Hurt & Comfort

Book 4: The Well of Hurt

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Chapter 8: Small Talk and Various Other Forms of Torture

After a few minutes of general chatter Tom finally said, "Andrew, Alan has mentioned your mutant ability, but I don't really understand."

The room fell silent in anticipation of Andrew's answer.

"Sure. Doctor, you'll need to hold on to Puppy while I do this. I don't want him to become disoriented. Everyone, remain seated and just watch." Andrew said and closed his eyes.

He opened his eyes and cast a golden glow on the room and things began shifting to a different reality.

"You are causing a dimensional phase shift." Seven said in warning.

"Don't worry Seven, we aren't going to phase completely in, they won't be able to see us." Alan said quietly.

The room watched as Neelix and Kes were hugging. She reached up and stroked his hair and said, "I don't understand why you want us to leave the ship."

"I can't explain Sweeting, I wish that I could. I just know deep in my bones that things are about to turn badly and we need to be away from here." Neelix said desperately.

"But they're our friends, if it weren't for them I would be dead. We can't just leave them if they're going to be in danger." Kes said desperately.

"*We* are the ones who will be in danger... from them. Come Sweeting, gather the things that mean the most to you and we'll leave on my ship. We're running out of time." Neelix said with panic.

Kes looked around and finally said, "They're just things, let's go."

"Right behind you." Neelix said and they both ran out of the room.

Andrew closed his eyes and the room faded back to normal.

* * * * *

"Kes is alive?" Tom asked in shock.

"In that reality, yes. This is Andrew's special ability. He can open doorways to other places." Alan said to the room of shocked people.

"So this is how you came to be on our ship?" Seven asked.

"In a way, we were brought here by Andrew's special ability but we didn't phase in, we traveled through a portal." Alan explained.

Andrew took this to be a cue. He stood and opened a portal in the wall of the room.

"Where does it lead?" Chakotay asked.

"To Sickbay... I really don't know the ship well enough to target much more than there." Andrew said timidly.

"Anyone want to give it a try?" Alan said and walked to the portal.

No one got up from their chairs so Alan walked through the portal alone. A moment later he walked back through the portal and handed the Doctor a medical tricorder.

Andrew dissipated the portal and sat back in his chair.

"That is an intriguing ability. The possibilities are phenomenal." the Doctor said, stroking Puppy's fur.

"It's not actually that unusual on my world. There are mutants with much more spectacular abilities than mine. And much more dangerous... Alan?" Andrew said, not wanting to be the only one to show off.

Alan cast a look at Andrew before turning his gaze on a dessert plate. He remembered how Seven had told him to control the primary and secondary appiture then eased them open just a little to release a pinpoint beam.

A small beam of light hit the plate and the plate exploded a second later.

"That was the lowest my power could be focused. If I let it loose, I could blow a hole through the side of the ship." Alan said to the group.

"When you said optic blasts... I don't know, I thought it would be more like an intense light that would burn through if you left it focused in one spot long enough." Tom said, amazed by the display of power.

"Now you know why the people on my home world feared us so much. If we were to organize, we could be a powerful force. Even one mutant can be a challenge to stop." Alan said as he sat again.

"Yeah, and that's why we joined the X-men. They work to help mutants and non-mutants live together in peace." Andrew added.

"They train mutant children to control their gifts to use them for the benefit of all humanity." Alan said to the group.

"Wow, you really do come from a different world." Tom said in wonder.

"Yeah, and as crazy as it is, I miss it." Andrew said sadly.

Silence filled the room.

Finally B'Elana said, "I have a question."

Everyone turned their attention to her.

"How did you know that I would like raisin pie? It can't be a coincidence." B'Elana asked in accusation.

"And the Yoo-hoo, an ancient Earth drink that I turned out to love? And Chakotay's tea?" Tom asked curiously.

"Busted." Alan said to Andrew, then turned back to the group.

"I did some homework. I don't want to offend you by generalizing B'Elana, but Klingons tend to like sweeter, more strongly flavored foods than humans according to my research. That's why I selected raisin pie, because I thought you might like it. As far as the Yoo-hoo, it may be from ancient Earth... but so am I. After seeing what kinds of drinks you ordered last night at Sandrine's, I just thought you'd like it. And I already told you about Chakotay's tea, it's something that I also enjoy." Alan said with a shrug.

"You really put a lot of thought and work into this. How did you pull it all together so well?" B'Elana asked, understanding the lengths Alan had gone to.

"I had originally planned to invite you and Harry to the dinner, but there just wasn't any way to make it work. I would have needed more chairs, a larger table, and more work area. There was just no way I could have done all that and had everything else done on time." Alan said with a tone of apology.

"When did you decide to have this dinner party?" Chakotay asked.

"The idea came to me last night. After I talked it over with Andrew, I started to plan. While I was in Sickbay this morning receiving some treatments from the Doctor I asked him about Seven of Nine's food limitations. I went and talked to Andrew about gifts before my meeting with the Captain. Then I went to Seven of Nine about the holographic food while Andrew went to B'Elana about Puppy, then we spent some time at the replicator." Alan said with a smile.

"You have a real talent for organizing if you could do all this so quickly." Tom said in appreciation.

"I had a lot of help. Seven, the Doctor, Andrew, B'Elana and even the Captain... she suggested a bird for Tom. I couldn't have done it without everyone." Alan said with humility.

"And none of it would have happened without you, love." Andrew said with pride.

A moment of silence fell which was broken by the Doctor asking, "Have you thought about a name for the baby yet?"

"We haven't discussed it yet. The only thing I'm sure of is the baby's last name will be Summers." Andrew said with certainty.

"Why is that? I mean, you could choose the last name Wells just as easily." Chakotay asked the pair.

"Two reasons, after the commitment ceremony, I'm going to have my last name changed to Summers. It may be a silly old Earth tradition but it means something to me... like another symbol of our commitment. And if we ever find a way to get back to our home world, the baby is going to have an Uncle Alex, Uncle Scott and Aunt Dawn Summers that I want him to know without a doubt are his family." Andrew said solidly.

"I notice that you refer to the baby in the masculine, am I to infer that you have chosen to father a male child?" Seven asked.

"Yes Seven, we both want a son. And if we decide to have a second child later it will be a girl." Andrew said with a smile.

"I do not understand the instinct to procreate. Perhaps later in my development, it will assert itself." Seven said casually.

"To tell you the truth, we probably wouldn't be having a baby this early in our relationship except that our lives seem to move so quickly that we may not have the opportunity later." Alan said seriously.

"I do not understand." Seven said with interest.

"Let's see. Two months ago I was living on my home world in Sunnydale, California. My closest friends were dead and I was about to face a battle with demons, in which I expected to die." Andrew said with pain in his voice.

"Last month I was in our world in upstate New York, I was recovering from a stroke and worried sick about my friend Scott who had just come out of a coma."

"This month I'm here, seventy thousand something light-years from Earth, four-hundred years in the future and in a parallel dimension, I've just been revived from brain death using modified nano-probes and found out that we have access to the technology that allows two men to have a baby."

"Anyone want to take a guess where I'll be next month?" Andrew said with a tone of voice that said he really wanted an answer.

Alan leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek before saying, "Two months ago I was on my homeworld, we had just retrieved two of my friends who had been captured and mutilated by the 'friends of humanity.' One of them had his wings cut off, the other had his eyes cut out, both were castrated."

"One month ago I was recovering in the Mansion's MedLab from a failed suicide attempt after my boyfriend of five years had been murdered. I was just about to meet my brother Scott and his boyfriend Andrew." Alan said with a smile.

"You moved in on your brother's boyfriend?" Tom asked with wide eyes.

"No, my boyfriend Scott dumped me when his ex-girlfriend came back from the dead. He dropped me like I was on fire." Andrew said shaking his head.

"And I had been developing feelings for Andrew the whole time I knew him. When Scott dumped him, he was hurt really bad, so I told him how I felt." Alan said peacefully.

"So did Scott and his ex get back together?" Chakotay asked.

"No, she dumped him almost as fast as he dumped me." Andrew said, trying to hold back a smile.

"Scott and Andrew made up after that and are still friends." Alan said proudly.

"Then why does Andrew have that smile when he talks about Scott getting dumped?" B'Elana accused.

"Because there is so little justice in my life, I have to enjoy what little comes to me. Alan's right, we're good friends now, even Jean, the ex, is a friend to all of us." Andrew said happily.

"You said you have a sister Dawn and a brother Alex. Whose dimension do they come from?" Tom asked the pair.

"Dawn comes from my dimension... sort of. Alex comes from the dimension we both call home." Andrew said carefully.

"Sort of?" the Doctor asked.

"Dawn is an interdimensional key made into human form." Andrew said, looking for everyone's reactions.

"That seems a bit far-fetched." the Doctor said cautiously.

"Says the sentient hologram holding his holographic puppy." Andrew said in return.

"Anyway, Scott and Alex Summers are brothers. I am the Scott Summers from the parallel dimension next to theirs. Dawn is my... second cousin in an interdimensional sort of a way, and is from Andrew's dimension." Alan said, trying to take the focus off the Doctor and Andrew.

"You two seem to be adjusting to our time fairly well. Has the adjustment been difficult?" Chakotay asked.

"Not really. The technology was a little challenge at first, but once I got used to the LCARS interface, it got much easier. I guess since I'm a student and a teacher's assistant at the school where we lived, I'm kinda used to learning new things. Beside that, It's the people that make a place good or bad to stay in. If you took all the technology away, I'd still like it here." Andrew said seriously.

"So when is the ceremony?" B'Elana asked the men.

"I've still got one or two things to iron out, but it looks like three days from today. I want to be able to stand with Andrew on my own two feet at the ceremony." Alan said happily.

A moment of silence fell over the room to be interrupted by Chakotay saying, "Is it really that late? I'd better get going."

"Me too. Thanks for the great dinner and the gift guys. I can't wait for the wedding." Tom said and followed Chakotay to the door.

"Yes, thank you for your hospitality, I too must leave. It is nearing time for my regeneration cycle." Seven said and rose, taking her gift with her.

"I suppose it's time for us to leave too. Come on Doctor, you need to walk your dog." B'Elana said and rose.

"You don't mean you programmed him to..." the Doctor was saying as he walked out the door.

Andrew pulled Alan close and said, "I'm so proud of you. You did a great job tonight. Everything was wonderful and everyone had a great time."

"I thought I blew it when Tom didn't like the dessert, but he enjoyed sharing Chakotay's so much that I'll call it a success." Alan said and leaned his head on Andrew's shoulder.

"We have to clean up. Tomorrow's going to be a big day, we have a wedding to plan." Andrew said and got up.

"Do I have to?" Alan whined.

"No love. You've done so much today, I can clean up if you're too tired." Andrew said and went to work.

A moment later Alan was by his side.

"As long as you're in here, it won't seem like work anyway." Alan said with a smile as he began handing Andrew dirty dishes.

To Be Continued...