Theoren Marceaux leaned on the rail that closed in the front porch of the Garden District safehouse, smoking a cigarette and watching, amused, as children played in the street. Among them was his little brother, Etienne, still thirteen years old after all these years and numerous cousins he couldn’t keep track of. Dere really are too many…but I wouldn’ have it any other way. An’ I don’ t’ink anybody else would either.
He was joined momentarily by Gris-Gris, once his nemesis, now a colleague. The big voodoo master was still trying to adjust to being a husband again, now that Lorraine was back, and got no end of joy out of listening to his adopted daughter Jasmine pester her new mama about her soon-to-be-born baby brother.
Gris leaned against the wall of the house behind Theoren and cocked an eyebrow. "Didn’ know you smoked, Marceaux." Theo chuckled, not surprised Gris was the first one to pick up on his new habit. "I didn’. I shouldn’. But...my father tends to have dat effect on people."
"Ah." The sound was a knowing one. Gris’ own elders tended to have the same effect. After being on their own for so many years, having most of their families come back from beyond was difficult to get used to. Fathers weren’t apt to stop being the bossy patriarchs even though their sons were quite capable of taking care of business on their own. It was a little hard on the nerves.
"T’ings sure have changed, huh?" Theo commented, watching the young ones play tag on the street.
"Oui, dat dey have." Gris agreed. "Quite a few of us are getting second chances we t’ought we’d never have. Dat’s amazin’ in an’ of itself."
"It is, yes. So is de fact dat Genard has mutant powers an’ Emil is one of de mos’ powerful an’ influential person in de world at dis point." Theo mused. "An’ let’s not get started on Danielle...I have to say we’ll never be wit’out drama as long as she’s ‘round."
Mercy LeBeau stepped out onto the porch and handed each man a glass of lemonade. "An’ she ain’ goin’ anywhere. It’s complicated as hell but dose two are two sides of de same coin. Dey’ll never be able to be apart. I t’ink dey’re finally startin’ to realize dat, an’ I’m glad, b’cause it’s really hard to watch dem hurtin’ each other unintentionally." Mercy stopped, having seen Theo’s cigarette. "Theoren Marceaux!"
Theoren cringed. "I know, I know. Make my father go ‘way an’ I’ll stop, I promise."
Mercy sighed, disappointed and disgusted, shaking her head with disapproval. "Do not let your brother see you smokin’."
The three companions watched as Lucas Alouette, also known as Foxy, raced by at full tilt in all his Arctic fox glory, being chased by Emil’s much-larger German Shepard dog, Taro, while Gina Cordeau, Mercy’s adopted daughter, laughed from the sidelines.
"How could we forget de Parisians?" Gris asked. "Dey turned our lives ‘round when dey showed up on our doorstep de night after Genard destroyed Candra once an’ for all. In fact, dey were de start of all dis madness."
"Not exactly." Mercy countered. "If I remember correctly, everythin’ started when Danielle crashed into our livin’ room, back when she was startin’ to get used to bein’ a Phoenix."
"Oh yeah dat’s right." Gris nodded. "But de Parisians definitely added to de chaos. I can still see de look on Bel’s face when Dominique blew up over half our mansion..."
Theoren laughed. "I didn’ t’ink dat was Dominique’s fault, though."
Gris chuckled. "Non, it wasn’. But you couldn’ tell Bel dat."
"Non, I don’ s’pose you could." Theo said. "I wonder what Bel would say now, if she was here."
Mercy rolled her eyes. "She’d tell Sasha Veritani to go back to Italy an’ stay dere, dat’s what she’d do. I can’ see Bel acceptin’ her cousin an’ jus’ sittin’ down an’ listenin’ to whatever she had to tell us."
"Oh you never know, Mercy. She might have." Theoren countered.
"I don’ t’ink so," Gris said. "She hated Lorraine. Dey came to blows so many times it was almost comical. Chances are good she would have treated Sasha de same way. Still, she was very selfless in givin’ up her life to go in Danielle’s place to be a tool of de Apocalypse...it was a side of her I’d only rarely seen."
"She impressed us, dat’s for sure."
They turned and nodded greetings to their Guild patriarch and leader, Remy LeBeau, who was down during a very brief break from his time with the X-Men. Remy’s red eyes glowed slightly as he continued speaking.
"Everythin’ dat’s happened in de pas’ four months still amazes me when I t’ink of it. An’ I t’ink what’s mos’ amazin’ is de fact dat we’re so much closer to achievin’ what we were meant to do in de first place: resurrect de Old Kingdom. It seems surreal, de t’ings we’ve learned ‘bout our fam’ly history an’ who we’re descended from, but it actually makes sense dat Candra would originally be a religious fanatic who started her own religion. It also makes sense dat she’d turn dat faith out of her life once she got bored, which we all know she did very quickly, resultin’ in de separation of the Church members into de Guilds."
"What baffles me is de fact dat Emil is de las’ True Saint. He seems like de very least likely candidate for havin’ dat kind of power an’ responsibility." Theoren commented thoughtfully.
"He is de only one for de job an’ he’s de right one for de job, whether he knows it or not." Remy replied firmly. "An’ I t’ink we’re gon’ end up seein’ a lot of de rest of us have jobs to do durin’ our time on dis Earth as well. We jus’ don’ know what dey are yet."
They lapsed into silence for a few moments, watching the children. The silence was eventually broken by Mercy’s soft voice.
"What’s gon’ happen if de people dat were transported out of Nawlins come back an’ want deir homes an’ businesses back...? I mean, de tourists came back..."
"Oui, de tourists came back...God never said dey wouldn’. Jus’ like She never said de people who lived here would never come back either. But She transported dem out of here, an’ gave us de city. She also gave us mos’ of our fam’lies back." Remy said. "I don’ b’lieve dey’re gon’ come back, Mercy, but I don’ know for sure. Emil might know better. An’ if dey do, we’ll deal wit’ it, de same way we dealt when de tourists started comin’ back."
"I hope you’re right, Remy. It’s really rather nice to have de whole city to raise de future generations in. An’ dere’s so many of us now, b’tween all of us an’ our fam’lies an’ all of de Parisians an’ deirs...we’d never be able to live in de tunnels or in a couple of large houses."
"Exactly. So let’s jus’ go on de idea dat de people aren’ gon’ come back, an’ if dey do, we’ll deal wit’ dat den. No sense worryin’ ‘bout it now if it might now happen." Gris interjected.
Mercy went back into the safehouse to start supper, while Theoren and Gris headed off to their own homes, collecting Etienne and Jasmine on the way, leaving Remy standing on the front step of the safehouse he had bought so many years before, looking up at the sky and thinking about all the things that had happened in the Guild in the last six months.
Who would have known dat in six months, so much would have changed for us? Some for de better, some for de worse, all of it interestin’. An’ I don’ t’ink many of us would change a t’ing if we could.
It all started in late fall 2003, when a certain young Phoenix host crash landed in the safehouse living room on her way to visit her new friends in New Orleans and realizing too late that she didn’t know how to stop when flying around as a Phoenix....