Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Chapter 13: The Forest, The Trees

Alan, Andrew, Three, Four, Six and Bobby walked out of the surgery and into a room full of X-men.

Everyone started to ask questions at once as Alan held up his hands and said, "Jean is still in surgery so we need to keep it down. Andrew?"

"He should be fine. The damage has been healed and there shouldn't be any lasting effect." Andrew said carefully.

Dawn ran up and pulled Andrew into a deep hug as Scott did the same for Alan.

"Thanks guys. We have some things that have to be done right now. Is our stuff still in the boathouse?" Andrew asked over Dawn's shoulder.

"Just like you left it." Alex said from the group.

"Good. Whoever wants to help, we have a lot of stuff that needs to be moved over there." Andrew said and walked through the group to the pile of their possessions.

"What's the rush, you just got back?" Dawn asked with a slight whine.

"Our children need their regeneration alcoves assembled and adapted for this century. Once that's being done, I'll be able to sit down and talk with everyone." Andrew said firmly.

"We can go without regeneration for several days if necessary." Trey said quietly.

"I know Trey, but I don't want you to have to feel that discomfort when we can prevent it. I have to stay here in case Jean needs me, Alan?" Andrew asked with a helpless look.

"Right love. Three, Four, Six. We're going to open a portal into the basement of the boathouse. Everything is going to be carried over, you three need to separate the alcove components in preparation for assembly. X-men, anyone who is going to help, grab some stuff and start hauling." Alan said as Andrew looked on with a tender smile.

A portal formed in the wall and the first of the Summers family possessions were carried into the boathouse.

* * * * *

Emma Frost ran into the mansion and directly to Charles office.

"What happened, and you said Chris... None of my children is named Chris." Emma said in a rush.

"Please, try and be calm Emma. The child is going to be fine thanks to some... unbelievable help. Come with me to MedLab and we'll talk to Angel, I'm sure he can answer your questions." Charles said and led the way out of the room.

* * * * *

"Michael?" Emma said with a note of fear as she watched Dr. Grey working on the motionless boy.

"He likes to be called Chris." Angel said from behind her, still holding Janine in a hug.

"He talked to you?" Emma asked with disbelief.

"Yes, apparently his name is Michael Christian. No one ever called him Michael until... he went to your school." Angel said quietly and shifted Janine for a more comfortable grip.

"But he never talks to anyone. He was so withdrawn I could only do the slightest telepathic scan." Emma said in wonder.

"From what he said, I remind him of his father... and he misses his father horribly." Angel said with a note of pain and looked through the window into the surgery where Jean was still working.

"He's going to be fine." Janine said and laid her head on Angel's shoulder.

"His parents were killed in an explosion. He has the X-gene but hasn't manifested any mutant ability as of yet." Emma said as she continued to watch the surgery.

"Yes he has... the explosion was him. His parents were fighting and screaming at each other. Something snapped inside him and his mutant ability let loose. The explosion destroyed his house and his family. He wandered away, and finally he was brought to you." Angel said, filled with concern.

"Try not to worry." Janine said and held tighter.

"I had no idea. From all reports, he was playing at a friends house when the explosion occurred... no wonder he didn't speak. That poor child, the guilt he must be feeling." Emma said in realization.

"I don't think he's been feeling much of anything. He's barely been existing. We've spent every night the past week just sitting up and talking about his family and... my son Connor. I lost him almost a year ago." Angel finished in a whisper.

"I'm glad he's finally been able to open up to someone." Emma said honestly.

"Miss Frost. I don't want to lose him. He needs a father, I need a son, we *need* to be together." Angel said with increasing strength.

"I don't see that as being a problem. You've obviously done more for him than I ever could, he was at the school for almost a year and never spoke to anyone... I didn't even know his name." Emma finished in a defeated tone.

"Actually, there might be a few problems. First, I'm not from this universe. And second... You said you're a telepath, try to scan me." Angel said quietly.

Emma focused her power and it was as if there was no one there. She could clearly focus on the girl, but the man holding her was blank, not shielded, just... not there.

"I don't understand." She finally said.

"I'm a vampire." Angel said shyly.

Emma looked at him with disbelief in her eyes.

"Little one, is your name Seven?" Angel asked Janine quietly.

"My designation is Seven of Seven, my name is Janine." She said in an equal quiet tone.

"Janine, that's a very beautiful name." Angel said with a smile.

"Yes. I know." Janine said smugly.

"Janine, would you look the other way for just a minute. I need to show Emma something." Angel asked with his most convincing smile.

"Father told us about game face and about you having a soul. I promise I won't be frightened, I wanna see." Janine ended in a pleading tone.

"Okay my little limpet. But if you get frightened, just tell me and I'll put you down." Angel said as he looked into her eyes.

Janine nodded and watched carefully.

Angel let his game face come to the fore. His ridged forehead, yellow eyes and fangs became prominent as he looked at Emma.

"That wasn't scary." Janine said and put her head on Angel's shoulder again.

"I must be losing my touch." Angel said, then noticed the look of fear in Emma's eyes.

Angel quickly changed back and said, "I promise, I don't bite people anymore and I try to help them whenever I can."

Emma thought for a moment before saying, "I need to talk with Charles about this... just don't do anything until I've had a chance to talk to him."

Angel nodded and looked back into the surgery where Jean was putting things away.

From her place against Angel's chest Janine said, "He's going to be fine."

* * * * *

"Charles, I need to know what's going on. That... creature... wants to adopt one of my children." Emma said in a lost tone of worry.

"By everything that I've picked up from Miss Summers, Mr. Harris and Mr. Wells, Angel is on a mission of redemption for the horrible things that his demon did earlier in his life... unlife... existence. He is a responsible person who works very hard to do the right thing and help people." Charles said as they traveled down the hallway.

"But he is a vampire... I didn't think they really existed... and what happened to Michael?" Emma asked, still in a fog of shock.

"There is a young woman here named Kendra... she is a vampire slayer. When she felt Angel's presence, she went to kill him as she and her kind are meant to do. When she was about to put a wooden stake through Angel's heart, Chris threw himself in front of Angel to protect him." Charles said as he sent the images from his own mind into hers.

"I can only imagine that kind of love." Emma said absently as she watched the scene unfold in her own mind.

"Perhaps this is what Chris needs to forgive himself for his father's death. Be that as it may, thanks to some... extradimensional, futuristic, and intergalactic help, Chris will make a full recovery. If you would like I'll just share the images with you... I can't find words to explain all that I've witnessed today." Charles said in an overwhelmed tone.

"I believe that would be best, I've only just arrived and have encountered things I cannot describe." Emma said and accepted the images that Charles fed to her.

* * * * *

"He's resting comfortably." Andrew said as he, Icheb and Robert walked through the wall into the basement of the boathouse.

"Everything is looking good here. We've just been sorting things into different piles. Scott and Alex took the stuff from our room and the living room upstairs. The kids' things are here... I didn't know what to do with them." Alan said helplessly.

Andrew looked around the room and said speculatively, "This is a pretty big room... Icheb, how many rooms do you think we could partition this space into?"

After a long moment of consideration Icheb finally said, "We could construct six equal rooms that would be two by two meters."

"Then we need to make some decisions. Everyone upstairs, we need to discuss some things." Andrew said and led the way.

* * * * *

"Mr. O'Rourke, I'm sorry about my abrupt behavior earlier, but I was unprepared for your... transformation. Now that I have had time to speak with Professor Xavier, I believe that I am ready to continue our talk." Emma said calmly.

"Thank you... Emma?" Angel asked, not knowing the proper way to address her.

Emma nodded elegantly and continued, "I have witnessed the images from Charles mind and have no doubt of your devotion to Chris or his to you. So what I need to know now is, what is to be done about it?"

"Since Andrew is back, I could take Chris to my world and he would be my son." Angel said quietly and shifted Janine for a better grip.

"Quite frankly Mr. O'Rourke, I don't know if that is in Chris' best interest." Emma said regally.

"But we *need* to be together." Angel said in panic.

"I agree, but I do not believe that your world is the best place for a mutant child to be raised. According to what you said to Professor Xavier, his mutation has already manifested once and because he couldn't control it, his parents are dead. What happens to him if the same thing happens to you?" Professor Frost said bluntly.

"I didn't think of that." Angel said quietly.

"I have spoken to Charles about this and he's offered to allow you to stay here, as a teacher. Chris would study here as a student and learn to control his abilities in an environment designed for that purpose. He would also be surrounded by other mutants, which I believe to be important to his self-image." Emma said in a controlled tone.

"But in my world..." Angel began.

"You have a very simple decision to make Mr. O'Rourke. Either you will stay here with Chris or you will return to your own world without him... I said the choice was simple, not easy." Emma said firmly.

"You're wrong. It's the easiest choice I've ever had to make. I'll do anything to stay with my son. I'll stay here with Chris." Angel said with finality.

"I had hoped that would be your answer. Let's go back to the waiting room, I'm sure he'll want to see you when he wakes up." Emma said with a smile.

* * * * *

Scott and Alex were sitting in the living room when everyone emerged from the basement.

"Good, you're here. We need Remy and Xander too. I think we need to have a family meeting to discuss what we're going to do." Alan said and took a seat.

"XANDER, REMY, COME DOWN HERE." Alex yelled and everyone looked at him in surprise.

"Come on guys, I'm not going to run up the stairs just to say that." Alex said simply.

"Kids, you can sit on the floor, pull some chairs in from the dining room or squeeze in on the couches wherever there is space." Andrew said, seeing them standing in a row.

"What about Janine?" Jimmy asked timidly.

"Oh yeah, I left her with Angel... " Andrew said and used his power to peek in on them in the MedLab. "It'll be good for him. I don't think he gets nearly enough hugs." he finally said with a smile.

"What you be needin Remy an Xander for?" Remy asked as they descended the stairs.

"Family meeting." Alex said over his shoulder.

"Jimmy, would you give up your seat for Uncle Remy? Come here and sit with me." Alan said with a tender smile.

Jimmy did so and came to rest on Alan's knees. Alan pulled him into a hug then cradled him to rest comfortably in his lap.

"We need to discuss what we want to do to modify the house for the children. Does anyone know if the attic space is useable, I never looked." Andrew asked everyone.

After a moment of silence Alex said, "I can go up and check it out, where's the tape measure?"

"Trey, would you go with your Uncle Alex to make measurements? You know the amount of space needed for an alcove, see if it is possible... and desirable." Alan said in his fatherly tone.

"Yes Dad." Trey said and waited for Alex to lead the way.

"Icheb, would you look into that closet under the stairs and see if it could be widened to create a livable space for one person... something bigger than two by two." Andrew asked.

"Yes Father." Icheb said and walked to the indicated door.

"William and Robert, up to now we've kept you two in the same room. I need to know if you want to be in the same room now or would you prefer separate rooms?" Alan asked seriously.

"We would like to continue to cohabitate." Robert said surely.

"William?" Alan asked to be sure.

William nodded.

"Jimmy? When we moved into separate rooms on Voyager you didn't want to be alone. What do you want now?" Andrew asked carefully.

"I would like to share a room with Robert and William... If they would let me." Jimmy said hesitantly.

"What do you say guys? I need for you to tell me what you honestly think and feel.

Both boys had looks of concentration, then they turned to look at each other in unison. Finally Robert said, "That would be acceptable."

"I'm sorry Robert, but that isn't good enough. I won't let Jimmy move in with anyone unless he is wanted. I wouldn't want to be somewhere that I was only tolerated and none of my kids are going to know that feeling if I can prevent it." Andrew said with fire.

William finally said, "We would like for Jimmy to move into our room. He is our brother and we like him."

Alan looked at William and Robert with a smile and said, "I'm proud of you guys. What do you say Jimmy, do you want to move in with Robert and William?"

Jimmy nodded and smiled.

Trey and Alex came down the stairs and Trey quickly said, "Dad, the room will be acceptable for two separate rooms four by three meters each."

"Yeah, there's a ton of space up there, it's not completely finished, but there is a solid floor, and it seems livable." Alex said and took his seat.

"Dad, Uncle Scott looks like you." Robert said in realization.

"I told you I was a twin like you guys. This is my twin brother Scott." Alan said happily.

Robert and William looked back and forth between the two and both eventually smiled.

"So you guys aren't the only twins in the family anymore." Alan said, enjoying their happiness.

"And in about six and a half months there's going to be another set of twins." Andrew said lovingly.

Alex and Scott both looked at Alan and Andrew curiously.

Alan put up his hand and said, "Pregnant, twins, boys."

"You Summers be like rabbits." Remy said with a smile.

"Look who's talking. We'll be bringing home our daughter long before their sons are born." Xander said lovingly.

At Andrew and Alan's twin looks of question Xander explained, "Remember Margaret's unborn baby... the lawyer says we should have her legally adopted by the time she's ready to leave the hospital... Marguerite Vada LeBeau."

"So that makes... fifteen people living in a house designed for four?" Alex asked in question.

"I know Alex, but I don't want to move back to the mansion, and I love living with all you guys. I really want to find a way to make this work." Andrew said emotionally.

"Father, the space could be modified to accommodate one room three by three meters if you would be willing to sacrifice some closet space from that room." Icheb said, indicating Alan and Andrew's room.

"Good... Icheb." Andrew said, deep in thought.

"Icheb and Trey in the attic, Janine in the new room on this level, And William, Robert and Jimmy in the basement." Alan said in triumph.

"What about Marguerite and the twins?" Andrew asked with worry.

"Remy have an idea for dat." Remy said and drew everyone's attention. "It be some time before de babies come. Why not add on to de house before dey come. Marguerite can stay wit Xander an Remy till she have a new room."

"We'll need to talk to the Professor, but I don't see any reason why he'd refuse." Alan said in a considering tone.

"Icheb, how much will need to be done before we can put an alcove into Janine's room?" Andrew asked, beginning to get impatient.

"Nothing, the alcove could be assembled immediately, the adjustments are required to increase the space to a level that you would find acceptable. The room is currently two by two meters which I believe to be insufficient by your standards." Icheb said in a very Borg-like tone.

"Yes, that's too small in the long term, but it'll be fine for a few days... Trey, what about the attic, what modifications would need to be made before installing the alcoves?" Andrew asked.

"No modifications are required." Trey said, also in a Borg-like tone.

Andrew and Alan both caught on and Alan shifted Jimmy off his knees. Alan went to Icheb and Andrew went to Trey and they simultaneously pulled their sons into a hug.

"Sorry guys, I know it's a lot of changes in a short time. Don't close up on us, you're here with family, if you're feeling uncomfortable about anything, just say it, there's no need to go all Borgy on us." Andrew said as he held Trey close.

"It is irrelevant. I feel disoriented by the strangeness of this place. There has been much change in a short time." Trey said quietly.

"Then lets get to work setting up alcoves and getting unpacked. Maybe when we have some of our own things around us, we'll feel more at home." Alan said and released Icheb from the hug.

"Yes Dad." Icheb said and walked to the basement.

All the children followed Icheb and Andrew and Alan sat back down on the couch.

"You've got some good kids there." Alex said in a considering tone.

"And you've got some good nephews, Uncle Alex." Alan said with a smile.

Scott and Alex looked at each other with surprise as that sunk in.

"Is it too early for a visit?" Dawn asked as she, Tara and Jean walked into the boathouse.

"You three are always welcomed here." Andrew said with a smile and pulled Dawn into a hug.

"Andrew, when you have a moment, I need to discuss something with you." Jean said with a somber tone.

"Okay Jean, come with me into the bedroom while I unpack." Andrew said and led the way.

To Be Continued...