It had been three weeks since everyone had returned to the island. The heavy leg cast had now been replaced with a light weight leg brace that only needed to be on when Alan was up and about, so getting around was much easier. Gordon began to work with him on strengthening exercises he could do in the water. If someone who did not know Alan were to see him they would think he was doing just fine, and physically he was healing well; however, emotionally he remained fragil, remaining quiet, keeping his thoughts to himself.
Grandma fussed and waited on him as if apoligizing for not being able to come to the naval base.
Alan kept telling her how happy he was that she was there for him now. But that had no effect on her waiting on him as much as she thought he would allow.
John had gone back up to ThunderBird Five, though he wasn't happy given the emotional termoil Alan was still experiencing. The majority of Alan's memories had returned, though those that accurred prior to waking up in the cage remained sketchy at best. Jeff and Scott were able to reassure him on issues of his disobeying orders and his admittance of being 'scared' on the radio.
"Alan," reassured Scott, "it is okay to be scared, it's what you do dispite your fear that shows your courage and you little brother showed just how couragous you are. The 'Thunderbirds' could not have pulled that rescue off if you had not held that plane steady. You were injured and the plane was heavily damaged, every person on that plane owes their life as much to you, as the ThunderBirds and the Navy. That was what would truely be known as a successful joint rescue."
Jeff had tried to assure him that though he shouldn't make a habit of disobeying orders, this time it had made the difference of life or death for many. "If you had been in your room you would have been taken as the other boys were. Fermat and the others would no longer be with us, and you..." Evan Jeff had trouble when it came to thinking what could have happened.
Alan sat on the side of the pool, thinking of Scotts and his fathers words words. For the first time in a long while he felt a real belonging with his family. If he had learned nothing else from the whole ordeal he knew without doubt his family loved and needed him as much as he did them.
Alan talked per vid phone with some of the other boys. Many would not be returning to school, dispite the extensive safety measures taken to ensure that such a brassen act could never be repeated.
As of yet no one on Tracy island had broached the subject, but Alan knew it was just a matter of time. He would have to make a choice, knowing his family would be upset if he wanted to leave the island, for they would want him where they could keep an eye on him. But he also knew they would support him no matter his discision. He was truely relieved and happy for his family's support and unconditional love.
Alan had not yet told his family of his feelings in dealing with the Hood. That before returning to the island he was having regular thoughts of the Hood. He decided tomorrow he would again talk with Tin Tin and her father. After the first attack on the island he and Tin Tin had talked about her family's abilities, and was stunned when her father Kyrano, had told him that he too possessed tendencies toward the same, even if he chose not to develope or even acknowledge his abilities, they would always be a part of him. That is why the Hood was not able to get fully into his mind as he had the others and why he still considered Alan such a threat.
"You must be alert to my brothers increasing skills. He may not beable to hurt your mind as he does others, but he can twist your own thoughts and those of some that are close to you, if you do not remain alert to the possibilities. Trust your feelings and you will be able to distinguish that which is real and true."
Alan continued to think of his words, yet still did not comprehend their full importance to him.
Alan found himself going down to the beach more and more often. He would sit for hours just watching the waves come in. Thinking about all that had happened to him as well as the others. Though he had yet to tell his family,... he had decided to return to school, knowing if he did anything else he would be letting the Hood win. Alan was determined not to let that happen.
The rest of the family watched and worried. he was so quiet and still seemed to struggle with his confidence since returning to the island. They knew it would be hard, but they would have to be supportive, and let Alan test his wings and learn to fly again.
Finally Grandma took Jeff by the arm. "Get the golf cart. I think it is time we go and have a talk with Alan."
If Jeff had any doults as to the timing, he kept them to himself, quickly recognizing his mothers determined look.
They drove slowly up the beach, stopping a short distance from where Alan sat. As Jeff helped his mother to walk over, Alan finally seemed to become aware someone was near.
"Grandma! Dad! What are you doing down here? Grandma your not suppose to be doing anything strenuous."
"Fiddelsticks. My old ticker is doing just fine. I gave it time to heal and now it is time to try and help my youngest grandson to do the same... If you'll allow me."
"I know grandma, dad. I am so deeply grateful for your love and support. I was going to come and talk to you soon; anyway, so it might as well be now. I was just trying to get things straight in my own head first." He looked at them with a determination in his eyes that made Jeff's heart swell with love and pride. For a while he had feared he would not see that look in his son again.
Alan continued on, "I know I will still have up and down days, but I am healing. I'm healing because I have a loving family and friends. The other guys that were with me have families and if need be, a means of obtaining professional help. I know Belay and Farrelli will make it because of their love for each other dispite all that happened to them. But..." his voice trailed off as he glanced at the ground.
"But what Alan?" Jeff tried to encourage him to go on.
Again Alan looked up and into Jeff and Ruth's eyes. "Katheryn really got me to thinking. She went through much more than any of us for a longer period of time. In fact she told me it was being able to care for the twins that kept her hope up, of getting back home one day. Yet she was more than a little worried at going home, not because she didn't love her family and she knew they loved her, but she feared what she may have to deal with. Dreaming of being back with her family as she remembered them kept her going. But then she knew she wouldl have to deal with reality. Her grandparents were in ill health even before she was taken, what if they were no longer here? Then she knew her outlook and the way she would react to things would be different then before and what if her family didn't like the persone she was now? She wasn't sure she could ever be that other person again."
Jeff and Ruth nodded. "I'm sure they will face difficult times, but if they love each other they will make it through." added Jeff.
"I know your right dad, and the way she talked about her family I'm sure they will work it out."
"But something else is worring you." stated grandma.
"Grandma, you know how you always said, if the world gives you lemons, make lemonade."
Grandma nodded as she gave him an understanding smile.
"Well I kept thinking there has to be a way to make something positive come out of this... Of course stopping the Hood and those like him will definently help, but what about the ones who get lost in the cracks? A small example would be the others who came out on that plane with us. I know the lawyers have been trying to get things sorted, but there are still over half who are still at the barrack. Some will not have families to go home to others may not have the support they need to overcome the scars. They do not have the finacial means to seek the kind of help they may need even if they do get home."
Jeff placed a supporting hand on Alan's shoulder and Grandma Ruth a squeeze of his hand as they encouraged him to go on.
"Well I did some research and do you know that governments and especially politicians and insuance companies do not consider mental health issues as important as physical illnesses and are cutting programs that could help not only people who have been subjected to such horriffic acts, but in all aspects of mental health issues. According to the studies that I've looked up some will overcome on their own, but many are never able to deal with what happened. Many end up in trouble with the law, are unable to to hold jobs and eventually become another part of the problem."
"No Alan, I was not fully aware of this, much to my own shame. But I get the feeling you have an idea of what will help.."
"Well... for one I want to make sure those on the plane who need professional help will get it. I want your permission to use some of my own funds set aside until I'm of age to pay for their needs. Then there is the Tracy charity fund. If we could get the right people in place, what is needed according to most experts is more out patient mental heath programs. If they could be made available to those who do not have the means to get the help they need, it may prevent them from being caught in the vicious cycle. I know it's not a cure all, but it would be a start. I talked to Katheryn again and she has decided to go to school and become a psycologist. Her father wasn't very happy about it at first, but she says he is starting to come around. Maybe we could make a schollarship available for others that want to go to school in that profession, but just don't have the means."
Alan searched his grandmother and father faces for signs that would show that they understood what he was trying to express to them.
"Alan I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of you. I can assure you that I know people who will know the best people to get to lead such an a huge undertaking, and others who can help finacially to assure that these kinds of programs are indeed in place where needed." said Jeff.
Alan's eyes lit up. "I mean I know this won't compleatly stop evil people like Hood, but if it would stop even one life from being distroyed, it would be worth it!"
The dinner bell rang in the distance. Grandma placed a hand on her son and grandsons arms. "Come my loves. Let's not keep the others waiting. After dinner Alan if you feel up to it you can share your ideas with the rest of the family. I know that they will be as proud of you as your father and I are, and will want to be a part of your of ideas also."
"Thank you," Alan gave them a smile that could once again light up a room.
The next day after consulting with Kyrano, Alan spoke to his father about returning to Whartons. "I have to go back dad, otherwise the Hood has won, can't you see that."
"Unfortunatly Alan I can. But we can keep you safe here on the island, untill the Hood is recaptured, then we can see about you returning to campus," said Jeff trying his best not to loose his temper at Alan's persistance that he be allowed to return to Wharton's campus.
"But dad you already said you and some of the other families have hired a small army to help track him down and If that's not enough Lady Penelope is on his tail."
By now grandma and the rest of the brothers except for John, who was back up on Five, gathered. Scott was quick to get his two cents in. In no way did he want his little brother off the island, and he was not happy when Alan quickly reminded him that the Hood had already invaded the island, so even it was not totally secure. This only served to rile Scott more.
Virgil got on the vid and made connection with John, feeling this was a decision that should involve all of them.
Jeff, Scott and Virgil wanted him to stay on the island; while, Grandma, John and Gordon sided with Alan. Stating Alan still needed to be able to experience life away from the island.
"There's plenty of time for that when he's older," said Scott. "Or the Hood is captured."
"Scott it could be years before the Hood is captured and don't forget all the new safety measures that have been put in place." argued Alan.
In his heart Scott knew Alan was right in making his request to return, but the smother hen in him was strong and he wanted the youngest where he could keep an eye on him.
"Scott, I can't continue to hide. Don't you see? His plan has still succeded if I go into hiding. We didn't give up before and I can't this time either."
Jeff, Scott and Virgil couldn't argue with his logic.
"I know he wasn't suppose to escaped from jail, but now with everyone looking for him, it's just a matter of time before we get him again. Evan Lady Penelope said it looks like he has gone underground to try and rebuild. So I might as well take advantage of that." Alan looked to Jeff and his brothers for a hopeful sign.
Jeff was quiet for a few minutes as he looked into Alan's hopefull, expecting eyes. "Okay son, it will be hard, but you are right, we can't give into the scum; however, if I let you go back you will have to keep in close contact and if anything and I do mean anything seems out of place you will contact us immediatly."
Alan burst into a full fledged grin. "I will dad, I promise. What about Fermat?"
"That will be Brains decision alone," replied Jeff.
Alan left to find Fermat and let him know of his family's decision, then it would be up to Fermat to convince his father if he indeed wanted to go back.
Finding Fermat they both went to Alan's room to contact some of the other boys, to see if they would also be returning. Terry Jackson was thrilled that Alan was going to be returning - he too would be returning, but no matter how much Jesse had begged, his parents were going to keep him at home for a couple more years and home school. Next he talked with Tom King and James Nolan, both had also decided to return. Michael Myhre, Steve and Scott Burke, and Richard Solberg's parents had all elected to enroll their sons at other undiclosed locations. After hearing that Jeff Tracy was going to allow Alan to return to Whartons, Shawn Fitzgerald's and Jose Manuel parents also agreed to let their sons return to Whartons.
Now Fermat just needed to convince his own father, that still might prove difficult as the Tracy's were not the only ones who could be over protective. When Brains realized how close he really had come to losing Fermat, his own verson of smother hen had acually gone into triple drive.
"B-B-But d-dad. If A-Alan's dad is l-letting h-him g-go b-back, w-why c-can't I?" Fermat's stutter was even more pronounced due to his anxiety.
"Fermat I c-can't a-allow you t-to be p-put i-in s-such d-danger again."
"B-but d-dad. D-Don't y-you t-tr-trust Mr. T-Tr-Tracy?"
"Of c-course. B-But this is y-you-your s-sa-safety we are t-talking a-about."
"But d-dad, it w-would b-be s-sa-safer if w-we b-both w-went. D-Don't y-you u-un-underer-see! W-we're a-a t-team!"
Brains and Fermat had been a team since he was barely two, so for him too use this on his father really showed Brains just how serious Fermat was. Brains was silent for awhile, then looking deep into Fermat's eyes he knew he had no right to hold him back, because of his own fears.
"O-O-Okay Fermat. Y-you c-can go."
Fermat broke into a broad grin as he jumped into his fathers arms and Brains knew he had made the right choice.
"Th-Thanks d-dad!" Fermat ran off to tell Alan his good news. Brains watched him go then went to talk things over with Jeff on additional ideas to keep the kids safe.
The goodbys were hard, and evoked multiple emotions for all, but the two that stood out from them all were the pride and love the entire extended and immediate family felt for both boys.
They all knew that one day they would probally have to face the Hood again, especially if he could not be captured before he once again managed to build his empire.
Until then though, they would once again bring International Rescue to those in need. Alan, Fermat and Tin Tin would continue with their training as time allowed.
All to soon the plane was headed down the runway with Jeff at the helm, Brains as his co-pilot.
Fermat and Alan smiled and gave each other a high five. At last they were on their way back to school to reestablishing their independance, and prove that they would eventually make great full time additions to International Rescue if that is what they truely wanted once they compleated their education.
Meanwhile in the darkness of a dimly lit temple, hidden far away in a dense, unexplored jungle, a bald man in silk robes stood alone filled with a deep hatred and rage. "Someday Thunder Birds, someday I will find a way and you will be mine."
I end the story here, but perhaps in the future will do a sequel to this. Hope you enjoyed the story.