Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 4: What Needs To Be Done

"Do you have some time to talk?" Warren asked Xander quietly.

"If you don't mind coming to the boathouse. I'm going to watch the kids for a while so Andrew can enjoy some family time." Xander said as he settled back in his chair.

"That would be fine. I just want to discuss some business about the school and talk to you about your company." Warren said seriously.

"Remy, do you want to come too? I'd really like it if you'd be involved in the business with me." Xander said warmly.

"Oui, mon cour." Remy said quietly.

Xander got a warm smile and stood.

"If you'll all excuse me, Warren and I have some business to discuss and some babies to watch after." Xander said and waited for Warren and Remy to join him.

"Call me if you need me to do some baby watching." Alan said gently.

"That's okay, I'll send Andrew your way as soon as I get to the boathouse." Xander said with a smile.

"Have a good evening." Wesley said quietly.

"You too Wes, it was good to see you." Xander said and started walking toward the door.

Just as the three men were about to reach the door, Clark, Trey, John, Lee and Slash walked into the room.

"Slash, I'm glad I caught you." Warren said warmly.

Slash looked at the large, handsome, winged man with question.

"I'm Warren Worthington the third, this is Alexander Wainwright and Remy LeBeau. We're providing the funding for the Wagner Institute and I wanted to welcome you personally." Warren said warmly and extended a hand to shake.

Slash shook Warren's hand, then Xander's.

"Xander and I have some business to discuss just now, but I hope we can get together and have a talk before I have to leave." Warren said pleasantly.

Slash nodded silently.

"Take good care of him guys." Warren said as he led the way out of the dining room.

* * * * *

"Worthington? Like the washing machine?" Slash asked in a quiet voice.

Clark chuckled and said, "One and the same."

"And who was the other guy?" Slash asked as the group moved to the serving line.

"If you watch television, listen to music, or use the phone, you've probably used some of his products. Wainwright Enterprises is one of the biggest electronics firms in the world." Clark said as he put a piece of pie on his plate.

"That guy with the eye patch is rich?" Slash asked with surprise.

"He's beyond rich." John said and cut a piece of cake.

"Who was the other guy? Remy?" Slash asked as he grabbed some red Jell-O.

"That is Uncle Xander's life partner. He shares in the making of Uncle Xander's decisions and has access to all Uncle Xander's accounts." Trey said as he took a plate of orange Jell-O from the 'special' table.

"Clark said that food is for people who can't eat regular food." Slash said in warning.

"Correct. I am one such person." Trey said and walked with the group back to their table.

Slash turned to Clark and asked, "That 'wouldn't believe it' stuff?"

Clark just gave a nod and started to eat.

* * * * *

"I'm here to watch the kids for a while. Alan's in the dining room." Xander said happily.

"Thanks Xan, how are things at the mansion?" Andrew asked as he peacefully watched the children sleeping.

"Fine. The first Wagner student arrived. Trey and the guys are taking care of him." Xander said as he looked at his daughter with love.

"I can't wait to meet him. Hi Warren, how are things?" Andrew asked quietly.

"Good. I just need to discuss some things with Xander and Remy while we've got the time." Warren said in nearly a whisper.

"I'll leave you to it then. Call if you need anything." Andrew said quietly.

Xander and Remy both nodded as Andrew ported out of the room.

* * * * *

"This is wonderful. Everything I'd hoped it would be." Orroro said as she snuggled against Hank's side.

"I couldn't dare to believe we'd ever be here. You're so beautiful... I am unworthy." Hank said as he held her carefully.

"Nonsense. You are a genius with the strength of a dozen men. I can't imagine what else you could strive to accomplish in one lifetime." Orroro said as she stared into the fire.

"To appear human." Hank said longingly.

"To what purpose?" Orroro asked seriously and pulled away to look into Hank's eyes.

"I... I don't know. I never really thought about why. I'm respected among my peers for my writing. Everyone in the mansion has accepted me as I am. And now you're here... you're right. Changing my appearance wouldn't improve my life one bit. I suppose that change is frightening and I wanted to return to what was familiar and comfortable." Hank said in thought.

Orroro rested her head against Hank's chest and said, "It might be more productive to move forward and become comfortable with who you are than trying to become who you were."

Hank thought about the words for a long minute before saying, "And you call me a genius..."

* * * * *

"Excuse my interruption gentlemen." The Professor said as he approached the table.

"Good evening Professor. Please join us." Trey said in genuine invitation.

"Thank you, I just wanted to meet the new people and welcome John back." Professor Xavier said gently.

"Thank you Professor... I'm sorry... about before." John said shyly.

"Scott assures me you had your reasons, that's all I need to know. Welcome back." Professor Xavier said warmly.

John nodded in silence.

"And you must be Clark." Professor Xavier said hesitantly.

"Yes sir." Clark said shyly, then felt both John and Trey's hands take his under the table.

"I have to confess that no one's told me more than your name. Perhaps we could have a talk sometime soon to get to know each other." Professor Xavier said hopefully.

"I'm free now. What would you like to know?" Clark said with new found confidence.

"First of all, I'm interested to know about your mutation." Professor Xavier asked, as he tried to sort through the emotions coming from Clark, John and Trey.

"I'm not a mutant." Clark began, then looked at Slash with a smile and continued, "I'm a non-human."

Professor Xavier nodded in surprise as Slash asked, "What does that mean?"

"I wasn't born on Earth and my parents weren't human." Clark said hesitantly, looking carefully for Slash's reaction.

Slash thought about the statement and finally gave a hesitant, "Okay..."

"I can't prove it and I guess it doesn't really matter, at least to anyone but me." Clark finished with a shrug.

"So what brings you to Xavier's?" The Professor asked curiously.

"I didn't know it till last week but I have an ability, optic blasts. I blew up a brick wall in front of a bunch of people and had to get out of there. We heard about the Wagner school and came here. Alex has been helping me learn my ability." Clark said, feeling that he was babbling.

"How is your training coming?" The Professor asked with interest.

"Pretty good I guess. Alex says I've got good control." Clark said and squeezed John and Trey's hands for comfort.

"Has everyone been treating you well?" The Professor asked curiously, still not able to untangle the intertwined emotions of the three.

Clark laughed and said, "Well, considering that I'm going steady with John and Trey, I'd have to say 'Yes'. They've been treating me extremely well."

Professor Xavier's eyes went wide in surprise as Clark, Trey and John lifted their joined hands onto the table.

"You make friends quickly." The Professor said in astonishment.

"He is easy to like." Trey said in a loving voice.

"Yes, well. How about you Slash? How did you come to be here?" The Professor asked, obviously desperate to change the subject.

"Yesterday I was in the library surfing the Net, looking for 'mutant' news, and I found the Wagner Site.  I called them and they said to come here." Slash said simply.

"Is your appearance the extent of your mutation?" The Professor asked curiously.

"No..." Slash said and looked around for something to demonstrate.

Trey handed his napkin to Slash with a gentle smile.

"Thanks Trey." Slash said and held up the white napkin.

The white color faded to gray and finally to black.

"Extraordinary." The Professor said in wonder.

"Not really. It's not really of any use." Slash said as he sat the napkin on the table.

"Perhaps not, but it doesn't fall into any existing classification of mutant ability that I'm aware of. Dr. McCoy is more knowledgeable on the subject, I could be mistaken." The Professor said in thought.

Slash stared in question at the Professor's excitement.

"Please excuse my enthusiasm. I just find your ability very interesting. Would you mind visiting Dr. McCoy tomorrow? I'm sure he'd like to see as well." The Professor asked hopefully.

"Doctor? I'm not too good with doctors." Slash said warily.

"He'll just ask you to demonstrate your ability and may ask for a blood sample. I promise that he won't treat you like a lab experiment." The Professor said as a vow.

"Okay." Slash said quietly.

"I need to go see him tomorrow too. We can go together." John said with a smile.

"Um, yeah." Slash said with surprise.

"Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that. I guess you'd better enjoy your settled stomach while you can." Clark said weakly.

"Yeah, maybe it won't be too bad." John said hopefully.

"What's wrong?" Slash asked with concern.

"I got something, I forget what he called it but it's like a worm in my guts." John said uneasily.

"An intestinal parasite." Clark said quietly.

"The treatment will make me feel queasy and weak for a few days." John said with a sour look.

"That's why we waited till after Thanksgiving to treat it." Clark added.

"I'm sure you'll be fine. Dr. McCoy is an excellent physician." The Professor said assuringly.

"Yeah. I'm not worried, I'm just not looking forward to it." John said simply.

"Understandable." The Professor said then looked around the table to focus on Lee.

"And how did you come to be here?" The Professor asked curiously.

"Andrew hunted me down and brought me here. Since I didn't really have anything or anyone back there, I accepted his offer to stay." Lee said simply.

"Grandfather is a great help with my brothers and Marguerite." Trey said proudly.

The Professor looked at Lee in question, silently asking him for clarification.

"I was the one who took care of Andrew when he was born. I'm the only one at the boathouse who has any kind of baby experience, so I'm teaching everyone how to take care of the babies." Lee said with a gentle smile. He hadn't realized his own unique contribution to the family until now.

"They are fortunate to have you here. I haven't had the opportunity to see the babies yet... are they okay?" The Professor asked in concern.

"They're perfectly happy and healthy. Them being born with their mutant abilities active makes it a little bit challenging, but I think every child poses their own unique challenge." Lee said with a fond smile.

"Their abilities are active?" Charles asked with surprise.

"Yes, Chakotay has a variation of Dad's optic blasts and Thomas has a variation of Father's portal ability." Trey said proudly.

"I look forward to seeing them. They sound extraordinary." The Professor said happily.

"They have exceeded expectations." Trey said with a smile.

"All babies do Trey." Lee said warmly.

"Charles, are you discussing business?" Eric asked accusingly as he approached.

"No Eric, just getting to know the new students. Everyone, this is Eric. Eric, this is Clark, Trey, John, Lee and Slash." Charles said pleasantly.

"Nice to meet you all. If you don't mind too much, I'm going to steal Charles away from you." Eric asked in an almost playful tone.

"No problem, nice to meet you." Lee said with a smile.

"Nice to meet all of you. Good evening." Eric said and pushed Charles wheelchair out of the room.

"He seemed nice enough." Clark said absently.

"I kind of got a 'mad scientist' vibe off of him when he was talking about my ability." Slash said as he settled back into his chair.

"Wait till you meet Dr. McCoy. You'll expect Igor to come running out of the back room any minute." John said with a chuckle.

Slash got a look of worry.

"Dr. McCoy is a good person and very knowledgeable. He just becomes... extremely focused." Trey said in thought.

"That's Borg for 'obsessed'. " Clark said with a smirk.

"Borg?" Slash asked curiously.

"Yeah, um, Trey? Do you want to explain it?" Clark asked hopefully.

"You are the one who introduced the subject. I am interested to hear your description." Trey said with a look of mischief.

"Oh, that's no pressure." Clark said with a roll of his eyes, then turned to Slash.

"Once upon a time..." Clark began and was interrupted by Lee and John's laughter.

"You want me to tell it, I'll do it my way." Clark said sternly.

Both suppressed their laughter and nodded for him to continue.

"Once upon a time, on a planet far far away, there was a boy living a normal boy's life." Clark stopped and looked around to see that the laughter had stopped and everyone was honestly paying attention.

"One day there was an attack and the boy was taken by strangers. They restrained the boy and put machines into him... he couldn't talk, or scream or cry."

Trey took up the narrative, "He felt himself shattering, his memories falling away as he lost his identity. There was a voice, one voice that controlled every thought..."

Robert broke in, "Resistance is futile..."

Clark looked up to see that Robert, Bobby, Andrew and Alan had joined them.

"...And it was." Trey finished in a hollow voice.

"We were part of everything, endless knowledge, perfection through order..." Robert said distantly.

"...Yet we were nothing." Trey said in a lost tone.

Silence fell over the table.

"They became separated from the collective and became individuals again. But they still carry the Borg with them, not just the machines, but the memories. Whatever else they choose to become, a part will always be Borg." Andrew said from behind Clark.

"Which is as it should be. You cannot learn by forgetting." Trey said quietly.

Andrew smiled at Trey's statement as he and Alan walked around the table to hug Trey.

Silence fell again until John leaned over to Slash.

"I bet you won't be asking *that* question again." John whispered with a smile.

A chuckle spread around the table as whatever spell had fallen over it was broken.

"Slash, this is my father, Andrew and my Dad, Alan. This is Slash." Trey said as he stood between his fathers being held by both.

"Nice to meet you." Alan said warmly.

"Yeah, you too." Slash said in a distant voice.

"I'm going for more food now. It was nice meeting you. Maybe the guys will bring you to the boathouse to visit sometime?" Andrew asked hopefully.

"How about for family time tomorrow?" Clark asked casually.

"Good idea. We'll see you then." Andrew said before leading Alan to the serving line.

"Family time?" Slash questioned.

"Yeah, every night they take some time to spend with the family. And family includes all their friends. It's a lot of fun." Lee said pleasantly.

"What will we do?" Slash asked curiously.

"Sit around and talk. Maybe watch some cartoons or a movie. The whole group of us just sit around and kick back. You just have to see it for yourself, I can't really describe it." John said in thought.

"Yeah, but it's great. I'd be so homesick right now if it wasn't for family time... it just makes this place 'home' to me." Clark said gently.

"Me too." Lee whispered.

* * * * *

"Dis soun like you need more information." Remy said in a considering voice.

"It would be nice, but I've done all that I can. The sentinel project was listed as 'homeland security' until the President signed the 'mutant rights' bill into law. Then the funding was shifted through about sixteen different sub-contractors but ultimately traces back to the department of defense. The group of scientists and engineers that your company has employed suggests that the project has a mutant focus of some kind. Put all that together and I believe we have reason to be concerned." Warren finished seriously.

"Can Warren watch le infants. Remy need to talk to Xander." Remy said in a low voice.

"Go ahead, I could watch them all day." Warren said with a tender smile.

Xander and Remy walked to the door as Xander asked, "There is, like, zero chance that I'm going to like what you're about to say, right?"

"Oui, zero chance."

* * * * *

"John, I'm going to leave now." Rick said quietly.

"Thanks for coming Dad, I'm glad you were here." John said as he looked his father in the eyes.

"Maybe you and your boyfriends could come to the mall with me next week?" Rick asked hopefully.

John was about to agree, but thought for a moment, then shook his head.

"Dad, don't try so hard. I know you'd rather have your teeth pulled than spend time at the mall. Let's pick something we'd both like to do... how about you come over and watch wrestling with us on Thursday? We can just kick back and enjoy it." John asked with a tentative smile.

"Yeah, I'd like that." Rick said softly.

John pulled his father into a hug and quietly said, "I mean it Dad, I'm glad you came. Thanks."

"Thanks for giving me a chance." Rick said as he continued to hold tight to his son.

Finally the hug broke apart.

"Thursday." Rick said before he turned to leave.

"See ya then." John said as he watched him go.

* * * * *

"You know Remy be a teif." Remy said with distraction.

"He can't hear us. Please be *my* Remy. At least for a few minutes." Xander asked desperately.

"Oui, you know dat I'm a teif. I got some tricks, know some people, can get tings done my own way..." Remy trailed off.

"You want to go." Xander said in a hollow voice.

"Non. I want to help you. But dis be de bes way I can help."

"Why?" Xander asked helplessly.

"Xander, when you told me your story, you said you help Buffy 'cause it be de right ting to do. You don wan to go an risk your life, but you do what need to be done. Dis be de right ting to do, an no one else can do it." Remy said seriously.

Xander closed his eye and took in a deep shuddering breath before nodding.

"Remy be gone a few days, maybe a week." Remy said softly.

"Please be safe." Xander whispered.

"Bein safe don get de job done, cher. But I don take no chance dat don need takin." Remy said as he begged for understanding with his eyes.

"When will you go?" Xander asked weakly.

"Now. Sooner I start, de sooner I be done." Remy said seriously.

Xander was about to protest, but caught the words before they could escape and just nodded.

Remy got a proud and happy smile and moved in for a kiss.

Xander held Remy in a crushing grip, wanting with every fiber of his being to keep hold and not let him go.

But in the end, both men reluctantly let go of each other and Remy hurried upstairs.

Xander stared at the empty stairway for a minute before walking back to Andrew's room to check on Warren and the babies.

* * * * *

"Looks serious." Slash said, indicating John.

"Yeah. I have the feeling that there's a big long story, but I only know the short-short version." Clark said seriously.

Slash seemed to be surprised so Clark tried to explain.

"We're friends and lovers. John knows that I'm here to listen if he ever needs to talk, but he also knows that he's free to have his own life and privacy."

"Okay, that's cool." Slash said as he watched John approach.

"Filling him in?" John asked speculatively.

"Not really, I was sending up a 'don't go there' flare." Clark said with a smile.

John chuckled and said, "Good call."

"Since I do not sleep, I am unsure... Is it nearing bedtime?" Trey asked quietly.

"It's eight o'clock." Slash said dubiously.

Trey looked longingly at Clark, who finally caught the meaning.

John's eyebrows went up in surprise, then he stretched and yawned dramatically.

"Real subtle." Slash said with a laugh.

"It's been a long day..." Clark said as he quickly gathered his dishes.

"Early to bed, early to rise..." John said as he did the same.

"Have a good evening Slash, it has been a pleasure to meet you." Trey said as Clark grabbed the dishes from his hands.

"Have a good 'sleep' guys." Slash said with a smile.

He received no answer as the three nearly ran out of the room.

To Be Continued...