Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 39: Firsts

"I believe the children are hungry. Who do you want to have the honor of 'first feeds'?" Hank asked Andrew as he and Alan walked from the bedroom.

"Dawn... where's Dawn?" Andrew asked, looking around.

"She... didn't come." Tara said shyly.

Andrew looked at Tara's shy, sad, downcast expression and came to a decision.

"Kids, go out to the car and gather all the baby things we brought home last night. Just stack them in here for now. I'm going to get the babies' Aunt Dawn so she can give her nephews their first meal." Andrew said before stepping into a portal.

* * * * *

"Maybe you should be renamed 'snowblower'." John said in a half-teasing voice as Bobby cleared their path through the trees with his power.

"Do you know how close you are to getting an ice wedgie?" Bobby asked as he continued to move the snow from before the truck.

"Guys, before we get back, I just want to say thanks... I never really had friends before..." Ronny trailed off, not knowing what else to say.

"Yes, I wish to thank you too." Robert said, still feeling stunned by the thought of his brothers being born.

"It's the same for all of us I think... including me. Guys, whatever happens, we need to stick together, watch out for each other." Scott said as he finally brought the truck back onto the road.

"Yeah. We will." Bobby said seriously.

"Ronny, have you figured out which school you want to go to?" Scott asked as the truck headed for the boathouse.

"I just want to be with you guys. If you're going to Xavier's then I will too." Ronny said timidly.

"Yeah, me too." John said with a nod.

"Good. I agree, it doesn't matter as long as you get to stay together." Scott said with a smile as they pulled into the driveway of the boathouse.

* * * * *

Andrew appeared without warning before Dawn.

"Dawn, the babies were born. Please come with me." Andrew asked quietly.

"I can't." Dawn whispered with regret.

"I know it hurts, but your nephews... your family... they need you. Tell me what I can do... if you want me and Alan to stay away while you get to know them, we will." Andrew said with pleading in his voice.

Dawn looked at him with question.

"The babies are ready to receive their first feeding. I really want you to be the one who has that honor. You bought all the clothes, food, diapers and everything for them. Please don't turn your back on them... they need you." Andrew asked hopefully.

"Okay... open the portal... just... please don't talk about what happened last night... it hurts too much." Dawn said with desparation.

"Not a word." Andrew said and opened the portal.

* * * * *

Robert ran into the boathouse followed at a slower pace by the rest of the campers.

"Robert, come and meet your brothers." Alan said with a serene smile.

Robert walked close to his Dad and saw the two babies being cuddled close to him.

"They are beautiful... I have no words." Robert said in wonder at the tiny babies.

"Do you want to hold your brother Chakotay?" Alan asked quietly.

Robert nodded and held out his hands carefully.

"You need to support his head." Alan said quietly and shifted Chakotay into Robert's waiting arms gently.

Robert stood motionless holding his sleeping brother.

"William, would you like to hold Thomas?" Alan asked quietly.

William stepped forward and carefully took the offered baby to hold it close.

"You two, sit here. I need to talk to Icheb." Alan said as he got up off the couch.

William and Robert took their seats, never letting their gaze slip from the babies.

"Icheb, come with me." Alan said in a near whisper, so as not to disturb the babies.

* * * * *

Dawn and Andrew walked into the boathouse to the scene of Robert and William holding their brothers as everyone else watched.

"Where's Alan?" Andrew asked quietly.

"In the kitchen talking to Icheb." Lee said as he remained focused on the babies.

"I'm going to get their food ready. Who wants to help me?" Dawn asked, forcing a smile onto her face.

"I will help." Jimmy said immediately.

"Me too." Janine said and ran to Dawn's side.

"Yeah, I need to know how to do this." Alex said as he walked to Dawn.

Spike followed Alex silently.

* * * * *

"Will you explain to me why you look human?" Alan asked emotionlessly.

"I do not wish to look Bruhnalli anymore." Icheb said timidly.

"Andrew told me about the cartoon. I just want to be sure that you're doing this for the right reason." Alan said with concern.

"When I look at myself, I see the face that they created. I see the features of those who made me into a weapon. Choosing to keep their appearance is like honoring them and I do not wish to do that." Icheb said in thought.

"So this is your revenge?" Alan asked carefully.

"Perhaps, but it is more my way of honoring those who helped me become more than the Bruhnalli intended me to be." Icheb said quietly.

"Okay, I guess I can accept that. I just want to be sure that you're doing this for the right reasons." Alan said seriously.

"Am I?" Icheb asked hesitantly.

"Yeah, I think you are... I love you. I just want you to be happy. That's all." Alan said and pulled Icheb into a hug.

The kitchen door opened and Dawn entered followed by a group of people.

"You guys want to learn how to prepare the babies' food?" Dawn asked, carefully avoiding looking at Alan.

"Yes, thanks Dawn." Alan said quietly and continued to hold Icheb close to his side.

"Icheb? You're looking a lot more human today." Dawn said curiously as she gathered the things she would need.

"Yes Aunt Dawn... Do you like it?" Icheb asked hopefully.

"Yeah, you look great." Dawn said with a small smile.

* * * * *

The group left the kitchen, led by Dawn.

"Who's hungry?" Dawn asked as she looked at the babies.

Thomas looked up at the movement and squinted his eyes at Dawn.

Her heart melted at the intent expression on the baby's face and she carefully took him from William's arms.

"Come here little guy, it's time for you to eat." Dawn said quietly as she brought Thomas close.

Alex handed Dawn the prepared bottle and watched as she fed Thomas.

He didn't seem to know what to do at first, but he figured it out after a minute and began to drink the milk hungrily.

"Woah, little guy. You eat too fast and you'll get a tummy ache." Dawn said and took the bottle away from him.

Thomas began to scream as Dawn lifted him to the towel on her shoulder and began to pat him gently.

He screamed louder and suddenly Dawn realized that everything around her had stopped moving.

The only sound she could hear was Thomas' howling screams as she patted his back.

Finally he gave a little burp and she took the bottle from Alex who was frozen motionless.

As soon as Thomas had his bottle again, everyone started moving.

"What was that?" Alex said as the bottle seemed to suddenly disappear from his grasp.

"I think this little guy just stopped time for a few seconds." Dawn said with a tender smile directed at the baby.

"Jimmy? I thought you stopped him from doing that." Andrew asked curiously.

"I stopped him from strobing. He emitted a concentrated burst of tachions that resulted in a time disruption. My anti-tachions were insufficient to negate the effect." Jimmy said speculatively.

"Is there any way to stop him from doing that?" Andrew asked with concern.

"Not that I can think of. I can emit a larger dose of anti-tachions, but repeated exposure to large amounts of anti-tachion emitions could be harmful to biological organisms." Jimmy said, glancing at Trey who nodded in confirmation.

"Fine, we'll just try to keep him from having too many tantrums." Andrew said in thought.

"I think Chakotay wants to eat... or maybe he's missing his brother." Robert said as Chakotay was becoming restless.

"Give him here. Will someone burp Thomas while I feed Chakotay?" Dawn asked gently.

"I will." Janine said immediately.

Dawn sent a look of question to Alan who nodded.

Dawn carefully handed Thomas to Janine and asked, "Could someone get a towel for her? Chances are he's gonna spew when he burps."

Mystique grabbed one of many towels from the pile of baby supplies and handed it to Janine.

* * * * *

After Thomas was burped, Lee asked if he could diaper him.

"Who wants a lesson in baby diapering?" Lee asked and carried Thomas to the coffee table.

All the children and most of the adults gathered and watched.

"Okay, here we go." Lee said and laid out the diaper beside the squirming baby.

"Just accept the fact, he's gonna hose you down every chance he gets. As soon as the old diaper comes off, he'll try to mark his territory." Lee said as he efficiently moved the baby onto the diaper and quickly covered the crotch.

"Did father do that to you?" Jimmy asked with a smile.

"More times than I can count." Lee said with a fond smile as he stuck the velcro tabs of the diaper.

"There we go, one diapered baby." Lee said proudly.

"Now we dress him." Xander said and grabbed a jumpsuit off the pile.

"That is too large for him." William said and grabbed a smaller version of the same thing.

Xander accepted the smaller jumper from William and went to Thomas' side.

Apparently Thomas thought it was a wonderful game as he kicked and flailed his arms and legs, effectively preventing Xander from getting the jumpsuit on him.

"I guess someone with depth perception needs to do this." Xander said in defeat and stood back.

"Remy do dis." Remy said and took the little piece of clothing from Xander.

Remy's quick reflexes and gentle nature prevailed to allow him to capture the squirming appendages and put them in the proper places until he finally got the baby dressed.

"May I dress Chakotay?" Trey asked hopefully.

"Go ahead." Andrew said and watched as Trey followed Remy's example and got the baby dressed.

"Andy, Hank, I need to talk to you for a minute." Alan said quietly and moved to the bedroom.

"Father, may I call Chris to let him know that my brothers have been born?" William asked with excitement.

"Yes, in fact, call everyone who was here for dinner yesterday. If they want to come visit, it'll be fine." Andrew said, then followed Alan and Hank into the bedroom.

* * * * *

"What?" Chris asked in surprise.

"I'll ask my father if we can go now." Chris said and hung up the phone.

"Dad, William's brothers were just born! Can we go and see them?" Chris called as he ran into his father's bedroom.

Chris stopped in his tracks when he saw Julia and his father holding each other closely.

"It's okay if you come in Chris... but next time it might be better if you knocked and waited for me to answer before coming in." Angel said quietly, not wanting to sound harsh.

"Um, okay dad. I, um, I didn't know Julia stayed last night." Chris said with a blush.

"We were up late talking and it didn't make any sense for her to go home... are you okay with this?" Angel asked hopefully.

Chris looked at the peaceful smile on Julia's face and the hopeful look on his father's before saying, "It's great Dad... Do you want to go to William's house to see the babies?"

"Sure. Go get dressed and get your wheelchair." Angel said quietly.

"Awww Dad. I can walk." Chris whined.

"No, not that far you can't. I'll take you through the tunnels, and once we're there you can walk as long as you sit down whenever you need to." Angel said carefully.

"Okay." Chris said reluctantly and left the room.

"Where are we going?" Julia asked in a sleepy whisper.

"Just to the other side of the property. Alan and Andrew just had their babies." Angel said, then placed a gentle kiss on Julia's forehead.

"Andrew and Alan? Is that their mutation?" Julia asked as she brought herself to a sitting position.

"No, they traveled through time to the future and Alan had an appliance installed that made him able to carry their children." Angel said and pulled Julia into an embrace.

"I think we'd better get ready to go. Your son is liable to leave without us if we don't hurry." Julia said with a chuckle.

"Our son will wait for us if we ask him to. He is a good boy." Angel said and gave Julia a gentle kiss.

"Then let's get ready so 'our' son doesn't have to wait. A good boy deserves some indulgences." Julia said lovingly.

"Right you are." Angel said and got out of the bed.

He extended a hand to help Julia up. When they were both standing, he pulled her close and gave her a full deep kiss filled with love.

Finally the kiss broke and Julia looked into Angel's eyes and said, "Good morning."

* * * * *

Aunt Vada hung up the phone and went back to her kitchen, deep in thought.

The doorbell rang and she hurried to answer it.

"Stevie, Evelyn... it's so good to see you." Vada said with genuine affection.

"Just a second Aunt Vada." Steve said and ran back to the car.

"Where's he going?" Vada asked Evelyn curiously.

"Just look." Evelyn said with a tender smile.

"Lacie?" Vada asked in surprise as she saw Stevie helping an elderly woman from his car.

"Vada, oh it's good to see you." Lacie said as she carefully walked at Stevie's side.

"Lacie, come to the garage and you'll only have to come up one step." Vada said hurridly as she retreated back into the house.

"She was always the most thoughtful woman." Lacie said as she and Stevie changed direction.

The garage door opened and Vada walked out to take Lacie's other arm and help her up the single step.

"I thought you were in Atlanta dear, what brings you here?" Vada asked as the group walked into the living room.

"Stevie mentioned that he saw you and I said that I'd like to visit... next thing I know he's driven all the way down to Atlanta, picked me up and brought me back here to visit with you." Lacie said with a look of adoration at her son.

"Oh Stevie, that was so sweet of you." Vada said and walked over to give him a kiss on the top of his head.

"Thanks Aunt Vada." Steve said shyly.

"I wasn't expecting you till lunch." Vada said as she took her seat.

"I know, but we may need to leave early for me to get Mom home at a decent hour." Steve said with apology.

"Oh my poor dear, you're going to be driving all night aren't you." Vada said with concern.

"Mom's worth it." Steve said shyly.

"Stevie said you were in his courtroom with a gay couple. What was that about?" Lacie asked curiously.

"They're sweet boys, Remy and Xander." Vada said with a smile, then said, "Maggie filled out an organ donor's card, so when she died her eyes went to Remy who was completely blind."

"How horrible, how was he blinded?" Evelyn asked with concern.

"From what I could gather, some mutant hating fanatics captured him and cut out his eyes." Vada said in a pained voice.

"How awful. I never imagined." Steve said, remembering the two men he had married.

"I went to visit them yesterday in Westchester... such a lovely family. They remind me of how I was brought up." Vada said with a fond smile.

"How so?" Judge Hawkes asked curiously.

"There are six children living there, orphans who were adopted into the Summers family. All of them are so happy and loving... I can't imagine a better place for Marguerite to be raised." Vada said with a distant look.

"If she's going to be the youngest of seven children, she's going to be spoiled rotten." Lacie said with a chuckle.

"No, just before you arrived I got a call. Two babies were just born into the family, less than an hour ago. Even though they won't be related, they'll be like her brothers." Vada said with a smile.

"How perfect. Several older children to watch out for her. Two brothers her own age to relate to... it seems the perfect place for her to be raised." Lacie said in thought.

"Yes, and I've done some investigation into their past... for the sake of the adoption... Alexander Wainwright is extremely wealthy. Marguerite won't have to worry about wanting for anything." Steve said seriously.

"Yes, but he lives modestly. He and Remy live in the house with the Summers family because they are such close friends that they have become a part of the family." Vada said peacefully.

"I had wondered about that. I thought they might just be eccentric." Steve said honestly.

"No. They recognize the importance of family and don't let the money get in the way of their happiness." Vada said with a smile.

"What a blessing, to have the money to provide for the family and the wisdom to put the family first." Evelyn said dreamily.

"Well said Evie." Lacie said with a smile.

"So they called you when the babies were born... I can't think of any better proof that you really are part of their family." Steve said peacefully.

"Oh yes. I was greeted with enthusiasm when I arrived. They introduced me to everyone, family and visitors as their Aunt Vada. I was fed the most wonderful meal, prepared by Remy. There was a little family crisis, they included me in their discussion and listened to my opinions. Then we went to the hospital to visit Marguerite. There is no doubt whatsoever that I am a part of the family." Vada said with joy.

"Oh Vada, I'm so happy for you. Being in Atlanta, I know how lonely it can be. I'm glad you've found a family." Lacie said with moisture forming in her eyes.

"Mom, you know you can come live with us anytime you want." Steve said honestly.

"I know Stevie, but you and Evelyn need to have your own lives. I just can't take care of myself anymore. I know you would try and care for me but you don't need that kind of burden and I'm really happy at the assisted living center. It's just that Vada's new family... it sounds nice. Like it used to be with all the aunts and uncles and parents and grandparents and kids living within a few blocks of each other all their lives." Lacie said in a dreamy voice.

"That's exactly what it's like. The entire community is like an extended family... Stevie, how would you feel about doing some more driving?" Vada asked with a smile.

"Actually, I'll do the driving. He needs to rest for his trip to Atlanta tonight." Evelyn said quickly.

"Thanks Evie. If you wouldn't mind, we could go to visit Marguerite, then go to see the new babies in Westchester." Aunt Vada suggested hopefully.

"I don't mind, but don't you think you should call to let them know we're coming?" Steve asked carefully.

"Stevie... they're family."

* * * * *

"Just now? Have you called Kurt yet?" Warren asked excitidly.

"Then I'll tell him. Thanks for calling William." Warren said quickly and hurried to dress before leaving to tell Kurt.

* * * * *

"Peter, the babies were just born." William said hurridly into the phone.

After a moment of stunned silence, Peter said, "Are you sure?"

William stopped and thought about the question.

Bobby noticed William's puzzled look and took the phone from him.

"Pete, Robert's brothers were just born. You've got to come and see them." Bobby said hurridly.

"I have some things I have to do first..." Peter began to say.

"Pete.. that can wait. Come and see the babies." Bobby said firmly.

"Very well." Peter said in resignation.

"I'll see you in a few minutes." Bobby said and hung up the phone.

"Thank you Bobby, his response confused me." William said quietly.

"No problem, I think Pete was a little preoccupied." Bobby said in thought.

William nodded, then said, "I must call Mr. Howlett."

"Okay, I need to talk to your Uncle Scott."

Bobby walked to Scott and quietly asked, "Scott, can I talk to you for a minute? I've got a little problem."

"Sure Bobby, come into the dining room where we can have some privacy." Scott said quietly.

* * * * *

"Andy, Hank... I want to have Joyce right away." Alan said seriously.

"But you just gave birth, you should give yourself time to recover." Andrew said with concern.

"The artificial womb did all the work. I just had to carry them around. Andy, do you remember why we chose to have the twins so soon?" Alan asked carefully.

"Because our lives move so quickly that you didn't want the chance taken away from us." Andrew answered quietly.

"Right... Hank, is there any reason that I can't get pregnant again right away?" Alan asked with concern.

"No, no medical reason." Hank said quietly.

* * * * *

After a moment Scott and Bobby were in the dining room and Scott quietly asked, "What's wrong Bobby?"

"It's Pete, I'm worried about him." Bobby said nervously.

"What's wrong with Peter?" Scott asked with immediate worry.

"I think he's got a problem... I invited him to go camping last night, and he was..." Bobby trailed off, not knowing how to phrase it.

"He was what?" Scott asked.

"Jacking off." Bobby muttered.

After a long moment of silence, Scott said, "So?"

"Scott, you're not getting it. I invited Pete to go camping with us, but he said he wanted to stay in... Just now he tried to put off coming to see the babies... I think he's got a problem. I mean, spanking the monkey is fun and everything but he's not doing anything else." Bobby said, his worry overriding his embarrassment.

Scott thought about the words and finally said, "Bobby, I can see that you're worried about Peter. Thanks for telling me. I'll keep my eyes open and if it's a problem, I'll deal with it. If you're right, he needs his friends to stand by him."

Bobby nodded and said, "I won't mess with him about it. But I'm afraid if I don't say anything about it, he's going to think it's okay."

"Bobby, please let me handle this. It's possible that you're misreading the situation. Just be his friend... no matter what his problem is, that's the best thing that you can do right now." Scott said seriously.

Bobby nodded and said, "Thanks Scott. I just want Pete to be okay."

* * * * *

"Mr. Howlett, this is William Summers. I just wanted to inform you that my brothers were born this morning and invite you to come and see them." William said happily.

"Thank you for calling me William. It seems that I've become a part of the family without trying." Ken said with a chuckle.

"Yes. We all think of you as our family." William said seriously.

Ken stopped laughing and thought about the words. Finally he said, "I'll be there as soon as I can. Thank you again for calling."

* * * * *

Peter hesitantly knocked on the boathouse door.

"Hi Peter." Scott said with a gentle smile.

"I am here to see the new babies." Peter said shyly.

"That can wait for a minute, would you come with me right now?" Scott asked seriously.

Peter nodded and followed Scott into the dining room.

* * * * *

"Are you ready?" Angel asked as he and Julia walked into the main room.

"Yes, can we go now?" Chris asked hopefully.

"Sure... but there's been a slight change in plans." Angel said with a smile.

At Chris' look of question, Angel continued, "We don't have to use the tunnels anymore... Thanks to Julia, I can walk in the light."

"Really?" Chris asked with excitement.

"Really. Julia, would you mind driving us to the boathouse? I don't think Chris' wheelchair will make the trip through the snow very well." Angel asked with a loving smile.

"I wouldn't mind at all." Julia said tenderly.

"Then I'll push you down to Julia's car. We'll bring the chair in case you need it." Angel said as the three left the room.

* * * * *

"Just lay down and I'll get the things we need." Andrew said with a look of tenderness in his eyes.

"May I ask, why is it so important to have your next child right away?" Hank asked curiously.

"Because so many things happen to us, so quickly, if we don't have her right away, something might happen so we would never have her." Alan said seriously.

"I understand. If anyone else had said that, I would believe it to be a sign of paranoia. But in your case, it just seems to be that the natural course of events is chaotic conditions." Hank said softly.

"Are we ready?" Andrew asked as he walked to the bed holding the necessary implements.

"Yeah Andy. Let's do it." Alan said and exposed his navel.

"Woah, look at that." Andrew said as the device slipped into Alan's navel easily.

"Is it done?" Alan asked with surprise.

"Yeah love. You're pregnant again." Andrew said with a tender smile.

"Thanks for not fighting me on this Andy." Alan said peacefully.

"I understand love. I want her too." Andrew said with affection.

* * * * *

"Hello again Aunt Vada, I didn't expect to see you again today." The nurse said happily.

"Hello Serena, I'd like you to meet my friends Steve and Evelyn and one of my oldest friends, Lacie. Everyone, this is Serena. She's been taking care of Marguerite since she was born." Vada said with a smile.

"How are Remy and Xander today?" Serena asked as she walked with them down the hall toward the nursery.

"They are with Andrew and Alan and their twin boys who were born this morning." Vada said proudly.

"Oh that's wonderful. Are the babies okay?" Serena asked hopefully.

"They are perfectly healthy. We'll be going to see them as soon as we've visited Marguerite." Vada said with a gentle smile.

"I think Dr. Ross is with Marguerite right now. He'll probably be done in just a minute, I'll let him know you're here." Serena said and left them in the waiting area of the natal ward.

"Does everyone know you here?" Steve asked with a teasing smile.

"Yes, most everyone does. I've spent enough time here since Marguerite was born that I should have my own chair." Vada said with a smile.

"Aunt Vada! It's good to see you." A husky black woman said and pulled Vada into a hug.

"Maybeline. How are you? How's your boy doing?" Vada asked from the hug.

"Oh he's just fine. I heard from him three days ago. Here I was all worried about him being shipped out and it turns out that he's on a supply ship about a thousand miles from any fighting." Maybeline said with a chuckle of relief.

"Oh that's wonderful news dear. I'm so glad to hear that he's safe." Vada said honestly.

"Where are Remy and Xander today?" Maybeline asked curiously.

"They're celebrating a birth with their family, but I'll wager that they'll be here before the sun sets." Vada said with certainty.

"No wager. They haven't missed a day yet. They'll be here." Maybeline said seriously.

"That's right dear, oh goodness. Where are my manners? Maybeline, this is Lacie Hawkes, her son Steve and his wife Evelyn. This is nurse Maybeline, she works the desk in the natal ward." Vada said with a smile.

"Good to meet you all. Let me go find out what's keeping Dr. Ross. He thinks he's in charge of this ward, but the rest of us know better." Maybeline said conspiratorially.

* * * * *

"Peter, Bobby suspects something. I think you need to tell him the truth." Scott said quietly.

"I cannot. There is no way he will understand." Peter said with anguish.

"Peter, he cares about you. He came to me because he thought you had a problem... i think he needs to know." Scott said seriously.

Peter thought about Scott's words and nodded.

"Do you want me to be there when you tell him?" Scott asked quietly.

"I can't tell him... It was just so good to have a friend that I didn't want it to end." Peter said sadly.

"He might surprise you Peter." Scott said, hoping Bobby would prove him right.

"Will you tell him for me? I cannot find the words." Peter said nervously.

"Sure Peter. Let's go see the babies and then I'll tell him." Scott said softly.

To Be Continued...