The doctor sat the family down.
"Alan says that he has now told you what's been happening since he woke up?"
Everyone nodded nervously.
"I don't really know where to start, to be completely honest with you."
"Are your medical degrees struggling to accept psychics, Doc?" Alan asked with a cheeky grin.
Dr Rackham laughed, "Even with Tin Tin's display, yes very much so."
"So what are we going to do?" Virgil said tightly.
"We think we have narrowed it down to three possible theories. One that the Hood's powers can reach Alan from here. Two, that Alan has been affected from that one moment when the Hood tried to force Alan to open the door and finally that, well that-" he stumbled to a stop.
"That I'm crazy for coco puffs." Alan supplied 'helpfully'.
"I'm not going to phrase it that way, but yes. That the combination is causing hallucinations. So from that we have three possible actions-"
"Does one of them involve finishing the Hood off?" Scott asked heatedly.
"That wasn't a no." Gordon attempted to whisper to Scott but it carried in the silence of the room.
"Boys." Jeff broke in before it could escalate. "Let the doctor continue."
"If it was caused by the Hood using his powers on Alan, then the Kyrano's believe that the instances will decrease over time until they disappear completely. So option one, is that we monitor Alan for a set period of time and see what happens. Second, we petition the English government to start to Hood on a cocktail of medication that would prevent him from accessing his powers. Finally, we would put Alan on a mild antipsychotic which will only be beneficial to him if it really is a delusion. Of the three options, this is the one that in my professional opinion should be last on the list and absolutely something that we shouldn't consider lightly."
Jeff looked to his youngest son. "What do you want to do, Allie?" He asked.
Alan had wrapped his arms around his frame as though trying to hold himself together.
"I shouldn't have saved him." He said softly.
Jeff was crouched in front of him in a flash.
"You did the right thing, you know that. And, if it was because he tried to force you, then letting him go wouldn't change anything. And instead you would have to live with that choice everyday. Don't put down what you did." He held Alan close. "I'm so proud of you and everything is going to be okay. Trust me." And Alan did.
He swiped at his wet eyes.
"Let's go for a mixture of one and two. Let's start monitoring and see what happens, but at the same time, it can't hurt to ask the government to drug him to the gills. If we send them the footage from the bank, they will see what he can do, and it will be in their own best interests to keep him from using his powers to aide any escape attempts."
The doctor nodded and looked to Jeff to confirm that he agreed.
That afternoon Dr Rackham, Virgil and Brains took several scans of Alan's brain while Jeff called Lady Penelope to arrange for her to contact her friends in high places. Lady Penelope advised that the English Legal system would be slow to act and it would have to go through several stages of the courts justice system but would give every effort to ensure that it happened.
Alan suspected that the Hood knew what had been discussed as Alan didn't see him again after that conversation and the voice only came intermittently and mostly while he was sleeping; which logically he knew may well have been is own imagination working against him.
And so, Alan started to long process of trying to put what had happened in the past where it belonged. Although, he was still unable, and would be for a long time, to shake the feeling that this was all still a dream and that somewhere in another reality out there his family were still waiting for him to wake up. And if that was the case, they'd be waiting a long time because Alan decided that, regardless of whether this reality was the 'true' one, he quite liked this world where he had woken up and the what if's would have to stay in the other realities.
Alan knew on the afternoon of the barbecue that something was going on. There was an excitement in the air, affecting his brothers as well as the other grown-ups on the Island. He hadn't really taken much notice of the coming and goings of the other occupants but was aware enough to know that something was being planned.
Since the talk with his family, and the discussions that had followed with Dr Rackham, Alan felt more settled that he had in years. Yes the Hood was still being a nuisance and Alan knew, deep down (he thought through his new found 'powers'), that the Hood was only stopped and that he would be back. The teasing hadn't stopped, but its tone had changed back to how it once had been. It was soft ribbing and inside jokes rather than harsh mocking and exclusions. Alan was glad that they didn't seem to be handling him with kiddy gloves either. They had accepted his promise that he would speak up if they went too far and had relaxed with him. He had several conversations individually with all of his brothers and they had all apologised more than once. He finally believed that this reality was the best outcome that could have been. Especially considering that he was still frequently dreaming of other realities.
He had asked Fermat about what was going on with the barbecue and it seemed that he didn't know either. He would have spoken to Tin but she had been swept up by the others females to get ready and there was no way he was going to interrupt that. He didn't even know why it took three hours to get ready for a casual family barbecue anyway!
There was no real start time to the barbecue, but everyone had slowly drifted to the lanai over the course of the afternoon.
Being careful of the swimming lesson happening at the shallower end of the pool; the four eldest Tracy boys were rough housing in the pool and Alan had sat on the edge for a while refereeing since he ribs were still aching but had moved off to grab a drink when Tin Tin had finally come down. With his face burning in embarrassment he was pleased when his father finally called out.
"Gather round; I have an announcement to make."
Everyone turned their attention to him and the four eldest Tracy boys stood almost to attention in a straight line. Jeff nodded at them and began to talk:
"Tonight is a special night. We're all together because of three very special people. Fermat, Tintin, Alan. The world needs Thunderbirds and the Thunderbirds need you."
Alan stared gobsmacked as his father pinned an International Rescue pin to Fermat's shirt.
"Mr Tracy!" Fermat was just as shocked. Fermat looked to his father who gave him a proud thumbs up.
No way, no freaking way. This was dream, it had to be! Tin Tin grabbed his hand as though she knew where his mind was going.
Jeff moved on to Tin, smiling at her as he pinned her badge on.
"Thank you, sir." She replied happily.
Jeff moved on to his youngest son, smiling gently at the frozen look on his face.
"Congratulations, Alan. No short cuts. You earned it." He placed a hand on Alan's shoulder having pinned the badge on and turned to include the other two, "you all did."
Nobody but the Kyranos heard Parker's gentle exclamation, "I'm not an emotional man, but sometimes even the toughest nut must crack." They, smiling, plied him with tissues until he had himself back under control.
Jeff had stepped back to allow Alan's brothers to sweep him up in their enthusiasm.
"Way to go, sprout!"
"That's my boy, Alan!"
With much ruffling of hair they gently threw him into the pool leaping after him to celebrate.
The sound of a phone ringing interrupted their party.
"Yes, Madame President. We're on our way."
After the first rescue and the discussion with Jeff that followed, Alan had begun to exclude himself. The worry the family felt once more started to rear its head. Alan had been so happy to be included, that this sudden desire to separate himself was almost unnatural. Alan had started to spend whole days sat down on the beach just watching the waves. All of the boys had privately started spying on their youngest brother. What the older Tracys didn't seem to understand was that the more they pushed the more distant Alan became.
One afternoon, Virgil had had enough and decided to confront the problem head on. He strode down the path avoiding eye contact with everyone who was watching him go.
"Are you alright, Allie?" Virgil asked sitting down in the sand next to his youngest brother.
Alan did not respond or acknowledge Virgil at all but continued his study of the ocean. Virgil nudged Alan lightly with his elbow. Alan leapt about a foot into the air.
"Jeez, Virge. You scared the crap outta me." He said putting a hand to his heart.
"You must have been thinking pretty hard." Virgil said half teasingly.
"Hmm." Alan said as he returned his gaze back to the sea.
"What's on your mind, Al?" Virgil asked. Again Alan didn't respond. "Alan!" Virgil said loudly.
"Whaaat?" Alan said looking back at Virgil.
"Are you alright?" Virgil asked in concern.
"Yeah, just confused. It's just it all felt so real and now I don't feel like I can tell what is real from what is not. And it just makes me wonder…" He trailed off his gaze returning to the sea.
"Makes you wonder what?" Virgil promoted after a few seconds.
"About something Chuang-Tzu once said." Alan replied.
"Who?" Virgil asked confused as to the sudden and apparent change of direction.
"He was a Chinese Philosopher." Alan replied.
"Okay, and what did he say?" Virgil was starting to lose patience and was suspecting that Alan was being difficult deliberately.
"'I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?'"
"Allie, you can't think that way." Virgil said firmly. "It won't get you anywhere."
"But how do I know?" Alan asked. "How do I know if this is even real? What if this is all just a dream?"
Virgil had no answer.
Later that afternoon, Virgil told his father what had been discussed on the beach and put an idea forward. They'd been isolating Alan for so long that the sudden smothering must be difficult to adapt to so quickly. Rather than harass him over how he was feeling and if he'd 'seen' the Hood, perhaps there was a better way to bring him back into the fold. If perhaps they shared things with him he'd be more opening to sharing in kind. Maybe he didn't have enough evidence that things were really going to change in the Tracy household to start making new roots and really investing in them again.
Jeff liked the idea so much that the three other Tracy boys were called in and they decided that the following day they would hold a mini-intervention to try and stop Alan choosing to isolate himself any further.
There are only a few things left to mention.
Scott searched almost everywhere above ground before he ventured into the silos. He didn't want to admit to the level of surprise and alarm when he found Virgil attacking the racking near Thunderbird 2. The middle Tracy son had pulled the contents of the racking off the shelving and it now laid scattered on the floor around him. This worried Scott as his younger brother was normally bordering on OCD. Whilst Scott felt that he could probably get away with making a comment about the state of the work area, he felt that he probably shouldn't highlight that the aforementioned brother was crying. Scott presumed that Virgil had already figured that much out for himself.
Scott carefully wrestled the screwdriver from his younger brother's hand and did not protest when Virgil threw his arms around his eldest brother as he broke down completely.
Once his crying jag was over Virgil immediately and silently resumed his assault of the racking. Scott took one look at his brother and assisted him without a word. It would take three months before Virgil would confide in his brother the reason for the rearrangement of the silo shelving in Thunderbird 2's silo. Upon sharing the cause Virgil happily helped Scott rearrange the shelving in the other silo's as a precautionary measure.
Finally, three weeks after Alan had returned to school he received a letter. The post mark showed that it had been shipped from Dartmoor Prison, England. There was a no signature but its origin was clear. The note read in blood red writing:
'I'll be seeing you.'
Pinned to the note was a butterfly.
And that's a wrap guys! I hope that you all enjoyed this final instalment and then it all came together in the end!
I hope it didn't get too muddled as this final chapter is working in with the chapters for Edge of a Cliff (which I am hoping to post an update for in the next couple of weeks).
If anyone has any questions or still doesnt really get what happened, please either let me know in a review or feel free to drop me a PM; depending on the response I may upload a AN answering any questions.
Thank you all so much for your support and I am so sorry to have kept you all waiting for such a long time! Hopefully I will have the final chapter of Snow up next Wednesday and now if you will all excuse me I am going to go and cry tears of joy that after nearly five years' this fic is finally done!
Mist out! xxx