He looked much smaller, lying in the hospital bed. The brightest part of him seemed to be his hair, stark red against the white of the pillowcase. His skin was that pasty colour that only comes with serious illness or injury, mottled with the purple of bruises.
And there were a lot of bruises. The ones on the front of his body and on his face were nothing compared to the ones on his back. Not that you could see much of his body at all. The latest medical technology, a nanofiber anti-microbial cocoon, encased him from his neckline to his ankles; the result of the nearly twenty-four hours of surgery he had gone through to piece together the spine, ribs, legs, arms.
It was a miracle he was alive, really. Probably wouldn't be if this man's father wasn't who he was. If this man wasn't who he was.
"That's it now that has cycled through, use the control on the left to lower him back to the bed again." The technician from Tracy Medical Technologies was patient as he showed the team of nurses assigned to look after the young man how the whole system worked. In the background, the man responsible for not only the younger man in the bed but also for availability of this technology watched, occasionally barking out a question.
Mostly not taking his eyes from the face of his unconscious son.
The nurse nodded as she worked the control, and as her patient was lowered to the bed she reached out and smoothed his hair from his face. "Thank you," she said. "It certainly makes a big difference when caring for this type of case. And if there are any problems?"
"I'm only a call away," the technician responded, glancing nervously at the figure of Jeff Tracy who now approached the bed. "Mr Tracy has arranged for a room in the hotel across the road. I can be here within ten minutes."
"That long?" Jeff Tracy snapped out the words.
"Well, sir, I do have to cross the road and get up here," pointed out the technician.
Yes, of course." Jeff's eyes rose from Gordon's face to focus on his technician. "Thank you, Gibson, for dropping everything and coming out. I've made arrangements for your family to join you."
"Yes. Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it. Especially the arrangements for keeping the kids' school studies up."
"Family is important," Jeff said. "And you need to remember that it could be taken away from you without notice. It's important that you cherish all the time you have."
Nurse and technician exchanged glances. The Tracy family was proof that celebrity, money, and status was no barrier to tragedy.
All the technology in the world would not guarantee Gordon Tracy's survival and even if he did survive, nobody knew if he would ever walk again. Or even sit up. He was lucky that he had made it this far.
No. The nurse corrected her thoughts. Not lucky. Gordon Tracy was a person who didn't let luck take its course. He fought. She would never let on that he was a person she deeply admired, and had followed his life ever since he had been profiled as one of the USA's swim team at the last Olympic Games.
And now this. Instead of preparing to defend his gold medal at the upcoming Games, here he was still near death after a horrific hydrofoil accident.
It wasn't even as if he had been having fun. His other career it had been described by him in an interview as his "real career" in WASP had been the cause of this.
Most people wouldn't survive a crash involving a hydrofoil travelling at 400 knots. But Gordon Tracy wasn't most people. It wasn't just that he was an Olympic gold medallist. It was how he had won it; Gordon Tracy won his medal for the butterfly which wasn't even his best stroke. He was the world record holder for freestyle in several distances. Had been since before his first Olympic appearance, and so it would have been only natural that he would choose to compete in that stroke.
But no. Gordon had decided to concentrate on butterfly so, in his own words, he would "have a bit of a challenge oh, and give the other guys a chance to beat me."
Yes Gordon Tracy was probably the one celebrity she had always wanted to meet. She admired his tenacity, and his determination to challenge himself. She loved that he obviously didn't want to take the easy way to achieve his goal; to take a route that would, instead, give him the most personal satisfaction. But not like this she didn't want to meet him like this.
Still, she had the opportunity now to help him. To be a part of the team that was going to help him to overcome these injuries; mentally and physically; and she would use all of her skill to do so. Gordon Tracy certainly had the right mental mindset to meet the obstacles in the months to come.
She placed her hand briefly on his forehead and checked all the IVs and leads to monitors showing his current status. Then she briefly bent down to his ear. "It's just a bit of a challenge, Gordon," she said softly. "Just like the butterfly gold."