Disclaimer: The Thunderbirds do not belong to me. They are the intellectual and actual property of Gerry Anderson and his affiliates. Any original characters are a product of my imagination.
AN: Just a quick, pre-Thunderbirds tale to celebrate the fact that while my hands are still shedding skin, kinda like a snake, the doctor says that the damage from a chemical burn is mostly healed. :)
This may turn into a two-shot - The Plot-What-Plot?Bunny of Fluff has an idea, but it's still in rough stages. There may be another chapter, there may not; it just depends on how it pans out. Anyway, hope you enjoy. :)
From Father to Son
Every family has a quirky tradition. Even the Tracys.
Waves lapped at the foreshore of the beach, and the sun rose steadily over the horizon, bathing the modest Florida household in a pinky-blue glow. Birds chirruped as they greeted the new day and other wildlife created a gentle, background hum.
From where he lay, Jeff Tracy cracked one sleepy eye open, cursed, rolled over and tried to feign sleep.
"Nice try, Jefferson," his wife noted wryly, hands folded over her stomach, four months pregnant with their fourth child. "But the weather is not going to change just because you don't want to wash the car. It's going up to 89 degrees today, so if it were me, I'd be getting up to do it before it gets too hot."
"Then, why don't you?" Jeff groused under his breath, burrowing his head under the pillow.
From beside him, Lucille whacked his back with her arm. "I heard that, Jefferson! Besides," she gestured to her slightly expanded middle. "Don't you think I'm doing enough right now? We want our son to be healthy, and you heard what the doctor said; I'm not meant to exert myself."
Pushing himself out of bed, Jeff conceded defeat. There was no way he could beat the 'pregnant woman nurturing new life' card Lucille had just dealt him. But it was true; he did want his son to be healthy, and if that meant Luce stayed on the couch, watching the telly while he picked up the slack, then that was what would happen. Reaching for a pair of denim cut-off shorts, Jeff reluctantly shoved each leg through it.
It wasn't that he didn't want to help out, especially given Lucille's pregnancy, but he just didn't like washing the car. As far as Jeff was concerned, he would spend hours and hours scrubbing dirt out of the hubcaps, only for it to get dirty again. He just couldn't see the point. And as for the windows? Well, that was what water-spray and wipers were for. In his absolutely honest opinion, washing the car was a waste of time and energy.
"I promised to take Scotty and Johnny out today. Probably for a haircut for Scott, but it's still an outing," Jeff reminded Lucille as he struggled into a t-shirt. "Shouldn't go back on a promise, should I?"
It was a last ditch attempt to get out of the loathed chore, but, as he predicted, Lucille saw straight through it.
"Scotty and Johnny aren't going anywhere until they tidy out their toy box, like they said they would." She smiled sweetly at Jeff. It was almost too saccharine. "Shouldn't go back on a promise, should they?"
Damn his words, coming back to bite him on the butt.
Resigned to his fate, Jeff huffed a sigh and headed out of the bedroom.
The car was rinsed, and the bucket filled to the brim with soap suds. Jeff glanced up at the sky, once again, and cursed the weather. Clouds had rolled through the blue skies. Knowing his luck, Jeff would have just finished cleaning the car, only for the heavens to open up and rain down on the car he had worked so hard to clean.
Better get to work, then, Tracy.
So engrossed as he was, muttering under his breath as he sponged soap on the paintwork, Jeff didn't notice his five year old standing next to him until he tugged on the denim of his shorts.
"Daddy," Scott began, trailing a finger through the foam on the car. "Johnny and I cleanded up our box. Can we go out now?"
"Not quite yet, Scotty," Jeff replied, scrubbing at a particularly stubborn spot of dirt. "You know how Mommy made you and Johnny clean up your toy box?"
Scott nodded, those slightly too long curls falling into his eyes. Jeff smiled and pushed them back. It wouldn't do the boy's eyesight any good to see through hair.
"Well, Mommy's making me tidy up my toy box." Jeff gestured to the car. "Only my toy box is a lot bigger than yours, so it's going to take me a lot longer."
Jeff went back to scrubbing at the wing mirrors.
"Daddy, can I help?"
A startled look, as older and wiser ocean blue eyes met young, innocent cobalt blue ones.
"You're not playing with Johnny?"
Scott pulled a face. "Johnny's with Virgy."
Jeff tilted his head to the side. His own father had taught him how to wash a car when he was not much older than Scott was, and Jeff knew that his grandfather had taught his father the same thing. Jeff had the faint suspicion that teaching the Tracy sons how to wash a car was a family tradition, an heirloom that was passed down from father to son.
I don't see why I should break with tradition, now that the opportunity has presented itself.
"Okay, Scotty, you can help." Jeff rummaged around in the garage looking for a spare sponge. Handing it to Scott, Jeff had to bite back his laughter when Scott looked at it as though he had been handed the Elixir of Life.
"Here's what you do," Jeff said, kneeling down beside Scott, guiding his hand to the bonnet of the car. "You rinse the sponge in the bucket, and then you move it across the car. You know, wax on, wax off."
With Jeff guiding him, Scott managed to wash most of the bottom half of the car. However, no matter how hard he tried, no matter how far he stretched his five year old body, he still couldn't reach higher than the bottom of the windows. Seeing his son's dilemma, Jeff hoisted Scott up into his arms, boosting him higher so Scott could continue.
"I like this, Daddy," Scott declared, rubbing the side of his face with a sudsy hand. Jeff had to bite back another chuckle as he blew the suds off his son's face. "It's fun!"
"Oh yeah? Wanna do this more often?" Jeff asked. At Scott's eager nod, Jeff smiled. "I'll let your Mommy know that from now on, you'll be washing the car."
As his arms began to tire, Jeff lowered Scott to the ground. "Know what we do next?"
Scott shook his head, curls falling over his face once more.
"See this? It's called a hose." Jeff beckoned his son towards him. "Now comes the fun part; we spray the car to get rid of the soap!"
Placing the hose into a five year old grip was a bit of a challenge, but Jeff and Scott prevailed, and Scott was given the honour of rinsing the car down.
"Let me go turn the tap on, Scotty," Jeff said, running to the other side and twisting the faucet. A flash of water drenched him, and Jeff spun around in surprise. That was not something he had been expecting. It had turned out that Scott, tracking his father with his eyes, had ended up twisting his upper torso so that Jeff was in the line of fire when he turned the hose on.
At least Scott had the decency to look slightly guilty, although his giggles betrayed the seriousness of his words.
Shaking his head to rid him of surplus water, Jeff scraped his hair back. "Aim for the car, Scotty, not at me."
Scott, ever the diligent soldier, obeyed the instruction.
"I see he got you good, Jefferson."
From where she was leaning against the door that joined the house to the garden, Lucille laughed at the mock pout Jeff sent her way as she set a two year old Virgil down on the grass. Virgil toddled off while John retreated to a corner of the garden to play with his imaginary friends.
"Scott wasn't playing fair," he complained, moving in to give Lucille a tight hug. "He was armed and I wasn't."
"Likely excuse," she snorted, swinging her hair back over her shoulders. "Even I could target you. You're just terrible at evading things. Remember the paintball date we went on as teens?"
Jeff winced. "Don't remind me. I still hurt in places I never knew existed until you shot me."
"Well," Lucille shrugged lightly. "If you can't shoot your future spouse, who can you shoot?"
A moment of silence fell between the pair.
"When Dad taught me how to wash a car, do you know what he said to me?"
Lucille titled her head to one side, the way she did when she was quietly contemplating something.
"He told me that I would pass on the knowledge to my own sons. He was right. And Scotty's going to pass it down to his own kids one day. So will John, Virgil and Baby Boy Tracy Four."
Together they stood in the garden, enjoying the peace, a brief respite from the hectic thing they called life. At least, they were enjoying the peace until Scotty amusedly yelled out something that caught their attention.
"Daddy! Virgy's drinking the soapy water!"
Lucille nudged her husband to save their two year old from the perils of drinking water with car wash soap in it. Trips to the hospital because her son had inadvertently poisoned himself was something she could live without.
Reaching Virgil, Jeff began to wrestle the soap-filled bucket away from his – for now – youngest. Perhaps, one day, in the not-too-distant future, Jeff would be able to teach Virgil that the water wasn't a beverage, but instead a tool in maintaining a family tradition, one that would be passed on from generation to generation.