Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 27: Preemptive Strike

Alex and Spike walked downstairs to the living room and everyone fell silent.

"So Spike, how are you doing?" Xander asked carefully.

"This bloke seems to have an unhealthy fascination with Hawaii." Spike said with a smirk.

"You didn't tell him?" Scott asked Alex with mild surprise.

"He didn't ask." Alex said with a shrug as he took a seat on the floor.

"Didn't tell me what?" Spike asked with irritation.

"That Alex lived in Hawaii until a few weeks ago." Scott said with a smile.

"That's alright then. The white knight here doesn't have that excuse." Spike said with a cheeky look at Xander.

"You don't have to worry about that anymore Spike. My husband declared that I'm not allowed to wear the Hawaiian stuff anymore... unless we go to Hawaii." Xander said and snuggled Remy.

"Husband? Does this mean you finally let go of the demon chit?" Spike asked with interest.

"Anya died in the fight at the hellmouth... protecting me." Andrew said sadly.

"What happened to you? You used to be a nerdy little bloke who was chasing after everyone for attention." Spike asked in wonder at the transformation of Andrew.

"Um... Okay... This is my husband. That is my father. And my six kids are in the basement. When you've got all that, you change." Andrew said firmly.

"Looks like the little squirrely guy grew a pair. Good for you mate." Spike said with genuine appreciation.

"So how's about you introduce me around Peaches?" Spike asked as he looked at all the unfamiliar faces.

"Andrew should do the introductions, we're in his house." Angel said with certainty.

Andrew nodded and said, "Spike, this is my husband, Alan Summers."

"Any relation to the slayer?" Spike asked seriously.

"Yeah, sort of. We're in a different dimension, but he has a second cousin who's named Buffy Summers. Let's see. Alan and Remy are from another dimension. Scott, Alex and most of the other people you don't know here are from this one. And the people you do know are from our dimension." Andrew said haltingly.

"Did red start tossing people through dimensions now?" Spike asked curiously.

"No. I did. Willow isn't a witch anymore." Andrew said quietly.

"I bet there's a story behind that. Once you're a witch, you don't turn back. Even after Dru died, she still had her witchcraft." Spike said in thought.

"It took a vengeance demon's spell." Xander said simply.

"That could do it. That's some powerful mojo." Spike said seriously.

"Yeah. I'll tell you the whole story later if you want. Let's see, you know Xander, beside him is his husband Remy, over here we have Aunt Vada who is the grandmother of the baby that Xander and Remy are going to adopt, and this is Mr. Howlett, the attorney who is working on the adoption. You know Wesley... but this isn't the Wesley from our universe. This one's still a watcher. Here is Kurt Wagner and Warren Worthington the third, and my brothers-in-law Scott and Alex." Andrew said in thought.

"So are you a demon too mate?' Spike asked Kurt curiously.

"No, just a mutant." Kurt said pleasantly.

"Mutant?" Spike questioned.

"Yeah, um, quite a few of us are mutants. Including me." Andrew said carefully.

Spike looked around and finally said, "I don't know just what that is mate, but as long as mutants don't eat vampires..."

"...We're just people." Warren interjected.

"Fair enough." Spike said with a nod.

Icheb and William walked up from the basement and to Janine's room.

"More mutants?" Spike asked as he saw them pass.

"No. They're not human. They're from other planets." Andrew said shyly.

"Bet there's a long story to go with that one too." Spike said off-handidly.

"Oh yeah." Alan said with a smile.

"William, are you ready to meet Spike?" Andrew called out.

William ran into the room with excitement.

"Spike, this is my son William Alan Spike Summers." Andrew said proudly.

"You named a kid after me?" Spike said in wonder.

"Yeah, I told the kids about you and William chose to honor you by taking your name." Andrew said with a smile.

"Are you a mean little bloke?" Spike asked with a teasing look.

William raised his arm in a flash and his tubules were at Spike's throat. With a playful smile he said, "I can be."

"William. It is impolite to assimilate our guests." Alan said firmly.

William retracted the tubules and, without looking away from Spike said, "Yes dad."

"You got you a pair of brass knackers alright. Maybe I can show you a few moves later." Spike said with genuine affection.

"William, your assistance is required." Icheb called from Janine's room.

"I must go now." William said and ran to help Icheb.

"What are they doing?" Spike asked curiously.

"Putting in a security system." Andrew said honestly.

"Because of me?" Spike asked with a smile.

"We needed to do it anyway, we're doing it *now* because of you." Andrew said simply.

"You know how to make a bloke feel welcomed." Spike said as he tried to put on a wounded expression.

"If you don't like it, we can go with plan B." Andrew said with a smile.

"And what would that involve?" Spike asked cautiously.

"Not much, your heart, a wooden stake and the application of some pressure." Andrew said solidly.

"You think you could do it?" Spike asked in challenge.

Andrew's eyes flashed and Spike was gone.

* * * * *

Andrew's eyes flashed golden and Spike saw that he was standing on the top of a mountain. Below him he could see what looked like a sea of writhing bodies. The sounds of howls and screams of pain rose up around him like a choir of agony.

The fetid stench in the air was choking him. The smell of putrid rotting overrode the rest of his senses as the overwhelming smell and taste of death in the air insinuated itself into him.

* * * * *

"Where'd you port him?" Alan asked casually.

"A hell dimension... Just to make a point." Andrew said seriously.

"A show of strength?" Scott asked in confirmation.

"Yeah. That should be enough." Andrew said and pulled Spike back.

* * * * *

"Bloody hell! That was bloody awful." Spike said as he gasped for breath.

Alex walked beside Spike and said, "You didn't have to do that Andrew, that wasn't cool."

"He needed to know." Scott said with certainty.

"You could have told him. You could have waited for him to threaten you before you attacked him. That was wrong." Alex said angrily and his clenched fists began to glow.

"Alex, your losing it, pull it back." Scott said with worry.

"Or what? You'll port me to a hell dimension because I *might* threaten you?" Alex asked as his anger increased and the red glow became brighter.

"I'm alright mate. This bloke just wanted me to know that he won't take any shit from me... And if he'd told me, I'd think he was all talk." Spike said soothingly to Alex.

"They were wrong." Alex said, keeping his gaze fixed on Andrew.

"Don't do this mate, I'm not worth it." Spike said quietly.

That snapped Alex out of his fury and he let his hands relax.

Andrew let out a breath and said, "I'm sorry Alex. I just thought it was the best way for Spike to understand."

"It's not me you should apologize to. You could have ported him anyplace, then he would have understood. You didn't have to do that." Alex said and walked out of the room.

"Cover up Angel." Alex said from the front door.

Angel hopped out of the chair, and carried Chris to the basement stairway. Once he was safely concealed, Alex opened the front door and walked outside.

* * * * *

"He would choose outside... I can't follow him." Spike said with his worried gaze fixed on the door.

"You might be able to go out in the sunlight. Be careful and go slowly." Wesley said in a considering voice.

"I'm a vampire mate, if I go out there, I'll end up a pile of ashes." Spike said, still watching the door.

"Spike... William, you have a pulse. I think you've been resurrected as a daywalker." Angel said quietly, still standing, still holding Chris.

"Bloody hell. The double damned? What did I do that was so bloody wrong to deserve that?" Spike asked with a slight whine.

"I don't know. But if you want to go after Alex, you probably can. Just be careful, we could be wrong." Angel said carefully.

Spike nodded and moved cautiously to the door.

* * * * *

Spike carefully opened the door and held one hand out experimentally. When nothing happened but a warm sensation on his skin, he moved fully into the light.

Everyone watched as Spike walked out into the sunlight.

* * * * *

Alex was sitting on the edge of the lake, picking little pieces of grass and throwing them angrily at the water.

"Mind if I join you mate?" Spike asked quietly.

"Wil? I thought you couldn't go out in the light." Alex said with confusion.

"I couldn't before. When they brought me back, they made me different. Now I can." Spike said darkly.

"I'm sorry about that back there. I should've let you handle it your own way." Alex said quietly.

"Nothing to be sorry for mate. You stood up for me. That doesn't happen much for someone like me and I won't forget it." Spike said with a smile.

Alex nodded shyly.

"Can you tell me why you did it? We only just met." Spike asked as he took a seat beside Alex.

"I finally met someone I could talk to... connect with... and they started treating you like crap. It wasn't even that Andrew ported you to a hell dimension that pissed me off so bad. It's that he did it so casually, like it was nothing to him. If someone had ported one of his kids to that dimension, he'd have a whole different opinion about it." Alex said, feeling the anger rising again.

"It ain't worth the fight Alex. It's part of the game we all play. We have our flag waving, pissing contests and the occasional show of force so we can prove that we're serious." Spike said as he leaned back and enjoyed the feel of the sun on his skin.

"If that's the game, I hate it. You were being good. You didn't insult or attack anyone, there was no reason for him to do that." Alex said in frustration.

"I think I understand. You're angry for me, but you're also angry because someone you respected disappointed you." Spike said in a considering voice.

A long moment of silence fell between the men. The sound of the water lapping at the side of the lake was all that could be heard.

"Yeah." Alex finally said.

"That's the thing with humans, sometimes they'll do that. Don't hold it against him. He did what he thought was right... And I understood it. From your point of view, it's wrong." Spike said quietly.

"I guess..." Alex said quietly, then fell silent.

The lapping sound of the water marked the time as Alex sat silently in thought.

"Wil, I'm tired of being the 'other one'." Alex said as he laid back on the grass.

"How do you mean?" Spike asked as he laid down beside Alex.

"Scott is the team leader, Alan is Andrew's husband, the dad of all those kids, I'm... nothing. I'm introduced as the brother or the brother-in-law... sometimes the uncle. I just want to have something that's mine... I want to be special." Alex said as he watched the clouds drift by.

Spike thought about the words and quietly said:

"The pools of midnight call to me,
ever saying 'speak my name',
The fields of wheat, thrash and flow,
summoning for me to touch,
The velvet path invites me in,
daring me to be so bold,
The breeze does sing with silent songs,
proving words to be replete,
The silken snow of such expanse,
never trodden, never known,
All these things could I attain,
had I courage, had I worth."

Silence fell again until Alex finally said, "That was beautiful... and sad. Having all that desire but being afraid to act on it."

Spike smiled and said, "I wrote that for someone special."

"She must really be something for you to feel that strongly for her." Alex said with his eyes closed.

"I wrote that when we only just met. That was the first moment of attraction." Spike said quietly.

"How did it turn out? Did you work up the courage to tell her or did she leave and you never saw her again?" Alex asked carefully.

Spike rolled on his side and looked at Alex for a moment before saying, "I found the courage."

"So what happened next?" Alex asked and turned to look into Spike's wanten gaze.

"You'll have to tell me." Spike said and reached to comb his fingers through Alex's hair.

* * * * *

"Do you think I should go to check on Alex?" Andrew asked with concern.

"No, give him some time to cool down. I didn't even know he had a temper." Scott said in an impressed voice.

"There's more to this than you're seeing." Vada said sagely.

"How do you mean?" Andrew asked with interest.

"The young man blew up too easily. Something's been festering, this incident just ignited it." Vada said in thought.

"I agree. You need to figure out what's bothering him or you're going to see more of this." Ken said speculatively.

"He's been feeling like he's cramping Scott by sharing his room." Andrew said quietly.

"Why would you think that?" Scott asked in disbelief.

"Because he told me." Andrew said with apology in his voice.

"He told me that he feels like he's not taken seriously because he's only a few years older than the kids." Scott said in thought.

"An he needs to get laid." Remy said simply.

"Remy, that's not the solution to all life's problems." Xander said in a teasing tone.

"Non, not all life's problems, but it be de solution to some of Alex's problems." Remy said with certainty.

"He did say that he can't find anyone his own age." Warren said in a considering voice.

"And remember when we were talking about being in high school, what he said?" Andrew asked.

"That he was invisible." Alan said darkly.

"So he's alone, feels that his presence is causing his brother distress, that he isn't respected due to his age... I think that's enough reason to have a short fuse." Vada said to the room.

"God, how do I miss this stuff? John basically said that he left the school because he was lonely, and I never saw it. Now the same thing is happening to Alex and I didn't have a clue." Scott said in despair.

"Well you know now. Let's fix it." Vada said with strength.

"How?" Andrew asked curiously.

"He feels alone, then maybe he needs to feel needed. He feels he doesn't have respect, then maybe he needs to be trusted. What can we do to make him feel needed and trusted?" Vada asked in a leading tone.

"Have him watch the kids. He knows that nothing is more precious to us than the kids, and if we leave him to watch them alone, he'll know that we trust him." Andrew said with excitement.

"That will work for today, but it's just a Band-Aid on the very large wound that he's carrying around. He needs to be needed every day for some reason that isn't made up. He needs to be trusted for real, in a situation that requires trust. If you can't prove to him that you depend on him, then you're likely to lose him." Vada said forcefully.

"Lose him? How?" Scott asked with panic.

"What would you do if you lived somewhere where you weren't needed and weren't trusted?" Vada asked in return.

"Leave." Andrew said simply.

* * * * *

"The fields of wheat, that's the color of your hair." Spike said as he gently combed his fingers through Alex's hair.

"Wil, I've never..." Alex began, then closed his eyes at the gentle whisper of a touch that glided through his hair.

Alex opened his eyes and Spike said, "The pools of midnight are your eyes. They draw me in demanding nothing, wanting only for me to call your name... Alex."

"Wil..." Alex whispered.

"The breeze that sings with silent songs is your breath, carrying a melody into my soul." Spike said and let his hand drift down to caress Alex's cheek tenderly.

Alex opened his mouth to speak and Spike gently moved in for a gentle, tender kiss.

When the kiss broke, Spike gently said, "The velvet path invites me in."

Alex hesitantly reached out and trailed one finger down Spike's cheekbone.

"Why me?" Alex asked with a tremble in his voice.

"Because you're special."

* * * * *

"What does everyone have to do today? I mean really, not just busy work." Andrew asked carefully.

"I have to meet with the Professor, I've been putting it off for a couple days." Scott said frankly.

"I was hoping that after we get our paperwork done, we could go to the hospital and visit Marguerite." Xander said honestly.

"Oh, I would like that." Vada said happily.

"And I have to work on some things that were emailed to me. Otherwise Monday is going to be hell." Warren said without enthusiasm.

"I've got to see if I can help Matt, Hank should be ready for me soon. Wesley, could you help me, I could really use some backup." Andrew said and looked to Wesley with hope.

"Certainly. I'll meet you in the medical facility." Wesley said calmly.

"I'd like for Hank to take a look at the babies after all that went on last night." Alan said seriously.

"I need to get Chris to bed, he's exhausted." Angel said as he looked tenderly at Chris.

"And I need to get back to Robin." Faith said seriously.

"Do we have any of the food from lunch left over?" Andrew asked Remy.

"Oui, dere be a few tings left." Remy said happily.

"Would you mind fixing up some food for Faith and Robin?" Andrew asked hopefully.

"Be jus a minute." Remy said and hurried to the kitchen.

"Well, it looks like we honestly need Alex's help without having to make up anything." Andrew said to the group.

"Yes. Maybe we've avoided depending on him up to now." Alan said speculatively.

"Let's just see if he'll even watch the kids before we decide that we've got this all figured out." Xander said seriously.

"Who wants the honors? I probably shouldn't be the one to ask him." Andrew said sheepishly.

"If someone will get him, I'll ask him." Alan said.

"Why you?" Xander asked carefully.

"Because anyone else asking him to watch the kids would seem wrong. Andrew or I would have to be the one to do it." Alan said with certainty.

"Yes, very good thinking. And don't think for a minute I'm not going to talk to you about how you got so pregnant. I'll just save that for my next visit." Vada said with a smile.

"You're always welcomed Aunt Vada, but I've had such a good time today, I'd like to invite you back next Saturday so we can do this again." Alan said warmly.

"That would be lovely." Vada said happily.

"Great, and that goes for everyone. You're all invited back next Saturday for a family lunch." Alan said to the group.

"I'll take you up on that." Ken said with a smile.

"I vill be here." Kurt said with certainty.

"I'll be gone all week, but I'll come back for that." Warren said with a smile.

"Would it be alright if we visit Marguerite, then do the paperwork? I really want to see her." Xander asked hopefully.

"Yes, that would be fine with me. Aunt Vada?" Ken asked warmly.

"Yes, I'd like to visit with her first too." Vada said and stood.

"Kids, come up here so you can say goodbye to Aunt Vada and Ken." Andrew called out.

All the children came up the stairs and swarmed around Aunt Vada and Ken.

"Line up by age, Janine first and you can hug them goodbye." Andrew said and watched as the children lined up for their hugs.

Ronny and John stepped aside.

"You really going to hug them?" Ronny asked Bobby who was in line.

"Sure, I don't get enough hugs, I'll take'em where I can get'em." Bobby said with a smile.

John and Ronny thought about it, shrugged and got into line.

* * * * *

As William released his hug from Aunt Vada, Andrew said, "William, would you go outside and see if you can find your Uncle Alex? Your Dad needs to ask him a favor."

William nodded and ran to the door. He looked back to see Angel move into the stairway before opening it and running outside.

* * * * *

Spike moved in for another kiss, this one only slightly deeper and more forceful.

Alex hesitantly put an arm around Spike and pulled him close as the kiss intensified.

After a long minute, Spike finally pulled out of the kiss.

"That's all for today mate." Spike said quietly.

"Why?" Alex asked in confusion.

"Because if we jump into this, someone's going to get hurt. I've got me some calluses built up, but you could get hurt real bad." Spike said honestly.

"Thanks Wil. Thanks for going slow and thanks for thinking of what's the right thing to do while I'm just enjoying the feeling... You aren't just doing this because of what I said are you?" Alex asked hesitantly.

"Let me put you straight on something. When I was naked, you clothed me. When I told you I was a poet, you asked to hear my poetry. When someone threatened me, you stood to defend me. I did do this now because of what you said. If you hadn't said anything, it prolly woulda been months before I got up the balls to do anything. But I would have got to it. Got that?" Spike asked with force.

"I got it Wil. Can I get one more kiss?" Alex asked hopefully.

"Maybe just one." Spike said with a smile.

They moved in for a deep passionate kiss as William walked over the rise to see them kissing in the grass.

"Uncle Alex! Dad want's to ask you a favor." William called out with a big grin.

Spike and Alex broke the kiss with their simultaneous smiles and Alex finally said, "I'll be there in a minute William. And don't tell anyone we were kissing, okay?"

"Why not? It is wonderful that you have found someone." William said with excitement.

Alex thought for a second, then said, "Yeah, you're right. Tell anyone you want."

"You sure luv? Havin the big bad as a boyfriend can ruin your reputation." Spike said cautiously.

"I'm an eighteen year old virgin, sharing a room with my older brother. What do you think there is about my reputation that shouldn't be ruined?" Alex asked with a smile and led Spike back toward the boathouse.

* * * * *

William reached the door first and knocked.

"Come in." Andrew called as he watched Angel move to safety again.

William, Alex and Spike walked into the room to find everyone standing.

"What's up?" Alex asked shyly.

"We got to talking and found out we all have things to do this afternoon. I was wondering if you'd watch the kids for us." Alan asked hopefully.

"Where are you going to be?" Alex asked curiously.

"I need to get Hank to check me out, I want to be sure that thing last night didn't hurt the babies. Andrew needs to help Matt. Everyone else has their own stuff to do." Alan said quietly.

"Yeah, no problem." Alex said, looking at the kids.

"Father, may I come with you to the mansion? I told Marie that I would spend some time with her this afternoon." Icheb said hopefully.

"Sure." Andrew said with a smile.

"Okay then, I'm going to make a portal to the mansion for anyone who's heading that way, then I'll drive Alan over." Andrew said and formed the portal.

"Thanks for having us over Andrew. We had a great time." Angel said, carrying Chris.

"Come back anytime Angel, you're always welcomed." Andrew said before Angel walked through the portal.

"I guess I'm ready, it was fun. You gonna port me back next Saturday?" Faith asked hopefully.

"Sure, and if Robin's available, bring him along." Andrew said with a smile as he opened a portal for Faith.

Ronny walked to Andrew and asked, "You mind if I go with you? I want to be there to help Logan."

"I thought you would. You can ride over with us. What about you Bobby? John?" Andrew asked.

"I'll stick with Ronny if you don't mind." Bobby said with a glance at his brother.

"Me too." John said.

"Fine... Dad? What are you going to do?" Andrew asked.

"I worked an overnight shift before I came here. I could really use a nap." Lee said shyly.

"Use our bedroom. When do you want to be woke up?" Andrew asked quietly.

"In two or three hours. I don't want to sleep the rest of the day or I'll be up all night." Lee said with a smile.

"Okay, someone will wake you in a few hours." Andrew said and looked to Alex, who nodded.

"Thank you for a wonderful day guys. I'll be here next Saturday." Warren said with an appreciative smile.

"I vill be here as well. Thank you for your hospitality." Kurt said with gratitude.

"Kurt, when we get set into a routine we're going to start having some family time every night. You'll have an open invitation to that when we get it started." Andrew said happily.

"Thank you. I vill look forward to zat." Kurt said before walking through the portal.

"So Peter, are you going to stick with the guys or go to the mansion?" Andrew asked.

"I have some reading I would like to do. Thank you for inviting me... I have been away from my own family for three years and miss them greatly. For the first time since I have been in this country, I have felt at home." Peter said gently.

Andrew pulled Pete close for a hug and said, "Come by anytime Peter. You're always welcomed here."

Peter pulled out of the hug and nodded before he walked through the portal.

"Alex... are we okay?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Not yet. Come into the kitchen for a minute." Alex said forcefully as he walked to the kitchen.

Andrew followed silently as Alan, Spike and the kids watched.

* * * * *

Andrew walked into the kitchen to find Alex leaning against the countertop casually.

"What can I do to make it right?" Andrew asked carefully.

"Lay off Spike." Alex said sharply.

"I'm not doing anything. I showed him what I can do, we understand each other, we're done." Andrew said carefully.

"Yeah, the game, he told me. Let me spell it out. I don't like what you did. If someone did that to one of your kids... just as a show of strength... how would you feel about it?" Alex asked coldly.

"I'd be just as pissed off as you are... but Spike's not your kid. He's a master vampire." Andrew said steadily.

"No, he's not my kid, but think about it. He sacrificed himself to save a bunch of lives... including yours. Then the next thing he knows he's naked in our living room. Fifteen minutes later you're porting him into a hell dimension so you can prove... something... to him. It was wrong." Alex said firmly.

"Okay Alex. When you put it that way, I can see what you mean. Come on." Andrew said and walked out of the kitchen with purpose.

* * * * *

Andrew walked into the living room at a deliberate pace and stopped before Spike.

"Spike, I'm sorry. I was wrong to port you to a hell dimension. Alex made me see that I was wrong for attacking you. Will you forgive me?" Andrew asked sincerely.

Spike looked at Andrew with wide eyes and felt the snarky comment forming on his tongue when he noticed Alex standing behind Andrew with a hopeful expression.

"Yeah, it's forgiven." Spike said quietly.

"Thank you. You *are* welcomed here. I'm sorry I didn't say that before... I respect and admire you, otherwise I wouldn't have named one of my kids after you." Andrew finished with a smile.

"Yeah, thanks for that mate. No one ever thought enough of me to do that before. I can't promise that I'll be able to behave myself, but if I get a taste for mayhem or violence, I'll be sure to keep it away from the house." Spike said with a smile.

"I appreciate that. Treat us with respect and we'll do the same for you... now I need to get to the mansion. Do you need any blood or anything while I'm out?" Andrew asked genuinely.

"No, I could use some food though. I don't know what you did to me, but I'm not a real vampire anymore." Spike said with concern.

"We'll figure it out. For now, just relax and get caught up. Alex can fill you in on some of the highlights of the last few months." Andrew said and helped Alan to stand.

Janine ran to her father and put her arms up.

"You be good for your Uncle Alex." Andrew said as he hugged her and gave her a kiss.

"Father, we will complete the proximity alarms and iso-chip decoder while you are gone. We will be able to view the vid chips when you return." Trey said seriously.

"You can go ahead and start them when you're ready. If you find any really good ones, just set them aside so we can watch them later." Andrew said and began to hug his way up the line of children, followed by Alan.

Andrew, Alan, Ronny, Bobby and John left for the mansion.

To Be Continued...