Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 19: Wounding, Healing, Scarring

Xander walked into the kitchen, a moment later William hurried out of the kitchen and ran down the stairs to the basement.

"Excuse me." Xander said and walked through the living room and upstairs.

"Angel, Xander be feelin bad bout de way he treated you. How you be feelin?" Remy asked bluntly.

Angel was taken aback by the question but finally answered, "It was my fault. I just don't know how to make it right with him."

"Den let Remy help." Remy said confidently.

Angel nodded in acceptance.

"Angel... how did a vampire get the name Angel, if you don't mind me asking." Warren asked carefully.

"My demon is named Angelus, now I'm cursed with a soul, so I'm Angel." he said without offense.

"So Angel isn't the name you were born with?" Warren asked carefully.

"No, my name at birth was Liam Jude Matthew Gilligan O'Rourke." Angel said with a smile.

"Mouthful. Um, would you mind if I call you Liam? It just feels wrong to me to call someone else Angel... I mean, if you wouldn't mind." Warren asked carefully.

"That's fine. I understand, calling you Angel would feel wrong to me too." Angel said with a smile.

Xander ran back down stairs and into the kitchen again.

"He's up to something." Alex said as he turned his attention away from the TV.

"Xander always be up to something, an it always be something good." Remy said with a smile.

"Oh, you got it bad." Alex said and shook his head.

"An Remy tink you need to get some." Remy said honestly.

Silence fell over the room until Alan couldn't hold it any longer and started laughing.

The laughter spread until all the adults were laughing... finally even Alex.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, but there isn't much to choose from in my age group around here." Alex said to the men.

"Don't worry about it Alex, you're not the only bachelor in the group." Warren said with an honest smile.

"Ja, ve have been looking as well." Kurt said frankly.

"You mean you guys aren't a couple?" Alex asked in confusion.

"Why does everyone think that?" Warren asked the men.

"Because you're always together." Alan answered immediately.

"You thought we were a couple too?" Warren asked in a hurt tone.

"No, I knew you guys were straight, I can just see where people get that idea. It doesn't matter here anyway, as long as you treat us with respect, we'll do the same for you... even if you're straight." Alan finished with a smile.

"I'm glad you're so open minded about it." Warren said as he looked at the expressions of the men around the room.

William came from the basement stairs and ran into the kitchen.

"Why do I get the feeling that William and Xander are working together?" Alex asked as he stared at the kitchen door.

"Dey probably are." Remy said with an unconcerned voice.

"Gemini, here is an omelet and a glass of milk." Jimmy said happily.

"Havock, here is your western omelet and coffee." William said as he carried a plate to Alex.

"I should have this in the dining room..." Alex began to say when William interrupted.

"There isn't enough room at the table for everyone, so we'll bring you your plates. Please relax."

"Here is your tea Two of Seven." Jimmy said and carefully handed Icheb a steaming mug.

Xander hurried into the room and sat beside Remy.

"What you be up to Xander?" Remy asked suspiciously.

"Axeman, only mutant names during this meal." Xander corrected with a smile.

Remy smiled and moved in for a kiss.

"Gambit, here is your omelet and coffee." William said and handed the food to Remy.

"And here is your food Axeman." Jimmy said and handed a plate to Xander.

"Soul Angel, here is your breakfast." Chris said with a big smile.

"What?" Angel asked as he was handed a warm mug of blood.

"You're a guest in our house, please enjoy our hospitality." Xander said with a warm smile.

"Thank you Xander... I've never given you any reason to do anything like this for me." Angel said darkly with shame.

"Yeah, well it goes both ways. One of us had to end the hostilities, I got to it first. Enjoy your breakfast and welcome to the family." Xander said with a genuine smile.

"Thank you Xander." Angel said emotionally and took a sip of his blood.

"Do you like it dad?" Chris asked hopefully.

"Yes, it's great Chris." Angel said with a tender smile at his son's excitement.

"Shambles, please sit so you may eat." William said and brought a plate of food.

Chris sat at the coffee table by his dad's feet and accepted the plate of food.

"Where's Janine?" Alan asked and looked around.

"She is watching for Mr. Howlett's car. He could arrive at any time." Icheb said then took a sip of tea.

Alan nodded in acceptance and went back to enjoying his food.

Scott came into the living room carrying a plate of food for himself.

"Excellent food Scott." Alex said happily.

"Thanks, but Jimmy made yours." Scott said with pride.

"Really? Great work Jimmy, it's perfect." Alex said with a smile.

"Did you make mine too?" Warren asked.

Jimmy nodded shyly.

"You did a good job. It's just right." Warren said with admiration.

"Ja, very good." Kurt said before taking another mouthful.

* * * * *

"Uncle Xander. A big car just arrived." Janine said excitedly as she ran into the room.

Remy walked to the window and said, "Dat be Mr. Howlett. Remy invite him in, non?"

"Yeah, maybe he'd like an omelet too?" Xander said.

Remy went outside and returned a few minutes later followed by Mr. Howlett.

"Good Morning Mr. Howlett." Alan said and motioned him into the room.

"Good morning lady and gentlemen. And you may call me Ken since this portion of the morning is purely social." Mr. Howlett said as he positioned his wheelchair beside Angel's sofa.

"Would you like an omelet or some coffee?" Scott offered.

"Some coffee would be good." Ken said with a smile.

"How do you take it?" Scott asked before he got up.

"Just black." Ken said and looked around the room.

"I'll get that Uncle Scott. Enjoy your meal." Jimmy said and ran to the kitchen.

"Ken Howlett, I'd like to introduce you to everyone. You may have met some of them before. This is Warren Worthington the Third of Worthington Industries, Kurt Wagner soon to be of the Wagner Institute for Mutant Education, Alex Summers, Alan Summers, Icheb Summers, William Summers, the boy getting your coffee is Jimmy Summers, and young Janine Summers." Xander said with a smile.

"A pleasure to meet you all." Mr. Howlett said to the group.

"And on this side we have Liam O'Rourke, his son Chris O'Rourke. Scott Summers and of course you know Remy and me." Xander finished.

"A lot of people. How many live here?" Mr. Howlett asked and accepted a cup of coffee from Jimmy.

"Twelve right now. Andrew and Alan, their six kids. Scott, Alex, me and Remy." Xander said with a smile.

"And two more within two weeks." Scott said with a glance at Alan.

Mr. Howlett looked around to see Alan pointing at his belly.

"You can't mean?" He asked in a disbelieving tone.

"Yeah, the one thing men can't do, he's doing it." Xander said with a chuckle.

"Thomas is awake if you'd like to feel him kicking." Alan said with a look of peace.

"Yes, thank you." Ken said and moved his wheelchair so he could reach Alan's belly.

After a moment of waiting, there was a kick and Ken smiled a radiant smile.

"Where are you going to put everyone? I can't believe you fit twelve people in here already." Ken said as he looked around the room.

"Well Alex and Scott had to double up, but we're building a wing onto the house so everyone will have their own room... even Marguerite." Xander said with a smile.

"That's great because I have some news about your adoption." Ken said seriously.

"What is it?" Xander asked with dread.

"Everything is fine, but the judge wants a social worker to check the place out before the final adoption paperwork is signed. If you have the proper baby supplies on hand and a room in the process of being built, it shouldn't be a problem." Ken said seriously.

"We don have de baby tings yet." Remy said in horror.

Scott closed his eyes and concentrated, a moment later he smiled and said, "Dawn is taking care of that for you Remy. The Professor has her buying the things for Chakotay and Thomas already, so she'll get Marguerite's things while she's at it. She and a group of girls from the mansion will be leaving for the store in about an hour."

"But Remy don have de money to pay for a bunch of tings." Remy said with concern.

"Remy, the Professor is taking care of this. He promised Professor Frost that he'd see to it that we have what we need." Alan said firmly.

"It be too much like charity. Remy can't do dat." Remy said in return.

"Remy, if you don't want charity, then pay him back. But for right now you need to suck it up and accept the offer... for Marguerite." Alan said in a serious tone.

"Xander, help us out here." Alex asked with worry.

"I'll stand behind Remy, whatever he decides to do." Xander said with strength.

Remy looked at Xander and his eyes went from anger to tenderness in a heartbeat.

"Remy take de help from de Professor, but we pay de money back." Remy said firmly.

"Good. I'm glad you're doing what's best for the baby. That's the most important thing you can do right now. But you don't have to worry about money. I've been working on your paperwork for almost a month. You've got millions... I think the final paperwork is in my briefcase. I just haven't been able to finish it because I've been focused on the adoption." Ken said with an apologetic look.

"I knew the Professor said I had money, but it was like a cover story. I didn't think I could actually use it." Xander said slowly.

"As soon as you sign the last of the paperwork, you'll have access to the Wainwright estate." Ken said happily.

"Is it in my name or our names?" Xander asked carefully.

"Yours." Ken answered just as carefully.

"I need for it to be put into both our names." Xander said decisively.

"Remy not take charity from de Professor, an Remy not take charity from you." Remy said with hurt.

"Are you my husband or my boyfriend?" Xander asked seriously.

"Remy be your husband." Remy said cautiously.

"Will you still be my husband tomorrow?" Xander asked without wavering.

"Oui." Remy said, watching Xander's eye.

"Then act like it. If you have money, I expect it to be ours. If I have money, I expect it to be ours. We're joined, we are *husbands*, I'm not giving you charity, this was yours the moment you married me. You just lucked out and hit the jackpot by marrying a millionaire." Xander said with a smile.

"Oui, Remy understand now." Remy said and pulled Xander close.

"So are you going to move to Beverly Hills and get a cement pond?" Alan asked with a chuckle.

"No, I think we'll stay right here and put our money to work... I'd like to invest in the Wagner Institute if possible, get in on the ground floor." Xander said and looked at Warren.

"That's a great idea. How about a fifty fifty split? That way no one can say that either of us is the 'owner' of the new school. The Wainwrights and Worthingtons can just be cosponsors of the institute." Warren said seriously.

"An dat increase de credibility when it be known dat a mutant and a non-mutant work together to start de school." Remy said in thought.

"Good thinking. I can see that you gentlemen really get things done here. Well, if everyone is done with their breakfast, we'd best be off to meet with Aunt Vada so we can get the paperwork signed."

"Yeah, Janine, you got everything you need?" Xander asked.


"You guys have a good time. I'll see you tonight." Alan said and pulled Janine in for a hug and a kiss.

* * * * *

"Father, I am connected to the Internet and have found many useful sites bookmarked on this machine. Please specify the search criteria." Trey asked as he sat with his tubules connected to the computer.

"You can start by looking for me, under my old name. From there you should be able to find enough information about my father to track him down. Lee Andrew Wells, born December Seventeenth, Nineteen Eighty." Andrew said carefully.

"I have found your information... Grandfather is named Lee Donald Wells, born January Sixteenth, Nineteen Sixty Three... he is currently listed as living in Sunnydale California and working at a restaurant called 'Bishops'. His home phone number is..." Trey said and was interrupted.

"That's enough Trey. Just store the rest of his personal information in your personal data node in case we need it later. I know where Bishops is, we can go as soon as you're done." Andrew said quickly.

"Why would he be in Sunnydale? Didn't everyone leave after the explosion?" Faith asked curiously.

"Some people couldn't afford to leave. Some didn't want to give up on Sunnydale yet. Some are just stupid." Andrew said, wondering which group included his father.

"I have saved the relevant data." Trey said and disconnected from the computer.

"You didn't hurt Willow's computer did you?" Andrew asked carefully.

"No Father, in fact I removed a virus that would have destroyed her system in less than four months." Trey said seriously.

"Good. Are you ready to go?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Yes Father." Trey said with a smile.

"Then put on your camouflage and we'll go." Andrew said and looked to say goodbye to Faith.

He was surprised to find Faith gathering things, as though she were leaving.

"I'm coming with you." Faith said as she continued to pack.

"I'm just going to find my dad. You don't have to." Andrew said honestly.

"I know I don't have to, but you're going to Sunnydale. It couldn't hurt to have a slayer along with you." Faith said and hefted her backpack.

"We're just going to a restaurant." Andrew said weakly.

"You take care of your son, I'll take care of you. What good is it to have mega strength if you can't help people? Now you can either let me protect you or I'll break your arms, then you'll need me to protect you... and feed you." Faith said without humor.

Andrew nodded and opened the portal.

* * * * *

Andrew, Faith and Trey stepped out of the vortex into an alley. As they walked onto the street Andrew and Faith were amazed at the number of people milling around in the predawn light.

"Some people don't have good sense. When half the town explodes, you should leave." Faith said as she looked in wonder.

"Let's just find my dad and get out of here. Something about this is giving me the creeps." Andrew said with worry.

The three stepped into the restaurant and waited inside the door to be seated.

"Three for breakfast?" A waitress asked pleasantly.

"Yeah, and we need to talk to someone, Lee Wells." Andrew said simply.

"I'll seat you in his section. Right this way." The waitress said and led them to a table in the back.

"My dad's a waiter?" Andrew asked in confusion.

"Someone's got to be, I guess." Faith said as she looked around.

"Good morning. My name is Lee, I'll be your waiter this morning. Do you know what you'd like to drink?" The young man asked pleasantly as he passed out menus.

Andrew looked carefully at the young man and finally said, "Um, yeah, coffee for me and a glass of water for him... Faith?"

"Coke." Faith said as she watched Andrew's examination.

"I'll be right back with your drinks." The young man said and hurried away.

"Well, it looks like your information was wrong." Faith said to Trey.

"I don't know, did you look at him? His eyes? I'm related to him, even if he isn't my father." Andrew said uncertainly.

Lee came back with the drinks and said, "I'll be back in a minute to take your orders."

Trey looked at the glass in front of him carefully.

"Yeah, the Sunnydale water was always kind of chunky. If you wait for it to settle, it's usually not too bad." Andrew said as he watched Trey.

"I must turn off my camouflage for a moment. The holo-emitter obfuscates the input to my ocular implant." Trey said quietly.

"Okay, just be quick about it. He'll be back in a minute." Andrew said in a whisper.

Trey pushed the button on his data node and looked at the glass again. Finally he looked up from his glass and restored his camouflage.

"That man is your father. I have a record of his fingerprints in my personal data node. I do not know how it is so, but I am certain of it." Trey said absolutely.

"That's just crazy, he looks like he's sixteen." Faith said dismissively.

Andrew froze at those words, the words he had been hearing for years and suddenly knew.

"Are you ready to order?" Lee asked in a friendly tone.

"In just a second. I need to tell you something, and if it doesn't mean anything to you, I'll leave here and never come again." Andrew said seriously as he looked into his father's eyes.

"My name is Lee Andrew Wells, I was born on December Seventeenth, Nineteen Eighty. I haven't aged since I was Sixteen years old... and I think I'd like the country breakfast, it looks good." Andrew said as he glanced at the menu.

Lee went pale and began to shake slightly.

"Dad, please calm down, I'm not here to do anything but talk to you, and if you don't want to talk to me, just say so and I'm gone." Andrew said in a whisper.

"Not now." Lee finally said as he took a deep breath.

"When?" Andrew asked quietly.

"I'm at the end of an overnight shift, I'm off in about an hour. Just wait here for me and we'll go somewhere to talk." Lee said nervously.

"Okay, we'll do that... And could I have English muffins with that breakfast?" Andrew asked as he looked at the picture again.

"Yes. And for you?" Lee asked as he looked at Faith.

"Belgian waffles with strawberries. But only if they're sweet and juicy." Faith said in a sultry tone.

"They're plump and sweet, just waiting for you to devour them." Lee said with a breathy whisper.

"Don't be shy with the whipped cream... I love the whipped cream." Faith said with a scorching look.

"Don't we all." Lee said in a seductive growl.

Faith and Lee held each others gaze for a moment before he finally snapped out of it and asked Trey, "And what can I get for you?"

"Nothing, thank you. I'll share his." Trey said and glanced at Andrew.

"I'll bring you an extra plate then. I'll be back soon with your orders." Lee said and hurridly left the table.

"Faith, you just hit on my dad." Andrew said in a tone of disapproval.

"Yeah, so? He's a babe." Faith said without concern.

"What about Robin?" Andrew asked, worried by her casual attitude.

"I love Robin, and I wouldn't ever cheat on him. But I'm not going to stop being me. If things were about to turn serious between me and your dad, I'd shut him down. As long as it's all in fun, I'm good to go." Faith said happily.

"Okay, I just didn't want to see anyone get hurt." Andrew said, more calmly.

"Robin knows how I am, and he trusts me. I'd never give him a reason not to." Faith said with certainty.

"Does he flirt too?" Andrew asked curiously.

"Just with Buffy. It drives her nuts." Faith said with a smile.

Andrew chuckled at that, then retreated into thought.

* * * * *

Bobby, Robert and Peter all ran off the track and began to stretch out.

"You did good today Robert. How do you feel?" Peter asked through heavy breathing.

"The sensation is pleasant. I did not understand that the activity would release endorphins and cause this... exuberant feeling." Robert said as he mimicked Bobby's stretches.

"I wasn't sure if you'd work up a sweat, but you seemed to do pretty good." Bobby said with a smile at the sheen of sweat on Robert's face.

"I was unsure of that as well. I am unaccustomed to such activities." Robert said and matched Bobby's smile.

"Then would you like to join us tomorrow? We run the track every morning." Peter asked welcomingly.

"Yes, I would like that. Thank you for inviting me." Robert said and stopped his stretching.

"What do you want to do next?" Peter asked both Robert and Bobby.

"I don't know. I'd planned on visiting Ronny. I guess I don't have any plans for the rest of the day. Anyone else got an idea?" Bobby asked casually.

"I have no plans today. Saturday is my day to complete outstanding projects... and I have completed them." Peter said in a helpless tone.

"We could go to my house. If the family is doing something, we could join them and if they aren't, we could play Kadis'ka." Robert suggested.

"Yeah, that sounds good." Bobby said and picked up the gym bag.

"Yes, but I am not familiar with the game." Peter said with question in his voice.

"I will teach you. It is not difficult to learn." Robert said and followed Peter and Bobby into a small building.

"What is this place?" Robert asked when they walked inside.

"It's the field house. It's a locker room, showers and a bathroom. The other door was for the girls side." Bobby said as he unlaced his shoes.

Robert began to unlace his shoes and thought to ask, "So you do not mind being unclothed before Peter?"

"No, he's my friend. He's not gay and I'm not interested in him like that, so it's not a problem." Bobby said, then looked curiously at Robert.

Robert watched as Bobby took off his shirt, then removed his own.

"If this bothers you, you can wait and shower when we get to your house." Bobby suggested carefully.

"No, that is not necessary. I only asked because I was led to believe that a same gender oriented man would be uncomfortable being near unclothed men." Robert said seriously as he watched Bobby pull off his jogging shorts.

"Maybe some are. It doesn't bother me." Bobby said and pulled off his briefs.

Robert realized that he was staring, and quickly removed his own shorts and briefs, then followed Bobby and Peter into the shower room.

* * * * *

Mr. Howlett's car arrived before Aunt Vada's house. He quickly lowered his wheelchair and was ready to work.

Then he saw Vada's front lawn and porch. He shook his head in frustration and went back to his car.

"What's wrong Ken?" Xander asked in confusion.

"This wheelchair might... *might* make it across that obsticle course of a lawn. But there is no way it's going to make it up those stairs onto the front porch." Ken said darkly.

"Um, what do you want to do?" Xander asked, not having a clue.

"I have an old fashioned wheelchair in my trunk for times like this. If you guys wouldn't mind too much, you could push me across to the porch and lift me up there. This electric chair is far too heavy for that." Ken said seriously.

"Sure Ken, no problem." Xander said and, with Remy's help, pulled the manual wheelchair from the trunk. Ken secured his electric wheelchair back in the car and waited for Xander and Remy to bring the old buggy around to him.

"Remy sorry Ken, Remy don tink of you as a man in a wheelchair, Remy just tink of you as Ken an didn stop to tink you might have trouble." Remy said apologetically.

"Thanks Remy. There's nothing to be sorry about, and knowing that you just see me, not my chair, makes me feel better than all the ramps and level sidewalks in town." Ken said honestly.

* * * * *

"I'm ready to go now. Is my apartment okay?" Lee asked nervously.

"Yeah, lead the way." Andrew said as he got up to leave.

"It's just about two blocks away... Lee?" Lee asked carefully.

"I go by Andrew." Andrew said quietly.

"Your mother never wanted you to be named Lee." Lee said as he led the way.

Silence fell over the group until they reached an apartment building.

"Well, this is it." Lee said nervously and opened the door.

As Andrew and Faith stepped into the apartment they were surprised that there was almost nothing in it.

"How long have you lived here?" Andrew asked as he looked around.

"Just a few months, I came here after the explosion." Lee said and dropped into a chair.

"Why?" Faith asked as she sat on the couch.

"With everyone running away from here like rats off a sinking ship, I figured there would be some good job opportunities... and maybe they wouldn't do much of a background check." Lee said quietly.

"Dad, I need to know why you left us when I was five." Andrew said suddenly.

"Yeah, well... I was messed up. Your mom was a good woman when I met her, but we brought out the worst in each other. It started out as partying, getting drunk to unwind and have some fun... then it got to be every night... then every day. Whenever I thought about trying to get sober, your mom was there to hand me a drink, and whenever I started feeling like I was wasting my life, your mom was there to rationalize for me." Lee said in a pained voice.

"So you were an alcoholic?" Trey asked quietly.

"Yeah, I am an alcoholic. It never goes away." Lee said to Trey, then turned a pained gaze toward Andrew. "When you were five, I started drinking really hard, worse than ever before... and it made me mean." Lee said, then suddenly got up and began to pace.

"You were just being a kid. I don't remember what happened, I was so drunk. You didn't want to take your bath, or something. Whatever it was doesn't matter, I hit you. And the more you cried, the more I hit you... until finally you stopped. I don't know exactly what I did, but you just stopped crying and wouldn't wake up. I held you for about an hour before you finally opened your eyes again. The first thing you did was say you were sorry." Lee said and dropped back into the chair.

He looked Andrew straight in the eyes and said, "That was it, the last time I ever hit you. I left that night and never went back. I spent most of the next thirteen years drunk... Then one day I had a moment of clarity. It just hit me that I was an animal who lived for the next party. So I got help. I went into rehab, I was in for about a year and haven't touched a drop of alcohol since."

"Good for you." Faith said with admiration.

"So you left to protect me?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Yeah, I figured you'd be better off not having a dad, than having one who was a mean drunk... Andrew, I couldn't be a part of your life... I was such a mess... I'm still a mess." Lee said and buried his head in his hands.

"Can you tell me about why we don't age?" Andrew asked quietly.

"No. It just happened. When I was about twenty two, people started telling me that I looked sixteen... and I've been that way ever since. That's all I know." Lee said and looked at Andrew with apology.

"It must be the X gene." Trey said quietly.

"What's that?" Lee asked curiously.

"The X gene is the source of mutation in humans... I've got it, so you probably do to." Andrew said quietly.

"Is it something bad?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"No, it just explains why we are like we are. That's all." Andrew said in deep thought.

"Well, you can see my life... this is pretty much it. I live from paycheck to paycheck. Will you tell me about your life?" Lee asked with hope.

"Yeah... um, mom left when I was about fifteen. I came home from school one day and she wasn't there. All her stuff was gone, she even took my crappy little TV and video game." Andrew said sadly.

"After that I hung around with friends and made some mistakes... not the kind you made. Anyway, there was an accident and I ended up in Tempe, Arizona with thirteen dollars in my pocket and not knowing anyone." Andrew said and looked to see an understanding of the feeling in his father's eyes.

"That's when someone offered to help me. His name is Scott and he's one of my closest friends. Now I'm married... to a man... and we've adopted six kids." Andrew said quietly, waiting for his father's reaction.

"You've got kids? Do you think it would be okay if I meet them? I only had one kid, you. And I screwed that up so bad that I never had another. I love kids, I'm just..." Lee trailed off.

"It's okay dad, and this is my son Trey." Andrew said and motioned to Trey.

"Trey?" Lee asked as he looked at Trey in wonder.

"Trey O'Seofon Summers." Trey said proudly.

"Summers?" Lee asked curiously.

"Yes dad, My married name is Summers, I had it changed... does that bother you?" Andrew asked with worry.

Lee sensed the worry and said with a smile, "No son, you don't need to preserve the glory and majesty of the Wells family name. You're probably better off as a Summers."

"Thanks Dad... Trey, do you want to take off the camouflage so your grandfather can see you?" Andrew asked with a note of concern.

"Grandfather, I am not human... but I am a good person." Trey said with assurance before he pressed the button to allow his true features to show.

"I'm sure you are, will you give your grandpa a hug?" Lee asked hopefully.

"Yes grandfather." Trey said with a smile and ran into Lee's waiting arms.

"So are all your kids aliens?" Lee asked as he hugged Trey.

"They don't like that word dad, but yes, they are all from other planets... to say it's a long story is an understatement." Andrew said honestly.

"I'd love to hear it sometime. But first, tell me about your other kids." Lee asked and shifted Trey to sit on his knee.

"Icheb is my oldest, he's almost sixteen. He's a natural leader and a good kid. Trey is fourteen, he's an engineer and an amazing friend. Robert and William are thirteen and are twins, Robert is an emotional kid, he's loving and considerate. William is darker, he's thoughtful and a little moody, but is an incredible artist. Jimmy is nine, he is sweet, good natured, brave and smart. Janine is six and is my little girl. She's playful and spirited. She also has a great mind for strategy."

"Are they here? In Sunnydale?" Lee asked hopefully.

"No, I work at a school and we live there... Let me show you something." Andrew said and created a small vortex, about a foot wide.

"Don't do that. They'll see it." Lee said in panic.

"Who?" Andrew asked and collapsed the vortex.

"The monsters that live on the other side." Lee said with worry.

"It's okay dad, it's part of being a mutant. And that vortex just leads to Cleveland. There aren't any... many... monsters there." Andrew said calmly.

"Really?" Lee asked carefully.

"Yeah, this is my ability, my gift." Andrew said quietly.

"Mine's always been a curse." Lee said and opened a vortex, the same size and shape as Andrew's.

"Dad, your portal is opened to a hell dimension, you need to close it." Andrew said in fear.

Lee dissipated the portal with an 'I told you so' look.

"So you can open doorways too?" Andrew asked in wonder.

"Yeah, but just into hell... what good's that?" Lee asked sourly.

"Maybe I can teach you to target? I had to learn how to use my portal ability." Andrew suggested.

"Yeah, I'd like that... so is that how you got here?" Lee asked, pointing to where the portal had been.

"Yeah... when do you have to be back to work?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Monday night. I've got the rest of the weekend off." Lee said with hope in his voice.

"Would you like to visit the family?" Andrew asked quietly, not wanting to push.

"Yeah, I mean, if you won't be too ashamed of me." Lee said with his eyes cast down.

"Ashamed of what? That my father cared enough about me to protect me by leaving? That my father overcame an addiction and has remained clean and sober for five years? Dad, I don't know if I'd be strong enough to do either one of those things and I'm proud of you for having done them." Andrew said and walked to hug his father.

Trey stepped out of the way and watched.

"Get in there Trey, make it a three generation hug." Faith said with a smile.

Trey put his arm around his father's back hesitantly and was engulfed into a three-way hug.

To Be Continued...