Quick doodle and ficlet for thundergirl007‘s head cannon (x) that all the boys have the same photo of their family, from when they were all together, and they look at it to remember
how glad they are to have four brothers.
Grandma Tracy was the one who had taken the photo during a warm, family day out in the English countryside. It had been not four months before the fateful ski trip that had claimed their Mother’s life and the boys all have relaxed, charming smiles; unaware of the pain and horror to come. For a posed photograph of all of them, it’s surprisingly candid; their Mother’s arms are curled around little Alan, who looks befuddled, as if he was not quite aware it was being taken. The smile on their Father’s face is warm and kind and he’s got one arm around Gordon’s back, supporting his second youngest as he wobbles on the fence, and the other is pressed to the hollow of Scott’s back, urging the child’s posture straighter. Little John, with his ginger cowlick, is in the middle, hardly coming up to their fathers hip height and a round faced Virgil is leaning back against his mothers knee, his hands clasped smartly behind him. Their Dad had printed copies for all of them, just after Lucille had passed away, and the boys had kept them close ever since.
Alan had cursed fantastically (and received a clip round the ear from Scott) when he had gotten motor grease on his copy; blobby black fingerprints that smudged up the paper edges. It’s creased and folded and always used to get tucked into Alan’s back pocket whenever he got into a race car. Part of him always told himself it was there for luck, but Alan knew full well he really just wanted an excuse to keep them close. He used to forget he’d put it in there though, when greeted by the sight of his actual four big brothers; cheering from the sidelines. Alan knows how lucky he is to have them there, in person, and that they’re not just preserved on the paper and in poor, blurry memories like their mother is.
Gordon used to keep his photo taped to the inside door of his swimming locker, wherever he was going to be competing. He used to always take a moment to just stare at it, psyching himself up to get into the water and to go for the gold. It got wet once, and the protective film that covers the picture has started to peel back at the edges, but Gordon never exchanges it for a freshly-printed copy of the original. After the hydrofoil accident, one of his brothers had taped it by his bedside, a reminder that all of them loved him so much, and that they needed him to recover just as much as he needed to himself. When things felt impossible, when he was fighting his way to his feet only to fall down again and again and again, it was that photo that made him keep trying to get back up once more, and to stand.
John keeps his copy up on Five, and he’s the only (sensible) one who’d managed to frame it. It’s held in pristine condition in the little silver box frame that’s balanced on his bookshelf, tucked between Mission to Mars by Buzz Aldrin and a battered old Star Trek novel with Spock’s face solemn on the peeling cover. There are fingerprints on the glass, and John uses it to remind himself that’s he’s not alone in this; no matter how isolated he sometimes feels, being hundreds of miles away from his brothers and hearing, day in day out, the screams of people who need their help.
Virgil has Scott’s copy and Scott has Virgil’s. Neither are quite sure when the switch was made, but they find they don’t mind having each others. Both are crumpled and loved and have little paint splatters and coffee stains on from when Virgil had re-worked the photo into an oil painting for their father’s fiftieth birthday. He’s got sketches and sketches he’s done from studying it, trying to getting the curve of little Alan’s chubby face just right, and to capture the dorky flick in the front of Scott’s hair. He’d spent hours pouring over his Mother’s eyes, sketching and re-sketching because he can’t quite seem to remember the way they used to look and he’s never really sure it’s ever right.
Scott keeps his (or maybe it was Virgil’s) copy in his wallet, tucked into the plastic ID holder. It’s what he clung to in his USAF days, when his plane went down under enemy fire and he’d been holed up in rival territory for three days, his fingers curling around the thin, fragile paper and his hands shaking with the need to get home to see them, to throw his arms around them for real and to tell his little brothers they mean more to him than anything in the world. That for a Tracy, family is everything. When the bombs have stopped falling all around him and he’s been picked up by an evac team, the first thing he does, limping out of his hospital room, is to curl his arms around each waiting brother in turn. The photo gets crushed into Virgil’s broad back and Scott’s shoulders shake and his brothers have no real words with which to comfort him but it doesn’t stop them from trying.
Jeff Tracy, the last time he’d been seen by the boys, had had the photo miniaturized and held in a keychain and their Father used to glance at it every time he went to open whichever door he was going through. The boys wonder, later, if he’d glanced at it when he was opening the door to leave them for the last time; the day he went missing.
Headcannon that, as we know that Virgil plays the piano and Gordon has a guitar, they like playing together; with Gordon perched on the edge of the piano stool and Virgil’s fingers practically floating over the key’s - the dark haired boy feeling the music more than actually playing it. Neither of them can really sing in tune that well though, despite both of them attempting it, so they usually just play in harmony, letting the notes speak the words for them. Sometimes it’s Virgil who picks up the melody with his right hand over the high notes and sometimes it’s Gordon who plays them out over the top of piano chords and fancy embellishments.
But then comes the day that John, who was tucked up in the corner of the room with his nose a book, started humming along with perfect pitch as he turns the pages. His brothers both have to stop and stare at him. Virgil’s fingers slide off the keys with a horrible kerplunk of shock and Gordon painfully catches his little finger on the E string with a scraping twang. John looks up, startled at the sudden lack of music, his humming trailing off into silence, and the astronaut finds both of his brothers watching him, with brilliant befuddled expressions that slowly widen into joy. John’s face goes bright red and he mumbles out a ‘what?’ but it’s too late and they’re grinning at him in a way John is really not sure he likes and that he knows probably spells trouble and then he’s got a brother either side of him, under his arms, and they’re hauling him to his feet before he can formulate any kind of complaint. John is plonked down in front of the sheet music, slid a copy of the lyrics and is bullied kindly into singing for them.
Scott and Alan, downstairs, exchange a confused look as the sounds of song floating out from the direction of the music room. When they go to investigate, they find John, his face boiled-lobster red with his mouth open and actual melody coming out of it. Which is when the eldest and youngest Tracy’s simultaneously break out laughing. It’s Virgil who gets up and hits them both around the head with his precious sheet music all rolled up and it’s Gordon who growls protectively, putting himself between a furiously blushing John and their howling, hyena brothers. John has never sung in front of anyone before, it’s usually just him, up on Five on his own, humming in the dark before bed. It’s usually only the stars who listen, and John, thinking his brothers have been having him on, goes to leave, upset, but Scott catches him arm and pulls him back, gentle to reassure that they are surprised and therefore amused, yes, but very impressed.
Later though, when they’ve gotten over the fact that John, who they’ve never heard so much of a peep in the shower out of, can sing (all deep and soft and really quite lovely), the boys all settle down in the music room, clustered around the piano. Scott and Alan are happy to provide a gently clapped rhythm for their brothers as they discover that actually, they all have a shared interest right here. John is wobbly and nervous at first, but his brothers encourage him with kind words and eager anticipation and John does his best to force down his embarrassment and sing along as his brothers play the notes.
It’s no surprise, though they groan and roll their eyes anyway, that John’s favorite songs to sing turn out to be David Bowie’s Starman and several other obscure ancient songs about the galaxy above their heads. But then Grandma comes in with a small, sad smile on her face and she says she hasn’t heard that since the days their Grandfather used to sing it to their Father, and suddenly the boy’s don’t mind John’s old taste in music quite so much.
I don’t think Serpine killed Gordon. Skulduggery is clearly trying to imply that it was the red right hand that killed him, as a trademark of Serpine’s, but the opening narration states that Gordon felt no pain and was lucid enough to accept his own death. Not the terrifying, agonising end the red right hand brings. But still, his body showed no marks, so it was clearly magical. What else leaves no marks? Oxygen deprivation.
I think Skulduggery killed Gordon. The Administrator was skilled enough to choke Valkyrie, so Skulduggery could certainly have done it. What’s more, Gordon didn’t notice anybody coming to kill him. Wouldn’t Serpine have taunted a man, home alone, friend of his greatest enemy? Told him that he would bring the end of the world? Furthermore, Serpine is a general. He’s not skilled at being stealthy or subtle. Skulduggery is. He could get in, kill Gordon and get out unseen. Think about it, he wanted to kill Serpine so badly. He knew Serpine. And he’s shown, time and time again, that he’s willing to gamble. This is before he meets Valkyrie, before she changes him for the better. When Ghastly, China, even Meritorious know and fear the level of his hatred for Serpine.
I always thought he came around to believing about the Sceptre and the Faceless Ones too easily, too quickly. Maybe he always knew about them. Maybe he found out that Gordon had the Sceptre, the same way Serpine did. Bliss said that he was able to predict what Serpine did; he was playing the long game. Maybe Skulduggery was playing it longer.
He hated Serpine with a burning passion, wanted him dead more than anything. But he wanted to do it properly, where he could humiliate Serpine by beating him, not just legally. So it’s known that Gordon has the Sceptre, and when he dies, Skulduggery knows Gordon well enough to get information about it. He then does a mixture of indy ploy and knowing Serpine, knowing he’d take the chance and break the Truce. He feeds the Elders information that Serpine’s close to doing it already, and manipulates the situation, using both his knowledge of Serpine and his skill at indy ploy, until his hated enemy is dead
To my good friend and guide, Skulduggery Pleasant I leave the following advice. Your path is your own, and I have no wish to sway you, but sometimes the greatest enemy we can face is ourselves, and the greatest battle is against the darkness within. There is a storm coming, and sometimes the key to safe harbour is hidden from us, and sometimes it is right before our eyes.
Gordon Edgely, to Skulduggery Pleasant (via his will).