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TALKING CURE
by JULES
RATED FR
C

Scott finds himself at a loss for words, for once.

Author's note: Many thanks to quiller and Lynn for being my betas for this story. Thanks especially to quiller for all the encouragement and straight-talking, and to Lynn for spookily reading my mind.

Click here for the full-screen version.


Chapter 1: Scott
Chapter 2: Jeff
Chapter 3: Virgil


Chapter 1: Scott

"Okay, Scott, so when you thought Virgil had been killed by the falling steelwork, how did you feel?"

Silence. Scott shifted position and the leather chair creaked beneath him.

"Concerned? Shocked? Scared?"

Scott looked out of the window, down at his impeccably shiny shoes and at a small potted plant on the table. Scared, oh boy, had he been scared.

"Shocked, yeh, shocked," said Scott.


"Today is going to be a good day, I can feel it," remarked Virgil in a cheerful tone. Scott glanced down at Thunderbird 1's vid comm and smiled indulgently at his brother.

"What are you on and can I have some?" he replied.

"Oh come on, Scott. Visibility is excellent and the winds are calm both en-route and at the rescue site. It's a perfect flying day."

Scott looked out of Thunderbird 1's cockpit window where the 'perfect day' was speeding passed a lot faster than outside Thunderbird 2's cockpit.

"You've got a point; however, some of us are concentrating on how to get 30 people out of collapsed silos in some remote part of Nebraska where the total number of available emergency workers is either one or zero depending on whether or not it's Bingo night at the local church"

Virgil laughed at that. "Don't worry. You usually come up with a great plan about 30 seconds before I land."

"Your confidence in me is reassuring, Virg, but, if I'm going to make sure your day ends as well as it has started, you'd better shut up and let me confirm a couple of things with John." Scott glanced down at the vid comm again to check Virgil's reaction. Virgil grinned and then pulled a serious face. His tone of voice changed from cheery to professionally serious.

"FAB. Thunderbird 2's ETA at rescue site is 20.9 minutes. Gordon and Alan are in the pod prepping the Mole and the Fire Truck. Thunderbird 2 out."

Scott chuckled as the screen went blank. Virgil had the ability to wind him up and show his faith in him all at the same time. Well, he'd had plenty of practice over the years and it was something Scott had begun to rely on. What Virgil had said was true: it was going to be a good day.


"Before that point in time, had you ever considered that Virgil, or any of your brothers, could die in a rescue?"

Had he ever considered it? How could he have not considered it? He had to rescue victims but he wanted to protect his brothers, too. What if Gordon's wretched yellow tin can got smashed under some sea junk or John made the wrong decision twenty feet underground or Alan let his enthusiasm overtake his common sense? But Virgil dying? He couldn't hold that thought for longer than a nanosecond. Virgil couldn't die, he just couldn't.

"We couldn't go out on rescues if we entertained the possibility that one of us might die. You couldn't be an effective rescuer," said Scott.


"Has that happy, sunshiny day been knocked out of you yet?" enquired Scott with a smirk as Virgil walked towards him mopping his brow.

"We've got to talk to Brains about the heat our vehicles give out when they're pushed to the maximum," replied Virgil, still sweating. "The Domo might stop a wall from falling on you but when it's at full power and you're standing next to it in 90 degree heat it's enough to make you want to stop and grab a cool beer."

Scott nodded. Virgil may have turned his hard work into a joke but Scott could see that he was close to heat exhaustion from pulling people out of the collapsed building as Gordon used the Domo to hold the shaky steel from shifting anymore.

"We'll discuss it with Brains later. Let's wrap this up. Gordon's on his way back."

"Okay, I'll just make sure Alan's finished."

Virgil turned back towards the rescue scene and Scott watched Gordon powering the Domo towards the pod. Suddenly, there was an almighty crash causing dust to swirl around Scott. He looked over his shoulder and shock hit him like a speeding train. A corner of one of the remaining silos had disintegrated right at the spot where Virgil had been walking. There was no way he could have survived that. Virgil was dead.


"Do you, your brothers or father ever discuss the emotional effects of rescues? The emergency services have post-traumatic stress counsellors in place and available if and when their employees need them. Does International Rescue have anything set up like that?"

Scott had just about had enough of all this but he couldn't bail yet. It had been a difficult few months, as hard a time as International Rescue had ever had. Natural disasters, terrorists and plain carelessness had kept them continually busy and Scott, as Field Commander and pilot of Thunderbird 1, had been to virtually every rescue. He had become exhausted and strung out but had kept it to himself. Pointlessly, as it turned out, as Virgil had soon identified the problem and had followed him around, like a sheep, trying to help him in some way. Worse than that, his father had caught on to his state of health. Jeff's gentle hints of a vacation had been ignored by Scott and the situation had got to a point where Jeff had told Scott in no uncertain terms that he either got professional help or he was out of International Rescue indefinitely.

That was why Scott was now in the Brisbane office of Dr. Harold Powell, a psychologist of some note and, more importantly, the father of an Australian International Rescue agent and a respected friend of Jeff's. He could be relied upon to help and not compromise the anonymity of International Rescue.

Scott very rarely felt the urge to run away from something unpleasant but right now the only thing that kept him glued to the leather chair was the thought of never piloting Thunderbird 1 again. He considered Dr. Powell's question. The only therapists that he had regular access to were Grandma, Kyrano and Tin Tin and usually they were enough.

He and his brothers never discussed the emotional effects of rescues but they supported each other in different ways. A couple of months ago he'd spent a lot of time with Alan working on Thunderbird 3's radiant cooling fan. A malfunction during a routine swap with John on Thunderbird 5 had shaken Alan's faith in the space rocket. Scott had spent many hours working through the problem alongside Alan and Brains, as much to rebuild his baby brother's confidence as to help technically. Similarly, Gordon had taken Virgil on several fishing trips over the course of a particular week when, after a bad rescue, Virgil had wavered in his enthusiasm for International Rescue and had needed the laid-back calmness of Gordon to convince him that he was on the right track. And how many times had Virgil passed Scott a large Scotch and just sat next to him in the lounge, his companionable silence somehow providing Scott with the support and strength he needed to deal with another day?

They helped each other all the time but with actions not words.

"We usually find it more helpful to discuss the technical issues related to a rescue," Scott told Doctor Powell quietly.


Alan didn't have time to shout a warning. At the same time as he saw Virgil walking towards him, head down, deep in thought, he also saw the edge of the silo above Virgil wobbling dangerously. With lightening reactions honed over many years of driving cars way too fast, Alan leapt forward and dragged Virgil away from the falling steel panels. There was a yelp of pain; a crash of steel hitting dirt and Alan found himself in an untidy heap on the ground along with a very much alive Virgil.

"'Thank you' would have been fine; you didn't have to hug me." Alan grinned into Virgil's face, centimetres from his own. A stunned Virgil came to his senses and leapt away from Alan at speed. He gave another squeak of pain and sat on the ground surveying first the wreckage where he had just been walking and then the huge gash in his leg that had just started to bleed.

Alan moved over and looked at Virgil's leg. "Oh Grandma's going to love you," he said, tentatively pulling at the ripped uniform to get a better look at the injury. He could see Virgil biting back another expression of pain. "Stay there. I'll go get the med kit from the pod."


"How did you feel when you found out Virgil was actually alive? Relieved, ecstatic or angry with him for scaring you?"

Scott looked around again. The sky was still clear outside the window, his shoes were still shiny and the potted plant had not moved. Then, for the first time, he made direct eye contact with Dr. Powell.

"All of the above," he stated with just the hint of wry humour.

"I think a few more sessions might be useful. Same time next week?" asked Dr. Powell with his usual calm expression.

Scott got to his feet, nodding dully.


Chapter 2: Jeff

Jeff Tracy felt he was invincible. He thought of himself as superhuman. He hadn't got to where he was today by not coming up with bright ideas and then following them through to their conclusion. He was not only a completer-finisher he was an instigator. Where most people could only manage one role in life, he could manage many. He was a pioneering astronaut, he was a billionaire business man, he was head of the most powerful rescue operation in the world and he was both father and mother to 5 very fine, high-achieving sons. He was a philanthropist but he could be ruthless in business. He had very high standards

Life was often a disappointment to Jeff Tracy. He felt like an island alone in a huge ocean. Other people just didn't have his drive to succeed and he didn't understand it. He saw people not giving something their best shot, settling for, and being content with, second best. It didn't make sense to him. He saw contemporaries squandering money on nights at the casino or on high-class hookers. He saw fathers content to have their sons be store managers or bank clerks. He saw his friends not reaching for the stars but only reaching the end of their backyards.

He was attracted to people like himself. To Brains, who didn't rest until he had concluded an experiment. To Kyrano whose strength lay not externally but internally where it was less overt and more important. To Lucille, to his wonderful wife. Her perfect beauty had been matched only by her determination. Her determination to marry him, her determination to turn their home into a haven, her determination to have children and to devote her life to them. Of course she had tried to distract him from work, or get him to take holidays or to come to bed early or any number of other things. But she knew as well as he did that you only got out of life what you put into it. Jeff's one, glaring failure was not to have saved her. Not to have stopped her dying young. But no money or tenacity on his behalf could have made the difference to the outcome. He was on his own now but that was fine. He could handle that just fine. He would not marry again. It would be an insult to Lucille. Besides, the boys had turned out okay, hadn't they?

Okay, so Scott was going through a tricky time right now. Jeff didn't really comprehend why, but Scott seemed to have got a little overwhelmed with life and had stopped functioning to his best ability. That had shocked Jeff. As far as he was concerned, Scott was the sensible one. He had excelled at his studies. He had been a hero in the US Air Force. He looked out for his brothers and was courteous to the other members of the household. He had taken on the responsibility of Field Commander of International Rescue with relish. Of all his sons, Scott was the one you could rely on. John was extremely clever but was sometimes distant and hard to talk to. Virgil could be very focused but he would also sit at the piano for hours just playing and playing, like his mother used to.... Gordon, a fine aquanaut and determined young man but sometimes he wanted to joke around and have fun at the most inappropriate moments. Alan? Once he had been the world's very best racing driver. No doubting his will to succeed. But now and again, dammit, that boy seemed to think the world owed him something.

No, Scott was the one he relied on to be on-message 100 percent of the time. Which was why this recent, wholly unpleasant lack of dependability from Scott had been such a surprise. He just hadn't been able to get over the rescue in Nebraska where Virgil had narrowly escaped being hit by some falling steelwork. Eventually, and with much reluctance, Jeff had grounded Scott and called on the help of Dr. Powell. The trouble was, grounding Scott had much more serious implications for the family these days than it had when he was a teenager. Scott not being able to drive his brothers around when he was being punished for some misdemeanour had been irritating to Jeff but that was all. Scott not flying Thunderbird 1 was a huge disadvantage and had kept Jeff on his toes logistically speaking. Also, Scott had always been around for Jeff to share his thoughts with. Jeff didn't like discussing problems with him now or at least not until Scott had finished his sessions with Dr. Powell. He felt a bit like one of his supporting piers had been yanked out from under him.

Now where was this negative thinking going to get him? Jeff was perfectly able to cope with things on his own. He was made of stern stuff. What was it Penny said he had? Oh yes, a stiff upper-lip. Apparently that was a compliment in England. Penny, bless her, was always so concerned about him. But she was a woman and, like women were apt to do, fussed and asked if he was alright and expected him to tell her all his problems. Not that he had any problems, of course.

"I know you're just pretending to sleep, Jefferson Tracy. Open your eyes and talk to me."

Jeff reluctantly opened his eyes. He squinted into the bright day. Penny and he were sitting on sun loungers on the balcony just outside the lounge. He had insisted that he had work to do but Penny was equally insistent that he should come and sit outside. She had wanted to talk so he had shut his eyes but Penny could read him almost as well as Lucille used to.

"You look so worried and tired. Is there anything wrong?" she asked with concern.

Jeff paused for a second too long and then sat up straighter. "Of course not, Penny, why would there be?"

"Well, I am sure you're concerned about Scott but, you know, he seems a lot brighter. I think he just needed a break from the pressure. He'll be back on top in no time."

"What pressure?" asked Jeff.

Penny sighed delicately. "Well, Jeff darling, being the Field Commander of International Rescue to start with. Not to mention the eldest brother and his father's second-in-command to boot. I'm not saying he's not capable, just that even the most perfect people need a break sometimes and Scott was well overdue for some time off."

"I had been trying to persuade him to take a vacation," replied Jeff, somewhat testily.

"But not very hard, I expect. After all, you don't take holidays so why should anyone else have to?"

"Penny, that's not..."

"Jeff, I am going to be completely honest with you. You think you're indestructible and you're not. You need relaxation and fun like the next man. That is not a criticism, just an observation that every human needs both physical and mental downtime. You should set a good example for your sons and show them it's okay to take a holiday now and again."

"You know very well how busy I am."

"Yes, I do. I'm pretty busy myself but I still find time for an hour of shopping or a week at the farm. Scott needs the occasional break too and you should show him that it's okay to do so."

"I'm not going to your sheep farm again, not after what happened last time."

"How about a cruise on FAB 2? We could sail slowly around the Pacific. If the boys really need you, Gordon can just pop along in that funny little submarine of his and whisk you away."

"Funny little submarine? Penny, Thunderbird 4 is a high-specification, multi-million dollar..."

"Do be quiet, Jeff."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I asked you to be quiet. I'm not arguing with you. I suspect that Scott will be ready to take the reins in a couple of weeks. He's already moving from stressed to bored. In three weeks you and I will be cruising the Pacific. I'll go and tell Kyrano to consider what clothes you'll need to take. We may need a shopping trip before we go."

With that, Penny stood up and walked smartly into the house.

"Well, I'll be..." said Jeff, stunned.

He followed Penny into the house, intent to give her a piece of his mind for being so brusque with him. Following the scent of her perfume he tracked her down to the laundry room where she had failed to find Kyrano. He closed the door behind them.

"Penny! I don't expect you to talk to me like that."

"Of course you do. I've been talking bluntly to you ever since we first met. It's one of the things you respect me for."

"And sometimes you over-step the mark."

Penny was about to retaliate angrily when she took in Jeff's body language. His shoulders were tense, his hands were curled into tight fists and he looked like he was about to take on an angry lion rather than have an argument with an old friend. Penny decided to switch tack, knowing she wouldn't get through to Jeff in his present state.

"Jeff, my dear," she began more softly, "you have always told me that you don't abhor failure as long as a person learns from their mistakes. Am I right?"

There was a pause as Jeff took himself in check and then he replied, trying to match Penny's calmness.

"That's correct. I've always told the boys that you need to have failed before you can succeed. I've made some bad mistakes in my past but I've learned from them and they've made me stronger."

"And yet here you are, repeating your mistakes and encouraging the boys to do the same."

"I don't understand."

"Do you remember about a year after Lucille died when Virgil went missing for the day?"

Jeff's face went white under his tan and he suddenly found the side of a box of detergent chemicals to be fascinating reading. "I do, yes."

"Then you recall how the little chap disappeared after breakfast and none of you could find him? How you called me over from my hotel in Chicago to help with the search? And how Scott eventually found his little brother under a bush not 100 yards from the house and discovered that he had sat there crying all day? And do you remember why he was crying?"

"He missed his mother, Penny, I don't see what relevance...."

"He not only missed his mother, he missed you. He talked about losing his mother and then losing you all in the same year. Of course, you weren't dead, you were just dealing with Lucille's death by spending 18 out of 24 hours working and leaving your mother to look after the children."

Jeff pushed the detergent box away and picked up one of Virgil's T-shirts that had been thrown, no doubt by the owner, in the general direction of the clothes washer.

"I know that. I will admit that I didn't attend to the boys as much as I should have done during that first year but I was made to understand my mistake and I learned from it and spent much more time with them after that."

"Indeed you did and look at the boys now. Not boys at all but grown men. But, Jeff, inside we never really grow up. We feel like children even though we have adult responsibilities. Your sons still need you, as much as they ever did. They need your approval, your love, your time and your counsel."

"And now that we all live on the Island they get it."

"Do they? Your attitude is 'Do what I say, not as I do'. You may give them solid advice but your actions speak differently. I don't know what truly sent Scott to his recent breakdown but stress must have been a factor. Scott sees that his father's reaction to stress, both 20 years ago and now, is to work harder. It must have made it difficult for him to admit he needed a break."

"He didn't have a breakdown he just....he faltered...he..." Jeff thrust the T-shirt back down next to the detergent and looked at Penny. The tension in his eyes told a different story to his words.

"He failed, Jeff," replied Penny firmly. "In your eyes and his eyes he failed. But did he accept the failure, take a break and then move on a stronger and better person? No. You let him hit rock bottom and then you took away the one thing that gave him any purpose in life: flying Thunderbird 1. You punished him for failing. And now I see you stressed in a way I haven't seen you for a long time and do you admit you need a break to step back from things, see the bigger picture and then move on with renewed purpose? No, you tell me everything is fine and you don't need a holiday. You are not leading by example. How can you expect Scott to do the right thing for himself if you won't do the right thing for yourself?"

Penny had run out of words. She faced her oldest and dearest friend, Jeff Tracy, and watched him think over what she said. There was a long silence and then they both started as the clothes washer next to them moved onto a different cycle and started to rumble. Jeff returned from his thoughts to the present world.

"Do you think Scott is getting better?"

"Very much. I am not saying you were wrong to make him see Dr. Powell, I'm just suggesting that if he'd felt able to admit he was...faltering...earlier you may not have had to ground him. And I'm also suggesting that putting Scott in charge of International Rescue and taking yourself away for a week will not only show him your confidence in him but will also show all of the boys that it's okay to take a break when you need it."

"Thank you for your opinion, Penny," replied Jeff, sounding more like himself again. "I will consider what you've said, as I always do." Jeff turned away and opened the door. Then he turned briefly back to Lady Penelope.

"You're not just a pretty face," he said, smiling a little at last.

"No, Jeff," she replied as if that was a fact that hadn't needed articulating.

Jeff walked back through the house, deep in thought. Coming out onto the patio again he was stopped by a sound. Drifting up from the pool was the sound of Scott laughing. Gordon was taking his mission to cheer Scott up very earnestly. It had been a long time since Jeff had heard Scott laugh and he hadn't realised it until now. He thought back over Penny's words. She was a wise soul. Occasionally, over the last couple of decades, Jeff had admitted to himself that the only way he had coped with Lucille's passing was to be as much in control of everything in his life as possible. He tried to manage his life and those around him in a way he had failed to do with Lucille. He wasn't going to let anyone else down and he would succeed whatever the cost. It was the least he could do. He suspected that Dr. Powell would have something to say about that but it was all Jeff knew how to do. Did he thrust impossible standards on his sons?

Jeff sat down on the lounger again. He felt an aching tiredness. A holiday with Penny would be good and she may well be right that it would set Scott a good example. His sons had been the only thing worth living for during his darkest moments after Lucille's death. If she were here now what would she say? Scott laughed again and, in his mind, he saw his wife and eldest son laughing together as they splashed on the shore of some beach. Scott has just started school. On the sand next to him, Virgil and John had been making a sandcastle. At the sound of Scott's laugh they had looked up and laughed too, not even knowing what the joke was. They just knew that, if Scott was happy, everything was okay. It had always been the same. To get the family to do something you got Scott enthusiastic about it first. He and Lucille had called it the 'domino effect'. What if the domino effect started with Jeff and not Scott?

Penny was right; not that he was going to tell her that straight out. But he would go on that damned vacation and see what happened. He closed his eyes and, this time, fell asleep.


Chapter 3: Virgil

Beginning

"Will you just..." Scott struggled to remain in control, "...leave me alone!" Despite the moderate tone of Scott's language, Virgil still looked like a puppy whose nose had been hit with a rolled up newspaper for no apparent reason. He turned and walked away from Scott knowing that if he stayed it would lead to trouble. Scott watched him go with an expression that seemed to tell of a deep, physical pain.

Middle

Virgil was sitting on the floor of Thunderbird 2's hangar, fiddling with the radio equipment in front of him. He felt uneasy and out of sorts. Beside him loomed the enormous green bulk of his Thunderbird. Despite the fact he would have been more comfortable in his small office, he found some peace of mind from being next to his beloved aircraft. She was solid, reassuring, got him out of trouble on a regular basis and never let him down. That was the same description he would normally use for Scott.

Virgil sighed for the sixteenth time that morning and continued fitting the small components together. What was he going to do about Scott? Scott was always so...well...Scott. Reliable, determined, flexible enough to consider other people's points of view but confident in his own abilities. He had endless patience with all of his brothers, even Alan. When Scott had been off around the world at college and then with the US Air Force they had not seen much of each other. In a way this had been a good thing as when they had moved to Tracy Island they had resumed their relationship but this time as two adults and the sibling rivalry and squabbles were left behind in another lifetime. He could say with honesty that Scott was his best friend as well as brother and it had upset him to see him in such emotional distress.

The situation had, at first, crept up on Virgil and he now realised that this was because Scott tried so hard to be the best big brother and Field Commander he could. He hadn't wanted to let Virgil see that he felt troubled. Virgil hadn't connected it with the Nebraska rescue because, at the time, Scott had shown his concern at Virgil's near miss, not with relief, but by admonishing him to be more careful and alert at every moment during a rescue, even when the danger seemed to have passed.

Over the next couple of months Virgil had found Scott less and less communicative. Scott would discuss rescues and maintenance and development of the Thunderbird craft, but when it came to something personal he could clam up. Virgil began to miss mulling over the state of the world with his big brother. It was when Scott started to become unsure on rescues that Virgil really began to worry. 'I don't know', 'What shall we do?", "Ask John" were phrases that started to crop up way too often on the comms link from Thunderbird 1.

Virgil didn't know how to help his brother even though it was apparent that things were very wrong. He attempted to jolt Scott out of his moods by suggesting day trips to air shows on the mainland, jamming together on the piano or schemes to wind up Gordon and Alan. Scott had tried to respond but Virgil heard 'Not right now, I'm busy' too many times and he had lost heart.

Virgil knew he had to do something for Scott but he couldn't work out what. All of his approaches just seemed to make his big brother more and more irritated. In the end, Virgil had turned to Tin Tin for advice. They had a long talk which had ended with her suggesting to Virgil that he wrote Scott a letter. The letter could express how he was feeling and how he wanted to be supportive but would allow Scott to read Virgil's thoughts in his own time and without pressure.

At first Virgil had decided this was a good idea. He had sat at his desk and begun the letter. After his fifth attempt had ended up in the trash he had leaned back in his chair in despair. This was stupid. He wasn't a writer, he was do-er. He needed to do something that he was good at to show his support to Scott. But what action could he take that would get across how he was feeling and still retain both their dignities?

End

"What? What is it?" mumbled Scott as he stirred from his sleep and found himself lying on his bed with Virgil standing over him. He had been taking a nap and had thought he had locked the door but then Virgil could probably take apart the outer keypad and disable it in less than thirty seconds.

"Get up; I need you to come to TB2's hangar."

"Why? Is there a problem?"

"Just come on!" replied Virgil and started to walk towards the door. Scott was still too sleepy to put up an argument and followed his brother. As they walked along the corridor Virgil glanced back at him.

"Not like you to sleep during the day," he remarked.

"I was tired," Scott replied in a sour tone. Virgil cursed himself. Action, not talk he repeated to himself as they took the lift down into the hangar.

As they walked towards Thunderbird 2, Scott observed that the aircraft did not have a huge hole in the side and wondered what it was that Virgil had woken him to see with such urgency. Virgil walked over to a small box on the floor, picked it up and handed it to Scott.

"For you," he said, smiling at his big brother. Scott looked at the box.

"Thanks, Virg, that's great," he replied, trying to sound enthusiastic. Virgil rolled his eyes in amusement.

"Not the remote, you idiot. Push that lever up and watch the crate." He pointed to a plastic crate a few metres away. Scott was even more puzzled but duly pushed the lever forward and looked at the crate. It shuddered for a few seconds and then a pointed nose cone could be seen emerging, closely followed by the rest of a small aircraft. It was a scaled model of Thunderbird 1, perfect in every way.

Scott watched transfixed as the model plane rose upwards. Virgil couldn't help but give a smile of satisfaction at a technical job well done. Scott seemed unable to speak but kept his finger on the lever as the baby Thunderbird climbed higher and higher. Belatedly, Virgil realised that Scott was not going to change the direction.

"Horizontal flight!" he yelped as he leaned over the remote and yanked the lever to one side. Thunderbird 1 turned on its side and flew parallel with the ceiling.

"She's beautiful, Virg, just beautiful."

Scott's words were so softly spoken that Virgil only just caught them but they gave him a sense of relief. The fact that he had called the model "she" rather than "it" showed how impressed he was.

Scott started to use the controls to manoeuvre the model as Virgil watched in silence. He flew it up and down and was soon competent enough to try acrobatic moves. Thunderbird 1 flew around the enormous hangar, under the big Thunderbird 2's tailplane and over and around the equipment. Then Scott, being Scott, landed her back in the crate in her original position. He turned to Virgil.

"Thank you," he said simply.

"Something to play with until you're back in the real thing," grinned Virgil. A look passed between the two brothers. The look told Virgil that he'd achieved exactly what he wanted to achieve. Scott understood the love, care and time that had gone into the construction of the model. He knew that Virgil had made it as a gesture of support and a show of confidence that he would soon be back as Field Commander. To Scott the gift had said "Say what you like to me but you can't push me away. I'm staying right here beside you until you're ready to talk."

Virgil hoped that time wouldn't be far away.

 
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