Wow. I can't believe that this is it. The end, the final chapter. Never have I written anything so long, and I loved every moment! The biggest thank you in the world to all of you who have been following this and reviewing/alerting/favouriting on the way, it means more than I can ever say. Apologies to any reviews I may not have responded directly too, each one was appreciated as much as the next.
Bee, where do I even start? I present to you the world's best beta! Not only did she have me dropping hints before I even started writing, she has patiently corrected each chapter for me, all 34 of them. Even when I'm rambling and not making any sense, or almost making her cry, I always have the chapter landing back in my inbox. I seriously cannot thank you enough, you've made this all the more enjoyable! Love you!
So here it is. Enjoy!
As his eyes peeled slowly open, Scott just blinked at the ceiling above him, his brain trying to process not only what had happened, but where he now was. Coughing slightly, he shifted a little, only to gasp in pain. His left arm was strapped firmly across his chest and, glancing down at himself, he saw that his upper body was smeared with different creams, a few of the areas – especially his stomach – wrapped up.
"Welcome back," a hoarse voice said somewhere over to his right, and Scott rolled his head over, only to find his confusion deepening at seeing a very put-out Virgil lying in the bed next to him. Virgil didn't need to be in here anymore. Brains had cleared him before heading back to Five... So why was his brother lying there looking thoroughly annoyed? And what exactly had he done to his wrist?
"Wha' you do?" Scott croaked, wincing as the words seemed to grate on his throat. Virgil winced sympathetically. His hand had been drifting towards his watch, clearly intending to let the rest of the family know that Scott was awake. They had all sat there for hours, but when Alan had eventually dozed off and they realised that Gordon's paleness wasn't fading, their father had forcibly removed the rest of the family, claiming that he needed John's help with something. Virgil was no fool; he knew that it was as much an act to get John out of there as it was the younger ones, but it had worked. Knowing they were due back any moment, the artist stopped at Scott's question.
"Nothing." He glanced down at where his own wrist had a light support over it, mainly to stop the ointment his grandmother had smeared all over it from rubbing off. Seeing Scott's eyebrows raise, Virgil looked pointedly at his big brother's broken wrist. "You did it."
"I... what?" Needless to say, Scott was beyond confused. How on earth could he be responsible for Virgil hurting his wrist? But that still didn't explain why he was currently occupying a bed in the infirmary. "How did I do it? And what are you doing in here, Virg?"
"You broke yours," Virgil responded quietly, locking eyes with his brother. He was so sure of what he had felt: the pain in his arm, the way he couldn't breathe. From what Gordon had said, the moment Virgil's bruise had become worse was when Scott had put his weight on his wrist. His father had already claimed that he had just had a panic attack, something that was apparently understandable considering his brothers were going after the man who had almost killed him. He had attempted to explain the bruise by saying it must have been already coming out, but Virgil wasn't buying it. He knew that his reactions had some sort of direct relation to what had happened to Scott.
"You felt it?"
"You don't sound surprised." Propping himself up on one elbow, Virgil stared over at his brother in confusion. Scott was always the most practical of his brothers, not believing in anything unless the evidence was there in front of him. But right now he was staring back at his brother, biting his lip as he clearly pondered something.
"It wouldn't be the first time. Well, maybe for you, but not for me," Scott admitted quietly, glancing down at the bed before letting his eyes flicker up to meet Virgil's.
"You've felt it too?"
"Virg, when your heart stopped, it felt like a part of me had died. I don't just mean grief; it was as if something had physically gone. Gordon no doubt told you... told you my reaction?" Virgil nodded, and Scott dropped his gaze again.
"It was like I could feel what that poison was doing to you. I thought it was just shock, you know? You weren't supposed to have gone and died." Scott let out a shaky laugh, his good hand automatically fiddling with the covers on the bed. "But then, I knew... before Gordon told us that the cure had worked, I just knew it. You think I'm crazy now, don't you?"
"Considering why I'm in here?" Virgil muttered. There would have been an occasion when he would have mocked Scott for it, but now was not the time, not considering everything that had happened. "But why now? I mean, I had no idea when your plane crashed all those years ago. And I'm guessing that you didn't know when I broke my leg?"
Scott shook his head, and the two stared at each other, neither having a clue what to say.
"So what the hell is happening to us?" Scott eventually muttered, glancing away from Virgil. What if something was seriously wrong with them? What if he always knew what his brother was feeling? Whilst that might be something of a bonus on a rescue, an easy way of keeping Virgil out of trouble, Scott found that he really didn't want to know all that his brother got up to, especially when Virgil had time off from the island. Something told him that his brother was no doubt thinking along the same lines if the small shudder he suddenly gave was anything to go by.
"I might be able to help with that."
A soft voice came from the door, neither of the two men inside having heard it open. As one, both Scott and Virgil turned to face the door, Virgil even trying to get out of the bed. Scott would have followed suit if one movement hadn't sent him collapsing back onto the pillow with a groan. Every inch of him hurt! But Kyrano lifted a calming hand and Virgil stopped. He propped up the bed so that he could sit up, but made no attempt to get out of it. Scott couldn't help but smirk slightly. Ever since they had heard about Kyrano's role in sedating Scott, the rest of the brothers had been strangely reserved around him.
"How do we know when the other is hurt?" Virgil practically whispered. Scott knew how he felt though. If Kyrano couldn't answer it, they didn't know who else they were going to talk to. John would regard them silently and thoughtfully, would claim to be looking into it and really be researching mental illnesses. Their father wouldn't listen for more than a moment, whilst Gordon and Alan would no doubt find the whole thing hilarious and the two of them would be dodging pranks for months as the troublemakers tried to catch them out.
"You haven't always, have you?" There was something calming about Kyrano's voice, something that didn't make the two brothers feel like they were losing their minds. Virgil glanced at Scott, who paused for a moment before shaking his head. Kyrano returned the nod, clearly contemplating something as he walked forward. Neither of them had the chance to ask anything before he suddenly stretched out his hands, resting his fingers on Scott's temples.
The pilot made to jerk away, to demand to know what the man thought he was doing, but something in Kyrano's expression stopped him. He looked calm, pleasantly thoughtful, as his eyes shut, a slight frown giving away how much he was concentrating. Just watching him, Scott felt himself feeling sleepy, his eyes slowly beginning to flicker shut before the Malaysian suddenly pulled away and repeated the process on Virgil.
"I thought as much," he eventually muttered, sitting down between the two beds and watching the brothers, as if unsure as to how they would react.
"What? Kyrano, what is it? What's wrong with us?" Virgil sounded slightly frantic as he demanded answers from their friend, but Scott had a feeling that whatever it was, it wouldn't necessarily be bad news.
"The first time you felt this? It was after an encounter with that man, wasn't it?"
Scott wasn't sure whether it was a deliberate attempt to distance himself from the situation when Kyrano didn't say the Hood's name, but he nodded, glancing over at Virgil. The younger brother knew what he was thinking about and leant over, grasping Scott's arm gently, mindful of any bruises.
"It was after he killed Virg."
"And Virgil, you felt it for the first time only yesterday?"
"I was out for a whole day?"
"Yes," Virgil admitted softly, ignoring Scott's disbelief. He was chewing on his lower lip, always a sign that something was troubling him. "What happened?"
Kyrano sighed, looking between the two young men again. He had watched them grow into the men they now were. He may not have known them as children, but he had certainly watched them mature since everyone had moved over to the island and he had brought his daughter over. He had seen them at their best, and at their worst. But never did he think he would be the one who would have to explain something like this.
"The... the Hood and I, we have a connection. He exploits it, I ignore it."
Scott's eyebrows had disappeared into his hairline and Virgil almost dared his brother to read his mind to see what he was thinking. That would be one way to shut him up, that was for sure. He just hoped that his brother wasn't going to say anything that could offend Kyrano. Luckily, Scott shot him a scathing look and Virgil smirked. He should have known; Scott had always known what he was thinking.
"You were both touched with that same power. I believe it awakened something in you both."
"But Gordon got hit with it more than the rest of us put together," Virgil mused out loud, not forgetting the sight of his brother on the floor in agony. Kyrano frowned, closing his eyes for a second before opening them with a smile.
"But Alan did not."
"The pair of you have always been close. There were already the... the building blocks, if you like." Smiling at their dumbfounded expressions, Kyrano pressed on. It wasn't often that a Tracy was rendered speechless. "The same would have happened to Gordon if Alan had also been affected - they too have that same bond. But as it is, all Gordon got from it was a headache."
"So, will we always know?"
"Don't you want to?"
"No!" both brothers yelped simultaneously, and this time, Kyrano couldn't hold back his laughter. In having such strong personalities, the two were more alike than they realised. No wonder they had managed to form such a strong bond without meaning to. The desperate need to know what was happening with the other had allowed the bond to open.
"Then it will go," he replied calmingly; beginning to climb to his feet. He could hear footsteps heading down the corridor towards the infirmary, and knew it was time for the rest of the family to be made aware of the fact that Scott was awake. "It will only remain as long as you want it to."
"Oh." Scott too had heard the footsteps. "Kyrano, do you mind if..?"
"The rest of the family do not find out?"
"Please?" It was Virgil who spoke this time and, once again, Kyrano found he had a smile on his face. The two might claim that they didn't want to know, but if they remained so in sync with each other, it was going to take a while before their new bond disappeared. It would be interesting to see how far it had progressed and just how much they knew what the other was feeling. Knowing them, they would just think it was the other knowing them too well anyway.
"They will not hear it from me," Kyrano promised. He wasn't going to promise that they would not find out, because when living on an island, there wasn't a lot that could remain a secret, something that the boys had learnt the hard way in the past. But he would not be the one to divulge what was going on with the brothers, not even to his own daughter.
Scott smiled gratefully, but before he could open his mouth to thank their old friend, the door swished open and the rest of the family arrived. Everyone was there, even their grandmother. Relieved smiles split open their faces as they realised that Scott was awake, and en-masse, they all piled into the room.
Grandma somehow got there first, fussing over the two of them for all she was worth, even though Virgil had been subjected to it the day before as well. They both put up with it, trading amused looks as they realised once again they were thinking the same thing. There was no point trying to fight against her, and it was only when the covers on the beds were perfectly straight that she finally said something about needing to make sandwiches and bustled out again.
Knowing the coast was now clear, the rest of the family moved forward, automatically taking up positions around the room that made Scott realise this was not the first time they had all been in here since they had arrived home.
After the initial questions about how he was feeling, and did he hear what happened to Virgil, and how Alan got to fly Two home, Scott found himself tuning out. He nodded and made the appropriate comments when required (or when John subtly nudged him in the leg, knowing that Scott wasn't paying attention), but that aside, he found himself watching Gordon closely.
The redhead looked more tired than Scott thought he had ever seen him, and it suddenly dawned on him what his younger brother must have gone through in order to get him away from the Hood. He was lucky, there didn't seem to be any visible injuries, and remembering the heat of the fire in the brief moments he had been conscious, Scott felt a rush of relief shoot through him at the fact that his water-loving brother hadn't even been burnt. Feeling another nudge in his leg, he finally turned his attention back to John, who had been watching him just as closely as Scott had been watching Gordon.
The raising of John's eyebrows was all that Scott needed to see in order to know that Gordon was okay. But there was something about the way John then let his eyes dart between the pilot and their younger brother which clearly said that he needed to talk to Gordon. Scott nodded softly, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. Never mind being able to read Virgil, John was just as easy to those who knew him.
Whilst he wanted to be able to talk to Gordon there and then, to be able to put his mind at rest, Scott knew that he would have to wait it out and listen for the third time in a row whilst Alan excitedly described the journey home. It had been okay for the first or even the second re-telling - watching Virgil's face as Alan described his control of Two had certainly brought more of a twinkle into his eye. But as the stories faded away and the general chatter broke back out again, a family celebrating being back together, Scott could see that Gordon wasn't going to be staying around much longer.
"I'm going to see if your grandmother needs any help." Ruffling Alan's hair as he stood up, Jeff paused before leaving, drinking in the sight of all five of his boys well (enough) and alive. Too many times over lately had he feared that that might not be the case, it had almost happened. Gordon and the crates. Scott and the freezer. Alan and the gun. John almost being kidnapped... the list seemed endless. But no more.
Penny had flown back over the previous day, after a quick debriefing had made any loose ends obvious, armed with John's knowledge of the local area and how she should expect the authorities there to react from what he had learnt from his liaisons with the entire family – minus Scott who had been blissfully unconscious – it had been the worst waiting game ever. Eventually, the news had come through that the hut had been completely destroyed and she had found no sign that the Hood had made it out alive. There was no other option than to believe he had died in the blaze.
The reaction had been instant. Grandma had almost fainted from relief, causing Kyrano to quickly go and make her a cup of tea. Judging by the way Tin-Tin left after him, they all knew he too needed a moment. Brains had smiled, and promptly gone back to installing something into Five's upgrades in the way only he could manage. Alan had laughed out loud, whooping for joy at the knowledge that it was all over. John and Virgil had exchanged deep and significant looks, but it was Gordon's reaction that was deeply engraved in Jeff's mind.
He had seen the silent conversation between John and Scott just now, and he too understood the necessity of Gordon being able to talk to Scott. He was hoping that he if left, the other boys might take the hint, although considering how excitedly Alan was chatting away, he wasn't sure if that would be the case. Besides, he didn't just want to leave them to let Scott and Gordon be alone. He too wanted a word with a son. John's reaction at Virgil's panic attack meant Jeff knew there were some unfinished issues.
John watched his father go, a small smile on his face as he realised what his dad was doing. He knew it was nothing to do with helping his grandmother that made the man leave the room, and this time, he caught Virgil's eye as he turned back to the beds. Scott was almost asleep, and jumping on that chance, John beckoned Alan over.
"Reckon you can help me break Virg out of here?" he asked in a stage whisper, knowing full well that Scott had heard them, but for once, the oldest brother was not going to comment on it. Gordon had his upper body cushioned on the bed, and it was clear to them all that he too was close to falling asleep. If his other reactions had been anything to go by, the redhead would not have got much sleep the night before. Scott had his good hand combing through his brother's hair, and John knew that Gordon wasn't listening to a word. This was their chance.
Alan immediately grinned and the two blonds stood up. John had no doubt that Virgil knew what they were up to, but he certainly joined in as he silently slipped from the bed, making a show of leaning on Alan. John knew that he didn't need to, it was just a way of making sure their youngest member left the room. Otherwise all of them knew Alan wouldn't leave Scott.
Letting the two younger ones leave before him, John had to admit Virgil was certainly playing along with it. Alan's chance to fly Two gave them something to talk about, and now that the initial worry for his 'bird seemed to have died away, Virgil was more than willing to talk through minor details with his brother. Either that, or he was just a much better actor than John had given him credit for. The door swished shut as John left, pausing for long enough to give his oldest brother a quick visual once over. Scott might be the one trying to get through to Gordon, to make sure the rest of the family was alright, but that didn't mean John was any less worried about him than the others. He had truly believed that Scott wouldn't be getting out of that one alive and, shuddering slightly, John made to go and find out where the others had got to.
"A word, son?"
The voice coming from the shadows almost made John jump, something that had always been hard to do. Running a hand through his hair in distraction, John turned. His father hadn't gone very far when he had left, and he certainly hadn't gone to help Grandma. Instead, he was waiting directly outside of the infirmary. It was only now that John realised the man was waiting for him.
"I was gonna go and see..."
"It can wait," Jeff interrupted, his voice gentle, but firm. He knew that given the chance, John would try to avoid him. The blond was never one to open up about how he was feeling, but his reactions over the last few days showed Jeff that was precisely what he needed to do. Hopefully if he could get through to John, they would truly be able to let the whole fiasco fade. Poison and broken bones had nothing on the effect the attacks might have had on his sons' mental state. John looked like he was going to argue, before glancing at the infirmary doors. He suddenly realised that he had basically left Gordon in the same situation, so smiled slightly at his father and nodded. Following the man down the hallway to his study, John couldn't help but wonder what he had just let himself in for.
Gordon was thinking the same thing. The hand had stopped combing through his hair and the stupor the movement had sent him into was broken. Blearily sitting up, it took him a moment to realise that everyone else had left. Scott saw him looking around and knew what he was thinking.
"Just you and me now, kiddo."
"Last time that happened, you were barely breathing."
Scott inwardly grinned. He had been worried that he was going to have to force out of Gordon what precisely was troubling him, but it appeared the redhead wanted to talk. He had just been waiting for the right brother.
"Okay, out with it."
"Bully." Gordon sat up, the corners of his mouth twitching as he looked over at Scott. The pilot simply raised his eyebrows, a look Gordon knew only too well. He wasn't getting out of here until he had told Scott everything. Considering his brother was battered and bruised with a broken arm, Gordon didn't see how the older man could put so much power into that look. Gordon eventually sighed, glancing away from Scott and running a hand through his hair in agitation.
"It's because of me he is dead."
"It's because of you I'm alive," Scott shot back. For someone who appeared to brush everything off as being trivial, Gordon was a deep thinker at times, almost rivalling John. And just like their brother, it was sometimes hard to work out what was going on in his head because of the mask he seemed to wear.
"No, Scott. I killed him."
Scott sighed, leaning forward and stretching out his good hand. Capturing Gordon's chin, he turned his brother's head towards him, forcing the younger man to look him directly in the eye.
"You were the one who insisted we didn't take real bullets. You were the one who didn't want this to turn into a hit."
"And yet I was the one responsible. How's that for irony?" Gordon muttered with a bitter laugh, causing Scott to tighten his grip warningly.
"Stop it. He was going to kill us both if you hadn't have done what you did. All you did was dart him. He was the one that lit that fire."
"He would have made it out if I hadn't..."
"And we wouldn't. Gordon, please, listen to me. I know you think you killed him, but that was only an accident. You neutralised the threat just as we planned to do. If he wanted to try and burn us alive, then that is his fault. And I know you. If that roof hadn't collapsed – yes, Penny told me what happened, she called via the comms earlier, don't interrupt – then you would have gone back in for him, wouldn't you?"
Gordon didn't say anything for a moment, before dropping his eyes and nodding.
"See? You tried." Scott pressed on, hoping that he was getting through to his brother because he wasn't quite sure what to say if not. "His own actions led to his death and you did all you could. What about every rescue victim we've been unable to get to in time? Are their deaths your fault?"
Again, Gordon didn't speak, mutely shaking his head. Scott knew that he would be able to make the point on that argument; it was a discussion that had raged long and hot for days after they had lost their first victim, each brother personally feeling the effects.
"And this is the same. Face it, Gordon, it was him or us. And considering he would have gone after John, Virgil and Alan again if he'd been the one to make it out, you just saved us all, Squirt."
"Then why does it feel like it is my fault?"
Scott grinned, dropping his hand back. He could see by the look in Gordon's eyes that he had accepted what his brother was saying; it was just a last attempt to clear up any doubts before they could come back and haunt him further.
"Because you are an idiot." If Gordon had asked that earlier on in the conversation, Scott would have been doing his best to try and reassure him. But he knew Gordon, knew there was nothing more he could say to him and that was a sign to get back onto more familiar territory before they ended up going around in circles. Gordon huffed, finally sitting back in his chair and making Scott breathe a sigh of relief. That was what he had been waiting for. The clear and obvious sign Gordon had relaxed. He knew that once that happened, his brother was no longer hiding anything. Otherwise, you could never tell what was going on in his head.
"You okay?" Scott muttered gently after giving him a moment, keeping his voice light and casual even though he desperately wanted to know the answer.
"I think so."
Scott could ask for no more, but before he could say anything, the door opened again. Alan was in like a shot, flopping down onto the chair he had previously been sitting in and swinging his legs up onto the end of Scott's bed. For a moment, Scott couldn't help but wonder what he was doing in there. It wasn't exactly Alan's favourite place. But then he heard the quiet voice of Virgil floating through even as the artist himself appeared. It was time for Virgil's next dose. But the man didn't come in fully. Instead, he was lurking in the shadows of the doorway, his watch raised, talking. Scott frowned, before glancing back at Alan.
"Brains," his brother said simply, and within seconds, Scott understood. He knew that Virgil had been trying to talk to the man for the past week, but had never managed to catch him. Brains was not one for long, face-to-face conversations and often just disappeared if one seemed likely. He seemed to be alright talking over the comm though, maybe it was because it was something he had designed and created, giving him a sense of security. Either way, Scott was glad Virgil had finally got the chance he was after. They had all thanked Brains profusely for his role in saving Virgil's life, but the man himself hadn't been given the opportunity. First of all with being too weak, and then with Brains disappearing up to Five... now this gave things more of a sense of finality. They were tying up the loose ends, things were beginning to get back to normal again. It helped that Penny was taking care of everything over in Malaysia, for Scott was not sure whether they would have been able to hold it together there. At the end of the day, Virgil had died there, however momentarily, and Scott knew their plan to stop the Hood could have so easily gone drastically wrong.
Before he could think of it anymore, Virgil moved across the room at the same time as the door opened again. Scott frowned as his father and immediate younger brother walked in. Jeff was looking relieved, as if a great weight had been lifted from him. But it was John who really caught Scott's attention. The blond was pale, and Scott was sure he had been crying. But despite the red rims of his eyes, they were clearer than he had seen them since Virgil was poisoned. Whatever the pair of them had been up to, it had clearly been needed and done the trick. Scott was glad. It was nice to see his father be able to take control of the situation and his son. Especially when it came to John - the man hid things too easily and for too long. Scott didn't particularlyhave to be the one to break through his defences this time.
The pair moved across the room after Virgil, John casually nudging Alan out of his seat and taking it for himself. He wasn't to have it for long though, as their grandmother arrived back with a large plate of sandwiches. It almost looked like no one had ever left as Virgil hitched himself back up onto the bed, Alan climbing up beside him. Both sat sideways, legs swinging off so they could face the rest of the family. John climbed out of his chair, offered it to his grandmother and sat cross-legged on the end of Scott's bed.
Outside of the door, someone else paused. Kyrano had come back to check on the boys, wanting to make sure that Scott and Virgil were dealing with the knowledge that he had imparted earlier. But on seeing the whole family there, he found that he couldn't go in. This was the first time in months they had properly all been together with all of them conscious. The first time they had truly been able to relax, knowing that their problems were over and that they would be able to go about their normal lives once again. They could go back to saving the world without someone trying to kill them for it.
He couldn't help feeling slightly responsible. No matter how much he normally denied having a brother, even a half-brother, it was still his own flesh and blood that had caused such suffering to the men he considered to be his real family. He knew that they would never see it like that, and that if he should voice his guilt, they would tell him he was being foolish. Even so, they possibly didn't realise he was perhaps the most relieved of them all that this was over.
Moving away, Kyrano decided to find his daughter. Perhaps they should have some time with just the two of them, leave the Tracys to deal with what had happened and piece together their lives again. But as he stepped forward, a sharp pain shot momentarily through his head. Something stirred. The same something that had been silent since the attack, the same something he had attempted to put into words for two of the closest brothers.
And this time, that something was furious.
The pain disappeared as quickly as it had come, and Kyrano pushed it from his mind, adamant that it had only occurred because he was thinking about the man. Nothing else could happen. The Hood was dead. The Tracys were safe.
But deep in the depths of a jungle, a harsh voice chuckled darkly. They believed what he wanted them to believe. He would be back. And next time, the Tracys would not be so lucky.
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