Scott talks to Alan and John. John comes down to Earth. Still don't own them, never making a penny out of them.
Scott and Alan sat on the couch in the lounge and waited
as their father pushed the button on his desk that sunk
them down through the floor and along the track towards
Thunderbird Three's hangar. Alan carried a bag with the
few bits he needed to take with him up to Thunderbird
Five, while Scott was nursing an extra big bag of
Grandma's cookies, and looking none too eager to part
with any of them. As they disappeared from Jeff's view,
they looked at each other, Alan grinned and he and Scott
shuffled over each other, clinging to the couch, until
they had swapped sides, Alan now sitting where Scott had
been and vice versa. It was a cheap trick, but they'd
been doing it for a laugh since the first time they
travelled down together: one of Alan's better practical
jokes. Gordon had reported on its success that first
time: the look on Jeff's face as the couch came into view
on his screen about halfway down the hydraulic pole, and
his sons were in opposite places. He had never asked them
whether they had swapped and the joke should have worn
thin by now, but they still did it from time to time to
try to catch him out.
They arrived, up through the floor, in Thunderbird Three,
and the couch clicked into place. Making their way up to
the control room in the lift, Alan changing into his
uniform en route, Scott settled himself behind the flight
console and prepared her for take-off. Alan slid in
beside him after pulling his boots on and flicked open
comms to his father.
"Okay Alan, you're cleared for take-off. Fly safely, and
try not to be too long Scott."
"FAB." Said Scott, flicked off comms and rolled his eyes.
"I'll be as long as it takes Father." Alan looked at him,
his hand on the chemical rockets' control, pulling it
"Lift-off. You alright Scott?"
"I just don't often hear you talk back at Dad, even when
he's not around."
"I don't know. I guess I shouldn't. Just sometimes I'd
like him to ease off a bit. It's hard for him. I can't
"I know, that's always your attitude. I just thought you
sounded a bit..." Scott waved him away.
"I'm fine. I'm not the one who's gonna be stuck up here
for the next month."
"Your one in eight is coming up pretty fast."
"Yeah, great. I wouldn't mind if it weren't for the
thought of you piloting Thunderbird One."
"Have I ever harmed her?"
"No, but you scare the hell out of me, some of the things
you do with her. She's not a puny little race car you
know." Alan giggled,
"Well she sure as hell doesn't handle like one. At least
they don't pitch and roll when you're least expecting it.
A little yaw I can handle, but her directional jet seems
to be designed for people who like rough seas."
"She goes up perfectly straight for me. That's what I
mean. You've been lucky, but I've seen you, firing that
jet off at any old angle, sending her nose straight at
the ground. You know what I get to paint that nose cone
with? Your leftovers from this baby. That's it. I get all
the lumpy bits from the bottom of your spray can. Do you
have any idea how hard it is to get that stunning glossy
finish with dregs? And you merrily blast off, almost
skinning her. She has handy little pitch and yaw jets in
that nose cone to stop you doing that."
"Anything else?" Alan asked, smirking,
"Your control is a bit bumpy. I don't know how I slept
last week, it's like being in a swing. Watching you
flying her is like watching some drunk reeling around. I
cannot understand it. Give you a car or a personal rocket
pack or a good old bog-standard plane and you're steady
as a rock. I think you just do it to scare me!"
"Are my vertical landings alright, or are they awful
"Oh once you've got her upright you're perfect. I guess
Dad wouldn't let you take Thunderbird Three down through
the round house otherwise. If it was anything like your
piloting of mine, we'd have no round house left!" Scott
tried to look surly, but caught sight of his brother's
wrinkled up nose and grinned, running his tongue over his
They chatted about this and that for the rest of the
journey, until the gently drifting ring of Thunderbird
Five came into view. Alan swung the rocket around until
it was directly in line with the docking port, then
handed control over to Scott and went to pick up his bag.
As Thunderbird Three clunked home into the airlock, Scott
swung the console around to face the door and John's face
appeared on the comms screen.
"Only ten minutes. I'd have thought you'd be glad.
Anything going on?"
"No. Nothing. I've been trying to pin down an asteroid I
never saw before. I guess that'll have to wait. I'll see
if Alan can keep an eye on it. Opening airlock." Alan
disappeared down the tube into Thunderbird Five and Scott
saw him emerge at the other end. He watched as John
showed Alan the speck of dust he'd been following on a
small screen, slapped him chummily on the back, waved and
entered the airlock.
"Closing airlock." Came Alan's voice, "See you fellas.
You owe me ten minutes John."
"Sure kid." Scott pushed the button that released the
clamps holding them in the airlock, and fired the retros
to push them away from the space station. John relaxed in
the spare seat, happy to let his older brother fly him
"How's things at home Scott?"
"Just fine. Well, Dad's a bit jumpy at the moment for
some reason, but since there's been nothing doing this
last week, it's pretty quiet."
"I guess he was pretty worried on that last one. It's
probably taking him a while to recover."
"Really? I didn't think it was too tough really. I mean
it was tiring, but not stupidly dangerous."
"He was on to me practically the whole time, checking
whether you'd called in yet. Don't forget, you weren't
responding for a good half hour. We didn't know what was
"I'd forgotten that. It was a surprise to me." Scott
closed his eyes and leant back in his chair. John ruffled
his hair and spoke softly,
"You sure you're alright Scott? You always call in more
when you're anxious or a bit off colour, and I've had
more calls on your shift than I think I've ever had
before. You don't look that fantastic to be honest."
Scott opened his eyes, then closed them again, enjoying
the sensation of John's delicate fingers in his hair.
John always was a marvel at little touches, quick
massages, fleeting strokes, always unexpected, always
divinely pleasurable, and quite different from his
somewhat abrasive and exclusive turn of speech.
"I don't know. I'm not sleeping so well I guess."
"You're sleeping?!" John withdrew his hand and stared in
phoney astonishment at Scott.
"Less than I was. I need some leave and Dad won't let me
take it till Alan's back down.
"Why not? Oh, yeah, I freak if I have to pilot
Thunderbird One. I guess I'm not really heroic enough
"Something like that. Nice to have you down with us for a
bit though Johno. I've missed having you around. Alan's
been a handful this week. Tin-Tin's having one of her
little flirty phases and it's driving him potty. If one
of them is playing up, it just sets the other off. You
can absorb some of it now you're back."
"I'm not complaining. She strokes my feet while I'm
writing, it's really nice."
"She strokes Virgil's arm while he's flying, it's enough
to send Alan off into a week long huff. And it doesn't
help that Virgil looks smug as all time when she's doing
"You can't pretend you don't like her Scott."
"Well of course I like her, she's a lovely girl. She's
just a bit risky to be around. And too damn clever." John
got up, moved behind Scott and started to massage his
"Yep, thought so, you're screwed up like a wire rope.
Relax, will you. Dad's not going to find out."
Scott almost leapt out of his chair,
"What?!" John sat back down, his hands up in a gesture of
"Hey, keep calm for me bro. No-one else knows, I swear."
Scott thought for a moment, then said carefully,
"Knows what?" John raised his eyebrows,
"Well we are cautious aren't we? About Ned. Tin-Tin
called. She said she needed someone to tell, ask if I
thought so too. Knew she could trust me. Knew I'd
probably tell you, so don't think she was being all
"Why you?" John looked a little hurt,
"Why not? I spend the least time with you all, maybe she
though I'd be more objective. Why? Would you rather she'd
told Alan or Gordon?" Scott shook his head.
"So, what did she tell you? Because it's not necessarily
"She said you'd been acting oddly since you came back
from that rescue with him, you were finding it a bit more
difficult to fall into 'on-duty Scott mode' which is very
unusual, you had his phone number in your pocket, you
kept the top he'd been wearing without a good excuse, you
colour up when someone talks about him or you see him on
telly, you're really casual when you talk about him -
almost too casual, you want leave to go to the mainland,
and he spoke extremely highly of you on his show and even
told you to get leave, which isn't something you'd
normally think Ned Cook would say. Now, I don't know what
you were up to in that rescue zone, but you had ample
opportunity to get to know him. Putting all the evidence
together, I'd come to much the same conclusion as Tin-
"That you're probably crazy in love with him, and he's
pretty sweet on you from the sound of things. Am I
right?" Scott rubbed fretfully at his fingernails
"...He's sweet on me alright. As for me, I don't know. I
don't want to be. It's too difficult. I didn't even know
really that I was that way. But..."
"But you save things he's been wearing, and you colour up
at the mention of him. You are now."
"Oh hell John, when did you get to be such an expert?"
"Okay. Quick test. Where have you put that top? I'm gonna
take a guess, from what you used to do with your blanket
when you were a kid and what I reckon's going on now, I'd
say it's under your pillow. Maybe even in your
pillowcase, so no-one finds it if they muss your bed. Am
I right?" Scott rubbed his forehead and nodded.
"Am I that obvious?"
"No. Tin-Tin worked it out easily because that's who she
is. Put all the evidence together and it's easy. The
others won't do it. Not right now. But keep moping and
they will. Well, Grandma will at any rate."
"I'm not moping."
"Alright. You're not really, but you are behaving
weirdly. Not totally off the wall, just..."
"You have no idea how hard I've tried to keep going
normally. I don't know what to do."
"You going to go and see him?"
"I promised. But whether I can see him after that...What's
the point John? Dad would never let him on the base."
"So when are you going to find someone to settle down
with? Dad trusts you Scott. If you told him what you
wanted, sure, he'd be mad at you at first, but he'd come
round. You're his golden boy. He may be as fair with us
all as any father can be, but I've never seen him so
scared as when he lost contact with you. He'd never hold
anything against you for too long."
"It'd compromise security, I couldn't do it."
"You don't trust Ned, huh?" Scott paused.
"Yeah." He said eventually, "I do, but I don't know why
and I don't think I could explain it to Dad. I don't know
that I'd want to anyway. My duty is to International
Rescue. It's my job to get out there and save lives and
keep my nose clean and stop my brothers getting into
trouble. There's nothing more important."
"Not even ending up old and lonely?" Scott shook his
head. John raised his eyebrows again,
"Did you kiss him?" Scott coloured up again. "Nice.
Yeah?" Scott nodded. "Want to do it again?" Scott nodded.
"I rest my case. You handle it how you like Scott, but
I'd bet you a hundred you won't sleep right till you've
seen him. You get leave the moment I'm back up here,
otherwise I'll be the one pestering you. You get with Ned
and I'll dedicate my next book to the pair of you."
"How's it coming on?"
"Subject changer! It's going well. I had hell with the
last chapter, I was so damn sure of what I was writing,
then I got some new info and had to start over. But I
reckon it's good now. Just another forty to go."