Disclaimer: The Thunderbirds do not belong to me, even though I wish they did. They are the intellectual property of Gerry Anderson and his affiliates. No money is made from this tale. Any original characters, who may pop up briefly in this, do belong to me.
AN: Thank you so much for the reviews. They were a pleasant surprise to read after coming home from an 8 hour shift at work. I will get around to replying to them (probably after Tuesday, because I'll have finished a Maths exam by then and I'll have some free time) because I did appreciate the feedback you gave me. Just to clarify, this does sort of tie in with some of my other works, but I think it can be read easily if you haven't read them.
Tracy Enterprises, New York
Unsurprisingly, around this time of year, I think of her more often.
Unsurprisingly, because it's been twelve years to the day when I lost her.
When we lost her.
I think about the before and afters, mostly. I remember what it was like when she was here. I was less of a task master, more open and receptive to affection. I remember always being able to find time for the boys, no matter how busy work was. I remember the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays were always family time. Lucy had enforced it; the boys would complete their homework on Friday night, without fail, and I would leave the file folders at the office, where they belonged. Saturdays and Sundays always included a trip to a museum, or the beach on sunny days, or a picnic in the local park.
The afters were different.
There was no more family time.
How could there be, when we were barely a family? It was to each their own.
I don't remember much, but I do remember one night. It was a week after…
I can remember standing outside, when my son needed me the most. I left it up to John to try and do the job I was meant to do.
I should have gone in there. I knew it then, and I know it now.
And I would have done, if a small part of me hadn't resented him at the time. A part of me still does, and that fills me with a feeling of shameful disgust.
I think Scott's unaware of how I feel, and I have no intention of disillusioning him to that.
Don't get me wrong; I don't resent the fact that Scott's alive. I don't resent him for staying alive. I love my son more than words can say, and I'm damn proud of him for having the strength to hang on until he was found. All I have to do is think about his accomplishments, think about how far he's come, what he's done for me over the years, and I know I've been blessed with a true gift.
But a small part of me resents him all the same. A small part of me resents the fact that he was there in Lucille's time of dying. He was the one who heard her last words, he was the one who would have held her hand, hold her close and made it easier for her.
It should have been me instead of Lucille. I should have been in the snow, with him. I would have survived with him. I know I could have done it. I know I would have done it.
You see, it was a family vacation; the five boys, Luce and myself. A two week break from the stress of life and a chance to escape. And for the first few days, it was exactly that. On the fourth day, however, Luce caught a cold. Not bad enough for us to pack up and leave for home – the boys had been looking forward to this vacation since we had surprised them with it, so she would never have allowed her illness to disrupt their enjoyment – but bad enough to render her out of action for a few days.
I was left in charge of the troop while she recuperated. But, such is life, and one boy in my regiment fell victim to the same thing Lucille had.
Scott didn't cope with falling sick well. He never has, and he still doesn't cope with ailments. His personal motto? A doctor for the minor things, ignorance for the serious stuff.
He sulked for the rest of the day, after Lucille had bundled him off to bed since he had spiked a bit of a temperature, because his brothers were out on the slopes, having fun, and he couldn't join them.
The next day, he was worse, and definitely in no mood to sulk; he was too tired and drained for that. His temperature had hit an all-time high, and he couldn't breathe for more than a few minutes without having to cough up half his lung. I had wanted to stay with him, but the other boys were becoming restless at being cooped up indoors. Lucille had pushed me out of the rented chalet, telling me that it was better that I was better off with the boys instead of with Scott. At my quirked eyebrow, she explained that since she had already had what Scott was afflicted with; it was unlikely that she would be affected again. It made sense at the time, but it makes no sense to me now. She was trying to do the right thing, with the best of intentions, and the most disastrous consequences.
Virgil and John were on the slopes, while Gordon and Alan, too young to ski or snowboard, stayed with me and we built a snow fort. We heard news of the avalanche in the resort's coffee shop, John and Virgil having come indoors to warm up. I had treated the boys to a large mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows when it happened.
We couldn't establish contact with Lucille or Scott.
We were frozen to our seats when we heard the approximated fatality count.
We were told not to hope for survival of our family.
So we didn't. We prepared for the worst. I was prepared to say goodbye to my wife and my eldest son, without even trying to find them. I was giving up on them.
Surprisingly, that isn't what hurts the most, even to this very day.
It's something Scott did, something he still does.
He refused to talk about it.
He refuses to talk about it.
He, and he alone, know what went on in that air bubble.
He, and he alone, knows what Lucille's last words were.
He, and he alone, would have been privy to what her fears were when they were trapped.
He knows what it was like, what it would have been like for Lucille.
As much as I want him to, he steadfastly refuses to share the details. I've read reports of what happened, but reports are cold and clinical. They only deal with the facts. Scott's account would be more detailed, more personal, and more able to give me closure.
I want to know what happened when they were trapped, so I know why he, to this day, despite my reassurances that he's wrong, believes he killed his own mother.
I want to know what I can do to help him, help fix him, make him understand that there was no way he is responsible for Luce's death. It was just one of those things; something I learnt to acknowledge, if not accept, many moons ago.
I want more than he's willing to share.
I wonder why I'm thinking of this. It's been brewing for a while, this niggling little thought.
And it hits me.
Scott's out in a war zone right now. Right in the thick of it.
We had an argument before he was shipped out on his tour of duty. It's still unresolved.
And it hits me, a bolt of lightning to my head.
Scott's out there, in the middle of a war zone, and I have so much unfinished business with him.
Scott's out there, in the middle of a war zone, harbouring Lucille's last secret from me.
Scott's out there, in the middle of a war zone.
Something's going to happen to him.
I can feel it.
The war-torn nation of Bereznick.
It's the dead of night, and I can hear the ruckus in the background. The sky lights up, like it does every New Year back home, but this is no fireworks display. I hear the rumble of thunder, the flash of blinding light.
An explosion, and a mighty big one too. I can hear it decimate whatever gets in its way, hear it rip and destroy hundreds of lives. Damn war in Bereznick.
So, even if I wanted to sleep, I wouldn't be able to, due to the noise.
But, I don't want to sleep.
I need it, but I won't.
Last night I had The Dream.
Only, it's not a dream. Dreams imply that they're pleasant, even enjoyable, if you're lucky enough to remember them. Dreams suggest unicorns flying over rainbows in fields of gold. Dreams imply a hope for the future.
Last night I had The Nightmare.
For twelve years, I had managed to escape it without too much incident, but over the past few months, it's come back to haunt me.
It was much worse than usual last night. I can recall it with such vivid clarity, it almost seems real...
Mom's there, but she isn't. You can hear her voice, you can even see the vague outline of her body, but you can't get anywhere near her. It's like there's an invisible barrier surrounding her, one you can't smash through, no matter how hard you try.
She screams your name, sounds anguished, but she can't see you. Can't sense your presence. You yell back to her, futilely try to fight your way to her, but you never quite get there.
She doesn't hear you, but you can hear her. You can hear the sobs that wrack through her body, watch on as she trembles; the effort of finding you takes its toll on her body. She fights what's happening to her, and it pains you. You don't want her to worry about, not when you're right there. You don't want to add to her suffering; it's bad enough as it is.
And then you see it, in clear, technicolour vision. You see her thoracic cavity collapse in on itself, buckle under the weight of the snow that shrouds you. You hear the rattle of her last scream being sucked out of her. You see Death hovering over her; see Death cradle your mother before spiriting what defines her as your mother away from you in a flash of light.
And, finally, you manage to force your way to her, but it's too late. Your hands ghost over her frozen body, and as usual, she melts.
Only this time, she doesn't vanish. She pools into a sticky pool of blood. You pull your hands away, but you can't. They're stuck. You can feel the crimson red permeate through your skin, paint you permanently with a substance you will never be able to wash off. So you try to wipe your hands on the snow instead, but that doesn't work either. The blood's still there.
There's a rumble on top of you, like thunder, and you can feel the pressure of the snow compact down on you. The air in your lungs gets knocked out of you, and you claw away at the snow, trying to escape.
To no avail.
You're stuck there.
There's another rumble from above you. There's no one coming for you.
You close your eyes and know no more.
So, no, I don't sleep. I see enough horror in my waking hours right now; I don't need it invading my sleeping time too.
My comrades have picked up on this, and I can tell that they're worried. I can tell that they think that the lack of sleep is going to affect my ability to make judgement calls, make me irrational. I think they think I'm losing my wits. I try to brush it off, by telling them that I'm just not tired.
But that's not the truth.
I know it's crazy to be afraid of going to sleep, but I am. So, I'm going to fight my body. I'm going to abstain from giving it the thing it needs the most. I don't care how many people try to talk me out of this; I'm doing it. Out here, I'd rather be physically tired than emotionally drained. That's the truth, or at least some part of it.
The truth, the whole truth, is… I'm shit scared right now.
I'm terrified that if I go to sleep, I won't wake up.