The atmosphere in the house was tense for several days after watching the footage. Whilst the oldest members of the family had relaxed somewhat now that they had answers about what had happened, Alan began to withdraw into himself. Speaking with the Hood alarmed Alan so much so that he hadn't mentioned it to his family. He had been afraid that this battle between him and the Hood wasn't over and now he had confirmation of it.
Most of this time, in the days that followed, Alan wandered around the house anxious, afraid, angry and, somehow, ashamed.
Alan couldn't really put his finger on exactly where this feeling came from. He knew why he was ashamed but ultimately everything had worked out in the end, at least it appeared that way on the surface. He just felt like the coma scenarios weren't finished yet. Alan felt like he had given in for accepting this at face value, for catching the Hood's attention in the first place and for the way that he acted during the time the Hood had been on the Island as well as his behaviour towards his family in the months before Hood's invasion.
His family watched him closely, alarmed by his behaviour. Although Alan didn't know it, his restless activity reminded his family of the time when he had been brought back from the hospital after their mother had died. Alan barely spoke unless pushed for a physical answer and avoided nearly everyone as much as his could.
Jeff sat the four older Tracy sons down one afternoon, all of them white faced and frightened.
Scott had only been trying to engage Alan by asking if he had wanted to help with repairs to Thunderbird one. The thought had been to try and draw Alan out of whatever world he had retreated into and get some alone time to try and talk. The suggestion had not been received well and the strength of Alan's reaction had alarmed them all far beyond the concern they had felt up to that point.
"Your Grandmother is paying us a visit." Jeff said first. "She has been pestering me for a couple of days, I was hoping to get things more together before she came down, Lord knows she doesn't need the stress."
Grandma Tracy had suffered a heart attack earlier in the year and the doctors had recommended that she take it easy ("Take it easy? These buffoons don't know the first thing about taking it easy. Ha."). Needless to say the request had not been followed.
"However, I think maybe she is right and now is a good time."
All four sons nodded their agreement.
"Her flight lands at Sydney at four tomorrow afternoon. Scott, Virgil, I would like you to go and collect her. The flight plan is already logged."
Scott pulled the log up and then looked to his father.
"This flight plan has a return trip with two passengers."
"Yes, I have invited Dr Rackham to visit us as well." Dr Arthur Rackham was the child physiologist Alan had been seeing from the age of three, since around nine months following the avalanche that had cost Lucille Tracy her life.
There was uproar. Jeff let them carry on for well over a minute before interrupting.
"I don't know how to deal with this, boys, and to be honest Alan's behaviour is scaring me. I want him to have the opportunity to talk about this with someone that he knows and trusts. Alan is used to speaking with Dr Rackham, and although, Alan and I, we've never told you this, but, the sessions never stopped. Every week Alan still speaks with Dr Rackham. After their session two days ago, Dr Rackham called me up. He has never broken Alan's trust and I can't tell you what it was that prompted him to phone me, because I don't know, but he was alarmed as well. He asked to speak with Alan face to face and I agreed. He feels that without more direct intervention Alan might do something…. drastic. His visit isn't up for discussion. The doctor is coming here. What I want your opinion on is how much we tell him. I think that this is the time for us to tell him everything; if he says that Alan might do something extreme then this might be the only way we can help him."
There was silence for a second and then Virgil launched himself out of his seat. He paced agitatedly in front of the window for several seconds.
"Virge?" Questioned Scott carefully.
"I- It - He." Virgil stumbled over his sentence and then turned to look out the window where he could see Tin Tin still trying to calm Alan down. "I think it would be wise for the doctor to come here and for us to tell him everything." Virgil said.
"What?" Scott said standing abruptly. "What on earth makes you think that the doctor needs to come here with a full disclosure?"
Virgil turned away from the window to look at his eldest brother.
"I wouldn't betray Alan's confidence by revealing what he has shared with me. But I am afraid that I had come to the same conclusions as the doctor. He hasn't only been tempted. He also has had opportunity for the means. I want to show you something."
Virgil opened the window and called his younger brother in.
Alan entered uncertainly and loitered in the doorway. Virgil leant close and spoke quietly to his brother. Alan looked up, shocked, and the three other brothers could see the betrayal in his face.
"No, no." Virgil said at a normal volume. "I didn't tell them and we were actually talking about something completely different. But I want you to show them. They aren't going to believe me."
Virgil put his arm round his younger brother and steered him round the desk.
Virgil removed the large painting from the wall revealing the safe hidden behind it.
"How did you know about the safe?"
All of the sons except Alan laughed.
"Worse kept secret of the Tracy family apparently." Said Gordon still chortling.
Jeff sighed and ran a hand down his face.
"Sometimes I despair of you lot." He said lightly.
There was a moment of silence and everyone became serious once more.
"Go on, Alan." Virgil prompted.
Alan looked up at Virgil and then at Scott. He frowned.
"You won't get into trouble, Sprout." Virgil said softly.
Alan sighed heavily and knelt in front of the safe. With deft and steady hands he twisted the dial confidently and when the lock clicked Alan opened the door.
"What?" Gasped Gordon clearly shocked and surprised.
Alan reached into the safe and lifted out a smaller lock box. Scott and Jeff both stood with a curse. Alan set the box on Jeff's desk and with another sigh Alan gently entered the combination of this smaller lock box and opened the lid.
Alan lifted out Scott's service weapon and looked in older brother in the eye. Without even looking back down at his hands, Alan loaded the pistol, took the safety off and primed the pistol; moving a bullet into the chamber.
He said the pistol down on the desk and finally broke eye contact.
"Alan," Tin Tin said, entering the room. "Fermat wants to know if you want a re-match on that racing-" She broke off as she took in the room and flew to Alan's side.
She shook him roughly; her face completely drained of colour.
"That's enough. Put it back."
With shaking hands Alan dismantled his work and returned both the pistol and the rounds into the lock box. With a skittering glance Alan looked at each member of his family and then silently took Tin's hand and left the room.
"How did he-" Scott started.
"When did he-" Said Jeff at the same time.
Everyone looked to Virgil.
"I don't know." He said. "He never said, and I didn't ask."
"Besides," Said John solemnly "It's not like we were ever able to find out how he got the access codes for Thunderbird One."
"It's irrelevant." Said Scott slamming the lock box shut and picking it up from the desk. "The doctor is coming here and we are telling him everything."
Scott left the room with a thunderous look on his face.
Jeff looked at Virgil.
"I already know your opinion, Virgil." He gestured after Scott with a nudge of his head.
Virgil tore off after his eldest brother.
Gordon and John looked at each other and Gordon nodded.
"I think it's time we told the good doctor everything." John said. "He is a smart man; if Alan has been talking with him every week since he was three then Dr Rackham probably already suspects that Alan is hiding something. After everything I am not prepared to lose Alan and certainly not like this. The secret of the Thunderbirds isn't worth it; we're meant to be a lifesaving organisation. It will be for nothing if we can't save his."
"You said you could sense his interference." Alan said the following morning. He hadn't spoken since his explosion the previous day.
"I can." Tin replied gently.
"Now?" Tin exclaimed in surprise. "Not since before your brain haemorrhage. Why do you ask?"
"There's three people sat at this table." Alan replied quietly avoiding eye contact with both people.
The Hood was sat opposite Alan and was idly pushing toast crumbs around the place mat.
"Alan there isn't anyone here other than you and me." Tin Tin said, now afraid.
"I haven't pressured you up until now, Allie, because generally you have been honest with me. But I want you know that there isn't anything that you can't share with us." Virgil said nervously. "I know that we haven't made things easy for you these past couple of years, but you can tell me anything and I promise that I won't tell anyone and I certainly won't tease you."
Alan hugged Virgil tightly.
"I will. I'm not ready yet. But I will. Thank you Virge." Alan said blinking tears and trying with all his might to block out the voice that also made promises. Mainly promises that he was talking to ghosts . Alan was starting to believe that not only was he well and truly mad but also that he had never woken at all.
"Poor little Alan," The Hood whispered as Alan was once more crouched over the toilet, losing breakfast.
"So afraid, so little, so wounded on the inside."
Alan really wanted to be amused, the Hood was stood in the bath tub; Alan wasn't even sure if the Hood was aware. As much as the sight made him want to laugh, Alan feared that it would be hysterical laughter at best.
"You aren't helping them, Alan. You are only hindering them. You alway make a mess-"
There was a bang on the door.
"Alan, Grandma and the Doctor are here." Gordon called through the door.
"Okay." Alan called back hoarsely, flushing the toilet and moving to brush his teeth.
When Alan looked in the mirror at the bath tub. It was empty.
Alan and the Doctor had wandered down to the beach at Alan's request. They left their shoes near the tree line and walked barefoot towards the surf.
So far they had been silent whilst they walked side by side.
"Did Tin already speak with you?" Alan asked, his eyes on where the Hood was stood up by the tree line.
"Yes," Arthur said with a light laugh. "She was most insistent about it. And what an incredible young woman"
Alan felt himself blushing.
He saw on that same stretch of beach a small wedding party; an event several years in the future but clear to his eyes. When the vision passed Alan whirled around to look at the edge of the jungle. The Hood has gone. How curious.
"Are you okay, Alan?" The Doctor asked with deep concern.
"Yeah." Alan replied slowly. "I've just been dreaming of butterflies."
He sat on the couch sort of -but-not-really watching some show on the TV. Gordon had joined him some time previously but had still yet to speak. Alan couldn't say the same about the Hood though. The vicious, pernicious, evil little man was still whispering away his anger and (hopefully) his lies.
"Do you believe that everyone gets a 'happy ever after' Alan? It is more fun this way… 'you can't torture someone who has nothing left for you to take away'. Take pleasure in this now, because soon I will take it all away again. Think how you will feel then, when you wake up to nothing. Your time is coming Alan."
Gordon's head snapped round when he heard Alan's breathing hitch.
"Hey," he said softly. "What's the matter?"
Alan just shook his head, still not knowing what to say, how to alleviate the guilt for everything that was weighing so very heavily in his heart. In full just not trusting himself to answer, speak any of his pain.
Gordon didn't speak again but pulled himself closer to his only younger brother. Gordon wrapped his arms around Alan, tucking the younger's head under his chin. He rubbed Alan's back in silence for several minutes until Alan's shoulders stopped shaking.
"The whole time we were stuck up there all I couldn't think about was you. We had no idea where you were or what was happening. I was so scared that he had already… that we would get back and… I didn't want to think about it but at the same time there was nothing else that I could think about. And then you called us and Dad told you to go and meet Lady P. The others were so convinced that you would be safe. And I knew. The other half of the terrible two, run away from trouble? Not very likely. And I knew that you would go looking for the Hood. And then when we finally found out that you were safe, and you'd saved all of our arse's, Dad then let you fly One to London? I was certain then, that if the Hood didn't end you, Scott would!"
Here Gordon paused to chuckle lightly, and was relieved to see the corners of Alan's mouths flicker up in a slight smile. Bolstered, by finally getting a response from his far too long silent sibling, he continued.
"Right before we landed and I heard Brains say that you were in Four I decided that I would have to play rock, paper, scissors with Scott for the pleasure of killing you!"
This time he got a snicker from the blond.
"I kinda got Dad's plan of taking you to the bank with the other guys, to get you away from the public and all that, especially since you weren't in uniform and it was like totally obvious that you are kids-"
That comment earned him a not all that gentle elbow in the ribs, but he continued on as though it hadn't happened.
"- but I was still so worried that something was going to happen. I don't know, Allie, something had been bugging me all day. I even woke up super early that morning, so sure that something bad was gonna happen. You know when you get those anxious knots in your stomach… like the day you get a report card to go to Dad. You seemed okay when you guys left the bank, but I could see it in your eyes that you weren't okay. The whole flight home I was driving Virge nutty. I thought he was gonna push me out the hatch, whether we were in flight over Europe or not! It was so horrible having to go get Johnny when neither of us wanted to wait for the information. It seemed to take forever to get to the infirmary; I didn't want hurt Johnny any further than he already was from the explosion on Five. Man, when we got there and they had closed the curtains over the window we knew it was bad. And then when Dad and Scott got there... Man, Allie, I was so scared. I thought we were gonna lose you. And all I could think about was how mean we had been to you the day before. You hadn't even been home for like ten minutes and we were already riding your case."
Gordon was surprised when Alan sat more upright suddenly. He stared at Gordon silently, absently wiping his remaining tears away. He hesitated slightly for several more seconds. Then, he reached out took his glass from the table and took a long drink. He fiddled with the glass before setting back down and clearing his throat.
"I was thinking the same." Alan said, startling Gordon. "I had only been home for ten minutes, when I stormed out and then I avoid you all for the rest of the time, until the attack on Five. I… the thing is, … I didn't… I don't… hell, Gordy."
Alan didn't know how to even begin to explain this. But, he knew that Gordon sort of understood and he couldn't bear the weight on his soul any longer. He thought that his family were gonna be pissed with him… ten kinds of pissed, and for at least ten different things.
But, he needed someone to know.
Almost as much as he needed someone to understand.
And that scared him more than anything.
He was so scared they wouldn't.
Up until now they had been kind, and gentle, and loving, and accepting. Prepared to take anything, because they had survived and against the odds so had he. The sense of unity, that family closeness, had been stronger felt still since watching the footage - although that didn't seem possible - and Alan was still so very and totally scared.
He was afraid of a great many things, he was scared that this new sense of harmony would be shattered with his truth, he was scared of being sent away again, he was scared that everything that had bugged him since before the attack, the teasing, the mocking, the patronising nicknames, 'kiddo', 'sprout', 'champ', the condescending hair ruffling, the constant 'I know better than you, just cause I am older' attitude… the whole nine yards, Alan was sick of it and he was scared that any moment now it would all kick off again.
He was scared that this was still just a dream.
That the Hood was torturing him.
There was one thing that would hurt him more than his family being dead and that was not even being welcome in his own family anymore. One 'dream' had absolved him of his fears, but like the footage on Five, he needed something to be duplicated between 'realities' for him to even begin to accept it. He needed confirmation from his family, but the same truths that could absolve him could also forever condemn him.
Gordon watched each of the emotions cross Alan's face and was staggered by the depth of feelings.
Finally, after thinking through a thousand and one scenarios, Alan decided that he had to know what came next. And for that he would have to tell his family the truth.
"I need to tell all of you something, Gords." Alan said.
Thank you again to everyone who favourited, followed and reviewed. It means a lot to know that you guys are still enjoying this after such a long break.
Please let me know what you think, and I'd love to know what you guys think is going to happen next! :)