Unexpected Encounter

A/N – Sorry for the delay with this, I've been busy reading other stories and neglected my own! I hope you like this one…

DISCLAIMER – I have no rights over the Thunderbird characters, just Angel.

Chapter Twenty – Forever's Gonna Start Tonight

Scott followed Angel as she crept through the dark corridors. It must be nearing midnight now and there was little light so he was following her closely, so close he could almost sense her which didn't help his concentration levels. She moved confidently and it crossed his mind that travelling in near complete darkness was probably part of her training. Scott tried to concentrate on what they were meant to be doing but her slender figure in her black, figure hugging suit took most of the rationale thought straight from his mind. He zoned back in as she was signalling for him to stop. Pressing himself into the wall behind her, he soon caught the drift of voices that she'd heard moments before.

Crouching into the shadow of a doorway, he saw Angel doing the same thing. The light from a torch shone down the corridor, Scott had dismantled the lights earlier to allow them to move quickly through the maze of corridors looking for the henchmen. Scott looked over at Angel; he could see her eyes reflecting the torchlight and couldn't help think that in this guise she really did resemble the cat that she modelled it on. The talkers came closer, and Scott began to hear snippets of their conversation.

"Don't know what is taking him so long… boss said to hurry it up… Cat must be taking her time…"

Scott looked over at her, and she caught his eye. He could almost sense what she wanted him to do and as the men passed he threw a right hook at the man closest to him, vaguely aware that Angel had sent a kick flying at the head of the other at the same time. His target reeled at the punch but didn't drop, so Scott grabbed the arm carrying the gun and twisted it mercilessly until the weapon fell on the floor before he delivered a left handed upper cut. The man reeled back straight into one of Angel's heels, which did drop him like a stone, and Scott swung another upper cut at the other man who was spinning his way. The second man fell heavily and sat in a daze in the centre of the corridor. Scott and Angel quickly tied the two men together, and Scott could see that the men were Blond and Moustache.

"We work well together," he commented as he grabbed one of the fallen guns, and was rewarded by a fleeting smile caught in the torchlight. Leaving the men sat back to back in the centre of the dark corridor, they crept further into the building.

-x-x-

Jeff Tracy was woken from his sleep by a loud beeping. Initially he thought it was part of his dream, he'd been driving a car and surely that was the alarm, but then reality crept in and he sat bolt upright as he realised the beeping was coming from his alert on top of his bedside lamp. Throwing on a dressing gown he sprinted out of his room and into his office. When there, he saw that both John and Alan's portraits had their eyes flashing.

"What is it, Alan?" He asked, as his youngest son came into view from the space station.

"It's John's tracker dad, it's been activated. The watch tracker, not the edible one."

"Have you tried contacting him?"

"There's been no answer." Alan put the tracker location on the screen in place of John's portrait, and Jeff couldn't help but breathe a small sigh of relief.

"He's still in California, and it's the middle of the night there so he's probably in bed and fast asleep. My guess is that he activated it as we all have a tendency to do. Still, keep an eye on it Alan, if anything else happens then get in touch straight away."

"FAB, dad," Alan's portrait reverted to the photograph of him in uniform. With a small smile Jeff turned and went back to bed, while Alan monitored all the radio signals that he could from the Californian coast.

-x-x-

With a loud hum, the lights flickered back into life. Scott and Angel crouched, trying to become accustomed to the light so they couldn't be caught off guard by anything coming at them. They slunk into the nearest room and slammed the door shut behind them, hearts racing and adrenaline running through their veins. Angel listened carefully at the door to see if she could hear footsteps in the corridor, and didn't feel Scott tapping her gently on the shoulder at first. When she did turn around, she found him staring at several huge guns that were set up with their muzzles stuck through the walls of the room.

Scott went over for a closer look, and saw that the guns were actually pointing out of the cliff. There was a small gap between the gun barrel and the edge of the opening, and peering out he could see the waves crashing over the rocks below. Above him he could just about make out the protruding circular room that he had been tied in earlier.

"What would they use these for?" Angel wondered aloud, running a hand along one of the control units.

"You could shoot anyone trying to get here across the ocean." Scott didn't want to think about why you would need that capability, in his mind he saw images of Thunderbirds crashing into the angry water. "It stops anyone from being able to rescue us, they'll just be shot down."

Angel could sense his concern, and placed one hand on his arm. "But it won't come to that. I'm here, and I think there are only two people left. They are likely to both be upstairs. I think it's time."

Scott nodded but before he followed Angel out he trashed the control panels on the guns. "There, now they can't fire anyway." He slipped through the door she was holding open and they continued their creep through the building.

-x-x-

The lights flickered back on, and Ethan could now turn his attention to the men sat in front of him. With annoyance he realised that the smaller one was still out cold, but at least the blond was awake. If looks could kill, John's expression would be sending daggers straight into the other man's heart. That appealed to Ethan, as he looked down at the watch he was holding. There was a small red light flicking on and off, Ethan assumed it was transmitting but there had been no sign of anyone yet.

A noise from the door caused him to turn around to see Goatee slinking in. "Well?"

"It was a fuse boss that tripped the whole building. It's fixed up now."

"Did you find any sign of them?" Goatee shook his head, and Ethan was concerned. Cat should be bringing the other man back up now and combined with the lighting failure he was concerned. Still, she was always a little unpredictable, but her results were always good. He looked again at the watch. "Where are the other watches?"

Goatee picked the two watches belonging to Scott and Brains off the base of the large statue and brought them over to the waiting man. Ethan impatiently took them off him and pressed the same button as he had before, rewarded by two more flashing lights.

"Well if that doesn't get their attention, I don't know what will."

-x-x-

Jeff was woken for a second time by the alarm on his lamp. Grumbling, he threw the dressing gown on again.

"What is it Alan?"

"Both Scott and Brain's trackers are activated now too, dad. I think something is wrong."

Jeff was alert immediately. He pressed the button that called for Virgil and Gordon, sending them shuffling into the room. Virgil was wearing his striped pyjamas whereas Gordon was just wearing a pair of jogging bottoms. Both were yawning and rubbing their eyes in an effort to wake up.

"What is it, father?" Virgil's face was one of concern. "A rescue?"

"No son, the trackers for the other boys have been activated, they must be in some form of trouble. I need you to take Gordon and Thunderbird 2 over to investigate."

"FAB father." The boys vanished into the wall connecting their living quarters to the large hangers for the Thunderbird craft, leaving Jeff and Alan alone in the room.

"If only we could send Thunderbird 1, it's going to take them almost an hour to get there in Thunderbird 2." Jeff muttered, "But only Scott, John and Alan are capable of piloting it."

"What do you think can be the matter, dad?"

"I don't know Alan, I just don't know."

-x-x-

Ethan stood tapping his toes in the large room, waiting. All three watches had been active for almost half an hour now, but there was still no sign of any aircraft approaching. Worryingly there was still no sign of Cat with his other prisoner. There wasn't much he could do but wait though, toe still tapping impatiently.

Goatee watched from the far side of the room while flicking his knife, the apprehension from his leader's mood catching and making him edgy. The two prisoners were still tied to their chairs and still in the same state as before. John had taken to staring at the floor, trying to think of a way out of their situation and ignoring Goatee who was leaning against the wall just behind him. The only sound echoing through the room was the snap of the knife as it open and shut.

Their peace was disturbed suddenly by the door opening and Angel walking in, prodding Scott in front of her. Scott's hands were tied behind his back, but his feet were free.

"Well finally," Ethan's eyes narrowed. "I thought I told you not to untie him."

Angel prodded Scott over to Ethan's position. "I couldn't carry him by myself, and your monkeys weren't going to help."

Ethan grunted in annoyance but seemed to accept that response. He studied Scott's face before giving him a quick backhand, sending the younger man sprawling across the floor.

What happened next was not part of his plan. Snarling, Angel leapt at him with her claws out. Only his superior strength held her back as she tried to rake his face, anger glaring from her eyes and her lips curled back over her teeth as she fought him. The two fell as they grappled, Angel the superior fighter but Ethan much bigger and stronger.

Goatee stared for a moment, stunned by what he'd just seen. Then he fluidly brought up the gun hanging from his shoulder and started firing towards the both of them. Freeing his hands from the loose ropes Scott dived behind the marble base of the statue as the shots rang, sending marble chips flying through the air but mercifully missing Angel. The window was not so lucky, the large panes of glass fracturing before they shattered into a thousand pieces sprayed all over the room and the air outside.

As Goatee tried to reload, Scott leant out and fired back, the small pistol he had taken off blond proving difficult to use as the shots missed by miles. Goatee realised his position and instead moved to John, hiding behind his chair as he fired back. Scott moved further away around the statue to avoid being hit – from Goatee's new position he was firing across the room, parallel to the windows and taking large chunks of marble out of the statue plinth that Scott was hiding behind. Luckily, Goatee was now completely engrossed in Scott and didn't seem to realise he had a clear shot at the pair still grappling on the floor.

Unfortunately Scott now couldn't fire back in case he hit his brother, and so couldn't retaliate as shot after shot ricocheted off the marble, slowly eroding his shelter. In a pause in the bullets he looked again and readied himself for a dash towards the man, hoping to take him off guard.

He'd taken about three steps before John realised what he was doing, and suddenly shoved his chair backwards, hitting Goatee hard in the chest. The chair fell with a bang, but Goatee was also knocked off his feet which gave Scott the time he needed to grab the dropped gun and train it on the other man. Keeping Goatee covered, Scott moved over to John's chair and used a small knife to cut the bonds, freeing his brother who was still lying on the floor.

Between them the siblings tied Goatee up, and moved him well away from Brains. Once finished John turned to his older brother and gave him a rib crushing hug.

"Thank goodness you're alright. What happened?"

Scott was about to answer when a gargling sound made him turn around. Angel had got the better of her fight, and was now pinning Ethan to the ground with her hands around his neck. Ethan was going more and more purple, gasping for breath as Angel slowly throttled it out of him.

The anger and the hurt she had nourished for the last decade or more welled up inside her she stopped being aware of everything around her. All she knew is that this man had been the cause of all the pain she had been through since her mother had died, and that thought tightened her grip. She could finish this, here, and then she would be free. The fire raged and threatened to become an inferno inside of her. Ethan looked into his eyes and for the first time felt fear at the darkness he saw in them.

But then somebody said her name. Somebody pried her hands away from the dying man and spoke softly to her, holding her tightly as she struggled to get free.

"Angel, if you kill him you become as bad as he is. Don't let him do this to you, don't become a murderer for him."

She fought wildly, as wild as the cat she imitated, scratching and clawing to get away, to finish what she had started but the warm arms wouldn't leave her, the calm gentle voice wouldn't let her go. Eventually the strength left her punches and her fighting turned into sobbing, desperate sobbing created from years of loss.

John tied Ethan up in the seat that Brains had occupied, having cut the still unconscious engineer free. He then had no choice but to sit and watch the couple who were still huddled in the centre of the room, by the broken windows. The figure in black was sobbing hysterically and his brother was talking softly to her, stroking her head. Slowly Scott removed the black mask, and John gasped in shock as he recognised the face underneath, with the shoulder length brown hair that fell loosely in waves as Scott tenderly stroked it. With a pang of realisation he knew Scott must have known all along about the woman in the woods, and had deliberately lied to him to cover it up. The instant anger he felt melted as he saw the expression on his brother's face as he held the woman that he loved, so full of sorrow but yet with a hint of hope underneath it all.

Eventually the sobbing reduced, and Angel pulled away slightly from Scott. Her face was blotchy and puffy from where she had been crying, but Scott thought that he had never seen anything so beautiful. He leant forwards and kissed her tenderly, forgetting that his brother was sat in the room until he heard a small cough from behind. He spun to see John looking uncomfortably at the floor.

"What do you want to do with them?" John waved towards the chairs containing Goatee and Ethan.

"We'll put them in the side room," Scott said as he got to his feet before looking at the woman still sat in front of him. "Are you ok for a minute?"

She nodded mutely and with some difficulty the two brothers moved the chairs into the side room, before ensuring the door was locked behind them.

"That will stop them going anywhere."

Scott returned to Angel, who had now stood and was looking out the broken window over the sea, the wind taking her hair as she looked over the ocean. Now that there was no glass Scott could feel how strong it was, the wind whistled around the room and the waves crashed angrily beneath their feet.

John stood watching them, Scott's hands on her shoulders as she gazed over the ocean. He didn't know what to think. It was the first time that he could ever recall Scott lying to him, and he knew that he should be furious. But when he watched them standing there, so close to each other, he just couldn't stay angry. They looked like they belonged together, but there was something in her expression that told John this was probably not going to end well. He shifted uncomfortably and turned away, feeling like he was intruding by watching them anymore. Instead he went to check on Brains who appeared to be fine except for being unconscious. John wasn't sure if that was related to the drugs or his alcohol intake the night before, although a loud snore suggested the latter. Sighing he turned his attention to the broken floor and away from the couple framed by the window.

Scott was content just to hold her as she stared out across the crashing waves. He knew that now she had finally fulfilled her promise to her mother, she would need to find something to fill her life. He couldn't help but hope that maybe that something would be him. Letting out a small sigh, his hands tightened on her shoulders and she turned her head to look at him.

"Scary, isn't it? What do you do when you finally complete your life's mission?"

"Get on with living it?" Scott suggested, turning her slightly so that she faced him. Angel's expression was troubled, and her eyes didn't meet his.

"I'm not sure I know how to. I've only had one purpose, one goal for so long and now I have nothing."

Scott tilted her chin so that her eyes couldn't avoid his, and he caught her with them, large blue orbs that seem to bore into her soul. "You have me. You have the rest of your life. Forever is going to start tonight."

Forever is going to start tonight. Angel smiled then, at the man that felt like her tether in the wind trying to rip her away. "It will take some adjusting…but I think I can live with that."

Scott looked into those brown eyes, and scooped her towards him in a tender kiss, one that promised of a lifetime together, his eyes closed as his lips touched hers, then as he pulled her into his embrace. He felt her warm, pressed against his skin and completing him in a way he hadn't realised he needed. He savoured the moment as he inhaled her scent, keeping his eyes tightly shut.

That was why he didn't see it happen.

Angel, looking over Scott's should into the room, saw it occur in almost slow motion as John watched helplessly from the sidelines as he still tried to wake Brains. The large statue, the bronze man watching over the sea, creaked as the marble base slowly gave way. After so many years of neglect the gunshots that ripped it apart finally caused the statue to break, the marble fractured and the large bronze man slowly toppled directly onto Angel and Scott.

Angel reacted without thinking, throwing Scott away from her and out of harms way. He hit his head on the small guard rail that ran around the window and fell to the floor momentarily stunned. Angel used the reverse motion to leap back out of the way and so nearly succeeded, but the gesturing arm of the statue clipped her as she leapt and knocked her off-balance. Arms wind milling she tried to keep to her feet but gravity eventually won and she fell, straight over the low rail and out of the open window.

John raced to the edge but there was nothing he could do. Scrambling over the statue, coughing as he tried to force his way through the dust created by the concrete floor to get to the window ledge, he hung out to see if he could see her. But there was nothing; no figure miraculously clinging to the bottom of the windowsill waiting to be lifted up, no white face bobbing around in the ocean, just the relentless crashing of the waves against the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

A noise from the room caused him to turn around. Scott was sitting up, rubbing his head and looking at the devastation in front of him. "What…?" John scrambled back over the statue as an expression of horrified realisation crept across his brother's face.

"No!"

The cry was so raw that John stumbled and almost fell at the sound of it, but instead he was just in time to grab his brother as Scott tried to hurl himself over the edge after her. The older man fought in desperation, but John's strength belied his lithe figure and he managed to hold on. The fighting turned into shaking and John wrapped his arms around further, realising that Scott was going into shock. He then realised that his brother way saying something and he moved his head closer to hear.

"No no no no no no."

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," John murmured, never letting him go, rocking him slightly as you might a baby. When his brother didn't stop John pulled back slightly and forced Scott to look into his eyes. "She's gone Scott. I'm so sorry, but she's gone."

John would never forget the look of utter devastation at his words, for the rest of his life that image would haunt him. It was gone in a moment, as something inside Scott seemed to just stop and his expression turned wooden. John pulled him close again, no longer sobbing but still shaking as the shock took over.

Then over the wind and the crashing waves there was an unmistakeable sound, the sound of Thunderbird 2's engines roaring as International Rescue arrived.