Desolation, Destruction, Danger and Despair.

Summary. . . . . . . . . . The mood is somber, it's not a good day, and it's about to get worse as a call comes in for help.

Disclaimer. . . . . . . . . Not mine just loaning, I promise to return in one piece . . . . . . . well eventually, and maybe dented a little bit.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . Thanks to everyone who took time out to read, and to review the previous chapter. Without further ado, here's chapter 13. Peanut x

For My Mum.

Previously. . . . . . . . .

"Okay, okay we will." Jeff replied his relief and joy evident in the smile that graced his face. He looked at his son's still battered and obviously exhausted features, and wished he could do something to ease his pain. "We'll talk again later Virgil, you need to get better first, which means you need to rest. Go to sleep, I'll still be here when you wake up." He watched as Virgil fought against the sleep he so desperately needed, before exhaustion won the battle and he succumbed to its folds. "Things will change Virgil, I promise you, things will change."

One year later.

As he looked at the plans on the computer screen, yet still saw nothing, Jeff decided enough was enough; it was that time of the year, that time when he could never think straight. He needed a drink. He needed a smoke. It had been a hard year for all concerned, since the rescue that very nearly ended with him losing a son, a hard year for Virgil especially. It was nearly two months, after his first talk with his son, before Virgil was finally allowed to leave the long term recovery room, and return to his own suite; the pneumonia Brains had been fearing taking hold of his son, and no matter what they fought it with, it refused to give up without a fight, weakening his son even further, and halting the progress he had been making, his other wounds taking even more time to heal. It was another two months before Brains released him for duty, the head injuries taking their own toll, knocking his son out with dizzy spells, and debilitating headaches, where all he could do to ease the pain was to darken his room and try to sleep it out; but the darkness just reminded him of his ordeal, and his fear of closed dark spaces grew.

Nightmares had also plagued the middle Tracy son, nightmares of those closed spaces, of the dark, and of dying, invading his sleep most nights for months afterwards; Virgil taking out his frustrations in his sketch books, until Jeff had finally, reluctantly, agreed that Virgil needed help, professional help that they as a family couldn't offer, Penelope finding an answer for them, that would help his son, yet would still keep the secrets of international rescue safe, Virgil phone conferencing with a psychologist twice a week. It seemed to help, and the nightmares lessened, only happening now after particularly bad rescues, the sketch books though remained, one in particular, permanently attached to his son whenever he had a free moment, and if he had been protective of his work before, he was downright paranoid about it now.

Jeff had panicked the first rescues Virgil had been allowed to go on, his brothers also watching him worriedly, until his son had quietly complained, telling them in no uncertain terms, to back off, something that they reluctantly did, although they all still watched him from the corner of their eyes. Tomorrow though would be a year to the day of that disastrous rescue, and as the day had drawn closer, Jeff knew that the mother henning had returned with a vengeance.

It was quiet as Jeff walked through the house, from his study to the family lounge, a quick glance at his watch informing him just how much time he had wasted staring blankly at jumbled words and mismatched lines; his boys would surely have retired by now, well except an earthbound John, who would no doubt be star gazing. Entering the large space, he silently cursed his sons for leaving the lights on, all be it dimly. He poured himself a double, before turning to the open doors that led to the patio, mess screens keeping the night time invaders firmly outside, his unlit cigar begging to be lit; stopping as he heard a faint noise.

Walking over to the doors, he couldn't help the smile that graced his face, as with whiskey glass held firmly in one hand, and cigar clenched tightly between his teeth, he watched four of his sons trying to decorate the pool area, all whilst trying to be stealthy and silent; something they were not being successful at, no matter how hard they tried to shush one another, whispered curses and shouts to be quiet gradually increasing in volume. Worried about waking the one son he could not see, whose room was close by, Jeff reached out, with his free hand to open the screen, to let his presence be known, and to ask them to keep the noise down, only to stop as the voice of the son he was worried about, spoke softly from the couch he had just walked past.

"Leave them be Dad, they're having fun." Virgil said as he pushed himself up into a sitting position, sketchpad resting against his knees and pencil in hand.

"Virgil, I didn't see you there. It's late, what are you doing still up?"

"I sometimes think they forget who it is they're trying to surprise. They would have succeeded if they'd waited until tomorrow morning." Virgil replied, making reference to the fact he was not a morning person.

"You'll have to forgive them Virgil; they just want to make this day happy for you, especially after last year."

"I know." His son answered, a deep sigh escaping the younger man's lips.

Sensing an undercurrent of sadness within his child's voice, Jeff decided to query it. "Virgil, are you okay? Are you okay with them doing this? If you're not, I'll tell them, they wouldn't mind."

Virgil shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I don't mind."

Jeff moved over to the coffee table that separated the two massive couch's, sitting down on the solid oak surface he tried to gage his son's mood by looking into his eyes, only to have Virgil look away from him. "You don't sound so sure. Listen son, it's your day, if you want it to be quiet, if you want to do your own thing, that's up to you, we'd understand."

Still not looking up, his fingers toying with the brightly colored cover of a sketchpad Jeff had seen him drawing in a lot recently; Virgil took his time before answering. "No, it's not that, it's just. . . . . . . . . . . ." His words though wouldn't come out and he trailed off, the sentence unfinished.

"It's just what son?"

Virgil sighed deeply, his legs drawing up closer to his chest, his free hand rubbing unconsciously at the scar tissue that ran up his calf; Jeff beginning to think he wasn't going to answer until. "It's just. . . . . . . . . . . . . It's just that it's been so long, I'm not sure I know how to do this, I'm not sure I remember how to act, and. . . . . . . . . . . . ."

Jeff swallowed down the guilt Virgil's words had arisen within him, his mind remembering all the years he had ignored his son's special day. "And what?" Jeff eventually asked, not wanting to address Virgil's first concerns just yet for fear that his son would clam up altogether.

It took Virgil a while to reply, his head bowed to his chest, his voice a mere whisper. "I'm afraid. I feel as though I'll be betraying Mom by celebrating and being happy."

"Oh son, you wouldn't be, she wouldn't want you to be unhappy, said want you to have fun, to celebrate; I know for a fact she'll have strong words for me when we meet again, after the way I've treated you."

Jeff could see the battle raging within his son as he spoke his words, and could only hope that he had gotten through, believing he had done when Virgil finally looked up at him.


"Yes son."

"Dad, I need to ask you something."

"Okay, ask away."

"Would you mind. . . . . . . . . . . what I mean to say is, if it's okay with you. . . . . . . . . . . . damn." Virgil swore as his frustration and nerves grew. "Sorry, I didn't mean to swear, I just. . . . . . . I just. . . . . . . ."

"Virgil, don't bottle things inside, you have to get them out, nothing you say will offend me, please son just speak what's on your mind."

"I don't want to upset you."

"And what makes you think you will do that?"

"Because." Virgil paused before adding. " Because I wanted to know if we could celebrate Mom tomorrow too." His words were rushed, his head bowing once more, his voice soft, his mind already preparing for the backlash he expected to hear.

Jeff's head also bowed, his posture mirroring his son's. "Virgil. . . . . . . . . . ." He started, only to be interrupted once more.

"It's okay, don't worry about it, we don't have to, I just thought. . . . . . . . . . . . . . no I didn't think, just forget I even mentioned it.

"Virgil. . . . . . . . . . ." Jeff tried again, only to have his words drowned out as his son once again talked over him.

"It's okay, it's okay. Ummm I'm kinda tired, if it's okay with you I think I'll call it a night." Virgil stuttered. Not waiting for a response he stood quickly, his hands grasping his sketchbook, pencils, glass, and music player.

Jeff grabbed for his son's arm, meaning to still him so that he could tell his son what he wanted to say, but the move startled Virgil, the younger man only just managing to keep hold of his glass and music player; the sketchpad and pencils not so fortunate, tumbling and clattering to the floor, the book falling open to the page Virgil had been working on, the image captured there drawing Jeff's eye as he bent down to help pick the items up. Seeing his father still in his movements and knowing what it was that had stopped him, Virgil lunged for the book, but it was too late, his Father's reflexes quicker. Unable to witness the disappointment within his Dad's eyes, Virgil slumped back down to the couch, his knees drawing up, his arms encircling them, his face hidden, waiting once more for a backlash, instead silence engulfed the room. After a few minutes Virgil risked a glance, and found his Father staring reverently at the sketches he had produced, softly he spoke.

"I saw her, you know. I saw her when I was down in that place. She begged me to hold on, to keep fighting. I didn't want to, I was so cold and hurting, I wanted to go with her; but she just kept telling me it wasn't my time, she just kept telling me that I was needed here more."

"She was right son." Jeff croaked out, his voice breaking as he choked back sobs. He couldn't look up at Virgil, couldn't take his eyes away from the image his son had created, it was so lifelike it popped from the page, and if he hadn't known any better he would have sworn it was a photograph, Virgil's strokes were that pure; but that photograph was locked away safe. "Virgil, how did you do this? How did you know about this place, this night?"

Virgil had no answer, just shrugged his shoulders. "She was so beautiful that night, she shone, and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She loved this place, would insist we travel back every year; it was her place, her place to celebrate anything and everything." Jeff couldn't help the tears that fell in earnest now, reluctantly placing the book down he moved over to his still worried son, placing an arm around his shoulder and pulling him tightly in. "I'm glad she sent you back Virgil, things would have fallen apart with you gone. I'm glad she sent you back so that we can begin to make things right again, starting tomorrow. You're right son, we should celebrate her life too, that's what she would have wanted; and as for not knowing how too, well we'll work through that together. It'll be okay Virgil, I promise."

He smiled as he watched the worry ease from his son's features, watched as a genuine smile lit up eyes that were so very much like his Mother's. He held the hold for a while longer, not willing to allow Virgil to go, seeking comfort and offering it at the same time; as Virgil tried to hold in a jaw cracking yawn though, he knew finally relented. "C'mon son, get yourself off to bed, your brother's will no doubt be up at the crack of dawn to wake you up in their own unique ways."

He watched as Virgil stumbled to his feet, the relinquishing of information he had obviously been holding inside allowing him to finally relax, and exhaustion was now evident in his stance. He slowly walked to the door, stopping before leaving and turning back to Jeff, walking back he held out his hand, the sketchbook held in its grasp. "I want you to have this; Mom would want you to have this." He handed the book to his Father before turning and finally going to bed.

A delicate breeze drifted through the open patio doors, stirring the soft drapes, and filling the room with the scent of the ocean and the bouquet of flowers, made all the more potent by the fresh rainfall that had coated the island overnight. It roused the man sleeping upon the queen sized bed, bringing goose bumps to his bare skin and making him pull the sheets up higher until all that could be seen were a few disheveled tufts of chocolate brown locks. The sound of distant waves crashing against rocks competed against the gentle noise of the man's breathing in the otherwise quiet of the room until the soft chords of classical piano beckoned for a new day to begin. A scarred, yet tanned and muscular arm quickly reached out, digits which normally sought out snooze fumbling to find the volume button, a need to hear the sonata that brought such happy thoughts and memories.

Disturbing the sheets slightly, Virgil Tracy turned beneath the covers, the hand that had sneaked out, returning to be placed over his eyes blocking out what little sunlight filtered through the cotton, whilst at the same time hiding from sight eyes that had turned damp as the first chords were struck; for the first time in a long time though the tears were happy ones. With a contented sigh, he gradually removed the sheet further down his body, knowing from past experience, and from his Dad's ominous words last night, that if he didn't show some sort of sign that he was awake and up, one or more of his brother's would soon be paying him an unwelcome visit, the movement stopping as he heard his door creak open. Footsteps thundered across his floor before he was soon crushed by a Tracy mountain of limbs and torsos; his laughter infectious and soon they were all joining in.

Later after finally being allowed to get up and shower he stood looking at the photo of his Mother upon his nightstand, and with a smile whispered, "Happy Birthday Mom." before leaving to join the others for breakfast. He didn't see the curtains billow, didn't smell the faint traces of lilac's that scented the air, didn't hear the breeze as it blew, bringing with it a sound, that if he had heard it, he would have sworn said "Happy Birthday Virgil."

The End.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . Well that's all folks! I hope that you enjoyed the ride, and I thank you all for sticking with me throughout this story. Hope to be back soon with something new, catch you later, Peanut x