Dalliance of War

Day Three, 8th Hour, 26th Minute

Rogue was fuming. She stared out over her car door, nails tapping evenly on the top. She could practically feel the smirk aimed at her back.

"Something the matter, chère?"

She whirled on him. "Oh, don't you give me that!" Rogue narrowed her eyes dangerously.

Remy merely returned a smug smile, one hand lazily guiding the wheel. He reached out with one finger and flicked the radio back on.

She cringed at the blare of rock music blasting out from the speakers. "You're a jerk. You know that?" She hit the button for Program 7 and lowered the volume.

"Backstreet Boys?" He glanced at her pityingly. "Tu sais, you have no taste in music, chèrie."

"You're the one that's tone deaf." Rogue slouched down in the seat, crossing her arms. She noticed him stealing a look. "Eyes on the road, swamp rat!"

He reached out and changed the station back to his but left the volume low. "Got a plan?" he asked. The fingers of his left hand flexed, and she figured he was craving a cigarette. "'Cause there's at least one thing they're bound to notice."

She looked at him warily. "Oh?"

His red eyes burned brighter for a moment as he shot her a pointed look. "My eyes, chère. I ain't wearing shades in the church."

Rogue leaned over, changed the station back to hers, and cranked the volume, watching as he winced. "Don't then."

His jaw suddenly tightened and set. He kept his gaze steady on the road ahead.

Something twinged inside her as she studied him and she found she couldn't look away, instead wandering her gaze over the hard planes of his face, the fixed intentness with which he drove, the gleaming, ember-like quality of the liquid red glow of his irises. They were sharp and burning against the black. She looked lower at the tenseness in his broad shoulders, the way his shirt fell against his muscled chest, the alertness, the guardedness.

Her eyes flicked upward again. "You got a problem with that?" She felt pleased at how strong her voice sounded. She thought for a moment it would fail her.

He jerked one shoulder in a shrug. She had the distinct feeling he was angry at something.

"I don't care what they think," she said.

Remy laughed. It was a short, sharp sound, but his cocky smirk was back as he glanced over at her. "If you didn't care, you wouldn't be bringing me along."

"Oh?" She raised a brow.

"Oui." He switched the station.

Rogue cringed beneath the onslaught of a heavy bass drum. "Remy!" She lowered the volume and switched it back to hers.

"Plan," he repeated patiently.

She huffed at him and crossed her arms again. "I do have a plan," she stated icily.

He hummed appreciatively and moved one hand in a "go on" gesture.

Rogue said nothing.

Remy glanced at her, then gave her a wolfish grin, eyes brightening. "Do tell, ma maîtresse." It was a challenge, a dare, a gauntlet thrown in the most seductive, flirtatious voice he had used with her to date. He winked at her and a slight flush burned her cheeks.

If he didn't have such a good point, she wouldn't, just for spite. But he did. If she didn't convince him to play nice, then the whole thing would go down the drain. She sighed heavily.

He changed the station.

"You blasted swamp rat!"

She reached for the radio, but he was in her way, holding one hand over the controls while driving with the other and looking straight ahead. She batted at his hand, but it remained. She growled. He chuckled.

"Glad you find this so amusing," she bit out sarcastically.

His hand moved quickly, winding around hers in an unexpected gesture and holding it between them.

Rogue stared at him, speechless. Finally, she pulled together a shred of composure. "What are you doing?"

"Calming you down," he said. "You're always so tense. Just relax."

She regained her head and squirmed her fingers in his. His thumb traced a soothing circle on the back of her hand, but his grip was firm and did not let her go.

"Let go of me, Remy."


She sighed in exasperation. "You're impossible." With her free hand, she reached out and hit the button for her station.

His chuckle rumbled out again, and she despairingly realized she actually enjoyed the sound.

"Remy..." She tugged on her captured hand again.

"Plan," he tossed back. "I need to know, chèrie."

She subsided, gradually giving in to the realization that he wasn't going to let go and this warm feeling and every spike of discomfort his rubbing her hand incited wasn't going to go away.

He killed the radio. "Well?"

Rogue huffed and outlined the basic details of her campaign, not the least of which involved careful avoidance of skin on skin contact and conversation safe from unpleasant topics. She was about to tell him what she wanted him to do when he suddenly released her hand in surprise.

"That's a plan?" Remy gave her a horrified look, which promptly settled into stubborn disapproval. "Mine was better."

"It's a good plan!" she protested and crossed her arms again, now that she could.

He snorted disbelief.

"You know, swamp rat, you're not the only one that can come up with a plan." Rogue fixed him with an unhappy, narrow-eyed gaze.

He shook his head, undrawn. Then a gleam came into his eye. "How about this?"

She listened, horrified at the colorful description of his imagined visit with her family.

She sputtered. "Absolutely not! They'd think... I can't believe you!"

"Ah, chère." He was grinning like a little kid at Christmas. "That's a plan. They wouldn't even be concerned about your mutation."

"No! They'd be too worried about my innocence, you idiot!" Her usually extensive collection of disparaging names for him had dried up and given way to less ambiguous standbys. Her volume went up as she got more and more upset. "I will never let you put your hands anywhere near there, you good-for-nothing, skirt-chasing—"

Remy slid one finger across her lips and winked at her. "We all know how you really feel."

Her eyes narrowed at him and her mouth tightened into a frown. "Remind me to kill you sometime," she said.

"Désolé, chèrie. I'm all booked." His appreciative grin said otherwise.

She turned the radio back on but conceded to lowering the volume—slightly. Keeping her eyes averted made it easier to drop her next line. "And if I said to remind me to sleep with you sometime?"

"I'm sure I could reschedule a few things." Remy gave her a once-over that put a light burn in her cheeks.

Was she really flirting with the most infamous player in the mansion?

No. She wasn't. She was still angry at him, she decided, and lifted her chin. She delivered her words with haughty condenscension. "I'm sure."

But she was smiling as she turned away.

So was he.

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