Okay so this is the rewritten version of the first chapter. There were a few errors in the first chapter - well more than a few. It was pointed out to me that in the first version my characters sounded more like they were movie verse than tv verse, I've tried to make them sound more grown up but I'm not sure if I've succeeded. Let me know what you think. Which version is better? The first or the second?
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
A family Secret:
Two days ago I found out something pretty huge. My family have lied to me my entire life! I know right? But guess what? I'm not mad, actually I'm pretty grateful. Now you're wondering why, right? Well you're not going to believe it...
Photos, photos and more freaking photos. Why did I insist on doing a stupid family tree anyway?
Looking through these photos was doing nothing for my current mood. Spring break and instead of actually doing something with my brothers I'm stuck up here in my room feeling like something the cat dragged in. Why did I have to get the flu? Why, why, why? But it's not just the flu that's making me feel like total crap, every photograph I see reminds me of my mother. There are so many photographs of her and my brothers and there are none of her and me. Well...there are none that I can be seen in; there's plenty of my mom when she was pregnant with me. I need a photograph of the entire family but the closest thing I've come across is one of my dad, my mom when she was pregnant with me, Scott, John, Virgil and Gordon – the problem is it's got some kid in it that I don't know. Probably some sort of family friend.
Maybe I can photo shop him out...
"Sprout?" A knocking on the door interrupted my efforts. "Hey, it's almost time for dinner. You feel up to eating anything tonight?"
"I don't know...maybe..." Naturally, just like the doctor that he is, he feels my forehead and takes my pulse. My God Virgil get a life!
"Well your temperature seems to have gone down, maybe you're getting better." God do I hope so. "What are you doing?"
"Oh it's that stupid family tree thing." Seeing his confusion I elaborate. "A friend at college was showing me his family tree and it got me thinking so I figured I'd make one, well of sorts. Pretty much I'm doing a history of our family I've gotten up to mom and dad and I was looking for a photograph of the whole family. It was supposed to be a secret. Dad's birthdays coming up and I wanted to do something that was a little different."
"Ah, I see your problem." Virgil gives me a sympathetic look as he places a hand on my shoulder.
"Those kinds of photographs just don't exist. I did find this one though." I flash him the photograph and a strange look comes across his eyes. "Mom was pregnant with me so I think it's the closest thing I'm going to get but there's this kid in the photo. You know who he is?"
I turn to Virgil for an answer but his eyes are fixated on the photo. The look that's showering across his eyes right now is so strange, there's partly fear but more so than that there's shock.
"Virgil? Virgil?" Waving my hand in front of his face does nothing, so eventually I'm forced to clicking my fingers which seems to snap him out of his brain. "What's up?"
"Nothing just...that..." He clears his throat, taking a moment before answering. "That kid was a friend of Scott's growing up, Nathan something..."
"Were they close?" He merely shakes his head with that look still crossing his eyes.
"No, not really. We should get down to dinner." With that he leaves.
What the hell was that all about?
Well dinner was a great success...ha! Yeah right, anybody sensing my sarcasm here? All dinner did was encourage my stomach to reject every ounce of food that I managed to eat, not that I managed to eat a lot mind. I hate being sick.
Finally my stomach settles, probably something to do with the fact that I've got nothing left in there to throw up. Standing up a wave of dizziness sends me colliding into the nearest wall – I think I need to drink something, once again thank you flu. As I leave the room I become aware of a conversation going on.
"...so what did you say?"
"I told him it was a friend of yours...Nathan...I think he bought it."
Bought it? What the...?
"God I hope so, I hate the thought of lying to him but the last thing we need is him asking questions about everything."
Wait...lying to me? What on earth...?
"Well like I said, I think he bought it. Or at least I hope he did."
Bought it? What does he mean bought it?
"I thought we'd gotten rid of all those photographs anyway."
Wait what photo's?
"Me too, you know dad still keeps the rest in the attic, he's never had the heart to throw them away."
"I can hardly blame him though...still gets to me sometimes."
Eventually I decide I've ease dropped long enough, or maybe that I've heard all I need to hear, and turn the corner. Instantly their conversation ends and if I didn't know any better I'd say they were fine. Of course I DO know better.
"You feeling better?" Scott queries as he comes to my side. Well my you're lying to me so no!
"Not really...think I'm going to go lie down for a while." What aren't you guys telling me?
"Alright, I'll be up in a little while to take your temperature. And here, make sure you drink plenty of water." Virgil hands me the glass and ushers me up the stairs. Why do I feel like something is seriously wrong?
Why did Virgil freak out when I showed him that photo? Why did he lie to me? What aren't they telling me?
There's so many questions running through my brain, but one thing's for sure – there's no way that I can leave this alone now.
Why would Virgil lie to me? Obviously they don't want me to know who this kid is, I just don't understand why. We've always been honest with each other...and evidently it's not just Virgil, Scott's in on this too. What exactly is it they're keeping from me?
Making my decision I quickly stand, regretting it instantly as my stomach decides to take the occasion to churn violently. Thankfully this time I'm able to keep from throwing up, not that I've got anything left in me to throw up anyway. As my stomach settles down I head towards my dads office.
"Hey dad, I was wondering if I could talk to you about something." He turns to me smiling; maybe this was a bad plan. What was it Scott said, he's never had the heart to throw them away...maybe I should ask one of the guys.
"What's up-" He's cut off as the alarm blares out. "Ah, sorry Alan this is going to have to wait until I get back." I merely nod, half thankful that he's going; do I really want to know the truth? If Virgil and Scott are so desperate for me to not know what's going on then maybe I should leave it alone.
"What's the situation John?" Dad asks as John flashes up on screen, bringing me from my thoughts.
"Fire in an apartment complex in New York, its spreading fast to the surrounding area and the officials are having trouble dealing with it." John's face is set into serious mode. Any other time and I'd be glad to see him but right now I know that someone's in trouble and that just sends shivers up and down my spine.
With me out sick and John up on five dads been forced to go back out into the field, I'd rather they all didn't have to go but it's a job that's got to be done. My heart skips a few beats as they all descend behind their doors and instantly I rush to the window, all of a sudden feeling like I've skipped back a few years. I feel like I'm back to when I wasn't on the team, back to when I'd spend hours staring out of my window just hoping and praying that they'd all come back safely. When TB1 takes off, followed shortly by TB2 I can't help but close my eyes and send up a quick prayer.
Please look after them mom.
Sitting there for a moment my mind begins to wander. I just don't understand this. There's this feeling inside of me, this gut feeling in the pit of my stomach, that tells me to leave this alone. I wish I could but...have you ever had a feeling that you know you have to keep going? It's strange but I know that there's something here, something I just can't leave alone.
As I turn to leave Scott's earlier words come back into my mind. You know dad still keeps the rest in the attic. For some reason I can't keep that kid from the photograph out of my head, he just keeps coming back to me. I know I should go lie down, I am sick after all, but I just can't. I know what I'm going to do before I've even really thought about it. Heading up to the attic my heart starts beating widely, I wonder what the heck I'm going to find.
The lock poses no problem; Gordon's already shown me how to pick pretty much any lock – ordinary or computer. Stepping inside there's really very little up here. I've often wondered why dad even had the attic built I mean after all it's not like we're short on space, we live on an Island for God's sake. Gazing round I can instantly see what I'm looking for. Dad's insane organisational skills are actually coming in handy for once.
It doesn't take long for me to realise the flaw in my plan. There are boxes and boxes of photographs and there's got to be at least a hundred photo's in each one. How the hell am I supposed to look through all of these photos? An hour later and I'm still sitting here, three boxes down and about a million to go!
"This is ridiculous..." I mutter to myself. Why am I being so paranoid about this? So what! There's something that the family don't want me to know, big whoop! I mean God who knows every tiny detail about their family, there's definitely stuff my brothers don't know about me so why is this such a big deal?
Finally I decide that I'm giving up. Its not like I thought I was going find anything anyway. As I start packing away the photographs littered around me something catches my eye.
Dad has a whole box of photos about Grandpa?
Something urges me forward, something urges me to open the box and very quickly it becomes apparent that this is definitely not what I thought. The entire box is filled with photos of a boy..and not just any boy, the boy from the photograph.
Please tell me this isn't what I think it is...
Photograph after photograph of the same boy. The same face over and over again. I wan't to put them away, throw them aside and pretend that I never saw them in the first place...but I can't. He has her eyes, he has mom's eyes. His hair...red hair like Gordon...
I throw the stack of photographs across the room as anger seeps into my body. This can't be true...it can't be! They would have told me if it were true. I would know if this were true.
But you do know, you can feel it...A dark part of my mind whispers.
I close my eyes and force myself to try and forget.
"It's not real...it's not true." It takes a few minutes and many deep breaths before my nerves begin to steady. My hearts pounding against my chest, honestly I think it's about ready to beat right out of my body, the rhythm of the beating matching the drums hammering away in my head. It takes a while but eventually I force my eyes open. I quickly gather up the photos - if no one confirms it, if no one tells me it's true then I can forget it. I can forget it all if I have to but I can't know the truth.
As I gather up the remaining photographs, not caring as I hurl them into the cardboard box, one photo in particular catches my attention. My mother's lying in a hospital bed holding a newborn baby in her arms, my fathers by her side with his arm wrapped around my mothers shoulder, a smile plastered on his face. My hands trembling as I turn the photograph over, my heart stops as the writing catches my eye.
Grant Walter Tracy.
Mom and dad had another kid...
I have another brother...
I've been sitting in my room since I found the photos, the realisation that not only do I have another brother but that I've been lied to my entire life about something so huge...it's not an easy thing to deal with. I've been so focused on burning a hole into the photo, burning a hole into this new part of my life, that I didn't even notice my family returning from the mission, hence why my dad entering my room sends me jumping about forty foot into the air.
"Woah easy kiddo. What was it you wanted to talk to me about earlier? You seemed kind of worried." Without skipping a beat, without any hesitation what so ever I place the photo in front of him. The way his entire face drops confirms all my fears.
"Dad who is this?" My voice comes out barely above a whisper. As he takes the photo in his hands he runs his fingers of the image. Almost like he's trying to reach out and grab the memory.
"Where did you find this?" He says after many minutes of heart wrenching silence.
"In the attic." The confusion on his face as I speak forces me to continue. Picking up the photograph that started all of this I almost regret this...almost. "I was making a family tree for your birthday. I was trying to find a picture of us, all of us, together as a family. I found this. I asked Virge about it but he got weird, later I over heard him and Scott talking and that's when Scott mentioned the attic. Dad what's going on?"
We descend into another silence, this one drags on for what feels like a lifetime before dad finally speaks.
"I think we need to have a conversation. Come on." We walk in silence to his office, dad calling the others when we get there. If I didn't already think I was right I knew it now. As John pops up on the screen in front of me, looking more confused by the second, the others wander into the room. Gordon looks just as confused as John as he sits down, Scott and Virgil on the other hand both look resigned. It's almost like they already know what is going to happen. My dad stands in front of us all a torn look on his face.
"Alan we should have had this conversation a long time ago. I didn't want to tell you until you were old enough to understand the entire story but the longer I left it the harder and harder it got. Before I start you should know that no matter what you hear or think none of this is your fault." Scott's arm comes across my shoulders and I don't need to turn round to see the way the others are looking at me. "Before your mother and I had Scott we had another child. A boy, we named him Grant Walter Tracy. He was a year older than Scott but...from when he was very young we could see he was different. He...he had this anger and this violent streak. Your mother and I tried everything that I could think of but nothing helped. He was so angry all the time. We tried therapy, we tried medication, eventually when he was eleven we made the decision to send him to boarding school. There was this very tough school in Arizona that specialised in cases like Grants and after that things seemed to improve."
"I...I have another brother...how could you lie to me about this!?" My voice comes out barely above a whisper; I think I'm in shock. "How could you keep this from me!?"
"I know that I should have told you but...I just...we wanted to wait for the right time." His words spark an unnatural anger coursing over me.
"The right time? Dad you've had 20 years, 20 years! In 20 years you couldn't find the right time!?" My voices rises, my anger beginning to take over. Scott's firm grip on my shoulders tightens slightly, not enough to hurt but enough to force me to stop.
"Listen to him Al, listen and then you'll understand." Scott's words bring me back down to earth. As angry as I am the need to understand is greater. Dad takes a deep breath before he carries on with the story.
"After we sent Grant to the boarding school he seemed to get better. He still wasn't the nicest of children, he definitely had a mean streak but he wasn't as angry or violent any more. After your mother...after she passed away. Things got worse. He started blaming you Alan."
"Grant how many times do we have to have this conversation!? It isn't his fault! What happened to your mother was an accident, there's nothing anyone could have done." Right now this is the last thing that our family needs. We're falling apart at the seams already, we can't handle anymore.
"Nothing anyone could have done? What is the matter with you? What you could have done is gotten rid of that...that...thing when you first found out about it. If it weren't for that then mom would still be alive right now!" My heart almost breaks all over again with the words spilling out of his mouth. I don't understand how he could say this about his own brother. "Mom died giving birth to it!"
"It? HE is your little brother. HE is four months old. He is not to blame for what happened. No one is." I can feel my anger boiling over. Please Grant please...
"HE IS TO BLAME DAD! He killed her! And if you really loved me, if you loved her or any of us then you'd get rid of him. Get rid! Give him away; let him destroy someone else's family because that's all he's going to do. He'll destroy us, get rid of him!" That's it, that's just about it.
"That's enough!" He stops his tirade and just glares at me. "If you ever say anything like that again then so help me god I won't be responsible for my actions."
"So you're choosing him, that murderer over your own family. Over your own sons. He's a murderer!" He spits out before walking away.
"He...he said that..." I can't even say the words. Any anger that I had at my dad instantly gives way to confusion seeping through my mind. "He really hated me that much?"
"Alan you have to understand, Grant was a very difficult child. I don't know why but he was very troubled. Everything that he said is wrong, you have to understand that." I merely nod my head, urging my dad to continue. Was Grant right?
"After that he never said anything else on the subject. I get the feeling you had something to do with that one Scott." Scott shrugs his shoulders, tightening his grip on my own as he did so. "I thought that maybe he was getting over it but...that night...God that night..."
Flashback (Jeff's POV):
I'm torn away from my sleep by someone shaking me awake. It takes a moment for my eyes to clear away the sleep before I spot the culprit.
"Gordon?" My second youngest is standing beside my bed looking extremely distressed. "Hey, what's up?"
"Daddy, you-you have to come right now." He's tugging my hand, desperately trying to get me out of bed.
"Hey, hey, what happened?" I turn him to face me trying to get to the truth.
"Grant, he took Alan." Those four words send my heart spiraling into my stomach. Rushing out of the room and into my baby boys my heart falls further upon discovering that he's not there.
"He's in the bathroom." Gordon's tearful voice interrupts my panicking.
Rushing into the bathroom my entire body freezes as I take in the scene in front of me. Grant is standing, holding my baby boy over a bath tub filled with water.
"You killed my mother. You know what happens to murderers? They need to die. See if you die then that makes everything okay again." He's looking Alan in the eye. "If you die then...then that makes everything right again. Murderers have to die."
"Grant..." He turns his head instantly. The look in his eyes right now frightens me so much."Grant give him to me. Grant please."
"Don't you get it? This will make everything better, all of it!" As he attempts to lower Alan into the water something rushes past me.
"Leave my brother alone!" Gordon sinks his teeth into Grant's leg, forcing him to let go of Alan who hits the water. Racing forward I grab a crying Alan from the water and lift him into my arms.
"Get off of me." Grant shoves Gordon away, taking in the scene with anger in his eyes.
"Dad what's going on?" Scott sleepy voice interrupts. Before I can do anything Grant shoves his way past Scott, the sound of the front door slamming brings me out of my head.
"Scott just...just see to Gordon for me okay." My youngest two are crying. Alan's soaking wet – grabbing the nearest towel I wrap him up, trying desperately to dry him off. Gordon's crying, his head bleeding badly. Scott lifts him into his arms and presses some tissue into the wound.
"Dad what the hell just happened?"
"He...He tried to..." The words won't even come out of my mouth.
"Yeah. He did. If Gordon hadn't have woken up when he took you...I can't even think about what might of happened." The room descends into silence for a while. I don't understand it. What's going on? Somebody tried to kill me, my own brother actually tried to kill me...somewhere in my mind I register my dad continuing to talk.
"We looked everywhere for Grant, the police looked everywhere too but we never found him. He just disappeared. Even to this day we have no idea where he is."
My mind is so overloaded right now I don't even know what to think. My heart is pounding, I'm dizzy and my stomach is churning...the room...it's too small. I need to get out.
"I...I need..." With that I walk out of the room, all of a sudden everywhere feels far too small, it's like the entire world is just closing in on me. Walking into my room and straight onto the balcony my head finally begins to clear. It takes a few deep breaths before everything starts to slow down again. A few minutes pass and my panic is draining, only to be replaced by horror and fear.
What the hell just happened!? He tried to kill me...
Oh my god, there's someone out there who wants me dead...
My own brother wants me dead...He's my brother...
How could your own flesh and blood want you dead...
Was Grant right?
Was it all my fault?
No, no, he couldn't have been right...could he?
What the hell? What am I thinking? Are these thoughts actually going through my head right now?
Was he right?
Am I really to blame?
My own brother wanted me dead...he wanted to kill me...hell if it hadn't been for Gordon then he probably would have succeeded...maybe it would have been better if he had...
Wait what am I thinking!?
Am I seriously thinking this?
Grant was crazy...wasn't he?
My stomach churns once again only this time I'm unable to stop the vomit from creeping up my throat. I barely make it to the bathroom before I throw up.
"You okay sprout?" Gordon's voice interrupts my vomiting. "Stupid question...of course you're not okay. Given everything you've just found out..."
I finally finish throwing up and rinse my mouth out. Gordon's still standing by the door, he looks like he doesn't know what the hell to do, God knows I don't. Sitting on the side of the bathtub, I can barely breathe right now, I find myself talking.
"What the hell am I supposed to do now?" I don't know whether I'm asking him or just thinking out loud. "I have another brother...I have five brothers...my own brother tried to kill me because he hated me that much. He hated me just because I was born...how can you hate a person that much?"
"Grant was an evil, evil person. He once broke Virgil's arm just because he agreed with Scott, does that sound like someone who was in their right mind to you?"
"He's my brother, Gordon he was my brother and he wanted me dead. He thought I was a murderer! Maybe I am." Okay I don't even know where the hell that came from but for some reason my mouth seems to want to keep going."I mean he's got a point hasn't he? If I hadn't have been born then mom would still be alive."
"What? What the hell? Where is this coming from?" He's standing in front of me now, trying to get through to me.
"Tell me I'm wrong." The fact that he says nothing confirms everything in my mind, although I'm pretty sure that I don't know what's going on in my mind. "You can't, can you? Because I'm right. If I hadn't have been born then mom would still be alive and, and if mom was alive then Grant would still be here and-" I don't get any further than that before Gordon shoves me up against the nearest wall. The anger on his face is clear but more than that there's worry, worry and fear.
"Now you listen to me right now. Grant was evil! He destroyed everything he touched. He. Was. Evil." He's angry right now, angry and scared. "You want to know the kind of person Grant was? He used to beat us up every single day, that scar on my knee, that's not from the hydrofoil crash – that's from him jumping on my knee with soccer boots on! You know how John's afraid of bugs? That's because Grant used to make him eat them! He was pure evil!"
I've never seen Gordon like this before. I mean sure Gordon's got a temper – hell the entire Tracy family has courtesy of dad – but Gordon is surprisingly good at reining that in. But now...now it's like something I've never seen before.
"Grant tried to kill you Alan, he TRIED TO KILL YOU! And you think that's your fault? How the hell can you possibly think that!? You were a baby, you couldn't even sit up by yourself and you think that you could have killed mom? What planet is your brain currently living on, huh? I mean it's not like you said, 'Hey I know what I'm going to do right now, I'm going to be born early and have a whole bunch of complications and kill mom'. This isn't your fault. Mom's death was an accident; Grant trying to kill you just proves how much of a psychopath he really was...I'm so glad that Grant isn't here anymore."
By now he's let go of me and pulled me into a hug. I can tell he's on the verge of crying, hell he's not alone.
"Grant was wrong. When he said that you would destroy the family...he was wrong. You pulled it together, you held us all together. We wouldn't have survived if it weren't for you. Grant would have killed us, if he'd killed you then we would all have fallen and none of this, International Rescue...none of it would be here."
We both hold onto each other for a few more minutes before he pushes me to arms length. I don't need to say anything for him to understand that his words have sunk in. He sighs with relief and pulls me out of the bathroom.
As we reach the office once again I can see the others sitting in there still. Taking a deep breath we both walk back in. My dad embraces me, conveying his own support as he does. He knows that I've forgiven him for not telling me, I can feel that.
"So..." I start as I pull away. "What happened after Grant ran away?
As dad sets about explaining the aftermath of my new – old – brothers actions my mind once again tries to wrap this in my head.
Okay so my family might have lied to me about something pretty huge in my life – understatement of the century I know- but when I think about it I'm actually glad that they did. Think about it, would you really want to uncover a secret like this?
So what do you think? Which version do you guys prefer? The first or the second?