Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 6: Spoken Secrets and Unknown Truths

Lee walked in to find Slash holding Marguerite and gently rocking.

"If you want, I can burp her while you feed Chakotay." Lee said as he walked to the cribs.

"Yeah, that sounds good." Slash said peacefully.

"Hand me Marguerite, then I'll hand you Chakotay." Lee said and held out his arms.

Slash reluctantly handed Marguerite to Lee.

A moment later, Slash received a much larger baby in his arms, then a bottle.

Lee picked up Marguerite and a towel, then sat in the chair to burp her.

Chakotay got a disgusted look on his face and began to cry.

"What the hell is that?" Slash asked as he saw the red glow shining out of the baby's mouth.

"His mutant ability. It's not powerful enough to hurt you yet." Lee said as he started rocking.

Slash held the bottle up and gently put it into Chakotay's mouth.

"Slash, I'd like you to meet my grandson, Chakotay." Lee said proudly.

"Wait, your son Andrew's son, right?" Slash asked hesitantly.

"That's right. And Thomas, his twin is in the crib over there." Lee said happily.

"God, it's hard to believe that you're a grandfather... but you're good at it." Slash finished quickly.

"Thanks. I went for a lot of years without any family at all. Now I have Andrew, Alan, all their kids, Spike, Scott, Alex, Dawn... I never could have imagined loving so many people." Lee said, overflowing with joy.

"I can only imagine." Slash said sadly as he shifted Chakotay for a more comfortable grip.

"Why is that?" Lee asked quietly, looking at Slash with concern.

"Look at me. Who could love a freak like me?" Slash asked with pain.

"That little guy in your arms." Lee said with a smile at his grandson.

"He'll hate me when he's old enough to know better." Slash said sadly.

"Tell me what happened to you." Lee said with imploring eyes.

"Not much. I was a normal kid, I had two parents... one male, one female..." Slash added with a smile.

Lee laughed and nodded for him to continue.

"We moved around a lot, so I didn't have a lot of friends. Then a few months ago I started getting pale, I mean really pale." Slash said with pain.

Lee stood to lay Marguerite in a crib as he picked up Thomas, then nodded for Slash to continue.

"My folks took me to a doctor and he said I was a mutant." Slash said as a crystal clear teardrop traveled down his white cheek.

"What did they do?" Lee asked with concern as he sat again.

"They called me a fucking freak, a mistake of nature, they said I wasn't their son anymore and threw me out in the street. I figured that their son, the person I was, died that day and Slash was born." Slash said as the tears began to flow.

"How did you survive?" Lee asked in a whisper.

"I found this house that was standing empty and I stayed there. I'd stay in during the day and come out at night to beg people for money. That got me food and on a good day, a pack of smokes." Slash said as he noticed that Chakotay was done with his bottle.

"At least you didn't have to live under the bridges. That was the worst for me." Lee said as he laid Thomas in Slash's right arm and picked up Chakotay from Slash's left.

"I did that a few days. The house was better. Quieter and warmer." Slash said with a distant look.

"It's good if you can find one. Usually I had to deal with wherever I woke up." Lee said darkly.

"You win man. Your low is a hell of a lot lower than my low." Slash said with a shake of his head.

"No Slash, it isn't." Lee said seriously.

Slash looked at Lee curiously.

"As low as I got, I knew that my parents loved me. I never lost that. Sometimes that was all that kept me human, knowing that somewhere, someone loved me." Lee said quietly.

"If you're trying to make me feel better, you're missing the mark by quite a bit." Slash said with weak, forced humor.

"No. I'm not trying to make you feel better. I'm actually building up to ask you something." Lee said hesitantly.

"What's that?" Slash asked suspiciously.

"I don't know how to ask, there's no way of saying it that doesn't sound really pathetic." Lee said with a creased brow.

Slash smiled despite himself.

"All the people you met are my family, but none of them are really my friends." Lee said in thought.

Slash turned to look into Lee's eyes and found them full of pain.

"I'm the father, the grandfather or some other relation like that but... I'm so alone." Lee trailed off.

"I know that feeling." Slash admitted.

"If you'd be willing, I'd like to be that for you. A friend." Lee said seriously.

Slash thought about that for a minute before saying, "It doesn't work that way. Friendship happens, you can't just 'decide' to be friends."

"Why not?" Lee asked honestly.

"I don't know. I never really had any close friends, I'm not sure how it works." Slash admitted with frustration.

"I'd be willing to try if you would." Lee said with hope in his eyes.

"What would I have to do?" Slash asked hesitantly.

"It's pretty simple. We talk to each other when one of us needs to. We go and do stuff together sometimes and hang out. That's about it." Lee said seriously.

"So, if I tell you something, you'll never tell anyone else?" Slash asked carefully.

"Yeah, if you don't want me to. And same goes for you. I'll tell you stuff and you won't tell anyone." Lee said firmly.

"Yeah, that sounds cool." Slash said as he nodded.

"And one more thing, the most important part." Lee said and looked deeply into Slash's eyes.

"What?" Slash asked, surprised at the new level of seriousness.

"It's forever." Lee said without blinking.

"What!?" Slash asked with surprise.

"What we share. What we tell. It's between us forever. Even if you piss me off one day and decide never to talk to me again, I'll keep any secret you tell me forever. There is nothing you can ever do that will make me go back on my word." Lee said firmly.

"Wait, so you're saying that if I tell you that I murdered my parents and buried their bodies in the back yard, that you'd never tell anyone." Slash asked dubiously.

"That's what I'm saying. But if I told you that I murdered twenty-seven people and framed an innocent man for the murders, then you couldn't say anything either." Lee said seriously.

Slash nodded.

"Did you?" Lee asked quietly.

Slash looked up with a raised eyebrow.

"Murder your parents." Lee prompted.

"No. Did you?" Slash asked, looking deeply into Lee's eyes.

"No." Lee said with a shy smile.

Lee stood and put Chakotay back into his crib, then took Thomas from Slash.

"So did you have something you needed to get off your chest?" Slash asked as he watched Lee burping Thomas.

"Yeah, but first I need to know that you won't freak out on me and go screaming my secrets to the whole family." Lee said seriously.

"I don't know what I can do but promise." Slash said seriously.

"A truth for a truth. If we each hold one of the other's secrets, then we both have something to lose if one of us breaks the promise." Lee said firmly.

Slash thought about that and finally nodded.

"Do you have one?" Lee asked as he gently placed Thomas back in the crib beside Chakotay.

"Yeah." Slash said in a whisper.

"I poisoned eleven people, three of them died." Lee said in an emotionless voice.

"How?" Slash asked as he rested back in his rocking chair.

"That was back when I was heavy into drugs. I was dealing. I cut it wrong. Really messed it up. Honestly, I don't know what I did. But the shit I sold was lethal. Three people died because of me." Lee said in a toneless voice.

"Are you sorry?" Slash asked, glancing at Lee.

"Now? Yeah. Back then? I didn't accept responsibility for anything. Somehow  I thought that because I was wasted, it wasn't my fault." Lee said regretfully.

"Did you get in trouble?" Slash asked in a small voice.

"No. No one ever found out it was me. I never told anyone before." Lee said as he watched his grandchildren sleeping.

"I'm a hermaphrodite." Slash said weakly.

Lee nodded.

"The doctors said that I had enough testosterone to look like a guy, but I'd probably never grow much of a beard or get big muscles. And there's a chance that I'll grow breasts, but that hasn't happened... yet." Slash said quietly.

"How did you keep it a secret?" Lee asked as he kept his gaze on the babies.

"It doesn't show unless you get between my legs... I've never let anyone down there." Slash said in a shaking voice.

"So you didn't date." Lee said without inflection.

"No. I couldn't take the chance." Slash said in a whisper.

Lee nodded again.

"You know it doesn't bother me, right?" Lee asked and turned to look at Slash.

"I figured it wouldn't. And I'm okay with yours too." Slash said as he met Lee's eyes.

"Thanks Slash. That's what I was hoping. You're the only person in the world who knows this about me. Now you know that no matter what, you can come and talk to me and I'll listen without judging you." Lee said simply.

"I promise that I'll never tell. Not even if you piss me off." Slash said seriously.

"Same here." Lee said quietly.

* * * * *

As Matt walked into his room, he noticed that something was different... off.

"How's it goin bub?" Sounded from the darkness.

With a quick 'snick' of claws extending, Matt was ready for battle.

The lights came on and Matt was facing himself, leaning casually against the bathroom door frame.

"Thought I'd come for a visit to see how I'm doin." Logan said with an irritating smirk.

"One eye said you were gone." Matt said as he let his claws recede.

"Yeah, like I said, a visit." Logan said, maintaining his gaze.

"You come to take your life back?" Matt asked suspiciously.

"Naw, you're doin a better job with it than I ever did. Sit down, I brought beer." Logan said and walked to the table.

Matt cautiously walked and sat across from Logan.

Logan pulled two beers from under the table and handed one to Matt.

A long minute of silence fell over the room as both took a drink and waited.

"I brought somethin for ya." Logan said and set a folded piece of paper on the table.

"What is it?" Matt asked suspiciously, not making a move to pick up the paper.

"A land deed. An old one." Logan said, then took another drink.

"Why are you giving me land?" Matt asked slowly.

"It's already yours... or mine. Whatever, it's deeded to Jonathan Matthew Logan." Logan said gruffly.

"So?" Matt asked, not letting his guard down for an instant.

"So. Yer doin a good job takin in the kid and treatin Scott decent. Me an Jean thought we should do something for ya. That's all." Logan said and finished the beer.

"And?" Matt said, waiting for the punch line.

"And you deeded the land to yourself from your real name to the one your using." Logan said, then finished his beer in a long drink.

"What?" Matt said and grabbed the paper.

"You heard. That piece of paper can trace back to who you really are." Logan said with a hint of a smile.

Matt read the paper carefully, but couldn't find any other name on it.

"It ain't that easy. Never is for some reason. You need to get a lawyer to research the deed to find the name, but then you'll have your answers." Logan said and stood.

Matt looked up from the paper and asked, "That's it? You're just going to stop in to give me this and leave?"

"Yeah, that's it. We can't stay in one place too long. It'll draw the bad guys to ya, a lot badder than you can deal with." Logan said, then walked to the door.

"Thanks for this... and for letting me have your life." Matt said in nearly a mumble.

"Like I said, you're doin a good job. I ain't here ta give ya divine inspiration or nuthin. Just wanted ta give ya the one thing I never could get for myself, my name. Oh yeah, here's a key to a safety deposit box in Ottawa. That way you won't run short on money." Logan said as he tossed a key to Matt.

"Thanks again." Matt said as he caught the key easily.

"Yeah. Keep up the good work." Logan said and gave a brief smile before disappearing in a burst of light.

"You too." Matt said to the ceiling.

To Be Continued...