Hi guys, I am so, so sorry that this has taken so long. I hope that you haven't all forgotten what has happened so far. Things have been a bit hectic recently (cou-more like 13 months-gh), but all I have are excuses that I don't wish to bore you with! Thank you all for your patience and I hope that this is worth the wait.
Okay, so I know that I promised you the conclusion to Butterflies but it seriously got away from me… And this isn't it. What I have worked on so far is longer than all the other chapters put together! I had the first chunk done and the final ending scene I actually wrote first; it is just a section in the middle which just isn't cooperating. I thought rather than fret any longer on it I will let you guys have as far as I have got for now and hopefully I will be able to sort on the scene I am having problems with. Please review and let me know what you think - your reviews inspire me and hopefully will make me crack on just a little bit quicker! ;)
Keep your fingers crossed for me please that the bit I am having issues with I can finally conclude!
The disclaimer hardly seems necessary since the site is FAN fiction, but anyway, just to confirm, clarify, explain, and settle once and for all - they aren't mine and sadly I can't imagine that they ever will be. It's a sad, tough life…. *sigh*
Once more, Alan stood on the beach with the Hood.
For several minutes they stood watching the water, studiously ignoring each other.
"Do you believe this is over?" The Hood asked finally.
"No." Alan replied. "I believe that this will never be over."
"You do know that eventually I will kill you." The Hood said flatly.
"Maybe I will kill you first." Alan replied deliberately looking at the breaking waves.
"Jeff Tracy's son a killer?" The Hood said in condescending surprise.
"I wouldn't be the first." Alan said. "If it stopped you, then maybe it would be worth it."
"Maybe. But until then, keep dreaming of butterflies, Alan."
The Hood vanished and Alan saw a continuation of both 'realities'. He saw his own funeral twice. He saw his family fall apart. The Thunderbirds became a dream once more. He saw new futures, new pathways created from old decisions, all in a beautiful pattern until Alan was overwhelmed and swamped by their number.
"Alan! Wake up!"
A hand shook his shoulder and Alan woke with a start. He was panting for breath, his chest burned and he was covered in sweat.
It took Alan several seconds to realise where he was. The blasted infirmary. If Alan never saw this room again it would be too soon.
"Al? You with me?"
Virgil sat on the edge of the bed watching Alan in concern.
"Hmmm." Alan replied, lightly rubbing his chest trying to get rid of the ache. "Nightmare. I think."
"You think?" Virgil said in concerned surprise. "Al, you were thrashing and rolling up a storm. It must have been one hell of dream, whatever it was."
Alan didn't reply. He stared at the ceiling for a few seconds trying to take stock.
"Virg?" He started hesitantly. "Can you run through what happened? Everything that happened, everything that lead to this?" He waved a vague hand at himself.
"Don't you remember?" Virgil asked, alarmed.
"I remember lots of things, some I think I only dreamed, others seem to fantastical to be real." Alan said truthfully.
Virgil produced a pen light from his pocket. Alan sighed, half grumbling and followed Virgil's finger without any prompting.
Virgil sat on the edge of the bed looking thoughtful.
"Okay, I will settle for a compromise. I will tell you what happened, then I am going to examine you, and change your bandages. Then you are going to have another sleep. After that, you are going to tell me, truthfully, what you remember. No complaining or wheedling new deals, or the whole thing is off."
Alan thought for a second and then nodded, accepting the terms.
"Alright, but can I sit up first?" He asked. His neck was already getting stiff from trying to look at Virgil.
Virgil nodded and moving forward raised the head of the bed.
"I'll just do an overview of the whole and if it is different from what you remember just say and then we can go through the whole thing in more detail, alright?" Virgil said handing Alan a glass of water with a straw in it. "Small sips." He added.
"A missile was fired up at Thunderbird Five, although at the time none of us knew what it was. Dad, Scott, Gords and I went up in Three to get John and do what we could for Five. As we were trying to leave Five to head home, we realised that it was no meteor strike or accident but a deliberate attack. A team of baddies, led by a guy calling himself 'The Hood' had got into Command and Control and taken over, taking Brains, Onaha and Kyrano hostage. I don't know the full story of what happened to you, but eventually you were able to over-ride whatever the Hood had done to Command and Control. At that point the Hood was in Two and headed for London, and we had a damaged booster on Three so we knew we'd never get there in time. You convinced Dad to let Tin Tin, Fermat and yourself head to London in One where you only just arrived in time to save a carriage of civilians. The Hood had used the Mole to tunnel into the Bank of London, but in so doing severed one of the struts on the Monorail, one of the carriages fell into the water. With you in Four, Tin Tin in the water and Fermat in Two you were able to save everyone. As Scott, Johnny, Gordy and I secured the area, Dad took you, Fermat and Tin Tin to meet with Lady P and Parker in the bank. I don't know what happened in the bank; Dad won't talk about it, but you walked out under your own steam. On the Journey back, Dad took Three, Scott was obviously in One and Gords and I were in Two. You were keeping Johnny company in the sick bay."
"How bad was Johnny hurt?" Alan asked, interrupting, his stomach churned and he feared the worst.
"Johnny was insanely lucky." Virgil said. "He had a bad burn on his back as well as some bruising, he twisted his ankle and he had a greenstick fracture on his left arm."
"Did you….? How did you…? Is….?" Alan had to take a deep breath and as his fists clenched, he blurted out his question. "Is Johnny gonna be okay?"
Virgil looked at Alan very carefully for a few long seconds before nodding. "Yeah kiddo, Johnny is fine. He had to have his arm in a sling for two weeks, the bruises have already faded, the only thing giving him grief still is the burn on his back, but all things considered it is actually healing really well."
Alan thought about this in relief for a second then actually heard what Virgil had said.
"What? No, wait a minute, what do you mean, 'he had his arm in a sling for two weeks'? I don't understand, how? When?"
"Allie, calm down." Virgil said firmly, sitting forwards and putting a comforting hand on Alan's arm. "I'll explain everything. It's alright. John says that on the journey back you seemed to be in pain, but every time Johnny asked you denied it. Just as we were coming in to land, Johnny calls on the radio, absolutely frantic saying that you just keeled over. Gordy took over the controls, and I dashed down to the sick bay. Brains had already prepped the infirmary and it was bloody good thing. By the time Gordy had got John, and Dad and Scott had parked up you were already in surgery. Dad says that you fell quite a distance in the bank, and also that you hit a wall pretty damn hard. You cracked or bruised most of your ribs on the right side, but two were broken and badly too. One of the loose fragments pierced your lung. You suffered a pneumothorax; a collapsed lung. It was lucky that we were able to deal with it so quickly, you could have died, Al."
"I don't remember." Alan said slowly, trying hard to recollect the things that his brother was telling him.
"It'll probably come back to you in time, sprout. Don't fret about it for now." Virgil said, ruffling Alan's hair gently. "Now, to tell you the scary bit. You were in a coma for two weeks before you woke up."
Alan literally felt his jaw drop. A coma?! It explained a lot, he supposed, but two weeks?
"When you did finally wake up, you were really out of it. You asked for Mom."
"I remember that, but I wasn't…." Alan blurted before he could stop himself.
Virgil looked startled; he opened his mouth to speak and then shook himself. "I think your story perhaps would be best told in one sitting. I've had to wait for answers this long. A few more hours of suspense won't kill me, I guess. Um, where was I? Oh, yeah, so you woke up, up until that point you had been on a ventilator to take the pressure off of your lungs. We removed it and almost immediately you went back to sleep. You slept for another three days before you next woke up. You were pretty agitated, then all of sudden in comes Tin Tin like a whirlwind and urges you to go back to sleep. She then sits there for a couple of hours with her hands against your temples. Then without a word, she gets up and walks out. After that you slept for almost another week and a half. Then, without any warning at all your vitals were all over the place. Next thing any of us knew was that there was blood pouring out of your nose, mouth and eyes. And you then came awake like a fury. It took both Scott and Gordon to hold you down. That was two days ago. And now here we are. Any questions for now?"
Alan shook his head and looked up at the ceiling as he thought about this. It was sort of starting to make sense and yet he still felt like he was missing the biggest piece of the puzzle.
"Alright, well now that's me done for the minute. Let's be having you."
Virgil gently eased back the covers and raised Alan's t-shirt. There were two lines of stitches. One ran straight down the middle of his rib cage and was pretty long. The other was much smaller and ran from his right side down towards the bed where Alan could not see. Virgil checked the stitching and changed the bandages. He then checked all of Alan's vitals, administered another dose of pain killers (to Alan's stoic relief) and urged his younger brother to get some more sleep. Alan unhappily obliged but knew that he had agreed to try. He was still so very afraid that this was the dream… and there was yet another reality out there somewhere that was the real one. What was it that Tin had said? 'There is not only this future or that future'. Tin Tin had said that there were thousands of futures that only Alan could control. Well, Alan wasn't convinced about his control over them, but he was now certain that there were several futures out there and he wasn't even definite that this one was the right one. He hoped to god it was. He closed his eyes and snuggled down in the blankets. Sometime whilst Alan was pretending to be asleep he did actually drift off.
He did not dream of any of these futures, he dreamed abstract dreams of flashes of lights, and music and movement. He dreamed of colour, and of the smell of lavender. He dreamed of the sea and the storms. He dreamed of freedom. He dreamed of Tin Tin.
The next time Alan woke the sun had moved around the room, and Alan guessed that it was early evening. A gentle snort made him look round to where Virgil was passed out in the chair next to the bed. There was movement by the window. A figure stood in shadows.
"Dad?" Alan croaked out.
"Close, Alan. I am still here." Said the Hood as he slowly turned round.
Alan woke with a startled gasp. He was breathing hard.
Alan's head snapped round at the confused query. Virgil was slowly sitting up rubbing his eyes sleepily.
Alan stared blankly at Virgil for a minute before he sat bolt upright and his gaze shot round to where the Hood had been standing. He immediately regretted moving so swiftly. His chest burned like fire and, with his breath coming in fast pants, the aching wouldn't abate. His eyes frantically searched every corner and shadow of the infirmary. The late afternoon sun was coming round as he had seen. The Hood had been there.
I am always here Alan. Don't worry, I won't ever leave you… like they have.
"Allie, what's wrong?"
Alan shook his head mutely trying to catch his breath. The Hood had been there. Alan had felt his presence. But he was nowhere to be seen now. He HAD been there. Hadn't he?
"Alan, calm down, deep breaths."
The hand on his shoulder made him jump and he looked up into Virgil's concerned eyes.
Virgil pushed him forward a little further, making Alan curve his back. The pain was getting worse now and was being fuelled by panic as Alan couldn't quite catch his breath.
"Slow down, Allie, long slow breaths."
Virgil's advice didn't make any sense to Alan. Slow down? He wasn't going anywhere. The room was the one that was moving. It was dancing around merrily, Alan wanted off this ride. The hand on his shoulder disappeared but before Alan had time to worry about being left Virgil was back. Alan's panic heightened with claustrophobia as Virgil tightened the oxygen mask around his face. He fought back trying to take it off.
"Leave it Allie, just for a minute."
Alan barely heard him. He clasped his hands around the mask as the tightness in his chest started to lessen. The cool oxygen flowed into his lungs. Virgil rubbed gently circles on his back trying to get the tense muscles to relax. Alan's eyes continued to sweep the room. It had felt so very real. Alan was starting to think that maybe he was going mad.
After several minutes Virgil ceased rubbing his back and sat directly in front of his youngest brother.
"How are you feeling now?" Virgil asked carefully.
"The Hood-" Alan started before breaking off to cough harshly. Virgil reached over and grabbed the glass of water, pressing it into Alan's hand he pulled the oxygen mask off. Virgil helped his shaking brother to sip carefully.
"What about the Hood, Allie?" Virgil asked putting the glass back down and replacing the oxygen mask.
"He was here." Alan said pointing a shaking finger at the window where the Hood had been standing.
"He can't have been." Virgil said carefully. "He is being held in a prison in England. Do you think maybe it was a dream?"
"That's half the problem!" Alan said heatedly in his frustration.
"What do you mean?" Virgil asked softly. "What do you think happened to you? It's your turn now, Allie."
Alan didn't answer or look at his brother. He played with the hem on the blanket.
"Allie-" Virgil started.
"I know. I know." Alan said. "I am gonna tell you, really…. It's just hard. I don't want you to think that I am nuts or something. I swear that everything I am going to tell you is the truth as I remember it. I don't know if it was the coma or I hit my head or something but I swear it's true. I can prove that it's true."
Virgil was staring at Alan in brotherly concern. Alan was starting to become increasingly agitated and Virgil was at a total loss as to what his brother had been through - or what he thought he had been through.
Alan started to tell his story. Everything he remembered happening, and in some cases things that he remembered that hadn't happened. Virgil listened to it all intently but slightly sceptically. Alan skimmed over some of the details that he was sure Virgil would not want to hear. It was only when Alan recounted the conversation that had passed between the older five Tracys on Thunderbird Five did Virgil leap to his feet.
"How could you know that?" He whispered in shock. "John checked and no one has accessed that footage. You weren't there, you couldn't have seen. How do you know?"
"The Hood showed me." Alan said carefully. It was the only piece of evidence he had that there was some truth in the Hood's lies and games. The conversation had been the same (albeit with slight differences) in both 'realities' it stood to reason it would be the same here too. And apparently it was.
Virgil sank back into his chair, his face completely white.
"Go back to the beginning, Al. Tell me absolutely everything from the beginning. Don't leave anything out." Virgil demanded gently.
Virgil knew well enough to know when Alan was lying or being deliberately evasive. Alan started the story at the beginning again. Alan didn't look at Virgil as he admitted what he had done on the beach. Virgil stood up so abruptly that he knocked his chair over.
"But, why?" Virgil choked.
"Why?" Alan echoed hollowly. "I get that you might not agree but surely you get why? What would you want to do if you were the only one left, and you could have done something to stop it?!"
Virgil sucked in a deep breath and silently righted the chair.
"Alright, so what happened next?"
Alan blinked in surprise and continued with his story.
Virgil stayed silent for most of the story, only interjecting with a question here and there. He made the smallest, fleeting mention of the theft of Scott's service piece from the safe, but from the fierce scowl Alan knew that the matter was by no means dropped.
Virgil had slumped back down in the chair by the time Alan was reaching the end of his tale. His eyes were unfocused but Alan knew that he was listening. He told Virgil how he had died in the reality where his family had survived. How the Hood had then taken Alan to the other reality. Alan then hesitated. He did not wish to tell his brother what he had done. He had made a gamble and so far it appeared that it had paid off. But a hunch was all it had been. If Alan had been wrong - well… he didn't really want to think of the consequences that would have lead to.
Virgil sensed through his youngest brother's hesitation that he most certainly wouldn't like what happened next. And so far, this story was full of things he had not wanted to hear. He knew, somehow, call it big brother's intuition that he really was not going to like this next part of the story any more than he had liked the rest of it. Still, Virgil prompted his brother on.
"Well?" He said at length. "What happened next?"
Alan looked down at his hands, fisted in the blankets.
"I… um… I." Alan closed his eyes. "I believed that neither of the realities was real… I had Scott's gun… I took it and I…"
He didn't finish the sentence.
"Did you shoot someone?" Virgil asked softly.
Alan looked up, startled, to meet his older brother's eye. Slowly he nodded.
"Was it the Hood?" Virgil pressed.
Alan shook his head. Dread settled deep in Virgil's stomach.
"I put the gun in my mouth." Alan said so quietly that Virgil had to stain to catch it. "Then I woke up here with blood in my mouth."
Virgil launched himself from the chair and was across the room before he had time to even think about it. He was furious. More so than he could ever remember being. He was angry at the Hood for doing this to his baby brother, angry at Tin Tin for not saying anything despite that she clearly knew what had been going on. He was angry at his brother from being such a fucking martyr, and for being a blithering retard. At the same time he was trying to avoid thinking what would have happened to his brother had he not made that choice. Would they have watched him waste and fade away, never to awaken from that coma?
Virgil turned back to his brother.
"You had a brain haemorrhage." He said. "That was where the blood was coming from."
Both of them had clearly made the connection between the source of the blood and the gunshot wound. They say that when you dream that you fall, if you hit the ground, you die in the dream and you die in reality. Scientifically Virgil knew that if Alan had truly believed in his actions then he could have forced that type of damage physically to his brain.
Alan, on his part, said nothing about his brother's comment.
"I think perhaps you should try and go back to sleep." Virgil said gently.
Alan looked at him, then immediately his eyes darted away to where he thought he had seen the Hood.
"Someone has been with you all the time." Virgil said his own gaze on that corner. "We won't let him harm you, ever again."
Virgil closed the gap between them and gave his brother a tight hug. He felt his brother relax into the embrace. Virgil allowed himself for one moment to dwell on what had happened to his brother, and how he would have felt if all his family had been wiped out in one day. He wondered what choices he would have made, had he been in Alan's position.
Virgil waited until his brother was asleep, before he stormed out of the infirmary to find the Kyranos. Alan's story had answered some questions but had raised a thousand new ones. He was done trying to deal with this rationally. He had three weeks of anger and frustration waiting like a tide, and now what he had been told was enough to turn that tide.
Virgil launched himself in the living room, and up to the dining room. He could hear the rest of his family and assumed that he would find the Kyranos there too. He was correct. He took one look at this family who could have destroyed his family and something in him just snapped.
Later, Virgil would not remember turning over the dining room table nor would remember laying Kyrano out with a single blow. He wouldn't remember Scott pulling him back, harsh demands to know what the hell was he thinking, he wouldn't remember John and Tin Tin helping Kyrano back to his feet.
"Is it true?" Virgil shouted, resisting Scott's attempts to keep the distance between him and Kyrano. "What he says is it true? Could the Hood have done that to him?"
Kyrano pulled his bloody hand away from his face and sniffed experimentally.
"Yes." He said. "My brother possesses extensive powers. Whatever Alan told you, is possible."
"Powers?" Gordon scoffed.
"Don't laugh, Gordon." Jeff said with a haunted expression on his face. "You haven't seen what he could do. What he did do."
"What is that meant to mean?" John asked, frowning at his father.
"When we got back from London, the sofa was on the deck outside and all the glass was smashed." Jeff said slowly. "Penny says that the Hood moved it on his own, but without ever touching it. I watched the footage, she was right. And there was what happened in the bank."
The last statement raised more questions that it settled. Jeff refused to say anything more on the subject until he had spoken with Alan. He left the upturned table and went to watch over his sleeping son. On his recovery hung the rest of the family's.
So? What do you think? Please review and thank you for reading. I promise the next chapter won't wait as long as this one. x