No Grave to Visit
It’s the boy’s first Father’s Day without their Father around.
John point blank refuses to come down from Five. He locks his jaw, grits his teeth and forces himself to stay, stationary and floating, his muscles tense and trembling without his consent, at his station. He’s going to be ready in case a rescue call comes in, in case he’s needed. It’s what their Father would have wanted John, tired and trembling, tells himself. International Rescue is Jeff’s organization and today of all days John is not going to let him down.
Later though, his resolve slowly crumbles. It cracks away, peeling like flaky paint, and it leaves John feeling very small; a tiny dot adrift in the nothingness of space, and he starts to wonder if he should have perhaps named a star for his Father by now, like he had for his Mother, when she…
John ends up curled on his own in his room in the gravity ring, pushed against his headboard and blocking out both EOS’ and his brother’s calls. He’s got his space-print duvet over his head and his hands pressed to his ears and he’s shaking in the silence when all he needs is his Dad’s hand on his shoulder and the sharp spice of whisky and cinnamon and cigarette smoke breathed into his hair.
John doesn’t look at the protocols, running permanent searches for Jefferson Tracy, at all. He can’t bring himself to look at empty results today.
Scott passively straight up ignores the significance of the date. Everything is quiet and tense and Scott doesn’t mention anything at all. He tries his best to go on like it’s just another day, but beneath his awkward, forced routine, he just knows. It’s just there and raw and an empty space at their table.
He calls John six times and gets irrationally angry when his brother doesn’t pick up. As the day wears on, Scott gets increasingly and increasingly more edgy and irritated and he finally snaps at Virgil and Gordon, who are easy targets because they were just there, shouting that the whole day is stupid and that they shouldn’t be grieving him, because Jefferson Tracy is not dead. He can’t be dead. Scott’s brothers understand though, and Virgil just silently loops his fingers around Scott’s wrist, guiding him to the sofa and pushing his head down between his knees, talking their eldest through breaths.
Virgil has still got the gift that he’d been planning to give his Father. Two’s Pilot has been prepared for months; he’d made it long before Jeff had even disappeared. It’s a watch. One Virgil made himself from scratch; all fine, elegant lines and some really beautiful engineering. He spent ages on it, and now it’s just sat wrapped up under his bed because Virgil has no one to give it to anymore. He takes it out and stares at it, trailing his fingers over silver, stylish wrapping paper and ribbon. Eventually, Virgil makes himself put the gift away, trying his best to be positive and to think that maybe he can just give it to Jeff next year.
Once they’ve found him.
Gordon is in the pool almost as soon as he wakes. He’s doing rapid, angry, frustrated lengths; refusing to come out for anything because that’s just how he deals with grief. He pushes it away and looses himself in the repetitive, constant motion of the waves and the water and his own body gliding professionally through it. But today each tumble turn just twists the knot ever tighter in his stomach. Today swimming does not help at all.
Gordon drags himself out of the pool, leaving a damp, splotchy trail of water all over the flagstones as he shakes his head like a dog before burying it in a towel. He dresses and lumbers up to the kitchen, slumping at the breakfast bar. His hair is still dripping wetly into the back of his shirt collar… which, in yet another attempt to distract himself, gives Gordon a great idea for a prank…
Little Alan doesn’t even realize what day it is. Until that is, his preordained mainland-led lesson plan gives him the arts and crafts guide on how to make a Father’s Day card. Glumly, Alan sneaks into Virgil’s craft supply and he numbly makes the card anyway; because his home school lessons had told him too. He stares at the card, the inside left blank, and ends up setting it on Jeff’s desk, next to the bunch of flowers that Grandma Tracy has put there and Alan just sits under it, like he’s a child again, and watches the way the light catches the red, sparkly glitter glue he’s splodged onto a crude picture he’d drawn of Thunderbird Three.
The evening wears on and Alan finds himself tense and bored and not even his computer games can take his mind off things, and so he gets up and, following the lesson guide again, he makes another card.
This one he gives to Scott. His big brother has fallen asleep on the sofa, worn out by his earlier ranting, and Alan snakes the thing, more glitter glue and plastic hearts and space ship stickers than actual card, under Scott’s fingers, where they rest limply on the couch cushion.
Inside he’s written a explanation that while Scott is not at all his Father, he’s been the next best thing while Jeff is gone, and that Alan wanted to show he understands everything that their big brother is doing for them, and that is so, so grateful and that he loves him very much.
A sleepy, half awake Scott finds Alan half an hour later and throws his arms around his baby brother and cries into his shoulder.
In the evening, with no grave to visit, the four Earthbound Tracy boys end up cuddled together on the sofa, a movie playing away in the background, and their bodies heaped together as one big Tracy puppy pile. They hear nothing at all from John in space.