Hold Onto Me
Disclaimer - Nope. Not mine. I looked all over e-bay and Amazon for them and couldn't find a thing. So the Thunderbirds are not mine. Any OC's are mine and I BETTER NOT FIND ANYONE BORROWING THEM AGAIN , WITHOUT MY OK - GOT IT?!
OK, so this is Sammygirl1963's birthday present, a week early, and it's a three -part story. Since it is complete, you will have a choice - Lots of review and part two will be up mid-week and I will finish on Jean's actual birthday on next Saturday. Otherwise, part two next Saturday and the rest the week after. But we know how much she loves her wee-Tracys.
(Starts after the last chapter of "No Place Like Home" but before the Epilogue)
Scott Tracy sat quietly in the infirmary of Tracy Island, the moon long having risen and the light from it brightly shining in into the room, allowing Scott to flip through documents on a data pad without turning on a light.
"You'll end up needing glasses if you don't turn on a light," Emily's voice said wryly from the doorway. The young doctor sighed as she came into the room.
"I chase your father to bed and you come down here. What happened to just checking on Alan?" Emily teased as she headed to the bed. She frowned slightly as she noticed the teenager's temp had gone up half a degree and listened to his chest before she adjusted his medications. Alan's chest seemed even more congested than when he had arrived, indicating that the pneumonia was becoming worse. With his cracked ribs – which were among the litany of injuries from being tossed about during a tornado – the last thing Alan needed was to start coughing severely.
"I am checking on him," Scott muttered.
Emily sighed once more before heading over to her desk and turning on the light. "At least sit over here. And if you get tired, lay down in the other bed. I'm sleeping tonight in Virgil's old room, but I'll be in every few hours to check on Alan. And the monitors will wake me if anything changes."
"No arguing to get me to leave?" Scott joked as he moved to the small desk Emily had in the corner of the room. Virgil, Brains and Sarah shared the other work station nearer the door.
"Would it work?" Emily asked. Seeing Scott's sheepish look, she grinned. "Besides, Kate said even she couldn't win in this case, so I figure I'll save my arguments for ones I can win."
Emily was almost out the door when Scott's voice stopped her.
"He's really going to be ok, isn't he?"
Turning slightly, Emily smiled gently at her only older brother-in-law. "Barring any complications," Emily allowed, "Alan will make a full recovery. He's a very lucky young man."
As soon as Emily was gone, Scott put down the data pad and headed towards Alan's bed. Pulling up a chair, the oldest Tracy brother watched over the youngest, just as he had for more than sixteen years. "I kept my promise, Mom," Scott whispered as he brushed a hand over Alan's face, tracing lightly where the oxygen mask still covered half of the teenager's visage. "I kept my promise."
Moving his hand so it rested lightly over his brother's heart, Scott allowed himself to be soothed by the gentle rise and fall of Alan's chest. The rhythm seemed to work in a hypnotic fashion and Scott was soon drifting into sleep himself, and his mind wandered back to another time…and another twister.
Fourteen years, five months, two weeks and three days earlier (but who is counting?)
Lucy Tracy curled deeper into the pillow before she frowned. Something was…wrong. Cracking open one eye, she was greeted with a bright blue sky peeking in through her bedroom window. She vaguely recalled her husband, Jeff, having kissed the back of her neck and murmuring that he had to be into the office early that day. Why…oh, yes – the conference call with that company in London. Jeff had grumbled that with all the problems he had with that company – even if they were the best source for what he needed in Western Europe – that he would someday simply have to buy them out one day and make them a division of Tracy Industries. "But by then," Jeff had assured her, "it will be Tracy Enterprises. The day we go global, Luc, that is the day I change the company name."
Anyone else, Lucy would have disregarded. But she had seen over the years that Jeff's drive matched his ambitions and she had no doubt her husband would succeed. The man was great at just about everything – astronaut, businessman, husband, father…
Father. Huh. The sun was shining on a warm June day and the boys were all still quiet. Had Mom Tracy taken them to school? Ruth would do that when she volunteered at the elementary school. No, school had let out the first week of June and besides, little Alan was only two as of last month and wouldn't even start at the pre-school until the fall. Nope. Her boys were just all being quiet…
The mother of five sat up in alarm. Her boys were never all quiet. Nope, not all five at once, never!
Jumping out of bed, Lucy threw on a light robe over her nightgown and ran downstairs. The rest of the house was as silent as the upstairs…until Lucy reached the doors leading to the patio.
Alan's childish giggles could be heard, with Gordon's louder chuckles joining in. Reaching the doorway, Lucy sighed in relief at the sight in front of her.
"Hi Miss Lucy," Jeannie Bates smiled from the end of the table, where she had been pouring some juice for Virgil.
"Hello, Mrs. Tracy," Sarah Jane Woodbury said shyly as she finished cutting up some fruit and placing it in front of Alan. The baby was happily sitting in his high chair – he probably would be moving full-time to a booster seat soon, Lucy realized with a pang – and grabbed his sippy cup, waving with joy at the sight of Mommy.
The older four boys all murmured greetings, careful to not break a cardinal meal-time rule of eating with your mouth full.
Lucy looked around in surprise. "Who…Jeannie, did your mother bring these out?" she asked, gesturing towards the stacks of pancakes and platter of sausages.
"No, Ma'am," Jeannie said brightly. "I rode out here on my bike. Mama wants me to deliver lunches now that school is out and since Scotty and me -"
"Scotty and I," John softly interrupted before blushing when Jean cast him an annoyed look.
"No, Johnny," Gordon said. "Jeannie and Scott are gonna play baseball. You don't like to play baseball, remember?"
Lucy chuckled at the annoyed look. "I get it. Jeannie has things to do this afternoon, so she is here early. But that still doesn't explain who made breakfast."
Virgil swallowed some more juice before he answered. "John, and me, and Sarah Jane did Mom." At John's raised eyebrow, the middle Tracy went red, then muttered, "Well, I set the table while Scotty got Alan dressed."
"Sarah Jane did most of the cooking, Mom," Scott added while pouring more syrup on his hotcakes.
"Really, Sarah Jane?" Lucy asked the little girl, who wouldn't even turn eight until August.
"Grandma Tracy has been teaching me to cook," Sarah Jane said brightly.
Lucy leaned over and cut off a piece of Gordon's pancake, ignoring the ginger's protest. "Mmmm," she murmured. "Sarah Jane, you can come over any time to, um, practice."
The children all laughed as Lucy sat down to breakfast with her children…all seven of them.
Soon the platters were emptied and Lucy helped Gordon – the only non-worker of the morning meal – to clear the dishes and load the dishwasher.
"So," Lucy asked the gathered group. "Any plans today?"
"Swimming!" Gordon shouted.
"Not again, Nemo," Virgil whined.
"Virgil," Lucy admonished.
Jeannie defended Virgil. "Well, Miss Lucy, when you think of it, it makes sense. Nemo was a clown fish, after all."
Lucy chuckled. "Will you two just head out and practice?" As Scott and Jean disappeared out the back door, she muttered, "I just hope she never become a lawyer. Nah – Millie will keep her on the straight and narrow."
Turning to the others, Lucy began a bit of a roll-call.
"Gordon, you can go swimming, but one of your brothers needs to be with you at all times – and I don't mean Alan!"
"Not me," John said quickly. When Lucy looked over at him, Johnny sighed. "Moooom," he groaned dramatically. "Mr. Tucker, the science teacher? He knows Bill Oxford, the teacher who spent a whole semester teaching from the International Space Station. I have to get over to Jimmy Taylor's house and his mom is driving us to the school. Mr. Oxford will have TONS of info on living among the stars."
"Just ask Dad about that," Gordon muttered.
"Mom," John said quickly, "Dad said it was a good idea and not all of the kids were invited. In fact only two dozen of us were. Didn't I tell you about it?"
"No, you didn't," Lucy sighed. "Luckily, your father did but he couldn't recall what day it was. I swear, if he didn't have Ann-Marie, I don't know how he could run his business."
"Thanks, Mom," John said excitedly. "I'm going to change into the shirt Uncle Jack sent me!"
Lucy chuckled, recalling the shirt Jack had sent for Johnny's last birthday. Sure enough, soon the second Tracy son was flying down the stairs, wearing jean shorts, sneakers and a dark blue t-shirt with silver lettering saying "SOMEONE I KNOW WENT INTO SPACE AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS DARN T-SHIRT".
"Bye, Mom," John called out as he jumped on his bike and began the half mile trek down the road to the Taylor's house.
"Call when you're done, John Glen Tracy!" Lucy called back getting an absent wave in agreement.
"You're bathing suit is still upstairs, Sarah Jane," Lucy said lightly, surprised when Sarah Jane shook her head.
"My mother wants me to go shopping with her," Sarah Jane said.
Lucy was surprised. Annette Woodbury was a nice enough person, but a tad vain. Her eldest daughter, Holly, was her mother's clone, blond and beautiful. Well, on the outside. Personally, Lucy and Jeff thought the nine year old was a spiteful little bitch who was already trying to use her looks to get what she wanted in life. Sarah Jane may had been different physically, slightly overweight, with bright red hair and glasses, but the seven-year-old was the sweetest child they had ever met. Ever since the little girl had saved Alan's life a year ago, when the baby had been choking on a marble he had picked up, the Tracy parents had adored the girl and made sure she knew she was welcome in their home anytime. Sarah Jane frequently would visit, soaking up the love and approval she rarely received at home.
"You don't sound very excited," Lucy murmured.
Sarah Jane shrugged. "Holly is staying overnight at a friend's house and mother thought…well, actually, my father thought it would be a good idea. Mr. Tracy had said something to him about you picking up my bathing suit when you got the boys' and he said it wasn't right for his boss to be buying clothes for his daughter."
Lucy knelt in front of her. "Sarah Jane, it was no bother. I just thought it made sense since you were here so frequently to keep a suit here and I will tell your mother as much. Besides, you are such a good helper to me with Alan; I'll just say it was my way of thanking you."
"You don't have to, Mrs. Tracy," Sarah Jane smiled at her. Mrs. Tracy always made her feel so special when she came over. She pushed back the guilty thought of wishing once more that she was really a Tracy – and not just a frequent, if welcome, visitor.
All too soon, Sarah Jane was being walked back down the back path the children had worn between the two houses. Lucy knew the chances of anyone bothering the girl were light, but it still wasn't something she was willing to risk. Virgil had to promise Gordon he would go swimming with him as soon as they got back and Lucy set Alan down for a morning nap, quickly starting a load of laundry so she could be ready to do yard work while her middle boys were in the pool. It made sense to be ready for anything.
Just in case.
Lucy had managed to get Gordon out of the pool – not easy, but doable – and had him watching Alan while Virgil helped her to put away the laundry. Scott had come back home once Jean had returned to town and was now showering after mowing the lawn.
Lucy had grown up in foster care and was used to always having chores and there was no way Ruth Tracy would have let Jeff grow up without plenty of work. "Idle hands are the devil's tools," was one of Ruth's favorite quotes and with five children, there was plenty of work for the older boys.
Smiling as she handed the last pile of towels to Virgil, Lucy ruffled Scott's still wet hair as he came down the stairs.
"So what sounds good for lunch?" she asked cheerfully. But before Scott could answer the phone and the doorbell both rang.
"I'll get the phone if you get the door," Lucy sighed. Scott nodded and turned in the other direction.
Lucy chatted with her mother-in-law for less than a minute when Scott came into the room, followed by an annoyed looking Annette Woodbury and a downtrodden Sarah Jane.
"I'll call you right back, Mom," Lucy said cautiously as she hung up the phone.
"Hello, Lucy," Annette said somewhat stiffly. The Tracys insisted on being called by their first names, even if Annette felt it wasn't proper, with John working for Jeff Tracy. But as their closest neighbor and her husband's employer, Annette felt unable to argue.
"Annette," Lucy greeted her. "I thought Sarah Jane and you were going shopping today."
"That was my assumption as well," Annette frostily said as she glanced askew at her younger daughter. "But Sarah Jane is now saying she doesn't want to go with Holly and I."
"I thought Holly was at a sleepover?" Virgil asked as he entered the room, standing protectively near to Sarah Jane.
"Well, it seems the girls decided it would be fun to make some prank calls and Mrs. Tarbeau objected," Annette said casually.
"Really, the girls were just being silly. There was no need for such a fuss. But Holly will competing in the Little Miss Pageant at the County Fair next month and needs some new clothes. So I thought I could pick up a few things for both girls. But Sarah Jane said she doesn't want to now."
Lucy wasn't sure what had happened when Sarah Jane had gone home but she was certain it went beyond the little girl being fussy.
"Well, Sarah Jane is certainly welcome to stay here," Lucy said firmly. "She is always welcome in our home."
Whatever Annette was about to say was interrupted by the sharp blare of a car horn. Sighing, she pulled out a cell phone and hit "3" speed dial.
"Sweetheart, I will be out in a minute. Yes, Holly – no, honey – we're going to Nordstroms. No. No…Holly, we'll discuss it in the car."
Sighing again, Annette slipped the phone back into her purse. "Lucy, you are so lucky to have boys. Your sons will never be insisting on clothes the way Holly does. I mean, Sarah Jane never wants anything special. But then, she doesn't have Holly's looks, does she?"
"Grandpapa Dunham says I look like Aunt Harriet," Sarah Jane popped up, shocking her mother.
"A-Aunt Harriet?" Annette stuttered. "Your grandfather talked about your Aunt Harriet?"
"Holly was saying I must be adopted," Sarah Jane muttered, thinking of how her grandfather had told her not to mention her aunt to her grandmother. "Grandpapa showed me a picture of you and Aunt Harriet when you were our age. Then he said not to mention her to anyone, I'm sorry. Did she do something bad?"
Annette bit her lip before mumbling, "Only in your grandmother's eyes." She wished so much that she was brave enough to stand up to her mother or that her father wasn't willing to cut his younger daughter in order to keep the peace in his house. But as her parents stated – Harriet had made her choice, and it was one they refused to deal with.
Seeing the Tracys' interests, Annette admitted, "My younger sister lives in Boston, and yes – Sarah Jane resembles her. But the girls have never met her. Harriet made…lifestyle choices my parents found…unacceptable."
Lucy said nothing, knowing from what John Woodbury had told them of why he didn't want his younger daughter to go to his in-laws should something happen to them, especially with his own parents already deceased. His mother-in-law had disowned her younger daughter for being a lesbian and forced the rest of the family to go along with it. The Woodburys had apparently put it in their will that Sarah Jane would go to Harriet in the event of their deaths, John having quietly been sending pictures of both daughters to his sister-in-law for several years now. Jeff had insisted on being listed as a back-up in case that fell through and it was the only reason they knew the whole story.
"I have to go, be good," Annette said as she brushed a hand over her daughter's hair. She looked like she wanted to say something else when the car horn blared again.
"I'm coming, Holly," Annette groaned. "Gotta dash," she cheerfully said as she whirled around and left.
There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment then Gordon broke in, "C'mon Sarah Jane – you can help us make lunch. We'll even let you pick!"
The red-headed boy grabbed Sarah Jane's arm only to jump back when the other red-head cried out in pain.
"Sarah Jane," Lucy said in concern, kneeling in front of the little girl, pushing the light cotton sleeve up before she sucked in her breath in shock. The arm was swollen and showing some bruising. Lucy gentle touched the arm and was alarmed to see tears fill Sarah Jane's eyes in pain.
"Alright," Lucy said, standing. She looked at her sons, nodding at each. "Scott, get Alan in his car seat. Gordon, get his baby bag. Virgil, help Sarah Jane buckle into the front seat and get in next to her. I'll call your grandparents and we'll drop you three off, then Virgil and I will take Sarah Jane to the urgent care center."
Scott stood there, holding his baby brother even as his other brothers and Sarah Jane left the room. "But Mom," the teen worried, "how can you get treatment for -"
Lucy smiled bitterly. "I got your father to get a Power of Attorney for Health Care for Sarah Jane after her last little "accident". He told Mr. Woodbury it made sense since Sarah Jane spent so much time here."
Scott looked upset. "Mom, did Mrs. Woodbury…"
"I don't think so, Scotty," Lucy sighed. "But the doctor will be able to tell from the bruises."
"You think it was Holly?" Scott concluded, thinking of all the times he had seen the older girl being cruel to her younger sister.
Lucy bit her lip. "Honey, you would do whatever it takes to protect your brothers. Not all siblings are that protective." She sighed as she watched Scott cuddled Alan closer in his dismay. "C'mon – let's get going. Your grandmother had called earlier to see if you boys wanted to come out and visit today anyhow."
"Are you sure you don't want Gordon to come with you as well?" Scott sighed as he bounced the toddler, making the little boy giggle.
Lucy smiled. "Nice try. I see you've been studying your father's negotiation techniques."
Scott just shrugged. It had been worth a try.
Ruth Tracy glanced over at her husband in concern. Grant had allowed a group from the University of Kansas, doing research, to lease his fields for the year, with an option to renew. Her husband had sworn he was just tired and the money was equal to what they would get in an average year, anyhow. Wasn't Ruth happy to have him around the house? It would be nice to have a growing season to just relax, especially at his age.
She wasn't fooled for a second.
Grant had finally allowed himself to be dragged to the doctor for a full work-up and the internist had suggested the older man may even want to go for some tests for "baselines". The thing that had really worried Ruth was that Grant had agreed to them and now Grant had a follow-up scheduled with his primary care physician on Tuesday.
It was going to be a long weekend.
Stepping out onto the porch where Grant was fixing the screen that lined the one side – allowing a person to sit outside without being too bothered by insects – Ruth handed him a glass of sweet tea. Ruth's mother had been from Missouri and sweet tea had been a staple in her home, and now in Ruth's. If she could only get Lucy to do the same…
"Thank you, Ruthie," Grant said with a tired smile, as he gratefully accepted the cool drink. "It's storm weather, for sure."
"The weather man says hot, humid but perfect swimming weather," Ruth smiled back, hiding her worries.
"Pfft. Some boy on the television gets some fancy degree from a college, looks at his high-tech gadgets and claims to know what the weather will be. Leave it to a body who has spent all his life working the land and that person will know what is going on more."
"Yes, Grant," Ruth said indulgently, gently maneuvering her husband into the porch swing.
The elderly couple sat in comfortable silence for a few moments, the only sounds being the creaking of the swing and the clinking ice in the glass as Grant sipped at the tea. Finally, Grant spoke again.
"So, was that Lucy calling back?"
Ruth nodded. "She's coming out with the boys, minus John who is at the lecture at the middle school. But she'll be leaving and taking Virgil with her to keep Sarah Jane company."
"Why doesn't the little firecracker want to stay?" Grant asked in surprise. He was fond of the tiny red-head, as she reminded him of the first day he had Ruth Delaney, a tiny spit-fire of a ginger and fallen in love.
Smiling at his wife, her red hair long since turned to white, he was amazed at how much he still loved the woman.
"It seems," Ruth said tightly, "that Sarah Jane had another "accident" around that sister of hers, and Lucy will be taking her to the Urgent Care Center in Hartley."
"Why not take her into town?" Grant asked. "The doc is back from vacation."
"Because even with Lucy now having a copy of a power of attorney, she doubts she can get Doctor Latham to download a copy of Sarah Jane's medical records, not without talking to the Woodburys. And Lucy wants to have all the ammo she can get before she takes on this battle."
Grant just nodded. Lucy was good at strategy. But the way she had to corral those five grandsons of his, the younger woman would have to be.
Jeff Tracy looked up at his personal assistant – he had recently changed her title from secretary at Lucy's suggestion – Ann-Marie with a smile. "Everything all set for the meeting?" he asked.
"For the tenth time, Jeff, yes!" Ann-Marie said in exasperation.
Jeff shrugged. "Well, holding these board meeting were your ideas."
Ann-Marie smiled as she shook her head. "Jeff, as the company grows it is a good idea to get the under-chiefs to report to you. And the meetings are only quarterly. AND several people simply satellite in. Now if you would sell stocks -"
"No," Jeff said firmly. "I paid back my initial investors and Tracy Industries is now, and always will be, a family run business."
Sighing, Ann-Marie resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Jeff, your oldest son is only thirteen. And your baby is only two. They won't be ready to be added to the payroll for another decade, at the earliest."
Jeff gave a defiant look. "It's my company and the only ones who will ever run it besides me will also be Tracys. Even if one or more of the boys want to head off on their own, that still leaves me with the others. And their children."
"OK," Ann-Marie glared. "First, like I said – two to thirteen. Too young for you to be plotting grandchildren. And second – oh, never mind. There is no dealing with you when you get the same pout on your face that Alan has when he is denied a toy."
Jeff watched as Ann-Marie went off to check the conference room. He knew she was too much of a perfectionist not to make sure everything was fine before the meeting started at fourteen hundred hours. Jeff stood and glanced at a mirrored wall hanging with a frown. He did not pout like Alan.
Gordon maybe, but not Alan.
Grant and Ruth Tracy smiled as Lucy pulled the mini-van into the driveway. Gordon jumped out of the back seat and ran up the stairs, yelling for his grandparents before the van was even fully stopped.
"Gordon," Lucy admonished as she climbed out of the driver's seat, glancing to make sure Scott was safely removing Alan from his car seat. "What have I said about getting out of vehicles?"
The redhead frowned before grinning. "Not to jump into traffic. But there was no traffic here so I'm good, right?"
"Define good," Scott muttered before smiling at his grandparents. He reluctantly allowed Grant to take Alan from his arms while Ruth removed the baby bag from his shoulder.
"They haven't eaten yet, Mom," Lucy started, eying where Sarah Jane was hunched into Virgil's side, trying to hide her tears. "I'll grab something for Virgil and Sarah Jane at the Urgent Care Clinic – they have a small coffee shop with sandwiches and salads but -"
"Lunch is on the stove," Ruth said serenely. "Grant and I were just waiting for you to arrive." Smiling at the three grandsons on the porch, she rubbed their heads before opening the door. "Scotty, Grandpa will help you with the high chair. Gordon, get out the lemon-aide and sweet tea and pour the glasses."
Ruth waited until the four Tracy males were inside before walking Lucy back to the waiting vehicle. "You just get that little girl to the doctor, Lucy. I have the boys. Virgil," Ruth smiled at her middle grandson. "You take good care of Sarah Jane now, you hear?"
"I will, Grandma," Virgil said solemnly.
"Mom, I -" Lucy began only for Ruth to cut her off.
"It's what family does," Ruth said firmly before leaning in to give both children a kiss on the cheek. "Oh, what a pretty rose you will be one day."
"Everyone says Holly is pretty not me," Sarah Jane whispered sadly.
Ruth smiled and patted her cheek. "They see with their eyes only, sweetness. You watch, someday you will be a beautiful rose. Just beautiful."
Sarah Jane smiled weakly but still looked doubtful as Lucy drove away. Ruth's smile faltered as she cursed Annette Woodbury's blindness. Jeff had been the only baby Ruth's body had been able to carry to term and the idea of anyone not treasuring any child made her sick. Once more, she questioned why some people were blessed…
Ruth shook her head and turned back towards the house. Looking up at the blue sky, she smiled. It wasn't her place to question the wisdom of Her Lord.
A shouted, "Gordon!" followed by Grant's laughter made her sigh. She needed to deal with what was right in front of her first.
"Scott!" Ruth called as she climbed the stairs. "Don't kill your brother before lunch. You'll be here the rest of the day, after all."
Part two coming soon...sooner with lots of reviews. - CC