Hurt & Comfort

Book 3: Deepest Hurt

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Chapter 1: The Gift and the Price

The portal opened to reveal Dawn and Tara. Each was holding a suitcase and behind them was a stack of boxes. In the week since Dawn and Tara had left, the men had grown stronger and were approaching full health.

"Okay guys, let's start hauling." Dawn said brightly as she stepped into her bedroom.

"You heard her. Let's get moving." Scott said and stepped into the portal and grabbed a box.

"What do you have in here? Do you have a rock collection?" Scott asked with strain in his voice.

"Books. Willow doesn't need the magic books anymore, so I volunteered to keep them safe for the Scoobies... and from Willow." Tara said as she sat her suitcase on the bed.

Piotr and Bobby each were carrying a box when Jean walked into the room.

"Jean! You're looking so much better." Dawn said as she ran to Jean and gave her a big hug.

"Thanks Dawn. I'm feeling much better. Have the guys told you about the party yet?" Jean asked as she pulled out of the hug.

"Party? No, who's having a party?" Dawn asked with excitement.

"It is the first official Summers family reunion. Alex will be here this afternoon and we're going to party at the boathouse tonight. You and Tara are officially invited." Alan said with a smile as he carried a box through the portal.

"Where are Xander and Remy?" Tara asked, looking at the group of men.

"They're with the kids having story time. It's turned out to be a daily event. Usually we would all be there listening to the children reading Star Wars books, but we took today off so we could move you back in." Scott said as he hefted the last box into the room.

"I'm sorry I'm missing that, it sounds like fun." Dawn said as she opened a box and started unpacking.

"It is. Do you have everything you need?" Andrew asked as he stood before the portal.

"Yeah. Buffy and the gang wanted to be here to see me off, but they had to go do research on the demon of the week." Dawn said and started lining books up on her bookshelf.

Andrew withdrew his power from the portal and said, "Then we're going to be leaving, I for one want to catch at least part of the Star Wars story today."

There were collective sounds of agreement coming from the other men as they also made ready to leave the room.

"So when's the party?" Dawn asked Alan, as he was about to leave.

"When Alex gets here. Someone will come and get you two and the party will begin." Alan said happily.

Dawn nodded and went back to work as Alan left the room to catch today's installment of story time.

* * * * *

The taxi pulled up in front of the mansion and Alex stepped out. After a moment the double doors swung open to reveal an ocean of people coming out to greet him.

"Alex! You made good time. I don't know why you insisted on taking a taxi but I'm glad you made it." Scott said as he hugged his brother.

"I took a taxi so you wouldn't have to drive for an hour, wait for me, then drive an hour back. It just didn't make sense... besides, I wanted to meet with all the family at once." Alex said as he pulled his suitcases out of the trunk of the taxi.

"Well, our brother is right here. Alex, this is Alan." Scott said proudly as he indicated Alan.

"He is the spitting image of you bro." Alex said and shook Alan's hand.

"I get the feeling that's about to change." Alan said with a slightly sour look.

"How so?" Alex asked with interest.

"Andrew has been trying to convince me to dye my hair so people could tell Scott and I apart at a glance." Alan said, then leaned close to whisper, {I'll end up doing it, but it's fun to make him work for it.}

"Andrew?" Alex asked aloud.

"Yeah, this is Andrew, Alan's partner." Scott said and nudged Andrew forward to meet Alex.

"It's good to meet you. Your brother has told me a lot about you." Andrew said shyly.

"Yeah, well don't believe a word of it till I've had a chance to tell my side of the story." Alex said with a smirk.

From the doorway came two women who got Alex's attention immediately.

"This is our sister Dawn and her girlfriend Tara." Scott said and indicated them with a sweep of his arm.

"Nice to meet you both. I always wanted a sister." Alex said with a shy smile.

"Well, now you've got one. Where's the party?" Dawn asked as she looked toward Scott.

"We're going to have the party in the boathouse. It isn't fully furnished yet, but we have enough beds for everyone and the essential furniture for us to be comfortable. Besides, this way we can be as loud as we want without worrying about bothering the children." Scott said and grabbed one of Alex's suitcases and walked into the mansion.

Andrew was at Scott's side and walked to the doorway that led into a classroom.

"Come on, we'll take the short cut." Andrew said as he walked through the doorway.

"That's just a classroom." Alex said in confusion.

"Come on in and see for yourself." Alan said as he stepped through the doorway.

Alex walked through and found himself in the boathouse's main room.

"How?" He asked in wonder.

"That's Andrew's mutant ability. He can create doorways from one place to another... or one dimension to another." Alan said proudly and gave Andrew a hug.

"Alex, here are two other people I'd like for you to meet." Scott said, leading two men.

"This is Xander, and this is Remy. They live here with us too." Scott said indicating first Xander wearing an eye patch, and then Remy wearing blacked out sunglasses.

"How many people live here?" Alex asked as he made himself comfortable on the sofa, next to Jean.

"Well, Andrew and Alan have the master bedroom here on the main floor. Xander and Remy are in the room upstairs on the left, you and I will have the room upstairs on the right." Scott said to the group.

"Don't tell me we're sharing a bed." Alex said cautiously.

"No, we had single beds in the mansion when we were all injured. We just moved them into the rooms so everyone would have a place to sleep. When you go back to Hawaii and Remy is healed up and goes back to his dimension, Xander and I will get bigger beds in our rooms." Scott said patiently.

"So Xander and Remy aren't a couple?" Alex asked in confirmation.

"What do you say guys? Have you been holding out on us?" Scott asked with a tone of teasing.

"Non, Remy an Xander don be doin dat." Remy said with a smile.

"Dawn and Tara don't live here?" Alex asked.

"They have a room in the mansion, but they are welcomed to stay here in the living room tonight if they want. The sofa pulls out into a bed... and the thing is surprisingly comfortable." Alan answered before Scott had the chance.

"Okay, who's going to fill me in on everything that's happened, I have the feeling that I'm missing a few pages of the story." Alex asked the group.

"Dawn? Why don't you tell it? You're best at it." Andrew said, as he snuggled against Alan's side.

Dawn followed Andrew's lead and snuggled against Tara. "It all started when Andrew accidentally opened a portal in Arizona..."

* * * * *

After the whole story had been told, the group began to chatter about anything and everything. Jean nearly choked with laughter at Andrew's telling of Scott's first glimpse of his power.

//Xander, bring Remy to the MedLab, he needs to be prepped for immediate surgery.// The professor projected into Xander's mind.

"Remy, the professor just called. They must have found some eyes for you. We need to get to the MedLab right away." Xander said as he interrupted conversation.

"I'll open a portal for you." Andrew said seriously and opened it right before the two men.

"We should probably get a few things together..." Xander began when Alan interrupted.

"Just go, we'll all be visiting often enough that we can bring you whatever you need."

Xander nodded and placed Remy's hand on his elbow to lead him through the portal.

"We'll all take turns checking in on you two. Don't worry about anything." Scott said as the two walked through the portal.

* * * * *

Remy was led to a bed and immediately stripped and put into a medical gown. He was hooked up to an IV and within five minutes of arriving in the MedLab was fast asleep.

"How long is this going to take?" Xander asked as Hank was furiously gathering the things he needed.

"There are too many factors involved to make any type of prediction. Mr. Harris, I know that you are concerned for your friend, but I must ask you to wait in the outer room. Doctor Samuelson will be arriving within half an hour with the eyes. We will want to begin surgery immediately upon his arrival. I understand that you won't leave MedLab, but I cannot have you in the surgical area." Hank said professionally.

Xander nodded in understanding and left the room.

* * * * *

The group in the boathouse were silent with worry. None of them could think of anything but what was happening in MedLab and worrying for both Xander and Remy.

"I've got to do something or I'm going to go nuts." Scott finally said and began pacing the room.

"Why don't we do what Remy asked back when he first got told about getting new eyes." Alan suggested to the group.

"What's that?" Jean asked.

"Find out everything we can about the donor of the eyes. I get the feeling that Remy's going to want to do something to honor the memory of the donor. It would give us something to do, and I know that Remy would appreciate the effort... besides, I promised." Alan finished with a sheepish smile.

Andrew kissed Alan on the cheek and formed a portal in the middle of the room.

"First stop, computer lab." Andrew announced and indicated the portal.

"Dawn and I are going to use a different method for research, so we'll walk." Tara said and led Dawn out of the room.

"I'm going to MedLab and see if Xander needs anything." Scott said and Andrew immediately opened a second portal and gestured for Scott to go through.

"I'm going to talk to the professor, maybe he can help with Cerebro." Jean offered.

Andrew nodded and closed the MedLab portal and opened one to the hallway outside the professor's office.

"Thanks Andrew." Jean said with a shy smile and exited into the hallway.

Andrew noticed that Alex was sitting and watching the events.

"You want to come to help us in the computer lab?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Yeah, I'm just a little surprised to see how you all pulled together like that. You really are a family." Alex said in wonder.

"Yes, WE are. Alex, we would all be doing the same thing if you needed the help. For better or worse, you're one of us, we all care about each other." Andrew said and extended a hand to help Alex off the couch.

Alex took the offered hand and stood.

"Come on bro, we have some detective work to do." Alan said and led the way through the portal.

Andrew and Alex followed in short order.

* * * * *

Tara and Dawn walked out of the boathouse and went to the edge of the lake.

"Look into the water and see if you can focus on the eyes that Remy is going to receive." Dawn said as she sat and made herself comfortable.

"How do I do that? I mean, last time, I just looked into the water and it showed me things." Tara asked carefully.

"You do the same thing this time, but at the same time you will try to draw the image of Remy's eyes to you. I can't really describe it beyond that. You'll just know that the eyes are what you're looking for." Dawn said, trying to find the words to describe the sensation.

Tara let herself see the magical world and focused on the water. After long moments of looking, she finally said in a near trance state, "I see the eyes... what do I do now?"

{Focus on the eyes and follow them back to the donor. Just watch the images and let them happen, but will the images to show you the history.} Dawn said in a whisper so as not to startle Tara out of her trance.

"Oh God, I can see the hospital where they are taking the eyes from a woman. She's hurt so bad... and she... she was pregnant." Tara said and finished with a sob.

{Dear Goddess.} Dawn whispered. Then in a low voice, she asked, "Did the child survive?"

"She's so small. Too small. She's hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires. Oh Dawn, she's so weak, I can barely see the spark of her life." Tara said in sorrow.

"When are you seeing...? Tara, we need to see the present." Dawn said carefully.

"Yes, it's now. She's so weak. She's too small to survive outside the womb. Is there anything we can do to help her?" Tara asked with a trembling voice.

"I'm going to join my power with yours. I don't know if it will be enough but we will try." Dawn said and took Tara's hand into her own.

A mist rose around the two and Dawn quietly said, "Form the image in the mist, the combination of air and water. Make the image so that I can see and maybe help."

Tara focused the image into the mist and it formed into the image of a small baby, not even the size of Tara's hand.

"Dear Goddess." Dawn muttered, as tears streaked down her face.

"Can we help?" Tara asked with a sob, fearing the answer.

"We can try."

* * * * *

Ororo felt the disturbance in the forces of nature. Quietly she crept out of the mansion and into the back yard. There was a sense of urgency that she couldn't account for and she found herself running toward the lake.

Just before she reached the water's edge she saw Dawn and Tara kneeling by the water, shrouded in mist.

"We don't have enough power to cast the spell. I've drawn as much mist as I can into being but it isn't enough to save the baby." Dawn said and began to cry.

Ororo could just make out the image of a small, too small, baby floating between the two. Not understanding it completely, but knowing that it was important, Ororo called on her command of the elements of nature to bring in a dense fog.

"Dawn? Can you feel it? There is more power... let's try the spell." Tara asked with a glimmer of hope in her voice.

Continuing to hold Tara's hand, Dawn stood and helped Tara to stand too.

After a cleansing breath she said in a trance-like tone. "I call upon the Sylph to lend their aid to this child. Protect her air and maintain her life's breath. Great Sylph, I entreat you to protect this child as one of your own and guard her life."

Tara understood the invocation and as soon as Dawn fell silent, she began to speak. "I call upon the Undine to lend their aid to this child. Protect her water and cleanse the water of her life. Great Undine, I beseech you to protect this child as one of your own and guard her."

Then as one they said, "She shall henceforth be known as a child of Adam, a child of Sylph and a child of Undine. So let it be, so let it be, so let it be."

Ororo watched the image strengthen then fade into nothingness. All the fog in the area suddenly dissipated and the air was clear.

"Thank you Ororo." Dawn said without looking toward her.

"I could feel that it was necessary, but I would like an explanation now that it is done." Orroro said steadily as she walked up to the two women, still holding hands.

"The eyes that Remy is going to receive come from a woman who was pregnant. That was an image of her child, struggling for life. The three of us just gave that little girl a chance." Tara said and took Dawn into her arms.

"So you healed the child?" Ororo asked in confusion.

"No, we don't have that ability. Healing is a power of the earth element. We have the powers of air and water elements. We aided her breathing and purified her water... blood. Hopefully that will be enough to allow her to survive and gain strength." Dawn said with hope.

"I heard you speak of Undine and Sylph, what are they?" Ororo asked as the group started walking toward the mansion.

"They are fairies attuned with the natural elements. The Sylph are fairies of the air and are only visible to those who have magical sight, the Undine are the same but of water. They have no substance in the mundane world, but they can influence their own element. With their help, the baby may have a chance." Dawn said quietly, obviously worried about the little girl.

"I think that you have done a good thing tonight." Ororo said speculatively.

"It remains to be seen. When calling on the aid of the Sylph and the Undine there is a price to be paid... we just handed them a blank check." Tara said with a little worry in her voice.

"What type of price might they ask?" Orroro asked tremulously.

"There is no way of knowing. But I believe that this little girl's life is precious enough that any price that they ask will be negligible in comparison. The air tells me that this little girl can be a catalyst for the future world. With her the world will have a greater chance of surviving into the next age." Dawn said with eyes looking into a distant place that only she could see.

"The water gave me a glimpse of her possible future... she was so happy. Everyone around her was filled with wonder at the pure joy that she expressed." Tara said from her own distant place.

"So you can hear voices in the wind and see images in the water? How can this be?" Ororo asked, noticing the reverent, almost holy quality the two women possessed.

"We are in tune with the elements of nature. Dawn can call upon the wind to do her bidding and I can call upon the water. It's magic. It sounds like incredible power but it comes with such a burden of responsibility that we barely use it." Tara said as Dawn continued to stare into the distance.

"How so? I wish to understand." Ororo asked with honest curiosity.

"Let's say I was thirsty. I have the ability to cause a fountain of water to spring up right here before us, but if I were to call upon that water, it might deprive a valley miles from here from receiving the water it needs to nourish and sustain it. Therefore, I only call upon the water when I am reasonably certain that my action will provide more benefit than detriment to the overall system in which we live." Tara said carefully, trying to be sure that she was describing the process accurately.

"I see the wisdom and truth of your philosophy. If there is ever a time you are in need of my ability to augment your own, you have but to ask." Ororo said as they reached the mansion.

"Thank you Ororo." Dawn said solemnly as she went through the door.

"Yes, thank you. If the child survives, you will know that you had a hand in it... we couldn't have done it without your power added to our own." Tara said as she followed Dawn.

Ororo entered the mansion and took the opposite direction from Tara and Dawn in the hallway... she needed time to think.

To Be Continued...