Sooooo, it's been a while, but thanks to rugby-chick and moonlitday I decided to post a part of the story I had already written. Maybe I'll write more. There is a complete story line but since I thought it up some movies have been released with the same theme and I thought it was not worth the effort anymore…

4. Meeting again...

Friday afternoon; 16.45 hours; last day of competition of the first San Marzano Bi-anual X-treme, San Marzano.

The marquisate San Marzano was doing well. Although the assassination of its ruler two years ago was shocking, it was not unprecedented. San Marzano was actually infamous for its bloody successions to the throne. The viability of the little state had more then once been on a mere thread because of the violent threats to its royal family. Once a sibling rivalry had caused an apparently mad member of the family to pick up a gun and, before laying violent hands on himself, kill all but one member of his family round the 1800's. This bloodbath resulted in a law that no member of the royal family of San Marzano was allowed to be able to yield any weapon. This law also applied to any person engaged or married to them. The royal family was protected at all times and everywhere, so there was no need. Yet nothing can be protected against everything, anytime, anywhere, as had been grisly proved once again. Luckily for the new Marquise regent Lady Carlotta Valentine the royal disarmament-law did not mention any martial arts, as a matter of fact said law was the reason she excelled in them.

The marquisate was officially an authoritative ruled state; the marquis being its solemn ruler. Still since 1814 it had a constitution and a parliamentary system of government, yet it remained a hereditary marquisate. Laws issued by the parliament had to be approved by its ruler and vice versa. It had been decades since any of the Asinari rulers had used their right to issue laws and the parliament had been rather sceptical at first when within a month the new Marquise regent proposed one. This particular law was designed to protect people's privacy and made it illegal to publish outside a court of law, any pictures of anybody against their will. The parliament agreed, seeing also the benefits for their selves to have a bit of a private life. This personal exposure-law made it possible for their new ruler to sometimes just leave all the responsibilities behind and go clubbing without the danger of her little escapade being splashed across every front page the day after. Another legal action the Marquise regent was involved in within the first half year of her regency was the permission to organise a huge x-treme wintersports event every other year. But except for those two things the Lady had been very cooperative.

The first Bi-anual San Marzano X-treme went with a bang. There had been various snowboard and skiing disciplines, from the superpipe to a course that incorporated jumps, rails, and gaps to challenge the riders. There had been a big air competition for motors and a snowcross and hillcross for snowmobiles. Also with intensively personal intervention of the Marquise regent herself, a deputation of rally riders did a demonstration of snow and ice rally that turned out to be a real cliff-hanger. This resulted in the intention to hold one of the rallies for the World Rally Championship next year in San Marzano, arrangements for a meeting with the FIA-officials had already been made. The whole event had only been possible because of a generous gift from the family capital of the Asinaris. Yet the event had already caused a boost to the economy. It had to be seen how much of it would be more long-termed but so far the event had not only been a sporting success but also a financial one.

Most of the programme had taken place in a rather informal atmosphere. Only behind the scenes, like for the sponsors and the important guests, there had been some more official receptions and dinners. The riders were not bothered, unless their sponsors wanted them to carry out some representative tasks. However, now that the finals had all been over, there was an official meeting planned between some athletes and the Marquise regent. She only had held the organisation to two requests; one: she wanted to meet female riders and two: she wanted to meet some of the snowboarders, for the rest of the two hour meeting the organisation was given a free hand. Acknowledging the benefits of someone with political influence and not to mention the publicity worth of a royal that was interested in extreme sports, the organisation was glad to meet with her requests. San Marzano was small, but any country able of organising an event on this scale within two years was important. All participants that were on the meeting-list had been screened by the royal security watch and had been given a sheet with directions in preparation. The meeting started with some female participants and they soon found out that the Marquise regent was not some playboy trying to impress and seduce them.

Meeting a variety of sportsman and -woman was a lot more fun than any official meeting Charlie had attended to in the last two years. As the last part of the meeting started she unconsciously put her tongue between her teeth for a second and swallowed; she was nervous. With all the papers concerning the event she had been sure to get a copy of the participants-list and her heart had missed a beat when she had seen Cage, X. among the snowboarders. Due to official obligations she had not been able to watch any of his runs. And, knowing Xander, she was not surprised that he had not been on the list for this afternoons meeting, he would not be interested in any official business and knowing her royal security watch, a quick grin spread on her face, well: Xander Cage would never, ever pass their checks. But still, he would be around somewhere...

AAre you alright Madam? David Farrinaci, one of her royal guards, asked. ASi, va bene, she confirmed with a smile. The group of snowboarders was leisurely sitting on some benches beside a ramp. They started by introducing themselves and, as she was well prepared, she congratulated them on their achievements and prices. They soon found out that most of the directions priory given were for the benefit of the security guys; the Marquise regent did not mind at all being accidentally addressed as you instead of Madam or Dear Lady. After some fifteen minutes the conversation was coming to an end. Because it was near dinner time her final question was about food: ADo you eat anything special in preparation to the contest? They all sighed and looked at one guy. It was an Italian guy and he started vividly in half Italian - half English about his, home-made, specially prepared race-food. He was famous for his gross recipes, and the other riders were amused to see him spilling them on the Dear Lady. The guy went on and on about self mixed health cocktails, mainly containing sheep liver and caviar. AI can show you some drinks, just wait, my bag is here... he started off towards a pile of bags behind them, but a royal guard stopped him. AWell have to check that bag first sir, and unfortunately the Marquise regents time is up for this afternoon... Im sorry. David Farrinaci said. AOh! When the guy, reluctantly, put down his bag, he failed to look at the pile and caused some of the boardbags to slide a little. This revealed another guy bend over his snowboard, closely inspecting his bindings. He seemed to be checking for any missing or loose screws and straps, wearing a long sleeved polo neck, which collar did not prevent the showing of the two tips of the middle X. Charlie sharply inhaled and her voice wavered slightly when she said: AAnd you 'Mister X treme' what do you drink? First he only lifted his head so far and locked eyes with her when a grin spread over his face and he continued to look up. He slowly rubbed his neck, as if he had been in the same position for some time, smile still huge and never losing eye contact with her when he said: "Personally, I still prefer a Charlie Brown to anything else! For a moment the silence was tangible between them, then he continued: AYeah, definitely favour them, you dont happen to know of anyplace around here where they serve them, do you? AI am sure that you can obtain that information from any of our information desks sir, David Farrinaci cut in, screening X from his charge with his body. AWe ought to move on Madam, he continued to her. Machinelike Charlie shook the hands of the riders feeling his eyes on her all the time. She was already half-turned from them when she suddenly turned back and looked in his direction, the gaze of those brown smouldering eyes made her feel like an ice cube on a hot baking sheet. AActually... she started, putting a red-brown curl behind her ear, Atheres just the slightest possibility that they will serve them tonight at the final party, Im not sure but you might wanna try... the 360 degrees-bar? Somewhere between... eleven and two? The look on her face was a challenge he immediately accepted: AYou bet I wanna! She nodded, smiled and turned to follow her guard.