Hurt & Comfort

Book 10: Elusive Comfort

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Chapter 13: Of Family

"Good morning Love." Alan said with a gentle smile as he sat on the edge of the bed.

"Good morning." Andrew said peacefully.

"I love you." Alan whispered as he moved in for a gentle kiss.

"I love you too." Andrew said peacefully as he looked into his husband's eyes.

"What do you have planned today?" Alan asked as he snuggled into Andrew's side.

"No plans. After spending the majority of the day at the mansion yesterday, I think I'd like to spend today at home." Andrew said as he glanced to see that the babies were sleeping peacefully.

"That sounds good to me." Alan said in a dreamy voice.

"Have you been up long?" Andrew asked as he cuddled Alan close to his side.

"About half an hour. Everyone else is still asleep." Alan said in contentment.

"They'll probably be up anytime now. We'd better enjoy the peace and quiet while we can." Andrew said softly.

An almost imperceptible knock sounded on their bedroom door.

"And so it begins." Alan said with a fond smile.

"Come in." Andrew called, careful not to call too loudly and wake the babies.

Quaid timidly poked his head in the bedroom door and looked around, obviously unsure of his welcome.

"Come in Quaid, it's alright." Andrew said with assurance.

Quaid was still wearing his Pokémon pajamas. He rushed into the room, then stopped at the side of Andrew and Alan's bed.

"Did you need something?" Alan asked with a gentle smile.

"I got, um, kind of lonely. No one else is awake yet." Quaid said hesitantly.

"Well, if you want you can climb in here with us. There's plenty of room." Andrew said with a smile.

"Really? You wouldn't mind?" Quaid asked in disbelief.

"Sure. We were just sitting and talking. You're welcomed to join us." Alan said peacefully.

Quaid jumped up on the bed and quickly got under the covers.

"Love, would you hand me my sweats?" Andrew asked quietly.

Alan reached over the side of the bed and picked up the sweatpants where Andrew had left them the night before.

Andrew quickly pulled on the sweatpants as he remained under the covers.

Alan noticed Quaid's look of question and considered if he should try to explain or leave it be.

"Did you put on your pants because of me?" Quaid asked curiously.

"Yeah. I needed to anyway." Andrew said as he snuggled into Alan's side.

"Why?" Quaid asked cautiously.

"I just don't think it's right to be naked in bed with kids. That's all. If it were Icheb or Jimmy in here I would have done exactly the same thing." Andrew said seriously.

"Oh. Okay." Quaid said in thought.

"Come here." Andrew said and opened his arms for a hug.

Quaid happily moved into the waiting arms and enjoyed a long hug.

"So how do you like your new home?" Andrew asked as he shifted Quaid between him and Alan.

"I really like it here." Quaid said peacefully as Alan and Andrew shifted so Quaid could nestle between them.

"I'm glad. We like you being here. You really made us proud last night. Because of you, Robert and his baby are going to be fine." Andrew said in a soft, loving voice.

"Robert is really nice. I like him." Quaid said happily as he snuggled.

"Hopefully you'll get to be good friends. I hope you'll be happy here." Alan said gently.

"I'm already happier than I've ever been. Thanks for being my dads." Quaid said in peace.

* * * * *

Slash woke slowly and looked around his room in wonder. His very own room.

He laid in the bed and thought about how completely his life had changed in a day.

He went from being a throw away mutant kid on the streets to being a member of a family.

Lee was now legally his brother. Andrew and Spike were his nephews.

Even though he knew that they weren't his blood relations, somehow that didn't matter.

His blood relatives didn't want him. They said he wasn't their son anymore. These people accepted him into their home and their family.

They didn't want anything from him, they just want to share their lives with him.

A sparkling ray of sunlight caught his attention as it glittered through the window.

Slash smiled and slowly got up from his bed.

He walked to the dresser and looked in the mirror.

For the first time in months he didn't avoid looking at his own image.

He looked at his white face and smiled.

None of his new family cared that he looked different. Quaid even wanted to look like him.

He opened the dresser, not knowing what to expect and found it filled with clothes.

Next he walked to the closet and found a variety of shirts and pants.

Slash picked out some clothes to wear and laid them out, then went to his bathroom to get ready for the day.

* * * * *

"Good morning." Bobby said in a whisper.

"Good morning." Robert said with a smile.

Bobby moved in to give Robert a gentle kiss.

"I love you so much." Robert said in a voice filled with awe.

"I love you just as much Robby." Bobby said as he gently moved a stray strand of hair off Robert's forehead.

"What do you want to do today?" Robert asked, coming more awake.

"The first thing I'd like to do is take you to the boathouse so you can get some regeneration." Bobby said seriously.

"I can continue until this evening with no ill effect." Robert said, allowing some of his Borg tone to creep into his voice.

"Just because you 'can' doesn't mean you 'should'. Please Robby, let me take care of you and our baby." Bobby asked asĀ  he let his hand slide down Robert's abdomen.

Robert smiled at the gesture and placed his own hand over Bobby's, right over the location of their child in the maturation pod.

"Is robo-womb working okay?" Bobby asked softly.

"All systems operating within normal parameters." Robert said in a fully Borg tone, then broke into a smile.

"That's good. You really scared me last night." Bobby said as he pulled Robert close to his chest.

"I'm sorry Bobby. I guess I didn't think everything through... but I didn't really have a conscious mind at the time... I was kind of floating in the subconscious." Robert said with difficulty.

"So are you Robert or Ki?" Bobby asked hesitantly.

Robert smiled and said, "I'm your Robby. Everything that was Robert is still here, some of Ki was just added. Please don't worry Bobby, I haven't lost anything of what I was before. I've only gained the core of the person I used to be."

"Okay, as long as my Robert is still in there, I guess it's okay." Bobby said in thought.

"I am right here. If it would cause you to be more comfortable, I could resume using my Borg mannerisms. It would be no inconvenience to me." Robert said in a very Borg tone.

"Um, no. Not unless you want to, I mean. I just want you to be yourself. You don't have to put on an act for me." Bobby said in thought.

"But I have two selves. At this point in time they are separate enough that I can choose which one I use. I'm sure that they will eventually integrate to the point where I will have only one self." Robert said distantly.

"Well, it sounds kind of selfish to say this, but I'd really like my Borg Robert back. Not all the time, but just at times like this. He's the one I fell in love with." Bobby said shyly.

"It gives me pleasure to know that you love me as I am. Please be assured that when the integration is complete, I will still be myself. Ki will just be one aspect of my personality." Robert said with a gentle smile.

"Thanks Robby. Ki is nice, but I don't really know him. It just feels wrong when we're like this to hear his voice coming out of your mouth." Bobby said with relief.

"We have the same voice." Robert said hesitantly.

"I mean the way he talks, it's different. He's nice and everything, it's just that I feel like I'm laying next to a stranger when I hear him talking." Bobby said with difficulty.

"I understand. But just so you know, Ki loves you too." Robert said softly.

"I think I'll probably love him once I get to know him, after all, he's another part of you." Bobby finished with a smile.

* * * * *

"Alex luv, all your clothes are gone." Spike said from the closet.

Alex opened his eyes and looked around the room to find that other things were missing.

"It looks like most of my stuff is gone, not that I had that much to begin with." Alex said in confusion as he got out of the bed.

"If someone broke in here and stole everything while we were sleeping, they deserve to keep it. Anyone who can get past a sleeping vampire is a master thief." Spike said as he looked around for clues.

"Well, we still have our clothes from yesterday. Let's get dressed and see if anyone else is missing anything." Alex said as he pulled on his boxers.

"Hold on luv, I need to say a proper good morning before we do that." Spike said and pulled Alex into a hug.

After a long, lingering kiss, Alex finally said, "Good morning Wil."

"Good morning Alex luv." Spike said in contentment.

"We didn't go too far last night, did we?" Alex asked with concern.

"No mate, it was just perfect. I've loved a few times over the decades, but I can't remember feeling loved like that before." Spike said softly from their embrace.

"I do love you Wil. After last night I'm more sure of it than ever." Alex said as he rubbed Spike's back.

"I love you too Alex. I think a lot of what I was feeling was just to try and protect us in case our feelings weren't what we thought they were." Spike said in thought.

"And how do you feel now?" Alex asked with concern.

"I feel like I've finally come home." Spike said softly into Alex's ear.

* * * * *

"Good morning Robert. How are you feeling?" Clark asked with concern as he, Trey and John exited their room.

"I am well. The new personality is acting in harmony with me and the robotic womb is functioning within normal parameters." Robert said seriously.

"You sound like your old self." John observed cautiously.

"Yes. That part of me which is Ki has withdrawn to allow me to interact as I did before his inclusion into my conscious mind." Robert said in thought.

"Oh. Um... isn't that, like, having a split personality or something?" John asked with concern.

"Yes. By the literal definition, I do have a split personality. But the process of integration has already begun. I anticipate no difficulty incorporating Ki into my existing life." Robert said in an assured voice.

"Okay, but if you have any problems that we can help with, just let us know. You're our friend, so you don't have to go through this stuff alone." Clark said seriously.

"Thank you Clark. I am gratified to know that you will be available should I need support." Robert said, then gently smiled.

"Yeah, that goes for all of us. Whatever you need." John said seriously.

Trey simply nodded in agreement.

Robert happily nodded in acceptance of the statement.

"So what are you guys doing?" Bobby asked quietly.

"Well, we figured that we'd go down and get some breakfast, then head over to the boathouse so Trey can regenerate. John has to go see Dr. McCoy this morning, so we figured that Trey could regenerate while John is getting treated. Since Slash needs to see the doctor, we'll pick him up while we’re over there." Clark said simply.

"That sounds like a good plan. Would you mind if we tag along? We were planning on going to the boathouse so Robert could do a little regenerating too." Bobby said casually.

"Sounds like a plan. Come on." Clark said with a smile and started walking toward the stairs.

* * * * *

Scott awoke and put on his sunglasses.

He looked around his room at the mansion and thought about the night before.

When he invited Matt out to shoot some pool, he had thought that if they spent some time together that maybe... one thing might lead to another.

It became obvious about ten minutes into their first game that nothing but pool playing was going to happen.

As soon as Scott had determined that nothing romantic was going to happen between them, he relaxed noticeably.

The rest of the evening he and Matt played pool in easy companionship and camaraderie.

Scott rested back on his pillow and smiled at the memory.

He and Matt were two very different people, and yet, that was part of what made their friendship interesting.

Matt has a dry, sarcastic... almost laconic sense of humor that Scott could appreciate.

For his own part, Scott felt as if he could really be himself with Matt. There was no need to hide anything or act a certain way.

Matt had made it clear that he considered them to be friends. All Scott had to do was accept what was being freely offered.

Reluctantly, Scott climbed out of bed and considered his tasks for the day.

A visit to the boathouse was first on his list. He had an important question to ask Alex and had been putting it off for days.

* * * * *

Hank walked into the MedLab to begin his work for the day.

A sound caught his attention and he began to look around the room to find the source.

Finally after taking a circuitous route through the lab he found the sound coming from his spectral imaging scanner.

Suddenly he remembered that he had been trying to identify the components of Clark's blood by using the mass spectrometer function of the scanner.

As he looked at the device, he realized that it had run the entire spectrum of light waves, radio waves and radiation on the sample over and over again throughout the night.

With a sigh of resignation, Hank turned off the machine and pushed the button to re-pressurize the chamber so he could eject the sample.

After being repeatedly bombarded by nearly every particle known to mankind for the better part of twelve hours, the sample would be useless to him.

The indicator finally changed to show that the sample could be removed.

Hank was about to open the chamber when he realized that he needed to observe the proper safety precautions in this situation.

The amount of radiation that the sample tray absorbed would most certainly make it extremely hazardous.

Physical contact with something so violently irradiated would definitely burn human skin, possibly to the point of causing deep tissue damage.

After walking to the door and turning on the 'Radiation Hazard' alert light over the door to forewarn anyone who might choose to visit, Hank quickly donned his lead apron, gloves and face-shield.

Properly attired, he moved to the scanner again and using a pair of tongs, carefully reached for the small specimen tray.

As Hank removed the dish from the chamber, something unusual immediately caught his eye.

This wasn't the few drops of blood that he had put into the scanner the night before.

Cautiously, Hank carried the dish to the microscope so he could get an enlarged and detailed image of whatever was in the dish.

Once the dish was in place, he turned on his monitor and clicked open the application to view the microscope's input.

What he saw amazed him. It was a complex cellular mass.

As Hank carefully studied the mass and began to identify the differentiated cell groups, suddenly he froze in astonishment...

...It moved.

* * * * *

"Hey, how are you guys doing this morning?" Scott asked in a cheerful voice as he walked into the kitchen.

"Um, I think we're all good. How are you?" John asked curiously, confused by Scott's cheerful mood.

"I've got a full day planned. I think that if I put my mind to it, I can clear out about a dozen things I've been putting off." Scott said as he walked to the collection of cereal containers and chose something that was a satisfying balance between sweet and healthy.

"Ouch, you have a waaaaay different way of having fun." John said with a puzzled shake of his head.

Scott chuckled and said, "Look at it this way. If I get all this stuff done today, I'll have the rest of the weekend to do whatever I want."

"Yeah, I guess so. But I think I'd still rather leave everything until Sunday night about six o'clock." John said honestly as he finished pouring his milk and handed the jug to Scott.

"Thanks. I'll tell you what John. If you'll try it my way one time, I'm willing to bet that you will enjoy your off time a lot more. When you get all your work cleared out early, then you can enjoy your free time without worrying about the things you still need to do." Scott said as he poured his milk and passed the jug to Clark who was standing on his other side.

"Well, since I'll be attending the Wagner school next week, I don't have anything hanging over me, so it's no problem." John said frankly.

"You don't have anything except the possibility of moving into a new house, getting everything ready to attend a new school and if I'm not mistaken, you'll be receiving treatment for an intestinal parasite while everything else is going on." Scott said seriously as he led the way into the dining room.

"I was looking forward to the weekend until I heard that." John said hesitantly.

Scott laughed and said, "Just roll with it John. We'll all be right there with you."

"Yeah. Okay, but, um... just in case you didn't know..." John began hesitantly.

Scott turned to face John and raised his eyebrows in inquiry.

"...You kinda suck at pep talks." John said with a pained look. Obviously not wanting to hurt Scott's feelings too badly.

Scott chuckled, more at John's expression than his statement.

"Yeah. I guess I do. Maybe you could help me with that sometime." Scott said with a gentle smile.

"You got a deal." John said with relief.

Scott looked at the other boys gathered around the table and casually said, "Trey, when we're done with breakfast I'll get you the design specifications for Cerebro. That way when you meet with the Professor tomorrow, you'll have a better idea about what the Professor is talking about."

"What form are the design specifications stored in?" Trey asked curiously.

"Well, they're in the computer. But I'll print them out for you. The only thing is, I'll have to ask you to return the printouts when you're done. That stuff is kind of classified and we can't take the chance of anyone else getting hold of it." Scott said in thought.

"If you would permit me, I can download the specifications directly into my personal data node. I am planning an unscheduled regeneration when I return to the boathouse and could process the information while I regenerate. It will have the same effect as many hours of studying printouts." Trey said seriously.

"That sounds good to me. Hmmm, studying in your sleep... I think I could get into that." Scott said in thought.

"Being Borg does have some advantages." Trey said with a gentle smile at Scott's statement.

* * * * *

"I guess it's time to get up." Andrew said in resignation.

"I guess so." Alan said reluctantly.

"I like it here." Quaid said from his position snuggled between his fathers.

"So do we, but we need to fix breakfast and get the day started." Andrew said gently.

"Yeah. I think maybe that's what I'm feeling... hungry." Quaid said uncertainly.

"Well, that settles it then. Come on, how about I give you a ride to the kitchen while Alan gets the babies ready for their breakfast?" Andrew asked with a smile.

"A ride?" Quaid asked curiously as he watched Andrew get out of the bed.

"Yeah, come over here and climb on my back." Andrew said with a chuckle.

"Like this?" Quaid asked cautiously as he draped himself over Andrew's back.

"Yep. Now just hold on." Andrew said happily as he stood.

Quaid gave a giggle as he was lifted.

"Whoa. You're heavier than you look." Andrew said with effort.

"I can walk if I'm too heavy." Quaid said with concern.

"No way. I said I was going to give you a ride to the kitchen, and I'm going to do it. Anyway, now that I'm standing, it's not so bad." Andrew said with a smile.

"Okay." Quaid said happily.

"First thing, a kiss for Dad, then we're off to make breakfast." Andrew said cheerfully as he walked to Alan.

Quaid watched the tender kiss between his fathers with a close-up view.

A second later, Alan broke the kiss, and waited for Andrew to turn sideways so he could kiss Quaid.

"Good morning son." Alan said quietly, then gave Quaid a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"Okay, we'll see you in the kitchen." Andrew said happily.

"Will you start their bottles when you get in there?" Alan asked as he turned his attention to the babies.

"Sure thing, Alex's coffee, then the babies bottles." Andrew said firmly.

"Why does Alex rank above the babies?" Alan asked curiously.

"Just think about who has the more annoying cry." Andrew said in a teasing voice.

"I see your point." Alan said with a smile as he checked to see if Thomas needed to be changed.

To Be Continued...