As I'm not sure someone would have let me go to bed until this is up, here we are! Enjoy (especially you, Sam!)
John rested his elbows on the railings of the balcony, staring out into the distance with unseeing eyes. He had been quiet and withdrawn ever since he was returned to the others,unable to meet anyone's gaze when they realised that Scott was no longer with him. Nick had informed his grandmother as soon as he knocked on the door, John not uttering a single word, and her face had immediately turned pale as she had pulled Alan onto her lap almost as a way of making sure that the other boys were still there. John wished that someone would be angry with him for the way that he and Scott had wandered off, that someone would tell him that they had been stupid and reckless. Even now, a day later, no one was yelling at him, despite the fact that John was expecting it.
But no one did. No one seemed to blame him for the fact that another brother had been taken, despite the way that John was blaming himself. He should have stopped Scott from leading them into the conference room; he had known that it had been a bad idea. But the desperation that the oldest brother had been feeling in regards to finding Virgil had echoed in the younger, and John hadn't wanted to just sit there and wait for someone to deliver the news that they had been too late, that Virgil was never going to come home.
Sighing, John let his eyes drop until he was just staring at the railing, not able to focus his mind on anything. Now they would be lucky if Virgil or Scott ever made it home. He had picked up enough to know that whilst the police believed him about Cowlishaw, they hadn't found any evidence and certainly hadn't gotten any closer to finding out where his brothers were being held. John knew that there would be nothing he could do to help this time, he was just a child playing an adult's game and it had got Scott hurt.
Even as he stood there, the cool air blowing a breeze through his hair, the young teenager could still see the image of Scott falling to the floor, Cowlishaw's feet entering his limited vision and then Scott vanishing again. Shuddering, John drew in a shaky breath, trying to make himself think of something other than the moment when his brother had been kidnapped and he had simply hidden under a table like a child. Scott might have told him to stay hidden so that he could inform their father, but John was now certain that he should have done something more. After all, he knew that his big brother could be a decent fighter given the chance. Cowlishaw wouldn't have been able to take him if he'd had to go against both brothers, would he? His hand gripping the railing, John tried to ignore the tears stinging his eyes. He should have done something...
Glancing down, John saw that Alan had come out to join him, although he was more than aware of his grandmother watching them closely from the room. Alan let one hand rest against John's hip, not able to reach any higher in comfort, and leant against his big brother.
"Scotty'll come home, you'll see. He'll bring Virg too…" There was such a simple belief in Alan's voice, the hope that everything could still be made better just because he wanted it to happen, that John couldn't answer. Instead, he bit his lip as he turned his head back to face the horizon, not wanting his youngest brother to see him cry.
"Come along, Alan dear, it's bath time." Grandma might have been watching to make sure that the five-year-old was safe out on the balcony, but she knew all of her grandsons well. She knew precisely what John's body language meant and walked slowly out, holding her hand out to Alan. The youngest hesitated for a moment, looking up to John with big eyes before seeming to realise that his brother wasn't in the mood, then latched onto his grandmother's hand. She drew him in and gave him a soft nudge towards the door.
Alan scampered in, pausing only momentarily at the doorway before disappearing into the room. Grandma let her hand rest in between John's shoulder blades.
"It wasn't your fault, sweetheart."
John shrugged off her touch, not wanting the reassurance. It didn't matter what anyone said, he had simply hidden and watched Scott get taken, not even being able to claim that he had seen the man who had done it. He had been able to offer his father no evidence apart from a laptop that he shouldn't have been on. Why was no one else blaming him? They should have been.
Grandma paused for a long moment, before sighing and turning back inside. When John didn't want any comfort, it was almost impossible to give it to him.
For his part, John just returned his gaze to the distance. Or rather, he attempted to, but found that a commotion down below was drawing his eyes. Leaning over, he tried to make out what was going on, but the angle wasn't quite right. He could see some lights flashing if he craned his head a certain way, and found that his heart was pounding fast as he realised that they were ambulances. He was also sure that he could make out people running about everywhere, but his mind had already come to a conclusion about what was going on. They had found something.
Turning back towards the doors, it didn't take long for John to find who he was looking for.
The second-youngest brother was by his side in a flash. For one thing, Gordon hated being kept in one room, and since Scott's disappearance, he hadn't been given the chance to get out again. For another, the redhead seemed to have picked up on something in John's voice and realised that something was going on.
"Can you see?" John gestured down below, and Gordon immediately grinned, scrambling up onto the railings. It gave him a little more height than John had been able to get, yet that didn't stop the older brother from resting his hands on Gordon's waist as the child leaned out precariously far. John just hoped that his grandmother didn't take this moment to look back outside.
"Three…four… Four ambulances! Loads of police cars and everyone seems to be running around. Ooh, look, they're bringing someone out, don't know who though, can't see… something is going on down there…"
John hauled Gordon back as the child tried to lean out further, but they both exchanged wide-eyed looks.
"They've found them, it must be," John whispered, his gaze flickering to Gordon and back down to the ground. No sooner had he said the words when Gordon started moving. He barely even glanced back at John as he entered the room, heading for the door on the other side. John glanced down at the ground one last time before following his brother. Grandma definitely had Alan in the bathroom, for no one stopped them as Gordon pulled open the main door, running out into the corridor beyond, only to squeak in surprise.
There might have been no one to stop them leaving the room, but there was someone to stop them from getting any further than that. By the time that John remembered the security guard who had been ordered to watch them and make sure nothing else happened, a heavy hand had landed on his shoulder and Gordon's upper arm was being held in the man's other hand.
"You're not going anywhere, boys." The man had a friendly voice and kind eyes, but that didn't stop John from glaring at him as the guard guided them back to the room. Grandma must have heard the door opening when they had left, for by the time they were pushed back inside, she had appeared, a wet-haired Alan following behind her and clutching onto her dress with one hand.
"Again?" Grandma sighed when she caught sight of her grandsons being escorted back, and with one pointed look, motioned for them to sit on the edge of John's bed. Both boys did, for going against Grandma was not something to be taken lightly. John, however, wasn't going to just sit there.
"Something is happening downstairs, Grandma, we can see it. What if they have found them? We don't want to be just sitting up here…"
"John, be quiet. What have we told you about wandering off on your own? Besides, young Nick swore that he would come and get us as soon as they knew something."
"But I saw them too, Grandma!" Gordon joined in, clearly having believed what John had been saying about their brothers being found. Grandma sighed. It was one thing disciplining the boys on the best of days, but with two of their brothers missing, she couldn't blame them for wanting to do something. It was only the fact that the younger ones needed her to be there the whole time that had stopped Grandma from joining in the searches herself. It might not have showed in the same way as the boys, but Grandma was just as worried about the fate of her grandsons. It meant that she couldn't just ignore their words, not when she wanted them to be true herself.
"Have you heard anything, my good man?" She turned to the guard as she spoke and he shook his head.
"Please just check," John implored, knowing that the man had contact with all the officers downstairs and could find out what was going on with just a click of a button. The man seemed to hesitate – he had already been in trouble for letting Scott and John slip past him – but glanced towards Grandma in indecision. Before she could say anything, Jack came bursting into the room.
"They're talking hidden tunnels and secret rooms!" he exclaimed loudly, then seemed to sense the atmosphere of the room and swallowed, dropping his gaze slightly. John glanced pleadingly at the guard and he sighed, giving in and stepping out into the corridor. The occupants of the room were silent as they listened to the low murmur of voices. John knew how desperate his grandmother must be to believe what they had been saying, for she made no comment about them walking off again, but was listening just as hard. After what seemed like an age, the guard stepped back into the room.
"Well, you might be onto something there. They have found them, but I think you should..." The end of his sentence was lost as Gordon leapt up and all but ran from the room, John on his heels. But their grandmother didn't try and stop them this time, only hurried after them, Alan clinging onto her hand. They had just made it into the corridor when Jack stopped them, hoisting Alan onto his back and allowing them all to travel at the speed that John had set. The guard simply blinked as he looked around the now empty room. One thing was for sure, he was going to be glad when he no longer had the responsibility of looking out for the Tracy family. They were all as bad as each other.
It only took John a matter of steps before he had overtaken Gordon, but the blond made sure not to pull too far ahead. Despite knowing that the place was crawling with police and that his father was just down the stairs, John felt a flutter of nerves shoot through his stomach. The last time that he had been down there, Scott had been taken.
"Come on, Johnny!" Gordon cried, pulling level with his big brother again but not understanding why the older boy had slowed. John glanced at the look on Gordon's face, then looked behind him to see Grandma, Jack and Alan directly behind. It was going to be okay, he wasn't alone and nothing was going to happen. That didn't stop him from reaching out and snagging the back of Gordon's collar to stop the younger boy from running too far ahead. The last thing he wanted was to lose sight of Gordon, but John found that even that thought was pushed from his mind as the scene below was revealed.
If they had thought that it looked to be chaos outside the hotel, it was nothing compared to what was going on down in the lobby. One corridor was taped off and even though John found that his eyes were automatically drawn to it, other things were stealing his attention. Police, staff, a couple of paramedics and a few onlookers were crowding the area, but even as John watched, the police shooed the last few nosy guests away. Flinn saw them hovering half way up the stairs and nodded, his simple gesture indicating that it was okay for them to approach. He had handed Cowlishaw over to some of the other officers in order to take him downtown. Much as he wanted to be the one to process the man's arrest, he also wanted to stay around and make sure that everything ran smoothly now. Grandma had to lead the way this time, but as soon as they reached the bottom of the stairs, Jack unwrapped Alan's arms from around his neck and lowered the child to the floor. Handing him back over to his grandmother, the young man set off for the far side of the lobby where a man dressed in a smart suit was sitting on a small chair, his face pale. It only took one glance for John to know that he must be Jack's father, the resemblance was uncanny.
As he turned his eyes from father and son, he found that his gaze was drawn by his own father. Jeff was practically sitting against the wall, a paramedic bent over him. As the man moved back a step, John gasped when he realised that there was another figure in Jeff's arms. Wrapped up in a bright blanket, his eyes closed and his head resting against Jeff's shoulder was…
"Virgil…" John whispered, feeling tears prick at his eyes even as he made to take a step forward. It had felt like an entire lifetime since he had last seen his little brother. Grandma turned at his words, a gasp escaping her. Nodding to one of the policeman that they had had dealings with before, she asked if he could look after Gordon and Alan – clearly not wanting them to go too close until she knew what state Virgil was in - and hurried over without so much as a backwards glance.
John couldn't help but realise that she hadn't included him in those instructions and found that he was taking a step after her, swallowing hard as his eyes remained locked on the still form of his younger brother. What if something was seriously wrong with Virgil? What if… No, his father wouldn't be just holding him like that if Virgil was seriously hurt, he would have let the paramedics take over. But still, fear was gripping at John, something not helped by the shocked look on his father's face. Virgil looked to be at least unconscious and Scott was nowhere to be seen. John knew that he wouldn't be able to even begin to feel relieved until he knew that both of his brothers were out and safe.
Telling himself that Jeff knew what was the best thing to do for Virgil, John managed to take a more definite step forward. But before he could take another, a commotion off to one side drew his attention. Letting his head swivel around, a rush of relief exploded from him in a huge breath and a smile spread across his face.
Both of them were free! They were out and safe, and John almost staggered as the weight of those emotions crashed over him. To say that it was a feeling of relief didn't even cover it, yet John couldn't think of another word strong enough to explain what was going through his mind right now. Changing direction, he ducked through the people milling around and made a beeline for Scott. When he drew a little closer, he couldn't help but stop, a small gasp escaping him.
His brother was sitting on one of the beds from the ambulance. Well, the paramedics were attempting to get him to sit there, but Scott was trying everything he could to get back off again. Whilst that should have told John that his brother was okay, the only thing the teenager was seeing were the bruises scattered around Scott's body. Both of his wrists had been bandaged and there were a few small cuts elsewhere that had been bound. But there were enough marks left open that told John that someone had attacked Scott. Cowlishaw might have punched his brother in the first place, but there was no way that it had caused that amount of damage. This had happened afterwards, and John couldn't stop another rush of guilt from going through him. He should have done something…
Before he could lose the courage to go and face his brother properly, Scott saw him.
"John!" There was almost the same amount of relief in Scott's voice that John had been feeling, and wondering why, he had no choice but to go over. One of the paramedics took Scott's distraction as a chance to force him back into lying down, and this time, Scott stayed put as John stepped up to the bed.
"Thank god… The things that he threatened to do to you…" Scott breathed, sounding so genuinely relieved that John let out a shaky laugh.
"Do to me? You're the one he took, and by the look of it, beat up," he cried, tears in his eyes as he stared down at Scott. The paramedic tried to shine a light into Scott's eyes, but the fifteen-year-old batted his hand away, propping himself up again.
"You haven't been blaming yourself, have you?"
John glanced away and Scott huffed. "You idiot, John! I needed you safe to tell Dad, they would have never have found us otherwise!"
"He still took you."
Scott might have been able to fool the younger ones that everything was fine, but he didn't fool John. The thirteen year old could see straight past the smile and the light-hearted note in Scott's voice – his brother was scared. And judging by the way that he flinched at John's words, the feeling was too strong for him to be able to hide it. John didn't say anything though, he knew that Scott would admit it when he was ready and not before.
"Where's Virgil? They won't let me see him. I have to get to him. He had a gun, he took him, I couldn't stop him…" Scott made another attempt to get up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed as he did so. The distress in his voice was enough for John to know that his brother was far from fine, whether he was going to say it or not.
"Just stay still, Scott, it's fine…" The paramedic attempting to get a look at Scott was clearly trying to sound reassuring, but it came across as nothing short of exasperation. Scott completely ignored him and tried again to get up, and his younger brother knew that he was going to have to do something. John glanced over to where he could just about make out his father and brother on the other side of the room and moved to the head of the trolley that Scott was on, swinging it around until his brother could also see them. But rather than offering some sort of reassurance to Scott, it instead had the opposite effect.
"Virgil!" All the teenager was seeing was his unconscious brother, and the paramedic wasn't quick enough as Scott sprang off the bed. He moved too quickly, however, and whilst he was waiting for the dizziness to pass, he was forced back down again.
"No! No, I have to get to him, he needs me… Virgil!"
Beckoning over another paramedic, it took two of them to attempt to hold Scott down. John backed away from the bed, the tears that had been swimming in his eyes now beginning to roll down his cheeks at Scott's panic. He had thought that Scott would hide how he was feeling, but it was more than apparent that his brother's distress was too great to pretend it wasn't there. He could hear the paramedics muttering under their breath, even going so far as mentioning sedation as Scott continued to fight against them.
"That is quite enough of that, Scott Tracy!"
John blinked in surprise and Scott fell still as Grandma stepped up to the bed. Both the paramedics seemed to take a step backwards as she smoothed his hair back from his forehead, her hand resting lightly on his shoulder. She didn't need to hold him down though, for he had fallen still at her arrival.
"Virg?" he whispered, his voice seeming to tremble.
"Is quite alright. He is with your father. I heard that you practically ordered him away to make sure that he stayed with Virgil."
John felt his eyebrows rise as Scott blushed slightly.
"Virg… he tried so hard to believe that Dad would be coming for us, but…He needs to be with Dad, he needs Dad more than I do…"
"Now I don't believe that is true for an instant," Grandma said lightly, even if her eyes were burning with concern. "You each need him as much as the other. But right now, I'm more worried about why you aren't letting these good people do their job?"
John found himself smiling slightly this time as Scott purposefully avoided eye contact. Scott shifted slightly but finally managed to meet their grandmother's gaze.
"I was worried about Virgil."
"Who would be just as worried about you if he heard that you were refusing to be treated. Now you just lie there, there's a good boy."
The paramedics seemed to take that as their cue and moved back in towards Scott. This time, he didn't try and fight them off, but just lay still as they began to fuss.
"John? Your father wants to see you."
John nodded, giving Scott one last long look before sidling away. If it had been any other situation, he would have been glad that he was considered old enough to be down there whereas Gordon and Alan were both being held back, but he found that he was too nervous about what he was about to witness. It had been unnerving enough listening to Scott sound like that, but John wasn't sure if he could take it if his father sounded vulnerable as well.
It seemed to take an age to cross the lobby to where his father was still sitting against the wall, but John found that he was hanging back as soon as he saw Virgil. From across the room, it could look as though Virgil was just resting or even asleep, but when John got closer, it was more than obvious that Virgil was unconscious. Swallowing hard, John wondered whether he could back away and approach again when he had had the chance to pull himself together, but his father looked up at that moment.
"John? It's okay, son, everything is okay. Come on, come here…"
His legs feeling like lead, John did as he was told and finally approached, dropping to his knees next to them. He shakily reached out a hand towards Virgil, but snatched it back at the last moment.
"He's so pale," he whispered, unable to tear his eyes away from his brother. Scott's words about Cowlishaw having a gun and taking Virgil swam in his mind and he found himself checking his little brother for injuries. Well, what he could see of the younger boy, for the majority of Virgil was swamped in the large blanket.
"He's just not well, John. The paramedics say that he will be fine, he just needs some sleep and some fluids."
"And the rest," John muttered, not taken in by his father's reassuring words in the slightest. Scott had been missing for a fraction of the time that Virgil had, and was clearly struggling. Who knew what Virgil was going to be like when he woke up? Jeff sighed, glancing down at his son before looking back at John.
"How you holding up, kiddo?"
"Scott's having a breakdown and Virg is unconscious, how do you think?" John didn't mean to snap and immediately flushed as soon as the words left his mouth. "I'm sorry, I…"
"It's okay, John." Jeff awkwardly moved around and let his hand squeeze the back of John's neck reassuringly. "Everything is going to be okay."
"Mr Tracy, we really need to take him now." Another set of paramedics had approached and Jeff nodded, somehow climbing to his feet with Virgil still in his arms. He glanced across the room and caught his mother's eye. Somehow, without words, they managed to agree that Jeff would go with Virgil and Grandma would stay with Scott, meeting up again once they had got to the hospital. Oscar had already been taken since Swinger had just ordered the boy to stay quiet and submit to the examination. Little did the man know that Flinn had seen the exchange and put in some calls. The person that John and Gordon had seen being taken into the ambulance was Nick, the young man being the one to receive the bullet to the leg. It was why no one had come up to inform the Tracys, he had been the one who said that he would. Now so many people had been taken, the lobby was finally beginning to empty out a little.
"What about us?" John asked, his voice small and young. He knew that they wouldn't all be allowed to ride in the ambulances, and Jeff bit his lip, clearly not wanting to leave them there.
"I can take them."
Both Tracys jumped as another voice entered the conversation. Jack joined them, clearly having heard the latest exchange of words. "I've got Dad's car. He owes me… owes me a lot more than a half-hearted attempt at an explanation, that's for sure. But I can fit the other three in if you want, Sir?" Jeff looked relieved as the solution was revealed, but he didn't answer until he had turned to John.
"Is that going to be okay with you, John?" he asked softly, and his second oldest nodded, knowing that there was no choice in the matter.
"Just don't leave Virg," he mumbled, turning away to get the other two. He had heard Scott's words about Virgil's fear and the shaky relationship between his brother and father was still clear in his mind. Jeff made to say something, but instead just dropped his eyes and nodded.
"I promise. Oh, and John? He truly is going to be fine, you have my word," he said simply, before allowing the paramedics to help him outside and into the back of a waiting ambulance. John watched him go, but felt a small smile slip onto his face. It had been a long time since his father had given him his word on anything, and because of that, John knew that he was telling the truth.
Both Virgil and Scott were going to be okay. It was just a matter of how long that would take.