Hurt & Comfort

Book 2: Circumstantially Hurt

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Authors Note: The first segment was inspired by Eugenie Chua's "In the Absence of the Moon" (Due South). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and she knows that she has my respect and admiration for her exceptional writing ability. (Cause I told her.)

Chapter 1: Approaching Moonlight

A lone figure sat beside the window, observing the sunset outside while a similar fading light was being felt in his own heart. The faint impression of the full moon could just be seen in the darkening sky. The soft melody of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata started to play in the background, filling the darkening room with music that oddly fit the atmosphere. A song for the approaching moonlight.

Thoughts of all that he had lost filled his mind as tears started streaming down his face. His true love, the center of his life, his best friend, was gone... forever.

As the music eventually ended, and restarted, the shifting light of the sunset glittered on a shard of broken glass laying on the carpet.

He picked up a piece of glass near his feet, a result of his outburst earlier in the evening, looking into it, he saw a stranger. He closed his eyes, unwilling to look into his reflection.

Everything would be all right, he told himself. Everything would be all right.

When the music eventually ended he weakly lifted his hand and removed his glasses. A blast of red light shot through the broken window and streaked across the approaching night. Then the blast of light became fainter and fainter until it ceased to be. The light from the full moon cast an eerie glow into the room, across the broken glass, the carpet soaking in blood and still dripping from the wrist of the limp form in the chair...

* * * * *

Professor Xavier was sitting in his study, looking over some reports when he was assaulted by a wave of grief so strong that it was almost a physical force. //Scott! Scott! Answer me!// He called out telepathically but got no response... not even a presence.

He had only an instant to decide what to do and made his way as quickly as possible to Cerebro.

He entered the room, silently damning the need for security and hoping the lost moment for the optic scan wasn't the crucial one to save Scott from oblivion. [It's not like it's stopped anyone who wanted to get in.]

He put on the helmet and forced his way through the start-up sequence, frantically searching for Andrew and Hank.

//Andrew, Hank. Come back to the mansion immediately. Scott needs help NOW!// He sent with more force than he intended.

* * * * *

"Do... do I know you?" Tara asked in a timid, fearful voice.

"No... It's a long story and not important right now." Andrew said, shaken to the core to see the woman that Warren had killed standing alive before him.

"Tara, gather your things and we'll take you someplace safe. Then we can decide what to do next... Okay?" Hank asked in his gentle way.

"Okay." Tara mumbled and started to gather some things from around the room.

//Andrew, Hank. Come back to the mansion immediately. Scott needs help NOW!//

Both Hank and Andrew fell to their knees, clutching their heads at the booming voice.

Andrew reacted immediately and ignoring the power required, opened a portal directly to Scott's room at the mansion.

He stumbled through the portal and landed on his knees beside the chair where Scott sat, unconscious.

A moment later Hank walked through the portal, cradling a frightened Tara close to his chest.

{Scott.} Andrew rasped in a hoarse whisper.

There was no response and Andrew instinctively let loose a small flux of power to see the unseen and try to understand what was wrong. In an instant he knew.

Andrew raised a shaking hand to the portal to draw the power back into himself. Then to the shock of Hank and Tara he spread his arms and the room changed around them.

They found themselves standing in the same room, but different. Hank immediately ran to the dying form of Scott Summers and started evaluating his condition.

"Tara, bring me that sheet, we have to stop this bleeding." Hank said, now in full doctor mode.

Tara did as she was told and brought the sheet from the bed. A few quick rips could be heard as Hank muttered, "It isn't enough, I have to get him to MedLab now." He lifted Scott's unmoving form from the chair and asked, "Andrew, can you do it?"

Andrew felt wetness on his upper lip but ignored it and responded by lowering his arms and closing his eyes. Hank was shocked when he saw Scott still sitting unconscious in the chair beside him, as well as in his arms.

Andrew made a growl in his chest as a vortex appeared above the occupants of the room. With a jerk of his arms and a grunt of effort, the vortex moved down to engulf all of them and suddenly they were all in the MedLab, as was Scott's chair and table. Hank turned in time to see Andrew drop to his knees, then collapse unconscious. Then he noticed blood flowing from Andrew's nose to puddle on the floor.

//Professor, I need help.// Hank thought frantically as he carried the bleeding Scott to a bed.

A moment later Ororo, Piotr, and Bobby ran into the MedLab as Kurt appeared in a ::BAMF::.

"Piotr, get Scott to a bed... Bobby and Kurt, get Andrew. Ororo, Tara, come here. I have to perform surgery on these veins or we're going to lose him." Hank said.

//Just think what you need and I'll coordinate, it will be faster.// The professor sent from the Cerebro chamber.

* * * * *

The professor had relayed Bobby and Piotr's observations of Scott and Andrew to Hank while Hank was working furiously to repair enough damage to keep blood in the other Scott's body. He sent them basic instructions to stabilize his other patients while he was diligently working to save the life before him. Tara brought whole blood and supplies to the surgery while Ororo handed Hank the surgical instruments as he needed them. An observer would have been amazed at the team silently working on the three men. The only sound that could be heard was the occasional muttered curse from Hank as he performed the delicate surgery to repair the damage the broken glass had caused. The actual surgery only took a matter of five minutes but every person in the room would have sworn that it went on for hours.

"He is stable. We'll have to wait a while to see if there was any brain damage from the extensive blood loss." Hank said as he huffed a sigh of relief.

"What about this Scott?" Piotr asked with worry.

//He appears to have received a sort of backlash from the other Scott's emotional state. He is in a coma.// The professor sent to the group.

"How about Andrew?" Bobby asked, worried by the pale form of Andrew lying motionless on the bed.

"I suspect that he overused his powers and is paying the price now, though the nosebleed does concern me." Hank said as he took a scanning device and moved to examine Andrew.

"Is he going to be well, Herr Doktor?" Kurt asked nervously.

"Well, the nosebleed stopped on its own. I think that's a good sign. I'm going to perform an MRI on him, then I should know enough to make an educated guess." Hank said as he pulled Andrew's bed to the Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner.

"What can we do to help now?" Piotr asked seriously.

"You can help me lift Andrew onto the MRI table. The rest of you should go and try to relax for a while. There isn't any more that you can do here, I promise that I'll let you know if anything changes for any of them." Hank said, then noticed Tara trembling in the corner.

"Ororo, this is my niece, Tara. Could you please take care of her for me? I'm a little..." Hank trailed off, trying to find a way to say it that didn't sound like she was a burden.

"Of course Hank. Come Tara, you look like you could use a cup of tea to calm your nerves." Ororo said kindly.

"Thank you all for your help." Hank said as the group started to leave.

"Anytime... You're welcome... If you need us again, just call..." Were the responses as they left the room.

* * * * *

Ororo led Tara to the kitchen and began to prepare a cup of tea. After she started the water heating, she turned to see Tara standing just inside the doorway, looking too frightened to move.

"Come child, have a seat while I prepare us some tea." Ororo said in her most comforting voice.

She watched as Tara made her way to the table and saw her carefully consider each seat before choosing the one in the middle, facing toward her. [A telling choice, not the head of the table, where she would be the center of attention, and not the next place over where she would be most easily accessible but the middle position where she is most difficult to reach. Not on this side of the table where she would be facing away, thus thought to be rude... This child seems to be carrying a great hurt.] Ororo thought to herself until the tea kettle started to whistle.

She quickly prepared the tea and on impulse reached for the cookies, to find none. [Scott and Andrew must eat three bags of cookies a week.] She thought with exasperation... and fondness. [I was so worried about Andrew when he arrived, but it turned out that he helped Scott as much as Scott helped him... I'm ashamed that I didn't notice how depressed Scott was before Andrew arrived. But the difference is like day and night... Scott is alive again... and Andrew is becoming more self-assured. They really do bring out the best in each other.] Ororo thought, then realized that she was keeping Tara waiting while she was woolgathering.

"I'm sorry Tara, I didn't mean to keep you waiting, I keep thinking about Andrew and Scott..." She trailed off.

"Th... That's okay. Will... will th... they be alright?" Tara asked with a tremble in her voice.

"Your uncle is a talented physician. I am sure they will recover under his care." Ororo said soothingly, then noticed that Tara was clutching a sketchbook.

"Oh, do you draw? Do you mind if I look?" Ororo asked kindly.

Tara immediately held the book closer. "Th... they're not very good." She stammered and looked down at the table.

"Please child, don't worry about their quality, I would like to see them but only if you are willing to let me... I am not now, nor will I ever, be demanding anything from you." Ororo said quietly but seriously, letting it sound like the solemn vow that it was.

Tara nodded her head slightly and scooted the sketchbook toward Ororo.

Ororo opened the sketchbook expecting to see flowers, maybe deer in the forest. The last thing she expected to see was the snarling beast with bloody fangs standing over the mangled corpse of what had probably been a human. She carefully turned the page and saw the image of a hideous thing that she could only describe as a hellbeast devouring an infant while another was holding the baby's mother, making her watch.

Ororo couldn't go further. She closed the book and scooted it back toward Tara.

"I... I told you." Tara mumbled and held the book tight against her breast.

"Your pictures are quite good, expertly drawn... It's the subject matter that concerns me... Where do you get these images from?" Ororo asked in concern.

"My dreams." Tara mumbled as she began slightly rocking herself in the chair.

"Enough of such seriousness, lets enjoy our tea and get to know each other." Ororo said as she thought, [This child is a well of pain. Whatever her problem is, I pray that we can help her.]

* * * * *

"Thank you all for coming." Dr. McCoy said to the assembled X-Men in the MedLab's conference room.

"Since all of you are concerned about our patients' conditions, I thought I would tell all of you at once. Word has gotten out to the students that Scott and Andrew are injured. Now you will have up-to-date information to pass on to them. Plus later, I will be asking for some of you to volunteer to help them." Hank continued.

"Just tell us already Doc." Logan growled.

"Scott and Andrew are going to be fine. There is nothing organically wrong with Scott, and the professor assures me that he is on his way to recovery. Andrew overused his powers and ruptured a few blood vessels. It isn't life threatening and will cause no lasting damage." Hank said happily.

A collective sigh of relief and a few muttered praises to deities were heard before Hank continued. "However, since Scott was in a coma for several hours and Andrew had three blood vessels hemorrhage, one of them in the brain, they will both be restricted to bed rest for a full week. At the end of that week I will reevaluate them to see if further rest is indicated. I think they would be most comfortable in their rooms, but I won't let them leave MedLab unless there is someone to stay with them. So, I would like to ask for volunteers. I want them to wake up to a friendly face, and once they're awake, I would prefer that they have someone to talk to."

There was collective agreement and, as expected, all in attendance volunteered to help out.

"Do you have any idea what caused Scott to go into the coma?" Bobby asked with worry for Scott.

"From the circumstantial evidence at hand, I can only speculate on that point. But the working theory that the professor and I have come up with is that Scott and his counterpart may have some sort of empathic link. That, coupled with the fact that they were occupying exactly the same space in the two universes when the other Scott tried to take his own life, may have caused our Scott to overload on the sensation... As I say, it's only a theory at this point." Hank finished quietly.

"Vat about Andrew? Vas zer brain damage from zee ruptured blood vessels?" Kurt asked with extreme worry.

"Yes Kurt, there was a minimal amount of brain damage. The area affected may interfere with his motor control slightly, but the brain is a resilient organ and I do not foresee any dramatic or far-reaching consequences." Hank said with assurance.

"Please Herr Doktor, I wish to understand, if zer vas brain damage from a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, does that not mean Andrew had a stroke?" Kurt asked worriedly.

"Yes Kurt, Andrew had a very mild stroke." Hank said quietly.

"What about the other guy?" Piotr asked.

"He has not regained consciousness yet, but my tests show no physical damage to his brain, and the professor didn't detect any irregularities from his surface telepathic scans. Our guest will be restrained for his own protection, since his wounds were self-inflicted. The professor and I will take turns sitting vigil over him until he awakens. After talking with him, we will decide the next course of action." Hank said as he glanced through the window at his patients.

"So when can we get Scott and Andrew out of here?" Bobby asked, looking out the window at the two.

"Now if you'd like. They're both just sleeping. We can take them to their rooms, and someone can sit with them. Whoever is with them needs to fetch and carry for them. They are not to get out of bed except to go to the bathroom, and even then, their caregiver will need to stay nearby. Either of them could become faint or fall asleep without warning." Hank cautioned.

"One other thing... Tara, would you come here?" Hank asked Tara who seemed to be trying to blend into the corner.

Tara walked to the front of the room and stood shyly by her uncle.

"This is my niece, Tara McCoy. In all the confusion, I didn't get to properly introduce her. She is going to be my go-between with those who are sitting with Scott and Andrew as my time will most likely be dedicated to our unexpected guest."

* * * * *

Andrew heard the door open and fought to open his eyes, they felt heavy and his body seemed to weigh a ton.

"Scott?" he rasped in a gravelly voice.

"Scott is fine, he's asleep in his room. Just relax. Would you like some water?" Bobby asked quietly.

Andrew nodded and fought to get to a sitting position.

Bobby immediately moved to help him and piled a few pillows behind him so he could rest back on them.

"Are you sure he's okay?" Andrew asked in a slightly panicked voice.

"He's fine, he was in a coma for a while, but now he is just sleeping normally. Please Andrew, try to relax. Tara, please tell your uncle that Andrew is awake. He might want to check him out or something." Bobby said, then turned back to Andrew.

Andrew hadn't even noticed that she was there. He barely caught a glimpse of her before she nodded and left the room.

* * * * *

Walking down the hall, Tara could hear a commotion coming from Scott's room. Quietly, she walked in to see Piotr trying to keep Scott still.

"What do you mean 'Andrew had a stroke'? I want to see him now!" Scott screamed as he fought Piotr.

Tara silently left the room and made her way to the MedLab and her uncle.

* * * * *

//Bobby, Piotr, Kurt. We've had a change of plans. Hank has decided that Scott and Andrew need to be in the same room. Tara noticed that they are both becoming agitated with worry for each other and suggested that they would both be happier if they were in the same room. This will allow them to see that they are both fine and will also allow one caregiver to watch after both of them. So Piotr, please help Scott to Andrew's room, carry him if he is unable to walk that far. Once he's settled, you can move Scott's bed in there.//

A chorus of //Yes Professor.// Sounded in Charles' mind and he knew that it would be handled.

//Hank will be up in a few minutes to check on them since they're both awake. I'll be in MedLab watching after our guest.//

* * * * *

"Scott, the professor said that we can move you to Andrew's room. So if you're ready, we'll go now." Piotr said and reached out a hand to Scott.

Taking the hand, Scott levered himself off the bed and supporting his weight against Piotr's side, made his way across the room.

"Why didn't he tell me himself?" Scott asked, as they approached the door.

"He says no telepathy, no mutant powers, and complete bed rest for you for one week." Piotr said as he opened Andrew's door.

"Will you share your bed with Scott for a moment?" Piotr asked.

Andrew nodded and with Bobby's help, shifted over to give Scott a place to lay down.

"How are you feeling?" Andrew asked Scott seriously.

"I was just in a coma. How do you think I feel?" Scott answered with an impish grin.

"Enlightened?" Andrew said with a weak laugh.

Bobby was watching the scene and had a look of confusion on his face.

"Inside joke Bobby. So, what's going on?" Andrew asked politely.

"The guys are moving Scott's bed in here. Do either of you need anything?" Bobby asked with concern.

Scott and Andrew looked at each other and answered as one, "Cookies."

* * * * *

Scott fought to open his eyes and found himself looking into the face of Charles Xavier.

The professor was surprised by the flash of fear, confusion and resigned acceptance that went through Scott when he awoke.

"I guess I died and this is my hell. Figures you'd be here you sick fucker!" Scott spat at the professor.

The professor was speechless from Scott's attitude.

"Go ahead, rip out my eyes and tell me it's for my own good. I've got nothing else to lose... Go ahead you son-of-a-bitch!" Scott screamed and began to pull at his restraints.

Professor Xavier decided that there was nothing he could say that would convince Scott that he was safe, so he just said, "Try and rest." And wheeled out of the room.

Scott fought to stay awake as he saw Xavier leave the room, but his weakened state finally got the better of him and he drifted back into sleep.

To Be Continued...