Ronny was thinking about Logan's words and looked up when Logan entered the room with a plate of food.
"I'm really sorry I got you shot. Will you tell me your name?" Ronny asked shyly.
"Logan." He said before taking a large bite of food.
"Thanks Logan, you can call me Ronny if you want... That stuff you said... about me being a parasite... you're right... but if that's what I am, how do I become something else?" Ronny asked plaintively.
"Dunno kid. You most likely can't change... being dead and all." Logan said in a slow considering voice.
"I was afraid of that. But if I wasn't dead, how would I be able to change?" Ronny asked in a low voice.
"Let me ask you somethin kid. Who do you respect? Who do you like? Who is your role model?" Logan asked, then when he saw Ronny deep in thought, he took another bite of his food.
"No one." Ronny finally answered timidly.
"Thought so. Some people can change themselves with willpower but... I think you need an example to follow. Someone you can trust and respect, maybe your dad." Logan said with a shrug.
"He raped me this morning and I killed him... I'm thinking no." Ronny said darkly.
"You're dead, you can let it go now. But you're right, bad role model." Logan said and sat his empty plate aside.
"The only person I can think of is my brother, Bobby." Ronny said weakly.
"Yeah, the gang were all tore up when he ran off with John to join up with another team. I think it took guts for him to make a change." Logan said in a considering tone.
"But I just saw him a few hours ago, right before... I died." Ronny finished weakly.
"Whatever, I don't know what happens when you die, maybe you were put on hold for a few months before you woke up here. But I saw Bobby and John with my own eyes bout two months ago. They died holdin on to each other." Logan said without a trace of emotion.
"Bobby's dead? I didn't even think about that..." Ronny said as he realized that he couldn't cry.
Logan looked at the distraught expression on Ronny's face with curiosity.
"Being dead sucks! I can't even cry for my brother!" Ronny said in anger.
"Yeah, let me know if you find the upside to it." Wolverine said with a chuckle.
Ronny nodded, then thought to ask, "What about you? If you had a second chance, what would you do?"
Logan got a big genuine smile on his face and said, "Orroro."
"I don't understand, what's that?" Ronny asked with confusion.
"She's not a what, she's a who, and she's the most beautiful woman I've ever known... I never even made a single move on her. If I was to get a second chance, that's all I'd want, is to stop being such a chicken shit and let Rorro know how I feel." Logan said with a fond smile that turned sour at the shear sentimentality of it all.
"Don't worry Logan, I'm dead, who am I going to tell?" Ronny said with a smile.
"If you wasn't dead before, I'd have to kill you fer seein that." Logan said with a growl.
"I think I just found the upside." Ronny said with a grin.
* * * * *
"Bringers are the harbingers of the first evil. This is most dire." Wesley said with concern.
"Caridad, we'll check in tomorrow at noon. Let us know then if you need any help." Andrew said and waited for her nod before closing the portal.
"Don't worry Wesley, that's a different dimension and the first evil was dealt a major setback." Dawn said in a comforting tone.
"Yeah, we were able to close the Sunnydale hellmouth forever." Andrew said proudly.
"Sunnydale?" Wesley asked in confusion.
"That was the most active hellmouth in our dimension at the time. But when one is closed another one seems to become active." Dawn said with a shrug.
"Yeah, but at least we're finally getting low on hellmouths. With the Sunnydale and Tunguska hellmouths permanently closed, and the Stonehenge hellmouth bound, that just leaves the Cleveland, Cuzco, Marfa, and Sydney hellmouths." Andrew said absently.
"You closed a hellmouth? You personally?" Wesley asked with wide eyes.
"Well, not me personally. but I was on the team that closed it." Andrew said shyly.
"Yes but, to be witness to such a monumental event... It is for that type of experience that I joined the watcher's council."
"Yeah... would you excuse me for a minute?" Andrew said and left the room quickly.
"Was it something I said?" Wesley asked with concern.
"We lost some close friends closing the hellmouth. I think your enthusiasm hit a sore spot. Don't worry Wesley, Andrew won't be angry with you, he just needs a minute." Dawn said in explanation.
"Mr. Wyndom-Price, it is already dark out, may I offer you a room for the night? You may have the guest room that Mr. Giles and Miss Ololafhey occupied when they visited." Charles offered kindly.
"Yes, I would be delighted to accept, and I must say that I am impressed by your hospitality. I never expected to encounter such delightful people..." Wesley trailed off when he realized what his next words would have been.
Professor Xavier gave a full honest laugh before saying, "Don't worry Mr. Wyndom-Price. I am well aware of what a reputation the Americas have around the world, and must admit that it is for the most part deserved. But, be that as it may, I choose to be hospitable to those who come in friendship... You do come in friendship, don't you?"
* * * * *
"What do I do now?" Rachel asked in frustration.
"I may not answer, that would give you unfair advantage over Artie." Janine said pleasantly.
Theresa pointed to one of the red pieces before Rachel then to a position on the board.
Rachel was unsure, but put the piece in place.
Janine smiled a knowing smile and waited for Artie and Clarissa to see the mistake.
"Kadis'ka!" Clarissa screamed and put a blue piece into a position that won her the game.
Artie and Clarissa yelped with joy as Rachel and Theresa cleared the board.
"That was a very exciting game. I believe you are ready for the next level." Janine said with a smile and opened a pouch.
"What's that?" Artie asked with a big smile.
Janine poured the contents out on the floor and there were three more colors of playing pieces.
"All five of us are going to play? At once?" Artie asked in wonder.
"Yes, my fathers call this level of the game 'cut-throat'." Janine said happily as she took her favorite color, yellow.
* * * * *
Jimmy, Warren and Kurt walked into the mansion to find Andrew sitting in a chair in the hallway.
"Father? You seem to be feeling bad, may I help?" Jimmy asked with genuine concern.
"Yeah, come here." Andrew said with a pained smile.
Jimmy walked close and received a tight hug from his father.
"I love you Jimmy." Andrew said in a gruff whisper.
"Father, what is wrong?" Jimmy said with worry.
"It's nothing Squirt. You know how I sometimes get mood swings, I just had a dark one, that's all." Andrew said and forced a smile onto his face.
"Come with me." Jimmy said in a demanding tone.
"I really don't feel like..." Andrew began but was interrupted.
"Father, if you do not come with me to the kitchen immediately, I'll get Dad and Trey. If your blood sugar has decreased to the point to effect your mood, then it is time for you to eat." Jimmy said with determination.
"Hey, who's the father here?" Andrew asked as he stood.
"When you act like a child and refuse to care for yourself, I am." Jimmy said and pulled Andrew by the hand to the kitchen.
Warren and Kurt watched the entire scene without uttering a word, but both immediately followed Andrew and Jimmy, wanting to know what would happen next.
* * * * *
As Jimmy was leading Andrew to the kitchen, he saw Icheb about to open the kitchen door.
"Icheb, Father's blood sugar has fallen to an unacceptable level." Jimmy said as he pulled his father into the kitchen and led him to a chair.
"Marie, where would I find peanut butter?" Icheb asked as he went to the nearest cupboard and started looking.
"I'll get it, what else do you need?" She asked with worry as she went to the pantry.
"A glass of milk." Icheb said as he pulled bread from a bag.
"I'll get the milk." Warren said and went to the refrigerator.
"I do not understand." Kurt said from just inside the doorway.
"Father is hypoglycemic. When he does not eat regularly or exerts himself right before mealtime, his blood sugar drops to an unacceptable level." Jimmy explained as he held his Father in a hug.
"Here is a peanut butter sandwich Father. Eat this and you'll feel better." Icheb said with assurance.
"Thanks." Andrew mumbled and took the sandwich with a shaky hand.
"Is it serious? I mean, is he going to be okay?" Warren asked as he handed Icheb the glass of milk.
"Yes, as I understand it, this is something he was born with and will always have. He will be fine in a few minutes." Icheb said and went back to Marie.
"Thank you Marie, I'm sorry I left earlier. I hope it did not inconvenience you." Icheb said honestly.
"No, there was nothing to do anyway, but I came back in here and you and Peter were gone. Where'd you go in such a hurry?" Marie asked as she glanced at Andrew, eating his sandwich.
"I went to kiss Bobby." Icheb said simply.
"What?" Marie asked in shock, then said, "I mean... what? Wait, wait. Let me explain something to you. At this moment I want to cause you great pain then hate you forever... but I'm going to give you one chance to explain, so you'd better make it good."
Icheb stared in fear for a second before saying, "When we kissed, I felt something. I was unsure of my sexual orientation, so I went to Bobby to find out if his kiss effected me the same way or if it was just you. It would be unfair to you if I led you to believe I was heterosexual then found that I wasn't."
"Been there, done that, got the tee shirt. Okay, you just got out of the physical pain because after what I went through with Bobby, I need for you to be damn sure of your orientation. What did you find out?" Marie asked with her hands balled on her hips.
"I want to process the information during my regeneration to be sure..." Icheb began but was interrupted.
"Look at me. Do I look like I'm going to wait for you to sleep on it? I'm not asking you to tell me you love me or any junk like that, I just want to know if you're straight or gay. The rest can wait." Marie said seriously.
"I do not know. Both kisses were pleasurable. I am sorry that I cannot answer your question." Icheb said in a sullen tone.
After a long moment of consideration Marie finally said, "Okay. I guess I can understand that. I'm just still a little sensitive about the gay thing right now. Bobby was my boyfriend and he turned out to be gay, and then I kiss you and you immediately find a guy to kiss you. I guess I feel like I'm single-handidly turning all the guys I know gay." Marie said frankly.
"I promise that as soon as I know, I will tell you. I did not know of your past with Bobby or I would have found another. I only wanted to be sure so that I would not mislead you." Icheb said with worry.
"Okay. I won't hate you forever. Let's just leave things like they are for now. The next move is yours." Marie said more gently.
"I understand. It is good to know that you do not hate me." Icheb said honestly.
"Dinner's about ready, help me get all the stuff into the dining room." Marie said and began to work.
"Could I borrow Icheb for a minute before you do that?" Andrew asked from the table.
"Um, sure. I'll just carry in the salad while you talk." Marie said and blushed when she realized that they had just had their talk in front of Icheb's father.
"Yes Father, did you need something?" Icheb asked with concern.
"I just wanted to give you a little advice about your situation. I couldn't help but overhear." Andrew said quietly.
Icheb nodded and waited patiently.
"Your Dad and I aren't the right people to talk to about what you're going through. Neither of us have been attracted to women and it wouldn't be fair to you if we tried to advise you. I think you need to talk to your Uncle Scott, and your Uncles Xander and Remy. I think all of them have had relationships with women and will be able to give you good advice." Andrew said with a gentle smile.
"Thank you Father, I will do that. I am confused and could use some advice." Icheb said honestly.
"I know. This is one of those difficult questions that everyone has to answer eventually. Just be honest and everything should be fine." Andrew said and stood to pull Icheb into a hug.
Warren, Kurt and Jimmy had watched and listened through the entire scene without speaking, so as not to draw attention.
Finally Warren said, "Icheb, if you ever need to talk to someone who is straight to understand that point of view, I will be glad to speak with you."
"Thank you. I will remember your offer." Icheb said sincerely.
"Yes, thank you Warren, and thank you for taking Jimmy flying." Andrew said gently.
"Guys? Do you think you could help me now? We have a lot of hungry people in the dining room waiting for this food." Marie said from the doorway.
"Yeah, let's all help." Andrew said and moved to get a pan of lasagna.
* * * * *
"I must prepare to leave. My fathers expect me in five minutes." Robert said regretfully.
"Okay. Why don't you put the gold and rust outfit on? I can roll up the cuffs and it'll be good enough to show it off tonight." Bobby suggested.
Robert nodded and began to change.
"Did my brother's kiss upset you? You seem to be quiet now." Robert asked with concern.
"No, I mean, maybe a little, it felt weird kissing someone who I didn't know. It felt wrong." Bobby said in thought.
"That is understandable. As I understand it, a kiss is a sign of affection. If you share a kiss with someone for whom you feel no affection, the sensation should be wrong." Robert said as he buttoned the vest.
"You sure have a clear way of looking at things. I enjoy hanging around with you, you make a lot of sense." Bobby said with a smile.
"I enjoy your company as well. Perhaps we should endeavor to schedule some of our free time so we may enjoy some activities together." Robert said casually.
Bobby thought about the statement for a minute, then said, "How would you like to run with Pete and I tomorrow?"
"Run? From what?" Robert asked in confusion.
"We run to improve our speed, agility and physical condition. If you want to, come to the mansion at seven thirty in the morning. I'll find you something to wear and we'll run the track. Give it a try and if you don't like it, you don't have to do it again." Bobby said as he rolled up Robert's pants legs.
"I will do that. Does this look adequate?" Robert asked as he turned to display the outfit.
"It looks great. I think everyone will like it." Bobby said honestly.
"Then we should go." Robert said and walked for the door.
"Before you go... thanks. You're a good friend Robert. Thanks for accepting me." Bobby said, a bit shyly.
"Then I should thank you as well. You have accepted me as I am and treated me as a friend. I am new here and you are the first friend I have made... besides Chris and he is *our* friend, but you are *my* friend." Robert said with a grin.
"Okay, let's go."
* * * * *
Ronny moved to a chair and sat down to watch an old movie with Logan. It was a black and white western and was really bad but Ronny didn't care. He could sit through the most boring movie ever if it meant not being alone.
Without warning, Logan asked, "Who was it that killed you anyway?"
"Andrew." Ronny said quietly.
"Wait. Andrew, the guy who can make doors to different places?" Logan asked as he sat up on the couch.
"Yeah, he made a door that went to my home this afternoon." Ronny said as he was confused by Logan's enthusiasm.
"Emma told me 'bout him. He ain't in this universe, he's in the universe where Scott and Remy went... I don't think he killed you kid, I think he put you here to get you out of the way. And if he can send you here, he could take me to your world." Logan said with a smile.
"But what if he left me here to die?" Ronny asked darkly.
"He's one of the white hats kid, he wouldn't do that... Well he might think about it if you told him you wanted to see his kids dissected, but he won't leave you here. The good guys got a code of honor and he'll come back for you." Logan said with assurance.
"Really?" Ronny asked with disbelief, then thought to ask, "If he's one of the good guys, does that make me a bad guy?"
"Yeah." Logan said with a gruff chuckle.
"You said you'd leave me alone if I started talking mutant hating trash... but I've got some questions. Would you mind if I ask you?" Ronny asked plaintively.
"Go ahead kid. I can't promise you'll like my answers, but go ahead and ask." Logan said and relaxed back on the couch.
"Are mutants trying to get rid of the rest of us? I mean, do they want to take over the world?" Ronny asked seriously.
"You gotta stop believing everything some Friend of Humanity hands you. We're people just like you. There's good and bad. Some want to get rid of non-mutants, the folks who lived in this place wanted to live beside 'em as friends." Logan said without emotion.
Ronny thought about that for a minute, then asked, "So the mutants aren't prowling the streets so they can catch helpless normal people off guard?"
"No, you're thinking of the boogie man. They're just people. You walk the streets alone at night and someone will probably grab you sooner or later. But chances are, it won't be a mutant. We're just trying to get by the best we can like everyone else." Logan said honestly.
"Then what about that thing when everyone got a headache at once? Wasn't that a mutant trying to kill us all?" Ronny asked suspiciously.
"Some bad guys tried to kill a lot of people and the good guys stopped 'em. It don't matter if they were mutants or not." Logan said and looked at Ronny to find comprehension.
"Okay, I guess. So how can I stop being one of the bad guys?" Ronny finally asked.
"I dunno if you can. But the best way is to find the people you hurt and tell 'em your sorry. That don't make it all better, but it might take some of the pressure off till you can prove that you're serious." Logan said simply.
"Yeah, I can do that... But how can I prove it?" Ronny asked with worry.
"I got an idea about that. Try this. Shut up and listen. Watch what's going on around you. Only make promises that you intend to keep, then keep 'em. Before long you'll see enough to know how you feel about everything and sooner or later you'll have a chance to do something to prove that your not a bad guy." Logan said with certainty.
"Yeah, okay. Shut up, listen, watch... I think I can do that." Ronny said as he nodded.
"And it'd be a good idea if you stopped calling people 'mutie' and 'fag'. Stuff like that don't make it easier on you." Logan said frankly.
"But I still don't like fags." Ronny said simply.
"You don't have to. But you don't have to be disrespectful to 'em either. You don't want to have sex with a guy... then don't. You don't want to be friends with someone who does, then leave 'em alone. But let everyone else get their jollies however they want. It ain't your business." Logan said and got up.
"Okay, that makes sense. I think I can keep a lid on it." Ronny said speculatively.
"It makes everyone's life easier if you do. Including yours." Logan said and left the room.
* * * * *
"Dinner's ready." Marie said from the door of the common room.
"Thank you Marie. We'll be right in." the Professor said.
"Come on Wesley, I'll show you the way." Dawn said and walked toward the door.
Wesley followed obediently.
As the group entered the dining room, all the children were milling around, filling their plates and finding places to sit.
"Wesley, would you like to sit at the head table with me?" Charles asked graciously.
"Yes, thank you." Wesley answered in an overwhelmed tone.
* * * * *
"Father, William and I could perform our duties as we did on Voyager if you would like." Robert offered in a whisper.
"If you want to, I know everyone would appreciate the gesture." Andrew said with admiration for his son.
"Bobby, I am going to refill drinks and bring additional portions for those who want it. I will join you again at the conclusion of the meal." Robert said carefully.
"That's nice of you Robert. I'll be waiting here when you're done." Bobby said with a smile.
William and Scott walked into the room. Robert immediately went to William and whispered to him. A moment later William was helping Robert prepare to start filling drinks and bussing tables.
"Scott, come sit with us." Andrew said and motioned to the family table.
"Um, thanks." Scott said and took a seat.
"Would you like for me to bring you a plate of food Uncle Scott?" William asked quietly.
"Yes, thank you William." Scott said with surprise.
"They used to help out in the mess hall back on Voyager. I think this will help them to feel... included in mealtime." Alan said when he saw Scott's expression.
"Oh yeah, they don't eat. Maybe they could stay in the common room and watch a movie while we're having dinner." Scott suggested.
"We thought about that, but it would only make them feel more different than they already do. If people can just accept that they don't eat, then the children can stay and join in conversations at mealtime with everyone else." Andrew said calmly.
"I guess I can see that. Where are the other kids?" Scott asked as he looked around.
"Jimmy is sitting with Warren, Kurt, Ethan and Orroro. Janine is sitting with Artie, Clarissa, Rachel and Theresa. Icheb is helping Marie with the food and Trey is right here." Alan said and finished by putting his arm around Trey.
"Here you go Uncle Scott. Robert will bring you a beverage in a moment." William said as he placed a plate of food before Scott.
"Thank you William, that was very kind." Scott said with a smile.
William got close to Scott's ear and whispered, "You're one of us."
Scott got a smile at the statement and watched with fondness as William walked away.
"It looks like you're finally connecting with the kids. I'm glad, you've seemed a little stand-offish lately." Alan said as he began to eat.
"I had a talk with William and he cleared up a few things for me. Just let me know if I'm getting stand-offish again, I don't always know when I'm doing it." Scott said shyly.
Alex walked into the dining room and took a seat beside Scott.
"You got a deal. Alex, aren't you going to eat?" Alan asked with worry.
"I'll get something in a minute. I want to wait for the line to go down." Alex said quietly.
"What's wrong Alex?" Scott asked with concern.
"Not now. Ask me later." Alex said quietly to Scott.