Hurt & Comfort

Book 3: Deepest Hurt

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Chapter 2: Spiral Pathways

Alan was in awe of Andrew's computer skill.

"Are you actually in the hospital's computer?" Alan asked in wonder.

"Sure am, police department's too. It's good to know that some things don't change from universe to universe." Andrew said as his fingers glided over the keyboard.

Alan couldn't help but ask, "How do you know about this stuff?"

"Geeks come in all varieties, I was a computer geek, before I branched out to the other forms of geekdom." Andrew said as he brought up the organ donation listing.

"You're not a geek. I've never thought of you that way." Alan said seriously.

Andrew looked up at Alan with tender eyes and smiled, "I know, that's one of the things I love about you."

"And what are some other things?" Alan asked as he moved in for a kiss.

"Your handsome face, your sense of humor, your fine ass, your huge..."

"Guys? I'm still in the room." Alex interrupted, red-faced.

Both the men looked at Alex and blushed.

Finally Andrew said, "Sorry Alex, we haven't been alone in a while and we're..."

"Horny, I get it. Well, I don't actually *get* it but I understand. I don't have a problem with the guy on guy thing, but I don't want to hear about the bedroom stuff." Alex said plaintively.

"To tell you the truth, there hasn't been any bedroom stuff yet. We'll be spending our first night alone together tonight." Alan said bluntly.

"Oh, so that's why you keep getting off topic. Okay, just finish your research and you can get to it." Alex said and looked back to his computer.

"I've got all the information the computer has to offer on the subject. The name of the donor is Margaret Riley. The official cause of death hasn't been listed yet but I found a police report that said she was in a car accident. And... shit... a drunk driver ran her off the road, her and her husband. Her husband was killed instantly, she survived nearly half an hour before she finally died. And... the drunk driver got a contusion? That means scratch, right? The drunk driver got a scratch on his forehead and on his chin." Andrew finished angrily.

Tara and Dawn walked in to hear Andrew's description of Margaret's death. Tara could sense where their rage was taking them and wanted to guide their focus toward something constructive.

"She was pregnant." Tara said to the three angry men.

"What?" Andrew asked as he stood suddenly.

"Margaret was pregnant, around six or seven months along." Tara said, hoping she could get them to see the priority.

"How? Andrew? Can you find anything about her baby?" Alex asked as he guided/pushed Andrew back to the computer.

"I'm on it." Andrew said and started looking through the hospital files to find what he wanted.

"Baby Riley, unnamed. Was upgraded from critical to serious condition about five minutes ago." Andrew said and looked up to see the joy and triumph on Dawn and Tara's faces.

"What did you do?" Andrew asked in accusation.

"She was so weak and so tiny that we just gave her a little magical help." Dawn said defensively.

Andrew thought about her answer and broke into a smile. "Good. If I had any kind of healing ability I would have helped you." Andrew said honestly.

"Alan, you know Remy the best of any of us. What do you think should be the priority for us? Focus on the drunk or the baby?" Tara asked.

"If you were asking me what I thought, I would say focus on the baby. But what would Remy think? I think he'd say both. There isn't much more we can do for the baby and there are more than enough of us to deal with both situations... If it comes down to a choice of one or the other, the baby gets top priority." Alan said with certainty.

Tara thought about that and decided that it worked, it had a kind of symmetry that the natural order seemed to favor.

"What should we do about the drunk driver?" Dawn asked, worried by the vigilante vibe she was getting from the group.

Silence fell over the room.

Tara finally said, "I think we should do everything we can to bring this to the attention of the media and drunk driving organizations. If there are any drunk driving bills in the Congress, bring this to their sponsor's attention. Tell them about Margaret Riley's unnamed baby orphaned three months before she should have been born. And when the drunk goes to trial, be sure to have every news agency in the country covering the story so the judge will be compelled to make an example of him."

"That is an excellent idea Tara. It's not what I was thinking at all but it has the benefit of being legal, moral, and has just a hint of vengeance for spice. I like the way you think." Alex said with a friendly glance.

Dawn cast a look at Alex that made the hairs on his neck stand on end. He immediately turned away from Tara and began looking at the computer again.

"We're going to see how Xander is doing. Will you join us when you're done?" Tara asked as she made ready to leave the room.

"Yeah, it'll just be a few minutes." Alan said absently while reading over Andrew's shoulder.

"I'm going to the kitchen to get something to eat. I'll catch up with you guys later." Alex said a moment after Tara and Dawn left the room.

"Okay, we'll probably be in MedLab with Xander." Andrew said and continued looking at his computer.

* * * * *

In the following half-hour Andrew and Alan found the drunk's name, previous arrests for DUI and even a juvenile record that should have been impossible to retrieve. Their thoughts turned back to Remy and they both decided that they had found all they needed for the time being.

"We need to let Professor Frost know that Remy's in surgery." Alan said as they made their way from the computer room to the MedLab.

As they entered the MedLab they found Xander, Dawn, and Tara sitting silently, waiting.

"Any news?" Alan asked quietly.

"Not a word, they've been in there for over an hour." Xander said with worry.

"Andrew is going to open a portal to let Professor Frost know what's going on. No reason she should be allowed to relax while the rest of us worry." Alan said with a teasing smile.

Xander responded with a weak, tired smile of his own. Andrew took a cleansing breath and cast his mind out to find Professor Frost.

The mansion seemed strangely empty. His mind wandered from the MedLab to the common area and kitchen. When he finally looked into her office, her head jerked up and he heard, //Don't open a portal!//

Her command came with such force that Andrew lost focus and gasped.

"What's the matter love?" Alan asked and put an arm around Andrew.

"Something's wrong. I mean, really wrong. We need to go to the professor's office and phase in to talk to Professor Frost. She warned me not to open a portal." Andrew said as he got up to leave.

Alan stood too and said, "Let's go then."

"I'm coming." Tara said to the men.

"I'll stay with Xander." Dawn said and gave Tara a peck on the cheek before she left.

* * * * *

When the group reached the professor's office, they found him talking quietly with Jean.

"Professor, please excuse the interruption but something's wrong in my universe and we need to phase in and see what it is." Alan said, barely containing his panic.

"Of course." The professor said.

"Could you move from behind the desk? That's where she was when I found her..." Andrew started.

"Understood." The professor said as he moved around the desk.

"Everyone, get in a comfortable spot. When I phase us in, you will need to stay where you are or you could get hurt." Andrew warned.

Andrew sat down and took a cleansing breath as he closed his eyes. When they opened, they cast a golden glow over the room and it shifted to reveal Professor Frost's office.

"I'm glad you came." Professor Frost said sincerely to the group. They could all tell that she was weak. She probably couldn't move from the chair she was sitting in.

"We don't have much time. Three days ago the major governments of the world released a virus into nearly every major city. The virus was designed to seek out the active X-Gene and destroy the host." She said, having to force the last words to maintain her volume.

"My God." Professor Xavier exclaimed as he began to understand her condition.

"The thing they didn't count on is that the virus mutated... ironic isn't it? A virus designed to kill mutants is itself a mutant." She said then dragged herself back to the point.

"The virus now seeks out the basic genetic marker common to mammals." She said and looked to Professor Xavier to figure it out.

"Everyone?" Charles asked without emotion.

"Correct. By the end of the week, the last of us will be dead. I have been holding on, hoping that I could tell you something important Scott." She said to Alan with pleading eyes.

"I'm listening." Alan said and held her gaze.

"Scott, Andrew, you have my blessing and best wishes for your union. I was a self-righteous bitch to withhold my blessing because I didn't know Andrew. You're a good person Scott, I trust you and your judgment. You obviously love Andrew, that's all I need to know. I felt it was important that you knew... and take care of Remy for me... you two are all that's left of our world." Professor Frost said and tears began to streak down her face.

"Can you tell me anything about the virus? Is there any treatment?" Professor Xavier asked quickly.

"Charles Xavier, I never thought I would see the day..." She trailed off, then looked up as if she just remembered where she was.

"As my last act for the benefit of mankind I'm giving you all my knowledge of this virus, in hopes that we can prevent the same thing from happening in your world." Professor Frost said and focused on Professor Xavier.

After a moment of concentration Professor Xavier said, "I have it. I will study what you have given me, try to develop an anti-viral agent to defend against it, and pray I never have occasion to use it."

"Professor Frost... Emma, Remy is in surgery now, the doctor is implanting new eyes as we speak." Alan said, trying to find some way to make her feel better.

"Good. I'm glad to know that he's in good hands. Remy is a very special man, he lives on the edge of two worlds but doesn't feel a part of either. It's a very lonely life, I hope he can find happiness one day." She said wistfully.

"He has friends and support here. We'll take good care of him." Andrew said, only just noticing the tears falling from his own eyes.

"I promise that I will do my best to protect both Scott and Remy. Whatever they need, they will have." Professor Xavier vowed.

"Scott, would you take a message to my other self?" Professor Frost asked in a pleading voice.

"Of course, what do you want me to tell her?" Alan asked in a panic, he could see the life draining from her.

"Tell her that until my last hours, I performed my duties faithfully... and my duties left me to die alone." She said and closed her eyes.

"Emma, you're not alone. Even though we can't touch you. We are here with you." Alan said sincerely with tears streaming down his face.

"Yes Emma, you are among friends." Professor Xavier said with a brave smile.

Emma opened her eyes and looked at Alan, "Mourn my death if you need to but I prefer that you celebrate my life. That is the best honor you could give to me... I never celebrated my own."

Those were to be the last words uttered by Professor Emma Frost.

After long, unchanging moments watching Professor Frost not moving, not breathing, Andrew closed his eyes and the office faded back to its original state. Andrew pulled Alan close and both cried, unashamedly. Tara and Jean were clinging to each other, both overwhelmed by the scene they had just witnessed.

Professor Xavier made his way back around his desk and said, "What an amazing woman, I am sorry that I never got to know her."

"Will each of you speak at the memorial service that I will have in her honor? It doesn't have to be a long speech, just a few words if that's all you have. I want to grant her last wish and celebrate her life. The best way I can do that is by letting everyone know why she was special to me." Alan said to the group.

"I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that just now she changed all our lives." Professor Xavier said with certainty.

Agreement spread through the group and without saying any more, they left the office to seek peace wherever they might find it.

To Be Continued...