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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Somebody’s Hero - REVIEW THIS STORY

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

Chapter 1

New Orleans, Louisiana

The French Quarter

He was seated at an outdoor café with a dog-eared paperback watching them watch him. She was sitting across from him, listlessly turning the pages of a fashion magazine and staring out at the world from behind designer sunglasses. His gaze flicked to her and their eyes met. Wordlessly, his eyes moved on to the two men across the street. The woman nodded, and followed his gaze. Together, the couple at the café turned to look at the strangers.

They looked for the entire world like a couple out on a date, comfortable and familiar with one another, enough so that words did not need to pass between them. The attractive couple were silent watchers. Their combined unwavering stare was enough to make the watching men nervous.

The oldest of the pair looked to his partner and shrugged. The other swallowed nervously and tried to ignore the trickle of sweat rolling down the center of his back. He opened the passenger door to the black Honda Accord he and his partner had arrived in, and hefted the large manila file from the seat. Glancing around the interior of the car, he took a mental inventory of the car's contents: candy wrappers and paper from fast food meals, a flattened pillow, napkins and index cards with scribbled addresses on them, and a few misplaced black and white photographs. All in all, it had been a difficult few months.

The man straightened and looked at his partner from across the roof of the car. He nodded and the two crossed the street. The couple at the café watched them serenely as they crossed the busy city avenue.

Both men were dressed in crumpled black suits and ties. The younger of the two was nervous, sweating in the humid New Orleans heat. He loosened his tie, and his Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed dryly. The older man was calm and businesslike, with silver hair and a clean-shaven ruddy face. The two men paused a few paces from the café table, assessing the seated couple. The younger man shifted, and as he did so, a sheaf of papers slid from the hefty manila envelope.

As he scrambled for the papers, the other black-dressed man approached.

"Mister LeBeau," he said, not a question, but a statement.

"Yes?" the man replied, adjusting his dark glasses.

"You're a difficult man to find," the older man said as the younger man shuffled up behind him.

"Really, now?" Remy responded. "Imagine how much harder your task would have been if I knew you were lookin' for me."

"Do you mind if we have a seat?" the older man asked.

"Be my guest," LeBeau replied.

The blond-haired woman made no move to make room for the pair. The older man pulled a chair over from a nearby table and sat, leaving the younger man to stand nervously with his papers. The younger man scrambled for a chair and balancing the precarious files, sat wedged between the blond and his elder.

"Mister LeBeau, my name is James Marshall. I'm an agent of the CIA. Agent Berkley and I have been seeking you for the past few months."

LeBeau and his companion gave no sign that they were surprised by the man's introduction. LeBeau's eyebrow raised in expectation of Agent Marshall to continue.

"I've been informed by my superiors, and in junction with Interpol, that we are permitted to grant you forgiveness for past crimes."

"Past crimes?" Remy questioned and with a self-deprecating grin said: "You've got the wrong guy. Why, I'm as innocent as the day I was born."

Agent Marshall cleared his throat. With this prompting, the younger man inched forward, chair-legs squeaking across the pavement. He produced a sheaf of papers fastened together with a paper clip. The top paper was labeled as "Classified" with the notation below of events that had taken place in an underground New York tunnel known as "The Alley."

For the first time since their initial encounter with the CIA agents, LeBeau expressed an emotion other than mild interest. The look on his face was akin to barely subdued outrage. The two men he had initially prepared to dismiss took on a new dimension. "Thank you for taking the time to inform me of the absolution from my," he emphasized the word," so-called past crimes." He began to stand, his silent companion following suit. "If you'll excuse me."

The older agent made him pause. "Your exoneration would only be a result of an..exchange."

LeBeau lowered himself back into his chair. "What are you proposing here? Blackmail? I know the hand you've been dealt, homme, and you got nothin'. Can't hold me accountable for a crime I didn't commit and you know

nothin' about."

"There's more," the agent added. "Theft..kidnapping..government infiltration.." as he spoke, the younger agent produced one file after the other until the pile on the table measured several inches high.

LeBeau sniffed haughtily at the files. "And if I refuse what you have planned for me?"

"We will have to have you incarcerated, preferably, in a facility made to restrain a person of your particular..abilities."

"How amusing," LeBeau responded.

The blond shifted in her seat, speaking for the first time as she leaned in LeBeau's direction. "Remy, would you like me to end this conversation?" she asked, her gaze meaningfully glued to the two men across from her.

"It was just getting interesting, Belle," Remy replied. "Gentlemen, if you would continue."

"One of our specialty agents has disappeared," Agent Marshall began as his younger handed him a rolled up map. "Here," he said, pointing to a location on the map.

"Genosha?" Remy questioned.

"Yes," Marshall responded. "We lost communication with her several weeks ago. As it was, things were not going well for her, and we had all ready begun seeking you out at that time. Her name was Yalena Ushakov," Agent Berkley leaned forward, sliding a snapshot across the table toward Remy.

"Was?" Remy asked, looking at the picture. She was a handsome woman, with dark hair and eyes. Her lips were a tight line.

"We suspect Yalena is dead," Marshall said. "Due to the extreme danger of her mission and the lack of communication."

"What exactly is this mission?" Remy asked.

"All of the information is outlined in this file," Marshall said as Berkley handed Remy yet another envelope.

Remy opened it briefly and gave the contents a glance. "Very well," he said, standing. "I'll need some time t'think about this."

"I highly suggest that you avoid trying to flee the city tonight," Marshall added.

"Right," Remy said. His eyes went to the thick files barely constrained by Agent Berkley's arms. "May I?" he asked, extending his hand.

The younger agent looked to Agent Marshall. Marshall nodded and Berkley relinquished the files to LeBeau.

"Belle?" Remy turned to his companion. The couple gave a brief nod to the two seated government agents and strolled away down the street, as if their exchange had not occurred.

"Was that smart?" Berkley asked. "Just letting him get away like that?"

"What choice do we have, Berkley?" Marshall responded. "For all your files, we were bluffing. We had nothing on him that would hold up. The man's bulletproof."

Agent Marshall sighed and leaned back into the uncomfortable café chair. Amidst the remainder of the various files that had taken years to accumulate was a paperback book, left behind by the elusive Remy LeBeau.

"Martin Guerre," he said.

"What?" Berkley asked, looking up from rubbing his furrowed brow.

"The Return of Martin Guerre. It´s about a guy who comes back from war in the guise of a woman´s husband. Turns out the doppelganger was much nicer than the original husband. He became the town and the woman´s hero," Marshall replied flipping through the well-worn book. "It's a classic."

"Will you be leaving, then?" Bella Donna asked, as she slipped off her blouse.

Remy, lying on his stomach, his chin resting in his hands, glanced up from the paperwork strewn across the foot of the bed. "Hm?" he said.

"I asked if you would be," her voice deepened to a throaty drone, in imitation of Agent Marshall, "`fleeing the city tonight.'"

Remy's eyes returned to the papers and photographs. Belle turned her back to him and unzipped her skirt, letting it fall to the ground. "Remy," she said, "I hope you aren't considering taking that mission."

She turned to him when he elicited no response. He was morosely staring at a black and white photograph. Bella Donna approached the bed and climbed up to sit beside Remy. She picked at the lace on her white slip before leaning over his shoulder to look at the photo.

"Your father?" she asked. There were three people in the photo, two men and one child. Remy's father, Jean-Luc LeBeau was on the right. In profile, it was easy to see his broad grin. He was looking at the child in the other man's arms. The other man was taller, broad in the shoulders and wore a patch over one eye. He was dressed in a uniform that was unknown to Belle, with an eagle emblazoned on his shoulder of his jacket. The child was Remy himself, about seven years of age. Remy was holding what appeared to be a grenade in his small hands. "And who is this?" Belle questioned, pointing to the man on the left.

"Nick Fury," Remy responded. "M'dad's friend."

"A government agent?"

"Yah, works for SHIELD," Remy said. "Poppa met Nick back in World War II. My dad would sometimes takemissions. Steal f'r the government."

Belle lay back on the bed. "I hear those government jobs have great benefits." She tugged at the hem of his boxer shorts. He turned to look at her. "So what kind of dirt do they have on you anyway?"

"Remember that jet I stole?"

"Hm, one of your finer moments," Belle said.

He fluttered a pink slip of paper at her. "Here's the bill."

They lay in silence, head to foot, looking at one another. "You're not your father, Remy," Belle said finally. "And you don't need anything that they can give you."

"No, I don't," he agreed.

"And will risking your life on some foolish mission do what for you, exactly?"

Remy turned over on his back and reached over his head for a second photograph. Yalena's face grimaced at him from the glossy photo. The image looked more like a mug shot than a file-photo. "How could I resist, Belle? Exciting adventure, a damsel in distress.."

"Don't try to make light, Remy," Belle snapped, her eyes boring her fury into the ceiling. "Your dumb little hero routine doesn't work on me. Now you listen here," she said in her best authoritative voice. "I want you to pack your swim suit, sunscreen, and a change of underwear. You're fleeing the country tonight and I won't have any buts about it. I'm booking you a flight to Sydney and that's that."

"Aw, Belle, you never let me have any fun."

She heard him get up late in the night; the soft rustle of the bed linens sliding off his skin and the sound of him finding his clothes in the dark room awakened her. The bed squeaked softly as the weight of his body shifted from the mattress. She made no move to indicate that she was awake, or that she acknowledged him leaving. For her, it was a painfully familiar scene.

On the night of their wedding, it had been much the same. He had taken special care to make his movements as silent as possible. Bella Donna had lain awake, unmoving with her eyes closed and breathing slow. He had paused at the door before leaving, as he did now, watching her pretend to sleep. Understanding passed between them in silence, as it usually did.

She understood he was leaving, but not why. She hadn't at first understood why he had left on their wedding night. It was only later that she had discovered that her brother had been slain in a duel involving her newlywed husband. Belle supposed Remy was honor bound to accept the challenge proposed by her brother, Julien. For all his protests against the workings of his family guild, their honor-bound traditions and beliefs, it was ultimately Remy's own feelings of pride and honor that had broken his ties to his family. After the duel, Remy was forced to leave both the guild and his wife.

She wondered if it was his feelings of honor that drove him now. If something from his upbringing had transcended the betrayal he suffered at the hands of his family and his forced exile from the guild.

Was he conditioned to be so stupid? she asked herself. To take such foolish risks for the sake of honor? Or was it something more? It was as if he had an unending desire to punish himself in outlandish ways. Maybe that was why he had come to visit her in the first place. Belle pushed her face into her pillow with a small unhappy noise. She shouldn't be so hard on herself. It wasn't as if time spent in her company was a punishment. She mulled the thought over for a moment.

It made him feel good, she decided. It made him feel good about himself to do these things. To help others. To be the hero. He was addicted to self-affirmation.

She listened to the rumbling sound of his motorcycle's engine from the street below. She imagined him looking up at the bedroom window, at least in her romanticized image of him, before driving off into the night.

Belle slipped out of bed long after he had gone. Dawn was approaching, and the sky was turning a soft dove-gray. The light was enough to softly illuminate the room. She pulled her silk robe from the vanity screen and slipped it on. Stretching her arms above her head, she shuffled to the window to draw back the curtains. There came a sound of crumpling paper as her bare feet slid across the smooth hardwood floor. Lifting her foot, she bent and picked up a rolled tube of paper. She uncurled it and peered nearsightedly at it in the dim light. It was a map, carefully outlined with detailed instructions. A curling red line denoting a chosen path skirted the coast of an island up to a city named Hammer Bay.

Belle let the map curl back up onto itself. She pulled aside the sheer drapery covering the window and looked out at the world. Clutching the map to her chest, Bella Donna smiled into the rising sun.


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