Subject: [OTL]: [Longshot,Pete,Dakota] There's A Dream That Spans The Road...
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 23:28:05 -0800 (PST)
From: Lyssie Sinclair

Disclaimer: I don't own Pete Wisdom, Longshot or Scicluna, Doyle
and Black Air. Marvel owns them. Dakota is owned by Bevy Mc.
Harry is a creation of my own brain, based on The Crown (which
is also owned by Marvel, along with Peckham, the Warwolves and
Mojo)...
This fic is dedicated to my twin, Beverly_McIntyre. It's her
fault in the first place.

There's a Dream That Spans the Road...
by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Pete Wisdom muttered obscenely at a passing pedestrian and
continued stalking towards his favorite pub. It was nearly three
in the afternoon, the London air suspiciously clear and the
people around him were all bright and cheery. It did nothing to
alleviate the foul mood he was in.

"Damn that sodding Scicluna," he mumbled as he turned the corner
and spotted The Crown. It was like coming home, part of him
reflected. 'Course, after having to be debriefed by Scicluna,
anything would feel like home, even the squalid little flat her
was currently in.

Stepping through the large oak door, Pete paused to savour the
aroma. Part booze, part nicotine, part dirt and dust and other
unnamable things, the smell was the scent of The Crown. The
scent of being accepted, having fun, getting piss-drunk and
staggering home at 4 am to be up at 7... He cut those lovely
thoughts off and started for the bar.

The clientele of The Crown ignored him for the most part, a few
waving. Doyle was at the usual table in the back and he nodded
at the gent. Doyle had never actually forgiven Pete for leaving
his company. Of course, the Black Air group he'd since hooked up
with paid better. Not that it was as fun as MI6 had been.

"The usual, Wisdom?"

"Yeah."

Accepting his usual drink from the bartender, Harry whose old
lady was forever on him to quit the Pub and get a real job
working on taxes or some such. Harry always bitched and moaned
about her, then turned around and brought her flowers and
chocolates. And other things, apparently, since they were now
working on their second kid. "Thanks, man."

"On your tab?"

"Yeah." Pete turned away from Harry to survey the rest of the
pub again, looking for anything he might've missed on the first
look-round. The thing about The Crown was that it was supposed
to be neutral territory. And it normally was. Normally.

However, on occasion, they got in some upstart American FBI, or
CIA people that thought they should own the Intel community with
no objections. And *they* turned it into another little brawl.
It was why Harry never purchased expensive tables and chairs.
And why the glasses were plastic.

Pete turned back to Harry, "I'm off to my table. Send over
breakfast?"

"Sure, mate."

"You're a duck."

"Right." Harry rolled his eyes. "Still not completely sober, are
we? Need any actual food?"

"Is the bloody brat about?" Pete apprehensively checked for
Harry's eldest. The little snarker had just three days before
upended Pete's breakfast into his lap, then proceeded to run
away and later bawl that it weren't his fault. And that was just
the most recent "accident."

"Nah, he's off with the old lady. Got one of the Courier-types
around who looks all eager to run errands."

"And you wanna give the bugger something simple and
not-dangerous." Pete grimaced and took another pull of his
drink. "When ya put it like that, I could use some steak and
kidney pie, bacon sandwiches, mash and eggs--fried with chutney
sauce."

"Right." Harry nodded, "I'll send the kid out. He should be back
in a bit. Tab again?"

"Yeah." Pete took sipped more alcohol and began heading in the
general direction of his normal table. Rounding the corner of
the bar he froze and stared in shock. SOMEONE--two someones, to
be exact--was sitting at his table! "Harry--" he choked out,
whirling back.

"Oh, forgot to mention that, Wisdom, sorry. Those two needed a
table to themselves, that were the only one free at the time."
Harry swiped the bar with a towel and nodded to the booth next
to Pete's. "Try that one, for now."

"But--but..." Pete sputtered, "That's me fuckin' BOOTH, Harry!
And now some wankers are in it! Kick them out!" he finished,
plaintively whining.

-----

Dakota swore under his breath as his companion dodged nimbly
through the crowd ahead of him. Longshot's blond head appeared
for an instant in front of a store ahead of him then disappeared
again as someone taller stepped in front of the skinny young
man.

Sighing, Dakota shouldered through the crowd around himself,
twisting and turning and suddenly popping out on a short side
street. Ahead he could see Longshot stopping to look into a
window. Not that he was supposed to be following Longshot, but
Dakota was actually supposed to be *with* him. The boy was fast,
though and tended to slip ahead. He cursed at the traffic around
him and dodged someone's elbow.

"Oh! There you are." Longshot smiled at him. "What do you think
of those?" He gestured at the window in front of them.

Light filtered through the window of the shop, shining on the
myriad little wooden toys. In the very front a tiny railroad
track was placed, with a tiny engine leading miniature cars all
around. Each car was a different colour and they all had little
toys stacked in them. In the center of the track toys were
stacked. Teddy bears, dolls, tea sets, bouncing balls, Rubix
cubes, slinkies, cars and more all lay jumbled in a display that
attracted the eye and wondered and delighted.

Unless you were tired, irritable and with a companion that
enjoyed wandering through crowds, AND had looked at such
displays SEVEN times in the last three hours. Dakota's feet
hurt, he was hungry and he hadn't gotten enough sleep the night
before. It was time to take matters into his own hands.

"Longshot, I think we should stop for lunch--and look, there's a
perfectly suitable pub right over there." Dakota pointed at the
sign he could see close by. He really didn't care if it was the
sign to a strip club. He needed to sit down and stop following
his quicksilver, semi-bemused companion around the entire London
downtown.

"Okay." Longshot replied agreeably.

"Good." Dakota stalked off and led the way towards The Crown.

As soon as he stepped in, Dakota nearly turned right back around
and left. *Nearly*. He remembered the fact that there were no
other pubs in sight and decided the risks were worth it.

The Crown reminded him of some of the more down and dirty
hangouts he and some of his 'comrades'--he winced at the
term--hung out in, back when he was... When he was 'working' for
the government. He mentally snarled and shrugged. The past would
have to wait. Right now he was in desperate need of a drink.

Ten minutes of being comfortably ensconced at a table, paying no
attention to Longshot's prattle and sipping a nice cool
Guinness, and suddenly he was overshadowed by some skinny lad
who appeared to be whining.

"But this is MY table." Black hair, terribly unkempt
appearance--the boy obviously hadn't shaved that morning, NOR,
from the smell, showered. His dark eyes were bloodshot and the
drink in his hand sloshed a bit as he waved the arm to make some
sort of vague point.

Dakota smiled sweetly at him, "Sorry. We were here first."

"But if you want, you can sit with us! It's always good to have
more than one person to drink with." Longshot smiled at the
stranger companionably and gestured to the empty chair next to
Dakota.

The man spluttered and absently wiped his drink-splattered arm
off on the rumpled white shirt. His black pants and the black
suit jacket that hung over half his frame also looked rumpled.
Apparently the man had never heard of dry-cleaning.

"Now, Wisdom, you can sit with them, or you can have the other
table like a good little boy." The silky-sweet husky voice
purred into Dakota's ears and settled into a stickiness that
made him want to wash his head with a scouring pad. The woman
that went with the voice was of medium height, and nothing to
look at. Not that the bright-green hair she was sporting wasn't
eye-catching.

Pete Wisdom blinked a bit blearily at Alana Peckham and sighed.
"Right, love, whatever." He slumped down into the chair the
blond bloke had indicated and waved listlessly. "Wisdom."

"I'm Longshot and this is Dakota. So, what are you, a spy or
something?" The blond looked at him all-innocence. His accent
grating oddly on Pete's ears as he tried to place it. The other
man was obviously American, but this one... Pete snorted and
looked out of the corner of his eye to check that Alana had gone
off.

Thankfully she had. He was definitely not drunk enough to deal
with her. His lovely Ex... Turning back to the leather-clad
blond, he shrugged. "Sorry, can't tell you. 'D haveta kill you,
if I bloody well did. And where is my food..." he let his voice
trail off and contemplatively took another drink.

As they all drank in relative silence, he covertly studied his
companions. The dark-haired one was casually dressed in blue
jeans, plaid shirt and leather jacket. The blond was dressed in
a full kit of black leather. Looked quite comfortable, too. Pete
pondered the last time he'd been in a full kit and shuddered.

It'd been Alana's fault...

"Hey, what are you going to get your girlfriend for Christmas?"
The chirpy voice that came from the blond was nearly unbearable.
It nearly made him get up. But, dammit. This was HIS sodding
table. He was stayin'.

"Don't got one."

"Ah, that's sad. So, she--" Longshot indicated the spot Alana
had been standing in. "--isn't yours?"

"No she bloody well isn't, and you don't want her either." He
glared blearily across the table.

"So, she's an old flame, then." It was the first thing Dakota
had said in minutes. He was giving Pete a positively innocent
look as he jabbed the knife deeper.

"It ain't your fucking business."

"Ah." Dakota nodded. "So, what are you drinking?"

Pete peered suspiciously at him as he downed the last of his
scotch. "Why?"

"I thought I'd buy a round." Dakota smiled expansively.

"Uhuh." Pete nodded then shrugged. After all, free booze...
"Scotch."

"Got it." Dakota glanced at Longshot. "Keep him company, I'll be
right back."

As Dakota left the table under Pete's still-suspicious glare he
chuckled to himself. Apparently the younger man thought he'd
made that jab a-purpose. Not that he hadn't. Dakota snorted and
stepped up to the bar ignoring the mental thought that crossed
his mind about lost lovers.

"What'll it be?" The bartender looked enquiringly at him,
polishing a glass industriously.

"Two pints and Wisdom's usual."

The man nodded and began pulling the dark foamy brew. "So,
where'd ye know Ol' Wisdom from?"

"Oh, here and there." Dakota hedged studying the man closely. He
was slightly overweight, and his blondish hair was receding. And
the over-alls he wore over the blue shirt were slightly stained
with various foods and alcohol. "Is it possible to order some
food?"

"I've got a lad that can run off for some food, if'n you want
some, yeah."

"Good." Dakota accepted the two mugs of ale and the glass of
ruddy-brown scotch. "Can you send him out for a bunch of sausage
sandwiches?"

"I'll add those to Wisdom's order he was about to leave with."

"Thanks." Dakota nodded cordially and sauntered back to the
table.

"--so, anyway, what DO you do?" Longshot was leaning his cheek
on his arm, the elbow on the table and gazing at Wisdom with
lazy interest.

The Londoner muttered something that was probably best left
unintelligible and downed the last of his drink.

"Here." Dakota slipped the new drink into Wisdom's hand and sat
down in his own chair. "Longshot, I ordered us breakfast."

"Oh, good." Longshot looked intently at Wisdom. "You never
answered my question."

"I don't soddin' have to." Wisdom glared at him out of bloodshot
eyes.

"Oh." Longshot looked crestfallen for a moment. "Okay. Hey,
Dakota, what'd you get us for breakfast, 'cause I'm starved."

"Just some sandwiches."

The three sat in comparative silence for the next few minutes,
all sipping their drinks with the casual air of men who are
somewhat bored, yet absorbed in what they're doing. Currently
Pete was attempting to get drunk. Again. In the morning he'd
have to get up and deal with sodding Scicluna again. The word
echoed through his head. 'Again, again, again...'

Pete shuddered and pulled the battered pack of cigs from his
pocket and extracted one. He paused in the midst of attempting
to light it with the battered lighter and glanced at his
companions. "Y'wan' one?"

"Nah, I like to taste my food." Dakota replied.

Longshot was looking at the cigarette with curiosity, "Don't
those cause cancer?"

"So?" Pete glared at him mulishly as he finally succeeded in
lighting the fag.

"So aren't you afraid of getting sick?" Longshot looked at him
guilelessly.

"It's none of your bloody business, mate." Pete went for the
middle of the road since he was beginning to actually feel
vaguely mellow.

"Oh. Okay. So, what did you say you did for a living?"

Dakota fought a chuckle as Wisdom groaned and took a deep drag
on his cigarette. The poor man had quite obviously not had all
his wits about him when he got up. And he was quickly losing
those he had as he drank the last of his second glass of scotch.

"I'm gettin' 'nother. Anythin' I can get for you?" Wisdom was
carefully avoiding Longshot and his eager question.

"Nah, I'm fine at the moment." Dakota replied. He watched Wisdom
stand up, sway and saunter off to the bar, with a slight grin on
his face. Longshot's silly questions and blather were obviously
irritating the man. Dakota snorted. *His* table.

"Hey, Dakota, what do you think he does?"

"He's probably a high-tech spy." Dakota paused and snorted
again. "Or, considering it's Saturday, he's probably a
schoolmaster on the run."

"Ah." Longshot played his fingers along the rim of his mug and
looked pensive. Finally he looked up at Dakota, "Do you think
we're safe here?"

Interpreting that to mean all of London and not just The Crown,
Dakota shrugged. "As safe as we'd be anywhere. Here?" He glanced
around at the slightly dingy, slightly tattered interior.
"Something tells me we're safe here."

They sat in companionable silence, Longshot staring into his
drink and Dakota carefully studying the pub around them. Most of
the patrons appeared relaxed to the casual eye. Unless you were
someone that had studied human body language, or better yet,
been someone that used it to hide what you were... Dakota noted
that most of the people in the bar were in some line of work
that required them to hide.

For instance, that young woman that had chastised Wisdom was
obviously in intelligence work. Especially with the gun under
her trench. Dakota refrained from snorting to himself again and
checked the rest of the patrons for machinery. About half to all
of them had some sort of weapon. Well, at least if any of Mojo's
goons showed up for his current tablemate they'd be
well-defended.

With that less than pleasant thought he looked back towards the
bar itself and noted Wisdom on his way back followed by a young
lad with several bags. It appeared their breakfast had arrived.

----

Save for a few comments from Longshot on the greasiness of the
food and a muttered shaddup from Wisdom, the gentlemen (if you
could call them that) ate in relative silence. Occasional
slurping noises and muffled grunts were heard. Dakota got up at
one point and got himself and Longshot new drinks. It occurred
to him as he sat down that maybe he was drinking too much. Then
he shrugged. His healing factor could handle quite a bit of
alcohol. Besides, if they were to match Wisdom drink for
drink...

"Dakota, you're not normally a drinking man."

"I am today."

Longshot nodded, apparently satisfied with that answer and
looked at Wisdom. "You are, though."

"Wot of it?" Wisdom's blue eyes glared at him, daring him to
make some stupid remark.

"I just wonder if we could drink you under the table." Longshot
looked once again innocent and guileless. Dakota nearly choked
on his mouthful of beer as he recognised that look. It was the
same look Longshot got just before he ran off on some
rabbit-stupid scheme. Or accidentally turned two women in love
with him.

Luckily, Wisdom merely snorted and went back to eating his
breakfast.

----

Scicluna inspected the exterior of this oh-so wonderful drinking
establishment. It was a place she tended to lose a lot of her
best agents to after their days were over. Wisdom, Cully... A
few others she couldn't be bothered to think of. Scratch avoided
the place, oddly enough. Considering the somewhat dilapidated
appearance, she wouldn't be caught dead inside. Normally.

However, Pete Wisdom had headed to The Crown after their
debriefing, and she really *did* need to talk with him again.
Especially since she felt a need to inspect his normal place of
debauchery.

Shoving an errant strand of blonde hair behind her ear with a
black-gloved hand, Scicluna stepped up to the door and into the
gloom beyond it.

----

Harry finished polishing the last glass and looked up to watch a
gorgeous blonde walk into his pub. She was holding herself--ah,
that was it. The woman was quite a looker, yet had a standoffish
set to her shoulders.

She was stalking into his pub as if she owned it, too. Had to
give her that, he did.

"What can I get ya?" Nice, nonchalant. Calm.

"I'm looking for Wisdom." Perfect voice, perfect accent. Steel
and ice underneath. She stared at him, her eyes pale and cold.

"He's--"

"Right 'ere." Wisdom glared at the woman, his lips pulled back
in a half-snarl. "I've already talked to you, bloody--"

"Wisdom."

One word. It cut through Wisdom's half-anger and bluster and
stopped him dead. He looked at her and then at Harry. "Give us a
moment."

Harry blinked and nodded, stepping away to the other end of the
bar. Far enough away that she wouldn't be able to tell he was
listening. Wisdom knew, though. And Wisdom also knew that Harry
would signal the rest of the pub that something Might Be Up.

Doyle glanced up and nearly froze in midsentence. Harry was
standing by the far side of his counter, and he was pouring
himself a drink. "--so, I think that's a good idea."

"You do?" His companion asked, snorting. "Doyle, you've never
been--Harry's pourin' himself a drink."

"I was waitin' for you ta notice that."

"Well, damn, man. Ain't as if I'm normally--well, looky there.
It's that Scicluna-bitch."

"Ah." Doyle stared at the blonde as she made a gesture at Pete.
"I'm of a mind to go give her a piece of it."

"I'd follow you, but I don't think you've any mind to give."

"More'n you." Doyle rejoined as he stood and straightened the
front of his booze and food-spattered vest. "Be back after a
refreshing tiff with the annoying woman."

"Uhuh." His companion nodded, unconvinced. "I'll make sure your
seat is well-padded for when she sends you flyin' back in flames
and defeat."

"Right." Doyle snorted at him and turned away.

Meanwhile, at a table a bit further in the back, Dakota and
Longshot watched the blonde harangue Pete with interest. At the
moment, she appeared to be trouncing him soundly as he slouched
more and more and his cigarette appeared to droop.

"Who do you think she is?" Longshot watched the two a moment
then glanced around the room. "Never mind that, Dakota, why do
you think everyone's gone so tense?"

"His boss?" Dakota hazarded as he glanced around, confirming to
himself what Longshot had just mentioned. Every single person in
the pub had gone from relaxation to alertness. It was a state he
recognised. He'd used it often enough, back when--

The front door of the pub slammed open and three figures stalked
in, dressed as policemen. Dakota thought the 'dressed' part, as
they moved like something else. His eyes narrowed as they stood
in the doorway and swept the pub with cold gazes.

"Dakota, those aren't policemen." Staring at them, seeing the
ripples underneath the outer movement, *recognising* them...
Longshot shuddered. Warwolves. Mojo had sent Warwolves after
him.

Dakota stiffened at the tenseness in Longshot's voice. "Oh? I
thought they were door-to-door salesmen."

"Yeah."

Before Dakota had a chance to ask further what Longshot was
worried about, one of the men spoke. "Give us the--"

"The what, mate?" One of the patrons slurred. The rest blinked
at him in shock.

And the men shrugged and attacked. Immediately, there was
instant chaos (not quite as good as home-made, but nearly there)
as men began throwing punches, drinks or whatever was handy. The
few women in the room snorted disgustedly and ducked under their
tables.

Dakota moved, grabbing Longshot's wrist and hauling them both
under their own table, his chair clattering to the floor he
moved so fast. Above them the patrons were fighting. Pitchers of
beer hit the walls, people hit the tables, chairs broke as they
were used as weapons.

A second later, Wisdom slid underneath their table, his eye
blackened, but apparently otherwise intact. "Allo, gents."

"Does this happen all the time in this establishment?" Dakota
inquired sardonically.

"Depends."

"Dakota, we really need to leave." Longshot's voice was urgent
as he tugged a bit desperately on Dakota's arm.

A chair clattered to the floor in front of them. "That might be
a bit difficult." Dakota pointed out reasonably.

"Dakota, we have to GET OUT OF HERE." If the Warwolves figured
out where he was hiding, there would be no fighting them.

"Okay, okay, mate, keep yer knickers on. I'm sure the entire
bloody Crown 'eard that." Wisdom waved a hand at Dakota. "If our
tall, large friend will lead the way, I'll be happy to bring up
the rear."

"Good." Longshot looked at Dakota. "Well?"

"Got it." Dakota reached out and snagged the chair. "There a
back door on this place?"

"Yeah. That way." Pete pointed as they scrambled out from under
the table.

Dakota nodded, stood up and began moving through the melee,
shoving the chair into people to move them, a few times letting
loose a punch to clear a section. Behind him he could hear
Longshot dodging his own share of moving bodies and objects.
Wisdom wasn't fairing so well, though as he heard him give a
muffled yelp.

The back door was in sight when someone grabbed an arm and
attempted to pull him back in. Dakota slammed his elbow into the
man's chest and made a last dash through the crowd to gain the
door. It opened easily, the hinges obviously well-oiled, into a
back alley. He stepped out then glanced back to see someone grab
Wisdom.

Pulling Longshot out he reached back and snagged an edge of
Wisdom's jacket, pulling. With a ripping sound, and the distinct
snap of someone's wrist, Wisdom came flying out into the alley.
Longshot reached out and grabbed the door, slamming it shut
before anyone could escape after them.

"Thanks, mate." Wisdom gasped out, rubbing his arm.

"No problem." Dakota glanced around the alley. "I think we
should leave, though. You know of anywhere else we could drink?"
A cursory glance proved it had been the Londoner's attacker's
wrist that had snapped.

"I didn't get to finish breakfast."

Wisdom grinned at Longshot. "Ah, well, then, have I got the
perfect bloody place."

----

Ten minutes later the three were ensconced in another pub, this
one a little dingier, but the food was still good. As Dakota
downed his umpteenth mug of ale, he wondered when the day would
end...

After that pub, they went to another. And then another. And
after that? Another. It was Longshot that kept them moving, only
stopping to grab another drink. The man wanted to confuse anyone
still looking for him--if someone was looking for him at all,
which Dakota was beginning to highly doubt.

About halfway through their pub-hopping, Longshot was showing
signs of drunkenness. He and Wisdom were doing okay. With his
healing factor metabolising, and Wisdom's inexhaustible
soberness...

When six o clock hit, it was to find them in a little dive in
the East End, drowning their apparent sorrows in yet another
round of booze. And they left their soon after. Wisdom was
beginning to stagger more than usual, his words slurring.

Slowly, but surely, the pubs began blurring into one after the
other, the drinks began tasting all the same, and Dakota began
to sway a bit. Stagger here, lean on Longshot and Pete, there.
And slowly, but surely things began wavering, Pete began to talk
without being understood, Longshot began falling asleep... Pete
suggested they head back to his flat.

And then it all faded away into a deep blankness. And for a
time, Dakota knew nothing.

----

The first thing Dakota did on waking was to close his eyes and
pray that it was only an overhead light shining in his eyes and
not sunlight. The second thing he did was to hiss as his body
announced that it was TIRED and he should GO BACK TO SLEEP.

The third thing he did was to wonder where the hell he was, and
why he appeared to have something on his chest. He moved his arm
and discovered that it was indeed still attached to his body.
But when he moved it, he decided that he was too tired to move
it more than a little and stopped.

Oh, yes. Something on his chest. It was light, he wouldn't have
noticed it except it was sitting there, moving as he breathed in
and out. His arm moved again and hurt a bit less. He moved it
towards the object and touched it.

The object appeared to be plastic. It was conical--possibly--or
cylindrical in shape. And was hollow. This was proved as he
rapped his knuckles against it. It fell over and gave a hollow
*bup* sound as it landed on his other side, then rolled off.

As it hit the floor, it bounced and clattered. Someone else in
the room yelped softly. Dakota finally made his eyes opened and
he stared up at the cracked ceiling. Where was he?

That thought engendered another. Why was he laying on a lumpy
couch? And what had been on his chest? Turning his head he noted
a wooden floor, half-covered with clothing and other things,
including a rug. And a tipped over orange traffic cone. Right
below the couch, Longshot was sleeping.

"Longshot?" His voice came out a bit rusty, but otherwise fine.
Especially considering what he was beginning to remember of the
amount of alcohol that had poured down it. And the amount of
strange mixes.

"Mrph."

"Longshot, you ought to wake up, I--"

"Grrmph. Woul' th' two o' ya bloody well SHUT UP?"

Dakota peered blearily in the direction of the voice. The
overhead light was still sorta painful, but he could make out
the doorway into what was obviously a bedroom. It was completely
dark, but the edge of the bed could be seen.

There was vague movement for a moment, then a grunt. Wisdom was
apparently trying not to get up. Dakota didn't blame him. HE had
a healing factor. Neither Longshot nor Wisdom did. Considering
the fact that he recalled matching Pete drink for drink, the man
had to be in considerable pain.

Longshot hadn't moved. Dakota gave a mental shrug and carefully
levered himself upright. A few twinges were left from sleeping
on the lumpy monstrosity, but otherwise he was fine. He was
sitting. That was a good thing. Next up was to try standing.

Of course, Longshot was sort of in the way. Dakota pondered the
situation. If he--Ah. He carefully wriggled around and got his
knees underneath himself. Stopping to catch his breath--the
booze had apparently scrambled his lungs. Or maybe that was the
obscene amount of cigarette smoke Wisdom had given off during
the evening.

Shuffling on his knees to the end of the couch, Dakota peered
over and spotted dusty, but empty hardwood floor. He slowly
swung his leg over, blinking when he noticed his foot was bare.
It thunked against the floor and he yelped softly. The floor was
freezing.

"Look, you tosser, would you--" There was a crash from the
bedroom and Wisdom's voice cut off for a second before resuming
in a long string of increasingly more colourful and anatomically
incorrect curses.

Dakota shook his head, chuckling, and stood up. For a second the
room wavered around him as his body got used to being upright
again. Then it oriented itself and was fine. He leaned back and
stretched then bent over and pulled out his back that way.
Several things popped. He straightened and rolled his shoulders.
Several more things popped.

"--bloody hell." Wisdom finished, now standing in the doorway
and glaring balefully at him out of bloodshot eyes. His first
cigarette of the day hung limply from his left hand while the
right clutched the doorjamb. "Are you still 'ere?"

"Yes." Dakota nodded at the recumbent Longshot. "I don't know
how much he drank, but I bet he's going to hurt worse than you."

"Well, there's only one bloody cure for it, mate."

"Oh?" Dakota had finally located his shoes. Somehow they'd
gotten buried in a pile of old newspapers. He shook his head,
wondering if he really wanted to remember the rest of the
previous night.

"More of the 'air of the dog wot bit ya."

Dakota thought about that. "You mean more booze?"

"Yep." Wisdom took a long drag on the end of his cig then
stubbed it out on the doorjamb. "And as soon as I can git me
legs ta move pr'perly, I'll get ready to go."

"Ah." Dakota nodded and began pulling his boots on. His socks
had disappeared somewhere, he knew not where and he wasn't going
to look through more of Wisdom's apartment to find them.

"Ah indeed." Wisdom sniggered for a moment then paused. "Sorry,
mate ya just look damned odd pulling them boots on like that."

"Thanks." Dakota said sardonically. He stood again and walked
over to Longshot's unconscious form. "Do you think I can carry
him out of here and back to our hotel without anyone noticing?"

"Pos'bly." Wisdom shuffled back into the darkness. There were
rustling, crashing noises, more curses and a few thumps.

Dakota shook his head again and leaned over, carefully scooping
up Longshot in his arms. The man wasn't all that heavy.
Hopefully he'd make it back to the hotel before he got too
heavy. Longshot made a shurring sound then sort of snuggled
against Dakota's chest.

"Oh, bloody great, man. You both look like ruddy poofs."
Wisdom's voice was bordering on snickers again.

"Poof?" Dakota raised an eyebrow at him.

"Yeah, you know," Wisdom gestured lewdly.

If he could have, Dakota would have run a hand over his face. He
was beginning to wonder where and how they'd ended up picking up
Wisdom.

"At The Crown." Longshot's voice sounded tired. His eyes opened
and he looked up at Dakota. "You can put me down, now."

"That--"

"Wasn't aloud, but I was thinking it, too." The blond man smiled
as Dakota carefully set his legs on the floor then released him.
He swayed for a moment then was steady. "And, as much fun as it
was, Mr. Wisdom, who never told me what he does for a living, I
really need a shower. And some fresh food."

"Y're thinkin' too fast this early in the sodding morn." Wisdom
noted as he reached out to shake their hands. "Lovely night.
Must do this again, sometime."

"Next time I'm in London." Dakota said.

"Anytime. You can always find me arse down The Crown. Or just
ask Harry. He'll know."

Longshot smiled. "Sure."

And the two men, one dark-haired, the other blond, left Wisdom's
apartment to find themselves in a street not four blocks from
The Crown.

"Here's where the story ends...It's that little souvenir of that
terrible year..." --the Sundays.

=====
[20:45] Listening to you two is like being drowned in scrumpets
during a Monty Python cast party. It's fun, it's harmeless, but you still
don't know what the hell is going on. (Sabby was talking of Acetal and I)...