Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 2: New Beginnings and Remembered Endings

"Alan, would you invite Lee to join us? I'd like to meet him and offer him the position as soon as possible so he'll be ready for Monday." The Professor asked professionally.

"I think he's at the boathouse. I'll call him from the outer office." Alan said quickly.

Charles nodded, then asked, "Scott, have you implemented any of the plans we discussed before I left?"

"No Professor. We had several new students and... it slipped my mind." Scott said shyly.

"Quite alright. Do you still believe it is a good idea?" Charles asked casually.

"Yes." Scott said immediately.

"Then I will ask Trey Summers to see to Cerebro's maintenance. Matt, if you agree, you can invite Icheb Summers to see to the maintenance of the Blackbird and put Alex in charge of the junior X-men's training." The Professor said seriously.

"When you say 'invite' do you mean 'hire'?" Matt asked cautiously.

"Yes, as a part-time job. Not to be scheduled over twenty hours a week." Charles said in full administrator mode.

"I'll need to talk to them. I don't know either of 'em. But if I think they're up to it, yeah." Matt said seriously.

"Warren was wanting to hire some of our students to go to the Wagner Institute... to ease the way for the first class of mutants to be enrolled." Charles said to the group.

"Who should we send?" Orroro asked with concern.

"The only one we've discussed is Bobby." Warren said in thought.

"John." Scott said immediately.

Everyone looked to Scott curiously.

"Money is a big issue in his case. I don't know how much you'll be paying him, but anything would help." Scott said with concern.

"The dollar amount hasn't been set up yet. But if he's in need, I'll see to it that he's taken care of." Warren said with assurance.

Scott smiled weakly and nodded.

"Who else?" Charles asked the group as Alan walked back into the room.

"What did I miss?" Alan asked in a whisper to Scott, but everyone heard.

"We were discussing which students should be hired to go to the Wagner Institute to ease the way for their first mutant students." Charles said quickly to catch Alan up.

"So who have we got?" Alan asked casually.

"Bobby and John." Scott answered.

"Then you'll need Clark and Ronny at least." Alan said with confidence.

"Why?" Charles asked curiously.

"Because they'll need support. They'll be among college age students and will need to have someone to depend on." Alan said with certainty.

"Actually that fits in with the financial need too. Clark and Ronny could both use the money." Scott said in thought.

"What about Robert?" Matt asked hesitantly.

"He's closer to Ronny's age. He's close to Bobby. Yes I think he'd do well." Alan said with a nod.

"Is that enough?" Charles asked, directing his question to Warren.

"Yes, more than enough at the moment. We only have five new students waiting to enroll, but I'm hoping for more when the news becomes generally known. We're holding off on the official announcement till Monday." Warren said seriously.

"Very well, then we'll talk with them at the conclusion of this meeting." Professor Xavier said in thought.

"Charles, we will be having Thanksgiving dinner at the conclusion of this meeting... delegate." Eric said firmly.

Professor Xavier turned to look over his shoulder at Magneto with an impatient glare, but when he saw the honest concern in Eric's eyes, he just said, "Would you mind Scott and Warren?"

"I'd be glad to Professor but I had one question first. How did Mystique know about Peter?" Scott asked curiously.

"It seems one of your X-men has become enamored of one of my associates and needed consolation after Colossus' death." Eric said in a cool voice.

Several people looked curiously at each other, trying to make sense of the vague statement.

"Kitty." Orroro said quietly, to stop their speculation.

"Are there any other situations we need to discuss before we adjourn?" Professor Xavier asked the group.

"Nothing big. I've enrolled a few new students, hired a few new teachers and reorganized the curriculum a little since you've been gone." Scott said timidly.

"I haven't been gone a week." Professor Xavier said with a helpless and disbelieving expression.

"If you'll adjourn the meeting, I'll introduce you to the new people. They'll probably be in the dining room at some point during our meal." Scott said quietly.

"Excuse me?" A voice said from the office door.

"Come in Lee, this is Professor Xavier." Alan said happily.

Lee walked in hesitantly and extended his hand to the Professor.

"Nice to meet you Lee." Professor Xavier said carefully as he shook Lee's hand.

"Alan said you wanted to talk with me?" Lee said with a note of fear in his voice.

"Yes, if no one objects, we'll adjourn to the dining room and I'll talk to you over dinner." Professor Xavier said hopefully.

Lee looked around and could see that no one was going to object to that.

Alan moved to one side of Lee as Xander walked to the other and walked with him out of the room.

"You didn't need to be a telepath to know that he's scared half to death, what do you suppose that's all about?" Eric asked casually as he moved Professor Xavier's chair from behind the desk.

"He thinks I'm going to ask him to leave." Charles said in thought.

"Why would he think that?" Scott asked in confusion.

"I can't be sure without scanning him. But his fear was projecting so strongly, I couldn't help but pick it up." Charles said as Eric pushed him out of the room.

* * * * *

Scott walked into the dining room and noticed Bobby, Robert, Clark, John and Trey sitting at a table.

"You ready to talk to them Warren?" Scott asked and tilted his head in the direction of the boys.

"No time like the present." Warren said and diverted from his original course.

"Hey guys, what's going on?" Scott asked the table as he approached.

"We were just telling Bobby about our promise ceremony." John said with a peaceful smile.

Warren looked at John with question.

"It was to let our families know that we're going steady." Clark said with a look of complete joy.

"Was everyone okay with it?" Warren asked with immediate concern.

"Yeah, they were all great. Even my dad was okay with it, and I never would have guessed that." John said in an impressed voice.

"Good, I'm glad to hear it." Warren said, still not looking at ease.

"I think Dad left with Remy a while ago, I need to find him." John said with uncharacteristic concern.

"I think they're out at the rocks smoking." Scott said in a mock whisper, like he was telling a secret.

John got a surprised look, then smiled.

"Guys, we need to talk to you... and Ronny." Scott said and looked around the room.

"Ronny and Chris are engaged in a killing simulation." Trey said simply.

Scott and Warren looked at each other with wide eyes.

"They're playing 'Resident Evil' on the PlayStation in the common room." John said with laughter in his voice.

Trey shot a look of question at John.

John responded by reaching under the table and taking a firm hold of Trey's hand to express his affection.

Trey's curious expression melted into a content smile.

"Would someone go get him? We need to ask all of you a question." Scott asked hopefully.

"We'll do it." Bobby said, and led Robert from the room.

"What's up with those two?" Warren asked as he watched Bobby leave.

"They're a couple." Clark said without concern as one of his hands also disappeared under the table.

"Guys, I just wanted to thank you for not being too obvious, especially with the parents around. I really appreciate the effort." Scott said warmly.

"We do not wish to cause you hardship, Uncle Scott. We will attempt to refrain from displays of affection within the public areas of the mansion." Trey said simply.

"Found 'em." Bobby said and returned to the table leading Robert, Ronny and Chris.

Warren and Scott settled into chairs as the boys did the same.

Scott looked around and said, "Warren has a job offer for some of you."

John and Ronny immediately perked up at that statement.

"I'd like to hire some students to attend the Wagner Institute to help the new students settle in." Warren said as he looked around the group.

"What would we have to do?" John asked immediately.

"I'm concerned that the new students will feel out of place and adrift if they arrive without a peer group where they can fit in." Warren said in thought.

"So you're hiring us to be their friends?" Ronny asked in confusion.

"Not exactly. You would attend classes with them and be... like an example." Warren said carefully.

Ronny fought to conceal a laugh.

"What's wrong?" Bobby asked in confusion.

"Me? An example?" Ronny asked through a chuckle.

Scott remembered Ronny as he was when he arrived and smiled as he said, "You'd be a fine example Ronny. You've made a complete turn around since I've known you and I'd be proud to tell anyone that you're the kind of person that goes to our school."

Ronny sobered at the words and looked at Scott in wonder.

"Who you thinking of hiring?" John asked, breaking the silence.

"We thought we'd offer the job to John, Clark, Bobby, Ronny and Robert." Warren said seriously.

"What about Trey?" Clark asked immediately.

"The Professor was going to offer him a job working on Cerebro." Scott said with a look of apology.

"Then I won't do it." Clark said firmly.

"What?" Scott asked in surprise.

"I won't leave Trey." Clark said in a definite voice.

"Clark, think about this, it's a job. Money." John said with a pleading tone.

"I know, and I want to take it too, but not without Trey. When we move, the only time I'll be able to see him is at school. I won't give up that time with him." Clark said in return.

John sat silently with a look of turmoil on his face.

"Excuse me, before you refuse the offer, allow me to talk with the Professor. Perhaps there is an alternative." Trey said with a look of love directed at Clark and John.

"Good idea, you go talk to him and we'll wait." Scott said with a tone of relief.

Trey nodded, then hurried to the Professor's table.

"What about the rest of you?" Scott asked, looking at Bobby, Ronny and Robert.

Bobby looked at Robert and received a nod.

"We're in." Bobby said as he took Robert's hand and held it firmly.

"Me too." Ronny said in thought.

Trey walked to the table and said, "The Professor said that I may perform maintenance on Cerebro on Saturdays and will be available to accompany you."

"Great!" Clark said with a glorious smile and stood. He pulled Trey into a hug and immediately felt John join the hug from behind him.

"Well, it looks like you have your students Warren." Scott said warmly.

Warren looked at the group of boys and said, "I couldn't have hoped for anyone better for the job."

"So when do we start?" Ronny asked curiously.

"All the students who've applied are going to arrive Sunday to fill out their paperwork and have their entrance interviews." Warren said before taking a bite of his food.

"We'll be ready." John said from his hug.

"You guys might want to tone it down with the new students... at least, at first." Warren said hesitantly.

Clark, John and Trey broke their hug and took their seats again.

"Yeah, we'll behave." John said seriously.

"I'm not saying you have to lie or anything, just remember that outside this school, people tend to be less accepting of what they don't understand." Warren said quickly.

"It's okay Mr. Worthington, we're going to save that stuff for when we're alone. Just sometimes when we're all excited, it slips out." Clark said with a blush.

Warren nodded with a smile.

"What are we going to do about their power training?" Scott asked suddenly.

"We'll work something out. Maybe before or after classes." Warren said in thought.

"Before. If these guys turn out to be okay, we'll probably want to do stuff after classes with them." Ronny said seriously.

"What do you say Scott? Can you manage that?" Warren asked with a peaceful smile.

"I think we can." Scott said with a look of pride at the group of boys.

"I want to go too." Chris said in a small voice.

"I'm afraid that won't be possible Chris." Scott said with apology.

"Why not?" Chris asked with a timid look.

"Your gifts are extremely dangerous and you don't have full control yet. I'm concerned that being around non-mutants, especially now, might cause a circumstance where your powers might manifest. It's just too dangerous." Scott said with regret.

"For how long?" Chris asked with worry.

"I don't think it will be too long. If you commit yourself to your training, I think you'll probably be able to attend whichever school you want next semester." Scott said softly.

Chris nodded.

"Don't worry buddy, we're going to be here for power training every morning and we'll probably be hanging around this place after school every day." Ronny said with assurance as he put a hand on Chris' shoulder.

Chris nodded again.

"Perhaps you could spend time with William. I know he enjoys your company." Robert suggested quietly.

Chris looked at Robert with surprise, then nodded with a happy smile.

"Yeah, he'll probably be feeling left behind too. I'll do that." Chris said with cheer.

"If only all life's problems could be resolved so easily." Scott said wistfully to Warren.

"Most of them can be, with friends." Warren said in peace.

* * * * *

After getting food, the Professor, Eric, Orroro, Alan and Lee sat in a row on one side of the table.

"I'm glad to see you again Mr. Wyndom-Price. How are you doing?" The Professor asked pleasantly.

"Honestly, I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm greeted with such enthusiasm and affection here that I hardly know how to react." Wesley said, then glanced at Xander, Dawn and Tara.

Remy and Rick walked to the table and casually sat down in the seats beside Xander.

"Missed you love." Xander whispered to Remy.

"Remy miss you too." Remy said back.

"I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met." Professor Xavier said to Rick.

"I'm sorry Professor. Rick, this is Professor Charles Xavier, Professor, this is Rick Allerdyce, John's father." Alan said pleasantly.

Charles sat in stunned shock to see this man, this monster, sitting at his table.

"A pleasure." Charles forced out, skillfully hiding his contempt for the man who'd hurt John for so many years.

//Scott? I am beyond surprised to find this man in my home. Please explain.// The Professor sent with no small amount of anger under the words.

"A pleasure for me too... this place is beautiful." Rick stammered.

//He's in therapy to deal with his anger and he's really trying to fix things with John.// Scott sent with a plea for understanding under his words.

"Thank you. I hope you enjoy your visit." Charles said pleasantly as he sent to Scott, //If he causes John one moment of grief while he's here, he'll be leaving with a migraine that he'll never forget.//

Scott smiled at the Professor and sent a simple wave of assurance through their link.

"Lee, I was discussing a job opening with the senior staff and Alan suggested you for the position." Professor Xavier said, turning his attention fully to Lee.

Lee froze like a deer in headlights before saying, "What?"

Professor Xavier smiled warmly, he was taking an instant liking to the man.

"I'm going to need someone to coordinate activities between the Xavier Institute and the Wagner Institute. Alan suggested that you might be well suited for the position." The Professor said a little more quietly, in deference to Lee's obvious terror.

"Why me?" Lee asked with wide eyes.

"I was just told by Alan, Scott and Xander that you would, most likely, do well in the job. Though I don't know you personally, I have learned to trust their judgment, especially in regards to people." The Professor said smoothly.

Lee looked off into the distance for a few seconds, then asked, "What would I be doing?"

"Several things. Mainly staying abreast of current events as they relate to mutant issues, relaying information between the two facilities, and identifying mutants who need assistance with their abilities." The Professor said, now in a more businesslike tone.

"Like what kind of assistance?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"Like Scott for instance. His optic blasts effectively made him blind. He couldn't open his eyes without destroying whatever he was looking at. All he needed were the special glasses to contain his power and now he is fully sighted." Professor Xavier said in thought.

"I'm sorry, but I'm still not sure I get it." Lee said quietly.

"Let's say that one of the new students has an ability... telepathy, for instance. If you recognize that the student is becoming distracted, having headaches from too many voices, is violating people's privacy, things of that nature, you could recommend that he or she receive training in telepathic control and shielding." The Professor said seriously.

"It sounds like a lot of responsibility." Lee said with worry.

"You won't be alone in this. The teachers, administrators, and even some of the students at both facilities will be able to pass along their observations to you, and you will be able to ask their advice. Your job will essentially be to help both schools by requesting assistance from one when the other needs it." The Professor said with difficulty.

"So if the new school was short a teacher, I would come to you and tell you?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"Well, you would get approval from Dr. Hoffman or Mr. Wagner first, but then, yes." The Professor said simply.

"And it was suggested that you could pass as a student if that's something you feel would be helpful." Alan said quietly.

"So you want me to do this because I look young?" Lee asked hesitantly.

"Not at all. That would be your choice and is in no way a requirement of your job. If you choose to take the position, how you represent yourself is entirely up to you." The Professor said with assurance.

"Can I think about it?" Lee asked hopefully.

"Of course, take all the time you need... Mr. Wells?" The Professor asked uncertainly.

"Yes. And thank you Professor." Lee said happily.

To Be Continued...