Battle Lines

Day Three, 17th Hour, 42nd Minute

"Someone just dig a hole and bury me now," Rogue muttered beneath her breath.

Going to a restaurant after church sounded like a good idea, but at the rate her day was going, Rogue felt she'd be glad to make it out alive. Stopping to eat was just inviting trouble.

Remy leaned in closer and whispered against her ear, "Non, ma chérie. I like you better up here with me."

He smirked at her and she smiled sweetly up at him for her parents' benefit. But when he offered his arm, she gripped it tight enough to hurt.

They went in separate cars and parked next to each other. Rogue spent the short trip over telling Remy all the things he was absolutely not to do while he smirked at her silently. She eyed him warily, fairly certain he'd do whatever he pleased.

"You're supposed to be helping me," she reminded him.

"Oui, ma chère." The smirk in his voice assured her that his definition of helping her would not be at all similar to hers. He pulled the key from the ignition. "Shall we?"

She let him open the door for her, help her out of the car under her mother's watchful gaze, and managed to give him another jab with her elbow while she was at. "Behave yourself!" she hissed under her breath.

He was too close, too touchy feely. He'd managed to wrap his arm around her again as he walked her in.

"Relax, chère. I got this."

Her father frowned at her when they got in the door. "Haven't seen you in ages and I haven't even got a hug."

Rogue stiffened slightly, but she tugged at Remy's arms to do so. Remy seemed reluctant to let her go. She gave him an annoyed glance, but Remy had his gaze fixed on Owen, and even through the shades, she could see he didn't like her father's request.

Priscilla shooed them forward to settle in at a table, temporarily avoiding the topic.

"Now, let's see!" she said cheerily. "Carrie, what looks good on the menu?"

Aunt Carrie obligingly looked.

Rogue gave Remy a puzzled look as he snugged her in between him and the window opposite her parents. He picked up a menu and flipped it open.

"So you two are friends?" her father demanded in his booming voice.

Rogue nodded. She could feel herself blushing though as Remy looked toward her with a slight frown. She cursed mentally. How did he manage to make everything seem as if they were more? They weren't. Not even close. As far as that went, they weren't even friends!

Her mother fixed her with a knowing look, but mercifully changed the subject. "Let's get ourselves some roasted vegetables and have a chat, shall we?"

Owen grudgingly left off his staring contest with Remy and engaged on getting himself a more manly dinner—like steak and potatoes. It had been a constant when she lived with her parents before a rocky time in their relationship—ostensibly not related to Rogue, but she knew better—when Aunt Carrie came to live with them. Aunt Carrie frowned deeply at her father's order.

"You shouldn't travel across the country with only a man," her father continued, ignoring his wife's sister and using his reasonable tone of voice. He gave Rogue a disapproving look. "It doesn't give a good impression. People might think things."

Remy draped his arm easily across Rogue's shoulders before she had a chance to respond. "Oh? What kinds of things?" he asked with a wicked grin.

"Remy!" Rogue whispered fiercely.

But Owen and Aunt Carrie were already scowling, but Priscilla was laughing and it brought a tentative smile to Rogue's face.

"She's a grown girl," Priscilla said. "She can take care of herself. Besides..." She winked at Rogue and the smile puttered out. "It must be nice to have a boyfriend again."

Rogue's cheeks must have been flaming scarlet. She felt like she was on fire and Remy's smug smirk did nothing to help.

"He's not my boyfriend," she protested weakly.

She went unheard. Her family were already arguing back and forth about the issue.

"I'm just glad you came to your senses and got the Cure," Aunt Carrie said, changing the subject with finality. She took a bite of pancake.

Remy's grip on Rogue's shoulder tightened noticeably. She tried not to wince—at either of them.

"If they'd had it sooner—" Rogue started.

"I'm sure you would've taken it," her mother interjected, always the peacemaker. "It just takes medicine so long to fix anything nowadays. They're still working on cancer."

Owen nodded grudgingly but still casting a wary eye on Remy's encircling arm.

Rogue looked back and forth at the people around her, people that should've supported her when she found out just how terrible her mutation was and hadn't, people that—. She stopped that train of thought and glanced at Remy instead. He was unreadable and silent behind his shades. She didn't know whether to be angry or relieved.

She took a sip of her iced tea. "Yeah."

Day Three, 18th Hour, 18th Minute

Rogue dismissed herself from the table a little bit later and went into the ladies room, ostensibly to clean up, always a safe excuse. She leaned her back against a stall door and covered her face with her hands.

Even Remy couldn't seem to keep them off that topic. All her life, she'd grown up in a bit of a minefield between her parents and her aunt, but after she'd gotten her mutation, everything just went on a greased slide towards impossible. So she ran away. Her mother seemed to be all right getting letters, seemed to think this was some sort of disease that Rogue would hunt the whole wide world for a cure for before coming home the same way she was before.

And she nearly had. She nearly had.

Rogue brushed the tears off her cheeks and hurried out to the sink to wash her face. She could do this. She was Rogue. She could make it through this visit.

She looked up into the mirror and nearly screamed.

She whirled around and slammed Remy in the chest with her fist. "This is a girl's bathroom, you swamp rat! What do you think you're doing in here?" She would have yelled at him, but she definitely didn't want her family knowing he was in here—or anybody else for that matter.

Remy just chuckled at her, smirking, red eyes glowing. He'd pulled off his shades. "Ain't the first time I've been in one of these," he said. "'Course, I'm usually doing something much more...interesting." His eyes ran indecently over her figure.

She reached up to slap him hard, but he caught her wrist in one hand. He looked down at her, suddenly serious.

"You okay, Rogue?"

Rogue stared at him. "You came in here to ask if I'm okay? I can't believe you!" she raged.

He sighed. "Come on."

She struggled to free her arm, but he held her fast as he headed toward the door.

"We're going to talk about school, only school. You got that?" He glanced at her sharply. "They want you to go back to Mississippi with them."

She stopped cold in her tracks. "What?"

Remy shrugged and fingered his sunglasses out of a pocket and slipped them on. "Unless you want to tell them you're still a mutant, I suggest you follow my lead." He led her back toward the table.

Rogue glared at his back. Like he knew her family better than she did!

He waited for her to slide in before him.

She'd follow his lead, all right. She smiled up at him sweetly, and for the first time since they'd met up with her family, he hesitated before smiling back.

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