Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

For the Love of Deadly Nightshade - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by CrystalWren
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

It wasn't dark and stormy. It wasn't even raining. But considering the drama that was unfolding beneath the warm, summer night sky of the American city of New Orleans, perhaps it really should have been.

It was a hospital. Nothing special about it. A little run down, a touch on the shabby side, to be expected from the way it was edging into the wrong side of town. A place where drug addicts were treated for overdose, where their dealers had knife wounds sewed up and bullets removed. Where the beaten wives went to have their bones set, and their husbands to have their tattered knuckles bandaged. Where the street whores went to be patched up after hack apportions, where their dealers went to be treated for syphilis. Where the runaways ended up- and the underage pregnant girls went to have their children of undisclosed parentage.

All in all, thought Jean-Luc Lebeau, Patriarch of the New Orleans Thieves Guild, a dreadful place to have a child. He was looking over the wards, one by one. Just briefly, of course- it was a bit hard to get a detailed look when you were rappelling up past the windows. Jean-Luc was accompanied by two other Guild thieves, both Master thieves, both men whom he trusted implicitly. Such skilled thieves, you would think we were after no less than the Crown Jewels of England. Instead we are white slavers, out for a night of cradle snatching. Curse the Antiquary, damn him to the deepest pit of the Seventh Hell. The Antiquary was the leader of an offshoot Thieves Guild clan, and despite the polite fiction that he was the faithful subject of Jean-Luc King of Thieves, he was anything but. Like his name suggested, he collected things. Even children. In an attempt to avoid inter clan warfare, Jean-Luc was about to steal a child out of the hospital as a gift to the Antiquary. He did not know what was so special about this particular child. He just knew that the Antiquary wanted it. Probably just some rich politician's bastard whelp and he'll ransom it back. God, I hate him. Jean-Luc had done a lot of things in his remarkably long life, the sort of things that would make any honest person's stomach turn, but he never gotten used to child stealing.

"This is the one," whispered one of his companions. His name was Henri, and he was Jean-Luc's son.

Silent as a wisp of fog slipping through the window, they entered. The room was small and private, a sterile cubicle painted puke green and smelling strongly of disinfectant, vomit, and- blood? *That's odd, thought Jean-Luc. You would not expect a blood smell this strong outside of casualty.* In the center of the room was an ordinary hospital bed, occupied by a sleeping girl. Next to the bed was a plastic cradle. Jean-Luc stopped and looked at the girl for a second. Her face was pale and drawn with pain and grief and despair, and her cheekbones jutted out sharply in a way that suggested malnutrition. Indeed, her entire frame, curled as it was in a fetal position on her side was thin and underfed. Her hair was tangled and matted. But nevertheless, she was beautiful. Her eyebrows were arched and her eyes ever-so-slightly slanted, and those jutting cheek bones, once softened with proper food, would make a model turn green with envy. Her hair, un-brushed as it was, was thick and red-brown and shinning.

But there was something wrong with the whole scene, picturesque as it looked. Even accounting for exhaustion, she was just too still. And the blood smell was coming form her bed. Jean-Luc stepped closer, and gently felt for a pulse he did not expect to find. And he did not. He reached for the covers to see what exactly had killed her, where the blood was coming from, but he was interrupted by his son cursing and praying at the same time.

"Merde! Hail Mary, full of grace…"

He turned fast towards Henri, angry that he was breaking his training by swearing out aloud in the middle of a job, and fearful as to what had upset his son, veteran of many unusual things that one finds on a break-and-enter. Henri was leaning over the cot by the other side of the bed, and was still muttering prayers and blasphemies under his breath. Feeling his fathers' eyes upon him he looked up.

"Poppa," he gasped, "this child is the son of the devil Himself!"

Swiftly he crossed the small distance between him and his son and the cot and looked down at its occupant. He hissed softly between his clenched teeth. Whatever he was expecting after his son's melodramatic words, this was not it.

The baby within the cradle was perhaps a week or so old. Old enough for his skin to have lost the characteristic red blotches of newborns, old enough for his eyes to have opened.

His eyes. Oh my God.

They were red.

Not bloodshot, nor even a reddish sort of brown that one sometimes sees, but a definite glowing red, on a background that was black when it should have been white.

The baby, who had been frowning in a way that suggested eminent screaming and crying if the strangers who had woken him did not go away, took one look at Jean-Luc and smiled. And what a smile! Most babies smiled frequently, but not in the same way that this one did. It was the same smile that Jean-Luc had always imagined the Archangel Gabriel had had when He visited The Virgin Mary and told her she was to be the Mother of the Messiah. Jean-Luc couldn't help himself. It was love at first sight. And it was entirely mutual, as far as he could tell. The baby gurgled and waved his tiny fists at the thief to get him to pick him up. Jean-Luc complied without thinking, holding the child in the way he had held Henri when he was a child, so long ago. Genard, the other thief, broke the spell when he exhaled in a soft but heartfelt sigh.

"Well," he said, not looking at either of his companions, but down at the sleeping girl, "I guess this answers why the Antiquary wanted this one."

Jean-Luc nodded, not trusting his voice. Instead he reached over and gently lifted the blanket off the girl in her bed. In her present state it was reasonable to assume it was unlikely this would wake her up. The coppery, metallic smell of blood came, as he had feared, from beneath the blanket, from the girl. There was blood between her legs, and trickling from her slashed and torn wrists. There was a bloody razor blade held tight in her hand, only Heaven knew where she had gotten it. Jean-Luc understood immediately what she had done- the gold crucifix around her neck, almost hidden by her hair, told the whole sorry, sorry story.

"My God," he whispered. "She slashed her wrists and," he handed the baby he held to his son and gently turned the girl on her back and parted her legs "she cut herself- inside- as well."

He clenched his teeth against a feeling of nausea. Judging by the expressions on the faces of his companions, they felt the same. Jean-Luc carefully restored the dead girl to her original position and brushed some of the hair from her face.

"She was punishing herself. She thought she had given birth to the Devil." Henri looked suddenly fearful of the child he held in his arms. "Has she?"

"No. No, I don't think so. The child is a mutant, I think." Jean-Luc saw the questions on the other men's and held up his hands to stop any questions. "I'll explain later. It is past time we left."

They walked towards the window, and Genard slipped out first. Henri handed the baby to him, and then climbed out himself. Jean-Luc paused with one leg in and one leg over the windowsill, and looked once more at the girl. He felt a wave of pity that intensified when he looked at the name on the clipboard that hung on the end of the bed. It read 'Jane Doe'. The blood beneath the sheet was just starting to seep through. Poor girl, thought Jean-Luc, and moved all the way out of the window, catching the climbing rope was an ease born of experience. They rappelled back down the building, leaving the ropes- they were not important anymore. There was no way they could be traced back to the Thieves Guild, as they themselves had been stolen. The three men and a baby vanished like thieves into the night. They had to hurry if they were to rendezvous with the Antiquary's men in time.


GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.