Hey all. Here is the final chapter in the story. There's another short one-shot already written and that will be posted up in a couple of days. Beyond that, there are a few ideas rolling about inside of my head, so you'll have to wait and see what ends up actually on paper (so to speak).

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has reviewed this story, especially Hob (sorry can't spell your whole name off the top of my head, just know that you've been signing your reviews with that...) who's been so supportive throughout. Thank you.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this little insight, and I hope to be seeing you all soon back on here with another story.

The K+ Rating is for the inclusion of some mild coarse language.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Thunderbirds (they belongs to someone who is not me, I don't actually know who it is now) and I am not making any money from this story. None of the characters are intended to portray any living or dead person and any similarities are entirely coincidental.


11. Changes and Acceptance


It was important for him to be near his brother. He'd promised no one in particular, a long time ago (twelve long, distant and fading years previously in fact), that he'd always look out for his family, no matter what happened.

That's what made his father's propositions so hard to agree to. It was his burden to be forever looking over the figurative shoulder, making sure no harm came to those so close and so dear to him. And it was that same promise and burden that meant he just couldn't bear to leave Virgil.

Deep underground, in the ice-cool, half-empty laboratory the quickly unpacked bedside lamp was the sun and moon, nature having no way to show whether it was morning, noon or night, through the thick layer of earth, compacted down above the laboratories. The only indication was the lack of regular visits from his other brothers, who had appeared to be just as nailed-bitingly, worried as he was.

Having had a close encounter out on one of the cliff surrounded beaches, everyone had believed Virgil was over the worst of his near drowning experience, when he opened his eyes and asked what had happened. Scott though, had been more cautious, not daring to believe it was over, as nothing ever seemed to be that plain, simple and black and white in his experience, and yet again Murphy didn't let the seventeen year old down.

Sometime during the night, Virgil's temperature had begun to increase.

It had been instigated with a simple, whispered comment, strained out from between tired, salt-cracked lips. "I ache all over, Scotty."

And then it had worsened. Chills and violent shivering had filled the fourteen year olds body, just as, during the shadowy and murk-filled times of the Great Plague, the bacillus Pasteurella pestis had filled that of Londoners; though for Virgil it wasn't likely to be quite as fatal.

As his blood and lymphatic systems raced to create white blood cells to fight off infection, the young boy found an unlikely ally in his father's engineer friend, one Hiram Hackenbacker. But his help hadn't been forthcoming; prompting had been needed, his shy nature preventing the genius from stepping in straight away.

Noticing the change in his brother's condition, Scott had called out to Brains, asking for his much needed (and, it was important to note, wanted) help. The quick application of an oral thermometer, held in place by the seventeen year old, as Virgil was beginning to shiver too much to hold it in place himself; confirmed the suspicions that the teenager was indeed, developing a fever.

"You p… probably caught a c… cold from the water. You're, ah, temperature i… is up at one-hundred-and-two, I'd l… like to, ah, try and bring it down a l… little if I can."

Virgil nodded slightly, pulling the blankets up around his neck as he did so. Noticing Brains added,

"I'm a… afraid, I've got to, ah, t… take some of the b… blankets, Virgil. It's not t… too good for you to, ah, h… have that many. T… They're not h… helping your, ah, temperature."

Seeing the adolescent's pained look, Scott decided to help.

"It's OK, I'll sort out the blankets, Brains. You do whatever else you need to."

"R… right. Well, I'm g… going to, ah, get some a… antipyretics and some, ah, i… ice chips for Virgil. I'll b… be back in a m… minute."

Nodding his understanding, Scott set about the unfavourable task of removing all but one of the blankets that had covered Virgil since he had first been brought to the medical room, a few hours ago. The younger boy had moaned at the sudden drop in warmth, but hadn't managed to find the energy to fight back. Then, Brains returned, a brown glass bottle and a clear, plastic cup of ice chips in hand.

Handing them over to Scott, he said, "Virgil n… needs to take ten millilitres of the, ah, a… antipyretic and then y… you, ah, can give h… him some of the i… ice chips. They'll m… make sure he doesn't, ah, g… get dehydrated and will, ah, help b… bring down his temperature."

Being an introvert at the best of times, Brains immediately delegated the job to Scott, not being filled with enough confidence himself, to administer the medicine to Virgil.

"What is this though?" The eldest Tracy heir eyed the brown bottle's sluggishly moving contents wearily.

"It's, ah, p… perfectly safe, S… Scott. It's, ah, a form of, ah, Tylenol, a f… fever reducing a… agent."

Still not convinced, he poured out a prescription spoonful of the thick, pink liquid and supporting his brother's head with one hand, he spoon-fed the medication to Virgil, who grimaced at the taste.

"I, ah, n… never said it would t… taste nice, Virgil. The Tylenol we have on the island, is, ah, s… supposed to be taken as a t… tablet, I made the, ah, liquid v… version myself, so it's, ah, b… bound to taste d… dire."

Still the youthful musician said nothing though, but gratefully accepted the fragments of ice offered by his elder brother. The fourteen year old shivered more as he let the ice melt within his mouth, but was just thankful of something to take away the sandpaper, raw dryness, and that darn, awful taste.

Content that all that could be done to bring down Virgil's fever was happening, Brains left the pair alone, returning to his laptop and detailed plans for super-sonic aircraft.

Scott spent the rest of the night watching his brother sleep, offering him the cooling pieces of frozen water when he woke, and softly running his hand through the brown hair while he slept. As dawn approached, outside the cold interior of the laboratory, red and gold ribbons billowed across the island and morning made itself known through the arrival of Jefferson Tracy.

"How is he?"

Brains got up and walked over to the bed, where Scott had finally given in to the tempting state that was sleep, resting his head against the edge of the mattress. Looking down over the sleeping teenagers, he smiled.

"A lot, ah, b… better, Mr. Tracy. Virgil's t… temperature is down after it r… rose last night, and, ah, he's l… looking much better."

"What caused the fever?"

"I have, ah, b… been searching the m… medical intranet, and I, ah, b… believe that Virgil caught a c… cold while out in the w… water, and his brief d… drowning experience caused a l… lowering of his immune s… system."

"I see. So long as Virgil gets better, then this time, we'll put it down to misjudgement on everyone's behalf, whatever the cause was. However, if he does, the moment he begins to deteriorate I want to know, Brains. Then we'll take him straight over to the mainland. Virgil must be the priority here."

"O… of course, Mr. T… Tracy."

The stern, stiff backed TrAC founder turned towards the exit of the medical bay. Before leaving though, he slowly looked back over his shoulder to Brains, who had re-seated himself at the desk, returning to his computer.

"Brains."

He looked up.

"When Scott wakes, send him up to the villa to get some food. And tell him that's a direct order." Then, Jeff left.

Two days later, outside beside the pool;

"I suppose this means we're staying then."

"I guess so."

The three eldest Tracy boys were sat around the edge of the pool, feet dipped in the cool water, while Alan and Gordon splashed about inside of it's blue tiled volume. Yesterday, temperature restored to normal, Virgil had been released from the soon-to-be medical bay and had returned to regular life with his brothers. Well, as regular as life got when your father went a bought a tropical island paradise, in the middle of the world's largest ocean.

"I guess it's goodbye Kansas though?"

"I suppose."

"I'll sure miss it; especially some of the guys from Oakley." There was an almost awkward pause; John wasn't exactly feeling like talking, it was clearly written in his facial expressions (the one that showed his mind was just about as far from his current physical position as possible) so instead Virgil turned to the other present boy.

"You haven't said anything, Scott?" The tall young man looked up from where he had been intensely studying the clear swimming waters.

"I need to talk to Dad." He stood up abruptly and went to leave the decking area.

What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Johnny." The blond raised his eyebrows. "Well, not anymore." And then Scott left.

"What's his problem, huh?"

John shrugged and then slipped into the pool.

"Fine, don't talk then." Virgil muttered to himself. Sighing, he joined his three siblings in the water.

Jeff Tracy's office;

A sharp knock at the door brought Jeff's head up, enquiringly he called for the visitor to enter. He frowned slightly at the figure that entered, the casually dressed form of his eldest son, normally so crisply attired when talking to his father.

"Can I speak with you for a moment, Father?"

"Of course, Scott. What's on your mind?"

The youngest of the pair present remained standing, while Jeff walked around to the front of his desk, closing the distance between himself and his son. There, he perched on the edge of the wooden piece.

"The other day, I… Well, I made a bit of a fuss over the whole rescue-thing." Scott spat the sentence out as fast as he could, looking directly at the floor, not daring to find eye contact with the man he admired most.

Jeff nodded, not verbally interrupting his child.

"I guess… Well, that's to say…" He paused, grappling for the right words. "I mean, I was wrong. Virge's accident made me see that. I can't even being to imagine what it would be like to lose him." Shocking-blue eyes remained fixed to the floor. "I don't want anyone else to have to experience that." He finished quietly.

Contemplating this for a moment, the Tracy patriarch looked intently at his eldest.

"That doesn't mean you were wrong, son."

"No. That doesn't, but I was wrong to doubt you had the other's best interests at heart. That's where I was wrong."

Knowing Scott was just like himself, head-strong and sure of himself, Jeff could almost see quite how much it had taken for the teenager to admit all this.

"Thank you."

A simple recognition of the effort the young boy had gone to.

And that was all it took, two words. Scott brought his head upwards, allowing himself to look at his father properly, suddenly unashamed of his accepted error, and smiled.

Back at the pool, a little while later;

"You speak to Dad?"

John raised himself out of the water, droplets falling from his body as they did from Victoria Falls' high sides. He stood in the fading light, slim body somehow depicting a look of strength, but maybe it was just something inside that was giving him that kind-of glow. Scott hoped that now maybe he had that same look about himself.

"Yeah."

Close brothers stood watching each other for a moment, and then Scott turned to look at the three youngest boys playing together in the pool. John followed his gaze.

"And it's all going to be just fine. Fabulous you could almost say."

John smiled.

"No one says 'fabulous' anymore, Scott. It's 'fab'."

Scott laughed.

"Whatever, Johnny. Fab. Fabulous. It makes no difference to me."

"It does to me though. It's the difference of five letters."

"Huh?"

"Fabulous is eight letters, Scott."

"So? Charged by the letter are you?"

"No, but fab is just three."

"Oh, right. Three." Scott said distractedly, his mind currently residing in other places.

"That's right, Scott. F. A. B."

"I can spell, Johnny."

Ducking the light punch sent his way, the blond smiled.

"I don't doubt it, Scott. I just don't trust it."

Frowning Scott edged closer to John.

"You make no sense at all, half the time."

The fifteen year old shrugged. "At least I make sense for the other half."

"Well, if you don't care…"

With that, Scott pushed his younger brother into the pool where he was immediately swamped with vicious splashes and attacks from his other siblings. Happy with the world at the moment, the seventeen year old never noticed the two hands reach up out of the water, dripping cool liquid all over the wooden decking, but he came crashing back into reality as his legs were pulled out from under him and his vision blurred as all he saw was water.

Indeed, he was definitely right. Everything was going to work out fine.

And three and a half years, and a lot of hard, bone tiring work later, International Rescue (as it finally became known) and the finished Thunderbirds, launched on their first mission.