Hey again, these plot bunnies are being vicious at the moment! It is impossible to get anything done! So this is my second one shot and is set about five months after the avalanche. The boys' ages are: Scott, 14, John, 12, Virgil, 10, Gordon, 8 & Alan, 3.
Disclaimer: No. Just no.
Scott heard the whimpering just before the slight flump that indicated that his youngest brother was out of bed. Again. Scott who quite frankly was exhausted had to take a deep breath to calm himself before he once more would get out of bed. He knew that it wasn't really Alan's fault but getting up three times in one night was starting to wear Scott down.
Scott rolled out of bed and walked quickly but quietly to the door. He crossed the corridor and opened the door to the room that his two youngest brothers shared. Sure enough in the dim light Scott could see Alan pulling himself up on to Gordon's bed. As Scott watched Alan gently placed his hand on Gordon's chest feeling the rise and fall as his immediate older brother breathed. Gordon on his part seemed aware of Alan's presence for after a few seconds he cracked one eye open.
"Y'right Allie?" Gordon asked sleepily.
Alan put his head on Gordon's chest and listened to his heartbeat for a few seconds before sitting up and nodding. He gently slithered off Gordon's bed and turned towards the door. Gordon latched on to the back of Alan's t-shirt.
"Wan' me come with?" He asked throwing his duvet to one side so he could get up.
Scott stepped into the room.
"It's alright, Gordo. I'll take him." Scott said as he reached down and lifted Alan into his arms.
"Y'sure?" Gordon asked even as his eye slid shut again.
Scott chuckled softly and whispered "Go back to sleep Gordy."
"Mmmm. 'kay." Gordon replied as he rolled on to his stomach. "See you again in a couple'a hours."
Scott froze and looked down at Gordon who had relaxed into the mattress showing that he had already drifted off. So, Gordon had realised that Alan's wandering were getting worse.
"So, it's just you and me, buddy." Scott said gently. "Did you have another nightmare?"
Alan nodded forlornly, popped his thumb in his mouth and rested his head against Scott's chest listening to his heartbeat.
"Can you tell me about it?" Scott asked praying as he did every time he asked the question that Alan would just suddenly start talking again.
It had been five months since the terrible avalanche that had taken Lucy Tracy's life and moral in the Tracy was reaching an all-time low. Jeff was mostly absent these days and all of the slack had fallen on Scott although the others tried to be as helpful as possible. Alan was recovering well physically but emotionally? Well none of the Tracy boys had been able to coax one word out the youngest Tracy since he had awoken from his coma. They hadn't even had to tell him that Lucy had died. Alan already knew even if he couldn't quite understand the concept of death and its finality. There was a darkness in Alan's eyes that hadn't been there before the avalanche and because Alan had yet to speak a word none of the boys could guess at what the youngest Tracy had seen whilst the search teams had frantically dug through the snow looking for Lucy and Alan. Ever since the family had returned home Alan had taken to wandering around the house like a little ghost looking lost. He wandered through the house during the day but also throughout the night. At first in their grief the brothers didn't realise that Alan was getting up every night and that he was checking on all of them. It was only as the numb grief started to recede and they started talking properly to each other again that they discovered how extensive Alan's night time wanderings were. Now, if Alan disturbed them with his screams in the night one of the brothers would escort him around on his rounds and put him back to bed. They found out the hard way that if they didn't put him back to bed then he just wouldn't go. A couple of times they had woken up in the morning to discover Alan's bed was empty and that the child was either still wandering around the house or that he had conked out somewhere, although normally against the backdoor in the kitchen where he would sit and watch the sunrise.
Scott carried Alan to John first because the stargazer's room was the closest. As worried as Scott was about Alan he was equally worried about John. The older blond was also struggling greatly with the death of his mother. John and Lucy had been particularly close and John wasn't coping particularly well with his grief. But Scott knew that John would relax a little when Alan came in during the night.
Scott placed Alan on the edge of John's bed and stepped back. Alan had a routine to his rounds and didn't appreciate any interference on his brother's part. As he had with Gordon, Alan placed his hand on John's chest feeling the rise and fall before placing his head down on John's chest to listen to his heartbeat. Like Gordon, John awoke as he sensed the presence of his brothers in his room.
"Hey Allie." John said making the little blond jump. "You okay?"
Alan listened to John's heartbeat for a few seconds more before sitting up and nodding. John also sat up and drew Alan into a massive bear hug. Alan sighed softly and laid his head against John's chest. Both the blonds relaxed in the embrace both reassured by the others presence.
Scott blinked the tears out of his eyes watching his two brothers. Eventually, Alan wriggled in John's embrace. John let his littlest brother go. Alan had clearly become agitated in the last few seconds although neither of his older brothers could figure out why. As soon as John relaxed his grip Alan shot from his arms, propelling himself of John's bed and out of the door. Scott and John exchanged a glance and sprinted after Alan. They got into the hallway in time to see Alan struggle to open the door to Virgil's room. As soon as the door was open they heard the pained whimpers of the young musician.
"No… no… stop it. Let go…."
As Scott and John dashed to Virgil's room they could hear Alan pulling himself on to the bed. They entered the room together, which was a slight squeeze, and then came to an abrupt stop. Alan was running one hand through Virgil's hair gently whilst he softly patted the older boy's cheek to wake him up. Virgil's face scrunched up and then his eyes slowly opened.
Virgil sat up quickly and pulled his knees to his chest and hiding his face. His shaking shoulders told the two older boys that Virgil was crying. Before either had the opportunity to comfort the boy Alan had wrapped his arms around Virgil as much as he could given the way Virgil was sat. Virgil relaxed in Alan's embrace and slowly his knees sank back down. Virgil scooped Alan on to his lap and like John wrapped his arms round Alan in a massive hug.
Scott and John sat on the edge of Virgil's bed.
"Everything okay, Virge?" Scott asked softly.
"Yeah." Virgil replied morosely.
Alan once more stretched up and stroked his hand through Virgil's hair trying to convey comfort to his brother when words could not.
"Thanks, Allie." Virgil said smiling softly at the concentration on the three year olds face.
"Al, how did you know that Virge was having a nightmare?" John asked.
One of the interesting things about Alan sudden silence was the apparent selective hearing that went with it. Sometimes it was possible to get a nod or a shake of the head from the youngest Tracy and other times he acted as though he couldn't hear anything either. John's question was one such occasion. Alan did not even acknowledge John had spoken. Instead he shifted in Virgil's arms so that his forehead rested against Virgil's. For a long moment they just stared into each other's eyes until Alan nodded and shifted to listen to Virgil's heartbeat. Eventually reassured Alan sat back, popping his thumb in his mouth once more.
The four boys sat in a comfortable silence for a few minutes.
"Wanna talk about it?" Scott eventually asked Virgil.
"Not really." Virgil admitted staring at his feet. "It's the same as always."
Scott and John winced in sympathy. Virgil had been suffering with a recurring nightmare since the avalanche. Again and again Virgil dreamed of a hooded figure in white not black who would carry away his brothers one by one until Virgil was all alone. Virgil had admitted that sometimes in his dream the freezing cold white figure would pull Gordon or Alan from Virgil's arms. Virgil had been with Scott when the eldest Tracy had found Alan in the snow. His face was white and his lips blue and his clothing soaked through to the skin. What was worse was the Alan's eyes were open and he was staring blankly upwards, his eyelashes frozen. Scott and John both suspected that this was the basis of Virgil's nightmares and both could only count themselves lucky that Virgil hadn't seen Lucy who was lying directly to the left of Alan. Once Alan had been found medical teams had swamped the little boy and obscured the view of the search team digging Lucy out.
Alan suddenly stood on Virgil's bed and reached up to tweak the curtain back a little. He then hopped off the bed landing with a little thump and wandered from the room. The three older boys exchanged glances and exasperated sighs before following after the littlest Tracy. The stubborn boy was incredibly resistant about being put back to bed and privately Scott was considering getting the barred cot back to stop Alan getting up in the night, although it would be fairly pointless because Alan would just scream unless he was allowed to check on each of his brothers.
Alan was carefully climbing down the stairs, one step and a time, holding on the banister tightly. He got about half way down before glancing over his shoulder almost as though checking that his brothers were following. He got to the bottom of the stairs just ahead of Scott. Scott reached down to scoop Alan in to his arms but the younger boy twisted out of his grip and instead grabbed Scott's sleeve to the pull his eldest brother on.
"Alan." Scott said warningly but Alan just shook his head and pulled on Scott's sleeve again.
"Where you going, Allie?" Virgil asked popping up next to Scott holding John's hand.
Alan would only shake his head and pull once again on Scott's sleeve.
"Alright, Allie, alright. Lead on." Scott gave in knowing it was easier to humour the young blond for a bit.
Alan led them to the back door and pointed.
"You wanna go outside?" John asked in surprise.
Alan walked to the door and pulled the handle.
"Where do you want to go Alan?" Scott asked cautiously.
Alan frowned showing his brothers both that he could not answer and that a tantrum was brewing.
"Okay, John get the door." Said Scott as he picked Alan up.
John unlocked the door and pulled it open. Scott went first with Alan still in his arms. Alan pointed at the swing bench that was sat on the porch. The four brothers sat on the swing looking out over the fields. They sat there for several minutes watching the sunrise. Scott glanced down at Alan when the younger boy started shaking. Alan was crying silently, his shoulders shaking.
"Aww, kiddo." Said Scott picking Alan up and cuddling him to his chest.
Scott rubbed gentle circles on Alan's back and with that the youngest Tracy let go. He wailed and sobbed in his big brothers shirt.
Virgil and John watched on uncomfortably wishing that there was something that they could do to help their youngest brother but knowing that they couldn't really until they knew what was bothering him. Eventually Alan grew quiet having run out of tears. He snuggled against Scott's chest, his head directly over Scott's heart. He popped his thumb in his mouth and shut his eyes.
Scott ran his hand through Alan's hair until the little blond fell asleep still sniffing slightly. The brothers sat there for another few minutes until Scott carefully stood.
"I'm gonna put him back to bed." Scott whispered.
John and Virgil nodded and stood as well. They went back into the house, John locking the door behind them. Alan awoke with a start as Scott was halfway up the stairs. He looked around in fright before realising that he was still safe and warm in the arms of his protector. He kept still and allowed Scott to carry him back into his room with John and Virgil still following. Alan wriggled in Scott's arms before Scott could lay Alan down. Alan pointed at Gordon indicating that he wanted to check again. Scott nodded feeling guilty that Gordon would probably be woken again but knowing that if he didn't allow Alan to check he would scream the house down until he could. Scott set Alan down on the edge of Gordon's bed and stepped back until he stood next to his two younger brothers. They watched fondly but worriedly as Alan repeated his previous actions. First, he put his hand on Gordon's chest until he was satisfied that it was still rising and falling, and the he placed his head against Gordon's chest for several long seconds listening to his heart. He sat back up and watched Gordon carefully before shifting forward slightly and planting a gentle kiss on Gordon's cheek. He then crawled to the edge of the bed and dropped to the floor. He then walked back to Scott and held his arms up indicating that his wanted to be picked up again. Safe once more in Scott's arms he laid his head against Scott's chest before pointing at John and Virgil. Scott sighed and leant Alan towards his brothers so that the youngest Tracy could listen to their heartbeats. At last Alan sat back in Scott's arms and gave an almighty yawn.
Scott needed no further prompting and placed Alan back in bed tucking him in gently. Alan rolled on to his back, crossed his arms and stared at the ceiling, clearly communicating that he had no intention of going back to sleep. Scott ran his hand through Alan's hair soothingly. The bed sank down as Virgil plopped himself on the bed next to Scott and took Alan's hand in his own tightly. John sat down on the edge of the bed and ran a hand gently on Alan's calf. Slowly but surely the littlest Tracy gave into the sleep; his body totally exhausted.
Finally, the three older brothers made their way back to their own rooms sleepily to try and get another hours' worth of sleep before it was time to get up for school.
Staring at the ceiling once back in bed Scott chewed his lip worriedly. He was becoming more and more concerned about Alan's behaviour. This had been going on for months now and it was becoming more and more obvious that Alan was exhausted but seemed permanently resistant to going to sleep. Scott also had great concerns about the welfare of his brothers; they were all losing sleep over Alan. Partially in worry but also by his frequent night-time checks. Scott knew that something had had to have happened whilst Alan and his mother had been buried in the snow but Scott could not fathom exactly what. He knew that questions were being asked about Alan's behaviour and constant exhaustion but knew that also all of the teachers for all of the brothers were wondering about Jeff's continual absence. Only last week had Scott attended parents evening on his father's behalf for the youngest three Tracy's. It was only a matter of time before questions led to an investigation. More and more of Scott's nightmares were not about the avalanche but about the CPS knocking on the door. It would kill Scott to have his brothers taken away from him but equally he knew that it would destroy his brothers too.
Scott drifted slowly off to sleep worrying about what the future would bring as well as concern for the welfare of his brothers. Sure he was trying his best, and deep down he knew his brothers were too, but he wasn't sure it would be enough. The Tracy family was strong but it wasn't invincible and Scott was horribly aware of that.
So, there we go. Don't worry this I'm not abandoning this one just here – there will be a sequel with two or three chapters. I had plans for the story heading somewhere differently but Scott and Alan had other ideas…. Grrrrr … it wasn't originally my intention but this has turned out darker than I was expecting and the Tracy boys are demanding that I come back and sort their Dad out! :) Pretty please review and let me know what you think of this. Is it too depressing?