Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 5: Pride and Joy

Alex, Andrew and the children went to a department store on the way home, then made a side trip to a craft store for more specialized parts at Trey's request.

Nothing Alex or Andrew did could get the children to reveal their plan for a gift.

"I give up. We'll find out when they're done... what do you think they're going to make?" Andrew asked Alex quietly.

"I have no idea, they bought wood, nails, paint, glue, fabric, a bunch of doll parts, six model ships, a bath towel, and three packs of construction paper. I have no idea what they're making." Alex said in confusion as he came to a stop at a stop light.

"They also got magnets, seven clockworks for making clocks, about ten feet of electrical wire, batteries, a mirror and thirty-three little lights." Andrew said in equal confusion.

"You don't think they'll tell us, do you?" Alex asked as he looked back at the huddle of children.

"No. I think Trey is the one who actually knows and the rest are just following his lead. He's probably filling them in now." Andrew said and glanced over his shoulder.

"Father, we have need of Dad's mutant ability." Trey said from the group.

"Your Dad is coming home with Xander and Remy, are you going to have enough time to get this done?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Yes, if we work collectively, but without Dad's optic discharge of energy, we will need to stop at a hardware store for additional supplies." Trey said with a note of apology.

"What do you need your Dad to do? Maybe it's something I can help with?" Alex offered over his shoulder.

"We need for Dad to use his ability to help dry the paint and glue and also to burn some of the wood slightly to give it a distressed look." Trey said carefully.

"I think I can do that. My mutant ability is much like your father's except that mine comes from my hands." Alex said and continued to drive.

"Thank you Uncle Alex, your help would be greatly appreciated." Trey said and went back into the huddle.

"At least you'll get to see what they're working on." Andrew said in acceptance.

"What do you want to bet that I won't know anymore after I've finished helping them than when I started." Alex asked with wide eyes.

"No bet." Andrew said with a smile.

* * * * *

Xander, Remy, Dawn, Tara, Scott and Alan made their way into the boathouse.

"How was your meal?" Andrew asked with a smile.

"It was great... and I talked to the Professor about our jobs and the kids while we were eating. Mr. Howlett is going to help us get all the children identities and we even got them birthdays." Alan said with joy as everyone filed into the living room and sat.

"I didn't think about birthdays... how are we going to remember them all?" Andrew asked seriously.

"Icheb's birthday will be February seventh, Trey's will be March seventh, William and Robert's will be April twenty-first..." Alan trailed off, seeing if Andrew would get it.

"Which is halfway between April seventh and May seventh, Jimmy's will be June seventh and Janine's will be July seventh." Andrew said easily.

"Right. And we decided on ages for them all. Icheb will turn sixteen on his next birthday, Trey will be fifteen, Robert and William will be fourteen, Jimmy will be ten and Janine will be seven." Alan said happily.

"Don't you think Janine's a little young for seven?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Maybe, but I think by July, she'll be just about right, she's around six now." Alan said with a shrug.

"Sounds good, what about our jobs?" Andrew asked with enthusiasm.

"Oh, the Professor was happy to hire us all, but he had a few suggestions... you see, I am a qualified teacher, like Scott, so he want's me to teach too." Alan said a bit shyly.

"What are you going to teach?" Andrew asked with interest.

"English." Alan said with a smile.

"You're underplaying your job, my brother. You'll be in charge of the language department. You'll teach English, literature, creative writing, and speech classes *plus* oversee the student teachers in your department." Scott said with pride for his brother.

"Student teachers?" Andrew asked.

"Yes, Kurt is going to teach German and Remy is going to teach French under my supervision since they aren't accredited teachers." Alan said happily.

"That sounds great, am I going to be your assistant Scott?" Andrew asked with excitement.

"No, I'm in charge of the Mathematics curriculum, if you're willing, you're going to be teaching in the computer science curriculum." Scott said, waiting for a reaction.

"Computer science?" Andrew asked with enthusiasm.

"You would be a student teacher under Dr. McCoy. You'd teach database administration, networking, web design and programming in the mornings. You, Remy, Kurt, Alex, Angel, and Dawn would be taking classes in the afternoons.

"What is Angel going to teach?" Andrew asked in wonder.

"History." Xander said with a chuckle.

"Perfect. He lived it, I bet he'll be a great history teacher." Andrew said with a smile.

"History, current events and a new class were tentatively calling 'Lore and Legends'." Scott said to the group.

"Lore and Legends?" Andrew asked curiously.

"About vampires, werewolves, demons, witchcraft and stuff like that." Xander said.

"The kids aren't going to believe it's serious." Andrew said in disbelief.

"Dawn and Tara volunteered to give a demonstration of witchcraft. And when Angel goes into game-face, they'll believe." Xander said with a chuckle.

"And it's important that they know about such things in case they encounter them out in the world." Scott said, injecting a serious note.

"So did he approve your daycare idea Dawn?" Andrew asked and cuddled into Alan's side.

"Yes, I'll be in charge of the daycare and home sciences classes, under the supervision of the Professor. Tara will be taking care of the daycare while I'm in class in the afternoon." Dawn said and held close to Tara's side.

"And you're going to be Hank's assistant?" Andrew asked Tara.

"Yes. I'll stay in the MedLab and work while Uncle Hank is teaching, and he'll stay in the MedLab while I'm taking care of the daycare." Tara said gently.

"What's Hank going to teach?" Andrew asked the group.

"Survival skills will be the official name of the class. It will include first aid, CPR, Lifeguard training, mountain climbing and repelling, emergency fire-fighting and blood borne pathogen training." Scott said seriously.

"I want to take that class, it sounds awesome." Alex said with enthusiasm.

"That would be fine. You are a student, and therefore eligible to take any classes that you want, assuming that you've had the prerequisite classes." Scott said with a smile.

"Um, if I'm a student, does that mean that I'm going to be a counselor?" Alex asked carefully.

"The Professor felt that you needed some training before you're ready for counseling, but suggested that you would be ideal for teaching humanities." Scott said with pride.

"Um, what's that?" Alex asked hesitantly.

"You would teach critical thinking techniques, psychology, and sociology. And while you're teaching those classes under the Professor's supervision, you'll be taking classes to get your teaching certificate." Scott said happily.

"It sounds like you've got it all worked out." Alex said in wonder.

"Yeah, and if you're still interested in being a counselor, you can pursue that after you're secure as a teacher." Scott said with a smile.

"Wow, it looks like there is going to be a major change in Xavier's curriculum this term." Andrew said to the group.

"Not really. Most of this stuff was offered before, it was just lumped into a few classes instead of being split into separate classes." Scott said in response, then continued, "But there will be some new offerings for the students."

"Yeah, Mr. Logan will be teaching a class that will be called Physical Education, but is actually combat training. He will teach the students to fight with and without their mutant abilities. His healing factor makes him the only man for the job." Dawn said with a chuckle.

"So Remy and Xander, how does it feel to finally be married?" Andrew asked, looking at the couple holding each other tenderly.

"It's great. Now we have each other, and all of you are here with us, this is the best." Xander said contentedly.

"Father?" Trey asked from the basement doorway.

"Yes Trey?" Andrew replied.

"Is now a good time?" Trey asked hesitantly.

"Yes, go ahead." Andrew said and waited with anticipation.

"What's up?" Xander asked as he noticed the children carefully carrying something into the room.

"We'll all find out together." Andrew said honestly.

"Uncle Xander and Uncle Remy, we wanted to give you a gift on your wedding day. We made this for you." Janine said and pulled back a sheet to unveil a tall stack of boxes.

"Um. What is it?" Xander asked carefully.

Trey looked at the creation and shook his head in exasperation. "Turn it around." He said to William and Robert who were standing on either side of it.

They turned the creation to reveal a series of open-ended boxes.

Icheb stood forward and said, "We have only just met. We thought that the best gift we could give from us to you is to let you know us. What is in each box tells how we see ourselves. I cannot say that this is who we are, but this is who we think we are."

"This one is mine." Icheb said and pointed to a box at the top of the structure.

Icheb pressed a button and a little pair of eyes could be seen, looking down. "Mine are the eyes that watch over my brothers and sister." A second light came on below the eyes to reveal tiny dolls made to look like all the other children. A moment later another light came on to reveal a tiny glowing heart. "Mine is the heart that cares for them." Icheb said slowly, then a pair of hands lit up and he continued, "Mine are the hands that do for them." Then a little mouth lit up and he said, "And I am their voice."

A silent moment passed then two pairs of eyes, two hearts, two pairs of hands and two mouths appeared above the first. "And as I am all these things to my siblings, so are my fathers to me." Icheb said then stood back as his box went dark.

Trey stepped forward and pointed to a box below and to the left of Icheb's. The small ship parts were stuck inside and painted gray to give the impression of a Borg cube. "This is mine. The Borg will always be a part of who I am, but I am more than that now." Trey said, then pressed a button. A small Borg doll began to move in the box. It glided across the floor and through a hidden door in the back, another doll came out, dressed in normal clothing, obviously meant to be Trey. "Now I am a combination of what I was born to be, what the Borg made me and what my fathers have encouraged me to be." Trey said with a smile as his tiny doppelganger stopped in front of the box and turned to face the group of adults who were all speechless.

William stepped forward and pointed to a box, a moment later Robert pointed to the neighboring box on the same level. "We were told that we were special." William said.

"Our dad is a twin and knew that it would be an important part of our identity." Robert said quietly.

"He encouraged us to be ourselves, but to always prize each other." William said with a small smile toward his brother.

Robert pressed a button and his box lit up. It was colorful and bright. Inside there were things moving around in all directions. "I have become the opposite of what it means to be Borg. I embrace the loud, the bright, and the chaos."

William pressed a button and a single dim light came on in his box that was dark and nearly empty. Slowly a picture rose from the bottom of the box. It was a spiral design that was almost an optical illusion because it was so intricately drawn. "I have become what it means to be Borg. I embrace the quiet, the dark and I seek perfection through order."

Both boys pushed on the sides of their boxes. The wall that separated the boxes folded down and they slid together to form one box. The bright colors were muted and the moving parts slowed their pace. The graphic design in the middle of the combined box drew the attention of all those watching as the light seemed to be focused only on it.

Jimmy stepped forward and said, "This is mine. I know my fathers expect me to have something about writing in here, because that is something that is important to me. But what is most important is my fathers."

He turned on the light to reveal two scenes. One was the shuttlecraft, and a wormhole could be seen through the window. The other was the sickbay with many dolls of people positioned around the room. "These memories will always be with me. The first time someone listened to me as a person, and believed what I had to say, and the day I found the person that I want to emulate in my life."

Janine walked forward and turned on the light in her box. "In my box I have my brothers, my daddies and my friend Naomi... but there's still enough room in there for all of you." Janine said with a smile.

Icheb walked forward and said, "This last box is for our cousin, Marguerite." And he turned on the light to reveal an empty box in the center of the stack.

"I wish for her to know the love of home and family." Icheb said and placed a small raven in the box.

"I wish for her to have companionship." Trey said and put a tiny dog in the box.

"I wish for her to know compassion." William said and put a small turtle in the box.

"I wish for her to have friendships." Robert said and placed a dove in the box.

"I wish for her to know comfort." Jimmy said and put a tiny teddy bear in the box.

"And I want her to have two wonderful daddies like I have." Janine said and placed two dolls, made to look like Xander and Remy into the box.

The children all stood back and waited.

* * * * *

"Wow." Xander finally said.

"You give Remy and Xander a wonderful gift." Remy said with watery eyes and walked to Icheb to pull him into a hug.

Xander followed his lead and went to Trey. They made their way through the children, giving each one a tight hug filled with love.

Finally Xander picked up Janine and held her. "You've got some wonderful kids, I can't believe this." Xander said as he looked in wonder at the large shadowbox.

"I'm having trouble believing it myself." Andrew said honestly.

"They did this all by themselves?" Alan asked with disbelief.

"Completely. All I did was take them to the store for supplies to make it. I had no idea of what they were making until they brought it out here." Andrew said in wonder.

"I can't think of a better gift. Thank you all for letting us know you. If no one minds, I'd like to keep this in here, in the living room. I wouldn't feel right having it in our room, it should be out where everyone can see it." Xander said to all in the room.

"Thanks Xander, I think that's a good idea." Andrew said with pride for his children.

"Well, now for the anti-climax, here's my gift." Alex said and handed Xander and Remy an envelope.

Xander opened it carefully and showed the contents to Remy.

"What is it?" Dawn asked impatiently.

"A gift certificate for a portrait sitting. This way we can have a wedding picture." Xander said with a gentle smile.

"Tanks Alex, dis be a perfect gift. Remy wan to remember dis day forever." Remy said with watery eyes.

Scott walked upstairs and came back a minute later with a large wrapped gift.

"I didn't think anyone was giving gifts, so I was going to save this for later." Scott said and handed the box to Xander.

Xander scooted the box across his and Remy's laps. He carefully opened it with Remy's help to reveal a beautiful, colorful quilt.

"Quilts always make me think of home and comfort. I wanted you two to have that feeling here." Scott said quietly.

"It's wonderful. And it's going to be great now that it's getting colder. I've never been outside California before." Xander said with a tender smile.

"Remy not used to de cold. Dis be a good ting for both of us." Remy said and stroked the quilt to feel the texture.

"Andrew, can you port me to our room for a second? I left our gift there." Dawn said shyly.

Andrew nodded and opened a portal. Dawn stepped through, then back a moment later.

"Thanks Andrew." Dawn said, then turned to Xander and Remy, "This is from Tara and I."

Remy took the gift from Dawn and opened it carefully.

"You got Remy and Xander jewelry?" Remy asked in confusion.

"Yeah, but that's not the good part. Put them on, then we'll cast the spell." Dawn said enthusiastically.

"Um, Dawn... Magic doesn't always work right on me. You may want to think twice about this." Xander said with worry.

"It's not that kind of magic, that's why you have the necklaces. If you want to end the spell, just take them off. The spell is on the jewelry." Dawn said frankly.

"Okay, but last time I used a spell like this, you almost had to marry a demon." Xander said in warning.

"Sweet wasn't so bad... for a demon. Anyway, put them on and I promise that if you don't like the spell, you can take them off." Dawn said and held out a paper for Tara to read with her.

Xander put Remy's necklace on him, then Remy returned the favor. Once they were ready, Dawn and Tara began to read:

Eyes of amber, eyes of fire,
Now reveal your hearts desire,
Heart of pain, love of tears,
Passion of a hundred years,
With invocation of ancient art,
Now reveal your lover's heart.
So let it be,
So let it be,
So let it be.

Xander and Remy gasped as they felt each other's emotions. Xander felt Remy's love for him and knew without a doubt that his partner loved him completely, unconditionally, forever.

Remy felt Xander's love and knew that he had finally found his home, his peace and his rest. Xander didn't want anything from him but his love... and he had that already.

"Thanks Dawn and Tara, it's wonderful." Xander said with a dreamy smile.

"Remy tank you too. Dis be a great gift." Remy said with radiant joy.

"Dad, I do not understand." Icheb said in confusion.

"It's magic. You'll have to ask your father or Aunt Dawn about that stuff, I don't know anything about it." Alan said to Icheb.

"It was a dangerous thing to try, I'm glad it worked out." Andrew said to the two women.

"What do you mean dangerous?" Dawn asked seriously.

"If they didn't have true love, the spell would have caused them incredible pain." Andrew said honestly.

"You know this spell?" Dawn asked in confusion.

"Yeah, well, I know about it, I've just never actually used it. I'm glad you did though. They're obviously in love, and this spell will help them to always stay in love because they'll know each other's heart's desire." Andrew said with a fond look.

"We just wanted to give them something that would be meaningful. Knowing how your lover really feels sounded like the perfect gift." Dawn said frankly.

"As long as your lover really loves you, it is." Andrew said and snuggled against Alan.

"I'm sorry we didn't get you anything guys, no one told me about gifts." Alan said plaintively.

"We be livin in your house wit you and your brothers an your kids. You make us part of your family, an dat mean more to Remy dan words can say." Remy said honestly.

"Yeah. That goes for me too." Xander said and held Remy tight.

"Okay then. What do you all think about going to the mansion and leaving the newlyweds alone for a few hours?" Andrew asked the group.

"Father, may we visit Chris?" Robert asked quietly.

"That's very good thinking Robert. Why don't you, William and Jimmy visit with Chris while the rest of us talk to the people upstairs." Andrew said with a smile.

"I must gather some things for Chris." William said and hurriedly went downstairs, a moment later Jimmy and Robert followed.

"It's cool that they're thinking of Chris like that." Alex said with a smile.

"Yeah. they're good kids." Andrew said proudly.

* * * * *

"You came back." Chris said with a big smile.

"Yes. We would have come earlier, but we had to go to a wedding... that we could not attend." William said flatly.

"Who got married?" Chris asked in fascination.

"Our Uncle Remy and Uncle Xander." William said quietly.

"Two guys? That's weird." Chris said with a crinkled nose.

"Our fathers got married and it was not weird." Jimmy said in challenge.

"I didn't mean it bad, honest. I just never met two guys who got married before. That's all." Chris said hurriedly.

"Then you must meet our fathers." Robert said simply.

Chris nodded in agreement.

"What's that thing on your face?" Chris asked curiously.

"This device on my face is called an ocular implant, it allows me to make precise measurements by sight. It can also scan various non-visible frequencies." William said then pulled up his shirt to reveal a metal box embedded in his chest. "This is my personal data node, it stores the information that my ocular implant captures."

"Are you a robot?" Chris asked in confusion.

"No, I am Borg. A fusion of mechanical and organic components." William said matter-of-factly.

"Wow, does it hurt?" Chris asked slowly.

"There is sometimes discomfort, but regeneration relieves that. Usually no." William answered honestly.

"Are all of you Borg?" Chris asked the other two boys.

"Yes, we, our brothers and sister as well as our fathers." Robert said plainly.

"So you aren't mutants?" Chris asked in confirmation.

"No, our fathers are mutants, but we are not." Robert said with assurance.

"Then why are you here? I mean, isn't this a school for mutants?" Chris asked in confusion.

"My Father explained that to me." Jimmy said quietly. When all attention turned to him, he continued. "This school was originally made so mutants and non-mutants could learn to live together peacefully, but over time, it became a place for mutants only. Now it is becoming what it was supposed to be. A place for mutants to be safe and learn, but also for non-mutants to live peacefully with them."

"That sounds nice." Chris said with a smile.

"Your father is watching us." William observed.

"Yes, he's worried about me. He's afraid that you'll get me too excited and I'll open my wound or something." Chris said quietly.

"We would not encourage you to do something like that. You are our friend, we do not wish to see you hurt." Robert stated bluntly.

"Thanks guys, you are my friends too. Did you bring the graphic designs William?" Chris asked quickly.

"Yes, they are here. They are stored on this padd, just press this button and it will advance to the next." William said and handed the padd to Chris.

Chris looked at each design carefully and scrolled back and forth until he settled on one.

"I like this one best, it reminds me of what I see when I try to sleep." Chris said and handed the padd to William.

"It is a representation of my ocular implant transmissions while I am in regeneration." William said simply.

"What does that mean?" Chris asked in confusion.

"It's what he sees when he dreams." Jimmy said for William.

"You don't have real dreams, like about people or flying or falling?" Chris asked with interest.

"No, we generally have a static feed into our sensory inputs while we regenerate that negates random images from forming." Robert said casually.

"Okay, if you don't dream, then why do you sleep?" Chris asked in challenge.

"We do not sleep, we connect to a regeneration alcove and our nonessential functions cease while our bodies are regenerated." William said seriously.

"Do you think I could see that sometime? I don't think I'll understand unless I can see it." Chris said carefully.

"That would be acceptable." William said quietly.

"Here is a short story for you. Do you want the padd to read it outloud to you?" Jimmy asked and held up the padd for Chris.

"No, does it work like the other one? I just press those two buttons to move up and down?" Chris asked and looked at the padd.

"Yes, the controls are the same." Jimmy said with assurance.

"Then could you leave it so I can read it later? I'm feeling sleepy." Chris said and closed his eyes.

"We will get your father so he may say 'goodnight'. Jimmy said and stepped away from the bed.

The three boys walked out of the room and William said, "Chris is sleepy, perhaps you would like to say goodnight to him."

"Yes, thank you William." Angel said and walked past them into the recovery room.

* * * * *

//Bobby, you have a phone call. It sounds urgent.// The Professor sent with worry.

Bobby picked up the phone and said, "Hello?"

"Bobby? I... need your help." The voice said in panic.

"Who is this?" Bobby asked, feeling a wave of fear crawl up his spine.

"It's your brother, Ronny... I... I think I just killed dad."

To Be Continued...