Punishment: Chapter Four

Remy didn't even bother knocking on the door of the mansion when he arrived. The main foyer was a shambles, very unlike it's usual orderly state. Remy took a quick survey of the situation and sighed.

Theoren and Claude were helping Fifolet move things around to make it easier for them to carry Gris-Gris out of the mansion. Zoe and Singer were wrapping bandages around Gris' head and cleaning up the mess of blood around his large, still body. And Bella Donna was over near one of the corners, trying to get Questa to stand up without any luck at all. The black haired young man was sitting in the corner, hugging his knees to his chest, his dark blue eyes wide and horrified, tears streaming down his cheeks. He was watching everything around him but Remy had to wonder how much of what he was hearing and seeing was actually getting through to him.

"Bel." Remy said. "C'mon. We gotta get Gris into de Blackbird. He'll have a better chance if we get him to Hank as soon as possible."

"I t'ought you'd be happy...want him dead..." Bel murmured.

Remy shook his head. "Like Claude said to me, de two guilds are still unified. We might be angry wit' him, but havin' him dead don' solve anythin'. If dey bot' live, den we can deal wit' what happened earlier, as a guild. We won' be able to do dat if he dies b'fore we get a chance to try'n save him. Now come on an' help us."

The assembled thieves and assassins, without the help of Questa, had a tough time getting Gris-Gris secure in the Blackbird, but they managed. Remy told them all to stay put and buckle up. Then he walked back into the mansion.

He walked over to where Questa was and knelt down. "Questa? I want you to come too, okay?"

Questa blinked. "I'm sorry...I..." His shaky voice was barely above a whisper.

"I know you are, Questa, I know." Remy reached out and put a hand gently on the other man's arm. "C'mon now...we gotta go to Westchester so Hank can take care of him. He's doin' everythin' he can for Emil, an' he'll do everythin' he can for Gris, too. But you gotta come wit' us."

Questa shrank back into the corner, the tears continuing to call. "Don' wan'..."

"Questa, listen to me. De sooner we get Gris to Hank, de better chance he has at survivin'...de more time you an' I waste sittin' here, de less chance he has at gettin' better. Do you understand me?"

Questa nodded. "Oui..."

"So...let's help do everythin' we can to make sure Gris lives, okay?"

"Okay." Questa agreed. He got up and followed Remy out of the mansion and into the Blackbird.

Twenty minutes later, the Blackbird had landed, but this time Hank hadn't been waiting to meet them. Professor Xavier was there, as was Genard, with a stretcher for them to put Gris-Gris on. They managed with very little trouble and were soon walking to the MedLab.

Suddenly, Remy heard the Professor's voice in his mind, as the group walked along. "He is not well..."

Remy glanced back to try and figure out who Xavier was talking about and when he realized it, he shrugged and thought, "Questa is prob'ly de mos' mentally unstable an' unwell person I've ever known...But he does have reasons."

Xavier nodded and the link was cut. He was intrigued by Questa and wished he could examine the young man, but didn't dare try. Not yet.

Hank met them at the door of the MedLab. "Now isn't this interesting!" He said with mock cheerfulness. "To have de attacker and the victim under the care of the same doctor. That is something that doesn't happen often." He motioned for them to place Gris on a bed about six feet across the room from where Emil lay, and then looked at Bella Donna. "What happened?"

Bella Donna glanced sharply at Questa and he flinched. He was her cousin, but right now none of the assassins were happy with him and he knew it. He hung his head and went over to one of the corners of the MedLab, near the door of Hank's office, and resumed his position from the mansion of sitting on the floor hugging his knees. Bella Donna, satisfied with his reaction, answered the doctor's question.

"Questa shot him."

"With what kind of weapon?" Hank asked.

"Handgun." Bel replied. "He always carries one."

Hank nodded. "Okay. Well, I can't do my work with all of you in here, I'm sorry to say, so it would be better for my patients if you waited in the waiting room." He ushered them out as promptly as he could.

"What 'bout...?" Remy looked at Questa.

Hank smiled. "Oh he looks pretty comfortable where he is, and I don't imagine he'll get in the way or ask too many questions. If he does, I'll shoo him out."

Questa sighed with relief when he was allowed to stay in the MedLab. Hank gave him a sympathetic smile as he went about his business of hooking Gris up to monitors and doing his initial examination. "You don't seem comfortable around them."

"Non...'m not..." Questa replied.

"Well I don't mind you staying here as long as you don't get in the way."

"T'anks...uhm...is he gon' be okay?"

"I'm not sure right now, but I can tell you I am here to do everything I can to ensure that he is, indeed, okay. Emil too. I will do everything I can for both of them, I promise." Hank assured him. "Now, I have to get to work, so I can't talk with you, but if you would like a book or a magazine to read, I have some in my office you may look at while you're here."

"T'anks..." Questa said again, not bothering to tell Hank that he didn't know how to read very well. He picked himself up and went into the office, flipping through medical books until he found one that had a lot of pictures in it and didn't seem to be too full of words Questa didn't know the meanings of. He returned to the corner with the book and remained there without moving the whole time Hank operated on Gris.

Hank's treatment of Gris went smoothly. The bullet wasn't very deep, and was removed fairly easily. Hank was glad, because once the bullet was removed, it was up to Gris to wake up, because there was nothing else physically wrong with the big man. He wanted to be able to focus more on Emil again. When he was finished with Gris, he went out to inform the rest of the waiting Guild what was going on and then came back to check on Emil. Before he did, he glanced over at Questa, who was still sitting in the corner looking at the pictures in the book and trying to figure out what some of the more complex pictures were supposed to be of.

Hank walked over to him, a curious look on his face. "I would have thought you'd go for reading one of the magazines...I have People in there...more interesting than that..."

"Oh dis is okay! It's int'restin'!" Questa exclaimed a little too quickly.

"Mm-hmm..." Hank replied. He pointed to one of the pictures on the page. "Can you tell me what this is a picture of?"

Questa looked at the picture and frowned, trying to answer the question. "It's...I...uhm...I don' know..."

Hank sighed. The description of the picture was right there underneath it. "It's a picture of what our intestines look like. Part of the human body. Questa...do you know how to read?"

Questa looked away, tears forming in his eyes. "Non...not really..."

"I see." Hank mused. "Would you like to learn? I believe you and your family will be staying here for a few days and Professor Xavier could start teaching you, if you would like..."

"...Really...?" Questa asked, eyes wide.

"Yes, really. Why don't you go ask him? He's out there waiting with the rest of the Guild."

Questa frowned. "Non..."

"I could bring him in here so you don't have to ask him in front of everybody. And I bet he could even teach you in here if you'd rather not leave the room just yet." Hank suggested.

Questa nodded. "Okay..."

Hank went to the door and asked Professor Xavier to join them. Xavier was confused. He hadn't thought his assistance would be required, but apparently he was wrong.

"What is it, Henry?" He asked. "Is everything okay with your patients?"

"They're both as stable as can be expected for the moment, Charles, but our other young friend here has a request to ask of you while he's here."


Questa blushed slightly. He reminded Xavier of a young boy, not a grown man in his thirties. "Uh...sir...?"

Xavier smiled. "What's on your mind, Questa? Don't be afraid to ask me; there is no such thing as a stupid question."

"Sir...can you..." He sighed and frowned; he was having a hard time asking for help even in this. "Can you teach me how to read?"

The smile widened. "I would be delighted, Questa."