Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 29: In a Perfect World

Wesley, Dawn and Tara walked into the room and immediately began to set up the components for their own spell.

"This is going to be something with four of us." Tara said with excitement.

"Care to make it five?"

"Jean!" Dawn said with excitement and bounced to take Jean into a hearty hug.

"Hi Dawn. How is everyone doing?" Jean asked gently.

"We're good. Andrew is about to help Logan from the other dimension. He's in pretty bad shape." Dawn said honestly.

"Actually, that's why I'm here. I noticed that you were going to try something like this and thought you might like to complete your circle." Jean said with a smile.

"How did you know?" Andrew asked curiously.

"You know how your inner sight works? It's like that, but all at once." Jean said with a timid smile.

"Omniscience?" Andrew asked in wonder.

"Not completely, but for the purposes of our conversation, it's close enough." Jean said simply.

"I'd go crazy if I had that." Andrew said, trying to imagine the sensation.

"If I tried to focus on everything at once I *would* go crazy. But I just peek in on what catches my interest and ignore the rest." Jean said gently.

"So you're here to help us? If I may be so bold, what do you have to bring in offering to the spell?" Wesley asked properly.

"While you are trying to cure his body, I can protect his spirit." Jean said honestly.

* * * * *

"Professor, may I ask you a favor?" Warren asked from the doorway of the Professor's office.

"He's gone. What can I do to help you Warren?" Scott asked from behind the Professor's desk.

"I needed to ask the Professor if I could use the library for a meeting in about half an hour." Warren said impatiently.

"Go ahead and use the library. It' will be fine." Scott said with assurance.

"But what about the Professor?" Warren asked hesitantly.

"Close the door." Scott said quietly.

Warren walked in, closed the door and waited apprehensively for Scott's next words.

"The Professor had a seizure today. Dr. McCoy said it was from stress. He and Magneto left a few minutes ago and they don't know when they're coming back." Scott said quietly.

"So he left you in charge?" Warren asked carefully.

"Yes. Don't worry Warren, everything is going to be fine. I just don't want to worry the students with this before I have to." Scott said seriously.

"Okay. If you need anything, just ask." Warren said firmly.

"I'll be fine. The Professor warned me to not try and do it all myself, so if anything comes up that you can help with, I'll let you know. After all... you're family." Scott finished with a smile.

Warren smiled and nodded in return before leaving the office.

* * * * *

John, Ronny and Bobby walked into the room to find Andrew, Jean, Dawn, Tara and Wesley all working on their spell components.

"Are you going to get Logan soon?" Ronny asked, a little timidly.

"Yes, I'm ready to go get Matt now. Who wants to go with me?" Andrew asked the room.

"I'll go." Ronny said immediately.

Bobby and John looked at each other and nodded.

"We'll go to." Bobby said.

Andrew thought for a second then asked, "Would you mind if I just take Ronny? I just realized that since Matt isn't feeling well, he might not want a bunch of visitors right away."

"We can wait here. You'll just be gone a minute right?" Bobby asked carefully.

"That's the plan." Andrew said and looked to see if Ronny was ready.

Andrew and Ronny faded from view as everyone else in the room watched.

"Jeanie? Is that you?" Logan asked hopefully.

"Yes Logan, come here." Jean said with a radiant smile.

Logan saw the smile directed at him and immediately walked into Jean's open arms.

"Where've you been Jeanie?" Logan asked from a tight hug.

"Far away. But I came back for a quick visit." Jean said as she enjoyed the hug.

Logan finally pulled out of the hug and looked into Jean's eyes.

"Are you happy?" Logan asked seriously.

"For the most part." Jean said with a serene smile, then continued, "I get lonely."

"Then why don't you stay here? Everyone here loves you... stay." Logan finished in a whisper.

Jean looked at Logan with pain in her eyes and said, "If it were only that easy. Logan, I can't explain everything, but the fact is, I can't stay here. It's just not an option."

Logan saw the pain and held her close again. He whispered, "I still love you Jean. Even if you don't love me, I'll never stop loving you."

Jean leaned her head on his shoulder and thought about the words.

* * * * *

"How did your fighting go guys?" Alex asked as Trey and Spike walked into the living room.

"Very well. Uncle Xander did not exaggerate Spike's fighting ability." Trey said happily.

"The whelp has some good moves." Spike said and made his way to the couch beside Alex.

"Robert needed to ask for your help with some poetry Spike, would you mind helping him?" Alex asked with hope.

"Did Alex put you up to this mate?" Spike asked while looking Robert in the eyes.

"No. I asked for his advice on how I might express my love and he suggested poetry. When I said that I had not written poetry before he suggested that you might be able to help me." Robert said with big eyes.

"We'll need us a bit of privacy for this. Where can we go so we won't be disturbed?" Spike asked.

"The dining room is unoccupied. No one goes in there except at meal time." Robert said timidly.

"Get what you need to do your writing and I'll be there in just a moe. I need to tell Alex something just now." Spike said and led Alex into the kitchen.

* * * * *

Andrew and Ronny appeared in the common room to the same scene that they had left. Logan was vomiting blood into a waste basket.

"Are you ready?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Yeah. Do it. It's never been this bad." Logan said through hitching breaths.

Andrew flared his power and Logan was gone.

"Where is he?" Ronny asked in immediate concern.

"In the BioLab's containment room. Let's go, I want to get this done as soon as possible." Andrew said and ported Ronny and himself back to the biolab to begin the ritual.

* * * * *

"What is it?" Alex asked with concern.

"Just this." Spike said and pulled Alex into a deep kiss.

Alex melted into Spike's embrace as desire washed through his body.

Spike pulled Alex tighter and tighter as he felt a dozen different emotions coursing through his warm, almost human blood.

Alex felt the embrace tighten and understood that Spike was feeling more than his love in this hug.

After the kiss finally broke, Alex asked, "Is it all starting to sink in?"

"Yeah luv, it just hit me. I was dead. Not walking around dead but feedin the worms dead. Now I've got me a second chance, a real one, and I mean to make a go of it." Spike said, still holding Alex tightly.

"And us?" Alex asked bravely.

"That's what I mean luv. You and me, we're my second chance. If I've got a mortal lifespan now, I mean to spend every minute of it feeling like this with you." Spike said with love.

"But this happened so fast, what if you change your mind?" Alex asked timidly.

"No worries there luv. Whether I was a human or a demon, I've always loved only one person. When I loved Cecily, no one else existed to me. But she didn't love me in return. When I loved Dru, I loved her completely. But she fell for a chaos demon in South America and left me. Then I loved Buffy, but she never loved me in return. I think she almost did for a bit, but deep down, she's still hung up on Peaches. I don't think she even knew it." Spike said quietly.

"That's all? In over a hundred years you've been in love three times?" Alex asked in wonder.

"Well I've had me a few flings over the decades, but love? Yeah, there have been three up to now." Spike said in a whisper.

"Are you saying you love me?" Alex asked bravely.

"Yes luv. I'm saying it... I love you." Spike said, then moved in for another kiss. This one held only one emotion.

* * * * *

The phone rang.

After a moment of apprehension, Trey answered it.

"Hello? May I speak to Alex please?" Warren asked carefully.

"I believe he is busy at the moment. You can wait or I can give him a message if you like." Trey said into the phone.

"Please ask him to call Warren at the mansion. Extension 237." Warren said in thought.

"Just a moment, he is coming into the room now." Trey said hurriedly.

"Uncle Alex, Uncle Warren is on the phone for you." Trey said quickly.

"Thank you Trey." Alex said and smiled as Spike went into the dining room and closed the double doors.

"Alex, something's come up and I could really use Jimmy's help at the mansion. Do you think it would be okay if he came over to help me out for an hour or so?" Warren asked hopefully.

"I don't see why not. Hold on for a second." Alex said before putting his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone.

"Trey, would you mind walking Jimmy to the mansion? I don't want him walking so far from the house alone." Alex asked hopefully.

"It would be my pleasure." Trey said with a smile.

Alex took his hand from the mouthpiece and said, "Trey will walk Jimmy over right away. Do you want to ask Jimmy yourself?"

"Yes, I need to be sure that he wants to help me with this." Warren said with a smile in his voice.

"Would you get Jimmy?" Alex asked Trey in a whisper.

Trey nodded and went to the basement.

"So what's going on?" Alex asked while he waited.

"The Dean of the college is coming for a meeting. I was hoping Jimmy could serve as my office assistant during the meeting so we could focus on business." Warren said honestly.

"A nine year old office assistant?" Alex asked incredulously.

"He's smart, articulate, enthusiastic and has a pleasant personality. That's better than most of the office assistants I've had." Warren said honestly.

"I'm sure he'll have a great time doing it... here he is." Alex said and handed the phone to Jimmy.

After a long minute of listening Jimmy said into the phone, "Yes, thank you Uncle Warren. I would enjoy helping you. I will be there momentarily."

Jimmy then hung up the phone and ran to the basement.

Alex thought for a moment then went to the basement stairs to see what the other children were working on.

* * * * *

Andrew and Ronny appeared in the BioLab.

"Are we ready to begin?" Andrew asked.

Everyone nodded.

"What are you going to do to him?" Ronny asked firmly.

"I'm going to give him a fever so he can destroy the virus in his body." Andrew said carefully.

"What about them?" Ronny asked and looked at the others.

Andrew looked at Tara and raised an eyebrow in question.

"I am going to do a spell that purifies his blood." Tara said with uncharacteristic confidence.

"I'm going to aid his breathing." Dawn said seriously.

"I'm going to reinforce his body's healing ability." Wesley said in a no nonsense tone.

"And I'm going to protect his spirit, so whatever happens in the next few minutes won't cause him any lasting injury." Jean said with a gentle smile.

Andrew looked around the room at his candles and with a wave of his hand they all lit simultaneously.

John looked in wonder at Andrew's mastery of the element that was core to his being.

Andrew began a slow chant and fixed his gaze on Matt.

Wesley began to walk around the room and started sprinkling something on the ground as he began his own chant.

Dawn and Tara began their chants and focused on Matt who was beginning to sweat.

Jean remained silent and held her gaze on Matt. She seemed to glow with energy.

John, Bobby, Ronny, Logan and Hank all watched as the effect of the magic could be seen in Matt.

Hank looked at his condition and said, "I'm going to get into a biosuit and get in there. I need to monitor his condition."

Andrew stopped his chanting and looked with worry at Matt. Finally he said, "It's not enough." and created a fireball and cast it to float above him in the BioLab.

John couldn't resist the lure of the unrestrained fire before him and let his power merge with the fire.

A shiver went through Andrew and he looked instantly at John.

"Do it. Feed me your power. That's just what we need to save Matt." Andrew said with excitement.

John let his power loose for the first time in months and felt the incredible rush as his power flowed freely as it was meant to do.

From inside the containment room Hank screamed, "Stop the fever, you're killing him!"

* * * * *

"Right then, first of all, what's your name?" Spike asked Robert carefully.

"Robert David Summers." Robert said proudly.

"And who are you wanting to write this poetry for?" Spike asked as he took a seat beside Robert.

"Bobby Drake. I love him." Robert said with a dreamy smile.

"Oy, I know that look. You've got it bad alright. Never thought I'd see the day when a lil tyke like you would be bent. But I guess with modern times, MTV an all that... Do you have anything written yet?" Spike asked and looked at the padd before Robert.

"Not as yet. Uncle Alex suggested poetry while you were outside with Trey. I have not had time to write anything." Robert said clearly.

"Well you need to write down what you mean to say." Spike said simply.

"How? Do I have to do it in rhyme or verse?" Robert asked in confusion.

"No, for now, just write down what you want to say in clear, simple words. You don't have to do it this way, but if you start off writing in rhyme and verse, sometimes you get lost in poetic nonsense and end up not saying anything. Doing it this way, you write down what you want to say, then you write your rhyme and verse around it." Spike said instructively.

"Thank you Spike. That makes sense to me. I will begin." Robert said and started to write.

* * * * *

"So what did you want to do today?" Marie asked with anticipation.

"I would like to take a walk to the boathouse and around the lake. Is that sufficient?" Icheb asked hopefully.

"Yeah, I've been cooped up in this house all day. A walk would be good." Marie said happily.

Icheb smiled, then realized how her acceptance and approval had made him feel.

* * * * *

Spike looked over Robert's shoulder and said, "What you've got there is good enough for now. You can always write another when you want to say more. But for now let's us keep it simple so's you can get to the good bit. Take what you've got and put it into some sort of order."

"I do not understand." Robert said and looked at Spike.

"If you were writing about his body, I'd say to start at the feet and work up so you finish with the eyes and the hair. It makes the poem flow more smoothly if it has a direction." Spike said with thought.

"Would chronological order be sufficient?" Robert asked as he looked at what he had written.

"Yeah, but I'll tell you now, you don't have to do it like I say. This is yours, you do it your way. I'm only offering suggestions. Just because I tell you something doesn't mean you have to do it that way." Spike said seriously.

"I understand. And I agree that an underlying direction would be desirable..." Robert said and began to rearrange the words.

"That looks good, now try to put it to some sort of rhythm." Spike said slowly.

"How do I begin?" Robert asked in thought.

"You can get the rhythm into your head of how you want the verse to flow, then find the words to fit the rhythm. Like, dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah. Dah dee dah dah, dah. Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah. Dah dee dah dah, dah. Once you've got the rhythm, then work on the rhyme... but only if you want it to rhyme, it doesn't have to." Spike finished hurriedly.

"I believe I am ready to try." Robert said with a look of concentration.

Spike stood silently and watched him work.

* * * * *

Scott walked into the BioLab and saw Hank furiously trying to revive Matt.

"What happened?" Scott asked in panic.

"I went too far. I thought he could handle it." Andrew said as he went pale and began shaking.

John ran to Andrew and caught him as his knees gave way.

"Get him to a chair. I think he's in shock." Scott said and moved fully into the room.

Before he could reach Andrew, he saw Jean standing, staring at Matt through the glass of the containment room.

"Jean?" Scott asked in wonder and joy.

"She's concentrating. Give her a minute." Dawn said in a whisper.

"He's still alive." Hank called out to the room.

"Was it enough?" Logan asked gruffly.

"There's no way to know at this point, but let's behave as if it were. Logan, key in the decontamination sequence on the keypad while I put the oxygen mask on Matt. If we've killed the virus in his body, we need to be sure and get rid of any trace of it that he might have carried in with him." Hank said as he began to undress Matt.

Jean finally released her concentration and smiled at Scott. "Hi Scott, how are you?"

"I'm good Jean. I'm glad to see you. You left without a word to anyone." Scott said and pulled her into a hug.

"I had to. I can't stay long. I just wanted to do two things and then I'll have to go again." Jean said seriously as she pulled out of the hug.

"Anything I can help you with?" Scott asked with a gentle smile.

"I just did one of them. And I suppose there's no use waiting to do the other." Jean said and walked to Logan.

"Logan, you said you love me... and I can feel the truth of it. I've had some time to sort through my feelings and realized that I didn't give you a chance before. My sense of duty to Scott prevented me from really considering what it would be like to love you." Jean said with difficulty.

"What are you trying to say Jean?" Logan asked quietly.

"I'm saying that I have to leave, and I would like it if you'd come with me." Jean said with hope shining in her eyes.

* * * * *

Robert sat the padd down on the table and said, "Would you look at this and tell me what you think?"

Spike picked up the padd, then hesitated.

He sat the padd back down on the table and said, "Before I read it, I just want you to know that I'm going to look at this critically. If I say something about it, it doesn't mean I don't like your writing or that you did something wrong. I'm only offering suggestions on how I would improve it if it were my own work... understand?"

Robert nodded.

Spike picked up the padd again and read carefully.

After a long minute of reading, he said, "The meter is a bit shaky and I think it could stand to be fleshed out a bit more. Let me ask you, is the bloke you're writing this for a nancy boy?"

"I don't understand." Robert said in question.

"Is he... Flouncey? A boy in name only? Feminine?" Spike asked with difficulty.

"Oh, no. He has stated that he is not a gay man, but a man who is gay. He is very male." Robert said happily.

"Then this might be best. The dainty sort like to have airy, fluffy poetry. Men usually like it a bit more compact and functional, like this." Spike said and held up the padd.

Robert nodded happily.

"I have a suggestion about this bit, the word 'opalescent'." Spike said in thought.

"I felt that it conveyed the multidimensional aspect of my feelings." Robert said seriously.

"And that's fine, I just think you'd do better to use something a bit simpler. Can you picture something that says about the same thing that doesn't sound like it came from a thesaurus?" Spike asked carefully.

"Uncle Alex has a very bright shirt, I do not know the name for the style but it conveys the meaning as well." Robert said in thought.

"Bright don't narrow it down much when you're talking about your Uncle's wardrobe." Spike said with a smile.

"Perhaps I could bring it to you." Robert asked hopefully.

"Yeah, ask your Uncle before you go digging through his clothes." Spike said in warning.

Robert nodded and ran out of the room.

Spike looked back at the padd and a tender smile formed.

* * * * *

"Come with you where?" Logan asked curiously.

"I can't explain. Logan, I'm asking you to trust me. I have to leave in a few minutes and we probably won't be able to come back for a long time. I need an answer now. Will you come with me?" Jean asked with hope.

Logan looked into her hopeful eyes and smiled.

"I'm with you Jean. I'm guessing I don't have time to pack?" Logan asked without concern.

"You won't need anything where we're going." Jean said with joy.

"Guys, let Matt know that my stuff is his now. He can be Logan now if he wants to." Logan said with a smile.

"That's right, from now on you're Q." Jean said with a great smile before both she and Logan vanished in a blinding flash of light.

* * * * *

Robert ran into the room carrying an eye burning bright shirt.

"Oy, I think the words your looking for are awful or deadly." Spike said as he squinted at the shirt.

"No, this style of pattern, the sense of... exploding outward. This is what I am trying to convey." Robert said in thought.

"Tie dyed?" Spike asked carefully.

"Is that what it is called? Yes, it would fit with the meter of the verse." Robert said with excitement.

"Go ahead and put it in. And I made one or two little changes, just to smooth it out a bit." Spike said as he handed Robert the padd.

Robert made the change and read the poem again.

Finally Robert said, "I believe it is complete."

"Let's have a look then." Spike said and took the padd back again.

After a long minute of watching Spike read, Robert asked tensely, "Do you believe it is acceptable?"

"What I believe don't matter a bit. It's what you believe that matters. Does this say what you want to say? Does this show him your heart?" Spike asked carefully.

Robert thought about the question and held out his hand for the padd.

After reading it again he said in a considering voice, "Yes, I believe it speaks my heart. There is much more I wish to say, but that will be the subject of other poems."

"Let me have another look at that, I've got me an idea." Spike said and took the padd back from Robert.

After a moment of reading, Spike asked, "Would you mind if your Uncle Alex read this?"

"No, I would not mind at all." Robert said happily.

"C'mon, if this works, you'll like it." Spike said with a smile as he led Robert into the living room.

To Be Continued...