Categories > TV > Thunderbirds


by Macx_Larabee 0 reviews

Adrenaline, stress and fear can get you a long way, but there comes a time when the human body shuts down. John's body has taken as much as it can... Set at the end of the movie. John ouchies... Co...

Category: Thunderbirds - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Published: 2006-11-05 - Updated: 2006-11-05 - 6153 words - Complete

Recovery Recovery
by: Macx
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: uh... author exploiting John ouchies? Is that a crime?
Author's Voice of Warning (aka Author's Note):
English is not my first language; it's German. This is the best I can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are.....
Disclaimer: John's not mine. Crap. Neither are Scott, Virgil, Jeff, Gordon, Alan and the rest of the TB cast. Bummer. They all belong to someone else and I just happily play with them. Don't we all? :)
Archive: sure, archive away
Universe: Movie
Feedback: empty inbox seeks emails

This story was born after watching the movie too many times to count. I noticed a few things and it got me thinking.

1. John gets hurled halfway across the control room, ends up battered and bruised and probably in serious pain, but he keeps jogging around at the end of the movie in London, and then looks almost back to normal in the swimming pool scene. My belief is that it takes a while to heal those injuries, so that launched the first spark.

2. Alan's around fourteen/fifteen and still in school. I seriously doubt Jeff just lets him become a full member of the Thunderbirds. No way.

"We still have a dangerous situation here. I need you boys to close down this accident scene."

Two names, same stuff.
A wonderful substance. A way to overcome pain and fatigue, to be momentarily on top of the world, able to do what the body was theoretically too weak or too much in pain to do.
Ignoring pain.
Adrenaline helped. That and stress and worry and fear.
Adrenaline was your friend.
John Tracy drew a shuddering breath and felt the world shudder with him.
Damn. It shouldn't do that. It should be stable and clear, not tilting and weaving, and running out of focus.
Around him, people were moving, shouting orders. He caught a glimpse of rescue personnel helping the shaken and terrified monorail passengers to safety.
He was part of International Rescue. He had to do his job, do what his father had ordered. Close down the accident scene. Taking a deep breath, the blond immediately regretted it as abused lungs made him cough.
John knew the definition of adrenaline only too well. His family lived off it at times, craved the extra kick. It was their constant companion throughout rescues, helped them overcome the odds, stay on top of things, think clearly, and it gave them the necessary boost now and then. Yes, adrenaline was good.
It had been good to him, too. Very good. It had kept him mobile, coherent, able to function like everyone else.
His brothers were here, too, professionally assisting the rescue personnel, keeping onlookers back, talking to police and whatnot.
Spikes of pain radiated from his injured shoulder and arm, and he didn't even want to think about the other parts of his body that felt terribly bruised and battered. Getting smashed into the bulkhead of Thunderbird 5 by a tremendous explosion wasn't really good for the health. Nearly suffocating on noxious gas, then starting to heat up because some raving madman had turned up the temperature aboard the station, and finally almost dying didn't help either.
All in all, John felt chewed up, spit out, trampled on, and then flushed down the drain. In tiny pieces... again and again.
He stumbled against the stone banister, blinking to keep his vision from losing focus.
It did it anyway.
Damn again.
So much for adrenaline.
Bad thing about it was, the moment the molecules that acted as a hormone and neurotransmitter were decreasing, the body caught up with all the ignored or suppressed signals, and right now John's body was doing a whole lot of catching up.
Fingers dug into the stone and he suppressed a groan as the spikes of pain increased. The voices around him were suddenly muted, his ears felt like stuffed with cotton wool, and all he heard were his harsh breaths to control the pain.
His right upper arm, where a sharp piece of metal had left him with a deep, bleeding cut, was on fire. His back throbbed and he knew there was more than just a bruise. He had felt the back of his uniform rip open, could feel the air on his exposed skin. The headache was ever-present, had been there since the explosion.
All his actions had been guided by the overwhelming effect the terror had had on him, his fear for his life, for his father, his brothers, and finally for the only family member not aboard Thunderbird 5. Alan had gone up against that lunatic on his own, assisted by Tin-Tin and Fermat, and there had been nothing he or anyone could have done while they had been up in Thunderbird 5.
John's eyes screwed shut as the pain shot through his head, lodging behind his forehead, hammering away.
Oh gawd...
His knees buckled and he leaned heavily against the only support he had -- the banister. His bad arm was in a sling, but the jarring it had received from the running around, the hectic flight back to Earth, and the subsequent race to get to Alan had done a number on the damaged limb. So his good hand was all there was to keep him upright.
His name.
Well, maybe it was. Someone might be calling a friend or a relative. John wasn't that much of a rare name. Actually, it was one of the most common.
The world did a merry dance as he turned his head and it began to slip-slide from one second to the next.
"Shit!" someone exclaimed next to him and he was caught by a pair of strong arms. "John?"
He groaned softly and tried to remember who the person might be.
"Scott?" he mumbled.
"Yes, it's me. Sit down. It's okay," his brother said firmly, his voice wavering a little.
Scott Tracy, normally so very much in control in any situation involving a rescue, was showing emotions. John almost smiled, but even that hurt.
"'m okay," he managed, voice rough.
High velocity impact with the wall. Right. He was completely and utterly okay. No problem. No sweat. He was...
...rapidly losing control of himself.
"Sure you are," was the worried reply, undermining his silent pep-talk.
Okay, he knew that voice. Virgil. That was Virgil.
"I think things finally caught up with him," Scott addressed his younger brother, one hand still resting on John's good shoulder.
John was glad for it. He firmly believed that should Scott remove his hand, he would just topple all the way to the ground - which wasn't that far away since he was sitting down. Leaning his head against the rough stone, he winced as the injury there made itself known.
"Where's Dad?" he asked softly.
"He and Alan and the others are just wrapping up the arrest of the Hood," Scott replied.
"We should get him back to Thunderbird 2," Virgil murmured.
Or maybe he didn't murmur -- John wasn't so sure as he was slipping again, everything by now shutting down since no more adrenaline was supplied. His body had decided he needed to recover, that the danger was over, that he didn't need to defend himself any more.
Who was his body to just make decisions like that? he mused faintly.
Scott seemed to agree with his younger brother and John suddenly found himself upright on his own two feet. It made the world tap-dance around him, do a little hip-hop, and he clung to Scott for desperate support. Things were quickly spinning out of control.
The trip to Thunderbird 2 was a blur, if not a complete black-out at times, and only when he was inside the machine did he realize that he had actually bodily been moved. Someone poked at his injured shoulder, trying to lift the material of his uniform.
He gave a groan of protest as his skin didn't really want to let go of the clothes stuck to it.
"John? It's all right. We'll get you to a doctor."
His father.
Sounding worried.
He tried to focus on the voice, get a picture to go with it, but the missing adrenaline had by now done its number.
Unconsciousness beckoned.
And he followed the siren call.
"Thunderbird 5. Major damage sustained. Possible strike by a meteorite."

Major damage sustained...
Second to third degree burn on the back. The size of the palm of a hand.
IVs were taking care of the loss of fluid from that area. The doctor had explained to him that burn victims lost the most fluid because the skin in that area could no longer contain the vital liquid. So John was receiving two bags of Ringer Lactate to compensate for it. Add to it the stress and the heat and the lack of air aboard Thunderbird 5, and he really needed to be rehydrated.
Twenty-four hours.
The critical first twenty-four hours after injury.
The back of John's head had impacted with the walls of Thunderbird 5 and not only had he been cut, there was also a sizeable egg that spoke of the force with which he had collided. The concussion was mild, considering the other wounds.
Deep cut from a shrapnel to the upper arm, biting into the muscles, severing some, and it had needed extensive stitching. There was no apparent nerve damage.
Be grateful for little things.
Most of John's back was a motley assembly of bruises of varying degrees, but none of them were life-threatening, just painful.
Jeff Tracy leaned against the hospital wall, emotionally and physically drained. Still dressed in his stained uniform, aware that he had so much still waiting for him, so many responsibilities, he just waited for the fatigue to lessen.
It didn't, really.
It got stronger.
His own body was aching everywhere, his head hammered, and he wished for nothing but a bed and twenty-four hours of no interruptions.
As it was, he had one son in the hospital, four waiting for updates on his condition, and a lot of friends who wanted to know how John was.
John was fine. Really. He wasn't about to die.
But he nearly had.
Accidents happen. Yes, accidents did. But this hadn't been an accident. This had been intentional. John hadn't been flown to a private hospital Jeff knew would keep their confidentiality because he had bumped his knee or knocked an elbow playing ball. He had nearly been blown apart by a missile aimed at Thunderbird 5 by a crazy man calling himself The Hood.
The doctor talking to him had been very specific where the injuries, the treatment and the healing phase was concerned. The destructive impact on John's body had left its visible and invisible marks.
He sighed.
The flight to the hospital had been both swift and way too long. Jeff had had too much time with John, staring at the injured young man, taking in the damage that he had been able to ignore on the station when they had fought to stay alive, or even on the ground in London. But he hadn't been able to continue doing so, especially up close and personal, and then when Thunderbird 2 had landed at the private clinic and nurses and doctors had swarmed around them.
No one knew who they were, but everyone had heard of International Rescue, was ready to help. John had been placed on his good side on the gurney, an emergency doctor looking at the burns and cuts, face grim.
Jeff had insisted to be there while the uniform was cut off.
And he had seen the hideous burn mark.
He still felt sick remembering the injury that was now hidden underneath the white gauze. John had been running around, in pain, with that injury, had done whatever had been possible, until his body had shut down.
The news of the attack on Thunderbird 5, first believed to be a meteorite strike, had shocked him to the core. He had been unable to really think, had just reacted, until the moment the first danger had been battled, the fires had been put out, and John had been leaning against a damaged console, breathing through an oxygen mask.
Like right now. Only that the mask had been replaced by a nose tube.
Jeff's eyes were drawn to the pale face of his son and he sighed softly.
He could have lost him. To a rocket striking the defenseless station. To the revenge of a lunatic. To a mad man.
All his sons, with the exception of Alan, were in danger every time they went out on a rescue, but he would never had suspected anyone to attack Thunderbird 5. Never.
Someone had.
Someone who had nearly killed John.
Just like this someone had nearly killed Alan, the only son he had never seen as to be in any danger at all until that very moment, until their safe haven had been breeched and he had to watch helplessly from the wrecked Thunderbird.
The station was a mess, he knew. It would need extensive repairs. And John needed to heal.
Twenty-four hours.
Assured anonymity, Jeff had allowed the doctors to keep his son here. John needed these hours, had to heal, had to make the first steps to a complete recovery before they could take him home. But he didn't really want to leave him alone.
John could have died.
But he hadn't. He was alive. Battered, bruised, burned and cut, but breathing and alive.
Jeff pushed away from the wall and walked over to the hospital bed, smiling faintly down at the bleach-blond young man. John was sleeping, thanks to the medication, and he would live. He had been rolled onto his good side to keep his weight off the back injury, and a few pillows had been shoved against his back to keep him from accidentally rolling over in his sleep.
Jeff sat down on the hospital chair and watched the rise and fall of John's chest.
He should be home, talk to his other four sons, reassure them, be the father and steady rock in the sea they needed, but right now he was just tired and worried and had to stay.
They would understand.
They had each other and John shouldn't be alone.

A nurse found him two hours later, sleeping in the chair, face smudged from soot and sweat, uniform rumpled and equally stained. She quietly checked the nameless patient in the bed, then smiled briefly as she studied the older man, sleeping off his exhaustion.
She left again, silent, making barely any noise, and returned to her station.
--Red Alert--
Impact probability... 91...92...93...94...
--Impact imminent-
"Thunderbird 5 to Tracy Island!"
"Mayday! May.."
And then his words were cut off mid-sentence as the impact occurred, as metal gave way to the powerful missile propelled into the outer hull, as oxygen tanks ruptured, gas exploding into the hostile, oxygen-deprived environment of space.
The console went up in a shower of sparks and debris.
A shockwave coursed through the station, tilting it.
Artificial gravity generators labored under stress.
He was propelled backwards, instinctively raising his arms to protect his face from the flames. He was flung head over heels across the floor, his shoulder impacting with the grid, then his back collided with the wall and for a moment there was only the pain.
Pain everywhere. Blinding and all-encompassing. Spiking through his head, burning into his back, cutting into his arm.
It came, it went, it was fluctuating all around him.
Disoriented he lay on the ground, gasping, feeling nothing. Around him was the sound of stressed metal, of the station groaning and moaning under the distress of the impact.
Where was he?
Aboard Thunderbird 5, of course, but where in relation to the controls was he?
Blinking smoke and tears out of his eyes, John finally managed to find out where he had landed. Down the access tunnel that led to the docking hatch. Not far from the control room.
Miles for him, though.
Miles and miles and miles.
He moved.
Mistake. Big mistake. Tremendous, stupid mistake.
Pain shot through his abused body and he cried out, but there was no one here to hear it. Tears streamed down his soot-marred face as the agony of his injuries lanced through his overtaxed mind. Someone seemed to be burying a red-hot spike into his back and his right arm refused to really work.
Still, he moved. Crawled. Dug his fingers into the twisted metal and pulled himself forward to the communications console. Skin tore around the injuries, more blood flowed. He didn't care. His mind was focused on the console.
Had to reach it.
So badly.
It took long. So painfully, excruciatingly long.
But he made it.
And he managed to pull himself to a sitting position.
Blackness wanted him again, but he refused the invitation. He had to call Tracy Island. He just had to...
--Emergency power at ten percent-
Everything was fried. Charred. Broken. Lamps and displays busted, keys of the keyboard melted...
And he hurt so badly.
Still, he made himself move, lift his screaming arm, punch in the emergency frequency, praying that at least the rudimentary systems worked.
Please, please, please, he chanted in his head. Oh god, please...
"I'm losing all power!" he managed, voice rough from too much smoke inhalation.
Sparks erupted from the charred console and he averted his face, clinging to the twisted metal to keep himself upright.
--Emergency power at ten percent-
"Repeat: I'm losing all power!"
His strength faded and he had to let go, sliding to the ground, coughing.
His lungs felt raw.
He hurt. He hurt so much.
Around him the world consisted of darkness, the emergency lighting, small fires licking at the walls. It was made up out of the never-ending pain signals his nerves transmitted.
Make it stop, he pleaded silently. Please make it stop...

The dream had been a recurring one. Over and over, with slight variations, but always the same basic contents.
The missile impact.
The station's struggle to survive.
The agony of moving, of just existing, while waiting for rescue.
John watched the sunset, leaning against the support frame of the huge panorama window. His right arm was still in a sling since the doctors had diagnosed tendonitis in his shoulder, which meant it was extremely painful to move it. As if he needed a doctor to tell him that. Then again, what wasn't painful? Sure, the pain had lessened, but it was still there. The burn on his back was covered by a light bandage to keep it from being dirtied, and he had to apply a special salve to help it heal. Onaha was helping him with it. The concussion was mostly gone, but he still had headaches now or then. It was annoying.
Just as annoying as the constant nausea had been right after waking up for the first time. Concussion did that to you. It also did headaches. Lots of them. Some weaker, some like migraines, and John had willingly and very voluntarily taken his pain medication just to escape the pain.
He hadn't been able to escape a few sessions with a bucket held close and food reintroducing itself to him. He had hated every minute of it.
Twenty-four hours in the hospital and finally he had been allowed to go home, much to his relief. He preferred suffering at home to suffering in a hospital room.
Blue eyes rising to the sky, John squinted into the encroaching darkness. Somewhere up there was Thunderbird 5, crippled, wrecked, barely keeping itself together. In the last two days Virgil and Gordon had been flying back and forth with Brains to help repair the basic systems. Fifty percent of the oxygen tanks had exploded when the missile had impacted, and before they weren't replaced, no one could live up there for a prolonged amount of time.
Then there was all the electronics equipment. Brains was repairing it one by one, recruiting help from all family members and his son. John sighed a little.
He was all but useless right now. He tired easily, his arm was his handicap, and even his head felt like a leaky sieve. He couldn't concentrate on anything more complicated than basic multiplication, and it annoyed him.
His brothers either tip-toed around him or awkwardly tried to circumvent mentioning TB 5. It wasn't like he had a problem with it; he had a problem without it, with being down here while his bird was up there and he couldn't do anything to assist.
"You missed dinner."
John turned his head and glanced at his father. Leisurely dressed, white summer pant, short-sleeved t-shirt, sandals. Tanned skin in contrast to the light clothes. They all tanned, even John when he came down from another shift, but no tan could hide the paleness, the shadows.
Jeff Tracy had his hands stuffed in his pant's pockets, head slightly tilted, looking a bit more tired than John remembered him to be. Then again, they were all tired.
The latest events had taken their toll on everyone.
"Wasn't hungry."
"With the pain medication you need to eat, John."
"I know."
He turned back to watching the sun set. By now the dark purple and very dark orange was the only color left. Soon it would be blackish blue, with a few stars out.
Jeff joined him at the window, silently gazing at the ocean, and the room grew ever-darker. Things were cast into shadow, then darkness, and John relaxed as the lights faded. In a way this was like being out in space. Looking at the world outside through the windows, seeing nothing but the stars and Earth, a beautiful planet in the middle of a hostile space. He loved space. He loved the serenity, the peace, the quiet, but he also missed this. His home, his family. He enjoyed being on solid ground every time he came down from a shift.
When the sun's last light had finally disappeared, the room's automatic lights turned on. Low level, thank goodness. John didn't really want to see all that much.
"I was afraid."
The soft voice penetrated his thoughts and John blinked, then turned to look at his father.
Dark eyes met his blue ones and suddenly John looked at the man who almost regularly talked to him via the com lines, who sought his advice now and then, who listened, who gave his own advice. Jeff Tracy had many faces - the billionaire, the ex-astronaut, the father, the commander, the supervisor, the company head, the scientist -- but only one man now looked at him - the human being.
"I was afraid to lose everything," Jeff said quietly. "He was so close to destroying everything dear to me."
"Dad... we won. It's over."
A rueful smile. "No, it's not. It's just beginning, John. The Hood showed me how vulnerable we are. I believed in our safety, your safety up in Thunderbird 5. He showed me it was an illusion."
John tensed briefly, the memories of the missile impact forever lodged in his mind.
"He was after me, a personal vendetta, and he nearly erased my family."
"Dad... let it go."
"I can't."
"Revenge isn't the answer."
Jeff chuckled. "Don't worry. I'm not about to turn on him like he went after me, John."
But he wanted to. Someone had attacked Jeff Tracy's family and the man was out to lash back at him with all his power. But that power and energy was better used to rebuild what had been broken.
"He tried to kill Alan in front of my eyes," the older Tracy went on, staring out of the window. "I keep seeing him choke, held in that invisible grip. I was helpless, John."
And you aren't used to it.
"I was forced to watch it all. There was nothing else I could do."
And you hate watching. You are hands-on, you go out on missions, because watching isn't what you do, Dad.
"I know."
I know the feeling because all I do is watch, Dad. I sit up there, I monitor, I watch them go into dangerous situations.
"But this is over," John went on firmly. "We came out of it alive. We repair the damage, heal the wounds, and we go on."
It's what we do.
It's who we are. Not indestructible, but persistent, resilient... we are Tracys.
He knew that only too well. He used it to battle his own nightmares. That and talking. He had spent quiet, unobserved moments with Alan and he knew his youngest brother had been plagued by nightmares just like him and his father, those who had been at the front lines of it all. Scott, Virgil and Gordon were dealing with the fiasco differently. They hadn't been nearly blown to pieces or had seen someone get choked close to death in front of their eyes.
Still, they had all suffered.
Alan was dealing with it. John was. Jeff would.
You did a great job, Dad. We are strong. You are strong.
His father looked at him and a faint smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
"Yes, we go on. But there will be changes. To the security of the station, to the security of the island. This will never happen again."
John nodded. Brains had already shown him the layout of the new security system for his Thunderbird. There would be no offensive weapons, just defensive ones, but they would engage should a missile or a meteorite threaten it.
Both men stood together in the semi-darkened room in mutual, comfortable silence.
John pondered the future. The immediate future. International Rescue's monitor station was out of commission for a while and world-wide communication was impossible. The Thunderbirds were partially grounded and the world knew it. The press had reported about the hideous crimes against the organization that had helped so many. Things would be haphazard for a while and rescue missions would be monitored from base. It severely shrank down their operations area.
In a week or two, basics would be back, the operating systems functioning again. Another week or two after that he might be able to get back on board the space station.
For now, he was grounded.
And the moment he could think more clearly and stay awake longer, he would also contribute to operations.
"Go to sleep," his father's voice intruded into his thoughts and John ruefully suppressed a yawn.
"Same to you," he said with a smile.
Jeff mirrored the smile. "Will do. Go."
That got him a wider smile and John pushed away from the window. He was exhausted, actually, but he hadn't felt it until now. Walking to his room, he passed by Alan's and automatically peeked inside. His youngest brother was sleeping and there were no nightmares threatening for now. John smiled and quietly closed the door, continuing to his own bed.
He was so tired.
And he wanted to sleep.
With the pain medication dulling the angry pulses from his abused flesh, John dropped off into a comatose sleep.
It took his body almost the whole time they needed to rebuild Thunderbird 5 to heal. In a way it was like the station - battered and wrecked and in need of repairs. But there were no welders and bolts and metal plates. Here were muscles and tendons and skin and bones. All healing at a normal rate and the aches and pains were receding.
Thunderbird 5 was operational a month after the attack, able to sustain a person for more than a few hours, able to uphold life support. The oxygen tanks had been replaced, the wiring redone, the cables renewed, and whatever sign there had been of the attack, it had been wiped away. The station was as good as new with a few more additions from Brains to keep something like this from happening again in the near - or even distant - future.
John had spent the time he was 'grounded' with his family. His brothers were alternating on the station's repair, shuttling parts to and from it with Thunderbird 3, while Alan was moaning about having to do a paper for his class. John had simply sat on him, by his father's wordless request, until his youngest brother had finished his assignment. And then some. Alan had to pass classes and get school done to become a true Thunderbird.
"I can fly the ships already!" Alan protested one evening while he slaved over math.
John smiled, leaning back into his comfy chair. "Yes, you can. Barely. Alan, it takes more than a few lessons in the simulator and one mission to fly a Thunderbird."
Blue eyes that were so much like his own glared angrily at him. "I got the job done."
John nodded. "Yes," he said seriously, "you did. You saved us. You and Tin-Tin and Fermat. You flew the 'birds, but that doesn't make you a pilot. A pilot has to have many skills."
"Gordon aced his classes and he enrolled in home college. He's still studying, Alan, just like the rest of us did. Scott wasn't born an expert pilot either. Sure, he has a talent, just like Gordon has one when it comes to diving. But he took lessons, went to flight school."
Alan gnashed his teeth, radiating frustration. "All you see is the kid," he finally whispered. "The little brother who's just turned fifteen and can't do anything to help. But I can! Do you know how bad it is to watch it on TV? Knowing you guys are saving lives and risking your own?"
John met the enraged gaze and suddenly Alan looked away, realizing just who he was talking to.
"Yes, Alan, I know," John said quietly. "Only too well."
"But you're a Thunderbird," was the soft addition.
"No, I'm a Tracy. Like you are. Soon you will fly and do rescues, but for now you should enjoy childhood."
"I'm not a child!" There was the anger again.
"You're a young man," John conceded, nodding. "And we all were your age once, Alan. We all know. Why do you think we watch out for you? Why do you think you get teased all the time? We know what it's like to be your age. And I know how hard watching is, being unable to help should anything go wrong. But we all have our places, Alan. All of us. Soon you will be a more active member of International Rescue, but to have that place you need to do more than fly one of the 'birds from A to B."
Alan stared at his math paper.
"You know the pre-flight checks, you know where each and every button is," John went on, voice calm and collected. "But what do you know about engines, airframes and systems? Theory of Flight and Aerodynamics? Flight instruments other than the ones you used to lift off or touch down? Aviation weather, navigation, flight operations..."
He tried to catch the lowered eyes and caught Alan briefly peeking at him from under his lashes. John smiled encouragingly.
"Alan, I didn't know squat about that until I was about Gordon's age, and even then it overwhelmed me. You've got an advantage. You have four brothers who already went through that stuff, and you can fly the Thunderbirds in simulation. You know more than I did when I was fifteen, and my interests were in the stars, not the machines."
Finally he looked up, the anger gone from his face.
"Yeah, I know," he conceded.
"Finish school, bro. You could ace some of those classes with the knowledge you have through IR. Just get your head out of the clouds and think on the ground, because it's where it all starts. No pilot comes from those hot jocks who think flying's cool and ace every video game. They come from students of mathematics, physics, engineering. You can't fly a plane until you know how it works."
Alan sighed explosively, their eyes meeting. John gave him an encouraging smile.
"Thanks," his youngest brother murmured, glancing at his paper again. "Uh, you being the science geek and all... could you help me with this?"
John laughed. "I take offence at the geek part, but let me have a look. I'm not writing it for you, though."
Alan grinned at him. "Never would have asked you to."
And John snatched the book, reading over the math problems, smiling to himself.
It was late.
At least on Tracy Island, in that region of the world, where night had encroached on the Southern paradise and the sun had set an hour ago. Silence reigned in the house of Jeff Tracy, his sons in their rooms, watching TV, talking, reviewing past missions in Scott's case most likely, or dozing off.
"Quiet night?" he asked, looking at the image of his only son not on the island at the moment.
John smiled. "Very quiet on my front. There's a storm coming in over Northern Japan, a minor earthquake hit Germany, but it only rattled a few windows, and a forest fire in British Columbia, but so far it's under control."
Jeff smiled, too. "Quiet," he agreed.
He looked at the blond young man, took in the relaxed features.
"You okay up there?"
A chuckle. "Dad, I've always been okay up here."
"I know."
But Thunderbird 5 had been attacked, John had been hurt, and ever since then Jeff had been seeing the wrecked station drifting through space in his dreams, had relived the terrible moment of running into the almost completely dark control room and finding his son on the ground, coughing, injured, trying so badly not to look that worse off.
"I'm fine," John reiterated. "Really."
He had returned to Thunderbird 5 a week ago. Gordon had stayed for two days, then had left in TB 3. He would return for the usual rotations in a month. Soon Alan would be part of that rotation, too, but he had to finish school first. Lately his grades had been picking up, had started to climb, and Jeff was hopeful his youngest had finally overcome that stubborn phase.
Now he nodded, looking into those serious blue eyes that told him not to worry.
"I'm turning in," he only said quietly. "Keep me informed about the storm."
"Will do. Good night, Dad."

John switched off the monitor and leaned back in his chair. He gazed out the panorama screen that showed him Earth, hanging just below him in the blackness of space. He smiled as he watched it, having an unrivalled, fantastic view no one else could ever have.
Yes, he was fine.
The nightmares were gone, had turned into dreams, had started to fade off. He loved Thunderbird 5, had wanted to be back. As he had told Alan, for him there was no comparison to this feeling of being here. Some would call it isolation, but to him it was what he did. He was a Thunderbird. He didn't fly fast rocket planes or the largest transport plane the world had ever seen. He didn't dive into the depths of the ocean or could jet around the planet and into outer space. He was here, watching the world, keeping an eye on things.
Maybe it was boring to a young mind. Maybe it was hermitic to others, but this was his life. He loved it.
Flexing his shoulders, feeling the scar pull a little, John glanced at his screens. One showed Japan and the storm brewing over the north end of the island. It didn't look so bad yet and not even close to a hurricane. Sensors would tell him when it hit the worst part and then they would see if help was needed.
John smiled more and stretched as well as he could without agitating the scar.
Well, it was time to turn in as well. Up here, time was different from down on the planet. Up here, there was no sunrise or sunset, no morning or evening. Only the clock and his watch told him how early or late it was, but that was also only South Pacific time.
Right now, it was past midnight. His father had turned in, his brothers were asleep, and he would be soon, too.
"Night, guys," he murmured as he left the control station after setting it to priority alarms that would go off should anyone call for their help.
Half an hour later, John Tracy was deeply asleep. No medications, no bad dreams, just normal sleep.
Thunderbird 5's sensors kept track of the happenings on Earth, as well as in space. And the new defensive mechanisms surrounded the station with an invisible electronic net, keeping the sleeping guardian inside safe.

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