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"Remy, would you put this one together? The instructions are written in French." Xander asked hopefully.
"Oui. Xander take over dis one. Dere be twelve types of screws an dey all look de same in de drawings." Remy said in frustration.
"How are you doing Icheb?" Xander asked as he traded places with Remy.
"I am amazed. There are one hundred twenty two pieces, seven types of screws, and yet there is only one tool and a small tube of glue needed for assembly and one single sided page of instructions." Icheb said as he worked.
"Yeah... amazing." Xander said flatly as he looked at the changing table Remy had been working on.
"Uncle Alex suggested that I might be able to help." Trey said as he entered the room.
"Don't they need you downstairs?" Xander asked.
"No... they will be able to complete assembly without me." Trey said as he surveyed the situation.
"Well, maybe you can do something with this." Xander said in frustration.
"Yes. Could you do something to help me?" Trey asked carefully.
"Sure, just name it." Xander said enthusiastically.
"Go to the basement and get a package of diapers, then get supplies from Aunt Dawn for the changing table." Trey said as he began to assemble the changing table.
"Okay, we'll be right back." Xander said cheerfully, glad to be away from his chore.
"Icheb, assemble the base structure in figure one. Disregard all else until that is complete." Trey said as he quickly screwed pieces into place.
Icheb did as he was told and the assembly of the crib was quickly underway.
* * * * *
"What did you ask for permission to tell me?" Robert asked curiously.
"Pete has a thing, like a disorder or something. He needs to do things to keep his life in order. If things go out of order, it bothers him." Bobby said as they hurriedly walked to the mansion.
"I do not understand." Robert said with concern.
"I don't understand completely, but I guess it's like when you get used to doing something a certain way. Doing it a different way feels wrong. But he feels it a whole lot worse... it makes him sick." Bobby said carefully.
"Perfection through order." Robert said absently.
"What's that?" Bobby asked curiously.
"That is what the Borg professed to bring to those they assimilated." Robert said in thought.
"Tell me about it." Bobby said with interest.
"The Borg belief is that perfection, peace, tranquillity, harmony, quality of life... all good things... can be achieved through order." Robert said in thought.
"I guess there's a part of Pete that's like that." Bobby said speculatively.
"Perhaps he needs to understand that the randomness of life is what gives it flavor and makes it something beyond a repetition of occurrences." Robert said seriously.
"I agree with you, but we aren't going to try and convince Pete of anything. Whatever happened to him isn't his choice, it's the way he is. It would be wrong for us to try and change him. If he asks for our help, we'll give it. But Scott was right, the best thing we can do for Pete right now is be his friends." Bobby said firmly.
"I understand. I believe I can relate to some of what he is feeling due to my experience with the Borg. But I will not attempt to convince him to be anything but an individual." Robert said with certainty.
"That's good. Let's go get ready to run." Bobby said as they reached the mansion.
* * * * *
"Gentlemen, I'm afraid I have duties that demand my immediate attention. I will tell Matt that the babies were born." Hank said as he started to walk toward the door.
"Thanks for everything Hank. Will you come back later for lunch? It isn't going to be anything fancy but I'd like to get the family together and have kind of a celebration." Andrew asked quietly.
"Yes, barring unforeseen circumstances, I will be here... and I could bring something back for Matt when I'm finished." Hank finished in a speculative voice.
"Great idea. Let him know we're all thinking about him. I'd bring the babies to visit him but they can't port and I don't want to take them out in the snow." Alan said with a warm smile.
"If all goes well, he will be able to see them himself in less than two days." Hank said happily.
"Oh, that would be great. Tell him that when he gets out, he's invited over here to visit." Andrew said firmly.
"I will tell him. I will see you at lunch. Have a good day." Hank said and was stopped by a hand.
"If you're going to Logan, can I go with you?" Ronny asked hopefully.
"Of course, I would enjoy the company." Hank said with a gentle smile.
"Me too?" John asked hopefully.
"Yes, come along so we can visit with Matt." Hank said and led the boys out of the boathouse.
* * * * *
"Look at all these people." Julia said in amazement.
"They're a family... my family. They accept me as I am." Angel said in thought.
"I'm so glad. I can't imagine how lonely it must be to feel so different." Julia said, resting her head against his chest.
"I don't feel it anymore. I am happy here." Angel said, casting a fond look at Chris who was still holding Thomas.
"Hello Dr. Hoffman." Jimmy said as he walked into the room from the basement.
"Mr. Summers, how are you this morning?" Julia asked with a smile.
"You may call me Jimmy, I am off duty now. I am well." Jimmy said seriously.
"Well Jimmy, would you introduce me around?" Julia asked with a smile.
"Of course." Jimmy said and led Julia to his fathers.
"Dr. Julia Hoffman, this is my Father Andrew Summers and my Dad Alan Summers." Jimmy said proudly.
"Nice to meet you Dr. Hoffman... are you the dean of the college?" Andrew asked curiously.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am." Julia said with a smile.
Andrew noticed that Julia was holding onto Angel's arm and gave a curious look.
"We're old friends." Angel said shyly.
"You've been here less than two weeks, how do you have old friends?" Andrew asked curiously.
"Do you really have time for a story that involves time travel to the year seventeen ninety four?" Angel asked with a teasing smile.
Andrew and Alan looked at each other, then around at the people carrying things into the rooms and up the stairs. Finally Alan said, "Maybe not at the moment. It's a pleasure to meet you Dr. Hoffman."
"Please call me Julia." She said with a smile, then glanced at Jimmy and continued, "I'm off duty."
"Herr Doktor, it is good to see you again." Kurt said as he exited the bedroom.
"Yes, it's good to see you too Kurt. How are you this morning?" Julia asked pleasantly.
"Very well. Warren unt I haf been helping... but ze work is done." Kurt said happily.
"Warren? Mr. Worthington is here?" Julia asked in surprise.
"Right here." Warren said with a smile as he walked out of the bedroom.
Julia was stunned by the sight of his large white wings.
"I like to hide them when I'm talking business... they're a distraction." Warren said conspiratorially.
"Yes, I suppose they would be." Julia said in a stunned voice.
"You wanted to meet Mr. Wainwright... he lives here. He should be upstairs." Warren said with a smile.
"Could I meet him now?" Julia asked hopefully.
"Sure, follow me." Warren said and led the way.
* * * * *
Andrew noticed that Dawn was putting the last of the baby clothes into it's proper pile and walked to her.
"Dawn, are we okay?" Andrew asked quietly.
"Yeah, I think so. Thanks for pushing Andrew. You're a cool brother-in-law." Dawn said with a smile.
"And you're an excellent Aunt. If it wasn't for you, we'd be killing ourselves trying to find baby things at the last minute. You made the whole baby experience a joy instead of a frantic nightmare." Andrew said, looking into Dawn's eyes.
"Thanks." Dawn whispered.
* * * * *
Trey efficiently completed the bassinette as Xander cleaned up the cardboard.
"You have visitors Xander." Warren said from the door.
Xander looked up in surprise, then sat his cardboard aside.
"I've got that mate." Spike said quietly.
"Thanks Spike." Xander said with a friendly smile.
"Xander, this is Dr. Julia Hoffman, dean of Forrestgrove college and future dean of the Wagner Institute." Warren said proudly.
"Oh, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you last night. We were visiting our daughter in the hospital." Xander said as he shook Julia's hand.
"Is she alright?" Julia asked with immediate concern.
"Yes, she's fine. She was just born premature and needs to be in the hospital for a while." Xander said, impressed by her concern.
"I have to admit, you're not at all what I expected." Julia said with a genuine smile as she looked at the casually dressed man with an eye-patch.
"How so?" Xander asked curiously.
"Well, since you're a multi-millionaire and head of a major corporation. I thought you'd be a little more..." Julia trailed off, searching for a non-offensive word.
"Stuffy?" Xander ventured.
"Yes." Julia said with a hint of shyness.
"I'm just me. The money is a tool to get things done." Xander said with a shrug.
"I think that's an excellent philosophy." Julia said with admiration.
"Trey, are we done here?" Xander asked as he looked around.
"All the furniture is complete. We only need the clothing and accessories for Marguerite." Trey said seriously.
"Can we help?" Julia asked with hope.
"Sure, Dawn is sorting things in the living room. She should have a few piles of things for us to bring up." Xander said and walked toward the door.
"Thank you." Angel said in an almost silent whisper, directed at Xander.
Xander got a big smile and shrugged as he followed everyone out of the room.
* * * * *
"I think everything is assembled." Trey said in thought.
"Dawn, do you know where in the mansion the baby supplies should be ported?" Andrew asked, looking at the impressive stack.
"No. Scott?" Dawn asked as she turned to look at him.
"Room seven. As I recall, there aren't any classes scheduled in there tomorrow." Scott said in thought.
"Classes?" Julia asked suspiciously.
"Oh, we didn't mention that. Xavier's is a school for gifted children... mutants." Warren said seriously.
"Then why do you need Forrestgrove?" Julia asked in puzzlement.
"Because Xavier's is for students who need to learn to control their abilities. The Wagner Institute is going to be for students who have passive abilities... it will also be publically known as a school for mutants. Xavier's isn't." Warren said, hoping he didn't have to clarify what he meant.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to be obtuse, but could you give me an example?" Julia asked hopefully.
"Sure..." Warren said and looked around the room.
"Andrew, would you mind creating a portal to show Julia an active ability?" Warren asked carefully.
"Okay." Andrew said and a portal opened before Scott.
"Is this the room you meant?" Andrew asked as Julia looked at the tear in space.
"Yes, that's it." Scott said seriously.
Andrew nodded and ported the stacks of baby supplies into the room.
"That's very useful." Julia said in an impressed voice.
"Yes, Andrew has excellent control of his gift. He can port... what is your range now Andrew?" Warren asked.
"Since my... trip... my range has increased so that I can reach anyplace on Earth." Andrew said carefully.
"But without control of his ability, he could accidently send himself or someone near him to anyplace on Earth or into an alternate dimension." Warren said seriously.
"I need to tell Buffy and Faith!" Andrew said suddenly.
"They probably won't be awake yet. It's just after nine in the morning on a Sunday." Xander said as he took a seat on the couch.
The others in the room followed his example and the couches filled quickly.
"I think this guy needs changing." Chris said into the silence.
"Take him into the bedroom. Dad's in there with Chakotay, he'll help you if you need it." Andrew said with a smile.
"I will change him." William said with assurance.
"He will attempt to urinate on you." Jimmy said in warning.
"I will be careful." William said as he followed Chris into the bedroom.
* * * * *
The car pulled into the driveway.
Steve carefully handed Marguerite to his wife and got out of the car to help Aunt Vada out.
After a minute of careful walking on the light snow, they made their way to the door and knocked gently.
"You don't think they'll mind the interruption do you?" Steve asked with concern.
"No, not at all. I'll wager they have a houseful already." Vada said fondly.
The door opened to reveal a small boy.
"Aunt Vada!" Jimmy said with joy and hugged her close.
"Jimmy, this is Steve Hawkes, a friend of mine. May we come in?" Vada asked carefully.
"Of course Aunt Vada." Jimmy said with excitement.
"Aunt Vada!" Scott said with joy and went to hug her.
"Scott, I have a favor to ask of you. My friend Lacie is in the car and I'm worried that she'll fall in the snow. Is there any way you could help her in?" Vada asked in a shy voice.
"Of course Aunt Vada." Scott said immediately and walked outside, to be followed by Steve.
"Aunt Vada, I'm surprised you came. Who drove you up?" Andrew asked as he gave her a hug.
"A friend... Alan, you're looking much lighter. How does it feel?" Vada asked as she hugged him.
"It feels great. Those two were really getting heavy." Alan said with a smile.
"Xander and Remy, I've got a surprise for you." Vada said as she hugged each man.
"What did you bring us Aunt Vada?" Xander asked like a kid at Christmas.
Evelyn walked in holding a blanketed bundle.
"Evie, show Xander and Remy what we brought them." Vada said with a smile.
Evelyn took a seat on the couch, then carefully unwrapped the bundle to expose the tiny baby.
"Marguerite!" Xander said with joy.
"Tank you Aunt Vada. Dis be de best ting you could do for Xander and Remy." Remy said with joy.
Xander carefully took Marguerite into his arms and held her gently.
"Marguerite?" Andrew asked with surprise as he saw the tiny girl.
"Dr. Ross said that she was well enough to leave the hospital today. And Steve decided to bring her here to you." Vada said happily.
"Steve?" Xander asked curiously as Steve and Scott helped Lacie into the house.
"You might remember him as Judge Hawkes." Vada said with a smile.
"Judge Hawkes? Here?" Xander asked with surprise.
"Don't worry. Aunt Vada has been saying such nice things about you that I had to come and see for myself." Steve said, enjoying the look of disbelief on Xander's face.
"I believe you have some babies to show me." Vada said, looking at Alan.
"Yes Aunt Vada, they're in the bedroom with dad." Andrew said and led the way.
"Come and see the babies Stevie. Come Evelyn." Vada said gently.
Steve, Evelyn, Lacie, Vada, Andrew and Alan went into the bedroom to see the new babies.
* * * * *
As Bobby, Robert and Peter started to run, Peter asked, "Did Bobby tell you of my problem?"
"Bobby said that you require structure and order... he did not mention a problem." Robert said as he kept pace with Bobby and Peter.
Peter thought about that response as Bobby flashed a tender smile of approval at Robert.
"But it may cause difficulty in your plans." Peter said with worry.
"So. It's no different than if I wanted to go skiing and you had studying that you needed to do. Just because I want to do something doesn't mean we have to do it. And it could just as easily be you wanting to do something and me with a prior commitment. It's just the way it is." Bobby said frankly.
"Robert, do you feel the same?" Peter asked carefully.
"Yes, you are Bobby's best friend, but that does not mean that you cannot have your own interests and perform activities without him." Robert said steadily.
"Best friend?" Peter asked shakily.
"Yes Pete. You're my best friend. Robert's my boyfriend, that's a whole other thing. You're the one I come to when I need to know if one of my ideas is good or off the wall. You're the one who's opinion I trust about what is right and wrong. Ronny's my brother and John is a close friend but you are my 'best' friend Pete. That's not going to change." Bobby said with assurance.
"Thank you Bobby. You are my best friend too. And you are my friend too Robert." Peter said in an emotional voice.
"Thank you, I consider you a friend as well." Robert said quietly.
"Now let's get serious with this run. All we're doing is talking." Bobby said with a smile.
Peter showed his agreement by picking up his pace.
* * * * *
"Aren't they lovely." Vada gasped in astonishment at the two sleeping babies in one crib.
"Two beautiful little boys." Lacie said as he looked at the peaceful babies.
"When they were placed in the same crib, they went to sleep. They are most comfortable together." William said informatively.
"William?" Vada asked carefully.
"Yes Aunt Vada." William said with a smile as he hugged her.
"I always have trouble telling you and Robert apart." Vada said with a smile, then at Steve and Evelyn's curious looks she said, "They're identical twins."
"My brother is running with his friends right now." William said seriously.
"So are these babies your brothers too?" Evelyn asked curiously.
"Yes, Chakotay and Thomas are our brothers and Marguerite is going to be like our sister." William said happily.
"That's wonderful. She'll have a lot of people to look after her then. And with these two sharing a crib, she can sleep in here if she wants to." Evelyn said tenderly.
"Yes, although she has a place in Uncle Xander and Uncle Remy's room until her's is built." William said seriously.
"You're building on a room for Marguerite?" Steve asked curiously.
"We are building on a wing so Chakotay, Thomas, Marguerite, Uncle Scott and Uncle Alex can each have their own room." William said, looking at both people.
"William, why don't you and Chris ask your Father about breakfast. I think in all the excitement, he forgot that he needs to eat." Lee said quietly.
"Yes Grandfather." William said and led Chris out of the room.
"Grandfather?" Steve asked curiously.
"Grandfather." Lee said simply.
The door opened to reveal Mystique.
"Lee, I must be going. I have duties to perform and am needed in Washington in the morning. It's been a pleasure to meet you." Mystique said with a genuine smile.
"Anytime you're in the neighborhood, stop in Misty. You're the first person in a decade that I've been able to sit down and really talk to. I'm glad you came." Lee said with a fond smile directed at Mystique.
"When I am next in the area, I will come to visit." Mystique said with assurance.
"Good, I'd like that." Lee said and watched as she left.
* * * * *
Warren's cell phone rang and he moved to the corner of the living room to answer it.
"Go ahead." Warren said quickly, knowing that it must be an emergency for Rome to call him so early on a Sunday morning.
"Yeah, okay." Warren said in a dark, serious tone that caught Andrew's attention.
"How bad?" Warren said as Alan and Xander also started listening to his side of the conversation.
"At least no one was killed. Where are they now?" He asked, noticing that all conversations in the room had stopped and everyone was focused on him.
"Send them here, to the Xavier Institute. I'll work something out. Thank's Rome, 'Above and Beyond' and all that. Try to enjoy the rest of your day off." Warren said with a smile.
"Yeah, I'll take care of it here. It'll be fine." Warren said with assurance and hung up the phone.
"What is it?" Andrew asked with concern.
"A fifteen year old boy from a small farming town. He accidently caught his school on fire with an optic heat blast. Half the school saw him do it." Warren said, looking at Scott.
"So he's on the run?" Alan asked with concern.
"No. We can be thankful for that much anyway. His mother got the tip-off about the Wagner Institute and contacted Rome. They're on the road right now and should be here in about four hours." Warren said in thought.
"Do you want to enroll him at the Wagner Institute?" Scott asked uncertainly.
"Do you think Dr. McCoy could look at him and gauge his abilities? If he's a high alpha or omega level mutant then he might need to come to Xavier's to learn some control first." Warren said, obviously thinking outloud.
"Yes, that's a good idea. It sounds like he's going to be alone and scared when he gets here. Do you think we have any kids here who could help him not be scared?" Scott finished as he looked at all the kids in the room.
Icheb and Trey immediately nodded as Jimmy and Janine said, "We will help him."
"Good. That way his mother won't feel so bad about leaving him with strangers." Scott said with a fond smile directed at the children.
"What's the boy's name?" Alex asked curiously.
The End of Book 7 ~ To Be Continued in Book 8: Seeking Comfort