Punishment: Chapter Six

Bella Donna, Fifolet and Singer were returning to the MedLab when they saw Jean leaving. Jean smiled at them as they approached her.

"I have some good news for you. Gris-Gris is awake. He's pretty mad at me right now, but he's awake, and I'm sure he'd like to see you three." She told them. "Do you happen to know where the others are?"

"Outside, I b'lieve." Bel replied.

Sure enough, when Jean walked outside into the fresh spring air, she heard the familiar Cajun accents close by. They sounded concerned, and Jean wondered why. She walked around the side of the mansion to where the voices were drifting from and saw Remy, Theoren, Mercy, Claude, Genard and Zoe looking anything but peaceful. She noticed Questa was nowhere to be found and this worried her, but she decided to talk to the thieves first.

"Gris-Gris is awake." She told them.

"Oh good, can we go kill him now?" Claude grimaced.

"Claude..." Jean chided. "He wants Emil dead, apparently because Emil is annoying and obnoxious."

"What else is new?" Zoe sighed. "He's wanted Emil dead forever.We're scared one of these days he'll succeed..."

"I told him if anyone lays even one finger on Emil from now on, I'll personally fly them to the sun and drop them." Jean laughed, but she didn't find it funny. "He's not too impressed with me for that. Or with the fact that I told him the same thing in regards to Questa."

"Might not have a choice dere, Jean." Mercy commented. "Questa was tellin' us earlier 'bout how he broke some kind of sacred creed by shootin' Gris..."

Jean sighed. "Yes...Gris spoke of that to me. Said that was why he didn't wake up...told me if he sees Questa, he'll kill him."

"Dat's pretty much what Questa said..." Remy agreed. "He's scared of dem...'specially Gris. He got pretty worked up while we were talkin'...kept goin' on 'bout d'servin' to be punished an' bein' scared an' stuff."

"Where is Questa now?"

"He took off towards de middle of nowhere." Theoren said. "We tried to stop him, but a t'ief tryin' to stop an assassin who always carries a loaded gun or three is a dead t'ief."

"Remy?" Jean questioned. The middle of nowhere meant nothing to Jean, but hopefully Remy had an idea of which direction Questa was headed in.

"Towards de city. He sure as hell wasn' stickin' 'round here." Remy confirmed. "My guess is, he's gon' try to find a way to punish himself for what he did. An' you know dere's no better place to find punishment dan New York City."

"Oh good lord..." Jean shook her head. "We need to get him back here before he gets himself killed. Remy, do you know if Logan is around?"

"Not sure, Jean, you'd have to ask de professor. He'll know. We're gon' go back to de MedLab. Yell if you need us to help find Questa, okay?" Remy said.


Jean knocked lightly on the door to Professor Xavier's office. She knew Scott had taken Rachel to the attic to see their friend Ororo Munroe and that the professor would be alone.

"Charles? We have a small crisis on our hands..."

"Questa." Xavier said easily. "He ran off, didn't he."

"Yes." Jean sighed. "And we need to get him back. Remy said he was heading for New York City. He was upset over everything that's been happening, and how he broke this creed the assassins have...Gris wants to kill him. It's just a mess. I want to go try to find him, but I need Logan to come with me to help with the search, especially once we get to the city."

"I'll call Logan in a moment." Xavier promised. "But first, would you tell me about Questa? You were always very vague when you mentioned him to me. He seems to be a very troubled young man."

"The briefest version I can give you is this." Jean explained. "His mother died when Questa was three, leaving him at the mercy of his father and much-older brother, Percy, who both hated him from the moment they saw him and didn't want him around. Not long after his mother died, they began a pattern of abuse that continued and got much worse for fifteen years. They abused him mentally, physically and eventually sexually. When he was a teenager, they enlisted friends of theirs to help them. They beat him and raped him everyday until he was eighteen. Gris tried to kill them, and thought he'd succeeded, until we learned a couple of years ago that the Guild benefactress, an External known as Candra, had saved them. They kidnapped Questa again two years ago and continued the pattern of abuse. He was rescued by a young woman named Shelby, who had also suffered many years of abuse at the hands of her father. She had escaped and put all her demons to rest, and she tried to help Questa do the same. She went down to New Orleans and stayed with them, and Questa finally started to learn that love did exist in this world, even for him."

Xavier had listened in shocked silence, but he sensed there was more to it than that. "But...?"

"The years of abuse pretty much left Questa scarred for life. He suffers from nightmares and long bouts of severe depression. He's tried to kill himself a number of times, but dying isn't really what he wants. He's a trained, professional assassin, and he's very good at his job. If he wanted to die, he could kill himself easily. He told me today that Shelby left him." Jean sighed again. "He didn't quite say why, but I assume it had something to do with his inability to give her everything she wants and needs out of a relationship. He needs those things too, but he's never experienced them so he doesn't know what he's missing."

"Love, romance, physical contact that doesn't cause pain..." Xavier murmured.

"Yes, I assume so." Jean nodded. "A lot of times, especially when he gets scared or confused, Questa has the mentality of a young child. He runs when he gets scared. It comes from trying to hide from his father and brother. And he's scared now, only this time he's scared of the other assassins and the punishment they might give him for breaking their creed of honor. So he's running."

"Do you believe if you find him, you can bring him back?" Xavier asked.

"He trusts me. I'm the first person outside the Assassins Guild who knew anything at all about his past and why he acts the way he does. He told me everything himself, without their help. If I find him, I'm positive I can bring him back. It might take some work, but I can." Jean said firmly. "I just need Logan to help me locate him."

"Very well." Xavier pressed the intercom button on his desk. "Logan? Are you there?"

"Yep Chuck what's up?"

"Can you meet myself and Jean in my office as soon as possible, please? Jean requires your assistance in tracking down a friend of hers who has run away from us."

"Sure thing. Be there in five."

Five minutes later, Logan was walking into the office, smoking a cigar. He looked ready for anything. He had on a pair of cowboy boots, jeans, a black t-shirt and his old brown jacket.

"Thanks, Logan. I really appreciate this. Remy will too." Jean smiled. "The guy we're going to look for is a member of the Guild. His name's Questa. Last time anybody saw him, he head headed for the city. We need to hurry. He does know his way around here a little bit and could be quite far by now."

"Well, what're we waitin' fer, then? Let's get goin'!"