Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Summary: The children are stranded in a parallel dimension, Andrew and Alan have disappeared, the X-men pick up the pieces.

Chapter 1: Silent Hallways

"Eric?" Charles asked as he awoke.

"Yes Tiger?" Eric asked with a peaceful smile.

"You haven't called me that in years." Charles said quietly.

"That's because we haven't shared a bed in years. But in bed, you're always a tiger." Eric said playfully.

"Oh Eric, you are the only bright spot in all of this. I'm so overwhelmed by all that's happened..." Charles trailed off.

"I can help if you'll let me." Eric said hesitantly.

"What can you do?" Charles asked and turned to face Eric.

"Let me take control of things for a day or two, just to put things in order for you. I promise that I won't take any action that you wouldn't approve of." Eric said as a vow.

"And what am I to do during all of this?" Charles asked, intrigued by the idea.

"Watch. Listen. Think. Plan. Do the things you do best while I sort out all the details that are muddying the water." Eric said in a considering tone.

"Thank you Eric-love. I can always depend on you to see to the heart of the matter." Charles said with admiration.

"As I can always depend on you to take the appropriate action once that heart is revealed." Eric said honestly.

"Having you here gives me hope. If you hadn't stayed... We've suffered so many losses... I feel that I am doing more harm than good by keeping the institute open." Charles finished with a whisper.

"Charles, you are doing so much good by providing the children a place to be welcomed and accepted. If you accomplish nothing else, that alone should give you sufficient purpose to continue. There is so much intolerance in the world that this is one of the few good places for a mutant child to be." Eric said sadly.

"How are your children Eric?" Charles asked gently.

"They survive. Neither of them knows I am their father, though I think Pietro suspects. Charles, the world has changed so much, if they were still children, I would bring them here... there are few places in the world that I consider safe for a mutant child." Eric said with pain.

"It hurts you." Charles said in realization.

"Yes Charles, it hurts to see the injustice, bigotry, hatred, malice... they're just children." Eric said and looked at Charles with watery eyes.

"I know Eric, and thank you. Apparently I needed a reminder of why I started this school." Charles said

"We both need to be reminded of our priorities from time to time. I can't believe that I went off like some kind of mini-god believing in my own superiority... it could only cause a swell of resistance. I better than anyone should understand the nature of opposing forces." Eric said with humility.

"Let's get ready to begin our day. I pray that it is a better one than yesterday." Charles said honestly.

"Do you want to share a shower?" Eric asked with a slight leer.

"Not this morning Eric-love. We need to meet with everyone so you can work your magic and clear the muddied water... and when we take a shower together, I want to be able to take my time." Charles finished with an answering leer.

"As you like Charles. Let's get ready for the day." Eric said and got out of bed.

"Just as fine as I remember... Eric, you only improve with age." Charles said and watched as Eric dressed.

"You are good for my ego Charles, though I can truthfully say that you have matured quite well. I didn't believe it was possible for you to be more attractive than you were as a young man but... here you are." Eric said with sincerity in his voice.

"Thank you Eric. Let's get going, we have to get this day started." Charles said as he pulled himself into the wheelchair beside the bed.

* * * * *

Warren woke early as was his habit. He dressed quickly and slipped out of the mansion quietly.

His mind was still filled with images from the day before. He took to the air, deep in thought, as the sun began to rise on the horizon.

[Something is missing; A greater purpose. My decision to leave the X-men was the right choice at the time, but being here, contributing to the greater good, it is something that is missing from my life.] Warren thought with pain as he flew high above the mansion.

He was broken out of his thoughts as he noticed a dark figure crouched on the roof of the mansion. Warren cautiously glided closer to investigate.

There was a man sitting on the roof, crying. As Warren got closer he noticed that the man was cutting the flesh of his leg.

Carefully he landed on the roof, ten feet from the crying man.

Kurt looked up suddenly and hid the knife.

Warren walked slowly toward Kurt with his arms and wings spread in a non-threatening manner.

"Mien Got." Kurt said with a gasp, then whispered, "Engel."

"You don't have to hide what you're doing. Will you talk with me?" Warren asked carefully as he noticed the dark blue man was trembling.

"I must atone for my sins... a man is dead. It is my fault." Kurt said with hitching breaths, then began crying again.

"Come here." Warren said and kept his arms open in invitation.

Kurt dropped his knife and ran into the embrace.

Warren held the crying man close and rubbed his back to offer comfort.

No words were spoken as the men held each other and silently shared their pain.

* * * * *

"Xander?" Remy asked in a whisper of a voice.

"Remy. Lay still, try not to move your eyes, they need time to heal." Xander said quickly.

"De operation, it was a success non?" Remy asked as he laid still.

"As far as we know. We'll know more when you can take off your bandages. But for now, we have to give your eyes time to heal. The longer you can keep them still, the more likely it is that you will have eyesight."

"Remy can do dat." he said quietly.

Xander scooted the chair closer and laid a hand on Remy's. "Some things have happened while you've been asleep." Xander said with pain.

"Jus tell Remy. You don need to dance around it." Remy said with strength.

"A group of government officials and scientists developed a virus to seek out and destroy all mutants on your home world." Xander said, trying to keep his voice even.

"Go on." Remy said without emotion.

"The virus mutated. It killed everyone." Xander said in a whisper.

There was silence as Remy digested the information.

"Then the same thing was about to happen here. The X-men, Magneto's group and the GenX kids stopped them. But..." Xander said and noticed a tear falling from his eye.

"Go on." Remy said and turned his hand over to take Xander's into a firm grip.

"Alan was hurt... he might be dead. Andrew ported them somewhere... we don't know where." Xander said with pain.

"What else." Remy asked, obviously trying to contain his emotions.

"All the children were sent to my world, so if the virus got out, they would be safe. With Andrew gone, there is no way to get them back... or even let them know that we are alive." Xander said and laid his head on his and Remy's joined hands, holding the back of Remy's hand to his cheek, needing some sort of comfort.

"Was Alan de only one hurt?" Remy asked with a hitch in his breath.

"No, some of the kids from the GenX school were hurt and Artie was shot." Xander said and tears began to flow freely.

"Artie be well?" Remy asked with guarded emotion.

"Yeah, Artie's going to be fine. Clarissa won't leave his side. They're both worried about you." Xander said carefully.

"You let dem know Remy be fine. Even if de eyes don work, Remy be fine." he said with assurance.

"I'll let them know." Xander said with a relieved smile.

"So dat be all?" Remy asked in confirmation.

"There was one death. The Remy LeBeau from this universe was killed during the raid." Xander said gravely.

"Don worry Xander. If dat Remy have a life like me, dere be no reason to grieve. He be leaving nothin and no one behind." Remy said calmly.

"Cajun, don't you ever think that no one cares for you here. I know you don't like to talk about stuff like that but you need to know that you're my friend and I care very much about what happens to you. The others care too, Artie, Clarissa, Orroro, Andrew, Alan, Scott, Alex, Dawn and Tara. They all care about you and have been here to check on you every chance they had since your surgery began." Xander said with strength.

"Tanks Xander. Remy know dat you care. If dat other Remy don have you as a friend, den he be like I was before... alone." Remy said in explanation.

"Okay. Just as long as you know." Xander said quietly.

"Xander? You be cryin?" Remy asked hesitantly.

"Yeah. I know it's not a 'manly man' sort of thing to do, but so much has happened. I'm just glad that you're awake. I can't handle all this without my best friend to talk to." Xander said in an embarrassed smile.

"Bes frien?" Remy asked with surprise.

"Yeah Cajun. I didn't expect it either. I guess it's your natural charm." Xander finished in a teasing tone, just as surprised as Remy.

After a long moment of silence Remy said, "So tell your bes frien bout what's been goin on."

"Before Alan... Before... we found out about where your eyes came from." Xander said, feeling a fresh stab of pain as he remembered again that Alan was gone.

"What you find?" Remy asked quietly, understanding the pain.

"Her name was Margaret Riley. She was forced off the road by a drunk driver. Both she and her husband were killed." Xander said carefully.

"Remy need to know bout her. She give Remy sumthin, Remy gotta give sumthin back." he said definately.

"No offense, but I thought you were a thief. It doesn't add up." Xander said in confusion.

"No fense tween friens Xander, Remy be a tief, but he take from businesses an from rich folk who got nuthin but money an won't miss a few tings." Remy said calmly.

"But you don't steal from common people. Just those that deserve it or hoard their money... Like Robin Hood?" Xander finished with a smile.

Remy smiled at the comment, then said, "De only poor Remy be givin de money to be poor Remy."

"Fair enough." Xander said then thought of something else, "Margaret was pregnant."

"Le infant... de baby, did it live?" Remy asked in a whisper of hope.

"Yes, Dawn and Tara helped her to survive. The baby is listed in serious condition." Xander said with assurance.

"Dat be what Remy need to do for Margaret Riley. She give Remy eyes so he can see dat de baby be taken care of." Remy said with assurance.

"I thought so. Before Andrew left... he got me all the information he could find on Margaret and her husband... they have only one surviving relative... Margaret's mother, Vada Jeffers. She lives in Perth Amboy, New Jersey by herself and is seventy years old. I don't see how she can take care of an infant..." Xander trailed off.

"Remy an Xander see to dat. Le tiny femme want for nuthin if Remy can provide." Remy said with assurance.

"Well the first step to helping the baby will be to get you on your feet again... you need anything?" Xander asked carefully, surprised he hadn't asked sooner.

"Remy got an itch, on de back of de right leg." Remy said with frustration.

"I got you covered Cajun." Xander said with a smile and went to Remy's leg.

"Higher or lower?" Xander asked and moved his hand gently down from the knee.

"Higher." Remy said.

Xander moved back up past the knee and asked, "Higher?"

"Down to de back of de leg... higher jus a little... dat... dat's it." Remy said with relief as Xander scratched the itch.

"Tanks Xander." Remy said in bliss as Xander finished the scratch by rubbing the area.

"Anytime Remy. I'm going to be here beside you until you get your bandages off, so if you need anything, all you have to do is ask." Xander said seriously.

Remy went silent as he considered the statement.

"Remy? Does that mean you need something?" Xander asked carefully.

Remy fought the urge to nod and said hesitantly, "Remy needs to pee."

Xander thought for a second and said, "Do you want me to wake up Hank to take care of that?"

"Non." Remy said shyly.

"Okay. There is a portable urinal here... just give me a second." Xander said and walked across the room to grab it.

"Here you go." Xander said and tried to get through this as clinically and professionally as he could so as not to embarrass Remy.

Xander lifted the gown out of the way and efficiently positioned the urinal.

"Go ahead." Xander said and turned his head.

Remy let loose the flow of urine and sighed in relief.

"Remy done." he finally said.

Xander removed the urinal and lowered the gown quickly.

"Tanks Xander." Remy said with a blush.

"Whatever you need my friend." Xander said as he returned to Remy's side.

Remy felt a quiver in his belly and could feel the beginning of an erection.

Xander watched as the gown began to form an impressive tent.

Remy's blush was full force as Xander said, "Do you need some help to take care of that?"

"Remy not ask you to. Xander be Remy's friend, not wan to mess it up with dat." Remy said seriously.

Xander thought about the response, then said, "Remy, I don't know if that would mess it up or not, but just so you know, I'm not offering out of pity or duty. I like you. I can see where you might be getting some mixed signals from me so I'm just going to say it. I'm bi, I'm attracted to both men and women. It isn't about gender as much as the person. I'm attracted to you. If you aren't into guys or really don't want to take a chance of messing up our friendship, I can respect that. But if you just don't want to because you think I really don't want to... I do."

Remy thought about the words for a minute then said quietly, "Xander, Remy got no problem bein wit a guy an you be a good frien. But Remy be stuck in dis bed. It be too much like pity, Remy don wan to take da chance. When Remy be out of bed an can hold you in his arms, ask again. Remy probably say yes."

Xander thought about that and said, "You've got a deal Cajun."

* * * * *

"Thank you all for coming." Eric said to the group in the dining room.

"I am going to remain here for a time to help Charles attend to the aftermath of yesterday's events." Eric said carefully, noticing that everyone had fallen silent.

"First order of business is the status of the mission: All known traces of the virus and data have been destroyed. All the scientists who developed the virus have been dispatched except for... two?" Eric asked, glancing at Charles.

"One now." Charles said quietly.

"And that remaining scientist will not survive the day." Eric said with confidence.

"My associates, with the exception of Mystique will be leaving after this meeting. If we require their services, we can summon them." Eric said and looked at the people he had brought with him. He noticed disinterest on most of their faces and a look of relief on Pyro's face.

"Before we separate, we need to find what is to be done about the children. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?" Eric asked in a demanding tone.

"I can try. I've never tried to cross dimensions, but there may be something I can do to help. I'll have to do some research." Dawn said timidly.

"Very good Tempest. We are fortunate to have you on our team." Eric said with admiration. He knew that this declaration would let his associates know that she was off-limits to whatever pranks they might consider in the future.

"Any other suggestions?" Eric asked the room.

"There are a group of mutants who live underground in New York. I will communicate with them and see if any of them has an interdimensional ability like that of Andrew." Orroro said from her chair.

"Good, I too will search for mutants with such abilities. With our combined efforts, perhaps we can bring your children home quickly." Eric said, sparing a glance toward Charles and Emma.

"Other business?" Eric asked after a moment of silence.

"We will be leaving this afternoon if you have no more need of us." Emma said, dividing her attention between Charles and Eric.

"We will keep you apprised of any developments as they happen." Charles said with assurance.

"What about Gambit?" Lance asked, as he saw that the meeting was about to end.

"What about him?" Eric asked with genuine curiosity.

"He's dead. Aren't you going to do something?" Lance asked, not knowing exactly what he wanted done.

"I notified the thieves guild of his death last night. They asked that I dispose of the body discretely." Eric said, obviously finished with the subject.

"But he was one of us. Shouldn't we... I dunno... honor him? Grieve?" Lance asked with emotion.

"Do as you like. I hardly knew the man. He was paid well for the risks he took and the odds finally caught up with him... I'm sorry. That's all the eulogy I have to give." Eric said and sat down beside Charles.

Lance looked hurt, lost, disillusioned, but remained silent.

Kitty noticed the look and understood his feelings. She discreetly walked to Lance's side and put an arm around him to let him know he wasn't alone.

"If there is nothing else then let's see what we can do to retrieve our children." Charles said to the group.

* * * * *

Dawn caught Hank as he was walking from the meeting.

"Yes Miss Summers?" Hank asked as he stopped in the hallway.

"I need to know if you have any of Alan's blood... or anything else. I may need it for my spell and wanted to ask you before it was too late." Dawn said quietly, realizing how gruesome the request seemed.

"Come with me to MedLab and we'll see what we can find." Hank said and led the way.

To Be Continued...