Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Remy stopped reading newspapers about the time he hit South Carolina. They all said the same thing, anyway. Massacre in the Big Easy. Ten Dead in New Orleans Mystery Slayings. Unidentified Bodies in French Quarter Worst Killings of the New Millennium. And the last one Remy had looked at, before he decided to stick to back roads for the rest of his trip: Fingerprint of New Orleans Butcher Only Clue.


You know why.

You again, eh?

When you take a vacation, Remy…my goodness.

You can just shut it, homme, ‘less you want me to find a gun and do it right here.

Who are you deluding, Remy? You couldn’t wish for the guts to kill yourself.

I killed dem, didn’t I?

To which them are you referring? The innocent children in the tunnels, or our more recently departed colleagues?

So it’s we now, huh?

Not really fitting, is it? Since I can twist your mind into a helpless wad whenever I wish.

I’m gonna find you, sooner or later.

Keep telling yourself that, murderer, if it makes you feel any better.

Dat’s right, I am a murderer! And YOU, whoever you are—you’re next on Gambit’s list.


The French Quarter was unusually quiet after the murders, the taverns on Bourbon Street populated mostly with tourists. Remy parked the Kharmann Gia in a side alley, put the top up and lit a cigarette as he walked rapidly away from the lights and drunken noise, deep into the old cobble streets that fronted the Mississippi. Buildings rotted here, stores sold goofer dust and love potions, and eyes human and rat watched the tall thief from dark places. Remy’s inner turmoil never manifested on his face, even when his key unlocked the crumbling front door of a narrow row house and he stepped into the dank blackness beyond. He paused in the shadows, listening. A wayward drip from a hole in the roof, some rodents scuttling away…no people. Remy started forward towards the back kitchen and the door down to the basement. Immediately his senses told him it was a trap, but the heavy form had already taken him to ground, rolled him over and punched him soundly in the face. Remy’s cigarette squashed against his face, mingling with his blood from the cut the unknown fist instantly opened.

"Some free advice, LeBeau," said Gris-Gris, assassin, voodoo practitioner and all-around unpleasant man. "Glowing cigarette butts make wonderful signal flares."

"Some free advice t’you, Gris," said Remy, booting the big assassin back into a pile of old bricks. "Get off me." Both men came to their feet at the same instant, Gris-Gris’s assassin armor gleaming dully in the light from the street, the knife he held gleaming brighter.

"Rats always come back to de sewer, isn’t dat de saying?" Gris-Gris grinned. Remy moved his wrist imperceptibly, flicked out a card, charged it.

"I wouldn’t know, Gris. I leave de rats alone." He smiled slightly, knowing he looked demonic in the kinetic light and his eyes always rattled the religious Gris "But you’d prob’ly know, since you deir first cousin an’ all…" Three things happened then—Gris-Gris started for Remy in a rage, and people burst through both the front and back doors of the house.

"Remy!" both parties shouted.

"Gris!" Bella Donna added. Gris-Gris looked at his immediate mistress.

"But Madame Boudreaux…" There was a click and a gun leveled at Gris’s back.

"Put it down, homme, and de five ot’er pieces you got on you too." Remy peeked around the assassin.

"Lapin. Good t’see you, cousin."

"What are you doing here?" demanded Bella Donna. "Dis is in direct violation of de treaty!"

"Kiss my grits, Belle!" snapped Lapin.

"Take your grits and shove them—"

"’EY!" Remy bellowed, charging another card. Everyone stopped. "What de hell is dis, a kindergarten?" He made sure to glare at Lapin.

"Sorry, sir," said the younger thief. "But I t’ought since dey killed our men I should come make sure dey didn’ try anyt’ing else funny."

"Let me kill de killer, Madame. Please," Gris-Gris fidgeted his knife in his hands. Remy dropped the card and ground it under his foot.

"No one is killing anyone. Yet," said Bella Donna with a raised eyebrow towards Remy.

"An’ sure as hell not you, Gris." Remy jerked his head. "Clear out." Gris-Gris bristled.

"I don’ take orders from any t’ief, LeBeau." Remy felt his temper rising and stepped up to Gris-Gris.

"Maybe I didn’ make myself clear de first time—MOVE IT!" Gris looked past him at Bella Donna, who shooed him away with flicked fingers. He grumbled something insulting in French, then slipped his knife into his armor and shoved Lapin aside to get to the door. Remy reached over and took the large pistol away from his cousin.

"’Ey…" protested Lapin.

"You too, mon frere. Dis is between me an’ Belle." Lapin cast a look at the fuming assassin woman.

"You gonna be all right, Rem?"

"Oui, certainment," nodded Remy. "Go on." Lapin went, reluctantly.

"Well," said Bella Donna when the door had shut. "You certainly know how to make an entrance, LeBeau."

"Merci, chere," said Remy with a weary sigh. "Don’ get de wrong idea, but could we take dis somewhere a little more comfortable?" Belle cocked her head to one side.

"I don’ know dat I can trust you, Remy. After all, you are de killer of eight of mine and two of your men."

"Dat wasn’ me, Belle," said Remy, eyes blazing again. "You know it, too. Don’ bait me like you usually do, because dis time I’m gonna snap."

"I was under de impression you already had," said Belle. Remy did snap, then. He got right up in Belle’s face and shouted at her.

"You listen to me, you Cajun witch and you listen good! I didn’ have to come here and risk my neck with dat moron Gris, but I did, for you! I didn’ kill your assassins an’ sure as hell is hot I didn’ kill my t’ieves. I came back here to pick up the pieces, even t’ough, once again, both sides o’ dis pack want my head!" Belle drew back from him.

"Sorry," she said softly. "Guess I misjudged you, dis time."

"Oui, just a little," said Remy sarcastically. "Now can you tell me what happened?" He felt almost guilty not telling Belle the whole truth, but if the rest of the assassins knew about Remy’s new duality they’d crucify him.

"Come wit’ me," said Belle, walking back towards the kitchen. Remy followed her down the basement stairs, which grew to slippery stone as they went past the water line. Below were the chambers of the Assassins, a place Remy never felt entirely comfortable even on his best day. Belle led him through a dingy storage room, a weapons depot and into a medieval-type sitting room. Remy saw the large, forbidding portrait of Marius Boudreaux over the fireplace and realized it was Belle’s private quarters. Underneath two swords were crossed, tied together with a red silk wedding cloth. Remy felt his jaw tighten and turned back to Belle.

"Some display." Belle looked up like she’d just realized it was there.

"Don’ have much more den memories dese days, Remy. Sorry." He shrugged.

"Don’ bother me if it don’ bother you. Spill about de killings."

"Staged to look like de Thieves killed the Assassins an’ vice versa," said Belle, becoming businesslike. "Explosion marks and fires every which way. You sure did a bang-up job, cherie." Remy frowned at the bantering style, one she hadn’t used with him since their engagement.

"One—don’ call me dat. Two—I didn’ do it."

"How d’you explain de fingerprint the NOPD has, den?" said Belle.

"Dey won’t match it. I never been convicted," said Remy.

"Please, LeBeau," said Belle. "You’re an X-Man. Your prints are on file somewhere."

"I was careful," said Remy.

"You were always careful," said Belle. She took a silver tea service off an end table and dropped a tea ball in to the pot to steep. "But you weren’t always bright."

"Don’ like you tone, Belle," said Remy. She faced him.

"Well forgive me, Remy, but after dis, you’re ruined here in Nawlins. No one will believe you weren’t in on de killings in some way." Remy sighed, sank down on Belle’s sofa in spite of his built-in wariness.

"I know, Belle. Everyt’ing I’ve worked for is gone, isn’t it?" She nodded, and poured the tea.

"De Guilds will go back to war, probably. And we’ll go back to the way we used to be." She stood to take the tea service away, and Remy let his head fall back and his eyes close.

"I’m sorry, chere," he said. "Damn sorry." Belle padded behind him.

"It’s…alright, Remy." He heard her intake of breath shiver a bit, and some instinct made him snap his head away from her, leaning forward, almost tipping off the sofa. Belle’s small stiletto, which she’d had since she was ten, was lodged in the brocade next to his ear. She had missed by a good inch, and smiled apologetically at Remy. "Bang. You’re dead." Remy got up and got a wall behind his back, coat swirling, eyes hard again.


"Dere were t’ree contracts out, literally hours after de killings, Remy," she said. "I took dem all, I knew it was your only hope. You have to go, now." Remy’s lip curled.

"Yeah. I sure know when I’m not welcome."

"Take some advice," said Belle suddenly, pulling the knife out of the upholstery and sticking it back up her sleeve. "Don’ come back. Ever. If you do you’re dead for sure." Her face was regretful. "Bella Donna Boudreaux doesn’t miss twice."

"Oo, merci," said Remy, his trademark sarcasm at it’s most cutting.

"Remy." Belle’s blue eyes searched out his mutant ones, knowing she might never see them again. "I’ll be damned, but I’m going to miss you." She allowed her face to go soft, and Remy felt the old stirring for an instant. Then he remembered the swords, Julien’s blood, and Marius’s tribunal, Belle never speaking for him. Never wanting him unless she wanted something from him.

"I won’t," he said. "Because I’ll see you again." Her mouth opened, a smile on it. "Save it," Remy told her. "I know you too well." He found his pack and flicked a match against a new cigarette, took a drag, exhaled in the direction of Marius’s dour picture. "We’re both bad pennies, Belle. We can always find each other in a crowd." He flipped the cigarette away and went to the door, not allowing the turmoil to claim him. Not yet. "Au revoir, mon chere."

Go on to Chapter 4