by MCJ

Written as a challenge. The story of a somewhat rocky love between two best friends. 

Thank you, Gerry Anderson for creating the vision of International Rescue and giving all of the writers on this site the opportunity to embrace it.

Since that night I kissed her on the beach, things between us have been funny. I know you're going to ask me what I mean by funny but please don't waste your breath. I'm telling you right now I don't know what the heck I mean about anything anymore so let's not even go there.

I mean what gives with her? A kiss is a kiss right? A sign of affection between two friends. That was all it was ever meant to be and I can't understand all the fuss. I know she wasn't expecting me to do it but it didn't seem to bother her at the time. It sure didn't bother me. But ever since I did it, boy you'd think I'd planted some incurable tropical disease on her lips or worse still, given her the plague. She won't put herself in a position where there's the slightest chance she might be alone with me and let me say right now as someone who's thought long and hard about whether to take things further with her, it's just about driving me crazy.

Take the other day for example. She sat with Scott for nearly four hours, almost on his lap I might add, entering data into the computer of Thunderbird One. You've never heard so much laughing and joking in your whole entire life. She was clearly enjoying every minute of it and it didn't please me at all that Scott seemed to be rather enjoying it too. Then she turned around and did exactly the same thing with Virgil. But when it finally came to my turn, after patiently waiting all day to be with her I might say, she simply hands me all the data sheets and says she has to go upstairs and help her Father with the supper. You try to figure that one out. I for one sure can't.

So here I am mustering up the courage to go into the kitchen to try and sort things out. Prior investigation has indicated she is alone, so maybe if I wave the white flag and offer her a cup of coffee in neutral territory she might loosen up a little about things and we can go back to the way we were. Gee I hope so. I sure do miss holding her hand.

My "Hi whatcha up to gorgeous?" is greeted with a cursory raising of her eyes and a very blunt reply.

What does it look like she's up to? Do I think she's shaving her head?

I grin and say I doubt it; by the looks of things I'm pretty sure she's only reading. Her eyes return to the recipe book and I hear the caustic comment. She didn't realise I was such a genius and she's glad I came her way.

Great. That's blown the opening line. Now what? I stand there stupidly for a while trying to decide what to say next.

I decide to offer her that cup of coffee and even though she immediately declines the invitation, thankfully the tension eases between us and the awkward gap in conversation is filled. She casually comments that she's trialling a cheese soufflé for Supper and asks me if I'd like to try the sample when it's done. The gap opens up again when I wrap my hands around my throat, cough loudly and say a cheese soufflé sounds like something deadly.

As you can gather she doesn't appreciate the comment.

She looks me up and down again and informs me in that tone she gets that at twenty-one years of age it's about time I made an effort to appreciate good cuisine and appreciation includes learning how to cook. I frown and say indignantly that I already know how to cook. How does she think I survive for a whole month at a time up in loneliness of Thunderbird Five?

"Frozen food courtesy of my Father and a very big microwave." is her extremely sarcastic response.

I fold my arms and become defensive. "Really", I retort. For her information the only meals her Father provides for me up there are the evening ones and the rest of the time I can and I do, fend very capably for myself.

"Ten boxes of cereal and twenty five cartons of milk every month doesn't constitute fending for yourself Alan." she tells me. "You wouldn't even know where to start if you actually had to make an effort and cook."

"Really", I retort again looking her up and down with defiance.

"Yes really." she retorts just as defiantly in reply.

Both of us fold our arms and glare at each other in silence and it seems like miles which separate us across the bench. Tin-Tin Kyrano let me say right now I might be hopelessly in love with you but I can honestly say I don't like you very much.

Grandma as usual is eavesdropping and immediately scurries in to warn us she doesn't want to hear any more quarrelling. I try not to look incredulous as she looks directly at me and says whatever it is we're arguing about is more than likely my fault.

Now listen here Grandma. No disrespect intended but you only walked in on the end of this conversation and I'm not the one who's standing here arguing. She's the one with all the sarcasm and for once in my life I'm not going to stand here and take it.

I stupidly blurt that if anyone wants my opinion I don't need to know how to cook anything anyway. That's why God gave us women.

Well one woman mad at you is bad enough but when there are two of them going along for the ride; you may as well admit you're beaten.

Yeah OK then Tin-Tin so I didn't really mean a single word I said. Yes Grandma I know the reason God gave us women was so we had someone to love and cherish in our lives and I acknowledge they were never intended to be our slaves. Yes ma'am I know it will be a cold day in hell before you'll ever stand back and let me ever treat a woman like that. Look Tin-Tin I'm sorry OK? I honestly didn't mean it and I probably shouldn't have said it. Now can we just let the matter drop please? I only came in here in the first place to make a cup of coffee.

Grandma gives me another warning about my manners and turns towards Dad's Office before she hurriedly scurries away.

I try really hard not to pout but around her I somehow can't seem to help myself. I really hope you're happy now Tin-Tin. You've just managed to get me in trouble with my Grandmother again and you know just as well as I do that's a fate far worse than death. Next thing you know I'll have Dad in here demanding to know if it's true what I just said about women and that'll mean another Jeff Tracy lecture about the importance of acting like a Gentleman. Thanks for that Tin-Tin. Thanks a lot.

All right then don't answer me. Turn away and pretend to do something else like you always do when you're mad. If you think being ignored by you bothers me in the slightest let me assure you that you're wrong. Like I said before all I came in here for was a cup of lousy coffee.

She still doesn't answer me so I shrug my shoulders with indifference and begin to look for my coffee cup. She still doesn't move. Boy sweetheart you sure know how to lay the ice on thick when you want to make your point.

OK. OK. You win. I'll admit I don't know how to cook all right and I'll let you teach me how to do it. Just as long as I don't have to cook whatever it is you said you were going to cook before. I've never even heard of a cheese soufflé. Why can't you just teach me to bake a cake or something? When I'm all alone up in Thunderbird Five, that little skill could come in very useful.

She laughs, a little too smugly for my liking I might add, and points out that a cheese soufflé isn't something one should eat alone anyway, especially when one is canvassing the universe waiting to receive a distress call.

"A cheese soufflé is something special Alan. For one thing it's something French." she finishes and then looks at me like I'm a moron because I don't know what the significance of being French means. I try to excuse my ignorance by reminding her I didn't do too well at French in High School and maybe I was asleep when we did the part about soufflés. But I do take the time to comment the French Teacher was pretty sexy if my memory serves me right and she was the best part about going along to the French class.

Her frustration hits boiling point and with my continued ribbing about her being jealous of the French Teacher,it finally overflows. Her arms are folded again as she exclaims the reason I don't know what a soufflé is because I don't appreciate the finer things in life and I haven't got a romantic bone in my body

"I do so too Tin-Tin." I protest in my defence. "I just finished telling you how sexy the French Teacher was. You can't get any more romantic than that."

Oh great. Now's she's turned away from me again and somehow I think the words "you insensitive great big oaf" aren't exactly implying the two of us are hitting it off. I guess I should have left off the part about the French Teacher huh?

The words "I'm sorry" automatically leave my lips again and I walk around to the other side of the bench to try and make things up. I ramble on that when I was in the back of the class admiring the French Teacher I was only fifteen years old and at fifteen I knew absolutely nothing about romance.

She stubbornly refuses to look at me and grumbles that it's obvious that six years later I still don't know anything about romance.

I keep apologising until she forgives me and eventually she relents and directs me to put on an apron. As I try to figure out how a man actually ties one of those things, she explains to me about cheese soufflés. A soufflé is something light, fluffy and delicious and best eaten over a chilled bottle of something whilst being romantically overlooked by the stars.

Her beautiful brown eyes light up at the picture of the two of us she's managed to conjure up, not only in my head but in also in the forefront of her own.

I delicately suggest she might like to help me select a bottle of champagne from the cellar and maybe the two of us can have dinner under the stars together when everyone's gone to bed.

"You're learning." she smiles and even though my whole heart just melts, I freeze up and try to pretend I don't know what she's talking about. After all what's a soufflé and a bottle of champagne between two friends? Doesn't everybody do stuff like that?

I decide to change the subject by tugging at her ponytail and asking her when I'm going to start receiving my "culinary instruction."

"Teach me everything you know." I wink with terrible innuendo. "When it comes to you, I'm a real fast learner."

She slaps me so hard it hurts and tells me to stop acting like a child. If I want to learn to cook well she'll teach me how to do it but she isn't going to tolerate anything further. Then she starts bossing me around and demanding I open the overhead storage cupboards for her so I can locate her favourite stainless steel mixing bowl. Of course I immediately oblige only to be told my choice of selection is hopeless. I don't know why you have to make such a fuss about a stupid damned mixing bowl Tin-Tin. At no point did you say how big it had to be. No you're wrong. All you said was I had to get you down a bowl and anyway while I'm on the subject what's the big deal about it being made of stainless steel?

You tell me not to argue with you and give me the job of finding the next item on the list. What the hell is that? Oh come on Tin-Tin. I'm sure you're making that up. There's no such thing as a pre-oiled soufflé dish. There's a saucepan, a pizza tray and a frying pan up here and all those other funny shaped tins where Grandma makes her cakes. There's no such thing as a soufflé dish. Not in this house anyway.

You open a few more cupboards and shove some pottery thing at me that your Father brought himself last year in the foothills of Tibet. No Tin-Tin I don't agree with you. It does NOT look like a soufflé dish. It looks like a pottery thing I could fill with potato chips. Anyway I thought you said soufflés were supposed to be French. They can't be too French sweetheart if they're selling the dishes in Tibet.

What do you mean do I at least know what a spoon looks like? Don't push your luck. Of course I do and I know exactly where to find it.

You're joking now aren't you? What do you mean no? You honestly can't stand there and tell me you believe it makes one shred of difference to anyone if this soufflé thing is made with a wooden spoon or not.

No I'm not going to quit whining and listen to the reason why. A spoon is a spoon where I come from Tin-Tin and anyone who tries to tell me otherwise has something very large missing from inside their head. No lady. This time it's you that's definitely wrong. A Thunderbird isn't a Thunderbird. Our Thunderbirds are nothing alike. Don't say that's exactly your point. Spoons and Thunderbirds having nothing in common and the only reason you want me to use a wooden spoon is because I got the metal one out of the drawer.

Yes I do want to learn and no I'm not going to keep arguing with you. I just don't agree with you about the spoon all right? I'm using the metal one Tin-Tin no matter what you say. OK fine so I won't cry like a baby when I inevitably burn my hand.

Anyway at least we're up to the part I know all about now. I'm an expert at getting things out of the refrigerator and on that point I'm willing to stand up and be counted. The refrigerator is my life.


Butter ... check.

Milk ... check.

Cheese ... check.

Now what the hell is wrong with only using this kind of cheese? What in God's name is Parmesan Cheese anyway? Tin-Tin don't start that again. Cheese is cheese and we don't have something called parmesan cheese in this refrigerator. Trust me I know. I've memorised everything.

I stand back as you shake your head and ask to be let into the refrigerator. Sure thing Tin-Tin. You feel free. I'm telling you right now there's no way in hell you're ever going to find it.

Standing here watching you rummage is actually a nice diversion. You may not give it much thought Tin-Tin but you are really easy on the eye. That bikini top you're wearing is a very nice fit and the cut of it really highlights your ...err skin. Maybe when you have to admit to me you can't find parmesan cheese in the refrigerator, the two of us could talk about that.

Doesn't that just figure.

She's triumphantly emerged with the cheese.

God Tin-Tin what is that? It smells totally disgusting. I'm not eating anything containing that stuff. Hear me loud right now.

Thank goodness her coconut and musk scent is so deliciously rich and delightful. It definitely smells better than the cheese. I don't know why she gets all huffy when I look into her eyes and take the time to tell her so. It was meant to be a compliment.

The last thing on the list is the mustard and I happily pull the bottle from the shelf. I figure the mustard must be included to kill the stench of the cheese. Let's face it I've been around long enough to know a little mustard on something is enough to kill the taste of anything. I remember it was the only thing that saved the household the night Grandma went overboard with the chilli flakes and since then Dad's always insisted there's at least two bottles on the table when we eat.

Naturally like the spoon and the cheese I soon find out there's more than one type of mustard. Tin-Tin doesn't even try to explain that one. She pulls open the pantry and silently gets out the mustard powder. When all I get from her is "the look" again I think know I've muffed it.

OK Tin-Tin I surrender to your superior knowledge in these mundane little things. We don't have to waste our time with a cheese soufflé if you really would prefer we did something I was better at. I'm more than happy to do whatever you suggest and if you want to know the real truth I'd much rather have been doing something else anyway.

I quickly get the look again and before I can say anything else I'm pointed in the direction of the stove. We are making a cheese soufflé, she tells me, and that is the end of the discussion.

So now I'm stuck and the first thing we need do is prepare some alien concoction she's trying to tell me is called a roux. I look at her with amusement and ask if that means she's managed to shoot herself one of those furry looking things that hop around in the outback of Australia.

"Alan!" she exclaims, failing to see the joke. "Stop being such an idiot."

Gee babe. I honestly can't help it. Being near you just does it to me and let's face it I've got to hide how you make me feel behind some sort of idiocy.

But I obediently stop kidding around and carefully stir the butter and the flour. Gee all of a sudden I'm feeling like an expert.

Tin-Tin joins me at the stove and leans forward to carefully add the milk. I look down at her and begin to move about uncomfortably. Like I said before just being near her does do it to me and if she gets any closer in that bikini top I'm not going to be able to hide how she's really making me feel.

She frowns at my preoccupation and sternly reminds me to concentrate. If I don't I'll burn the panada and the whole thing will be ruined. Now wait just one damned minute Tin-Tin. At what point did we make ourselves a Panada? You just told me I was the proud creator of a roux.

"A roux becomes a panada when you add the required flour," she explains to me with patience and then lifts her eyes matter-of factly to mine. "Unless of course you burn it ..." she adds. "So can you please pay more attention Alan?"

I continue to look into her eyes.

Believe me baby when it comes to you I am paying attention.

I'm happy to say she blushes and I have to admit I'm feeling more than a trifle flushed about how things are progressing too. I shrug my shoulders and tell myself it's probably only the heat of the stove. Let's face it, it couldn't be anything else. Two people so close together is kind of a little invasive especially when ... well especially when the space they're squeezing their bodies in is only meant for one.

But unlike me she recovers her composure quickly and comments that my Panada is starting to look a little stiff. I guess I wasn't listening to her properly because the comment instantly sets me in a panic. I quickly move as close as I can to the stove and freeze, determined not to move. When she frowns and asks me what the heck I'm doing, I do more than simply freeze. I tell her I'm doing nothing and I just want to get on with the lesson.

She shrugs and says whatever I want to do to myself is fine but being that close to a heated stove can't be too good for my masculinity. I ignore the comment completely and focus on job at hand. Adding the cheese and the mustard. She says since I can't possibly mess that up she can take her time with the egg whites. They need to be really stiff. For goodness sake Tin-Tin do you have to keep saying that word to me all the time? You're starting to give me a complex.

"Huh?" is her only comment and if you want the honest truth about things, I'm glad she can't think of anything else to say.

Beating up the egg whites luckily seems to take forever and after a while I start feeling comfortable again about moving in front of the stove. She calls to me to bring the saucepan over to the bench and now that I know I'm not going to disgrace myself, I happily concede to the request.

Her patience is endless as she shows me how to blend the two mixtures together, her long slender hand guiding mine as I carefully place it in the soufflé dish.

"You know I think you're finally getting the hang of it Alan." she beams, that smile of hers once again swelling my heart to the point where it feels like it could burst.

"I guess I have a very good Teacher." I smile sincerely in return.

My thoughts run away with me as we continue to smile at each other, both of us too self conscious to speak. Oh God Tin-Tin if only you knew just how much I was in love with you. You make me mad. You make me happy. You make me feel every possible emotion at once. I only wish I had the courage to tell you how I feel and stop this stupid charade of pretending I only want to be your friend.

"Oh well Alan I guess there's only one thing left for us to do." she breathes her eyes still not leaving mine.

"And what's that Tin-Tin?" I breathe back my eyes still not leaving hers.

My ego gets a one great big dose of deflation as she looks down at the bench and totally bursts my bubble.

"We need to put our cheese soufflé in the oven Alan and wait for it to cook."

Now why did you have to go and say something like that Tin-Tin? Why couldn't you say you would like us to agree the two of us are more than friends?

My disappointment is obvious and all I can do is sulk.

"Yeah." I mumble. "I guess that's all there's left to do for either of us."

I watch as she carries our masterpiece to the oven and eases it onto the shelf.

"Forty minutes." she smiles. "Then the two of us can taste it."

I nod my head awkwardly and shove my hands in my pockets.

"I guess I'll come back in forty minutes then." I mutter not knowing what else to say.

She folds her arms defensively and offers an awkward reply.

"I guess so."

Dear Lord Tin-Tin. Why do things between us have to be so hard? I feel like a complete jerk standing here in front of you like this. I'm not making the first move this time. I mean it. You didn't talk to me for weeks the last time I kissed you and I'm not risking you being mad at me again.

The minutes tick slowly by.

Oh well if you aren't about to say anything I'm not going to stand around here looking stupid for one more solitary minute.

"Well the lesson was fun Tin-Tin." I say as I make my way towards the door. "Thanks for everything hey."

"Alan?" she queries as I walk right past her without so much as a nod of acknowledgement.

I stop and turn to look at her again.

"What?" I ask.

"Is that all you have to say to me?"

I frown and look confused. I mean she's obviously not going to lower herself to say she enjoyed our closeness. She won't even acknowledge we were close to each other anyway. All she can say is "is that all you have to say to me?"

I reply as only I know how.

"What else do you want me to say Tin-Tin ? I've already said my thanks."

She bites her lip and falters for a minute before stumbling blindly on.

"It's just that you mentioned something about us looking for a bottle of champagne earlier on and I wanted to know if you meant it."

I find myself shrugging my shoulders, still trying to deal with my disappointment.

"Yeah I guess I suppose I meant it Tin-Tin but let's face it, champagne doesn't chill for anyone in under thirty five minutes."

I watch her eyes cloud and feel guilty for callousness of my words. I'm sorry Tin-Tin. I don't mean to sound like I don't care about you. That's the trouble you see. I do care. I care about you more than you'll ever hope to know.

I shake my head at my own stupidity as I watch those beautiful brown eyes sparkle, not with the happiness I so desperately want to bring to them but with the tears I have caused with my very uncaring words. Tin-Tin...please hear in your heart what I can't seem say to you with my head. I love you and I want us to be a couple.

I grimace and hold out my hand with reservation. I guess I have to risk you being mad at me again if we're ever going to make things work.

"Miss Kyrano if you don't care too much about your champagne being chilled I'm more than happy for mine to be the same."

You stand looking at my outstretched hand and I hold my breath to see if I've managed to mess things up again. Gee I hope not Tin-Tin. I so desperately wish you'd give me a chance.

You don't know how relieved I am when you smile, nod and move towards me, your hand slipping securely into mine.

"I'll go down to the cellar with you on one condition." you say and your look is very determined.

"And what's that then?" I frown, delighted, but pretending to be miffed at the challenge.

You lift your pretty face to mine.

"On the condition, Alan, that you kiss me well and truly before you get me down there, just in case our cheese soufflé's forgotten."

Her firmness continues as I try to look surprised.

"I know you too well Alan Tracy and the moment I let my guard down, the two of us will lose all track of the time."

"Oh Lady," I whisper lowering my head to gently brush her lips with mine. "You don't ever have to ask this guy to kiss you twice."

Sadly that was where it all ended and Tin-Tin Kyrano and I never got the chance to select champagne from the cellar or share the magic of our special Cheese soufflé. Moments after that fleeting kiss; my brothers and I were called out to rescue twelve office workers who somehow managed to get themselves trapped in a lift.

When we returned home to the base I was kind of hoping she'd saved me some of that soufflé, even though I'd teased her and said I wouldn't like it. But as the four of us sifted through the refrigerator at two o'clock in the morning, there was no sign of something special for me on the shelves from the hands of Tin-Tin Kyrano. There were only neatly stacked containers, tomorrow's carefully prepared pancake mixture and a handwritten note from Grandma that we shouldn't be eating chocolate cake at midnight or before we went to bed.

I guess that night my mind wasn't on Grandma or the decadence of her chocolate cake. My brothers were welcome to it all as far as I was concerned. My thoughts were only with something light, fluffy and delicious and a beautiful dark-haired girl who somehow had managed to burrow herself into my heart just that little bit more.

A cheese soufflé.

Funny what can do it to you huh?

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