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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Ephiginia
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 10

The Guild Master walked along Burgundy Street at a quarter after two, when the French Quarter had fallen into a relative quiet. The meeting this night had been particularly long; the Tithing was to take place in a matter of days. That meant Jean Luc was going to have to brush up on all the old formal rituals, and he wasn't looking forward to the hours of pouring over old books to try and jog his memory.

When, he thought to himself, had been the last time he had actually stolen something? Something of interest or value, like the things he used to pinch as a young man? Years had passed since the leadership of the Guild had fallen to him, and he wasn't sure how much of a blessing that had been. Of course, he had been the one to keep the Thieves from rushing headlong into war with the Assassins when a high-ranking Thief, Elie Soanen, had been murdered; he had been the one to initiate some of the most promising members yet; he had been the one to survive the death of a father, brothers, a mother, a wife, and a stillborn daughter while keeping the Guild strong. His reign would not be soon forgotten. But that didn't keep his thoughts from wistfully turning to the Louvre or Tokyo, places he had traveled to with his mother long ago to lift the paintings and the jewels.

He passed a bar which he had once spent a great deal of time in with some of the scholars from Tulane, when they were studying rhetoric and he was studying the ethics of thieves. It was closed for the morning, of course, but there was a homeless man sitting outside the door, smoking. "Good evening," Jean called. The man nodded in return, but opened his mouth to give thanks as Jean threw a few dollars onto his lap.

"Thank you, sir!"

There was a rustling from above on the rooftops, which the homeless man hadn't heard- Jean heard it only because he had been trained since the day of his birth to keep aware of such things. He glanced up, in time to see a masked face glaring down at him.

He quickly reached under his coat and grabbed the knife he kept there as the figure jumped down to the street, followed by two others dressed in the same trainee Assassin's garb. "What do you think you are doing? There's a treaty in place, you realize," Jean Luc warned.

"The treaty is for the weak ones!" the first Assassin said, before sprinting forward. The bum stood up and knocked the assailant down, with a gasping "HMPH!"

"Back away, and save yourself the anger of your masters," LeBeau said to the other two, who advanced wordlessly. One jumped at him with a knife; the other had a sword.

A brief scuffle followed, in which Jean Luc had the upper hand. The first recovered from his shock and, with a quick series of movements which might have looked nearly liquid had he practiced more, he sent the homeless man into a wall. Leaving Jean against three.

He had no chance, which he realized. He looked about for a way to get away, but before he could make his move, one hand had grabbed his arm, and a knife had slashed into his chest. He yelled, and then fell, kicking. The sound alarmed the three, who quickly took off; one couldn't resist, and took a quick stab with his dagger into Jean's leg before jumping back up to the bar's roof.

Jean Luc's head spun as he tried to prop himself up against the wall, but he finally failed. He had lost consciousness.

There was a sound knock on Lapin's door before it flew open, and his mother appeared in the doorway. "Get up!" she barked, "Remy, go downstairs."

The boys looked at each other groggily. In an effort to crash a party without Jean Luc knowing- that sort of thing had always irked Remy's father- Lapin had invited his cousin "to stay the night." Unfortunately, the party had been canceled, leaving the two of them with nothing to do but stare at the television all night.

"What's de matter?" Lapin asked, yawning.

"Phillipe's here to take you home, Remy," she said, ignoring her son.

That didn't bode well. Uncle Phillipe never left his place outside of the city unless something horrible had happened. Remy did as he was told, and was then ushered into his uncle's truck, which smelled overwhelmingly of fish. "What's de matter?" Remy asked.

"You're needed at home. Somet'ing happen' to your daddy."

With that, Remy's heart froze, and he hardly breathed again until they had screeched up to Jean Luc's house.

The house was spilling out with visitors who had come the instant they had heard the news. Whatever news that was. Each of the family heads were there, with dark looks on their faces. Rosie was trying to calm down several of the neighbors who had walked in, and Henri, along with Bernard, was sitting with his head down on a settee.

The crowd all split, however, Remy appeared. Everyone hushed. "What happened?" he asked Henri.

"Papa got hurt," Henri said, without looking up. "Someone attacked him when he was walking home."


"Assassins," Bernard snarled.

Paul Talley had walked to the center of the front room, and began making some sort of announcement. Remy, however, didn't hear it. Tante Mattie had descended the stairs half-way, and was motioning for him to come, along with Henri. They obeyed immediately, and each took the stairs two at a time.

Jean had been laid out in his bed, which was surrounded by burning candles and incense, and hanging herbs which the healer had brought with her. The doctor who had been called stood to the side, jotting notes down on a clipboard. While Henri approached him and they began to speak in low voices, Remy went to the beside, where he crawled up next to his father and instinctively grabbed his hand.

Mattie didn't stop him. "Remy," she said, quietly, "I t'ink I'd better tell you dis, though it breaks my heart- your papa may not make it."

Remy didn't say anything. He stayed at his father's side until the doctor had left, until the crowd downstairs had dissipated, until Mattie had gone to retrieve something from her house, until Henri had fallen into a chair across the room with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. He stayed there with his eyes wide open, his every thought a prayer. Please, God, please, Jesus, please Mary, don't take my father from me... I need him... Henri needs him... the Guild needs him... I love him...

When the sun rose not many hours later, all that could be heard was a bird singing outside, and Remy and Jean Luc's breathing- one regular in sleep, the other irregular in sickness. Remy didn't let go of his father's hand.

He was moved.

Not to tears; he couldn't weep anymore, nor did his heart have quite that amount of humanity in it still. But as far as stone can be moved, so was Nathaniel Essex.

Jean Luc had been a good father. Perhaps, in his own opinion, not as good as Nathaniel himself might have been, but in Essex's absence, LeBeau had been better than expected. What was more, the boy loved the man, perhaps even more than most children love their fathers, because Jean had saved the boy out of hell.

Sinister looked at his laboratory: the towering equipment, the shuddering mutant specimens locked away in their cages, the DNA samples running through computers, the genetic patterns he had been fashioning on his own. And, in taking all that in, he decided something.

It could wait.

His work, his precious work, could wait.

It would be, after all, in rational thinking, a foolish thing to allow this mutant to be spoiled by emotional trauma at such an age. That wasn't what Essex was thinking as he left his lair, however.

For a brief moment, he was going to allow himself a bit of sentimentality. In whatever form it was that Sinister could feel it.


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