Family Disclaimer: I do not own Young Blades. This work is merely an expression of ideas by a fan. No infringement is intended. Authors note: This fan fiction was published in a book of fan writing for Karen Cliche in 2005. The following was editing and set for that publication. Family By Hedanicree
Chapter One: When it Rains, it Pours
Jacques Leponte stared out the small window in her room at the street below. The rain beat mercilessly down on the few people that were brave (or stupid) enough to venture out in the downpour. Thunder echoed somewhere in the distance, but its sound did not stir her from the two small figures that were among the few people in the street.
A little girl, not more than ten, stood pulling something away from a small boy, who looked older and was much larger than the girl. The boy was yelling, but through the sound of the rain, Jacques could not hear what he was saying. The boy finally let go of the other end of what Jacques realized was a bag and shoved the girl into the large puddle that had formed behind her. Jacques waited for her to start to cry, but the tears never came. Instead she clinched her fist, stood up and punched the boy, knocking him down. The boy's eyes went wide. He stared up at the girl, shocked that she had hit him. The little girl stood over him with the bag in one hand, and her right fist still clenched tightly.
Jacques turned away from the window and threw herself on the bed. The sight was too much for her. That little girl was who Jacques felt like most days. D'Artagnan constantly pushed her like that boy had done to the girl, and it was becoming mentally exhausting trying to prove herself on a daily basis. Jacques knew she had strength. The fire the little girl showed when she stood up and faced the boy was exactly the way she would stand her ground with Gerard when they played as children and he had pushed her a little too far.
But Gerard had been gone for six months. It was one thing to stand your ground with members of your family. It was completely different to have to continuously prove yourself to a man who did everything in his power to test her and remind her that she was of the weaker sex. It didn't matter how many times she beat him in practice, he still pestered, flirted and made remarks about her masculinity in front of Siroc and Ramon. She always made him pay for it.
Jacques' strength was waning. She had been slipping recently. D'Artagnan had been there to cover for her, but she still found herself resenting the only person who knew her secret because she still had no one to talk to, no family. And he was, after all, only a man. She could only expect so much from him. But, she knew it was only a matter of time before someone — Siroc, Ramon, Captain Duval — found out who she really was. Jacques grew tired of the entire façade.
She had requested a week off, but instead was being sent on an assignment with her three friends to Le Havre, escorting one of the young king's cousins home. A matter of utmost importance, Duval had said. Jacques hadn't argued. There wasn't much she could say. But, at least, Captain Duval had given her the rest of the day off.
A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. She took a depth breath before she stood up, adjusting her undershirt and tunic. There was a second knock.
"Jacques," d'Artagnan's voice called.
"Come in," she said. She didn't bother to hide the irritation. Besides, he was the last person she felt like dealing with.
He entered her room, shutting the door behind him. "We're going to the café for supper," he said.
She finished with her shirt and turned around to face him. "Well enjoy your supper," she snapped. She didn't feel like eating with him or anyone for that matter.
The smile that had graced his lips as he entered the room faded from his face. She was apparently in a foul mood. "You're not coming?"
Jacques said nothing. She just glared at the gray clad figure in front of her.
D'Artagnan crossed his arms, a defensive stance to prepare for her reaction to what he was about to say. "For the last week you've been nothing but irritable and moody."
Jacques rolled her eyes and turned away from him, reassuming her spot by the window.
D'Artagnan walked over and stood behind her, close enough that they were almost touching. He was tired of her attitude. All week she had been snapping at him, Ramon and Siroc. "Are your wrappings to tight or is it just a female thing?" He paused before leaning forward and whispering, "Jacqueline," in her ear.
She spun quickly on her heels, their faces less than an inch apart. She hated every time he said her name. He had no right to say her name. It was only an accident that he even knew what she was. Her hands were clenched like the little girl's had been and she wanted nothing more than to swing and knock him down, especially when his lips curved up into a smirk.
He tilted his head slightly to one side and held her gaze. He knew that look of fury but he didn't know why she had been giving it to him all week. He sighed. "Come to supper," he finally said. If this had been any other musketeer, d'Artagnan would have given up after she took his head off when he came in. But this was Jacqueline and there was something about her that affected him like no other woman ever had.
"Fine," she said, hitting him hard with her shoulder as she moved past him. D'Artagnan shook his head as he followed her out. Always so stubborn, he thought.
When the four arrived at the café, it was hard to walk through the place without brushing against another person. The four pushed and shoved their way to a table in the far corner.
"We're never going to get any service over here," Siroc pointed out.
"Have faith, mi compadre. I'm sure d'Artagnan and I can charm one of the lovely ladies into bringing us something," Ramon said as he stood up and headed for a blonde who looked a little overwhelmed from all the male attention she was receiving. D'Artagnan followed closed behind.
Jacques shook her head. Her friends' arrogance and perpetual womanizing never ceased to annoy her. Ramon and d'Artagnan were both trying to charm the young woman, who giggled nervously. Ramon got down on one knee, and although Jacques could not hear her friend's words, she was certain he was rhapsodizing while d'Artagnan moved on to another maiden.
"You really should lighten up, Jacques." Siroc had been watching her, noting Jacques' tense posture and narrowed eyes. "You could join them if you like."
"If I wanted a lady, Siroc, I would find one," she snapped at him. Out of the three of her friends, Siroc was the only one that didn't irritate her beyond her wits. She found his quiet nature and sharp mind to be refreshing. Her voice softened from the harsh tone she had just used with him as she spoke again. "Those two won't be happy until they've kissed every woman in Paris."
Siroc laughed, not loudly like most men, but subtle and light, a sound that fit his nature. "Actually, I don't think they'll be happy until they've kissed every woman in France."
Jacques looked back at her friend and couldn't help but laugh. It was the first time she had found humor in anything in over a week. "Well, the way those two are working, it might be faster if I go get us something. Would you like something to drink, Siroc?"
"Just coffee. I have something I want to do tonight that I've been dying to try all day." The inventor's eyes sparked as he spoke. Jacques knew that look. She just hoped he didn't blow up anything.
Jacques returned a few minutes later with two plates, a coffee for Siroc and something stronger for her. Ramon and d'Artagnan were sitting across from Siroc when she returned.
"Jacques, friend, only two plates, there are four of us," Ramon leaned forward, reaching for one of the rolls on the plate she was handing to Siroc.
"I thought you and d'Artagnan were going to use your charm for supper, Ramon," Jacques shot back. She set her plate down and sat down next to Siroc, taking a drink, which made her throat burn.
D'Artagnan sat across from her, watching every movement. He couldn't resist teasing her, a pay back for her earlier moodiness. As Jacqueline set her cup down, shaking off the effects of the potent drink, d'Artagnan spoke. "You know, Jacques, you'd make a lovely barmaid." D'Artagnan started to laugh but before he could even finish laughing, he was flying backwards off the bench, hitting his head on the wall behind him. That was the last reaction he had expected. His jaw throbbed.
Jacques had hit him squarely. She stood on the other side of the table, her left fist clenched and her right hand on the hilt of her rapier. Her eyes were narrow and the look of fury was back on her face.
Almost as soon as he hit the wall, d'Artagnan was up. "What is your problem, Leponte?!" he shouted as his hand went for his rapier. Ramon stepped in front of him as he started to draw, pushing him back slightly. Siroc was doing the same to Jacques.
"You are, you arrogant ass!" she shouted back. He had broken her last straw.
It was all Siroc and Ramon could do to get the pair out of the café and back to the garrison without trouble. D'Artagnan continued to bate her as they walked back to the garrison, and it took all of Siroc's strength to keep her from pummeling d'Artagnan.
Siroc shoved Jacques into his laboratory and shut the door when the four where finally in the garrison hall. He turned to speak to his friends as he held the door shut. He could feel Jacques trying to open the door. "Good night," he started, stopping when the pulling was replaced by a loud breaking sound. Siroc noticeably cringed.
Ramon, who still had a hold of d'Artagnan's arm, pulled his friend down the hall toward his room. "Come, d'Artagnan, we have a long day tomorrow. Sleep will do us all good." Ramon looked over his shoulder at Siroc one last time and rolled his eyes. They had both had enough of Jacques and d'Artagnan's constant bickering.
Siroc entered his laboratory ready to put Jacques in his place right then. Who did he think he was hitting d'Artagnan like that? The two had always been rivals with a sword and occasionally hit each other during matches, ignoring the rules of engagement. But neither one had ever hauled off the way Jacques had. Before Siroc could even begin the lecture he had prepared in his head, he realized that the laboratory was still dark. He walked over to where the switch was hidden for the lighting system he had made and saw his friend picking up the broken glass that was all over the floor. Jacques seemed calmer than when Siroc had first shoved her in the room
"I'm sorry, Siroc. I hope it wasn't important," Jacques said, looking up from where she was squatting.
Siroc knelt beside her and helped her pick up the pieces. "Not terribly important. Just part of the experiment I wanted to try this evening." He stood up and put the handful of glass he had collected on the table top, and then knelt back down. His face revealed his disappointment. "Is there anything bothering you, Jacques? You seem 'tense' lately," he asked, as he picked up another piece and jerked his head to force the untamed blonde locks out of his eyes.
"It's nothing, Siroc," she said, lifting her eyes to meet his gaze before she stood and put the handful of glass she held in the pile Siroc had started. "I've been," she stopped, taking a deep breath. "I've been considering leaving the musketeers."
Siroc's expression changed from concern to total shock. "You can't be serious?" he said before even realized he was speaking.
"I'm very serious, Siroc."
The two musketeers just stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. There was something clearly troubling his newest friend, but he couldn't figure out what. Surely Jacques wouldn't let d'Artagnan's constant harassment and arrogance get to him. Jacques had handled himself brilliantly from the first day with their arrogant friend. It hadn't stopped Jacques then and Siroc wasn't sure why he would let it stop him now.
It was Jacques who looked away first. "Good night, Siroc. Good luck with your experiment." Jacques made it to the door before Siroc spoke again.
"It isn't because of d'Artagnan, is it?" Siroc asked, wanting to make sure his assumptions weren't correct.
Jacques stopped with her hand on the door. "No, Siroc. I 'am' tired of his arrogance. I," she paused. "I just don't think I belong here." She exited quickly not wanting to say more.
Siroc sat down on the only chair he kept in the lab. He stared at the door, puzzled. Why would he want to leave? Why would he consider it not important? What did he mean he didn't belong here? Jacques had saved his life, all their lives, more than he could count. How could he think he didn't belong? Siroc sat in the chair and for the first time in his life, he felt perplexed.