STORY SUMMARY: Lives, fates, and time itself lie broken in the hands of the Witness.

DISCLAIMER: All characters and organizations (with the exception of small, mostly unnamed minor characters) throughout the series are the product of Marvel.

CANONICAL NOTES: This story arc utilizes a strange combination of movieverse and comicverse and none of the above. Sorry about that.

LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: Cajun French is courtesy of Heavenmetal (many thanks). I will attempt to reproduce accents in this story arc.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is the granddaddy of my entire fanfiction universe (with a couple of exceptions). Expect to see characters, relationships, names, and premises you recognize. Realize: it all leads somewhere you won't.

Entertaining Angels

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Story Summary: Sometimes things are not what they seem. A small urchin gives a diner girl a gift.

Canonical Notes: AU. Very AU. I still can't figure out how to label this one's spot in the timeline. Coming soon.

Author's Note: This comes from a rather twisted story arc, a little one-shot to get my feet wet. Special thanks to my accidental beta, Merr2, who made the editing possible.

It was a small diner, bright and comfortable, situated just at the edge of the French Quarter where the gentleman could be found most mornings. He sat in the back, sipping on the same black brew before breakfast: eggs over easy, two pancakes, hold the syrup. And it was the same girl that brought his eggs and poured his coffee each day, a brilliant smile beneath those dancing green eyes and the striking streaks of white in her auburn hair.

"Merci beaucoup."

"Y' welcome, m'sieu." Her long white gloves bore no comment, for she always wore them, and most assumed them part of the uniform.

The routine was comfortable. To thrive in New Orleans required home ground, and this small restaurant was home ground for many of the notables of the wealthy neighboring families, for the waifs and strays that could come in each morning and receive a slice of bread or a cup of soup, and for the young folk that liked the welcoming atmosphere.

One such waif entered through the front door, his fingers poking through his torn gloves to leave prints on the glass and set the bell to tinkling wildly. A mop of auburn hair fell into the boy's face, hiding the thin, sharp angles and obscuring his eyes. It could not hide his grin.

"Mais, look at dat smilin' face," the girl said sunnily, sliding hands to hips. "I'd almos' t'ink y' were trouble."

She was always a pleasant part of the scenery—'Rose' her nametag said—and she always had a soft spot for the particular urchin that now sidled into across the tiled floor, hands behind his back with a sheepish expression on his face. She talked bayou, and rumor had it she had a small house down there, but no one had gotten past rumor with her.

"Got somet'in' for y'," the little boy said, eyes on the floor and his scruffy, worn shoes.

"For me?" Rose placed her hand over her heart. "Now, Remy, y' goin' t' be makin' me feel all special."

He squirmed a little at her response, but he peeked up at her, shy, lovestruck smile plastered across his face. There was a crush if anyone had ever seen one. He nodded and reached forward with dirty hands to offer a pair of rich brown leather gloves. It was quite doubtful whether he had paid for them with his own money—five-fingered discounts were not uncommon among the small fry that came through, but one could never tell with the hard-working altruism of street kids that received a little love.

Rose's face grew serious. She knelt down to the little boy's height.

The gentleman watched with interest from his table.

She whispered, "Thank you," and accepted the gloves, then handed him a slice of bread, equally solemn, and gave him a kiss atop his scruffy head. "Now off wit' y'." And she shooed him out the door.

For a long moment, she stood there, slumped against the counter, a slight frown at the edge of her mouth. Perhaps, she wanted to cry. Perhaps, she did not.

The gentleman waved for the bill and she straightened and spun on her heel to get it.

"Nice o' de p'tite," Jean-Luc said.

"Yes." She was smiling again. "Y' have a lovely day, M'sieu LeBeau."

"And you the same."