I first noticed CJ a year ago when I was out for a walk near de Guild safehouse. It was July 10. I remember dis b'cause I wrote 'bout it in my journal on the 13th and mentioned dat I'd been watchin' her since de previous Tuesday. Yes, even members of de New Orleans Thieves an' Assassins Guilds keep journals. Well some of us do anyway. In dat journal entry I said I t'ought she looked like an interestin' person. Rather den try to repeat verbatim what exactly I wrote in my journal, I t'ink I'll go find de entry an' use de magic of computers to copy my words exactly. Keep in mind dis was b'fore I even knew what her name was.
"From de looks of her, she's around twenty-four or twenty-five...de same age as Remy, Emil an' Jackie. She's 'bout de same height as Zoe, an' has layered, not-quite-shoulder-length dark brown hair wit' blonde streaks t'rough it. I haven' gotten close enough to her to see what color her eyes are. Her clothes are ratty, worn. Holes, rips and stains in her jeans and shirts. She wears a jean jacket all de time, but once she took it off when she was hot...she looks like she's never had a decent meal in her life. She's a street kid, I'd be surprised if she had a real home even as a child. She's livin' in a run-down shack of a buildin' not too far from de safehouse, but no one in de Guild even knew anyone was livin' dere.
"She's an experienced t'ief an' computer expert too. De latter amazes me more dan de former. As far as I can figure it, she stole a computer, managed to find a way to get electricity in de shack she's in. She's not as experienced as Theoren an' Emil, but she knows her way 'round de internet an' buildin' security systems. She uses dat knowledge to shut systems down an' break into places (like museums) an' steal valuable items. Den she uses her internet aliases and contacts to sell de items for top dollar on online auctions b'fore anyone's even figured out de t'ings have been stolen. Her quick-t'inkin' an' smarts sure make *dis* Guild-titled "harvest disseminator" proud! I've been gettin' de impression she's been a t'ief for years...she prob'ly started very small, de way most of us did as kids. Pickin' pockets an' such. She's in de big leagues now, t'ough, an' would be a most impressive addition to de Guild."
Four days later, I knocked on her door. Dat day, I learned her name, Cassidy Jean, her age (den 24, but she has since turned 25) an' dat her parents have been dead since she was very young. She also showed me her computer setup, which was impressive. In a very short time CJ had b'come a fixture in my life an' de more she tol' me 'bout de way her life had been, de more I jus' wanted to take care of her. It was really weird; I can' really explain it. I found myself b'comin' very attracted to her even t'ough I didn' realize it at first. An' what I really didn' realize was dat CJ was feelin' de same way. In fact, she kissed me only two weeks after we'd first met. Four days later, it hit me dat I was in love wit' her an' would die if she disappeared out of my life.
I really do b'lieve in love at first sight. It might not have been officially "first sight" but dis is close enough. Although for de first while, we took t'ings really slowly an' developed a friendship dat eventually evolved, slowly an' in our own way. Which Tante Mattie an' Jean bot' said was de best way to do it.
Over de course of de next couple of months, CJ moved into de safehouse wit' us after someone tried to kill her by settin' dat shack she called a home on fire. Our relationship grew everyday an' t'ings seemed to be goin' so perfectly. I should have known it was too perfect.
In late November, gave me some shockin' an' horrifyin' news. She had a rare type of brain cancer an' accordin' to her, dere was no cure. None. Jean suggested we discuss options wit' her close friend Dr. Henry McCoy, also known as Beast, who is a member of de X-Men like our Guild patriarch, Remy. We did, when a bunch of us went wit' Jean an' Remy to New York for a vacation at de beginnin' of December. Dr. McCoy tol' us dat wit'out surgery, CJ would die in three-to-six months. If she underwent surgery, she could extend dat to eight-months-to-five-years. He also said he could perform the surgery an' take care of all de before an' after treatments too. He was really great about it. He also gave us news we weren' really prepared for; news dat made de surgery our only option. CJ was pregnant.
Nothin' in dis world could have shocked me more den dat statement. It took days for de reality of it to sink in to me, an' den even t'ough I was really excited 'bout b'comin' a father, I was also twice as worried as I was b'fore. I had come to terms wit' de fact dat I was eventually gon' lose CJ...an' I was determined to enjoy whatever time we had left together. But de idea dat she might die b'fore our child was born...dat our child might not live...scared de hell out of me an' doubled my worryin'.
Dr. McCoy tol' us b'fore he even performed de surgery dat our child was a boy. We didn' have much trouble choosin' a name for him: Jean-Pierre. We chose Jean for three different people. CJ was one (remember, her middle name is Jean), an' Jean our friend was another. De third was Jean-Luc LeBeau, Remy's father an' de former patriarch of de T'ieves Guild. We chose Pierre b'cause it's my middle name. I was named after my father, so it kinda carries de name onto de next generation. From dat point on, our baby b'came like a real person to bot' of us. Our son, wit' his own name, his own identity even b'fore he was born. It was remarkable, how dat made us feel. We'd created dis life an' in spite of de huge obstacle we were facin', it was jus' an amazin' feelin'.
CJ underwent de surgery on January 8. Everythin' after dat was very touch-an'-go, but Dr. McCoy allowed CJ to come back to New Orleans for de weddin' of Fifolet an' Singer in mid-February. She was allowed to stay home wit' us from den on, but we had to go to New York every two weeks for check-ups, an' 'bout two months ago, at de start of May, CJ had to go back on a full time basis, so Dr. McCoy could monitor her an' Jean-Pierre continuously. Unlike b'fore, I've been spendin' most of my time at home, travelin' to New York every weekend to be wit' CJ. Dat pretty much brings us up to right now.
I was at home, watchin' television wit' Emil, Claude an' Theoren, four days ago when de safehouse phone rang. Mercy answered it and none of us t'ought anythin' 'bout it until she took de cordless phone extension into de livin' room.
"Genard...it's for you."
"Who is it, Merce?" I asked, frownin'. I was suddenly worried an' didn' know why.
Mercy sighed, handin' me de phone. "It's Dr. McCoy. He says it's an emergency."
I took the phone from my friend, my hand shakin'. De only t'ought in my head was 'It's too soon...' an' as I put the phone to my ear, I prayed dat my feelin' was wrong. "Dr. McCoy? What's wrong?"
"I believe it would be in everyone's best interests if you would come up here as soon as possible, Genard." Dr. McCoy replied.
"Why?" I demanded, my voice shakin' as much as my hand was. "What happened?"
Dr. McCoy's kind, friendly voice sighed on the other end of the phone. "Some complications have developed that I could not forsee happenin' dis soon. CJ has been asking for you. Genard, may I be frank with you?"
"We need to act with extreme haste. If we don't, you could lose both of them. I strongly urge you to get on the next plane here."
"I'm on my way. T'anks." I said, hangin' up de phone and literally droppin' it on de floor in disregard. I didn' care. I couldn' even t'ink. I jus' sat dere wit' my head in my hands, a look of helpless shock on my face, until Theoren said my name.
I looked up, jolted out of my silent shock. "I have to go. Could one of you call de airport an' find out when de next flight to New York leaves? I gotta get some t'ings together...I t'ink I'm gon' be gone for awhile..."
"Of course." Theoren said, pickin' up de phone as I headed upstairs.
Tante Mattie was waitin' for me in my bedroom, sittin' on my bed. De tears dat had been buildin' since I listened to what Dr. McCoy tol' me started fallin' de second I saw her an' for a few moments, I lost control. I fell to my knees by her, cryin', allowin' her to hold me de way she used to when I was a little boy. She said nothin' for what seemed like a very long time.
"You won' lose him, Genard."
I looked up at her, scared an' hopeful at de same time. "How can you know dat? It's too early...he'll never survive even wit' everythin' Dr. McCoy could do..."
"Chil', do you trust me?" Tante Mattie asked suddenly.
"Of course I do."
"De b'lieve me when I tell you he'll be okay. I can' say how I know, I jus' do. Trust me." She gave me a warm hug an' den stood up as Claude appeared in de doorway. "Now I b'lieve you came up here to pack a bag, so you better do dat."
I threw a few t'ings into a bag an' looked at Claude. "Dere's a plane dat leaves in an hour. I'll drive you if you want." He said.
I used to t'ink planes went so fast, but on dat day, it felt like de flight took forever. When it finally ended, Remy an' his friend Ororo Munroe, also known as Storm, met me at de airport an' took me back to de Xavier School, which is where CJ was. On de way, Ororo put her hand on my shoulder.
"It will be alright in the end, my friend."
All I could do was smile sadly at her. I didn' quite b'lieve dat right den, an' couldn' even pretend to. As if she understood, she offered to take my bag to de guestroom dat had been designated as mine if I wanted to go right down to de MedLab to see CJ an' Dr. McCoy.
Dr. McCoy met me at de doors of de MedLab. "Hello, Genard. We've been expecting you. Theoren called and told me when your flight was leaving. I'm glad you could come so soon. Come in. CJ is sleepin'. I'd rather not wake her just yet, but we have to talk and we may as well do it here. Please, have a seat."
I sat down on one of de stools in de MedLab after glancin' over at de bed where CJ was sleepin' peacefully enough. "You said on de phone dere's complications? What kind of complications?"
Dr. McCoy sat down across from me. "With Jean-Pierre's due date not being until the middle of August, I wasn't expecting this to occur until closer to that time, although this is perhaps for the best in the long run. You know the surgery itself was very stressful on the baby, and I believe I explained how the post-surgical treatments could cause added stress to him, correct?"
"Oui..." I nodded. "Dr. McCoy...what're you sayin'...?"
"You and CJ have to decide what to do. I haven't discussed your options with her yet, I wanted to wait until you got here." Dr. McCoy said. "I wish I could tell you this could wait, but unfortunately it can't."
I nodded again an' we woke CJ up. CJ got right to de point, de way I couldn' for some reason. "I know I'm gon' die, Dr. McCoy, but what is all dis 'bout?"
"Yes, you are going to die, CJ. Unfortunately we cannot change that fact." Dr. McCoy confirmed. "However, we have a problem right now that only the two of you can decide how to fix. I'm afraid that Jean-Pierre is in extreme distress right now. He's started to react very badly to the treatments you have been undergoing since the surgery and it is my professional belief that if we do not stop the treatments, he will die."
"But if we stop de treatments..." I stammered. "CJ will die sooner..."
"Unfortunately yes. Mostly likely very quickly. And if we do that, I cannot give you a complete guarantee that Jean-Pierre will survive. We do have another option, though, one that might save both of you if we act quickly enough."
"What's dat?" CJ asked, her voice shakin'.
"We continue your treatments as scheduled, and do a C-section." Dr. McCoy replied. "There is no one hundred percent guarantee, but it is the best option I can give you."
Dr. McCoy left us alone to discuss our options for a little while. B'fore I could say a word, CJ spoke, her voice filled with a quiet resolve. "De operation will prob'ly kill me, Genard. But Dr. McCoy can prob'ly do more to help Jean-Pierre den anythin' he'd get if he stayed in me."
Tante Mattie's words of only a few hours before came back to my mind and I sighed, tears springin' to my eyes. "Tante Mattie tol' me I wasn' gon' lose him..."
"...but you always knew you were gon' lose me sooner or later." CJ finished softly, wipin' a tear off my cheek.
"I was kinda hopin' for later..." I chuckled sadly.
"I know." CJ replied. "But if we don' do dis, he'll die too. At least dis way, he'll have a chance."
"CJ..." I wrapped my arms around her an' held her close to me, de way I used to do when our relationship was still new an' developin'.
"You know I'm right." She whispered. I nodded even t'ough she couldn' see my face from her position. "Genard...I don' want him to die...he deserves every chance we can give him. We're his parents."
A moment or so later, I went to get Dr. McCoy, who was waitin' out in de hallway. "We've decided to go wit' de best option." I told him. "Whenever you want to do the C-section, we're ready."
"On de one hand, you look like a true father-to-be, Genard, but on de other hand, you're too worried to truly fit dat description."
"I jus' want dis to be over, Rem." I sighed. "I'm scared...more scared den I've been since...God...I don' even remember when de last time I was dis scared was."
"I do." Remy was suddenly standing beside me, his hand on my arm. "De day your father was killed by de assassins. Dat's de last time I've ever seen you look as scared as you do now. Trust Tante Mattie's intuition, G. She's never wrong. Jean-Pierre will be okay, or she wouldn' have said so."
"Do you really b'lieve dat, Remy?" I asked suddenly, turnin' to look at him, wantin' nothin' more den to see faith an' truth in dose strange red eyes of his. B'fore he could answer me, de door opened an' Professor Xavier floated in on his hoverchair.
"Genard. Come in here please."
I followed him in, unsure of what was waitin' for me. Dr. McCoy had gone into another part of de MedLab, takin' Jean-Pierre wit' him. CJ looked at me, smilin' faintly. Professor Xavier left us in peace an' I wondered why for only a moment.
"I don' have much time..." CJ said softly. "Dr. McCoy says he'll need a lot of care...he'll have to be here for awhile...but he'll be okay..."
I sat down on a chair I pulled right up to de head of de bed, so I could be close to her. "Did you see him...?"
"Yeah...he's so small...an' he's so perfect...Genard...I know I don' have to tell you dis...but...take care of him..."
"Always. He's our son, remember?" I said, allowin' de tears to fall from my eyes.
"I will never leave you...I will be wit' you in spirit for as long as you live...I wish I could be here to see him grow up in person...but I can'...so...tell him 'bout me...please..."
I nodded. "I will."
"T'ank you...for de past year...for everythin' you've given me...you're a remarkable person...you'll be a wonderful father...i love you..." CJ's voice trailed off an' I knew she wasn' able to say anythin' more.
"I love you too..." I whispered as her eyes closed for de final time.
I sat dere, my head buried in my arms, cryin' as if my heart was breakin'...b'cause it was. CJ had been in my life for so brief a time, but she had had de most amazin' impact on my life. It almost seemed at first dat her impact was gone now dat she was gone, but den a door opened an' closed as Dr. McCoy came to get me.
"Genard? Do you want to come meet your son?"
I looked up with a tearful smile on my face. "Yeah...I do."
De second I saw him, all wrapped up in a white blanket in de incubator, all my t'oughts 'bout CJ's impact bein' gone vanished. As long as dat little boy was alive, CJ would be alive an' her impact on my life would never fade. "Oh my gosh...CJ was right...he's so tiny!" I exclaimed quietly so I wouldn' wake him up. I looked over at Dr. McCoy an' Professor Xavier. "Can I hold him...?"
"Not yet. Perhaps tomorrow." Dr. McCoy replied. "He just went through a big ordeal and needs his rest. And so do you. Also, he's going to have to stay here under my care for a few weeks. If he develops well, I don't see why he couldn't be home with you in time for Jackie and Emil's wedding."
"Okay." I said. "But jus' so you know, I'm not goin' home until you say he can come wit' me. If dat's okay wit' you of course, Professor."
"It's fine, Genard. I wasn't expecting anything else from you. You're more than welcome here to be close to your son."
He has CJ's eyes. For now anyway. Tante Mattie always says dat all babies have blue eyes when deir born, but if it's in de genes for de baby to have brown eyes, like me for instance, de eyes will turn color. De first time she said dat to me, I told her I didn' b'lieve her, an' den she showed me pictures. When I was born, my eyes were blue. Now dey're brown. I really should learn not to question Tante Mattie.
I made a promise to my son de night after he was born. I t'ink all parents do dat...dey see dis innocent, helpless little baby dat depends on dem for everythin' an' dey feel compelled to make promises an' den try for de rest of deir lives to keep dose promises. My promises were actually quite simple. I promised him dat I would always be dere for him even when he's a teenager an' doesn' want me dere. I promised him dat I would protect him from everythin' harmful in de world I could, an' take care of him if I couldn'. An' I promised him dat I would do my best to give him de absolute best life I could possibly give him.
Three simple promises dat are also extremely complex. How hard could it possibly be? I t'ink, as I look over at him sleepin' while I write dis dat he and I in for a very long, complicated, difficult, remarkable an' wonderful journey. An' it's gon' be worth every second.
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