YOU WANT IT WHERE?
What happens when Virgil's need
for everything to be put away in its proper place collides
head on with Alan's more casual idea of what constitutes an
This story was written in response to the 2004 Tracy Island Writers Forum's Fic Swap Challenge
bleary-eyed and disheveled figure loomed large in the doorway,
nearly filling its dimensions entirely. Its gaping jaw opened
just short of its full capacity as a slender fingered
appendage rose to stifle the remnants of an all too brief
hibernation. The only light was the fine thread of silver
streaking through a tiny slit in the window dressing, its
angle indicative of the full moon rising.
figure surveyed its surroundings, raising its head as if to
sniff the air for any signs of intruders in the area. It
extended a wary foot forward, testing the waters. As it
stepped forward, oh so carefully...
grating sound of distress from out in the hallway, four
bedroom doors swung open, almost simultaneously. The sight on
the floor that greeted them was perplexing to be sure. None of
them had any idea that their brother could do such a talented
impression of a pretzel. The known insomniac of the group was
the first to speak.
Virg! What happened? Are you okay?"
Goddammit, Scott! I'm gonna kill him, I swear!"
What the hell's going on, Virgil?" The patriarch, a vision in
a velvet and satin smoking jacket, boomed throughout the
sorry, Father. I just, um, tripped over Alan's latest booby
blonde's indignation was immediately apparent.
trap! What are you talking about? It's not my fault you don't
watch where you're going. You should be more careful." Virgil
stared at him, incredulous.
I should be more...Alan, it's a crankshaft! What the
hell is a crankshaft doing outside my bedroom door?
rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that."
it in so I could use the micro scanner to find any cracks or
imperfections in it before I installed it into the kit
Roadster I'm building," Alan explained. "I must have gotten
distracted when Tin-Tin came by to, er, say goodnight." He at
least had the courtesy to blush slightly. What he didn't
notice was the deep shade of crimson now gracing Virgil's
features, not to mention his labored breathing. It was obvious
that he was trying to maintain some semblance of control over
his emotions. Everyone else, however, did notice.
reputation of the second eldest Tracy had always been to have
the calmest of demeanors and the steadfastness of a rock, it
was also known that when properly provoked, he could explode
with the fierceness of a nuclear detonation. And more often
than not, youngest brother Alan was the one at ground zero.
Virgil warily because of all the Tracy siblings, he was best
able to recognize the warning signs of imminent disaster where
his closest brother was concerned.
you know what, Virg? Just because you're so anal about keeping
organized, don't expect everyone else to be so manic about it.
Some of us have more important things..."
tried once again, in earnest. "Alan!"
don't you try to make excuses for him, Scott. I'm sick of Mr.
Everything in its place constantly trying to impose his
rules on everyone else. Just who do you think you are anyway,
point, even their father had had enough.
Alan. I don't want to hear any more. Virgil has a point, he
could have been injured and then we'd be down one pilot. You
could have affected the whole operation."
spun immediately on Jeff. "Operation? OPERATION?? That's
not the point, Father. He's irresponsible and he just doesn't
care. Any one of us could have tripped and been injured
because of his carelessness."
Virgil, you've had your say. Now, Alan, I want you to take
that part and put it... back in the workshop where it
belongs, and Virgil?"
the color of burnt honey, narrowed as a forehead creased,
That's it? Alan almost causes me to break my neck and that's
all you have to say about it? Maybe you'd like it if I'd
cracked my skull instead? If I had done something that
stupid, you would have kicked my ass but good."
enough, Virgil. Now, it's late and I don't want to hear any
more about this. Alan's going to be more careful in the
future." He paused to shoot Alan a look that would penetrate
titanium. "After all, there was really no harm done."
Virgil, that was the proverbial last straw.
time, Brains and Tin-Tin had come up from the lab, where they
were working late on some notations, to join the assemblage.
glanced down at the dignity compromised Tracy on the floor,
then up at Alan.
two, what happened?" she asked expectantly.
are you all, uh, right?" Brains asked the heap on the floor.
finally stood up and hastily brushed himself off. "Yeah, no
thanks to the brat."
turned to the man she had left just an hour ago. "Alan, what
did you do?"
does everyone always assume that I've done something?"
Six voices chimed in together.
YOU USUALLY DO!!"
issuing a forewarning scowl to the assembled parties, Alan
swung on his random victim.
fine! I can see that I'm out numbered here."
Alan, cut the crap. Everyone knows that you don't give a damn
about how you leave things."
you weren't such a clumsy ox..."
taking one look at Virgil's face, Gordon chimed in. "Uh, Al,
maybe you should..."
what? Let him stand there and blame me because he tripped over
his own big feet? He's got all the grace of a grizzly bear. I
don't see why I'm always the one getting blamed."
incessant diatribe spouting from between Alan's lips did
nothing to alleviate the tension in the air. As Virgil began
to recall in his memory all of the times that he had found
himself in just this type of situation, his anger only
escalated. Years of dealing with his youngest brother's
carelessness began to bubble up inside of him like a pressure
cooker on a too-hot stove. There were times, he remembered,
after their mother had died, when they'd had to share the same
room due to there being only a modicum of space available.
Trying to navigate through the veritable plethora of discarded
items littering the floor proved to be a problem. For at
times, not a single square inch of carpet was visible.
himself had tried to tidy things up, he would return later
only to find that the same items had once again scattered
themselves about the room. His efforts were futile to be sure.
He thought about what it had taken to keep on an even keel
about the situation during those times. More than once, he'd
had to remind himself that their arrangement was only
temporary. It was when they had moved to the island and
started International Rescue though, that the ramifications of
Alan's carelessness had become clear.
duty called and they were on the scene of some major disaster,
his little brother could be counted on to be just as
responsible and safe as any of his elder siblings. However,
down in the maintenance bay, in the kitchen and just about
anywhere else was a different matter when he was off duty.
That whole incident a few weeks ago involving The Mole and a
load of quick bonding compound left a mess that he was still
scraping off the ceiling. Alan just didn't seem to understand
the virtues of cleaning up after himself.
sometimes wondered about the former racer's hobbies and why he
couldn't seem to keep them separate from the workplace. He was
always finding discarded tools lying about, not to mention
unrecognizable stains on the hangar floor. In the past he had
tried to let it slide because the reality was that Alan was a
hard worker and a definite asset to IR. But, the clutter he
left behind was becoming harder and harder to overlook. Not
that Gordon didn't also have his moments, but he surmised that
Alan must have majored in general disarray.
for everything and everything in its place. That
was one of his grandmother's favorite sayings from when she
was a girl. Virgil had always thought of his grandmother as a
saint, having to put up with the shenanigans of five growing
and very rambunctious boys...including Alan. He didn't know
how she had done it and decided it was only due to Scott's
intervention, taking over some of the family responsibilities
in their father's absence, that got her through it all without
having a stroke. They could all be a handful, but Alan...he
was a real piece of work.
you know what else...?"
would he ever shut up?'
begun to seethe. The alarm on Scott's face should have given
Alan ample warning of the ensuing melt down, had he been
paying attention to anything but the sound of his own voice.
disgusted, Jeff retired to the confines of his study and
decided to let the boys work it out amongst themselves. After
all, the sleeping rooms were soundproofed and they were all
adults, right? Well, one would certainly have thought, but
Alan and Virgil were disparate forces akin to identical poles
of a magnet, repelling each other. They mixed together like
oil and water, with Virgil determined to be the one floating
on top. It was a situation that had existed practically since
Alan had become a toddler.
Scott and Gordon had dragged Virgil back into his room and
locked the door so he couldn't get out. They tried to placate
him by telling him that they would devise the mother of all
practical jokes in order to wreak revenge upon the unrepentant
baby of the family. It seemed to work...they thought.
Forty-eight hours later found Gordon and the afore affronted
Tracy entertaining themselves in the private cinema room
located downstairs from the lounge and just off the rec room.
They'd been watching a classic; an old animated flick, one of
those that used marionettes to play the characters. It was an
art form that wasn't used very often any more because of the
degree of difficulty and the expense involved in creating an
entire world that was only about 1/3 the size of a human's.
arrived with Tin-Tin about 30 minutes into the movie. As
usual, he wanted to know what parts he'd missed. Virgil rolled
his eyes. "Just watch the beginning later, Alan. But, for
right now just shut up so we can hear." Alan pouted, but
didn't respond. It was about half way through the film that
the emergency klaxon sounded.
just at the good part!" Gordon sighed.
always watch it later," Alan mocked.
shot him an admonishing look, but let the comment go for now.
Tin-Tin just shook her head, wondering if he would ever grow
up. Virgil turned and ran back up the aisle until his foot
went thunkas it landed smack dab in Alan's discarded
popcorn bucket. It had, of course, been set on the floor
instead of in its proper place in the holder. Try as he might,
he just couldn't get the damned thing off his foot. Seeing his
dilemma, and stifling a grin, Gordon did his best to help his
older brother out of his absurd predicament. As he gave one
last tug on it, the bucket suddenly released itself, sending
Gordon flying into the cheap seats.
couldn't be better," came the cynical reply.
that bucket?" Virgil asked.
only answer was to pick it up and hurry out of the theater.
entered the lounge, everyone else was already assembled.
could join us, boys. Hope we didn't take you away from
them disapprovingly, waiting for an explanation for their slow
response to the alarm. Virgil didn't even hesitate. With a
determined look in his eye, he stalked across the lounge,
popcorn receptacle in hand. Alan's eyes widened as his elder
brother lifted the bucket and plopped it unceremoniously down
on his head with an audible thud. He then turned on his heel
and took his place on the couch beside Scott.
He-Hey! What are you doing, you idiot?"
butter and salt beauty pack will teach you not to leave things
where other people can step into them."
intervened. "That's enough!" His voice reverberated throughout
the lounge, causing everyone to involuntarily flinch.
know what the beef is between you two, but you'd better cook
it up and eat it. I'll have none of this foolishness going on
during a mission! Is that understood?"
Alan a silencing look that would shut down an active volcano
in mid eruption. He opened his mouth in a wordless reply, but
just sighed instead.
Father," Virgil added.
then if you two don't mind, we'll start our briefing now."
mission was a very cut-and-dried one; rescue two trapped night
watchman from the basement of a museum in Cairo after a
terrorist bombing had entombed them there. Luckily, it was
only a small explosion, relegated to one section of the
building, a warning of sorts. The alliance that Egypt had made
with the World Union had angered some of the other interests
in that region and retaliations had begun to occur
sporadically around the country. Scott, as usual, was first on
the scene and had the entire layout of the building and the
construction specs committed to memory before Virgil had even
arrived. Alan had also come along but this time, at Scott's
request, had ridden in Thunderbird One with him. He knew that
Virgil wouldn't have asked as he didn't want to effect any
change in procedure due to his personal misgivings about his
As Two set
down in a field just south of the structure Alan went to meet
his brother and coordinate their part of the rescue. Things
were kept on a professional level, their earlier altercation
shelved for the moment. Their plan was to use the Mole to
drill to where the two men were trapped. They had to be
careful because the vibrations from the gargantuan machine
could easily cause more of the earth to collapse down around
the two men underneath. It would have to be slow going at
first. It was not, however, a procedure that they were
unfamiliar with by any means.
they began, Virgil wanted to take a look inside the museum to
gauge the stability of the flooring above the crater that had
been created by the blast. As he came in through the service
entrance, he was stunned by the number of artifacts just
strewn about the huge storage room. Some of them had just
arrived and were waiting to be restored for public viewing,
the rest were waiting to be shipped to other facilities around
the world, facilities with more space to fill. As he tried to
take in the sheer historical worth of all the objects
surrounding him, his comm watch came to life. It was Scott.
He'd had to set up mobile control at the other end of the
building because it was the only place with enough room.
how's it looking?"
himself out of his reverie. "Hmmm? Oh, I'll know in a second,
Scott." He went over and leaned down around the edge of the
gaping hole. The flooring had seemed stable enough but there
was so much debris, he couldn't even see where the men where
located, much less get any rescue equipment down there from
above. No, the only way this was going to work was if they
were to come at them from underneath. It was then that Alan
came into the room carrying a trauma kit in case it was
needed. He walked over to where Virgil was, setting the kit on
wadda'ya think, Virg? What's the action?"
explaining his findings to his younger brother and the
procedure they would need to invoke, the two men got up to go
and retrieve the Mole. As he glanced at the man beside him
Virgil thought to himself a little guiltily that yes, on the
job, Alan was indeed the consummate professional. His
attention was momentarily distracted by the sound of an urn
crashing to the floor, its position on a shelf disturbed by
the explosion. As he turned to look, he tripped over the case
containing the trauma kit, which was still on the floor. He
flailed for purchase until he grabbed onto what felt like
someone's torn shirt. Out of the corner of his eye, it
appeared to be the body of a man. Virgil instinctively put his
arm around it and held on. As he went falling into the crater,
he was able to grab onto the edge of the flooring surrounding
it with his other arm.
Alan watched helplessly and let out the breath he was holding
when he saw that Virgil was still safe, but not yet out of
turned to face the victim he was holding onto, he recoiled in
horror and let out a scream that could be heard all the way to
the other end of the structure. The "man" he had tried to save
was actually a mummy that had been temporarily placed in
storage. Its facial covering was partially unraveled revealing
features that were completely hideous.
let go of it, hoping it wouldn't fall on anything too vital
and pulled himself up with his now free arm. His wrist comm
boomed to life as Scott's frantic voice filled the airwaves.
Alan! Do you read me? What's happened? I thought I heard a
couldn't help himself. He became temporarily incapacitated as
a fit of laughter overwhelmed him. Virgil, however didn't find
it quite so hilarious.
daggers at Alan with his eyes as he made his reply to his
anxious older brother.
fine, Scott. No worries."
thought I heard..."
we're fine!" he snapped.
then, keep me posted," came Scott's bewildered reply.
meant to snap at his brother. But since he didn't currently
have Alan's neck in his grasp...
brother continued to display his amusement at the situation.
Alan, that's enough!!"
his laughter died down and he was able to help Virgil up out
of the crater. Once he got back on his feet, he made a
threatening gesture in the general direction of the youngest
Alan, if you breathe one word of this to anyone..."
stood there, his expression one of pure innocence, not that
Virgil was buying it.
regarded him for another second before relenting. "Okay,
c'mon. We've got work to do."
had been successful. Both security guards were now safe and
sound and the museum's curator had been eternally grateful
that the whole incident had incurred no loss of life. Even the
historical losses were minimal, all and all, a good day at the
home seemed to go by quickly, although Scott wondered at the
insufferable smirk on Alan's face.
headed straight for the shower and tried to wash away the
tension induced stiffness that ran all the way across his
shoulders and down the back of his neck. He stood in the
steaming hot water for as long as he could before he had to
get dressed and go to the debriefing. He arrived in the lounge
to find everyone there with the same stupid smirk on their
faces that Alan had displayed earlier. He tensed again,
anticipating the inevitable. Gordon, as expected, threw the
Virg, heard that museum was a happening place. It was nice of
you to try and save King Tut. Problem is, you were about three
thousand years too late."
some sweet young thing was almost scared to death though."
Scott couldn't resist joining in.
dear. Hope you were able to get her calmed down without too
stared at Alan, who was still feigning innocence; incredulous
that he'd have the balls to do just what he knew would set his
older brother off again. As he charged at him, he was
oblivious to the cries of protest coming from his father and
the shouts of alarm coming from just about everyone else. As
he picked him up bodily and headed for the balcony, Scott was
the first to catch up with him.
hesitation, Virgil, who was as strong as a bull, lifted Alan
up over his head and flung him the 25 feet to the swimming
pool below, narrowly missing the edge. After the initial
splash that sent water flying up onto the patio, the youngest
Tracy surfaced, much to everyone's relief. He flailed and
spluttered about until he found the ladder and pulled himself
turned to see gaping eyes, all on him. No one uttered a sound
but their shock was obvious. Jeff simply opened the door to
his study and waited for Virgil to enter through it, closing
it behind them both. He knew that whatever his father was
about to unload on him would be bad, really bad. But, he had
finally been able to release all the animosity he had built up
regarding his meddlesome little brother and that, in his mind,
would more than make up for it.