Punishment: Chapter Eight

"Jean, you should get some rest." Scott lay a hand gently on his wife's shoulder. "You can't do anything for them right now, they're resting, like Hank said they should."

It was two days since Jean and Logan had brought a very injured Questa back to the Institute. In that time, neither he nor Emil had woken up. Jean was sitting in a chair in between the two MedLab beds. Emil was to her left, Questa to her right. Both young men were hooked up to monitors and respirators. It was going on midnight and Jean was exhausted. She was worried sick about her two friends and had barely left their side since she and Scott had arrived. Emil was slowly getting better, but Questa had, as Hank predicted, developed pneumonia, and was in bad condition.

"I know, Scott, I know. But I hate to leave them alone..." Jean admitted.

Scott was thoughtfully quiet for a few moments. "Why don't I stay with them, then, if you're worried about leaving them alone? I can handle sitting here with them for a few hours while you get some sleep." He suggested finally. "Besides, I'd like to talk to them, even if they can't talk back at the moment."

Jean hesitated, but finally agreed. "Okay. I don't need to remind you what to do if something goes wrong with one of them do I...?"

"Of course not!" Scott laughed. "Call Hank and then call you. Now shoo! I'll see you in the morning." He kissed her gently and she left the MedLab.

Scott sat down in the same chair between the beds where Jean had been and shook his head. "You know, boys, there's a good chance if something were to go wrong, she'd know it before I would. That's just how she is." He kept talking even though neither one of them was awake, because he had things he wanted to say to them. "Leaving here was hard...hard on both of us. This mansion was our home for so long...the people here our family...and it was an extremely tough decision to leave. We couldn't think of any other alternative, though, and eventually, we got used to the idea somewhat, especially once we were settled in Alaska. But you know, sometimes I think it was harder on Jean to break off contact with you guys. She thinks of both of as the brothers she never had, and it broke her heart to leave the way we did, without being able to give you and the others much warning. She thinks highly of all the Guild members...yes even Gris from time to time...and loves you all more than she knows how to express to you."

He chuckled lightly. "Everything you guys sent to us...she's got on display in our home. She's saved every letter, printed every email...they're all filed away in a special folder in the filing cabinet. She mentioned once that she told you she would always be with you in some form when you need her, and I know it might not seem like it to you, but it's the truth. She thinks of you all the time. I don't know how she does it, but she manages to bring up something related to the time she would spend with you at least once a day. A memory or a joke or anything at all that showed she was thinking about you. I think one of these days...later this summer maybe...we'll have to take Rachel down to New Orleans for a visit. I know Jean would love that, and I can only imagine how you two would react. Just...please don't ever think she abandoned you, because she didn't. We just had to put our family...our daughter...first and protect her life above anyone else's. If we could have done it another way, we would have, I promise you that. Now you guys focus real hard one getting better, okay? I think Jean would like to actually talk to you both before we head back to Alaska."

Scott stopped talking and suddenly became aware that he wasn't alone. He turned in his chair to see Remy leaning just inside the doorway. Scott cast him a half-embarrassed, questioning glance, and Remy shrugged.

"Couldn' sleep, t'ought I'd come check on 'em. Shoulda known Jeannie would leave 'em in good hands."

Scott turned back. "I had a few things I wanted to tell them. Found it easier when they couldn't talk back."

Remy nodded. "Oui, I can understand dat. Sometimes I feel like puttin' gags on all'a 'em while I'm talkin' 'bout somethin', jus' so dey don' interrupt or start a discussion 'bout it 'fore I'm done. Y'know, mon ami, dose two miss Jeannie somethin' fierce, even now."

"She misses them too."

"I t'ink dey know dat, deep down. It's hard for dem to comprehend it...all dey're used to is people leavin' or hurtin' 'em once dey've had enough of dealin' wit' our way of life. But Emil an' Questa know Jean loves dem, it's jus' taken 'em some gettin' used to de fact dat she don' visit or call or nothin'." Remy explained.

"If there'd been any other way, Remy..." Scott protested. "You know we would have done it. She got so attached to them...sometimes I felt like I was losing my wife to a bunch of people I didn't even know!" He sighed. "Looking at these two laying here so helpless right now makes me regret ever feeling that way. She cares about the others too, of course, but somehow, Emil and Questa got the most of her affections. I was jealous."

"Understandable, 'specially since you didn' know why she kept goin' to Nawlins, jus' dat she was goin'." Remy commented.

"You won't tell her?"

"She knows, Scott. You know she does. De woman's psychic, 'member?" Remy laughed and then sighed. "I jus' hope dey wake up b'fore you go home."

"Yeah, me too. I think Jean would get just as much out of that as they would. Do you think things will be okay once you all get back to New Orleans, Remy?"

A shrug. "Who knows anymore. Sometimes I wonder if de guilds should even be unified..."

"Don't get up on them, Remy. I know it's been a few years now but it's not the easiest thing in the world to go from being enemies to being family." Scott reminded. "They need more time. Even Gris-Gris will come around, if he's given enough time."

A laugh sounded from the doorway. Remy had known Theoren was there long before the thief made a sound, but Scott didn't have the trained thief ability to sense another thief's presence. "Gris-Gris needs a complete personality overhaul b'fore he'll even b'gin to come around."

Remy grinned. "Seems to me you two haven' met yet. Scott Summers, I'd like you to meet my cousin an' second-in-command of de t'ieves side of de guild, Theoren Marceaux. Theo, dis is Jean's husband Scott."

The two men shook hands and Scott yawned. "Only way I could get Jean to get some sleep was to say I'd stay here wit' dese two, but if you guys are gon' be 'round..."

"I'm up for de rest of de night...can' sleep. I'll be here, if you wan' go join her..." Theoren said, a worried frown crossing his face. He had been trying not to let his concern for Emil and Questa get the better of him, but late at night, it was almost impossible for him to stop thinking.

Scott, relieved to have an excuse to go to bed now that he had said what he wanted to say to Emil and Questa, thanked Theoren and left the MedLab. Theoren and Remy looked at each other. It was a well-known fact in the guild that Theoren hated Remy, but that never stopped them from working together for the sake of the guild when the need arose. Remy sighed.

"When was de las' time you got any sleep yourself, Theo?"

Theoren shrugged, his brown eyes betraying his fatigue and worry. "Prob'ly de night b'fore all dis happened." He laughed. It was forced, but it was still a laugh. "Been so scared of losin' Emil dat I ain' really t'ought 'bout anythin' else, y'know?"

"Oui." Remy agreed. "But I don' t'ink you have to worry 'bout it too much...ol' Red's bounced back from stuff like dis b'fore."

Theoren sat down in the chair Scott had been using and reached up, taking Emil's still hand in his own. "I tol' Bella Donna an' de other assassins, b'fore any of de rest of it happened dat if Emil died, I'd kill Gris an' anyone who stood in my way. I t'ink de unification is a bust, Rem."

Remy shook his head. "Non, Theoren, it isn'. When Questa shot Gris, who did dey call for assistance? You, Claude an' Zoe. Dey could have jus' as easily called me up here de way Claude did an' get me to bring help. But dey didn' do dat, Theo, dey called you guys first. Dat tells me one t'ing. De unification is stronger dan we t'ink. Gris will have to be dealt wit', but it will be done by all of us as a group, once dis is over."

"You amaze me sometimes, Remy." Theoren sighed, wishing silently that Emil would try to squeeze his hand or something. Anything to show he was there and could hear them.

"How's dat, Theo?"

"Your ability to...I don' know...deal wit' it, I guess. Everythin' we t'row at you, you jus' look at us like we're a bunch of silly children an' keep on goin' 'bout your job of bein' our leader. I used to t'ink Jean-Luc was crazy to leave you in charge, but now I'm not so sure."

"Well t'ank you. I'll take dat as a compliment to bot' me an' my father." Remy laughed. "An' now I'm goin' to see if I can get some shut-eye. See you in de mornin', Theo."

After Remy left, Theoren nearly went crazy. It was deadly silent in the MedLab that late at night. The only sounds to be heard were the machines which were helping to monitor Emil and Questa and keep them alive. The respirators were the noisiest things on the planet, but even they didn't make up for the lack of voices or footsteps or other human sounds. Theo decided to talk to his cousin for a little while. Maybe the kid would wake up if he did. Even for a few minutes.

"Hey kid. You look like death warmed over. So does Questa. Did Jean tell you what's been goin' on? No? Well alot has gone down, but Remy seems pretty confident dat it'll all work out in de end. Somehow, I t'ink he's right, too. Go figure on dat one, huh? Man, kid, I been worried 'bout you...oh I know, I know, you been tellin' me for ages dat I don' need to worry, dat you can take care of yourself, but I do need to. You couldn' see yourself after your Papa died. You were so lost an' scared...an' he left me in charge of you. Me! I never been a parent in my life an' suddenly I was totally responsible for makin' sure a fourteen year old cousin turned out okay. Talk 'bout bein' scared...I was terrified! You ain' de easiest person for me to get along wit', y'know. But we always seem to manage. God...I jus' wish you'd wake up...be okay...I know I don' say it enough, but I love you, kiddo. I don' wan' lose you..."

Theoren's voice trailed off and he sat there, eyes closed, willing himself to not cry. Suddenly one of the monitors beeped faster and Theoren's eyes snapped open in alarm. He'd seen enough monitors to be able to figure out what it meant. Emil's heart rate had gone up, as had his "breathing" via the respirator. He was waking up.

"C'mon, kid..." Theoren whispered enouragingly. In the back of his mind, he knew he should probably be more concerned for Questa at this point, but he wasn't.

Emil heard his cousin's voice and mentally smiled in spite of the pain it caused him. He successfully squeezed Theoren's hand as hard as he'd dare without causing too much pain and opened his eyes.

"Man I wish Dr. McCoy didn' have you on dat respirator anymore..." Theoren griped with a laugh. "You can' even talk to me for cryin' out loud. Not while you're still dependent on it...any ideas?"

Emil closed his eyes briefly and then reopened them. Some of their natural sparkle had suddenly returned. Theoren knew that meant Emil had an idea. Emil lifted his right hand and made a motion of writing. Even better would have been the use of a computer, but they hadn't thought to bring one and Theoren didn't want to bother Hank for one, not yet.

Theo smiled. "Of course! Hang on."

Emil rolled his eyes as if to say "What else would I be doin', huh? I ain' 'xactly goin' anywhere..." and waited while Theoren found a pad of paper and a pencil. He positioned the pad under Emil's hand and gave Emil the pencil. Immediately, Emil wrote something.


Theoren read it and laughed. "Always de comedian...how do you feel?"

Emil thought for a second and then wrote furiously. "Chest hurts...not as bad as before though. Everything else seems to be better...how long have I been here?"

"Six days." Theoren answered. "Goin' into de seventh, actually. I prob'ly shouldn' tell you dis, but you almost died more'n once...so much internal bleedin' an' de collapsed lung didn' help any..."

"Yeah I know." Emil wrote. "Stomach still hurts some. Gris shouldn't be allowed to have steel-toed boots..."

"No kiddin'."

Emil decided to ask another question. "Is Questa okay? Jean told me some stuff...about him shooting Gris and running off and getting hurt..."

Theoren sighed. "He's a lot worse off dan you are right now...he's very sick on top of bein' hurt. An' to be honest, I don' t'ink he's as strong as you are. Gris an' de assassins were gon' punish him for shootin' Gris...dey were even talkin' 'bout killin' him...but Remy seems to t'ink his punishment has already been handed down, an' I have to agree. Questa don' need any more grief."

"No. Wait and see, I guess." Emil wrote and then put the pencil down. He was tired again. He looked very young to Theoren at that moment and Theoren ruffled his red hair affectionately.

"You go back to sleep if you want, kiddo. I'm gon' check on Questa over here but I ain' gon' leave de room."

Emil had just drifted off to sleep when the machines monitoring Questa started making a lot of strange beeping noises that didn't seem right. Questa himself started coughing uncontrollably in his sleep and the respirator mask was suddenly red with blood. Theoren jumped up and raced over to the intercom, punching the button that went directly to Hank's room with the index finger of his right hand. As soon as he heard a connection made he practically screamed,

"Dr McCoy! Get down here! Questa's coughin' up blood!"