Punishment: Chapter Seven

Jean wasn't wrong. Questa had actually managed to hitch a ride right into New York City by the time Jean and Logan set out on their search for him. He was alone and scared in a huge city he didn't know very well, but he didn't care. Anything was better than being back where the guild was, especially if the rest of the assassins really did want to kill him.

As Questa walked along the streets, ignoring everybody, it began to rain. Not only that, but it was windy, and Questa was only wearing his usual combination of jeans and a t-shirt with his sneakers, so he wasn't really protected from the chilly spring rain and wind. As umbrellas popped up all around him, he wished he was a thief so he could steal one and try to keep dry as he walked. Within minutes, he was drenched to the skin all over, his hair was falling in his eyes and he couldn't stop shivering. He wasn't expecting anybody to take pity on him and sure enough, none of the people hurrying around him paid him a bit of attention. "If dis was Nawlins, somebody woulda given me a coat or somethin' by now..." He thought with a deep, shaky sigh. He wished he was home. He wished none of the events of the past four days had ever happened. He wished...

"I wish it would stop rainin'."

Sighing again, Questa ducked into an alley even though he knew it wouldn't give him any cover from the rain. He just wanted to get out of that biting wind for a few minutes. His arms looked like they were turning blue. He almost laughed at that thought but he was much to cold to consider it. He furiously rubbed his hands over his bare arms, shivering violently. Even his teeth were chattering. "I hate de cold..."

Questa suddenly heard something behind him in the alley. Why hadn't he thought to check to make sure it was empty first? He could have kicked himself for his stupidity. He slowly turned around, remembering that he still had his gun if he needed it, and found himself faced with what looked like a small street gang.

There were eight men, all of them larger and more muscular than Questa. Each one of them carried a weapon of some sort, everything from chains to knives to guns. Even with his years of training as an assassin, Questa knew when he was out matched. If he'd had Gris-Gris and Fifolet with him, he wouldn't have thought twice about fighting the eight men, but he was alone, and with the odds as bad as they were, he knew better than to try to take them on except in self-defense.

They had him surrounded in a matter of seconds. "Well boys, looks like we got ourselves a play-thing to keep us occupied until the rain stops." The obvious leader of them stated, venom in his voice. Questa couldn't tell if he was shaking more from the cold or from fear at that point. The leader took a swing at Questa with the chain in his hand and Questa's reflexes kicked in. He caught the chain neatly and pulled, hard, forcing the gang leader to his knees.

The leader got up, a smirk on his face. "So you ain' a statue, I'm impressed. Where'd you learn to do that so neatly?"

"Trainin'." Questa replied shortly, blocking a swing taken at him by one of the other gang members with a lead pipe. Questa cringed as his arm connected with the pipe; he heard a bone snap and pain shot through his arm. Still, it was better to have a broken arm than to have the pipe connecting with his head. He'd been beaten enough times by his father with an iron poker to know that getting smucked in the head with something like that was most painful.

Questa fought them off as best he could, but he failed in the end. Memories from his childhood flashed through his mind with every kick, hit and blow and he eventually passed out from the pain and cold with almost as many injuries as Gris had given to Emil.

He remained there, in the alley, cold rain pelting down mercilessly on his battered body, unaware that help was going to be there sooner than he ever imagined.

"Jeannie!" Logan yelled from the entrance of the alley twenty minutes later. He had caught the scent of the young assassin a little while before. It had been hard to get a good lock on where Questa was because of the wind and rain, but he had finally located the elusive killer. And from what Logan was seeing, things didn't look good at all. "Looks like Hank's gettin' himself another patient." He commented as Jean joined him.

"Oh my God!" Jean exclaimed. She called out to Questa telepathically, only to be answered with nothing but silence. "He's unconscious...and he's freezing...Logan we have to get him back to Westchester as soon as possible!"

Logan pulled out his cell phone and dialed the mansion, while turning on the tracking device in his watch. "Chuck? Logan. Can you send the Blackbird to our location in New York City? Jean and I found Questa, but he's hurt pretty bad. We need to get him back there quick....Okay...okay good...thanks."

Ten minutes later, with the help of Bobby and Scott, who had left Rachel with Ororo for the duration of the emergency, they were rushing Questa into the MedLab and Hank was ushering everybody out, except for Jean and Emil, who wouldn't be in any condition to go anywhere for quite some time. He even sent Gris out with the other assassins, with a warning to all of them that Gris-Gris wasn't to leave the mansion.

"Y'know..." Remy said to the assassins as the doors of the MedLab closed behind Hank. "He was sorry for his actions de second dey were done. He's been nothin' but sorry for what he did, an' nothin' but terrified at what you four were gon' do to him. Dat's why he ran off. Judgin' from de looks of him, his punishment has been handed down."

In the MedLab, Hank was had just finished taking Questa's vital signs and was frowning. "He's so cold, Jean...his heart's barely beating. I hate to say it, but I'm afraid he was in the cold and rain so long without proper protection from the elements that he might quickly develop pneumonia. If that happens, and it's quite likely it will, it will be even more difficult to treat his other injuries. And, if he does develop pneumonia, I will have to put him on a respirator, like Emil is, because no way will he be able to breathe on his own without further injuring himself."

He and Jean had hurriedly gotten the injured assassin out of his wet clothes and into something warmer and considerably drier, but his body tempterature wasn't going up quickly enough to make Hank happy. X-rays eventually showed that aside from the broken arm, Questa had four broken bones in his left hand from trying to fight back, six fractured ribs of varying degrees of severity, a bruised kidney and a serious concussion, as well as the multitude of bruises that covered his body.

Jean sighed. "Keep doing what you can for him, Hank. I'll go tell the others what's going on so far."

"Okay Jean. Thank you."

Jean left the MedLab and faced the waiting guild members. The assassins were there, somewhat to Jean's surprise. She hadn't expected them to stick around, but they had, and looked a little less angry and vengeful than they had before. Also waiting were Professor Xavier, Scott, Bobby and Logan.

"Jean?" Remy sounded tired and worried. The week had been taking a huge toll on all of them, but none moreso that their patriarch. "What can you tell us?"

"Logan and I assumed he was beaten up, and Hank doesn't disagree. But until we can actually talk to Questa, we won't know for sure." Jean stated. "He suffered severe injuries from the attack. He has a serious concussion, six fractured ribs, a badly bruised kidney, a broken right arm and four broken bones in his left hand."

"Ouch." Bobby winced, voicing everybody's opinion of what Jean just told them.

"On top of that, because he was exposed for so long to the cold, rainy elements...it started raining not long after Logan and I left to find him, and we're not sure exactly how long he'd been lying in the alley, unconscious and unprotected...Hank is concerned that he'll develop pneumonia. He says it's quite likely. Pneumonia would raise a lot of complications in treating his other injuries."

"Bottom line?" Bella Donna asked. She tried not to let it, but her voice betrayed how worried she was about her cousin.

"Bottom line is, he's going to be staying here awhile, just like Emil. They're both in need of the care and treatment Hank can give them, and until he feels they're well enough to go home to New Orleans, they're staying here." Jean said firmly. "Hank will probably come out later to answer any questions you might have. Right now, please leave him alone so he can do his work."