Hurt & Comfort

Book 4: The Well of Hurt

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Chapter 16: Degrees of Reception

"Gentlemen, I believe you know what I need now?" the Doctor said as he held up two plastic cups.

Alan and Andrew simultaneously grabbed the cups and nearly ran for the Sickbay lavatory.

* * * * *

Fifteen minutes later a flushed and panting Andrew stepped out of the lavatory followed closely by an equally flushed Alan.

"From the way you ran in there I expected you to be done in two minutes." the Doctor said and held out his hand for the specimen cups.

Andrew handed over his cup carefully, so as not to spill it. The cup was over half full.

"You don't expect me to believe... " the Doctor began when Alan handed him a cup that was nearly three-quarters full.

"Gentlemen, I have to say that I'm impressed." the Doctor said and took the cups to a counter.

"Mr. Summers... Alan, please get on a biobed and remove your tunic." the Doctor said as he worked.

"As long as it took me to get this damned thing on, I think I'll just pull it up out of the way." Alan said and suited actions to words.

"As you like. Gentlemen, have you considered the possibility that the malady that Mr. Summers... Andrew has is hereditary? Would you like for me to remove that genetic sequence from your children?" the Doctor asked without looking up from his work.

"No." Alan said immediately.

"Let's think about it love. Think of what's best for our babies." Andrew said with concern.

"Andy, I love you... all of you. I don't want the doctor to change one thing that you contribute to the making of our children." Alan said with bare emotion.

"Okay. As long as you're sure." Andrew said in awe of the love of his mate.

"Then I suppose the answer to the next question will also be 'No'. Would you like me to remove the genetic sequence that causes genetic mutation from your children?" the Doctor asked and moved to his computer workstation.

"Absolutely not." Alan said with finality.

"I thought not. I just had to make the offer." the Doctor said and pressed a series of buttons on the computer screen.

"Now we just have to get the egg to split... and... there... we have twins." the Doctor said happily.

"Egg?" Andrew asked.

"Yes, it is necessary for a sperm and an egg to come together to make a baby... I thought you knew that." the Doctor said with surprise.

"Whose egg? I know I don't have any, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't have any." Andrew said with the beginnings of worry.

"Gentlemen. The egg is provided by a donor, all the donor's genetic information is removed and your genetic information is put in its place. Yours to be precise Alan, since you provided the X chromosome for your boys." the Doctor said patiently.

"Oh... I was just afraid that the babies wouldn't be completely ours somehow." Andrew said with relief.

"Not to worry. The genetic material is completely your own, the egg is just a medium for conveying your genetics to the babies... speaking of which. They are ready to be implanted." the Doctor said and walked to the biobed.

After setting a few things on a tray at the bedside, the doctor picked up a device that looked like a curling iron and said, "Andrew, hold out your hands."

Andrew timidly did as he was told and the doctor passed the device across his hands, bathing them in a purple glow. Then he did the same to Alan's abdomen.

"Take this instrument and gently insert it into Alan's navel." the Doctor said and waited.

"Like this?" Andrew asked with fear.

"Yes, now press the actuator button and the end of the device will slowly spread open, increase the opening to ten centimeters and stop." the Doctor said and began fussing with the things on the tray.

"Okay. It's at ten centimeters." Andrew said with a quiver of fear in his voice.

"Very good. Now take this and insert it into the opening... you will feel an indentation that was made to hold this, just press it gently in until you feel a slight click." the Doctor said handing Andrew something that looked like a quarter, only fatter, being held by a tong like instrument.

Andrew took the quarter and put it into the opening. After moving it around for a moment, he felt the indentation and pressed the quarter into place.

The Doctor looked at the reading on the biobed for a moment then said, "Congratulations Gentlemen, you are now pregnant."

Andrew looked as though he were about to pass out as Alan was gently stroking his belly.

"I believe there is a wedding reception awaiting you in the mess hall." the Doctor said with a smile.

* * * * *

As Alan and Andrew were walking down the hallway toward the messhall Andrew asked quietly, "Do you think we should have told the Doctor that we each got off three times for that sample?"

"No, let him believe that we're such studs that we produce that much at one time. I'd hate to destroy the legend with something as trivial as the truth." Alan said with a smile.

"You're right love, the stories of our virility will live on through the doctor's reports." Andrew said happily as they walked up to the door.

Alan and Andrew walked into the mess hall to a joyous sight. Everyone there was laughing and enjoying themselves.

The room quieted as they entered and someone started clapping.

The clapping increased until it was a full out ovation from everyone in the room.

"Thank you all for coming. Now let's enjoy the party." Alan said in a loud voice.

A group of cheers was the reply from the guests as Alan and Andrew started to walk around the room and talk with people.

"So you're Alan?" A man holding a plate of food asked.

"Yes, we haven't met have we?" Alan asked in confusion.

"No. I don't get off the lower decks very often. Name's Dalby. I just wanted to thank you for setting Neelix straight about how to cook vegetables. He said you were the one who told him how to do it right." Dalby said and offered his hand.

"Your welcome." Alan said stunned as Dalby shook his hand and walked away.

"It's time for the wedding presents." Tom called from the front of the room.

"Come on you two, get up here and show us what you got." Tom called to Andrew and Alan.

They hesitantly made their way to the front of the room, cheered on by the group of people.

"This one is from... the Doctor." Tom announced and handed the small package to Andrew.

After slowly opening the package he held a small piece of hardware in his hand.

"It's a holo-imaging projector." Andrew said with confusion.

"You have to turn it on." Said the Doctor from the back of the room.

Andrew and Alan both laughed at that and Andrew turned it on to find a display of he and Alan standing with all the children in a stair-stepped row.

"Thank you Doctor, it's wonderful." Andrew said with true joy.

"The next gift is from... Seven of Nine?" Tom said with surprise and handed the box to Alan.

Alan carefully opened the box to find a ceramic black bird with fierce eyes, it's wings spread in flight and beak opened as if it were making a hideous screech.

"Corvus." Andrew whispered and looked at Seven in wonder.

Alan cast Andrew a curious look.

"It's a raven." Andrew said louder.

"The vessel that carried my parents and myself was designated 'The Raven'. This is a symbol of family and childhood." Seven said without emotion.

"Thank you Seven. The raven has special meaning to me too. I will cherish this." Andrew said seriously.

"This gift is from... Chakotay." Tom said and cast a fond smile to Chakotay as he handed the large flat package to Andrew.

Andrew carefully opened it and stared in wonder at the beautifully crafted circular object with a simple pattern at first glance, but a more complex pattern making it up.

"What is it?" Alan asked quietly.

"It is a mandala. Chakotay it's beautiful... I am honored." Andrew said reverently.

Chakotay simply nodded in acceptance.

"And the next gift is from... Me!" Tom said and handed the small box to Alan.

Alan opened the box and looked at the vid chips with question.

"It's a collection of cartoons from all over the delta quadrant. Some are funny, some are sad but they are all original delta quadrant animation." Tom said with a smile.

"Thanks Tom, I think we'll both enjoy them." Alan said and gave Andrew a kiss on the cheek.

"Next we have a gift from... there are just a series of numbers." Tom said, looking up.

"Read them." Three said flatly.

"2 3 4 5 6 7." Tom said and looked at the children in realization.

Andrew took the present from Tom and moved it so Alan could help him unwrap it.

Andrew looked at the gift and then at the children in puzzlement.

There was silence as everyone waited with anticipation.

Andrew looked again at the object, tilted his head to one side, then turned the box around.

With a smile he said, "It was upside down." and held up a rectangular board with several pieces of metal attached.

"What is it?" Tom asked.

"Look at it. It is art. Let me guess, Icheb, you tell me how close I am to right... These black bits were put here by Four and the white ones that run almost, but not quite parallel to them are from Five. The cluster made into a design in this corner was done by Seven and... this row was done by you Icheb. Let's see... Jimmy did this alternating green and blue design and... there it is. This one piece that is different from all the others, that would be from Three." Andrew said in triumph.

"Yes Andrew. No one else would have been able to understand. When you and Alan explained music and art, we decided to make something in an attempt to understand." Icheb said with pride.

"We'll keep it forever." Andrew said honestly.

Alan leaned over and kissed him and gave him a squeeze.

"Thanks, all of you." Alan said with emotion creeping into his voice.

* * * * *

After many more gifts including a Klingon blood pie from B'Elana and a Telaxian fertility goddess from Neelix, Alan and Andrew were finally able to get some food and enjoy the company of friends.

"Alan?" Seven of Seven asked quietly.

"Yes Seven?" he responded in her same quiet tone.

"Icheb and Jimmy have names. I want a name too." she said shyly.

"Do you know what name you would like?" Alan asked and bent closer to hear her.

"No, but I wish to have a human name like Jimmy and Naomi." she said and looked around.

"I can suggest a name, but you should think about it before you decide what name your going to have. I'll tell you and you can ask Icheb, Jimmy, Naomi and her mother what they think." Alan said quietly.

Seven nodded.

"Janine." Alan said and waited.

Seven didn't make any comment so Alan continued.

"When I was your age, the first girl I ever liked was named Janine. You remind me of her because she was like you. Smart, brave and beautiful." Alan said with fond remembrance.

"Thank you Alan." Seven said and got on tippy toes to kiss him on the cheek.

* * * * *

"Thank you all for coming and making our commitment day that much more special. As much fun as all of this has been, we're going to call it a night." Andrew said as he rose from the table.

Alan also got up and together they walked to the table full of gifts.

Alan and Andrew looked at each other then Andrew called out, "Icheb?"

A moment later Icheb was walking up to his side.

"Icheb, do you think you could get the children to help us carry these gifts up to our cabin? There's just too much for us to carry by ourselves." Andrew asked politely.

"Of course, give me a moment to find them all." Icheb said and left the table.

"You guys look like you've already got a big family, are you sure you want to add to it?" A loud and intoxicated crewman that neither man knew asked.

"Yes, we are going to have our children and love them as much as we love these children." Alan said honestly.

"And bring some more dead weight on the ship to use up our rations?" the man said angrily.

"They are children. Do you think we should put them to work?" Alan asked in surprise.

"Naw, you shoulda left 'em on that cube where they belonged."

"They would have died." Alan said into the silence that fell over the room.

"So? It's just more mouths at the trough." the man said arrogantly.

"Do you have any children?" Alan asked with a bit of irritation.

"I got four." the man replied.

"And is that enough?" Alan asked, noticing that everyone in the room was paying attention.

"More than enough." the man said with a laugh.

"Then I pity you. Each one of these children is special and precious. We love each and every one of them. Having two more will only make our lives that much better." Alan said honestly and noticed that all the children were standing in a row, watching.

The man stood up and staggered toward Alan and screamed in a drunken snarl, "Sonovabitch!" Andrew held up his hand and his eyes flared with golden fire for just an instant... and the man was gone.

"I could have handled him love." Alan said honestly.

"I know, but I'm your protector. He was a loud-mouthed bully and a drunk. I have no patience for someone like that." Andrew said, hoping Alan would understand.

"Where'd you send him?" Alan asked as everyone in the room began muttering to themselves.

"Nowhere." Andrew said and picked up the raven.

"Love, don't tell me you spaced him." Alan asked with fear.

"No love. I just put him somewhere that he can't hurt anyone and will have some time to sober up." Andrew said as Alan picked up the children's artwork.

"So he'll be okay when you bring him back?" Alan asked in confirmation.

"No, he'll still be a loud-mouthed bully and a drunk, but he will be alive." Andrew said, obviously not happy with the fact.

"What did you do with Crewman Winger?" Chakotay asked as he walked up to Alan and Andrew.

Andrew felt his temper calming and said, "I put him somewhere to sober up. I promise that he isn't hurt."

"Alright. Crewman Winger may be an obnoxious asshole, but... well I guess that's it." Chakotay shrugged and walked off.

"We will help." Three said and held out his arms to take the raven from Andrew.

"Thank you Three." Andrew said with a smile.

* * * * *

Crewman Winger moved toward the man who had just made fun of him in front of everyone and the world seemed to twist.

He looked around and everything seemed to be fuzzy... out of focus.

He moved and fell. He felt a sensation like the room was tilted, but he couldn't tell in which direction.

As he got back up he noticed that everyone was ignoring him. He screamed but no one heard him. He walked to the table and leaned on it only to have his hand pass through. It was like moving through spider-webs.

He walked up to Dalby and waved his hands in front of Dalby's face, but Dalby didn't see him.

Crewman Winger laid down on the floor and fell asleep, sure that it would all be back to right when he woke up.

* * * * *

Andrew, Alan and the children carried the gifts to the cabin.

"Andrew, may I use your computer for a moment?" Three asked.

"Sure Three. What did you need?" Andrew asked as he took the gifts from each of the children and found places to put them.

"I must find my work schedule." Three said and went to the appropriate screen.

"When do you work next?" Alan asked and walked up behind Three.

"I am scheduled to work early in the morning. I must go to my cabin and regenerate." Three said immediately.

"Have a good regeneration. Thank you for coming to our ceremony." Alan said honestly.

Three stopped on his way to the door and said, "Thank you for understanding." then continued out the door.

"Understanding what?" Alan asked.

"Understanding him, I think." Andrew said with a bittersweet smile.

"I hope he has a good first day." Alan said, still looking at the door.

"Two of Two, would you prefer for us to call you Alan?" Five asked simply.

The question broke Alan out of his thoughts and he said, "I actually don't mind what you call me Five. I've had enough names in my life that I'll answer to just about any of them."

Four and Five both had a look of intrigue.

"I was born with the name 'Scott Alan Summers', and carried that name until my mutant power manifested. Then I was known as Cyclops until I... was hurt and Andrew found me, almost dead." Alan said shyly.

"From the explosion?" Four of Seven asked quickly.

"No, from blood loss... the explosion was later. When I met Andrew I was given the name Alan Sunshine Summers." Alan said and cast a momentary desperate look at Andrew before continuing.

"Then I was known as Gemini. Finally, here I am known as Two of Two." Alan said and waited for questions.

"Was your change of names like Jimmy's? When you started a new chapter of your life, you changed your name?" Five asked curiously.

Alan thought about that for a moment then finally said, "I didn't realize it at the time but yes. each name represents a different stage in my life."

"Then I wish to have a name as well." Four said with strength.

"Do you know which name you want?" Alan asked carefully.

"No, but Andrew asked me to mention 'Spike'." Four said and looked toward Andrew.

"Yes. Someone I knew from my world. He was a lot like you in the way he dressed. He used to be evil, but when I knew him, he was a good guy. But he was tough and dark." Andrew said from a place of distant memory.

Four was intrigued and asked, "What was his name? I want to know of him."

"His name was William. When he was bad he was known as William the Bloody and one of the Scourge of Europe. But when I knew him he was called Spike." Andrew said, not thinking of what he was telling the children.

"So he was dark, and tough, and good?" Four asked in confirmation.

"Yes. He gave his life to save a lot of people from dying. He was nice to the people who were close to him but tough around everyone else." Andrew said, then realized who he was talking to.

"I like the name William... and the name Spike." Four said seriously.

"Think about it for a day and see if you still like it tomorrow. If you do, then we'll see." Andrew said fondly.

"I would also like a name." Five said hopefully.

"Bobby." Andrew and Alan said at once.

"Who's Bobby?" Five asked hesitantly.

"He is a guy from the world we both live on. He is a lot like you. He dresses like you and you even have the same type of personality. He's a good person and a mutant like Andrew and I." Alan said with a smile.

"Does he cause spatial disruptions or optical discharges of energy?" Five asked with interest.

"Neither. He can control the humidity in the air and cause it to freeze. His other name is Iceman." Alan said honestly.

"Do all people on your world have two names?" Four asked.

"No, just the mutants. We have our human names, mine is Alan. and we have our mutant names, mine is Gemini." Alan answered.

"What is your mutant name Andrew?" Five asked, fascinated.

"My mutant name is Portal." Andrew said with a smile.

"So you get to have two names and we get to have one?" Five asked in confirmation.

"Not exactly. You get to have a human name, just like us. But you also can keep your Borg designation to use as you want. When we talk in front of non-mutants, we talk about our friends by their mutant names so anyone listening won't know who we're talking about." Alan said to both the boys.

"I do not know if I like the name 'Bobby', Four's name sounds older... 'William'." Five said in concentration.

"That's because Bobby is a diminutive form of the formal name Robert. The diminutive form of William is Willie or Billy." Andrew said to the group.

"So could I be called Robert?" Five asked.

Alan and Andrew looked at each other and shrugged.

"Yes. I think that would be a good name for you." Alan said honestly.

"William and Robert... I think those are some pretty good names. You guys regenerate on them and process the events of the day. If you still like them tomorrow, we'll get your names officially settled with Chakotay and Seven." Andrew said with a smile.

"Are you not on your honeymoon? We should not intrude on your time together." Icheb said seriously.

"Thank you for your consideration Icheb, but we won't be spending every moment of the next week enjoying our honeymoon. We like you guys and enjoy spending time with you. Just don't come to our cabin before twelve hundred hours tomorrow and we'll be fine." Andrew said with a gentle smile.

"We will not arrive before twelve-hundred tomorrow, and if you will let us know, we will respect your privacy whenever you need in the future." Icheb said helpfully.

"Thank you Icheb. We'll let you know if we need a large chunk of private time sometime." Alan said with a fond smile.

"We will leave now so you may enjoy your sexuality." Icheb said and walked toward the door.

Andrew was about to call Icheb back when Alan held up his hand and shook his head. "Some other time." he whispered then in a louder tone he said, "Computer: Engage Privacy lock."

To Be Continued...