Just One of Those People
Chapter 2 - Meet the Boys
I checked it off in my mind as Hiram showed me around. When he proudly showed off their Thunderbird 6 (an ancient Tiger Moth of all things – where's evolution when you need it?) I realised there was one missing. I stood there, not sure whether to look non-plussed at the budget Tiger Moth or alarmed that one was missing.
"Hiram," I squeaked, "where's Thunderbird 5?"
Instead of looking alarmed himself, Hiram smiled skittishly and replied surely, "P-Please call me B-Brains. Hiram Hackenbacker is an a-alias. Thunderbird f-five is o-our satellite which is the b-b-base of c-communications."
Brains, huh? This guy should get psychological help, immediately! Satellite...that sounded promising. I relayed this to...Brains...whose smile became fully blown.
"W-Would you like to m-m-meet the boys?" he wanted to know.
"Boys?" I repeated hopefully.
"Boys," confirmed Brains smugly.
Brains led me to the living room, where sprawled over the lounge was a dark haired man, lazily watching us enter. He had a charismatic, relaxed appearance. I already knew that face from tabloids and gossip columns.
"Scott Tracy, right?" I narrowed my eyes in interest. "Which is your ship?"
Scott sat up, a more professional air jumping out of nowhere. Once Brains told him who I was, the eldest Tracy son spoke to me easily.
"Tara, hi." He let an arm drop back over the lounge. "You the new recruit, huh?"
I nodded, judging his character carefully. You usually heard bad gossip about the eldest sons of billionaires. I decided to carry on the conversation, "Pleasure to meet you. Which Thunderbird is yours?"
"Number one," he answered. "Sleekest craft in this joint."
His pride in machinery lifted my judgement of him somewhat. I smiled, relieved that he wasn't trying to draw a date out of me or anything. I was surprised. According to Brains, the whole island was practically guys. I had assumed I was a rarity, a dateable female. Well, maybe I would be treated that way. One person is hardly a basis for assumption.
Haunting melody slipped from beneath a closed door, beautiful and sad. Crackling revealed it to be an old recording on an old medium. Brains knocked smartly on the door. Moments later, framed there was a man with stunning auburn hair and intelligent brown eyes. He looked so unlike Scott and Jeff Tracy, so when he was introduced to me as Virgil Tracy, I gaped at him.
I quickly recovered myself. "Hi, I'm Tara Fitzgerald. I just signed up for International Rescue."
"You must be good," commented Virgil quietly, "or father would never have risked our secrecy."
I squinted at him, then shook my head. I could have sworn I'd heard a description of him before or something. I grinned as memory slammed into me. "My cousin was raving about one of you IR guys that saved her life. She practically fell in love with someone of your description. D'you want me to set up a date?"
Brains spluttered about secrecy for a few seconds. Virgil smirked at my suggestion and gave a vague goodbye. I could tell he was sane, if solitary, person. The type of guy to go to for advice.
"Where the hell is my towel!" demanded a guy with flaming locks, nearly running into me.
He blinked mischievous eyes, staring at me in amazement. Brains seemed to enjoy the surprised I generated from the guys – I could tell by the crinkles at the corners of his lips.
"Let me guess..." I sighed dramatically. "This is another Tracy? Man, hasn't anyone figured out you guys yet? Bored Tracy family stuck on an island...mostly unemployed officially...hm."
He laughed. "Gordon Tracy, at your service. Don't crack that one on Dad – he'd probably belt you around the ears."
"Ah," I noted carefully. "Tara Fitzgerald at your service." I flicked my eyes to his comical bathing trunks. "You must be Thunderbird 4's captain. You look like an avid swimmer."
Gordon winked suggestively. "Wanna join me?"
I whacked him on the shoulder. "Not ever, flyboy. Go off alone."
"No harm in trying," he told me sincerely.
Brains sighed. I had to fight down inappropriate giggles – he even stuttered sighing! Once Gordon had cleared out, I demanded of Brains in frustration, "Are they all Tracys?"
"W-Well, mostly," Brains admitted.
A blonde beach boy strode into the hall, suave as Scott and even more immature. He grinned upon seeing me.
"Would you – " he began.
"No," I cut across him.
He fiddled with a tie that was dotted with race cars. Brains commented suddenly and sternly, his voice steady, "Alan, I thought Tin-Tin had your rolling eye."
"Ooh." I winked at the beach boy. "So you're the youngest – Alan Tracy is it?" You gotta love tabloids, "Sounds like there's something Brains here is sure about. Tara Fitzgerald is the name, newest recruit of International Rescue."
Alan looked agitated, but shook my hand. I grinned inwardly as he winced at the strength of my shake. Impressed, he nodded then strode away.
No sooner had he left than a petite but gorgeous Asian woman entered the room. A faint blush painted her perfect cheeks. She looked immensely relieved. "Mr Tracy has chosen well, it would seem, Tara. The boys are numerous enough. You may call me Tin-Tin. I assist Brains in his work – sometimes I'm let along to missions."
I smiled at her in relief of my own. "I'm glad I'm not the only girl around here."
Tin-Tin's eyes shone. "Mrs Tracy would like to meet you. Please let's go to the kitchen. You can also meet my father."
Alan had chosen well in his choice of chase, but I doubted his sincerity. Tin-Tin was a beautiful and proper young woman. I was the complete opposite, but I knew that our light hearted war against the guys would make us fast friends.
Upon going into the kitchen, an old woman nearby poked me in the eye with a sauce covered wooden spoon. I was startled by the fact it was wooden and blinded by the poke.
"Taste this," she commanded briskly. "Tell me what you think, Tara dear."
It was delicious! I made an appreciate noise. "Scott'll hoe into that."
"Eldest sons always do!" I laughed, remembering my cousins.
She liked me immediately. Her name was simply Grandma ("Don't let me catch you say Mrs Tracy!") and she was on enough in years to prefer wooden spoons and such to the latest kitchen technology. The other dominant culinary presence was Kyrano, Tin-Tin's quiet but assertive father. He greeted me gently, "It is good meeting you, Miss Fitzgerald."
"And you," I counted cheerfully.
I liked the island better and better. I repeated this sentiment out loud and was rewarded with a chocolate chip cookie. Tin-Tin shot me a grin as Grandma presented it to me.
"So what do you think of our operations, Miss Fitzgerald?" Jeff Tracy wanted to know, pushing a mug of coffee towards me.
Sunset streaked orange light into the living room, which now accommodated Virgil and a tinkering piano – that man had an ear for it. I refused the coffee politely, then answered, "I'm very impressed, Mr Tracy. It's better than I dreamed it would be."
Jeff pointed out the photographs of his sons along the wall. I watched as the photos dissolved into replacement ones, showing the boys wearing IR uniforms. I frowned for a moment. "Who's that one in the middle? I didn't meet him."
"John mans the satellite every second month," Mr Tracy explained patiently. "Alan shares the duty with him."
The sandy-haired man in the photo looked almost pompous, proud and maybe a bit "tricksy" (to borrow from my favourite old time holobook). I immediately distrusted his appearance. He wasn't good looking but not an eyesore either.
"You can meet him video phonically, if you like," suggested Jeff.
I shook my head. "That would be a waste to your communications. He's bound to report in anyway, yeah?"
The billionaire looked impressed at my reasoning. Virgil filled in the silence with Bach, fingers flowing over the piano keys like water. I listened appreciatively then burst into a round of applause at the song's end.
"Bravo, Virgil." I beamed. "My cousin is a fine music lover herself."
"Then tell her my heart belongs to song and art," Virgil's eyes twinkled.
I sighed. "Oh dear, she is not fond of paintings and such."
Jeff Tracy watched this exchange with a pleased smile. He took a sip of coffee, admitting, "I had concerns about having an unsocial woman, reportedly trouble, but it seems you have no problems conversing adeptly, Miss Fitzgerald."
I was instantly reminded of Brains and held back a snort. Well, if he was pleased with my behaviour...I waved a dismissive hand at him. "Call me Tara."
"Then call me Jeff," Mr Tracy returned.