Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Chapter 6: New Adventures on Familiar Roads

Xander and Remy sat in the back seat of the convertible and just watched as the road passed them by. All four of the men had been silent since leaving the mansion.

"Hey guys, what time do we need to be there?" Scott asked Xander and Remy.

"No particular time. I just asked if we could stop by today." Xander said loudly to be heard over the rushing wind

"Did she ask why?" Alex asked as he kept his attention on the road.

"Yes, I told her that Margaret did something nice for us and we wanted to talk to her about it." Xander said, then asked, "Can we stop somewhere and get some sunglasses? This wind is messing with my eye."

"Open the front flap of my backpack. I brought spares." Scott said to Xander in the back.

Xander opened the pouch to find three pairs of red sunglasses.

"I can understand bringing an extra pair... but three? Anal much?" Xander asked as he put the red sunglasses on.

"I brought them for you guys, just in case. Anyone else need some sunglasses?" Scott asked and looked around.

"Sure." Alex said and held out a hand.

"Tank you, Remy wan to protect de new eyes." Remy said as he accepted a pair of sunglasses from Xander.

"No problem. Why were you wanting to know when we're supposed to be there?" Xander asked Scott.

"I just thought we could stop for breakfast. I've got the Institute credit card and the Professor's permission to use it." Scott said with a smile.

"Four guys, a credit card, and the open road... the possibilities are endless." Xander said with a mischievous smile.

* * * * *

"This is Rupert Giles, may I help you?" Giles said cautiously as he answered the phone.

"Mr. Giles, I am at the Xavier Institute in Westchester, New York. 'Vreggash Lorien K'T'norn T'Hoth Liebriefriew - Akash Tvaari Olsaang Tiembrew." A female voice said calmly before hanging up the phone.

Giles went pale as the woman on the phone spoke the words that would begin the spell to create a hellmouth.

"What is de problem, my watcher man?" Kendra asked with concern at his drastic reaction.

"We must go to Westchester, New York immediately. Apparently there is someone there who intends to release hell on earth." Giles said as he grabbed his ever-present rucksack from beside the door of the apartment he shared with his slayer.

"An dis be a job for Kendra, de Vampire Slayer?" Kendra asked as she grabbed her own bag, which was always packed and ready to go.

"Keeping that woman from opening the hellmouth is your job, if she opens it, closing it is mine." Giles said as he walked out the door.

* * * * *

Bobby looked around his bedroom and noticed that it was smaller... he was taller, an adult.

He looked at his hand and concentrated his power. A sheath of ice covered his clenched fist.

He looked up suddenly as he heard the heavy footsteps on the stairs.

The temperature in the room began to drop as Bobby drew on more and more of his power. The fear was driving him to push his limits.

The door opened and his father filled the doorway.

"You know what time it is. Drop 'em." The man said with drunken nonchalance.

"No." Bobby said quietly, not in fear as much as suppressed fury and felt his power release just a little more.

"You givin me lip boy? I'm gonna show you what to do with those lips." The man said and walked closer.

"Stop." Bobby commanded in a voice that was between a growl and a whisper.

His father took another step and Bobby held up his hand and let loose the last of his control over his power. The ice covering his body shattered to reveal that his hand had become living ice.

Bobby looked his father in the eyes and said, "You're never going to hurt me again. I loved you and you hurt me. You made me so I couldn't love anyone ever again. I'm taking back everything you took from me."

Bobby lifted his hand toward his father and sent out a concentrated blast of ice that froze him solid. Then he remembered what he had done to his brother and said in realization, "You almost made me just like you."

Bobby balled up his fist and punched his father's jaw, then watched in satisfaction as his father fell backward to the floor and shattered into a hundred frozen chunks.

Bobby smiled at the feeling and walked over to sit on his bed.

The room melted around him and became his room at the mansion.

Bobby looked down to see that he *really* was made of ice. He looked to Jean in question.

"Without all that holding you back, you have greater access to your powers. I've just taken you through a very quick fix for your problem. I can't fix everything. I've allowed you this image to give you closure and opened your eyes to the pain. Marie understands what happened to you and may choose to either try to be your friend or avoid you. Either way, she doesn't hate you anymore. The rest is up to you, your brother, John, your life, now that you have a heart, follow it and do the right thing." Jean said and turned to leave.

"You sound like you're going away." Bobby said suspiciously.

"Not before time." Jean said and left the room.

Bobby sat back on his elbows and thought, [My brother... John... my life.] And began to cry.

* * * * *

Marie walked into the common room and sat down in a daze.

"How are you doing this morning Marie?" Orroro asked as she entered the room.

"I... don't know." Marie said helplessly.

"Would you care to talk?" Orroro asked and took a seat beside her.

"Yeah, like if someone did something really bad, but it was because someone did something really bad to them, it would be like not his fault because he doesn't know any better... right?" Marie asked in a rush.

Orroro blinked, sat quietly, blinked again, then said, "If I understand any part of what you just said, I believe you are asking about personal responsibility and blame."

"Yeah, I guess." Marie said unsurely.

"Just because something horrible was done to a person doesn't give them the right to harm another. I believe that you are having trouble distinguishing between being responsible and being guilty. If a person is responsible for causing another harm then they have the obligation to compensate the one who was hurt. If a person is guilty, then they are truly sorry for their actions and strive to make amends and not allow it to happen again. There are times when the terms seem synonymous but in other circumstances, they are not." Orroro said sagely.

"So someone is responsible if they cause harm, but they're guilty if they're sorry afterward?" Marie asked in confirmation.

"Yes, I believe that is accurate." Orroro said in a considering tone.

"What if what the person did is so horrible that there is no way to make up for it?" Marie asked desperately.

"Compensation does not always mean restoring things to their former standing, it simply means making an effort to try and restore the balance. If it is something horrible, then the compensation will likely be extreme to be seen as just by both parties." Orroro said speculatively.

"And what about if they're guilty of something that horrible?" Marie asked carefully.

"That is a matter of forgiveness."

* * * * *

The convertible pulled up in front of a distinguished small house on a very ordinary looking street.

"Who has a cell phone?" Alex asked the group.

"My calling plan doesn't cover this dimension." Xander said with a look of apology.

"They'd probably charge you a higher rate if they did." Scott said with a smile as he held up his own phone.

"Good. How about this guys, you take my phone, Scott's number is in the address book so you can call me when you're finished. Scott and I will cruise around and find out what Perth Amboy has to offer two bachelors with unlimited credit." Alex said with a smile.

"Good plan." Remy said to the group and took the phone from Alex.

"Yeah, we'll see you guys later. And save a little credit so we can get something to eat on the way home." Xander said with a laugh.

"No promises." Scott called out as Alex drove away.

* * * * *

Giles got out of the taxi closely followed by Kendra.

"Good lordy, what kinda place be dis?" Kendra said in awe of the mansion.

"I don't know Kendra, but let's find out." Giles said and led the way to the door.

Before Giles could knock, the door opened and Professor Xavier said, "Come in Mr. Giles, Kendra, we've been expecting you."

"You were?" Giles asked with worry.

"Yes, don't worry Mr. Giles, we're all friends here. Come in and I'll explain everything." Charles said with a welcoming smile.

Giles hesitantly walked into the mansion, closely followed by Kendra.

"Come this way and we'll sit and talk." Charles said and led the way into the common room.

"I was led to believe that someone here was trying to open a... doorway, was I misinformed?" Giles asked suspiciously and finally took a seat.

"No, no. That is quite correct. We will be attempting to open a doorway as soon as we can get the proper ingredients together." Charles said pleasantly, enjoying Giles frustration.

"You can't. A hellmouth could flood the earth with demons. You have to understand..." Giles began as a blue man with yellow eyes, two fingered hands and a pointy tail walked into the room.

"Herr Professor... My apologies, I did not know you had company." Kurt said quickly in embarrassment.

"That's fine Kurt, what did you need?" Charles asked casually.

"Warren said he left his briefcase in zis room unt I came to get it." Kurt said quietly.

"I'm sorry, I haven't seen it Kurt. Mr. Giles, Ms. Ololafhey, I'd like for you to meet Kurt Wagner." Charles said graciously.

"Mien pleasure to meet you." Kurt said and gave a courteous bow.

"Yes, a pleasure." Giles said with astonishment.

"Sorry for ze interruption." Kurt said and disappeared with a bamf.

"You were saying?" Charles said to Giles with curiosity.

"Oh yes... You could flood the earth with demons if you open a hellmouth." Giles said then watched in wonder as a handsome man with large white wings walked into the room.

"I'm sorry Professor, but I'm sure I left my briefcase in here. I have some very important papers to fax." Warren said in apology.

"Check behind the ottoman, you were laying across it watching television the last time I remember seeing you in here." The Professor said from a place of memory.

"That's right, thanks Professor." Warren said and went to the side of a couch and retrieved a briefcase.

"Warren, I would like for you to meet Mr. Giles and Ms. Ololafhey, this is Warren Worthington the third." Charles said politely.

"Of Worthington Industries?" Giles asked automatically.

"Yeah, but don't call me if your toaster doesn't work, that isn't my department." Warren said with a charming smile before leaving the room.

//Dawn, Tara, Jean. I think I have him warmed up. It's time for you to make your pitch.// The Professor sent while smiling pleasantly.

* * * * *

"Mrs. Jeffers?" Xander asked in a timid voice.

"Call me Aunt Vada, all the young folk round these parts do. Come in, come in out of the morning chill, you'll catch a death." Aunt Vada said and quickly ushered the men into the house.

"Thank you ma'am. This is Remy LeBeau and I'm Xander Harris." Xander said and walked in.

"You said on the phone that my Maggie had done something nice for you. Did you know her well?" Aunt Vada asked as she took a seat.

"We never actually met her." Xander said shyly and fell silent.

The moment of silence stretched on...

"Well, I'm not getting any younger. What did she do?" Vada snapped.

Xander was shocked by that and Remy quickly said, "Margaret give Remy her eyes when she die."

Vada sat silently for a moment then asked, "May I see?"

Remy moved close to Vada and looked deep into her eyes.

He noticed as a tear began to fall. "Remy sorry." He whispered.

"Don't be sorry. Part of my Maggie is going to live on in you. It's not everything I could have hoped for, but now she's going to live on through you, through you and the baby." Vada said with a pained smile.

"Dats why we come to see you. We wan to be sure dat da baby have everyting she need. Margaret give Remy de eyes, den Remy do dis for Margaret." He said carefully.

"The baby has everything a child could want... except two parents, a home and a name." Aunt Vada said sadly, then turned a fierce gaze on Remy and asked in a challenging voice, "Can you provide those things for her Mr. LeBeau?"

Remy was stunned into silence and turned to look at Xander who nodded enthusiastically.

"Yes Aunt Vada, Remy an Xander could do dat. She be raised to know what a good woman her momma be." Remy said with certainty.

"I knew if I had faith, the good Lord would provide someone to watch over that child. I raised three and outlived them all... no parent should have to see their babies die." Vada said in a defeated voice.

"We live in a school for gifted children outside Westchester, New York. We could bring her to visit you whenever you want, or you could come to visit us." Xander said hopefully.

"I would like that Mr. Harris. I trust that you know some lawyers that can make all of this legal?" Vada said as she tried to smile.

"I don't know any personally, but Professor Xavier is sure to know someone who can help." Xander said, dividing his attention between Vada and Remy.

"Good. Just do what you need to and bring me the papers. Would either of you like some lemonade? I made it fresh this morning." Vada asked and got out of her chair.

"Yes ma'am, tank you." Remy said with appreciation.

"Can I help you?" Xander asked and got up.

"That's very kind. Yes, thank you Mr. Harris." Vada said and walked into the kitchen.

"Please call me Xander... We're going to be family." Xander said as he followed.

To Be Continued...