Hurt & Comfort

Book 11: Creating Comfort

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Chapter 4: The Worst

"How could they burn the crust and still have part of it not cooked?" Marc asked with disgust.

"The cheese isn't melted." Lisa said in a small voice.

"And I'm not sure these little round squishy things are really something that's supposed to be on a pizza." Clark said, then took a step away from the pizza boxes.

"We have fifteen of these things to eat." Seth said queasily.

"No, you don't. Someone made a mistake. Put the pizza down and I'll call the store." Jamie said in a voice that was almost masculine.

Seth didn't even think about arguing; he just dropped the half burned, half raw pizza into the box.

"We really should be getting back to the mansion." Scott said to his group.

"Please stay. I promise that it won't take long for me to straighten this out. Everyone should have a party on their first night in a new home." Jamie said imploringly, then took out his cell phone as he walked to the door.

"Well, when you put it that way..." Scott said with a smile at Jamie's retreating form, then said to the group in general, "How would you feel if us old folks left you guys alone for a while so you can enjoy your party?"

Looks were exchanged around the room, indicating that no one knew how to respond to the suggestion.

Finally Trey broke the silence by saying, "I do not feel inhibited by your presence. And I do not anticipate any of us experiencing greater enjoyment as a result of your absence."

After a moment for everyone to comprehend Trey's distinctive manner of speech, the rest of the group started to nod in agreement with the sentiment.

"Thank you, Trey. I appreciate you saying that." Scott said shyly, then looked around and asked, "So what do we want to do to get this party started?"

"Does anyone have any CDs that they'd like to share? Mine are all packed in with my stuff." Seth asked as he walked to the stereo.

"I have some, but they're over in my dorm... I could go get them." Lisa finished hesitantly.

"You don't need to do that. I have a few and I know right where they are." Beau said with a grand smile.

After a long silent moment, Marc hesitantly asked, "Country?"

Beau chuckled and said, "Don't worry. I like both kinds of music. Country AND Western."

"I'm sure that we can get some music on the radio." Scott said cautiously, not wanting to offend Beau by rejecting his generous offer.

"How 'bout you give me a chance before you do that?" Beau asked seriously.

After a moment of looking at the reactions of the others in the room, Scott finally said, "Fair enough."

"Be right back." Beau said quickly, then dashed off to his room.

"You can stand one CD, can't you?" Scott asked the group hopefully.

"I like some country." Clark said with a casual shrug.

"I would be interested to investigate another genre of musical expression." Trey said in his ever serious Borg manner.

"Be sure to tell Beau that if I run out of here to puke, it probably won't be because of his music." John said with weak humor.

Some chuckles spread through the group as Beau returned.

"I'm bettin that y'all are gonna love this." Beau said with enthusiasm.

"I'll take that bet." Ronny said dryly.

Bobby chuckled at Ronny's remark, then turned his attention toward Beau as the music started.

* * * * *

After a long moment of listening to the unfamiliar style of music, Ronny hesitantly admitted, "It's not bad."

Beau burst into a smile, then said, "Well, this style is called 'Alternative Country'. This is a band from back in Texas."

"I really like this. It's like it has everything that I like about country music without the stuff I don't." Clark said happily.

After a moment of consideration, Beau said, "Yeah. That's a good way of putting it."

"We have another pizza delivery on the way." Jamie said as he glided into the room.

"Is it going to be like this?" Bobby asked with a queasy look at the boxes of inedible pizza.

"No. It was just a misunderstanding... actually, someone I stood up on a date." Jamie said shyly.

"Oh, so this is revenge pizza..." Scott said with a nod. "That explains it."

"It really was a misunderstanding. I thought he stood me up, he thought I stood him up... anyway, we're going to have some more pizza arriving as soon as they're out of the oven." Jamie said shyly, watching closely for Scott's reaction.

"But these are going to be better, right?" Scott asked slowly, just wanting to be sure of that one point.

"If they aren't, then he'll be hearing about it on our date tomorrow night." Jamie said with a grin.

"Good for you." Scott said with a smile.

Jamie broke into a grand smile, then quickly said, "I'm going to wait downstairs. He's going to bring them himself."

"We'll be waiting here." Scott said as he tried to restrain a chuckle at Jamie's obvious happiness.

* * * * *

"Hey look, Lisa, we have Resident Evil 2." Marc said happily as he looked through the small video game library.

"That's great. I love that game." Lisa said quietly.

"Do you want to play?" Marc asked hopefully.

"I'd feel funny about playing when no one else has anything to do." Lisa said shyly.

"Actually, I'd enjoy watching you play. I'm not very good. Maybe you'll be able to show me some tricks in the game that I haven't discovered yet." Clark said from beside Marc.

"I too would enjoy watching you play." Trey said simply.

"I'll load it up." Marc said happily.

Lisa hesitantly glanced at Clark and Trey to see if they were staring at her.

To her surprise, they both had their full attention on John who was sitting on the couch.

* * * * *

"Do any of y'all play chess?" Beau asked as he noticed a chess board set up on a game table just inside the front door.

"I do... but not very good." Louie said hesitantly.

"Well, the only way to get better is to practice." Beau said simply.

"Jesus plays a lot better than I do. Maybe you could play with him?" Louie asked cautiously and moved a little bit closer to Quaid at his side.

"Sounds good. Where is the little guy?" Beau asked as he looked around.

"He went into the bedroom when Jamie came in... he didn't want to cause me any trouble." Louie said in a low voice that could barely be heard.

"I've never played chess, but I've always wanted to learn. If someone could teach me, maybe I'd be a good match for you, Louie." Seth said gently to the timid boy.

Louie looked at Seth appraisingly for a moment, then shyly nodded.

"I haven't played for about a year, but I bet I still remember how." Slash said as he moved to Beau's side and looked at the set.

"How about you, Marc? Do you play chess?" Beau asked casually.

"No. I'm more of an RPG kind of a guy." Marc said honestly as he watched Lisa going through the beginning level of the game.

"Nothin' wrong with that. If you'll show me how to play one of your games, maybe I could join you." Beau said seriously.

"Yeah. I'd like that." Marc said happily.

* * * * *

"John, are you doing alright? You don't look so good." Clark said with concern.

"The smell of the pizza is starting to mess with me. I think I need to go outside for some fresh air." John said with a queasy look.

"How about I take you guys back to the house now?" Logan asked from beside the door.

"Yeah. That sounds good to me." Clark said immediately.

"You guys don't have to do that. I just need to get away from the smell for a few minutes." John protested.

"As if we could enjoy having pizza knowing that you're feeling sick." Clark said with a roll of his eyes.

"Hey, you guys won't be really insulted or anything if we take John home will you?" Ronny asked as he looked around the room.

"We understand. Take John home and take good care of him." Slash said with concern.

"We will. He just needs to rest." Clark said as he stood in front of John and held out his hand to help him off the couch.

"If you're sure you don't mind." John said hesitantly.

"C'mon. Let's go." Ronny said, then moved to Logan's side.

"You heard him." Clark said with a grin, then helped John to stand.

"Alright, then. Move 'em out." Logan said and gestured toward the door.

"Trey, since John isn't feeling well, I think it would be best if you went with him to help take his mind off of it." Scott said quietly.

"Thank you, Uncle Scott." Trey said with a sincere smile.

"Just call me at the mansion if you need a ride home." Scott said gently, then motioned toward the door.

* * * * *

"Hey Seth, aren't you hot in that hoodie?" Lee asked curiously.

"A little." Seth admitted shyly.

"This is going to be your home now. You should be comfortable." Lee said seriously.

"I wouldn't want to gross anyone out before they eat." Seth said shyly.

Curious looks went around the room at Seth's unusual statement.

"I wanna see." Quaid said seriously.

Seth looked at Quaid with obvious indecision.

"And Louie wants to see too." Quaid added, then casually put an arm around Louie who was at his side.

"Okay. But if it bothers anyone, you've got to let me know." Seth said cautiously as he looked around the room.

"Go ahead. It'll be fine." Lee said in an encouraging tone.

Seth looked around the room one more time, then unzipped the front of the hooded fleece jacket that he had been wearing.

"Nothing gross so far." Bobby said frankly.

Seth glanced at Bobby, then took the final step and took the jacket completely off.

"Oh. Your skin is transparent." Beau said with surprise when he saw Seth's bare arms.

"Yeah. Pretty gross, huh?" Seth asked apprehensively.

"Not really. I look at stuff like that all the time when I'm studying my A & P." Beau said frankly.

Confused looks flashed around the room as everyone tried to understand what Beau was saying.

When Beau noticed, he clarified, "Anatomy and Physiology. I'm taking pre-med classes."

"Oh. Okay." Seth said as he finally understood.

"If you wouldn't feel too funny about it, maybe you could help me out with it sometime. I mean, the pictures in the book don't always have enough detail." Beau said in thought.

Seth broke into a wide smile and said, "Yeah. Sure. I'd like to help if I can."

After a long moment of silence, Lee turned toward Marc and Lisa and asked, "How about you, Lisa? Would you like to be more comfortable?"

"I... um..." Lisa stammered.

"When we get the next batch of new students, we should invite Beast along." Scott said as he glanced at Lee.

"Beast?" Beau asked cautiously.

"Yes. That's his mutant name." Scott said as he turned to face Beau. "He's covered with thick blue fur. I was thinking that if he was here, you guys would see that there's no need to be shy about whatever mutation you have. Despite his appearance, he's a really nice person."

"I don't know." Lee said distantly. "Dr. McCoy might scare the new guys on their first day. You should probably let them get used to the place first."

Scott considered for a moment then said, "You're probably right. I'm so used to Hank looking the way he does that I forget that he is a little bit intimidating to someone who doesn't know him."

* * * * *

"Pizza's here!" Jamie called as he opened the door wide.

"Do you need some help?" Slash asked quickly.

"Would you clear the other pizza boxes out of the way so we have a place to put these?" Jamie asked with strain in his voice.

"Got it." Slash said as he rushed to the table where Icheb was already starting to move boxes.

"Everyone. This is Miguel from the pizza place." Jamie said as he rushed across the room to put down the stack of pizza boxes before he dropped them.

"You can call me Mike. Sorry about the first pizzas." Miguel said as he followed Jamie at a slower pace.

"Jamie explained everything. No problem." Scott said casually.

Miguel looked at Jamie with question.

"It's okay, baby. These people are alright." Jamie said gently.

"You sure?" Miguel asked cautiously.

"Yeah. I let it slip that we were going on a date and they were nothing but nice about it." Jamie said softly.

Miguel looked around the room, then shyly said, "Okay. I've just learned to be careful about who I come out to. There are some really strange people out there just looking for a reason to hurt someone."

"Trust me, Mike. We understand." Slash said frankly.

Miguel looked at Slash, then around the group. His gaze paused on Lisa for a moment, and finally fixed on Seth.

"I guess you would understand." Miguel said uncomfortably, then glanced at Jamie and seemed to relax a little. "I've got to get back to the shop now. Thanks for not being sore about the first pizzas."

"I'll walk you out." Jamie said as he started to gather the boxes from the first delivery.

"Thanks." Miguel said gently as he also gathered pizza boxes.

* * * * *

"This is a lot better." Seth said with appreciation.

"Oh yeah. The party can begin." Slash said happily.

//Did I hear someone say party?// Jesus asked as he ambled out of his bedroom.

"Yeah, come on in here, little buddy, and get some pizza." Beau said as he took two pieces for himself.

//Are any of those cheese only?// Jesus asked hopefully.

"Yeah. I saw one... hold on." Seth said as he looked through a few different boxes. "Here it is. How many do you want?"

//Just one for now.// Jesus said, sounding a little bit surprised by Seth's offer.

"Where do you want it?" Seth asked as he held the pizza on a paper napkin.

//Does anyone mind if I eat on the coffee table?// Jesus asked the room.

"Go for it!" Slash said, then added, "I'm going to get something to drink. Can I get you anything?"

//A small dish of water if you have one.// Jesus said as he half jumped, half levitated up to the coffee table.

"I'll see what I can do." Slash said as he walked to the kitchenette.

//Louie, aren't you going to have any pizza?// Jesus asked curiously.

"Yeah. I was just going to wait for everyone else to get theirs." Louie said shyly.

"Get in there, guys. This pizza is for you too." Lee said seriously.

Louie shyly nodded, then, with Quaid at his side, made his way to the pizza boxes to make his selections.

//Thanks. I'm always trying to encourage Louie to be more assertive, but I think it will seem to him that he has permission if others will encourage him too.// Jesus said as he nibbled on the edge of his pizza.

"I hope this works for you. We don't really have a lot of choices in there." Slash said as he placed a paper dessert plate of water beside Jesus.

//This is great. Just right. Thank you.// Jesus said happily.

"Aren't you going to have any pizza, Itchy?" Quaid asked quietly.

"No, Quay. I do not ingest this type of nourishment." Icheb said simply.

* * * * *

"Hey, Jesus, Louie was telling me that you like to play chess." Beau said casually.

//Yes. Although I don't get many opportunities to play.// Jesus said honestly.

"Well, we've got a chess board right over there. And as long as I don't have studying or anything like that, I'm just about always up for a game." Beau said frankly.

//How about now?// Jesus asked hopefully.

"I was hoping you'd say that. I've been itching for a game for the past month and my old roommate... well, I doubt that he could figure out the moves in checkers." Beau said as he moved to the game table.

Jesus looked at the empty chair across from Beau, then around the room.

"Did you need something, Li'l Buddy?" Beau asked curiously.

//Something to sit on. The chair is too low for me.// Jesus said honestly.

Beau looked around, then said, "How about a few of the empty pizza boxes? We could stack them up for you."

After a moment to consider, Jesus said, //Yes. That should work just fine.//

"We'll work on getting you a cushion or something later, once we're all settled in and knowing what we're gonna need." Beau said as he walked to the stacks of pizza boxes and found a few empty ones.

"Will this be enough?" Beau asked as he turned to show the stack to Jesus.

//I think so. Let me try it out.// Jesus said, then the stack of empty pizza boxes slowly levitated out of Beau's hands.

"Do you guys mind if we watch you play?" Bobby asked as he approached with Robert at his side.

"No problem. The more the merrier." Beau said as he watched the pizza boxes levitate into place on Jesus' chair.

"I am familiar with the fundamentals of the game, but I would be interested to see a game played." Robert said seriously.

"So you read about it?" Beau asked slowly.

"He probably downloaded it." Slash said as he approached.

Beau looked at Slash with question.

"Robert is Borg, he has computers inside him. Because of that, he can hook up to a computer and learn things that way if he wants to." Slash said casually.

"Oh. I guess that could come in handy." Beau said, then noticed that Jesus was seated on his pizza boxes, waiting for their game to begin.

Robert walked to Slash and put an arm around him as he quietly said, "I like the way you explained being Borg. Thank you, Uncle Joe."

"Anytime." Slash whispered as he returned the hug, then asked, "Hey! Do you and Bobby want to help me unpack my stuff?"

"Yes. I would like that, I will get Bobby." Robert said before rushing away.

Slash turned his attention back to Beau and Jesus and said, "You guys will probably be at this for a while, so I'm going to unpack and I'll be back in a little bit."

//I have a feeling that you'll have plenty of chances to see us play.// Jesus said, then turned his attention fully to the board before him as Beau finished making his move.

* * * * *

"Where's Louie?" Beau asked casually as Jesus levitated his knight to make his move.

//He's in his bedroom, unpacking his things.// Jesus said, then looked at Beau with question, prompting him to make his move.

"You know, it's weird. At first I kind of thought that Louie was, I don't know, controlling you, or making you talk or something like that." Beau said as he considered his next move.

//I really don't know anything about that. I'm just a rat who woke up one day with a kid talking to him.//

"So you don't remember anything from before that day?" Beau asked, then moved a pawn to threaten the knight.

//Just flashes of things. Eat. Sleep. Hide. I really don't like to think about it.// Jesus said frankly, then levitated his knight out of danger.

"I bet. Do you think that if you left Louie, that you'd go back to being a plain old rat?" Beau asked as he studied the board, suspecting that Jesus' move wasn't just a casual event.

//Maybe. But even if I knew for sure that I could leave Louie and still be myself, I'd still want to stay.// Jesus said, then added, //Your queen is in danger.//

"What?" Beau asked, then saw the trap that Jesus had tricked him into. "Hey! You're just trying to suck me into giving up my knight."

A chuckle sounded in Beau's mind, then Jesus said, //Don't blame me for it. You're sucking all on your own.//

"Well, let's see how you like this." Beau said as he moved his bishop to take Jesus' knight.

//I like it just fine.// Jesus said calmly, then moved his rook to take Beau's bishop and said, //Check.//

"What?" Beau asked frantically as he looked over the board.

//That means that my piece wearing the pointy hat can take your king if you don't move it.// Jesus said with chuckles under his mind/voice.

"Smart ass rat." Beau muttered as he studied the board.

//Hillbilly red neck hick.// Jesus retorted, then continued, //Now if we're done name calling, could you move so we can finish this?//

Beau reluctantly reached up and tipped his king on it's side.

"You'll have me in two moves no matter what I do." Beau said in resignation.

//All jokes aside, that was the best game I've played in a long time. I hope you'll consider playing me again.// Jesus said seriously.

"Sure thing, li'l buddy. I used to play at school, but the guys I played weren't very good. I didn't really have to try. I guess I got sloppy." Beau said, then added, "You're the first person to beat me since the last time I played my dad."

Jesus telepathically chuckled, then said, //You called me a person.//

Beau looked at Jesus with a smile and said, "I didn't mean it as an insult. I don't know exactly why you're like this, but you're as much a person as anyone I've ever met."

//Thank you. There have been a few people along the way who've treated me with respect, but you're the only one besides Louie who has ever made me feel like a person.//

* * * * *

"We really need to be going. These guys have classes in the morning." Scott said frankly.

"Yeah. We should probably be getting ready for bed too." Slash said with regret.

"We're just a phone call away." Lee said as he draped an arm around Slash's shoulders and gave him a quick, assuring hug. "You have the number, don't you?"

"Yeah. I've got it." Slash said past the lump in his throat, overwhelmed by the love that he felt for his newly adopted brother.

"Xavier students! Let's move out." Scott said loudly from the front of the room.

"I don't want you to go." Louie said in a whisper to Quaid.

"Come over here." Quaid urged as he started walking across the room.

"Uncle Joe, can you give Louie the phone number so he can call me if he wants to?" Quaid asked as he approached.

"Sure." Slash said, then looked around until he saw the phone. "In fact, why don't I just write the number down by the phone so he can call you whenever he wants to?"

"Yeah. That'd be nice." Quaid said happily as he held Louie close to his side.

Slash smiled at the sight, then walked to the phone to write down the number.

"Is that everyone?" Scott asked from beside the front door.

Robert looked at their group and said, "Yes, Uncle Scott."

"I hope all you guys have a good first day of school. Remember to call us if you need anything at all." Scott said seriously to the group of new students.

"I should go too. I'll walk down with you." Lisa said, then gave Marc a quick kiss on the cheek before joining the group at the door.

"Bye." Slash said in a small voice as he waved at the members of his new family.

Several members of the group waved before they funneled out the door.

* * * * *

The new students stood in silence for a moment, staring at the closed door.

"I feel like this day's gone on forever." Seth said absently.

"Yeah. Last night I slept in my own bed and tonight I'm in a whole other state." Marc said with a disbelieving chuckle.

"We should probably clean this place up before we go to bed." Seth said as he looked around the room.

"How about we do that in the morning? We can pick up the empty boxes and carry them out to the trash when we leave the building." Beau said casually.

"Yeah. That sounds good. I still need to finish unpacking anyway." Marc said seriously.

//Then I suppose it's time to say goodnight.// Jesus said as he levitated down from the stack of pizza boxes at the chess table.

"Yeah. Have a good night, little buddy. Give us a yell if you or Louie need anything." Beau said with a grin.

//Count on it.// Jesus said seriously, then looked at Louie and asked, //Are you ready for bed?//

"Yeah." Louie whispered, then walked immediately to his room.

Seth looked with concern at the others.

"Give him some space and some time to adjust." Slash said quietly.

Seth slowly nodded, looking with concern at the door Louie had just passed through.

The sound of keys rattling and the front door opening drew everyone's attention.

An older teenager with dark brown wavy hair and glasses opened the door, then reached back and picked up two suitcases.

"Hi." Slash said cautiously to the stranger.

"Where is my room?" the new guy asked seriously.

"I guess you'll be sharing a room with me." Slash said, then pointed as he continued, "Right in there."

The stranger immediately walked past the group of boys and into the indicated room.

Some curious glances were exchanged, but nothing was said.

Finally everyone went their own separate ways to get ready for bed.

* * * * *

"How are you doing, Louie?" Seth asked as he sat on his bed.

"Okay." Louie mumbled.

Seth nodded, then quietly said, "Just let me know if there's anything you need so you can be more comfortable."

"I'm fine." Louie said, but the tremble in his voice betrayed his anxiety.

Seth nodded, then took out a Walkman and a pair of headphones.

Louie sat at the head of his bed hugging his knees tight against his chest.

"Crap!" Seth exclaimed with frustration.

Louie jerked at the sound then watched silently as Seth tried to untangle the wires that had become twisted around his horns.

Not being able to really see what he was doing, Seth ended up making the tangle worse.

//Do you need some help?// Jesus asked with a chuckle under his mind/voice.

"I think I can get it, but these horns are nothing but trouble." Seth said with frustration.

//If you'll hold still, I can untangle that for you.// Jesus said in a more serious voice.

"Fine." Seth said with resignation as he let his hands drop.

A chuckle from across the room drew both Jesus and Seth's attention.

Louie was desperately trying to fight down his laughter at the sight of Seth with the mass of wires tangled in his horns.

"It's not that funny." Seth said dryly.

//Are you sure?// Jesus asked with amusement. //Look in the mirror.//

Seth rolled his eyes, then stood from his bed and walked to the mirror over his dresser.

"Yeah. Okay. It is that funny." Seth reluctantly admitted.

//Just stay still for a second and I'll get you untangled.// Jesus said with a mental chuckle.

Seth watched in the mirror as the headphone and wires untangled themselves from around his horns.

//You should probably try putting the headphones on from the back next time.// Jesus said seriously.

"Yeah. I already figured that out. I just forgot. This is all new to me. I've only had the horns for a week." Seth said as he carefully brought the headphones up behind his head and slipped them over his ears.

//Things change. Things always change.// Jesus said frankly. //We all just have to adapt.//

Seth nodded at the words, then noticed that Louie seemed to have a frightened look in his eyes.

"What's wrong, Louie?" Seth asked cautiously.

"Are you mad at me for laughing at you?" Louie asked in a whisper.

"No." Seth said immediately. "If I was mad at anyone, it was at myself for not being able to do something as simple as putting on headphones without making a mess of it."

Louie reluctantly nodded, but didn't seem to be assured.

//He felt your anger.// Jesus explained quietly. //Given everything he's been through, I can understand it making him nervous.//

Seth nodded to Jesus that he understood, then turned to Louie and said, "Louie, if I ever do get mad at you, I promise that I won't hit you or scream at you or anything like that."

Louie looked at Seth uncertainly, but finally gave an almost imperceptible nod.

* * * * *

"Are you already unpacked?" Marc asked as he looked around.

"Yeah. I unpacked while you were getting your ID." Beau said as he sat at his desk and turned on his laptop.

"Oh. Good." Marc said as he opened his suitcase.

When the startup was complete, Beau sat and waited for his laptop to connect to the campus network.

"I wanted to thank you again for helping Lisa the way you did." Marc said quietly as he put his clothes into his dresser.

"No problem. Josh was being an asshole and someone needed to let him know that it's not okay to act that way." Beau said casually, then slowly said, "That's weird. I can't connect to the network."

Marc glanced at Beau, then quietly said, "I should have been the one to protect her."

Beau looked up at the quiet statement and thought about the words. "Don't beat yourself up about it Marc. You're new here and you don't know anyone yet. I've been around Josh for a month now and I know how much of a pussy he really is."

Marc considered for a moment, then smiled as he said, "Thanks, Beau. I guess you're right."

Beau smiled and nodded that he had heard before he turned his attention back to his laptop and said, "If the network's not back up by morning, I'll have to leave early to run my printouts for the day."

"Would you like to listen to some music?" Marc asked as he looked over his stereo to make sure it was hooked up correctly.

"Depends on what kind of music." Beau responded as he started proofreading some text files on his screen.

"It doesn't matter. I liked that CD that you played in the living room. I just think it'd be nice to have some music playing." Marc said honestly.

Beau reached into his laptop bag and pulled out a small wallet of CDs.

"Here, see what you think of this." Beau said casually as he held out a CD to Marc.

As Marc stepped away from the dresser where his stereo was located, a sudden 'pop, pop, pop' sound caused him to turn, then he heard the sound of breaking glass as the shards of the window glass fell to the floor.

"GET DOWN!" Beau said as he dived at Marc.

Beau tackled him, then listened carefully.

He heard the sound of an engine racing and tires squealing outside.

"What's going on?" Marc asked in a whisper.

"A drive-by shooting, I guess. Are you alright?" Beau asked as he slowly backed away.

"I... I... don't know." Marc said absently, then whispered, "I think I've been shot."

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:
I don't believe it. Just when things were getting to be calm and ready for bed, someone has to come by, shooting at people. That sucks. I sure hope Marc is all right. I really like him. Of course, as is always the case, I am ready for another chapter as soon as possible. I can't help it. I guess we should be glad that MM has seen fit to bring us a new chapter of this very good story. I only wish it had more and longer chapters to chew on. "Grin"

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher