International Rescue: The Next Phase

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Re: Growing as a Team [message #1558 is a reply to message #1557] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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19th March 4.15pm

Christopher gazed around the cockpit of Thunderbird 2. He listened to the communications chatter on his headset.

"Thunderbird 7 to CJ." He heard Dianne say over the comlink. "We are ready to go."

"F-A-B, Doc." Christopher smiled as he flicked the toggle to lower the main body of the vehicle. "Strap yourselves in."

Christopher fired the retros, lifting the vast cargo carrier into the air. He then fired the main engines, pushing the craft forward. He quickly checked the camera detectors for any anomalies then turned Thunderbird 2 towards the nearest hospital, which was in Edinburgh. Making a quick mental calculation, he worked out the arrival time.

"Thunderbird 2 to Thunderbird 1, 5 and 7, the ETA is around ninety minutes from now."

He heard all parties respond in the affirmative, so he decided to concentrate on the flying.

"Thunderbird 7 to Thunderbird 2." Nikki's voice came on. "One of our patients has gone into critical status! We need to get to the hospital as quickly as we can!"

Christopher punched up the maps for the area, scanning for any areas that he could use for a diversion. "Yes!" He grinned as he scrolled to an area that he thought would serve his purpose. The RAF had used to use this valley for training purposes, and he had flown through it a number of times.

"Batten down the hatches,," he said. "I'm taking a little detour." He turned Thunderbird 2 towards a valley that in his estimation would shave some time off the journey. He received confirmation from his passengers that they and their passengers were secure, then he increased his speed slightly.

Getting closer to the valley entrance, he tilted Thunderbird Two ever so slightly, just enough for the vast craft to fly through the valley. Christopher constantly checked from side to side, adjusting and compensating for the wind speeds in the valley. After a fraught few moments, which saw Christopher adopt a grim expression, Thunderbird 2 emerged from the valley.

Christopher turned the vehicle towards Edinburgh, and then toggled the comlink. "Everyone ok?"

"Thanks, Thunderbird 2," Nikki said in a relieved tone. "I didn't think we would make it."

"Well, I managed to shave a little bit of time from the journey," Christopher said as he saw the Edinburgh skyline in the distance.

Getting closer to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, he saw Thunderbird 1 sitting there waiting for him. Easing his huge ship around, he touched down. Then after raising the main body up, he relaxed.

The lights snapped on as Edinburgh disappeared from the view ports, and two doors slid open to reveal Virgil and Brains sitting at a bank of screens.

Christopher unbuckled himself from his seat. "How did I do?"

Post by The_Wrong_Trousers on 28/11/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1559 is a reply to message #1558] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Monday, March 19, 2068, 9:30 p.m. local time, New York City.

Jeff approached Dianne from behind. She sat out on the small patio of the penthouse, wrapped in a thick sweater against the chill of the March evening. Her wireless headphones were in her ears and her music player lay on the small table at her elbow. She didn't turn as he asked her, "What are you listening to?"

"The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, by Bach," she said with a slight smile.

"That's an appropriately moody piece," he commented. She nodded slightly, then turned to him, sighing.

"Ah'm sorry Ah've been such a bear lately," she began. Jeff put his right hand along her cheek, positioning his thumb over her lips.

"Nothing to be sorry about, love. You've been under a good deal of stress and this is a sad time for you. Just like a certain week in September will be for me. We'll get through them both... together. Just don't shut me out, okay? We both do better when we've got the other to lean on."

She nodded, putting her hand over his. He withdrew his from her face, and clasped her hand, intertwining their fingers as her gaze shifted back to the Manhattan skyline.

"How did shopping go today? I noticed that there were far fewer packages than usually arrive after one of your forays into the fashion district," he asked, a gently joking tone to his voice. She smiled again, wider this time.

"It went well, especially considering Alex was with us. You know how he is about clothes shopping. We got what we went for. An appropriate dress for me, something almost matching for Cherie, somber pants, vests, and shirts for the boys. Tyler wanted a bright bowtie and I let him get one, but not for Thursday. I am glad we went shoe shopping; the boys have outgrown both their dress shoes and their sneakers."

"Did you have any trouble with the press?"

"No. Bernie was amazing at keeping us safe while we shopped. Things went so well that Ma even has a chance to get something for herself. Ah wonder what Dougie will think when he sees it?"

"Don't worry about your brother. I've helped him and his family out plenty, now it's his turn to use wisely the help I've given him. Jared's a different case; he's worked hard and kept himself out of financial trouble. Setting up college funds for his kids was no trouble. But Douglas was given the same opportunity and turned it down, preferring to be bailed out of debt instead." Jeff squeezed her hand. "Enough about your brothers. I got an email today from Andrew. He and Maggie are coming to hear you speak."

She smiled again, then her smiled faded and she looked down. "Charles and Martine will be there, too. Ah hope Ah do well."

"You will, love, you will."

There was a moment of silence between them, and then Jeff gave her hand a little tug. "Come on, Di. It's time we got some sleep. I've got an appointment with Mt. Sinai in the morning and I hope it goes as well or better than your shopping trip went. Maybe tomorrow night I can put myself to bed without your help."

"Ah hope so, Jeff. It would mean closure, of a sort, to this difficult time." Dianne reached over and turned off her music player and removed the earphones, slipping them into their little case, picking up both player and earphones. Jeff backed up so she could rise, and they walked back inside hand in hand.

Post by Tikatu on 28/11/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1560 is a reply to message #1559] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Tuesday, March 20, 2068, 11:30 a.m., Mt. Sinai Hospital, NYC

Ned Cook sat impatiently in the media room at Mt. Sinai. He had tracked Jeff Tracy to the hospital that morning, bright and early, but when he entered, he had been spotted and shuffled off to the media room. He had been cooling his heels there ever since, eating donuts and drinking some surprisingly good coffee. Other reporters, having gotten wind of Tracy's return to the hospital, had filtered in, taking their places in the seats and chatting. One of them, Jo Ann Moss, a reporter for the newspaper owned by NTSB's parent company, came over to talk to him.

"So, any ideas on why Tracy's back here?" she asked.

"Ideas? Yeah. Lots of them. He arrived Friday evening and has been in his penthouse all weekend. He brought some woman with him, name of Lena Matumbo. I tried to get some information from her, but she gave me the cold shoulder." Ned's ego was still stinging over Mrs. Matumbo's sharp words. "I've had some of my best informants watching to see him come out, and there was nothing until today."

"That's what you think," Jo Ann said smugly. "His wife was out and about shopping with her mother and the children. But no one could get close. Their driver is good, very good, at keeping them out of the public eye as much as possible."

"His wife? The kids? I'd love to interview them," Ned said, sipping his coffee and looking peeved.

"Well, it's too bad you don't report in South Carolina, then," Jo Ann added, a small smile on her lips. "I bet the local yokels get a word from the lady on Thursday."

Ned looked at her sharply. "Thursday? Why Thursday? And she's going south?"

Jo Ann gave him a incredulous look. "You mean you don't know?"

"What am I supposed to know?" Ned growled.

"Thursday is the fifth anniversary of the bombing of the Federal building in Greenville, South Carolina. Where Mrs. Tracy comes from. Her first husband died in that bombing! She's been asked to speak this year, probably because Homeland Security and the FBI have closed their investigation."

"Really? I wonder if I can get a flight down there...." Ned's musings were interrupted by the appearance of the hospital's media representative. The shapely dark-skinned woman looked out over the crowd.

"All right, people, let's make this brief. You've probably heard that Mr. Jefferson Tracy has returned to Mt. Sinai this morning. He was here for a consultation with his osteopathic surgeon, Dr. Richard Nighthorse. As a result of this consultation, Mr. Tracy's arm cast and most of his leg cast were removed. His foot remains immobilized pending further healing."

A reporter raised their hand. "So, the rumors that Mr. Tracy has had a relapse are false?"

"Yes. Mr. Tracy's condition is improving on a daily basis. He has not had a relapse. In fact, we would like to announce that the Tracy family, in gratitude for Mt. Sinai's handling of Mr. Tracy after his accident, has made a sizeable donation both to our children's oncology ward and our Intensive Care Unit."

"How much of a donation?" someone asked.

The press secretary smiled. "Tracy Industries will confirm this, of course. But the final figure is ten million dollars to each. Twenty million dollars total."

A series of ooh's and whistles went around the room. Ned raised his hand. "Any way we can get a word from Dr. Nighthorse? Or from Mr. Tracy himself?"

The media representative's eyes narrowed at Ned Cook. She had not forgotten his last escapade. "No, Mr. Cook. Dr. Nighthorse has moved on to other patients. And Mr. Tracy has already left."

"Gone? Already?" another reporter asked.

"Yes. Now if there are no more questions, this concludes this press briefing." There didn't seem to be any more questions, so she gathered up her papers and left the room.

"Hmm. Wonder if I can get a flight to South Carolina?" Ned repeated.

Jo Ann turned to him. "I wouldn't even ask if I were you, Ned. I understand that you're persona non grata with the Tracys right now. And the locals wouldn't appreciate your butting in. The national office probably won't give you clearance anyway."

Ned let out a deep breath. "You're probably right. Still, it galls me that the yokels down in South Carolina might get something from the family that I can't."

"Play it cool, Ned," Jo Ann advised. "Apologize for your behavior and let them alone for a while. Then approach them later. Maybe you'll catch old man Tracy in a good mood or something."

"Maybe," was all that Ned Cook would say.

Post by Tikatu on 28/11/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1561 is a reply to message #1560] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Tuesday, March 20, 2068, 4:15 p.m., local time, Greenville, SC

"That should do it," Lisa Parkhurst said as she maneuvered her full grocery cart to the checkout line. It seemed like forever since she had been home and she needed to restock her pantry. Not only that, but she expected to cook a big meal for the family on Thursday, to be eaten after the memorial service, and she wanted to have a variety of foods available. Her daughter-in-law, Angela, would be cooking some of the meal at her home and bringing it along but with Dianne, Andrew, and her oldest son, Jared, and their respective families in town, the guest list had just multiplied exponentially. She knew that Jeff could and would take them all out to dinner at some fancy restaurant and pay the tab without a blink if she wanted him to, but that's not how she was raised, nor was it the way she had raised her children. Family came together at home as often as possible.

Dianne followed her mother to the checkout line. Gordon was still meandering through the store, marveling at the new things on the grocer's shelves and the differences in brand names and in what was considered gourmet from what he knew. He had asked Dianne point-blank if she had ever eaten pig's feet, to which she answered "No, and I don't intend to, so don't even think of buying any!" For all she knew, this prankster stepson of hers was coming up with some devious plot involving the pig's feet that were so neatly packaged in the meat section of the store.

Alex, who hated clothes shopping but loved food shopping, started to help unload the overflowing basket, and Dianne moved into position to help him. She removed the groceries from the cart while he scanned each item and passed it on to Lisa for bagging. Dianne was leaning down into the basket to get a last few things when someone tapped her on the back.

"Dianne? Is that you?"

Dianne came up out of the basket and looked at the woman who stood in line behind her.

"Pauline!" she cried happily. The two women embraced.

"It's so good to see you!" Dianne exclaimed. Pauline, a woman about Dianne's age with straight salt and pepper hair, looked over at Alex.

"Is that Alex? He's grown so much since I saw him last!" Pauline observed.

"Hi, Mrs. Harding," Alex responded, giving her a little wave.

"Oh, and there you are, Lisa!" Dianne's old friend called.

"Why, hello there, Pauline!" Lisa called back with a grin. "It's seems like forever, doesn't it?"

"It sure does. When can I call for an appointment?"

"Try tomorrow morning, Pauline."

"I will!" Pauline turned her attention back to Dianne. "So, you're here for the memorial?"

"Yes, I am," Dianne told her. "They've asked me to speak."

"That's a switch!" Pauline commented. "But a nice change if it continues. How's your husband? I heard about that helijet going down."

"He's doing much better, Pauline. As a matter of fact, he got his arm cast off and most of his leg cast just today. His foot still has some healing to do, though," Dianne explained.

"Well, that's encouraging!" Pauline frowned a bit. "Did they ever figure out what he was doing up there with that pilot? I've heard the most outrageous rumors!"

"You have? You'll have to tell them to me sometime," Dianne replied, her heart twisting as she thought about what those rumors might entail. She leaned close to her friend. "Between you, me, and the grocery cart, he was up there to buy me a gift."

"Really? That's marvelous," Pauline said, her tone indicating that she didn't quite believe Dianne's explanation. Just then a tenor voice cut in.

"Why, Mom! Who is this lovely lady?" Gordon came up behind them, pressing a box of crackers and a bottle of soda into Alex's hands.

Dianne rolled her eyes and shook her head, while Pauline laughed. "Pauline, meet my number four stepson, Gordon Tracy. Gordon, this is my good friend, Pauline Harding."

"A pleasure to meet you, ma'am," Gordon said, putting on his most charming smile as he shook Pauline's hand.

"My, my, my," Pauline said, looking at him with an amused smile. "Aren't you the charmer? If your father is half as charming as you are, young man, it's no wonder why Dianne fell for him!"

"Try twice as charming," Dianne riposted. "Now, Gordon. Do you have everything you want?"

"All except those pig's feet...."

Pauline laughed. Dianne took him by the shoulders and pushed him off in Lisa's direction. "Go help your grandmother take the groceries out!"

"A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Harding," Gordon called back, as Lisa put him into service as official cart pusher. Pauline began to unload her own groceries.

"It's so good to see you again, Dianne. I won't be at the memorial service; work, you know. But you'll be in my thoughts."

Dianne embraced her friend again. "I know, and I appreciate it. Maybe I'll see you later and we can really talk."

"Maybe. In any case, don't be a stranger."

"I'll try not to. Talk to you again, soon."

Dianne left the grocery store, walking some distance behind her family. She sighed, a mixture of pleasure and of melancholy.

It's so easy to forget about one's friends and the world around you when you live in an island paradise. I have to make more of an effort to keep in touch.

Post by Tikatu on 28/11/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1562 is a reply to message #1561] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Thursday, March 22, 2068, 10:30 a.m., local time, Greenville, SC

The day was bright, and warm, and breezy. All around the town were the signs of spring. Dogwoods and cherry trees were blossoming and the azaleas threatened to burst forth into their riotous colors. Tulips were already following the long gone daffodils and croci, with daylilies putting forth tenative stalks for later blossoms. It was a perfect a day as could be for those who sat or stood near the remains of the Federal building.

Mr. Martin, as the organizer of the event, welcomed those who came, especially the government officials who were there. The Vice President, the state's two Senators, and the Representative from the district were all there. A line of local firefighters and county EMS workers sat near the front. Members of the County Council had turned out in force as well, and the head of the Council sat on the dais with the other dignitaries. The district's Federal Representative introduced the Vice President, who advanced to the podium to speak, the microphones adjusted for her lack of height.

In the audience, Tyler turned to Jeff as the Vice President's speech seemed to go on and on.

"When's it gonna be Mom's turn?" he whispered.

Jeff leaned towards his son. "Soon. Now sit still and pay attention."

"Yes, sir."

At last, the Vice President finished, and the crowd applauded. She turned and shook hands with the Representative, waved to the crowd, and was swallowed up by her Secret Service contingent.

The Representative turned to the crowd, and announced, "Now for our keynote speaker, I present Dr. Dianne Koch Tracy."

Dianne came forward to the sound of clapping, looking poised and confident as she shook the Representative's hand.

She stepped up to the podium, standing straight and tall, looking out at the audience, and making brief eye contact with individuals as she began her speech. The crowd hushed. She took a deep breath, and began.

"We gather here, as we have on this day for the past four years, as a remembrance. As a memorial of the day and all that it means to us. But we do not come here to commemorate the event. None of us want to remember what happened five years ago today. And commemorating the actual event gives it life that it does not deserve. So we do not come to remember what happened.

"We come instead to commemorate the lives that were lost here. We come to remember them, always with tears, but sometimes with laughter, as we reminisce of the happier times we shared with them. For when all is said and done, this was only one event in the lives of those we loved, and still love, and remember with joy.

"We come also to remember those whose were injured. In many ways it is harder to survive something of this magnitude, for the survivor lives with the memory of the event in their very body, their very soul. They may be permanently scarred, sometimes in ways we cannot see. So we have come together today to show our support for them, to tell them with our presence, 'You are not forgotten. We remember what you went through on this day five years ago. And we are here for you.'

"We come together to remember and honor those who helped us. Those brave men and women who quenched the fires, who dug through the rubble to pull the living... and the dead... from the shattered remains of this building. We come to remember them and to thank them for what they did for us and ours in our hour of need." She smiled, focusing on the line of emergency workers. "There really are no words to express the depth of our gratitude to you. But we will try. Thank you."

Dianne now returned her focus to the crowd. "But most importantly, we come together as a sign. A sign to those who would try to imitate this event, those would try to inflict the same pain and sorrow on others that has been inflicted on we who are here today. A sign that no matter how hard they try, they will fail. They cannot break us. Not as individuals. Not as families. Not as a community. Not as a people. And not as a nation. We will always rise again. Not even death can conquer our spirits.

"I leave you with Holy Sonnet Number Ten, by John Donne.

"Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then much more from thee must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and souls' delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings,"
She paused slightly. "...and desperate men
And doth with poison, war and sickness dwell
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
Or better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And Death shall be no more. Death, thou shalt die."

She looked out over the audience and bowed her head slightly. "Thank you." She turned as the applause started, shook hands with those on the podium, then sat down in her seat. Her eyes met Jeff's, and he smiled widely, nodding. She smiled slightly in response.

One of the state's Senators took the podium and said somberly. "It is almost 11:08. Please join with me for a moment of silence to honor those who were lost and those who were injured in the bombing."

There was a full two minutes of silence. Nothing could be heard other than the wind chimes in a nearby garden. Then the Senator broke the silence with a simple, "Thank you." People stirred again, and focused their attention on the dais.

Mr. Martin took the podium. "Today is the fifth anniversary of the event that brings us here. And today we wish to dedicate the last memorial statue, and move it to ground zero, where it truly belongs. Today we dedicate a statue to the memory of Richard Allen Koch, who died in the service of his country as a U.S. Customs agent. We remember him this day, as we remember all of our lost loved ones." A smattering of applause greeted this statement, and the memorial service continued for another ten minutes, with music provided by a number of local choirs, instrumental groups, and soloists.

Dianne sat on the dais, not even listening to the final few moments of the service. Her mind had turned back to that day five years ago, and the fractured, crazy quilt memories of that afternoon in the emergency room where she had been working. She sighed and brought her thoughts back to the present. This day has been a long time coming. Maybe now I can put all the anger and bitterness behind me and look toward the future with a lighter heart. Her eyes suddenly focused on a head of silver hair that stood out from the crowd around it. That future lies with Jeff now. I hope you understand, Rick. I loved you, I still love you, and I will always love you. But you are gone. And now there's another man for me to love and cherish. Thank you, Rick, for the sweet years we had together and for the three beautiful children you gave me. I will see to it that they never forget you. As I never will.

The final song was sung, and Dianne found herself applauding, then waiting for the others to leave. The dignitaries shook hands with her, murmuring words of sympathy and approval, and she thanked them, smiling softly. Then she turned to leave the stage.

At the bottom of the steps stood a small crowd, a crowd of four who waited just for her. She smiled at them as she descended the steps.

"Come on, Mom. Dad's waiting for us so we can go see Dad Koch's statue," Tyler said as he slipped his hand in hers.

"Are you okay, Dianne?" Lisa asked softly.

"Yes, Ma. I'm okay now," she replied as she let her youngest son pull her towards a waiting Jeff, who stood on his crutches, a mixture of pride and love shining in his eyes.

Post by Tikatu on 30/11/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1563 is a reply to message #1562] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Thursday, March 22, 1 p.m., local time, Lisa Parkhurst's house, Greenville, SC

"Lisa, let me get in there and do the dishes," Maggie Carmichael offered, tying the strings of an apron around her trim waist.

"No, no, Maggie! You're a guest!" Lisa cried. Maggie, however, pushed past her sister-in-law and made her way to the sink.

"Nonsense! I'm family!" she said firmly. Lisa sighed, then smiled.

"Thanks, Mags. I really appreciate it."

Maggie grinned at her and began to fill the sink with hot soapy water. Gordon took that moment to sneak in and try to snitch a cookie from the plate that was waiting to be put on the buffet table.

"Gordon Tracy! If you come in here one more time, I'm going to put you to work peeling spuds!" Lisa warned, shaking a spatula at him. He grinned and winked at her, then sidled up to Maggie.

"How y'doin' Aunt Maggie? Hey, I can call you that for real now, can't I?"

"Yes, you can, Gordon," Maggie said. She shoved a dish towel into his hands. "Here. Make yourself useful."

"I was making myself useful. I was keeping Alex from killing one or both of the twins," Gordon complained. Lisa, hearing this, turned to her daughter-in-law, Angela.

"Angie, call Alex inside, please? He likes to help cook and it will keep him away from Jared and Patricia's two terrors."

"Sure, Lisa." Angie wiped her hands on a dish towel and went to the back door to call Alex in from the yard.

"Tyler gets along okay with those two; he's more their age. But for some reason they've never gelled with Alex," Lisa said with a sigh. She wished Kyrano were there, and not for the first time. Turning from the preparation table to the sink, she asked, "Gordon, where are Cherie and Stephanie?"

Gordon shrugged. "Haven't a clue, Grandma. Haven't seen them. Who knows where adolescent girls go when they're together?"

"Hmm. I could use their help to set up...." Just at that moment, Cherie, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, came inside with her nearest-in-age cousin, Stephanie. The girls were talking animatedly. They were followed closely by Alex.

"Ah, just the people I wanted to see," Lisa said cheerfully. Cherie looked up and rolled her eyes, sighing a long-suffering sigh. "Girls, go wash your hands and start putting piles of plates and utensils on the buffet table. Alex, wash your hands, too, and come back in here. I need you to fetch and carry as I make the mashed potatoes."

Stephanie made a face, brushing her long dark hair out of her eyes. "Do we have to?"

Angie looked up at her daughter with a frown. "You heard your Grandma. Hop to it!"

"I'll be right there, Grandma," Alex said eagerly. He nipped into the washroom next to the kitchen and gave his hands a good scrub, while his sister and cousin waited impatiently for him to finish. He presented himself to Lisa with a smile. "What do you need, Grandma?"

"Get the butter out of the refrigerator," Lisa said.

"And while you're at it, son, hand me a can of Cheerwine, please," said a deep voice. Lisa looked up to see Jeff standing on his crutches near the refrigerator.

"Jefferson, I thought I told you to take care of your wife today," Lisa said with a hint of crossness in her voice.

"I am, Lisa. She wanted something to drink," Jeff replied mildly.

"Oh," she said, mollified. "Well then. Carry on. But next time, send someone able-bodied to fetch it. Like Drew."

"Yes, ma'am," Jeff said with a grin, giving his mother-in-law a salute before hobbling back into the family room. As he left, he heard Alex say to all the kitchen occupants, "You should have seen the snake I found....!"

Jeff maneuvered himself onto the couch next to Dianne, and handed her the can of soda. She looked much more relaxed and comfortable in jeans and a lightweight cream sweater, with her feet in slippers and her hair slightly mussed. She had been chatting with her sister-in-law, Patricia, Jared's wife, who had come down from Boston with the family to be there for the memorial. Andrew was talking with Charles Koch, Rick's father, while Rick's mother, Martine, sat napping in an easy chair. Dianne's youngest brother, Douglas, had parked his bulk into the best recliner and was channel surfing, trying to find some racing to watch.

Suddenly, Dianne bolted from her seat. "Gimme that remote!" she cried, yanking the device from her brother's hand.

"Hey!" Douglas protested as his sister clicked back several channels to a certain program. Andrew, Jeff, Jared, and Douglas all groaned when a lithe young man, dressed in an elaborate costume, began to glide across an ice rink.

"Not skating!" Jeff moaned. "Anything but that!"

Dianne ignored her husband's complaints and shouted at the top of her lungs, "HEY MA! THE FINALS ARE ON!"

Lisa's voice echoed from the kitchen. "WHICH ONES?"

Dianne watched and listened for a moment, then shouted back, "MEN'S SHORT PROGRAM!"


Dianne got up and slipped a disk into the recorder that was built into the plasma screen TV. Then she sat back with a smug smile and began to watch her favorite sport.

Jeff turned to Andrew and said, "You never warned me about this, Andy."

Drew Carmichael shrugged then said facetiously, "I would have, if you had told me you were going to marry the girl." They both shook their heads and chuckled.

A cry came from the dining room as Lisa called out, "Okay everybody! Time to eat!"

The people in the family room rose and made their way to the dining room, where a buffet was spread out. Everybody, that is, except Dianne. Jeff turned back to look at her.

"I'll send Cherie in with a plate for you, Di," he said with a smile.

Dianne glanced away from the screen and returned his smile. "Thanks, love. I appreciate it."

Jeff shook his head again, smiling. It had been a rough week, but she had come through it with flying colors and now, after all was said and done, it was good to see her happy at last.

Post by Tikatu on 30/11/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1564 is a reply to message #1563] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Thursday, March 22, 3:30 PM, local time, Lisa Parkhurst's house, Greenville, SC

Everyone had eaten, the dishes were washed, the leftover food (what little there was) was put away, and they were now relaxing. The broadcast of the ice skating was over and Dianne was chatting with her sister-in-law. Lisa picked up the first section of paper and began to read, feeling like she could finally relax. But ten minutes later, she gasped.

Dianne heard her mother. She hurried over to her and said, "Mom, what's wrong?"

Lisa looked up at her, unsure about whether or not to show what she'd just read to her daughter. Dianne, correctly interpreting the look on her face, said, "Let me see." Slowly, Lisa handed her the paper, which was turned to the "Letters" page. Dianne scanned it and paled when she saw what had made her mother gasp.

"When I read the newspaper report and heard the television report of the conviction of the terrorist, I was overjoyed at first. I had lost three family members in the bombing, and wanted someone to pay for it, so desperately.

"Then I felt shame. I remembered that there had been a report five years ago that hate mail had been sent to the family of Richard Koch, and I must now confess that I wrote one of those letters. When I heard that he was under suspicion, I believed him guilty. I felt, so soon after the bombing, that I had to, so I did. That was my reasoning, but it is not an excuse. There can be no excuse for writing such letters. It didn't even make me feel better. And all it did was victimize Mr. Koch's family, who never hurt anyone.

"I hope whoever else sent them similar letters reads this. They, too, should feel remorse for what they did. And I hope they learned more than one lesson from this, as I did.

"I do not ask for forgiveness from Mrs. Tracy - no matter how much I want it - but want to let her know that I am ashamed of myself. I wish I had the courage to tell her so face-to-face, but I don't. Maybe someday I will, and she will be able to forgive me then.

"Name withheld by request."

Dianne threw the paper down in disgust. "Ah thought it was all over, then this has to appear. When are they goin' to leave me alone?" She sat down heavily next to her mother, and put her head in her hands.

"Honey," replied Lisa, putting her arms around her, "Ah understand somewhat how you feel, but you have to remembah that many othahs need healin', too. Let it go. If this lettah helps this person find some closure, then Ah say, good. Now just put it behind you and move on. Rick has been vindicated, largely thanks to you, and you have a wonderful future to look forward to."

Dianne raised her head, turned and hugged Lisa. "Thanks, Mom. You're right. It'll be hard at first, but Ah will, Ah'll move on." She looked up and saw Jeff, who was talking to Jared. "And Ah have a wonderful husband who'll be with me every step of the way."

Just then he looked over at her and smiled at her, swaying a bit on his crutches. Her eyes twinkled as she added, "Even if those steps are goin' to be slow and hesitant for a while."

Post by Hobbeth on 01/12/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1565 is a reply to message #1564] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Friday, March 23rd, New York City.

After fond farewells to Lisa and the rest of Dianne's relatives that had stayed the night in Greenville, the Tracy clan headed back to New York. It was time to collect Elise and head home.

The limo pulled up in front of the penthouse building and Bernie quickly opened the doors. "Thank you, Bernie," Dianne acknowledged as she and Gordon assisted Jeff out of the car and into the building.

Jeff hobbled along towards the elevator. "The wheelchair was one thing, but getting used to these crutches is another!"

Gordon laughed. "You'll do fine, Dad. Besides it's not like we're going to let you fall or anything." The look Jeff gave Gordon indicated to the redhead that his statement wasn't very convincing.

"I'm gonna miss Grandma," Tyler piped up.

"Yeah, me too," added Alex.

"I know, boys, I will too." Dianne smiled softly at her sons. "You know, I'm very proud of all of you for the way you've all acted the last few days." She looked around to include Cherie, Gordon and Jeff in her statement. "Thank you so much. I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful family." She hugged all 3 of her children at once and then turned to Gordon, "And that includes you Gordon, even if you did try to provoke my mother's temper once or twice!"

He smiled boyishly, and replied, "It was nothing!"

Lastly she turned to Jeff and laying her hand against his cheek, gazed into his eyes. "I don't know what I would have done without you by my side. I love you so much."

He reached up to cover her hand with his. "I'll always be by your side, Dianne, and I love you too."

The tender moment ended when the elevator doors opened. Dianne herded the younger ones off to start helping them get their things together, and Jeff had a chance to talk to Gordon alone. "Son, Dianne has been through a lot these past few days, and I want her to rest on the way home. I want you to fly us home. Are you up for it?"

"Sure, Dad, no problem. I understand. Will we be laying over in L.A.?"

"No, I'd like to get back to the island as quickly as possible."

"Yeah, me too."

Jeff knew Gordon hated his turn at being a corporate Tracy, and understood his anxiousness to get back into action, so to speak. "Thanks, son." Jeff squeezed the boy's shoulder as he gathered up his crutches and hobbled off to find Dianne.

As Gordon started to make his way towards his own room, the front door opened and Elise came in. "Oh, hi! I take it you're all back then?" She closed the door, and walked towards Gordon.

"Yep, so you might want to get your stuff together. Dad wants to head out a.s.a.p."

"I'm all ready. I just went out to grab something to eat." She indicated the sub sandwich in her hands. Gordon gave her a look. "Don't worry, no one followed me and I didn't get stopped by anyone. Besides, I only went to the sandwich place next door."

Gordon relaxed a little. "Okay. I won't tell on you... THIS time!" Elise threw him a disgusted look and went to get her bags.

The aircraft was fueled and waiting for them when they arrived at La Guardia Airport.

"Dianne, I've already asked Gordon if he'll fly us home. I want you to relax on this flight."

"But Jeff, I'm capable of flying, really I am. Besides..."

"Besides, nothing. It's already settled. I want you to relax... and I want someone that I can relax next to!" He had a mischievous look in his eye and she giggled.

"All right, you win, but if Gordon gets tired, I'm taking over. Deal?"

"Deal," he replied, knowing full well Gordon wouldn't relinquish the controls once he had them.

Once everyone was settled and ready, Gordon completed his pre-flight checks and sat confidently in the pilot's seat. Elise had been watching him, admiring the pilot in him. Even though flying wasn't his first love, he was very at ease with the controls. She wondered if she'd ever feel that way again. Get back in the water. Gordon's words spoke aloud in her thoughts as the plane turned and began hurtling down the runway.

Dianne rested peacefully next to Jeff. She now realized that this flight home was indeed, the start of a very different future for her, and her children. The past had finally been laid to rest, and Rick could now rest at peace, not only in her heart, but in the hearts of all those affected by the events of 5 years ago. Her children could grow up knowing that their father was a good man, and remembering him that way. Dianne turned to look at the man who was her present and her future and smiled lovingly at him. He returned the favor with a chaste kiss and squeezed her hand.

"Looking forward to going home?" asked Jeff.

"Hmmm... yes, I'm looking forward to a long hot soak in the tub!" she chuckled. He whispered in her ear, making her blush. "Jeff! There are other ears present." Various looks were sent their way, but they didn't last. Jeff merely smiled.

Gordon eased the plane up to cruising altitude and relaxed a little. The weather was perfect, and the view clear. We should be able to make up some time with a good tailwind. He wanted to go home as much as anyone else on the plane.

After a few hours of solitary contentment, Gordon needed a distraction. When Dianne had offered to fly for a while, he'd flat out told her she was on strict instructions to get some R - R the entire flight home and she was not to come to the cockpit. He looked at the empty co-pilot's seat and thought.

The intercom crackled and woke a dozing Elise. "Hey, Elise? Would you come up to the flight deck? I need to ask you something."

Elise rolled her eyes and got up. As she walked past Jeff and Dianne, Dianne stopped her. "Will you be okay up there?"

"Sure, I'll be fine." Elise smiled gently and continued on her way.

"So, what's this burning question you need to ask me?" Elise said, as she sat down in the co-pilot's seat. Gordon pretended to fiddle with some of the controls and mumbled something about the altimeter and incorrect readings. Elise leaned forward to look and was soon caught up in the instrument panel and trying to locate what Gordon thought was a problem. After 15 minutes and finding nothing she told him that he was imagining things.

"Really? I'm wounded!" he announced, dramatically placing his right hand over his chest. Elise just shook her head and sighed.

Gordon grinned and noticed that while Elise had been engaged in something, she was quite calm and relaxed. His mind raced for a plan to get her 'back in the water' and being a man of the moment as it were, what better time to do it than now? After a few minutes of silence, Elise turned from looking out of the window to find Gordon frowning and rubbing his head.

"You all right?" she asked.

"I don't know," he answered.

"Gordon, what's wrong? Is it a migraine or something?" She kept her eyes on him, as he moved his head as if trying to shake himself free of something.

"I'm not sure, suddenly this pain shot across my eyes... and then... Oh... I don't feel so good, I think I ...." His words ended as his body slumped forward over the controls.

"GORDON! Oh my God! Gordon can you hear me?" Elise shook him frantically to no avail. It took her mere seconds to realize the plane had started to descend. The thought of calling Dianne for help didn't occur to her. Instead Elise's training and instincts kicked in as she pushed Gordon backwards, off of the controls, and quickly switched control of the plane to her. Her hands scanned the controls efficiently, and without a second thought, she brought the nose up and leveled off. Once stable, she increased the altitude and monitored the engines. Everything seemed to be running smoothly. Only then did she let out the breath she didn't know she'd been holding.

Her hand came away sweaty as she wiped her forehead, sweat she hadn't known was there until then. Realization hit her! I flew the plane. Oh Lord, I flew it. I did it. I haven't lost it. She looked briefly over at Gordon, who was still passed out. Programming the auto-pilot enabled Elise to have her hands free to try to wake him, and she shook him once again. "Gordon, c'mon, wake up! Please wake up!"

He made a small groaning noise as he started to come around.

"That's it! C'mon Gordon, wake up!" she encouraged. He was enjoying the great pretense of 'coming round' and inwardly applauded himself for being so convincing! He'd been awake the entire time, of course, and even watched her through slit eyes, as she took over control. I knew she'd do it! She's still got it. Just needed a prod to get it going again! His eyes opened and he looked around, confused. "What happened?"

"You passed out!"

"I did?"

"Yes, you did! You acted like you had a migraine and then slumped over. Are you okay? Do you want me to get Dianne?"

Elise started to leave and Gordon stopped her. "No, no. Don't get Dianne, I'll be fine. Blood sugar must have dropped, I guess."

Something in the way he said that made Elise leery. She slowly sat back down. "Blood sugar? You ate enough donuts and stuff earlier to keep your blood sugar elevated for the next 10 years!"

Oops! I didn't think about that! He averted his eyes towards to the controls, turned off the auto-pilot and resumed control. "Did you switch on the auto-pilot?"

"Yes, I did, after I had freaked when you passed out, and I leveled the plane out from a descent and gained some altitude. I needed both hands to shake you awake! That is, if you were really passed out?" Elise dared him, with her look, to lie to her. "What's going on Gordon? What happened just now?"

He looked at her thoughtfully before replying, "You got back in the water, Elise." Only later would he laugh to himself as he recalled the stunned look on her face as he told her that.

Post by FrankieCTB2 on 08/12/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1566 is a reply to message #1565] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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Saturday, March 24, 2068, 11:30 a.m., Tracy Island

Dianne slipped into the hot water of the Jacuzzi with a contented "Ahhhh!" They had been home for about an hour, racing the sun across the Pacific after a refueling stop in Honolulu and crossing the International Date Line. Now it was time to relax and wash the proverbial dust of her travels away.

The children were already in the game room, challenging all and sundry to games of air hockey and pinball. Gordon was in the pool, swimming laps while Elise was soaking up the sun in a lounger by the water. Word had gotten around that she was staying and joining them, and the team members, both rookie and veteran, had made it a point to greet her and tell her that they were glad she was going to be part of the team. Since her belongings hadn't reached the island yet, she was still in the guest room. She would be moved to the remaining one bedroom apartment when her things came.

Dianne supposed that Jeff had taken back his desk and was busy catching up on work in both of the family businesses, making arrangements for communications equipment to be delivered to Lena and installed in her home, scheduling training sessions, and going over maintenance logs. So she was surprised to hear the bathroom door swish open. She turned her head and smiled to see Jeff standing in the doorway on his crutches, wearing a dressing gown, and his foot's cast wrapped in some kind of blue... stuff.

"What's that you've got on your foot?" she asked as he hobbled toward the Jacuzzi.

"A waterproof coating. Brains said it would harden around the cast and make it waterproof for up to three hours. Then I can peel it off."

"Really? Why did you have him put that on?"

He sat by the side of the deep bath and took off the robe. Dianne took in a sharp breath as she looked him up and down, admiring every feature of his naked form.

"Do you really have to ask?" he said huskily as he began to ease himself into the water. She rose from her seat, allowing him to admire her as she came to him.

"No, Ah suppose not," she answered as her lips met his, effectively silencing both of them.

Post by Tikatu on 08/12/2004

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
Re: Growing as a Team [message #1567 is a reply to message #1566] Fri, 27 July 2012 13:53 Go to previous message
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With that we end Chapter Three: Growing As A Team

Jeff heartbeat Dianne plain My IR:TNP OTP!
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