This story was written in response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum's 2006 Fic Swap Challenge.

Fic Swap Request: A rescue, a nice moment between (any of) the boys, and something ridiculous. Grandma's apple pie on fire, chicken pox, whatever takes your fancy.

Alan leaned up against the lanai doors with his arms folded, his expression disapproving and his head moving from side to side.

"You know, Gordon, you really shouldn't come into the house soaking wet."

"I know that, Al. It's just that lightening, it's frightening...Hey, and I made a funny. Anyway, I was afraid I'd get my tail fried if I didn't get it out of the pool and inside right then."

"But you knew the storm was coming. I don't see why you were even in the water."

"It's just something I have to do, Al. You know, like you have to be a pain in the butt all the time."

Alan frowned and was about to launch into a protest when he saw the gleam in his older brother's eye.

"Uh, hey Gords, you know how you always wanted to try your, um, fins at platform diving?"

Gordon took the bait. "Yeah?"

"Well if you'll just step right this way I can give you a quick lesson."

Gordon looked out over the balcony and raised an eyebrow at his younger sibling. "I'm sure you could, especially after that swan dive you took."

At this, Alan's face fell. "Yeah, well, that wasn't exactly my idea now, was it?"

"Well you did have a little help from Virg."

"Don't joke about that, Gordon. He scared the living shit out of me. I've never seen him so mad."

"Well, that's Virgil for you. You can only push him so far and then you'd better stand the hell back. Besides, you asked for it, riding him the way you did."

Gordon became thoughtful as he walked outside and leaned over the railing. He was staring down at the pool and patio area, his chin resting on his hands.

"But it really would have ruined my day if he'd missed the pool with you."

Alan smiled warmly. "Aw, really. I'm touched, Gordo."

"Yeah, since then I'd be the youngest, they probably would have made me clean up the mess."

"Why you..." Alan charged Gordon, making like he was going to throw him over the edge. Gordon was ready with a block. Just as they touched, a bolt of lightening stuck within inches of where they were standing. The jolt sent them both flying back into the lounge in a crumpled heap. Gordon was the first to recover.

"Whoa, what a ride!"

Alan was a bit more shaken up. "D-Did we just..."

"No, Al, but it was damned close. We were both lucky it didn't hit the iron railing."

Just then, the emergency klaxon blared.

"Oh, for the love of..." He held out a hand to his younger brother. "C'mon, Al, let me help you up."

As he did so, his two eldest brothers bolted into the lounge and crashed into both of them. There was now a pile up of Tracys blocking the entrance to the lounge. Luckily, John was now earthbound and could offer his assistance. As he came upon the chaotic scene, the corners of his mouth went up in a fiendish smirk. In the style of true American sports legends, John launched himself into the air so that he landed on top of the lot of them.

"Oof!" Gordon exclaimed. "Dammit, John! Was that really necessary?"

"Sorry, couldn't resist."

"Well at least it wasn't Virgil."


A certain senior Tracy did not, however, appear to be amused. He put a hand to his forehead and closed his eyes, remembering similar stunts performed by his sons as adolescents. He sighed, exasperated.

"What do you all think you're doing? We've got a rescue to perform. There's a huge fire at a hotel near Central Park in New York. Scott, you can get the details through a direct feed to your comm. link from Five by using your data extraction code. There are some people trapped just below the roof of the high rise and their way is blocked in both directions. Now, get your butts going!"

The siblings hadn't noticed their father waiting there in the wings. They all hurriedly scrambled to their feet, nearly knocking each other over again in the process. Jeff just threw his hands up in resignation. After a humble chorus of Yes, Father! his sons were on the way to their various craft.

As he approached the scene of the fire, Scott used his life sign indicators to seek out the trapped victims. Once he'd pinpointed their position and informed Virgil, his next task was to find a safe place to land that would also afford him easy access to the danger zone.

It took some doing, but he was finally able to set his 'Bird down in an area on the southern end of the park near a large outcropping of trees. Thunderbird Two, though, would be another matter. A discreet landing was difficult to begin with because of its sheer size. For Virgil to have to land right in the middle of the island of Manhattan would be a logistical challenge any way you looked at it. In addition, the enormous crowds, which had already begun forming in the densely populated district, would pose a huge problem and the time they would spend dispersing them was a luxury they couldn't afford right now.

He had called in for assistance from the local authorities en route but sometimes the amazing speeds that Thunderbird One could travel at were a hindrance. On occasion, he'd had no choice but to sit there and wait for help from the local crowd control. If he had tried to venture out on his own, the well-meaning onlookers would have completely engulfed him, making him then part of the problem.

As Thunderbird Two approached, Scott had Virgil land just to the east of Cleopatra's Needle. The four sided obelisk, inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphics, was given to the United States in 1869 by the Khedive of Egypt in hopes of cultivating trade relations between the two countries. Virgil was careful not to disturb the structure with the blast from his landing jets as he set down on a nearby athletic field.

Having loaded the pod containing all the necessary fire fighting equipment, Virgil doled out the vehicle assignments to each of his three brothers. All business now, the four Tracy men quickly exited the pod and headed for the high rise, which was now almost fully involved.

Meanwhile, Scott had taken his place with Mobile Control about 50 yards back from the base of the building so that falling debris would not become an issue. His face showed minute signs of relief at the sight of John in International Rescue's own colossal fire truck.

The fire was moving so fast and the heat was so intense. Must be some sort of accelerant,thought the second eldest Tracy brother. It smacked of arson, but they would worry about that later. The main priority now was to get those people out.

Gordon and Alan were using an invention of Brains' that Jeff had originally scoffed at as being too impractical, as it could only be used on one type of rescue. It was an elevated platform using a carriage attached to a lifeline made of an unbreakable, yet highly flexible material. There was a huge balloon which resembled a mini dirigible attached to the end of the line and filled with a lighter-than-air gas. Attached further on down the line, was a basket resembling what used to be referred to as a "cherry picker," which could hold two to three grown men. The idea was to use a release valve to manually control how much gas was pumped into the balloon, depending on how quickly you wanted to raise or lower the basket. The line was long enough to reach the extreme heights that conventional fire fighting equipment could not. Gordon was a bit uneasy as this was the first time he'd used the equipment on an actual rescue, but it worked great in the simulations and the premise was sound. Virgil assisted them by being the one in charge of regulating the balloon's altitude.

Scott had informed them that there were a total of six people trapped in the stairwell between the thirtieth floor and the roof. The plan was to raise the basket to the correct height, punch a hole in the wall with another handy little device known as the Sonic Reverberator and then get the people out. It would be touch and go for a brief time as one of them would have to actually go inside and help get the victims to safety, but Alan figured they could accomplish the task relatively easily as long as the roof didn't cave in.

Gordon shouted, with the use of a microphone, for the people inside to stand back while Alan brandished the hand held device and proceeded to blow a five foot hole in the wall.

Virgil almost held his breath as he watched them pull the first victim out. As he was lowering the carriage down with Gordon and an elderly man, it was all he could do to keep it from falling at a faster rate than was safe. Alan was now in the building and he just wanted to get this whole thing over with as soon as possible. Though it was difficult, he forced himself do it slowly and steadily.

Things did end up going fairly easily. That is, until Alan started leading the fifth person out. Somewhere there was rumbling sound and a beam fell from the ceiling. A woman screamed as it landed mere millimeters from where Alan stood helping a young woman.

Virgil was immediately on the comm. channel.

"Gordon! Gordon, what's happened?"

But Scott had already heard Alan in the background through Gordon's wrist comm.

"It's okay, Virg. It was a close one, but they're fine. Just keep it going. John can't hold back those flames much longer."

Virgil expelled a huge breath. "Right. Thanks, Scott. It's just that...about the flames..."

"What about them?"

Virgil thought better of pursuing this line of thought. After all nothing could be done about it now. John was using the best fire fighting agents they had and no revelation of his about the origins of the fire were going to make his task any easier.

"Nothing, Scott. It's not important right now."

"You sure? You don't sound convinced."

"Yeah...yeah, I'm sure."

And with that, he turned his attention back to the task at hand.

When all was said and done, twenty-two people had lost their lives. Happily though, the six people that had been rescued by IR were not among them. This was no comfort to Virgil, who still couldn't let go of the fact that these people were, in effect, murdered. The report released by the arson squad confirmed that a highly flammable agent had been introduced by placing a sample of the chemical in each of the fire extinguishers on every floor of the hotel under the guise of the annual inspection of the equipment.

All it took was a small amount to ignite the fire. As each extinguisher canister exploded from the heat, it was as if the fire had started anew. It was no wonder John had had such difficulty holding it at bay. But, in the end, it was determined that many more victims would have perished had it not been for the combination of their efforts and yet another fantastic example of Brains' ingenuity.

Virgil signed off the news link website. There was nothing to be done. Scott came looking for his oldest sibling and found him still at his desk, a somber expression covering his handsome features.

Scott knew what was ailing his brother and paused a minute at the door before entering his room. Both of them always knew when the other was out of sorts, but since simply talking it out had never been the Tracys' style...

"You know, your face is going to freeze that way."

"Hum?" Virgil was slow to ease out of his reverie. "What did you say, Scott?"

"Oh, just that Gordon took Thunderbird Two out for a joyride and nicked her wing on the hangar door."

Virgil responded as though he couldn't be bothered. "Oh, yeah...that's nice."

Scott shook his head out of exasperation. "VIRG!"

"What? You don't have to shout you know. I'm right here."

"You sure about that?"

Now Virgil was becoming exasperated.

"Did you want something?"

"Yeah, I need a running partner. You know, it may not be very safe out there for someone going it alone in the big, bad jungle. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"

"Well, if you are able to find any one of those animals here on this island, I'll carry you around it."

"Thanks but that would be rather undignified, don't you think?"

Virgil sighed. His older brother wasn't going to give up on him. Typical Scott. "Okay, okay. You win."

Scott's already budding grin widened and Virgil went to change into his workout clothes. When he was ready to go, he turned to Scott, amusement dancing in his warm honey eyes.

"Besides, Gordon wouldn't even make it out of the hangar with Two..."

He had only decided to meet Gordon down in Thunderbird Two's hangar because it was about the furthest they could get away from the villa outside of the roundhouse and Alan decided he could do with some solitude.

"Okay, Gordon. What was it that was so urgent?"

"Well, you know how Virg is always busting my chops whenever I talk about getting more flight time in Two?"

"Yeah, well, that's not exactly front page news."

"I know Al, but right now he and Scott are on the other side of the island and I got me a great big green 'Bird."

Alan looked up at the gargantuan hulk that was Thunderbird Two. "You've gotta be kidding me! He'll skin you alive. Besides he can see you take off."

"Well, I don't have to actually fly her. Maybe I'll just do a check of her systems, you know, a diagnostic or something."

"I'll just remember you said that when Virg finds out and we have to peel you off the floor after her pounds you into it."

"Aw, you worry too much, Al."

He grabbed hold of the steering yoke and pulled a lever down next to his leg. Immediately, the cockpit was illuminated and the gauges began registering.

"Okay, Gordo, that's enough. I'm already implicated here. I don't want to get pounded too."

"Oh, relax, will ya?"

Gordon went to turn on the ignition and Alan bolted from his seat.

"No, Gordon!"

As he grabbed for Gordon's arm, a jolt went through both their bodies, sending them reeling ass over head onto the floor.

"Jesus, what the...?"

That's when Gordon heard it, that mocking voice. It was a voice he wouldn't soon forget:

I knew you couldn't keep your #$& hands off my 'Bird. Your ass is mine!

He looked around for his younger brother, but the only thing he saw was the back of him as he was running out the hangar door.

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