Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 28: Babysitting with Hazard Pay

All the children went downstairs and Alex shrugged.

"Do they always get so soppy about it?" Spike asked as Alex led him to the kitchen.

"Yeah. It's their way." Alex said as he pulled out some of the leftover food from lunch.

"What'd you tell that Andrew bloke that got him to apologize to me?" Spike asked curiously.

"I reminded him that he'd be dead right now if you hadn't done your good deed and that he has a really messed up sense of gratitude." Alex said as he placed a plate of food in the microwave.

"Ta mate. I never had me a white knight of my own. Never needed one. But I gotta admit that it's nice, havin someone that cares for me." Spike said shyly.

"Wil, I know you don't need me to fight your battles. That's not what just happened. Someone hurt my friend, that made it my battle. If he'd pissed you off, I know you'd fight for yourself." Alex said as he pulled the heated food out of the microwave and handed it to Spike.

"Ta mate. This smells bloody wonderful." Spike said and sat at the kitchen table.

"Yeah, Remy is a great cook." Alex said with a smile.

"I can't believe I'm hungry for human food. I'd eat it every now and again, but I haven't been hungry for it for over a century." Spike said as he began to eat.

Alex chuckled, then stopped at Spikes look of question.

"I've been looking for someone my own age to hook up with and when I finally find someone... he's over a hundred years old." Alex said and began to laugh.

"Yeah, well I guess I don't have to worry bout that no more. If I'm a daywalker, I'm going to age and die like a human." Spike said darkly.

"What's a daywalker?" Alex asked with interest.

"A half vampire. The only way I knew one could be made is to turn a woman who's pregnant, right before birth. Even then, it's just as likely to kill the baby as half turn it." Spike said as he ate.

"You don't seem happy about it." Alex said seriously.

"Daywalkers are double damned. They're despised by the demon community because they're more human than demon. They're hated by the humans because they're still part demon. Daywalkers can go out in daylight. That way they can hunt while other vampires are hiding from the sun... and they sometimes hunt vampires." Spike said between bites of food.

"Why? I mean, for food? Revenge? Why do they hunt vampires?" Alex asked in fascination.

"Not food. Human food is good enough, I think I'll probably need blood too, but just every so often. If vampires find a daywalker, they kill it. So sometimes it's self defense, other times it's revenge or a quest." Spike said as Alex got up from the table, obviously still listening.

"So if vampires hate daywalkers so much, why do they create them?" Alex asked as he pulled the cobbler from the refrigerator and put some on a plate.

"Now and then a master decides that he needs one for a job. He'll breed it and get the job done, then call a bloodhunt on it." Spike said as he continued to eat.

Alex put the cobbler in the microwave and turned it on before saying, "That's horrible. So the daywalkers have no home? Nowhere that they can be accepted?"

"No, and they're sterile... in the sense that humans can create their own kind and vampires can create their own kind, daywalkers have to be made from a vampire and a human... at least that's what I was told." Spike said and pushed away his empty plate.

Alex silently pulled the cobbler from the microwave and put a scoop of ice cream on the plate.

"What are you going to do?" Alex asked as he put the plate between himself and Spike, then handed Spike a spoon.

"I don't know. I guess I need to talk to Peaches and find out if he has any advice." Spike said as he took a spoon of the ice cream.

Alex took a spoon of cobbler and said, "Think about staying here. Angel is a full vampire and he's welcomed. The Professor gave him a job as a teacher. If you wanted to, you could stay too."

"And do what? I don't think they need anyone to teach classes in bloody mayhem... and that's about all I know." Spike said quietly.

"No, Logan is our bloody mayhem instructor. What about English? Alan is the head of the language department, you could do literature, poetry... stuff like that." Alex said as he enjoyed a spoon of cobbler and ice cream.

"No mate, I can't live like that. I've got to have me some violence now and again or I'll go bloody loony." Spike said with apology in his voice.

"Then join the X-men. They're a team that fights... whatever threatens us. Scott's the leader and just about all the adults at the mansion are on the team." Alex said carefully.

"Team, like codenames, uniforms, stuff like that?" Spike asked carefully.

"Yeah, we've been off schedule the past few weeks, but starting Monday, we'll be back to combat training, mutant power training, drills... it keeps us sharp." Alex said as he scraped the last of the ice cream off the plate.

"Mutant powers?" Spike asked curiously.

"Yeah." Alex said and held up his hand which was glowing a bright red.

"I guess that means you could blast something with that." Spike said looking at the hand.

"Yeah. Scott and Alan have the same thing in their eyes. I guess one of Alan's babies has it too." Alex said as he pulled his power back.

"I got nothing like that. What use would I be to a bunch of supermen." Spike said doubtfully.

"Xander's on the team, so's Angel. You don't have to be a mutant to be on the team. You just have to be willing to follow orders and work as a team." Alex said as he put the plates in the sink.

"That would be a new one for me." Spike said in thought.

"If you wanted, you could give it a try. Wil, this sounds perfect for you. You're a talented poet, this way you could teach kids to love poetry. You're a trained fighter, this way you get the chance to fight. You're a daywalker, this way you get to live in a place where that doesn't matter." Alex said seriously.

"You ever thought about a career in politics? You're good at convincing." Spike said with a smile.

"I'm done now. That's all the convincing I'm going to do. I just wanted you to know that there is someplace for you if you want." Alex said tenderly.

"And we get to be together." Spike said in thought.

"Yeah, that's the bonus." Alex said with a smile.

* * * * *

"They were kissing?" Robert asked in wonder.

"But they only just met." Trey said with a hint of disapproval.

"They are bonded. I do not know how it happened, but I am certain of it." William said to the other children as they worked.

"Then we must make Spike feel welcomed." Janine said with certainty.

"What do we know of Spike?" Jimmy asked curiously.

"Many things. Angel told me his history of the past hundred twenty years. When he was human he was a poet. When he became a demon, he was a psychopath. When he began to interact with Buffy and Uncle Xander, is violent tendencies subsided and he regained his soul. In the end he sacrificed himself to save his friends." William said to the group.

"I will ask for his help with poetry." Robert said immediately.

"Uncle Dave taught me to defend myself, I will ask for his help to learn to fight more effectively." Trey said seriously.

"Hugs." Janine said with equal seriousness.

"If he is interested in poetry, perhaps I could seek his help in editing one of my early stories, to modify them for a human audience." Jimmy said in a considering voice.

"When should we begin?" William asked Trey carefully.

"Not yet. We will also need to attend to Uncle Alex's needs. I believe his earlier outburst confirms that we need to make him feel included as well." William said speculatively.

"I will ask him for a story." Janine said firmly.

"Yes, and I will ask for him to use his mutant ability to help us complete the case for the iso-decoder." Jimmy said seriously.

"I will seek his advice about my relationship with Bobby." Robert said with a dreamy smile.

"And I will ask his advice about how to get to know my namesake." William said in thought.

"I will seek his advice regarding the supervision of all of you." Trey said seriously.

"Are you going to lead him to believe that we are misbehaving?" Janine asked with worry.

"No. I will simply ask what activities he would suggest to keep us occupied when we have finished our outstanding tasks." Trey said in consideration.

Janine nodded.

"Who want's to start?" William asked the group.

"I believe I will talk to Uncle Alex first, he might suggest that I talk to Spike about poetry." Robert said seriously.

"Yes, and I will ask Spike for assistance in self-defense training." Trey said assertively.

"We will continue work on the iso-chip decoder." Jimmy said as he etched a path onto a thin plastic-like card.

* * * * *

Alex and Spike walked into the living room as Robert and Trey walked up the stairs.

"Uncle Alex, could you speak with me for a moment?" Robert asked quietly.

"Sure Robert, come in the kitchen and we'll talk." Alex said with a smile.

"Spike, Uncle Xander has remarked that you are an accomplished fighter. Would you mind showing me some defensive moves?" Trey asked hopefully.

"Sure mate. Let's us go outside so if one of us gets pasted, we'll land on the grass." Spike said and walked toward the door.

"Just a moment." Trey said and walked to the kitchen.

"Uncle Alex, Spike and I are going outside so he can show me some defensive combat moves." Trey said through the kitchen door.

"Okay, don't get too rough. Your parents will tear me to pieces if you get hurt." Alex said through the door.

"We will be careful." Trey said and walked to Spike at the front door.

* * * * *

"What's up Robert?" Alex asked with concern.

"I am in love." Robert said with a great, glorious smile.

"That's great, who is it?" Alex asked, trying to think of who Robert knew.

"Bobby." Robert said in a dreamy whisper.

Alex's eyes went wide and he was shocked into silence.

"I need to know how I may express my love to him in an appropriate manner for my age." Robert said with hopeful eyes directed at Alex.

Alex saw the look and his heart melted.

"Robert, that's a tough one. You're awfully young. Does Bobby know?" Alex asked carefully.

"Yes. We have discussed this with my father and agreed that we will not pursue a physical relationship until I am older. But I need a way to express my love to him that is appropriate, otherwise he may believe that I have lost interest." Robert said with concern showing in his eyes.

"Okay, I get that. Why don't you try some poetry?" Alex asked and a goofy smile fell over his face.

Robert noticed the look and said, "I have never written poetry, I could use some instruction and feedback to know that I am doing it appropriately."

"Spike would be good to help you with that. He's an excellent poet." Alex said in a dreamy tone.

Robert's eyes went wide as he recognized his own dreamy expression on Alex's face.

"He's outside with Trey right now. Why don't you wait till he comes back in and ask him?" Alex asked carefully.

"I don't know him. I would feel uncomfortable asking for his assistance." Robert said shyly.

"Then I'll ask him for you." Alex said gently.

"Thank you Uncle Alex. I'm glad you're here with us." Robert said as he hugged Alex close.

* * * * *

Trey and Spike walked out into the yard at the North side of the house and began to move around each other, waiting for an opening.

Trey made a complicated move that culminated with him sweeping his leg, trying to knock Spike off his feet.

Spike saw the move coming and easily avoided the attack.

Spike noticed that Trey had thrown himself off balance and had his back turned as he got back to his feet.

Spike decided to exploit the vulnerability and grabbed Trey from behind. Trey smiled as Spike fell into his trap and grabbed Spike's wrist firmly with both hands. Trey then ducked under Spike's arm and stomped the instep of his foot. After a quick kick to Spike's midsection, Trey quickly twisted and pulled Spike's arm that he was still holding and in one swift move, flipped Spike onto his back.

"Yield." Trey said as he held his tubules at Spike's throat.

"You won that one mate. Sucked me right into it, you did." Spike said with a chuckle.

"Perhaps now you'll fight me for real." Trey said and looked into Spike's eyes to find comprehension.

"Yeah, I was going to hold back since you're just a tyke." Spike said with a laugh as Trey helped him to his feet.

"I have been told that among the Maquis, it is common for those my age to fight along side the adults in defense of their homes." Trey said and stepped back into a defensive posture.

Spike took a swing at Trey, more a test of his own speed than an attempt to strike.

"I was assaulted by an adult who believed that because I am Borg that I should be made to suffer. After that experience, I learned to defend myself so I would never be so vulnerable again." Trey said as he watched Spike's every move.

"Borg? Is that what you are mate?" Spike asked, then lunged to attack.

Trey defended against the strike and countered with a jab to Spike's side, which only made a glancing connection.

"Yes, I am not sure of my species, but regardless of who I was before, after the Borg captured me, erased my mind and altered my body, I became a part of them... And they will remain a part of me forever." Trey said then moved in to try a direct assault against Spike.

After a moment of scuffling, the two separated, none the worse for wear and Spike said, "Sounds like what happened when I was turned. When the demon was put in, most of William got lost. Now I've got most of him back, but the demon's still a part of me."

Trey smiled and said, "It is good to know that we share this. Most others would not understand the sensation of losing one's self and the struggle to reclaim some of what was taken."

"Yeah." Spike said and launched an attack.

* * * * *

Lee awoke to the sound of fighting outside the bedroom window.

He got up from the bed and looked outside to see Spike and Trey fist-fighting in the yard.

He was about to run out and break them up when he saw them separate and start laughing. Then he realized that they were fighting for fun.

Lee settled by the window to watch the fight and the display of camaraderie.

* * * * *

Andrew walked into the BioLab to find Wesley talking with Hank.

"Is Tara around? I was hoping she could help me." Andrew said with a furrow of worry creasing his brow.

"Yes, Dawn just arrived home and she went to speak with her for a few minutes, she'll be right back." Hank said, then noticed John and said, "And I don't think I've had the pleasure of meeting you before."

"Pyro." John said with a dark look.

Andrew heard the unspoken menace in John's voice and said, "Dr. Hank McCoy, this is John Allerdyce, he used to be a student here."

"Oh, well I'm please to meet you John. You may call me Hank if you like." Hank said pleasantly.

"I'll see if Dawn can help too. I can use all the magical backup I can get." Andrew said honestly.

"Since I don't know what you plan to do, I'll take your word for that." Hank said with a note of gruffness.

"All I can say is that I'm going to give Matt a fever." Andrew said quietly.

"Very well. Mr. Wyndom-Price is helping Logan carry the last of the things to make the accommodations livable." Hank said seriously.

"Then you're ready?" Andrew asked with hope.

"As soon as the last items are placed in the containment room, then we will be ready for Matt." Hank said with certainty.

"Okay, I'll get the things I need set up." Andrew said and opened a tiny portal into his bedroom closet.

Logan and Wesley walked in as Andrew began to set candles around the room.

"I'm curious to know which spell you plan to use to induce a fever." Wesley said as he passed.

Andrew continued to prepare for his spell until Wesley came out of the containment room.

"I'm going to use 'The Healing Fire of the Ancients'. Since Matt has the healing factor, he should be able to deal with the side effects... I hope." Andrew said with worry.

"That spell can only be used by a master fire mage. That is very dangerous." Wesley said with caution.

"I know. That's why I asked for your help. You did so well with the resurrection spell, I was hoping that you could help to maintain Matt through the fever... you do know how to do basic healing don't you?" Andrew asked hopefully.

"Yes, and to do this properly, I should weave my healing spell into your fever spell. That will allow both magics to work in harmony, thereby eliminating the possibility of our magics counteracting each other." Wesley said in a considering voice.

"Yes. Do you need any supplies? We need to get to this as soon as possible." Andrew said with resolve.

"Just a few things. Finish your preparation and I will return shortly. It will only take me a moment to gather the necessary items." Wesley said before leaving the BioLab with purpose.

Dawn and Tara walked into the BioLab a moment later.

"Tara, Dawn, I was hoping you could help me with a spell." Andrew said quickly.

"Sure, what kind of spell?" Dawn asked with a smile.

"I'm going to induce a healing fever in Matt... Logan's counterpart from Alan's universe. I was hoping you could give him a little magical support so he can get through this with as little pain as possible." Andrew said seriously.

"Yeah, give us a minute to get our stuff and we'll help." Dawn said with excitement and lead Tara out of the BioLab.

"I guess I'm nearly ready. Hank, are you ready for Matt yet?" Andrew asked as he looked around at his work.

"Yes, whenever you are." Hank said as he looked over the seals to the containment room.

* * * * *

"Professor, I'm sorry I put off this meeting. What did you need to discuss with me?" Scott asked with apology.

"Originally I wanted to discuss some new training ideas involving the most recent members of the team and starting evacuation drills for the students, but now... Scott, I need a break. Eric and I will be leaving soon and I wanted to let you know that you'll be in charge until I get back." Charles said seriously.

"Okay, that's no problem, when are you going to be back?" Scott asked curiously.

"That's the difficult part Scott. I don't know." Professor Xavier said vaguely.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand." Scott said with the beginnings of worry.

"I had an attack today... a seizure. Dr. McCoy says it's directly related to stress. I don't know how long it will take for me to recover from this exhaustion so I'm going to relax and enjoy my time away. When I am back to myself, then I'll return." Charles said and let the exhaustion be seen in his face.

"I understand Professor. Don't worry, you've trained me well, I can handle it." Scott said with assurance.

"And if you do, you'll need a vacation by the time I return. Scott, don't make my mistake. Take help when it's offered. Allow yourself to delegate some of the tasks. If you try to do it all, this job will consume your life. Don't let it." Professor Xavier said in warning.

"Any suggestions of how I can prevent it from happening?" Scott asked carefully.

"Get Alan to help you. He offered to be my administrative assistant and I refused his help. I believe that if I had accepted, I would not be leaving now." Charles said with a note of shame.

"I'll do that Professor. And I've been thinking of breaking up some of my own duties and delegating them. Now would be the best time to do that." Scott said in a considering voice.

"What did you have in mind?" Charles asked curiously.

"After a short training, I'm going to give the responsibility for the maintenance of the blackbird to Trey. He has an incredible grasp of electronics and mechanics. I think he'll do a fine job. And I was thinking of having Alex attend the combat training in the mornings. I'd like to put him in charge of the junior X-men's training regimen." Scott said seriously.

"Won't that make for some hard feelings from the others?" Charles asked with concern.

"Maybe in the beginning. But I will make it clear that Alex is in charge and back him up if he needs it. He's not going to be a team leader or anything, he'll just conduct their morning training sessions. He needs something like this and by separating the training into junior and senior sessions, I believe the training will be more effective." Scott said with assurance.

"I'll trust your judgment Scott. I've called Mr. Howlett and he's going to take care of getting you all the necessary authorizations and accesses that you'll need to perform the job for an indefinite amount of time." Charles said in thought.

"Thank you Professor. I'll call Ken if I have any questions about that side of things." Scott said with a smile.

"Yes, he's a good man. He'll take care of you." Charles said fondly.

"I offered the same deal to Ronny that we put in place for Bobby." Scott said quietly.

"Why would you do that? He's actively worked against us in the past and threatened us just yesterday." Charles said with disapproval.

"I know, but he's lost everything. He needs a chance. Besides all that, he's a minor. He's entitled to a basic education. With the help of a few grants and a modest discount in tuition, it's really not a hardship on us. If he follows the guidelines, scholarships and grants will cover what his education voucher doesn't. The only thing we'll have to do is file his paperwork and everything will be taken care of." Scott said with assurance.

"I don't like it, but you're in charge so I'll abide by your decision in this matter." Charles said shortly.

"I'll watch out for him Professor. If he isn't working out, I'll deal with it." Scott said seriously.

Charles nodded and remained silent.

"I also needed to ask you about John Allerdyce. What would happen if he wanted to come back here?" Scott asked seriously.

"As I understand his situation, he's effectively removed any possibility of that happening. He petitioned the court and was emancipated, thereby removing any guardianship arrangement we might have worked out. His grades weren't sufficient to warrant any type of scholarship that I'm aware of. I don't see anything we could do to help him." Professor Xavier said sadly.

"Could you give him... a discounted rate? Anything to help him be able to come back?" Scott asked with hope.

Professor Xavier looked at Scott with question and got a glimpse of what Scott was planning.

"You're going to pay for him yourself?" Professor Xavier asked in puzzlement.

"If I have to. Professor... Charles, he's been living on the streets. He didn't admit to it, but I think he's been eating out of dumpsters. He was careful not to say how he got the money to buy food but... a sixteen year old boy who doesn't have a job? I can only think of a few ways he could make money and I don't want to imagine John being forced to resort to any of them." Scott said with concern.

"I never imagined..." Charles said in a whisper.

"Can you help me? I know you can't give him free tuition, but can you do something?" Scott begged.

"Yes." Charles said and pulled a folder from his desk drawer. He looked in it and pulled a sheet of paper from the back, then handed it to Scott.

"I don't understand." Scott said honestly, looking at the paper.

"It's a special grant that was set up a few years ago. It is specifically for mutants and I hesitate to use it because of the strict standards that it imposes." Charles said with a furrowed brow.

"A 3.0 average? 20 hours of community service each month? Wait... this has to be a misprint. He has to take a drug test every week? He's trying to go to school, not get paroled from prison." Scott asked incredulously.

"You see what I mean? And it only covers tuition... No books, no housing, no food, no clothes." Charles said darkly.

"Do you mind if I offer it to him? Charles... he's losing hope." Scott said sadly.

"You're in charge now. Do what you think best." Charles said quietly.

Scott nodded, then thought to ask, "Is there anything else going on that I need to know about before you leave?"

"Orroro, Artie and Clarissa are visiting the President today." Charles said in thought.

"The President of what?" Scott asked curiously.

"Of the United States." Charles said, as if it were obvious.

"Really? And I'm just hearing about it now?" Scott asked with surprise.

"The President asked that we not make a big deal of this. Mystique told him about Artie being shot while protecting Clarissa so the President wanted to meet the children." Charles said with a smile.

"That's great. I hope the meeting goes well. They're going to remember this for the rest of their lives." Scott said happily.

"Yes. And you are aware of the situation with Logan's counterpart, correct?" Charles asked carefully.

"I know the basics. I think they're about to try a treatment on him." Scott said, back to his more serious mood.

"Anytime now. The only other situation that you need to be aware of is just in it's beginning. Kitty has a crush, you need to be aware of it and be available if she needs your help." Professor Xavier said seriously.

"A crush? On who?" Scott asked with surprise.

"He calls himself Avalanche."

* * * * *

As Warren was working his way through his email, his phone rang and interrupted his thoughts.

"What have you got?" Warren said sharply, knowing that it had to be his assistant.

"Really? I can't get away at the moment. Can we have the meeting here?" Warren asked with surprise.

"Good. I'll talk to the Professor and have it ready. Thanks for the good work Rome. What you've sent me so far is exactly right." Warren said with a smile as he continued to work on his laptop.

"As soon as possible. I was serious, if we can do it, I'd like to have this a done deal before Thanksgiving." Warren said with strength.

"Yes, I know that's this Thursday. Pull out all the stops, we need to get this done. It looks like all the major pieces are here, we just have to put them together." Warren said as he looked up from his computer.

"I'll tell you after the meeting. I tell you what, you get this done by Thanksgiving and I'll see to it that you have the last two weeks of the year off, with pay." Warren said with a smile.

After a long pause Warren laughed and said, "Yes, you'll get your bonus too. Rome, you've earned that bonus already. Even if this doesn't go through, you'll get it. Consider it done."

"Good. I've got to go now and get this meeting set up. And thanks again Rome. You're really earning it this week." Warren finished with a smile before he hung up the phone.

* * * * *

Spike and Trey laid back in the grass and relaxed after both had fought themselves to exhaustion.

"Thank you for the training Spike. I have not practiced in far too long." Trey said through his heavy breathing.

"You've got some good moves. You nearly had me a couple times." Spike said with a smile.

"Yes, and you are quite skilled. Perhaps we can do this again soon. It is difficult for me to train unless I can find someone who is near my own level." Trey said hopefully.

"That sounds like a fine idea... what's your name again?" Spike asked curiously.

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

"Trey... Three... of Seven?" Spike asked curiously.

"Yes. That is my Borg designation." Trey said and looked at Spike.

"Let's us get back into the house and relax after that workout."

Trey nodded and stood, then extended a hand to help Spike to stand.

"Ta mate."

Lee watched with a smile as the two walked into the house.

To Be Continued...