Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 8: The Lair of the Fairy Princess

"Who's the fairy princess?" Slash asked as they looked around the next room.

"Marguerite. I don't know why but I just think of her when I walk in here." Alan said as he looked at the delicate fabrics and beautiful fairy dolls that all blended to create an almost unreal atmosphere.

"She won't be able to stay in here for a while, but when she does... I can't imagine her not loving it." Lee said as he followed the others to the next room.

"Dad, I think this room is yours." Andrew said from inside the next room.

Lee walked in and the first thing that caught his eyes was the shade of blue that the curtains and carpet were.

Slash looked around and asked, "What is it?"

"I met a woman, a wonderful woman who I might actually have a chance with. The color scheme reminds me of her... she's blue." Lee finished quietly.

"FATHER! COME LOOK!" Quaid's voice called from the next room.

The others hurried out to see whatever the boy had stumbled across.

"Subtle." Alan said blankly.

"Um, yeah. Do you think he figured out who's it is?" Andrew chuckled.

The wall opposite the door had the letter 'Q' sunken in and filled with shelving from floor to ceiling. In the center of the Q was a plasma flat screen TV.

"It's mine? I mean, my very own room? All mine?" Quaid asked with excitement verging on hyperventilation.

"Well, I guess it's this or the fairy room." Lee said with a smile.

Quaid got a questioning look, and then smiled as he realized that Lee was teasing.

"She left him plenty of clothes." Alan said from the closet.

"Um, Andy?" Lee said with a note of concern.

"Yeah dad?" Andrew responded and walked to Lee's side.

"Look." Lee said and pointed into the bedside stands drawer.

Laying there was a bottle of lube and a supply of condoms.

"I hope she's just preparing for any eventuality." Andrew said, then turned to look at Quaid again.

"I love it. It's perfect." Quaid said in absolute joy.

"You'll have to thank your Aunt Jean the next time you see her." Andrew said with a smile.

Quaid got a look of confusion and asked, "Who?"

"Oh, um, the Q that brought you here." Alan said in thought.

"Oh yeah. I'll tell her." Quaid said quickly, then started looking in every nook and cranny to discover all his new treasures.

"I doubt that any of the other rooms will top this one." Lee said with a smile.

The group, minus Quaid walked on to explore the next room.

"This is one of the kid's room, but I don't know which." Lee said as he looked at the regeneration alcove set into one wall.

"It's Trey's." Andrew said with certainty.

"How can you tell?" Lee asked curiously.

"Because his spare Borg components are on display." Andrew said, pointing at an artistic display of equipment on the wall behind Plexiglas.

"Why does Trey have a bed? He doesn't sleep." Lee asked as he looked around.

"Sleeping isn't the only thing a bed is used for." Alan said and waggled his eyebrows.

Lee blushed and nodded.

"Who's room is this?" Quaid asked as he ran into the room.

"This is your brother Trey's room." Andrew said simply.

"He's Borg? I have a brother who's Borg?" Quaid asked with excitement.

"Yes, you have five Borg brothers and one Borg sister, you also have two mutant brothers." Alan said with a smile.

"My best friend ever is... was Borg." Quaid finished and the smile fell off his face.

Andrew and Alan immediately sandwiched Quaid between them in a hug.

"I think we need to take Quaid to meet his brothers and sister, the rest of this can wait." Andrew said seriously.

"Just a second." Slash said and moved to Quaid.

"Quaid, I'm Slash. I just got here today, same as you. If you get scared or need to talk to someone just let me know, okay?" Slash said gently.

"Yeah, you look really cool. I wish I looked like you." Quaid said as he cautiously reached out to touch Slash's cheek.

"You look just right the way you are Quaid. Don't change a thing." Slash said with a smile.

"Quaid, are you ready to meet your brothers and sister?" Andrew asked from the doorway.

Reluctantly, Quaid turned his attention from Slash and nodded to Andrew.

"Follow me." Andrew said and walked through the door.

* * * * *

"I think you got me." Alex said in defeat as he laid down his pair of queens.

"Bloody hell!" Spike said as he slammed down his pair of jacks.

"You thought you were going to beat me with that?" Alex asked in confusion.

"With the disappointed look you were wearing I thought you had nothing." Spike said as he pulled off his T-shirt.

"Looks like you'll be putting on a show for me." Alex said with a teasing smile.

Spike picked up the cards and began to shuffle.

"It ain't over yet mate, it ain't over till the last card gets played." Spike said seriously.

* * * * *

The group emerged in the common room of the mansion.

"Do you know where they are?" Lee asked curiously.

"I think the younger kids are with Theresa and Rachel. I'm not sure about the older kids." Andrew said in thought.

"Found one." Lee said from the divider that separated the game room from the common room.

Alan and Andrew led Quaid around the divider to meet his first new sibling.

* * * * *

"Three of a kind." Alex said proudly as he laid out his three nines.

"And all I've got is this pair of fives." Spike said sadly as he laid the fives of spades and clubs down before him.

Alex nearly bounced with anticipation.

"And this other pair of fives." Spike continued with a glorious smile as he laid out the red fives.

Alex looked at the cards in astonishment before saying, "But you drew three cards on the last draw, how lucky can one guy be?"

"I must have lead a virtuous life." Spike said with a rakish grin.

"Yeah, right." Alex said with a roll of his eyes and removed his socks.

"I think I feel a winning streak coming on." Spike said with a happy smile.

"You won one hand, that's not called a streak, it's called a fluke." Alex responded in a teasing voice.

"Just deal." Spike said intensely.

* * * * *

"Itchy!?" Quaid nearly exploded with excitement and threw himself into Icheb's lap.

"Itchy! I missed you. Are you okay?" Quaid asked in a rush as he hugged Icheb tightly.

"Quaid." Andrew said, trying to get his attention without sounding harsh.

Icheb was sitting stiffly, trying to understand what was happening to him.

"Quaid." Andrew said more loudly.

Quaid turned his tear filled eyes to look at Andrew.

It broke Andrew's heart to say the words but he had to get the message across.

"Quaid, I don't think he's the same person you remember." Andrew said softly.

Quaid quickly turned to look into Icheb's eyes.

"Itchy?" Quaid asked as he looked for any kind of response.

Icheb looked to his father in question.

Quaid broke down into uncontrolled sobbing as he clutched to the image of his best and only friend.

"Quaid, can you tell me about your friend? Why he was your friend?" Andrew asked as he sat beside Icheb and Quaid.

"He... he liked me. He... he said I was funny and we... we had fun." Quaid said through hitching breaths.

"He said all those things about you, what about him? What was he like?" Andrew pressed.

"Itchy was always more serious. When I wanted to do something, he'd usually say no, but I'd talk him into it and he'd have fun anyway... one time we took a shuttle craft and... okay, maybe that's not the best example..." Quaid trailed off.

"Icheb Summers, I'd like you to meet your new brother Quaid Summers." Alan said from their other side.

"My brother?" Both boys said simultaneously.

"That's right. And Quaid already has a room at the boat house." Lee said with a smile.

"Icheb, Quaid knew an Icheb in an alternate dimension and that Icheb was his best friend. You know I've always said I wouldn't tell you who to be friends with, and I still won't. But would you please try to get to know Quaid and maybe one day you can be his friend?" Andrew asked hopefully.

Icheb looked from his father's hopeful eyes to Quaid's and said, "I will be better than his friend, I will be his brother."

* * * * *

"Show 'em." Spike said in anticipation.

Alex slowly laid out his hand one card at a time.

"Bloody Hell! A full house again?" Spike said in wonder.

"I've never been this lucky before. You must be my good luck charm." Alex said with delight.

"Right, well, um, here it goes." Spike said and stood beside the bed.

Spike slowly undid each button of his jeans and began to pull them down.

"You're not wearing underwear?" Alex asked with surprise.

"I didn't know we'd be playing strip poker tonight, did I?" Spike asked as he stepped out of his black jeans.

"Um, no. I guess not." Alex said as his gaze was fixed on Spike's erect cock.

"Take a good look, luv. This is what you do to me." Spike said, then turned slowly around.

Alex was in awe of Spike's smooth, hairless ass. It even had the cutest dimples.

"You gonna shuffle or sit and look at me all night?" Spike asked, trying to sound gruff, but having the effect spoiled by his smile.

"Um, yeah. I guess one more should do it." Alex said as he fumbled to gather the cards without looking at them.

* * * * *

"Andrew, Alan, I'm glad I caught you." Scott said as he entered the common room.

"Scott, come here. There's someone I'd like for you to meet." Andrew said with a smile.

"Quaid, I'd like you to meet your Uncle Scott. Scott, this is our newest son, Quaid Summers." Alan said as he indicated the boy holding Icheb in a death grip.

"Nice to meet you." Scott said unsurely.

"You're my uncle?" Quaid asked hesitantly.

"Uncle Scott is *our* uncle." Icheb said with a tender smile toward Quaid.

"So since we're brothers, your family is my family?" Quaid asked in confirmation.

"That is correct. Andrew and Alan are *our* fathers, Scott, Alex and Spike are *our* uncles and Dawn is *our* aunt." Icheb said slowly.

"Thanks Itchy, being your brother is the best thing ever." Quaid said in delight as he pulled Icheb into another hug.

"If you call me Itchy, what do I call you?" Icheb asked curiously.

"You, I mean *he* always called me Q, but I'd like it if you had a special name for me. A name that only you get to call me." Quaid said seriously.

"May I call you Quay?" Icheb asked hopefully.

Quaid nodded enthusiastically.

* * * * *

"Three aces." Alex said with joy.

"You must really want me to put on a show for you... But not this time mate. Four threes, show me some skin." Spike said with a chuckle.

Alex grudgingly pulled off his T-shirt and smiled at Spike's appreciative look.

Spike reached down and gave his cock a single stroke, then picked up the cards to shuffle.

* * * * *

Scott turned his attention to Alan and Andrew, leaving the boys to their own conversation.

"This came yesterday and I forgot to give it to you, I got sidetracked." Scott said and thought about Peter.

"No problem, let's see what you've got." Andrew said as he took the large manila envelope from Scott.

"Go ahead, it's from Ken." Scott said and stood aside to watch Andrew pull out the contents.

Andrew opened the large envelope to find several smaller envelopes inside.

"This one has your name love." Andrew said as he handed an envelope to Alan.

After examining the contents, Alan said, "It's a birth certificate, social security card, even my teaching credentials."

"It looks like he made a mistake." Andrew said as he looked at the papers from one of the other envelopes.

"What's that?" Scott asked as he moved to read over Andrew's shoulder.

"We agreed on the ages of the children when Ken was here but he got them wrong." Andrew said with concern.

"Oh yeah, Ken told me about that. He said that since he got to know the children, he thought you might have underestimated their ages. He said it was an honest parental thing to do. No parent wants to admit that their children are growing up." Scott said with a smile.

"So Icheb's going to be seventeen?" Alan asked while looking over Andrew's other shoulder at the paperwork.

"Yes, and Trey's going to be sixteen." Andrew said, peeking into the next envelope.

"The twins are going to be fifteen and Jimmy's going to be twelve. Ken agreed with you about Janine's age." Scott finished.

"Okay, that shouldn't be too hard to remember." Andrew said in thought.

"Here's Quaid's paperwork. He's going to be fourteen on January seventh." Andrew said in surprise.

"I guess Jean figured out our birthday system." Alan said with a smile.

"Jean was here?" Scott asked with surprise.

"Yeah, she's the one who brought Quaid. She said she couldn't stay, but that she or Logan would check in as often as they could." Andrew said seriously.

"Next time you see her, tell her I said 'hi'." Scott said with a gentle smile.

"I will, I promise." Andrew said carefully.

"What's that?" Alan asked, pointing to the next envelope.

"That's Thomas and Chakotay's birth certificates." Andrew said and pulled one out of the envelope.

"Who does it list as mother?" Alan asked curiously.

"You." Andrew said in surprise.

"What?" Alan asked disbelievingly.

"It says right here Mother: Alan Sunshine Summers, Father: LeeAndrew Malachi Summers." Andrew said then looked at Scott in question.

"Don't look at me. Ken's the one who did it." Scott said with a shrug.

"I'm not going to fight it." Alan said with raised eyebrows.

"Yeah, I guess I'm so used to lying in the official records that it's a shock to tell the truth." Andrew said frankly.

"I know what you mean. What else did he send you?" Scott asked curiously.

"A big envelope for Xander and Remy, and here's one for Dawn. And here's one for Dad... and Slash?" Andrew looked at the envelope suspiciously.

"Ken couldn't have known that Slash was coming here." Scott said with a concerned look on his face.

"I think Jean did that, the same way she took care of Quaid's paperwork." Alan said speculatively.

"That makes sense. Where are they?" Andrew asked, looking around.

"I bet they're eating again. Slash looks like he could use a few extra meals." Alan said with concern.

"I think you're right." Andrew said with a pensive expression.

"One thing about Lee's paperwork, Ken said that since Lee Donald Wells is in prison, he created a parallel identity for your father and named him Lee Ronald Wells. It takes care of the problem in the unlikely event that someone recognizes him." Scott said seriously.

"I'm glad he thought of that. Dad gets to start out with a clean slate." Andrew said with a small smile.

"William has two envelopes." Alan said as he picked up two nearly identical envelopes.

"One is William Burroughs and the other is William Summers." Andrew said as he looked at them more closely.

"Spike." Scott said in realization.

"Oh, I forgot about Spike." Alan said as he took Spike's envelope.

"Don't let Alex hear you say that, he'll kick your ass." Andrew said seriously.

"Alex is a little protective of Spike, isn't he?" Scott asked with a fond smile.

"Just wait until you're in the line of fire of his protectiveness. I thought he was going to blast me." Andrew said with a chuckle.

"Look at this, Spike has two college degrees." Alan said as he peeked into Spike's envelope.

"Love, that's Spike's business. I've always suspected that he was more educated than he let on, but it's his choice to share that with us." Andrew said softly.

"Right Andy." Alan said and closed the envelope.

"I'm glad Alex found someone. Spike too." Scott said with a wistful sound in his voice.

"Feeling alone?" Andrew asked with concern.

"Yeah, a little." Scott admitted quietly.

"You want me to let you off the hook?" Andrew asked hesitantly.

"How do you mean?" Scott asked curiously.

"Well, I made you promise not to date anyone for a year. I'm willing to forget about that if you are." Andrew said slowly.

"Why?" Scott asked in thought.

"I asked you not to date so you could get to know yourself and develop your own self-image." Andrew said with difficulty.

"A self-image that didn't include anyone else." Scott said with a smile.

"Yeah." Andrew said, then continued, "You've done that. You've accomplished everything I had hoped that you would. You've made friends, developed interests that are your own. You've stopped trying to impress everyone and relaxed a lot."

Scott thought about the words and finally said, "Yeah, I guess I have."

"So don't worry about the promise. If you find someone, I'll be happy for you." Andrew said with caring in his voice.

"Thanks Andy, thanks both of you. Thanks for helping me out. I hate to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't met you." Scott said seriously.

"That goes for us too Scott. You're still my best friend ever and that's never going to change." Andrew said with a dopey smile that threatened tears.

"And you're my brother, all you have to do is look at Icheb and Quaid to see what that means." Alan said with a smile.

All three turned their attention to Icheb and Quaid talking a mile a minute to each other.

* * * * *

"Dad, Slash, we have a surprise for you." Andrew said happily as he walked into the dining room accompanied by Alan, Scott, Icheb and Quaid.

"You're last surprise was a new grandson. I'm afraid to ask." Lee said with a smile.

"Here." Alan said, holding out an envelope to Lee and another to Slash.

"What is it?" Lee asked cautiously.

"Scott got his lawyer to prepare new ID for you." Andrew said with a smile.

Lee carefully opened the envelope and pulled out a New York driver's license.

"It should be everything you'll need to prove your identity to anyone who would ask." Scott said seriously.

"Is anyone else hungry? I'm going to get some more food before it's put away." Alan said to the group.

"Are you hungry Quay?" Icheb asked quietly.

"I don't know. I haven't eaten since last time I was in corporeal form." Quaid said uncertainly.

"Then you're probably long overdue. Come and get some food." Alan said as he led the boys away.

Scott looked at the boys, then the table and finally came to a decision. "Hold on guys." He said and followed Alan and the boys to the serving line.

"What did you get Slash?" Lee asked with interest.

Slash carefully opened the envelope and pulled out a letter.

Slash read the letter carefully, then looked back into the envelope.

"What is it?" Lee asked again.

"Someone named Jean said that she provided a new identity for me if I want it. She said I could leave my old name and old life completely behind me and start off with a clean slate." Slash said in a disbelieving voice.

"What are you going to do?" Lee asked quietly.

Slash looked at the new Driver's License in his hand and thought for a second before saying, "I'm going to do it. Josiah Andrew Haley-Keith wasn't wanted by his parents and doesn't exist anymore. I can finally let him go. I'll start at the new school as Josiah LeeAndrew Wells."

Andrew and Lee looked at each other with surprise.

"What?" Slash asked in concern.

Lee looked at Andrew and received a nod before saying, "Nothing. I mean, nothing bad. But before you decide to take that step, you should know that my last name is also Wells."

"Really?" Slash asked with wide eyes.

Andrew and Lee both nodded.

After a moment for that to sink in, Andrew pulled out his wallet and handed Slash his ID.

"Your name is LeeAndrew?" Slash asked in surprise.

"Yeah, I just go by Andrew. And before I married Alan my last name was Wells." Andrew said shyly.

"Why would she do that? I mean, give me your names?" Slash asked in confusion.

Before Andrew could answer he saw Icheb and Quaid sit their plates on the table side by side. The two boys were oblivious to everyone around them as they chattered, only briefly stopping to take bites of their respective foods.

"To make you brothers." Andrew said in realization.

"What?" Lee and Slash asked in unison.

"Dad, you and Slash have become close friends, right?" Andrew asked seriously.

"Yeah." Lee answered simply.

"And Slash, from what you just said, you don't have any family who you'd want to be associated with, right?" Andrew said in thought.

"Yeah." Slash said in a whisper.

"Our family is built on acceptance and choice. The majority of my family are here because they choose to be, not by a circumstance of their birth. The reality of our family is we are related because we say we are. Dad is my real dad, and Thomas and Chakotay are my real, birth children, but Icheb is just as much my child because he chose me as his father and I chose him as my son. I think that Jean gave you that identity to give you a family, and I think your place in my family is as my father's brother." Andrew finished quietly.

"Slash?" Lee asked to get his attention.

Slash turned to look into Lee's eyes.

"It's your choice to make, but I think having you for a brother would be perfect. Besides, when you get a break from school for the holidays, you could come here and spend time with *our* family instead of being at the school alone." Lee said hopefully.

"Are you guys sure you want me?" Slash asked hesitantly.

"Absolutely." Andrew said seriously.

"Completely." Alan said from beside Andrew with a plate of food.

"What do you say? Will you be my brother?" Lee asked hopefully.

"Yeah. Brothers." Slash said with a smile.

"Great!" Andrew said with excitement.

"What is it father?" Icheb asked at the sound.

"Do you remember when Alan and I adopted you and your brothers and sister?" Andrew began.

Icheb nodded.

"Slash has just been adopted into our family." Andrew said happily.

"Is he going to be our brother?" Quaid asked hesitantly.

"No Quaid, he's going to be your great-uncle, Uncle Slash." Andrew said with a smile.

Slash got up from his seat and walked to Quaid and Icheb.

"No, that doesn't sound right. People outside our family can call me Slash. You guys can call me Uncle Josiah or Uncle Joe if you want." Slash said as he knelt between their chairs.

"So you got a new brother just like me!" Quaid said in delight.

"That's right. And I got a bunch of really cool nephews and a niece." Slash said with a happy smile.

"You've got to stay with us at the boat house tonight." Lee said firmly.

"That's right, the first night as part of our family you have to spend at home." Andrew said seriously.

Slash hesitated and looked at his new nephews.

"Please Uncle Joe, us new guys need to be together on our first night." Quaid asked with pleading in his voice.

"Okay, but just for you." Slash said with a smile.

"When you're ready to go, get your stuff and we'll head back to the house." Andrew said as he sneaked a chunk of sweet potato off Alan's plate.

"It looks like my nephews are about done, do you guys want to come with me?" Slash asked.

Quaid and Icheb quickly stood to follow Slash.

Alan, Andrew and Lee watched as the three walked away.

"He'll be a great addition to the family." Andrew said as he watched them leave.

"Quaid or Slash?" Lee asked curiously.

After a moment of thought Andrew said, "Both. I was thinking of Slash. It's funny, I already think of Quaid as our son... how did that happen?"

"The same way it happened with Icheb, Trey, William, Robert, Jimmy and Janine." Alan said with a chuckle.

"Do you realize that in less than nine months we're going to have *TEN* kids?" Andrew said with a pained look.

"Regrets?" Alan asked with a smile, already knowing the answer.

"Absolutely none." Andrew said in peace.

To Be Continued...