Hurt & Comfort

Book 1: Typically Hurt

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Chapter 2: Unfamiliar Ceiling

Andrew woke to the sound of light knocking on his door.

"Come in." He said sleepily as he looked up at the unfamiliar ceiling and tried to remember where he was.

"Andrew, the professor wanted to invite you to monitor some classes today so you could see what you'd be getting into if you decided to stay." Scott said as he walked into the room.

Andrew scooted up to a sitting position and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. "That sounds like a good idea... what time is it?"

"It's almost seven-thirty. Classes don't start till nine but I thought you'd like to take your time getting ready and maybe have breakfast with me." Scott said timidly.

"I don't usually eat breakfast but it sounds like a nice idea. When and where should I meet you?" Andrew asked, now more awake.

"Why don't I stop by here in about thirty minutes, that will give us an hour to eat and get ready for classes." Scott said and waited for an answer.

It was then that Andrew noticed that Scott was dressed in pajamas and a robe. "Thanks Scott, I'll be ready when you get here." Andrew said with a smile.

Scott nodded and left to prepare himself for the day.

Andrew went into the bathroom... his bathroom... his very own, private, for his use only, bathroom and took a leisurely shower while thinking some more about his upcoming decision. After sharing a bathroom with two Slayers, a witch with an attitude, and a dozen potential Slayers, having a bathroom to himself was just about enough to get him to stay.

* * * * *

Andrew sat and watched Ororo teaching a science class while his mind drifted back to breakfast. Marie and Bobby had made waffles for everyone. They had strawberries, blueberries... in all, about a dozen types of fruit available to top the waffles as well as five types of syrup. Andrew hadn't intended to eat any waffles but with a little friendly prodding from Bobby he had relented and said he would eat one. Three waffles later, Scott had to drag him away from the table to get them to class on time.

"Andrew?" Ororo's voice said, breaking Andrew out of his remembrance.

"Yes Ms. Munroe?" He said, addressing her properly in the classroom.

"I just wondered if you would explain the theory of time travel as it relates to the speed of light." She said simply as if she were asking about the weather.

Andrew decided that since she asked him the question, that he would answer.

And so he began.

After nearly fifteen minutes of explanation he finally came back to himself and finished his narrative. He looked at the class's fascinated faces, then glanced at Ororo who was smiling approvingly.

"Very well thought out, Andrew. And where did you come up with such an extensive and detailed time travel theory?" Ororo asked.

For a moment Andrew had a flash of fear as he thought she was setting him up to ridicule him in front of the class, but when he looked at her, he knew that she was genuinely interested in where he had developed his theory.

"I've watched a lot of science fiction movies. Time travel makes for some interesting stories. In explaining the science fiction 'science' of how time travel works, they actually come up with some valid ideas along with some pure fantasy. All I did was watched the movies critically and identified the bits of actual science from the fiction. Then I put those bits into some sort of order to form a theory." Andrew said, hoping that he explained it well.

"And thus the point of this entire lecture. If you watch the world around you critically, you can sort truth from falsehood and develop scientific theories from your critical observations. Just like Newton's encounter with an apple led to the scientific principle known as gravity, so your critical observations may lead to a discovery that could change the world." Ororo said with a smile at Andrew as she dismissed class.

After the last of the students left the room, Andrew asked, "How did you know that I had a time travel theory?"

"I overheard you and Bobby talking between movies last night. Your conversation is actually what inspired today's lecture." She said with a smile.

"So you don't think that me liking Star Wars is a waste of time and childish?" Andrew asked, not daring to believe that someone he respected could appreciate his fondness for Star Wars.

"As far as being a waste of time, I believe that my lecture today spoke for itself on that point. Fiction and fantasy, as well as the world around us, can be great sources of inspiration and innovation. As for being childish? It's entertainment. It is designed to take you away from reality for a short time and take you on an adventure. It is a very healthy and wonderful thing to be able to enjoy something so completely. If anyone ridicules you for your enjoyment of such things, look at their life and see what enjoyments they have. Do you really want to follow their example on how to enjoy yourself?" She said as she packed up her books to move to another classroom.

Andrew thought about Buffy and her opinion of fun... what fun? She was the embodiment of angst. Then he looked at Willow... nope, the wicked witch may have had fun at some point but now she was pretty much 'fun free'. Xander had shared his enjoyment of Sci-Fi, especially Babylon 5, but he didn't discuss it around the others because he didn't want to be belittled the way that Andrew was.

He followed Ororo out of the classroom and she pointed to a room down the hall. "That's the next class you are scheduled to monitor. I have to be going, enjoy your day Andrew." She said as she walked away.

He was stunned by another revelation. What might seem like an obligatory comment on the surface was honestly meant by her. She truly wanted him to enjoy his day.

He walked into the indicated classroom and took a seat in the back.

Scott was going from student to student, apparently looking at some type of homework.

That was followed by an explanation of said homework in front of the class.

Andrew was letting his mind drift again, much as he had in Ororo's class.

"Andrew, I know that you are monitoring classes today, but I was hoping that you would participate in our discussion." Scott said, not pushing but inviting him to join in.

Andrew gathered his things and joined the group of students.

"Yesterday we were discussing practical applications of certain algebraic, physics, and geometric principles. Can anyone solve the problem depicted on the board using an inclined plane?" Scott asked the class as a whole.

Andrew looked closely at the board and immediately flashed back to his experiences with Buffy and the others. Before he could think better of it, he answered. "Sure, the inclined plane can be used to give mechanical advantage. I'm assuming the thing labeled 'a' is too heavy to be lifted by normal means and the level 'c' is the place you want the object to end up. 'a' could be dragged up the ramp to the higher place. But since 'a' and 'c' are in an enclosed place, I'm guessing that the ramp would probably be too steep to be practical?" Andrew glanced at Scott who nodded.

"A lesser incline, would require lesser force to relocate the object to the higher level but the ramp would have to be longer to move it. But the dimensions of the room don't give enough space to use a ramp... If you took this inclined plane and brought it into the third dimension and curved it, then you could lift the same object nearly straight up. Like using a screw but in reverse since you would be moving the object up the inclined plane... ramp... around and around until you had it at the level you wanted it. And if you threaded a platform on the screw and stabilized it with a rod..." Andrew drifted off, picturing the whole thing in his mind.

Scott looked at Andrew with admiration for a moment then said to the class. "That was a great example Andrew... in fact better than the one that I was going to use. Can you tell me what common machine could use the spiral inclined plane that you've described and basically how it would work?"

Again Andrew's mouth reacted before his shyness and self-doubt could stop him. "Sure, you could make a forklift or elevator that could be elevated by using a motor turning a threaded shaft..."

"We don't have a motor, what else could you use to power our elevator?" Scott interjected.

Without missing a beat, Andrew asked, "Could we get a small car tire rim and a large tractor tire rim?"

"Yes, that shouldn't be a problem." Scott answered, intrigued.

"Then we could suspend the large tire rim upright and fix a crank on each side of it. The cranks could be attached by poles to treadles on the floor that could be rocked up and down by one person. The small tire rim could be fixed to the base of the screw and the two tire rims would have a belt that would run between them so each complete rotation of the large rim would be several rotations of the smaller rim." Andrew answered as he put the pieces together in his mind.

"I've got it!" Bobby said as he walked to the board. He made a surprisingly accurate representation of what Andrew had described.

"Can everyone see how it works now?" Scott asked the class. To his delight, everyone seemed to understand.

"And what is the underlying principle of the entire machine?" Scott prompted.

"The inclined plane, a ramp." Said Piotr in wonder.

"So, a screw is a ramp?" Kitty asked to be sure.

"Yes, it is. And on that note we'd better stop and pick this up tomorrow. Remember to do your assigned reading and think of practical examples for tomorrow's discussion." Scott said as he dismissed the class.

"That was cool Andrew. I didn't understand that stuff when I read it." Said Kitty as she left the room.

"Yeah, I would have ramps in all directions. Very smart." Piotr said as he walked by.

When the last student left Andrew stood in shock for a moment until Scott put a hand on his shoulder.

"We have the next period free. The professor didn't want you to feel overloaded by scheduling every minute of your day and since I have the next period free, I asked if we could schedule you off too." Scott said with a smile.

"That stuff with the inclined plane. How did you know that I knew about stuff like that?" Andrew asked, truly confused.

"I didn't, we were having a discussion and I wanted you to be a part of it. I honestly didn't expect you to say two words, but I'm glad you did. Your explanation and example made the principle of mechanical advantage and the inclined plane come alive for them. You are really very good at problem solving." Scott said as he sat back in his chair.

"But I felt really smart, and I'm not really..." Andrew began.

"Andrew, none of us knows everything. You know some things, I know some things, and the professor probably knows more things than both of us put together. But being smart isn't just being able to read things in a book and recite them back. It's about knowing, understanding, and being able to use the knowledge in a practical way. You've just demonstrated that you can do that. And these skills that you have are the skills that we are trying to teach and inspire in our students." Scott said seriously.

"So instead of teaching them to recite useless facts, you're trying to prepare them for life by giving them the tools and understanding to apply scientific and mathematics principles to everyday situations?" Andrew asked in confirmation.

"Exactly. But not just science and math, we also teach history from the perspective of questioning the participants' motives behind their actions and the strategy that went into their campaigns. We teach an auto mechanics course that draws on the principles of math, geometry, algebra, science, chemistry, and physics. Our self-defense class also includes lessons in first aid, anatomy and physiology, physics, chemistry and geometry among other things. The students are assigned reading and class time is used for practical demonstration and discussion. Grades are given based on participation and demonstration of an understanding of the principles that were explored in the course." Scott said and realized that he had slipped into lecture mode.

"It makes sense. So if I were to come here as a student, what would I do? I mean, I've already graduated high school... what would I do?" Andrew asked in a small voice.

"You would take classes like I do. After some initial testing to determine your grade level, you would be assigned the general studies classes that every college student has to take. In about six months, you would choose your major. It sounds like a lot of pressure but the professor is really good at helping you explore your talents and interests and guiding you toward a career that you will enjoy."

Andrew got a funny look on his face and became silent for a moment.

"Andrew?" Scott said quietly, worried by the look of distant concentration.

"Andrew? Are you alright?" Scott said more quietly and moved closer to Andrew to catch him if he fainted.

Andrew shook himself out of his thoughts and looked at Scott who was about ten inches away and looking concerned. [He really cares. So that's what it feels like... I never knew.]

"I'm okay Scott, but could you come to my room for a minute? I... I've got something to show you... but not here." Andrew said nervously.

"Sure Andrew, I'm right behind you." Scott said, feeling a little anxiety at the drastic shift in Andrew's mood.

* * * * *

Not a word had been spoken from the classroom, through the house and upstairs to Andrew's room. Scott had shifted from slight anxiety to full worry by now. Andrew silently opened the door and once they had made their way inside, he turned and locked it.

"Scott, you remember when I told you that my power built up and got away from me yesterday?" Andrew asked without making eye contact with Scott at all.

"Yes." Scott said, realizing that Andrew was about to let him in on something very personal.

"The reason the power built up and got away was because I was around people and couldn't use up my power like I usually do... like I've been doing for years. You asked about my power... and I want to show you but... I've never even told anyone before, much less..." Andrew said nervously.

"Go on." Scott said in a near whisper, not wanting to spook Andrew.

"Whatever you see... just stay still. It's not real... I mean it is real but not to us... no... that's not right... it's like watching a movie, but it's real life... but not here..." Andrew stammered, then stopped and took a deep breath.

"I always thought it was a hallucination, but since it's not..." Andrew trailed off.

"Just tell me what to do, and I'll stay still. I trust you Andrew." Scott said with belief showing in his voice.

Apparently that had been the right thing to do because Andrew pulled the two chairs away from the table and sat them next to the wall facing out into the room.

"We'll sit down here and use up my power." Andrew said with some nervousness in his voice.

"Don't worry Andrew. I'm here with you and I'm not going to freak out on you." Scott said comfortingly.

Andrew nodded and they took their places on the chairs. After some deep breathing exercises, Andrew extended his arms wide, as if to encompass the entire room in his power. Then he opened his eyes and they cast a golden glow on the room.

Scott watched in wonder as he saw the room change before him. It was basically the same room but there were different things on the walls and the bed was in a different position than it had been.

Scott heard a knock on the door, but the sound seemed to be tinny and have a slight echo.

"Gene! Are you in there?" Scott heard his own voice calling from the door.

A handsome young man with red hair and green eyes came into view before them and said, "Yeah Scott, come in."

The door opened and Scott saw himself run into the room and into the arms of the red-haired man... Gene.

"Oh God Gene. I had that dream again. The one where I lost you... where you died. Please hold me. Prove to me that you're really here with me." Scott heard his doppelganger say in a tearful voice.

"Scott Summers! If I were a suspicious man, I would think you were making this story up to get into my pants." Gene said with a teasing smile.

"Eugene Gray! I would never stoop to such a trick to try to get into your pants... and since you're a telepath, I wouldn't even consider it." Doppelganger Scott said with an answering smile that turned serious. "Gene, these dreams are really scaring me, I mean the way they make me feel... like I might do something stupid because you're gone."

"Define stupid." Gene said with absolute seriousness.

"Suicide stupid." Scott said quietly and rested his head on Gene's shoulder.

"Scott, I don't know what the source of these dreams is, but this is serious. I know you don't like to involve the professor in personal matters but I'm going to insist that you talk to her... if you don't. I will." Gene said absolutely.

The doppelganger Scott nodded into Gene's shoulder then quietly asked, "Would you go with me?"

"Are you sure Scott. I mean this is something so personal..."

"...I'm sure. I love you Gene, and I don't want to have any secrets from you... not even in my dreams." Doppelganger Scott said as he began nuzzling Gene's neck.

"Don't start something you can't finish." Gene said in an aroused breathy voice.

"Who says I can't finish? I haven't let you down yet, have I?" Scott said with a smile.

Doppelganger Scott gently pressed his lips to Gene's mouth as his hands explored Gene's back.

Scott moved a hand between them to undo the buttons on Gene's shirt.

With a playful smile, Gene pushed Scott slightly away from himself. Their clothes began to unbutton, unfasten and in less than a minute they were both naked.

"God, I love it when you do that. And I love you Gene. You're my best friend, my lover and I just want to hold you close and never let you go." Doppelganger Scott said before moving in for another deep kiss.

Andrew dropped his hands and slumped in the chair as the room faded back to its original state.

To Be Continued...