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Free for a Second
They made a pit stop in the small town of Vienna, VA. He
gassed up the car, and made a quick call ahead to reserve
rooms at the hotel they would be stopping at further along
the way. Then he drove across the street to the nearest fast
food joint. Pulling into the drive-through he gently nudged
He continued to shake her gently until she responded.
"You wan anytin' to eat?"
She had shut her eyes already.
She rolled her head toward him but kept her eyes shut.
"Mmmm..no........not hungry."...and she was asleep
Slipping on his shades he ordered something for her anyway.
They wouldn't be stopping for a long while.
The monotonous scenery of farms and cows had given way to
an even more stimulating ceaseless procession of trees. At
least for awhile he'd had a rather wide array of radio stations
to play with, although the country selection was still crap.
Flipping between two rock stations and the local alternative
one, he came across some nostalgia inducing songs from the
80's around noontime and gladly lost himself in old hedonistic
memories. But eventually those stations faded out and only
finding something barely tolerable once every 10 minutes he
decided to just turn the radio off all together.
Sabine moaned in her sleep and Remy shifted his attention
to her. A frown hung on her face but within seconds, disappeared
as she settled back into rhythmic breathing. Remy turned back
to the road, yet the image of her visage remained foremost
in his mind. She was, simply put, beautiful. The most breathtaking
woman he'd ever seen, and he'd seen more than most men alive.
Her face was almost perfect. But it wasn't the near perfection
of her features that occupied his thoughts at the moment,
but rather, what made them fall short. The swollen eyes, gashed
forehead and split lips. Unconsciously he gripped the wheel
tighter in anger, grinding his teeth as he thought .
From that moment they'd shared in the senator's mansion he
knew that whoever she'd been working for, she had never stood
a chance resisting them. Somehow he had felt the years of
intimidation, of threats and bullying and worse. He'd felt
her hopelessness, her acceptance that maybe there was no way
out but death. He also felt her strong, though fading, desire
to keep on living, despite the hell that was everyday life.
He could identify with that pain all too well. Maybe that
was why he wanted to help her, because he had once known the
situation she was in. But even though those days were past
for him, he would do everything in his power to help her,
because if he managed to escape, she had that ghost of a chance
Inwardly he laughed at himself. What made him so protective
of this woman? A capable and lethal assassin? Maybe it was
just that he felt she'd been dealt a rougher hand than he
had. She was so distrustful of good intentions, illustrating
that she had never been witness to them before. The bruises
that marred her face and body, which he guessed were not the
first, mirrored her abused and wounded soul. She'd never had
a prayer and it made him sick. He reached over to stroke her
cheek. He would get her out of this somehow, if it was the
only worthwhile thing he ever did.
With a little under 3 hours left to go, Remy found himself
left with little distraction. His mind drifted back to the
times when he was like Rogue, forced into a situation he didn't
want to comply with...He'd been a thief, all his life. His
clan, his family; they were all thieves. But they were different,
they stole from the rich, and helped the poor whenever they
Kind of like Robin Hood.
Remy smiled at that little term that his father always used.
He changed gears and went a mite faster. There was a time
when he'd hide in the alleys and shiver in fear, both for
himself and his family. For a moment, a flash of cold hatred
grazed past his eyes, but the venom disappeared as soon as
he remembered that his family was safe, and he had made sure
that things would stay that way for a long while yet.
Nothing else mattered...
There it glittered before them, a glowing glass city that
shimmered like molten gold against the backdrop of an indigo
blue night sky and the black shadow outline of the Smoky Mountains.
After over 10 hours of driving, Remy was never so glad to
see Knoxville in all his life. Approximately the halfway mark
to their final destination, Knoxville was ideal for hiding
He was familiar with the city and though it was not as southern
as he liked, it offered a nice mix of urban and Southern culture.
But more importantly, it was big enough to get lost in, and
if somehow Portman found them, it was too public and populous
for him to risk making a scene in. As they drove down Henley
Street towards the hotel, Rogue began to stir awake.
"Perfect timing petite," he informed her as she
came fully awake.
She stretched painfully and looked out the window.
"Where are we?"
"Knoxville, Tennessee. We gon' stay here for a spell."
Remy responded with a grin and pointed out the windshield.
Towering in front of them, sparkling like a disco ball, stood
the Knoxville Exposition and Convention Center.
Having pulled the car into the safely of the parking garage,
he carefully unpacked a few items from one of his duffel bags.
They changed clothes in the car. He into a black silk shirt,
velvet jacket and leather pants, Rogue from his tattered trench
coat she'd been wearing over her underwear to a long black
dress coat with a hood. It was a man's coat, but cinching
it at the waist, one could hardly tell.
Remy slipped a spare pair of sunglasses on her, and stepped
back to access their appearance. Now they resembled young
spoiled celebrities rather than a couple on the run. Satisfied,
he returned the duffel bag to the trunk and began rummaging
through what looked like the world's largest billfold. In
it Rogue saw hundreds of what looked like fake IDs, counterfeited
and stolen credit cards and wads of cash. Finding what he
was looking for, he produced a smaller wallet and inserted
a driver's license, social security card, 2 credit cards and
a handful of bills.
She favoured him with a questioning look.
"De license and social security card is fake,"
he told her "Dey made to match de credit cards which
He drew up beside her and encircled her waist with his arm.
"I know dis gon' be rough, but you gon' have to try
and walk normal as possible once we git inside de hotel '
til we reach de room."
"Ah can manage. " she informed him. "Ah feel
much better than Ah did this mornin'. That sleep did a world
Still, she leaned into him lightly as they walked, just to
"Dat's good chere. At most dey tink you jus bin hittin
"Marvellous." she said, dead-panned. A question
tugged at her mind, and chewing her lip, she decided to voice
it. "Are those cards gonna work? Ah mean wouldn't they
have been reported stolen or something by now?"
"Nah. I took dem from de mansion of some rich bastard
on vacation. He had so many damn cards, he left dese and bout
10 others behind." He shook his head in disgust. "He
ain't even gon return from Europe for a month and it probably
be another month fore he even notices de tings I stole. But
don' you worry, I only use de cards once. Keeps trails to
a minimum dat way. You talkin' to a pro here,"
They reached the lobby and Rogue relaxed in a plush chair
while Remy checked them in. Boarding the elevator they began
to ascend to their floor.
"You really gon like dis. I got us VIP treatment 'n
She gave him a look that read 'You must be out of your mind'.
He beamed back at her nonchalantly.
"But chere, it be de only way to go!"
Remy slid the electric key into the lock and opened the door
. They both let out a deep breath upon entering and Remy swept
Sabine up into his arms and carried her through the parlor
and into the bedroom.
"Ah do have feet, ya know."
"Don tell me you not enjoyin dis." came his quick
retort and she shut up.
Though she was feeling much stronger now, the trek to the
room had tired her a bit and she was grateful to be reclining
again. Remy strode to the phone and called the concierge requesting
a bell boy.
"What's the game plan sugar?" she asked as he hung
"I figure we hol up here for a few days. You heal and
git a bit more rest. I gotta contact some people, send word
A knock at the door heralded the bell boy's arrival. Ushering
him in, Remy told him where they were parked and the make
of the car and sent him to retrieve the rest of their "luggage."
"Don't worry, de doors be unlocked. De bags are in de
trunk, jus lock up when you done."
He handed the boy a fifty dollar bill. The young man's eyes
widened and with an enthusiastic "Yes sir!" he was
"You hungry petite?"
"A bit, yeah."
Inspecting the contents of the room's refrigerator, Remy
returned to the bedroom with some fresh fruit and juice. Stiffly
he sat down on the bed.
"Man, I'm sore. Anoder hour in dat car an I wouldn't
be able to move."
He handed her some food. She thanked him and they ate in
silence. The bell boy returned shortly and Remy tipped him
"Thank you sir."
"'Tink noting of it." He replied smoothly. "We
'preciate good service."
"If there is anything else you require further sir,
don't hesitate to ask. Just call the concierge and ask for
Jonathan and I will be more than happy to oblige."
"Tank you Jonathan. I remember dat."
With the boy gone, Remy finally removed his sunglasses and
Rogue followed suit. She could see through his sluggish movements
just how drained he was. He had pushed himself and his resouces
to the limit to save their asses, and now he seemed to have
one wheel down and the axle dragging. Sitting down on the
bed, his back to her, Remy leaned over rigidly to remove his
shoes. Rogue felt a frustrating guilt for not having been
able to contribute, even more so because she was responsible
for this situation. She watched as Remy arched his back uncomfortably,
a sharp intake of air punctuating his pain. There was something
she could do for him, if she could muster up the determination.
Pursing her lips, she decided he deserved some quid pro quo.
Cautiously she reached toward him, experimentally moving her
hands around his back. Surprised at the unexpected contact,
Remy did his best to kept from starting, not wanting to scare
her off. Her touch became increasingly firm as she became
more comfortable, her hands now running over the full length
of his back, expertly seeking out the tensed muscles. She
found the main culprits just above the shoulder blades and
masterfully began to knead at the knots. He let out a murmur
of approval, visibly relaxed.
"How you know how to do dat so well, chere?'
"Was trained how." she began in a soft low voice,
her eyes overcast in thought, words spilling out of her unconsciously.
"In case we got a cramp in, or a partner did while on
a mission. Had to know how to get rid of it immediately, before
it cost us. Occasionally we used it on our..."
She stopped abruptly, her eyes now clear and focused. She
had been about to say "targets," but had caught
herself before it slipped out. What in the world had made
her tell him all that? She'd been paying to much attention
to what she was doing and not enough to what she was saying.
Or thinking for that matter. She forced herself to pull away
abruptly and cleared her throat.
"Why don'cha get some rest, Remy? You look beat."
"Oh, I be plannin on it Rogue. But der be a few tings
I gotta get squared away first."
He exited into the parlor and Rogue could hear him talking
on the phone to what she could only assume were his contacts.
She also heard him call the concierge and ask for Jonathan,
but she couldn't make out what he was saying. A short while
later he returned to the bedroom.
"Well now , if you 'cuse moi, I believe I'm gon freshen
up." He turned on the TV and handed her the remote. She
flashed Remy a grateful smile which seemed to please him.
With a fresh change of clothes he headed for the bathroom.
Sabine finished off her juice and raided the fridge for more
food. She was happy to have gained her appetite back. It was
a good sign that she was healing quickly. She was eager to
be self-reliant again. Sitting back on the bed she flipped
through the channels letting her mind drift.
Remy emerged from the bathroom in a pair of jeans and a simple
white tee shirt that, though not skin tight, could not conceal
the well toned muscles of his torso. As he toweled off his
hair there was a knock at the door. Grinning he put on his
She heard Jonathan's voice from the other room and became
quite curious as to what they were discussing. She put on
"Oui, dat's magnifique,. You do good work, mon homme."
She heard the rattle of dishes and Jonathan became visible
in the doorway pushing an overstocked tea service into the
parlor. He smiled at her and disappeared. Pushing the tea
service to the bedside Remy handed her a gift box.
"Figured maybe you might want to freshen up as well.
Dis will have to do 'til we can git you some more clothes."
She opened the box and pulled out an elegant silk night gown
and matching silk robe. It was a deep violet and sleeveless
to provide easy access to her wounds.
"It's...nice," she murmured in a odd tone he couldn't
quite figure out. She rose and held the garment somewhat unfemininely
up to herself. He frowned and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothin'." She couldn't recall having been given
a gift before besides her gun and she had to earn that. She
didn't know quite how to receive it. Remy took her silence
to mean that she was uneasy with the intimacy of the gift.
He hadn't meant to imply anything by it, just wanted to give
her something as lovely as she was, something he thought she'd
appreciate. Maybe it had been a bad idea.
"Look, you no like it you I lend you one o'my tee shirts
and a pair a sweatpants and I'll wear it. Violet is one o'my
best colors." He reached to take the gown but she snatched
it away, pressing it close to herself. She looked like a child
who was ready for someone to try and take her favorite toy.
SO she does like it he thought amusedly, pleased.
"With those broad shoulders? It just wouldn't look right
on you. Not to mention the chest hair."
"And jus what about my chest hair,'tite?"
He had her smiling again and she decided to end this silly
"Thank you." She picked up the robe and spoke hastily.
"Now Ah believe its my turn to go get cleaned up . Wouldn't
wanna get this dirty."
She shrugged off his help as she limped to the bathroom.
With great difficulty she washed her hair in the sink, gritting
her teeth against protesting muscles. Wrapping a towel around
her head, she hesitated, debating what to do next. She couldn't
imagine how she would get out of her sports bra. Pulling it
off over her head would be next to impossible with her injured
shoulder and ribs. Cutting herself out of it seemed to be
the best solution and rummaging through Remy's toiletry kit
she found a pair of scissors that would do the trick.
Carefully she began to cut at her sports bra. Once fully
disrobed she removed the rest of the bandages and turned on
the shower. She relaxed on the seat built into the wall of
the shower letting a light midst run over her body for a few
moments. Taking the soap and a washcloth, she bent to scrub
away the accumulated grime from her body.
By the time she was dressed in the night gown she found herself
thoroughly exhausted. Water ran freely from her now loosened
hair and dampened he silk. Grabbing a towel and brush she
exited the bathroom. Remy having eaten his fill, was stretched
out on the bed watching a late night talk show. He turned
toward her, the corners of his mouth curving up as he caught
sight of her.
"Yes, much," she replied, sitting down on the bed
and clumsily attempting to dry her hair.
He snickered at her antics.
"Here, let me do dat." "Ah'll do it mahsalf,
if it's all the same to you" she all but snapped, indignant
at being treated like a child for the hundredth time that
"Fine, you go 'head then."
He sat there, a smug look on his face, as she tried to no
avail to dry her hair with one arm.. Her aggravation increased
as she dropped the towel several times. Remy had turned back
to the TV, pretending not to notice, but she knew he was enjoying
this. Failing one last time to ring out her hair and only
succeeding in creating more tangles, her temper erupted.
Dammit!" she hissed and he laughed aloud.
She glared daggers at him.
"Fine! You do it!" she pegged the towel at his
head. His smile faded. She was like an abused dog that snuggled
up to you and then without warning snapped for no reason.
And he was losing patience.
Slowly he moved into a sitting position behind her. Though
irritated at her attitude, he took the towel and brush, and
gently massaged her head, ringing as much excess water from
her hair as he could. Then he tenderly brushed her hair out,
never once pulling it. Though she sat with her arms crossed
defiantly over her chest, she closed her eyes, privately enjoying
the tingling sensation his touch caused her. Her anger abated
"Why do Ah git the impression ya have done this before?"
"I don't know what you mean choue," he said with
She let out a soft chuckle. She really had no call to treat
him so harshly. If only the jerk wouldn't baby her so damn
much. He rose and retrieving his medical kit, redressed her
"Dey look good. Healin' well," he managed between
"Remy, you are too much," she breathed sleepily,
by way of an apology as she slid under the covers.
"I take dat as a compliment," he said as he switched
off the bedside lamp.
"That's how it was meant sugar."
In the dark she could hear the rustle of cloth and assumed
he was changing into his sleepwear.
"You almost friendly when you fed and clean." he
yawned. "Almost. Tink I like you better dat way."
he chided, slipping into the bed.
"Ah'll be freakin' Barney in a week you keep this up,
Cajun." She retorted sarcastically.
"DAT may be goin a bit far." he answered and snuggling
beneath the covers he whispered a soft goodnight.
"Sleep tight, Remy." she whispered back, secretively
ashamed that treating someone with respect, the courtesy they'd
earned and deserved, was so difficult for her. Silently she
pledged she would try and ease up on him a bit. Then closing
her eyes, fell into a light slumber.
Continued in Chapter
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