Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Chapter 4: Mutable Relief

//Cyclops, Iceman, move around the room carefully and try to find anything that will identify the escaped virus.// the Professor sent to the pair.

//Could this broken bottle with the biohazard symbol on the label be it?// Cyclops asked suspiciously, because it's never that easy.

The professor looked through Scott's eyes and thought, //That would be it. 4892B4E-2 go to the computer and pull up the detail report on that virus.

Scott walked to the computer and said in frustration, //I can't type in these gloves.//

//Do your best, use a pencil and the hunt and peck method of typing if that is easier.// The Professor sent, watching Scott's movements carefully.

//I've got it... this isn't the bad one, is it?// Scott asked with hope.

//No, we seem to have avoided the worst case scenario... All team members return to the BioLab for sterilization.// The Professor sent with relief.

//So what is it? Are Hank and Jean going to be alright?// Cyclops asked with worry.

//Quiet. All of you. Here is what I know. The virus that was released was an attempt to counteract the virus that contaminated Alan and Remy's world. The nature of this virus was to reinforce and strengthen the host in the same manner that the original virus had been designed to destroy the host. The theory was that this virus could be introduced into an infected individual to strengthen them until both viruses could be purged from their systems naturally. However the counter-virus was too unstable to be useable. That was the etymology of the first version of the counter-virus. Hank was apparently working on version two when the accident occurred. He hadn't made any significant notes as to it's nature or stability, so we will have to assume the worst and maintain full containment protocols. The good news is that the first version of the virus was projected to be non-lethal to the host and should not be contagious after a few days.// the Professor sent to everyone with relief.

//What's going to happen to Hank and Jean?// Alex asked the Professor timidly.

//We'll all find out together. This virus is intended to seek out the X-gene and boost the immunity and healing factor of the host. What it will actually do is anyone's guess.// the Professor sent to all.

//What do we do now?// Cyclops asked as the last of his team gathered in the BioLab.

//Your team needs to go into the outer room of the BioLab.// the Professor sent to the team.

Once the team were assembled in the room the Professor sent, //Now close both doors and type the following code into the keypad by the exit door. 999999*4E*1A enter//

Cyclops pressed the keypad and the lighting of the room changed to a deep purple glow.

A fine mist filled the room, then water began spraying down.

The team looked out the windows to see that the hallway was also flooded with mist and water, but the BioLab itself was not.

//???// Was all that Cyclops could think to send.

//Decontamination. When the decontamination is complete, your team will be able to remove their suits and return to the main level of the mansion. The code I gave you excluded the main BioLab and MedLab from the decontamination. The decontamination evacuates all the oxygen as part of the sterilization process, so Xander and Remy will be spared and the BioLab will be dealt with later since we may have need of a sample of the virus at a later date. You will all need to be patient while the decontamination cycle completes, it takes fifteen minutes.// the Professor sent with assurance.

* * * * *

"What was it like down there?" Alex asked as Scott walked out of the mansion.

"Think of your worst nightmare, then put two of your closest friends looking like they're dead into the picture." Scott said and hugged his brother tightly.

"It's okay Bro, the Prof says that Jean and Hank are alive and the virus was made to make them stronger." Alex said with reassurance.

"I know, it's just that... I've cared for Jean for so long... to see her like that nearly killed me. I'm glad you're here Alex, all of it, it's getting to be too much. Alan, Andrew, the virus, the kids, now this..." Scott said and held tighter as he began crying.

"I've got you bro. Come on." Alex said quietly and led Scott back into the mansion.

"What about Uncle Hank? Can I do anything to help him?" Tara asked as she held tightly to Dawn.

"Yes Tara. We'll take turns staying with Hank and Jean until the virus has worked out of their systems. Once they are no longer contagious we can take them to the MedLab and make them more comfortable. For now, we'll have to keep them in the Omega Chamber and keep Mr. Harris and Mr. LeBeau confined." The Professor said calmly.

"How soon will we know if Xander and Remy are infected?" Tara asked cautiously.

"Since I now know which virus has been released, I can give a more specific estimate of that. If they have been infected, they will exhibit symptoms within twenty-four hours. By this time tomorrow they should be released if they are uninfected." The Professor said introspectively.

* * * * *

"Remy?" Xander said in confusion as he awoke.

"Xander, you miss de show. All de lights turn blue an it rain in de hallway." Remy said from his chair.

"Have you heard anything about Hank and Jean?" Xander asked with worry.

"Non, de Professor don say nothin. Why don you call him and fine out?" Remy asked quietly.

"Professor? Are Hank and Jean okay?" Xander asked aloud as he sat up on the bed.

//They remain unconscious. We have reason to hope that they will be fine, perhaps healthier than before.// The Professor sent to both men.

"Good. Are we still sentenced to a week of confinement?" Xander asked as he looked toward Remy.

//With time served, you should only have to remain for another fifteen hours provided that neither of you exhibit symptoms of infection.// The Professor sent happily.

"Fifteen hours is no problem. We'll just hang out for a while, it'll be like a day off... but without television." Xander ended in a sour tone.

//I believe the cavemen were able to survive weeks at a time without television Mr. Harris. You should be able to survive one day.// The Professor sent in a teasing tone.

"Yeah, but they had dinosaurs to play with..." Xander said with a playful smile.

//Deal Mr. Harris. Just deal.// The Professor sent before letting the link fall silent.

* * * * *

//Professor, something's wrong with Uncle Hank!// Tara called mentally.

//Be calm Tara, tell me what's wrong.// The Professor sent and turned his full attention to Tara.

//He's started grunting and growling and is thrashing around... I don't know what to do to help him.// Tara sent with fear flooding the link.

//Get out of there Tara. I will send someone to help your Uncle Hank, in his current state he could hurt you without knowing.// the Professor sent with concern.

//Yes Professor, as long as you help him.// Tara sent as she left the Omega Chamber.

* * * * *

//Charles, can you see?// Eric called mentally.

//Yes Eric-love, the virus appears to be changing him physically. It must be quite painful, I'd like to give him something for the pain.// Charles said hesitantly.

//I don't think he's feeling anything, he shows no signs of consciousness and anything you give him could react badly to his changing physiology.// Eric speculated.

//I'll trust your judgment, but if he regains consciousness, we will give him something immediately. I can't bear to think of him suffering.// Charles sent with emotional pain.

//I know Charles. I'll get the necessary things together in case they are needed.// Eric sent with love for the compassion of his lover.

//Before you do that, focus on Jean for a moment.// Charles sent quickly.

Eric focused his attention on Jean who lay silently.

//The virus doesn't seem to be having the same effect on Jean.// Charles sent curiously.

//Perhaps it is dependent on the X-gene as to how the effect of the virus manifests.// Eric sent speculatively.

//Perhaps.// Charles sent in contemplation as Eric left the room to get the pain reliever for Hank.

* * * * *

"Dawn?" Tara asked from the doorway.

"In here. I think I've found something!" Dawn said with excitement.

"What did you find?" Tara asked and moved to stand behind Dawn.

"I have a link to Buffy. When I was created, it was by using Buffy as a template. If we can get everything we need together, we should be able to open a doorway to her."

"What do we need?" Tara asked carefully.

"That's the hard part. This is a spell written in a demon language, meant to be used by demons. We need a lot of ingredients that you can't find at the local grocery store... but it may be a way to get the children back." Dawn said and sat back with joy.

"Then let's tell the Professor, he may be able to help us get what we need." Tara said with a happy smile.

"Hold on for a little bit. I need to finish translating this and make a list of ingredients. I can probably get it done in a day." Dawn said confidently.

"Can I help?" Tara asked hopefully.

"Yeah. As I read it, you write it down. This spell is long and complicated, plus we'll have to adapt it for this dimension." Dawn said in thought.

"So it was meant for your home dimension?" Tara asked with a little worry.

Dawn looked up with apprehension and said, "No, it's for a hell dimension, it's a demon invocation to create a doorway."

* * * * *

"Mr. Harris, Mr. LeBeau, I wanted to be here personally for your release from captivity." Charles said happily as he entered the MedLab.

"Thanks warden, you still going to take us out to dinner?" Xander asked carefully.

"Of course Mr. Harris. This evening the three of us will enjoy a dinner of your choosing. Just decide where you want to go and let me know." The Professor said with a smile.

"Guilliome's Oyster Bar." Xander said with a smile.

"I'm afraid I don't know where that is." The Professor said hesitantly.

"It's not far from here and Remy says it has some of the best authentic Louisiana cooking in the state." Xander said happily.

"As you like Mr. Harris, Mr. LeBeau. Be ready to leave at six." The Professor said and turned to leave, feeling a note of dread at the thought of authentic Louisiana cooking.

* * * * *

The Professor had determined that Hank and Jean were no longer infectious so Scott was taking his turn watching them both, enjoying being able to do so without the biosuit.

//Professor, Hank is waking up.// Scott called with excitement.

//On my way.// the Professor sent quickly.

"What happened?" Hank asked in confusion.

"There was an accident. One of the viruses escaped." Scott said quietly.

"The Omega Chamber? Did we lose containment?" Hank asked as he looked around in confusion.

"No, but we had to act as if we did, just in case. We didn't know which virus had escaped." Scott said seriously.

Hank looked up in panic and asked, "Which one was it?"

"4892B4E-2." Scott said, knowing that the name of that virus would be etched in his mind forever.

"What did it do? I only just created it and hadn't mapped it's effect." Hank asked curiously.

Scott looked at Hank's arm and waited for Hank to follow his gaze.

After a long startled examination of his blue fur, claw-like hands and feet and feeling his face to reveal fang-like teeth Hank said, "My God. I'm... I'm... what am I?"

* * * * *

Bobby laid on his bed and thought about the events of the past few days.

Alan and Andrew were gone. That kinda sucked. They were always nice.

The kids were gone...

People all over the place were banged up, shot, virus infected. Too bad for them.

Marie had basically 'outed' him to the X-men, but no one seemed to care. He had still been included on the team to help on the lower level and no one but Marie seemed to be upset with him about anything.

Finally he decided that whatever problem Marie had, was her problem and he would just avoid her for a while and she would get over it.

* * * * *

"Professor?" Xander asked from the doorway of the office.

"Mr. Harris... Mr. LeBeau, please come in and sit down. What can I do for you?" the Professor asked and moved his wheelchair around the desk to sit before the men.

"We need to borrow a car." Xander said shyly.

"Mr. Harris, neither of you have documented legal identities in this dimension. It would be highly inadvisable for you to drive." The Professor said firmly.

"Then we need a driver too. We need to go to Perth Amboy, New Jersey." Xander said carefully.

"I'm afraid it would be rude to visit Mrs. Jeffers unannounced. Call ahead and ask if you can visit tomorrow. If you would like, I'll have someone drive you in the morning." The Professor said with a knowing smile.

"Have you been peeking?" Xander asked in an accusing tone that was only half-serious.

"Not at all. Mr. Summers... Alex, came to me and volunteered to drive you there when you got out of MedLab." The Professor explained calmly.

"Good. Then we'll get with Alex and leave tomorrow... and that way we don't have to miss our dinner tonight." Xander said with a smile.

"About that, would you mind if Eric accompanied us?" Charles asked, a bit timidly.

"No, you Remy?" Xander asked over his shoulder.

"Non, don know de man." Remy said honestly.

"Eric has an... abundant... personality that some find to be off-putting, but he is a good friend and happens to enjoy authentic Louisiana cooking." Charles finished with a fond smile.

"Good, the four of us at six. It's a date." Xander said, then noticed the looks of question in both Remy and Charles' eyes.

"Shut up." Xander said sharply and walked out of the room.

Remy cast an amused glance to the Professor before following Xander.

To Be Continued...