On Shaky Ground

(NOTE: This story is set between Gambit #21 and #22. All characters belong to Marvel and are used without permission. This is essentially my version of the events taking place between the Ceremony of the Unveiling and the Vote of Confidence. Enjoy.)

This story was entered in the X-Day 2003 Competition. 10 people voted for it in the competition. Its final rating was 6.1.

Theoren looked at Gris-Gris, a thoughtful frown on his face. Neither one of them had known why Jean-Luc ordered them to do what they did, but at the time they hadn't questioned it. They did as they were told, beliving that Jean-Luc must've had a good reason to ask for their assistance. Now that the deeds were done, Theoren couldn't help wondering the real reason behind his Uncle's orders. He sighed.

Gris-Gris, his dark eyes stormy, heard the sigh and glanced over at Theoren. The two of them were standing in the hallway outside the meeting room. Moments before, Remy had confronted them regarding their actions, and they had been forced to tell him who had given them the orders to destroy the information Remy had been looking for. Gris-Gris didn't care what the reasons were, only that the job had been accomplished the way Jean-Luc had asked. He couldn't figure out why Theoren was sighing and said so.

"What's wrong, Marceaux?"

Theoren sighed again. "Nothin'. Jus'...do you t'ink Jean-Luc really wanted us to destroy de information, or maybe he had some kind of other motive dat no one knows 'bout?"

Gris-Gris leaned against the wall and stared at the lamp mounted on the wall. "I don' know. All I do know is, he said he didn' want Remy accessin' de information, an' he asked you an' me to make sure he didn' access it. We did what he ordered us to do, an' now we have to do what's right based on it. Who cares what Jean-Luc's reasons were? What's done is done."

"Maybe you're right, Gris-Gris." Theoren admitted, silently hating the idea of any assassin being right about something. "I guess we shouldn' put off talkin' to Bella Donna any longer, huh?"

"Dat would be best, oui."

Inside the meeting room, Remy was still seated in his chair at the head of the room. He stared absently at the door where Theoren and Gris-Gris had disappeared through moments before. He shook his head.

"I don' understand dis!" Remy exclaimed softly to the banners hanging from the ceiling. "Papa left me in charge of de T'ieves Guild, left me to unify dem wit' de Assassins, tol' me I was de one who was s'posed to lead dem to de resurrection of de Old Kingdom. An' den he turns 'round an' orders Theoren an' Gris-Gris of all people to destroy some of de very information we need to help achieve de resurrection? I don' get it!"

Tante Mattie, the spiritual healer of the Unified Guild, joined him from a side entrance. In doing so, she overheard Remy's monologue. "I'm sure your father had his reasons for doin' everythin' he did, Remy."

"Tante Mattie, I jus' don' understand why t'ough. I mean I'm glad Theo an' Gris-Gris didn' do it jus' for fun b'cause dey hate me. Dat's a bit of a comfort. But I don' understand why Papa ordered dem to do somethin' like dis...it's a set-back for de whole Guild, not jus' me. What possible reasons could he have had?"

"I don' know, Chil', but we must have faith dat his reasons were good ones an' dat everythin' will all work out for de best in de end." Tante Mattie assured him with a warm smile. Then her face grew serious again. "Did you know dey're goin' to talk to Bella Donna?"

Remy chuckled bitterly. "I"m sure dey each t'ink dey'd be better suited for de job of Guild Patriarch. But de t'ing is...Papa put me in charge. He said I'm de one who leads de Guild to de resurrection. So technically..."

"Technically, dey can still take de position from you if dey wanted, Remy. Jus' b'cause de prophecies said you're to lead de Guild, doesn' mean it's s'posed to happen right now."

"Oh Lord..." Remy sighed. He realized if they kicked him out of his position now, he'd have to eventually be reinstated in order to fulfill the prophecies. He rather hoped they would. He really didn't want to be patriarch. Not now. Maybe not ever, but really not now.

"Bella Donna? We need to discuss somethin' wit' you." Gris-Gris said as he and Theoren joined the Guild Viceroy in the library.

The blonde-haired woman looked up from the book she was reading, her violet eyes expectant and curious at the same time. She knew what they wanted. She'd been waiting for this moment since the Ceremony of the Unveiling that had revealed absolutely nothing. She knew it reflected badly on Remy's ability to lead the Guild, but she also knew it couldn't have been Remy's fault. She had enough common sense to know that much.

"Yes?" She asked them, closing the book and motioning for them to join her at the table. "What is it?"

"De casket was empty for a reason..." Theoren began. "De same reason why when Remy went lookin' for hospital records relevent to his birth, dey were gone."

Bella Donna raised an eyebrow. "I assumed dere was a good reason for both..."

"Dere was." Gris-Gris assured her. "I destroyed de contents of de casket shortly after Tome an' Hoard took it out of de Antiquary's vaults. An' Marceaux stole de computer records havin' to do wit' LeBeau's birth."

"Well." Bella Donna was curt. "I knew you two hated him, but I didn' t'ink you'd take it dat far. I don' know whether I should be disappointed or impressed."

"We didn' do it b'cause we hate him, Bella Donna." Theoren said. "We did it b'cause we were ordered to do it."

Bella Donna frowned. "I didn' order you to do it...an' if I didn' order you to do it, den who did?" She demanded.

"Jean-Luc." Gris-Gris explained. "He tol' us he didn' wan' Remy accessin' de information he was lookin' for. He ordered us to make sure de information was gone. Den he left Remy in charge an' disappeared. We carried out our orders. An' now..."

"Now...?" Bella Donna pressed, knowing only too well what they were going to say.

"Well you know already dat we don' b'lieve Remy's proper place is leadin' dis Guild..." Theoren stated. "But we also feel it shouldn' be up to Remy or even up to Jean-Luc if he remains in dat position."

"Essentially...we're askin' for a vote of confidence within' de Guild." Gris-Gris finished. "We feel it should be up to de Guild if LeBeau remains our leader, or if someone better suited takes his place."

"I don' know..." Bella Donna began. She understood their point, and also understood what Tante Mattie had told her earlier about the prophecies. Remy was meant to be the leader. She sighed, something that was uncharacteristic for her. 'I hate seein' both sides of t'ings...' She thought.

"I mean no disrespect, Bel, but de vote mus' be obliged. You know dat." Theoren said firmly.

"Yes I realize dat only too well, Theoren." Bella Donna agreed, pushing her thoughts aside. "Very well. De vote will take place. I jus' wonder why Jean-Luc ordered you two to do as you did...an' I wonder if he realized it would put Remy on very shaky ground...?"

"He didn' give us a reason. He jus' told us to do it." Gris-Gris said.

"Remy knows?"

"Yes. He summoned us an' asked us why we did it. We told him." Theoren confirmed.

"Okay. I assume de sooner de vote is held, de better." Bella Donna said thoughtfully. "You two may go. I have some t'ings to t'ink 'bout."

Five minutes after Theoren and Gris-Gris left Bella Donna alone, she was joined by Remy, who looked anything but peaceful and secure. With a sigh he sat down across the table from his ex-wife and gave a wry grin.

"I'm sorry, Remy." Bella Donna began.

Remy chuckled bitterly. "I know, Bel. It's not your fault."

"Dey petitioned for a vote of confidence. You know better dan I do dat I have to listen to dem, we have to hold de vote. It's tradition."

"I said I know, Bel." Remy interrupted. "When?"

"Tomorrow, I s'pose. Give me time to gather my t'oughts an' figure out what I'm gon' say to dem once I call de meetin' to order. I've never done dis kinda t'ing b'fore..."

"Do you t'ink dey're right?" Remy asked suddenly. "Do you t'ink I don' b'long in de position of Patriarch?"

Bella Donna didn't answer for a few moments. "Remy...I don' know. I know you're s'posed to be de leader...you an' Tante Mattie tol' me as much...but..."

"But de Guild now has a right to d'cide if it happens de way de prophecies say it's s'posed to happen." Remy finished with a sad laugh. "I'll stay in town while you guys hold de vote. Stay outta your way."

Remy stood up and started walking away from Bella Donna, but then thought better of it and paused at the door. "Jus' one t'ing, Bel?"

"Oui?" Bel asked.

"Whatever you tell dem, whatever you say...urge dem to do what dey each t'ink is in de best interest of de Guild. Ultimately, dat's what's important, not how dey feel personally towards me, or anythin' like dat."

"I'll do my best, Remy."

Remy returned to his Garden District safehouse, where the Thieves Guild lived, with a heavy heart. Part of him wished he could see the future. He hated not knowing how the vote turned out, although it hadn't even started yet. He was nervous, but it wasn't because he was scared he'd lose the position. He was nervous because he didn't want the position, he never had, and in his heart of hearts, he hoped they'd vote him out so he could go back to not really caring what they did.

He turned his thoughts to his father, and the information he'd received from Theoren and Gris-Gris earlier in the evening. Why did Jean-Luc order them to destroy vital information? Why would he jeopardize everything the Guild had been working towards for centuries? Why would he hand the leadership over to Remy and then turn that leadership into very unstable territory?

Suddenly Remy realized the motive behind Jean-Luc's actions. He wondered if Theoren and Gris-Gris had figured it out, and guessed they probably hadn't at this point. Jean-Luc had always known Remy didn't want the leadership. Remy had never hidden that fact. Jean-Luc knew that if the information was destroyed, it would reflect badly on Remy's ability to lead the Guild. He knew that even though it was Theoren and Gris-Gris who destroyed it, they'd have no choice but to call a vote of confidence.

Even if it was only temporary, until they were all better able to prepare for the resurrection of the Old Kingdom, Jean-Luc's actions were an attempt to give Remy the out he longed for. And now his fate rested in the hands of fourteen thieves and assassins. It was they, and they alone, who would determine who would lead them.