Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 38: What's Weird

Robert was cuddled close to Bobby who was fast asleep.

The stories he had told earlier in the night made him remember just how much had changed in the past few months.

He had been Borg. He was unable to comprehend even the most basic feelings. Everything around him had seemed foreign and like a dream.

Then he met his Father and his Dad. These two men who knew nothing about him had shown him caring and understanding.

Alan had told him and William that they were special and would not be separated. He had told them that they would always have each other to confide in and depend on.

Robert thought about his brother and smiled. William was his best friend, closer than Bobby to him in some ways. No matter the circumstance, William was interested, concerned and willing to help.

Icheb had been their father first. He had watched out for them when they could not understand how to fit in among humans. He had given the benefit of his observations and listened to their concerns.

Trey had been the example of how to be an individual. Even though his choice had been to embrace his Borg identity, his willingness to overcome the prejudices of the crew was an inspiration to become truly individual, not just what others expected.

Jimmy had been their passage to the human world. Through his writings and explanations, he had carried the rest of the children into the world of humans by providing understanding of emotions and excitement in exploring the unknown.

And Janine had been the first of them to learn to play. She had given back the most precious things that the Borg had taken. The ability to enjoy simple activities, the company of others and the willingness to express emotions openly.

Robert felt the love for his family wash over him, then looked again at Bobby.

Bobby was his true love. This boy, this man was willing to wait for him. His love was pure, his concern honest, his caring was plain for anyone to see.

The hurts in his former life had made him able to empathize with others, and given him a humility that made him easy to like.

John was tortured, but still willing to hope. After his varied experiences, he still had the capacity to love and risk the possibility of more pain.

Ronny was brash and abrasive, and yet was capable of the most genuine acts of compassion. His offer to help Robert had been so simple and honest, and yet was a true sacrifice of his privacy.

Uncle Scott had been willing to overlook many infractions of the normal rules. He didn't voice disapproval when they used improper language, he didn't discourage their kissing, he didn't shy away from sensitive topics, but instead answered their questions as honestly as he was able.

All these people were his friends. They liked him, they chose to include him. They had offered him food, made him an honorary mutant, included him in their conversations and discussions.

Robert felt such love in his heart, beyond anything he had ever known, or could have imagined. He snuggled closer to Bobby, and Bobby reflexively tightened his arms around Robert and gave a gentle kiss on his forehead.

Robert knew peace as he drifted into his first sleep.

* * * * *

An ancient force moved silently through the night.

His was the duty and the responsibility to bestow the gift and curse of dreams on those that he found worthy of his gifts.

He moved through the night, barely aware of geography as he glided along. Suddenly, something caught his attention.

There was a sleeping consciousness that was new... untouched. This young one had never known his gifts before, had never experienced the excitement of a voyage into the unreal or the release of tensions from seeing his fears given life.

Morpheus looked into the sleeping mind and saw past pain, and present happiness.

[He's living his dream... such courage, such love.] He thought with admiration.

[Such a special child deserves a gift in his first sleep.] Morpheus thought as he gently glided his hand over Robert's sleeping eyes.

* * * * *

Andrew awoke to the sight of morning light trailing into the bedroom window.

He looked at the sleeping form of Alan. Peace and love washed over him at the sight of his husband.

After placing a gentle kiss on Alan's cheek, he carefully made his way out of the bed and pulled on some clothes.

Andrew walked into the living room and noticed his father and the blue naked woman asleep on the couches.

He quietly made his way into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee.

Then, with coffee making, he made his way through the living room and down into the basement to check on the kids.

William and Jimmy were awake and working on Jimmy's alcove.

"Good morning guys. How's it going?" Andrew asked as he walked up beside them.

"We are making the necessary modifications to my alcove. The work is proceeding normally." Jimmy said as he continued to work.

"Just let me know if you need any help with anything." Andrew said quietly.

"Of course Father." William said as he handed Jimmy a tool.

* * * * *

Bobby and Robert were walking hand in hand down the street of a town. No one was paying any attention to their action or Robert's appearance.

"This is the address. I don't know why she wants to see me, but maybe it won't be too bad." Bobby said and led the way up to a porch.

"Bobby?" The older woman said breathlessly.

"Hi mom." Bobby said shyly.

"Come in, tell me how you're doing." Mrs. Drake said with overflowing emotions.

"Thanks mom, this is Robert. My husband." Bobby said quietly, waiting for her reaction.

Mrs. Drake froze in place, then shook herself and said, "Come in Robert. Come in."

"Thank you Mrs. Drake." Robert said shyly and was surprised by the deeper tone of his voice.

"Please call me Madeline." Mrs. Drake said warmly.

"Thank you... Madeline." Robert said, barely able to speak.

"Bobby, I'd like for you to meet my new husband." She said proudly.

Bobby's eyes went wide as a smallish Asian man walked into the living room where they stood.

"This is Taichi Kamia." She beamed with pride.

"Please call me Tai." The man said gently.

"Nice to meet you Tai." Bobby said in shock.

"I've been wanting to call you for months, but I've just been so ashamed... I'm sorry about... everything." Madeline said with downcast eyes.

"So you don't care that I'm a mutant?" Bobby asked incredulously.

"No. Not anymore. Your father... I can't blame him. Not really. I chose to believe him. But he was so sure that he was right that it never occurred to me that he could have been wrong... Tai's shown me that I was wrong." Madeline said with a look of adoration at her husband.

"And my being gay isn't a problem?" Bobby asked, still not believing that this was happening.

"After what your father did, I'm just glad that you were able to let yourself love someone. I was afraid that you'd end up alone, unable to trust or love anyone again." Madeline said quietly.

"No problem there." Bobby said as he pulled Robert close to his side.

"I'm so sorry that I didn't call you when your father and brother died... there's no excuse..." She trailed off in tears.

"Shhh. Remember what we discussed, all that's in the past, you can't let it eat at you." Tai said soothingly.

Bobby smiled at the man who was obviously concerned for his mother.

"Um, mom?" Bobby said hesitantly.

Madeline looked at Bobby with tearful eyes.

"Ronny's not dead. He lives about two miles from the mansion." Bobby said shyly.

"What!?" Madeline screamed with shock and joy.

"When dad died, Ronny called me for help. I came and got him and took him to a doctor. That's when we found out that he was a mutant too." Bobby said as he watched the joy fill his mother's face.

"My baby's alive? Can I see him?" Madeline asked hopefully.

"I'll tell him that you want to. I don't know... When he found out that he was a mutant, he thought you would disown him... like you did me. So he figured that he was better off letting you believe he'd died." Bobby said quietly.

"He was right. Back then, I probably would have. But now, thanks to Tai's help and a year of therapy, I'm able to see past the lies that I believed most of my life." Madeline said with a shaky smile.

"I'll tell him. It's all I can do. But just so you know. He's fine. He's happy. He has friends, he's graduated high school and is getting ready to start college... he's interested in politics... mutant issues." Bobby finished quietly.

"Thank you. I'm sorry... I'm so sorry." Madeline said and broke into tears again.

"It's okay mom. All that stuff is over. I'm just glad to see that you're happy." Bobby said in comfort.

"Please bring Ronny to visit... I miss my boys." Madeline said through her tears.

"Why don't you... both of you, come to the mansion and have dinner with us this Sunday. Ronny will know you're coming and if he chooses to talk with you, he'll be there." Bobby said quietly.

"Thank you Bobby. That's very kind of you." Tai said as he held his wife close.

"Your glockenspiel needs lubrication." Madeline said seriously to Robert.

"What?" Robert asked in confusion.

"There are fungi growing in the parsonage." Tai said in response.

Robert jerked awake and looked at Bobby's sleeping face.

He gently kissed Bobby, then settled his head against Bobby's chest.

[I dreamed.] Robert thought with astonishment, then thought about the images he had seen.

* * * * *

Andrew walked up the stairs and gently knocked on Janine's bedroom door.

Janine quickly opened the door and Andrew walked in.

"What are you doing pumpkin?" Andrew asked curiously at the things scattered around her bedroom floor.

"I am making a Kadis'ka board for Theresa. She mentioned that she likes to play, but can only play when I visit." Janine said as she went back to work.

"That's nice... but I thought Theresa couldn't speak." Andrew said curiously.

"If she concentrates, she can whisper. It is difficult for her, but she can talk." Janine said as she continued to work.

"If you need any supplies or help, just let me know." Andrew said with a gentle smile.

"I have everything I need, thank you Father." Janine said, intent on her work.

Andrew nodded and left the room. He had a thought and returned to his bedroom to grab the medical tricorder.

* * * * *

After walking by Xander and Remy's room and hearing nothing, Andrew walked to Alex's room and heard talking.

Andrew knocked gently on the door and asked, "Can I come in?"

"Sure, it's not locked." Alex answered immediately.

Andrew walked in to find Spike and Alex each in their own beds.

"So what are you guys up to?" Andrew asked casually.

"We were just talking. What's going on?" Alex asked curiously.

"Well... I've got something to tell Spike." Andrew said, a bit nervously.

"Bad news?" Spike asked with an aire of unconcern.

"That's up to you..." Andrew said, then continued, "Wesley thinks that because we used Dad's blood to resurrect you, that you're genetically my brother."

"Maybe that's why I feel so different." Spike said in thought.

"If you wouldn't mind, I can run a comparative genetic analysis with the medical tricorder. It isn't sensitive enough to do much genetic analysis, but it can compare us and tell if we're brothers." Andrew said quietly.

"Sure mate. Do what you need to do." Spike said without concern.

Andrew carefully scanned himself, then pressed a few buttons before he walked beside Spike.

"Even if you aren't my brother, you're still family Spike. I'm sorry I attacked you yesterday." Andrew said before starting his scan.

"No worries mate, it ain't a problem for me." Spike said casually as he watched Andrew pressing the buttons.

"That settles it." Andrew said and looked into Spike's eyes. "According to this it's ninety eight percent certain that you're my brother. Anything above ninety percent is considered a definite match."

There was a long silence, then Spike said, "I never had me a brother before. But now I have two."

"You'll love Chris. He's a great boy." Andrew said tenderly.

"I'm glad Peaches stopped pining for the slayer. He's better off here." Spike said seriously.

Andrew smiled and hesitantly gave Spike a quick hug. "Welcome to the family Spike. When dad wakes up, we'll tell him he has another kid." Andrew said with a smile.

"I wonder what he'll think bout that?" Spike said with a speculative look.

"I get the feeling that he regrets not having more kids. I think he'll be thrilled." Andrew said happily.

"So what are you doing this morning?" Alex asked curiously.

"Just making the rounds, seeing what everyone's up to." Andrew said as he turned his attention to Alex.

"Well, we're just talking. Spike and I have known each other one day... but it feels like a lifetime." Alex said dreamily.

"Never thought I'd be in love again after all I been through... Specially with another bloke. I never saw me as a pouf." Spike said with a chuckle.

"If you're in love with each other's souls, everything else is just window dressing. I'm glad to see you two taking the time to get to know each other." Andrew said honestly.

"Yeah. And Spike's life would make a great movie." Alex said with a teasing glance at Spike.

"More like a series, given his age. You're what? One hundred twenty?" Andrew said with his own teasing look.

"That makes me your older brother. Which means I can kick your skinny arse." Spike said seriously.

At Andrew's surprised look, Spike's serious glare broke into a smile.

"Big brothers are supposed to protect their little brothers, not pick on them." Andrew finally said.

"No mate, you got it wrong, we're supposed to do both." Spike said with an evil grin.

"I'm going to check on Icheb and Trey now. The coffee's ready in the kitchen. I'll see you later." Andrew said with a smile.

* * * * *

Andrew walked to the attic door and knocked gently.

There was no immediate answer so he tried the knob to find the door locked.

"Trey? Icheb? Are you guys okay?" Andrew asked quietly.

"We are fine." Trey answered hesitantly.

"Can I come in for a second? I just want to talk to you guys." Andrew said, feeling that something was wrong.

"Do you require our assistance immediately?" Icheb asked hesitantly.

"No. I was just seeing what everyone was up to." Andrew answered curiously.

"We have need of privacy for a few minutes, we will be downstairs within half an hour." Icheb said in an embarrassed voice.

"Oh, um, privacy... Okay, I'll see you when you're... done." Andrew said with difficulty and walked downstairs.

* * * * *

"Lower, right there." Icheb said with difficulty.

"It will not fit." Trey said hesitantly.

"It will fit. You must apply sufficient pressure to complete the insertion." Icheb said with force.

"Father is going to be angry when he finds out." Trey said as he applied force.

"Perhaps. But it is my body, my choice." Icheb said firmly.

"It is in. How does it feel?" Trey asked with concern.

"I feel a sensation of tightness, but there is no discomfort." Icheb said carefully.

"Activate the implant so I can make the necessary adjustments." Trey said and picked up some delicate tools.

"How does it look?" Icheb asked with a note of concern.

"It is adjusted for me, therefore it looks wrong. Give me a moment to adjust the projector's properties." Trey said seriously.

"Thank you for doing this." Icheb said quietly.

"I understand your desire to look human. During my trip with father it was a comforting feeling to know that I looked the same as everyone else." Trey said as he worked.

"I hope Marie likes it." Icheb said absently.

"Is that why you're doing this?" Trey asked and stopped to look into Icheb's eyes.

"No. I wish to forego the appearance of those who created me to be a weapon and take the appearance of those who accepted me and helped me become the person I am... I just hope Marie likes the change." Icheb said seriously.

Trey nodded and continued to work.

"This would be easier with Robert's help. He has a talent for making these adjustments." Trey said as he continued to fine tune the holo-camoflauge.

"I am concerned that his experience with the new bodily functions might have caused him discomfort or embarrassment." Icheb said seriously.

"Uncle Scott would have brought him home if it were a problem. Trust in his judgement." Trey said with assurance.

After a long minute of silence, Icheb said, "I hope father is not upset that we would not let him in."

"I think he believes that we are enjoying sexuality." Trey said with a slight blush.

Icheb's eyes went wide as he considered the implications of that.

"So he may not be angry when he sees your altered appearance, just relieved." Trey said and stood back to look at Icheb's new, 'human' face.

"Is it ready?" Icheb asked hopefully.

"Yes, come look in the mirror." Trey said with a smile.

* * * * *

Andrew returned to bed and lay beside Alan who awakened from the movement.

"What's going on out there love?" Alan asked in a dreamy, half asleep tone.

"Not much. Alex and Spike are in love. I used the medical tricorder to confirm that Spike is my brother. I think Dad and the blue naked woman are hitting it off, they're asleep in the living room. Jimmy had a growth spurt and outgrew his alcove... oh yeah, I think Trey and Icheb may be having sex in the attic." Andrew said seriously.

Alan thought about the words, and finally said, "Just a normal day huh?"

"Yeah. A few months ago this would have seemed weird."

"Weird is normal for us, love." Alan said in resignation.

"Is that why you're peeing on me?" Andrew asked suddenly.

"Oh god! I think the water just broke." Alan said in a panic.

Andrew grabbed some towels from their closet as he tried to think.

"We've got to get you to the MedLab... I'll port you... no I can't port the babies... I'll drive you... can you make it to the car? Oh gods..." Andrew said in panic.

"Love, calm down. Why don't you just get Hank and bring him here?" Alan asked as he tried to sop up the leaking fluid.

"Yeah. Hank. I'll be right back. Love you." Andrew said before he disappeared.

* * * * *

Tara awoke and turned to find Dawn looking at her.

"Do you still love me?" Tara asked quietly.

"Yeah. I do. It just hurts." Dawn said quietly.

"I know, please trust me, this is the way it's meant to be. Don't be angry." Tara pleaded.

"I can't help it. I love you. I don't want to think about you dieing and me living on without you."

"Then don't think about it. Enjoy today, leave tomorrow to take care of itself."

After a long soul searching gaze into Tara's eyes Dawn said, "I promise to try honey. I don't know how long it's going to hurt, but I'll try not to let it come between us. I *do* love you."

* * * * *

Andrew appeared in Hank's room to find Hank fast asleep.

"Hank. The babies. The water broke. Come quick." Andrew said in panic.

Hank's eyes snapped open and he tried to make sense of what Andrew was saying.

"Come on. The babies. They're coming." Andrew said, near hyperventillation.

"Allow me a moment to dress, perhaps you could get Tara for me, she might be able to assist. I'll meet you in the MedLab." Hank said calmly.

"Okay, I'll be right back." Andrew said and vanished.

"I'm sure you will."

* * * * *

Robert carefully disentangled himself from Bobby and Ronny and went to the door of the tent.

When he opened the flap, he was amazed by the sight that greeted him.

"Bobby! Come look!" He said with excitement.

Bobby immediately awoke as did everyone else in the tent.

"What is it?"

"Everything is covered with frozen crystalline water. It's beautiful." Robert said in amazement.

"Yeah, it's beautiful. By March you'll probably be sick of seeing it. But the first snow of the year is always beautiful." Scott said as he looked out the tent door.

* * * * *

Andrew appeared in Tara and Dawn's room without warning.

"Tara, come quick. The babies. Alan's having the babies. Now!" Andrew said and vanished.

Tara automatically got up and began to get dressed.

"I'm not going." Dawn said quietly.

"What?" Tara asked and froze in mid movement.

"I'm not going with you. I just can't..." Dawn said with regret.

"Your nephews are being born. You have to be there." Tara said and continued to dress.

"No. If I have to look at Alan and Andrew... together... forever... I can't." Dawn said and buried her face into her pillow.

"Okay. I'll go. But remember that they didn't do this. I didn't ask them. I just did it. It's not their fault." Tara said as she pulled on her shoes.

"I know. But I still can't." Dawn said in a muffled voice through the pillow.

Tara looked regretfully at Dawn before she made her way to the MedLab.

* * * * *

"Come on. Alan needs us." Andrew barked as Hank gathered the things he would probably need.

Tara ran into the MedLab and asked, "What can I do?"

"Just come with me. If I need something, I'll let you know." Hank said gently then asked Andrew, "Would you port us over?"

Andrew was in such a panic that he ported them and the examination table into his bedroom.

"Would you put that back? I've already lost one bed to your teleports." Hank said as he moved to Alan's side.

Andrew only vaguely understood what Hank was saying but managed to port the table away... somewhere.

After a cursory examination of Alan, Hank nodded.

"Just lie back. The babies are ready to be born. I'm just going to give them a little help." Hank said as he turned the babies gently into position.

"Tara, would you get the children, get everyone, I want them to see the babies born." Alan said quickly.

Alan's navel, which had been spread three centimeters wide to begin with, began to spread open to reveal the crown of the first baby's head.

The family came by ones and twos and stopped in wonder at the sight of the baby's head pushing through the small opening.

"Which one is it?" Andrew asked in panic.

"We'll know in a minute. The one with optic blasts is Chakotay." Alan said calmly as the baby's whole head came through the tight opening of Alan's navel.

Hank coaxed the baby free and asked, "Andrew, would you like to cut the cord?"

"Yeah." Andrew said shortly and cut the cord like an expert.

Hank handed the baby to Tara who wiped it off with some damp towels and wrapped it in a baby blanket.

"It looks like his brother is anxious to be born." Hank said in surprise as the second baby emerged without any coaxing from him at all.

The first baby began to cry and Tara said, "Uncle Hank, look at this."

Hank guided Andrew to take hold of his emerging child and went to Tara's side.

"The child seems to have a variation of Alan's optic blast." Hank said curiously as the red heat beam came from the screaming baby's mouth.

"Is he okay?" Andrew asked in panic as he pulled the second baby's legs free of Alan's abdomen.

"Just fine. His mutant ability is just not exactly as we expected." Hank said assuringly.

The second baby began to cry as Andrew handed him to Tara to wipe and wrap.

"Here is your son." Hank said and handed the baby to Alan. "Shhh Chakotay. I know it's scary out here, but everything will be fine." Alan crooned.

"And here is your other son." Hank said and handed the second baby to Alan.

As Alan cradled both babies on his chest, they both quieted.

"They missed each other." Andrew said with a tender smile.

"Everyone, come closer, meet Chakotay and Thomas." Andrew said proudly to the group of silent people.

"Those are our brothers." Trey said in wonder.

"Hank, something's happening." Alan said as he felt something pushing in his abdomen.

"Oh, Andrew, why don't you take the babies out to the living room where there's more room for everyone to see them while I take care of this." Hank said quickly.

"What's wrong?" Andrew asked in worry.

"Afterbirth." Hank whispered.

Andrew nodded and said, "Everyone. Come out to the living room and get to know the babies."

* * * * *

"What? Just now? Oh, I'm sorry I missed it. We'll be right there." Scott said before hanging up the phone.

"What is it? Did something happen?" John asked with worry.

"Nothing bad. Robert's brothers were just born. I think we should get to the boathouse so we can see the newest members of the family." Scott said with a smile.

"My brothers?" Robert asked with surprise.

"Come on guys, help me break camp. This snow might make it difficult." Scott said as he began to pack up.

Bobby looked around and concentrated his power.

A moment later the snow began to swirl and flow like an ocean, then with one dramatic move of his arms, the snow all swept away from the campsite and settled around the edges.

"Thanks Bobby, I didn't know you could do that." Scott said in an impressed voice.

"I didn't either. Now let's go see the babies." Bobby said with a smile directed at Robert.

* * * * *

"Father, look at this." William said as he watched Thomas crying and fussing.

"It's because he's not with Chakotay." Andrew said as he walked closer.

"No, watch." William said and pointed at the baby.

Then Andrew saw it. It was like watching the baby under a strobe light. He was in one position, then another, then another.

"What's causing that?" Andrew asked with concern.

"He is destabilizing time, but just for himself. He is generating intermittent tachions that are disrupting his temporal stability." Trey said as he watched.

"Can you stop it?" Andrew asked with worry.

"I can. I'll emit some anti-tachions to negate the effect." Jimmy said and moved his hand gently over the baby, about a foot away.

"It won't hurt him will it?" Andrew asked as he watched Thomas stop strobing.

"No, it will simply negate the temporal effect of his mutant ability." Jimmy said with assurance.

"Bring Chakotay over here so he'll stop crying." Andrew said to the children.

Alex and Spike carried Chakotay over and laid him beside his brother.

Both babies quieted again.

"They love each other." Janine said as she watched.

"Of course, that's what brothers do." Jimmy said with a smile.

"That's right mate." Spike said and spared a quick glance toward Andrew who was smiling at the words.

To Be Continued...