Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 11: You Gotta Be Kidding!

"You said what?" Andrew said in a gasp.

"I cannot determine why the hardware began generating, but the hardware has already completed two stages of development and the cellular mass is now of sufficient complexity to be considered an embryo." William said as he maintained his connection to his brother.

"If it's a choice between Robert and the baby, we're saving Robert. Anyone have a problem with that?" Andrew asked forcefully.

"No. I agree." Bobby said quietly, as a tear fell down his cheek.

"Trey, what are our options to help Robert?" Andrew asked forcefully.

"I do not have adequate information." Trey said as he looked at his parents with regret.

"Will you allow me to share my findings? Time is short" William said with urgency.

"Yes, of course." Trey said and faced his brother.

William withdrew his tubules from Robert's data node, then injected Trey's data node.

Everyone watched for the half minute it took Trey to assimilate the new information.

"I believe we can sustain Robert without injury to him or his child if we begin immediately." Trey said in thought.

"Do what you need to do son." Alan said in a low voice.

"William, reconnect to Robert and start a new directive pathway to allow supplemental energy and nano-probes to be introduced. When the new directive is in place, begin the transfer. Discontinue when you have reached minimum safe levels. At that time, return home to regenerate and another of us will begin the transfer." Trey said in a commanding voice.

"For how long?" Andrew asked carefully.

Trey looked at Andrew curiously as William reconnected with Robert and closed his eyes in concentration.

"Will you all have to keep feeding him power for the next nine months? I mean, if that's the only way to keep them both alive, we'll do it. But I can foresee some problems." Andrew said in explanation.

"No, the hardware generation should be complete within twelve hours. After that, Robert will need extended regeneration cycles to power his maturation pod, but otherwise will feel no ill effect." Trey said as he turned a studious gaze on William and Robert.

"Maturation pod?" Alan asked hesitantly.

"Can you start at the beginning for us? Tell us about his baby... who's is it? How did it get in there? Why did this happen?" Bobby asked weakly.

"Bobby asked some good questions, does anyone have any answers?" Lee asked the group as he put hand each on Andrew and Alan's shoulders.

"I may be able to answer the why, at least to some degree." Professor Xavier said from the head of the bed.

Everyone turned their attention toward Professor Xavier awaiting an explanation.

"His mind is in a state of flux, and quite alien... non-human, excuse me. I can't tell you much more than the alternate personality caused this to happen and is directing nearly all it's energies to coordinate the construction of the... device." Professor Xavier said in concentration.

"Professor, what is the status of his mind?" Hank asked with concern.

"I believe I can complete the necessary groundwork within an hour, that should be sufficient to allow him to regain consciousness. I can refine the pathways in follow-up sessions as needed." Professor Xavier said in thought.

"The baby is Robert and Bobby's." William said as he opened his eyes.

"How?" Bobby asked with confusion.

"An undifferentiated cell from Robert's primary stomach was harvested and the DNA was removed and replaced with some collected from Robert and some collected from Bobby's semen in Robert's pre-stomach." William began but was interrupted.

"Um, just how many stomachs does he have?" Clark asked as he and John joined the group.

"Including the pre-stomach, three. The prestomach holds the food and releases small amounts into the primary stomach for initial digestion. When the primary stomach is sufficiently filled, it empties into the secondary stomach where the absorption of nutrients takes place." William answered.

"The baby?" Bobby asked, dragging them back to the point.

"Yes, the genetic material was introduced into the undifferentiated cell, then the cell was stimulated to replicate. Once the cell mass was viable, it was fixed into a maturation pod which will complete maturing the embryo in three to four weeks depending on the supply of necessary building materials for the baby." William said in thought.

"Father, we will need Icheb, Jimmy and Janine to supply power for Robert. I would like to monitor the activities until the hardware is fully developed and Robert is out of danger." Trey said seriously.

"That's fine. Alan love, would you go get the kids? Quaid too, I don't want him to feel left out just because he's not Borg." Andrew said in thought.

"Do you want me to stay with the babies?" Lee asked quietly.

"No dad, if you wouldn't mind, I'd really like for them to be here too. I feel like Robert needs ALL his family here with him now." Andrew said with a helpless look at his father.

Lee nodded, then turned to Slash, "Would you help me get the babies things together Slash? I can juggle babies with the best of them, but I can't handle diaper bags and strollers too."

"Sure, ready when you are." Slash said with a warm smile, glad to be able to contribute.

Andrew created a portal and watched as Alan, Lee and Slash walked through.

"Trey, we'll be right back, we're going to help with the babies." John said and led Clark through the portal.

"Something is wrong." William said in concern.

Trey turned his attention back to Robert and began to scan again.

"What is it?" Andrew asked with a fresh wave of panic at the tone of William's voice.

"Father?" Quaid said in a sleepy voice as he walked through the portal, dressed in Pokémon pajamas.

Andrew walked to Quaid and pulled him into a hug.

"Hey buddy. I'm sorry we had to wake you up but one of your brothers is sick and I thought you'd want to be here with the family." Andrew said quietly.

"What's wrong with him?" Quaid asked as he looked at the boy on the exam table.

"Robert's Borg parts are trying to build a new machine, but it's taking all his energy to build it. William is trying to give him energy." Andrew said, trying to put it in words that Quaid could understand.

"Robert is accepting William's nano-probes and energy, but is also continuing to deplete his own. At the current rate of usage, Robert will exhaust his own energy reserve in less than one hour... I can see no way to prevent it." Trey said with defeat in his voice.

"Can you slow down his usage?" Hank asked with concern.

"It would be possible to reduce the flow of nano-probes, but the pod requires more energy than William can transfer." Trey said quietly.

"Um, can't you do that Borg thing?" Quaid asked the group.

Everyone turned their attention to the boy and tried to understand his vague comment.

"You know, the thing that makes Borg's strong... be a collective." Quaid said with difficulty.

"Shhh, don't worry. We're going to figure something out." Andrew said quietly to Quaid.

"Father, I believe his suggestion may work." Trey said as he scanned Robert, then William.

"Really?" Andrew asked with surprise.

"How may I be of assistance?" Icheb asked as he walked through the door, carrying Chakotay in his arms.

Quaid immediately walked to Icheb's side and gave him an affectionate hug, careful not to disturb Chakotay.

"If you will give Chakotay to Quaid, I would like for you to connect to William's personal data node and begin to inject power into his system." Trey said quickly.

Icheb handed Chakotay to Quaid, being careful to see that he was supporting his head correctly, before going to William's side and injecting his tubules into William's personal data node.

"Dad said you needed us to help Robert." Jimmy said as he and Janine entered the room.

"Yes. Ask Trey what you need to do." Andrew said as he began to feel hope.

"Jimmy, connect to Icheb's data node, Janine, connect to Jimmy's, I will connect to yours." Trey said as he moved around the table to take his place in line.

The children took their places and within a minute formed a chain to provide power for Robert.

"How's he doing?" Andrew asked hopefully.

Trey moved his scanning device which was connected to his free hand, over Robert and announced, "His power levels are increasing and the increased nano-probes are constructing the hardware faster than anticipated."

Andrew let out a sigh of relief and bent down to hug Quaid and Chakotay.

"Is Robert going to be okay?" Quaid asked in a whisper.

"I think so kiddo. And if he is, it's because of you." Andrew said and kissed Quaid on the forehead.

Quaid got a smile of pride that nearly glowed.

"What did we miss?" John asked as he carried a diaper bag through the portal.

"A turning point, I hope." Andrew said with a smile.

"Where do you want this stuff?" Clark asked as he pushed a double stroller with a diaper bag into the room.

"Through that door, in the waiting room. If the babies get fussy, we'll take them in there." Andrew said as he stood, keeping an arm around Quaid.

"How's he doing love?" Alan asked as he walked into the room.

"Trey?" Andrew asked, hopeful of a favorable response.

"If nothing unforeseen occurs, we should be able to discontinue the transfer in forty-three minutes and he will have sufficient energy to proceed twenty hours without regeneration if needed." Trey said with a small smile.

"Great." Lee said in relief as he walked into the room carrying Thomas and followed by Slash.

"I'm finished working on his memories for the time being. He is sleeping normally. I would recommend that we wake him so we can be sure that the integrated personality is stable." Professor Xavier said as he rested back in his chair.

"We don't want him to be overwhelmed when he wakes up, he is likely to be disoriented. Those who aren't feeding him power should move away until he's come fully awake." Professor Xavier said as he moved his chair away from the table.

"Okay, ready when you are." Andrew said as he moved Quaid back to lean against the nearest wall.

* * * * *

"Bobby?" Robert asked as his eyes fluttered open.

"I'm right here." Bobby said as he moved to Robert's side.

"I love you." Robert whispered with a tender smile.

"I love you too, you scared me." Bobby said weakly.

"I remember things... I have two yesterdays, which one is real?" Robert asked in confusion.

"The yesterday that was Thanksgiving at the mansion is the one that just happened. I think the other one is real too, it just happened a long time ago." Bobby said carefully.

"Tavi?" Robert asked with a look of panic, that turned to relief when he saw William.

"Is that William's real name?" Bobby asked quietly.

"Yes, he is Gustavishtavi, I am Gustavishki... Tavi and Ki is easier to remember." Robert said with a small smile.

"What do you want me to call you?" Bobby asked in a fearful voice.

Robert picked up on the tone of fear and lifted a hand to caress Bobby's cheek as he said, "I'm your Robby, just like before. I love you so much Bobby, I can't even tell you how much."

"I'm so glad. I was afraid you wouldn't know me... or wouldn't love me." Bobby trailed off with a whisper as tears began to flow down his face.

"That could never happen Bobby, you're my one true love. Do you have any idea how special you are?" Robert asked and waited.

Bobby couldn't do anything but shake his head.

"I came across space, time and dimensions to find you. I reassembled my memories and fought my way back from the edge of oblivion so I could fully be with you. And using the technology the Borg gave me, I found a way to bear your child. You are that special and I'd do every bit of it again to be here with you now." Robert said in a peaceful haze of love.

Bobby was speechless, but he moved in to give Robert a kiss filled with his love and all the words he couldn't think clearly enough to say.

"Um, I guess he's okay." John said hesitantly.

"Yeah. I hope Trey's done soon. We really need to... um... get some more... sleep." Clark said with a blush.

John put an arm around Clark to hold him close.

"How are you doing son?" Andrew asked as he walked to the other side of the bed from Bobby.

"Pretty good Pop. How are you?" Robert asked joyfully.

"Pop?" Andrew questioned.

"Yeah, 'Father' sounds a little formal, if you don't like 'Pop' I won't use it." Robert said quickly.

"No, 'Pop' is fine, I just wasn't expecting it. You seem a little... different now." Andrew said hesitantly.

"Yeah. I have memories and stuff now. It's really kewl, it's kind of like I was watching everything through a gauzy curtain before and I can see clearly now." Robert said cheerfully.

"If he starts to sing it, I'm outta here." Lee said to Slash.

Robert heard the comment and let out a full honest laugh.

"Please hold still until the energy transfer is complete." William said sternly.

"Okay. Sorry Tavi. And thanks, thank you, all of you for feeding me power. I didn't expect it to take as much power as it did." Robert said shyly.

"Your well being was our only concern." Trey said from the end of the Borg chain.

"Thanks big brother. I don't know what you were like before you were Borg, but I can't imagine that you could be a better brother than you are now." Robert said with a grand smile.

"Robert, you have a new brother too. Would you like to meet him?" Alan asked carefully.

"Really? Is he here?" Robert asked hopefully.

Alan nodded with a smile.

"Where is he? Can I meet him now?" Robert asked with excitement.

A boy, only slightly younger than Robert walked hesitantly to the table to meet Robert.

"Hey, I'm Robert. What's your name?" Robert asked curiously.

"Quaid." he said in a mumble.

"Nice to meet you." Robert said, then looked around his bed, then said, "There's room up here by me. Would you like to sit up here and talk to me?"

Quaid nodded.

Alan helped Quaid up to sit on the edge of the elevated bed.

"So how old are you?" Robert asked as everyone watched.

"Um... Dad? How old am I?" Quaid asked timidly.

"He'll be fourteen on January seventh." Alan said with a warm smile.

"We're going to be the same age for three and a half months. That's awesome!" Robert said in delight.

"I've got my own room at the boat house." Quaid said, being drawn into Robert's enthusiasm.

"I can't wait to see it. Dr. McCoy? When will I be done here?" Robert asked as he twisted to see Hank.

"As near as your father and I can tell, your organic parts are perfectly healthy. You'll need to ask the Professor and Trey about your other parts." Hank said, amazed by the difference in the boy.

"Professor? What do you say? How are my mental parts?" Robert asked with a teasing smile.

"I believe one or two of your mental parts have yet to fall into place, but I don't foresee any lasting consequences from that. You may experience some disorientation or confusion when something triggers a memory, it should pass after a few minutes, if it doesn't, let me know and we'll do a little detail work on your mnemo triggers." Professor Xavier said lightly.

"Thanks Professor, I'll let you know if it get's too weird for me." Robert said, then looked down the line of his siblings to Trey and raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

"Check the status of your maturation pod. It should be nearing completion and your energy reserves should soon be replenished." Trey said seriously.

Robert closed his eyes and concentrated on his internal Borg status.

"Yeppers, the robo womb is all done and my energy pool is good for about a day." Robert said happily.

"Then we will discontinue the transfer." Trey said and withdrew his tubules from Janine's data node.

Each of his siblings did the same and stood looking at Robert.

"Come here Tavi. I need a hug." Robert said as he sat up in the bed.

William walked cautiously to Robert and was engulfed in a firm hug.

"If I could only bring one thing from my former life with me, I would have chosen you. I love you Tavi." Robert said in a tearful voice into William's ear.

"Perhaps later you could tell me of our life before. I wish to know the person I used to be." William said in response.

Robert pulled back to look William in the eyes and said, "William, you are all the best parts of Tavi. You have his good heart, his gentle nature and his weird, dry humor."

William smiled at the statement.

"But, I'm still cuter than you." Robert said, breaking into a big smile.

"Not." William said in automatic response.

Robert laughed, then said, "Tomorrow we'll sit down and I'll tell you all about us... Jimmy?"

Jimmy looked up in surprise and walked to stand beside William.

"Tavi... William asked me to tell him about our past and I thought you should be there too." Robert said with a smile.

"For observation?" Jimmy asked curiously.

"No, because you're part of our past. Your family would come to visit about twice a year and while the adults were doing adult things, the three of us would run all over the palace grounds... I'll tell you all about it tomorrow." Robert said happily.

"What was my name?" Jimmy asked hopefully.

"Your little name... nickname was Fray. I don't remember your big name. We never used it. If I remember it later, I'll tell you." Robert said with a shrug.

Trey completed his scans and announced, "Your Borg components are functioning within normal parameters and your power usage is acceptable."

"Does that mean I'm done?" Robert asked the room.

Dr. McCoy looked at Andrew, Professor Xavier and Trey before saying, "Yes, you're free to go."

"Do you want to come back to the house and regenerate?" Andrew asked from the bedside.

"No Pop. I want to stay here. Bobby and I need to talk about some stuff..." Robert said, then leaned in to whisper, "He just found out he's going to be a daddy. I think he'll need me there when it sinks in."

Andrew chuckled and said, "I think you're right. Don't run yourself short on energy. Make sure you regenerate early tonight... I love you little man."

"Thanks Pop. I love you too." Robert said as he sat on the edge of the bed beside Quaid.

"When you were talking before... I kinda heard... did you say 'palace'?" Quaid asked quietly.

"I sure did Q-boy, I guess I'm a prince and so is Tavi." Robert said with a smile.

"Why... why did you call me that?" Quaid asked with worry.

"What? Q-boy?" Robert asked carefully.

Quaid nodded slowly.

"I didn't mean anything. I thought it sounded cool because your name is Quaid. If you don't like it I won't call you that." Robert said, worried that he'd offended Quaid.

"It's okay if you call me that, but only you, and only if I get to have a special name that only I can call you." Quaid said, thinking of his special bond with Itchy.

"Hmmm. That's kind of tough. I mean, you can only do so many things with Robert. 'R-boy' doesn't sound right. Rob and Robby are already being used... do you have any ideas?" Robert asked as he hopped off the bed, then waited for Quaid to do the same.

"Your other name is Ki?" Quaid asked carefully.

"Yeah. It doesn't sound as cool as Tavi." Robert said as he coaxed Quaid to jump off the table.

"Can I call you Ki?" Quaid asked hopefully.

"Sure Q-boy. That'll be great. Now I think you'd better get over to the portal. Dad and Pop look like they're ready to go." Robert said with a smile.

"You're not coming with us?" Quaid asked with disappointment.

"Sorry Q-boy. I've got a boyfriend who really needs me to be here tonight. I'll see you tomorrow, I want to see your new room." Robert said with a grand smile.

"Yeah. I'll see you tomorrow Ki." Quaid said and hurried through the portal, followed by Andrew and Alan.

Bobby finally made his way back to Robert's side.

"You okay Robby?" Bobby asked with concern.

"Yeah, but I'm a little tired. Baby making really wears a guy out." Robert said, draping an arm around Bobby's waist.

"I don't think the baby making part is what wore you out. I think it's the robo-womb making that did you in." Bobby said with a chuckle.

"Maybe." Robert said, then got a serious expression.

"What is it Robby?" Bobby asked at Robert's sudden change in mood.

"I'll tell you when we get back to your room." Robert said seriously.

"C'mon." Bobby said and led the way.

To Be Continued...