Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 23: Gathering

Kurt walked out of the bathroom again and seemed a little more confident.

"That looks great Uncle Kurt. Here, try on the shirt and vest so we can see the whole outfit." Jimmy said with excitement.

Kurt took the orange shirt from Jimmy and set it on the bed as he pulled off the striped shirt he had been wearing.

Jimmy looked in wonder at the scars that covered Kurt's chest and arms.

"Jimmy, why don't you try on your shirt too?" Warren said quietly, not wanting Kurt to feel self conscious about his scars.

After a nod, Jimmy walked to Warren and accepted the shirt that he had picked out.

"I vill need some help with ze buttons. Zhey cause me difficulty." Kurt said with frustration.

Jimmy shrugged on his shirt and left it open as he moved to help Kurt with the small silver buttons.

After the buttons were all done, Jimmy said, "Turn around and I'll adjust the waist of the vest."

Kurt turned and looked over his shoulder to watch Jimmy sliding a strap to make the vest fit comfortably.

Jimmy stood back and looked at Kurt in approval.

"Here's your jewelry. Let me put it on you." Warren said and moved to Kurt, holding a small bag.

Kurt stood in stunned disbelief as Warren placed a silver bracelet with a small turquoise stone on his wrist and a bolo tie with a large turquoise stone around his neck.

Warren finally stepped back and looked carefully.

"The bracelet is aesthetically displeasing. It does not work with this outfit." Jimmy said in a considering tone.

Warren nodded and held out his hand for Kurt to return the bracelet.

Kurt reluctantly handed over the bracelet and watched as Warren circled to his left and Jimmy circled to his right, looking carefully at him.

"The hair. I think we need to change the hair." Warren said speculatively.

"Yes." Jimmy said definitely.

"Would you let us fix your hair differently?" Warren asked gently.

Kurt nodded and moved to take a seat on a chair.

* * * * *

"...And this box is for Marguerite. It was empty so we put in all the things we think she'll need." Janine said happily.

"What's the bird?" Lee asked curiously.

"Friendship." Janine said and noticed Andrew watching them.

"Father. I forget, what does the turtle mean?" Janine asked seriously.

Andrew smiled. He knew she didn't forget, she just liked to hear the story.

"If everyone will come back over to the couches, I'll tell you." Andrew said as he picked up Janine onto his hip and carried her to the couch.

"Alan and I had been hurt and were confined to a week of bedrest..."

* * * * *

Warren and Jimmy both worked on Kurt's hair silently for a long minute before Warren finally said, "Your hair doesn't look this long the way you have it styled."

"I do not like to have mien hair cut. To have someone behind me with scissors makes me uncomfortable." Kurt said quietly.

Jimmy stood back and shook his head.

"Let me try something Uncle Warren." Jimmy said and moved behind Kurt again.

After another long minute, Jimmy had combed Kurt's hair down, simply parted in the middle.

"This style frames his face and accentuates his features..." Jimmy said as he continued to work.

Warren stood back to take in the effect.

"I agree. It really brings out his bone structure... I think you're going to be surprised Kurt." Warren said with a smile.

"I am finished." Jimmy said and joined Warren before Kurt, looking him over.

"Vell?" Kurt asked timidly.

"What's missing?" Warren asked in an almost pained voice.

Jimmy tilted his head, then jolted upright as he was assaulted by inspiration.

"Uncle Warren, could I alter the bracelet that you bought? I believe I know what we need." Jimmy said with enthusiasm.

"Sure." Warren said quietly and picked up the bag with the bracelet from the dresser.

Jimmy pulled out the bracelet and after a quick look at Kurt, began to bend it out of shape.

"I will do this the proper way when we have more time, but I can make this work for now." Jimmy said with effort.

"Do you need some help?" Warren asked as he saw Jimmy struggling with the metal.

"No, not unless you have a torch, hammer and anvil so I may do this the correct way." Jimmy said and continued to bend the bracelet.

"I didn't bring them this trip." Warren said with a smile.

"Done. Uncle Kurt, if you like the way this looks, I can reconstruct this piece the proper way." Jimmy said and walked to Kurt.

Kurt took the mangled bracelet and looked at Jimmy in question.

Jimmy held out his hand for the bracelet and when he had it, he took Kurt's hand and slipped the newly made ring onto the first finger of his right hand.

"A ring." Jimmy said with a smile and stood back.

"Amazing." Warren said as the entire ensemble seemed complete.

"May I look now?" Kurt asked cautiously.

"Yes." Warren said and walked with Kurt to the mirror on the back of the closet door.

* * * * *

"And since that day, the turtle has been a symbol to us of someone who gives up something important to them for someone else." Andrew said with a smile.

Janine got up from Andrew's lap and ran from the living room into Andrew's bedroom.

The others looked at each other curiously until Janine came back into the room more slowly and reverently placed the ceramic turtle on the coffee table.

Andrew smiled and said, "Yes, this is the turtle that Artie made and gave to Alan."

Ronny didn't want to insult something that Andrew obviously felt so much about, but he looked at the lump from one angle, then another trying to see a turtle.

Andrew noticed Ronny's examination and reached down to turn the lump the appropriate way.

"This is the head." Andrew said and pointed at a protrusion from one end of the lump.

"Oh." Ronny said quietly and sat back.

"Okay, Ronny, Bobby and Janine. Let's go to the basement and see how the guys are doing." Andrew said and got off the couch.

The named children all got up and followed Andrew down the stairs.

"That was a sweet story. Was it really like that Scott?" Ken asked carefully.

"I guess so. Andrew left out the part of the story where we were a couple, I dumped him without warning and acted like a big jerk and didn't even talk to him." Scott said sadly.

"But you're still friends after all that?" Vada asked with admiration.

"Yeah, Andrew understood and let me know exactly what I could do to make everything right." Scott said with a smile.

"And what was that... if you don't mind telling." Ken asked curiously.

"He asked me not to date anyone for a year. He figured out that since I'd been an adult, I'd never been single. He said that if I would take a break from dating and get to know myself that he would leave everything else in the past." Scott said peacefully.

"And how is it working?" Ken asked quietly.

"I have good days and bad days. But I know that he was right. I'm learning to be Scott the individual so I won't lose myself the next time I'm part of a couple." Scott said gently.

"A very wise choice. I believe that happens more often than most people realize." Vada said in a considering, distant voice.

The moment was broken when Xander walked into the front door and went directly to the kitchen, carrying a plastic bag.

* * * * *

Kurt stared in wonder at his reflection. He was looking at a stranger in the mirror. The silver nearly glowed out from the outfit giving an aire of regality. The hair made his face look thinner and more angular, which was attractive. The orange shirt was in contrast to his skin color, but in a complimentary way.

After a minute of silence Warren finally asked, "Do you like it?"

Kurt snapped out of his shock and finally said, "Ja, it is amazing. Ze difference is.... I have no words... not even German ones."

Jimmy smiled radiantly and looked at Warren who held a gentle smile and peace in his eyes.

"Now we do ze same for Jimmy?" Kurt asked as he looked at his two friends.

Warren smiled and said, "That sounds like a great idea. Go ahead Jimmy, take your things and change."

Jimmy grabbed up his bags and ran into the bathroom.

Kurt and Warren looked at the closed bathroom door and Kurt finally said, "My life has changed in so many ways... One week ago I vas depressed, alone, unsure of my direction in life. With ze help of you and Jimmy I have found peace within myself zat I had only known briefly before. You are my dear friends unt I have a future zat I may anticipate at ze new institute."

"It's the same for me Kurt. I was feeling adrift. Like my life was going through the motions... then I met you... then Jimmy. Now... I don't know, I can't really tell you what changed, just that something did... it's like my heart opened, after being closed for a very long time. This is something that I've never had before... I've had friends, but you two are more than that, closer... you're my family." Warren finished in a whisper.

Jimmy walked out of the bathroom and proudly displayed the teal shirt and gray pants for the men to see.

"Zat looks good on you. Unt I believe your eyes have changed color." Kurt finished curiously.

"Yes, the shirt accentuates my eyes in an unexpected way." Jimmy confirmed.

Warren looked at Jimmy consideringly, then said, "I think you need a tie."

Jimmy looked with surprise at the statement but only watched as Warren pulled a tie from the rack in his closet.

"This may be a little too big for you but it will give us the idea of how it looks." Warren said and handed the tie to Jimmy.

"I am unsure how to tie this properly." Jimmy said shyly.

Warren sat sideways on the chair to accommodate his wings and said, "Stand here and I'll show you."

Jimmy walked before Warren, and Warren gently turned him to face away.

"It's easier for me this way. I'm not used to tying anyone's tie but my own so it would be backwards if I were facing you." Warren said as he draped the tie to fall over Jimmy's shoulders.

Warren looked over Jimmy's shoulder and moved his arms over Jimmy's to demonstrate tying the tie. "Now you take the two lengths so the small one is a little shorter. Then wrap the large one around the small one... and under... halfway around... up through the neck and down through the knot. Once you have the knot tightened the way you want it, you can adjust the tie by sliding the knot up and down the small end."

"Thank you Uncle Warren." Jimmy said happily and ran to look in the mirror.

"What do you think?" Warren asked happily.

"You are correct. The black tie accents the look and gives depth. It is very appealing." Jimmy said and looked happily away from the mirror.

"Now it is Warrens turn to try on ze new clothes." Kurt said happily.

"No, mine have to be altered too much to do it now." Warren said with a small note of disappointment.

"Uncle Warren, I can make the alteration as I did for Uncle Kurt if you like. It is sufficient for demonstration purposes, but not sustained wear." Jimmy said carefully.

Warren smiled and handed the green shirt to Jimmy.

Jimmy began to cut the material then thought to say, "Uncle Kurt, if you will take off those pants, I will complete the alteration."

"I do not want to take zem off. Zey look and feel good as zey are." Kurt said shyly.

"The alteration I made will not hold if you put any significant stress on the seam." Jimmy said as he quickly worked, stitching around the open back of the shirt.

"I vill take zem off, but vill zey be ready before we go to lunch?" Kurt asked with hope.

"Yes. The difficult part is done. All I need to do is reinforce the key points in the seams to diffuse stress from the opening. It will take less than five minutes to complete." Jimmy said, then cut the thread from his little sewing machine and held out the shirt to Warren.

Kurt walked hesitantly to the bathroom.

Warren accepted the shirt from Jimmy and began to take off the shirt he was wearing.

"Uncle Warren, may I help you?" Jimmy asked with concern.

Warren looked to see Jimmy's expression and nodded.

Jimmy moved behind Warren and waited for Warren to finish unbuttoning the shirt.

When he was done, he shrugged the shirt off his shoulders and pulled his arms out.

Jimmy took hold of the shirt by the neck, and after Warren knelt down to accommodate Jimmy's smaller size, Jimmy was able to pull the shirt from around Warren's wings.

"Uncle Warren?" Jimmy asked as he folded the shirt and began to pull the green shirt over the wings.

"Yes?" Warren responded and held out a hand, waiting for Jimmy to hand him the edge of the shirt so he could pull it on.

"Why do you and Uncle Kurt have scars?" Jimmy asked timidly.

Warren looked down to the intricate design of scars on his torso that had accumulated through many painful years of his life and thought about his answer. Finally he said, "We were hurting Jimmy. We didn't know how else to express our pain so we let it out by making it physical."

Jimmy thought about that answer and handed Warren the edge of the shirt so he could finish dressing.

"Would it not be better to discuss the pain with your family and let them help you?" Jimmy asked timidly.

"Yes Jimmy. But I didn't have a family, or any friends at the time I did most of these. I was alone and it was the only way I could deal with what I was feeling. I'm not saying it's the right way. It was just all that I knew at the time." Warren said as he finished buttoning the green shirt.

"Hold still." Jimmy said quietly and began to preen some of the feathers that had become ruffled during the change of shirts.

Warren smiled peacefully as he felt Jimmy's gentle touch carefully smoothing his feathers and making all the little irritating sensations quiet.

"Thank you Jimmy. That is much more comfortable." Warren said with a look of bliss.

Kurt walked out of the bathroom wearing pants that looked absolutely baggy now that he had worn some pants that fit properly.

"I will have these ready in minutes." Jimmy said and took the pants from Kurt.

* * * * *

Andrew, Bobby, Ronny and Janine went down the basement stairs to find all the boys working on various things.

"What's going on guys?" Andrew asked as he reached the bottom of the stairs.

"We are working on the iso-chip decoder." Icheb said, then looked with disapproval at Ronny.

"Icheb, I need to talk with you for a moment. Everyone else, this is Ronny, Bobby's brother, he'll be joining us for lunch. Please make him feel welcomed." Andrew said then motioned for Icheb to go up the stairs.

* * * * *

"Ze shirt looks good. Do you have any gold jewelry to wear with it?" Kurt asked quietly.

"I think I have something." Warren said and looked through a box on his dresser.

"What about this?" Warren asked and put on a gold herringbone chain.

Kurt looked and thought before saying, "Zhat is good, but you need something more... Jimmy, vat does Warren need to complete ze look?"

Jimmy glanced up from his sewing and said, "An earring, either a simple gold hoop or a diamond stud." Then turned his attention back to his sewing.

"I don't have a pierced ear." Warren said as he considered the idea.

"You should think about it. The look would be quite attractive with your features and coloring. The gold accessories would compliment you." Jimmy said without looking up from his work.

"Is there anything we can do now?" Warren asked hopefully.

Jimmy cut his thread and looked over the stitching of the trapdoor carefully before handing the pants to Kurt.

"May I look at your other jewelry?" Jimmy asked as he walked to Warren.

"Sure." Warren said and gestured to the box.

"Take off that chain and wear this one." Jimmy said and pulled out a thick, gaudy gold chain from the box.

"That's awful." Warren said with a sour look.

"Please try it." Jimmy said and offered the chunky chain again.

Warren took the eyesore and put it on, sparing a glance toward Jimmy.

Warren walked to the mirror and was astonished to see that the chain looked beautiful on him.

"In the absence of other accessories, this large one takes the focus and completes the look." Jimmy said as he looked at Warren's image in the mirror.

"Thank you Jimmy. We need to show Orroro before we leave. This was a gift from her two years ago and I've never worn it. She'll be happy to see it." Warren said happily.

Kurt walked out of the bathroom, once again wearing his entire new outfit.

"Are the clothes comfortable?" Jimmy asked as he looked at Kurt's outfit again.

"Ja, I have never had clothing fit me so well. I am used to loose clothing zat hides me." Kurt said and joined Warren and Jimmy before the mirror.

"Let's find Orroro, then get back to the boathouse. I'm ready to show off." Warren said with a smile.

Jimmy began to gather his clothes when Warren said, "You can just leave those things here if you want. We can take them back later."

Jimmy nodded and walked to Warren's side as they left the room.

* * * * *

"Hello Ronny. Are you well?' Robert asked from a desk where he was working on something that looked like a piece of plastic with etchings on it.

"Yeah, your dad said I could come for lunch with your family." Ronny said shyly.

"How is Logan?" Robert asked with concern.

"He's really sick. Your dad said that they're going to try something to make him better in about three hours." Ronny said with worry.

"Please do not worry. My father is not only competent when it comes to healing, but also aware of his limitations. If he believes that the treatment will be successful, then it probably will." Robert said with assurance.

Ronny looked around and noticed Chris sitting in the wheelchair.

"What happened to him?" Ronny asked Robert.

"He was stabbed by someone who was trying to kill his father." Robert said as he continued to work.

Ronny was stunned with disbelief, then thought to ask, "Who's your father?"

"His name is Angel... mine is Chris." Chris said and put down the spool of wire that he had been wrapping to extend his hand.

Ronny gently shook Chris' hand and looked around the room.

"Peter, I'd like you to meet my brother Ronny." Bobby said across the room.

Peter put down the piece of wood that he was sanding and said, "A pleasure to meet you."

Ronny nodded as Bobby said, "This is Trey, you know Robert, this is Robert's twin, William... Jimmy's not here, and you met Janine upstairs."

"Hi." Ronny said quietly and looked around the room.

* * * * *

Warren, Kurt and Jimmy walked down the hallway of the mansion and noticed that several people were staring at them.

Finally Warren said quietly, "Either we look really good or really bad."

Kurt nodded and followed into the common room.

Marie looked up from the book she was reading and stared in astonishment.

"Whoa guys. What happened?" Marie asked with wide eyes.

"We went shopping." Warren said timidly.

"Well I need for you to take me shopping if you do it like this. You all look great!" Marie said and stood.

"Thank you." Kurt said shyly.

Marie smiled at Kurt's timid expression and walked around the three to check them out.

"Kurt, you look completely different. I mean, wow. You look fantastic." Marie said and looked him in the eyes.

"Marie, do you know where Orroro is? This chain was a gift from her and I'd like for her to see it being worn." Warren said quickly, trying to take some of the focus from Kurt who was blushing wildly under the attention.

"She left with Artie and Clarissa. I don't know when she'll be back." Marie said as she stared at the gold chain, glistening in the light.

"I'll catch up to her later then. We need to get back to the boathouse for lunch, Remy is cooking a family meal." Warren said with a smile.

"That sounds nice. I'm going to visit my family for Thanksgiving this week, it'll be the first time I've seen them in months." Marie said happily.

"That sounds nice. Try not to eat too much." Warren said as he turned toward the door.

"Are you kidding? My mom's turkey and stuffing is the best ever. I'm going to eat every bit that I can hold and probably bring some home if there's any leftover." Marie said with joy.

"Enjoy your holiday Marie, ve must go now." Kurt said gently as he followed Warren.

Jimmy nodded to convey his own well wishes before following Warren and Kurt.

* * * * *

Andrew and Icheb walked up the stairs, then when they reached the living room, Andrew turned and continued up the next flight of stairs to the second floor, then on to the attic.

Finally when the door was shut Andrew said, "Icheb, Ronny is going to be here for lunch and I need to know if that's going to be a problem for you."

"Why would you invite him here? He is mean and a bad person." Icheb asked in confusion.

"Because Bobby is worried about him, and because I was wrong to phase him somewhere that he would be alone. I know it's going to be uncomfortable but I have to do it to try and make up for trying to cause him pain." Andrew said quietly.

"So you did not heed your own advice?" Icheb asked in confirmation.

"That's right. I told you not to let his words make you do something to hurt him, then, not five minutes later, I ported him to your dad's dimension. And at the moment I did it, I intended on leaving him there." Andrew said in shame.

Icheb thought about that, then said firmly, "I will try to endure his presence, and if he trys to hurt me, I will attempt to remain calm. But if he attacks a member of the family, I will hurt him."

"You'll have to find him first." Andrew said, matching Icheb's determined tone.

At Icheb's look of question, Andrew continued, "If he attacks a member of the family I'll port him somewhere so remote that it doesn't even have a name."

Icheb thought about that and nodded in agreement.

* * * * *

John hesitantly pressed the doorbell, feeling a swell of anxiety in his stomach.

Less than a minute later the door opened to reveal Warren, the blue guy who showed up right before he left and a kid he didn't know.

"Hi John, can I help you?" Warren asked pleasantly.

John was a little surprised at the greeting. First of all, he didn't know that Warren knew his name, and second, if Warren knew who he was, he expected to be greeted with animosity.

After a moment to let the pleasant greeting sink in, John finally said, "Um... I came to talk to Bobby, do you know where he is?"

"Yes, he's at the boathouse. That's where we're going, you want to come with us?" Warren asked politely.

"Yeah, um... sure." John answered brokenly, not sure why this was freaking him out so badly.

As the four people began to walk away from the mansion, Jimmy said, "I am Jimmy Summers, I don't think we've met."

"I'm John, John Allerdyce... or Pyro." John said quietly.

"Oh, I am also known as Six of Seven." Jimmy said quickly.

"What kind of mutant name is that?" John asked curiously.

"I am not a mutant, I am not human. That is my designation." Jimmy said as the group continued to walk.

"Not human? Wow, that must be tough. It's hard enough being a mutant." John said seriously.

"No, I have a large family who love me. When I have difficulty, they help me. Uncle Kurt and Uncle Warren have helped me to understand many things." Jimmy said honestly.

"Your family, are they like you? I mean your same... race?" John asked with difficulty.

"Species. And no, I am the only one of my kind that I am aware of on this planet. My brothers Robert and William are of the same species, they are twins. And I believe that my brother Trey and my sister Janine may be of the same species, but I have not sought to verify that hypothesis." Jimmy said in a considering voice.

"How many of you are there?" John asked, truly interested.

"Six of us children. The rest of our family are human. There are currently twelve of us living in our house, but my brothers will be born soon and that will make fourteen of us." Jimmy said happily.

"Wow, that's a big family. How do you all get along?" John asked in fascination.

"We learned very early on when our fathers adopted us that we must communicate our displeasure immediately if we are to live in harmony. It has been nearly three months since we were adopted and we all get along well." Jimmy said and looked at John curiously.

John caught Jimmy's gaze and understood what he wanted to know, "It was just me and my dad, we didn't get along so good."

Jimmy nodded and said, "I understand such things, that is sometimes the case. When it is not possible to adapt to the family you have, sometimes it is necessary to create the family you want."

John looked in surprise at the words and allowed himself to lag behind the others so he could have a moment to think about them.

To Be Continued...