Hurt & Comfort

Book 2: Circumstantially Hurt

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Chapter 7: The Other Cheek

When the door opened, Alan awoke and put on his glasses. He looked up in time to see Dr. McCoy pushing Xander into the room in a wheelchair.

The expression on Xander's face was classic shock when he saw the three men in the bed. Alan decided it was his turn to explain.

"Hello Xander, I'm Alan. I'm from another dimension like you. You know Andrew, and from what I've heard, you've made the acquaintance of my brother Scott under less than favorable circumstances." Alan said with a smile.

"Uh, hi. Do I want to know why Andrew is sleeping on your chest?" Xander asked with a puzzled expression.

"Probably not." Alan said simply, as Hank moved Xander to the spare bed.

"I told you already, I can walk." Xander snapped at Hank as he tried to help Xander out of the wheelchair.

Hank put his hands up in a surrender motion as Xander got out of the wheelchair and sat on the edge of the bed.

"Please, try to take it easy. You need time to heal." Hank said shortly as he moved the wheelchair out of the way.

"Where is your caregiver?" Hank asked of Alan.

Alan responded with a shrug.

"I will talk to Tara and find out who is supposed to be on duty." Hank said absently.

"Tara?" Xander asked cautiously.

"Yes, my niece. She is coordinating the volunteer schedule for caregivers for those recovering in this room." Hank said and prepared to leave the annoying man with Alan.

"I used to know someone named Tara... I just thought..." Xander said as Hank left the room.

"Yeah, it's her. But she's from this universe. There are doubles of a lot of people here." Alan said, relaxing back on his pillows and stroking Andrew's back absently.

"Is that what you are?" Xander asked, looking at Scott.

"Yeah. I'm just here for medical treatment, like you I guess." Alan said, still not knowing if he liked this guy or not.

"Well, it wasn't my idea to be here." Xander said sourly.

"You're welcome." Alan said coldly, now he knew.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Xander asked in offense.

"It means that Andrew risked his life to rescue you. He is recovering from a stroke, but when you and your friends were attacked, he used his powers to create a portal to rescue you. Scott is recovering from a coma, but he used his optic blasts to kill monsters so you could escape. Neither of them had the strength to walk across the room on their own but they both used their powers to help you." Alan said in a low tone, so as not to wake Andrew or Scott.

"Sorry. But what am I supposed to do?" Xander asked, becoming more aware of his situation.

"You have a choice, you can either sit there like a self-involved asshole and bitch about being rescued against your will, or... You can go over to that table and enjoy the meal that Andrew was kind enough to ask Jubilee to leave for you." Alan said with an expression of hardness.

"Um. Okay." Xander said and stiffly made his way over to the table to eat the meal.

* * * * *

Xander ate in silence with his back toward Alan and thought about the things that Alan had said.

Andrew and Scott had risked their lives to help him escape his own dimension, it didn't escape his notice that Alan had bandages on his arms and was confined to the bed too. That probably meant that he used his abilities and risked his life too.

The food was probably very good, but Xander could barely force himself to eat it. He felt like such a jerk for his self-centered attitude... but how could he make it right?

There was a knock on the door and a moment later a young girl poked her head in.

"Are you guys still up to having class this afternoon?" Kitty asked from the doorway.

"Yeah, just give us a minute." Alan said and smiled at Kitty.

Kitty nodded and stepped back out, closing the door.

Alan gently shook Andrew awake and whispered, {It's time for the afternoon class, are you up to it?}

Andrew looked around and noticed Xander eating his meal. He scooted himself up and said, "Yeah... thanks Alan... I mean, for before."

Alan pulled Andrew close to himself and said, "You'd do the same for me. I'm glad to be able to give something back."

Andrew smiled and gave Alan a kiss on the cheek before turning to wake Scott.

{Time for class Scott.} Andrew whispered and his heart melted to see the rumpled, little boy quality that Scott had as he first awoke.

Scott looked around the room and saw Xander eating his meal. "Hello Xander. Did anyone tell you about the classes we will be having today?"

Xander forced a pleasant expression on his face and turned to face the three in the bed.

"Nope, no one said a word." Xander said with a semi-goofy grin on his face.

Andrew noticed the falseness of Xander's mood but decided that now wasn't the time to deal with that.

"We are going to have two classes, about eight students each in here today, since we're confined to the bed. You are welcomed to stay and observe, or you can leave and come back when the classes are over." Scott said without any hint of malice.

"I'll stay. Don't worry, I'll keep out of your way." Xander said and made his way back to the spare bed.

"You don't have to do that. This class is a discussion, you can join in if you feel like it." Andrew said as he was trying to make himself presentable for the class.

"Ready yet?" Kitty asked, half-phased through the door.

"Yeah, come in." Scott said, noticing the astounded look on Xander's face at Kitty's ability.

The door opened and eight students filed in, carrying chairs. Kitty walked back out into the hallway and came in with a box.

"A few of us have been working on this for a while, and when you got hurt, we decided to finish it and give it to you as a 'get well' gift." Kitty said and presented the box to Scott.

Surprised by the weight of it, Scott took the box and handed it to Andrew, so they could both work to open it. Alan joined in and all three of the men worked on opening the very tightly wrapped gift.

Andrew was stunned. In his lap sat a miniature version of the elevator that he had described his second day in this universe.

"It's exactly the way I pictured it." Andrew said in wonder.

"Artie wrote down just about everything you said that day, so we used his notes, Bobby's drawings, and everyone else's help to put it together." Kitty said with pride.

"It's fantastic. Thank you all." Scott said with a swell of pride at the initiative his students were showing.

"It works, go ahead and turn the big wheel." Artie said excitedly.

Andrew did as he was told, and the platform raised up as he kept the wheel turning with the treadles.

"What is it?" Xander asked, amazed by the little machine.

"Who wants to explain how this machine works to Xander?" Scott asked in his teacher voice.

All the students raised their hands and finally Scott chose Artie to explain the principle behind the machine, as well as how it worked.

Alan and Xander were amazed by the level of knowledge that Artie demonstrated while explaining the machine. When he was finally finished, Scott said, "Very good Artie. Xander? Alan? Do you have any questions for the students about this machine?"

"Yeah. You may have already said this but... where's the ramp?" Xander asked, looking at the machine from different angles.

The discussion was on in full force after that. A knock at the door finally ended the discussion when it turned out to be the next class waiting to come in. All the students gathered their things quickly and ran out of the room, since they were late for their next class.

* * * * *

Dawn was getting herself cleaned up as Tara reflected on the things that Dawn had told her. They had talked for nearly two hours about the other Tara and someone named Willow.

Dawn had gone into great detail about how wonderful the relationship was... and wasn't. Apparently, Dawn paid more attention than those around her knew, or they wouldn't say so much around her. She knew what problems Willow and Tara had had in their relationship and what had finally broken them up.

Tara thought about the fact that Willow used magic to manipulate the mind of someone she claimed to love. She didn't know every detail of their circumstances, but some things are just wrong, and manipulating your lover's mind so she won't leave you is on the list.

When Dawn emerged from the bathroom, fresh and filled with energy, Tara couldn't help but smile. Dawn's openness to life was refreshing after all the seriousness of her own life.

"That shower felt wonderful, thank you again for letting me use it. What do you want to do now?" Dawn asked, plopping herself down on the bed next to Tara.

"You mentioned that you did some magic, I was a little curious about that." Tara responded gently.

"Well, there is magick and then there is magic. The stuff that Willow does is really hard-core. She does the magick with a 'k'. The few times that I tried to do that kind of magick... things went wrong. And it felt wrong. That's kind of what led me to the magic that I practice. Nothing will work right, or feel right, if you are working against your nature and I'm not meant to use that kind of magick."

"Tell me about what kind of magic you do." Tara asked with fascination.

"I do elemental magic. It's not very glamorous, but it isn't nearly as dangerous as Willow's magick. If you wanted, we could go outside, and I could show you some things?" Dawn asked with an imploring look.

"Sure, you can borrow a jacket if you want, the autumn nights can get a little cold." Tara said as she went to the closet.

She emerged with two coats and handed one to Dawn.

"Thanks." Dawn said as she put it on and pulled her long hair out of the back with a little tug and flip of her head.

* * * * *

When the last student left the room, all four men laid back exhausted. There was a knock on the door and Scott finally said, "Come in." Without lifting his head from his pillow.

"I'm here to sit with you." An unfamiliar voice said.

"Warren?" Alan asked in disbelief.

Scott sat up and saw Warren standing in the doorway, his white wings barely clearing the doorframe.

"What brings you back here?" Scott asked with a smile.

"Ororo called and said that you were hurt and, she thought you would like a visit. When I got here, Bobby asked me to take his shift taking care of you so he could talk with his girlfriend." Warren said and made his way into the room.

"Introductions?" Andrew asked quietly.

"Sorry, Warren, this is Andrew, my boyfriend, also known as Portal. Next to him is Alan, my brother from the dimension next door and in the other bed is Xander, demon magnet extraordinaire. Guys, this is Warren Worthington the third, also known as Angel." Scott said.

"Nothing like the Angel we know, eh Xander?" Andrew said with a smile.

"Not even close." Xander said, happy to be included in the conversation.

"You know an Angel?" Alan asked cautiously, knowing that they knew demons, so why not?

"Yeah, Buffy's Ex. He's a 250-year-old master vampire cursed with a soul." Xander said absently.

"She dated a vampire?" Alan asked in disbelief.

"Yeah, I don't know what she was thinking." Xander said with a shrug.

"Don't you? I mean, I think you would know given your track record." Andrew said playfully.

"And what is wrong with my track record?" Xander asked defensively.

"From what I've heard, you dated an Incan mummy, a human-sized praying mantis, Cordelia the half-demon seer, and Anyanka the vengeance demon." Andrew said informationally.

"Well, Ampata, the mummy, only wanted to suck the life force out of me, I didn't actually date the praying mantis, she just wanted me to fertilize her eggs before she bit my head off. Cordelia didn't become a demon till after I dated her and Anyanka stopped being a demon before I dated her." Xander said ending weakly.

"And you've had sex with Dracula, Spike, and Faith. Or was I misinformed?" Andrew said with a laugh.

"Who told you about that?" Xander asked, blushing furiously.

"Anyanka and Halfrek told me all kinds of stories about you... you Viking." Andrew said and broke into giggles.

"Well... well... What about your track record?" Xander retorted.

"What about it? I may be a virgin, but I'm in bed with two gorgeous guys. One of these days we'll be ready to go all the way and I'm looking forward to it." Andrew said with certainty.

Scott, Alan, and Warren sat in shock as the two discussed their personal matters so openly.

"Andrew, are you thinking of having a ménage à trois with Scott and Alan?" Warren asked in disbelief.

Andrew thought about what he had said and how it sounded. Then he looked at Scott and Alan's interested looks.

"We haven't talked about it, but if it were to happen, I think it would be a wonderful relationship for all three of us." Andrew said honestly.

Scott and Alan looked at Andrew, then at each other. Alan was the first to break into a smile, soon followed by Scott. Andrew noticed the by-play and said, "We are recovering, NOTHING is going to happen until Hank gives the okay."

Scott and Alan immediately broke into identical pouts. Andrew looked at them both and said, "Okay, nothing below the waist is going to happen until Hank gives the okay."

Scott and Alan each moved in to give Andrew a kiss on the cheek and then snuggled close on each side.

"Are they always like this?" Warren asked, not believing that this was Scott, the tight-assed, control freak, leader he had known for years.

"I arrived just before you did. But Andrew used to be shy and timid." Xander said to Warren, moving from his bed to a chair beside Warren.

"I got better." Andrew said from the bed, then wriggled under a twin assault of nuzzling on his neck.

"So all that was true? I mean vampires and demons?" Warren asked Xander, ignoring the three playful men in the bed.

"Vampires, demons, trolls, ghosts, witches, a cyber-Frankenstein monster, a hell-god, and more apocalypses than I can count." Xander said resigned.

"How do you survive in a world like that?" Warren asked with interest.

"It kills most people all of a sudden, it's been killing me a little at a time... a piece at a time... for years. This last battle took my eye." Xander said sadly.

"How did that happen?" Warren asked softly.

"A bad guy caught me and gouged my eye out." Xander said with a pained expression.

"I'm sorry." Warren said gently.

"Why? I lost my eye defending the people I care about... given the same situation, I'd do it again. I don't have any regrets, I guess I'm just tired of the fighting. I mean, I've been fighting constantly for seven years, I'm just wondering... when is it enough?" Xander said with an old voice.

"Why do you have to keep fighting?" Warren asked, recognizing the pain in this man's life.

"At the moment, I have a spell on me that attracts any demon within a thousand miles. But besides that, I've always been with Buffy, helping her, I guess I don't know any other way."

"Who is Buffy?" Warren asked with interest.

"The Vampire Slayer." Xander answered offhandedly.

"What's that?"

"The one girl in all the world given the power and strength to kill vampires and various other demons." Xander answered automatically.

"What would you do if you weren't helping Buffy?"

"I... I don't know. I've been fighting so long; I don't know what I'd do if the fighting ended." Xander said in a small voice.

"Would you like to find out?" Warren asked hesitantly.

"How?" Xander asked in confusion.

"When Scott was introducing us, he didn't mention that I'm verrrrrrrry rich." Warren said with a glowing smile.

"What are you saying?" Xander asked, even more confused.

"I'm saying that, I think I could find a job for you in my company. It would be a real job and you would either sink or swim on your own merits, but I could give you the chance if you're interested." Warren said seriously.

"Why are you doing this?" Xander asked, more in wonderment than suspicion.

"Let me answer your question with a question. If I were a weary, battle-fatigued man that you encountered and you had the ability to change my life so I didn't have to fight anymore, would you do it?" Warren asked, honestly wanting an answer.

"Yeah, I guess I would." Xander said in realization.

"That's why. I have a feeling that all you need is to let the fighting end and start a new chapter in your life. And I trust my instincts about people, I'm willing to give you a chance to prove yourself." Warren said in a business-like tone.

"Thanks." Xander said in astonishment.

"It looks like you have some healing to do first, and you'll probably want to get rid of that pesky spell." Warren said with a smile.

"Yeah, but after that, I'll think about working for you... I'm having trouble even imagining my life without Slayers and patrols. I'll need to think about it, but thanks for giving me a chance." Xander said with a real smile.

"No problem. The professor and Ororo know how to get in touch with me if you do decide to take me up on my offer."

Xander smiled again and looked over at the bed. The three men were asleep cuddled together.

"They do look kind of good together." Xander said with a wistful smile.

"They do at that." Warren said and watched the three sleeping.

To Be Continued...