Punishment: Chapter Three

It was six hours before Hank came out of the MedLab and informed Remy, Genard and Mercy that their presence was required. They followed him inside in complete silence and waited for him to clean his glasses. All they could do was stare at the still figure on one of the MedLab beds.

Emil, who was normally always laughing, upbeat and driving everybody crazy, was now anything but. Monitors were hooked up beside him, humming lowly and beeping every once in so long. He was hooked up to all the monitors, and had tubes coming from everywhere, it seemed. He looked fragile and weak. Remy sighed. "Dis sure ain' de vibrant Emil we all know an' love..." He thought. Aloud, he said,

"Give it to us straight, Hank."

Hank put his glasses back on his face. "Aside from the visible injuries you've all seen, he is not in good shape at all. His right lung was collapsed; I've managed to right that problem, but neither of his lungs is stable enough to function on their own, which is why I've got him on the respirator." He motioned to one of the machines.

"He's not breathin' on his own?" Mercy said softly.

"No. He has three cracked ribs and two broken ribs. It was the broken ribs that injured his lung to begin with, they are both on the right side. They could still cause problems, which is why he will remain on the respirator until further notice. He suffered severe internal bleeding which I've been working to correct. Time is what will show if I fixed it all. He also has a minor concussion, which is why he's still unconscious right now. I expect him to wake up, even for a few moments, within the next three hours. However, the next eighteen to forty-eight hours will be the most critical." Hank told them. "Are there any questions?"

"Is he gon' be okay?" Remy asked.

"At this point, I cannot give you a yes or no answer, Remy. I do know he is in very bad shape and could get worse in a matter of seconds. I'm sorry."

Remy nodded. He looked over at Mercy. "Why don' you go call de safehouse an' let dem know what we know so far? I'm sure dey're worried sick."

"Okay..." Mercy agreed. "Dr. McCoy is dere a phone handy I can use?"

"Of course, my dear. You may use the phone in my office, right through that door."

"T'anks." Mercy replied, going into the office and shutting the door. She sat down at Hank's desk and picked up the phone receiver, her hand shaking slightly. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly and dialed the safehouse phone number.

When the phone rang, the three thieves jumped and stared at it. Theoren couldn't move. He knew it was someone from the school calling and he was scared to death to answer it. After the third ring, Claude had enough and answered it, his voice cracking nervously.


"Hey Claude. It's Merce. How're t'ings down dere?"

"Well, Theo tol' Gris to get out of de house an' we told de others what happened. We promised Questa someone would call dem whenever dere was an update...he seemed pretty freaked out." Claude told her. "Uhm...speakin' of updates...I assume..."

"Oui, we jus' talked to Dr. McCoy...first time since we got here, actually..."

Claude looked at Theoren and Zoe, who were waiting semi-patiently at his side. "How's de kid doin'?" He asked, praying for the best and fearing the worst.

Mercy sighed. "He's not doin' well at all Claude. Dr. McCoy's got him on a respirator b'cause his lungs ain' strong enough to work on deir own, he's got broken ribs an' some cracked ribs an' a lot of internal bleedin' an' a concussion. He hasn' woken up yet. Dr. McCoy says it could go either way. He looks...he don' look good, Claude. Not a bit....Oh...hang on a sec..." Mercy heard a knock on the door and looked up to find Remy standing there.

Claude told the others what Mercy told him while he waited for Mercy to come back to the phone.

"Merce, we gotta get out of here, now. One of de monitors jus' went wonky an' dat ain' a good t'ing. Hank wants us out." Remy said.

"He's worse...?"


"Oh Dieu...okay." Into the phone she said, "Claude?"


"Somethin' happened...he's gettin' worse...I gotta go...I'll call back later..."

The phone line went dead and Claude stared at the receiver, his face filled with fear, shock and panic.

"What happened?" Theoren and Zoe demanded.

"I don' know...she jus' came back on de line an' said she'd call back later...said somethin' happened an' he's gettin' worse..."

With that news, Theoren sat down on the couch, buried his face in his hands and bawled like a little boy. Zoe sat beside him and wrapped an arm around his shaking shoulders. She knew as well as the rest of them how much Emil meant to Theoren. They fought a lot, because they were so different, but they were cousins, and perhaps more importantly, when Emil's father had died when Emil was fourteen-years-old, Theoren had been named Emil's legal guardian. The idea that Emil was possibly dying scared and hurt Theoren more than anything else had in many years.

Claude reset the phone and dialed a number. Bella Donna answered when the phone was picked up on the other end.

"Hello?" Bel asked. She sounded stressed out and angry. She had probably been having a verbal war with Gris-Gris over the events that took place earlier in the day.

"Bel? It's Claude. Mercy jus' called us from Westchester." Claude didn't recognize his own voice. He sounded calm and collected, but it made no sense, because inside he was just as scared and near tears as Theoren was.

He heard Bella Donna announce to the other assassins that he was on the phone before she responded to him. "How is he?"

"Right now...I don' know." Claude admitted. "He's got de collapsed lung, he's on a respirator, he's got broken an' cracked ribs, internal bleedin' an' a concussion. But 'fore I could get any more information, Mercy had to go. Somethin' bad happened an' all we know is, Emil's worse now dan he was when de call was made. Mercy said she'd call later."

"He got worse dat quickly?" Bel was astonished.

"Oui. One of us will call you back when we hear anythin', okay?"

"Merci, Claude."

Two hours later, the phone at the safehouse rang again. This time, Zoe took a turn at answering it, seeing that Claude had gotten Theoren interested in a game of chess. She knew the two men were trying to take their minds off what was going on with their family a long ways from there, and hoped it was working.

"Hello?" Zoe said when she picked up the receiver.

"Hi Zoe." It was Genard, not Mercy, who was calling this time. He sounded miserable. Zoe's heart sank.

"Claude said Mercy hung up really quickly before...what happened?" Zoe questioned, not wanting to beat around the bush. She could feel Theoren and Claude watching her, their chess game forgotten between them on the coffee table.

From his spot in Hank's office, Genard looked out the door at the MedLab, where Mercy and Remy were watching Hank go about his tests on Emil. Both of them had been crying, and Genard had offered to make the call.

"Oui...well...in spite of de respirator workin' for Emil, somethin' went wrong inside him an' his lung collapsed 'gain. Dr. McCoy said one of de broken ribs moved or somethin', I don' know de technical stuff." Genard's voice dropped down to a whisper. "He almost died, Zoe...came so close we weren' sure he'd pull through..."

"Oh my God..."

"Dr. McCoy has to get de lung stabilized 'gain, so I gotta go, but I jus' wanted to call an' let you know what was goin' on. Jus' be prepared, I guess, b'cause he might not make it...." Tears welled up in Genard's eyes. "We'll call later."

"Okay..." Zoe hung up the phone and looked at her two companions. She was pale. "The lung that had collapsed before was hit by one of the broken ribs and it collapsed again. I guess he came really close to dying...but he didn't...for now. Genard couldn't talk longer because Emil isn't stable, and Dr. McCoy needs to get that lung fixed again."

"Critical condition is prob'ly what it's called...life-threatenin'..." Theoren said quietly. "Damn Gris-Gris! If Emil dies, I'll kill him an' anyone who stands in my way..."

"We should call the mansion." Claude commented absently.

"Yeah...I'll do it if you guys don't feel up to it..." Zoe offered. Both men nodded and Zoe dialed the number. She quickly told Singer, who had answered the phone at the mansion, what she knew and then hung up so Singer could relay the information to the rest of the assassins. Then she went into the kitchen to prepare something for them to eat for supper, since they still had to eat, even if it wasn't much and they didn't feel like it.

Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang again, interrupting the hotdogs the three thieves were trying to find the appetite to eat. They weren't expecting a call, and all of them frowned at the phone. Claude answered it since he was closer to the phone. He listened briefly for a moment and hung up, his jaw dropped in shock and disbelief.

"Claude...?" Theoren asked.

Claude shook his head and picked up the phone again. Both Theoren and Zoe recognized Remy's cellular phone number as Claude dialed it. They looked at each other and shrugged.

Remy answered his cell phone, wondering what was up. He would have let the voicemail get it, but he recognized the safehouse number and knew it might be another emergency. "Hello?"

"Remy it's Claude. Listen, can you get de Blackbird back down here?"

"I...oui I guess so...why?"

"Well, in spite of everythin', de two guilds are still unified, an' much as I know we're all really mad at him right now, he can' answer for his actions if he ain' alive to do it..." Claude replied.

"What?" Remy demanded. He could hear Theoren and Zoe asking the same question from their spots near Claude in the safehouse.

"After Genard called us an' told us Emil's worse, we called de mansion to let de assassins know, like we promised Questa we'd do. An' apparently we ain' de only ones wit' a beef wit' Gris 'bout all dis, b'cause I jus' got off de phone wit' Bella Donna. It seems dat when Singer told de others what Zoe told her about Emil bein' worse, Questa lost it.

"What do you mean, he lost it?" Remy asked.

"I mean, he pulled out his gun an' shot Gris in de head."

Remy shook his head and sighed. "Twenty minutes. I'll meet everyone...you guys included...at de mansion." When he hung up the phone, he looked at Professor Xavier, who was waiting with them outside the MedLab.

"Professor?" Remy asked.

"Yes Remy?"

"I t'ink you were right...but findin' out how you knew will have to wait...can I take de Blackbird back to Nawlins, dis time to pick up de whole Guild? Seems I can' let 'em outta my sight..."

"Of course you may." Xavier replied. "And he is not dead..."

"No I figured." Remy said. "T'anks."

Mercy and Genard were confused. "Remy...what...?" Mercy voiced for them both.

Remy chuckled. "Well, if Bel told it to Claude correctly, Gris is prob'ly in a coma right now. It would seem dat when he heard de news of Emil bein' worse, Questa shot Gris in de head."

"No..! He didn'!" Mercy exclaimed.

"We'll know soon enough. You two stay here. Call me if anythin' changes. I won' be long gettin' 'em all up here."