Virgil marvelled at his ‘bird, leaning against the railings as he looked over the fresh coat of paint Brains and Tin-Tin had worked tirelessly to replace.
“She’s looking good huh?”
Scott mimicked Virgil’s actions, forearms resting against the rails as he glanced over Thunderbird 2 next to his little brother.
“She sure is,” Virgil replied, almost dreamily. “I can’t wait to test out some of the new systems Brains put in there.”
Scott looked up in alarm, narrowing his eyes at Virgil. “That won’t be for a while though, will it?”
Virgil, looking somewhat amused, stood up straight and made a show of stretching his arms out.
“Well,” he began, smirking at his oldest brother. “Brains did tell me last weekend that I should leave it another few days. But I asked dad, and they both gave me an all clear last night. Soooooo….”
“Absolutely not.” Scott leant up from the rails, crossing his arms over his chest and frowning. “Virg it hasn’t been nearly long enough—”
“It’s been three weeks actually,” Virgil replied in a singsong voice, clearly having fun.
“Like I said, not nearly long enough! The crash knocked you on your ass for a week Virg – you had a concussion, not to mention you were covered in bruises and grazes. You’re not nearly fit enough to handle 2 on your own.”
“You think I’d go on my own? Come on Scott, you know me better than that. I’ve already asked Gordon to come with me.”
Virgil laughed, making his way back through the silo. “If you’ve got a problem with that, you can take it up with dad.”
Scott scowled. Pulling the dad card was always a low blow.
“It’s a good day for it, don’t you think Virg?”
“I sure do Gordon! Nice and bright.”
“Better take your sunglasses huh, don’t want to crash because the sun’s in your eyes!”
“Will you two knock it off?”
Gordon gasped in mock hurt, covering his heart with his hands.
“Scott I’m simply making sure our dear brother takes extra care of himself. I bet you wouldn’t have reminded him to take his glasses!”
Virgil shook with silent laughter at the end of the table – the darkening expression on Scott’s face only made it worse, Gordon smirking across the table from him as he poured another glass of orange juice. He had known the redhead would do everything in his power to wind up their oldest brother on the day of 2's test flight.
“Poor dear Scott, you’re just upset because you’re not the chosen one."
“No, you’re just a shitbag,” Scott shot back.
That did it – Virgil howled with laughter, unable to contain himself.
“Scott, no swearing at the table.” Jeff walked into the room, newspaper in hand, sitting at the head of the table.
“Yeah Scott, no swearing at the table!”
“Gordon, you be quiet and eat your breakfast. And Virgil.” Jeff glanced across the table to his middle son, watching as he wiped away tears of laughter. “Contain yourself. Honestly, you boys will be the death of me.”
“That’s the best you could ask for really, considering all the other options in this line of work,” Gordon replied, earning himself a smack to the head with the newspaper. Scott snorted into his juice.
“I trust the two of you are set?” Jeff asked, opening his newspaper and peering over the top to look at Virgil and Gordon.
“Of course father,” Virgil replied, reaching for his toast.
“When are we ever not ready?” Gordon asked. Jeff raised an eyebrow at him before turning full attention to his paper.
“As I’m scheduled for a meeting this afternoon, Scott will be monitoring the pair of you.”
“Scott?!” Gordon spluttered. Scott smirked at the younger man, leaning back into his chair with his coffee mug in hand.
“Yes son, Scott. Is there a problem with that?”
“Dad,” Gordon started, giving his father a serious look. “The last thing Virgil needs is a mother hen squawking on comms.”
“I would have thought the last thing he needed was a fish splashing around his cockpit, actually,” Scott fired back. Gordon opened his mouth to retort but was cut off by his father.
“That’s enough, both of you. I don’t want to hear any of this foolishness later on – you are to treat this seriously, as you would a rescue. Understood?”
“Understood,” all three of them replied in unison, Gordon glaring at Scott in annoyance. The eldest simply smirked back triumphantly. Virgil shook his head. Standing from the table he brushed himself off.
“Well I’ll be with Brains if you need me. He wants to run through some of the new equipment again before we take off.”
“I’ll come with you!” Gordon replied, scrambling out of his seat to follow Virgil. Scott sighed, shaking his head as his brothers left the kitchen.
“I don’t know why we call Gords and Al the gruesome twosome. Those two cause far more trouble.”
Jeff laughed, smiling at his eldest. “Only when you’re the focus of their attention son.”
“This is Thunderbird 2, preparing for launch.”
“F.A.B.” Scott sat by the window of the control room, watching as palm trees fell to each side of the runway below to allow Thunderbird 2 room to travel. Scott was continuously astounded by 2, how such a colossal piece of machinery could glide along the runway with such grace before taking off into the air. He knew plenty about aircraft – that was part of the trade of being a pilot really – but even so, he often found himself wondering how that bird managed to keep itself in flight.
As 2 reached the end of the runway, launch pad rising to give it the appropriate angle for take-off, Scott called into the radio.
“You ready Virg?”
“He was born ready!” Gordon called in the background, causing Virgil to sigh. Scott could visualise the expression on his brother’s face, mingled exasperation and amusement as he shook his head.
“Yeah. I’m ready.”
“Alright,” Scott murmured, ignoring the anxious feeling in his gut. After all, the last time Virgil had been in Thunderbird 2 was when it was in flames on the runway – who wouldn’t feel nervous after an incident like that? “Clear for take-off.”
The noise of the thrusters firing was thunderous, smoke collecting quickly behind 2 as it slowly rose into the air from the launch pad. Scott watched, heart thundering in his chest, as Virgil smoothly piloted 2 higher and further from the island. His hands itched as he forcibly restrained himself from calling in, knowing it was too soon.
As Thunderbird 2 flew out of sight, becoming nothing more than a green speck in the sky, Scott couldn’t help himself.
“Virgil? Report in.”
“I’m fine Scott,” Virgil replied. “Everything’s running smoothly. Relax.”
“And the new systems? Everything’s working okay?”
“Well we won’t know about some of them until we get further out.”
“Further? How far are you going?”
“Not far enough,” Virgil replied through gritted teeth, clearly irritated with the persistent questions. Gordon sniggered in the background.
“Scott, listen – everything will be fine. If you’re that nervous then get Tin-Tin to make you some of that tea she always has to calm down.”
Well, that wasn’t such a bad idea – not that Scott was ready to admit to his nerves, but Tin-Tin was the clear teamaster of the house. A mug of her tea was like a warm hug.
“Hmm. I’m heading to the labs and then I’ll be back. Five minutes. You need anything, you call me.”
“Yes dad!” Gordon called in a singsong voice. Scott rolled his eyes. All the same he made his way out of the control room with one last glance at the sky, radio in hand.