Disclaimer: The Thunderbirds do not belong to me. They are the intellectual property of Gerry Anderson and his affiliates. No money is made from this. This is for enjoyment (and I use that term loosely) purposes only.
AN: For all the Virgil fans, here's a quickie. Set in the early days of IR. Just to get me back into the swing of tortur… I mean, utilising him in other stories. One not for the squeamish.
Dialogue, or a Lack Thereof
I can't bring myself to paint in this state.
Can't force myself to sit down behind my beloved piano and let my fingers tickle their ivories.
And there is no way in hell I'm stepping foot in Thunderbird Two's hanger to finish maintenance on her. Not now, not like this.
I feel hollow, empty from the inside out, even though I sit at the dining room table, stuffing my face with all the food I can find. Bananas are piled on top of chocolate éclairs. The éclairs balance precariously on the mountain of fish, chicken and chips, cold and congealed from the time spent in the fridge. I reach for the tomato sauce bottle and squeeze the red liquid onto the food in copious amounts.
Drops ooze from the nozzle of the squeezy bottle, dripping slowly onto the food. I can't believe I have the nerve to eat after what I saw on that rescue.
Arms and legs amputated, skewered onto metal spikes, waving like flags. Heads separated from bodies, rolling and moving in the wake of my steps.
Singed flesh, smoking material. A barbecue gone wrong.
Blood, so much blood, leaking out of every orifice, flooding the concrete slab Scott had sent me to work on, permanently staining my hands, my uniform, the equipment I use. Even though physical traces of blood have long gone, I can still feel the sticky residue between my fingers.
A political statement had meant that tens of thousands of people had lost their lives. A pipe bomb had detonated in a parked car in the centre of a major city. Right in the heart of a financial district, in the middle of the shopping zones, next to schools and residential zones.
And for what?
Nothing's changed. The Earth still turns. Monday will flip to Tuesday. The Sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Millions of people will wake up tomorrow and carry on their business, just another day in the plethora of days that shape their life. Millions of people will wake up tomorrow and realise that their family has been shattered, the world as they knew it has been ripped from the core outwards.
Every action has a follow on reaction, after all.
It never ceases to amaze me, in a sick, twisted way, the lengths Mankind will travel to ensure suffering on their fellow beings. I don't understand it; I never have. All human life is precious. No one has the right to take that away.
I take another glance at the food. I realise I've squirted too much sauce onto it. I feel the acid bubble in the pit of my stomach, feel the caustic fluid rise and burn its way through my oesophagus. I clap both hands to my mouth; dart over to the kitchen sink, just in time.
I pour what remains of my heart and soul out into the sink. I chuck up all the resentment and anger I feel.
On my way to the sink, I realise that my foot caught on the legs of one of the many chairs. The chair had landed with a crash on the wood panelling that lines the floor. I'm not that worried about it, really. The Tracys, with the exception of Scott and John, are heavy sleepers. Not even nuclear warfare can wake us up. So I know that the resounding crash won't disturb anyone but Scott, since John's up on Five.
I sense Scott moving behind me, the Big-Brother radar he's been fitted with kicking into gear, but I remain hunched over the sink. Scott can stand many things, but me throwing up on him is not one of them. I know this from the time I came home drunk, contending against the world's worst hangover. He was not the least bit impressed when I splattered his Wingtips with a mixture of vodka, cranberry and stomach acid a few years back.
He places his hand between my scapula, rubs small circles into my back. It's meant as an act of comfort, but to me, it makes things worse. I stand there, let him think he's helping for as long as I can endure it.
It's not long at all. Maybe a millisecond or two. I shrug his hand away from me, skirt around him and head to the liquor cabinet. I choose the strongest drink – a stiff, mature whiskey, one of Dad's favourite – and raise the bottle to my lips, emptying about half the bottle in four or five easy swallows.
I don't plan to get blind drunk.
I don't plan to get smashed so I'm rendered useless to International Rescue.
Or maybe I do.
I don't know, and I don't care.
I just want to forget. I want to stop this cavernous feeling that grows inside me. I want to be able to look down at my hands and see tawny skin underneath, not the sea of blood I've been seeing lately.
I want to have the power to turn back time; I want to be able to reach the disaster zone before disaster struck, change the outcome of today. I want to be able to make the world whole and complete. I want to be able to cover the world in a Band-Aid, solve all the problems that create heartache.
I ignore him; raise the bottle to my lips once more.
Drowning my sorrows? Ha, there isn't a bottle… hell, there isn't even an ocean big enough for that.
I figure I must have pissed him off somehow, because he wavers in front of me, snatches the bottle out of my hand and throws it against the wall, smashing the glass into fragments. Amber liquid trails down the wall and pools in a small puddle on the floor. The distinctive smell of malt whiskey permeates the air. I guess the rescue got to him just as much as it did me.
Just to irk him more, I delve back into the cabinet. I pull out half a bottle scotch.
There's something in his voice, not anger or pity, something that only he, and he alone, has mastered, that makes me comply. The scotch bottle is placed back in its rightful place.
"Shit happens, Virg," he says, as though he is talking about the weather, even though I know he doesn't mean for it to come out that way. "There will be good days, and there will be bad. Does drinking yourself into a catatonic stupor change the facts, make this disappear?"
"It shouldn't have happened! Today, all the dead… it shouldn't have happened! It's not just 'shit happens', Scott. These are people. People with names, faces, feelings and families! How can people do this to people?"
I stare at him, challenge him, honey-burnt eyes accusatory, although I don't expect him to answer. How can he? Is there an answer, right or wrong, for this question?
"I watched someone die today, Scott," I continue. This is the first time I've had to let someone go, learn the lesson that no matter how hard I try, I will not be able to save everyone. I will not have a 100% success rate, as much as I wish I did. "I was with her for two minutes before she died. Became fast friends, and then she died. How is that fair?"
"Few things in life are fair, Virg. But I'll tell you this; if she was able to call you her friend in her final moments, and you were there for her, then she was blessed indeed."
He hesitates, nibbles away at the nail on his thumb. I pull his hand away from him.
"You promised you'd stop biting. D'you know how much bacteria and other grisly germs live under there?"
Scott shrugs, shoulders rising up and down neatly. "Old habits die hard. I'm heading over to the mainland tomorrow evening."
"Father won't approve."
"I'm heading over to the mainland tomorrow evening," Scott reiterates. He clearly doesn't give a crap that Dad won't allow it. He's about as stubborn as Dad, and he rivals him in pig-headedness. If Scott wants to do something, he'll do it, and damn anyone that stands in his way. Believe me; I've been mowed down by his sheer strength of will and determination many times before.
"What're you doing there?"
He shoots me a look, as though the answer should have been obvious. I scoff and shake my head in a depreciating manner.
I've always wondered how John and Scott can keep their faith, even though they witness first-hand how screwed up the world is. How they believe that good still exists, somewhere interspersed between all the evil, is beyond me.
I know some could argue that International Rescue is the definitive source of all that is good in the world, but I disagree. Sure, we help out where we can, but what happens when we fuck up, like we did on the last rescue? What good are we then?
I need some air.
I need to be alone right now.
I need Scott to follow me, make sure I don't flip off the deep end.
I need him to stop talking.
I need him to start talking, tell me that he can help me fix this gaping hole within me.
I don't know what I need.
To sort out my head, I leave the moonlit bathed room, wrench open the doors that lead to the balcony. The breeze flutters in, gentle and refreshing. Chilling, in a strange way too.
I lean heavily on the cast-iron railings, throw my body weight onto my elbows. Scrub my hands over my face, heels of my palms digging into the soft jelly of my eyeballs. I feel something wet on my skin, and I worry that I've maybe pressed too hard on my eyes. Belatedly I realise that it is, in fact, the remnants of one solitary tear. It's all I'll allow myself.
Scott, ever present, moves beside me, snakes his arm over my shoulders. In turn, I rest my head in the joint where his neck meets his shoulders. The silence and his presence is apt, and more healing than a brief hug would have been. At some point, a hug would have to end. This quiet contemplation, moments of reflection and a mark of respect for those we failed, can stretch into forever.
And so we stand there, brothers in arms, united with grief and we wait. We wait for sunrise, and we watch, welcome in a new day. We wait for a rescue call that could come in.
Together, we wait for what comes next.