Le Calvaire du Shopping à l'Américaine

Day One, 15th Hour, 39th Minute

"They're late," Rogue snapped as she slid into the passenger seat of Remy's car.

"Ah, chère. They'll be here soon." He couldn't resist grinning at her despite her irritation. But nine minutes after classes let out wasn't that much after school.

She gave him the emerald death glare.

Remy grinned like a Cheshire cat. The first rule he'd learned about bluffing the opposition was never lose your cool. He'd already lost it more than once in this crazy bet, but he didn't intend on doing it again.

Rogue suddenly turned toward him and, narrowing her eyes, looked him over carefully. Then she sighed. "You'll do."

He raised both eyebrow. "Excusez-moi?"

Just then, the girls decided to appear. Emma would not do if he guessed Rogue's standards even somewhat correctly. Her top could hardly be called one. Jubilee was swinging a HUGE purse excitedly and chattering nonstop to Kitty who had a sizable amount of shopping bags.

"The stores give you bags here, non?" he asked, indicating Kitty.

Rogue laughed. "She's on a green thing. Reusable canvas."

"And she'll do, chère?" He pointed at Emma as the White Queen entered the back seat.

"I will always do," Emma said with a royal wave.

Rogue smiled lazily. "I wouldn't push it with her, Swamp Rat. Oh, and no stealing?"

It was worded as a question but it certainly wasn't one. He cranked up the stereo. Rogue cringed at the blast of rockiness that came blaring out.

She killed it. "No music today." Then glared at him. "And no smoking."

He clenched his jaw, popped on his shades, and answered, "No problem."

Day One, 16th Hour, 3rd Minute

Living this close to the mall with Jubilee had to be a health hazard. First of all, he thought he was good at getting through a crowd? He had nothing on Firecracker in her determined march through the masses into the mall entrance to Macy's. He kept up only by grabbing hold of a female, since the shoppers seemed to decide that only females belonged, which meant getting continually slapped by Emma and Rogue (and she slapped hard!) since Kitty would just phase away.

"So grabby today," Emma said inside the store as she coolly evaluated a skimpy camisole top. "I thought you liked shopping."

"He likes thieving," Rogue corrected.

Jubilee didn't bother to comment or ask. She merely decided that better things were in another section, "See you girls!" and yanked Remy by his duster in the appropriate direction.

Remy struggled to maintain his balance as she continued her Juggernaut-style march into the Women's night clothes section.

"Petite, are you sure I'm the best companion for this part?"

Firecracker turned and gave him the chocolate death glare. "I need help picking some PJs that don't advertise sex, but do look cute," she replied with a miffed, turned up nose.

"I don't know, petite," he answered smoothly. "I rather like those teddy bear pants you've got going."

His whole body tingled and felt incredibly weird as Kitty phased through him to reach Jubilee. "Nonsense," the phaser said breezily. "That's not the kind of cute we're going for."

Girls and their definitions of cute. They must have had a million. He groaned internally, but made himself lounge comfortably in the chair next to the dressing room. He sized Jubilee up.

"No sex, hein?"

Emma breezed by. "Of course not! She's far too young!"

Jubilee's chin came up.

"But this..." Emma fingered a white negligee. She started flipping for her size.

"Where's Rogue?" Remy glanced around for her.

"Whoa! Remy!" Firecracker waved her hand in front of his face. "You're supposed to be helping me!"

He turned back. "Oui." He glided out of his chair, pulling on the charm, and fished up a silky black tank top and matching long pants in her size. "Try these."

She stared at them, eyes wide. "They don't say sex?"

Emma glanced over. "Definitely not."

Kitty grinned. "They come close though," she squealed. "Try them on."

"This was not what I had in mind," Rogue said harshly.

Remy turned to her and saw she had her arms crossed and her eyes sparkled more than usual. If he wasn't mistaken, she was about five minutes away from tears.

"Perhaps there was something else you needed, non?" He slipped his arm around her waist and she blinked in surprise as he led her away from the lingerie. "I'm having too much fun; not enough punishment," he said as excuse.

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Oh?"

Anything for a femme, right?

"I'm sure you'll fix that," he added reassuringly.

"I'm sure I will, Swamp Rat." She shoved his hands away and led on.

But he grinned. She had been grateful somewhere deep in that femme heart. Then he winced. She'd probably make him pay for that too.

Day One, 16th Hour, 52nd Minute

"Makeup!" cried Jubilee with an unwavering excitement that had Remy groaning.

This was their third store and he was already loaded down with about eighteen bags. Emma hung her handbag on his arm and began to appraise the models cynically. Make that nineteen.

He decided to count to a hundred in French to help himself get through this. He never carried this much at a go.

Rogue merely grinned at him as she fingered an expensive perfume. A gleam came into her eye.

Mon Dieu. What would she think of next?

"Remy, come over here," she drawled.

He obeyed grudgingly.

"I need to pick out a perfume for the party next week."


She put a gloved finger to her lips. "Kitty's birthday."

The surprise party. He'd forgotten in all the fuss of the bet.

"Oui. And how can I help you, chère?"

She picked up two testers. "Temptation or Erotica?"

He raised both eyebrows. "You, ma chère, are both."

Her startled flush warmed him, but then she narrowed her eyes again. "But I have to pick one." She sighed and slid her gloves off carefully.

Remy swallowed but maintained a calm expression. He'd never seen Rogue without her gloves on and it was, well, erotic.

She spritzed the first tester on one wrist and held it out with a raised eyebrow. He sniffed appreciatively.

"The other." He handed her the second bottle.

She used it on her other wrist and held that out.

He tilted his head appraisingly. "Erotica."

"Did you just pick her perfume?" Jubilee asked excitedly.

He groaned inwardly.

Rogue smiled wickedly. "I'm sure he'd be more than happy to help you two as well."

"Really?" Kitty manufactured the widest smile he'd ever seen on a fille's face.

Day One, 18th Hour, 17th Minute

At 6:17 p.m., he stumbled out of the mall drenched in the smell of twelve different perfumes and carrying about fifty bags from different stores. He managed to get them into the trunk just barely.

Rogue smiled at him as she slid gracefully into the passenger seat. "We should do this again."

"Oh, totally!" Jubilee enthused as Kitty nodded vigorously.

"I rather enjoyed it," Emma condescended to say.

Remy desperately needed a smoke.

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