Author's Note: the characters are not mine, but the story is. I love writing for the mystery genre, and so I'm going to take a try and apply that to the Hogan's Heroes fandom. I've twisted canon very slightly by saying that LeBeau is a descendant of Raoul de Chagny; I'm hoping that nobody minds too much… but I did it to give a premise to this fic (plus, I enjoy referencing other fandoms in my fics).
It was the middle of the dinner rush at his restaurant, and chef de cuisine Louis LeBeau now exited the kitchen to briefly check how things were going. After a brief conversation with some of the waiters, he took a glance to the small stage in the restaurant, where one of his closest friends, Peter Newkirk, was entertaining the patrons with a magic act, which was nearing its finale.
"And 'ere we 'ave, ladies and gents, an ordinary 'andkerchief," he said, showing the fabric to the patrons, who found his Cockney accent an amusing addition to the show. "And now I shall fold the 'andkerchief, like so… once, twice, and three times. I'll grab this corner 'ere, and… voila!"
He waved the handkerchief open, and a pair of white doves flew out from within it. The audience murmured, impressed, and applauded. Newkirk gave them all one of his winning smiles as he bowed and retreated from the stage, taking the doves with him.
LeBeau walked backstage to see Newkirk putting the doves back on their perch.
"You've done it again…" he said, with a grin.
"Yeah, it gets 'em every time—even the ones who've already seen it," Newkirk replied, proudly. "LeBeau, I think these two doves 'ave earned an 'elping of crumbs from one of your pastries."
"You have all earned your dinner," LeBeau assured him.
"Ta," Newkirk grinned. "Because this magician is starving enough to make the food disappear before your very eyes."
LeBeau shook his head in amusement as they headed back to the dining area. Newkirk paused at one empty table that had just been vacated.
"Now will you look at this…?" he said, shaking his head. "They left 'alf a bottle of wine untouched. That's a shameful waste…"
He moved to grab the bottle, but LeBeau beat him to it.
"Not during working hours…" he chided him.
"Aw… Me working 'ours are done—that was the last show of the night, that was…"
"Discipline, mon ami, discipline…"
"You act like we're still in the army…!" Newkirk protested, making another grab for the bottle.
LeBeau rolled his eyes, but decided that the world wouldn't end if Newkirk had the wine he so desired.
"I need to get back to the kitchens; you take it easy," he said, retreating.
"No need to tell me to do that," Newkirk assured him, gleefully inspecting the bottle. "Good year…" he murmured, appreciatively. "Whoever left 'alf of this is a fool…!"
As Newkirk poured himself a glass of wine, the maitre d'hotel, the head waiter, took notice of the four Americans entering the restaurant. He cast a look at this odd crew, his eyebrows arching at one of them—the youngest one—who was holding an odd-looking potted plant.
"Bon soir," said one of the older men. He was wearing an Air Force jacket, a medal gleaming from its chest pocket. "We happen to be good friends with the head chef of this restaurant--"
"Pardon my impudence, Monsieur," said the maitre d'hotel. "But that is what they all say."
"What? He's serious!" said the young man with the plant. "We're not joshing you—you can go and ask him!"
The head waiter was not impressed.
"Can't really blame him for not believing us," said one of the Americans—a tall, mustachioed man. "We don't exactly look like we'd know a great French chef…"
The man in the Air Force jacket smirked. "Point taken, Kinch." He turned back to the head waiter. "Take us to whatever table you desire."
"But, Colonel Hogan…!" the young man with the plant protested.
The fourth man, who had been silent this whole time, now spoke. "Let it go, Carter…"
"But we came here to see LeBeau," said Carter, disappointed. "What was the point in coming here if we can't even see him…?"
"We can stay as long as we have to…" the man replied. "Isn't that right, Colonel?"
"Right, Baker," Hogan replied. He smirked again. "But the war's over—you don't have to keep calling me 'Colonel.'"
"Force of habit, Colonel," said Baker. He blinked as he caught himself, prompting Kinch to shake his head in amusement.
"This way, please…" said the head waiter, leading them to a table near Newkirk.
It was Carter who was the first to notice, his eyes widening upon seeing his British friend for the first time in nearly a year.
"Newkirk!" he exclaimed. "It's Newkirk!"
Newkirk, who had been enjoying the smell of the wine, had just raised the glass to his lips when he heard Carter's exclamation. He froze, staring at the wine, suspiciously.
Blimey, this is some strong stuff; no wonder it wasn't finished…! I ain't even drunk it yet, and I'm already hearing things! I coulda sworn that was Carter's voice…
"Newkirk!" Hogan said, as he led the way to his table, much to the head waiter's annoyance. "We read in your letters that you were working with LeBeau…"
"Yeah, but we weren't sure if you were going to be back in London by the time we got here," Carter added.
Newkirk stood up, gawking at his old friends. When the realization set in that they were, in fact, here, and that he wasn't seeing things, he grinned broadly, shaking each of their hands.
"Ah, it's great to see you lot again!" he said, his joy knowing no bounds. "When LeBeau finds out that you're 'ere, 'e'll flip!"
"That's just it," said Carter. He indicated the head waiter. "He doesn't believe that we're his friends!"
Newkirk waved his hand in dismissal. "Not to worry, old chum." He crossed to the kitchen door and opened it. "Oi, Louis! Get out 'ere!" He turned back to the others with a mischievous grin. "Give 'im a minute; 'e can't stand it when I do that, so 'e'll want to give me a talking to…"
"Still living dangerously, I see…" said Kinch, as the head waiter continued to glare at all of them, his arms crossed.
"If you want to call it that," said Newkirk, shrugging his shoulders. "Nearly a year, and I'm still finding difficult to get used to all the quiet…" He trailed off, finally noticing the plant that Carter was holding. His eyebrows arched, silently asking Carter what on earth he was doing with it.
"Oh, this?" asked Carter, reading his friend's look. "It's a Venus flytrap! I met up with my old girl, Mary Jane, when I got back, and it turned out that she broke up with that air raid warden! So, she and I going to start over; she even bought this as a gift for me! I didn't want anything to happen to it while I was over here, so I got special permission from customs to bring it with me…"
Hogan, Kinch, and Baker all looked away, too close to cracking up at Newkirk's deadpan expression.
"If she really did buy you that plant, then you two are a match made in 'eaven…" he said at last.
"Gosh, you really think so?" Carter gushed.
Newkirk replied him with a fervent nod.
"Uh-oh…" said Baker, as the kitchen doors reopened. "Annoyed head chef at 2:00…"
"Newkirk…" said LeBeau, striding over to them. "You'd better have a good reason--" He stopped in his tracks as his gaze fell upon his closest friends. "Mes amis!" he exclaimed, running forward to greet them.
Hogan gave a smug "I told you so…" look to the head waiter, who scowled and retreated to his post.
"Was this good enough of a reason for you…?" Newkirk asked LeBeau.
The chef just grinned in response, ushering his friends to the most luxurious of the tables, pressing menus into their hands.
"Order whatever you want; it's on me," he said.
"Well, that's awfully generous of you…" said Hogan. "But I guess you can afford to be quite generous from now on, can't you?"
"…Pardon?" LeBeau asked, slightly confused.
"Yeah, that's right…" said Newkirk. "Carter, you were saying you didn't know if I'd be 'ere or in London—what did you mean by that? You know I work 'ere…"
The Americans exchanged glances.
"Guess they're really keeping it under wraps…" Kinch commented.
"…Qu'est-ce que c'est…?" LeBeau asked. "And what does it have to do with me?"
Hogan pulled an article from his jacket pocket.
"This was in the New York Times…" he said, handing it to the two Europeans. "They were cleaning up some old vaults in a bank here in Paris. They found the last will and testament of the Viscount de Chagny. You're family, aren't you?"
LeBeau's eyes widened. "Grand-père…" he breathed. But then a scowl crossed his face as he looked at the date on the article. "This article is from a fortnight ago! Why have they not informed my family!? Not even my poor mother is aware, and she is his first-born daughter! My aunt and cousins have said nothing about it—nor any of my siblings! And there was been no mention in the papers here!"
Newkirk frowned, too. "You think they might be trying to line their own greedy pockets…?"
"Sure sounds that way…" said Baker, also not pleased with the developments.
"Let's not be too quick to jump to conclusions…" said Hogan, ever the voice of reason. "It could be that they just want to make sure that everything is in order before they break the news to the family."
"Mon Colonel, you do not understand what this money would mean to my family!" said LeBeau, his emotions in a mix. "Grand-père passed away just before the enemy invaded Paris; they arrived, and everything—his money, his assets—vanished while they were here! They ruined his manor house—it was the house I would spend my weekends in as a child with my siblings and cousins." He sighed, trying to calm down. "If the bank has found Grand-père's money, then it rightfully belongs to me and my family—and my share would be what I need to buy this property in full, without ever having to pay the landlord ever again! That scoundrel keeps trying to raise the rent rates every couple of months; he makes more money every year—and it's all my money… just like how a share of that inheritance is rightfully mine!" He angrily cursed in his own tongue.
"It's really strange that they didn't even bother to tell you, even after two weeks…" said Carter. "There's definitely something funny going on…"
"Oui, but I am not laughing…" said LeBeau, crossing his arms.
"So much for the purpose of our trip…" sighed Kinch. "We came here to see how you were doing with your inheritance."
Hogan thought for a moment. "Then we'll have a new reason for being here—to see justice served to LeBeau and his family."
Newkirk looked up. He recognized Hogan's tone of voice—it was the way he used to speak just before a mission.
"Are you saying what I think you're saying, Colonel?" he asked.
"I'm saying that we're getting to the bottom of this," Hogan said. "Are we all in on this, Men?"
"Of course," said Kinch, with a nod.
"We wouldn't miss it!" said Baker, with a grin.
"You bet your life I'm in!" Carter exclaimed.
"Klink would 'ave to lock me up in the cooler to keep me away," said Newkirk. "And even then I'd find a way out and join you. …Of course, the war's over and it would therefore be impossible for him to do that, but I reckon you know what I mean…"
"So that's how it stands," Hogan said. "We'll head over to that bank as soon as closing time rolls around, and see if we can find answers to some questions." He glanced at the Frenchman. "Is that alright with you, LeBeau?"
"Mes amis…" LeBeau said, overcome with emotion. "This means so much to me and my family. On behalf of them, and on behalf of Grand-père, I thank you all. For what you are going to do, I swear you shall be treated to all you can eat for free whenever you come here! I'll go bring you the soupe du jour… it's bouillabaisse tonight!"
"LeBeau…" said Hogan, not wanting to get his hopes too high. "I think it only fair to warn you that there could be one very good reason why they haven't contacted you—they may not have found the money."
LeBeau gave a wan smile.
"I know, Colonel," he said. "But after all of the missions we've succeeded in completing during the war, I think our chances of fulfilling Grand-père's wishes are much better as a team than if I was going to try myself."
Newkirk gave a nod to his friend. "That's the spirit, Louis."
"Yeah," agreed Carter. "Oh, and LeBeau… do you think you can bring a couple of small escargots for my Venus flytrap? Not too well-done, though; I think they'd prefer them raw, actually…"
"Certainement," LeBeau replied. He headed towards the kitchen before he paused, fully processing Carter's words. He turned back, a confused look on his face. "Did I…?"
Newkirk answered him with a nod. "Yeah, you 'eard right…"
LeBeau blinked, and then returned the nod. "Just checking…"
But he chuckled to himself as he headed back to the kitchens. The possibility of finding his inheritance was good news, but there were other things on his mind. His friends were here, and it would soon be just like old times again.
That was the most important thing.