Considering that half the participants had concealed weapons and the other half were planning how to steal them from them, Remy thought that the Guild's picnic was going remarkably well. Admittedly, the thieves were sitting in a group by the bank of the river, while the assassins were in the shade of a spreading oak tree. The two groups had barely spoken more than a frosty ‘hello' to each other the whole picnic. That didn't surprise him. To expect them to get over the animosity of several generations just because there were roasted wieners, burgers and Floating Islands involved would have been ridiculous. He was just relieved that the two groups weren't killing each other. He hoped that would last when it came to who got the last burger.
Shielding his eyes against the sun, he looked around for the two guests from the mansion. It could be awkward to be among strangers, he told himself, and it was his duty as host to make them feel at home. The little yellow sundress Rogue was wearing had absolutely nothing to do with it, nor did his desire to make sure that Bobby wasn't crying in a corner. After all, he reasoned, yellow wasn't her colour, and he didn't even like Bobby.
He spotted his girlfriend first. To his surprise, she and Belle were sitting together on a bench and laughing. By the looks they kept casting at him, there was no surprise about who was at the receiving end of their jokes. He had a feeling his birthmark had been mentioned more than once in impolite conversation. He shook his head, glad at least that she was having a good time and that one of the two woman wasn't lying dead on the ground.
"Now, where's Drake?" he muttered to himself, as he scanned the park. Here, Tante Mattie was turning burgers on the grill, and slapping Lapin's hand with the flipper whenever he tried to steal a taste of her famous bean-salad. There, a group of assassins were playing a hacky-sack, trying to outdo each other in fancy tricks. And, over there, the thieves had cards spread out on the lawn and were playing poker with potato-chips. It was a perfect day. Or would have been, if he could find that Drake...
He laughed as he finally saw his team-mate. Bobby was pelting across an open field, football tucked beneath his arm, pursued by a swarm of the Guild's children. They were rapidly gaining on him too from the horrified looks he kept casting over his shoulder. When they had gotten close enough, one of the kids launched herself at his ankles and brought him to the floor. In an instant, Bobby disappeared beneath a monkey-pile of little thieves and assassins.
Smiling to himself, "Perhaps dere be hope f'r de future, after all."
"An' de prize f'r worst cliche of de week goes to..." Mercy's wry voice said from behind him, "Want some others? Dere be a light at de end of de tunnel, perhaps? Or de darkest hour be before de dawn? Or weeping lasts an evening, but joy comes in de morning?"
"De last is from de Bible," he said reproachfully, turning to face her, "Better not let Tante Mattie hear ya call dat one a cliche."
She laughed and carelessly tossed back her hair, "Tante has given up on me a long time ago. She knows I never be a good, Catholic woman."
"Ever try being a good woman?" he replied quietly. He had thought he would not mention what had happened between her and Bobby earlier, but he realised he had to say something to her. She might have seen this as a fling, but from the look on his face that morning Drake had been thinking in completely different terms. From the moment he had met Mercy, he had probably seen himself growing old and grey with her. If he had said that to her, however, she would have simply asked him 'what the hell he thought facelifts and hairdye were for.' Mercy never took anything seriously. She had never taken things seriously even while Henri had been alive.
Mercy made a disgusted face at him, "Don't lecture me, Rem. I am what I am."
"Oui, ya are."
Her eyes narrowed at the accusation in his words, but she shook her head and said simply: "Let's get a photograph wit' de four of us, okay? Dat's about as permanent as I get."
He recognised it as the only compromise Mercy was capable of making, as the only generous gesture she had made in a long time, and nodded.
"Oui, I'll get de others."
When a still-laughing Rogue had been called from her bench and Bobby had been excavated from beneath the squirming pile of children, the four of them arranged themselves in a pretty part of the park.
"Hey, Belle, come photograph us," Remy called.
Before she could reply, however, Lapin sprinted over from the barbeque with a roasted wiener in one hand and a digital camera in the other. He skidded to a halt in front of them. Behind him, a furious Tante Mattie brandished her flipper at him, as if it were an axe.
"Rather you get ya heads cut off dan me," he explained with a wink and a grin, lifting up the camera and pointed it at them, "Now, say 'we're cheesy'."
Obediently, Remy put a smile on his face, which wasn't too hard considering that Rogue slid an arm around his waist and snuggled into his side. Beside them, Bobby flashed his usual bingo sign at the camera - Remy had long since decided that a certain masterthief needed to pinch a certain team-mate's collection of anime and hide it in a place he would never find it again. Mercy, however, had other plans for the shot. Splitseconds before the camera clicked, she grabbed his butt and squeezed it tight.
"MERCY!" Bobby exclaimed in horror.
Chuckling throatily, "Told ya dat's what all de boys say to me..."
With a grimace, Remy put the photograph back on the sister-in-law's dressing-table, his eyes falling on the one next to it. They widened in shock. He had not seen this one before, and he thought he could have lived quite happily without ever seeing it. It showed Mercy and Bishop sitting together on the pier in front of the boathouse, dressed in swimming costumes. Their bare feet were dangling into the water, and their arms around each other. They looked deeply in lust with each other.
He turned away from the picture with a grim expression on his face, and went to find Mercy. His sister-in-law had a lot of explaining to do, not least of all why she was or had been corrupting his foster-son-from-an-alternate-future...