Remy LeBeau sighed as he put the key in the lock of the front door of his Garden District home. He had purchased the large house a awhile back with the hopes of settling down there with a family someday. New Orleans was his home, after all, and no matter how long he was away from the Big Easy, it always drew him back.
He got a surprise when he walked in. Aside from the lamp on the mahogany table just inside the door, the place was dark. A pair of dark brown eyes met his when he turned around after locking the door.
"Zoe!" Remy whispered. "What are you doin'...?"
The beautiful young Japanese woman put a finger to her lips. "Shhh!" She commanded. Smiling at the confused, curious look that passed over Remy's face, Zoe laughed quietly and pointed into the living room, which was just off the main entrance, on the left hand side.
Remy shook his head when he saw what Zoe had been looking at. Lying in a row on the floor of the living room, with only the beige shag rug for cushioning, were the other five members of Remy and Zoe's rag-tag family of thieves. The seven of them were the last surviving members of the New Orleans Thieves Guild; centuries of war against their enemies the Assassins Guild had diminished the numbers until just seven remained. Remy smiled softly at the five sleeping thieves and went to the closet in the hallway. He pulled out a couple of blankets from the closet and handed one to Zoe. Together, they quietly and gently covered their friends with the blankets and then slipped out of the living room.
Remy motioned for Zoe to join him in the kitchen down the hallway at the back of the house, and she did so. They closed the door and turned on a couple of small lights.
"I was watching them for awhile. Couldn't sleep. Felt kind of lonely up on the second floor by myself." Zoe explained as she and Remy sat down across from each other at the kitchen table. The kitchen was silent except for the soft plink-plink of water dripping from the tap at the sink, and the somewhat louder and more rhythmic tick-tick of the clock on the wall behind them.
"Tante Mattie's not here?" Remy questioned, his voice betraying his surprise. The traiteur and mother-figure of both Guilds had been spending the majority of her time with the thieves of late. Ever since Remy's father, Jean-Luc, had left without explanation and put his son in charge of the Guild, the thieves had needed more of the healer's attention than the assassins did.
"No. She went to Slidell late this afternoon. Said she had to get a couple of books she left there the last time, and that she'd be back in the morning." Zoe told him. Slidell was where Tante Mattie had been born and raised, in a small house built by her father in the 1880s.
"Okay." Remy was relieved. "Hey, uhm...Zoe? Why were you watchin' dem, anyway? Dey're jus' sleepin'..."
Zoe sighed quietly and absently shredded a napkin in her fingers. "I don't claim to know even a fraction of what they've been through in their lives...I'll admit the Tokyo Thieves Guild lived much differently than the New Orleans Guild did...does...but with all those wonderful bedrooms upstairs...enough for each of them and then some...to decorate the way they want...why are they sleeping on the floor in the living room?"
Remy laughed gently. "Papa never took you to the tunnels, did he, Zoe? I mean you've only been here a few weeks...but..."
"No. He never did. I know that the Guild lived in tunnels and rooms beneath the city streets, but...is that why they're on the floor instead of in their own bedrooms?"
"Pretty much, oui." Remy nodded, his red-on-black eyes shining softly in the dim light. "De Guild lived in dose underground tunnels an' rooms for centuries, Zoe. Dey lived as paupers...poorer dan church mice as de sayin' goes. An' for a good bit of my life I lived dat way too. Everythin' we stole...if it didn' pertain to de ressurrection of de Old Kingdom, we sold it or gave it away. We kept nothin' dat didn' help us head towards de Old Kingdom. Even now, it's de same way."
"That explains Genard's keen business sense..." Zoe commented.
"Yes. Genard, like his father before him, is our Harvest Disseminator. He's de one in charge of sellin' or givin' away what we don' need. I t'ink a lot of people underestimate Genard b'cause he's so quiet, an' he doesn' often get in de middle of conflicts. But he's very, very smart. He's jus' as smart as Theoren an' Emil, only his smarts are different from deirs. Dey're computer an' technology smart. An' like you pointed out, Genard is business smart." Remy explained. "But all dat is kind of off de point of de main question."
"I know...sorry..." Zoe said.
"Don' be. De more you understand 'bout de way dis Guild works, de better." Remy assured her. "Anyway, when we lived in de tunnels, we didn' have bedrooms of our own, mostly. Everythin' dat we had, as little as it was, was shared wit' de members of our clans. Dere was essentially no privacy, unless we went elsewhere for some peace an' quiet."
"Didn't that drive you crazy? Especially when you were younger?"
"Well sometimes, oui. Dat's why you'll hear stories of Emil an' Etienne an' I goin' out an' gettin' into so much trouble all de time. It was our way of escapin' for a little while." Remy laughed as memories floated through his mind. Those were some crazy times. "But our beds were quite simply mattresses on the floors of the rooms off the tunnels, with ratty blankets an' old pillows. Does dat explain to you why dey're all on de floor in deir?"
"Sort of...but...why together? And will they ever move into their own rooms?"
Remy laughed harder. "Oh eventually, sure dey will. Haven' you noticed de way dey all look at dis house. It's like dey can' b'lieve dey're actually here. Zoe, dose five people in dat livin' room have never lived in a house in deir lives. Dis is all very new to dem an' it's gon' take dem awhile to get used to de idea. Once dey do, you'll find dey'll move into deir own rooms. An' you'll see dat deir rooms will reflect de personality of each person, too. It'll jus' take time, dat's all." Remy explained."
"And the together part...?"
"Goes back to what I said earlier 'bout deir bein' no real privacy in de tunnels. We shared everythin' wit' everyone else, even our bedrooms. Dey're stickin' so close together, 'specially at night, b'cause it makes dem feel a little more secure." Remy said. "Especially in a house wit' windows an' such, dey prob'ly feel vulnerable."
"Scared that the Assassins will attack them..." Zoe stated with a nod of understanding. "I get it now. Thank you for explaining all that. I understand more now."
"You're welcome, Zoe. Remember, like Tante Mattie says, dere's no such t'ing as a stupid question." Remy smiled. "You goin' to bed now?"
"Yes...it's getting late. Are you coming up too?"
"In a few minutes." Remy told her. "I have somethin' to do first."
"Okay. Goodnight, then."
"Pleasant dreams, Zoe."
After Zoe went up to the second floor of the safehouse and was safe and secure in her bedroom, Remy went back to the living room entrance and leaned in the doorway. He studied the five sleeping thieves' faces, a look of affection crossing his face. He loved all five of them after a fashion; they were the only family he had left, after all. True, Theoren would probably rather kill him than look at him, but Remy knew deep down his cousin did care. Claude and Genard were hard to read most times, but they had never shown any outward hostility towards Remy. And as for Mercy and Emil, their love and loyalty to Remy shined through their every action.
Remy smiled at them and whispered, "Sweet dreams, ma famille." Then he turned and left, walking quietly up the wide staircase to the second floor and down the hallway to his bedroom.