hair, trying to get some of the wetness out of it.
"Scott!" Virgil instantly whined, making to move away from his brother. Scott's hand on his shoulder, however, stopped him from doing anything other than squirming.
"Humour me," Scott responded gently, and to his amazement, Virgil fell still. Once he was done, he sent John a meaningful look over his shoulder. Sighing, the blond placed his drink down, freeing up both hands in just enough time to catch the towel as Scott threw it over. Giving Virgil's shoulder a quick squeeze, Scott suddenly leant forward past his brother.
"Aha!" He declared triumphantly, pulling his mug out from under the desk. He could tell that they hadn't had time to plan it properly; it was scary what John could come up with when he set his mind to it. No wonder Gordon looked up to him so much.
Carefully cradling his mug, Scott moved across the room, coming to a stop next to John's bed and plonking himself down on it. John quickly mirrored his position, sitting next to him and stretching his legs out with a sigh, thankful that the throbbing in his ankle had reduced. Judging by the way Scott wasn't limping as badly either; he knew the same could be said for his brother. Whether it had actually got better, or simply the relief at having all of them back home again in the warm and dry, the blond couldn't say. Virgil glanced over at them for a long moment, before looking back into his mug. Watching him with identical expressions, both Scott and John simultaneously lifted their mugs clear into the air as Virgil suddenly bounded across the room, working his way up the bed until he was in-between his brothers. Smiling fondly down at him, John waited until his little brother had stopped wriggling before bringing his mug back to his lips. Taking one last swig, he then offered it to Virgil, chortling as the young teenager's face lit up and he quickly finished it off. Placing it next to the cold drink still by his bed, John folded his arms behind his head, gazing out of the window. The clouds had cleared up somewhat, a few stars managing to break through the covering.
Glancing over as Scott placed his mug on the floor; John surprised himself by suddenly yawning. Smiling pointedly, Scott made to say something to Virgil, when suddenly the younger boy snuggled into Scott's side, one arm throwing itself across his stomach. Automatically, Scott wrapped his arm around Virgil, allowing his brother to rest his head against Scott's chest. Glancing back at John, Scott smiled gently when he caught sight of his brother. In those few seconds, John had slipped further down the bed, his head now resting in the crook of his elbow, his breathing even. Judging by the way Virgil had also suddenly relaxed even more, Scott knew instantly that both of his brothers were fast asleep. Smiling down at the top of Virgil's head, Scott suddenly felt a rush of love blossoming out.
"Missed you, kiddo," he murmured softly, before suddenly yawning himself. Within a matter of moments, Scott too had fallen asleep, his head resting atop of Virgil's.
Yawning so widely that his jaw cracked in protest, Jeff shook his head in order to try and clear it as he fumbled for the lock. He had driven for three hours, checked into the hotel, only to then receive a message that the meeting had been postponed due to illness. Preferring to make as much of the unexpected time off as he could with the boys, Jeff had stretched his legs for an hour before hitting the road again. Now, just having gone past two in the morning, he was finally home. It would mean, however, that he would have the whole of the morning with his eldest three before their younger brothers returned home, something that had not happened for a while.
Stumbling through the door, Jeff quickly locked it behind him, almost throwing his keys over the hook. Dropping his overnight bag and briefcase at the bottom of the stairs, the father immediately headed up them, rolling his neck as he did so. If he was honest, he was glad that he would be able to crash in his own bed, nothing relieved a stiff back more than that. Reaching the top of the stairs, Jeff glanced about him, half wondering which of the boys he should check on first when he suddenly felt himself wide awake. The light was still on in John's room. He knew it was not unlike the young star gazer to be up at strange times of the night, not to mention the amount of times his father had found him asleep, book still clutched in his hand. But Jeff couldn't stop a tendril of worry eat its way into him. John had looked so miserable when his father had left the house earlier that evening. Pausing halfway through loosening his tie, Jeff swallowed hard, stealing his way along the dimly lit hallway. Silently pushing the door open with one hand, Jeff found himself hard pushed not to gasp at the sight that greeted him. All three of his sons were fast asleep on John's bed. Scott had his arm wrapped around Virgil, the thirteen year old's head resting lightly on his big brother's chest. John was curled up in the far corner of the bed, a content look on his face and one of his arms slung casually across Virgil's back. His heart swelling with love for his boys, Jeff quietly crept out again.
Tiptoeing along the corridor, he passed Virgil's open door, smiling when he remembered confining his son to his room for the evening. If, by disobeying his father, the boys had finally reached some sort of truce, there was no way Jeff was going to say anything, it would be nice for some sort of peace to descend once more on the family. Stealing into Scott's dark room, Jeff cursed under his breath as he almost tripped on something lying in the middle of his son's floor, making him frown in confusion. Whatever it was, it had felt damp through his father's sock. Deciding he was too tired to face the challenge of working out what was spread across the floor this time, Jeff merely carried on, scooping his son's double quilt into his arms. Hearing a small thunk, Jeff glanced down, noting Scott's phone now sitting innocently on the floor. As the display lit up, the father frowned, bending down to pick it up. One glance confirmed his suspicions; he had a number of missed calls, quite a few of them from the last few hours. His curiosity over coming anything else, Jeff glanced guiltily at the door, almost expecting his son to appear, accusations burning in his eyes. But Scott remained fast asleep with his brothers, and scrolling through the list, Jeff found himself grinning at the fact he hadn't bothered to call Mandy back.
"Atta boy, Scotty," Jeff breathed, feeling a sense of relief grow in him. He had been concerned over Scott's new girlfriend; he had seen how she had changed his normally relaxed son. But, after promising his mother he wouldn't say anything, Jeff had kept out of it, knowing his eldest child needed to learn this lesson for himself. And looking at the number of missed calls he had, not to mention his current position, it looked like he had.
Grinning tiredly, Jeff made his way swiftly back up the hall, once more entering John's room. Nearly kicking over Scott's now empty mug, Jeff somehow managed to throw the quilt over his boys, covering them all under the warmth. Holding his breath as Scott shifted slightly, Jeff relaxed just as quickly as his seventeen year old merely sighed, unconsciously tightening his grip around Virgil. Watching them with a fond smile, Jeff suddenly found himself yawning again. With a regretful shake of his head, Jeff made his way into his own room. As much as he wanted to stay and watch his boys, he too needed his sleep.
Breathing in deeply, Scott sighed as he slowly peeled his eyes open, feeling warm and relaxed. It wasn't just physically, however, it was almost as if a great weight had been lifted from him, making him feel calmer than he had done for months. Glancing down at the top of Virgil's head, he smiled fondly, knowing precisely why. Sparing a glance over to the other side of the bed, he felt his smile widen.
"Hey," John murmured back, thankful that at least one of the others was now awake. Sitting up against his wall, John had been forced to spend the last half an hour absently staring out of the window, he couldn't get up even if he wanted too.
"You ok, dude?"
"I'm stuck." At the look that could easily resemble a pout emerged on John's face, Scott chuckled. Slowly wriggling to the side, he managed to slip out from Virgil, only the younger boy subconsciously latched on as Scott tried to move.
"Virgil." Somehow, Scott managed to free himself from Virgil's grip, marvelling at how dead to the world the young artist still appeared to be. Seeing the mattress move, he grinned when he caught sight of John standing up on the bed. Almost as if he was counting down under his breath, the blond suddenly leapt across, landing with a rather heavy thud on the floor. Immediately steadying him by the elbow, Scott grimaced in sympathy at the wince that had show across John's face when he landed on his ankle.
"When did you get your quilt, Scott?" John asked quietly, stifling a yawn and running his hand through his hair. He knew that Scott had still been awake when he had fallen asleep, and just assumed that his brother had slipped out to get it. One glance at the confused look on the elder boy's face, however, and John knew that was not the case.
"How the-?" Understanding suddenly sprung into both of their heads at the same time, and sharing a grin, the two teenagers spoke a single word simultaneously.
Dashing for the stairs, the pair of them both felt like they were no more than children again, excited when their father came home from a conference. With the adventures of the night before burnt into their minds, however, they were grateful he was back. Scott had just reached the top of the stairs when he skidded to a stop with a curse, causing John to slam into his back.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"The shoes, coats and your telescope are by the door still."
"And Virgil is in your room."
"What was I supposed to be doing last night?"
"Ah. Keeping him in his own."
"How are we going to tell Dad?"
"We're not. We're going to see what he says. You never know, he may not have noticed the stuff, and if it means you and Virg have stopped arguing, then he'll probably be alright with it."
"Nice thinking, Johnny. Hey, Virgil and I aren't that bad!"
"Mmm hmm. Come on, I'm starving."
Going at a much slower rate as their ankles refused to support the mad dash through the house, the two brothers shared a reassuring look before pushing the door open to the kitchen. Glancing up as the door opened, Jeff glanced over the top of his paper, smiling when he saw the boys materialise.
"Morning." He said softly, smiling gently at the excited look in their eyes. He could still vividly remember an eight year old Scott managing to persuade John to stay up half the night to wait for their father to get home, despite the fact he wasn't arriving until the next day. How Lucille had managed to get them into bed, Jeff still had no idea, but one look at their faces, and he was quite touched to know things hadn't changed in the last ten years or so.
"Morning, Dad." Scott called somewhat cheerfully, striding into the kitchen. Watching him with a frown, Jeff could have sworn that his son was favouring one leg over the other.
"Are you alright, Son?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"
"Are you limping?"
"Nah, dead leg that's all. Must have slept funny."
"I'm not surprised, considering Virgil was practically on top of you." To Jeff's amusement, the back of Scott's neck began to burn and he sheepishly grinned at his father. When nothing more was said, however, he seemed to relax, pulling bowls down from the cupboard. In the time Jeff was distracted by his brother, John took the opportunity to quickly limp across the kitchen himself. Unfortunately for him, however, nothing got past Jeff Tracy.
"Don't tell me, you slept funny as well?" Laying down his paper properly, Jeff ran his eyes critically over his sons. If it wasn't for the fact that they were both limping, Jeff would have said they looked better than he had seen them for several months. That didn't, however, provide a reason as to why they were both favouring one leg, nor why he had found all three boys in one room. Something dramatic must have happened in order for Scott and Virgil to make up that quickly, the artist's temper was becoming somewhat legendary. Before he could express his concerns, however, the final son that was playing on his thoughts came scuffling into the kitchen, yawning widely the whole time.
"Well, look who has decided to join us, then." Scott commented with a laugh, reaching up and pulling down another bowl as Virgil shot him a mock glare. Scott, however, merely grinned back at his brother, causing Virgil to sigh and let his features smooth themselves into a smile. Watching them in the utmost confusion, Jeff could safely conclude that these were not the same sons he had left sulking the day before. Crossing the kitchen, Virgil suddenly stopped halfway across with a small gasp. As the rest of the family turned to look at him, he locked eyes with John, tilting his head towards the back door, obviously coming to the same conclusion as Scott had. When Jeff noticed the shoes and telescope, he would almost be able to guess precisely what had happened. As John grimaced ever so slightly back at him, a clear indication that neither he nor Scott knew how to move the stuff without Jeff noticing, Virgil winked in return.
"For god's sake, Scott, I don't want that." As Scott looked slightly taken aback from where he had been trying to offer his brother the bowl, Virgil repeated his action and winked at his brother. The tiniest of smiles flickered across Scott's face, almost as if he knew precisely what Virgil was planning.
"Virgil, temper." Jeff immediately scolded, rethinking his previous thought. Virgil was clearly the same.
"Fine." Virgil snapped, stalking to the far end of the kitchen, coming to a stop by the door. "I've got better things to do."
Reaching down, he slung John's bag across his back, adamantly not looking at the horrified expression on his brother's face at the violent treatment.
"What's that?" Jeff asked, unable to hide his curiosity. He was sure that was John's bag.
"School books, what else?" Virgil snapped, sparing half a glance at his brothers. Knowing precisely where this was heading, John decided to play along, trying to help his brother out.
"You nicked my bag, you little tyke!"
"So, what you going to do about it?" Virgil responded heatedly, making sure he kept his back to his father to hide the telltale signs of a grin working its way onto his face. Pretending to kick out at the counter – something Virgil was ashamed to admit he had done more than once recently – he instead kicked all three pairs of shoes under it, successfully hiding them from view.
"Virgil, room, now!" As Virgil skulked past, John and Scott traded amazed looks. Since when had their brother been that much of an actor? Giving his brother a head start, Scott silently slipped a piece of toast from the rack.
"I'm going to get dressed." Walking in an almost crab-like impression, Scott left the kitchen, one hand clasped firmly behind his back. Watching him with raised eyebrows, Jeff then turned his attention onto the son he could normally rely on for a logical –and sane – explanation. To his astonishment, John was also looking rather sheepish, and at his father's look, winced ever so slightly.
"Oh away with you, I don't want to know." Shaking his head with a fond smile at their antics, Jeff wasn't sure whether he should feel hurt or not by the way John almost bolted from the kitchen. The boys were up to something, Jeff wasn't as thick as they thought. He had seen the communication between the boys, messages being portrayed without words being spoken. He had also witnessed enough teenager tantrums, not to mention he knew his son almost better than Virgil knew himself, to know that hadn't been real. Either way, he had to give them credit; they worked scarily well as a team. Leaving it a few minutes, Jeff set off up the stairs after his fleeing sons, determined to get to the bottom of it all.
Creeping along the hall, Jeff knew instantly where the boys were. Scott's bedroom door was still open, a rare occurrence if he was in there, and John's room was also looking suspiciously deserted. Virgil's door, however, was firmly shut, and as Jeff stole closer, he could hear voices coming from within.
"Did you have to be so violent with it?" John was in the process of whining, causing Jeff to inch closer, now even more confused than beforehand.
"I had to make it look real. Why on earth would I be careful with school books, you know I dropped my bag down the stairs the other day."
"Threw it, more like." Scott muttered, and Jeff knew instantly by the muffled thud that the eldest brother had just been smacked with a pillow for that comment. What made his heart soar, however, was the laughter that followed it. "Oh here, Virg, thought you might like breakfast."
"So he is the only one that gets it?" John said somewhat sourly. It was only then that Jeff remembered that he may have sent Virgil upstairs before he could have eaten, but that his two older brothers had also left, the bowls still on the counter where Scott had left them.
"It's a good job I've got more then, isn't it?" Scott's teasing voice floated back out. For a moment, there was silence, and Jeff was contemplating leaving them too it, no closer to finding out what was going on than he had been when he arrived home the night before. Just before he could move, however, Virgil spoke again.
"We may have a problem though."
"Yeah, I kicked the shoes a bit hard. I don't know how we are going to get them out again, especially as they are covered in mud."
Until next time then... Ta ta!