Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Chapter 3: Unacceptable Losses

The professor and Eric were in the office when the alarm sounded.

"Is that a biohazard alarm?" Eric asked in confirmation.

"Yes, Eric, will you get us out of the mansion as quickly as possible, I'm going to contact everyone and let them know to get out." Charles said quickly then focused his mind to reach each person in the mansion.

//Everyone, evacuate the mansion. There has been a leak in the BioLab and the automatic defenses will seal the mansion within minutes.// Charles sent with as much calm as he could manage as Eric pushed his wheelchair quickly down the hallway.

"Professor, what has happened?" Orroro asked in a panic as she stood by the main door to guide people out the exit.

"I don't know. The system is automatic. Something has been released in the BioLab. Once we're outside, I'll see what I can discover." The Professor said as he was pushed quickly out of the room.

The Professor noticed that Kurt was standing with everyone else in front of the mansion and said, "Kurt, can you get Artie and Clarissa to safety? They are in Artie's room."

"Yes, Herr Professor." Kurt said and vanished in a bamf.

Charles cast his telepathy about to find Xander furiously trying to release Remy from the halo.

//Mr. Harris, you must leave immediately or you will not be leaving at all.// The Professor sent with some pain at the thought of leaving Remy.

Xander heard the words in his mind and said aloud, "You save us both or we both stay, I'm not leaving Remy."

"Xander, go." Remy said and tried to push Xander's hands away.

"Forget it Cajun. We're in this together. I'm not going to lose you now." Xander said and continued to work on the halo despite Remy's efforts.

"Herr Professor. The children are safe." Kurt said quickly and pointed at Artie and Clarissa.

"Good, thank you Kurt." Professor Xavier said as he saw the doors in the MedLab seal through Xander's eye.

"What about Xander?" Alex said as he ran to the Professor.

"He and Remy are in MedLab, they couldn't release Remy from the halo before the lower level sealed itself." The Professor said grimly.

"Herr Professor, I can get to zem." Kurt offered.

"No Kurt, if the doors have sealed, then there is a possibility of contagion... Everyone, look around and see if anyone is missing." The Professor called vocally while trying to make some sort of connection to Hank.

After a few frantic minutes of milling about, Orroro announced, "Logan, Hank, Jean, Remy and Xander are missing. All the rest are accounted for."

"Don't worry about Logan, he's running an errand for me." The Professor said to Orroro then turned to Scott and said, "Scott, we need to gather a team to investigate the lower level. If Hank and Jean are alive, they will need to be taken to the Omega Chamber so the BioLab can be sterilized. Remy and Xander are still alive in MedLab, they will need to remain where they are until decontamination is complete. The threat of contagion is too great to consider releasing them until we can be absolutely certain that they aren't infected." the Professor said in a pained voice.

"Yes Professor, Nightcrawler, Angel..." Scott began when the Professor interrupted.

"They can't go. Warren's wings won't fit in a biohazard suit and Kurt might be startled and teleport which could release the contagion. Shadowcat won't be able to go either because she might be tempted to phase and could release the virus. We can't allow the possibility that the virus will be released... we will collapse the mansion on top of the lower level to contain the virus if need be."

Scott was surprised by the statement but finally nodded and said, "Tempest, Sprite, Iceman, Rogue and Colossus, we're going in to save our team members."

"I wish to help as well." Orroro said with strength.

"I know Storm, but your arm is broken. You stay here with Angel and Nightcrawler and protect those that are left of us from harm. The way things have been going the past few days... it's sure to come." Scott said in a tired voice before walking to his assembled team.

"Hey Bro, don't forget about me!" Alex said as he ran to the team that was heading into the mansion.

"No Alex. Dawn and I are going in... and there is a chance we may not be coming out. I need for you to stay. You are the last of our family, I need to know that one of us is safe. Please, do this for me." Scott said with pleading in his voice.

"Scott..." Alex began, then nodded and walked back to the group surrounding the Professor.

//There are emergency biohazard suits in the supply room next to my office. You can take the main elevator down, but until the contamination is contained, the elevator will not go back up.// The Professor said to their retreating forms.

* * * * *

"Rogue, can we talk?" Iceman asked as he put on his biohazard suit.

"You want talk, I'll give you talk. We're on this team and I will fight to defend you if I need to, you don't have to worry about that. But outside of team business, shut. up. and. leave. me. alone." she said with fury in her eyes, then walked away, fastening the hood of her biosuit.

Tara and Dawn put on their suits and shared a brief but heartfelt kiss before fastening their respective hoods.

Scott and Colossus finished suiting up and Scott said, "Peter, let me look over your suit, it seems too small for you."

Peter slowly turned as Scott inspected the suit and finally said, "Take it off, the seals are stretched. One wrong move and they'll give. You won't be any help to us dead."

Peter's eyes went big at the statement and he began to take off the suit.

"Thanks for trying Peter, I know you want to help. Go wait with the Professor, we're about to go." Scott said with respect.

Peter nodded and left the room.

"Okay team, let's go and get 'em." Scott said and led the way to the main elevator.

* * * * *

//Professor? Can you tell me what's going on?// Xander asked, as he tried to make the telepathy work.

//You are both sealed in that room. A virus has escaped in the BioLab and you cannot be released until the lower level has been sterilized.// the Professor sent with an undercurrent of dread.

//What else?// Xander sent with a tone of gruffness.

//If it is the virus that infected Remy's world, and you have been infected, there is no known cure.// the Professor sent with sorrow.

Xander looked at Remy who was getting up off the bed and thought, //What can we do?//

//Nothing. Scott and his team will be to you soon, but they won't be able to open your room. If you aren't already infected, that would increase your possibility of infection.// the Professor thought gravely.

//Then why are they coming down if they can't help us?// Xander asked reasonably.

//For Hank and Jean... if they are alive, they will need to be moved out of the BioLab before sterilization can begin.// the Professor sent with pain.

//So, will we be out of here by tonight?// Xander asked with hope.

//I wouldn't make any plans for the next week if I were you Mr. Harris.// the Professor sent, trying to give an undertone of humor.

//What happens at the end of that week?// Xander asked with dread.

//Either you'll be alive or dead.// the Professor sent and tried to flood the link with reassurance.

//Don't worry Professor. I've faced death so many times that 'Big D' and I are getting to be chums... Is there going to be any way to feed us for the next week?// Xander thought to ask.

//I'm afraid you'll have to make due with the emergency rations in the supply cabinet by the door. It should be fully stocked with enough food for a month.// the Professor said reassuringly.

//We're only signed up for one week. Then we're outta here.// Xander said definitely.

//It's a deal. One week, then I'll take you both out to dinner anywhere you want to go.// Charles thought with a fond smile.

//We'll take you up on that.// Xander sent back with his own smile.

//I must attend to Scott and the team, take care of each other.// the Professor sent with false enthusiasm.

//Yeah, say hi to everyone from me.// Xander finished weakly as he felt the link go silent.

* * * * *

Scott and the team stepped off the elevator into silence. The biosuits made it nearly impossible to hear anyway but the sterile hallway with steel walls made the silence seem deafening.

Scott couldn't bring himself to break the silence so he motioned for the team to follow him down the hallway and to their first stop, the BioLab.

* * * * *

"Xander, you being quiet." Remy said suspiciously.

"I've been talking to the Professor." Xander said honestly.

"What he be sayin?" Remy asked with interest and turned to face Xander.

"He says that a virus escaped in the BioLab and it could be the same one that killed everyone on your world." Xander said gently.

"We gonna die?" Remy asked in a seemingly unconcerned voice.

"Either we will or we won't. The room sealed up, we just don't know if it sealed something out or something in. If we're still alive this time next week, then it sealed something out." Xander said and hopped up on the bed beside Remy.

"Will you help Remy take off de bandages? Remy want to see you before..." Remy said and left the sentence hanging.

"Yeah. But don't get your hopes up too much Cajun. I've been fighting demons for seven years... I'm a little banged up." Xander said shyly as he began to remove Remy's bandages.

"Remy don care if you look like de elephant man. Jus need to know what you look like to put a face wit de voice." Remy said and waited for Xander to finish unwrapping the bandage.

"Okay. Hang on Remy, I'm going to turn down the lights so you don't get blinded... why don't you lay down. This might make you dizzy or sick to your stomach after being blind for so long." Xander said and moved to dim the lights.

"How you know bout stuff like dat?" Remy asked and laid back on the bed.

"Because my best friend was having new eyes surgically implanted, I did some research to help him out." Xander said and moved to Remy's side.

"Your frien, he be a lucky man." Remy said honestly.

"I'm the lucky one, to have found a friend like him... hold still, I'm going to remove the gauze pads from over your eyes. Just keep them closed for a second and I'm going to wash them off." Xander said and wet a cloth at the sink.

"Here we go... keep them closed... there, all clean... open your eyes slowly, if the light's still too bright, tell me and I'll turn it down some more." Xander said and watched.

Remy opened his eyes slowly and looked at Xander.

"You look good." Remy said with a tiny smile.

"And that has to be the sweetest compliment that I've heard in my life Cajun." Xander said with joy as he looked into the deep jade green eyes looking back at him.

Remy tried to sit up, then fell back onto the bed.

"Xander was right bout de dizzy ting." Remy said between deep breaths.

"So just stay laying down for a few minutes and tell me what it's like." Xander asked curiously.

"It like being let loose from a prison... it like bein alive... it like being in love..." Remy finished shyly.

"So they work okay? I mean your vision isn't blurry or anything?" Xander asked carefully.

"Dey work fine. How do dey look?" Remy asked curiously.

"Beautiful. You have two beautiful jade green eyes... I never thought to ask, what color were your eyes before?"

"Dey be red, an de white part be black. Das why de 'Friens of Humanity' cut dem out." Remy said without emotion.

"Sorry Remy, I just never saw you with eyes and didn't know. If I were going to pick a color for your eyes, it would be this one. Your eyes look great with your hair... hey, there's a mirror over here on the side of this cabinet, I'll help you over and you can see." Xander finished with excitement.

After a minute of adjusting to walking again, Remy made his way to the mirror with Xander's help.

"Xander be right. Dey do look good." Remy said and looked to Xander with a happy smile.

* * * * *

The team reached the BioLab and received instructions telepathically how to gain access. After punching in the codes, going through a door, punching in more codes, and going through another door they finally came upon the sprawled bodies of Hank and Jean.

//I can't tell if they're alive or dead from inside this suit.// Cyclops thought in frustration.

//Find something glass and hold it under the nose to see if it fogs.// the Professor sent quickly.

Cyclops found a glass microscope slide and held it under Hank's nose to reveal strong steady breaths.

//Hank's alive.// Cyclops thought with relief.

//But Jean isn't.// Cyclops thought with despair, then quickly sent, //She's alive, her breathing is just very slight.//

//Get them both to the Omega Chamber, then we can begin sterilization procedures.// the Professor sent to the entire team.

Bobby and Scott took hold of Hank as Marie, Dawn and Tara took Jean and they began to haul them out of BioLab. Once out of the second door Dawn screamed to be heard, "WHERE ARE WE GOING?"

//Follow this corridor to the end and turn left. The Omega Chamber is at the end of the hallway.// the Professor's voice replied in a calm tone.

"THANK YOU!" Dawn screamed and received a chuckle through the telepathic link.

* * * * *

"Xander, Remy got a question for you." Remy said carefully and moved to sit in a chair.

"Go ahead." Xander said and turned to face Remy.

"You not try to protect Remy. When we first meet, you tell Remy where de food be and leave him to it. Jus now, you tell de truth, you don dance aroun an make it a story." Remy said in confusion.

"Yeah, what's your question?" Xander asked, not understanding.

"Why?" Remy asked carefully.

"Because you can handle honesty and truth. You're a strong person and I respect you. When I first met you I could tell that you had dignity and self-respect, and if I was in your position, I would want to have the same dignity. Since then, I don't pull any punches with you, I know you can handle the truth. If you ever want me to lie to you to spare your feelings, you'll have to tell me, because I plan to be honest with you." Xander said honestly.

"No, dat okay. Remy like de truth. It make life easier when you don have to try an know what people be meanin besides what dey be sayin." Remy said plainly.

"Good. Then let me be honest and tell you that you need a bath Cajun. You haven't washed since you've been in MedLab and you're starting to smell ripe." Xander said without teasing.

"Dat be a little too honest for Remy." he said with a smile to show that he wasn't really offended.

"We don't have a shower down here but there is a bathroom, so you can get cleaned up. When you're done, I'll do the same. I'm not feeling too fresh either.

Remy nodded and went to the bathroom.

The team arranged Jean and Hank on the floor of the huge Omega Chamber.

"What is this place?" Dawn asked loudly to be heard by Scott.

"It is a containment room. Like a prison cell for the most powerful mutants known, the Omega Class mutants. It can be sealed completely from the rest of the lower level and if need be, can be ejected into a 200 meter deep shaft below us and the shaft will fill with dirt and rocks behind it." Scott said and stood.

//Sprite, stay with your uncle Hank, Rogue, stay with Jean. Cyclops and Iceman, return to the BioLab to try and identify the virus that escaped. Tempest, go to the MedLab, I believe that Mr. Harris and Mr. LeBeau would enjoy a visit.// the Professor sent to the team.

* * * * *

Remy walked out of the bathroom, wearing the hospital gown.

"Here you go Cajun, now you don't have to walk around with your ass hanging out." Xander said and threw some surgical scrubs to Remy.

"You not like looking at Remy's ass?" Remy asked with mock hurt.

"I never said that. It is a fine ass, superior to most I've seen. I just thought you would want to keep it warm." Xander said with a smile.

Remy pulled on the pants and said, "Dat be a good idea."

There was a tapping on the window and both turned to see the yellow-suited Dawn looking in.

"Dawn!" Xander said loudly, but there was no way she could hear.

After long moments of trying to gesture and make themselves understood, Xander finally pointed to himself and Remy then made an 'Okay' symbol with his forefinger and thumb.

Dawn responded with a thumbs up.

Remy moved closer to the window and pointed to his eyes.

Dawn put her hands to her face, as though she were gasping in surprise then she gave a little bounce of excitement and joy.

Both Remy and Xander smiled at the gesture.

//Miss Summers wants you both to know how happy she is that Remy can see.// The Professor sent on her behalf.

"Tell her that we're glad to see her." Xander said outloud, determining that it was more polite than sending silently.

"An dat she be a beautiful sight to Remy's new eyes." Remy said aloud, following Xander's example.

Dawn put her head down and made a scuffing motion with her foot that indicated shyness.

"How are Hank and Jean?" Xander asked with concern.

//Alive. Once we know which virus escaped, we will have a better idea of what to do for them.// the Professor said as Dawn looked on seriously and nodded.

Dawn made a 'bye-bye' wave and walked away from the MedLab

Xander and Remy both mimicked her motion and watched her leave.

"She a beauty." Remy said and walked to a chair.

"Yeah. I've known her all her life. She's really great." Xander said fondly.

"So she from your world?" Remy asked, getting comfortable in his chair.

"Yeah. Dawn and Andrew... are both from my world... I'm so worried about him." Xander said and threw himself onto the bed in the middle of the room.

"Tell Remy bout what happen?" Remy asked with concern showing in his eyes.

"There was an explosion. Orroro says that someone rigged the data warehouse to explode if anyone tried to infiltrate it. Alan caught the explosion full force... he lost a leg, and Hank said that he was beyond help. His internal organs were so messed up that there wasn't anything Hank could do to save him. Andrew stayed by his side for over an hour and then ported them out without a word to anyone... that was last night. We haven't heard from him since." Xander said and his eye began to close sleepily.

"When be de las time Xander get some sleep?" Remy asked quietly.

"Dunno. I fell asleep a few times in the chair by your bed last night... before that... I guess I haven't really slept since your surgery." Xander said with his eye closed.

"Xander sleep. Remy keep watch." Remy said quietly and walked to the control to dim the lights further.

"Thanks Cajun. Good... Friend..." Xander said as he drifted off.

[Never been a frien before. Don know how to do it. But Remy will be a frien for Xander. Maybe more...] Remy thought as he settled into a chair and closed his eyes.

To Be Continued...