The door closed and the Professor turned his gaze on Andrew and Scott.
"What is the great mystery that you couldn't share with Orroro and Hank?" The Professor asked.
"Did you look at the pictures?" Andrew asked in response.
"No, when Hank and Orroro told me what they contained, we came directly to you. Do you know which demons she's seeing?" The Professor asked, becoming impatient.
"Yeah, the worst kind." Andrew said with pain in his voice. Scott immediately put his arm around Andrew to offer support and comfort.
"Please Andrew, just tell me. What are the demons?" The Professor said with exasperation.
"Her father, maybe her brother... probably both." Andrew said and turned to hold onto Scott, the tears streaking down his face again.
"Are you sure?" The Professor asked from a place of shock.
Andrew lifted the sketchbook and handed it to the Professor.
The Professor opened the book and recognized the beast from the glimpse he had picked up from Hank's mind. He looked closely at it and moved on to the next picture... and the next. Finally he realized that he had looked at all the pictures and was just sitting silently. Had he seen them before Andrew's insights, he might have thought they were demons too... but now he knew... these scenes of horror weren't of a demonic, supernatural or even mutant origin. They were incest, rape and years of abuse.
"How? How did you know?" Scott asked with a trembling voice, praying that he was wrong.
Andrew held Scott closer as he realized what Scott was thinking and said, "Scott, it wasn't me. Someone that I knew went through that, I saw his pictures and recognized the same things in these. Shhh... It didn't happen to me."
Scott nodded and gave Andrew a squeeze to let him know that he heard.
"That's why I didn't want the others to know. Tara is about to collapse in on herself as it is. She doesn't need a bunch of people knowing these things about her." Andrew said seriously.
Charles couldn't help but agree, then he thought to ask, "Why would she allow others to see the pictures if they are about something so private?"
"I don't think she knows what they're about. These pictures are so abstracted, that they are just introducing the idea of these types of things happening to someone... not her. Being caused by something... not her father. I think they are graphic representations of her feelings, pains and traumas. I think there is a part of Tara that is trying to get her to deal, while another part is in complete denial... or ignorance." Andrew said as he was trying to figure it out.
"Then on some level, she is trying to heal. At least there is some hope in all of this. Thank you Andrew for respecting her privacy and anticipating her wishes." The Professor said while at the same time trying to consider how he was going to deal with the situation.
"Professor, there is something I think you should know..." Andrew said and trailed off, trying to think of the best way to say it.
"What is it Andrew?" the Professor asked hesitantly, he didn't know how many more revelations he could take.
"I knew Tara in my home universe. We weren't close or anything, but I knew her and knew a lot about her. And when she was murdered... let's just say I feel some responsibility for her death, even though I didn't kill her. She was Willow's lover. When she died, Willow went insane with grief and nearly destroyed the world. I think that's when the first evil was able to gain a foothold in her mind and plant the parasitic evil that she spread to all the slayers and scoobies." Andrew said and went silent, waiting for a reaction.
They sat in silence for a few minutes until Charles finally said, "I don't know how much bearing that has on our current situation, but it does explain a great many things I had been wondering about. I will need some time to consider the best course of action in regards to Tara's well-being." The Professor said with a look of concentration on his face.
"Professor, I need to be a part of her recovery if it is possible." Andrew said quietly.
"It won't be necessary to..." The Professor began to say but Andrew interrupted.
"I stood by and allowed things to happen before, things that resulted in the other Tara's death. This is my chance to make amends, even if she doesn't know it. Please Professor, I've been carrying the guilt of this for a year. That if I had done something, anything, Tara would still be alive and my world would be a much better place. I know this can't make up for everything, but it's something I can do to make up for it a little." Andrew pleaded to the Professor.
"If there is some part you can play in her recovery, I will be sure to call on your assistance. At this stage that is the most I can offer." The Professor said seriously.
"It's all I'm asking for Professor. Thank you for understanding." Andrew said tiredly and laid back against Scott's side.
"Are you sure that you two are ready for this stage of your relationship?"
"Professor, what you see right here is all there is. We are a couple but this is as intimate as we have become, or plan to become in the near future. So yes, I think we are ready for this." Scott said as he held Andrew close.
"I see. Andrew looks like he could use some rest so I'll be leaving you now. Do you think you'll be up to our regular session this afternoon?" The Professor asked with a smile.
Andrew nodded and Scott said, "Yes, I think that would be fine. We're just going to rest until then, it's been an emotional morning."
Andrew gave a big nod of agreement and rested his head back onto Scott's chest.
The Professor left the room, a moment later Piotr entered.
"I will be watching over you for a while. Do you need anything?" Piotr asked.
* * * * *
Scott awoke to the friendly face of Orroro.
"Good morning Stormy." Scott said sleepily.
"Good morning Scott. Are you awake enough to answer a serious question for me?" She asked quietly.
Concerned by the serious tone of her voice as much as her words, he came fully awake and responded, "Sure, what do you want to know?"
"You've never lied to me Scott, and I need you to tell me the honest truth. If I release you from the restraints, will you try to harm yourself?" She asked, looking at him with pleading.
"Honest huh? Well then, honestly... I promise that I won't try to hurt myself while I'm with you. I can't promise that if I'm left with my own thoughts..." Scott trailed off.
"Thank you for being honest Scott. I will release you and take you to talk with some people. You will not be left alone." Storm said seriously.
"The spirit is willing but the body can barely move." Scott said with a tired grin.
Orroro smiled and walked out of the room. A moment later she returned with a large, buff man in a lab coat.
"This is Dr. Hank McCoy. He is the one who performed surgery on you and is currently in charge of your physical well being. Hank, this is Scott, and he has promised not to cause himself an injury. And I would like to take him to visit with Scott and Andrew." Orroro said in introduction as she began to undo his restraints.
After the restraints were released, Hank lifted Scott into a waiting wheelchair. There was a much needed trip to the bathroom, for which Scott was greatly appreciative. Then, Orroro gave Hank a smile of thanks and pushed the wheelchair out of the MedLab.
* * * * *
Scott looked in wonder around the mansion that was so familiar and yet so different. There were twice as many children here as at his own mansion, and they all seemed so... carefree.
After taking a circuitous route through the mansion, they ended up at Scott and Andrew's door.
Storm knocked quietly and waited.
Piotr opened the door and whispered, "They are sleeping. Perhaps you could come back?"
"Peter, we don't have to speak to them. Scott just needs to see his other self." Orroro said gently.
Piotr nodded his head and moved out of the doorway, allowing entrance.
Scott was filled with apprehension as he was pushed into the room. He didn't know how to feel about seeing himself, but when they were finally in the room, all he could do was stare wistfully at the sleeping man who was so much like himself holding another man protectively in his arms.
Scott awoke to the sounds of movement. Automatically, he reached beside the bed and picked up his glasses. After looking around he said with a smile, "How am I feeling this morning?"
"I'd say you're feeling better than I am. Since I slept in restraints and you...." he finished, making a sweeping motion with his bandaged arm, indicating the bed and Andrew in it.
"I'll give you that one." Scott said from the bed with a big smile.
"Scott?" Orroro said and they both turned their attention to her with identical looks of question.
"That one." She said, indicating the one in the bed. "I was wondering if you would mind if this Scott spent some time here today?"
"I don't mind at all. But I think we're going to have to do something about the name thing before it causes a problem." The Scott in the bed chuckled.
"I could always use my middle name." The Scott in the wheelchair said calmly.
"You want to use it? Go right ahead. I always hated it so you can keep it." Scott in the bed said a little too loudly and woke Andrew.
"Great, then you can call me Alan. He can be Scott, and we'll only have to worry about telling the two of us apart by sight." Alan said from the wheelchair.
"Alan? You got Scott Alan? That's a pretty good middle name." Scott said in surprise.
"What's your middle name?" Alan asked curiously.
"Linus." Scott said with a sour look.
"Scott Linus Summers? What were your parents thinking?" Alan asked with a laugh.
"Dad said it came to him while he was reading the Sunday Paper." Scott said, continuing the sour look.
"It looks like you have another brother." Andrew said cheerfully to Scott.
"Another brother?" Alan asked, confused.
"Yeah, first Alex and now you." Scott said seriously.
"Well, I was an only child, but I always wanted a brother... I guess this means I have two brothers now." Alan said with a smile.
"Alan, would you mind if I leave you here for a while. I am quite fatigued. If you need anything, I'm sure Peter would be happy to get it for you." Orroro said tiredly.
"Yeah Stormy, I'll be fine here. Don't worry, I won't do anything stupid." Alan said with a sheepish smile.
"You gentlemen have a good day, I will join you again at dinner." She said and left the room.
"God, I do love that woman." Alan said with a smile.
"We all do." Scott said with an identical smile.
"So I guess the first thing I should do is welcome you to our universe... except that I've only lived here for a few weeks so I'm probably not the one who should be doing that." Andrew babbled himself to a stop.
"So you're not from here either?" Alan asked in confirmation.
"No, I accidentally opened a doorway to this dimension, and everyone was so nice, I decided to stay." Andrew said, determined to make a long story short.
"I can't say as I blame you. From what little I've seen, this universe is a lot better than mine too." Alan said with a serious look coming over his face.
Recognizing the darkening look on Alan's face, Andrew decided that it was time to act. "I hate to interrupt the impending brood, but you look awfully uncomfortable in that chair... Scott, do you think that if we scooted over just a little that there would be room for your brother in here with us?" Andrew asked with a grin.
Scott looked at the bed, down at Alan, and back at the bed again. "I think we can just manage it. What do you say brother, care to join us?"
Alan was amazed by the open playfulness of his other self... no... his brother. A surge of emotion welled up within him and felt like it seized his throat. Unable to speak, for fear that a sob would escape, he just nodded enthusiastically.
"Piotr, would you mind helping my brother into the bed?" Scott asked with a smile.
"I would not mind at all, but if Alex shows up, he can get into the bed himself." Piotr said with uncharacteristic mirth and helped Alan out of the wheelchair.
With a few minutes of shifting and scooting, the three men found comfortable positions in the bed.
"The class is gonna flip when they see this." Andrew said with a smile from between the two identical men.
Scott gave a laugh as he imagined the looks on their faces. The laugh seemed to be contagious as first Andrew and finally Alan gave into it and all three were eventually laughing themselves silly.
Piotr decided that there must be something funny about him sitting and watching them because every so often one of the men would look at him and break up laughing again.
Eventually all the laughter died out and Andrew shifted and threw an arm around Alan's shoulder. "Welcome to the family, Alan."
"Family?" Alan questioned.
"Yeah, You're Scott's brother, I'm Scott's boyfriend. So that makes me your boyfriend-in-law.
Andrew gave Alan a brotherly hug and held it for a good long while.
The three sat silently for a few minutes, just absorbing the feeling of family when the moment was broken by a knock on the door.
"Come in." Scott called automatically.
"Breakfast." Kurt said as he entered the room pushing a cart of food.
"What the hell?" Alan asked, staring at Kurt.
"Well, that's better than my first reaction." Andrew said with a smile.
"Alan Summers, I would like you to meet Kurt Wagner, known to many as the Amazing Nightcrawler. Kurt, I would like for you to meet Alan Summers, my counterpart from a neighboring dimension and my recently adopted brother." Scott said formally before ending in a smile.
"Nice to meet you, and Andrew vas quite right. Your reaction vas much better than his." Kurt said with an impish smile as he began to serve breakfast with Piotr's help.
"What did you do Andrew?" Alan asked suspiciously.
"I tried to hit him." Andrew mumbled, trying to underplay the event.
"He screamed 'Scott! It's a demon! Get out of here!' and tried to punch Kurt in the face." Scott said with a laugh as Andrew groaned and shrunk back in embarrassment.
"Really?" Alan asked in astonishment. Andrew seemed too small to fight and too timid to attack a demon.
Andrew nodded and said, "Where I come from, there are demons attacking all the time. Kurt teleported into the room and I reacted before I could think."
"And your instinct was to protect my brother?" Alan asked, liking the sound of 'brother' a little more each time he said it.
"Yeah, it was. And that was my... second? Yeah, second day in this universe." Andrew said, remembering it fondly.
"Yes my brother, I've been meaning to ask... if Andrew arrived a few weeks ago... how long have you two been a couple?" Alan asked as he accepted a tray of food from Kurt.
"Oh, we've been together... I guess it's going on.... two hours now." Scott said with a smile.
"Seriously? Am I interrupting something by being here?" Alan said, thinking he was intruding in the worst possible way.
"No. We are recovering from injuries just like you. We are in this bed to rest, nothing more. We are sharing the bed because we like to be close, that's it..." Scott said before Andrew interrupted, "...And if we didn't want you here, I'm sure you know Scott well enough to tell when he's being made to do something that he doesn't want to. I mean, that look isn't hard to miss." Andrew said with a laugh as he accepted his own tray of food.
"Hey!" Scott and Alan said in offense, simultaneously.
"Stereo." Andrew chuckled.
Scott accepted his food from Piotr and began to eat. Alan and Andrew soon followed his example.
"Mmm. Good waffles." Alan said through a mouthful.
"Bobby insisted on making waffles for you since you liked them so much last time." Kurt said with a smile.
"Bobby? Drake?" Alan asked in confirmation.
"Yeah, he's a student here." Andrew confirmed.
"He and John joined up with Magneto in my universe." Alan said with pain in his voice.
"Only John joined here. Bobby saved many lives when the mansion was raided last month." Scott said seriously.
Alan just sat silently thinking about the similarities and differences in the two universes as he continued to eat,.
"Scott, do you think we could leave the other bed in here for Alan? I mean, it's not like we'll be doing anything to keep him awake." Andrew asked in a whisper.
"If the Professor thinks he'll be okay here, I think it would be a great idea." Scott replied.
"Kurt, could you do me a favor?" Scott asked politely and motioned Kurt to come close.
"Would you ask the Professor if it would be okay if Alan stayed in the spare bed in this room?" Scott asked quietly.
"Vy don't you ask him for yourself?" Kurt asked, out of curiosity.
"We aren't allowed to use telepathy till Hank says so." Scott said with a sour look.
//Herr Professor, Scott wants to know if the other Scott can stay in the spare bed in their room.// Kurt asked the Professor telepathically.
//That would be fine Kurt. How is he?// The Professor asked with concern.
//Vy don't you just look unt see?// Kurt asked, not understanding.
//Because I won't violate his privacy like that. I will not contact his mind without his permission.// The Professor said with determination.
//I understand. Oh, and they have changed his name to Alan. I suppose it was confusing.// Kurt added with a giggle.
//Yes, it would be..// The Professor thought back with a responding smile.
"Herr Professor says it is fine." Kurt said quietly to Scott.
"Alan, do you see that bed over there?" Scott asked seriously.
"Yeah?" Alan answered, taken back by the serious tone in Scott's voice.
"You want to sleep there tonight? I mean, since we're all recovering. It'll be easier on everyone to have us all in one place." Scott said in his team leader voice.
"And we both want you to be here. The Professor said it's okay. It'll be fun. Kinda like a sleep-over." Andrew said with a big smile that couldn't be anything but genuine.
Alan stopped eating and thought about it. His brother and 'boyfriend-in-law' were inviting him to stay in their bedroom because they wanted him there. These two obviously cared about him and weren't just being polite.
"Yeah, I'd like that." Alan said with emotion showing through his voice.
"Good. Kurt, will you tell Logan not to bother with moving the spare bed out? He was going to see to it." Scott asked quietly.
"Yah, vould you like it if Peter unt I moved some of your things from your room into here?" Kurt asked with a smile.
Scott looked at Andrew, waiting for him to answer.
"Scott, it's your room too. And yes, I want your things moved in. If for no other reason than to get your brother out of that hospital gown and into something comfortable." Andrew said with exasperation.
Scott nodded at Kurt who was gathering the breakfast dishes.
"So tell me about Alex." Alan said to Scott as he leaned back on the stack of pillows at the head of the bed.