by MCJ

The sequel to Second Kiss: The Cheese Soufflé. Gordon Tracy's POV of a very precarious situation. Calling International Rescue in more ways than one!

Thank you to quiller for checking this for me. Second Helpings is only my "take" on an established episode of the Thunderbirds series. It is not intended to imply this is how it occurred.

The "Other Side" of the Eddie Houseman Story
A Thunderbirds Fanfiction Story in two parts

Chapter One: Second Helpings-Part 1
Chapter Two: Second Helpings-Part 2


Let me begin this story by saying; if nothing else, life around here at times can be pretty darned interesting.

Not that life isn't interesting all the time of course; we here in International Rescue are never bored with the exciting life we lead. We jet all over the world. We save lives. It's "what we do" and we love it.

But what I also term "interesting" is the special little romance which has been blossoming within our ranks over the past couple of months; one my brothers and I have been watching evolve with a good deal of mirth and speculation.

It started with the glances across the table at mealtimes, progressed to little walks along the beach holding hands; escalated with the cheese soufflé they made together in the kitchen, spiralled to include late night suppers overlooking the ocean ... and last night, from what we've been able to ascertain; reached the final crescendo.

His first "taste" of his "favourite dish" discreetly behind closed doors.

That's right you guessed it. My little brother Alan and Miss Tin-Tin Kyrano are more than "just friends" these days. I think it's pretty fair to say these two are now a couple.

So far Alan hasn't said anything about what happened between the two of them last night. More than likely he knows what he'd be subjected to if he did. But being his closest brother and the one he always confides in with the important stuff, I'm pretty sure he'll at least tell me. He trusts me more than the others when it comes to talking about things like that. I guess it's because we're as close as two brothers can be; always have been. There's nothing we don't know about each other.

The hardest part of course will be trying to act surprised when he calls me to one side and tells me. You see, Alan doesn't know what I saw this morning as I was preparing myself for an early morning swim, and despite the fact he won't be too impressed, it's a little difficult for me to somehow forget that I saw it. I mean, how often does a guy happen to see a woman leaving his little brother's bedroom at five o'clock the morning? Especially one who's wearing nothing but a robe!

Take it from me; it doesn't happen very often.

As for the clothes she was carrying underneath her arm at the time ...gee ... even in the half light of the dawn, it was pretty hard not to notice they were the ones she was wearing last night during dinner.

All jokes aside, I have to admit I'm really kind of happy for Alan. I think I'm even jealous. He's got something the rest of us don't have these days and after a lot of soul-searching on what he wanted from a relationship with Miss Kyrano, it's only right for him that he's got it. They've been in love with each other for ages and it was about time they told each other how they felt.

But their romance wasn't always this rosy I might say. In fact, I think you'd probably call the chain of events leading up to last night's big event any other word but rosy.




Believe me, pear-shaped is a pretty good description because everything around here went pear-shaped, including International Rescue, the day a certain Mr Eddie Houseman jetted in from the mainland to look up "an old friend."

... and threatened to destroy Alan's perfect little world...

At the time this travesty began, my little brother Alan was absolutely smitten with Miss Tin-Tin Kyrano, our very beautiful, very worldly Assistant Engineer.

Alan in love is pathetic.

He knew how he felt about Tin-Tin but he had no end of trouble trying to find the words to tell her.

So what did he do?

Alan being Alan, he sat back and didn't do anything.

Instead of saying what she wanted to hear, he remained silently infatuated, his eyes following her wherever she went; making every excuse he could to be with her; and hanging off her every word.

With this in mind, I'm sure you can imagine the reaction when the sleek red jet came in to land on Tracy Island and the secret love of his life opened her big brown eyes, swooned twice on the couch and breathed the words no man in love with a woman would ever want to hear.

"Eddie! Eddie Houseman..."

The words kind of oozed out of Tin-Tin's mouth like this Eddie guy was some kind of male divinity. I suppose as far as things go in the looks department, I had to admit she was right. Houseman had to be thirty at least; tall, dark and handsome, with deep expressive eyes and the most devilishly attractive dimple right in the centre of his chin. Boy oh boy, you only had to see the way she looked at him and the way he looked at her to guess that these two had been more than "just friends" in the past.

Now I've got to say you had to be in the middle of all this to truly appreciate Alan.

I mean, there he was in his designer best, head over heels in love with Tin-Tin, and trying to pretend he wasn't threatened by the arrival of the suave, sexy and sophisticated Mr. Eddie Houseman.

Then he started to pout.

He forgot of course that all eyes Tracy were focussed on him and not one of us was about to miss a solitary thing when it came to the developing relationship between himself and Miss Kyrano. Even Dad had a bit of a smirk on his face at Alan's petulant reaction and had to resort to burying himself in his paperwork before he started to laugh.

Then of course there was Tin-Tin.

She knew Alan was besotted with her, she knew he had a terrible jealous streak, and being a woman of the world who was sick to death of waiting for his proclamation of love, she decided nothing would be better than to enjoy a good flirt.

The bat of an eyelash ... the hint of a seductive smile...hair arranged to highlight two sensuous lips ...oh yes ... our Assistant Engineer certainly didn't need any instructions on how to inflame a man. What we all wanted to know was which man she was intending to inflame. I hedged my bets with my brothers and said it wasn't Eddie.

At this point, into the equation came Grandma.

As you know my Grandma has been on a mission of mercy since International Rescue began. As far as Grandma is concerned, Tin-Tin was handmade for Alan and that's all there is to it.

In one breath she tells Tin-Tin that Alan has his eye on her and in the next one she tells Alan the exact same thing in reverse. I swear she won't be happy until she's got the two of them tucked up nice and tight together in a great big marital bed. I might also make the statement that once she's managed to get them in there; she won't be letting them out in too much of a hurry either. Not until she knows her long awaited Great Grandchild is on the way. That's her sole intention.

Grandma is so funny to watch when she wants something and with true International Rescue spirit she isn't about to "give up at any cost."

It was this admirable character trait which started the whole thing off with Eddie Houseman.

At the time of Eddie's arrival, Grandma was in the middle of her latest campaign to get Alan and Tin-Tin together.

One night after watching the two of them "watch each other", yet again, over Dinner, Grandma decided that Tin-Tin needed to have a brand new evening dress. She then proceeded to sit up until the small hours of the morning making this low cut number she knew our Tin-Tin would love. Of course Tin-Tin thought the dress was fabulous and Grandma immediately suggested in both directions that she needed to find somewhere special to wear it.

... or someone special to wear it for...

Tin-Tin smiled to herself at Grandma's interference and waited patiently for Alan to extend the long awaited invitation.

Alan, of course, failed to take the hint.

Needless to say, when Houseman's jet dipped and wove in the air before coming into land on Tracy Island, Grandma wasn't very happy. She knew the arrival of any "old friend" of Tin-Tin's could only mean trouble for this fledgling little romance, and let me tell you right now, Grandma was having absolutely none of that.

On the outside Grandma seems like a sweet little old lady.

On the inside she's a brilliant military strategist who's frankly capable of anything if her plans for the future look like they could be in jeopardy.

As I said before, life around here at times can be pretty darned interesting.

And with the arrival of Eddie Houseman it was about to get a whole lot more interesting still.

We all pretended to be occupied when Kyrano showed our "visitor" in; Virgil faking sleep on the couch, Brains studying the chess board and Dad, Alan and I reading the nearest thing we could grab from underneath the coffee table.

Scott, who hates faking anything, elected to stand out on the balcony.

Dad broke the ice when Houseman was introduced; shaking Eddie's hand and saying with his usual politeness how happy he was to meet an old acquaintance of Tin-Tin's. He asked him all about his flight and had a pleasant conversation about his jet. However I knew by the look on Dad's face that Houseman's jet was the last thing he had on his mind. All he was focussed on was how long Tin-Tin's "guest" was intending to stay and interrupt the proper functioning of International Rescue.

So Dad being Dad, he decided point blank to ask him.

"Err ... so Kyrano knows what to do with the Guest room you see." he explained, uncomfortable at the sound of his own directness.

Then Scott got in on the act and came in from the balcony to ask the exact same question again.

"You know ... for the Guest room." he stumbled glancing at Dad.

Dad and Scott are such a pigeon pair when it comes to the security of our operation. They simply can't help themselves when it comes to "operation cover-up." So while the rest of us were enjoying watching Alan sulk, mope and feel sorry for himself, they were bolted together worrying themselves sick about how they were going to deal with the situation if or when International Rescue was required.

Grandma, on the other hand, just wanted Eddie Houseman out of her mathematical equation. One plus one had been perfect. One plus two was a crowd. Unlike Dad, Grandma wasn't the least bit worried about operation "cover-up". She was more worried about "operation Tin-Tin," especially when it took Eddie less than a couple of hours to woo our pretty Assistant Engineer out on the water for a private little interlude under the stars.

"That young man definitely didn't come here to play chess." she frowned, folding her arms in discontent as the boat sped out into the bay. "More like a swift game of something else if you want my opinion."

Poor Alan.

He didn't say anything in reply but Grandma's observation of Houseman's intentions really cut him to the bone. He hadn't even gotten to second base with Tin-Tin yet; at least we didn't think he had, and listening to Grandma speculating Houseman was here for "nothing more than second helpings" of what he was yet to experience himself was almost more than he could take.

Virgil and I looked at each other as he wallowed in his own misery; half heartedly pressing down the keys on the piano and wearing a face of stone.

Our eyes followed his to where their boat floated about in the moonlight under the fullness of the summer moon.

We both grinned. There was nothing like a good old fashioned Tracy ribbing to lighten up a crisis and what a better time to do it than when your baby brother was at his worst?

I've got to say Virgil started it but as usual I was happy to play along.

"Saaaay where's Tin-Tin got to, Gordon?" he teased, knowing full well he was about to light what we both knew was Alan's very short fuse.

Then it was over to me to fan the fire.

"Don't tell me you haven't heard, Virgil?" I said, trying not laugh. "This Prince Charming flew in and is really sweeping her off her feet"

Virgil feigned a shocked surprise as we watched the steam rising.


"Yeah!" I exclaimed, pretending to be shocked too.

We both beamed from ear to ear with hilarity as our award winning performance continued.

"Is he as handsome as me, Gordon?"

I nearly lost it with that one. I had to swallow a couple of times to try and contain myself.

"Nearly, Virgil," I finally managed to say. "Nearly."

That was the end for both of us. Just as he was about to explode we both burst into laughter and ragged him for all he was worth.

Alan's brow furrowed when he realised our aggravation was nothing more than a little brotherly joke. He told us in a low and sulky tone to cut it out. He didn't know what had gotten in to everyone. Wasn't there anything else to talk about except Tin-Tin and Eddie Houseman? They were just friends.

"Friends" he emphasised.

You could see his mind ticking over the enormity of that one. If Houseman's definition of being friends with Tin-Tin Kyrano was anything like Alan wanted his definition to be, things would have been getting more than just a little heated out there in that boat.

After what seemed to be forever the boat headed back to shore and as if to add insult to injury, Houseman made a point of anchoring it in a tiny inlet just out of eyeshot from the villa. The two of them stayed out there for hours and I'm sure after witnessing the chemistry that had existed between them earlier that day in the lounge, it was pretty fair to say they wouldn't have been talking about the weather.

But whatever was or wasn't going on in the back of that boat, Eddie Houseman was completely oblivious to the havoc his visit was causing in the ranks of International Rescue.

Dad and Scott spent the evening conversing with John on the procedure that would need to be followed from the space station if the Thunderbird craft were required. Virgil joined them to give some input once the strategy was devised.

Grandma watched the boat from her bedroom window trying to work out what to do next.

Alan stood on the balcony, craning his neck to see the boat, green with jealousy.

As for me ... I sat in the lounge pretending to read the paper. I couldn't have cared less about what was happening in the boat. Watching everyone's reaction to Houseman was all the entertainment I needed.

Day number two of Eddie Houseman's visit turned out to be every bit as entertaining as Day number one.

It all started over breakfast and this time it wasn't Alan who was the centre of attention. Day Two belonged to Grandma and when she started with Eddie Houseman, Dad nearly died.

Nine o'clock in the morning came, and as was his customary practice, Dad sat himself down at the Breakfast table and buried his head in the financial pages. He accepted the offer of orange juice and coffee from Kyrano, but declined to take any food until the rest of us arrived back from our varying fitness pursuits.

I came in soon after, invigorated from a two mile swim in the sea. Dad lifted his head and acknowledged me, and then gave me a reminder to go put on a decent shirt before I sat down with him at the table.

"Inconvenient as it is, don't forget we have Company at the moment son." he said.

"Company. Hmpph. That's not what the heck I'd call it." Grandma mumbled unhappily without looking up from her coffee.

Dad looked over at Grandma who was situated at the other end of the table.

"What's that you said Mother?"

"It's nothing Jeff." she replied in a tone which told him it wouldn't be wise to pursue the matter with her any further.

Dad shrugged. He figured something trivial had gotten Grandma going and whatever it was or as was usually the case with Grandma, whoever it was, he didn't want to become involved.

When I returned minutes later, wearing the requested shirt, Virgil, Scott and Alan had all joined Dad at the table too. Virgil and Scott had seated themselves in their customary positions near Dad and Alan had decided to sit next to Grandma, no doubt to receive a bit of moral support for his more than flagging ego.

Grandma, as always, didn't let the precious apple of her eye down. She reached out her hand to squeeze his after he flopped dejectedly into the chair beside her.

"How are you feeling this morning, sweetheart?" she asked gently. "Did you manage to get any sleep?"

Alan shook his head.

"No, Grandma." he sulked. "No I didn't."

"I didn't either." she admitted with a frown.

"Gotta give up all those secret afternoon naps, Grandma." I grinned, slipping into the vacant chair to her left. "They're the real reason you can't sleep."

I looked across the table at Alan and winked. "You on the other hand don't even have that excuse ..."

That little comment quickly earned me a slap on the wrist from my very edgy, very unhappy Grandmother.

"That wasn't why your brother couldn't sleep young man so you just mind yourself. He's got some very important things on his mind at the moment and they're not to be taken lightly."

"Whatever do you mean, ma'am?" I smirked glancing at the miserable Alan.

After a few minutes Kyrano hurried in with the remaining glasses of orange juice and then followed up with a huge pot of strong black coffee. His whole expression changed when he noticed there were still two vacant chairs to be filled, one on each side of the table.


And Tin-Tin's.

Oh dear.

Now it was Kyrano's turn to frown.

You didn't have to be a genius to work out what he was thinking and it came as no surprise when he said he thought he might take a tray up to the guest room to "start off Mr Houseman's day".

I watched with avid interest as he headed back to the kitchen at the speed of lightening to make up the required tray.

All this was pure gold in the entertainment stakes and I didn't know which part of the entertainment I was silently enjoying the most.

...or which person's reaction.

Scott's face didn't move but a very discreet wink with his right eye indicated his thoughts to Virgil.

Virgil simply smiled at Scott in return, trying not to make his amusement too obvious.

Dad didn't even get it.

Alan looked like he was going to be sick and swallowed his orange juice in one huge gulp.

Grandma's eyes narrowed with displeasure as the Maths began again in her head. Had one plus one equalled one in the back of that boat last night? All I could think was God help Houseman if it had. By the look Grandma had on her face, I fully expected her to jump up at any minute, grab Kyrano's tray and burst into his room to see if they were together.

Thank goodness a freshly showered and shaven Eddie Houseman appeared not twenty five seconds later enquiring if anyone had seen Tin-Tin.

Kyrano put down the tray and shook his head with relief.

Grandma had to exhale three days worth of oxygen.

With practiced smoothness and not realising the panic his lack of punctuality had caused, Eddie sat himself down and apologised for being so late for Breakfast. The sea air must make a man sleep more soundly, he said. That, and the wonderful evening he had experienced with Miss Kyrano.

Then he had the nerve to say he hoped he hadn't missed anything.

"No chance of you ever missing anything." Grandma mumbled again under her breath.

"Pardon me, Mrs Tracy?" he asked with true politeness.

"I said the only thing you've missed is the coffee, dear." she replied in her sweetest voice, indicating the now empty pot in front of her.

He smiled at Grandma and said it didn't matter. He didn't care too much for coffee in the mornings anyway.

If only he'd have left it there.

With still no sign of Tin-Tin, he stupidly went on to make the observation that their "big night out" under the stars must have been all too much for her. It didn't help when he starting prattling on again what a great time they'd had together in the boat, what a terrific girl she was and how happy he was to "be able to enjoy renewing their acquaintance."

It was then Alan rose to his feet and excused himself, saying he didn't feel very well. Dad, of course, set the newspaper aside and frowned after him as he left the room in a huff.

"He seemed all right a few moments ago." he commented looking at Scott and Virgil, obviously expecting some sort of explanation.

"Dad," Scott said trying to keep a straight face. "As I recall Alan wasn't feeling too good last night either."

Dad looked blank.

"He was really off last night Dad." Virgil chimed in with a more than a little emphasis on the "off". "Don't you remember Sir?"

Dad still didn't get it.

"Well yes I do remember, boys but I thought he was only like that because of ..."

Dad stopped mid-sentence as the realisation dawned.

"Oh ... errr ... ummm ...yes ... well he's probably just tired ..." he flustered, looking everywhere but at Eddie Houseman. "I'll make a point of looking in on him after breakfast to make sure he's feeling better."

He changed the awkward subject by turning to Kyrano. "Speaking of which; I'm starved old friend. How about some breakfast?"


Oh dear.

It was then the trouble began.

Kyrano had excelled himself for our "guest" and had produced a dazzling array of food which covered every square inch of the table. Even though I got the distinct impression he had reservations about Houseman, Kyrano was professional to the core when it came to attending to the needs of the guests who visited Tracy Island.

"Please feel free to help yourself to everything, Mr. Houseman." he said in his quietly efficient voice.

I'm sure Kyrano didn't mean "everything" in quite the context it was taken but Houseman didn't have to be asked twice. He dug into the food like the world was going to end.

I was astounded.

Life on Tracy Island gives a man a healthy appetite, but this guy even made an amateur out of me.

He had second helpings of everything; the fruit, the cereals, the pancakes, the eggs, and finally, when he must have been bordering on explosion, second helpings of Kyrano's delicious French toast.

Grandma watched the whole time without comment but when Houseman reached forward for his second helping of the toast she was unable to control herself any longer.

"You certainly enjoy your second helpings don't you son?" she observed with a sarcasm even I didn't think she was capable of.

Eddie, of course, thought Grandma was only making pleasant conversation, so he nodded his head, smiled and agreed.

"Sure do, Mrs Tracy." he acknowledged. "A man doesn't know what he's missing with something unless he's tried it at least twice."

Uh oh.

I don't think he should have said that.

Grandma's smile didn't alter but the fire in her eyes sure did.

"I'm sure that's more than true, Mr. Houseman." she ground out. "But I find it very interesting that this time you've flown half way around the world to do it."

Dad recognised the inference immediately and spluttered his coffee in disbelief. He dropped the newspaper to the floor, lifted his eyes to Grandma's in dismay and in true International Rescue style did the only thing he could do to save the situation.

Reverse thrust!

"Mother, I'm sure all of us would fly half way around the world if we had the opportunity to enjoy a meal like this." he stressed, calmly trying to indicate what was left of the food. "Isn't that right boys?"

Dad looked at the three of us with expectation. Scott's hurried "Yes Dad" couldn't have been more sincere; Virgil's urgent "Yes Sir" was almost genuine; and my wide-eyed "That's right Father" was said with exactly the required enthusiasm.

Dad threw a tight smile of thanks in our direction and then an even tighter one in the direction of Grandma.

"As you can see Mother, Kyrano's culinary skills are appreciated by all of us...not just Mr. Houseman."

Touché Grandma.

I think Dad just told you in his own tactful way you'd better settle yourself down.

The day continued after that, with the creases in Grandma's temple deepening, Alan emerging from his room after a long talk with Dad about women, and Eddie and Tin-Tin disappearing for a couple of hours to "swim" in the bay on the other side of the island.

Dusk fell late over the shores of Tracy Island and as was customary on a hot summer night, we all gathered on the balcony to enjoy an aperitif before we went in to have Dinner.

All of us, that is, except our beautiful Assistant Engineer, Miss Kyrano.

After another day in Eddie Houseman's arms she was busy upstairs preparing to go with him to the mainland. He'd planned for them to have dinner, enjoy a spot of dancing and then to "further reminisce old times gone by."

"She's wearing that lovely new dress I made for her too." Grandma pined looking directly at Alan.

Alan swallowed in the silence, lowered his head and began to count the ice cubes in his drink. He didn't know what to do about the situation with Houseman anymore and had all but given up.

By now Dad was starting to feel as sorry for Alan as the rest of us. He didn't want him to start feeling "unwell" again, so he tried to take his mind off things by clearing his throat and making the broad statement that Tin-Tin was only going to the mainland with Houseman to do International Rescue a favour. She was aware of all the pressure Eddie's visit was causing, he said, and she was only trying to help.

I know Dad meant well, but if he thought a comment like that would make Alan feel any better, he was sorely mistaken.

Alan again didn't say anything, but the long walk he decided to take in lieu of Dinner sure said it all for him.

I watched him disappear onto the darkened beach, head down, hands in pockets, totally dejected. He was past the sullen stage now.

He was really hurting.

Something inside me suddenly said "enough". What had been a joke the previous evening was fast becoming the opposite. I loved my little brother, despite his many failings, and he sure as hell didn't deserve this.

I made a pact with myself to stop the teasing and the jokes.

However ...

I've somehow come to expect that fate works in mysterious ways on this island and what was soon to follow was definitely no exception to the rule.

Ten minutes before Houseman was due to leave the island with Tin-Tin, he received an urgent call from his Construction Company who were building some kind of new road on the mainland. He looked a bit rattled when the call came in and asked Dad if it was all right for him to take it in the study. When it ended, we all lifted our eyebrows in surprise when he headed for the guest room in a panic and began to pack his things.

He didn't tell Dad too much before he left, only that he'd been recalled to the construction site to take care of some sort of dire emergency.

He didn't bother to tell Tin-Tin anything.

In fact, he didn't even bother to say goodbye.

I don't think it takes too much guessing to figure out what happened when Tin-Tin found out the news.

Tin-Tin had heard the engines of the jet on her way downstairs to the lounge. Realising they were Eddie's, she hurried out onto the balcony where all of us, except for Alan and Grandma, still stood.

She looked stunning in the beautiful low-cut dress and it was obvious from the trouble she had taken with her hair and exotic make-up, she had been expecting more than just a night to remember with the handsome Eddie Houseman.

Scott couldn't look when her face started to crumble ... neither could Virgil. I can't take it when a girl starts to cry either, so I did the only noble thing I could do.

Do what they did and made a beeline for the lounge.

That left Dad to pick up the pieces and believe me when I tell you he wasn't very good at it. He'd never had to raise a daughter and I don't think he realised he couldn't just pat her on the back like a boy and offer a few words of Fatherly advice. Yep I think it's fair to say Dad's lack of skills in that Department were never more obvious than when he stood on the balcony with Tin-Tin that night, trying to think of something to say to explain Eddie's behaviour.

"I guess his Company means a lot to him." he stumbled as the plane disappeared into the starlit sky.

Tin-Tin didn't answer and continued to look into the horizon with devastated, tear-filled eyes. I'm no expert on women but somehow I don't think you're supposed say that sort of thing to someone who's just been left hanging by a man.

"He'll write to you."

We really needed to save Dad from himself... and fast. He was terrible. Now he was making it sound like Eddie had run off to join the military.

Tin-Tin was clearly heartbroken at the position she had now found herself in. What had started as a simple flirt to torture Alan into telling her how he felt had backfired to involve not only Alan's innermost emotions but her own fragile ones as well. Intentional or not, she had started to fall for the womanising Eddie Houseman and it was a big shock for her to find out that she had been nothing more to him than "just another girl."

She turned away from Dad and left the balcony before she started to cry.

Errr ...nice going everyone... especially you Dad. That comment about Eddie writing was an absolute winner.

For a few moments nobody moved. We weren't used to Tin-Tin crying. Teasing and arguing the point with Alan maybe but never crying.

The silence was unbearable.

Scott eventually cleared his throat and came out with what everyone was thinking.

"Well that finishes Eddie as far as Tin-Tin is concerned."

Both Virgil and I looked across at him with one eyebrow higher than the other. Hardly the greatest revelation big brother!

Dad was still a bit shaken but put the emotional crisis in the back of his mind when Virgil went on say we'd all been very lucky not to receive any emergency calls during the period of Eddie's visit.

Dad nodded and refrained from saying how glad he was that he'd gone.

All four of us looked at each other when we saw Alan walking back towards the villa. At least this kid would have a smile back on his face when he heard the happy news. But there was one thing we all forgot. Alan was still under the impression Tin-Tin had gone to the mainland with Houseman and he didn't want to talk to anyone.

"Let him be Mother." Dad warned when Grandma tore out of the kitchen and went to follow Alan up the stairs.

Grandma stopped in mid-flight and turned around prepared to argue. This time Dad didn't flinch.

"Alan needs to think about things a little longer." he emphasised in a powerful voice which said he meant business.

I had to admit, like Grandma, I was surprised at Dad's position. After his own dreadful attempt to comfort Tin-Tin, I thought he would be all for Alan trying to do something to make her feel better. Lord knows he sure didn't.

Wrong again.

Dad knew Alan better than we thought.

"Tin-Tin is very upset at the moment, Mother." he stressed. "And the last thing she needs right now is my youngest son knocking on her door and trying to make himself feel better."


Now you'd think that after nearly losing Tin-Tin to the arms of Eddie Houseman, Alan might have been a bit more gracious when he found out what had happened.

Not so my little brother.

I know Dad had made it very clear that night he wanted Alan to be left alone to think things over, boy you only had to ask my Grandmother, but I couldn't sit back let him keep believing Tin-Tin was on the mainland doing goodness knows what with Eddie Houseman.

I just couldn't.

Not the way he felt about her.

As I have said before, Alan and I are close and by close I don't just mean in age. We've shared everything over the years, from the socks on our feet to the pain of Dad's lectures. We've looked out for each other ever since we could walk and we still look out for each other now. So, it was easy for me to risk of copping a bit of flack from Dad rather than let Alan experience yet another sleepless night.

Sadly however, my clumsy attempt to make my brother feel better only left me worrying, well at least wondering, what the heck was going to happen around here next.

It took him almost forever to open his door when I knocked, and as soon as he saw me in the doorway, his reaction was exactly what I'd expected ...irritable, hot-headed and suspicious. I tried to shrug it all off when he asked me what I wanted. I said I didn't want much; all I needed was five so the two of us could talk. I was soon warned in no uncertain terms that I'd be getting more than only five for my trouble if the subject was going to be Eddie Houseman.

I laughed and chose to ignore his threats. He was nothing but big, blonde bluff anyway. How could he possibly think his favourite brother would bring up a subject quite as unsavoury as that? Then, before he had the chance to answer me, I pushed past him with a grin and forced my way into his room.

Knowing Alan as I do, I was surprised he didn't protest but when I took a deep breath and turned around to face him, I could see the volcanic explosion coming. The tightly folded arms were bad enough but the testy expression on his face made it pretty damned obvious he wasn't in the mood for talking.

"OK so you have five." he snapped. "Start talking."

"Al," I began, hoping he'd at least listen to me before he went to throw me out. "I want to talk to you about Tin ..."

He didn't even give me the opportunity to finish saying her name.

"Don't you start on me Gordon." he scowled. "I've already told you I don't want to talk about her."

"No you didn't." I pointed out, trying to keep the conversation light-hearted. "You only said you didn't want to talk about Houseman."

Alan's response to that was anything but light -hearted. His face reddened, his fists clenched and his jaw set just like it used to do when we were younger and he didn't get his own way in an argument. The words "Houseman's a jerk." left his lips like venom.

My smile faded. It was late; every noise carried and the last thing I wanted to do was to alert my Father to my whereabouts.

"Al, I know." I said in a low and serious voice. "I feel the same way you do, especially after the way he's treated Tin-Tin."

Alan frowned, glanced towards the door and demanded to know what he'd done.

Naturally I grabbed the opportunity. He wouldn't like what I had to say, I told him, and I could understand perfectly if it made him feel upset. We were all upset about it too, even Dad. Alan's frown deepened and he told me to go on. He listened to the story in silence before shrugging his shoulders and making the observation that nothing Houseman did to anyone came as any great surprise to him.

"I told you he was a jerk." he griped, before unsystematically unbuttoning his shirt and reefing back his bedcovers. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to go to bed. Thanks to that Houseman creep I didn't manage to get any sleep at all last night."

Then he proceeded to get into bed, turn his back on me, and demand I turn off the light when I left.

For a few moments I stood there flabbergasted. Maybe I was being naïve or something, but I fully expected him to carry on like some sort of a knight in shining armour the moment he found out his precious little Tin-Tin had been hurt. He adored her and I knew he did.

But this time he didn't budge.

I rolled my eyes as the minutes ticked by. Alan could be so brainless sometimes, especially when it came to Tin-Tin. One little bit of effort on his part and the two of them would have been back together for sure. Couldn't he see that and at least try to knock on her door?

The silence continued.

Obviously not.

I shook my head at him. Dad had been right. Alan needed a lot more time to think about things at the moment and those things included how he really felt about the beautiful Miss Kyrano.

"OK then; goodnight Alan," I sighed, "Maybe you'll see things differently in the morning."

"Doubt it," came the sullen grumble from underneath the covers.

Gee whiz, I sure wished Dad had been the one to see things differently when he caught me sneaking down the hallway to my room. The stern voice echoed in the darkness.

"Gordon ..."

I stopped in my tracks and swallowed at the imposing shadow in front of me.

I think I had some explaining to do.

Day Three of the Eddie Houseman saga began early with International Rescue back to normal and functioning at its optimal best.

Unfortunately, whilst Houseman's departure was a good thing for the outfit, there was a down side to it too as far as my stomach was concerned. Breakfast took on a whole new meaning when we didn't have a guest to impress in the house and it was rather disappointing not to be faced with the challenge of one of Kyrano's banquets.

Yes, you guessed it. Day Three of this drama started at the breakfast table again, but unlike the morning before, the whole of the International Rescue team was present and accounted for. Brains chatted happily to Dad, Virgil and Scott were sharing a corny joke with Grandma, and I sat more than merrily in the middle of it all watching the predicament of our two star-crossed lovers. It was pretty apparent these two still weren't talking and couldn't have been at more opposite ends of the universe if they tried.

He was ignoring her. She was ignoring him. She kept fiddling with the cereal in her plate. He kept shovelling sugar into his coffee.

It was pitiful.

Luckily, the conversation soon centred on Brains' latest high-speed aircraft and his desire to take it out that morning to trial its capabilities. Scott, who loves to fly more than he loves anything, immediately volunteered to be the pilot. Virgil also indicated he'd like to take it for a spin.

Dad, of course, smiled congenially and encouraged both of them to head out together. He'd already spoken to John earlier and had been given his assurance nothing much was happening in the world at the moment... well nothing that would require the services of International Rescue over the next few hours anyway.

Dad continued on with enthusiasm. Besides, he said, he was pretty keen himself to see what the new aircraft could do.

So when Brains, Scott and Virgil excused themselves from the table, Dad was pretty happy. He loved the rush of new technology and could hardly wait to get out on the balcony to watch the aircraft fly. He was even so happy he forgot that he wasn't too impressed with me. What was I going to be doing with myself today, he asked with his usual interest. Then he frowned, obviously remembering our "chat" together the night before. Whatever it was, he hoped this time it was going to be constructive.

I was still pretty sheepish after the dressing down he'd given to me for defying him and I wasn't sure if the question he posed was a hint to point out that I needed something to do. Nevertheless I took a sip of my coffee with bravado and went on to inform him that I did have some constructive plans for the day. There was maintenance to be done on Thunderbird Four, I said, but I was going to need Brains in order to help me do it. I guessed I'd have to wait until he'd finished trialling the aircraft. Dad nodded and enquired what I was planning to do in the meantime. I grinned at him and went on. There was only one other thing left that I really wanted to do.


"Unless of course you want to give me a couple of days off to cut loose on the mainland Dad." I winked.

Dad chuckled a bit and asked me how he knew I was going to say something like that. Then he realised what I'd meant about the mainland and grew immediately gruff. Swimming would be a much better choice of activity in his opinion and it would get me in a lot less trouble.

Thank goodness Tin-Tin seemed to find her tongue and joined in our conversation. Today was such beautiful day to be by the pool, she said; in fact it was so beautiful, she thought she'd head down there now if "anyone" wanted to know where she was.

I watched as she rose to her feet and flashed a furtive glance at Alan.

Dad smiled at her, clueless as ever, and told her to enjoy herself.

I smirked and stopped short of saying she most certainly would if my little brother Alan was involved.

They didn't know we knew of course, but that innocent line of Tin-Tin's had been their secret code for months; the "discreet" little signal she wanted to be alone with him. I looked over at Alan with expectation and wondered how many seconds it would take him to swallow his breakfast and excuse himself from the table this time. If it was his usual sixty, things would soon be back to normal.

But for the second time in less than twelve hours my little brother astounded me. Alan made it very clear to her he had no intention of following. He didn't look up, he didn't flinch and he certainly didn't move.

And Tin-Tin wasn't impressed.

"Alan dear, I was wondering if you could help me in the kitchen please."

I bet you can guess who that was.

Grandma was now in the business of masterminding the reconciliation. She almost dragged Alan into the kitchen by his ear, kept him at the sink for an hour, and from what I could figure out by eavesdropping, tried to make him understand that being "nothing but mule-headed and stubborn" was no way to win the love of a beautiful woman.

"It's high time you two stopped your nonsense and made up." were the last words I heard her say to him. "You see to it, young man, and before this hour is done."

My eyes lit up.

If he only had an hour, anyone who didn't want to miss this one was going to have to get down to the pool ... and fast.

It was still too soon after breakfast to plough through the water like a maniac but I knew I had to be inconspicuous if I didn't want Alan to crack. If nothing else Alan had his pride. That left me with only one option ... to tread water in the corner of the swimming pool and wait expectantly for what would be Tracy Island's greatest performance.

Grandma arrived on the scene first, carrying her embroidery. She often did embroidery by the pool in the mornings, counting laps for me as I trained. But this morning counting laps was the last thing on her mind. She sat down next to Tin-Tin, patted her hand, and gave her an angelic smile.

"Hello dear." she said sweetly. "I thought I'd be like you this morning and get myself some sun."

Tin-Tin was still sulking over the way Alan had ignored her over breakfast, but it didn't take much for Grandma to distract her. She only had to mention fashion and Tin-Tin was instant putty in her hands. Before long they were chatting away about the brand new French collections and Tin-Tin's upcoming visit to Paris to view the latest designs.

"Paris is such a romantic city." Grandma swooned. "What a wonderful place it would be for a wedding."

She paused, smiled coyly and added. "Or that very special honeymoon..."

I almost sank to the bottom of the pool when she brazenly came out with that one. Wedding? Honeymoon? Oh Grandma, I wanted to laugh, how much more obvious can you be?

And speaking of the obvious, then it was Alan's turn to miraculously drop by. Dressed to kill, blonde hair neatly combed and wearing his most expensive aftershave; he came to stand near Grandma, trying to remember his lines.

Poor Al. He was so nervous about what he had to say that he didn't even notice me.

"Hi Tin-Tin." he said, as smoothly as he could. "Mind if I join you?"

After his stubbornness at the table earlier I knew she wasn't going to answer him. Tin-Tin can be one ice-cool individual when she wants to be and there was no way she was going to surrender easily from behind those huge high fashion sunglasses.

Alan bit his lip and tried to think of something to say next.

"I... I ... I thought I'd do a little water ski-ing later," he stammered on. "Would you like to join me?"

At this point the focus of my attention was Grandma. She had already pricked her finger twice with the needle and was so tense and panic-stricken; you'd swear she was in the middle of a major rescue operation.

To be quite honest with you, when Tin-Tin sullenly replied she didn't feel like it, Grandma probably would have been better off. Nothing I've ever experienced in a danger zone could ever compare with the threat to human life when my little brother lost his cool and uttered the first stupid thing that came into his head.

"Really mean of that Eddie guy walking out like that."

I swear I nearly drowned. What the hell was he thinking? By the frozen silence that followed, it was pretty clear to me exactly what our Assistant Engineer was thinking. I thought she was out of sorts when she stormed away from him after breakfast ... whoa ...that was nothing compared to what she was doing to him now. She jerked herself upright, ripped her towel from the chair and barrelled her way back to the villa in a complete and utter huff. Personally, I think he got off pretty light. If he'd said something that thoughtless to me when I was hurting, I'd have dumped him head first into the pool to try and wash out his brain.

Alan reddened with confusion.

"What did I say?" he queried in disbelief. "Grandma did you see that? What did I say?"

I looked over at Grandma. Like me, she had a completely stunned look on her face at how he could be so stupid.

She shook her head at him.

"Just all the wrong things Alan." she sighed. "As usual."

Alan's next comment pretty well summed up his frustration.

"Guess I'm no good at fancy speeches," he moped, fixing two mournful blue eyes on Grandma. "What am I gonna do? Things were swell till that Eddie guy came along."

"Grandma" he pleaded again. "What am I gonna do?"

I told you Alan in love is pathetic and you couldn't get any more pathetic than having to ask your Grandmother's advice on how to handle a woman. Grandma steeled herself, looked to heavens, and straightened her upper back. Only she could save this situation now and she was about to rise to the challenge like the true International Rescue veteran that she was.

"Leave things to me Alan." she told him. "Just leave things to me."

Well I sure didn't know about Alan, but I was certainly very interested to see what Grandma was going to concoct. She didn't have much to work with at the moment. After Alan's faux pas by the swimming pool the rift between the two of them was wider than ever. Tin-Tin was sulking in her room with the door shut and Alan had taken refuge in the lounge right next to Dad. She really had her work cut out for her this time. I braced myself. Believe me, experience had taught all of us the hard way that Grandma was a force to be reckoned with when it came to matters involving the family. Anything could happen around here in the next few hours.

Strangely enough what did happen, and it had nothing to do with Grandma, was the receipt of an unexpected communication from John in Thunderbird Five.

We had a rescue call; he said with his customary brisk precision; a vehicle about to career over the edge of a road in a remote mountain location. According to the guys on the ground, there were added complications. The vehicle concerned contained a box of explosives and if the vehicle fell, the explosives would detonate and blow the guy sky high. Inclement weather was making things worse. There was a large amount of land fall raining down near the vehicle. Things were pretty bad.

I sauntered into the lounge with Virgil as John continued on. "I said we'd assist Father." he faltered, "I hope I did right."

"Of course you did right son ..." Dad began before muttering what a statement like that was supposed to mean anyway.

I elbowed Virgil in the ribs. Why was John so apprehensive?

We were soon to know the reason why.

John squirmed as he broke the "happy"news. He had deliberately left the name of the guy to be rescued until last. Scott frowned and demanded to know who it was.

"Eddie Houseman." John offered before throwing a really apologetic glance towards Alan. John might have been a long way from home at the moment but he was still well and truly informed about what had happened between Tin-Tin and Eddie Houseman. Let me tell you right now, nothing is a secret in this house when you're surrounded by your brothers.

"Eddie Houseman!"

Boy oh boy, Alan didn't say those words with any strong feeling of endearment.

The dilemma in the ranks began.

Eddie Houseman knew us. If we went though with the rescue we'd blow our cover. We all knew how essential it was for our identity to remain a secret. My brothers looked helpless. Did it mean we couldn't help? Ha, bit of wishful thinking there Alan!

John posed the question straight at Dad. What did we do? Turn this call down?

Dad, as always the voice of reason, was quick to put things in perspective. Yes Eddie knew us. Yes it did mean we could blow our cover. Yes we had kept our identity a secret up till now. But no matter what, he stressed firmly, looking each of us in the eye, International Rescue didn't turn any call down. Not at the expense of a life.

The command "carry on Scott" said everything.

I shrugged, trying to hide the fact I was disgruntled.

International Rescue was used to saving people from the consequences of their own stupidity of course, but it stuck in my gut big time that we had to save Eddie Houseman. I could only imagine how Alan must be feeling behind his currently blank expression. Then Dad dropped the bombshell on both of us. He turned to Alan. He wanted him, not me, to help Virgil with this one. He continued on with his final instructions like there wasn't any problem.

They were to take the magnetic grabs.

Did they have any questions?

Well he certainly didn't have a problem with Alan asking him any questions. Alan just went with Virgil in a kind of stunned silence. I, on the other hand, looked over at my Father with widened, disbelieving eyes, not knowing which question I wanted to ask him first.

How could he possibly put Alan in charge of a set of magnetic grabs the way he felt about Eddie Houseman? The guy didn't stand a chance if Alan let his jealousy get the better of him.Was he nuts?

I think Dad must have read my mind. Once Thunderbird Two had gone, he invited me to join him for a cup of the coffee Kyrano had left for him on his desk. As I sat down, he reached forward to pick up the pot. Alan had been sent out there today for a reason, he told me, one he supposed was hard for me to understand.

He paused and handed me the cup. We all had to do things we didn't want to do in life, he said, and that included learning to deal with how we felt about people we didn't particularly like. Alan needed a bit of reinforcement at the moment that we were in the business of saving lives.

"By lives I mean all lives son." he stressed. "Even Eddie Houseman's."

"But Dad ..." I interrupted.

"Gordon. Alan can't allow his personal feelings for ... "

Dad paused, unwilling to state the obvious.

"... others." he finally continued; "to sway his better judgement."

He smiled. He knew how close I was to Alan.

"Your brother will be a better man for having to help save Eddie Houseman," he assured me. "Trust me son. I know."

I guess Dad knew enough to pass the fatherly judgement but he hadn't witnessed Alan crack up when I'd tried to talk to him about Eddie Houseman. With that in mind I thought he was being a bit optimistic in believing Alan was welcoming the opportunity.

But now that I'd been left behind, and with nothing much to do other than wonder if Alan really had it in him to miss Houseman's truck with those grabs, I decided to assume the role of caterer and take my Grandmother some tea. Grandma had been fairly quiet since the altercation by the swimming pool. She had only come down briefly to investigate when the call came in from Five. That was enough to make anybody nervous. If Grandma was being quiet, she was up to something big.

And big wasn't the word for it.

It was the sound of a pleasant conversation which led me in the direction of Tin-Tin's room. I paused at the door with the steaming china cup in my hand and lifted my free hand to knock. I don't know what stopped me, but something inside me sure did. There was Grandma with her back to me, busily pinning the hem of the "dress" Tin-Tin wanted to wear to the Fashion launch in Paris and there was Tin-Tin standing on the chair happy to fit the creation.

Neither of them realised I was there.

I stood completely still. What I was about to hear was without a doubt one of Grandma's absolute classics.

She started out cautiously, something she'd learned from years of experience in the art of turning things around. Oh dear, she pined unhappily, Alan would insist on going on the rescue, even though he was very sick.

I didn't see the worried look steal across those pretty oriental features but the change of tone in Tin-Tin's voice certainly told me it was there.

"Alan ill?" she questioned Grandma in alarm.

Grandma sighed piteously. Oh yes she was afraid so. She just hoped he'd be able to bear the pain that was all. I had to bite my bottom lip to stop myself from laughing. Pain? I'll bet he was feeling pain. Pain at having to rescue Eddie Houseman!

Tin-Tin was growing more and more worried by the minute.

"And Mr Tracy let him go?" she asked in disbelief.

Grandma's performance continued. She was afraid to say this but yes ...his Father had let him go. His Father couldn't stop him.

My eyes rolled. Somehow I don't think so, Grandma. .

"I wouldn't mention this to anyone of course," Grandma warned making out Dad didn't need any more pressure. "Everyone is worried enough as it is."

Tin-Tin nodded. She knew how much Dad worried about us at the best of times, let alone when we were risking our lives in a rescue situation.

"Of course... I understand Mrs Tracy." she said.

"Poor Alan." she whispered a few moments later. She was so tragic you'd swear my brother was dying.

When Grandma heard Tin-Tin say that, she discreetly retired from her rescue effort, confident nature would take its course. She knew Alan and Tin-Tin better than Alan and Tin-Tin knew themselves and the bottom line was that they were in love with each other even if Alan couldn't find the stupid courage to tell her how he felt.

She smiled at Tin-Tin with fondness and said she'd better be getting along. We all had to eat, emergency or not.

She later warned me if I ever breathed a word to anyone about what she'd just said to Tin-Tin in that bedroom, it would be me, not Houseman who'd be in the centre of the next emergency.

She'd known I was there the whole time, she scolded me in private, and I needn't try to think she was the least bit impressed. Bedrooms had mirrors in case I'd forgotten and I should know better than to listen to her confidential conversations.

The rescue of Eddie Houseman was an International Rescue success and from what Scott had to say to Dad on the flight home, involved some pretty nifty manoeuvres. He and Virgil had taken the decision that International Rescue wouldn't land this time, thus reducing the possibility of Houseman wising up.

In hindsight, Scott said he seriously doubted he'd have had the time to land anyway. At one stage he'd needed to support Houseman's truck with the nose of Thunderbird One. The grabs hadn't been all that successful either. Houseman ended up having to make a jump for it, but luckily Alan had held the truck steady long enough to allow him to make his escape.

"OK Scott I'll talk to Brains about the necessity to make some modifications." Dad said.

Scott had a bit of a grin on his face when he went on to say he wondered if Alan even realised he had held Eddie Houseman's life in the palm of his hands for over two minutes. I laughed to myself when Dad pretended to be shocked. Of course Alan wouldn't think anything like that, Dad said. He knew he went out there with a job to do.

"Oh I dunno, Dad," Scott chortled in return. "Virg said he looked pretty darned pleased with himself when Houseman ended up flat on his face in the mud."

With that Scott signed off and Dad came to sit beside me on the couch. I couldn't contain myself any longer.

"Well how about that!" I enthused. "They pulled off a rescue without even landing!"

Dad nodded proudly. Yes they did, he said, and with Eddie not getting a sight of them, our secret was safe.

I laughed. There were a couple of other secrets around here that also needed to be kept safe and I was looking right at the cause of the best of them. Tin-Tin had heard Scott talking to Dad on the link and had hurried into the lounge as fast as she could.

Looking absolutely stunning, hair exactly the way Alan liked it and wearing an exotic scent that filled the whole room, she almost begged Dad for permission to speak to him.

You know, I don't think Dad was quite as clueless in all this as everybody thought. Even I recognised the smirk on his face as he indicated she was welcome to take complete control of his desk. That smirk only grew bigger too when she started to speak on the link to Alan in Thunderbird Two.

Was he all right? She'd been so worried. He shouldn't have taken a chance like that!

Boy I would have loved to have been in Thunderbird Two when that call came through to Alan. Virgil said to me later, Alan's expression was priceless. The moment he heard her voice his bottom lip went, all the air left his lungs and his eyes started to get that stupid glassy look again. But this time, Virgil mused, there was something different about the way Alan handled things with Tin-Tin. For once he actually sounded sure of himself. They'd be having a long talk about everything when he got back to the base. I guessed that was the reason why she'd said to him she'd be waiting.

I arched my eyebrows at Virgil as we stood together on the same balcony we'd ragged our baby brother from only two short nights before.

They'd been "talking" down on the beach for almost two hours now and my stomach was telling me it was nearly time for supper.

A successful rescue always meant a celebration of some sort and I got the distinct impression from Grandma that the banquet Kyrano had prepared was intended to celebrate much much more than saving the life of Eddie Houseman. Grandma insisted Dad open several bottles of his finest champagne, the best silverware was polished and placed on the table and she wouldn't let up on anyone who didn't have second helpings.

"Someone said to me recently, you don't know what you're missing until you've tried it at least twice," she said looking down the table to where Alan gazed into the eyes of our pretty Assistant Engineer. He hadn't eaten a thing.

"You know I've heard that," I piped up winking across the table at Virgil.

"Me too." Virgil laughed.

"Well I happen to think that person might be about to be ratherright." she observed with satisfaction.

Now there's a timely observation!

Miss Kyrano had just excused herself from the table. She had a bit of work left to do in the laboratory, she said, if "anyone" wanted to know where she was.

Scott grinned.

Virgil grinned.

I grinned.

Even Dad grinned.

The sixty seconds starts now.

He didn't let us down of course. Err ...with all the drama surrounding the rescue he'd failed to do the required checks in Thunderbird Three. Err...they really couldn't wait until the morning. They'd probably take him a while too so if we didn't mind if he'd say his good nights to us now.

Dad was so unsporting by offering to wait up for him until he'd finished.

Alan reddened.

"Oh ... no Sir ... please don't do that Sir..."

Then he reddened further.

"I mean ... no Sir ... there's no real need for you to do that Sir."

With that, Dad simply smiled and excused him from the table. What a pity he started to head in the direction of the lab instead of Thunderbird Three.

The stern voice of Fatherhood echoed out once more.

"Alan ..."

Alan turned around to face him.

"Yes Dad?"

"You make sure everything's covered before you come upstairs to bed."

I still don't know how we held ourselves together when Alan nodded his head obediently at Dad and promised to do a thorough job.

And he wondered why all Dad said to him was "Mmmmmm."

You gotta admit it folks, life around here can be pretty darned interesting and while there's this secret little romance, that isn't really such a secret, life is going to get a lot more interesting still!

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