Destination: Central

by Dandelion

Notes and Disclaimers: This takes place shortly after Love Affairs Are Horrible. It seems that Pete and Remy didn't want to just hang around in a tavern forever and they were begging me to give them something to do. This is the result of that. Now, I have taken a few liberties. I've never been to Spain much less Santiago de Campostela or the Shrine of St. James. I know it exists and it peaked my interest. I made up my own image of what it was like on the inside. Pete and Remy are such wonderful characters to put in a place of pilgrimage just because they are so not like that.

This tale has some strong language so be forewarned.

Pete Wisdom and Remy LeBeau do not belong to me. They are property of Marvel Entertainment. I am not making any money off of this story I am doing this for sheer enjoyment. Siduri's Café, Hotel du Jasmin and Max Capra are property of White Wolf Gaming Studios. Heidi, Martha and Xena are characters that I created. They are not in any way related to the more famous aspect of any of the names. Aphrodite is mine. The story is also mine so please ask permission before archiving.

Pete Wisdom groused as Remy LeBeau won another hand of poker. "Why am I doing this? I'm not real keen on feeling more of a sucker than I already do."

Remy shrugged and shuffled the cards.

"I heard that if you ever showed your face in Monte Carlo again they'd shoot you."

"Dat'd be a trick considering they don't have an army to speak of," Remy chuckled. "Maybe dey send that prince of theirs to run me down in his bobsled."

Pete grinned. "I think you can outrun him."

"How long you figuring t'stay here in Casablanca?" Remy asked, dealing the card again.

Pete pondered that for a while as he arranged the cards in his hands. "Good question. 'Til something comes along, I expect. My options are somewhat limited these days. Black Air's right out, even if I didn't hate them all and even if they weren't currently under investigation. Maybe I can work on the list of contacts I made through those bastards but they sure as hell aren't going to welcome the likes of me, anyway."

"'Cept to put a knife in your back, eh?"

"Right. Who's to say I won't turncoat on them, too? It's what they'll be thinking. I helped blow up one of Black Air's acquisition bases shortly after I parted company with them. Most don't care for that kind of disgruntled former employee behavior. Jardine's dead, too." Pete shrugged. "It's been a while since I free-lanced, though."

Remy nodded. "Hasn't been all dat long for me but," he ran his fingers through his hair. "I had an agenda before. I'm trying t'muster one up now but it's slow going."


Pete and Remy turned their heads, ready to let fly a stream of curses at the audacious individual who dared to intrude on their drinking. The curses were quickly swallowed at the sight of said intruder.

She was a young girl of about nine or ten years of age wearing a light blue dress with a multi-colored jump rope tied about her waist. Her straw blonde hair was flipped over her shoulders in two tight braids tied with bright blue ribbons. She looked first at Remy then at Pete and appeared to be waiting for something.

"Heidi, right?" Pete quipped, flicking his ashes off the end of his cigarette.

She scrunched her nose at him and stuck out her tongue. The dusting of freckles on her cheeks and the brightness of her eyes somehow negated the ugliness of her expression.

Remy looked around the room, hoping to see a sign of the person to whom the girl belonged. No one seemed to fit the bill. The same types of derelicts and drunks that were always present occupied the tavern. The child stuck out like a sore thumb within the dank interiors of the bar and yet no one seemed to be paying any attention to her. He looked back at the girl. "You lost, p'tite?"

She smiled sweetly at Remy. "No."

He looked at Pete. "How do ya argue wit' dat?"

Her smile grew wider and a giggle escaped her. "You talk funny."

Remy pasted a smile on his face in return as Pete burst out in a choking laugh. "Somet'ing we can do for you, p'tite?"

"No." She glanced at Wisdom again, her eyes seeming to size him up. "I've got something for you. Both of you." She flipped her braids at Wisdom to turn her full attention to Remy. Wisdom rolled his eyes and poured another drink.

She produced a neon yellow piece of paper and waved it at Remy. "Here. It's for both of you. Okay? Both of you." She seemed insistent on that bit of information.

"Who made you the messenger, Heidi?" Pete growled.

The little girl turned to him. "I'm not telling, you stink." She took a step closer to Remy and glowered at Pete.

"So what," Pete continued, enjoying the harmless tete-a-tete with the child. "You're selling lemonade?" He nodded at the bright yellow flyer. "Maybe I've got a shilling or two for you."

She looked at Pete for several moments then shook her head and turned back to Remy giving him the paper. "For both of you."

"Oui, p'tite. Both of us. Got it." Remy smiled at her.

"Okay." She looked at both of them again. Then untied her jump rope and skipped out of the bar, swinging the rope around her head.

Remy and Pete stared after her, uncertain of how to react. "What the bloody hell was that?!" Wisdom demanded.

Remy shrugged chuckling, and took a hard look at the label of his bottle of bourbon. "Search me."

Wisdom blew smoke out of his mouth sharply. "Apparently your talent with women reaches all ages."

"Same with your lack of talent," Remy shot back turning his eyes to the paper that the little girl had handed him. Remy read the flyer, first frowning then slowly grinning until a low chuckle escaped him. He handed the paper to Wisdom. "You got to see dis."

Pete took the paper with skepticism etched all over his face. He glanced at the page casually. This is what he read:

Are you bored?

Do you need a distraction?

Are you on your own with no direction home like a rolling stone?

Have you recently been dumped by the woman you love?


If the answer to any of the above questions is "Yes!" we can help you! Our organization offers distractions galore with great rewards!

All expenses paid world travel! Cool cars! An extensive wine cellar! Free HBO!

The only risk to you is to your life and limbs.

You can't afford not to come to us!


Show this flyer to the bartender at Siduri's Café at the Hotel du Jasmin for more information and a free round of drinks.

Now we have a salad bar!

Paid for by Organizations Against Landau, Luckman and Lake Because They're Cheap Imposters With No Sense Of Style.

"Is this for real?" Pete asked.

Remy shrugged. "Who knows? I'm curious though. Siduri's is real, what say we take dis to the bartender and see what happens? Who are we to turn down free drinks? Especially these days."

"Maybe we'll get tossed out on our ear."

"You've been tossed out of worse dives," Remy pointed out.

Pete conceded that with a nod. "This is exactly the kind of thing I thought we were swearing off. It's too bloody weird. It's an X-thing. Headed off who knows where on the say-so of some Heidi knock-off."

Remy shook his head. "It's strange, I give you dat. But I ain't never seen anyt'ing like it when I was wit' the X-men. Aliens, oui. Strangers showing up in old bodies, oui. Kids from alternate realities and time travelers, common occurrences. But a little girl wit' a flyer? Dat's jus' funny. I'll take funny weird over what I've been swallowing. 'Sides, dat little girl said both of us, remember?"

Pete drummed his fingers on the table, glaring at Remy. "I better get a good fuckin' scotch outta this."

Siduri's Café was of a higher quality than the tavern Remy and Pete had been drowning their sorrows in. A cluster of tourists could always be counted on finding the Americana style of the eatery comforting amid the foreign land in which they visited. The place had a worldly feel to it all the same. A variety of life appeared to be represented and the collection of alcohol behind the bar made Wisdom's mouth water.

"You get us the drinks and see about the paper," Wisdom nudged Remy with his arm. LeBeau nodded as Pete gravitated towards a collection of Humphrey Bogart movie posters. He lit a cigarette as he admired the poster for To Have and Have Not thinking Lauren Bacall reminded him a great deal of・/FONT>

He abruptly turned away, scowling fiercely. She's even ruined Bacall for me. He caught a glimpse of LeBeau waving him over.

The bartender eyed him as he approached the bar and poured a scotch for him as he leaned against the hardwood counter. "You're Wisdom, then?" He looked between the two men. "All right. So you got your invitation. Do you accept?"

"Accept what?" Pete demanded.

"Did you read it?"

"Yes," Pete looked at Remy with an expression that clearly asked 'Am I the only sane one here?'

"Dis is Max Capra," Remy nodded at the bartender. "He owns the place here. I showed him the flyer and he said it involved both of us. So I called you over."

"It's an invitation," Max said slowly. "Do you accept it?"

Pete looked at Remy again. Remy raised his eyebrows. "Not a contract. Jus' an invitation. What d'you think?"

"I think you're all loony," Pete groused, turning around with his scotch. The Bogart posters caught his eye again and he frowned darkly into his drink. I can't believe she ruined Bacall for me, too. "All right. All right. I accept the invitation."

Remy looked at Max and nodded. "Oui. Moi aussi."

Max looked at both of them. "Whatever. Here's the address. It's just down the street. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have actual paying customers to serve." He tossed a card onto the bar counter and turned his back on them.

Remy looked at Pete.

"I don't believe this. I just don't fucking believe this." Pete slammed his empty glass onto the counter. "Let's go."

"This is it?" Pete scowled at the non-descript door where Max's card had led them.

"Not what I was expectin' either," Remy remarked. He looked at the card and down the street in both directions. "But dis must be the place. The directions and the map end here."

"Right. I can't believe I let you talk me into this." Pete knocked on the door.

"I didn't talk you into anything. What a coup for me if I had. You the one staring at those posters like you lost your best fr-" Remy bit off the words sharply. "Anyway, you came on your own."

"Nice recovery."

The door opened.

"Oh God!" Pete cast a pleading look towards the sky. "Not you again."

The little blond girl sneered at Pete then smiled up at Remy. "Hi."

Remy chuckled. "Hi p'tite. Dis where you live?"

She made a face. "Sort of."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Pete demanded.

"It means sort of."

"How 'bout if I tie that jump rope round your neck, Heidi?"

She glared at him. "Are you coming in or not?"

"Jus' a moment, p'tite," Remy tugged Pete away from the door. "What do you think?"

"I think I'm insane."

Remy just grinned.

"I think you're insane, too. I think everyone I've met today is insane."

"Well, as long as we're on equal footing. You want to go in and check dis out?" Remy glanced at 'Heidi' again and winked at her. She nearly blinded him with her smile.

"I want to wake up and find out that the last month has been an alcohol-induced dream," Pete said sharply.

Remy lit up a cigarette and handed it to Wisdom then lit one of his own and waited.

Pete glared at the ground, puffing angrily. There aren't many options left me. I can toss this whole matter and have done with it, go back and get properly pissed, I don't need to be doing this・whatever it is. He looked up. "Step aside, Heidi."

She did so, looking horribly smug.

"LeBeau," Pete nodded at the doorway. Remy grinned and led the way in.

It was a one-room shack, complete with horribly used furniture and a thick coating of dust. 'Heidi' led them to the back wall and opened a piece of it to reveal a small elevator. She entered and motioned for them to follow.

"You ever see Men In Black?" Remy murmured to Pete as they followed 'Heidi' in.

Pete nodded. "If I get relegated to a bloody letter I'm going to cripple you."

The elevator sped its way down for several minutes before opening again to a completely different atmosphere. 'Heidi' stepped out and flipped her braids over her back. "You both need to check in at the front desk." She pointed the way. "Bye." She turned on her heel and trotted towards another wall, disappearing behind another concealed door.

The room was tastefully decorated in polished black marble. Large contemporary art hung on the walls. At one end a black and gray marble reception area stood, manned by one person tapping at the keyboard of a computer. Ambient music played softly in the background.

They approached the desk, their shoes softly clicking on the marble floor. The woman behind the reception area looked up from her typing and scowled slightly.

If there ever existed a more beautiful woman, neither Remy nor Pete would have believed it. The ethereal beauty of the receptionist was nearly beyond comprehension. Her thick amber colored hair tumbled down to her shoulders in golden waves. Her luminous violet eyes sparkled like stars. Her face was oval-shaped and graced with full lips and a finely sculptured nose. Had she been a marble statue come to life Pete and Remy would not have been surprised.

"You must be the two shites everyone's talking about," her voice was like music・/FONT>

Pete blinked. Had she just said what he thought she said? He looked over at Remy questioningly. Remy wore an equally puzzled expression.

A loud and very put out sigh came from the beautiful woman. "LeBeau and Wisdom, right?"

"That's us," Remy said, trying to shift into charmer mode. He leaned his hand on the edge of the cubicle mentally preparing a line to captivate this alluring creature.

She picked up a clipboard and slammed it along the edge of the cubicle so quickly, Remy barely had time to snatch his fingers away. "Sign here."

Remy glanced at Pete, who seemed to be looking at something else on the cubicle wall.

The woman snapped her fingers impatiently. "Do I have to draw you a picture? SIGN HERE!"

Remy dutifully picked up a pen just as Pete held up a nameplate.

"Your name is Aphrodite?" Pete grinned. "Seriously?"

"Why else would my nameplate say that, you idiot?" The woman glared at Pete viscously.

Remy looked up. "Aphrodite?" He looked at the nameplate to confirm. "You're k---"

Aphrodite flushed angrily then picked up a stapler. "I hear a fucking word out of either of you about my name and I will staple your tongues together!"

Two mouths snapped shut.

"Now SIGN in and SOD off!!"

Remy quickly scribbled his name on the form followed by Pete. The woman, beautiful though she was, was obviously unbalanced. He wondered who had assigned her to reception. He wondered if that person still had a job and decided they probably did. If Aphrodite was still working then whoever gave her the receptionist position probably was as well. Or maybe everyone was just scared of her. He could understand that.

Pete hesitated. "Where are we supposed to go, now, eh?"

Aphrodite snorted at him, making it clear she thought he had the brain capacity of a slug. "Down the hall, room 1056." She pressed a button and a previously unseen door opened towards the back of the hallway.

Pete and Remy exchanged glances and came to the mutual decision that discretion was the better part of valor. They headed towards the door they were directed to, quickening with each stride. As they entered the doorway, the door swung shut behind them with a dull thud.

"Is she pissed or just evil?" Pete wondered aloud.

"I'll go with evil. Pissed never looked dat good." He paused at one door. "Here it is. 1056."

Something in the back of Wisdom's mind again questioned his motivation for continuing. Sure, it's insane, he thought. But now they've got me curious.

Room 1056 was pitch black save for a few soft lights illuminating a desk, a table and a sofa. "Come in gentlemen, come in," a dulcet feminine voice urged. A woman came into the light and beckoned them in. "Well, come come. Don't hang about in doorways. It suggests a lack of breeding."

"Oh, I like her," Pete grumbled.

Remy chuckled lightly and entered the room

As they made their way towards the desk they became increasingly aware of the distance between the door and their destination. The room seemed to be cavernous in size, though it was hard to be certain due to the lack of light.

The woman waited patiently for them and they were able to study her as they closed in. She was tall and willowy and very attractive. I'm sensing a trend, Pete thought, stifling a shudder at the memory of Aphrodite. She wore a satin, floor-length evening gown the color of a sapphire with matching opera gloves and her golden hair was styled in the fashion of Veronica Lake. What the hell kind of place is this?

The woman nodded as they neared her. "Gentlemen, I'm very glad you accepted our invitation. Your names have been in circulation for some time but it is only recently that we thought we might offer the both of you an opportunity here." She turned to the table and stirred something in a large pot that sat upon it. She looked over her shoulder at them. "Fondue?"

Pete's mind worked very hard to catch up. Remy looked for a place to sit down.

"I see you're trying to acclimate," the woman smiled gently. "Understandable. Of course, you must realize that we approach potentials in a manner that is likely to compel them to come to us. We have taken people by force, but such things tend to get so very messy." She sighed and nibbled on a piece of fondue. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Martha Stewart. I shall be your contact for the foreseeable future."

Pete cocked his head at that. Remy rubbed his eyes and immediately sat down. Pete was certain he had heard incorrectly. "Martha Stewart?" He recalled Meggan watching some housekeeping show with that name.

Her smiled was schooled. "Yes."

Pete noted the look on her face, somewhat similar to Aphrodite's look of "don't say a word about my name if you like your parts still attached", though Martha was far less overt. Which made her more worth watching. Pete sat down next to Remy.

"Why the interest in us?" Remy asked.

Martha smiled again. "We make it a point to notice those who are good at what they do."

"We?" Pete was suspicious.

She met his gaze. "We."

"Look, what's this all about? Are we being offered a job? This cloak and dagger shite is wearing and I sure as hell am not going to sign up for another Black Air appointment."

Martha coolly returned to the desk and looked through some papers. "Ah yes, Mr. Wisdom is the foul-mouthed one." She leaned back against the desk and regarded them silently. "You aren't being offered a job as you tend to think of them, Mr. Wisdom. You're being offered a chance. If you take the chance, perform well, and desire to work for us further you will be offered a contract. I'm sure you will discover we are quite fair in our dealings."

"This whole bloody thing stinks," Pete fumed. "I don't have the time to waste on this double-talk and vague promises of what-not."

"On the contrary, Mr. Wisdom," Martha broke in, her voice harder. "You have nothing but time to waste. Your two previous 'jobs', if that is what you call them, are no longer available to you. You have no friends willing to stick their necks out for you. You have effectively burned most of the bridges of your past and the ones that remain standing you would probably rather die than cross again." She looked at Remy. "As for you・ she shook her head. "You are up the creek without a paddle as well. If you choose to leave now, you are both free to go, but you will be showing a lack of intelligence and of foresight. Both attributes you are known for."

Pete leaned back on the sofa and folded his arms across his chest.

Remy looked thoughtful. "What are you offering?"

Martha nodded, noting how the two men seemed to work in unison, one continuing where the other left off. "We are interested in the acquisition of a certain piece of information. We would like to hire the both of you as free-lance operatives to gain this information. After that, we will see how things go."

"We'd need more information," Pete said.

"Does that mean you're interested?"

Remy and Pete looked at each other.

"I'll leave you to discuss," Martha told them. "I'll return when you're ready. Help yourself to the fondue." She disappeared into the darkness.

Pete looked at Remy accusingly. "You want to do this."

Remy nodded slowly. "Yeah. It sounds interesting. It sounds distracting. I like the idea of concentrating on somethin' other than me for a while." He stood and walked over to the table, peering into the fondue pot. "Besides, you want t'do it, too. Dat's why you're arguing so damn much. If you weren't int'rested we'd be long gone by now."

Bastard, Pete thought angrily. What am I, an open book anymore? Shit, I've got to get back to work just so I can get back to being unpredictable again. "All right, so what are we asking?"

"Typical stuff, really," Remy replied, smiling slightly at Pete's acquiescence. "What's the job, what's the pay, what are the perks?" He took an experimental nibble of the fondue and nodded.

"Who are these people?"

Remy grinned and returned to the couch. "Oui, wouldn't mind knowin' dat myself."

"All right," Pete jerked his chin towards the darkness. "So we're in.

Martha melted out of the darkness again. "Have we a decision?"

Pete stood up. "We're in."

Naturally, Martha thought with a vague smile. As if there were any doubt. She sat down at her desk. "Excellent. Now, are there any questions I can answer for you before we proceed?"

Pete and Remy grinned.

"First off," Remy asked. "What is this place?"

Martha smiled and gestured Pete to sit again. "This is Destination: Central. We deal mainly in acquisitions, with other projects on the side. Our research team is second to none and they've turned up something we think is worth pursuing. Which brings us to your assignment. There is information located in a historical site. Your job is to retrieve the information." Martha looked at them. "Simple, really."

"So simple," Remy agreed. "What you need us for, then?"

"Well, this is just a trial job," Martha replied. She leaned over her desk and opened a folder, arranging papers as she looked them over. "We want to get a feel for you and you'll want to get a feel for us, as well."

"What exactly are we looking for?"

"Documents of some kind," was the off-handed answer. Martha seemed more occupied with her paperwork.

Pete raised an eyebrow. "I thought these research wankers of yours were the best."

"They are the best, Mr. Wisdom. That's how we know the documents even exist." Martha straightened and smiled patiently.

"So what is it that we're fetching?" Pete pressed.

"It's classified information, Mr. Wisdom. If you are that curious you are more than welcome to have a look when you pick the documents up."

"Classified information that we're more than welcome to look at all we want?" Pete was skeptical.

"Well, you're going to look anyway, aren't you?" Martha smoothed her hair with one hand. "It seems silly to forbid it when you're expected to deliver it safely into my hands again. Whether it will mean anything to you is something else all together."

Pete sat back on the sofa. Makes a bit of sense, that, he thought. Not like I completely swallow this open door policy of theirs but it's a clever play.

"Should we expect any opposition?" Remy asked quietly, picking up his questions in lieu of Pete's silence.

Martha was quiet for a moment. "We are not without competitors. I shouldn't be surprised if you met a Raider or two."

Remy shared a glance with Pete, one eyebrow raised in interest. "Raiders? Who are they?"

"As I said, competition," Martha swished around her desk to sift through her notes again.

"No more information?" Pete inquired, a challenge underlying the question. "Your team not have anything on them, either?"

Martha looked up. "Mr. Wisdom, I dare say you are going to cause me to lose my patience one day."

"Tryin' my best."

"Yes. We have a great deal of information on every Raider our operatives have come across. We also have information on individuals we believe to be Raiders. All you need to know is that there may be an adversary to deal with. Beyond that is up to you."

Pete narrowed his eyes but didn't respond. Remy glanced at him then turned back to Martha. "So where you sendin' us?"

"Santiago de Campostela," Martha replied, sweeping over to them. "The Shrine of St. James." She handed them each an envelope.

Remy made a face as Pete opened his envelope to reveal a number of tickets. "We're lifting off a church. Ain't dat just a tiny bit blasphemous?"

Martha laughed lightly. "Don't be silly, Mr. LeBeau. I'm not asking you to steal the remains of the apostle. I'm not asking you to defile the cathedral in any way. In fact, it will go quite badly for you if it suffers any damage during your job. It's a simple in and out procedure." She moved back to her desk. "Despite the fact that your recent acquaintances had a tendency for large scale destruction I know this job will suit the way you two prefer to do things. Such mass devastation is not your modus operandi, is it?" She gestured to the envelopes. "You'll take a boat to Gibraltar and then a train to Santiago de Campostela. Everything is provided for you, as well as accommodations there, if you, in fact, have need of them, which I doubt. As I said before, I am your contact. You'll continue to be briefed on your journey but now you are on a schedule." She held out two cel-phones. "You'll need these as well. Keep in touch, hmm?"

"Which means we're dismissed," Pete stood up, stretching his arms over his head. "Right. Let's go, LeBeau."

"Mam'selle Martha," Remy cajoled over his phone. "Surely you can give us jus' a bit more information about our acquisition. Somet'ing what'll help us know where to start."

Pete stretched his legs and looked out the window of the train. Remy had been wheedling Martha for more information since the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar. Pete took a long drag on his cigarette and listened to Remy work. It seemed to him that Martha was becoming somewhat fond of Remy in an adult liking an irritating but charismatic child kind of way. Pete wouldn't have been surprised if Remy actually got more information out of her.

He wouldn't have been surprised of Martha enforced radio silence until Santiago de Campostela, either.

Remy listened as Martha's voice chuckled softly over the line. It sounded to him as though she were about ready to indulge some more information. "I've long been a believer that perseverance should be rewarded. The documents you are looking for were hidden in Santiago de Campostela during World War II. One presumes they were being hidden from the Nazi party but one could not say for sure considering that Spain was neutral territory at the time. The age of the documents is undisclosed but they were last seen in 1940. There you are Mr. LeBeau. You and Mr. Wisdom may both chew on that information for a while. I'll speak to you later." The line went dead. Remy made a face at the receiver and stowed it in his coat.

Pete listened intently as Remy relayed Martha's words to him. He started to laugh towards the end. "In other words: Don't call us, we'll call you."

Remy nodded and lit up a cigarette.

"I'm impressed, LeBeau. You did it."

Remy shook his head. "Didn't get anyt'ing out of her that she didn't want t'tell. She's a hard one to work, neh?"

"Noticed that, did you?" Pete clasped his hands casually behind his head. "Very observant, you are."

Remy grunted in response and flipped through the very scant brief that Martha had given them. "Place of pilgrimage," he muttered. "Bones of St. James are supposed to be on display."

"Which means we'll be able to get in without too much trouble. Not that we look so much like pilgrims," Pete looked at his rumpled white shirt and black pants and tie. "But I imagine they get all sorts."

Remy nodded. "Tourists as well, neh?"

"It's an in."

"Would make it just as easy for these 'Raiders' to blend in as well," Remy pointed out.

Pete stubbed out his Marlboro. "Yeah, whatever the hell that is. A little more information there wouldn't have hurt. Maybe you should have poked Martha for that as well."

Remy shook his head. "Non, I figure I know why she don't tell us anyt'hing 'bout dese hommes."

"You figure you do, eh?"

"Maybe dese 'Raiders' don't fit a specific type, henh? Any group dat hire the likes of us is likely to have competitors just as colorful." Remy lounged back on his seat. "Mem'selle Martha say 'Dese Raiders usually turn up like so.' We look for what she say. If we don't know what to expect, we more likely to notice everyt'ing, non?"

Pete pondered the idea. "I see it, yeah. So we keep our eyes open. S.O.P." He paused. "You know the real problem is figuring out how to case a church filled with pilgrims and tourists. Where's something likely to be stashed to keep people from stumbling upon it by accident? Where's a good place to hide something where the SS weren't going to be able find it? It ain't likely to be on the bloody altar in plain view."

"Non," Remy shook his head. "Not likely. Guess we wait until we see the place, eh?"

"Thank God we're not here during that bleedin' festival!" Pete grumbled, hip-checking a passerby who wandered too close. "And quit admiring the architecture, LeBeau. We're on a job not a sight-seeing tour."

Remy sighed. "You got no appreciation for history."

"What I have appreciation for," Pete replied sourly, "is that I fancy a drink. Standing around mooning at a pile of old bricks isn't getting me one any faster. So let's get in, get the shit and get out. My hangover's beginning to wear off." He trudged towards the entrance to the cathedral.

Remy followed him and folded his hands reverently as he passed through the doors. "Dear God, deliver me from a sober Wisdom."

Pete found a spot at the back of the sanctuary that allowed him to survey the inside of the cathedral. He took in the sights with a somewhat jaundiced eye. Remy came up next to him crossing himself with the holy water that had been just inside the door.

Remy smirked as Pete stared. "Force of habit."

"Mm-hmm." Pete looked up towards the ceiling then took a long step away from Remy. "I don't want to be in the fallout when God smites you, ya bastard."

Remy grinned and produced a small map of the cathedral. "Let's start with a sweep. What area do you want?"

Pete settled down to look at the map looking up to identify specific points and judging the scale of the place. "So they've really got the bones of some apostle here?"

Remy shrugged. "That's what they say. They're up there." He nodded his chin towards the altar where a large statue of St. James presided over the cathedral.

Pete watched as what he assumed was a pilgrim went up behind the statue and put her arms around it. After the embrace she descended to take her place in front of a glass case. "You think the prize might be up there, too? It'd be well protected and hard to get to."

Remy screwed his lips thoughtfully. "Non, you had it right before. Dere's too much chance of them being found by officials of the church and whatnot. I don't think anyone would have hid anyt'ing in such an obvious place."

Pete shrugged. "All right, we'll go with that for now." He poked his finger at the map. "They've got catacombs down below and the balcony and such upstairs. You take the high road, I'll take the low."

Remy glanced towards the alcove that led to the stairs. "The balcony's roped off."

"Well, breaking and entering is your department, anyway." Pete folded up the map and tucked it into his pocket. "We'll meet out front in an hour and go from there."

Remy nodded with a smirk. "If I find the goods, and I prob'ly will, you're buying tonight."

Pete watched Remy let himself into the stairs alcove. "Bloody arrogant cuss."

Remy hovered in the shadows of the stairway and looked over the balcony railing to the sanctuary below. It wasn't the best view but he wanted to get a long look at the structure of the place before he started to really investigate things. It was a beautiful old cathedral with many things to delight the eye but Remy's eyes kept falling on the statue of St. James.

He watched as several pilgrims took their turn embracing the statue of the saint. Seems to me that statue is the key, Remy figured. Would it be down there? With all those people? He was beginning to worry that the job would be far more complicated than he had expected. He folded his arms and studied the statue in detail.

The statue appeared to be looking into the balcony. Remy followed what appeared to be the statue's line of sight. It seemed to be looking towards the back. Slowly, Remy positioned himself in the last pew so that he met the eyes of St. James. Now what?

He sat back quietly and cast a practiced and observant eye over every detail of the statue. It was several hundred years old by the look of it with obvious wear at the location where the pilgrims embraced it. St. James' hands were held away from his body slightly, palms reverently turned upward to match the serene and penitent expression on the carved face.

Remy's brow furrowed. Was it his imagination or were the tips of the fingers pointed directly at the pew a few rows in front of him? Remy straightened and lined his gaze up with St. James' and looked again. The hands of the statue seemed poised to lift the back end of the pew up. Remy smiled. This has promise.

The pew in question did not deviate from any of the others in the balcony. Remy hunched over and examined the area the apostle's hands had indicated. He ran his finger over the carved wood and felt tiny horizontal grooves. The grooves could easily be dismissed as a sign of aging, but Remy wasn't so certain. He produces a miniscule wire hook from his lock picks and delicately scraped the grooves on the pew.

On the fourth run he felt a catch.

A small twist and a bit of pressure resulted in a release and the top of the back of the pew loosened to reveal a compartment underneath. Remy tucked his hook away and gently worked the back of the pew to open. It didn't reveal itself easily due to the years but

Remy coaxed the hidden compartment open. Inside was an aged pocket folder almost buried in packed wood shavings. Remy pulled the folder out and looked inside to insure that he had indeed found something. The papers inside were yellowed with age and the script was foreign to his eyes. Looks like something Martha'd want, he mused. He shut the pew's compartment and stood up.

Remy reverently slipped the folder into an inner pocket of his coat, and patted the slight bulge satisfactorily. He grinned to himself and wondered where Wisdom was. He couldn't wait to gloat.

A phrased barked sharply in Spanish caused Remy to whirl around. His eyes went wide when he saw who had found him out. The one thing he had always had trouble with in his youth・/FONT>

A priest.

The man, who appeared to be somewhere in his middle fifties, was stout of frame and stern of countenance. He stood in front of the doorway to the stairs hands on hips. Remy figured he must be awaiting an explanation and his mind whirled as it attempted to concoct something.

However, Remy was transfixed by the white collar. He was cast into his own past and his tenure at Catholic school. The Guild may have made a living at breaking a Commandment or two but they insisted on wearing a traditional face. This required all children of Guild to be schooled in the private Catholic institutes. Remy had no end of trouble during those years. He'd been accused of theft, improper language, smoking and indecent behavior with any number of female classmates. Each time he'd been cornered after one of his crimes he had been forced to face・/FONT>

A priest. Much like the one blocking his escape.

The priest gestured for an explanation, his expression darkening.

Remy opened his mouth, which had gone inexplicably dry, and sent up a silent desperate prayer that whatever excuse came out would be a winner. His mind, however, had betrayed him and shifted into instinct mode the second it had recognized a man of the cloth.

"Hail Mary full of grace・

Pete looked around the catacombs and frowned. So this is where old warriors used to go. He put a cigarette between his lips and wondered idly if smoking was a sacrilege. He shrugged and lit up. Not like any of these blokes are going to complain.

"I would suggest you put that out. It is disrespectful."

Pete nearly jumped out of his skin but settled for whirling quickly to confront whoever had come upon him.

She was tall with long dark hair pulled back by barrettes. Her face wore a stern expression and she was dressed, head to toe, in black. Pete probably would have found her somewhat attractive if she hadn't been looking at him as though he were something she had just stepped in.

"Who the fuck are you?" Pete demanded, his belligerence coming out full force after being startled.

She responded by reaching over her shoulder and drawing a broadsword. She grasped it with both hands and gestured at him with it.


"Not so, blasphemer!" The woman pointed the sword downward and rested her hands on the pommel. "I dare say I am as close as you shall come to meeting Him, however."

"Riiiight," Pete turned his head slightly from side to side, keeping one eye on the sword. Where the fuck are you, LeBeau? I've got some chick with a bloody great sword between the door and me so you had better have another fucking out!

"What are you doing here?"

Pete bristled at the woman and her imperious tone. "Looking at a bunch of dead guys."

"I might say the same thing," a slow smile crept across her face.

"Might you?" Pete asked brightly. "I'd wager you'd get more questions that I would, waving that thing around. Nice bit of over-compensation by the way."

She frowned fiercely. "What you're looking for is not here."

Oh hell, she isn't one of those Raiders that Martha mentioned, is she? Pete looked at the sword again. Probably is. Figures. "What am I looking for? I'm a fucking tourist, is that all right with you?"

She pointed the sword at him. "No. You are not."

"If you insist," Pete shrugged and turned his back, strolling casually, he hoped, deeper into the catacombs.

She followed him.

Pete didn't like the idea of shooting a hot-knife at her. She hadn't made any aggressive moves towards him and he didn't want to show all of his cards right off, especially is she was one of the rivals that Martha had warned them about. But he didn't care at all for her keeping tabs on him.

He studied a number of the tombs with feigned interest while working out what to do. He looked at his watch and decided to try and get up into the cathedral's main area again. He faced the woman and took a step towards the passageway up.

She blocked his path. "I'm sorry. I can't let you do that, yet."

Pete cocked his head. Her accent was French, but not Parisian. Interesting. "Why not?"

She shrugged, smiling lightly.

Pete did not like this at all. His instincts told him he was being kept away from Remy. Which meant either Remy had his own hands full, or he'd found something. Pete took another step towards the passageway.

"I'd prefer not to hurt you," the woman said. "Despite your obvious disrespect you are unarmed."

"So?" Pete narrowed his eyes, fishing for information.

The woman looked slightly outraged. "It is unseemly to engage in battle with an unarmed foe."

A chivalrous bird with a sword? This is a new one. "So what do you want with me?"

She cocked her head and touched one hand to her ear. She seemed to be listening. Pete weighed his options and bolted for the passage.

The woman sighed then launched herself at Pete. The heel of her hand caught him in the sternum, knocking the wind from him. A swift blow to the back of the head blurred his vision and he dropped to the floor.

As Pete shook his head, attempting to clear it, he heard a scraping sound. "I didn't want to hurt you, as I said. But I haven't time to watch you now. This will hold you for a while." He felt a pinch on his neck and felt his body go limp. Hands lifted him to his feet and propelled him towards one of the stone coffins. One that had been opened.

It took several minutes before Pete's head cleared well enough to put together what happened. Trounced by an evil woman with a sword, okay. Crammed into a coffin. Pete experimentally flexed the muscles in his legs to see if they would respond. They did and he sighed. He could attempt to bust out of the coffin and go after the woman that shut him up. He'd have wagered money that the reason she left so suddenly was LeBeau.

Remy must have found their little prize. Pete debated his next course of action and settled on Remy's enjoying a tussle with the sword-woman. Pete ended up taking a nap.

Remy was halfway through his fourth Hail Mary when he noticed the priest looking impatient. He pressed the sudden advantage hoping that the priest would just shoo him out of the way and leave it at that.

The priest did exactly that with several gestures forbidding Remy to go upstairs when the rope was up. Remy nodded and crossed himself several times while backing out the front door. Turning he couldn't stop the smile that began to spread across his face. I still got it. He trotted off towards the rendezvous point to wait for Wisdom.

A pair of eyes followed Remy. The woman opened her cel-phone and dialed a number. A man answered, his thick southern French dialect coloring his words. <Hello?>

<I did not retrieve the documents.>

<That is of little importance,> came the reply. <What of the rumors we heard?>

<Destination: Central seems to have hired two new operatives.>


<We need to find out more about them. They seemed incompetent but they succeeded in retrieving the documents.>

<Do you know who they reply to?>


<Return to base. We'll deal with them another day. There is other work for you.>


"Have I ever mentioned how much I love cel-phones?"

"What? Where the hell are you? You were supposed t'be here five minutes ago."

"I'm having a kip with King Ferdinand."


"You didn't by any chance come across a woman in black with a sword did you?"

"Only when I dream of Xena. Where the hell are you?"

"In the catacombs."

"Still? What happened, did you get lost?"

"・Not as such."


"I'm in a coffin."

"Of course you are."

"Quit fucking around, LeBeau! I'm serious."

"・How'd you manage dat?"

"The woman in black・

"You got jumped by Xena and she shut you in a coffin?"

"Something like that."

"I'm on my way, keep talking."

"I'm guessing she's one of those Raider shites."

"Seems likely."

"Not what I was expecting at all."

"I wouldn't think so."

"Who would? She wears black, carries a huge fucking sword and called me a blasphemer."


"Did you get what we came for?"

"Oui. You're buying."

"Next time, I get the goods and you deal with the crazed sword wielding lunatics."

"I remember seeing this in one of those Indiana Jones movies."

"The bloke with the whip?"

"That's the one."

"・Are you coming to get me or what?"

"I'm in the catacombs and I hear you. God, I wonder how many faithful you've scared off ranting inside a coffin."

"Who bloody cares?"

The grinding of stone signified Remy's arrival. Slowly he moved the top of the coffin to make room.

Pete sat up and brushed himself off.

Remy grinned. "Good evening," he said with a perfect Dracula accent.

Pete narrowed his eyes. "Sod off, you sadist." He looked at Remy. "So, what's the story on this caper? What'd you get?"

Remy pulled a parcel out of his coat and looked in it. "My God・it appears to be the original screenplay to Gone With the Wind."

"Gimme that," Pete snatched the papers away from him and immediately shifted his grasp to hold them more carefully. "These are ancient."

Remy nodded.

"And foreign," Pete squinted at the writing. "Have any idea what this is?"

"Naw, languages aren't my area."

"No kidding," Pete smirked, climbing out of the coffin. "You still have trouble handling basic English."

Remy rolled his eyes. "Are you ready to go? 'Cause I'm 'bout ready to get back to Casablanca and look over those contracts."

"You actually want to do this for good?"

Remy shrugged. "Just for a while. I enjoyed it." A grin spread onto his face. "You getting stuck in a coffin was icing on the cake."

"Ha ha."

"You enjoyed it, too." Remy looked at Pete knowingly.

"You're imagining things."

"No. I'm not. Besides, you'd sign on with Martha and her crew just to get back at Xena."

Pete paused. Remy had hit the nail on the head. "You're bloody irritating when you figure things out, LeBeau. Let's go already. I need a drink and I'd rather get the official stuff out of the way first."

"Remember, you're buying."

"I'm buying! I'm buying!" Pete threw up his hands. "Run it into the ground why don't you?"

The documents were handed over to Martha and the contracts were signed. With everything settled with Destination: Central Pete and Remy retreated back into their dark, dank tavern. Remy took a deep breath savoring the various odors of the bar. Destination: Central was a little too sanitary and cold. This part of Casablanca was rich with heat and spice, two things Remy relished.

Pete didn't waste any time. He fetched a bottle of scotch and a bottle of bourbon and settled down with a couple of quick shots. "So, now we're official, aren't we?"

Remy nodded, reaching for his bourbon.

"Can't complain too much, really," Pete looked thoughtful. "Despite getting tossed in a coffin by some steroid woman with a sword." A short bark of a laugh escaped him. "At least it was something new."

"It was fun," Remy nodded.

"Spoken like the man who didn't get tossed into a box with a pile of bones," Pete shot back drily. "I doubt that ever happened to that Indiana Jones bloke of yours."

"He has a whip."

"Maybe I should invest in one, meself," Pete ventured with a grin. "And one of those fedoras what don't come off."

Remy was assaulted by the vision of Wisdom, in rumpled black suit and tie, wearing a battered leather fedora and a coiled bullwhip. "Spare me. Spare us all."

Pete lit up a Marlboro with a grin. "It's work. I'm not inclined to argue with a steady paycheck. Not now, anyway."

Remy nodded in agreement. "And a good job is hard to come by. God knows I wouldn't mind not having to live up the ethical standards of the X-men for a while."

"So you're out of the good-doing game? At least, good-doing for free, eh?" Pete shrugged. "And you were really turning into a philanthropist in spandex there for a while."

"It's easy to be philanthropic when you live in a mansion and you never have to worry about bills," Remy said pointedly. "I've never had a problem looking out for myself. Benefactors are a dime a dozen, at least this one has a contract that can be severed when the time is right."

Pete shrugged. "That remains to be seen, but it's steady work. And a good way to get back in the game."

A silence settled between them for several moments. Remy broke it after refilling both of their drinks. "Does this mean we're partners now?" His expression was somewhat incredulous.

Pete looked Remy dead in the eye, picked up his drink and downed it. "Shut up, LeBeau."