Hurt & Comfort

Book 5: Heroes Can Be Hurt

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Chapter 14: Intersections and Intercessions

"It's Hank. There was an accident and it... changed him... on a genetic level. He hasn't come out of his room in days and Orroro is worrying herself sick about him.

"Changed him physically?" Andrew asked in confirmation.

"Yes, he's still Hank inside, but outside he looks like some sort of beast." Jean said with worry.

"If you're asking me to fix him, I can't do anything about a change on the genetic level. You saw the extent of my medical training. I'm trained to stabilize a patient until a doctor can arrive." Andrew said helplessly.

"No, the change is not the problem. It's Hank. He won't talk to anyone, he's withdrawn to the point that it is unhealthy for him. I'm not asking you to fix him physically, I'm asking you to help him to deal with what has happened to him. When I asked for his help with Chris today, he refused." Jean said with sadness.

"I don't know what I can do. If he won't talk to anyone else, there's no reason for him to talk to me." Andrew said honestly.

"Andrew, you have a gift for dealing with people, I believe that if anyone can open Hank's eyes to the truth, it's you." Jean said with admiration.

"Okay, but I think I'll need my support group for this job." Andrew said and walked for the door.

"I trust you to do the right thing." Jean said and followed.

* * * * *

"Mr. Giles? Kendra?" Charles said quietly as he knocked on the door.

Giles opened the door with a look of fear.

"The boy is going to be fine. Dawn used the last of the portal components to open a vortex and summon the help we need." Charles said with a peaceful smile.

"Kendra! Did you hear that, he's going to live." Giles said with joy.

"I hear watcher man." Kendra said with a tearful smile.

"You are both welcomed to stay here as long as you like, provided that you not try to terminate any of my other guests while you're here." Charles said only half-jokingly.

"You have my assurance. Now that we know of Angel's soul, he will not be a target for my slayer." Giles said enthusiastically.

"I keep to me room if dat be best." Kendra said in resigned acceptance.

"That's won't be necessary. Apparently Angel is friends with several slayers in his own world and understands why you tried to stake him. As long as you don't pose a threat to him or his son, he won't give you any problems." Charles said with assurance.

"Thank you Charles, I believe that we will be leaving in the morning, but it has been good to meet all of you." Giles said with genuine admiration.

"Dinner will be served in about half an hour, please come down and join us." Charles said as he turned to leave.

"We will, and thank you again." Giles said as Charles left the room.

* * * * *

"Kids, we've got a job. Come up." Andrew called down the basement stairway.

"What's up love?" Alan asked with worry.

"We've got to fix Hank." Andrew said with a shrug.

"Good luck, I've been trying for a week to get him to talk to me." Scott said honestly.

"Let me work my magic." Andrew said to the group of adults as the children trooped upstairs.

"One step." Andrew said and opened the portal into the hallway outside Hank's room.

* * * * *

Andrew motioned to Alan to call for Hank.

"Hank? Would you talk to me for a minute?" Alan asked hesitantly.

"No Scott. How many times do I have to tell you? I don't want to talk." Hank said gruffly.

Andrew waved his hand and the door became insubstantial.

"Maybe just once more, because it isn't Scott, it's Alan." Andrew said as he led the group through the transparent door.

"Andrew? Alan? How?" Hank asked in astonishment, forgetting his self pity for a moment.

"To say it's a long story is an understatement. But we're back and we're here to get you out of your room. I'd like for you to meet my children." Andrew said and motioned to the group of children huddled just inside the door.

"I can't. Don't you understand? I'm a monster! Look, your children are terrified of me." Hank said with pain.

"Trey, please disregard tact and tell Hank why you are all gathered at the far end of the room." Andrew said firmly.

Trey broke loose of the group and said, "Your odor is strong and quite offensive."

"You stink Hank." Alan said succinctly.

"I understood him." Hank said in offense.

"Do you have another pair of those sweat pants?" Andrew asked politely.

"Yes." Hank answered cautiously.

"May I see them?" Andrew asked, trying not to spook Hank.

Hank got a pair of sweatpants from his dresser and handed them to Andrew.

"Good, that should be all we need." Andrew said and opened a portal beneath Hank's feet.

Hank dropped out of sight with a yelp of surprise.

Andrew calmly opened a portal in the wall and walked through.

Everyone else looked at each other in question and followed him.

* * * * *

Andrew stepped onto the boat dock that was attached to the boathouse, closely followed by Alan and the children.

Alan and Andrew laughed at Hank who was wet and sputtering, as he swam toward the dock.

"Icheb, I need for you to go to both bathrooms and gather all the shampoo, soap and conditioner that we have. Alan, I'll make a portal for you to the garage of the mansion, I need the scrub brushes that they use on the cars, a hair brush won't hold up to that fur." Andrew said and formed a portal.

"Trey, come with me to help carry brushes." Alan said and walked through.

"Mr. Wells, that was quite unnecessary." Hank said as he climbed onto the dock.

"First of all, the name is Summers now, I got married. And second, you've had plenty of time to take care of this yourself. Now we're going to do it for you. Get out of those sweats, you're about to be shampooed." Andrew said firmly.

"You can't be serious." Hank asked in shock.

"Hank, I am completely serious. You either take them off or I'll drop you in the Arctic for a few minutes, then we'll chip them off." Andrew said as Icheb ran up carrying several bottles.

Hank turned away and took off the sweatpants.

"Okay, everyone grab some shampoo and start scrubbing. You'll need to work it in to get all the way down to the skin, if you try to rub it, it'll just wash the fur on top." Andrew said and accepted a bottle from Icheb.

"No, you can't..." Hank began to say as Andrew, Jimmy, Icheb, William and Robert began to lather.

"Shut up. If you weren't being such a big baby we wouldn't have to do this." Andrew said firmly and worked the shampoo into Hank's scalp.

"Mr. Wel... Summers, I assure you that I was not being a big baby." Hank said huffily.

"Really? Jean says that Orroro is worrying herself sick over you. Scott has been trying to get you to talk... just talk... for days and you wouldn't even do that. And a little boy nearly died today because you were so involved in your pity party that you wouldn't even try to save him." Andrew said moving from frustration to anger.

"I couldn't..." Hank began and was interrupted.

"Couldn't what? Pull your head out of your ass long enough to think about someone besides yourself? Couldn't save a child's life because you were immersed in your self-indulgent pity-fest? Couldn't care enough about the feelings of your closest friends to even give them reassurance? Couldn't set an example for the children to show that mutation doesn't make you, or them, less human? Go ahead, explain it to me, you couldn't what? You've got my attention now!" Andrew said with fury then stopped scrubbing to listen.

Hank stood silently as everyone but Andrew was washing his fur.

He turned and noticed Alan and Trey waiting expectantly, holding brushes.

"What have I done?" Hank asked in realization.

"I just told you what you've done. The question is, what are you going to do?"

"I'm sorry Andrew, I didn't realize..." Hank trailed off, not knowing how to voice his feelings.

"Don't tell me you're sorry, tell Orroro, Scott, Jean and Chris. They're the ones who have been hurt by you. If you're really sorry, then grab some shampoo and start washing, because I don't think anyone here wants to be the one who washes your crotch." Andrew said bluntly.

Hank couldn't find any words to respond to that so he held out his hand and received a squirt of shampoo.

* * * * *

After a dunk in the lake, Hank made his way back to the dock.

"Okay, everyone grab a brush, we have a ton of fur to brush before it tangles." Alan said to the group.

"I don't know how to thank you for all you've done. It is difficult to believe that a rational man such myself could be so effected by circumstances." Hank said speculatively.

"That's nice Hank. Could you help us here? Even with eight of us, combing out a blue wookie is going to be a big job and we still have to build six regeneration alcoves before the end of the night." Andrew said in frustration.

"Love? I could do the heat thing like I did in surgery... like a wookie hair dryer?" Alan asked plaintively.

"Great idea love. You turn on the heat while the rest of us wrestle out the tangles, we'll have him looking 'bouncy and radiant' in no time." Andrew said and started brushing in earnest.

Movement from the corner of Andrew's eye caught his attention. He looked up to see Jean, Alex, Scott, Remy, Xander, Dawn and Tara watching them brushing Hank.

Andrew made a shushing motion and shooed them away.

//Don't worry Andrew, we'll never tell him that we saw.// Jean sent to Andrew's mind.

//Thanks Jean. I may have been stern with him, but I really care about his feelings, I don't want him to be embarrassed.// Andrew sent as he continued brushing.

//Said like a true father.// Jean said and sent a wave of admiration and respect across the link before it fell silent.

"What are regeneration alcoves?" Hank asked as he brushed the more... personal... areas of his body.

"The children are a fusion of organic and mechanical components, the regeneration alcove recharges the mechanical parts, provides nourishment, expels waste, and does repairs on all the components of the organism, mechanical or organic." Andrew said absently as he continued brushing.

"Father, you speak like a Borg." Jimmy said with a chuckle.

"I guess that's why I'm 'One of Two'." Andrew said with a shrug and continued to brush.

"And I'm glad to be your 'Two of Two'." Alan said and moved in for a kiss.

To Be Continued...