Hurt & Comfort

Book 8: Seeking Comfort

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Chapter 13: Facing It

What could be more agonizing than waiting for my parents to arrive?

John and Trey both tried to get my mind on other things since breakfast, but it kept finding it's way back to the same place.

"Clark?" Scott said from the common room door.

"Yes?" I replied, then noticed John standing beside him... I never even saw John leave. How zoned out am I?

"Can you come with me a second?" Mr. Summers asked and waited.

I hesitantly got up and followed him out of the room.

John squeezed my shoulder as I passed him, then went into the room to sit with Trey.

* * * * *

"John told me that you're going to 'come out' to your parents today." Scott said as we walked down the hall.

"Yeah." I mumbled.

"Is there anything I can do to help you? To make it easier?" Scott asked carefully.

"Would you stay with us? I mean, not leave me alone with them till the dust settles." I asked hopefully.

"When do you plan to tell them?" Scott asked in thought.

"As soon as they get here. That'll give them plenty of time to say what they want to say before they leave." I said seriously.

"Do you think they'll try to take you away... I mean, will they think we did this to you somehow?" Scott asked with concern.

"Made me gay?" I said with a smile, remembering my teasing with John.

"Yes, some people still think that who you're attracted to is a choice. They could think we turned you." Scott said carefully.

"I don't think so, my parents aren't like that... at least I hope they aren't... we never really talked about it." I said and could hear the fear in my own voice.

"I'll talk to them Clark. I'll do everything I can to make sure they understand before they leave." Scott said as he stopped to look at me.

"Okay Scott. Thanks..." I trailed off, realizing how much of a friend Scott was being.

"Clark, you remember when I said that Trey is my nephew and John is like my brother... that goes for you too. I care for you like a younger brother. Whatever I can do to help, I'll do it." Scott said seriously.

I nodded and tried to smile.

"And I won't let my brother face this alone. Why don't you come to the kitchen with me and peel or chop something for dinner." Scott said with a smile.

"Do you mind if John and Trey help?" I asked with a sideways glance.

"I'd be surprised if they didn't." Scott said with a smile.

* * * * *

After peeling about a hundred thousand sweet potatoes, I finally finished and was able to sit back and take a break.

John was still stirring something on the stove and looking bored. I'm not sure that whatever it is needs to be stirred constantly for over an hour, but it kept John busy so everyone was pretty happy with the way things worked out.

Trey was waiting by the sinks, washing whatever dishes were dirtied during the lengthy cooking process.

Ronny walked into the kitchen carrying a large covered granite roaster.

As soon as he saw me his face went red.

"Right over there Ronny." Alan said from behind him and pointed at a spot beside where I was working at the table.

Robert came by and took the last of the peeled sweet potatoes from me without a word.

"Ronny, can I talk to you for a minute?" I asked, hoping he wouldn't refuse.

"Yeah." He said in a mumble and started to walk away.

I followed Ronny into the hall and said, "I'm sorry you walked in on that this morning."

"Yeah, you guys should really lock the door if you're going to be doing that." Ronny said as he blushed wildly.

"We will from now on. I promise. Ronny, you're our friend and I don't want this to make you uncomfortable around us." I said with concern.

"It's gonna be tough, every time I look at any of you, I see it... you kind of freaked me out... I mean, I just kind of figured you'd kiss and stuff but you were doing *it*, right there... I saw everything." He said in a trembling voice.

"Yeah, and if I could take that image away, I would. I know you're not ready for that. I'm really sorry Ronny." I said, not knowing what else to say.

"I'll be okay, but thanks for worrying about me. It's really cool." Ronny said shyly.

"How's Bobby doing?" I asked, figuring we needed another topic now.

"I'm not sure. He spent the night at Robert's house. Alan and Remy stayed up with him most of the night talking. He's kind of in a daze now, but I think it's from lack of sleep more than anything." Ronny said with worry in his voice.

"Tell me if there's anything I can do to help. He was my first friend here and I'll do whatever I can to help him." I said seriously.

"Thanks Clark." A raspy voice said from over my shoulder.

I turned to see Bobby looking tired and rumpled and holding a bowl of fruit salad.

"I mean it Bobby, anything... if you need to talk, or if you just want to be distracted, you name it and it's yours." I said, looking Bobby in the eyes.

"Yeah, there is one thing." Bobby said, his voice sounding horrible.

"What can I do?" I asked with immediate concern.

"Take this fruit salad, it's really getting heavy." He said with a small, pained smile.

"Sure." I said and took the fruit salad from him.

* * * * *

"A car's coming!" Janine's voice called from the front door.

She'd announced every visitor that had arrived the same way.

I got up and walked to the window in the common room and saw Mom and Dad's car coming up the drive.

"It's them." I said in resignation and took a deep breath to brace myself before I walked outside.

* * * * *

I walked out the front doors of the mansion as Mom and Dad got out of the car.

"Clark!" Mom yelled and ran to hug me.

I held Mom tight and smiled... [I hope she'll still be as happy to see me after I tell her.] I thought to myself.

"You look like you've aged about three years since last week." Dad said with a look of surprise.

"Five years." I said with a teasing smile and pulled Dad close for a hug.

"I made my sweet sauerkraut salad with apples and walnuts, just the way you like it." Mom said with pride.

"Thanks Mom, where is it? I'll bring it in." I said as I let go of Dad.

"Your father can bring it in. You need to get the bag from the back seat... And don't let your father see inside." She said sternly.

I looked from Mom to Dad with surprise.

"Don't ask me. She put it in the car and threatened me if I even looked at it." Dad said with wide eyes.

"I'll get the bag." I said with a smile and went to the car.

* * * * *

We walked into the entry hall and Mom stopped us.

"See Jonathan, didn't I tell you it was beautiful." Mom said in wonder.

"Yes dear." Dad said tolerantly as he looked around.

"Come on, I want to introduce you to everyone." I said with excitement.

"Just a minute, we need to drop off the sauerkraut salad first." Mom said quickly.

"Right this way." I said and led them to the dining room.

I opened the door and pointed to the table that had been reserved for salads.

Dad put the salad down and stopped to look around.

"This is some room." He said in an impressed voice.

"Yeah." I said absently as I looked around. I guess I'm used to it.

"Go ahead Clark, where are your friends?" Mom said with a smile.

"Come in the kitchen and we'll see who's there." I said and led them through the side door.

"Mom, you remember Ms. Munroe don't you?" I said as we walked to the stove.

"Yes, nice to see you again." Mom said with a smile.

"Yes, very nice to see you Mrs. Kent." Ms. Munroe said pleasantly.

"And this is my Dad, Jonathan Kent." I said proudly.

"A pleasure to meet you. You must be very proud of Clark, he's a wonderful boy." Ms. Munroe said with a gentle smile.

"Yes, I've always been proud of him." Dad said happily.

[I wonder if he'll still be proud of me when I tell him.] I thought darkly. Then saw John carrying a large rack of bread.

"Mom, Dad, this is my friend John Allerdyce." I said with a great smile.

"Hi." John said timidly.

"Nice to meet you John." Mom said with a smile.

"I'd shake your hand but..." John trailed off and shifted the rack of bread that he was carrying.

"We'll catch you later." Dad said with a chuckle.

John walked past us and into the dining room with the bread.

"This is Dawn Summers and Tara McCoy. Ms. Summers, Ms. McCoy, this is my Mom, Martha and my Dad Jonathan." I said as we walked past the stove to the prep island.

Dawn and Tara both looked up and smiled. "Nice to meet you." Dawn said pleasantly as she shook hands with Mom and Dad.

Mom moved to shake Tara's hand but Tara pulled her hand back and lifted it to show it covered in flour.

"Sorry, I'm making pie crust." Tara said shyly.

"Quite alright." Dad said with a smile.

"And over here is my friend, Trey Summers. Trey, this is my Mom, Martha Kent and my Dad, Jonathan Kent." I said and we walked over to the sinks.

Trey quickly dried his hands and waited hopefully.

Dad shook Trey's hand first, then Mom.

"Nice to meet you. Clark has spoken of you often." Trey said shyly.

"I hope he said nice things." Mom said in mock worry.

"Only the best. And he has told us much of his father who is such a good friend to him." Trey said with a sincere smile.

"Aren't you a charmer." Mom said in delight.

"I say only the truth." Trey said warmly.

"Trey and John are going to sit at our table at dinner." I said to Mom and Dad. Then I turned to Trey and said, "I'm going to take them to meet everyone in the common room."

"I will see you at dinner." Trey said and gifted me with one of his smiles.

* * * * *

We walked into the common room to much commotion. I felt a hand on my shoulder and saw that Mom was holding me back with a hesitant expression.

"What?" I asked her in a whisper.

"Watch." Mom said into my ear and pointed to Mr. Summers.

Dad continued walking into the room in front of us. He stopped about four feet from Mr. Summers.

"Scott?" Dad asked in wonder.

Mr. Summers looked at Dad, then his eyebrows went up in recognition and he said, "Jonathan?"

Dad and Mr. Summers closed the distance between them quickly and hugged each other tightly.

"Scott, oh God, I tried to find you for... years. How are you?" Dad asked with a tearful voice.

"I'm good. I didn't have any way to contact you. I didn't even know your last name. How did you find me?" Scott asked as tears dropped under his glasses.

"I didn't... I came here to visit my son, Clark." Dad said in a shaky voice.

"Clark's your son?" Mr. Summers asked in wonder and looked over at me and Mom.

"Yes, are you a student here too?" Dad asked with excitement.

"Not exactly. I'm kind of in charge of this place until the Professor gets back." Mr. Summers said with a proud smile.

Dad pulled Scott into a close hug again and I looked to Mom for an explanation.

She pointed back to Dad and Mr. Summers.

"Jonathan, why don't you come to my office where we can talk?" Mr. Summers said with a grand smile.

Mom and I followed, knowing that the invitation included us too.

* * * * *

"I tried to meet you that last day, but the cops picked me up..." Scott began to say.

"I know, I'm the one who called them." Dad said quietly.

"What?" Scott asked and fell back into the couch.

"Actually, I called Martha's sister Lucie who called her college roommate Cheryl and *she* called the police and had them pick you up." Dad explained with hope for understanding in his eyes.

"You called Cheryl?" Mr. Summers asked in disbelief.

"Yes. You were on the streets and I was trying to find some way to help you..." Dad started to say.

"Jonathan, do you think you could start at the beginning for Clark?" Mom asked from my side.

Dad looked at me and smiled.

"I went on a trip to New York to arrange financing for some equipment when you were... seven? Do you remember that?" Dad asked me carefully.

I thought back and finally said, "When you got back, Mom said you were sick and I needed to be quiet around you for a while."

"That's right. I'll get to that part in a minute. When I was there I saw a boy wearing sunglasses, he was so skinny and lost looking that I had to talk to him." Dad said and looked fondly at Mr. Summers.

"I told him that I was new in town and missed my son and asked him if he would have lunch with me to keep me company." Dad said with a smile.

Scott nodded and Dad continued.

"After we ate, I told him that I had a meeting in the morning but I'd be done around noon if he wanted to have lunch with me." Dad said in a voice of distant memory.

"We met for lunch and hung around the rest of the day, then had dinner. I told him that I'd meet him the same place the next day for lunch again." Dad said with less of a smile.

"That's when the police picked me up and turned me over to child protective services." Mr. Summers said quietly.

"I called Martha, and Martha called Lucie, Lucie called Cheryl... eventually I talked directly to Cheryl and asked her if there was any way I could adopt you or be a foster parent or something. But since I lived in another state... there really wasn't much she could do. I ended up trusting her to do the right thing to help you." Dad said sadly.

"I was placed with a foster family and stayed there for about a month before I met Professor Xavier." Scott said distantly.

"I tried to contact you, I even tried to mail you a package but it came back with a note from Cheryl. She said that you'd left foster care and she couldn't find you." Dad said with remembered pain.

Mom squeezed my shoulder.

I looked at her and she pointed to the bag that I forgot that I was carrying.

I looked at her in question and she pointed to Mr. Summers.

I took the bag and handed it to him.

Mr. Summers opened the bag and looked carefully at the address label.

"That's where I was living." Scott said in wonder.

"Martha? You knew?" Dad asked in surprise.

"I suspected. I remembered you telling me about Scott, and how he always wore sunglasses and then I met Mr. Summers. I brought that along in case I was right." Mom said proudly.

Dad had such a look of pride in Mom that I thought he would bust.

Mr. Summers opened the box carefully and pulled out a knitted sweater.

"It's great." Mr. Summers said and pulled it on over his shirt.

"It may be a little small on you now. You've filled out some since last time I saw you." Dad said tenderly.

"It's perfect." Mr. Summers said as he straightened the sweater.

"Martha made it for you. I was afraid you'd be cold." Dad said as his eyes filled with tears.

Scott looked in the box again and pulled out a CD Player and headphones.

"I thought you'd like something like that." Dad said with a smile.

Scott pulled out three CDs and looked at them carefully. Then said, "They're wonderful, these are classics."

"They were top 40 when I bought them." Dad said with a smile.

"We thought It would be a shame if you had a CD player and didn't have anything to listen to." Mom said tenderly.

Next he pulled out a package of batteries.

"Those probably won't be any good now, but at least we didn't put them in the player before we shipped it." Mom said cheerily.

Scott nodded and looked in the box again. He came back with an envelope.

"Can I read it?" He asked cautiously.

Dad looked at Mom, then said, "Please read it aloud."

"Scott, If there were any way I could make it happen, I'd make you my own son. Even though I can't find a way to make that happen, you'll always be the son of my heart. I hope you enjoy these things, please write and let us know how you're doing. You'll always be part of our family. Love, Jonathan, Martha and Clark." Mr. Summers said with tears streaming down his face.

Scott turned and pulled my Dad into a full hug.

Finally they released the hug and Scott turned to face me.

"When I came home, I was worried and heartsick. I felt like I lost a child." Dad said darkly and glanced at Scott.

"I guess we really are brothers now." Scott said with a watery smile.

"How many does that make?" I asked, trying to keep my own tears from falling.

"Alex, Alan, John and you... that makes four." Scott said happily.

"Alex? You're brother's okay?" Dad asked suddenly.

"He's fine. He's probably in the dining room by now." Scott said with a warm smile.

"I remember you telling me that you left him behind when you ran away. Did that work out okay?" Dad asked with concern.

"Yeah, Cheryl took care of it." Scott said peacefully.

"Good. I knew you were worried about him." Dad said with relief.

"I have another brother too. Alan, you'll be meeting him at dinner. And John is someone that I feel a kinship with and has become the brother of my heart... like Clark." Scott finished with a smile at Dad.

"Is that the young man with the bread?" Mom asked quietly.

I nodded.

"So is it time for dinner?" Dad asked, looking like he was ready to stand.

Scott looked at me and raised his eyebrows. He was letting me decide... giving me a way out.

"Not yet." I said and took a deep breath.

"What is it son?" Dad asked with concern.

"Dad, Mom..." I started, feeling like I was going to choke, pass out, vomit, drop dead... e. all of the above.

"...I'm..." [Hungry... I could just say hungry... wouldn't that be the simplest thing for everyone?]

"" It's over. All over. No going back. Can't take it back.

There was silence. It went on... oh, about twelve days or so.

"Clark? Did you just 'come out' to us?" Mom asked carefully.

I nodded.

Mom walked to me and held me gently.

"It's okay, we're not upset." Mom said in a soothing whisper as she stroked my hair.

I kept my eyes tightly closed, I couldn't look my Dad in the eyes.

"Clark." Dad said firmly... I had to look.

I peeked one eye open to see Dad looking at me with amusement.

"It's okay. We discussed this possibility years ago. You know your Aunt Lucie's friend Chrysta..." Dad began.

"...They're more than friends." Mom finished.

"All we want is for you to find someone who makes you happy and appreciates you." Mom said quietly.

"Um, I have." I said in a mumble.

"What's that?" Dad asked.

Scott gave me a nod and quickly left the room.

"I found someone... two someone's... who make me happy and appreciate me." I said numbly.

"Two?" Mom said in surprise.

"He always was something of an overachiever." Dad said in a considering tone.

"Do you love them?" Mom asked in a shaky voice.

"I love them a lot." I said with more strength.

The door opened and Scott walked in, followed by John and Trey.

"Hello again." John said shyly.

Dad got off the couch and walked to John.

John looked as if he wanted to run.

"I said I'd catch you later." Dad said and held out his hand.

John cautiously took Dad's hand to shake it and was pulled into a full hug.

Mom moved to Trey and gently pulled him into a hug of her own.

"So John, tell me about yourself." Dad said seriously and guided John to sit beside him on the couch.

John had a look of terror in his eyes.

"John doesn't like talking about himself Dad, but once you get to know him, you'll love him." I said, trying to stop the interrogation.

"What about you Trey? What's your story?" Mom asked.

Trey looked at me in question and I shrugged. "They know about me, so it's okay if you want to." I said simply.

"I was taken from my home world by a collective called the Borg. They put machines in my body and erased my memory. I was rescued and my fathers helped me become an individual again. Three months later Aunt Dawn created a temporal/spatial vortex to bring us here. That was two weeks ago." Trey said in a steady voice.

"So you're an alien?" Mom asked uncertainly.

I flinched at the word and said, "We prefer non-human or extra-terrestrial." I said quietly.

"I am not offended. Yes, I cannot be sure of my home planet because my species have colonized many worlds, but I am of the N'Mgilia people." Trey said simply.

"What about you John?" Dad asked carefully.

"Just a plain old mutant." John said, looking more relaxed.

"Clark, you said we prefer non-human... you and Trey?" Mom asked carefully.

"And some of his brothers and his sister." I said, much more comfortable with this subject.

Mom nodded and continued to hold Trey closely.

"Are we ready for dinner?" Scott asked hopefully, I think he was wanting to rescue John and Trey from Mom and Dad's attention.

"Just a minute." Dad said and let loose of John.

"Yes?" Scott asked curiously.

"We need to talk some business... and since we're here. We might as well." Dad said seriously.

"Okay, I've got the paperwork right here." Scott said and moved behind the desk.

"Bottom line, how much are we talking about?" Dad asked seriously.

Scott came around the desk and sat beside Dad on the couch, the other side from John.

He flipped through theĀ  pages and handed them to Dad, pointing at something.

Dad looked at the paper and read for a minute. He flipped back to the previous page, then reread the page again.

"Jonathan? Too much stress is bad for the heart, dear." Mom said as she sat nervously watching, still holding Trey.

"Clark, you *do* want to stay don't you?" Dad asked uncertainly.

I looked at Trey and John before saying, "Yes, I really do want to stay."

Dad nodded and looked at the paper again.

"Dad?" I asked, beginning to seriously worry.

"I don't think we can do it." Dad said in defeat as he looked up at me.

[Oh shit, oh shit, no. Dear God, no.] I thought franticly.

John got up from the couch and whispered to Trey then left the room.

Trey left Mom, walked to me and put his arms around me.

"How close is it?" Scott asked with concern.

"It's close, and I could probably do it for a couple months, but long term... I don't see how I could manage it." Dad said darkly.

"I trimmed off everything I could. I'd help if I could but I'm stretched to my limit." Scott said helplessly.

"Maybe I could get a job?" I asked hopefully.

"I'm afraid it wouldn't be enough. Working enough hours to make a difference would cut into your study time and probably effect your grades." Scott said sadly.

John walked into the room and asked, "If room and board weren't included could you do it?"

Dad looked at the paper again and Scott pointed to a number.

"Yes, I could manage that." Dad said and looked at John in question.

"I'm going to be living in a house off the property in a few days. Clark could live with me." John said proudly.

"John, you need to talk to Logan before you decide something like that." Scott said carefully.

"He did Cyke, me an tha kid already said it's okay." Logan said from the doorway with Ronny at his side.

Dad looked at Logan in question.

"Clark's a good guy. We need someone like him at the house... like an example." Logan said with a teasing smile.

"Remember, I know where you live..." John said with his own teasing.

I gave Trey a small kiss, then said, "Matthew Logan, Ronny Drake, this is my Dad, Jonathan Kent and my Mom, Martha Kent."

"Nice to meet you." Dad said and stood to shake Mr. Logan's hand.

Mr. Logan shook the offered hand.

"Clark's a good guy. John an Ronny like him and I can tell that you must be real decent people to have a kid as good as him. I'm buying the house anyway so it ain't no hardship." Mr. Logan said firmly.

"Do you work here?" Dad asked curiously.

"Yeah, I teach English an Grammar." Logan said seriously, then smiled.

"Matt is our Physical Education and Driving instructor." Scott said with a laugh.

"Okay, that makes more sense." Dad said with a smile.

"So is Clark stayin or what?" Logan asked impatiently.

"If you're serious about letting him live with you, yes." Dad said in a disbelieving voice.

Logan stood silently, just looking at Dad.

"I thought I was the only one who got that look..." Scott said in wonder, then told Dad, "That means he's serious... and also that he's disappointed that you had to ask, I think."

"Alright then. Let's make it legal so we can have dinner." Dad said in a relieved voice.

Scott walked to the desk and drew some lines and some X's on the contract, then handed it to Dad.

"Where?" Dad asked.

"There, there and there." Scott said pointing.

"And there." Scott said when Dad turned the page.

Dad turned another page and waited.

"That's all. We'll mail you all the information in a few days." Scott said happily.

There was a knock on the door and Jimmy poked his head in.

"John, your dad's here." Jimmy said quietly.

To Be Continued...