I was working on a chemistry write-up for a bit, and very nearly exploded with confusion, so I now take this opportunity to write something different than empirical formulas.

Have the Tracy boys ever been mine?

Four o'clock in the morning.

Nothing ever happened at four in the morning.

But you could do math at four in the morning.

And his math said that he'd been lying awake for about six hours now.

That was a long time.

A lot of tossing and turning could commence in that amount of time. So could an entire rescue. And thoughts. Many thoughts.

Too many thoughts.

He needed a drink.

Rolling out of bed and pressing his feet to the soft carpet, he padded lightly out of his room, headed for the kitchen. No alcohol this late at night. Water sounded good.

He grabbed a glass from the cabinet above his head, and deftly tossed it into his other hand. That move had taken a few tries to perfect. Grandma didn't need to know about the various glasses that had met their demise upon reaching the cool linoleum floor. He had cleaned them up every time.

Thrusting the glass under the kitchen faucet, he filled it to the brim before turning off the flow of water. He took a large gulp before risking the walk into the living room.

The moonlight filtered through the open balcony door (they lived on a tropical island, for goodness' sake, it was lovely having the breeze blowing in through the entrance), leaving a pool of light near the piano. His piano, really.

Loathe to disturb the peace that blanketed the villa, Virgil traversed the distance to the balcony, setting his glass down on a table as he passed. Folding his arms across his chest, he leaned his elbows against the sturdy railing that encircled the deck. The stars were awfully bright tonight. John would be pleased if he saw them. Maybe tomorrow night they could watch the stars together. If they felt like it.

Virgil reached over slowly to run a finger across the stitched portion of his forearm, souvenir of the rescue they'd had earlier that day. Yesterday, if he was picky. A bit of falling building had seen fit to land on him. Fortunately, his main artery in that arm was missed. Scott had seen to that.

"I don't regret it."

The voice sounding from the lounge chair behind him, Virgil hid a smirk as he pivoted to face his eldest brother. "I know."

Scott was slightly reclined, his left leg stretched out in a cast before him. He held a nearly-empty wine glass (crystal, as the boys enjoyed the noise that could be made after the wine had been finished from the glass) loosely in his right hand. A dark red liquid filled the last half-inch or so of the glass. His face was impassive as he locked gazes with Virgil.

Virgil returned the look with just as much intensity, though it was disguised by a much calmer appearance. Scott's eyes could convey a storm of emotions, all roiling together like the winds in a category five hurricane. Virgil's stares were more like the eye of the hurricane, with all of the intensity swirling around the edges, but the dead calm being the focal point.

Scott didn't know his comment had been heard by both John and Virgil at the rescue zone after they had pulled him free of the beam that would have most certainly killed Virgil. As John had stitched up Virgil's gaping wound, Scott had muttered under his breath, "Better a broken leg than a dead brother." John and Virgil had traded glances, but pretended they didn't hear the statement.

"You look gorgeous."

Scott frowned indecisively for a moment, and then proceeded to stick his tongue out at his younger brother. Virgil laughed.

"Say what you will, Virg, but you owe me." Scott sipped at the last of his wine.

Taking a chance, Virgil raised an eyebrow and answered, "Better a broken leg than a dead brother?"

Scott's expression darkened. He lowered the glass slowly from his lips, running his tongue across his teeth as if to savor the taste of the last of the Merlot. "Yeah."

Though his voice died away, Scott's facial features told enough of a story. His forehead gained the lines that had become so prominent lately, reminding Virgil of their father. His lips whitened as they thinned and stretched across the straight teeth that clenched together. His eyes flashed black, the blue irises suddenly vanishing like the sun snuffed out by a cloud. The knuckles wrapped around the wine glass became stiff, his entire body tensing as the protective side of Scott Tracy flooded his being.

Virgil watched and waited for a while, until at last the torrent of thoughts going through his older brother's head seemed to diminish slightly. The fingers relaxed, and a deep blue in the eyes once again became visible.

A question leaped unbidden to Virgil's lips. "Do you ever regret it?"

Tilting his head like a child observing something new, Scott grazed his top teeth across his bottom lip. His eyelids half-closing, he replied, "No. You?"

"Never."

The question didn't need to be asked in full for both brothers to know exactly what it meant. They never regretted the actions they took during a rescue. Learned from them, yes. Regretted, never.

They'd had this discussion before. All five of them. They wouldn't regret what they did on a mission. Regret was like wallowing in your own shame. It didn't solve problems, it didn't save lives. You had to learn, and learn quickly. They ran in fast circles in International Rescue.

Virgil was well aware of every one of the talks they'd had over the years of action, the many lines rushing through his head as he closed his eyes and turned his face toward the stars.

"Sometimes it just happens, and you can't fix it."

"You can't let it consume you, because if you do, it'll define you."

"We're not politicians. We're International Rescue. No promises, just action."

Scott coughed slightly, drawing Virgil's attention. They sized each other up once again.

Scott always had that look to his face. The lines in his face were more drawn than in any of the other Tracy sons. His eyes never lost the probing look. He appeared a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, one who bore the burden manfully, standing strong and proud, as if daring anyone to question his ability to lead those around him.

Sometimes he would relax, if only a small amount. The lines in his face would soften, and the corner of his mouth would angle upward, the muscle in his neck becoming less outstanding. His posture would cease to be so straight and perfect, and he would lounge. The purposeful air about him never quite disappeared, though.

Virgil yawned, breaking the staring contest that had lasted the past few minutes. His body suddenly decided to make clear that it wanted rest, his muscles sagging beneath his skin and his eyelids threatening to droop shut. The simple conversation and thoughts conveyed had relieved the stress that had been keeping him awake for so long.

Scott also noticed the yawn. "Bed," he said, pointing inside.

Fighting the tendrils of sleep, Virgil stretched. "Are you going?"

Scott fixed his younger brother with a stare. "Soon."

Virgil snorted. Struggling to speak past another yawn, he mumbled, "Your leg will heal faster with the more rest you get."

"Okay then, Dr. Tracy. Take some of your own medicine and get to bed." Scott placed his wine glass on the table beside his chair.

"You."

Scott rolled his eyes and pushed himself to his feet, favoring his right leg. "You're going."

"So are you."

It was hard to tell who was leading who to bed, but Virgil was conscious enough to realize that when he hit the sheets, Scott also dropped like a load of bricks beside him, snoring before his body was fully settled. Smiling to himself, Virgil rolled on to his side and glanced at the digital clock on his nightstand.

It was five o'clock in the morning.


A/N: Hopefully not too sappy, etc...

Oh, and if you've never made the neat ringing sound with a wine glass, make sure it's crystal (very thin glass), lick your index finger, and run it around the rim of the glass. You should get a clear note from it.

On to chemistry!