Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward opened the door out into the large private walled garden and started towards the small bungalow at the far end.
It been a long hard day and no-one in the world would blame her for skipping out on this last unofficial appointment. In fact Parker had tried to convince her to do just that on the drive over and she had cut short his objections with a sharp. "It is something I must do."
This anniversary was the cumulation of a year's hard work for her in regards to both International Rescue and Tracy Enterprises starting from the day a year ago when a prototype aircraft had crashed in New York and the ensuing fire had taken out a line of jets and two hangers. One of the hangers and the jet sitting in it's open doorway ready to take off at any time had belonged to Jeff Tracy who had been attending the annual board of directors conference in Tracy Enterprises head office earlier that day with his family.
The news had hit the headlines immediately and built to a frenzy with the added bonus of a hint of celebrity especially when Tracy Enterprises confirmed the meeting had finished and Jeff along with John, Virgil and Gordon had already left for the airport.
Once that had been announced Penelope had tried contacting the Island with no success and had the same lack of results when it came to the comlinks including Mrs Tracy and Kyrano. She had finally got through to Brains and Tin-Tin at the engineering symposium they were attending in Moscow to learn they were having the same communication problems as she was and had decided they would make their way to her in England while they waited for news.
The glass doors swung open just at she reached the steps leading up to the patio bringing her back to the present and Scott Tracy stepped out, smiling easily when he saw her.
"Hello Penny." He called to her cheerfully as he knelt to adjust the laces on his trainers.
"Hello Scott, how are you?" She asked perching delicately on the edge of a planter at the top of the steps as she watched him shake his head and redo the knot again.
"I'm fine. It's a great day." His eyes slid past her. "Ready Virgil?"
Penelope reflexively glanced over her shoulder to look for the 2nd Tracy brother seeing only the empty garden beyond, then looked back at Scott who nodded in reply to something only he heard.
"Dad's inside with Dr Donaldson if you want to join them, we're just going for a run along the beach before Grandma serves lunch." Scott told her as he stood up and stretched lightly.
Penelope nodded keeping the smile on her face as he walked past her to the grass and set off on his run before she let her expression crumble into despair.
"I thought you might come by today." A voice said from the open patio doors giving her a few moments to run her fingers under her eyes to blot away any moisture before she turned to find Dr Donaldson approaching her holding two tumblers of amber liquid.
"Drinking on duty?" She frowned in disapproval.
"My shift finished a couple of hours ago but I decided to see the day out." He walked across to lean on the railing around the patio beside her and held out the second drink to her.
Penelope eyed it for a moment before accepting it and taking a sip turning slightly to allow her to see Scott curve around the back wall and tun back toward them.
"He isn't getting any better is he?" Penelope turned back to the doctor beside her.
"No, I don't think so. We have him on a strict regime of the best drugs, by all medical knowledge he should be improving but he just isn't responding the way we hoped." Donaldson shrugged and took a swallow of his own drink.
"It's been a year." Penelope tried not to let any censure creep into her tone.
"He is living in a world of his own making and to be honest I have come to think it would be more cruel to force him out of it than let him stay as he is. To push harder may do more harm than good. From now I'm recommending his treatment be geared to keeping him comfortable. If his condition alters then we will adjust his treatment as required."
A laugh floated over the garden and they turned to watch Scott dodge around an empty space by the sundial as though avoiding a person and take off running again this time back toward the far end of the garden.
"He does seem happy." Penelope acknowledged. "Does he get any other visitors?"
"No. Ms Kyrano did visit once or twice at the start, she found it too hard to continue to do so but she does call occasionally. I recommended she check with me before visiting as the reality and fantasy are diverging more."
"In what way?" She asked curiously.
"To Scott she is now engaged to Alan so you may be getting an invite to the wedding."
Penelope blinked in shock. "Wedding?"
"It seems that was the shopping Alan wanted to do in the city leading to him going with his Grandmother and Mr Kyrano rather than attend the meeting with his father and brothers." Donaldson gave her a sympathetic smile. "Don't worry. I would suggest you have urgent business come up and just send your best wishes. He won't even notice that way. Can I top your drink up?"
Penelope shook her head watching as the Doctor turned and vanished back into the bungalow her thoughts drifting back again to this day last year.
The news reports were compulsive viewing, her heart had broken at every mention of International Rescue by those interviewed at the scene, at first hopefully then bitterly as the death toll rose and no help was forth coming.
When the list of the confirmed and presumed dead had been verified and announced early the morning after the accident there had been one expected name missing from the roll.
She had left Brains and a distraught Tin-Tin at the manor and gone to the Island herself unsure what there was to be found there. On arrival at the villa Penelope and Parker had followed the faint sounds of voices through the house, still hoping it was a misunderstanding somehow, until they reached the living room. Scott was sitting in the living room in the chair at Jeff's desk where he had been presumably remotely monitoring for any distress calls put through from the temporarily automated Five. His watch and a phone sat clutched in his hands as they rested on the surface of the desk, his blue eyes staring vacantly at the television screen still tuned to the International News Network and entirely unresponsive to their arrival and questions.
For a few seconds she had faltered in the doorway until Parker moved past her and over to the desk.
His soft "H'i think we should call a Doctor M'lady." startled her into action and she moved to call her doctor in England for advice keeping one eye on Scott whose only sign of life was the occasional slow blink while Parker fussed around.
The catatonic state had not lasted more than a few days, long enough for Brains to have checked the Islands communications and realise Scott had been talking to Virgil in the hanger as the fireball hit and heard his brothers death, then it had slowly given way to the deluded state he now remained in. At first it had been subtle passing off as denial, his family would be back from New York soon business was just taking a bit longer. The scenarios slowly became more complex Grandma and Kyrano were shopping or planting the garden, John was on a "research trip", Jeff was called into the office, Alan was off with Tin-Tin, Gordon was out diving and Virgil was off painting.
They transferred him to one of the best psychiatric institutions in the world, but it made no difference. As far as his doctors could tell, Scott had no idea that he had ever left the Island, never mind that his whole family was dead. He spent his days wandering around a small single bedroom bungalow and a walled garden but as far as he was concerned, life was exactly the same as it always was.
He messed around with his brothers, helped Jeff with managing design projects, sunbathed by the pool, went on what the hospital staff had labelled as expeditions. In reality he sat listening to piano music only he could hear played, scribbled drawings and lists on pages that littered a small desk, sat on the patio or marched around the garden occasionally picking things up and rooting around in the mud.
Penelope put her empty glass down on the rail beside her. Tracy Enterprises had recovered from the loss of it's director and his heirs, she herself now sat on the board of directors to protect the Tracy interests for Scott who would never take the reins himself but would help keep him cared for.
International Rescue had risen again this time under the daily command of Jeff's former colleague Tim Casey aided by Tin-Tin and Brains with a hand picked team of a dozen former military operatives who could rotate duty shifts and a small support staff.
Scott had stopped running his laps of the garden and was walking up the steps to the patio talking to the empty air beside him. He passed within inches of Penelope without seeing her lost in his own imaginary world and went past into the house.
"At least he's happy." she murmured to herself as she turned to leave. Somehow that would have to be good enough.