Punishment: Chapter Two

Back in New Orleans, Theoren was nearly beside himself with anger and worry. The Assassins were due back at the safehouse any moment. They had gone over to their mansion outside the city an hour and a half before Genard discovered Emil, and they were going to get quite a shock when they returned to the safehouse. Theoren was going to make sure of it.

Zoe was sitting in an arm chair in the living room, absently watching the television. Claude was upstairs packing things that might be required when they went to join the rest of their family in Westchester. And Theoren, much like Remy in the MedLab waiting room, was pacing.

Before long, the front door began to open. Upon hearing it, Zoe got up and moved to back Theoren and Claude descended the large staircase, packing forgotten. All three of them were waiting when the door opened to reveal the Assassins.

Bella Donna Boudreaux, former Assassin matriarch and current viceroy of the Unified Guilds, was first, followed by Questa and Fifolet, who were carrying a trunk. After them was Singer, floating gracefully through the air as always. And bringing up the rear was the giant voodoo master named Gris-Gris. All five of them stopped in their tracks when they were met so abruptly by three thieves who looked anything but pleased. Fifolet and Questa set the trunk down.

Bella Donna frowned. "Theoren? What's going on?" She asked. She and the other Assassins had no idea what had transpired in Emil's room earlier that day, and were completely in the dark. Gris-Gris cast a venomous glance in the direction of the thieves but said nothing. He started to close the door, but Theoren stopped him, reaching out and grabbing the door with his hand.

Theoren looked directly at Gris-Gris, who was a good five inches taller than him and quite a bit stronger. "Get out of dis house." He commanded, his voice low and deadly. The two men shared the third-in-command position of the Guild but at that moment there was no question who was really in charge. Gris-Gris stepped back out of the house, expecting Theoren to slam the door in his face, but that didn't happen.

"Theoren..." Bella Donna almost whined. "What...?"

"De rest of you are more dan welcome to stay. He is not. If you wish to join him, go ahead." Theoren stated.

"We'd like to know what's goin' on first..." Bel countered. She looked at Gris. "We'll meet you back at de mansion later, okay?"

The black man nodded curtly and left. Theoren shut the door and faced the four remaining assassins. "If I could say it an' mean it, I'd say I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry, so I won' say it. Awhile b'fore you guys left earlier, Gris beat de crap outta Emil, worse dan he ever has b'fore, an' we don' know why. I assume he got mad at somethin' Emil said, but it doesn' matter now. De others are all up in New York...Dr. McCoy's takin' care of Emil. An' to be perfectly honest, Emil might die. Dat's how bad it is." Theoren's voice shook with anger and pain. "I swear to you right now, if Emil dies, nothin' an' no one on dis planet will protect dat man who jus' left here. I'm sick an' tired of dis crap from him an' it will stop. Now, like I said, you four are more'n welcome to stick 'round, since none of you have given us any problems since we worked out a peace for de unification. If you want to stay, by all means, stay. If you want to join him, dat's fine too. We'll call wit' updates on Emil's condition as we receive dem, if dat's de case."

"Emil might die...?" Questa asked, his dark blue eyes filled with fear and worry. The thieves had learned over the course of the unification that Questa was quite possibly certifiably insane, and once they came to realize what had happened to him from the age of three to the age of eighteen to make him that way, they helped the rest of his family take care of him and protect him. Fifteen straight years of mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his father, brother and their allies had left Questa scarred and damaged for life. He was thirty-four years old, but had a very short attention span and, when scared or confused, had the mentality of a young child.

Theoren sighed softly at the younger man. "Yes, Questa, he might. But he might not, too, okay?

Questa nodded slowly. He didn't understand why Gris-Gris seemed to hate the thieves so much. Especially Emil. Questa and Emil had formed a friendship since the unification began, and Gris-Gris' treatment of the young thief puzzled Questa.

"I t'ink it might be best if we stayed at de mansion for now..." Bella Donna said quietly. "An' for what it's worth, I'm sorry for his behavior..."

"Okay." Theoren replied. "An' I know you are. But until he is, it isn' gon' make it better."

"You'll call when you hear anythin'?" Questa asked hopefully.

"Of course we will. Or we'll get someone to call directly from de school, one or de other." Zoe assured him, mainly so Theoren wouldn't have to do all the talking.

"Okay." Questa looked relieved. They all did. Relieved and worried. They all knew the importance of the unification and had tried time and again to get Gris-Gris to live with the peace, but he would never listen. There was unspoken knowledge in the room that none of them, thieves and assassins alike, wanted to think about. If Emil died, the unification would die with him.

And none of them wanted to consider what would happen to them if that occurred.