TITLE: Lex Talionis

SUMMARY: But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. Welcome to the Thieves Guild. Enjoy your stay.


WARNINGS: Language, discussion of violence.

DISCLAIMER: They're not my toys. Marvel's just good enough not to yell at me for playing with them.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: And with this chapter, we're one step closer to the end. Time for some politics and more unpleasant memories.

Part Seven: Sometimes You're Born With It

It's that night that the family gathers in the parlor.

Every member of the New Orleans Thieves Guild is there by requirement, and that includes Remy. He takes a place at the back of the room, leaning against the wall as nonchalantly as he can, observing the goings on since there's not much else to do. Everyone's still in their funeral clothes, the sea of black seated and engaged in muted conversations that he can only catch snatches of. It's tense talk. A lot of questions are being asked. The answers are going to come, but they'll come the 'right' way. This is a council, after all, rife with protocol and tradition.

Henri finally stands up, and the room falls into an uneasy quiet. The new Patriarch is about to speak.

"We all know what's happened," Henri says, "and we all know what needs to be done."

This much is obvious. Marius Boudreaux has to die.

Remy tunes all the speeches made and ideas proposed – he distantly registers that Theo is especially vocal – all mediated by his brother.

He wonders if 'brother' is still the right word now that Henri's in charge of this screwed up operation. He wonders if it ever was.

He cuts off this train of thought before it can make it any further along the railway tracks of his mind. Regardless of how good he is at beating himself up over nearly anything, he'll save this one for a more opportune moment. When that is he has no clue, but this sure as hell isn't the time or place. No-one here deserves the privilege (if it can be called that) of seeing anything of his current vulnerability. Not that they can see what's going on in his head, but any sign of weakness at all is as good as blood in the water in this crowd. He pretends that Mattie, Henri, Mercy, and Emil haven't already seen far too much of that for him to be comfortable.

Maintaining his neutral expression, Remy starts paying attention. Maybe he'll actually care about something being said.

It's not likely, obviously, but at least possible. At the very least it'll distract him, or maybe even give him something new to be bitter about.

"This's all well and good, but no-one's answered the big question yet," someone asks. "Who are we sending to kill Marius?"

Remy considers stepping up, which surprises him.

There is a certain logic to it though: being a cause of death sounds rather appealing right now, if only because it's an outlet for this nervous energy building up in him. Plus, the sooner Marius is offed, the sooner he can give this place the finger and head back to New York. At least there the only one reminding him of his sins is him.

"I'll do it."

The words cut sharply through the room and manage to leave a heavy silence in their wake. Everyone turns to look at him, the reactions varied, but all running along the same general lines. There's astonishment, doubt, anger, confusion, and quiet murmurs of disbelief Remy had expected when he spoke up.

"You'll kill Marius?" Theo asks, incredulous.

Remy had figured from the moment he chose to volunteer himself that it would be Theo, if anyone, who'd directly challenge him. He hardly blames Theo. The guy's had a justifiable vendetta against him ever since…

He can't even bring himself to think the words. There's only the memory of dragging a small body ashore and an abject sense of horror that manages to seep through the cracks. He draws on words to form a shield around himself.

"You saying I can't? 'Cause if you're suggesting I'm not capable-"

Theo rises from his seat and turns to face Remy head on. The man's face is venomous, and his words even more so.

"No. No, I'm suggesting that you don't have the right to even put yourself forward. You're not a true Thief."

Still relaxed against the wall, Remy matches Theo's acid tone while keeping his face placid.

"I passed my Tilling. As far as anyone here is concerned, I'm as much a Thief as you."

"You left. That's voluntary exile."

The man has a point that Remy chooses to ignore.

"And your Patriarch," Remy indicates Henri with a loose wave of his hand, "called me back. That's a welcome mat, last I checked."

Remy's disgusted with each word he speaks. He's talking like he still belongs, fighting for his supposedly rightful place amongst the Thieves. It's sick. The family was exactly what he's fought so hard to escape, and here he is asserting himself as a part of it.

Sick. Just sick.

"Why do you want to do it? Why do you think you even can?"

"Because I got into the Ripper's place and got Jean-Luc out when none of you could."

He leaves out the part about how this wouldn't have been the case had he not had that girl's help in doing so. If Jean-Luc had told them about her, Remy will be called on it and can go hide in his room until this shit is over and done with. If Jean-Luc hadn't, then Remy can take a literal stab at Marius and either succeed or end up with a COD of suicide-by-Ripper. It should be unnerving how alright he is with either of these options.

Starting to go somewhat red in the face, Theo hisses.

"If you think anyone in this room is gonna stand for you -"

"For the love of God, both of you, shut up!" Henri shouts, showing the most emotion Remy's seen out of him since arriving. "We do this the right way."

This seems to shock everyone in the room. If there is a quiet deeper than a complete hush, it rests over the room now.

"Who'll stand for Remy?" Henri asks, sounding weary as he begins the old, patterned words that make up this particular part of a War Council.

No-one makes a move. Theo starts to look smug, but doesn't get the chance to gloat or taunt.

"What the hell," Emil says, rising from his chair and continuing the formal litany. "I will stand for Remy."

Henri nods.

"Emil Lapin stands for Remy LeBeau."

Theo sinks down into his chair with a glower. The Patriarch is at work, and he cannot interrupt now.

Remy stands up straight and steps away from the wall.

Here we go, he thinks to himself.

"Do you understand what is asked of you, Remy LeBeau?"

"I am to wreak vengeance," he replies, the words coming far too easily and making him disgustingly nauseous. "I am to fulfill the call of the Law and spill blood for the one taken from us. Marius Boudreaux's life for Jean-Luc LeBeau's."

"Remy LeBeau has spoken. As Patriarch, I affirm that he knows what is required of him. He will be our instrument of the Law. I have spoken, and it is done."

"It is done," all murmur in response, and Remy parallels it to the church services he'd attended as a child and the one this morning. Calls and responses, the recitation of formal patterns and refrains like actors delivering well-rehearsed lines. The whole thing fits Remy like too-tight shirt and he is thankful as everyone begins to file out with the Council now finished.

Everyone's off to their own homes or their own rooms in the house now. If Remy waits a few minutes here in the parlor, he can slip through the halls without running in to anyone. Looking up from the floor that he's been investigating intently since Theo brushed by him without a word, he sees that he's not alone. Emil's there, sitting in his chair but having swiveled around to rest his crossed arms on its back. He is watching Remy all too closely.

"You really think you can do this, huh?" he asks, and it could pass for either an observation or a question.

"If you're looking for a thanks," Remy counters.

"I'm not getting one. I know." Emil's mouth twitches before breaking in to that smile that just can't seem to leave his face alone. "Just don't fuck this up, yeah?"