Fic: Whisky in the Blood 10/10, R
- All the disclaimers, headers and archive information back in part 0/10 (and
like Prince I keep changing the name, but it still matches the music....:)).
I've put some notes for futher info at the bottom.... Thanks for reading! :)
New Orleans, 1862
I s'pose, in the grand scheme of things, I've had this comin' for a bit.
Sitting in my rocking chair-- recently moved to the chapel off the main
house-- I'm chewing my lip and waiting out for one of two events: the
clearing out of the scuff that's taken to LeBeau land, or the breakin' of my
Takin' to the chapel-- "good ol' boys gots their own religion, ma'am"-- was
Jean's idea. The soldiers of the 10th Louisiana Regiment won't traipse
about here, whether it be out of respect for the sanctity of the converted
barn, or arrogant heathenism.
Either way, I'm trapped here til I get word from one of my kin or household,
or I get bored and find out myself. Mine and the kit's safety aside, I am
not good at sitting idle.
The statue of Sainted Mother Mary isnae helping either, staring down at me
from her roost in the corner, candles flickering light on her face. Crikey.
The sound of the heavy wooden door opening makes me raise my head. Reaching
for the bowie knife I nicked from Remy before he ordered me to safety, I
take in a breath, wince at the discomfort of even trying to lean forward,
I shake my head and set down the blade. 'Tis Ororo, an otherwise welcome
sight, except right now it looks like she's just seen a mountain collapse.
"What is it?"
"I can't find Master Remy, and there's a Lieutenant in the main house. He's
calling the other servants to make beds for his wounded."
I hiss and stand, regretting the move immediately. Bloody hell, if this
were any worse timing...
I wave a hand off and walk-- or my impression of walking anyways-- to the
dark skinned woman. "Just him? Where's my sister?"
"And a few other men, that's all."
"Went to warn Master Nate as soon as we saw them coming."
Trials and tribulations... trials and tribulations.... my arse. "When is
Remy due back?"
'Ro frowns. I don't let anyone beat my slaves for being imperfect, but she
still hesitates. I guess it's a mark of our time. "I don't know, and Bella
isn't back with Marie yet."
Bloody great. My friend, sister-in-law and midwife thrice over is held up
by the same such legions of Confederates that have commandeered my fields
for their hospital...
And now they're sizing up my home. I think bloody not.
When she nods I bite back a wince. Come on kit, be good to your Ma, the
world's not that exciting to see...
"We're going to expunge these ruffians from the master's house if I have to
personally drive them out."
"Miss Kitty, you should stay here where it's safe. You're--"
Forcing a walk I'll ne'er do again if I have the choice, I brush past the
darker skinned woman and grit my teeth. "I've done this twice before, and
as much as the sodding 'Civil' War is bound and determined to make this my
hardest bout of delivering, I'm a McCleve and I'm going to remind this man
For her part, the wiser one between us, Ororo lets me go.
"And I'll nae have your cleaved men mucking about here! They've got pox and
that rot about them and we've children to-- Kitty! What in Christ are ye
Apparently, I've just interrupted my sister. Standing toe to toe with whom
I'm assuming is the ponce Lieutenant, she's got an inch of height to him,
and is using it.
I try to laugh, and fall short of the deep inhalation for it. "Ah, well, I
see he's met the other half of the McCleve women."
The Lieutenant narrows his eyes, stiffens up when his gaze runs down my
body, and shakes his head. "Two women are not going to drive out the
Confederate army from their much needed hospital. If the two of you...
McCleves... will kindly direct my men to the medical supplies, I'll leave
you" he glares at my sister, still halfway to wrecking the man a new
airhole, "to your kilt weaving, and you, madame," he then looks at me and
frowns, "should take to your condition and lie down. I'll not have a
wailing woman disturb my men."
I've been a patient person for... for as long as this war has played havoc
with our family. First, the raising political tempers trap Jean and family
here, forcing them to relocate-- maybe permanently-- to the French part of
the South. Then they take all the menfolk but my Remy for soldiers. Then
they come and expect 'the generous landowner' to give over his fields in the
name of fighting for freedom. Then, in a move I took more personally than
part of our land going to bleeding men I've nae a care for, they enlisted
Marie as a nurse-- she had no husband to tend, you see-- to tend those very
But this round of insults-- this is the endpoint. "Jean?"
Backing up for the sake of the man's breath nearly raking up her chest, my
sister frowns at me. "Aye?"
"Help your boy and get the rest of the clan to the chapel where these ponces
have nae the nerve to tread."
The soldier snarls in my direction. I snarl right back, using some of the
labour pain to feed the expression.
"Kitty, I can handle this, ye should be--"
"Marie will be here soon enough. Go. This is my bloody house."
"Madame LeBeau, I appreciate your loyalty to house and home, and when our
president declares us free from the Yankees, you will have it back with the
gratitude of the great Confederate nation."
I take one step forward and point a finger. "Ye will leave this house by
moonrise or I will have ye driven out. Your men, currently destroying that
growing patch with their blood and other motley juices, will nae come near
here. Ye took my brother, my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law and ye nearly
took my husband to your killing fields. Ye'll nae bring those fields to the
rest of us."
He's getting angry, though I suspect it's more because a woman is yelling at
him. "Madame LeBeau, we have offered your husband much levity in this
matter, but if we wanted, we could take this place by force--"
"And bleed out the wound that was formerly your John-Thomas."
There's a pause which, considering I'm starting to lose my ability to stand,
I'm taking as my own.
"Your 'Yanks' as ye call them, are my former neighbours. Americans, the
whole bloody lot of ye, you're all 'Yanks.' My clan's been kicked around by
the Brits for centuries, and I'll nae have a hen-pecking, childish upstart
like ye telling me that your great, fragile nation is going to take my home
from me. And as for your president, aye, a grand man when he's nae got his
tail tucked 'tween his legs, Jefferson Davis hisself will have to come here
and remove me from this 'stead."
"You will not address me that way, madame."
"In my home," I retort, "I'll do what I damn well please."
About to raise his hand against me-- and here I thought he had a dram of
gentleman in him-- the man freezes, turns his head from me to lock gazes
with Jean again.
And the barrel of a hunting rifle she's got shoved into his privates.
"Ye heard my sister, sir. Depart, else ye'll be carrying your testicles in
a sack back to Atlanta."
A rip of pain clouds my vision. I hiss through it, hope that it's not -the-
sign from the kitling kicking her way free, and nod with clenched teeth. "I
hear Savannah's lovely this time o' year."
The Lieutenant backs up-- as the rifle barrel moves effortlessly with him--
and swears under his breath before gracing us with the vocal versions.
"Damn you both to Hell! It is uncommon to lynch women, but I will see you
both-- condition be damned-- hang for this treason!"
And with that he storms out, Ororo closing the door behind him gratefully.
I inhale slowly, try to calm my pounding heart and shake my head. Vision's
At which point the world goes dark, and I drop to the floor.
"Kitty, can ya hear me?"
I'm laying down... or at least I think I am. It's dark, not that my
swimming vision is helping, but I can make out the figure looming over me.
"Oh, thank God. They thought you'd gone over for a moment. How d'ya feel?"
Considering the situation... "That depends."
Marie frowns at me, swabbing my forehead with a damp cloth. "Oh?"
"Is my house now a hospital?"
She snorts and rewets the cloth. "Not for the army men, no, but for ya, my
"I should bloody well strap ya to a plank for that stunt!"
I blink. "What?"
Marie points a finger at me. "I told ya to take it easy. I told ya that ya
needed to rest, and that when the pains started, to watch your activity
after the trouble with Renee."
Ironic that a longtime friend of mine is lecturing me about something out of
my hands. Also ironic that I've the strength to argue that point,
considering the fact that she's right. "Aye, I recall."
"And what do ya do? Go dress down Lieutenant Trask for following orders!"
"Well then--" I reason, losing the calm tone of my voice as a contraction
starts. This is familiar. "Then I should be praised for my strength."
Marie growls, a trick she picked up from Logan. "Bloody well shouldn't."
"Oh, aye," I pause and try not to bite my tongue, "and those two boys of
yours came into the world as docile as lambs."
Marie shakes her head. "Just relax, Kitty, all right?"
Funny lass. "Jigger of bourbon?"
"Not after your brush with Trask."
"Don't move off that bloody bed."
"I'll tie ya down, Kitty."
A crash of something large and heavy ends our argument. Pointing at me and
threatening shackles, Marie opens the door and peeks around the heavy oak.
"Ye filthy bastard, I'll nae have ye telling any of us what we are and are
nae to do!"
Jean's voice. Jean's angry, accented voice. She almost sounds like Ma.
"Shite." Marie turns around a little wide eyed and looks over my less than
graceful pose before glancing back out into the foyer.
"Don't get off that bed."
I shake my head and use the brief painless clarity to overhear the scuffle
outside. "What's going on?"
"That's a General. Ah, Christ, Kitty, there may be some trouble."
One thought occurs to me, and it's nae just selfish need, nae that it's far
from justified in this moment. "Where's Remy?"
"Uh..." Marie leans further out, "there. He's pacin' like a horse in a
Wonder if he knows about me yet... "Who else?"
"Your sister, who's still got that rifle--"
I stifle a laugh. It's likely those men don't realise Scott and Nate taught
her to hunt back in Colorado.
"--Jean-Claude, Bella, Nate, a few more soldiers, Trask. I wish Logan were
back, this would even the odds."
I nod, though this time round-- likely the last time I'll allow Remy to slip
me up again-- it's nae an entirely coherent nod. "I'm sure tis the same for
I watch the back of Marie's head bob. "Aye... uh-oh."
My longtime friend and now sister is backpedaling towards me. "Uh, ya still
have that bowie knife ya nicked?"
Again I nod. Coherence really isn't my strong point right now. "In the
"Great. I'll nae have them thinking we're lambs."
This is not a good thing to hear from the girl who can hack off rotting
limbs and then take supper. "Marie, what's going on--"
Like some great, divine laugh-- I think He's still miffed over my more
rebellious years-- the door between the room and the foyer crashes in, and
as it drops, the entangled form of two men roll onto the floor. Getting out
a hard punch before scrambling to his feet, Remy hops up, spots both Marie
and I, and freezes.
Aye, he had no idea 'bout me until now.
"Mon dieu... Kitty!... are you okay?" Dashing to the bed, the man-- Trask,
ironically-- still unmoving on the floor, Remy nearly shoves Marie off in
Dashing and heroic, but clumsy.
"Ma chou, ah, je suis trés trés desolé, je--I didn't--"
Wincing through another wash of agony, I grab his hand and squeeze. "Save i
t, Remy. Get these burkes out of our house before ye meet your child."
He glances to Marie, still brandishing the knife, and she nods. Smothering
me in a kiss-- good thing I was holding my breath anyways-- he whispers
something further in French and gets back to Trask.
All I see from my view is the Southern man being hauled by his collar-- and
maybe something else by the way he squeaked-- into the foyer in a flurry of
French phrases I barely understand.
Marie's standing up slowly now, glancing at the full view to the hall
"Can ya walk?"
"Have I a choice?"
"Ah... not really."
The sun rose over the LeBeau plantation another day, I'm glad to say. I
missed a good bit of the 'negotiating' my husband and sister did to arrange
that, but sitting here on the back porch with a wee, warm bundle stirring in
my arms, and the rest of my kin enjoying the oranges and pinks of a genuine
bayou morning, aye, there's something to value.
"Tag me, Renee! Come on!"
"Then get back here, Michael!"
Funny how I'm still the referee even when I'm not out there. "Play fair,
"Sean, get down from there."
Marie, pointing archly at the blonde boy sitting in the tree, sips her tea.
I laugh at her, still a bit tired despite four days of laying in. "Leave
him, he's got his father's footing."
"Aye and my bad luck with tripping over things. Sean!"
The boy crosses his arms and points at his red haired cousin sitting next to
I shake my head, still laughing. "Rachel started life in the untamed woods,
Sean, she's got an advantage over ye."
Rachel grins from her perch, abusing her eleven year old legs to swing
around like a monkey.
The warning tone makes me glance over. Situated discreetly at the end of
the porch, perched on stairs like adolescent lovebirds, Jean breaks away
from her attentions to her yesterday returned husband to keep their daughter
"Don't show off."
The girl frowns, Sean next to her smiling.
"Watch it, lad."
Marie's own tone makes me laugh again.
Marie arches her eyebrow at me. "You're in a jolly mood."
I wave at the distracted pair down on the steps. "Aye. I woke up this
morning less sore than David and Renee left me by this point. Outside of the
moanin' from the hospital field, those burkes won't be traipsing up here...
and I've got one of two wandering kin back from battle intact. There's for
a jolly day."
A hand tugs at my skirt, Remy leaning down to pull the youngest of the
Sumner kitlings onto his lap. "How are you, bonny Kate?"
I slap his arm with a free hand. "What'ye need, darlin?"
Kate, eight and far better behaved than I ever was at that age, points at
the swaddled form cradled against me. "Can I touch her?"
Despite the nap I'm wont to disturb, I pull back a bit of linen. "Aye, but
gently. Ye were this small once."
I hear Jean snort at me across the way.
"What's 'er name?"
Remy gives me a look. We hadn't quite decided that bit ourselves. Well...
he hadn't named her mostly because he understood that if he had while I was
recovering-- mostly sleeping-- he would have lost himself a place in my bed
for a bit.
However, an idea strikes me at this moment. "Lily Francis."
Kate smiles and reaches a finger out to the tiny hand. Over the soft brown
braid-- funny that my niece has my hair and a variation on my name-- Remy
reaches a hand across to stroke my cheek.
"Marie?" Remy's voice, followed in a close second to Scott's, stands out
amongst the rest of us all too well.
"You heard from Logan?"
I divert my attention to the eight year old currently pondering the swaddled
babe in my arms like a newfound star. Scott, perhaps avoiding his own
explanation on how he got back again, stands up, takes a seat next to Nate
as the teenager watches his cousins and sibling play, Jean bowing out by
heading for the house.
Nate watches me curiously with his darker eyes as he responds to a question
from his English father. He's so close to being a man hisself, ye can tell
he's looking to his elders for help. I love the boy just like Jean said I
would, but there's so much more behind him. He's looking to the lot of us
for guidance, and all I can think to offer is how I believed myself the
queen of the local Faeries for a spring years ago.
Makes me wonder if he can hear the worry in my voice about my brother. "No,
I haven't, though his battalion-- damn these Southerners for tapping him on
the way home-- was last in Tennessee, so any news'll take a while to get
"I'm sure he's fine," Remy soothes. Good man.
"Damn surly for being away, I'd wager."
Marie nods, but the look in her eyes is haunted. I think I'd have the same
look if I were waiting for Remy to come home from the war.
Or any war, for that matter.
Her melancholy gaze follows Michael as the boy tears around a stand of
willows. "I'm sure he's fine... wherever he is."
"Wherever I'm what?"
The quiet that descends over the porch and lawn is tremendous. Few voices
rouse the attention of all of us so easily. Ma could wake the dead at will.
Pa, before the Hunger, could shout across a hill and bring forth the rains.
Remy can bring the mood up of our whole lot with one jovial song. Jean can
bring a standstill to the youthful playing of every child of the clan in a
But the voice of Logan McCleve, trundling up the lawn past a sea of startled
young faces, is like the sound of the archangel Michael booming through the
skies to his grateful family.
Marie's squeal is careless as she leaps out of her chair and careens across
the porch to tackle her husband. Her skirts flying up in a flurry of dusky
pink as she leaps into his arms, Logan stumbling back for it, I smile.
Ah, so God was listening to our prayers last night after all.
Remy's hand curls around mine as we watch Michael and Sean cluster around
their parents, the voices muddling as my brother picks up his younger son,
hefts him to his waist despite the dirty and tattered uniform clinging off
his form and glances towards the rest of us.
His expression is tired, like he walked all the way from Kilkenny to get
here. "Well, Kitty, I s'pose I owe ye a fresh round of congratulations. Ye
Remy smiles and tightens his hand around mine. Aye, tis a sweet moment to
A slight coo from Lily makes Kate jump, and I smile wistfully. It's strange
how this all ended up. I ne'er thought myself sitting here with my third
child cradled in my arms as a new day begins, especially not in Cajun
country, my French Louisianan husband adding to the now rather diverse
McCleve clan that dash of charm that only seems to grow here.
I'm still a McCleve. I've still got whisky in my blood. But with the next
generation playing out on the lawn, none of them familiar with Ireland like
I and my siblings are, I guess they're what we wanted to be: Americans.
Mixing the Kilkenny blood like all the rest of the Yanks.
Even the ones that are fighting each other. Don't ask me to explain it, I
couldnae understand if I tried. Nor do I care to. Master Lincoln, whether
or not he's the demon the locals have made him to be, he's just some sot who
got shoved with someone else's problems. Like Jean said a few months ago,
"cork it all up to men and their power games. If they're nae taking over
the world, they're finding out why they cannae."
As for Ma, dear sainted Katherine Ann McCleve, daughter of Callan, I still
don't think she'd like New Orleans; the fact that the lot of us are happy
all gathered together-- now that would mean something to her.
But she'd still accuse this place of being close to Lucifer's house for all
the heat that bears down on us come summer.
"'We love each other and dinnae give a damn about this whole bloody mess of
green and orange.'" -- green and orange are the colours of the Protestants
and Catholics respectively, one of the many things in Ireland that seem to
help fuel the ongoing battle between the two parties.
Callan -- town in Kilkenny County:
Kitty's patron saint is Catherine of Alexandria, patron of virgins, young
girls, teachers, book printers, amongst other listings. Her feast day is
For More Info: www.kilkenny.com (a good place to check for accuracy when ye
be a lass with roots in Carlow and Mayo counties.)
"To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel" --"Mysterious Ways," U2