A break was just what he needed, the sharp chime of the bell replaced by the dull droning of conversation in the lounge. Gordon would be busy with the retrieval of the escape pod, which would give Parker a short nap on the shaded lounge.
Just a little one, then he could get back to work.
Creaky joints stretched as Parker pulled himself up, checking his watch to ensure he hadn't been gone longer than was appropriate. Regardless the young man's requests, Gordon was still stuck while his brothers were out looking for answers about their father. An image of Gordon laying across the back seat of Fab1 sent a frown across his face and he shook it away. The boy would be fine. He just had a long road to healing.
Fifteen minutes seemed too short a time to rest, but he did feel a bit more refreshed, which may be why he quickly picked up on something amiss.
It was quiet.
That couldn't be right. Last he heard, Scott was having trouble with the capsule. Gordon should be a right mess trying to get his Thunderbird and brother out of their dilemma.
He was up from the lounger and moving towards the stairs as curiousity began to morph into an unsettled confusion. A small pang of guilt tried to wriggle its way into his mind. Her ladyship had instructed him to assist Gordon until their return and he had, up until Parker had given himself a break.
The glow from the central hub that detailed the group's progress was gone, leaving the center of the lounge empty, Gordon included.
The couch lay vacant, the bothersome blonde no where to be seen. Parker was left with a cold fear that something could happen to the boy if he'd gotten up on his own. That fear mixed with a healthy dose of anger, giving him the jolt he needed to spin and begin looking for his charge.
"Gordon?" Parker called from the center of the home, waiting for any kind of answer. When he didn't receive an answer, he quickly began cataloguing the places the injured man could get to on his own, the old thief's mind racing.
His first thought was the kitchen, but that was down stairs.
Parker's steps stuttered to a halt as the image of Gordon actually attempting the trek sent his heart into his throat. Logic said he hadn't noticed a body at the bottom of the steps when he'd come inside, but that didn't mean it wasn't a possibility. Gordon could have fallen and pulled himself in any direction to seek help - looking for the man Penelope had left to watch over him.
"Gordon?" He tried again with a bit more urgency, taking the stairs two at a time. To his relief, the area was void of the broken aquanaut, but Parker couldn't stop his imagination as he looked into the kitchen.
What if Gordon had tried to cook? What if he'd set himself on fire and was now simply a pile of charcoal his brothers would use to roast Parker for his neglect? It was irrational, but the guilt was there.
A quick check found the kitchen to be empty as well. Perhaps, the blonde had simply gone to his room, but Parker had caught Gordon snoozing enough time on the couch to know he wouldn't make that trek on his own just for a nap.
That thought sent a flood of potential death traps for a man who lacked basic mobility functions. Steps leading to platforms that hung over a couple hundred foot drop were a death sentence if Gordon tripped or slid through the bars.
Surely, he wouldn't go down there.
But even as the denial flitted across his mind, Parker knew it would be the only place Gordon would go. He was stuck at home while his brothers risked life and limb. He'd be the expert on that at the moment.
Injury did more than just affect how a person walked or - in Parker's case, a while back - drive. It left you feeling useless and more of a liability than anything. Gordon would be dealing with these inadequacies for a few months, possibly longer with physical therapy. At least, therapy allowed him to do something other than sit and watch.
The elevator door opened onto one of the lower levels of the hangar before the chauffeur even realized he'd boarded. Parker had only visited this part of the island a small handful of times, but he could tell how empty it was without three of the Thunderbirds that lived there. However, it made it infinitely easier to find his charge.
Gordon was sitting against a stack of crates, propped up with the broken leg stretched out over the floor. It didn't look at all comfortable.
Next to the crates was a pile of junk. At least, Parker thought it looked like scrap waiting to be disposed of.
The closer he got to the location, he noticed the tinny sound of a communicator, the voices muted in comparison to the audio upstairs. Parker couldn't quite make out what they were saying, but he could hear the alarm. And he could see the lines of tension on Gordon's face as he listened to what should have been a simple mission turn into something potentially life threatening.
With Lady Penelope in the middle of it.
Years of experience had him pushing the concern for her ladyship away for the time being. She was strong and well trained. Calm under even the most pressure. The only time Parker had seen that resolve slip was whenever Gordon seemed to find the need to put himself in harm's way. Current situation included.
Closer now, the aquanaut showed no sign of noticing his presence until his hand dropped, deliberately placing the comm on the floor beside him. The simple gesture allowed Parker to hear loud and clear that Thunderbird 2's thrusters were flooded. A shocking turn he hadn't expected.
"Good nap?" Gordon asked with a small smile, no malice in his tone. He actually sounded concerned that Parker might not have gotten the rest desired. That alone was an icy dagger of guilt to his gut.
Instead of babbling through an apology, he turned his attention to the mission. "Big trouble h'I suspect?"
The word "impact" rang out and the look that crossed Gordon's face was enough to silence any further questions. Even Parker couldn't help the flutter of panic as he took a seat on the unforgiving floor. They both seemed to hold their breath as they waited, the blonde wincing as they heard the collective grunts as Thunderbird 2 hit.
And the Penelope, calm and cool, had them breathing once more. They were safe. Everyone accounted for and headed for the surface. They'd been underwater this whole time? That explained the flooding.
Silence filled the room as the comm finally switched off. The danger had passed. Now, all Parker had to deal with was a battered aquanaut who had decided to take an unnecessary walk.
"Damnit, Scott -" the sharp words were followed by a fist connecting with the crate holding Gordon up.
Okay, maybe this just got a lot more complicated.
"Gordon?" Parker started, tentatively, picking up the communicator and slipping it into his pocket. "H'I h'appear to 'ave missed quite a bit."
The younger man let out a steadying breath, but the tightness in his jaw spoke volumes. Of the brothers, Gordon was easiest to read. Simple to see how he felt about Lady Penelope and just as easy to read the anger that came with anyone who would put her in danger.
Eventually, his one good hand lifted, the blonde not willing to divulge what was going on in his head at the moment. Instead, he plastered a sheepish grin on his tanned face, the bruising already gone after a week in recovery.
"Guess I'm in trouble for wandering off, huh?"
Parker didn't want to take the bait. He wanted to know exactly what had happened to draw such an unrestrained reaction from the usually laid back man. And on a normal day, he would have been relentless in his questioning.
But Parker could still hear the calm in Penelope's voice that told him everything was under control. There was no need to cause Gordon any more stress than he was already dealing with.
So with a knowing grin, he cut his charge a little slack. "H'I won't tell h'if you won't." Parker grimaced at the raised brow. "And h'I suppose that bell will be fished h'out of the pool once you're back in the lounge."
A genuine laugh escaped the aquanaut. "Seriously? I'm surprised you didn't chuck it off the island." A mischievous grin replaced the fake one. "You actually lasted longer than I thought you would."
This hit Parker in the place he usually kept his pride. He'd spent much of his early life conning the weak minded. He didn't much care for being on the receiving end. "H'all the food and toe massages?"
"Payback," amber eyes twinkled with amusement. "Took me hours to get rid of that pole cat stink."
His earlier annoyance dissolved as Parker let out his own laugh. "Shoulda known h'I wouldn't be coming h'away from that one unscathed. Truce?" He offered a hand, already getting to his feet.
"Truce," Gordon took it, wincing as he let himself be pulled onto his uninjured leg. Parker looped the arm over his shoulders, noting the weight the younger man was placing on him.
"Exactly 'ow did you get down 'ere?" Parker asked, grunting as he found it difficult to steady the blonde.
"MAX drove me." The older man immediately began searching for the robot, ready to pawn the cumbersome aquanaut onto it. "I think Brains needed him for something, or he just left. I can't be certain."
"Just great," Parker groused, taking a step to turn them around. "You sure there's not a wheelchair h'around-" He was cut short as his charge didn't move and Parker turned to see the boy's attention on the pile of scrap.
"Hold up a sec," Gordon hobbled towards the heap. "There's something I need."
It really wasn't Gordon's decision, his movements halting as the impact of the cast sent another grimace across his face. Parker could have easily pulled him away and back to the relative safety of the lounge. They could just get back to their roles of injured and caretaker, if for just a few more hours.
But he couldn't help detecting the desperation that Gordon had tried to hide.
"What is it?" The chauffeur asked as they made their way to the edge. It all looked like random bits of metal and busted machinery. Nothing of use unless it was melted down.
And then he saw it. A crinkled piece of metal, bent at an odd angle with yellow paint scarred by fallen rock. The strip of red that cut across it was the only identification he needed to understand the significance.
Propping Gordon up as best he could, Parker leaned into the pile, pulling free the ruined piece of Thunderbird 4. When he turned back for confirmation, he caught the flash of hesitation - the pain of seeing one's ship in miniscule pieces and knowing that could have been you. Parker was all too familiar with that look and wished there were something he could do. For now, the remnant would have to do.
The elder man tucked the piece of metal under his arm and collected his charge once more.
"Anything else h'I can do before the h'others h'arrive?" The urge to actually be helpful to Gordon was growing with the boy's silence. The trek was eradicating what strength he still had.
"Nah, just get me to the couch. You can have the rest of the day to do whatever." Gordon grunted as they stepped into the elevator.
"That's h'awefully considerate h'of you." Parker grinned as a smile spread over the blonde's face.
"What can I say. I'm in a giving mood."
The rest of the trek went without a hitch, Parker adjusting the pillow behind Gordon's back before picking up the piece of Thunderbird 4. "H'I'll just leave this in your room."
"Thanks, Parker." His eyes had already drooped with the need for rest. The elder man was on his way up to do as he'd said when Gordon called after him. "Make sure Scott gets a good boot to the head for me."
Parker's brow knit in confusion. Whatever had happened, he had a feeling it wasn't going to go well between the two. At least Gordon had the advantage of sympathy.
And he had Parker. That was for certain.