"I'm scared Genard." Emil Lapin said quietly. He looked in the mirror on the dresser in front of him at his own reflection and the reflection of his close friend Genard Alouette. He hated to admit it, but his hands were shaking as he attempted to straighten his tie properly.
"Jus' relax, mon ami. You got nothin' to be scared of." Genard replied.
"I shouldn' be scared. Logically, I know dat. But my mind ain' listenin' to me. I'm shakin'. Jeez, why am I shakin'?"
Genard laughed. "I don' know. Why're you shakin'? It's not like you don' wan' do dis...here, let me help you wit' dat, dey can be kinda tricky."
Emil turned around and allowed Genard to fix his bow tie. "Okay, y'know what? I'm marryin' de woman I love in forty-five minutes. Ergo, I am not scared. We been plannin' dis for a year an' now is not de time to start gettin' nervous."
"Dat's right." Genard sighed as the door opened. Both young men turned around to see their friend Zoe Ishihara, who had been entrusted with the job of taking care of Genard's newborn son for the day. Genard looked at the beautiful young Asian woman with concern. "Zoe, what's wrong?"
"He's fussing, what else?" Zoe laughed. "I have a feeling he thinks there's too much excitement and noise around here. Can't say I blame him, though."
"Aww, here, let me take him." Genard went over and took the little boy into his tuxedo-clad arms. He sighed slightly when he noticed that his son stopped fussing immediately upon being closer to him. He laughed and sat down on one of the chairs, addressing the boy. "Jean-Pierre, you can' possibly stay wit' me durin' de ceremony. I have an important job, I have to give your Uncle Emil de ring when he's asked for it, so he can put it on your Aunt Jackie's finger. I know you don' understand dat, but you will someday. Now I need you to be good for Zoe, okay?"
Emil watched with a soft smile on his face as Genard gently kissed his son on the forehead and handed him back to Zoe, who then left to get a good seat for the wedding, close enough to the door so that she could quickly take Jean-Pierre out if he started screaming part way through the ceremony. "You're really lucky to have him, y'know."
"Yeah, I know. Ev'ry time I t'ink 'bout de fact dat six weeks ago, he almost died, it makes me appreciate him an' love him even more." Genard agreed. "He's a blessin', dat's for sure."
"Do you wish t'ings were diff'rent? I mean, I know you miss her, but..."
Genard got up from his seat and looked in the same mirror Emil was using to attempt to put his hair in place. "Emil, it's like dis. Yes, I miss CJ, I miss her ev'ry single day, an' dat will never change. Of course I wish she hadn' gotten sick, but if she hadn', we certainly wouldn' have had a child right now. I wish she'd lived longer dan she did, but if it hadn' been for de surgery, she wouldn' have lived long enough to give Jean-Pierre a fightin' chance. Dis whole t'ing is full of ups an' downs, pros an' cons, and while I miss CJ and wish we could've had more time together, I wouldn' trade de time we had an' what I have as a result of dat for anythin' in de world."
"You got a good outlook on everythin', y'know dat G? I'm glad you were able to bring Jean-Pierre home in time for today, too." Emil commented. "Now everyone in our fam'ly is here, which is de way it should be on a day like dis."
"Yeah." Genard said. He was about to add something when another voice appeared from apparently nowhere.
"You two sure look spiffy."
Emil and Genard both laughed and Emil shook his head at his cousin and godfather, Theoren Marceaux. "Theo, de word spiffy is more old-fashioned dan you are..."
"So? You still look spiffy." Theoren laughed. "Dey're gettin' ready to start downstairs, dat's why I came up. Genard, can I have a few minutes alone wit' Emil?"
Genard nodded and walked over to the door. "Of course. I'll be waitin' in out in de hall."
Theoren went over and stood by Emil, looking at the younger man in awe and disbelief. "Mon Dieu...look at you...Emil just when did you grow up, because I t'ink I missed it."
"Non, you didn', you were right here de whole time. I guess you didn' notice so much 'cause I don' act like a grown-up a lot of de time." Emil laughed.
"Yeah, dat's true." Theoren agreed, holding the door open. "C'mon, we gotta get down dere b'fore Jackie does. Dat would be some embarrassin', wouldn' it?"
"Oh don' even go dere, Theo, I swear. I don' wan' t'ink 'bout t'ings like dat...hey...wait a sec." Emil stopped and smiled.
"Thank you." Emil said.
"Thank you? What for?" Theoren was confused. He shut the door again, because he knew they had a couple minutes to spare before they absolutely had to be downstairs, so he wasn't worried.
Emil laughed. "For everythin', but especially for bein' dere for me all my life, an' for not lettin' me make too big a fool outta myself. An' for bein' you."
"I may not say it as often as I should," Theoren began in reply, his voice quiet. "But I love you, kid. I'm so proud of you, an' I am so glad I can be here today..."
Emil took a risk at messing up his tux and gave his cousin a hug. "I love you too. Now how 'bout we go get dis done, huh?"
In another wing of the house, Jackie LeBeau was putting the final touches on her bridal ensemble. She was being assisted by her sister-in-law, Mercy LeBeau, and their friend Desiree Boudreaux, known in the Guild family as Singer. Singer had been married six months before, on Valentine's Day, to her fellow assassin, Fifolet, and they now had a three month old daughter named Cheryl, who was laughing and cooing away in her seat watching the events around her.
Much to Jackie's surprise, Singer took a small box out of a drawer in the room. "When Fifolet an' I got married, Jean sent me dis to wear an' she tol' me I could keep it until you got married so you could wear it too. It's de whole "somethin' borrowed" t'ing, an' I am more'n happy to give it to you on Jean's behalf today."
"Oh Singer..." Jackie breathed as she opened the box and remembered the earrings and necklace from Singer's wedding. "Dat was so nice of Jean, to do dis for us...Help me put them on?"
"Of course." Singer clasped the necklace around Jackie's slim neck as Mercy and Jackie each put an earring in one of Jackie's ears. When they were done, Mercy helped Jackie get her veil and train straight and on properly and then she and Singer stood back to survey the outcome.
"Jack, you are beautiful. Absolutely beautiful." Mercy said. "How do you feel?"
"I'm nervous as hell, which makes no sense because I want to do dis, y'know? My hands are cold, see?" Jackie laughed, grabbing Mercy's arm, her cold hands causing the older woman to scream and pull away laughing.
"Holy...!" Mercy exclaimed. "Seriously though, you feel okay? When I was marryin' Henri, I felt like throwin' up for two days b'forehand b'cause I was so nervous of screwin' somethin' up."
Jackie walked over to where Cheryl had fallen asleep in her seat and smiled down at the little girl. "I'm fine, Merce. Honest. Emil an' I have been plannin' dis day for a year, you know dat. It's jus'...right. It feels right. I also wouldn' mind havin' one of dese charmin' little people in my life too, y'know? Aside from Cheryl an' Jean-Pierre, I mean."
"Dey're like no other people in de world, Jackie, I can tell you dat much." Singer said softly.
"Yeah, dat's what Genard's been sayin'." Jackie said. She gently ran a finger along Cheryl's dark hair and then turned back to the full-length mirror she'd spent so much time in front of in the past little while. "Y'know, I wish Jean could be here today. I wish she'd been there for you too, Singer, an' de jewelry is a nice way of lettin' us know she's t'inkin' of us, but I kinda wish she was here helpin' me get ready an' fussin' over de babies de way we all know she would."
"It would be nice to see her again, oui." Singer replied. "She's been gone almost a year now. But it's somethin' she an' Scott had to do, dey had to try an' make t'ings better for Rachel. We can' blame dem for dat."
"I don'. Good lord...I don'. I could never. Dey have to do what's right, plain an' simple. An' if dey'd been given dis chance an' not taken it, we all know we woulda been disappointed in Jean. She did de right t'ing, an' I'm proud of her for it. I jus' wish she could call or visit every once in awhile, or get computer access up on Alaska so we could talk to her an' let her know what's goin' on in our lives." Jackie commented. "Dat's all."
Mercy sighed. "We all feel de same way, Jackie. But right now, we have to take what we can get an' know dat Jean's t'inkin' 'bout you an' Emil today."
"Yeah. Hey...I jus' realized something! Jean's jewelry is de somethin' borrowed, right? Well, I don' have de somethin' old, somethin' new or de somethin' blue. Help!" Jackie laughed.
"Oh lord! We can' have you gettin' married wit'out dat...let's see now..." Mercy smiled. "Your dress is old, remember? Tante Mattie altered de one Jean-Luc had made for Cosette so it would fit you. Dat takes care of de old part. Now, for somethin' new...Singer can you help?"
Before Singer had a chance to answer, the door opened and Remy, Jackie's older brother, who also happened to be Emil's best friend, joined them. "I can, ma soeur. Somethin' new, is dat what you need?"
"Yeah, dat an' somethin' blue. What do you have?" Jackie asked.
"Well, I have dis." Remy replied, handing Jackie a package. "It came in de mail dis mornin'. It would have gotten here earlier, but de rest of de DXM didn' realize how slow de mail would be gettin' out of Westchester. I t'ink dey're upset dey can' be here for you today."
"Oh!" Jackie exclaimed. She took the parcel from Remy and opened it. Inside there was a homemade card with notes for her and Emil from each member of the Dark X-Men, her best friends and former-teammates. A second card contained notes from the members of the X-Men she had gotten closest to while she was in New York. Also in the parcel was a brand new book, the latest hardcover masterpiece by Stephen King, Jackie's favorite author. Jackie knew the DXM didn't have a lot of money and it had taken them a lot of saving and sacrifice to be able to afford such an expensive novel. "Oh my lord...dis is incredible...if I had more time I'd call dem right now..."
"What 'bout de somethin' blue? We don' have dat yet." Mercy said.
Singer, who had started rummaging through one of the drawers, finally pulled out the answer to the riddle. "Here we go! Put it on."
"Oh good grief, Singer..." Remy groaned, turning away, pretending to be embarrassed.
Jackie, on the other hand, laughed hysterically. "Well it's blue an' I still need one, so sure, why not!" With that, she took the blue piece of lace and put sat down, putting it around her leg with a wink at Mercy and Singer, much to their amusement.
Remy cleared his throat. "We gotta get goin' here, ladies. Part of de reason I came up here was a need to shoo you two an' Cherie down to take your seats an' den escort dis lovely bride down de aisle."
"Okay, okay, we can take a hint, Remy." Singer joked. She and Mercy both hugged Jackie and then she picked up Cheryl's chair and followed Mercy downstairs to join the rest of the waiting guests.
Once they were alone, Jackie and Remy looked at each other, red eyes and purple eyes locking and somehow each of them was thinking of the same thing. Remy said it first. "You're a beautiful bride, Jackie. Papa would've loved to see you today. Heck, I know he would've loved to be in my place."
"I miss him, Remy. I miss him a lot. I'm glad you're here walkin' me down de aisle in his place, but I really miss him. I know it would've meant a lot to him if he could have done what you're about to do, an' it would have meant a lot to me too. He was de only father either of us ever had, an' dat's somethin' special. But you know what I t'ink?"
"I t'ink he'll be dere. I t'ink if we could see de spirits of dead people, Emil an' I would see our fathers an' so many other long-dead members of our family standing at de back of de room, watchin' us get married. An' dat makes me feel good inside."
"Yeah...yeah. Dat's a good feelin'. An' I t'ink you're right. So." Remy offered his little sister his arm. "Are you ready?"
Jackie smiled as she took Remy's arm. They walked down the hall to the staircase and were just about to start going down when Jackie paused.
"Somethin' wrong, chere?"
Jackie laughed. "Non. Nothin' wrong. But to answer your question from b'fore, yeah. I'm ready. Let's go."
Never in all the time he knew Jackie had Emil ever seen her looking that beautiful. As she stood beside him, he literally could not take his eyes off her. Her face had a faint flush to it from excitement and some nervousness, and her purple eyes were bright. She was incredible. That was the only word Emil could think of to describe her.
Jackie felt him looking at her and glanced over at him, catching his eye. They exchanged a smile and continued to pay attention to Minister Hoard, who had been chosen to marry them after Fifolet and Singer had used Minister Tome. Neither Emil or Jackie minded being stuck with Hoard. They weren't fond of either minister, but Hoard was a little more human than Tome was, so they felt the choice was fine.
One good thing about having Hoard run the show was the fact that he wasn't nearly as long-winded as Tome was. He didn't waste much time going on and on about the sanctity of marriage and other normal wedding speeches like that. He touched on the key points and then got right to the actual wedding.
"Do you Jacqueline Rochelle LeBeau, take Emil Francois Lapin to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have an' to hold from dis day forward, for richer an' for poorer, in sickness an' in health, til death do you part?"
Jackie's voice shook as she answered him, tears forming in her eyes. "I do."
Hoard couldn't help but smile. He knew how nerve-wracking getting married was. He turned to Emil. "An' do you Emil Francois Lapin, take Jacqueline Rochelle LeBeau to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have an' to hold from dis day forward, for richer an' for poorer, in sickness an' in health, til death do you part?"
"I do." Emil replied, unsure which was shaking more, his voice or his hands.
When given their cues, Genard and Bella Donna, who had happily accepted to be Jackie's maid of honor, handed Emil and Jackie the rings.
After the rings were exchanged and the remaining vows, prayers and hymns were said and done, and the proper papers were signed, Hoard had the pleasure of doing what everyone in the room was waiting for.
"Ladies an' Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Emil an' Jacqueline Lapin."
With bright, happy smiles on their newlywed faces, Emil and Jackie paused before beginning to head back down the aisle, but suddenly it seemed as though time had stopped. Not a sound could be heard in the room except for the anxious voice of Mercy, the sound of which wiped the smiles right off Emil's and Jackie's faces.
"Tante Mattie? Tante? Tante Mattie are you okay?"
Everyone crowded around as Mercy turned over the seeminging unconscious healer and checked for a pulse. "Oh my God..." Mercy said a few seconds later, her green eyes filling quickly with tears that wasted no time in falling down her cheeks. "She's dead..."
Not a person in the room was uneffected by those two words. Tante Mattie had been the mother figure and spiritual healer for both the thieves and the assassins for as long as they could remember. Uncontrollable sobs could be heard around the room as they leaned on each other for support. Almost surprisingly, Gris-Gris voiced the thoughts of all.
"How could we not know?"
Up in a small Alaskan town, a red-haired woman suddenly stopped peeling potatoes. Her name was Jean Summers and she was a good friend of the guild members in spite of the distance which now separated them indefinitely. The second Tante Mattie, the woman Jean had come to know as a second mother, had died, Jean knew. She sensed it and it nearly broke her heart. She looked out the window, up at the sky, and whispered,
"Be strong, my friends. Take care of each other. And like your ancestors and other deceased loved-ones, she will never, ever leave you."