Disclaimer: Despite the fact that it is Christmas (and Hanukah!), I did not receive Remy, Rogue, or any part of the X-Men under the tree. However I was told that if I put that lump of coal under a lot of pressure eventually I would get a diamond...

Chapter Thirteen: It's Been a Long Day

Remy brought his motorcycle to a stop in a private indoor garage.

"Where are we?" Rogue asked. "Ah didn't see any restaurants around here."

Remy eased off the motorcycle and turned to face her. He tried an inviting grin but Rogue could see a hint of nervousness in the way that he shifted his weight.

Why do Ah have a very bad feeling about this?

"I was t'inking dat, since we probably wanted t' discuss t'ings dat weren't exactly public dat we would need a more secure setting. An' de most secure place in dis city is right here, in m' apartment. So, how about it, Rogue? Dinner at my place?"

Bad idea, Rogue. Baaad idea. Alone with Remy LeBeau in his apartment? Just how much business do ya think you'll actually discuss, hmm?

"Ah understand how your place would be more private," Rogue said. "But how secure can ya actually be in shared apartment building?"

Remy gave her 'the look.' It was the patented, 'if you knew who you were talking to you wouldn't be asking that question' answer that professionals of all spheres of life employed whenever they felt their expertise was being questioned.

"It's secure enough," he said. "An' b'sides. I already put dinner on. Y' don' want t' make all my effort go to waste, do y'?"

Puppy dog eyes. He had to pull the puppy dog eyes. Oh very clever. Yes, you're just an innocent lil' boy all nervous about asking a gal up ta your place… Well, Ah guess he knew that if he pulled his usual seductive act right about now Ah'd hi-jack his bike an' high-tail it out of here…

Rogue knew that she hadn't been able to hide how tense she was; she hadn't even been able to relax during the drive. Remy was evidently willing to try every trick in the book to get her up there. She had to give him points for perseverance and creativity. She never would have imagined the Prince of Thieves giving her puppy dog eyes.

Her sigh was almost involuntary. "What are ya makin'?"

Now really. That painfully excited face is almost overdoing it, Rogue barely held back her smirk as Remy scrunched up the corners of his eyes in hopeful enthusiasm.

"I'm fryin' some catfish and I've put on a pot of m' famous gumbo."

Catfish. Damn. "All right. But don't get any ideas."

His innocent expression melted into the smirk that she was far more familiar with as he grabbed her around the waist and lifted her up off the bike, setting her in front of him.

"Don' worry," Remy said, his hot breath tickling the back of her neck.

Rogue swallowed.

Remy kept his hand on the small of her back and gently escorted her to a private elevator in the corner of the garage.

"'m way past de gettin' stage, chere," his voice was a low rumbling murmur that she felt twist around her stomach. "I get anymore an' I'm liable t' burst."

The elevator dinged shut and Remy pushed the button for the third floor.

Rogue stepped out of his touch. "Ya didn't take the bolt out of your bike."

Remy crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, "Anyone gets in dis building an' manages t' get dat bike wit'out me knowin' deserves it."

The part of Rogue that was always uncomfortable about being involved in an op she hadn't fully planned relaxed a little at his words. Nothing spoke more about the security of the building than Remy's willingness to risk his prized motorcycle.

Ding and the elevator door swooshed open.

"Ladies first," Remy gestured her forward with a flourish.

"You're such a gentleman," Rogue said.

"'bout time ya started noticin' dat," Remy's hand found the small of her back again and he led to the left of the wide and well-lit hallway.

"Dis whole building is Guild property," he commented as they stopped at the first door. "Dis floor belongs to m' family, but I'm de only one dat spends any amount of time in dis city. So I've made it my own; m' home base y' might say."

Remy released his light touch on her back and held his hand out in front of her. He flicked his wrist and suddenly in his hand appeared a lock-pick.

He didn't turn back to her to see if she was impressed with his theatrics, simply turned with a smirk to a small slot beside the door.

"Don' hold much with locks, as a general rule," Remy said as he stuck the hand with the lock picks in the slot. "Security systems are a bit more complicated, but dere's none dat can't be got around. Dis one is a bit of a family specialty. Ya stick your hand in de slot an' while de scanner is matchin' up your hand wit' de records, y' have t' pick de lock of de day. Y' have until de scan is complete, after dat-"

There was an audible click and Remy's door swung open the slightest bit.

"-de system goes into effect. Dere's a small blade in de slot dat comes down at de wrist an' den de rest of de system goes off."

Rogue was irritated at the small sense of relief she felt when Remy pulled his hand out of the slot unscathed.

"Ta-da," Remy said, turning to her with a proud smirk, his lock pick disappearing back up his sleeve.

"That seems a bit excessive for your own home."

"Not at all," Remy said as he opened the door fully. "It's encouragement t' stay at de top of m' game. T'ings can get so boring wit'out a little challenge, don' y' agree?"

"Ah don't think Ah've ever found it necessary ta create mah own challenges," Rogue said.

Remy grinned at her, "Y' should try it sometime. It helps y' to not take de real ones so seriously."

They entered his apartment.

The first word that came to mind when she saw Remy's apartment was 'spacious.' There was a short foyer containing an intricate wrought iron coat rack that immediately bloomed out into two large rooms, separated only by the deviation of floor height. Indented and to her immediate right was a sitting room with inviting leather furniture and a deep plum carpet. There was a closed door in the closest corner of the room, opposite to a modest mahogany bar on the far right of the sitting room. Directly after the bar was an open hallway painted a vibrant shade of red that she could see led into some sort of computer room. There was a metal bar hung across the far opening of the hall. The sitting room was differentiated from the hard wooden floor of the dining room by a small step, and Rogue was not very surprised to see an oval table with intimate place settings and candles just waiting to be lit. The walls of the dining room were a muted gold, but they were hardly noticed over the stunning paintings that were displayed. Rogue wondered briefly if that was an original Monet and then decided it wasn't worth asking the question. Parallel to the dining room table was the kitchen, which was set slightly higher than the dining room itself. The kitchen was large, with plenty of counter space and she could see a full spread of cutlery hung upon the ice-yellow walls.

Five exits, forty-three easily accessible weapons and eight surveillance tapes… Rogue frowned. Even when she was in a situation where she felt fairly comfortable, she just couldn't shut it off. Forty-four. Crack that porcelain lamp on the coffee table and the remnants should be sharp enough ta disembowel… This is just great. Ah'm on mah first real date, in the man's apartment no less an' all Ah can think of his how ta kill him an' escape if necessary.

Remy shut the door after them and tossed his infamous trench coat on the coat rack and turned to her with a genuine smile.

Rogue was so surprised at the lack of smirk that despite her mood she found herself returning it.

"Ya can take dose off now, Rogue," Remy said, gesturing to her gloves.

Then again, considering whose apartment Ah'm in, keeping all mah options open isn't the worst idea Ah've ever had.

"What makes ya think Ah'd want ta do that?" she said.

Remy rolled his eyes and walked over to her, deliberately invading her space.

She looked up at him defiantly.

One side of his mouth twitched upwards as he took her hand in his and then placed it, still gloved, on his cheek. Holding her hand to his face, he leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on her bare forehead.

Rogue shuddered.

His hand left hers to smooth back her hair while his other hand encircled her waist, drawing her gently against him.

His mouth trailed a hot path down to her ear, and he whispered, "Rogue, chere, you're being an idiot." His tongue darted out and briefly caressed her lobe before he bit it gently and then pressed a kiss to it.

She let out a nervous laugh.

He grinned and pulled her closer to him. "Trust m' a little, won't ya?" he whispered, pulling away from her ear to stare into her eyes.

Rogue nodded, a lump forming in her throat. "A little."

He grinned at her again, aching to kiss her lips, but instead he stepped away, and taking her hand in his, removed her glove slowly, finger by finger.

Remy let the glove drop to the floor. "Ya don't need t' wear dese around me. Ever. Comprenez?"

And he lifted her hand to his lips and gently kissed the base of each finger right above the knuckle before turning the hand gently up and placing a kiss in the center of her palm.

Again, Rogue nodded.

"Bien," Remy said. With great reluctance, he released her hand. He was exercising a lot of self control to not just sweep her away then and there. But now that he could touch her, now that she was trusting him, needing him, he was back on more familiar territory. Tonight she would be his, and then he just had to make sure that he would be able to keep her every day after that.

"Have a seat," Remy said as he moved into the kitchen.

"Can Ah do anything ta help?" Rogue found her voice as Remy settled a red apron over his black silk shirt and leather pants.

Remy sent her a scintillating smile, "Non, cherie. Y' just sit back an' relax, let ol' Remy handle t'ings."

"And we're back ta third person," Rogue muttered as she sank into the plush carpet of the sitting area. Must be in case he couldn't make it ta the bedroom, she thought with a twist of her lips. Rogue set her purse down on the glass and walnut coffee table and went to sit in the leather love seat.

"Dere's some wine I took out on de bar in de corner," Remy called from the kitchen.

Wine. As if the situation wasn't volatile enough, let's mix in some alcohol. Wee!

"Actually, Ah'm in the mood for lemonade," Rogue called back. "D'ya have any?"

"Suppose I could make some," Remy's voice came from the kitchen sounding mildly disgruntled.

Rogue smiled to herself. "No, don't trouble yourself. Ah wouldn't want ta put ya out."

She could have sworn she heard muttering all the way from the kitchen, but it was soon drowned out with the loud clanging of pots and pans.

Giving in to temptation, Rogue kicked off her shoes and tucked her feet under her on the chair. Before curling up completely, Rogue reached over to her purse and took out her Smartpad. It wouldn't hurt to go over the information that she had on his case one last time, to try to form some sort of idea of how she was going to present the problem to him…

Remy was whistling. The corner of her mouth turned up; it was cute. She stretched and settled a little more comfortably into the chair.

It was a comfortable chair, she'd give him that. And the noise coming from the kitchen was strangely melodic. And this was the first she had stopped to breathe all day. Before she had consciously made the decision, Rogue stretched out and dropped the Smartpad back on the coffee table. She'd just close her eyes for a little bit. Even if she fell asleep, she knew that she'd wake as soon as someone else entered the room.

And if he complains, well, he asked me ta trust him, didn't he? What better way ta show him that trust than…

When Remy came out to check on his guest, he found that she had fallen asleep on his loveseat. Her hair had fallen in a tumble of white curls across her cheek and what he could see of her face was still vaguely tense and wary. Something about that tugged at his heart--hard. Even when she was asleep, she wasn't able to let down her guard.

De fact dat she would fall asleep at all…

It was almost dinner time, but he'd let her rest until then. After all, he doubted that she could claim the luxury of an afternoon nap. She had been so insistent on getting right back to work…

The warmth that he had been trying so hard to keep away shot through his gut at the memory of exactly how he had persuaded her to stay on the roof just a few more minutes.

Before the temptation to wake Rogue up and see if she was willing to repeat the performance overwhelmed him, Remy idly picked up the clear sheet of plastic near Rogue on the coffee table.

At his touch, the plastic immediately altered, a black screen appeared showing a list of about five subject under the heading "Operation 18."

As fascinating as the transformation of the plastic sheet was, what interested Remy the most was that his name was prominently featured on that list.

He assumed that since Rogue had brought the pad with her and left it out that she meant to show it to him, but who knew what she was going to show him?

Remy shifted to look at her speculatively, noticing that she was lightly grasping a stylus in one hand.

Dat's interesting…

Like any self-respecting thief, he took the stylus dangling from Rogue's hand so smoothly that the sleeping woman didn't even stir.

He settled quietly on the couch next to her and quite unashamedly clicked the stylus onto his name. A short list appeared: "Known Contacts," "Probable actions," and "Recent History."

First t'ings first.

He clicked on "Known Contacts" and was surprised to see a large color photo of himself and a redhead pushed against the side of a building. He noticed that there was a small arrow on the bottom of the screen. Clicking on it revealed another photo, this time revealing only his profile as he had buried his nose in the blonde's hair. He quickly clicked on the next photo and the next to find that each picture captured him and a different girl in various intimate positions.

How did dey get all dese pictures? I don't remember feelin' anyone following me… An' I always know when people are following me!

Remy was staring at the picture in front of him so intensely, thinking back over to when it was taken and trying to figure out who could possibly have taken the photograph that he barely noticed when Rogue came stand beside him. She leaned over him to see what he was looking at.

The last time Remy had felt this uncomfortable he had been ten and his Tante Mattie had caught him stealing her freshly baked pralines.

"Do ya remember her name?" Rogue asked casually.

"No," he said, feeling a little ashamed of himself. It was one thing to sleep with dozens of women. It was another thing to sit across from the woman that you loved and had every intention of making your own as she watched you flip through the pictures of old lovers, half of whom whose name you couldn't even remember. He quickly looked up to catch her reaction.

There was not a flicker of pain or jealousy. Her face was completely blank, mildly understanding.

He glanced back down of the picture of him necking with some brunette. He felt a little sick. Some part of him warned that her blank face would cause more trouble than a thousand temper tantrums, but he didn't know how to head it off.

"Dis is awkward," he said.

Rogue cocked an eyebrow.

"Don' usually go t'rough a list of m' past lovers on de first date," Remy attempted to joke.

"Ah didn't realize that ya often bothered with dates," Rogue said, stepping away from him and sliding back into the love seat, her face still utterly placid.

"Y' jealous, chere?" He wasn't exactly sure what he expected her response to be, but he wanted the conversation on more familiar territory. He wanted her jealous, stirred up, yelling at him. Anything was better than this unnatural calm.

"Ah don't have any reason ta be," she said with a wry twist of her lips and a slight shrug of her shoulders.

Remy was about to challenge her response when the beeping of the oven timer interrupted them.

"Time for dinner," Remy said. He slid the pad onto the coffee table then stood up, offering his arm. "Shall we?"

Rogue nodded and stood as well, walking past his extended arm into the dining room.

Translations: comprenez: Understand, Bien: Good

AN: Merry Christmas! I'm sorry, this is shorter than I wanted, which means the date will probably need an extra chapter, but the good news is that I should be able to deliver it to you some time next week! (Assuming the pesky problem with my computer is fixed by then. For some strange reason, my laptop isn't receiving energy from the cord without severe encouragement. Looks like it's time for a return trip to Best Buy…) Check my profile for anticipated update information and other news. Apologies for how long it's taken me to update this story, for fan fiction I've been working almost exclusively on "A Comedy of Letters." But now they are both at an even place of interest for me (which is very) and also about a similar level of difficulty (which is hard), so you can expect more even-handed updates. And Happy Holidays, everyone! (If I didn't get to your review tonight, I'll do it in the morning. If you reviewed anonymously, check my profile in the afternoon on the 26th! Thanks again for letting me know what you think, guys. Feedback is very much appreciated.)
Fav line: Then again, considering whose apartment Ah'm in keeping all mah options open isn't the worst idea Ah've ever had.