Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 3: Tomorrows

"So when are the children going to eat?" Dawn asked with a note of worry.

"They won't. They don't eat, sleep, or use the bathroom, all that is taken care of by the regeneration alcoves." Andrew said as he relaxed into Alan's side.

"Are they always going to be that way?" Hank asked curiously.

"If they want to be. I talked to the doctor on Voyager and he told me how I could... wean them off their Borg components. But the kids are happy and healthy the way they are. If one of them expresses an interest in losing their Borg equipment, then I'll help them. But until then, why fix a problem that's not a problem?" Andrew said in a sleepy tone.

"It is good to know that you do not want to change us Father." William said from outside Janine's room.

"I'll get some bells next time I'm at the store." Alan whispered to Andrew.

"Come here William. Everyone, this is our son William Alan Spike Summers." Andrew said with pride.

"Spike?" Dawn said curiously.

"Yeah. Get to know him, you'll understand. It's like he has the best qualities of Spike without the demon... or the accent." Andrew said as he looked fondly at his son.

"So his second name is Alan?" Alex asked, looking at Alan as he and Scott entered the living room.

"Yeah, the kids chose their own names. We didn't know what middle names they chose until the adoption hearing." Alan said with a smile of pride for his son and namesake.

"So why did you pick Alan as your middle name William?" Scott asked with a smile.

"Because when we were first brought on board Voyager, Dad took Robert and I away from the others and told us that we were special and he would make sure that whatever happened that we would not be separated. It was our first day in a new place and he made us feel wanted, cared for, and... secure, even though we didn't have words for those feelings at the time. I chose to honor him by taking his name." William said as Icheb approached.

"Which is why I chose to honor Father by taking the middle names LeeAndrew Malachi. He provided me guidance and support when I was unsure. He encouraged me to try and do things that I would not have tried otherwise. If not for Father's influence, I believe that I would be little more than a drone with hair." Icheb said with respect.

"Thank you Icheb." Andrew said and stood to pull him into a hug.

Alan followed suit and pulled William in to hold him close.

"So that's what we were missing." Scott said to Alex as he watched the scene.

"Yeah, but we're here now. And even though we didn't get the support and hugs when we were kids, that doesn't mean we can't give them out now that we're uncles." Alex said honestly.

"And with six kids, I'm guessing that there'll be enough need of hugs and support for everyone to contribute." Dawn said as she watched the fatherly scene of caring.

"And two on the way." Alan said with a smile as he released William.

"And one more after that... where did you put her?" Andrew finished with panic.

"Don't worry love, she's in the headboard of the bed. I made sure to put her away first thing." Alan said with reassurance.

"Who?" Hank asked curiously.

"Our daughter... she'll be born after the twins." Alan said with a smile.

"Remy told you, dese Summers' be like rabbits." Remy said into the silence.

"I think you're right." Xander said through his surprise.

"So have you decided on names?" Tara asked and sat foreword with interest.

Alan and Andrew took their seats again as William and Icheb went back to work.

"We haven't settled on any yet but our favorite is Chakotay Thomas for one of the twins and we were thinking maybe Gregor Geron for the other, but..." Andrew drifted off.

"But B'Elana and Seven named their daughter Alana LeaAndrea after us and I feel like we should honor them the same way." Alan said with indecision.

Xander had a flash of deja vu at hearing the name Chakotay and said without thinking, "Chakotay B'Elan Summers."

"It's perfect." Alan said immediately. "And that would make his brother Thomas Seven Summers." Alan continued with a little bit of a sour look.

"Ahnikan." Andrew said with a smile.

"What?" Alan asked, confused by the seeming non-sequitor.

"Right before we went through the portal Seven asked me to call her by her human name, Ahnika. The masculine form of her name would be Ahnikan, as in Thomas Ahnikan Summers." Andrew said with a contented smile.

"You aren't worried about him getting Darth Vadar vibes from the name are you?" Alan asked with caution.

"We have a son with the middle name Spike. No, I'm not worried. As long as he knows that he is named after his remarkable Aunt Ahnika, and not the evil master of the dark side of the force, it should be fine." Andrew said happily.

"What does everyone else think? Chakotay B'Elan Summers and Thomas Ahnikan Summers?" Alan asked the group.

"Perfect." Xander said immediately.

"It good to know dat Marguerite not be de only baby bein raised here." Remy said to the group.

"Yeah, there seem to be baby booms wherever we go." Andrew said with a smile.

"What about your daughter? Any ideas of a name for her?" Dawn asked curiously.

"We haven't discussed it. I'm open to suggestions." Alan said to the group.

"Joyce." Xander said immediately.

Dawn looked at him with a gentle smile and said, "Yeah, it's a great name."

"Who's Joyce?" Andrew asked, surprised to see the emotional reaction from Dawn.

"My mom. She was the greatest." Dawn said with a pained smile.

"Are you sure you don't want to save that for your own daughter?" Alan asked carefully.

"The chances of Tara and I having our own is... remote. And since Buffy seems to favor..." Dawn trailed off, trying to find a delicate way of saying it.

"...The sunlight challenged." Xander said helpfully.

Dawn nodded in thanks and continued, "I think it would be perfect. That is if you wanted to use it."

Alan thought for a minute and said, "I think I remember meeting her once when I was a kid. Your father was being an ass, but your mom was really nice."

"Yeah, she was cool." Scott said from his own memory.

"So we have a first name for her, anyone else?" Alan said, looking around the room.

"Anyanka." Andrew said with a small smile.

"Really?" Xander asked with shock.

"Yeah, Anya was a good friend and even if she hadn't died saving my life I would still want to honor her memory by naming one of my kids after her." Andrew said seriously.

"I think she'd like that." Xander said wistfully.

"So Joyce Anyanka Summers?" Alan asked in confirmation.

"Joyce Anyanka Halfrak Summers." Andrew said quietly.

Alan remembered Andrew talking about his feelings toward Anyanka and Halfrak and nodded without comment.

"Hallie always called me cupcake." Xander said with fond remembrance.

"She called me sweetie." Andrew said with an identical expression.

"Wow, when the Summers family get together we really get things done." Dawn said, trying to lighten the mood.

"Yeah, the mansion is about to be overrun with Summers'." Alan said with a smile.

"And I thought two McCoy's was going to be confusing." Hank said to the group.

"Andrew, are you going back to being a teacher's assistant now that you're back?" Scott asked out of nowhere.

"Um... I don't know. I'll talk to the Professor tomorrow and find out what he'd like for us to do about jobs and about enrolling the children in classes." Andrew said with a furrowed brow.

"Since you've done all the medical training on Voyager, do you want to become a doctor?" Alan asked quietly.

"No. I might think about getting EMT certification, but that's all. I like being able to help people in an emergency, but I don't think the day-to-day life as a doctor would be good for me." Andrew said in thought.

"It is good to know that you have thought this out. Many medical students don't make that discovery until they are in residence. If I can offer any assistance in helping you to attain your goal, I am always available to you." Hank said honestly.

"Thanks Hank. It's just an idea for now. I think for the moment that I'll be a teacher's assistant like I was before until we get settled in. Alan, have you thought about being the Professor's assistant, like you were for Chakotay?" Andrew said suddenly.

"No, I hadn't considered that but... I'll ask the Professor tomorrow. I enjoyed my job and the Professor would probably like some help with the administration of this place." Alan said with a smile.

"So are you going to enroll the kids into classes?" Alex asked as he sat back into the couch.

"I think so. All the kids will probably be able to test out of high school if they want to but I think it would be good for them to learn how to interact with other kids. They were the only kids on Voyager except for Naomi." Alan said evenly.

"Remy be tinkin bout bein a teacher for de Professor." Remy said seriously.

"Doing what?" Xander asked cautiously.

"Teachin French. Xander may not notice but English be Remy's second language." Remy said with a smile.

"I might have caught a hint of an accent once or twice." Xander said with a teasing smile in return.

"That would be perfect for you Remy." Alex said in a voice of surprise.

"Yeah, and you'll be around to take care of Marguerite... what are we going to do with the babies while we're all working?" Alan asked suddenly.

"That's my job." Dawn said with strength.

Everyone turned their attention to Dawn.

"The Professor doesn't have any kind of home economics class here. I'm going to continue my college classes and teach the kids about budgeting, cooking, sewing and child care. It will serve as a classroom and daycare center... if the Professor approves it." Dawn said with a triumphant smile.

"That's great Dawn. That will give the kids a chance to get some hands on experience with babies and give you the chance to prepare them to be self sufficient when they leave the school." Scott said enthusiastically.

"I've been thinking about it since I got here." Dawn said with a smile.

"And whoever has a free period can come and help you." Hank said casually.

"Yes, and maybe we could work it out so I could have one or two periods free to do my own classes." Dawn said happily.

"I bet we could. What about you Alex? Do you want to have a job at the mansion too?" Scott asked his brother carefully.

"Yeah... But I don't know what I'd do." Alex said in a lost tone.

"Counselor." Andrew said immediately.

"I don't have any training." Alex said in defeat.

"You can do the job while you're getting the training. Think about how you felt in high school. Do you want any of these children to feel like that?" Andrew persisted.

"No, I would never want anyone to feel what I did." Alex said honestly.

"Then this is your chance to see that every child is made to feel important and included. You have a tremendous heart, I think this is the perfect way that you can put your own experience and capacity for caring to use as a career." Andrew said with certainty.

"You really think so?" Alex asked unsurely.

"Absolutely. I can't think of anyone who would be better suited to the task of seeing that none of the children are left behind. You can relate to their pain because you've felt it yourself, you are a mutant, so they'll know that you can understand that part of their life, and you have the support of the Summers family when you begin to make their problems your own... and you probably will." Andrew said with assurance.

"Yeah, I think I'd like to give it a try." Alex said in realization.

//Andrew, would you gather everyone and come to MedLab? Chris is waking up.// The Professor sent to all the adults.

* * * * *

The portal opened and the Summers family and extended family trooped into the waiting room of the MedLab. Hank moved away from the group and began putting things back in their proper place.

"Angel, how's he doing?" Andrew asked quietly.

"I think he's about to wake up." Angel said in his own quiet tone.

"Andrew, please come with me, everyone else, please give us a minute. I don't want Chris to be overwhelmed with attention when he is just waking up." Angel said quietly before walking back into the recovery room.

"Dad?" Chris called quietly.

"Yes son, I'm here." Angel said and held Chris' hand tightly.

"That woman, she didn't hurt you did she?" Chris asked in a weak voice.

"No, I'm fine. You saved my life." Angel said with love and adoration.

"Good. I love you." Chris said quietly.

"I love you too, son. I'd like for you to meet the man who saved your life. This is Andrew." Angel said slowly.

"Hi." Chris said shyly.

"Hi." Andrew said in response, not knowing what else to say.

"I talked to the Professor and we've got it all worked out. We can stay here together, in this school." Angel said happily.

"I don't have to go back to the GenX school?" Chris asked in confusion.

"No son. You never have to go back there again if you don't want to." Angel said fondly.

"And you won't be the only new kid at this school either. My children just arrived here today too, so if you want, you can hang around with them until you make some new friends here." Andrew said kindly.

"Really?" Chris asked with interest.

"Just a second." Andrew said and walked to the door of the recovery room.

A moment later Andrew returned with two boys about Chris' own age.

"These are my sons William and Robert. Would you like to visit with them for a while?" Andrew asked quietly.

Robert whispered in Andrew's ear then Andrew nodded. "Robert is going to get Jimmy, he's a little younger than you but he wouldn't want to be left out." Andrew said fondly.

Chris gave a tired nod.

"Angel, why don't we leave these guys alone for a minute." Andrew said and took hold of Angel's arm to guide him out of the room.

"I'll be in the next room son, just call me if you need anything." Angel said with worry.

* * * * *

"My father says that your father is a vampire." William said bluntly.

Chris nodded hesitantly.

"I am named after a vampire, William the Bloody." William said with pride.

Chris gave a smile of relief and said, "I was afraid you wouldn't like me because my dad is a vampire."

"Father says that Angel is a good person and we should not judge him, or anyone based solely on their species. What activities do you enjoy?" Robert said pleasantly.

"I dunno, I like archery and cars. But not at the same time." Chris said quickly.

"We do not know of either of those activities, perhaps when you are well, you could demonstrate them to us." William said reasonably.

"That would be fun. What do you like to do?" Chris asked with interest.

"I enjoy games. Do you know how to play Kadis'ka?" Robert asked.

"I haven't heard of that game, but I like to play games, maybe you could show me how." Chris asked hopefully.

"Yes, my sister Janine also likes to play. Once you have learned to play, she will probably join us, she is quite good, but you may not tell her I said so." Robert said, ending in a playful look.

"I won't tell, I promise." Chris said happily.

"I enjoy music and creating graphic designs." William said informatively.

"When I'm better I'd like to see some of your designs." Chris said with a sleepy smile.

"If you would like, I can bring some of them for you to view here tomorrow." William offered.

"Thank you William, I'd like that." Chris said with a smile.

"I like to write." Jimmy said from between Robert and William.

"What do you write?" Chris asked the younger boy.

"I write about the things I see and hear around me and about my feelings." Jimmy said honestly.

"I'd like to read something of yours... but something small. I don't like reading a lot." Chris said, a bit embarrassed.

"Nor do I. We have an audio playback feature on the datapad that allows you to listen to the writing in a synthesized voice. I find it the preferable way to read long passages." William stated, much to Jimmy's surprise.

"So it reads the stories outloud? I think I'd like that. Maybe we could do that tomorrow too?" Chris asked hopefully.

"I believe father will be pleased if we visit you tomorrow. He is worried that being in a new location among strangers will be difficult for you... and us." Jimmy said honestly.

"I didn't do well at my last school. But since you guys are here, I think I'll be okay here." Chris said honestly and laid his head back on the pillow.

"You appear to be fatigued. I will get your father so he may say 'good night'. Our own fathers seem to have a need to do that before we regenerate." William said and moved for the door.

"Thank you, and it was nice to meet you." Chris said tiredly.

* * * * *

"Why did you want me to leave the room?" Angel asked as he watched through the window with worry.

"Because Chris is going to need friends in this new place. We need to give them a chance to get to know each other. If we waited, Chris might get the feeling of being alone, or only having you to talk to here. I just wanted him to have some other people to talk to while he is recovering. I know that you'll want to spend every waking moment with him. But it is healthier for him to have a variety of people in his life." Andrew said simply.

"Do you think they'll get along?" Angel asked with full concern.

"My boys are easy to like. We just have to let nature take its course and see what happens. Do you need anything? Blood? Someplace to rest?" Andrew asked with his own concern showing.

"No. I will need some blood later, but I'm fine for now." Angel said, not allowing his gaze to leave Chris.

"Angel, when Chris is a little more recovered, I'm going to bring the boys to visit and get you away for a little while. You need some time away to wind down. I'll be sure that someone is here to supervise them." Andrew said with caring.

"I don't want to leave him." Angel said with a tremor in his voice.

"You'll suffocate him if you don't let him have a little time of his own. You don't want him to be resentful of you for always watching over him, or worse, to grow dependent on you to be there every minute of the day. Right now he needs you by his side, but as he gets better, you'll need to give him space. Make sure he knows that you want him around, but also let him know that he is free to have friends and relationships with people besides you." Andrew said in warning.

"I understand. And you're right. There's more to being a father than I realized." Angel said and glanced at Andrew for an instant before fixing his gaze firmly on Chris again.

"You've got the most important part down. You understand how wonderful and precious your son is. All the rest you just have to figure out as you go along. As long as you're doing what's best for him, you'll be okay." Andrew said with assurance.

The door opened and William said, "Chris is becoming fatigued, perhaps you would like to say 'good night' before he goes to sleep?"

"Thank you William, I would like that." Angel said and hurried into the room.

Andrew gestured to the boys and they turned to leave the room.

"We'll be back to visit tomorrow Chris. Sleep well." Jimmy said as they left the room.

* * * * *

"Did you have a good visit son?" Angel asked quietly as soon as he was alone with Chris in the room.

"Yes. They know you're a vampire and William thinks it's cool. William wants me to show him about archery and cars when I get better and Robert wants to show me how to play a new game. Jimmy is going to show me his writing and William is going to show me his graphic designs." Chris rambled with excitement.

"That sounds like a lot of fun. So do you think you'll get along at this new school then?" Angel asked in a voice filled with love and concern.

"Yeah. If the rest of the kids are like those guys, it's going to be great here. And I'm so glad that you're staying with me... it's like I just got everything I ever wanted, all at once." Chris said with a tired, happy smile.

"Get some sleep Chris. I'll be right here if you need anything." Angel said soothingly and pulled the covers over Chris a little more tightly.

"Good night Dad." Chris said with a dreamy smile.

"Good night Son, dream sweet." Angel said and placed a kiss on Chris' forehead.

* * * * *

As the family trooped back into the boathouse Alan asked, "So what did you guys think of Chris?"

"He seemed excited to share in our interests and willing to demonstrate his own interests to us." William said succinctly.

"Do you think he'll be your friend?" Alan asked, not able to determine their feelings from William's reply.

"I do not understand friendship. Please explain." William asked bluntly.

"It's like the relationship stuff that I told Icheb. Did he tell you all about that?" Andrew asked.

All the children nodded.

"Friendship occurs when people share interests, thoughts and feelings. I think you've just made the first overtures of friendship to Chris. As long as you find each other's company interesting and pleasurable, you may try to schedule your free time to include him in your activities or be included in his. Friendships come in many varieties, some are very casual and only include the occasional sharing of meals or conversations, others become so strong that there is a bond stronger than family." Andrew said from deep thought.

"Who are your friends father?" Robert asked curiously.

"Here, my friends are Hank, Jean, Tara, Xander, Remy, Warren, Kurt, Bobby... and a few others. On Voyager my friends were Chakotay, Tom, Dave, B'Elana, Seven of Nine, Neelix, Greg and Geron." Andrew said honestly.

"So you wish for Chris to be our friend?" Robert asked carefully.

"I think it would be good if Chris were your friend, but what I want doesn't matter in this instance. Your friends are another expression of your individuality... Robert, you said that you didn't like the Chamomile tea, correct?" Andrew asked curiously.

"Correct." Robert said, not seeing the connection.

"It's the same thing with friends. If William likes Chris, that doesn't mean you have to. It is a very individual thing, and your Dad and I won't interfere with who you choose to be your friend unless we believe it to be someone who will lead you to do bad things or will hurt you." Andrew said with care.

"I believe I understand." Robert said slowly.

"All we ask is that you give people a chance. Just give them the chance to be your friend, then decide if that is something desirable. And remember to treat your friends and those who are not friends with respect. Some people here may be disrespectful to you or others around you, don't let their behavior influence your own." Andrew said in warning.

"Thank you Father. We will give Chris the opportunity to be our friend." William said with certainty.

"Good. I know you'll do the right thing William, but if you have any more questions, please ask." Andrew said cautiously.

"I will Father. We will now begin work on the last two alcoves." William said and went upstairs.

"Damn. You've got this father thing down don't you?" Scott asked in wonder.

"I hope so. I can't be sure that I'm giving them the right advice all the time, but I can only do my best." Andrew said with worry in his eyes.

"Don't worry love, the kids are great. I know it's going to be tough the next few weeks, getting them used to being around other kids, but think of the payoff." Alan said with a smile as he pulled Andrew in for a kiss.

"It's time for us to go." Dawn said and picked up her coat.

"I can port you if you'd like." Andrew offered.

"I think a walk in the chill of the night will be refreshing." Dawn said with a smile and walked to Alan to give him a sisterly kiss.

"I'm glad you guys are back. Even if it was a week, it felt like three months to us too." She said before releasing him.

Dawn then moved and gave hugs to Alex and Scott before meeting Tara at the door.

* * * * *

"Father, would you like for me to instruct you in how to discontinue the regeneration sequence, should that need arise?" Icheb asked from the top of the stairs.

"Eyleish bolegg kah tah, neveree." Alan said from the couch.

Icheb looked with stunned fascination for a moment before saying, "Dad, you have learned to speak Borg?"

"Just a few words. I wanted to be sure of how to wake you if I needed to and Seven of Nine taught me the interrupt sequence." Alan said, enjoying Icheb's wonder.

"That is good. The last alcove will be completed momentarily. Then we will all begin our regeneration." Icheb said and waited for what he knew was to come.

"Just let us know before you begin regeneration. We want to say good night to each of you." Alan said with a smile.

"Yes Dad." Icheb said with his own smile and walked back to his room.

"You mind if we join you on the 'good night' rounds?" Scott asked seriously.

"I think the children would enjoy it. It's part of our nightly routine. We get all the kids safely tucked in, then we go to bed." Andrew said tiredly.

"And I feel like I could sleep for a week. And I didn't prop open a trans-galactic vortex or perform heart surgery today." Alan said with tenderness directed at Andrew.

"But you would have if you could." Andrew said with a smile, knowing it was true.

"You got me there." Alan said and pulled Andrew close.

* * * * *

When the last of the children was tucked in Andrew and Alan went immediately to bed.

Remy went to Xander and said, "Tomorrow we be married. You give Remy a kiss tonight?"

"One kiss, but that's all. I love you Cajun and I don't want to take the chance of messing this up at the last minute." Xander said with worry.

Remy pulled Xander close and into a deep, intense, mind-blowing kiss.

"Okay..." Xander finally said in a daze. "I'm glad we're getting married tomorrow. I don't know how many more of those I could take before I lose control."

Remy stood silently with a dreamy look in his eyes.

"You okay Cajun?" Xander asked with worry.

"Remy never been better. Go to sleep so we can go in de morning." Remy said with a vacant look in his eyes.

Xander nodded and reluctantly went upstairs to his room.

[Tonight Remy don unfold de couch, maybe get some sleep.] Remy thought as he gathered the bedclothes from the coat closet and began to lay them out on the couch cushions.

To Be Continued...