Hurt & Comfort

Book 11: Creating Comfort

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Chapter 1: In Search of Home

"Hey there. Are you Lisa?" A man asked in front of the airport's main terminal.

"Yes." The figure huddled in a hooded sweatshirt said with the hood pulled up to hide her face completely.

"Come with me and I'll drive you to your new school." The man said forcefully.

"And you are?" Jan asked curiously.

"Matt Logan. I'm just helpin out by driving people to and from today." Matt said, a little more pleasantly.

"I'm Jan, this as you know is Lisa and the young man hiding behind me is Marc." Jan said with a smile.

"Wasn't hiding." Marc mumbled.

"Sure." Jan and Logan said in the same sarcastic tone.

"I've got some people for you to meet. This is Seth and his father Nick. Seth is a new student too... you two have the same fashion sense." Logan said with a smile as he indicated their matching hooded sweatshirts.

"And this is John. Take a good look, it's probably the only time you'll see him without the other two musketeers." Logan said with a smile and noticed that each group had a luggage trolley fully loaded.

John flashed a scorching look at Logan before saying, "Hi guys, I'm a student too. I'll be in classes with you if you need anything."

"Are you a mutant?" Seth asked in fascination.

"Um, yeah. But that's something you really shouldn't be asking people you just met. Some folks are a little sensitive about it." John said, trying to sound friendly.

"That's one of the reasons you'll have John and his crew hanging around with you. If you're not used to being around other mutants, or not used to being a mutant, John and the guys will show you the best way to fit in." Logan said, then pointed, "It's that van over there."

Seth walked up beside John and said, "You don't look like a mutant."

"Yeah, well, not every mutant has his mutation showing on the outside. Some have abilities." John said uncomfortably.

"Do you have an ability?" Seth asked in wonder.

"Um, yeah. But it'd be better if we not talk about it till we're back at the school. It just feels funny talking about it around the general public." John said seriously.

"I'm sorry. My mutant thing just happened last week. I don't know about stuff like that yet." Seth said quietly.

John smiled and said, "Don't worry about that. It's my job to see that you don't find out the hard way. Now get in the van and we'll go to your new school."

* * * * *

"It's beautiful." Lisa said as they pulled onto the campus of the college.

"Yeah. Nice place. Wait till you see the dorms." Logan said as he took them on the scenic tour of the campus.

"I think I want to go to college now." Jan said with a smile.

"You actually could if you wanted." Logan said from the front.

At Jan's puzzled look Logan continued, "The college has a large continuing education program for adults. The standard classes are available as they are to the traditional students. They offer night classes and weekend classes. You can tailor a schedule around almost any work schedule."

"Mr. Logan, are you trying to recruit me?" Jan asked with a playful chuckle.

"Just letting you know what the college offers. I don't actually work here, I just read the brochure so I could answer your questions." Logan said with a smile.

"Mom, look at that. That's where we'll be living." Lisa said with excitement.

"It's very nice. I can't wait to see inside." Jan said with a smile.

Logan stopped the van in front of the first dorm building and said, "Just leave your stuff here for a minute and you can come back for it once you've found your rooms. John will be here to guard your things."

John flashed another glare at Logan but remained with the van.

As the group walked toward the building, the front door opened.

"Here are the other two musketeers, Clark and Trey." Logan said with a smile.

"Hi, Trey has your room assignments so if you're ready, I'll show you the way." Clark said happily.

"Lisa?" Clark called out to the group.

"Right here." Marc said, pointing at Lisa.

"You don't sound like a Lisa." Clark said with a playful look.

"Right here." Lisa called out with a chuckle.

"Your room is on the second floor. You're the only pre-college female student, so you'll be sharing that floor of the building with Teri, the house mother. She's actually a college senior who hangs around here to help the freshmen adjust to school life. She called and she'll be here in about an hour to talk with you, just to tell you the basic new kid stuff." Clark said seriously as he led the group up the stairs.

"Guys, take a good look. This is probably the last time you'll be allowed this far into the hallowed domain of the girls dorm." Logan said with a snicker.

"Ladies, if you'd like to unpack now, you're welcomed to. Your room is number 202, right over there. If you'd rather see the guys dorm, you're welcomed to follow along." Clark said with a smile.

"I want to see where you'll be living." Lisa said quietly to Marc.

"Right this way." Clark said and led the group back down the stairs.

Before they could reach the next building Lisa let out a small squeak of surprise.

A big guy dressed in cowboy clothes had stepped up and pulled down her hood and was still holding on to it.

Lisa's head was uncovered, allowing everyone to see her oval, fur covered face.

The first and only thing anyone who hadn't seen her before could think was 'Rabbit'.

"So you're one of the mutie freaks who's moving in, huh? Looks like we got us a fluffy bunny here." The man said in a poor imitation of a Texas drawl.

Logan took two steps toward Lisa, then stopped when a second cowboy spoke.

"Let her go Josh. You're scaring her." The second cowboy said forcefully.

"What do you care? She ain't nuthin but a mutie." The bigger cowboy said.

"She's a girl. You let her go or I'll knock you out... You wanna try me?" The second cowboy asked seriously.

The big guy... now a little less big, let go of Lisa's sweatshirt.

"What're you stickin up for muties for?" Josh asked angrily.

"They're people. If you don't like 'em, stay away from 'em. But there's no reason to treat anyone the way you just did... In fact, you can stay away from me too." the second cowboy said firmly.

"You start hangin with that type, people're gonna think you're a mutie too." Josh said in a snarl as he started to walk away.

"I can live with that. I'd rather be mistaken for a mutant than a bigoted moron." the second cowboy called out after Josh.

"Sorry about that, are you okay?" The cowboy asked Lisa.

"Yeah... fine." Lisa said in astonishment as she quickly pulled up her hood.

"What's your name kid?" Logan asked.

"Beau Collins." the cowboy replied.

"Is your name really Beau?" Seth asked in surprise.

"Yeah. And I'm really from Texas, not like Josh there. He's from New Jersey." Beau said with a grand smile.

"Thanks for the help kid. I could'a handled him, but I wanted to see if anyone would watch out for the new kids." Logan said seriously.

"Yeah, I think everyone will be pretty cool. There are a few jerks like Josh around, but from what I heard, they usually flunk out in the first six weeks anyway so they don't matter. From what I saw of his homework, Josh will be celebrating this Christmas in New Jersey." Beau said with a grin.

"We're going to look at our dorm rooms, would you like to join us?" Seth asked hopefully.

"Naw, I'd like to but I've got to see if anyone's in the admin building who can get me a new room assignment. Josh is my roommate." Beau said with a queasy look.

"Clark, you take the guys up and show them their rooms. I need to talk to Kurt and Julia." Logan said forcefully.

Clark just nodded and made a 'follow me' motion.

* * * * *

"Okay Trey, you wanna do it?" Clark asked.

"Pre college accommodations are on the third floor in this building." Trey said as he led the group to the stairs.

"I guess because they're the youngest, they can handle three flights of stairs several times a day." Nick said to Jan.

"Forget what I said about wanting to go back to college." Jan said as they crested the second floor.

Matt walked to the door and unlocked it.

"You keep it locked?" Seth asked in concern.

"Yes, from the outside. There is a push bar that will open it from the inside. You will see why in a moment." Trey said as he walked through the door and held the door open for everyone to enter.

"Wow." Seth said as he looked in wonder around the game room.

"You have a pool table, air hockey and a full library of video games on a dedicated screen. The big screen is set up with cable but has pay-per-view and adult channels locked out. And of course you have a VCR and DVD player. There is an extensive collection of videos available at the college library that you may borrow without charge. Now I will show you to your rooms." Trey said professionally.

"Seth, you will be sharing this room with Louie when he arrives. Trey said as he pushed open the door.

"This room is massive." Seth said in wonder.

"As you can see, each of you has his own computer that is hooked up to the campus network. Be aware that you are not allowed to install software on the school machines and there is a lockout in place to prevent viewing of inappropriate materials on the Internet. But they are available for you to use within those boundaries." Trey said seriously.

Clark led the way to the next room and when everyone was inside, Trey announced, "Marc, you will have this room to yourself for the moment. Once you've met Slash, you two may choose to share a room. If not, you'll get whoever's assigned next." Trey said, then left the room.

"Here is a kitchenette area for snacks. You have a microwave and a small refrigerator. The cafeteria is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so cooking in the dorm is discouraged." Trey said as they walked to the back of the large main room.

"Next we have the weight room." Trey said and led the group into a moderate sized room with two weight machines a stepper and an ab machine.

"And finally the restroom facilities." Trey said and led the group into the large locker room style bathroom with a four head shower room, a whirlpool, a small sauna and of course sinks and toilets.

"I think I've gone to heaven." Seth said as he looked around the weight room.

"Son, why don't you stay home and work to pay for this and I'll come here?" Nick asked as he looked longingly at all the equipment.

"This isn't a standard dorm room." Clark said to the group.

"It was decided that the pre-college students needed a more entertaining dorm atmosphere since many of the after hour diversions available to the college age students aren't appropriate for pre-college." Trey said simply.

"Um, I guess that's it. I guess we'd better get down and get your stuff so John won't have to watch the van." Clark said heading for the front door.

"Where's your room Clark?" Marc asked curiously.

"John and I live with Logan a few miles from here... we can't afford a place as nice as this." Clark said with a big smile.

Marc couldn't help but smile back.

"What about you Trey? Do you live here?" Lisa asked quietly.

"No, I live with my parents." Trey said shyly.

"What do your parents do?" Jan asked curiously.

"They are teachers." Trey said honestly.

"Do they teach here?" Jan asked, getting a sense that he wasn't telling everything.

"No, they teach at a college eight miles from here. I was invited to attend the pre-college classes at this school to ease the way for the new students. If all goes to plan, this years students will be invited to ease the way for the next year's students." Trey said with a smile.

The group headed out to the van and started to gather their belongings.

"How did it go?" John asked Clark and Trey.

"The guys loved it. Lisa hasn't looked in her room yet." Clark said with a smile.

"I'm sure we'll all hear it when she does." John said with a grin.

* * * * *

"Will ya show me the way to the office?" Logan asked Beau as they walked away.

"Sure Mr. ?" Beau asked cautiously.

"Matt Logan. You can call me Matt, you earned the right for standing up the way you did." Logan said seriously.

"Thanks Matt. I've only been here a month and Josh is about the only person I know around here. I just can't stand to see anyone treat someone wrong like that. I grew up in West Texas, a town called Odessa. There's a lot of Mexican-American's there and there's a lot of folks who treat 'em wrong for no good reason. That's where I learned to speak up for myself." Beau said as he led the way to the Administration Building.

"How'd you end up in New York?" Matt asked in interest.

"My Great-Aunt arranged it. She's got nothing but money and thought it best that I get a 'well rounded' education." Beau said with a chuckle.

"How old are you kid?" Matt asked.

"Seventeen... almost... in a month." Beau said shyly.

"You're in college at sixteen years old?" Matt said with surprise.

"Yeah, but no one's noticed. I lived with Josh for a month and he never even caught on that I'm not eighteen." Beau said with a smile.

"Well, Josh don't strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed." Matt said as he walked in the door that Beau held open for him.

"You mind if I talk to Julia first? It won't take long." Matt asked as they entered the office.

"You mean Dr. Hoffman? Go ahead." Beau said and took a seat in the waiting area.

* * * * *

"Matt! To what do I owe the pleasure?" Julia asked with delight.

"One of your students, a cowboy named Josh, tried to stir something up with one of the new kids." Matt said seriously.

"Josh Metcalf. Did he do anything that could get him expelled?" Julia asked with an expression that said she knew the answer.

"No. He just said some mutant hating trash. The boy out there, Beau, put him in his place." Matt said, gesturing toward the outer office.

"He's a good boy. I'm actually worried about him. With his age difference and the culture shock moving here from Texas, I'm concerned for him." Julia said honestly.

"Then why'd you room him with Josh?" Matt asked seriously.

"The housing coordinator did that. She saw a cowboy and put him where she thought he'd fit. I've been waiting for a reason to move him out of there." Julia said in thought.

"You've got one. He's here to ask to be moved. If you don't mind me saying, he'd fit in with the others in the pre-college dorm." Matt said as he looked her in the eyes.

"That's good enough for me. Do you think some of your guys can help him move? Josh may try to cause him some grief and I'd like for it to go as quickly and smoothly as possible." Julia asked hopefully.

"Just as soon as you tell the kid, we'll get 'im moved. It's too bad Angel got to you first, I like your style." Matt finished with a smile.

"Sir! You're old enough to be my grandfather." Julia said with a chuckle.

"I'll send 'im in, and I'll be waiting outside." Matt said with a smile.

"Thanks Matt. I'm glad you volunteered to help today." Julia said honestly.

"Anything for you, Doc." Matt said as he walked out.

* * * * *

"Dr. Hoffman?" Beau asked cautiously.

"Yes, Mr. Collins, how may I help you today?" Julia asked with a gentle smile.

"I'd like to... If it wouldn't be too much trouble I'd like to be moved in with someone else." Beau asked carefully.

"May I ask why?" Julia asked professionally.

"I'm not getting along too well with Josh. It'd just be better if I was living somewhere else." Beau said in a diminishing voice.

"I see. Mr. Logan suggested that you would... how did he put it? 'Fit in with the others'. I took that to mean that he would welcome you into the pre-college accommodations with the other students who are closer to your age. Is that something that you'd be interested in?" Julia asked with a smile.

Beau got a look of surprise and said, "Yeah, I think that'd be great. Those guys all seem like they'd be alright."

"Very well, let's see, the housing office is closed today, but I don't see any reason that we can't move you in there immediately. Mr. Logan has volunteered his young associates to help you with your things. I believe he is waiting for you." Julia said, trying to fight down a chuckle at Beau's excitement.

"Thank you Dr. Hoffman. I really appreciate it." Beau said quickly.

"Beau, if you ever need anything, please come to me. I've been a friend of your family's for many years and owe them much more than I can ever repay." Julia said gently.

"Really? Do you know my mom?" Beau asked in fascination.

"I knew Carolyn when she was your age." Julia said with delight.

"Wow. I didn't know that." Beau said with excitement.

"Maybe I'll sit down with you and tell you some embarrassing stories about your mom sometime. For now, go and move your things. Matt's waiting." Julia said tenderly.

"Okay, thank you Dr. Hoffman." Beau said quickly and left the room.

* * * * *

"Guys, I've got you a new roomie." Logan said as he entered the dorm.

"Beau? You're going to live here?" Seth asked with a smile.

"Yep. Dr. Hoffman told me to go get my stuff and move in." Beau said happily.

"Do you know anyone who'd be willing to help him move?" Matt asked the group.

"Sure. We all will." Marc said immediately.

"Well, I've got to go pick up our next new student. So I'll need someone to come with me. But the rest of you can stay and help Beau move in." Matt said forcefully.

"I will accompany you Mr. Logan." Trey said firmly.

"Let's get going. The flight will be landing soon and we don't want him to have to wait." Matt said and turned to leave.

"I'll miss you." Clark whispered to Trey.

"Me too." John said as he joined their three-way huddle.

Clark reached over and ran his index finger across Trey's ring. John did the same then Trey responded by caressing each of their rings in turn.

"Just kiss and get it over with." Marc said with exasperation.

"What?" Seth said in shock.

"They're in love. Don't tell me you didn't notice." Marc said with a roll of his eyes.

"Really?" Seth asked as he looked at the three emerging from their huddle with red faces.

"Um, yeah." John said with a timid smile.

"Now that that's settled, kiss Trey so we can go." Matt said impatiently.

Clark moved in first and gave Trey a deep lingering kiss. John moved behind Trey, and when the kiss broke he moved in to kiss Clark. Finally Trey turned his head and kissed John.

"Wow. I've never seen anything like that before." Seth said in wonder.

"Spend a day with them, you'll get used to it." Matt said dryly.

"Which room is mine?" Beau asked, interrupting the moment.

"Why don't you share a room with me. Right in there." Marc said and pointed to his room.

"Thanks." Beau said and looked in the room to see where he was going to put his stuff.

"Are we ready?" Matt asked, looking at his watch.

"Yes. Thank you for waiting Mr. Logan." Trey said as he stood before Matt.

"Call me Matt, now let's go." Matt said, trying to suppress a smile.

* * * * *

"Seth?" Clark asked as he entered the bedroom.

"Yeah Clark?" Seth said as he looked up from his unpacking.

"Would you think about taking off the sweatshirt now? I don't know what you look like, but this is going to be your home. I think it's time." Clark said with concern.

Seth looked at his father and received a reassuring nod.

"Okay, but don't freak. Please?" Seth asked hesitantly.

"I promise." Clark said sincerely.

Seth slowly pulled back his hood while watching Clark's face.

"Cool." Clark said with a smile.

"What?" Seth asked in surprise.

"The way you were acting I thought it was something gross. You look really cool." Clark said as he looked at Seth's horns.

"Um, thanks." Seth said shyly.

"Clark, I think you'd better come here, John's being sick in the bathroom." Marc said with concern from the hall.

"Excuse me guys." Clark said and hurried from the room.

* * * * *

Clark, Nick, Seth and Marc hurried to the bathroom where John was wiping his face with a wet towel.

"How are you feeling?" Clark asked with concern.

"How do you think? God, I hate this. One minute I'm feeling fine, the next, I'm puking my guts up." John said in a shaky voice.

"Go in the living room and sit down, I'll get you some water." Clark said with worry.

Clark hurried to the kitchen for water as John walked to the living room.

Seth noticed that John was looking weak and said, "Let me help you. You look like you're going to pass out."

John stopped and looked at Seth as he put an arm around him to support him.

"Thanks." John whispered and continued to walk.

"What's wrong John? Do you need a doctor?" Nick asked with concern.

As John sat down on the couch he said, "No, the doctor is the one who did this to me. I've just got to put up with feeling like this a few more days and then I'll be fine."

Clark arrived with a glass of water in time to hear John's last statement.

"Yeah. The medication John's taking makes him nauseous and weak but he'll be fine soon." Clark said with assurance.

"I'm glad you're going to be okay." Seth said sincerely.

John looked at Seth to see the honest concern and smiled as he said, "Yeah, by the way. Looking good. This is much better than the hoodie look."

"Thanks." Seth mumbled shyly.

The mood was interrupted by a knock on the door.

Marc hurried to answer it and saw four people he didn't know.

"Hi guys, the second shift is here." The adult said as he entered the room.

"Hey Scott, come in." Clark said from John's side.

"What's up? Is John feeling sick again?" The man asked with concern.

"Yeah. Dr. McCoy said he might." Clark said with worry sounding in his voice.

"Why don't I take you guys back to Matt's where you can rest. The second team is here to help the new guys." The man said seriously.

"Thanks Scott." Clark mumbled.

"Would you introduce us before you leave?" The oldest boy asked quietly.

"Yeah, sure. Just a second." Clark said and ran to a bedroom.

He returned a second later with Beau.

"Okay guys, the guy with the sunglasses is my brother Scott. Next we have Bobby Drake and the guy attached to his side is Trey's brother Robert. And finally we have Bobby's brother Ronny." Clark said with a smile.

"On this side we have Seth and his father Nick. Marc and Beau." Clark said as he indicated each.

Greetings were exchanged before Scott spoke up to explain. "We came over to offer to help if you need anything. Bobby, Robert and Ronny are going to be attending classes with you so they wanted to meet you."

"Really? That's cool." Seth said with enthusiasm.

Ronny smiled at Seth's statement and nodded.

"So does anyone need anything before I take Clark and John back to the house?" Scott asked the group.

"We're going to go to Beau's old apartment to get his stuff and move it over. Besides that we're all just unpacking." Marc said as he looked around.

"John, how are you feeling? Do you need to go now?" Scott asked carefully.

"I'm feeling better, my stomach is settled for the moment. I just need to rest for a few minutes." John said quietly.

"Then let's all help Beau move." Scott said assertively.

"I'm going to stay with John." Clark said as everyone headed for the door.

"I'll be fine. Go ahead, they may need you." John said, trying to inject strength into his voice.

"Okay, but I'll only be gone a few minutes." Clark said with renewed worry.

John nodded as Clark followed the group out the door, leaving one last, concerned look.

To Be Continued...