Light and Shadows
By Criminally Charmed
Disclaimer - Do not own the Thunderbirds. If I did, Alan-whumpage would be an Olympic Sport.
Chapter One – The Light
Alan Tracy smiled up at his girlfriend as she joined him on the lounger he had edged closer to the house.
"Avoiding the madness?"
The teens looked up and grinned as Jeff Tracy walked out of the house. Alan shook his head in amusement.
"John and Emily aren't getting married until Christmas," Alan laughed. "But everyone is going nuts already!"
Lady Penelope, Emily and Onaha were all gathered around a table, notes, magazines and an i-Pad in front of them. John was smiling indulgently as he played with Emily's golden blonde hair. But it was Scott and Gordon's enthusiasm for the details that amused the teenager most.
"Alan," Tin-Tin protested. "It's incredibly romantic. John wants the perfect day for Emily."
"Emily is a doctor," Alan argued. "She's not only one of the smartest people I know, she's just plain old super-smart – a genius! She doesn't want a fairytale wedding."
"I don't know," Virgil said as he joined his father and youngest brother. "Maybe that's what makes her want it even more. And maybe it is why John wants her to have it."
"And how would you marry me?" Tin-Tin asked, shaking her head when she looked up at Virgil and Jeff. "I mean, years from now, if you did. How would you be romantic, Alan Tracy?"
Alan gave a small smile and put an arm around her. "If I was smart enough to marry you and you were crazy enough to say yes, I would want it to be just family, right on the main beach as the sun set. I know you like sunrises but I would be afraid that most of my family would sleep through the ceremony. Nothing fancy, nothing that would get in the way of the two of us declaring that we would be together."
Seeing Tin-Tin's dreamy look was not as alarming to Jeff as Alan's determined demeanor.
"But," Jeff said firmly, "that won't be for years to come, right?"
"Of course, Dad," Alan grinned. "We have to finish school, right? Speaking of which," the teen stood and stretched. "I need to finish my summer astronomy project before John heads back up to five. You want to proof read for me, Tin?"
As he exited the villa, Kyrano gave his daughter and the boy he loved as a son a firm glance. "I trust you both completely," the Asian man said firmly. "But for the Tracys' peace of mind, keep the door open."
"Dad," Tin-Tin protested, holding up her and Alan's entwined hands, their purity rings clearly visible.
"For the sake of Dad's and Kyrano's blood pressure," Virgil laughed, "that open door does sound good."
When the teenagers disappeared into the house, Jeff sighed and happily took the ice tea glass offered to him by Kyrano. "I trust them but sometimes I wish it was a chastity belt and not just a small ring."
"Yes, Mr. Tracy," Kyrano said with a twinkle in his dark eyes as he prepared to carry the tray to the wedding planners. "But who would you place the belt on?"
Virgil laughed as Jeff sputtered into the tea.
Sarah Woodbury sighed in relief as the water sluiced through her hair, removing the smell of smoke and traces of ash that always seemed to get through her helmet. The paramedic's bright auburn hair was longer than she should probably have it, but it wasn't thick so Sarah could safely secure it at the back of her head. Whenever Captain Delgado would say anything about it she merely would look at Patrick Kelley, the shift's engineer and gesture towards the man's mustache – complete with handlebars.
"When Kelley has to shave off his mustache, I'll get a bob, Cap and not one second sooner," Sarah maintained in a rare show of defiance.
Shutting down the shower, Sarah began to quickly towel off her hair before pulling on some clean clothes. Exiting the locker area, she called out "All Clear", the signal the shift had instigated when the young woman had been assigned to the station. As the only woman on shift, Sarah appreciated being allowed first dibs on the showers when they came back from a fire.
"Leave us any hot water, Woody?"
Smiling at her partner, Sarah shrugged. O.C. "Tommy" Thomson – who never would admit what the O.C. stood for – was fifteen years her senior and had been with the Boston Fire Department for years. The man could have easily made Captain by now except for his desire to remain more active as a paramedic. But Tommy's wife had admitted to Sarah that she might need a new partner next year – Tommy was sitting for the Captain's test in January and with his record, there was little doubt he would make it.
"A bit," Sarah grinned. "Better hurry up, Kelley. You'll need plenty to get the soot out of your caterpillar."
"Woody, you were deprived out there in Kansas," Kelley smirked. "You never learned to appreciate classic, urbane styling such as my glorious example of facial hair."
As the man disappeared into the showers, Sarah shook her head. "He makes my home sound like "Little House on the Prairie." My father was a lawyer, not a farmer and I sure as hell am not Dorothy Gale." Seeing her partner's odd look, she frowned. "What?"
"You know the last name of the character from Wizard of Oz?"
Laughing, Sarah left the locker room but not before calling back, "Tommy, they teach us that in pre-school."
Heading into the kitchen, Sarah hooked up her i-Pad, ready to check her e-mail even as she began to prepare dinner. Alan Tracy had sent her the recipe for Pasta Primavera that she had eaten with the Tracys after the bank robbery and Sarah was eager to try it out on her team.
As the water began to boil, Sarah added the pasta to the pot before turning down the heat and focusing on dicing up the vegetables. Absently thumbing through her e-mails in between tasks, Sarah's knife froze in mid-chop at the address of the last e-mail.
Whispering softly, Sarah read the address out loud, "V Tracy at Tracy Enterprises dot Org."
Virgil? None of the other Tracys' name started with V, so it had to be. Setting down the knife with a shaky hand, Sarah pulled up a chair and began to read.
Hey. Bet you are surprised to hear from me. Um, it's Virgil. Man, that is dumb, isn't it?
First, I want to thank you. John and Alan went on and on about the robbery and how you tried to protect Alan. I know how much he meant to you but you know how much the Sprout means to the family. So thanks.
I meant to contact you sooner – Alan gave me your e-mail – but life kind of got away from me.
There's so much I would like to say but here is the big thing. I am bringing Alan back to school next week and I also have a meeting at one of the Tracy Enterprise offices, specifically the one in Boston. I was wondering if you had some free time that weekend. Dad has been after me to take a couple of days down and I haven't been to Boston in years. So what do you think? Wanna show an old pal from Kansas Bean Town? If you are busy, I'll understand but I hope I can see you, if only for a few minutes.
Your Friend, (Still – I hope)
"Hey Woody," Captain Delgado said as he entered the room. "Watch your cooking."
"Damn," Sarah muttered, jumping up and attending the food with swift efficiency. When she turned back around, she was annoyed to see several of her co-workers reading her e-mail.
"Do you guys mind?" she growled. "That is personal."
"So who is the Virgin?" Kelley asked with a smirk.
"Virgil," Sarah corrected, "not virgin. Just a guy I grew up with."
"Alan and John," Tommy mused. "That was the name of the Tracy Brothers. And he does mention the bank."
OK, fine," Sarah allowed. "Virgil Tracy. But still just a guy I grew up with."
"So he hasn't seen you in a while, right?" Tommy pressed. "Did his brothers tell him how much you have changed?"
"No," Sarah muttered before sighing. "I asked them not to."
"You had a crush on him, didn't you?" Tommy asked.
"No! Maybe – I don't know," Sarah grumbled as she drained the pasta and added the other ingredients.
"We are off next weekend," Tommy encouraged her.
Sighing, Sarah motioned for the others to set the table as she placed the dish of pasta on the table. Picking up her i-Pad, she began to respond to the e-mail.
"Have him pick you up here," Delgado said firmly as he set up ice tea and water pitchers.
"Why?" Sarah asked in confusion.
"Have to make sure he is good enough for you," Tommy muttered to the amusement of the room.
Seeing the protectiveness in her shift's – her family's – behavior, Sarah just smiled.
"Dad!" Alan groaned. "I'll be fine!"
Jeff stood back for a minute, his left hand gripping Alan's shoulder and his right brushing gently through his youngest son's golden blonde hair. When the teenager glanced up with a grin, his bright blue eyes dancing with merriment, Jeff had to swallow the lump in his throat and tugged the protesting boy into a tight embrace.
"Oh, Lucy, he is so much your son," Jeff thought quickly, stiffening when the scent of lilacs once more tickled his nose.
"C'mon you guys," Virgil grumbled as he leaned out of Tracy One. "I have that meeting in Boston this afternoon and then I told Sarah I would pick her up at the Station House when her shift ended at four."
Jeff released Alan, secretly glad that his other sons were on a quick rescue in Sydney and that even Tin Tin was occupied with Command and Control. The last few minutes, as Virgil had stored Alan's luggage – what Brains hadn't brought with him when he had taken Fermat back to Wharton's earlier in the week before the two Hackenbackers had gone to spend a few days at a conference in DC – had been for Jeff to say good-bye to his son.
"Maybe the next time I head to New York," Jeff said, "you can come down and spend a couple of days with me."
"Dad," Alan shrugged, "that would be nice, but the coach said even if I can't be on the track team, I can help with the equipment. And Emily even said that I can work out, within reason. She sent the guidelines to Coach Michaels. It will help with Team Building and keep me in shape. Between that and the fact that three of my classes are on the AP level -"
"You'll be pretty darn busy," Jeff conceded. "OK, but one of us will be up for Columbus Day weekend at least. You think you can spare us a few minutes?"
Alan grinned again. "Yeah, I guess a few minutes -"
"Now, Alan!" Virgil called out.
Giving Jeff one last hug, Alan bounded into the plane. "Love you, Dad!" he called out even as he secured the hatch.
Jeff stayed in the hanger, long after the sleek jet had faded into the horizon, taking his youngest son away. He knew that Alan always came home. But with Alan's increasing enthusiasm about life off the Island, Jeff's over-protective nature surged once more. The man knew that it was irrational, that other people cared about Alan and the boy was well-protected at Wharton's.
Yet the memory of that horrible phone call, when the headmaster had said that Alan was missing still haunted Jeff's memory. And when he was found – God, it was as bad as when Gordon was hurt. No, it was worse. Jeff hadn't caused Gordon to be where he was when he got hurt. But it had been Jeff's thoughtless words to his youngest son that had caused the teenager to be out running that night, straight into the path of a drunk driver who had left the boy to die by the side of the road. By some miracle, Alan had survived and –for the most part – had recovered. Alan still couldn't participate in track at Wharton or rescues with the Thunderbirds, but according to John's fiancée, Emily, that could change by Thanksgiving.
Thoughts of Emily caused Jeff's mind to wander to the family's reunion with Sarah Jane Woodbury. Thinking of the attractive young woman who had changed so much from the timid child he had known back in Kansas, Jeff couldn't help but smile.
"Virgil is sure going to be in for a surprise when he sees Sarah Jane again, isn't he Luc?" Jeff mused aloud.
As the smell of lilacs once more drifted his way, Jeff smiled once more. Yep. His middle son was definitely in for a surprise when he met up with his childhood playmate.
Scott Tracy sighed in relief as he finished his checks on Thunderbird One before climbing down to join his brothers.
"You finished the checks on Two awfully fast boys," Scott called out to his brothers as he dropped to the ground. "Best make sure you are taking good care of Virgil's baby."
"The Big Green Bug is safe and sound," Gordon responded cheekily. "Virgil will be well satisfied."
Glancing at his watch, Scott groaned, trying not to be too disappointed.
"Big sigh, big brother," John smiled, placing a comforting arm around Scott's shoulder as the three made their way towards the lifts. "Just notice we are too late to see the Sprout off?"
"I don't know why Virgil had to be in such a rush," Scott grumbled. "And if he was, one of us could have taken Alan back to school."
"It would be a waste," Gordon argued. "I mean, Virg has to be at that meeting today in Boston and Wharton's is only a forty-five minute drive from Boston. And then there is the chance of him hooking up with Sarah."
"Yeah," Scott conceded. "It will be nice for Virgil to meet up with an old friend. Sarah Jane was always such a sweet girl. According to the blonde wonders, she still is."
Trying to ignore the crack about his hair color, John smiled. "Yes she is. But she is a lot more willing to show her temper these days. Sarah really has grown up from the little girl we knew in Kansas."
"Not to mention," Gordon grinned as they entered the lift, "she is seriously hot."
"Sarah Jane?" Scott scoffed in disbelief. "Sarah Jane Woodbury was a lot of things – smart, kind, loyal to name just a few – but hot was never one of them. She was kind of cute but it would take a big stretch of the imagination to ever call her hot."
"Remember how Grandma used to Sarah Jane was "a rose about to bloom"?" John cracked as the doors slid open and they exited into Jeff's office. When Scott nodded, John laughed.
"Consider her a rose in bloom, brother mine."
Virgil let Alan get out of the rental car while the teenager was immediately surrounded by his friends. As the five young men began to talk excitedly as they compared summer breaks, Virgil began to pull out his brother's bags.
"Where's Fermat?" Alan looked around for his smaller friend.
One of the teen's shook his head. "Not back yet. The headmaster said Professor Hackenbacker assured him Fermat would be back by tonight. With classes starting tomorrow, you two will be two of the last ones to arrive. Most of the students were here by last night. We even got the OK to set up your room for both of you. Um," he hesitated, "we were afraid the reason you were so late in getting here was that you were still hurt too much."
"Yeah, Tracy," another guy muttered. "You scared the crap out of everyone with that. Last time we saw you was when you were being med-flighted to a trauma center. So not the way to end the school year."
Alan laughed. "I'll try not to do it again, Jake."
"See to it," Virgil said sternly as he handed Alan one of the smaller bags.
"Hey guys," Alan grinned, gesturing to Virgil. "This is my brother, Virgil."
"Musician, right?" the first teen asked. When Virgil looked surprised, he just grinned. "Alan's favorite subject is his family. Scott is the pilot, John is the astronomer, Virgil is the musician and artist, Gordon is the athlete. Did I get everyone?"
"Yeah, Tony," Alan groaned in embarrassment. "You got it."
Virgil smiled as the teenagers moved, en masse, into the dorm, their earlier conversation picking up where it had been left. Looking around in surprise, Virgil was startled to realize that the other boys had grabbed Alan's luggage and were leading the way into the building.
Suddenly, Alan stopped and ran back to his brother. Throwing his arms around Virgil, the teenager grinned as his hair was ruffled fondly.
"Big brother cramping your style?" Virgil teased.
"I know you have that meeting to get to, Virgil. Thanks for driving me out here. You know, if you had landed at Springfield Airport instead Logan, the school would have sent a car for me."
"Yes," Virgil agreed. "But then I wouldn't have gotten an extra hour with you."
Quickly hugging Virgil again, Alan ran back to join his friends before his brother could say anything.
Swallowing a lump in his throat, Virgil waited until his little brother was safely in the dorm before climbing back into his car. Alan was really becoming a great kid. It was too bad it had taken several near misses and almost losing Alan for the family to realize it. But Alan was now enjoying the knowledge that he was loved and needed by his family.
"Stay safe, Sprout," Virgil whispered before starting up the car and pulling away from the building.
The entire shift shuffled in, exhausted from having been fighting a fire at an abandoned school in South Boston.
"What a waste," Kelley groaned as he began to secure some of his equipment.
Any response was cut off by several members of A shift emerging from the kitchen.
"Hey guys," Bobby Madison called out, raising a coffee cup in greeting. "We made a fresh pot if you want some before you leave for the night."
"None for me," Sarah groaned as she packed away the last of the medical supplies. "But is the shower clear?"
"All clear, Woody," Bobby nodded. "What's the hurry?"
"Woody's got a hot date," Kelley teased even as Sarah's partner took a swipe at his head. The big man ducked expertly, having expected the treatment.
"Really?" Bobby asked as he looked around at his team. "What relative or neighbor they stick you with this time Woody? I mean, my cousin Greg is back from the Army and -"
"It's not like that," Sarah protested. "It's – Well, it's just an old friend from Kansas is going to be in town this weekend and I promised to show him around. That's it."
When Sarah fled to the relative safety of the showers, Captain Delgado and Tommy both glared at not only their own team but the other shift as well.
"Woody is going out with Virgil Tracy," Tommy said.
"Seriously?" Bobby asked. "Someone named their kid Virgil?"
"Jeff Tracy named all five of his sons after Mercury Seven astronauts," Delgado explained.
"Jeff Tracy?" another member of Shift A gasped. "The Jeff Tracy?"
But Bobby nodded. "Yeah, remember the three day wonder in the news after Woody got caught in the bank robbery while she was training down in New York? It said one of the reasons she stayed in the bank was to protect one of Jeff Tracy's sons. That she had baby-sat the kid when growing up in Kansas and that her family had lived right down the road from the Tracys."
Tommy nodded. "Yes, she did. And Woody's been real happy to reconnect with the family. Personally, I think she also had a major crush on this particular Tracy and she's a nervous wreck. Woody hasn't seen him in years and you know from Harry that Woody has changed a lot. At least physically."
The firefighters all nodded, recalling what Woody's late aunt had said about her niece. Apparently, before the girl was injured in the fire that killed her family, Woody had looked rather different and was painfully shy. While she had gained confidence professionally, socially Woody was still somewhat withdrawn. The assembled men looked at each other and in a moment of camaraderie one shift silently agreed with the other that they were all staying to check out the guy who was trying to make time with their Woody.
A/N - More soon, conversations on even chapters.