Blackmail Chapter One: Powerless Virgil whirled, the world was going dingy and black. He sank against the sofa, his head going numb. The person’s face swam before his eyes, he looked up groggily, feeling a hand on his face. A voice said, “I could not have your mother, Virgil, but I can have you.” The hand was cold and brushed his scalp. Virgil smiled. The face smiled back and came closer. The kiss was warm and welcome, and Virgil moaned in acquiescence. He liked the hardness of the person’s mouth, he was aware that he couldn’t move. He was losing abilities one by one, reality fading around him, his limbs heavy and useless. As Virgil slipped away into deep sleep, Richard Borden stopped the kiss and watched the second oldest son of his rival relax. Virgil really was very much like Lucille, Richard mused, although that was only part of his motive, and he was going to enjoy having him around. He had tasted of cigar smoke and the drugged brandy he had been given by Richard’ best assistant, Janine Crawford. “I think, Janine, that you deserve a bonus this month.” Borden said. The door opened and his assistant came into the lounge. Seeing Virgil slept deeply she clicked her fingers and two burly men came in. They lifted Virgil and carried him away. Scott was worried. Virgil hadn’t been in contact for a couple of days now, and as Scott was back on leave at last, he was keen to see his little brother. His father had told him that Virgil had been following their old friend Beth around the country. Virgil finally allowing his heart to rule his head, Scott mused, he hadn’t expected it but he wanted to see for himself. He drove to Beth’s apartment and knocked on the door. Another car pulled up beside his and a petite woman with short red hair jumped out, “Hey, asshole, that’s my parking space!” Scott raised an eyebrow and the woman recognised him, she hurried over and hugged him tightly, “Captain Tracy!” she grinned up at him. Scott hugged her, “Beth! Great to see you again!” “And you, fly boy!” she smiled but there was worry in it. Scott frowned; she shoved him good-naturedly and said, “At least now I know where Virgil has been for the last three days!” “Three days?” Scott tried to stop the concern on his face, Beth picked up on it anyway and she said more soberly, “Yeah. Three days.” “You’ve lost him too.” Scott said. They both stood there for a moment, “You’d better come in,” she said. He followed her into the apartment. Virgil woke with a hangover. His back was cramped and his mind began to thud, as he went to ease his discomfort he realised that stretching was not an option. He was strung up by his wrists, which were held above his head by firmly tied rags, as were his ankles at the foot of the bed. A large bed. For some reason he was wearing only his under shorts and was on top of the sheets. His aching head rested back on the pillow and pounded worse as he tried to think how he’d arrived here. Like this. He struggled, and his shoulders twinged in protest, “Beth?” he called tentatively, not recognising the walls of the room. They’d moved so often in the last two weeks, he had probably forgotten. “Beth? Whatever I did last night I’m sorry!” he paused, “Okay?” silence. Gee, she must really be mad at him. He shifted to ease his arms, wishing he could hold his aching head. His mouth tasted strange. Like – brandy? Virgil wanted a drink, he groaned. Stupid, stupid, stupid… “Hi there, Virgil.” A pretty woman with big dark eyes and a tall slim figure entered the room. Long blonde hair was tied neatly away from her face. Virgil was momentarily speechless. The woman put a cup of coffee by the bed. She wore a white shift dress. Virgil tried to say, “Who…” “Don’t you remember, honey?” she climbed onto the bed and straddled his hips, “I sure remember you.” She played her hands along his chest, “I’m Janine.” “Where am I?” she leaned over him and Virgil found himself kissing her. After a couple of minutes Janine drew back, “You’re in good hands, Virgil,” she made him drink the coffee, although against his better judgement he finished the whole cup and Janine smoothed his suddenly clammy forehead, moving in to kiss him again. His senses dulled by the bitter coffee taste he replied to her kiss, until she abruptly drew away. Virgil wondered what he had done wrong. She turned, climbing off him, “Mr Borden.” “Thank you, Janine. That will be all.” She hooked a stray hair behind her left ear, “Yes, Sir.” She left, but Virgil’s attention was dimly focussed on Borden. The older man approached and sat beside Virgil. He looked calmly at the younger man, and he said, “I told you when we first met, that you looked like your mother.” “Borden.” Virgil growled. He felt oddly detached. Slowly, Richard reached over to his shoulder. “What would your father say, knowing you were here, in my apartments?” “Let me go.” Virgil struggled. Borden smiled and brought his hand down onto Virgil’s tense stomach. The hard muscles pulled away sharply, Borden kept his hand there, enjoying the heat, he said, “If he knew what you did with me.” He switched on the television opposite. Virgil’s gaze drifted over to the screen. He stared at himself on there, the eager recipient of a kiss from the man now in front of him. No memory revealed itself but Virgil was jarred out of his sleepiness. He wrenched his eyes from the screen to plead with Borden, demand, even, that it was not true. Richard Borden, his father’s rival, was not going to give him any comfort from that. Virgil felt ill, “You’re sick…” the hands brushed his face. Virgil looked away, “Your big brother enjoys it.” Borden pressed a button on the table by the bed, and the screen flickered. Virgil saw in alarm that there was footage of Scott, in what looked like a hotel room, locked in a kiss with some blonde man Virgil didn’t recognise. Virgil shook his head. He and his brothers knew about Scott’s relationships, although they kept this fact quiet from their father. “He’s doing what he wants…” already the semblance of control was fading fast, Borden’s mouth caught his, he fought it but his resistance melted as before. He kissed him in return, fighting for dominance, the older man’s hands slid into his hair, keeping him still, locking their mouths together. Virgil was struck by a combination of guilt and desire, he was also aware that Borden’s kiss was sending deeper messages to other parts of his body, he moved his legs to hide it but Borden noticed. He reached down and Virgil closed his eyes, his emotions in turmoil. He didn’t want this. He really didn’t. The pleasure was exquisite and seeing Scott with the other man on screen sent him over the edge and he gasped, desperate for relief yet hating himself every moment. He lifted his head, he was falling so quickly, sinking further away, slipping into nothing, as relief bubbled up in him and his head lolled, helplessly bucking until he drained of energy. Borden smiled. The drugs were having the desired effect. His prey would become quickly addicted to this pleasure and then, he thought gleefully, Jeff would be shown exactly what his two oldest sons were drawn to. One willingly, the other by slow persuasion would become willing. He looked down at the noble features, they did not react when he touched them wonderingly. Borden wondered what he felt for the young man. He had never considered himself homosexual but Virgil had unwittingly released that side of him, a feeling he both resented and enjoyed. Much the same way that Virgil did. Scott Tracy was a different matter, Borden thought, he casually spoke to Janine, “Put me through to Zac. I want to see how our other project is going.” Scott was growing more worried by the second. Beth confirmed that Virgil had made no contact with them for three days. She was trying to hide her concern under jokes, but she said, “I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve been searching the bars…looking…even called the police. I’m wondering what to do next.” She frowned. Scott said, “I guess that there’s not a lot else…” he shrugged, and frowned as well. “It’s just not like him.” “I’ve tried everywhere, and still nothing. I was going to call your father.” “No.” Scott shook his head, “Not yet. Dad has to relax, and Virgil going AWOL won’t help. We need to wait.” “Are you insane! What if he’s hurt? Anything could have happened to him!” “If he’s not under arrest, and he’s not in hospital…he didn’t leave you a note?” “I wondered if he had an old girlfriend, someone he might contact…” the thought plainly aggravated her, Scott quickly reassured her, “There’s no one like that. Not close by…but I’m gonna try some of his friends. Maybe someone else has seen him.” “I hope so. Tell you what, you start calling around, I’m gonna go check out where I last saw him again.” She stood up and Scott nodded, “Okay. I guess. Keep in touch, all right?” “Yes, Captain!” she said, looking determined. Scott flicked open his mobile phone. ‘Come on, Virgil, where are you….’ Virgil woke again. This time he was not tied to anything. He sat up, the hangover was also better than before. He was wearing his clothes from before, the green shirt and dark brown trousers, and he was clean and freshly shaven. What the hell was going on? He stood up, feeling memory return vividly. Borden, his hands on his body, mouth crushed against… “Beth.” Virgil stumbled to his feet and glanced around, noting that he seemed to be in a motel room. He quickly opened the door and went out into the morning sunshine. He checked his watch. He had been at Borden’s mercy for four nights. He felt sick and used. He took out his wallet and checked it through, to his surprise there was a stack of hundred dollar bills inside. Along with a number, scrawled on a card, simply reading, ‘Thanks for your services, 555 57643’. Virgil crumpled it up and threw it on the ground, then looked at the money and yanked that away too, throwing it at the feet of a homeless girl and her dog as he stalked onwards. The anger was building in him, fury at what he could remember of the past three days, he wanted to call Beth but what could he tell her? That he was at the mercy of Borden, that he had been used? He remembered the videotape, how willing he had looked. And what about Scott’s part in all this? Scott was due back home some time this week. Virgil pulled out his cell phone and dialled his brother, praying for an answer. Scott heard his phone ring and snatched it out of his pocket. The number was withheld, he answered curiously, “Hello?” “Hi, Scott.” The pilot’s heart went cold, “Zac. Hi.” Scott said. He held the phone like a poisonous snake, “What do you want?” “Only a little talk, Scotty. Seems that you’re a big shot pilot these days, even more than when we were together at Yale.” “What’s your point?” “I just wondered what your bosses would say if they knew that you had a little fling with the son of the General.” “I thought we were over, Zac.” “Well we were…but I’ve kept a few mementos. Like the last time we fucked. I have that memory to cherish again and again.” “It’s on tape.” Scott understood at once. Zac chuckled, “I need you to do a favour. Otherwise your dad’s gonna know, and so will the press. I’ll remind you just what that could do to you.” “You sonuvabitch!” Scott snarled. Zac laughed again, “Why now?” “Never mind. Oh, and, you may be interested in little Virgil’s latest adventure.” “Where’s my brother?” Scott demanded. “Talk to him. Then we’ll tell you what we want.” The phone went dead. Scott stared at it for a few seconds. It was fast becoming a nightmare. Virgil frowned as he found that Scott’s mobile was engaged. He hailed a cab instead and went to Beth’s apartment. He figured that if he could see her in person he could come up with an explanation. The more he thought about it, the less he wanted to tell her the truth. This almost hurt him more than what Borden had actually done. Scott looked up as Beth returned. He buried his worries and asked her if she had found anything. She fixed him with a look that he remembered from their time as children – the ‘shut up or I’m going to give you a black eye, Scotty’ glare. Scott didn’t rise to it, she nodded helplessly and he hugged her affectionately. At that moment the door opened. “Virgil! Where have you been!” Beth leapt forwards and hugged him before pulling away and placing her hands on her hips. “Me and Scott looked every damn-where!” Virgil felt the self-loathing rise up in him again, “I’m sorry. Something came up.” His voice seemed to come from a long way away. Then he noticed the dark haired man standing at the doorway. A slow smile grew across his face. The two brothers bear-hugged before Scott looked at him quizzically and said, “Something what, bro?” Virgil finally covered himself with a story about an emergency business meeting in the mountains. Beth was still angry at him for leaving her with no contact number, without even telling her. He was at a loss for what else to say. Virgil knew that Borden had it all on tape. He was afraid, and this angered him even more, knowing that some part of him had enjoyed it. Actual memory was blurred, and knowing it was Borden revolted him, and yet the whole thing had been so…different. His brothers knew Scott’s bohemian attitudes, but their father was another matter. Something in Jeff’s make up refused to accept his sons ‘fooling around’ like that, and until now it had never affected Virgil. Now Borden had it all on tape. Virgil could feel the worry building up in his mind. Another part of him couldn’t wait to try it again. Sitting in Beth’s apartment, tossing back beer and throwing jokes around with her and Scott, Virgil felt he understood why his brother liked to fool around as he did. Maybe it was only a phase, for either of them. Beth prodded Scott’s snoozing form with a sock covered foot, “Awww, Captain Tracy, dead to the world.” “Yeah. He must have drunk more than both of us.” Virgil suddenly wondered the cause, although Scott used to have another reputation before he buckled down to his career. He smiled drowsily at her. Beth was leaning against the couch, close to but not quite beside Virgil. Virgil forced himself onto his arms and in front of her, laying just above her, and they eyed each other cautiously, “You still mad at me?” “You. You were an idiot. Say it with me…” she didn’t move and looked up at him, pretending to hide her interest. “I’m an idiot.” He acquiesced, feeling her cool fingers in his hair and meeting her green eyes. They stayed like that for a moment, “Yes. You are.” They kissed. Virgil moved in suddenly, capturing her mouth fully, he forced himself onto her, consuming her mouth until Beth pushed him off her, “Whoa, Virg, I need to breathe.” She touched his neck, seeing Virgil’s dark eyes made intense by the rush of desire. “What’s got into you? I missed you, too.” She reached up and their lips met again, and Virgil tried to enjoy her softness, the toned strength underneath. Beth let him carry her to the main bedroom, where they made love, until she fell asleep curled in his arms. However hard he tried to believe it, he knew it wasn’t enough. He traced her red hair. Virgil wanted so much to tell her everything, after lying to her all evening how could he? Repelled and fascinated, he eventually nodded off. Virgil woke late the next day. Beth had left him to go to work – was it Monday already? And hearing nothing from the other room, he realised that Scott was probably already up and about. Virgil had never quite understood his brother’s need to rush around when it wasn’t necessary, but then Virgil had learned his piloting skills on their father’s ranch, while Scott had spent the last eight airborne years having early starts ingrained in him. Virgil was about to enjoy waking up in a welcome bed, and intending to stay there when the phone rang. He answered, “Yup? I mean, hello…” “Virg? You still in bed? I left a grocery list on the kitchen shelf, unless that no good brother of yours’ has already done it…” “Beth…” “But I doubt he can find his way around a grocery store alone, anyway, get out, lazy- bones…” “Beth…” “I’ll be home around seven, see you then, Virg.” She hung up. He grumpily pulled himself out from under the covers and stomped over to the bathroom, where he put the shower on full-blast. Wrapping a towel around himself he walked into the kitchen, where he came face to face with a pretty blonde with big dark eyes, this time wearing a smart white suit. She noted his surprise, then anger, then another emotion that she couldn’t quite place. He was tense, anyway. Time to rile him, “You really don’t need that towel, Mr Tracy.” “What the hell do you want?” Virgil snarled. Janine smirked, “How did you get in here?” “You shouldn’t be so defensive. Mr Borden’s taken quite a shine to you, my lucky friend. He wants to see you, he feels that you will be open to his offer.” “What does he want from me?” Virgil demanded. Janine shrugged, “Search me. Are you interested? What should I tell him?” “Leave me alone.” Virgil said. Janine shrugged, “If you still have that number, call it. Unless you threw it away…” “I did. I don’t want any more to do with you. Get out.” “Whatever.” She held out a card, “Here it is. I know you’d have a lot to talk about. I’m guessing here, but…” she lowered her voice conspiratorially, “you haven’t told the little woman yet, have you.” “Get. Out.” Virgil snarled. Janine waved a hand, “Sure, sure. Toodles.” She left him, the door swung closed, and she had dropped the card on the kitchen bench, beside Beth’s grocery list, and Virgil walked over to it. He stared at the number again. Scott walked up to the building. The phone call this morning had directed him to this hotel. Zac wanted to talk to him. “I’m here to see Mr Tulley.” Scott said to the woman at reception, she nodded, “Mr Tracy? He told us to let you go straight up, room er, 234.” She eyed him with a look that Scott had ceased to notice. He followed the stairs up. When he reached room 234 he paused, and then raised a hand to knock. The door opened as he touched it. Scott smiled wryly to himself. Same old Zac. He went in. The room was dimly lit, the curtains were drawn, and the shower was running. Scott moved forwards as silently as he knew. “Trying to catch me from behind, Scotty?” he turned around. Zac stood, wearing a pair of shorts, grinning at Scott from under a cocky blonde fringe. Scott clenched a fist, “Just tell me what you want, you idiot.” “What? No foreplay? No…famous Scott Tracy comments? Just outrage? You’re getting dull, Scotty.” Zac smiled. “You know something about Virgil. Where he’s been. Tell me, so I don’t have to beat it out of you.” “I don’t know what you mean.” Zac said. Scott glared, he didn’t step forwards because this was exactly what Zac wanted. But Zac saw him almost make that step. Zac smiled, “Okay, you guessed right. I know. I can even show you.” “Show me.” “Just tell me that you missed me.” Zac covered the three feet between them and took Scott’s shoulders. Scott didn’t resist, he looked away, “Didn’t you, Scotty…?” the blonde man moved in to kiss him. Scott grabbed him, “No.” Zac kissed him. Scott quickly lost the battle against his desire. Maybe it was too long in Siberia, maybe too long stuck there alone, he pulled the younger man to him and devoured his mouth hungrily, slamming him against the single bed in the room, hearing the excited breathing that was matched by himself. No pleasure, just this violent release of passion and adrenaline. Then, finally pleasure. Zac turned back when Scott was finished, cleaning himself on the bed sheets while the darkly handsome pilot slid onto them, his face unreadable. Zac pulled himself round, “No, huh?” “This never happened.” Scott told him angrily, Zac shook his head, he moved in on the pilot, ignoring Scott’s efforts to swat him, “What happened to us, Scotty? I thought you liked me,” he kissed him, Scott returned it briefly and broke it off, “Tell me what you want you fucker” Scott glared. Zac put a hand over his mouth, “I’m sooo shocked. I’m hurt here, Scotty.” Zac laughed, falling backwards onto the bed and kicking his legs in the air, “I forgot how much I like it when you get angry, do it again. Please?” “I’m leaving.” Scott said. He pulled on his discarded trousers and made for the door, pulling on his shirt. Zac didn’t answer, as Scott went to leave he heard Virgil’s voice, “Borden.” It came on over a TV. He turned. The screen at the edge of the room displayed his brother tied to a bed in some room, a beautiful woman straddling him in a white shift dress. Then she left him, and another figure entered the frame. It was an older man who Scott recognised as Richard Borden, their father’s rival. His heart began to sink, he stood looking at the screen, “I really liked him.” Zac said, “He was drugged, at first anyway. I don’t think he knows what happened exactly,” Scott didn’t answer. His eyes were fixed as Borden put a hand on Virgil’s stomach, his brother moaned visibly, his reaction obvious. Scott looked away again, “What do you want? What does Borden want?” “Maybe you’d better see your brother about this. I’m really just the messenger. God, I always had such a crush on little Virg. Thank Borden for me when you see him, I don’t always get a good fuck and a hand job on the same night…” Scott grabbed him, shoved him against the door, “Where’s Borden? What did he do to him?” he bellowed. Zac looked worried for a moment, then he started to smile, “Gonna hurt me, Scotty? I deserve it, don’t I, Scotty. Why don’t you hurt me, Scotty. Bruise me, hit me about, go on…” Scott shoved him away. No matter how badly he wanted to hurt this man, he refused to give him any satisfaction. The taste of the younger man was still part of him, he denied it with the small part of his brain that still resisted. He said stonily, “I don’t ever want to see you again.” “No play?” Zac asked. He grinned, delighted at getting under the laid- back pilot’s skin. Anger helped him close his mind and Scott opened the door and left quickly, doing up the buttons of his shirt even as he left the hotel. Borden was evil, had abused Virgil. Scott closed his mind to that especially and quickly headed back to Beth’s flat. If Virgil was there, they had a lot of explaining to do to each other. Virgil called up the number. He couldn’t feel anymore, knew little of his actions. The phone rang twice, and then a voice that he remembered from his nightmare replied, “Virgil.” He spoke his name like a proud father. Virgil went cold, “Come to my apartment in the Hazel Building on 23rd street, in half an hour. Ask for me.” The line went dead. Virgil listened to the tone for a few moments. Then he went to the bedroom to finish dressing. Changing into dark trousers and a new green shirt, he stared at himself in the mirror. What was he doing? It was raining hard when Virgil’s taxi pulled up outside the Hazel Building on 23rd. He wasn’t listening to the driver, just shoved him a handful of dollar bills and sent him on his way. He walked up the steps, saw the massive doors, he realised what he was doing, and stood there, soaked to the skin by the cloudburst, unable to move. What he wanted, was what he could not admit, and yet… “He’s not going to come in.” Janine murmured, watching the screen. Borden sipped from his glass, also watching the young man with even more interest, “He won’t come in.” “Of course he will.” Borden smiled beatifically, leaning back in the plush executive chair, “My dear boy…he can’t keep away.” Virgil was clearly questioning himself, the look in the worried brown eyes brought warmth to Borden’s soul. “I can taste him already.” “You’re not obsessed by any chance?” Janine murmured. Borden smiled and waved a hand to dismiss her, “Send him up here when he comes in. There we go…” Virgil had gathered his strength, and strode decisively up the last few steps and out of the camera frame, into the hallway. Virgil looked up the names on the tenants list. The chrome gleamed back at him, he located Borden’s name and pressed the microphone, “Come up, Mr Tracy.” Janine’s voice answered. Virgil frowned, he didn’t reply, just went into the lift and let it take him to his fate. The door was open. Virgil walked in, the door closed silently behind him, and he said, “I’m here.” The room was luxurious, a painting by Van Gogh, the sunflowers and definitely an original, hung over a tasteful marble fireplace. Virgil glanced around, as Borden’s voice answered, “Help yourself to a drink, Virgil. You’re soaked through.” Virgil saw the bottles of alcohol on the corner of an antique table. He went over to it, already waiting for the man he had come to see. He poured a drink, the brandy was hot in his stomach and he felt ill for a moment, “What am I doing…” he thought of Beth. Did she love him? He no longer cared. Virgil turned, sensing the other man appear in the room. “Virgil.” Borden smiled, the boy looked up into the steely eyes, already the drug breaking boundaries, resistance that was at its lowest ebb, he approached him and Virgil made no move to escape. Borden’s pulse quickened, “I am pleased to see you.” “I wanted to, I…I want…” Borden’s hand ran along his cheek. He was like a scared deer, staring paralysed into the brightness he wanted and feared. Virgil leaned into his kiss again, breathing was short and panicked, drowning, he met Borden’s mouth with an eagerness that had not been so apparent before. Borden was surprised by it, at how willingly he had fallen. He ran his fingers up onto his scalp and Virgil’s breath was hot against his tongue. He wanted to have this man at once and Virgil’s strength took him off- guard. Borden gasped as Virgil pushed him forcefully against the back of the large armchair, sudden understanding struck him, Virgil was going to get this out of the way as quickly as he could, Borden made a murmur of protest, which Virgil ignored, he frantically tried to unbutton Borden’s shirt. Borden gripped his arm and forced a halt, “No.” he saw the confusion in the brown eyes, also saw the fog of the drug, “You must do what I say, Virgil. Understand?” he stared down the boy, also breathing raggedly, “Do as you say?” Virgil replied, “Isn’t this enough for you?” he sounded angry and confused, “Why you brought me here?” “You came here of your own free will, Virgil…” he said softly, firmly looking into his eyes, “Say it. You wanted me.” “I wanted you.” Virgil replied. Borden kissed him then, Virgil’s body quivered, tense against him, Borden smoothed along his chest, undid the buttons on the soaked shirt, he smiled to himself, “Say it.” “I want…” Virgil gasped, Borden kissed him again, “I want you.” He looked at him. Borden did what he had been looking forward to, he kissed down Virgil’s chest, then his hands ran down the hard muscle, they peeled off the shirt between them, and Borden quickly removed his own, moving down Virgil, following his own instincts. He watched the lust grow in Virgil’s eyes, ready now, things moved quickly into his bedroom where they crashed together onto cream and dark-chocolate coloured sheets. Virgil’s stomach rippled under his touch, he moaned at Borden’s mouth, it surrounded him, took him in and didn’t let go. Before he could help himself, the pleasure was too much. Virgil’s head sank back, Borden moved over him, and he welcomed him against him, not spent, Virgil raised a hand to pull him in closer, Borden gasped, Virgil looked up with lazy assurance, learning fast, slowing it down, Borden cried, “God…” Virgil held him tightly and kissed him before Borden gulped, sinking onto his sheets and replying to Virgil’s kiss, he loved this man for this moment, smelt his sweat and his spunk on and around him, “You want me?” Virgil asked softly. Borden touched his sweat-streaked face, nuzzling his lips, they smiled. Borden said, “That was worth it.” “Glad you enjoyed it…” Virgil said quietly. He looked at him, then closed his eyes, “I enjoyed it. Why did you do this to me?” “Seduce you?” “Drug me.” Virgil said quietly. Borden shrugged, “I don’t know what you mean.” “I’m not a complete idiot. I know what you did. Now I’ve gone through with it anyway.” Virgil traced Borden’s shoulder. The older man smiled, “I’m glad you did. I wasn’t wrong about you.” He kissed him again. The boy’s short mid brown hair was slick under his hands. Virgil enjoyed the sensation, the man above him, his sweat smelling expensive, all the things he had wanted in a woman but more, he rolled above Borden and they exchanged a look that Virgil understood. They would continue. Virgil parted his legs and Borden gazed up, looked trustingly at Virgil who warmly began to attend to his cock, Borden moaned and Virgil smiled casually, slowly bringing himself closer, forcing himself into the other man, Borden gasped, “Go…slowly…” Virgil shook his head, “This is what you wanted you bastard.” And he was staring down at Borden who was starting to cry out, Virgil ignored it, holding him still while he forced himself deeper, harder, Borden finally stopped protesting, Virgil grinned triumphantly. He came hard and Borden groaned, wanting him, not allowing himself to show further weakness. Virgil finally released himself, he rested against the other man and gently stroked his shoulder. Borden kissed him meekly. Virgil smiled. The women he had been with were never like this…it felt good, even right, he had taken control and Borden had loved him for all the pain and all the hard desire he could have ever wanted. Now the tenderness that Virgil also understood, he let his body curl against the other man, and Borden kissed him reverently, letting his arms enfold and hold him. “Your father would not like this.” He mused. Virgil paused for a moment, “No.” he said absently. Borden held Virgil’s arm, “I was going…to hurt you…” “I guessed so.” Virgil replied quietly. Borden said, “I was going to make your father watch this, and make Scott into a martyr. He has his own relationships…” “Yeah.” Virgil replied. “I had Zac Steel call him, they’ve become reacquainted. I think he hates him, and wants him. Now I want you.” Borden touched him. Virgil nearly burst into laughter. He reached for Borden’s limp cock and smiled, Borden grinned back, he said, “Tell me, how much.” They both laughed. Borden felt at peace, did not regret taking advantage of Virgil when he was drugged but liked this version more. After years of jealousy at Jeff Tracy, he had his son, and his son, above all irony, wanted him in return. Borden could still feel him in his body, he wanted him and loved him strongly as he had loved Lucille, but differently. Virgil began to fall asleep in his arms and Borden closed his eyes too. Chapter Two: Conflict It was getting late in the afternoon and Virgil still hadn’t come back. Scott paced the flat, at a loss for what action to take after trying to phone Borden’s people and seeing a series of flirtatious but useless receptionists. His eyes fell on Beth’s shopping list on the side of the kitchen table. His eyes followed it to rest on a small card that was on a table beside the videophone. Virgil woke and stretched. The ceiling above blurred for a moment, then his vision cleared. The sound of a shower came from the (no doubt luxurious) en suite bathroom. That explained where Beth was. Beth? Thought smacked him in the face. He recalled images of earlier and the drug that he had knowingly taken. He felt happy, though. The shower stopped and Virgil eyed the man who entered with a towel wrapped around his waist and drying his hair. “Oh, good You’re awake.” Borden mopped at his hair with the towel and had the same thought as Virgil. He came over to the bed, Borden with the smattering of shyness that had spurred Virgil to take control before. His heart thudding, Borden met his mouth in a long, friendly kiss. Although he was enjoying it Borden broke it off first, he touched Virgil’s face with an affable smile, “Pleasant as this is, I do have other important people to see today.” “Tell ‘em you’re sick.” Virgil smiled back, “I can sure vouch for that.” “I’m not forcing you to stay here.” Borden said tartly. “Just as I never forced you to come here.” “It’s not like I had that much of a choice.” Virgil replied. His fingers played with the edges of the towel around Borden’s waist, “Is it?” “The drug has left your system, Virgil.” Borden answered, his lips went dry at the next touch. “It’s been all your own choice, your…desire since you woke up.” He grimaced with pleasure. Virgil moved his hand up to his head, kissed him again. Borden made a muffled moan. The younger man moved his head back and tilted it curiously. “How about your desire? You kept that pretty quiet. Unless you’re used to giving out money for ‘services rendered’?” “Actually, no.” Borden’s dark eyes drank in the boy with a combination of amusement and anger, “I don’t make a habit of this.” “I’m flattered.” Virgil rejoined. Borden sat down on the bed beside him, Virgil’s hand snaked up his back. “I don’t have to remind you, if your father ever knew…” “He won’t.” Virgil said sharply. Borden shook his head. His expression was momentarily tender, he said, “Never. I told you I’d changed my mind.” “What about Scott?” Virgil asked, “Him and Zac Tulley?” “Oh, god…” Borden groaned, this time with remembrance. “I knew I had to call someone. This is your fault.” He added. Virgil prodded him good- naturedly. Borden smiled and they kissed again. Just then the phone rang. Scott was about to dial the number he found on the card when the videophone went anyway. He flicked on the receiver, speaking as he did, “Virgil?” “Scott.” The videophone revealed his father, looking tanned and relaxed in a retina- scorching Hawaiian shirt. “Good to see you, son. I heard you were back in the country. How was Siberia?” “Colder than a snowman’s…a nun’s…” Scott bit back his next three euphemisms, “Oh, it was okay…” “I see,” Jeff chuckled, a sound Scott hadn’t heard him make in a long while, “Well, son, I’m glad you’re back. You’re paying Virgil and, er, Beth a visit then?” “That’s right, sir.” Scott tended to drop into formalities under any sort of questioning – something he’d learned as a useful survival technique. “How’re you?” “I’m doing fine, son. In fact, I want you and Virgil to join me in Florida.” “You’re in Florida now?” Scott was suddenly reluctant to leave Unity City. He wasn’t finished here. He pushed that thought away. “Any particular reason, sir?” “Oh, nothing, son.” His father was a worse liar than he was, Scott thought. “I’d just kinda like to have the whole family back under one roof again. And it is nearly, er, John’s birthday…” Scott nodded. That was true at least. “It sounds great, Dad.” He mustered enthusiasm. “When do you want us there?” “By Friday at the latest. I, er, may also have other news.” “Father?” “But I can’t discuss it here.” Jeff finished. “You and Virgil get here by Friday and I’ll explain everything. Alan’s already here, and Gordon and John get here tomorrow. See you on Friday.” The screen went blank, leaving Scott to wonder what the hell this news was. He paused for a moment, and then he picked up the card and began to punch in the numbers on it. As the videophone started to connect, Scott knew with absolute certainty whom he would see. Borden broke off the kiss and looked suspiciously at the door, hearing the videophone as it started to buzz. He looked back at Virgil, “Who is it?” he demanded. Pulling the sheets around him, Virgil frowned, “How the heck should I…” “Only *you* have this number apart from Janine. She won’t ring here because I told her not to. Who is it? ” Borden snapped. Virgil glared back. “I don’t have a fucking clue.” He said, “Why don’t *you* answer it?” Borden got up angrily. He left the room to answer the phone, pausing to say to Virgil, “Don’t move. Please.” The door closed. Virgil slumped back on the sheets looking annoyed. Scott saw Borden appear on the screen. Borden rolled his eyes, “Oh, it’s you.” “I knew it!” Scott cried, “You bastard! Where’s my brother?” Borden frowned. “I think you need to talk to him, not me.” Scott’s eyes blazed, “Bullshit! I saw what was on that video! Virgil…” Scott took a breath and said angrily, “Virgil’s not like that!” “You don’t know him as well as you thought.” Borden said. “Where is he?” “I’ll tell him you want to talk to him” Borden said. “I don’t want to hurt you, Scott. I’m sorry if you think this is an attack…” “That’s big of you.” Scott snarled. Borden tightened his mouth in reprove. “Scott, I want you to talk to Virgil. I’ll get him…” “His girlfriend is worried about him. Send him back here now.” Scott glared. “Or I’ll call the cops and get you arrested you sonuvabitch!” “I’m sorry, Scott. That wouldn’t do you or him a lot of good. Or were you forgetting your Father?” at this the angry young man seemed to back down. Scott clenched his jaw more tightly while Borden tried not to enjoy his clear discomfort for Virgil’s sake. Then the pilot spoke, “Send Virgil back here. He has to see Father in a couple days.” “I’ll tell him, Scott. He’ll be back with you tonight.” “He’d better be.” Scott said shortly. Borden smiled and Scott flicked off the videophone abruptly. Borden went back into the bedroom and Virgil had left the sheets. The shower also switched off as he went in, Virgil stood in the frame of the door. “Who was it?” he inquired. Borden paused to look at him appreciatively as tendrils of steam from the hot water surrounded him. Virgil raised an eyebrow, they exchanged similar smiles and Borden walked towards him and pushed him back under the door and against the sweaty white tiles of the bathroom. It was just getting dark when Virgil came back to Beth’s apartment. Scott heard the taxi and met him on the threshold, he was clearly upset, as Borden had predicted. He looked ready to hit or hug him, “You’ve been with that sonuvabitch *all* day?” was the first thing he said. Virgil strengthened his own resolve, “It’s not what you think, Scott.” He folded his arms. Scott more or less dragged Virgil inside when he began to rant, “Oh yeah? Are you aware what Borden did to you? He let Zac Tulley have a look, he taped the whole thing. He’s gonna hurt us with this, do you have any idea the trouble you’re in if anyone…?” “Gee, Scott, let me think, er…yeah!” Virgil snapped back. “I also know that it’s not as bad as you think. Borden isn’t gonna hurt us. Okay? He not what you think he is.” Virgil met his brother’s blue eyes evenly. Scott laughed suddenly, “He drugged you, tied you up, practically assaulted you and you’re saying he isn’t the same bastard he always was? That’s the funniest thing I ever heard! And I thought you were the sensible one!” Virgil kept his arms folded as Scott laughed harder, bitterly, “Borden won’t tell Father. I like him, Scott.” Virgil took a breath, “I understand you now. Okay? I understand why you do what you do.” “Don’t patronise me, kid.” Scott glared. “You wouldn’t have gone near Borden if he hadn’t forced you. You don’t get it. You’re just a quick fuck for him, a cheap victory against Dad!” Virgil took off his coat and flung it on the ground, heading into the kitchen as Scott yelled at him, “And you haven’t even thought about Beth!” “You have no idea.” Virgil shouted back, “Is that how you did it, little brother? Thinking of her?” Scott demanded. Virgil became furious at this point, “You’re the jealous one!” he spun around looking ready to hit him in return. Scott eyed Virgil more cautiously. It took a lot to anger his little brother to the extent he saw now. He realised maybe he had gone too far. Virgil breathed out, Scott relented, and the two brothers exchanged an unspoken ceasefire. “Father called.” Scott said finally. Virgil looked up, “Oh?” “He wants us to go to see him in Florida. He’s got something to tell us.” “What?” “He wouldn’t say. We have to wait til we get there…” Scott gave a sigh, “Look, Virg…” “I’m breaking it off with Beth.” He told Scott. The pilot frowned, “Really?” he asked. “It’s not fair on her. Besides, we’ll be leaving for Florida soon.” Virgil switched on the coffee maker. Scott listened, Virgil continued, “Whatever Dad has planned, you can bet it’ll be something mighty interesting.” “And Borden?” “I’m not his slave, Scott. Whatever you might think. But I wanna see him again.” He admitted. Scott opened his mouth then closed it again. He shrugged, “Wonder how long we’ll be there. Or what he wants.” “Maybe getting hitched with a Florida cocktail waitress.” Scott grinned. Virgil winced, also smiling, “Don’t even go there…” Chapter Three: Cocktails and Limousines "So let me get this straight. You're in love with him?" "I don't think it matters what you believe, Janine." Richard Borden murmured. Janine rolled her eyes, "What about your big plan, to create a rift between those two and their father? Who you hate, by the way..." "Oh, I still hate Jeff." Borden nodded. "But Virgil is something special..." "I think I'm gonna hurl." Janine noted. "Elegantly put, my dear. But business presses on. I want a full run down of the Tracy Corporation's latest investments. Also, a list of..." It was dark outside. Scott sat in the bar where he had been for the last six hours after Virgil and Beth had decided to have a blazing row in the apartment. Scratch one birthday card this year...Borden's influence again. Virgil was stubborn and immovable over his decision, Beth would want answers that he couldn't give. Feeling helpless Scott downed another shot of JD and smiled at the barmaid. She smiled back. Scott had discovered a long time ago that looks gave him an advantage to do as he pleased, finding out early on that when pleasure came he could take it. He grinned. Beth was still incredulous. Virgil was breaking up with her for no understandable reason. She lay alone in their bed, listening to him move around in the living room of her apartment, feeling the tears from before drying on her face. She shivered, feeling alone and numb. The look on his face had been so...usually she would have hugged him and he would have stubbornly insisted that nothing was wrong until she sent a series of half- meant threats and he finally broke a smile and told him what was wrong. When she had tried to this time, he had pushed her aside with an abruptness he never used on her. Aliens had taken her old, reliable, predictable Virgil away and replaced it with this heartless bastard. The moment she had started to shout at him, his brother had cleared out, leaving them both to yell. God knew where he would sleep tonight. She curled up underneath the duvet. Virgil's smell remained after last night making her bite her lip and she curled up more tightly. Damn him, damn him to hell. Virgil finished the coffee he had been drinking all evening. Unity City was a great place to get lost in, but he had resisted the pull of going outside. Rain had returned and battered on the windows as it tried to drown out the noise of the television. He heard Beth crying in the bedroom and frowned at himself, feeling a complete heel. He lay back on the sofa and closed his eyes. Borden's face lingered in his mind. The rain outside provided a subtle backdrop to the swirl of his thoughts and he let them take him into sleep. Scott watched the people come and go. The bar maid poured him another drink, "What's up, blue eyes?" she inquired. Scott shrugged, "I don't wanna bore you." He shot her a smile. The girl poured him another drink. "I'm not going anywhere." She said with an easy smile in return. Scott relaxed a little. The girl turned to another customer and glanced his way again. He felt a hand on his shoulder, "What are you doing here?" Scott turned on the bar stool to face the blonde man behind him. * Virgil walked onto the runway of a tropical paradise. He looked along at the lush palm trees swaying gently in the wind, at the shuffling grasses above a great cliff. The tarmac was hot through the soles of his shoes, and he saw something huge flicker just out of view. Scott stood on top of the cliff and looked down at him, "Welcome home, Virg!" he shouted. * He woke with a start. It was day, outside the traffic was tearing up the road. He sat up, groaning. Scott woke up, grimacing. His mouth tasted like carpet. He sat up. The blonde man was brushing his teeth at the sink of the small room, "John?" Scott rubbed blearily at his eyes. His brother spat out the toothpaste and turned to Scott. "You were on a mission, big brother." He grinned. Scott coughed dryly in response, and John threw a towel in his face. "What are you doing in Unity?" Scott enquired a wash and three rounds of toast later. John sipped orange juice and said, "I was going to find Virgil and Beth. I kinda figured that we could join Dad at the same time, y'know, and travel up together. You didn't tell me you got back?" "I was let home early, got another medal..." Scott smiled. John nodded his congratulations, "So, have you found Virgil or were you hanging out in a bar for a cheap lay?" John raised an eyebrow. Bluntness was a trait his brother shared with Virgil and Scott cleared his throat, "Yes and, I never pay." He told John, who laughed. "How's old Virgil, then? He's moved all over the place with Beth, I've hardly seen him." "Not any more." Scott mused. John looked surprised, "How do you mean?" "He's split with her." "No way!" John jumped up, "Why?" "It's a long story..." Beth crashing around in the kitchen wakened Virgil. He slid off the sofa and looked around. Scott hadn't returned, he checked the time. Six thirty. He yawned. Scott had better come back soon, they had to catch the plane to Florida today. Beth came in, "Beth..." "Don't speak to me." She snapped, "Just go." "I will, when Scott gets here." Virgil replied irritably. She marched past him and grabbed her coat. Outside he heard drizzle. Beth looked at him as he sat up, "I just want to know why." She said. Virgil closed his eyes against her gaze. "I told you. We aren't going anywhere." "And where are you going?" she demanded. "Tell me that, Tracy. What's so special you can't be bothered to stay with me anymore?" Virgil didn't answer. Beth sighed and walked over to him. "Something else is wrong, isn't it." She said. Virgil felt her soft hand on his face, he got up quickly and moved away. Beth made a small, choked sound and he returned her gaze helplessly. She made to leave when on reaching the door he caught her. "What do you want?" she demanded. Tears sprang into her eyes, and he frowned. He had loved her, maybe he still did. But not her and Borden, never together, that went against every aspect of his upbringing. He couldn't answer her question. Beth looked away from him again, "Bye, Virgil. Don't call me." She left. Virgil slammed his fist against the wall. It was about two hours after that that Virgil was jolted out of his kids cartoon reverie by people hammering on the door. He opened it to Scott and a surprise guest, causing Virgil to grin for the first time that day. "John!" Virgil hugged his younger brother, overjoyed to see him again, and John grinned and they shared stories and jokes about the last year with easy comradeship that they had always enjoyed. John avoided the subject for as long as he could, but Virgil sensed it coming as John broached the subject during the third episode of `Speedracer' on the Television. Scott wolfed more breakfast when John finally declared, "Borden's up to something." Virgil drank his coffee. "What?" "Scott told me everything and I don't think you should see him again." John said. Virgil's mouth twisted, and he said brusquely, "I don't think that's any of your business, John." "Bull. Scott told me he drugged you. You're dumping Beth, love of your life, for him? You're not making any sense, and you're being really, really immature." "Scott?" Virgil said, "I'm not getting on a plane with him." "We're both worried, bro." Scott replied, "I can't believe that you're so blind to all this. Remember what he put Dad through two years ago, he nearly destroyed his life's work with a load of dirty tricks. He made Dad so stressed he nearly died! Think about it. If he doesn't fuck things up one way, he'll use you another." His words had no effect, although Virgil became angry again. "Says the man trying to pick up a random bar maid last night..." "Hey, bar *person*." Scott emphasised the second word, "And her name was Claire. Actually..." "By the end of the evening she was begging me to take her home." John nudged him, grinning. Scott glared good-naturedly over his large hot chocolate. He said, "If I'd still been able to walk..." "Yeah, yeah..." "Neither of you get it." Virgil said suddenly, still stinging from John's last comment. He stood up and walked over to the kitchen. Scott exchanged glances with John. His blonde brother shook his head, "This can't end well, you do know that." "I know that." Scott agreed, "Try telling him." "I did." John said in exasperation. Virgil heard his brothers talking quietly in the next room and scowled to himself. John was even less likely to understand than Scott. He caught himself wanting to call Borden again, wanted to feel him against him, strong hands on his hips, lips and mouths... "Virgil?" Scott's voice. Virgil couldn't restrain a sigh. Scott put a hand on his shoulder and Virgil flinched away. Scott was surprised, and a little concerned, "Borden's messed with your head. John's right, you know." "John's always right. He's worse than Dad." Virgil kicked at the cupboard door. Scott nodded, "I always wanted you to understand...Virg..." "What?" "Look, I'm with you all the way. If he hurts you, I'm gonna kill him." They grinned. Virgil checked his watch, "Shit. We're supposed to leave in an hour." "Then hurry up and look less like you spent a night on the couch." Borden watched Virgil enter the airport from tinted glass windows of his limousine. He was with two of his brothers, Scott and John, "The action man and the dreamer..." Borden mused. He drank in the features of the younger man as he picked up a suitcase. Just as Virgil was about to enter the building, a small red haired woman raced up to him. She flew into his arms, kissing the boy hard on the mouth and wrapping her arms around him. Virgil seemed glad to see her, he hugged her warmly, she spoke to him with a great urgency and kissed him again. Borden gripped the plush material of his seat in fury. Virgil returned the kiss before he gently set her apart from him, speaking with a cool expression. Borden knew of her, he realised, Beth Starr, top World Government researcher and Harvard graduate. Had known Virgil since they were both children. Borden watched intently as Beth spoke to Virgil once more. The boy glanced at his watch then back at her, shaking his head. She spoke quickly, moving her head in time with her hands. Borden could read it all clearly now, `stay, we can work this out, there's no reason for you, why are you shutting me out' he nearly burned at the banality of it all. What he really wanted to do was go over there now and kiss Virgil for the entire world to see. That would shut her up. Virgil said firmly, "I have to go. My plane's leaving." "It's the Tracy jet, Virgil, they'll wait for you." Beth planted her hands determinedly on her slim hips. "I thought you didn't want to see me again." He said. She folded her arms, "I want to talk. Properly. Wait a couple days here, tell me what's wrong." "I have to catch a plane." He reiterated. Virgil started to walk away, and she started to sob and he heard her heels stamp quickly away in the other direction. From his position in the car, Borden smiled. FLORIDA Scott relaxed by the hotel pool and Virgil flicked through a magazine. John was tapping his feet trying not to appear too bored. Gordon and Alan had met the plane landed at the airport, and brought them to the hotel where their father was staying, "He's on business." Alan had explained. So they waited, and waited. It was late morning when finally a gruff voice boomed across the pool, "Boys! Well, if this isn't a sight for sore eyes!" he hugged each of them; smiling behind his sunglasses which made Virgil feel sure he was hiding something. Jeff was very glad to see them, that much was clear. He ushered them all up to a large meeting room inside the hotel. The five brothers sat in a semi-circle around their father who stood as if ready to deliver a presentation for his business clients. "What's all this about, Dad?" Scott asked. Jeff smiled, removing his sunglasses. "I'm sorry to drag you boys from your vacations and, er, you from your studies, Alan. I thought that you should be the first to know." "Cocktail waitresses..." John muttered, making Scott splutter. Jeff paused, then he said, "As you know, a year ago I watched a terrible ferry disaster while I was vacationing in the Caribbean. This has been on my mind ever since, and, now I think I'm finally ready to do something about it." He looked at his sons with a determined expression, "I have realised that what the world needs is an organisation who can help them in situations too difficult, too impossible, for conventional rescue services to deal with. A group who will be able to help those in distress when all other methods have failed, and I've been working on designs for craft capable of doing just that." His sons watched him, fascinated, although Virgil had a slightly more suspicious expression on his face. "A rescue organisation?" Scott said. Jeff nodded, he pulled down a picture from the monitor screen behind him, "This is one of the craft. A massive carrier, capable of taking equipment to any rescue situation anywhere in the world." "That'll never get off the ground." Virgil said sceptically. Jeff shook his head, "Oh yes it will. I have one of the greatest scientists in the world on my team. I'm going to need pilots, boys. Let me take you through it. "The first craft is a reconnaissance and general assessment vehicle. It will allow its pilot to tell us the situation at the rescue scene." "Us?" Virgil inquired. Jeff nodded, "You boys have excellent qualifications to suit all the needs of the organisation. Besides, I know that I can trust you to keep this secret." "Yes. You can." Scott said shortly. Their father smiled gruffly, "I thought you would be right for the role of pilot for Thunderbird One." "Thunderbird?" Gordon asked. "Er, yeah. It just seems to have stuck. And when they're built the engines on these things will blow you away! Virgil, you'll take the carrier craft." "Great." Virgil muttered. Jeff didn't notice, moving quickly on to the third craft, a space ship for Alan and Scott, and finally a submarine for Gordon and a space monitoring station, which would be vital to the whole organisation. John, the dreamer, would get that job. By the meeting's end a name for the organisation had also been decided. They would be known to the world as International Rescue. It was the fresher end of the afternoon. Virgil listened to his brothers babbling excitedly about their father's wild ideas, all the time dreading what it would mean. Their father had talked about relocating to a deserted island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The others were too excited to notice and Virgil wasn't immune to this, but he was able to see that this would cut them off from their old lives, and he worried that the freedom they enjoyed would be over. After a very late lunch they split up on into favoured groups around the hotel, Scott and their father took the sun loungers, Alan and Gordon tormented each other and John in the pool, and Virgil broke away from the rest of them, walking down the bottom of the hotel to walk by the clean, almost white sands that skirted an unreal sea. He wanted some pebbles to throw in, contenting himself with sketching some swimmers who were diving and playing in the ocean with a dog and a bunch of kids. It was silent. He felt isolated out here, sensing a change in the air. He had been sitting on the shore beneath the hotel for nearly an hour when he heard a voice. "Virgil?" he turned. Smiled. Borden came over as he put down the sketchbook and got to his feet, "How did you get here?" Virgil asked softly. Borden brought his hand to Virgil's upper arm and held it tightly. Virgil felt the familiar excitement, wanted this to go further and touched Borden's shoulder with a knowing grin. Borden gestured with his head, "My car is waiting, if you can spare a couple of hours." Virgil caught his eye, he moved his head to trace Borden's lips and smoothed his hair, the older man tried to increase the kiss and Virgil pulled away. Annoyance on Borden's part made the tension between them go up another notch. Virgil noted that the group in the water were now watching them. Borden noticed too, moving in to capture Virgil's mouth more insistently, making Virgil reply with the same urgency. This time Virgil welcomed the powerful mouth on his, he stared breathlessly, into the man's eyes reading same joy reflected in his lover. Borden drew him up into the limousine. He said, "I know it's only been a few hours..." "Nearly a whole day." Virgil put on a panicked voice, Borden chuckled, running his hands along well-remembered paths of Virgil's torso, hearing the boy murmur appreciation as his mouth circled the base of his neck, at the edge of the collarbone and steadily downwards. Virgil allowed this pleasant domination as Borden undid the buttons on his shirt one by one. He felt the hot mouth working on him, on the skin around his nipple and lapping promisingly at his lower stomach, he arched his back a little, not wanting to beg, feeling the rich leather under his tingling spine. Borden stopped for a second; Virgil flickered under the hesitation, felt hurt then eagerness well up in him. Borden saw the concern in the young man's brown eyes. He reached over quickly to a hidden compartment in the back of the car, which Virgil dimly realised was now moving. He withdrew an ice tray and a couple of frosted champagne glasses. Virgil saw the bottle in a cooler by the window of the driver's cab - screened off for privacy. Borden smiled, taking a handful of ice he drew it close to Virgil's chest, then let it slide in crushed particles across his flat stomach. Virgil gasped, grinning a little, very aroused by this he let Borden kneel over and push down to remove the rest of his clothes. He felt the ice slipping further down and Borden guiding it, teasing the heat that was starting to form, he gripped the seat and pushed his body against it in an effort to quell mounting desire. Pleased at causing him this conflict, the older man nuzzled upwards again, ending with a kiss on Virgil's chin, then on the lips. Virgil's eyes fluttered, he didn't miss Borden's own need, one arm capturing him and pulling him nearer still, his efforts made suddenly difficult when Borden caught his mouth before sneaking a bite on his earlobe. The unexpected pain caused Virgil to release Borden briefly, and the other man took hold and Virgil made a cry of pleasure that made Borden's eyes water with delight. A sheen of sweat covered Virgil's body now, Borden drew out another ice cube and used it to contrast sharply with his lover's heat, Virgil now completely unable to resist what he was enjoying, his breathing harsher at every touch, every tender and less tender kiss, he felt the world drop away and there was only the certainty and the frustration, winding his body into a tight spring, an eager prisoner to the other man's efforts. Borden seemed to be everywhere at once, both worshipper and warden, Virgil tried one last time to speed to the much-wanted conclusion, instead the lips were on his face and there was nothing to do but answer them and make a subdued gasp of, "Now, damn you..." Borden ran a tongue deftly over his cheek in reply, using his hand, and Virgil squirmed, he shuddered, his world centring on only his need and the sudden stabs of ice that shocked his divided systems. "Please..." until finally his call was answered. He cried out loudly, the ice melting on his release, the heat and fire sending spirals of rapture through his entire frame. He lay back weakly, exhausted. Borden caressed his soaked brow, Virgil had enough strength left to embrace him, feeling lips nuzzle his burning face. He wondered at how easily this tenderness came, how natural it felt. Sleep-softened memory came back, remembering Scott had tried to pick up a woman the night before. Virgil had sudden insight about preferences not being set in stone. Borden was Borden, and this was what mattered. Plus, the man had really great taste in interiors. His laugh made Borden raise an eyebrow. Borden watched him with similar contentment from the other side of the limousine. The car travelled along a series of roads, Virgil sensing they had been going for some time. "Can I interest you in a drink?" Borden enquired. Virgil nodded, he said, "Undoctored?" "Of course." Borden poured the champagne into the two frosted glasses. Beads of condensation dribbled down the side, a couple of icy drops landed on Virgil's leg and chest as he took one. It was very good champagne, usually he couldn't stand the stuff. The limousine made a sharp turn. The glass spilled in Borden's hand, dripping across his face. Virgil leaned swiftly forward and cleaned the sweet sticky liquid in a series of deep kisses. Borden had the same reverent look in his eyes, he pulled off the shirt and Virgil cruelly ignored his plea, concentrating instead on his lips, his eyes, getting revenge for the ear lobe and feeling the older man twitch in feigned protest underneath him. He lapped up the liquid before driving Borden slightly insane with a slow, teasing trail, using more champagne to draw out the experience, catching him out by very suddenly moving right down and making Borden cry out, Virgil immediately finished with that and murmured, "Turn over" he smiled at the instant obedience, and began not-too tenderly giving him what he wanted. Scott stayed with their father while Alan and Gordon mooched away from the hotel. Jeff had asked them to find Virgil, as the scientist who would be helping them would be arriving shortly. They remembered seeing him walking out to the private beach below the hotel and headed down there. "He's just gotta be around here somewhere." Gordon exclaimed at last. Alan puffed with annoyance after they had searched the beach for the last hour with no sign of their older brother. He had also switched off all forms of communication. "Well, he isn't." Alan said finally. Gordon kicked at the sand. "What do you think about Dad's idea?" "I can't wait." Alan's blue eyes lit at the mere thought of space travel. Gordon nodded, "Me either. And just think, our own island!" "Virgil didn't seem too pleased." Alan grinned, "Of course not. He's just broken up with his girlfriend!" "This is Virgil, though. Why did he split with her?" Alan wondered, "He kept changing the subject and stuff..." "Yeah...that was kinda weird." Gordon admitted. He stretched and looked out to sea where a group of kids were surfing and diving, a couple frolicked in the waves while a dog - probably about to get thrown off the exclusive beach - chased after its owner with a big piece of driftwood dragging in its jaws. "Anyway, Dad's gonna give Virg enough hell for being late. Let's get back up there, I'm starved!" Alan suggested, bored now, "You sound like Scott - and after three chocolate Sundays!" Gordon riled, making Alan glare and kick sand at him. Their attention was drawn by a large black limo that pulled up at the area of the beach that allowed parking at the top of the dunes. Two men got out, the light made them hard to see before they squinted, something about one of them was familiar. Alan began to say, "Isn't that...?" "Sssh." Gordon tilted his head, peering at the two men. One was lighter in build, wearing a light green shirt and darker trousers. The other man had dark hair, with a regal grey patch behind each ear, and wore a smart suit without a jacket. He pulled his attention back to the other man. There was no question of who it was... Also watching the two men by the car was a tourist who didn't care about anything except that he had finally hunted down his quarry. The Tracys were here, all of them, and that meant that Jeff Tracy was talking about his new project, which his brother had given him hints of but nothing he could really use. His last clue had been to come here, to the most exclusive hotel in Florida where a meeting was being held. The man smiled to himself. The time had come. The two younger brothers had just spotted another one, the man racked his brain, which was called Virgil and their faces were most amusing. Virgil caught Borden for one more kiss before they had to part. Borden smoothed the dishevelled shirt of the younger man, "I'll call you, you must tell me what your father is planning. This island idea does not thrill me at all." "Or me." Virgil agreed. Borden raised an eyebrow. Reluctant to leave him there, Virgil gave him a friendly shove, "Go on, old man. I'm not gonna vanish." "You know what I mean...I mean, I would hate if anything happened to you. If you had to leave, suddenly..." "If I can't find you Janine'll find me." Virgil reassured him, taking Borden's wrist in both hands and staring intently at him, "Trust me. Okay?" "Of course I trust you. I'm amazed you trust me..." "Maybe I don't, but I've got dirt on you too." Virgil said. Borden chuckled, a little embarrassed perhaps, showing a weakness not normally exposed to anyone. He had to catch this man's lips once more, just to make him see that what he felt was real, not part of some plot, some stupid petty thing instead of the unsettlingly deep feelings that had developed for the son of his rival. Virgil was about to meet him in this when there was a yell from someone on the beach. Virgil recognised the voice at once and made a groan. Borden glanced up, "What's wrong, Virgil?" "It's Alan. Shit." Virgil let Borden go and turned around, his face going slightly redder, Borden frowned as he said without turning, "Look, I'll see you later. You'd better go okay?" "Virgil..." Borden chewed his lip, the younger man climbing down the dunes with easy grace that made him want to watch him for longer. Judging by the expressions on the faces of the other two brothers, this was probably a bad idea. The tourist grinned at the confrontation he was watching. The gay one tried to calm his irate brothers, succeeding only in making the blonde one more shocked. He waited impatiently for them to finish their dispute, so that he could trail them to their meeting place. It looked like quite an argument, evidently the brothers did not agree on Virgil's choice of partner. "He's been Dad's rival since, like, forever!" Alan cried. Virgil folded his arms, "I'm not gonna keep having this same argument..." "Listen, *Juliet*, this isn't some fling, this is Richard Borden!" Alan knew enough about the man that he didn't trust him one inch, not after what he had put their father through, causing his initial breakdown. Virgil glared, "Like you know anything about Richard Borden." "Not as much as you by now!" Alan was more shocked by this than the revelation that Virgil had been with a man at all. "What were you thinking?" "Okay, guys..." Gordon, also not happy, was anxious to avoid a scene and Virgil caught this. He started to walk towards the steps that led up to the hotel, Alan about to run after him when Gordon pulled him back and said, "Just leave it for now, okay? We've got other stuff to worry about." "Get off me." Alan wrenched himself clear and stomped after his older brother. Gordon ran after them through the fine sand, and the tourist, after taking a couple of moments to check what direction they were going, followed suit. Jeff was waiting for them at the conference room with a smaller man hiding behind the largest pair of spectacles Virgil had ever seen stood nervously beside him. Gordon and Scott had persuaded Alan to let the matter of Virgil and Borden rest until after the meeting at least, using a combination of emotional blackmail and fraternal violence. Once all five brothers were settled again, Jeff introduced them to `Brains'. John already knew him from the University they used to attend together, but to the others he was a complete stranger. Brains appeared to be every cliché available, the kind of kid that Scott used to defend from bullies on a regular basis at high school. Virgil listened with more interest than before. His time with Borden that afternoon had eased his mind, "He'll be helping us to realise the final designs of these machines, and the smaller rescue vehicles we'll require once the others are built." Jeff explained, "Anything you'd like to ask, Brains?" "W, well, Mr Tracy, I, er would just like to say I'm s, sure excited about your project. I d don't know how easy it's gonna be, b, but I'll do my best." He smiled weakly. Scott nodded encouragement and Alan and Gordon gave a little round of enthusiastic applause. Jeff was pleased with their reactions, ignoring Virgil's increased solemnity, which anyway he appeared to have shrugged off in the afternoon. Virgil raised a question then, "Father, when are we going to check out the Island base?" "I bought the survey rights to it a month ago, so we're free to investigate anytime we want. You, Scott and Alan can help me on the first trip out there, in two days' time. In the meantime I suggest you enjoy what's left of the vacation." "I thought Alan had astronaut training to complete," John said. Alan threw him a dirty look. Their father chuckled, "Now don't worry about that. The construction of Thunderbird Five is going to require more than enough space flight for Alan and several other recruits to complete their practical space-training and pass with honours at the Kansas College." "FAB!" Alan chuckled. John threw him a dirty look in return. Virgil closed his eyes, anger set in. Their father had presumed their instant enthusiasm, as if being part of this insane venture was the most important thing in their lives now. He opened his eyes and saw the little scientist staring at him, he glared at him in return with a distinct feeling that they were not going to get along. Borden was in a meeting when Virgil phoned his office on the new number he had been given. Janine replied and seemed very pleased to see him, "My boss is sooo pleased to be fucking you he's doubled my paycheque and given us extra vacation!" she trilled. Virgil nearly laughed, instead he spoke through a wide smile, "Glad to hear it. Put him through, will you?" "Certainly, Virgil Tracy, have a nice day!" she flicked a switch and Virgil found himself connected directly to Borden's line. As Borden answered there was a knock on the door. Borden touched the screen, "Virgil..." "Hold on, sorry, one second..." Virgil turned as the person knocked on the door again, "Who is it?" "It's your father, Virgil. Hurry up and open this door, willya?" Virgil cursed under his breath, "Sure, dad!" he looked at Borden on the videophone, "Sorry, gotta go." "I understand. Tell me later." Borden gazed balefully until Virgil flicked a switch and he disappeared from the screen. Virgil opened the door. His father and the little scientist came in, "Brains had a few questions about that shuttle you helped fix during your training at Tracy College." Virgil sat heavily on the bed, "That? I thought everyone knew." "I h, have a few question regarding, er, materials available." Brains told him shyly, "Besides that, v, very few men have k, kept their nerve under such p, pressure. There was every chance you would fail, yet you kept going, u, until the last minute." "Yeah, and mission control did their bit too," Virgil said flatly. Brains was undaunted, he sat down beside Virgil and started asking more questions about the job, which led on to Virgil explaining how he had thought of classical music to help him concentrate under pressure, and Brains also sharing a love of similar composers and music in return. They had been talking for and hour and a half before Virgil realised the time. Too late to call Borden, he didn't cover his expression as well as he thought. Brains stood up, "I, er, should be g, going. Virgil but I hope you'll be around t, tomorrow." "I expect so, Brain." The pilot replied tiredly. Brains gave a little nod and headed for the door. Virgil raised a hand in goodbye and watched the door swing shut. He was grateful only that Alan hadn't come to see him yet. He leaned back on the bed and shut his eyes. He didn't sleep, he was extremely aware of everything in the room, the hum of the air- conditioning, the creaking of furniture. Virgil willed himself to sleep. The tourist was delighted. He had heard everything of the last meeting, and couldn't wait to find out more. He had now disguised himself as a porter. Now he went into the room that the scientist had previously vacated. He was curious about the scientist. If he could get to him, perhaps he could find out more about the plans they were going to make. The tourist went into the bedroom, and was surprised when he saw the brother who had caused such a fuss lying spread-eagled on the bed with his eyes closed, chest rising and falling lightly. The tourist crept quickly past him as he heard voices from outside, secreting himself quickly in the nearest closet with speed that hinted at long practice at such eavesdropping. Virgil thought he heard the door open through a fuzzy awareness, he stretched, hearing his youngest brother charging up the corridor, arguing with Scott. As the door was flung open, he sat up, refreshed and ready to tell Alan to go to hell. He felt trapped, and under scrutiny by everyone. Surely Scott never had this trouble... Chapter Four: Room Service… Getting very fed up with this indeed, Virgil said, “I don’t see what it has to do with you.” “Well I do!” Alan snapped. Scott put a warning hand on Alan’s shoulder. They were both concerned that their father would hear the row and this was exactly what they were keen to avoid. Virgil said, “How about you and Annie Lebowitz? She wasn’t exactly little miss perfect. Something about the whole football team…?” Alan went red, glaring. Scott stepped in before things got nastier, “Alan, leave Virgil alone, okay?” “You aren’t happy either!” Alan cried, “No. I’m not. Now both of you cut it out.” Scott’s authority made both his brothers back down suddenly, and Alan blinked. Scott drew himself round on Alan, “Virgil is big and ugly enough to make his own mistakes. No matter what he chooses, we’ll be behind him.” Scott rounded on Virgil, “And as for you, don’t think what you’re doing isn’t really, really stupid. You know how I feel. I’m trusting you not to make it worse.” He looked sharply at them in turn, “Okay?” “Okay.” “Whatever.” Alan muttered. Virgil gave a small breath of relief when Alan fixed him with another look, then left. Coming over to sit beside Virgil, Scott said, “You saw him again.” “He found me.” “How?” “How should I know?” Virgil replied. He’d definitely had enough by now, “Anyway, it’s none of your business.” “Alan was right about that, but so was John.” Scott looked at his brother and Virgil awkwardly felt like a kid again. “He won’t be able to follow us to our new base, anyway. Borden doesn’t need to know anything more about International Rescue.” “I only told him that Dad was gonna make a new home out there somewhere. I got a feeling its purpose was top secret. Maybe it was Dad telling us how top secret it was.” Virgil replied irritably. Scott frowned, “Good. You sure know how to pick ‘em.” He patted Virgil’s shoulder, “I’m all in. Let’s get some rest, I’ll see you at breakfast. I think it’s at eight o’clock.” “Mmm.” Virgil went into the bathroom. Scott stood up and added, “Are you gonna get him to destroy that tape?” “Yeah!” Virgil called from the bathroom. Scott nodded to himself, “Just checking. Night!” “Night!” The tourist left the closet when the young man finally fell asleep. He stood over Virgil, who was completely oblivious. The tourist smiled evilly to himself. He clamped one large hand over the pilot’s mouth, he jerked awake, the tourist stared into his eyes and Virgil felt the world drop away and remembered nothing more. It was late the next evening and the last day at the hotel before everything began. After a hectic day organising things, although Jeff still called it their holiday, Virgil, Brains and Scott had just finished an excellent dinner, and were enjoying the evening while they watched Gordon and Alan compete for the attention of two rather unimpressed girls in the pool. They looked to John as he walked down from talking to their father, “Hey.” “Hey.” John waved. He sat down with a groan, “Dad’s determined to get me staying in Thunderbird Five.” “That’s too bad, bro.” Virgil said sympathetically. John shrugged, “It’s not all bad. What Alan doesn’t know is that he goes alternate months to me!” Back in his room, Virgil finished packing and looked at the video-phone. It was late again. He had made no attempt to call Borden since last night, and despite wandering on the beach had not seen him all day. He felt even stranger than from last night, as though something important had been said and he’d forgotten. “Virgil?” it was Scott. “Yeah?” “Good, you’re awake.” Scott entered, “I, uh, need your opinion.” “Yeah?” “Yeah. It’s about Zac.” Scott said. “What about him?” “He’s called me. He’s told me…he’s going to tell Father. Then his father. He’s gonna tell the General, Virg.” Scott frowned. Virgil put a hand on his shoulder, “Can’t you stop him?” “There’s a way.” Scott gave a half-smile and his voice was bitter, “Zac wants me to join him in Zurich next week. He’s being dragged there as part of the World Government peace conference. Wants me there as his guest. If I don’t stop him, do you know what Dad’s gonna do to me? Let alone…” he shuddered, “He doesn’t need this.” “It isn’t your fault, he’s a spoilt brat.” Virgil said decisively. The sensitive blue eyes met his. Scott smiled, “I’ll tell him that, I’m sure that’ll help…” “You need someone to talk to him. Tell him…why is he doing this?” “I don’t know. The last time I saw him, he was talking about you and Borden. And I…got angry with him. That was one year since I last saw him.” Scott tried not to accuse Virgil but he didn’t hide it well. Virgil shut his eyes briefly, “I’ll talk to Borden. This was a mistake.” “Now’s a fine time to change your mind.” Scott said. Virgil winced, “I’m not. Whatever Borden had planned he’s not gonna use it anymore. I swear.” “I wouldn’t do that.” Scott said grimly, “I wouldn’t trust Borden anywhere. I want you to know that Borden is trouble. And I’m gonna deal with Zac, but this is the fallout from your little fling.” “Bullshit.” Virgil snapped. Scott pulled away then and glared, “Good night.” He walked out and slammed the door. Knowing that could have gone better, Virgil switched on the videophone and dialled rapidly. He was missing him anyway and felt pleased when Borden’s face appeared, “How nice to see you.” “I need to see you.” Virgil said. Borden raised an eyebrow, “How very serious. Is there something the matter?” “Scott’s heard from Zac. He’s threatening to tell father everything.” “Unless?” “Scott has to see him in Zurich next week.” “And when are you going?” “We’re surveying the island tomorrow. Should be there a few days.” Virgil watched Borden think for a couple moments, “I want to see you, Virgil. Before you go.” “It’s a little too late for that…” “I’ll come to you.” Borden smiled. “And if there’s time, we’ll talk about your brother. Zac is my fault, and Scott…” he paused, “Scott wants him doesn’t he.” “Until he realised he was a psychopath.” “I see.” Borden looked intently at Virgil, “I was afraid of this. Now do exactly as I say. Order room service, and ask for champagne and pancakes.” “Now?” Virgil lifted his eyebrows. “Now. I’ll see you in about thirty minutes.” Borden hung up. Virgil was annoyed again by this insistence but was strangely compelled to do as he was instructed. He ordered the meal, then changed into his bathrobe and let room service arrive. When it did, he half- expected Borden to leap out from under the silver lid, but there was nothing. He tipped the porter and turned at the sound of scuffling at the window. He pulled back the drape. Behind it, on the white balcony, Borden had just landed and laughed at Virgil’s expression. “Neat.” Virgil commented. “New gadget. Might come in useful someday.” Borden grinned amiably and unfastened the spindly wire from a special belt around his waist and braces. He walked over to Virgil who was approaching laughter. Borden held his face between his hands and took a greedy kiss, Virgil already pulling him back into the bedroom. “I’d say it’s extremely…useful…” he grinned. Borden was delighted that Virgil only wore a bathrobe and set about removing it. Virgil flung it aside, he delicately nibbled on his ear before feeling Borden’s desire and pushing the older man onto the bed. Borden wanted this, the boy’s stubble against his chin, the smoothness of his fine cheekbones, he kissed him in return and the hungry grin on Virgil’s face was reward enough. “I’m just glad you’re still here.” Borden murmured. Virgil tugged at his lover’s clothes impatiently. Borden noticed the untouched food on the tray, he sat up and went over to it. Virgil watched expectantly. Borden picked up a jug from the tray, he strode back and dipped a finger in the jug, he held it to Virgil’s mouth who licked the clear liquid from his finger and smiled, “Maple syrup, huh?” Virgil grinned. “Get undressed.” Borden removed his black shirt. Virgil leaned back, brown eyes watching, Borden leaned over him and poured the syrup in a swirling stream across his naked chest and licked at the delicious liquid. Virgil sat up and pushed at Borden’s trousers, the older man stopped to finish removing them, and he kissed his lover and let the sticky liquid bond them together. Virgil held Borden’s back to run his hands down the older man’s spine. He wanted him to give in as before, and Borden for a moment wanted this and Virgil lapped up his face and wanted to continue to go down. Instead, Borden poured more syrup on his body, and he pushed Virgil onto his back, and Virgil gasped, Borden shoved him hard against the bed. Virgil was at once surprised and aroused at the force of Borden’s desire. Borden smiled and breathed into Virgil’s ear, “It’s my turn…” he kissed the pilot who now offered little resistance. They met each other’s gaze with a welcome familiarity, Virgil cried out in sudden pain. Borden traced a hand through his hair before his urgency distracted him and Virgil shut his eyes tightly, enduring it, and Borden really liked to see this tension in the younger man’s face and let out a cry that warned him before he immersed himself completely and Virgil gripped the sheets and they moved together. Borden cried out once more before he released himself and Virgil gasped, surprised, the intensity was quite exquisite he lapped mindlessly at the sticky syrup that had stayed on lover’s face, his shoulder, when he finally opened his eyes Borden was faintly apologetic. Virgil brushed off those murmurs, reassuring warmly he had welcomed the invasion and smiled into Borden’s eyes. They rolled together amongst the sheets, a hot tangled mix of legs and arms. Virgil had almost forgotten when Borden said, “What was this problem of Scott’s?” “Mmm?” Virgil extracted his arm from behind Borden’s thigh and said, “Oh. The Zac problem.” “The Zac problem.” “Which is your fault.” “I am aware of that.” Borden pulled a face. Virgil sniggered, “You’re cute when you pout…” “What do want me to do about it?” Richard inquired, his hand rested on Virgil’s hip. The pilot shrugged, “Call him off, I guess. Get hold of the tape, especially. He’s making Scott visit him.” “But I believe you also said that Scott still wants him.” “There’s a difference.” Virgil frowned. “Zac was trouble even before Scott was assigned to Siberia. Why do you think he ended up there?” “The General never found out.” Richard stated. “No, but I think a couple of his superiors did. He needs to get him out of his system, somehow. This isn’t the answer.” “Certainly. However, I’d like to see what Zac has in store. Maybe he loves Scott.” “I don’t think so.” Virgil said. “You are almost attractive when you’re this stubborn, Virgil.” Richard mused. Seeing Virgil’s lips twitch in a smile he said, “Oh, very well. I’ll see what I can do. As it’s my fault.” “It is.” “We can’t have your father finding out.” “Absolutely.” “Now that’s taken care of…” Borden moved over the pilot, who was ready for him this time and gripped Borden’s shoulders to wrestle him over to one side, they struggled for a couple of seconds fighting to stop laughing as they competed, finally Borden gasped, “Have some consideration!” “You owe me a couple apologies. Say uncle.” Virgil’s stomach retracted in shock when Richard sloshed the contents of the ice bucket over him and began to tickle him mercilessly, Virgil wriggled helplessly, convulsing with laughter, he cried, “No! Cut that out!” the ice bucket went flying, Virgil and Borden froze, hearing it crash onto the floor via the bedside table and the silver service tray, the entire lot landed on the ground in one almighty cacophony. There was no way that no one else would hear. Virgil and Richard Borden exchanged looks, and Borden dived for the French windows and the curtains while Virgil yanked on his discarded robe and hit the lights as dim as he could. Even as he did there was a rather loud knock on the door. Virgil paused, then heard his father, “What the devil’s going on in there, son?” “Nothing! I just fell out of bed!” he tried to sound less annoyed than he felt. Jeff said then, “Will you let me in?” “Er, yeah, one second!” Virgil looked quickly at the windows. Borden had successfully hidden himself outside, he snatched up the clothes discarded over the floor and threw them out to him, before finally opening the door. His father came in, “That was some noise!” “Just the room service tray.” “And Champagne?” Jeff frowned. Virgil cleared his throat uneasily, then caught himself doing it and asserted a less suspicion-raising expression. Jeff looked piercingly at Virgil, “Looks like quite a party.” “No party.” Virgil lied through his teeth. It’s easy, he told himself, just pretend you’re covering for Gordon after he destroyed the Mercedes last year. “I felt like getting some room service, that’s all.” “Right.” Jeff looked sternly at his son, “Listen, Virgil, I don’t mind you drinking, but tomorrow is a big day! You should be more responsible.” “Yes, Father. Sorry, father.” Virgil nodded respectfully. His father sniffed the air, “Why can I smell…maple syrup?” “Pancakes.” Virgil said. Jeff looked at him. Virgil held his gaze, suddenly realising his face was going red, and that his skin was still sticky with it. Jeff chuckled suddenly, “Room service is bad for your health, son. You’ll need to be in top shape for the rescues. Bet you can’t wait to get behind the controls of the Thunderbird Two!” “Er, right.” Virgil’s eyes wanted to wander over to the windows, instead he looked ahead, “Anyway, Father, it’s a really early start tomorrow.” “That’s right.” Jeff patted his robed arm. Something sticky came off onto his hand, Jeff peered at it, “Maple syrup?” “Yup.” Virgil somehow grinned at him. Jeff wiped it on his other arm and gave a funny smile in reply. He left the room and Virgil rubbed the sleeve self-consciously. He gave a small sigh of relief. Maple syrup… “What’s Thunderbird Two?” Virgil looked round. Borden stood on the balcony window. Virgil swallowed. Borden walked over to him, “What’s Thunderbird Two?” “It’s nothing.” Virgil suddenly felt very sticky, very tired and very fed up again, “Look, I have to get up tomorrow.” He saw the time was nearly three-thirty. “I need to get some sleep.” “I get the impression you’re keeping things from me.” “No.” Borden kissed him. Virgil answered it, pleased at the affection. “You really need a bath.” Borden murmured. Virgil grunted. Borden said, “Won’t you tell me what it meant?” “I can’t.” Virgil replied softly. Borden frowned and said, “I don’t want you to leave. Especially when I don’t know what you’ll be doing. Why don’t you come and work for me instead?” “You know how my father feels about that.” Virgil muttered. Borden nodded. “Of course. It’s hardly surprising, I suppose. Do you want me to go now?” “No.” Virgil answered. He looked tired and Borden ruffled his hair affectionately. A wicked expression crossed his face, “Let’s give you a bath.” He murmured. * The Florida Keys rushed below in streaks of rapid greens and blues with the white houses becoming fewer and fewer as they went further out into the ocean. Taking in the images that blended like some living Monet, Virgil looked dreamily out of the window of the helijet. He was going with Alan and Scott to survey the island their father had purchased. His thoughts were distracted by last night, he could still feel Richard’s hands on him, in the bath water. Through a yawn, Virgil realised that Scott was talking to him, and he nodded, not really listening. Scott didn’t miss the bags under his brother’s eyes, but he didn’t say any more as their father was with them. John and Gordon were going to do their own work with Brains, checking out the various companies from where they could get machine parts to start work. Secrecy was the key, they had been constantly told. Scott was looking forward to it. But his mind also lingered on his date with Zac in a few days time. Part of him wanted to know what he wanted. Borden watched the helijet take off with Virgil inside it. He rested his head against the soft plush of the limousine seat and flipped on the phone, “Janine?” “Yes, Mr Borden?” she asked brightly. “Get me any files from the Tracy computers that you can with references to rescues and ‘Thunderbirds’.” “Thunder-what, sir?” “Thunderbird. I don’t know exactly what it is, it sounds like an aircraft. Virgil was going to pilot one.” “Couldn’t you charm it out of him, sir?” she said cheekily. “I trust you still like the office you have, Janine?” “Yes, Sir.” “Well stop being so bloody clever and do something useful. Before I promote that cute little brunette from the typing pool.” “Yes, sir.” She replied hastily. “I’ll get right on it, Sir.” “I know you will.” He said, smiling to himself. He settled back with a single glass of ice- cold champagne and instructed the driver to take him to the airport. As the limousine drove on he let his mind wander back to last night. Another moment he would hold in his memory, treasure for those moments alone. And then there was the Zac issue. Borden nodded thoughtfully, and flipped on the phone again, “Janine. Get me Zurich…” Chapter Five: One Million Dollars! Virgil felt powerful hands on his back, the hot water and bath oils making him stretch pleasurably. He murmured, reaching out to fully enjoy the massage, the touch that was not entirely innocent. He let the fingers play down his shoulders to the small of his back, sliding against his skin. The heat was suddenly intense around his… “Virgil?” “Mmmf?” “Get your lazy butt over here, we’ve found something!” “Sure, Scott.” Virgil pushed to his feet from where he had been sitting, sketching drawings of the island while Scott and Alan had gone to the other side. He answered the radio, “I’m on my way.” UNMARKED ISLAND SOUTH PACIFIC NEWLY DISCOVERED CAVERN LUNCHTIME… “Wow.” “It’s really something isn’t it?” Alan’s voice echoed. “Oh, yeah.” Scott nodded. The three of them stared up at the enormous cavern, which Virgil was told that Alan had fallen into and discovered. Scott said, “This place will be perfect for your craft, Virg.” “I guess so. Hard to believe anything’s gonna be that big.” He looked up at the barely visible roof, “Has Dad seen it yet?” “Oh, he’s on his way over.” Alan said cheerfully, “Which reminds me, he needs to know about a couple other things…” “No he doesn’t.” Scott cut in sharply. Alan glared. Scott said more thoughtfully, “Besides, we wouldn’t want to let slip about you and a Miss Kyrano…” “Scott!” “You and TinTin?” Virgil laughed out loud. “Boy have I been out of the loop!” “You’re both in the loop.” Alan said sulkily, folding his arms, “But, Scott, you wouldn’t…” “Given what Kyrano would do to you if he knew? Listen, boy, I wouldn’t want to ruin your little ray of sunshine. Why should you destroy ours’?” “You mean his.” Alan muttered. “At least you had the sense to dump that Zac freak before he did anything.” “Uh huh.” Virgil raised his eyebrows while Scott tried not to look uncomfortable. “This is different.” Scott insisted. Virgil agreed. Their little brother shifted, “It’s still a big mistake.” “Forget it, Alan. Don’t tell Dad, okay? Please?” Scott used his most reasonable voice, “Will you trust us?” “I guess.” Alan mumbled. Scott smiled and gave him a hearty slap on the back, “Knew we could count on you!” ZURICH Seated outside a pretty traditional cafe, Zac Tulley scowled at the older man who sat opposite him wearing an expensive dark grey Saville Row suit with gold cufflinks. Zac peered from under his messy blonde fringe, looking arrogant but appealing. “I’m so not believing this.” He said, pouting. Richard Borden smiled thinly. “I want the tape, Tulley, and leave the Tracys alone.” “Me and Scott were none of your business, old man. See if I give a fuck about Virgil but you won’t stop me seeing my pilot again.” “You hurt one, you hurt the other. Now I would like it if you could deliver the tapes and all the copies to me by tomorrow. For a substantial amount, of course.” Borden dangled the money in front of the good-looking, spoilt young man, and waited patiently for Zac to react. Zac said, “How much?” “Ten thousand.” “Up yours’…” “Per tape. No tricks, Mr Tulley, I will know if you try to deceive me.” Borden kept the expression on his face even but Zac’s lit up. “Guess little Virgil really got to you. What am I missing?” he said archly. Borden smiled blithely, “More than you know.” Zac snapped his fingers, “Darn, and I only made about twenty copies…” “All of them, Mr Tulley. Or the deal is off.” “Listen, Richard, I will give you the tapes. But I won’t stop going after my pilot. You’re a fucking hypocrite, I know that under all that lovey-dovey crap, you’re still a cold-hearted bastard.” “What on earth do you mean?” Borden said. “I want the money in my account soon.” Zac got up from the café table, “You’ll get your tapes. Leave me and Scott alone.” “Do you love him?” Borden inquired. Zac frowned, “What?” “You want him badly. Is it just for the money?” Borden raised an eyebrow, “Because I would hate to think I was helping you get closer to him for nothing.” “Helping me?” Tulley sniffed. “I don’t need your help to get Scott…” “He dumped you for being a prick. Now you’re resorting to blackmail. He’s hardly begging you to return, after all, what would a rich boy like that ever want with a needy General’s son?” “Fuck you.” “In return for helping you to…impress Scott, I want you to help me…” Borden continued. Zac stopped. Borden patted the seat, “Virgil is keeping secrets from me about this island and his father’s business. Now all my computers have revealed nothing, the Tracy computers have extremely good defences against my, er, investigators. Sit down, and we’ll discuss how useful you can be.” “Cold hearted bastard.” Zac was grinning now. “Not at all. But Scott Tracy has a weak point, and it is you. If you can do this properly, then we both get what we want. Do we have a deal, Mr Tulley?” “Mr Borden…” Zac grinned widely, slightly sly, he pushed the hair from his face and said, putting out a hand, “Do we ever have a deal!” UNITY CITY, NORTH AMERICA Once the surveys of the island had been completed, Scott, Virgil and Alan went with their father to meet John, Gordon and Brains at the Tracy Corporations’ offices in Unity City. Virgil had been unable to call Borden for three days, they had been in the middle of nowhere, but with Jeff constantly around, or one of his brothers it had been impossible. So he was pleased to be going back to the mainland, but the island was very beautiful. He could see why their father thought it would make such a great home as well as a base for their rescue machines. And Alan was finally letting the matter with Borden drop. Now they were walking to a conference room to compare notes and be debriefed. “How was your little trip to paradise, fellas?” John inquired. “Oh, nice…” Scott shrugged. “Seems okay.” Virgil mumbled. “Amazing!” Alan gave his eldest brothers a look suggesting they were insane and enthused, “Don’t listen to those two! It was amazing, you’re gonna love it!” “Gee.” John said, “Guess we missed an amazing place.” He laughed at Alan’s abruptly sorry expression. “There’ll be plenty of time in the next few months for the rest of you to see the place.” Jeff grinned, “Alan’s right. The island has everything we need. Come into the conference room, I want to go through what everyone’s found.” Virgil and Scott listened as patiently as they could during the meeting. They were both feeling a little tense, Virgil because he hadn’t had a single chance to speak to Borden since the night in the hotel, and Scott because he was thinking about seeing Zac in Zurich in a couple days. Borden was supposed to be helping with that – he wasn’t entirely happy that Virgil was discussing it with the man, but it was too late now. “So, boys, I want us all to meet again in a few days’ time. There’s plenty of work to do, I’m going to go and speak to the people we need to start construction. Brains, you don’t mind starting work straightaway?” “N, no, Sir. I’m l, looking forward to it.” Brains said brightly. Virgil smiled. Scott stretched and said, “What do you want us to do?” “There’s one thing we haven’t discussed.” Jeff said to Scott “Father?” “What are we going to do about your US Airforce commission?” Jeff saw Scott’s face suddenly drop, “I don’t know, Father.” Scott admitted. “I guess I’ll have to resign.” “That won’t look good unless I set you up as partner in the business. Think you can handle that?” Jeff grinned at Scott’s attempts to look enthusiastic, “I know you can’t wait, son.” “It’s an excuse, that’s all.” Scott nodded. Jeff slapped him on the shoulder, “But you’ll learn to love it.” “Yes, Sir” Scott said. “You can let them know in a few days, but tomorrow I need you to meet a couple of our agents. One of them you’ve heard of - Lady Penelope. The other one is a guy named Dante. They’re coming to Unity for the Auckman Auction for charity ball. Virgil can go with you.” “Thanks, Dad!” Scott said, looking quite happy about this, and Jeff nodded, “Virgil?” “It sounds okay to me.” Virgil said. “What about me?” Alan asked eagerly. “You’re going back to school.” Jeff said gruffly, “And John, Gordon, you’ll be helping Brains finalise the spacecraft and underwater craft designs.” “That sounds fair…” John mused. “It’s hardly fair.” Scott murmured, “But who are we to go against what Dad wants…?” He was waiting with John for the family to go out for a meal in the lobby of luxurious Hotel Atlantiqué. The rest of them were on their way down, and Scott swung his legs up to lie flat on the big leather sofa in the waiting area. “You’ve been making a lifestyle out of it.” John remarked. “Ah, c’mon, John. You only have to worry about star charts and mechanics. We have to play the eligible bachelors and playboys and impress the new agents.” Scott grinned. “I hear violins…” John snorted. “What’s keeping Virgil? He’s meant to be here by now.” “He’s making a few personal calls before we go to the restaurant. And you know what that means.” “He’s getting pretty intense over this, isn’t he?” John mused. “This is kind of an unusual situation for him.” “And what’s that supposed to mean?” Scott sat up. John waved a hand, “Oh, nothing. Only that Virgil’s never kept things from Dad. Unless it involved you, then he’d lie til he went blue on the face.” “Don’t be ridiculous.” Scott shook his head. Virgil appeared at that moment, followed by Alan and Gordon, and their father was walking right behind them. Brains did not attend as he was determined to continue work after the meeting. Scott saw that Virgil’s face was lit by what could only be described as excitement. He joked with Gordon, laughing at something else Alan said, and Scott sat up quickly to meet him. As Virgil saw him he fixed him with a quick look and Scott frowned, “What is it?” he mouthed. Virgil patted his shoulder when they got closer and spoke into his ear, “Tell ya later. Problem solved.” He winked. Scott gave a brief smile in understanding. Virgil was feeling much lighter after the phone call. He hadn’t even been aware of how much he missed Richard until he actually saw his face in the screen. Although he was currently in New York on urgent business, Borden reassured Virgil that he had spoken to Zac and that all the copies of the tape were being destroyed. Zac had also agreed to stop trying to blackmail Scott, and Virgil didn’t miss the intimation that Borden had bought him off. Either way, it was worth it to see the relief on Scott’s face, Virgil refused to notice any disappointment there as well. “Mexican! My favourite!” Alan said gleefully as the BMW they were in pulled up near the restaurant. He was at the wheel and Virgil and Scott winced at the last corner he took without even touching the brakes. “Here’s where we get out.” Scott grinned. The BMW pulled in sharply, a near-perfect position, Scott hopped out of the back followed by Virgil and Alan who handed the valet the keys with strict instructions to, “Have fun with the car.” “Y, yes, Sir…” the valet said. Scott and Virgil paused to watch the BMW driven away with a screech of tyres that rivalled Alan or themselves. “Dad’s gonna kill him.” Virgil grinned. Alan ignored this and pushed his two older brothers forwards, they saw the others arriving, “Come on, I’m starving!” Scott ate quickly as he joked with John and Virgil, while Alan wolfed down his fajitas and Jeff complained that he seriously needed to chew his food, and they filled each other in on what else had been happening in their lives other than International Rescue and the stuff that they definitely couldn’t talk about. Alan’s determination to start a racing team was the main topic that Jeff was concerned over, and eventually seemed to be persuaded that Alan could start driving in the racing circuit after the completion of astronaut training. Scott was pleasantly surprised at this. He reasoned that it would take well over a year to bring the whole project together, more than enough time for Alan to win a few races. Virgil drank margaritas and Scott toasted their success with a beer. After a couple of hours Jeff decided to go and start work – Scott tried to insist he got some rest as well but his father brushed off his concerns. After he had gone Gordon and Alan wanted to go on to a bar until Scott mentioned that Alan was too young. John piped up, “I’m the only one here who needs to get up tomorrow, I’ll take the kid to a bar - for ice- cream!” “John!” Alan was angry and the others exchanged glances. Alan folded his arms, “You always treat me like a kid!” “Cos you’re so mature, boy!” John smirked. “Compared to you, jerkoff. Why don’t you leave him alone?” Virgil broke in abruptly, irritated at John’s smugness. “Okay, okay, that’s enough.” Scott was suddenly alert and John shut his mouth in surprise. Scott set Alan with a determined look, “That’ll do, Alan. You can come with us next time, but you have real important work to do tomorrow. And so do you, Gordon.” He added. Gordon protested, “Aww, man….!” “John, take these two with you. Virg and I’ll be along soon.” “Sure, Scott.” John said, “Don’t be up too late, you’ve got a party to go to!” Virgil felt relieved as Alan and Gordon stood up and went with John to the exit of the restaurant. Scott blew out and took another swig from his beer, “Is Alan getting more immature or is it just me?” “Cut the kid some slack, Scott, we’re not much better.” Virgil felt a smirk of self- admonishment on his face. Scott tilted his head, “That’s gotta be the first time you’ve ever stuck your neck out for that kid.” “First time for everything. You know John’s got a mean streak.” Virgil finished his margarita. “He needs a kick up the ass now and then.” “I heard that.” Scott set his beer down. The Mexican restaurant was going to close soon, and it was time for them to move on. “So, are you gonna tell me what he said?” “Oh yeah. Like I told you, Borden’s dealt with Zac and you won’t be getting threatened by him anymore.” “Thanks. I think. Did he have anything else to say?” Virgil chewed his lip, “Not much. He’s in New York. I guess I’ll get a chance to see him later. He also wanted to know if you really hate Zac.” “What did you tell him?” “I said if you ever saw him again, it’d be too soon.” Virgil watched Scott intently for a reaction although after seven margaritas he was amazed he could still talk. Scott’s face flickered, and then he nodded and said, “Damn right.” YALE, LATE SPRING SEMESTER 2021. Scott ran through the woods, training hard. He was doing extra work to be ready for his graduation exams, which included an intense physical examination. The woods near the US Air Force Academy were green and alive with bird song, it was nearly summer, he pushed himself to make it up a steep slope that was between him and the next stage of the course. Running steadily, as he reached the top of the slope he saw a blonde figure in shorts and red training vest, Scott recognised him as the General’s son who was meant to be studying in his first year, but Scott knew for a fact that the boy was sneaking out each night to go into the city. He was also an excellent football player that Scott sort of knew from a successful season. But at this rate he wouldn’t last the next three months or complete his course. Scott quickened his pace. He wanted to speak to him, maybe help the student, as he seemed quite lonely despite his success on the field. Scott caught up to him easily and said, “Morning!” Zac sent him a look, “Wow, Scott Tracy, I’m honoured.” Scott was well known just for being Scott… “How have you been doing, Tulley?” “What’s it to you?” Zac sent Scott an arrogant look that intrigued the pilot-to-be, “Saw you on the team a couple days ago. That was nice work out there,” “Thanks but I don’t need you telling me how great I am.” The blonde sped up and Scott matched the pace with ease. Zac grunted, going faster yet, soon the two students were sprinting through the woods with barely a word, only just breathing harder Scott had pulled ahead into the lead when Zac grabbed his arm and yanked him backwards. They both hit a large root and tumbled over together off the path into the long grasses and bluebells that filled the space between the trees. Scott landed fully over Zac and the younger blonde stared up at the pilot, trapped beneath his weight and muscle. Scott looked down, said cynically, “I take it back, you’re not so great.” Zac blew at his fringe, “Cheater.” He added, “Go to hell, Tracy.” Zac made to get up and Scott stopped him. Zac glared, “What’s your problem?” his hand gripped Scott’s powerful arm in an attempt to move it. “I’m curious where you go every night.” Scott answered breathing slightly harder. “Why you’re throwing it all away.” “I’m not like you.” Zac sneered, “Rich kid makes Daddy so proud.” “And what do you do?” Scott murmured. Zac tried to struggle again, he had a more wiry frame than Scott, a lighter build but agile and flexible. He sensed Scott’s grip loosen and used his legs to push his possessor over and land on top of him instead, straddling his chest. Scott began to laugh, “Professional wrestler?” he reached up within a flash had Zac’s shoulders and spun him over, pulling one arm around his back and the other to his own shoulder, gripping the hand firmly. Zac wriggled but Scott also pinned his leg back and said, “Now tell me what your problem is?” “Go to hell!” Zac fought, finding Scott was not going to free him at once he looked up defiantly and snapped, “Why the hell do you care?” “I don’t know.” Scott was surprised to find that he was enjoying the tension Zac made him feel, locked as they were by this forced embrace, he tested the strength of his hold over him, “But you can trust me.” “Do-gooder.” Zac sneered. His baby blue eyes contrasted with the deep cobalt of the older man’s gaze, “You’ll go running to my dad the minute I tell you…” “Why? How shameful is it?” Scott teased. Zac wriggled, “If I tell you, will you let me do one thing?” “Such as?” Scott murmured. Zac stopped struggling, “I’ll surprise you.” He answered, not meek at all but daring Scott to accede. “Go on, then.” Scott eased his grip a little, “What is it?” Zac stared meaningfully at the pilot and Scott felt a warm shudder go through him, “I’ve been going to the city to meet guys and get out of this dump.” He watched Scott’s face for a reaction. Saw his body mirrored in Scott’s eyes, “I’m queer, Scott, think they’ll let someone like me complete my year? What the fuck does it matter? I’ve been spending my nights away from campus to make money and have fun. Dad’s going to cut me off anyway once I fail…” “You’re full of crap. The reason you’re failing’s easy. It isn’t cos you’re gay.” Scott did not let him go, “It’s cos you’re a self-indulgent wiener.” Zac’s body flexed under him in anger and he grimaced, “And you don’t have any good reason to stay.” “Fuck you!” “Fuck you too.” Scott was all business now, letting Zac go, “Do what you want. I know you will anyway. Who gives a damn what your father wants…?” “I do.” Zac said, pushing himself onto his haunches and looking at Scott from under his blonde fringe that was as long as he was really allowed. Scott’s arms throbbed pleasurably from their restraint of the boy. He said, “Then that’s the real problem, isn’t it.” The grass was wet under him and both of them were stained with green and covered in bits of blue and white petals that made Zac’s quite delicate features appear even younger and more vulnerable. Scott couldn’t prevent himself gazing at him for a fraction too long. Zac noted it, stretched himself like a panther sizing up his prey and said to him, “I need a reason to stay.” He knew he wasn’t misreading the pilot’s face, he’d seen that look too many times. He made the offer wide and open. “Do you?” Scott felt his throat go tight. Zac was suddenly very tempting. “Will you let me do what I wanted?” Zac asked him. Scott said softly, “Show me.” Zac smiled. Scott watched the man approach, already close they drew closer and he felt the hands on his shoulders now. He shut his eyes, not resisting, he couldn’t bring himself to even try. Zac was pleased, tracing the pilot’s features with his eyes before quickly descending on the nicely shaped, uncomplicated mouth. He was half-expecting Scott to jerk away at their first touch, instead he heard a sigh of permission, and he deepened the kiss and suddenly found it received with great warmth and equal desire. Events after that moved fast and Scott didn’t take long to reassert his power or ability and he had Zac crying out for him to continue. Neither was anxious for anything except for the other to reach pleasure and as Scott watched Zac’s excitement reach fever pitch he kissed along the sweat-soaked face, drank it in saw stars as he shut his eyes, watched the lust and opened his eyes and thrust again. They were combined in this second as only they could be, sunlight streamed over them, as it had spurred them on, now they relaxed under it and Scott gathered his senses following the breathless aftermath. Zac rested his head on Scott’s chest without thinking, felt the older boy’s deep breathing and heartbeat against his ear. It was an odd feeling. He was happy, he realised. Why was Scott making him so happy? UNITY CITY, LATE SPRING, 2025 Zac opened his eyes behind the newspaper, watching Scott, now four years older, and his delicious but far more serious brother, Virgil, getting coffees at a café. They had just returned from their expedition to the South Seas and it showed in the relaxed, tanned faces. According to Richard Borden there was every chance that Scott still harboured feelings for him, and would maybe, eventually, share information. Zac felt the table he was at shake and peered up in annoyance. A big man with an ill-fitting pair of glasses and a ridiculous beard pushed past him to sit down at an angle where, Zac realised, he too had a perfect view of the Tracys. Zac peered at him quickly. The man had very dark eyes that flashed in harsh warning at his inquiry. Zac felt extremely cold, returning his eyes to rest on the more pleasant faces of his prey. Scott appeared laid-back and happy. Zac narrowed his eyes and the delicate yet spoilt mouth twitched slightly in pleased cruelty. Last time they met Scott had been angry. He had no reason to want to see Zac for any length of time. This time it would be different. Scott drank the hot coffee and Virgil mock-toasted him as he did, “To Lady Penelope. First agent of International Rescue.” He grinned. Scott tapped the base of Virgil’s paper cup with his, “Gonna be a great auction. I can’t wait to see the new agents.” He agreed. Virgil said, “We’re all part of Dad’s dream.” He sipped at the coffee, “It’s gonna be tough work, and we’ve had it easy so far.” “Yeah. Not for long. After the auction I’ll be handing in my commission. And that’ll be it.” “You really so sure?” Virgil said, “That this crazy scheme is gonna work?” “Why are you so sure it’s not?” Scott inquired. Virgil shook his head, “Don’t turn this around. I’ll go along with it. It might even be fun.” He looked along the busy street and said, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” “Sure is.” Scott said, “What kind of auction is it tonight, anyway?” Virgil finished the rest of his coffee, his light brown eyes suddenly alert, he said slowly, “You don’t think…?” “What am I bid for Scott Tracy? Twenty thousand dollars from Ms Anya Donahue? Thank you that’s Thirty thousand bid from Lady Marie O’Reilly do I hear thirty-five thousand? Thank you, that’s thirty-five thousand…” “He’s doing rather well, isn’t he.” Lady Penelope smiled charmingly. Virgil laughed, “Yeah, he’s popular. He’ll probably get even more than me.” He glanced at Lady Penelope, stunning in shimmering blue dress and sapphire tiara that set off her elegantly angelic golden hair. She had ‘bought’ him for the evening, for a respectable four hundred thousand dollars. Already thoroughly charmed by her Ladyship, Virgil turned his attention back to the auction as he heard the latest bid, “Fifty thousand…from a phone bidder…” the price had leapt up and Scott and Virgil both peered across the room to see who had offered. Their faces both drained of colour, “Fifty- five…sixty…” the auctioneer, announced the next amount, “Sixty-five…” Autumn Swoonara, a blonde woman in a sleek red dress raised her hand. Virgil recognised her as the daughter of world- famous rockstar Johnny Swoonara, “One hundred thousand!” the auctioneer was extremely pleased, his attention turned to another bid, “No, now it’s two hundred thousand from the phone bidder for Scott Tracy!” “He certainly seems to be enjoying it.” Lady Penelope whispered. Virgil didn’t answer and fixed the ‘phone representative’ with a warning look that not everyone saw, he glanced at Scott who was going slightly pink with anger. Lady Penelope didn’t miss this, “Do you know the bidder?” “You could say that.” Virgil murmured. “Two hundred thousand…two hundred thousand dollars, is that all I’m bid?” the auctioneer’s face was also quite red, “Miss Swoonara, is that your final bid?” “Three hundred thousand!” she called out. Scott gave a small grin, the auctioneer looked around, the bid between her and the man with the phone, “Four hundred!” the man called out. “Five hundred!” she answered, there was a gasp around the room. “Six!” “Seven!” “Eight!” “Nine!” “One million dollars!” the man shouted. Scott fixed them with a look. Autumn Swoonara shook her head. Her father would kill her if she went over the million. The man on the phone grinned, “One million dollars for Scott Tracy! Going once, going twice…” the hammer smacked wood, “Sold, to anonymous bidder, Scott Tracy for one million dollars! Hope she’s a looker, Tracy.” The auctioneer added under his breath, which Scott ignored. He left the stage and another man took his place. Scott didn’t know whether to run or meet the ‘bidder’. Virgil made his way over to meet Scott, before he got there the slim blonde man with the phone got between them and planted himself in front of Scott. “Nice to see you again,” “Thought you were in Zurich.” Scott replied curtly. Zac shrugged, “I got bored.” “Sneaking out again. You don’t change.” Scott made to push past but Zac caught his arm, “You’re not going to sneak off, are you? With all these people around? Just hear me out, Scott. Please?” Scott shrugged off his hand easily. He saw Virgil looking ready to act and made a negative motion with his eyes and head. Virgil scowled and Zac turned around. He beamed at Virgil. “Hi, Virg. You look different to how I remember. Full of spunk…” “Okay, throw him out.” Scott snapped, “Whoa, whoa, Scotty.” Zac hastily held up his hands in supplication, “Okay, I’m sorry. I pretended to buy you for a friend. But it’s all for a good cause! All I wanted to say is I’m sorry. I was drunk, okay? I…I wanted to see your face again, old man.” Zac’s use of his nickname for Scott stirred old memories in the pilot. “Since when did you have a million bucks?” Scott asked. Curiosity was overtaking annoyance. He couldn’t help it. Zac nudged him, “I’ll tell you. How do you feel about dinner with me tonight?” “You’re not…” “One evening.” Zac asked earnestly, “For the auction? I mean, it’s free…” he smiled winningly. Scott relented and tried to ignore Virgil’s surprise, “Okay, Zac. One meal, that’s all.” “Yes!” Zac cheered. “I got us a great table, too!” Scott laughed. Virgil frowned at his brother, saw how Scott looked at Zac and turned away in disgust. This was no place to make a scene. Lady Penelope caught up with him, “You don’t seem very pleased.” “Zac bought him, there wasn’t any other bidder.” He muttered. He wasn’t sure why he was telling her this. Lady Penelope looked from Scott talking to the young blonde man and back again, “I see.” She took Virgil’s arm, “Is it really so bad?” “It’s a long story, Lady Penelope.” He said, then noticed her raised eyebrow, and said, “I hope Scott knows what he’s doing.” The Auckland Auction ended with a banquet around ten o’clock that night. Virgil had been introduced to Dante, a Russian agent who Lady Penelope seemed to know well. He tried to keep an eye on Scott but his brother evaded him easily, joining Zac at a private table for the ‘dates’ in one of the screened-off sections of the floor. Virgil had tried and was now resigned to his duty with the agents. In fact, only Lady Penelope was left as Dante had run off to answer a personal call. They shared a bottle of wine and listened to the speeches made by Bill Auckland and his fellow fundraisers. Virgil smirked as they enthused about, “…the enormous amount of money raised, a record breaking year with the extra million from Whedon Enterprises for one of our bachelors.” “I believe Jeff forgot to tell you about that.” Lady Penelope said, “That’s right.” Virgil glanced at the screens, “But he’s been distracted lately.” “His breakdown must have been a terrible experience. I’m so glad that he’s found a way for all of you to join him.” “Bringing us closer together.” He nodded, feeling the irony. Lady Penelope smiled, and said smoothly, “I hope Scott’s enjoying his date. His involvements are a…secret from your father, I presume?” “Yes. He, er, doesn’t really approve.” Virgil told her, realising that she should not be underestimated at all. She could be a deadly enemy, he thought, or great ally. “That is a shame. They make such a good couple.” She caught his expression, “Or is there something I’m not aware of?” “It’s not important. Anyway, I heard you’ve been saving the world even before than we got roped in to help!” Penelope looked a little coy. “We all have our secrets, Virgil. We’ll leave Scott to his. Although I can tell you one or two things…” Virgil was probably right, Scott thought as he and Zac finished their dessert course and moved on to coffee. “Thank god that old guy’s finished…” Zac was saying, “I thought he’d keep going forever.” “Hazards of charity work, I guess.” Scott grinned, “You still haven’t told me why the company gave you the job in the first place.” “I pulled a few strings, Scotty, that’s all you need to know. Can you believe it, though, there’s nothing I’ve enjoyed more than playing the stock market.” “Well I sure never saw you as a stock-broker. Never heard of Whedon Enterprises before either.” “Oh, they’re real new, big company, thought this would get a little publicity.” Zac tried to keep his more obvious thoughts off his face, Scott always looked so damn handsome in a suit. “You’re really just my pay- cheque.” “Some things never change, then.” Scott hit back. He smiled to soften the blow, “I don’t think you have.” “I wouldn’t have told anybody.” Zac said, “Unless you became all honest all of a sudden. You’re still a liar, Scotty.” He saw his words hit home. Scott’s expression toyed with guilt then anger before it returned to the neutral look it had had all night. “I’m not a liar. Dad’s been through hell in the last few years. It’s not like knowing who I choose to sleep with would have helped.” “White lies are the same as normal one, only they hurt more when the truth comes out.” Zac said. “Since when did you learn to wield the big morality stick?” Scott exclaimed. Zac began to pick at his teeth daintily with a silver dessert fork. “I had a good teacher.” He answered. His blue eyes met Scott’s and they were alive with interest, Zac felt pleasantly surprised. Scott gave a more embarrassed laugh, “Flattery will get you everywhere…” “At least you’re speaking to me.” Zac said. Scott’s eyes crinkled in reply, “Trust me, nobody’s more amazed than I am...” The ball was nearly over. Guests filtered out of the building, Autumn with her eventual date on her arm, already drunk out of her mind, she flung a kiss at Virgil while he waited indoors with Lady Penelope. Scott had yet to emerge from the private tables. “What’s keeping him?” he wondered. “I can’t imagine.” She said innocently. Virgil frowned. There was still no sign of him and he felt uneasy. Bill Auckman noticed Virgil and hurried over to him, “Ah, one of the Tracys! I’m so glad you were able to join us, and after such short notice! Margery? It’s Virgil Tracy!” a stick thin, red haired woman in an unflattering bright pink dress hurried over. She smiled at him, “One million dollars…” “No, Margery, that was his brother. Where is your brother, Mr Tracy?” “I was wondering the same thing.” “Of course…” Margery peered up at him, “Your brother did extremely well. I didn’t see his date.” “It was an anonymous bid, just a representative.” Virgil said quickly. “And he must be eating with the man holding the phone.” She laughed gratingly, “Imagine if that were his real date!” to Virgil’s intense relief Scott appeared from behind the screen, and less happily he saw Zac at his side. Virgil hated not being able to confront him there and then, seeing that Zac kept a subtle hand around Scott’s waist, and Scott didn’t seem to mind. Margery clucked like a mother hen, “There you are! Thank you so much for being part of the auction, the charity is very grateful and so am I! It’s a shame you didn’t have a real date, but I hope you two had plenty in common?” Zac and Scott exchanged glances. Scott made to speak and Zac said first, “Oh, me and Scott had a lot to say. Where did you get that wonderful outfit?” Zac smiled winningly, “Thank you,” Margery Auckland flushed pink and Lady Penelope also narrowed her eyes at the pretty blonde man. Scott was on the verge of laughing and pushed Zac slightly in the ribs, “Anyway, we should be going.” He said, “Great party, Mrs Auckland.” “Yeah, it was a blast…” Zac said, kissing Mrs Auckland on both cheeks, and Scott pushed him again and they both looked at each other, grinning, then at Virgil and Penelope. “Thanks…” Virgil turned to leave, “It was a wonderful evening.” Lady Penelope added, also going with Virgil, who glared at the couple in front of him. Zac and Scott had clearly been making up for lost time, talking like old friends and not former lover and psychopath. They were totally at ease again. “I don’t believe it.” Virgil muttered, “Perhaps a million dollars goes a long way.” Dante commented. Virgil turned, “Where the heck have you been?” “Long story. One that ends with…” he glanced behind him, at the emptying hall as they went into the dark street lit by a few strobes. “We’re being followed.” “Followed?” Virgil turned as well, Dante put a warning hand on the side of his shoulder, “By who?” he turned his head to face forwards. “He’s a big guy, wearing glasses, behind us…” “Most intriguing.” Lady Penelope said. Scott and Zac were still cheerfully oblivious. Virgil said, “What do you think he wants?” “Just following for now.” Dante said, “Do you know anyone with a reason to hurt any of you?” he paused, “Other than Lady Penelope?” “I don’t know.” Virgil murmured. Scott and Zac reached the limousines parked at the side of the street. Virgil looked behind him again and saw the man Dante meant, “How did you spot him spying on us?” “He’s good but not that good.” Dante muttered. Virgil said, “So what do we do?” “We take no notice, you go back to the hotel, I’ll take care of him.” Dante moved off, “I’ll be in the other car, don’t worry.” “We’re being stalked, who’s worried?” Virgil grimaced. Penelope took him down to where her pink Rolls Royce was waiting. Virgil saw Scott and Zac climbing into the same limo and frowned. “Leave him to it, Virgil.” Penelope said gently. Virgil thought of Borden, and closed his eyes for a second, when he felt strangely numb. He turned. The strange man looked at him directly and he felt the world around him turn black and he slumped heavily to the ground. Dante cursed, running forwards, in the confusion the man following them disappeared and they were left with Virgil lying unconscious beside FAB 1. He lifted the young man gingerly, he was unhurt but his eyes were tightly closed. There wasn’t a mark on him. “Thought you’d been shot or something…” he muttered. Lady Penelope hurriedly got out of the car, and said, “Is he all right?” “I think so.” Dante smiled in relief as Virgil’s eyes fluttered. He groaned, “What happened…?” “You passed out.” Dante told him. There was a crowd gathering, they hastily got a semi- coscious Virgil up and into FAB 1, joined by Dante now. The limousine with Scott and Zac had already pulled away. “But we lost our shadow. You seem to be okay, though.” “Pity.” He felt enormously exhausted, as if he had woken from a very deep and dreamless sleep, his head felt heavy and seeing this she put a cool hand against his face. Virgil looked at her, she smiled with a slightly more ambiguous expression. “How are you now, my dear?” she asked him. He gently removed her hand, “Fine, Lady Penelope. Guess I’m just a little wiped out from what that guy did.” “Then let’s get you back to your hotel. The Atlantiqué, wasn’t it?” “Yeah.” He caught a glimpse of surprise in her expression all the same. He smiled to himself again, shutting his eyes. Never mind… It was midnight when Virgil finally returned to the suite at the hotel. Lady Penelope had dropped him there, but Dante had joined him ‘just in case’ as their stalker was not yet pinned down. Virgil knew that the man had made him pass out, and this knowledge unnerved him, as he believed he had seen him somewhere before. He was glad that Dante was there for now, but as he opened the door he saw a note on the bed in a gold embossed white envelope. His heart quickened, “We must not worry your father, Virgil, until we know more…” Dante was saying. Virgil nodded and tucked the envelope inside the jacket and then he headed for the bathroom, “I’ll be out in a minute.” He muttered, “Certainly.” Dante scouted around the room. Shaking his head Virgil shut the door. He opened the envelope, Dear Virgil, It read, Janine has kindly delivered this for me, as proof that I am still thinking of you, as I vainly hope you think about me. I have missed you this past week, although we spoke earlier I have to see you again. Too much time has passed since we were together. I have a place in Unity City as you know. Come and meet me when you are ready. I will be there tomorrow night and should be there until next Monday. See you very soon? it was signed R. Virgil smiled to himself. He could get used to this. He splashed his face with cool water and removed the jacket and tie. His mind wandered back to Scott and Zac, and he quickly opened the door and said, “Dante? Is Scott back yet?” his friend turned away from the balcony windows, “Don’t think so. Did you try his cell phone?” “No.” he said, trying not to sound indignant. When would he have had the chance? Dante shrugged, and Virgil flipped open his phone, called up Scott’s number. Part of him didn’t want to know what his brother was doing. But he had to know if he was safe. Zac slid back on the limousine seats and Scott looked over at him, “What are you gonna do with me?” he inquired. Scott’s blue eyes were reflecting dim flashes of orange city light, and suddenly he was aware that the limousine driver was heading back to Hotel Atlantiqué and that that was out of the question. He leaned forwards to the driver, and the screen slid back, “Hey, friend, could you go to the Palace de Unity Plaza instead?” he asked. “Anything you want, Sir.” The limousine driver nodded, Scott smiled, “Thanks.” “Plaza, what’s that?” Zac asked. Scott shrugged, “Wait and see.” “I hope you’re trying to seduce me?” Zac was only half-joking. “You’re a self-obsessed little bastard, aren’t you…” Scott met Zac’s eyes with a deeper expression and Zac tried to look cool, “You love it.” Scott felt Zac’s warmth near him and the icy booze sloshing through suddenly burning veins. Scott looked away then and flipped open his phone. He switched it off. Virgil found only Scott’s answer phone. He didn’t like it, but he also felt sure that the mysterious man would not try anything at the hotel in what was left of the night. He finally persuaded Dante to leave, although the man had insisted on going to see Jeff and Virgil had to stop him. He was worried about his father overdoing it again and Dante was finally persuaded to wait for morning, although only on the condition that he could keep guard on the Tracy suite until he was satisfied everything was okay. There was nothing more to do about Scott until then either. Virgil re-read the note as he got ready for bed. He wondered what their father would want them to do tomorrow, hoping to stay in Unity long enough for him to see Borden again. There was enough time to worry, now he was tired again and put his head on the pillow and put the letter near the bed. He saw a flash of burning eyes before he slept until morning. Scott felt his lover’s heat against him and nibbled at the ear beneath his lips. Scott curled up around him, spooning, Zac twisted and looked up and didn’t speak. The Palace de Unity Plaza was a hotel that charged two thousand dollars per night. However, Zac’s eyes were not on the luxurious bedroom but on the luminous features of the pilot. Scott rolled onto his back and Zac rested his head against the crook of his shoulder, “So, what do you want to do today?” Scott asked without opening his eyes. Zac lifted himself above the pilot, Scott lifted his head and they kissed deeply. Zac felt the hardness grow against his thigh and reached down making the pilot’s eyes flicker open, he grinned, gasping suddenly, caught Zac’s face and looked deeply into him he pushed against his hand, and Zac grinned. The pilot came faster than he intended. His dark head thrown back, lifted hips, let himself go. Zac’s tongue cleaned the smooth chest, plunging it back into the mouth, felt powerful arms weak after release. Scott’s ragged breathing evened out and Zac lapped at his mouth, then leapt up and grabbed the phone, “Let’s order room service!” he grinned. Scott’s energy returned and he pulled himself up onto a sitting position, Zac was perched on the side of the bed, lifted the white and gold phone, Scott put a kiss on the very nape of the younger man’s neck. “We don’t have time. I need to get back…” he tasted sweat on his tongue. Zac swung a look at Scott, delicate lips curled in annoyance, “I want you here.” He held the phone in one hand and pushed up his fringe with the other. “Don’t you want me?” “It’s not like that. My father’s got us working on a new project. I have to be there this morning to find out more.” He half-expected crying and shouting like in the old days, and Zac’s features did cloud momentarily. The squall passed, however. Scott tilted his head, “Is that okay, then?” “I guess.” Zac answered - sullenly but with dignity. Scott played his hands through his hair, kissed him generously, he had missed the blonde all through his time in Siberia working in the frigid air, flying alone was not enough. He had not been completely lonely, to be fair, but Zac’s memories had helped. And now, he was back. “You got what you wanted, remember?” Scott passed his fingers appreciatively down firm muscles of his lover’s back, began to draw out kisses that pulled short sharp sighs while he lifted him excitedly and drew Zac’s legs to him. He held his left leg to one side and gave him proper attention. Zac laughed in glee, submitting finally, grinning at his desire, Scott cut him looks up that made the blonde shudder with relief on the end of his tongue, and finally spend in his mouth. Zac gulped, covered in sweat. Scott touched the boy’s upper lip, removing beads that had gathered with his finger. He looked at Zac who was just catching his breath, “Now can we get going?” he demanded. Zac snorted, then slyly reached out and tweaked one brown nipple making the pilot cry out, startled. Zac rolled backwards off the bed laughing, “Okay!” he dived into the bathroom. Rubbing the twinging nipple in surprise Scott muttered, “Little bastard…” then he charged after him. It was nearly eleven in the morning when Virgil saw Scott roll in, Zacless, he was grinning from ear to ear. Deprived of Borden’s company and aware that potentially his father’s plans would keep that happening, he was trying very hard not to be jealous. The atmosphere in the hotel conference room was expectant. He glanced at his father. Dante had explained everything about passing out last night, and Jeff was worried although now Lady Penelope was going to help find out who the stalker was. “Where have you been?” Jeff demanded. Scott stopped, “I was…” he flicked his gaze at Virgil who made his non-committal face that meant, ‘you’re on your own’. He looked at his dad, “I went out for a drink, I er, I’m sorry.” “It’s not acceptable. We’ve all been waiting for you.” Jeff was angry, he glared at Scott, “Sit down over there, Brains has a presentation all ready. I guess he’s finally gonna deliver it. With this stalker around it was thoughtless of you to pull something like this!” he added sharply. “Stalker?” Scott sat with a bump. Nothing had been said on the hurried phone call he’d had with Virgil when he’d finally freed himself from Zac and rushed over. Although Virgil’s words had mainly consisted of, “Dad, mad as hell, get ass over here now, idiot!” So Scott was totally confused as the events were relayed to him swiftly, and he said anxiously, “Is Virgil okay?” his brother nodded and Scott looked to his father. “We think so, but this guy is dangerous. What we do now is be extra careful, and that includes staying in contact at all times. Is that understood?” Jeff asked sternly, “Yes, Sir. Sorry, sir.” Scott said solemnly. Jeff fixed him with another glare and then he nodded to Brains, “We’ll go over the plans until we know more. John, Gordon, you both know what to do.” “Er, yeah.” John nodded. “So, let’s start. I’ll be sending you to begin each collection over the next few days. This is the technical demonstration. Carry on, Brains.” “Yes, M, Mr Tracy…” Scott had left Zac getting dressed in the hotel room. Once the pilot had gone Zac called room service and spent the next three hours enjoying sweets and vodka from the bellboy. He was actually eating them with the bellboy, in bed. The boy, whose name was Darren, was listening to Zac rave about Scott, and he said, “So he’s really something?” “You have NO idea.” Zac chuckled, “Don’t tell anyone, but I only got back with him cos he thinks I’m rich now…” he finished the third whisky in the mini-bar and belched contentedly, “He thinks I’m in the city!” he hopped out of bed and went over to the videophone, “I gotta call in to my sugar daddy…” “You, Zac, are such a whore!” Darren chucked the chocolate-stained pillow at him, Zac dialled, “Janine! Where’s your big boss?” “What do you want, Mr Tulley?” she asked coldly. Zac pushed his face close to the screen, leered at her prettily, “I want to speak to your boss and tell him all about his wonderful plan. It’s working, you know, Scotty luuurves me.” He laughed again. Janine kept her icy expression, “I’ll pass it on.” “You put Richard through right now, bitch! Ha! He has to know to his face if his plan is working…now do it!” he slurred, Janine was disgusted and she said curtly, “I’ll get right on it.” She hit hold. Zac looked back at the boy in his bed, “She’ll get right on it. She’s such a bitch.” “Mr Tulley.” Borden’s deep voice commanded from the screen. Zac mock- saluted, he said, “I’ve done it. Scott wants me. Now what should I do?” “I want you to get the device I gave you into one of the Tracy offices, preferably the one in Unity. If you can manage that, you might actually have a job in ‘Whedon Enterprises’, if not, Scott gets to know the real you again.” “Shit, Borden, you’re a piece-a-work…” Zac did James Cagney, “And you’re a revolting little drunk. And if you want to stand any chance at all, get that bloody bellboy out of your bed before the good Captain comes home…” “He’s not a Captain anymore, he quit.” Zac sniggered, “To join Daddy’s business. I found out. Totally fuckin’ weird, Scotty’s just a fuckin’ suit now!” “Scott Tracy quit the Air Force?” Borden was incredulous. Zac grinned, and Borden shook his head, “Then there must be something very important going on.” “Fucking-A!” Zac agreed. Borden looked at him sternly, “It’s essential I know the truth. If you really want to keep Scott you’ll find a way to make sure I do, is that clear?” “Yessir!” “Good. Call me when you attach the device, and – don’t fuck it up.” “Me?” Zac sniggered. Borden glared, “Amaze me.” and the line went dead. Zac cursed and flung his whiskey against the wall, the bellboy made to move and Zac walked swiftly over to him and said, “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Late that evening, Virgil was taking a swim in the hotel pool. He finally felt relaxed, their father had told them that they were going to start building the machines once all the parts arrived, but that this would not happen for another two weeks. He was going to visit more people who could help them, Brains would work in their offices in Unity doing designs and detailing more equipment with Scott and Virgil on standby to okay orders. Until then, they were all free. Except for Alan who was going back to University the next day. Virgil swam backstroke, alone in the huge oval of water, staring at the sky through a stained glass window. He was pleasantly tired, he pulled himself out of the water and padded over to the sauna in the changing rooms. Mopping at his face with a white cotton towel, he realised he was not alone and turned to see a figure seated on one side of the sauna, wreathed in steam. “Dante?” the agent’s dark eyes were staring sightlessly and Virgil’s stomach froze in horror. Then he spun, a massive figure lunged and a large fist smacked into his jaw. Virgil crashed to one side, he barely had time to roll as the man came after him, he dived for the door powered by adrenaline, sparks shattering his vision, as he reached and tried to push it open the door he felt a powerful arm seize round his throat. Senses reeling, he tried to use the man’s weight against him to throw him over his shoulder but his air was going he fought as the grip tightened but after a few more seconds, Virgil had completely blacked out. The figure lifted him easily, taking the pilot away while Dante stayed silently staring into nothing. Chapter Six: Dark Skies HAZEL BUILDING, UNITY CITY, 2025 MORNING ABOUT 8 AM Borden was greatly annoyed that Virgil hadn’t been able to make it that evening, he was slightly less angry when Janine told him that Virgil had phoned around seven the night before to say he could come tonight, but he had been very busy with his father’s business. Janine commented that he had worked very hard, and looked exhausted. He could be there that morning, however. He would be there in time for brunch. Borden smiled at this, greatly looking forward to seeing him again. He had plans for keeping Virgil, despite his loyalty to his father. PALACE DE UNITY PLAZA HOTEL LATE BREAKFAST, 10 AM Scott enjoyed being with Zac far more than he thought he would. The bellboy - what had his name been? Scott decided it wasn’t important, who had joined them last night seemed to have gone back to work. Zac had suggested, no, persuaded him it was a good idea. It beat tipping, Scott grinned to himself as he stretched luxuriously under the sheets. Now it was just him and Zac, and it was the second morning in over a year where he was waking up beside the lithe body with its shock of blonde hair. He was just warming it up when there was a call on his cell phone. He leaned off the bed, hunting for the tiny piece of ringing plastic amongst the debris. Zac threw a pillow and Scott slid backwards off the bed, hitting the answer button as he landed, “Y-ello?” he gasped. “Scott, it’s your father.” “Hi, father.” Scott shushed Zac frantically as the boy moved around him and started ruffling his hair, “How are things?” Jeff asked, “They’re fine…” Scott stifled a laugh, Zac played with his hands around his chest, tickling the tense skin, “They’re kind of…under control…” he whacked Zac’s shoulder and rolled away a little out of reach, “Brains is having fun…” Zac swung bare feet at him off the bed, grinning, Scott’s father continued, “I’ve been wondering about that stalker. Where are you?” “I’m, er, I’ve been out for a walk. Great weather here.” Lightening crashed outside and Scott flinched guiltily, “How are you?” Jeff ignored the question, “I’ve been thinking, Scott, maybe Richard Borden’s behind this. He could be onto our plans, some leak he’s exploiting. Any ideas what that could be?” “Nope.” Scott answered more soberly, “I’m sure he doesn’t know anything.” He was suddenly very glad that they were not on the videophone. Jeff said, “I’m gonna get Dante to check. He’s a computer expert, you know. I wouldn’t wanna distract Brains while all this work needs doing, so don’t worry him any more. But I’m doubling up our security, especially at the offices, and I want you all to stay in close contact with each other. Where are John and Gordon?” “Don’t think they’re up yet…” Scott mused. “How can Borden be behind this? He doesn’t know anything.” “Don’t forget how dangerous Borden is, Scott. He nearly ruined me, all of us. He’s always been mad that we won out, and you should know he’d do anything to get his revenge. This stalker crap is the last straw.” “Yes, father.” Scott said. He said more thoughtfully, “We won’t let Borden or anyone else stop the project from happening, I’ll make sure. I’ll head up the security myself, and Lady Penelope and Dante are both working on it. I’m going into the office later to finish the first shipment orders.” “I’m glad to hear it. Good work, son. Keep it up. I’ll call again this evening.” “Yes, sir.” Scott smiled ruefully as he hung up. Zac was eating last night’s barbecue chicken delivery, something Scott had developed a major taste for when stationed near the local KFC in Siberia. “You still call him ‘sir’?” Zac muttered, “That’s, like, so cute.” “Go to hell.” Scott said good-naturedly. He eyed the mess of a hotel room, clothes – his were amongst them but Zac’s from last night were also everywhere, so were the boy’s magazines, half-empty glasses, cans bowls and spilled food, “Don’t you have a job or something to go to?” “Christ, Scotty, you sound like my Dad.” Zac sniffed, chowing the last of the spicy flesh and walking gingerly with bare feet over to his lover. Scott knew he should be busy somewhere else, being responsible doing grown-up things and doing work, instead he let Zac nuzzle him persuasively back into bed. He kissed him and lapped at the boy’s delicate features, “If I were a woman you wouldn’t have half your problems…” Zac teased, “From my vast experience…” now Scott tasted the hot spice from the chicken at the back of his throat and he muttered, “…you’d probably be the wrong woman, too…” HOTEL ATLANTÍQUÉ 10.30 AM Lady Penelope was searching for Dante. The agent hadn’t been seen since last night, and she had not been able to locate Virgil either despite her efforts. Turning to John had revealed that the lanky agent was last seen heading for the pool area where Virgil had been taking a swim that evening. Scott was supposed to be at the office but she knew for a fact that he was with Zac Tulley, and she smiled to herself, a little jealous she had to admit, also concerned. Just then she heard a scream and ran as swiftly as she could across the slippery tiles of the swimming pool towards the sauna. A female swimmer was yelling and as Lady Penelope reached her, she saw what had scared the woman so much. A lifeless body slumped out of the doorway. It was Dante. 11 AM “I have to go to the office.” Scott said at last. He was shocked at the time – eleven already! Zac sniggered, “Daddy’s boy…ow!” Scott was a little rough with him, pulling one arm around his back again, both thought of wet grass suddenly, “OW!” he said again, he pressed the curve of his lithe form against the older man, turning his neck. Scott’s lips met him hard, held him in their warm grasp, Zac was fleetingly aware of his stupidity at driving this man away last year, before selfishness took over again, he said, “Old man. Haven’t you got the stamina to screw all day?” “I could screw you into the wall.” The blue eyes flashed with amusement, “Duty calls. And you still have to pay for me, remember? One million dollars?” “I’m earning money just lying here. And not in the old way.” Zac nipped the pilot’s ear, “Don’t want you to go.” They embraced, Scott squeezed Zac’s waist, “Sorry. Brains has probably already been there for hours.” “Who’s ‘Brains’?” Zac asked archly, “He’s a scientist who’s helping us. New project, top secret.” Scott told him. Zac made a face, “A hot date?” “Yes, I’m going to sleep with him at the office.” Scott drawled. “We’re lovers, are you happy?” “Fuck off.” “Hmm.” Scott let Zac go and turned his head around, “The bellboy was enough, what was his name again?” “Darren. So better looking than you.” Zac said, “Better in the sack, too…” “Guess that’s my cue to leave.” Scott made for the bathroom, Zac called, “Take me with you!” “What?” he stuck his head back out of the bathroom door, “I’d love to really but I’ve gotta get to work now…” “Take me to work.” Zac said. Scott frowned, “I don’t think so.” “I have the day off. You’ll just be a grouch without me. Go on, I just wanna see where you work. Maybe see the inside of a few cupboards…” “Hmm.” Scott said again. His expression softened, “I guess…” he was suddenly as decisive as always, “Okay. You can tag along. If anyone asks, you’re my new assistant Greg. Right?” “Sir yes sir!” Zac mocked the salute and grinned, he jumped off the bed and bounded over to the pilot, who promptly shut the door on him. 11.15 AM Lady Penelope was extremely relieved that Dante was alive, but he appeared to have sunk into a hypnotic trance and it had taken a lot of cautious effort to wake him. She had made him comfortable in the Tracy’s suite. As he woke, he shook his head sleepily, “What the…” he smiled up at Lady Penelope from under greasy black hair, “Am I still dreaming? Again…?” “You were attacked. Do you have any idea when?” she asked anxiously. Dante rubbed at his watery eyes, he said, “Last night. I needed to see Virgil, warn him…Borden’s planning something. He’s got Zac up to something. I need to check…” he heaved himself off the bed and stood wobbling unsteadily, “I have to get to the offices…” “I’ll take you there.” “No!” Dante leaned against the wall, he said, “Stay here and guard the other two. I can’t remember what Borden had planned…” “Why should I…?” “Please, lovely lady, do not argue.” He took her slender hands and said, “I do not know what has happened to Virgil, and if that man is still around I know you are their best defence. I swear on my mother’s car that I will tell you if we need you.” “Oh, very well.” Lady Penelope looked at Dante, allowing his attempt at charm to work on her, “I will look after John and the others. At least Alan isn’t here. But the minute anything happens…” “I will call you.” He kissed her hand and rushed out of the bedroom. Penelope briefly realised he had no shoes on. She rolled her eyes. Scientists… HAZEL BUILDING 11.30 AM THE sky was dark, thundering and raining hard as Virgil arrived at the Hazel Building. Borden welcomed him over the intercom, “Come up here, Virgil. I have something for you.” Virgil nodded but didn’t answer. Borden watched him enter the building and was a little puzzled. The hazel eyes were slightly too dry, and he was dressed in monotones, black T-Shirt, dark-gray trousers, dark leather shoes. He was soaked. The boy’s face was clearly drawn and Borden wondered how hard he had been working over the week. He grinned, glancing back at the food he had prepared. Brunch had a lot of possibilities, he had (this time) decided to forego pancakes for French toast and waffles and bacon, and the finest coffee, of course, and Virgil was able to appreciate little things like that, like his mother. Borden caught himself thinking of Lucille again. She had had similar interests, equal love of the finer things, at least until she’d married Jeff Tracy. So many children…of the five brothers, Virgil contained the greatest contrasts, in some ways so much his father’s son, in others so completely like her. It warmly amused Borden how these two versions reacted to make up the man he wanted to be with. He unlocked the door for Virgil, who must nearly be up here by now, and then he moved over to fetch the breakfast, or brunch, from the kitchen. THE door opened. Borden heard Virgil come in, and forcing himself not to rush straightaway, he called, “Sit down, Virgil, I’ll bring the food over.” He frowned. There was no reply. Borden lifted up the tray of food and walked over to the door. Virgil was standing still next to the table, framed by black lightening- struck clouds in the window, hazel gaze fixed straight ahead. “Virgil?” Borden looked with a half-smile at the boy, “What’s wrong with…?” he gasped. There was a gunshot. The food went flying and the round silver tray spun flat against Borden’s chest as a bullet slammed into the flat surface, just about protecting him. Borden thanked god for his five years in the British army as he dived for the floor then scrambled quickly for the couch, threw himself over it followed by another gunshot. Virgil advanced on Borden like a robot and held the black barrel of the gun up aiming with cold efficiency. Holding the tray up protectively Borden shouted, “Virgil! Stop this now! Virgil! Listen to me!” Virgil made no reaction other than to fire twice point blank. Taking cover Borden quickly figured there must be another three left in the barrel. He took a gamble, Virgil was nearly at the couch, Borden slid off the cushions, heard the muffled thud and the explosion of another shot, he shouted, “Go on then!” he checked the reflection in the tray, Virgil’s handsome features were impassive as he relentlessly aimed the gun. Borden ducked back and pushed with all his strength. The couch rushed forwards and smacked into the pilot from the hips down. Borden gasped with the effort, Virgil was caught unawares and crumpled backwards, and there was another gunshot. Borden hurried over the upturned couch and came face to face with the barrel of the gun that Virgil was still trying to use. Virgil pulled the trigger. TRACY CORPORATION OFFICES, UNITY CITY 11.35 am Scott wandered cheerfully into the offices-cum-lab, in dark blue suit and a lighter blue shirt with no tie, he beamed cheerfully at the little scientist. “Hi, Brains! How’s it going?” “Oh, er, g, good, Scott. I thought you’d b, be here f, first thing this morning.” “Where’s Virgil? I thought he’d be here.” Scott ignored the faint hint of reproach and glanced around. Brains shrugged, “Er, I h, haven’t seen him today.” “Maybe he’s ill.” Zac said cheerfully. The blonde was smart in a white shirt, and a pair of maroon trousers and tie. Seeing Brains’ face, Scott quickly introduced them, “Brains, this is Zac.” He caught Zac’s surprised expression, “He’s an old friend, I thought I’d show him around.” “Scott, a, are you sure?” “I know what I’m doing.” Scott murmured reassuringly, “If everything’s under control, I’ll be checking emails in the office for a while, okay?” he smiled, Brains smiled back, his eyes were large under the thick glasses and passed quickly from Scott to Zac and back again, “S, sure, Scott. Your father called me, by the way. He’s coming here later.” “How much later?” “About one o’clock.” Brains said, it was nearly twelve o’clock. Scott nodded, “Thanks.” 11.36 AM IT clicked. Empty. Borden went pale but his concern was now for Virgil. The pilot’s face was tense with the need to complete his task. The gun clicked repeatedly as he tried to fire. Borden reached out and touched the hand holding the gun, trying to remove it, and Virgil grabbed his hand hard and painfully, he pulled himself free of the couch, his other hand grasping for Borden’s throat. Borden took a second to realise that Virgil still seriously intended to kill him, he jerked back. Kicking out with his legs, the couch moved and Virgil lunged, Borden clenched his jaw and his fist and hit the younger man as hard as he could across the face. When Virgil didn’t stop he did it again, and then Virgil whacked Borden across the forehead with the gun, making the older man fall back. Virgil marched forwards, Borden lifted a heavy vase and flung it at him, forcing Virgil to swerve, Borden took the chance to throw another and then dove forwards and punched him across the jaw, got behind him and hit the vulnerable spot between neck and head. Virgil crashed forwards with a grunt and Borden sat back on his haunches to catch his breath. His mind whirled dizzily at what had just happened. He hastily prised the gun from Virgil’s now limp fingers and examined him. Borden brushed the boy’s bruised features, “What on earth got into you?” he murmured. Virgil lay motionless and his breathing was shallow and uneven. “Who did this to you?” he lifted Virgil into a sitting position, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you some help…” stroked his hair, “I’m so sorry.” 11.40 AM Scott strode into the office ahead of Zac. The younger man smiled. This industrial espionage gig was easier than he thought as he put a hand into his pocket and drew out a small sphere, it was clear and squashy like a sponge; as Zac entered the room where he stuck it under the desk where Scott’s computer was perched. He looked around the office itself, spacious, large blue oval rug in the centre of the room, an attractive set of cabinets in efficient silver. It all felt strangely empty, he remembered that Scott had only just begun work here. No more Air Force. “This is it. I’ve been working on a few blueprints. No rush.” Scott was saying affably. He seemed almost embarrassed at showing this less-than exciting side of himself. Zac couldn’t resist. “This is what you’re giving up the Air Force for? Daddy’s boy!” Zac allowed a nasty sneer to present itself. To his delight Scott seemed a little unnerved. The former pilot turned away to look out of the windows to admire the impressive view of Unity City Harbour. *The President* was being worked on below; a mammoth ship that would take another three years to complete, the rain battering on its hull and on the thick window glass. Zac realised that Scott was now looking at the sky, “Sorry.” He said at last. The set of Scott’s shoulders gave away a brief burst of sadness. Zac felt a pang, unexpected and unwanted. He walked over to Scott and kissed the side of his face. The darker man turned his head; his expression was faintly sad but amused as well, “I’m starting something new.” He murmured. “Wanna come with me?” Zac put an arm around him and the darker man held him in return and kissed his hair then his forehead, and then the tense lips, Zac’s breath quickened. Scott lifted him against the window, Zac heard rain and lightening batter the glass, he grinned up and licked the pilot’s face, Scott paused before lowering his head and Zac moaned faintly, Scott removed Zac’s shirt quickly, efficiently, he kissed him briefly on the lips and then on the chest, liked the hot mouth on him as Zac sought to comfort him for what he had lost, and for what he was about to do. HAZEL BUILDING 11.50 AM “HE’S been brainwashed.” Borden said. Janine looked at him, “Sir. Just so you know, Sir, Zac Tulley managed to get the device into the Tracy Offices. It’s trying to unscramble the codes now. Their security is amazing. It should only take until tomorrow, but it has to take that long. Unless you want them knowing we visited.” “Why would I want that? I suppose that Zac’s served his purpose. Once we know what they’re up to, he can have another million for his trouble, and then we’ll cut him off.” Borden chuckled, “He’ll have to fend for himself again, unless Scott’s really that soft on him. Stupid really that Scott trusts him after what he did…” he murmured more to himself than to her, Janine stood with her arms neatly behind her back, looking at them both together. “Thank you, Janine.” Borden didn’t look around. “Yes, Sir.” Janine passed her eyes over Virgil, “I hope he recovers, Sir.” “Yes. He will.” Borden murmured. “Get me more of the Rophyhylanol drug. It may help him to relax.” “On my way.” Janine had hurried from the room. Borden covered Virgil again with the sheet, still concerned. Virgil had barely reacted even after coming around painfully a short while ago. Borden sat down beside him and put a small box with ‘Tiffany’s’ embossed on it lightly on his lover’s chest, “I wanted to give you this watch.” He said softly, “I missed you. I wanted to show you how much I did.” Borden smoothed his face affectionately, “I want you. Don’t tell anyone…” Borden saw that Virgil’s breathing was shallow and he didn’t respond to Borden’s touch. “Now you’re here it’s probably better this way, I will give it to you when it’s over.” He brushed a short strand of mid-brown hair from Virgil’s ear. “I’ll make them pay for this. Whoever it is.” Janine re-entered with the drug, “I brought a needle. I don’t think you’ll get him to drink it yet.” “Indeed.” Borden readied it and put the watch in a draw in his bedside table. He pricked the pilot’s arm, Virgil sighed and Borden smoothed the skin where he had injected the drug. Borden watched Virgil sink under the influence of it, after about quarter of an hour the awful death mask face had gone, leaving his Virgil peaceful. Virgil writhed a little, turning to the left, a smile spread across his face. Borden kissed him lightly on the lips and then Virgil opened his eyes. He looked at Borden, coherence returning. “Richard…” Borden smoothed his cheek. Virgil was weak with the drug, pupils big in dull brown. First arousal, then exhaustion took him, he slid into uncompromising sleep. His head lolled. Borden frowned. The last thing he had planned to do was fall for Virgil, and now he was drugging him again. He had not expected at this late stage to grow a conscience. He should call Scott next, let him know, but if there was any way to avoid getting anyone else involved so much the better. The darkly handsome pilot would probably be hard at work anyway, work that he would soon know about thanks to his blonde lover. TRACY CORPORATION OFFICES 12.45 PM Scott was not getting any work done. He realised this as he hungrily devoured Zac’s mouth, suddenly removing himself he muttered, “What time is it?” “Brunchtime.” Zac said impatiently. Scott licked his neck, one eye on the time. “Dad’ll be here soon. He’ll probably recognise you. You should get going.” “He doesn’t know what I am to you, does he?” Zac pressed insistently against him, Scott didn’t want him to stop but the time was going fast. Scott liked having him nearby and clearly wanted him to stay. Zac grinned at him, “I’ll take you out to dinner. I want you spoil you for a change.” “I miss you already.” Scott said, “Come on, I’ll walk you to the door.” At that point, Dante ran in, “Don’t let him leave!” he cried, “He’s got something in here that’s sending information to Borden!” “What?” Scott glanced at Zac and back to Dante, “What are you talking about?” 12.52 PM Virgil woke at last. Janine was watching him, he felt sick, woozy, his leg slid out from beneath the covers. “Thank God you’re awake.” She said, Virgil realised he was tied to the bed and panic hit him. “What’s going on?” he demanded, struggling. She smiled, “You’re not completely brainwashed anymore.” “Brainwashed?” Virgil said. Janine smirked, “I’m very disappointed. You failed to kill Borden.” She touched his face. Virgil frowned. “But…” “Why did you fail?” she demanded. Virgil answered tonelessly, “I was surprised by how he defended himself. He noticed something was wrong.” “And it won’t happen again, will it, sweetie?” “No.” Virgil shook his head, “It will not happen again. I will kill him for you.” “Very good, Virgil.” She cooed. “Because he hurt you, didn’t he.” “Yes.” He answered, she whispered, “Not a word, remember. Wait until I tell you.” Hearing the door open, Janine turned, “Mr Borden.” “How is he?” the older man walked to Virgil’s side and peered down, Virgil looked up, restrained by the hands and wrists. His face twisted, “Let me go!” “You tried to kill me. I don’t think I’m letting you go just yet.” “I tried to…” Virgil paused in shock. “Kill you?” “Yes. But the drug appears to have reversed it. You’re lucky I was able to stop you.” He stroked Virgil’s cheek affectionately. “But I’m not sure how deep it goes. Be patient. I’ll take care of you.” Virgil looked at him with slightly suspicious eyes. 12.55 PM Scott stared from Zac to the luminous sphere to Dante and back again at Zac. He couldn’t believe it, “It would have torn every one of our files out and sent it to Borden’s network, destroyed the security system and ruined our defences. There’s only one way it could have got in here.” Dante eyed Zac warily, worried behind the black lined glasses. “Lying bastard!” Zac yelled. “You…planted that thing? Borden nearly got our work?” Scott reiterated with an expression of pure horror. Zac shook his head fiercely and shouted indignantly, “He’s lying, Scott! I’d never do that to you!” “No one else could have done that.” Dante said firmly. “It’s only been running since you both came in here.” Scott went to the desk and picked up the device. He flung it against the window where it bounced before sticking to the floor. He swung a look back to Zac, furious, “It’s true, isn’t it! You were working with Borden all along!” “No…! You’re all getting paranoid, Scotty I’d never do that! It must have been him!” he pointed at Dante, “Or that lousy receptionist!” “Borden’s used these in other espionage jobs. His computers have a plan in them that involve you and your brothers, Scott. He wants you all to pay for winning over him last year. Zac was a willing pawn in all this. He lied about everything.” Dante turned to Zac again, “There is no Whedon Enterprises except the one licensed to Borden Conglomerate, and the whole thing’s been a set up!” “He’s making it up!” Zac made to hit Dante and the skinny computer expert winced. “That’s enough!” Scott rounded on his lover, “Get the fuck out of my office! If I ever see you here again I’ll have you arrested! You worthless piece of shit.” The pain behind the blue eyes was also visible. Zac’s mouth twisted visible rage building. “You couldn’t fuck your way out of a brothel!” Scott refused to be drawn, “Get out.” He hissed. Zac saw there was no speaking to him now. He collected his shirt and ran out from the office and the security guards followed to make sure he went the right way. Scott plonked his ass heavily onto the side of his desk. “I’m sorry, Scott.” Dante murmured. “He played you all along.” “I should have known better.” Scott answered lightly. He looked up at the agent. “Thanks. Where’s Virgil?” “He’s with Borden.” Dante said, “Shall I get him?” “No. You make sure nothing else has been…implanted here. I’ll go to the Hazel Building. Borden’s been lying to Virgil as well. Done worse things than Zac did to me. I guess he doesn’t know yet.” He got to his feet, “I have to tell him.” “What about your father?” “Tell him I’m at lunch. I’ll go by myself.” Scott walked briskly out of the door. Zac was already long gone. 1 PM Virgil appealed to his lover from the bed, “I’m fine now. Let me go?” Borden shook his head. He said, “In fact I prefer you like this.” He ran a hand up Virgil’s leg, attended to him warmly, Virgil was surprised by the force of his own excitement. Borden made Virgil gasp in pleasure, the need etched his features, getting aroused by this as well Borden made to remove the pilot’s soaked shirt, he half-removed it and wanted to control Virgil, make him consumed by touch, Borden’s lips on him, hands spurring him on, he panted and met Borden’s eyes before the world blurred, release vaporised thought until the orgasm ended and he sank back. Borden murmured, “You won’t hurt me, will you.” “Why?” Virgil’s hazel eyes were damp, he smiled up at the older man and murmured, “I don’t remember very much…” “You were brainwashed.” Borden murmured, “I’ve drugged you. It seems to have released you, but you might have more orders.” “Brainwashed?” Virgil was horrified. Borden nodded, “You…nearly killed me. You understand my reaction.” Virgil flexed under the restraints he shook his head, “No…” “Do you remember anything? You must have seen something, remember how this happened. Do you know who could have done this to you?” “I…” Virgil frowned, “Just a horrible dream. Burning eyes, and stinging…” he didn’t usually show fear, seeing it on the smooth face Borden traced Virgil’s arm. He kissed the boy, felt the accession to his desire, their two mouths locked in blissful battle until Richard couldn’t resist, unlocked one arm. It curled around his back. Borden moaned and Virgil lapped up his face and as his other hand was released he held Richard between his hands and moved over the older man, working the excitement to feverish pitch, Borden smiled, Virgil licked the inside of his ear and the hardness against his stomach was enough to encourage him to go quicker. Borden always did like the pain from being fucked, he moaned and Virgil, using oil from before, took him while he stared down, always getting further pleasure from the look on his lover’s face while he buried himself so deeply within him. His thoughts raced ahead of the climax and warned him, Richard had hurt him first, and drugged him first, and Virgil felt no pity. He hurt him now, Borden writhing, hands in the boy’s hair, pleading. The pilot shut his eyes and let Richard pull him into another kiss before also crying out. He thrust again, grinning down, legs stretching, arms flickering with release. Tightening again, very slowly he eased from him and Borden slid onto his side and Virgil turned away. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure no one hurts you.” Richard murmured and kissed his shoulder. Virgil grunted, seeming tired by their lovemaking, if it had been a form of bonding with him again Richard was willing to repeat it, but he was wary of pushing him. He saw to his shock that Virgil had marks down his back, and it looked as if someone had injected him repeatedly with something. The brainwashing was only temporary, and designed to be broken easily. In the army he had been something of an expert in those matters, it was clear that Virgil wasn’t himself, but then he hadn’t been since the very first drugged kiss, and Borden couldn’t let Virgil know that much of his current desire was thanks to those first few seductions. He wrapped a leg over Virgil’s thigh, smiling at his warmth. Temporary brainwashing…amateurs knew nothing, love was the greatest control and Virgil had the same hold over him. If only he knew the extent of it. “Mr Borden?” Janine entered. He sat up flushing slightly more red, “What on earth do you…?” “Fuck you, Sir.” She raised a gun, “It’ll make the papers. Playboy Virgil Tracy, ashamed at fucking his father’s OLD rival, shoots his lover then himself in a desperate effort to find forgiveness in an unforgiving world. Grab him, Virgil.” “What?” Borden gulped, Virgil grabbed him around the throat, pinned him to the bed. Janine drifted forwards and her beautiful face was cruelly lit at her boss’ fear. “You bastard. You killed my mother.” She said softly, “Don’t you remember? You slept with her and made sure my father knew all about it. After you destroyed his business, his life and his dreams. You tried to do the same to them, right down to fucking another family member. But I stopped you, and now Virgil here will make sure you can’t hurt anyone else.” “You…” His lover glared down at Borden and she said coolly, “He knows exactly what you did to him the very first time. You abused him and he’s angry. Now he’ll do whatever I say. Good work, Virgil. I have to say, you showed great resistance until I showed you exactly what Richard- Shit here did to you.” She held the gun against Borden’s forehead, “Now I’m gonna kill the worthless sod, and you can kill yourself after, is that okay?” “Yes.” Virgil said tonelessly. “Don’t hurt Virgil…!” Borden pleaded, he begged her with his eyes, “Not Virgil…” Virgil’s fingers closed tighter and stopped him talking. Janine smiled, “I’m Annabelle Dumas, Richard. When you get to hell, tell them who sent you.” her finger whitened on the trigger. She was yanked backwards and the gun went off. Bullets ricochet off the expensive wallpaper. A dark haired, powerful man had his arms around her, holding one arm and pulling her back by the waist. She struggled fiercely and the man had his hands full, he managed to knock the gun from her grasp. Hearing the struggle Borden gazed up at Virgil who seemed paralysed but slightly more lucid. Borden put his hands over his shoulders, dug his fingernails into the tender flesh of his neck. The touch made Virgil’s eyes focus again. He released Borden, frowning in confusion, “What the…?” Borden freed himself from Virgil and rolled off the bed, he snatched up the gun. “That’s enough!” he snapped and the man and woman stopped struggling. In a more civilised tone he added, “Thank you, Mr Tracy.” “Don’t mention it.” Scott growled. The woman kicked out and dropped down, the pilot was thrust between her and the gun and she got quickly out of reach, and then away. The door slammed. Borden crossed quickly to the intercom and called his security guards as Scott moved to his brother. Virgil was a little shaken but he was unharmed. “Scott? What are you doing here?” he asked dazedly, “I’ve got some news.” Scott murmured, “A friend found out that Borden sent Zac to plant a device in our offices. He nearly got information about you-know-what. He’s been lying to us all along.” “What?” Virgil was still a little dazed. He said, “No…Borden wouldn’t lie to me.” “You’re wrong. Dante found out what Borden was trying to do.” Scott said. Borden finished his phone call, looked at Scott, “Yes?” “Is it true?” Virgil asked. He sat up and said, “Zac was working for you?” “No.” Borden insisted. “I never even thought…” “It all makes a crazy kind of sense, though, doesn’t it?” Scott frowned, “He was part of your original blackmail plan. When he turned up at the auction I thought it was too good to be true, but you knew…” he grimaced, “You knew I wanted him. You played me. But you got found out.” He looked at Virgil whose face was unreadable, “You can’t trust him.” “Get out.” Virgil snapped at him. Scott looked surprised, and Virgil said again with greater venom, “Get out!” “Leave.” Borden nodded, “He doesn’t need you…” “Shut up!” Virgil turned on him too. Borden shut his mouth in shock. Scott backed off cautiously and Virgil fixed his gaze on Borden, “This is between us.” Scott didn’t say anything now and left the room. Virgil took a breath, “It’s true, isn’t it. You lied to me all through this. Right from the start.” “Virgil…” “Shut up!” Virgil snarled. “Janine was right, you…you raped me and you didn’t think I’d remember…” Virgil’s lip curled in hatred and loathing, “You bastard, drugged me, fucked me and hoped I’d never find out.” “It wasn’t like that.” Borden began. Virgil hit the hand Borden tried to rest on his shoulder, his features contorted with rage, “Don’t EVER touch me again.” he spat, and it was almost more than Borden could stand. “Give me my clothes, I’m sick of looking at your fucking wizened old face.” He got out of the bed and stood naked in front of Borden, mocking him at the same time as loathing spilled from his eyes. Borden swallowed, “I’ll go, and get them.” He reluctantly turned away to fetch them, felt his hands shaking. Virgil dressed rapidly when he handed him the dark trousers and t-shirt, he walked to the door as soon as he had his shoes on over bare feet. Borden said, “It wasn’t what you thought…” “Don’t lie to me.” Virgil had never looked so angry, his fists tight, muscles agitated in his back and stomach visible through the tight black t- shirt, Borden wanted to feel them under his hands, he pleaded, “I would never hurt you, Virgil. I wanted to, I thought you understood…Zac was just business, but you’re so much more important to me. Didn’t you want me?” “Only when I was drugged.” Virgil made for the door. Borden jumped between him and the exit, he placed his hands on Virgil’s chest, “Move.” The pilot hissed. Borden licked his lips, “You weren’t before. You liked what I did. Admit that at least.” Borden managed to halt Virgil’s escape, pressed his face to fill Virgil’s vision, “Say it. You wanted me.” “I wanted you.” Virgil paused, feeling Borden’s breath cool on his face, he traced the older man’s lips with his fingertips before letting Borden pull him into a powerful kiss that sent feeling back to his bruised arms, the tender neck, he lapped across his chin. Borden sent a hand to his chest and tried to draw the boy back into the room. Virgil shoved him backwards into the chair. “And you drugged me.” Virgil was trembling, he whispered darkly, “You’re lucky I don’t really try to kill you.” He slammed the door on his way out. Borden got slowly to his feet, he went to an ornate box on the mantle-piece and drew out a smooth cigar and lit it. He smoked thoughtfully, not attempting to chase Virgil, afraid of his hurt and hatred. Using the drug had clearly reminded Virgil of the first illicit advantages Borden had taken, but afterwards Borden assumed that he was forgiven. Even dared to believe it was all forgiven in the haze of love he had felt. But it had not been forgotten. Now everything was shot to pieces. Borden removed the expensive cigar from his mouth, looked at it and threw it into the bed setting fire to the expensive coffee cotton sheets. Putting it out distracted him for about ten minutes, ordering a new bed took around thirty more. He was missing Virgil already and the rain beat hard on the windows as he lit another cigar. Damn Annabelle Dumas, it was his own fault for allowing the girl to work for him when he had known all along, allowed himself to grow complacent when he should have killed her or locked her up before. Never mind, she could be dealt with in time. Borden was even more determined to find out what Virgil and his brothers were supposed to be doing for their father, and he would get Virgil back one way or another. Nobody got away from him, Richard Borden poured himself a glass of red wine and stared out at the rain-lashed city. Virgil belonged to him. The boy would realise this or would be made to. Regardless of what his philistine, philanthropic fuckwit father had planned. 1.45 PM Virgil had been quiet on the way back to the Atlantíqué. Scott had waited for him in the lobby of the building. As Scott drove, he noted that Virgil was clearly upset and knew the best thing for that was to let him think it over himself. He would talk when he wanted to. It was still raining heavily, and Scott battled his way through the traffic. Dante ran to meet him, “What happened?” “I’ll let you know.” Scott let the valet take care of the car and Virgil followed him up the steps and into the hotel. Dante followed them, and after Virgil sat heavily on the bed in his hotel room looking numb, and Scott had called room service for coffee and cigarettes, Dante exclaimed, “I can’t believe you two had relationships with the only two men who could destroy you and your dad!” Scott looked annoyed, “It’s none of your…” “International Rescue is going to be one of the most important organisations in the world. You know how vital it is we aren’t discovered. Now Borden has heard of Thunderbird Two, and Zac knows you have something special ahead. That’s far more than either of those bastards should know!” “Thanks for pointing that out, I hadn’t realised.” Virgil muttered. “This stalker must have something to do with Borden as well.” Scott murmured. Virgil turned to Scott looking slightly ashamed, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry about all of this.” “It wasn’t your fault.” Scott raised an eyebrow, “Entirely…” “Thanks. I don’t understand it all, but I see now…what Borden was doing. I don’t know what I think. It’s all such a mess.” Scott patted him on the shoulder. Dante ignored this show of comfort and carried on. “I’ll advise your father to stop working in this city. You have offices in Seattle, don’t you? They’re more secure and we can get them even more locked down before tomorrow. Don’t worry, my friends. These mistakes can be stopped, before your father finds out the, er, truth.” “Right.” Scott nodded to Virgil, “No more mistakes.” “You’re lucky I stopped the device when I did or she’d have all our work so far.” Dante grinned, “I exchanged the information for a few choice viruses. Borden’s in for one hell of a surprise when he tries to access those files!” 6 PM John met them for dinner in the Atlantíqué restaurant later that evening, he and Scott clinked the crystal wine glasses against Virgil’s hi-ball of sparkling water. The pilot was recovering and evidently the drug still softened the emotional distress of the last few days, at least for now. Virgil’s smoothly serious face was midway between a smile and worry. Scott caught this too and exchanged a look with John. Off this look, John wondered what Scott was really thinking. Zac’s betrayal had been less of a shock, but Scott wouldn’t go into more detail than assuring John he was fine. Now Brains was talking to Virgil, also relieved of duty until security could be tightened. Lady Penelope arrived and interrupted their flow, putting one delicate hand on Virgil’s shoulder. “Should you be out here?” she inquired softly. Virgil shrugged, “I’m not drinking, although I’d like to…” “Uh, uh.” Scott waved a finger, “Bad.” Virgil shoved him good- naturedly. “I’ll work on finding Janine, or Annabelle. The man she worked with must know about us.” Lady Penelope said, “But we’ll deal with that when the time comes.” Scott poured her a glass of white wine and she said, “I suggest a toast, gentlemen. To the future!” “The future!” they chorused. None of them noticed the bald man watching them with angry dark eyes. He had shed his tourist disguise and glared at them. He had been so close to getting the first plans. Getting involved in the silly girl’s revenge plans had nearly worked out so perfectly. He glowered at the laughing brothers. There was still a long way to go. For now he would wait his chance to take their secrets. TO BE CONTINUED...?
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