Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Chapter 10: Duty and Dementia

"Pete? Could I talk to you for a minute?" Bobby asked carefully through the door.

"Bobby?" Pete asked in a daze.

"Yeah, is it too late?" Bobby asked with worry.

"No, no. Just a moment for me to dress." Pete said as he pulled on a robe, then said, "Come in."

"I'm sorry Pete. I didn't think you'd be asleep already." Bobby said apologetically

"It is fine Bobby. What concerns you?" Pete asked quietly.

"I dunno, my life, my future... stuff like that." Bobby tried to say casually.

"Bobby, I have been in this country for three years and have learned the language for the most part, but some things still confuse me. I am not sure if I have misled you in some way or misunderstood you. So please do not be offended... I am not gay." Peter said with a terrified look on his face.

Bobby smiled gently and said, "Pete, I didn't think you were gay and I wasn't trying to pick up on you. I just wanted to talk to someone my own age... that I haven't pissed off yet."

"That is good Bobby. What is it you would like to talk about?" Pete asked with concern.

"I've been talking to Warren and Kurt about my future. I just wanted to ask you what you think about me studying to become an accountant." Bobby said hesitantly.

"I think I am a bit envious that you have been able to make such a decision. I have been considering my own future for some time and have not been able to come to a decision." Peter said honestly.

"If you want, I can go with you to Kurt and Warren for them to help you. They were really good about helping me to sort out what I wanted. They didn't try to convince me of anything, they just helped me identify my choices and see the positive and negative points of each choice." Bobby said seriously.

"That would be good. When I have tried to make such decisions for myself, I find that I become lost in details and overwhelmed by indecision." Peter said and rested back in his chair more comfortably.

"Yeah, I know that feeling. So you think it's okay that I want to be an accountant?" Bobby asked tremulously.

"Yes, it is an honorable profession and from what little I know of your nature, I believe you would enjoy it." Peter said honestly.

"Thanks Pete. I guess I just needed to hear it from someone I respect... I mean, I respect Kurt and Warren, but they helped me decide, I needed to hear someone else's opinion before I committed to it." Bobby said in thought.

"Thank you Bobby, it is good to know that you respect my opinion. It has been difficult for me in this country. I do not know how to get to know people well and have been very lonely here. I am glad to have finally made a friend." Piotr said a bit shyly.

Bobby was taken aback by the frank admission and finally said, "And I'm glad that my first real friend is a genuinely good person. I'm discovering who I am and it helps for me to have a friend who is good and decent to provide a... moral compass... when I can't find my own."

"That is a great burden of responsibility, to be the conscious of another, I will try to be worthy of your trust in me." Piotr said in an honored voice.

"I don't have any doubt in you Pete. Now I'm going to go and let you get back to sleep, I'm sorry for waking you. Thank you for taking time for me." Bobby said and rose to leave.

"You are always welcomed to come and talk with me my friend. You will join me for jogging tomorrow?" Piotr asked as he rose to walk Bobby to the door.

"I've got it set everyday in my schedule... I wouldn't miss it." Bobby said with a smile as he left the room.

* * * * *

"Very well gentlemen. We will contact my lawyer in the morning and begin proceedings on both matters. I'm sorry if I seemed hesitant to help but I had to know of your motivation before I could commit to helping you." Charles said seriously.

"Thank you Professor." Xander said humbly.

"Will you want to remain in the boathouse or move to other accommodations after the wedding?" the Professor asked both.

Xander and Remy looked at each other for a moment, then Remy said, "We not talk about dat, but Remy wan to stay in de boathouse."

"Me too." Xander said as he turned his attention back to the Professor.

"Then I will see that you are provided a larger bed." The Professor said absently.

"Remy stay on de couch till de wedding night." Remy said quietly to Xander, but everyone in the room heard.

Xander noticed that everyone was watching him and said in explanation, "We're not going to consummate the relationship until after it is official... what can I say, we're just two old fashioned kinda guys."

"An dat another reason we want to have de wedding as soon as possible." Remy said with a leer directed at Xander.

"Oh yeah." Xander said and responded with a searing look in response.

* * * * *

The morning light fell over the mansion to reveal Kurt and Warren in the air, gliding through the sky. It had become a part of both men's routine that they both enjoyed.

Giles was rereading the spell, looking for possible problems as Kendra slept in the adjoining room.

Jean, Tara and Dawn were in the dining room discussing the upcoming spell and working out the location and remaining components.

Remy awoke on the couch and decided that Alan and Andrew must have a very different idea of what is comfortable. Sleeping on the pull out sofa was like sleeping on a sack of doorknobs and there was a metal bar that dug into his back no matter how he positioned himself on the bed.

Xander woke to find himself alone in his room and smiled as he thought that soon he would not have to experience the feeling of isolation anymore.

Piotr had been awake for an hour and was thinking about Bobby's words of the night before as he considered his own future.

Bobby awoke to the sound of his alarm and looked at his schedule to begin his first structured day.

* * * * *

"Mr. Howlett, I have you on speaker phone with Mr. Alexander Harris and Mr. Remy LeBeau. We have need of your services to expedite the marriage of these two men and the adoption of a newborn infant. Will you be able to help us?" Professor Xavier said as he relaxed behind his desk.

"I believe so Professor. I will need to know some particulars before I can give any concrete advice. Are you committed to the idea of marriage or is a civil union acceptable?" Mr. Howlett asked professionally.

"Either be fine. We wan to do whatever be best to get da baby adopted." Remy said a little loudly to be heard on the speaker phone.

"Cajun... Have you been to Guillome's?" Mr. Howlett asked with the sound of a smile in his voice.

"Two days ago." Xander said with a genuine smile.

"Good, I go there whenever I can find the time. I can't think of another place that serves a decent crawfish stew within three states." Mr Howlett said honestly.

"De gumbo make Remy tink of home." Remy said with his won smile.

"Are you both residents of New York?" Mr. Howlett said, getting back into a business-like tone.

Both Xander and Remy looked at the Professor in question.

"Xander is a resident, Remy's identity is a bit... foggy in the official records." The Professor said helplessly.

"You'll need to clear the fog as much as you can before the adoption proceedings Professor. They've been known to do the equivalent of a body cavity search on prospective adoptees records. You'll need to nail down as many things as you can before the hearing." Mr. Howlett said seriously.

"Remy can do dat." Remy said with strength.

"And is the child to be adopted in New York?" Mr. Howlett said after a moment.

"New Jersey." Xander said, beginning to worry.

"That helps." Mr. Howlett said absently.

Xander and Remy both looked at Charles in question. Charles shrugged in response.

"Does the child have any living relatives?" Mr. Howlett asked in an unchanging tone.

"Just one, her grandmother Vada Jeffers." The Professor said quickly.

"And what is her attitude about you adopting her granddaughter?" Mr. Howlett asked with a tone of curiosity in his voice.

"She ask Remy an Xander to adopt Marguerite. She be seventy year old an don wan to raise another baby." Remy said in a hesitant voice.

"That helps us too. Okay gentlemen, I'll tell you what I have so far. Although gay marriage is all the rage these days, there is such opposition to it that it makes adoption harder. Fortunately, if you have the old fashioned civil union, you should be able to sneak in under the anti-gay-marriage protesters radar and file for the adoption without opposition. Since the child to be adopted resides in New Jersey, the adoption will be handled in that state with that state's laws. That helps us because New Jersey has a relatively long history of granting adoptions to same-sex couples and their adoption codes make it easier to expedite the process." Mr. Howlett said quickly.

"Which state should we get marr... the civil union in?" Xander asked, not knowing it would be this much trouble.

"My personal recommendation would be New Jersey. The reason being that you can fill out the paperwork and stand before the judge the same day. In New York you have to file in advance and wait for a date to come up. It's best to find a smaller town to have the civil union because there is less wait in the courtroom. In the larger cities there can be a backlog that might make you wait for a couple days before your petition can be heard." Mr. Howlett said in concentration.

"Like Perth Amboy?" Xander asked everyone in the room.

"I'm not familiar with the town, but it sounds like a good place." Mr. Howlett said in a considering tone.

There was a long moment of silence before Mr. Howlett asked, "Are there any 'special' considerations I should be aware of?"

Xander and Remy looked at each other in question, then turned in unison to the Professor. "No Ken. Only Mr. LeBeau is a mutant and his mutation isn't obvious. We won't need any special accommodations this time." Charles said with a smile.

"Good, although I enjoy the challenge, some things just *can't* be done." Mr. Howlett said with a sound of relief.

"You've always come through for me Mr. Howlett, and I thank you for that." Charles said with admiration.

"Thank you for saying so Professor, but you know my motivation behind all of this." Mr. Howlett said cryptically.

"Yes. Is there anything else we should be aware of before we begin proceedings?" Charles asked carefully.

"How soon are you planning to have the civil union?" Mr. Howlett asked curiously.

"Tomorrow if that's possible." Xander said and looked at Remy in question.

Remy nodded enthusiastically.

"Gentlemen, would you mind if I accompanied you tomorrow? Just to be sure that everything is signed and filed properly?" Mr. Howlett asked carefully.

"Sure Mr. Howlett. And we could stop at Guillome's on the way back." Xander said excitedly.

"That sounds like a great idea. What time should I be at the mansion to meet you?" Mr. Howlett asked casually.

"Let's make it nine o'clock, that way we can get into the courthouse around ten." Professor Xavier said in a considering tone.

"Professor, we'd like to invite Aunt Vada to join us. Maybe we should add some time for her?" Xander asked quietly.

"Let's say eight-thirty. Be sure to call her sometime today and invite her." The Professor said in a tone of warning.

Xander nodded.

"Good. I'll see you at eight-thirty in the morning. It will be a pleasure to meet you in person. Goodbye." Mr. Howlett said in a friendly tone.

"Same here. Goodbye." Xander said before the phone hung up.

* * * * *

Just after lunch a man arrived at the door of the mansion, looking around apprehensively.

"May I help you?" Scott asked as he answered the door.

"I have a delivery for a Mr. Giles. Am I at the correct address?" The man asked with a British accent.

"Yes, please come in." Scott said and led the man to the common room where everyone was waiting.

"Wendell? It is good to see you, have you brought everything I requested?" Giles asked as he gave the man a hearty handshake.

"Yes sir, all the items you requested are in the car outside. I must admit that when I saw the list, I didn't think I would be given access to a few of them." Wendell said as he looked at the other people in the room.

"One of the benefits of being the watcher to the active slayer. We'll have time for introductions later. Charles, would you see that the car is unloaded and Mr. Harris joins us in the clearing? Miss Summers, Miss McCoy and Dr. Grey, would you come with me to prepare the ceremony?" Giles asked in a commanding tone as he led the way out of the room.

* * * * *

The group walked outside to a clearing among the trees.

"A picturesque location, may I ask why you've chosen it?" Wendell asked quietly as he looked around.

"We are unsure of how the gateway will manifest itself, so we decided to have the ceremony outside in case it causes damage." Giles said as he began setting cups of herbs out in the grass.

"What can I do to help?" Wendell asked.

"Take these pages and study the chant. This spell requires things to be done in a particular rhythm. If you have any difficulty with the pronunciation, ask Dr. Grey for clarification, she is familiar with the language the spell is written in." Giles said and began to position items around the circle that Dawn and Tara were creating.

Several X-men carried boxes and bottles to the clearing.

"Please just set everything by those trees, we will go through them in a moment." Giles said while positioning a cluster of berries in the grass.

"Do you want us to stay here or stay away?" Scott asked carefully.

"I would like for Ms. Munroe and Mr. Harris to stay. From what Dawn and Tara have said, she can provide extra energy for them should they fall short. And Mr. Harris is the designate and vital to the spell. The rest of you may stay or go, as you like, but if you stay, you must remain silent and still. Any distraction could cost us our chance to open this portal. We have enough supplies to try this once more if this fails, then that is all. There will be no more." Giles said seriously to the group.

Scott nodded and moved to a spot well away from the group of busy people to stand and watch.

To Be Continued...