Disclaimer: Characters and Premise are borrowed from the Marvel, I'm not making any money.

The night of Remy and Belle's wedding...

Jean-Luc Lebeau calmly took a set near the center of the impromptu dungeon that had been set up to contain his most recently acquired set of headaches.

"Now dat yo're all settled down, I t'ink I should 'xplain m' position to yo'," Jean-Luc said looking around the room and trying for eye contact with the four sullen teenagers. "Dere be dozens of mutants like yourselves livin' in dis city, none of dem registered s' far as I know, and dey be livin' wit' deir human families who Magneto would hurt. A good percentage of dem be under m' protection. Yo' see how antics like yours ain't 'preciated here, neh?"

The four unhappy looking teens shifted uncomfortably in their bonds, studiously ignoring him.

Jean-Luc sighed theatrically. "I can't let yo' run loose an' I won' kill yo' or turn yo' over to de government, it's a dilemma, oui. I was hopin' yo' might help me find a compromise we'd all be able to live wit, 'less yo' like spendin' time here."

The redheaded fire-wielder suggested an anatomical impossibility. Jean-Luc snorted, "Might be fun to try, mais I don' t'ink dat would 'solve dis little situation." Several members of the gang bit back laugher at that.

Jean-Luc waited, being careful not to smile as he noticed the teens were actually considering possibilities this time. In hopes of encouraging the more civil air he said. "We haven' been formally 'ntroduced, I be Jean-Luc an' yo' are?" he prompted nodding toward the scowling teen handcuffed beneath a net full of rocks suspended precariously from the ceiling.

The dark haired seventeen year old considered not answering for several moments then, deciding it was a harmless question, said. "I'm Avalanche. That's Pyro, Joanna and Rusty," he nodded in turn to the red-head chained in one corner of the room, the lady powerhouse mummified in chains and duct tape and the gangly boy who could be glimpsed through the open bathroom door.

After wrapping the boy in an inverted fireman's suit the Thieves had secured him in the shower stall. Jean-Luc felt a degree of pity for the drenched, miserable looking boy, and wished pointlessly that they'd picked another city to target for their rampage.

"Joanna doesn't like code names and Rusty says Pyro already claimed the cool one," Avalanche elaborated.

Jean-Luc nodded, "Serious business pickin' a new name, if it sounds silly yo' got no one to blame mais yourself."

"I like my name," Joanna volunteered.

"It is vera lovely chere," Jean-Luc replied.

Joanna smiled at the compliment.

"Why don' I leave yo' to t'ink t'ings over," Jean-Luc suggested. "Discuss it amon'st yourselves an' your intangible friend when she stops by. See if yo' can come up wit' anyt'ing helpful."

Jean-Luc started to lave then paused, hand on the doorknob. He turned and walked back across the room to crouch beside Rusty. "Hate keepin' yo' soakin' wet like dis petite, mais I can' have yo' burning down de house. How 'bout yo' swear to behave yourself an I turn off de water?"

Rusty nodded quickly.

"Yo're givin' me your word on dis?" Jean-Luc asked. "Your solemn oath?"

"I won't start any fires," Rusty said sincerely. "Cross my heart and hope to die."

Jean-Luc shut off the water then removed the bindings on Rusty's hands and tossed him a towel.

"I'll come back tomorrow an' see if yo' t'ought of anyt'ing," Jean-Luc said.

Theoren met him in the hall outside, "Yo' tested de smoke alert, oui?" Jean-Luc asked quietly.

"Of course an' de sprinkler system be set to deluge if it goes off," the other Thief replied.

"Let's hope it don' come to dat," Jean-Luc sighed. "Trus' is de only we'll be able to set dem loose."

"Dere's always m' plan," Theoren said with exaggerated blandness.

"It be times like dis dat 'm certain havin' yo' mentor Lapin only 'ncouraged him," Jean-Luc said shaking his head and grinning. "We ain't druggin' dem, or shippin' dem off to de Congo an' even if we did dat it still wouldn' take care of de two femme still runnin' loose."

A small smile curled Theoren lips despite his efforts to remain totally deadpan. "It was jus' a suggestion," he said.

****** ****** ******

Belle ran through her fellow traveler's profiles one last time before finishing preparations for her first assignment. The small tour group would be providing her with cover to get her in and out of the town where the deed would be done, but they didn't know that and it was important that she didn't arouse any suspicions in them.

The travel arrangements had been made for her, her Guild had people for that. "De ones dat couldn' hack it as a real Assassin," Belle thought all the while knowing better. The Guild wouldn't function without it's hackers, forgers, chemists, procurers and front men, they all played a vital roll in seeing that she could do her job, walk away clean and make a profit from it. Still she like to think that her roll was the most important, the one every other member of the Guild envied her for having. It certainly carried the most risk.

The group she'd be traveling which consisted of four retired couples traveling during the off-season to avoid the crowds and save money, the Chelsey family from Minnesota, an architect and interior decorator with a seven-year-old and a four-year-old celebrating their tenth anniversary, Carol and Ray Moreland celebrating or distracting themselves from their youngest child's exit from the nest, Jane Donis and Mindy White, thirty-ish, best friends, on a trip for two Jane had won in a radio contest, and Roe Sandry, recent high school grad planning on studying anthropology and wanting to see some of South America's pyramids with her own eyes, just for fun, before settling down to really study them.

The first time she read the dossier Belle had decided that Roe was the greatest danger to her cover. The rest had someone to provide distraction, to be the primary focus of their attention. The elderly couples might be nosey or the children might be a pain, but they were traveling with companions and their party would be their first concern, Roe was all alone. Belle didn't want to end up dealing with someone looking for a potential best friend.

"Suppose I bes' be de anti-social type an' scare her off," Belle sighed upon rereading Roe's file. "Damn, would've been fun to drag Remy 'long, have dis be a workin' honeymoon, we could've been all caught up in one 'nother an' no one would've t'ought anyt'ing of it, mais I t'ink it bes' he don' get too close to m' work."

Deciding she hadn't over looked anything in her earlier planning sessions Belle started packing for the trip. First the gear she would need to complete the assassination, primarily a high-powered rifle. It was state of the art and expensive and she'd dump it as soon as the job was done. The Guild could afford new weapons, they couldn't afford having their assignments linked by ballistics. Then the clothes for her traveling persona, Rebecca, Becca for short, Johnson.

Becca was a boring little mouse of a girl Belle decided as she dressed for the part. Her loose blonde hair was parted in such a way so that it would fall forward, demurely hiding her face whenever she glanced down, and Becca spent a lot of the time staring at the ground avoiding people's eyes. No make-up beyond a little lip-gloss and modest clothing that hid all but a hint of her figure. Becca was pretty enough, but such a shy little thing that strangers would feel uncomfortable imposing on her personal space by even talking to her. Belle wrinkled her nose in distaste thinking if she really were Becca Johnson she'd have died of boredom long before now. Once she was ready Belle headed for the garage.

Marius met her there, he put the suitcase in the trunk of the car and drove her down to the bus station to see her off himself. As the driver stowed her trunk beneath the bus Marius gathered Belle into a tight hug. "Yo' make your ole' man proud," he whispered into her ear. "Take care of yourself an' come home 'fore dat husband of yours gets hisself into too much trouble."

"Daddy!" Belle exclaimed with exasperation.

"Je t'aime, mon fillis," Marius said. "I suppose yo' bes' get on your way or dey leave wid out yo'."

Belle's arms tightened fiercely. "Don' worry 'bout rien, dis is as good as done," she said, unsure which of them was supposed to be reassured then boarded the bus.

****** ****** ******

"S' do yo' have any ideas?" Jean-Luc asked, glancing around at the group of restrained would-be terrorists. Their blonde friend had joined them during the night. "If yo'd like your other friend could join us," Jean-Luc suggested.

"No," Avalanche said firmly. "You're not bad for a flatscan, but you could possibly catch Skids. It's not easy, but I'm sitting here not using my powers because you set it up so I can't risk it. Scanner always comes and goes as she pleases, no one can stop her, but I'm not risking Skids... We thought about solving everyone's problem by just disappearing. You did too good of a job hiding the keys to our handcuffs."

"I los' de keys years 'go," Jean-Luc said with a laugh. "Why bother keepin' track of t'ings like dat when I can pick de locks faster anyway?"

"Neat," Pyro exclaimed then glanced away in embarassment

"If yo're willin' to jus' move on, yo' could try askin'," Jean-Luc said. "Your friend Rusty kept his word 'bout not burnin' de house down, mebbe I'd trus' yo'. Or yo' could stay. Magneto is wrong. Dere ain't no need for a war 'tween humans an' mutants, 'less he makes it a need. An' mebbe your powers give yo' an edge, mais yo'd be surprised what a body can do when dey're fightin' for deir life."

"No thanks, we'll just leave," Avalanche said. "We know how to take care of ourselves."

"D'Accord," Jean-Luc sighed. "I'll turn yo' loose, Scanner can round up your Skids an' meet de rest of yo' at de bus station, or dey could come here an' m' son could give yo' all a ride."

"Or you could just let us walk out the door," Avalanche countered.

"An' have de firs' Assassin dat sees yo' start takin' pot shots, which 'm certain yo'd counter den we'd be right back where we started: Worryin' 'bout de government descendin' on us 'cause of your 'ndiscretions. De four of yo' dat 'm s'posed to have control of can't be seen in N'rleans 'gain."

"Alright already," Avalanche said. "How close is Skids anyway Scanner?"

"Close," the blonde girl replied.

"Go get her," the earth shaker decided as Jean-Luc set about releasing their bonds.

"Mattie put together a little food an' some t'ings for yo' in de kitchen," Jean-Luc said. "We t'ought dis be what yo'd choose."

"Thanks," Rusty said awkwardly as he stripped off the flame retardant suit he'd been wrapped in. "I'm sorry about all the trouble."

Jean-Luc gave the boy a tired look. "Yo' knocked down three buildings an' burned four others, dey still haven' tracked down half de water and power lines yo' put out of commission an' half de Quarter has at leas' minor structural damage. Sorry doesn' really cut it chile. Mais I ain't willin' to see yo' dead eider s' dis be m' compromise. Nex' time yo' might not be s' lucky. Nex' time dere might not be any stoppin' 'till yo' or de ot'ers be dead, 'member dat 'fore yo' start dis sort of mess 'gain."

As the five teens trailed out Henri met his father in the hall. "Saw Remy an' Lapin plannin' somet'ing," he said quietly. "Dis ain't 'xactly de time for it s' I t'ought yo' should know."

"Merci," Jean-Luc replied. "Hell, I t'ought de quiet repentant stage would las' a bit longer after his las' stunt."



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