|Don't Let Me Fall Again 6/?
||[Dec. 30th, 2011|05:28 pm]
Azazel & Riptide's Kingdom
|||||The kitchen island||]|
|||||"Words I Never Said" - Lupe Fiasco||]|
Title: Don't Let Me Fall 6/?
Warnings: Discussions of violence, sexual situations
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the Marvel corporation and express no ownership over it or the characters used. I profit in no way from this use.
Summary: To be with someone is to accept them for all that makes them who they are. But there is a difference between knowing what a man is capable of, and seeing it. When Janos' past becomes a part of his present, he is confronted with a side of Azazel he wishes he'd never seen.
A/N Oh wow, I do not think people will like this chapter. It's quite long though, if that helps. It's over seven thousand words. See, I do care!
Angel took both girls upstairs, where Emma was waiting with a bath already drawn. Mystique was readying two beds. The girls went with the women, and though Lehnsherr looked as though he wanted to speak to Janos now, he waved them both off, cradling his temple in his palm. A headache then, Janos thought.
The little girl, Neena, his brother had called her, had wrinkled the lapels of his jacket, and stained the lining. It was ruined.
He found he didn't much mind. He didn't think he ever would have worn this suit again anyway.
“We will get you a new one.” Azazel said, discarding his own stained jacket without care when they reached the room. “I could take you to Italy, maybe? Or England. You liked the tailor there.”
“I have other suits.” He replied, tossing it in the laundry basket.
He had killed Joash. There was no doubt in his mind. He was a good shot, Azazel had said, Azazel, whose praise did not come lightly when it came to weapons, even if he had been lusting after Janos then. He had killed his own brother, murdered him outright. It was good, and it was right.
It was right.
Azazel's arm coming around him was exactly what he needed, and he turned into him with a half-sob that shamed him. Azazel said nothing though, made no judgment, as Janos began to cry in earnest, his shoulders shaking like a child's.
“Why am I sorry?” He asked, confused and torn over his reaction.
“He was your brother.” Azazel's statement was a calm comfort, a justification Janos needed desperately.
“I hated him.” He gasped, his breath coming in harsh pants as he tried to control himself. “I loathed him. I wanted him dead, I wanted him to suffer. He was not even worth the bullet.” All of it was true, every word, yet still the tears came.
“He was still your family, Janos. There is no shame in mourning him.”
Janos accepted the words, because even if he did not believe them, he needed them right now, needed a reason for why he felt this horrific guilt for this murder, this execution, when he had killed dozens, when he had ended so many other lives for no reason other than that they were in his way. He had never cared about them, never remembered their faces or their dying words. But Joash's look of vague surprise, while still caught in half of a laugh, was burned into his mind, into the backs of his eyelids. He could not stop seeing it, his brother falling, the red blooming across his shirt, the color of a wine stain.
“I would have killed him for you, my darling, when he tried to put his hands on you. No matter what Lehnsherr said.” Azazel said, breaking into his flashback. “To speculate on what you are worth, as though you were a thing. I would have run him through. I would kill for you, without another thought.” He swore it like an oath, and Janos believed that, at least. He knew Azazel so well, knew when he lied and when he told the truth, knew when his words were in jest, and when they were serious.
“Will you tell me you love me? Please?” He begged, ashamed of the neediness in his voice, but still wanting to hear it.
“I love you.” And this was an oath, Janos knew, from the way Azazel spoke it as solemnly as a vow. Maybe to him, it was a vow. But he had now seen Janos cry for a monster, and he still said it. He still made this promise to Janos.
“Azazel,” He started, trying to think of a vow of his own, something to give Azazel, who had already given everything to Janos, even if he hadn't known until this very moment. “I will try to be better. I know I have been difficult, these past few days, but,”
“I love you,” Azazel interrupted. “Because you are the most perfect creature in this world. Nothing you can do will ever tarnish you, to me. You are so afraid that I will leave, that I will grow tired of you, and only now do you realize what I mean when I tell you I love you. Why are you like this with me? Why do you think so little of me?”
Janos pulled back, so he could see Azazel's face, and wipe away the wetness on his own.
“Because I have never loved anyone, not like I love you. It is easy, with other men. They like my face.” At Azazel's frown, Janos half-smirked, though there was little mirth in it. “I have told you before, Azazel. I know what I look like. I know I am handsome. And with other men, that is enough. But you tell me you will kill for me, that you will do anything for me, and I know that is not because you want me to warm your bed. The way you look at me,” He touched Azazel's face, trailing his fingers down the much beloved and well-memorized features, the face that was not really handsome anymore, but still completely perfect to Janos.
Azazel watched him, the expression Janos meant there, bringing his heart to his throat.
“I would do anything for you to always look at me like that.” He finished quietly.
“Then stop being so anxious.” Azazel requested, smirking a little. “You have me. And this self-doubt does not suit you. I miss your bite.”
“You miss my insults?” Janos asked, with a raised eyebrow. “You miss me calling you an absolute idiot?”
“Hm.” Azazel mused, his blue eyes humorous. “Less of that, I think. But the swearing at me in Spanish, I could take that back. And the sarcasm.” He added, leaning in close. “I like the sarcasm.”
“You're insane.” Janos muttered, letting Azazel touch their foreheads together. The panic that had overtaken him had calmed into something manageable, and he curled into Azazel in gratitude. He had always been the one Janos sought for comfort, and it was no different now, he thought. Emma was his friend, but Azazel was something else entirely for him. Partner felt like the right word, but it didn't seem terribly romantic to his own ears.
“Janos, you know we need to talk.” Azazel said, more seriously. “You know what I want from you. But it is time we both knew what this is for one another.”
“Azazel,” Janos protested, trying to think of an excuse, but one came on its own. Emma's mind, like a January wind, blew through his own, and they parted.
-You two absolutely sicken me. I mean that.- She thought, and he felt the tease of it under the genuine revulsion at such flagrant emotional thoughts.
-What is it?- He asked, choosing not to take the bait.
Azazel watched him for a moment, knowing what was happening, before ducking his head down and pressing a wet kiss to Janos' jawline. He gasped at it, and felt Azazel's smirk against his skin before he continued.
-You have got to be kidding me, you tell him to stop that, right now Janos, oh, god, Azazel, could your mind ever not be disgusting?- He felt the rough touch of Azazel's mind, like the scratch of a cat's tongue, through Emma, something defiant and mocking that made Emma's touch burn like the coldest of ice for a moment. -I will kill him Janos, make him stop, now,-
Janos obediently shied away from Azazel's mouth, holding him off with a hand to his shoulder.
-What is it?- He repeated.
-Neena and Miranda need clothes.- At the name, the image of the little snake-girl's face floated to the forefront of his mind, and he realized that must be her name. -They will not let Angel out of their sight, and I need to stay. Lehnsherr has some chore for me, the slave-driver. Will you and Azazel take Mystique into town?-
-Of course.- He replied, eager to be of service when he had so badly blundered, and only a little frantic to run from this discussion.
“We need to go into town.” He said aloud, to Azazel. “The girls need clothes.”
Azazel sighed and ran his fingers through Janos' hair, looking fond and disappointed all at once.
“Do not think we are done with this conversation, Janos. We have gone too long without it.” Janos knew he was right, but he was almost grateful for the escape, the chance to regroup and sift through his thoughts until he found the right words, the correct way to say what he felt for Azazel, and what he wanted from him.
“Regardless, the girls need clothes.” He said, waving Azazel off to change. He chose a suit in dove grey this time, with a tie the color of the darkest of red wines.
He removed the tie the moment he made the association, and carefully put it back, replacing it with a violet one.
In the washroom, he wiped away all evidence of his moment of weakness. Then he combed his hair and started to pull it back, intending to put his seemingly rebellious hair back in a more conservative appearing queue. However, Azazel's hands were suddenly there, taking over the task, and Janos gave it to him, loving the feel of his fingers on his scalp, especially after the tension from before.
Azazel secured it with a dark hair tie, but did not move away from Janos. His breath on Janos' neck raised goosebumps, giving Janos a shiver, and he had to fight to stop himself from giving in to what Azazel was so clearly thinking of. He wanted comfort, and he had always found it in Azazel's arms, but he still had this chore to do. Azazel clearly didn't care what Emma wanted them to do though, his fingers kneading into the tight knot at the base of his neck. It felt good, and the temptation to just tilt his head forward and let Azazel continue was almost more than he could bear.
“Later,” He promised, brushing away the hand.
“That's what you said this morning.” Azazel reminded him, and Janos flushed at the memory of his previous promise. “Do not think I have forgotten, in this excitement.” Sex would distract Janos, and Azazel knew it. He was trying to take away Janos' unexpected pain in the only way he knew how, and Janos found it sweet, endearing.
“Which do you want then?” Janos offered, turning to him. “The mirror? Or me at nineteen?”
Azazel's eyes shone with want at both ideas, but he shook his head.
“I have a different idea. You will see.”
“Will I like this idea?” Janos asked, doubtfully.
“I'm sure I could persuade you.” Azazel reassured. “After we have our conversation.” Damn him, he was like a dog with a bone, wasn't he? Janos rolled his eyes, but nodded, praying he would come up with something before they retired for the night, something that told the truth without making him sound like a clinging child.
Azazel's tail wrapped around his thigh, and they disappeared together, reappearing outside of Emma's bedroom, where Azazel must have sensed the children. The door was open, and Mystique was trying on Emma's face, and one of her dresses, attempting to copy her stance. Two Emmas was an odd sight, and judging from Azazel's scowl, not a welcome one for some.
“No,” Emma corrected, sounding impatient. “I don't hold my arms like that. I dislocated my shoulder when I was young, it's painful for me to do that.” She grabbed her, and physically moved Mystique's arms to where they should be. “God, you're not very good at this, are you?”
“If you think I'm going to fuck up, do it yourself.” Mystique told her with a scowl.
“This needs to be done today, and I don't have time.” Emma replied. “So you'll have to do, poor replacement that you are. I'll be in contact with you, to inform you of anything you need to know, but you should be fine for the most part, especially since you'll be with Janos. They won't think to question you.”
“Where are we going then?” Janos asked, before Mystique could snap at her. He wasn't exactly in the mood for a catfight, nor did he want to hear Emma complain later.
“Bloomingdales, I think.” Emma mused. “It's still open. Everything in Europe is closed already, though I would love to see Neena here in something French.” Neena looked up at Emma with wide, worshipful eyes, following every elegant movement of Emma's. He supposed that for a child who had never seen anything beautiful, Emma was somewhat unreal, something out of a faerie tale, their White Queen.
Both girls were wearing clothes that were clearly too big for them, their hair wet clean, and freshly trimmed, faces scrubbed. Neena kept watching Janos and Azazel with wary eyes, clearly distrustful, while Miranda merely looked at them in curiosity. Her eyes went to Azazel a little more often though, maybe seeing their similarities.
“Mystique has a list.” Emma said, directed at Janos, though she was not looking away from Mystique's copy of her form. “You're going so you can lend her credibility. And because you have fantastic color sense.” The last part was said with a touch of sarcasm, as she finally acknowledged him, tugging on his tie. “Lovely color. Where did you get this one?”
“A rather bossy busybody forced me to buy it in Italy.” He said dryly, and her eyes widened in mocking approval.
“Well whoever she is, she has fabulous taste. It sets off this suit perfectly.” Janos just shook his head at her.
“Tail,” A little voice said, and Emma turned to Miranda, whose wide eyes were on Azazel. Janos elbowed him gently, letting him know she meant him, and Azazel gave her a charming grin that showed his sharp incisors, disappearing and reappearing right in front of her. She squealed in delighted laughter, clapping her hands.
“Hello again, маленькая змейка. You are much cleaner now.” She nodded eagerly, and Janos realized she at least understood some English. Azazel apparently came to the same conclusion. “Can you speak to me?” He asked.
“Yes.” Her 's' was extended, like a snake's hiss. “Mama was American. Papa was Mexican.” She used 'was', the past tense. “They died.” She said in a very childlike, matter-of-fact way, and Janos wondered if she understood what death was yet.
“Honey, why didn't you tell me you spoke English?” Angel asked, crouching down in front of her, her head coming to the middle of Azazel's thigh.
“I'm sorry.” She said, her eyes going wide in fear. “Was I supposed to? I'm sorry!” Her little voice was rising in fear, and though Neena couldn't understand the words, she clearly understood the tone, and she quickly pulled Miranda against her own body, maneuvering herself on the bed so that most of Miranda was protected by her, her face twisted in a defensive scowl. She was so afraid she was shaking, but the defiance in her face was unmistakable. Miranda, whose skin had turned pale with fright, was clinging to the older girl so hard she was turning Neena's grey skin white where her fingers pressed.
“Neena, sweetheart, no one is going to hurt her. It's okay. It was just a question.” Angel soothed, holding up her hands in a placating gesture, but not touching either girl. “No one here will ever hurt you, I swear.”
Neena remained where she was, not believing a word Angel said, and Janos didn't blame her. How long had people been lying to her, he wondered, using her and beating her, when she could do nothing to protect herself? Why should she trust them?
“Do you see that man there?” Janos asked, in Spanish, pointing to Azazel. Both girls obviously trusted Azazel, on some level, saw some kind of kinship with him. He reminded himself to tell Mystique to keep to her natural form around them, as he rounded the bed carefully, keeping a respectful distance.
Neena turned her head to him sharply, chin tipped down in caution. He had given her the jacket though, and earned himself some credibility. Now was the time to use it.
“The devil.” She confirmed, though there was no hatred in it. After her life, Janos suspected it took a little more than a demon's face to frighten her.
“He is Azazel.” Janos told her, keeping his hands steady when all he wanted to do was stick them in his pockets. But she needed to see his hands at all times, he knew, needed to know where he was and what he was doing. It would be a long time before she would ever trust him enough for him to be given that much leeway.
“So?” She demanded.
“He will protect you.” Janos reassured her. If he could just get her to trust one of them a little, she would feel safer, especially someone like Azazel. She had seen Azazel hurt Joash, and that had to have given him some room with her.
“Like he protected you?” She asked, and he nodded. “He should have killed him. He should have killed all of them with his sword.”
“Protecting you was more important to him.” Janos said, stretching the truth just a little.
Neena stared at him hard, daring him to give away even the slightest hint of deceit, then turned her eyes on Azazel, taking the measure of him. Azazel, for his part, had worked out what Janos was implying from his body language, and the mention of his name. So he had drawn himself up to his full height, his tail restrained to a gentle waving while he smiled at them.
Whatever Neena saw in him, it made her draw back from Miranda, and when she did, Miranda relaxed. She trusted Neena with her life.
“Everything's alright.” Angel's voice was as soft as a mother's as she sat on the bed, taking Miranda into her arms. The girl went eagerly enough, and while Neena did not dive forward as well, she did scoot closer, letting her shoulder touch Angel's.
“Perhaps you want present, yes? A toy of some kind?” Azazel offered, crouching down so that Miranda and Neena's heads were above his on the bed.
“I want a doll.” Miranda said. “With yellow hair.” Azazel nodded seriously, and turned to Neena. Angel quickly translated for her, and she mulled it over before asking for a book. She liked to read then.
“A doll and a book. This is no trouble, yes?” Azazel said, and stepped back to Janos. “We will return before bed, little ones.”
Mystique took Janos' hand, and they disappeared.
They appeared in the living room of the New York penthouse, and Janos immediately saw the lighter he had been looking for siting on the coffee table. Annoyed, he pocketed it, and wondered if he should search the place for any other missing items. There was a book he hadn't seen in awhile too, maybe he had left that behind here as well.
“You are like story, my friend.” Azazel said, with a chuckle, watching him begin his search.
“Little children go into woods, leave trail of bread crumbs.” Janos sneered at him, and made a rude gesture before heading into the bedroom he used. Sure enough, his missing book was sitting on the nightstand, as was one of his watches.
“Hansel and Gretel?” He heard Mystique ask, and saw Azazel shrug as he re-entered the room. “So, do you have lots of places like this?” She appeared impressed as she looked around the place.
“All over the world.” Azazel seemed intent on inspecting the bar's contents, obviously already decided on how he would keep himself occupied while they did Emma's bidding. “Even in Atlantis.”
Mystique's eyes went wide in astonishment as her mouth dropped open.
“We do not.” Janos told her, glaring at Azazel. “Stop telling her stories.”
“If she believes it,” Azazel protested, waving his hand dismissively.
“You're incorrigible.” Janos declared, putting his book down on the table so he wouldn't forget it. Poor Mystique was hanging her head in embarrassment, and she quickly shifted into Emma, walking over to the mirror under the pretense of checking herself one last time.
“Don't use words I don't know.” Azazel had found the vodka and was pouring himself a glass.
“It means you're not salvageable.” Janos walked over to him, and Azazel poured him a drink, vodka over ice, less than his own, but not ungenerous. He added grapefruit juice when Janos gave him a look.
“Real men drink vodka straight.” Azazel informed him.
“Then what do you drink?” Janos asked, and Azazel scowled.
“I'm enough of a man for you, aren't I?” He countered, and Janos smiled, swirling his drink before he downed a quarter of it, eager for a bit of a buzz before he went out with Mystique.
“We could find out when we get home, couldn't we?” Janos teased, and took another sip, the taste of the vodka not his favorite, but doing the job.
Azazel's hand on the back of his neck pulled him forward, so that Azazel's mouth hovered over his. He went easily enough, but didn't close the distance.
“Keep making promises, Janos. See if you leave the bed anytime this week.”
“A week?” Janos practically purred. “A little full of yourself, aren't you, mi amor?”
“Oh, I will enjoy it tonight, after you've screamed yourself so hoarse you can't speak,” Azazel's voice was full of promise, and Janos was looking forward to the fulfillment.
“Okay, do you two know I'm still in the room?” Mystique's embarrassed voice broke into their little bubble, and Azazel chuckled, releasing Janos.
“Maybe we like an audience.” He said, and she turned away, the uncomfortable expression unfamiliar on Emma's features. Janos glared at him, though he was more amused than anything else, and Azazel shrugged, taking a sip of his drink.
“We should go.” Janos told her, and she seemed grateful. “Try not to burn anything down while we're gone, Azazel.”
“I don't make promises I can't keep, Janos.” Azazel said, as they walked out the door, and the innuendo was not lost on Mystique. She was distinctly uncomfortable as they stepped into the hallway and Janos locked the door behind them. He pressed the button for down before smoothing his hands over his hair, making sure it was all contained.
“You two are really affectionate.” She said, her voice falsely bright.
“Do you have a problem with it?” Janos was not intending to hide who he was in his own home. He'd be respectful of the others, but he wouldn't deny his relationship with Azazel, not for the world.
“No, no,” She laughed, sort of, then frowned. “Yes. I guess. I just never realized men could be together, you know, without a woman. It never occurred to me. I don't exactly have a problem with it, it's just really weird to me. I feel so stupid for even saying that, because no one else ever seems to even care, not even Angel.” She looked embarrassed at her naivete, and Janos felt bad for her. She and Xavier had not interacted much with the outside world, he suspected, too frightened of discovery.
“I would not think Angel would have a problem, considering her and Emma's relationship.” She stared at him, and he nodded in confirmation.
“Women can be like that too. Without a man, I mean.”
“But I thought, I mean, Emma and Shaw,”
“Emma is different from me. She is a lover of men and women. I only like men. I do not know about Angel, nor should you ask. It is very rude.”
“Azazel is Azazel.”
The elevator door opened, and the operator ushered them in. He studied Janos a little too closely for his comfort, and seemed to be speculating a little more than a man in his position should as he looked between the blonde, pale Mystique, and the darker Janos.
“Is a Spaniard an oddity now?” Mystique asked, in a chilly tone that did not belong to her.
“No ma'am. Begging your pardon.” The operator kept his eyes forward the rest of the trip, only asking which floor they needed, and wishing them a good day as they exited.
“Why did she say Spaniard?” Mystique whispered, as they stepped out onto the bustling city streets, Janos leading the way.
“Do you really think a Mexican would be allowed?” Janos asked, and she colored, realizing her ignorant privilege of the world and society was showing again. It must be easy, he thought, to always be able to adapt and look like whoever you needed to be, while he was stuck with this skin for all of his life. He was lucky to be light-skinned enough to pass to stupid Americans.
The department store didn't take long to reach by walking, and they were greeted eagerly by clerks who recognized the pair. Shopping for their nieces, Mystique told them cheerfully, and they were quickly led to the correct section.
“Are we seriously supposed to be brother and sister?” Mystique hissed, when they were briefly alone.
“It lends credence to me being European, to have a light-haired, light-eyed sister.” Janos muttered, as a smiling clerk returned with a selection for Neena.
The clerks filled their list quickly, adding it to their bill. When Mystique asked where the bags were, Janos groaned inwardly, as the puzzled clerk reminded her that their purchases would be delivered shortly to the penthouse.
“Forgive her,” Janos covered, laughing. “It was a long trip back here, and my sister is weary.”
“Of course.” The clerk agreed, smiling. “Were you back in Barcelona?”
“You remembered,” Janos was all smiles, and the girl was easily charmed, as always. “We were there, yes.” He managed to make small talk with her for a few minutes, and then took their leave.
Outside, it was dark, showing the hours they had spent inside, but he could still see Mystique's wince.
“I'm sorry, I think Emma fell asleep or something. I can sort of feel her, in the back of my mind, but she's not saying anything. She was exhausted earlier.” She was genuinely remorseful over her blunder, but Janos was not willing to give her the leeway.
“You have to be more careful. Your ability means you will be needed for impersonation often, and you cannot make mistakes like that.” His scolding wasn't harsh, but direct, and she nodded. “Mistakes get people killed. You need to realize that this is no game, what we are doing.”
“I'll try harder.” She promised, as they walked quickly, the cold of a New York City night starting to seep in.
“Saying you will isn't enough. You need to do it. And no more of this sniping at Emma. You and her, you must try to get along. We are on the same side.”
“She started it!”
“Are you five?” Janos asked, and she bit her lip, sulking a little. “I will speak to Emma. But it must be on both sides. I am not asking you to be friends, only to get along. Do you think you can manage that much without ripping each other's hair out?”
“I suppose.” She was very young, he reminded himself, much younger than him, and sheltered from the world. And she was used to getting her way, to a brother handing her anything she desired.
“That said, you did well, for your first time. You need to work on your body language more though. That alone will give you away, if a person is observant enough, like Azazel. You could look like me down to the last detail, and Azazel would know you were not me.” And his anger would be like a storm, Janos suspected, if Mystique ever dared tried to trick him in such a way. Azazel did not take being lied to lightly.
“Is that because you two are, like that, with each other?” She asked timidly, as he linked their arms together, like he would do for Emma.
“Partly. Impersonating a lover is impossible, I suspect. You will get something wrong, inevitably. But it is not only that, between the two of us. Azazel and I have been friends for a long time, and we know everything about each other's movements, accents, phrasings. I would know just as easily that you were not him.” He exhaled a cloud of white breath. “I would know Azazel blind and deaf.”
Mystique was staring up at him with shining eyes, and he realized he had taken a turn for the dramatic. Women, he thought, so easily moved.
“I almost forgot,” He said, bringing them back to a better subject. “Stay in your blue form around the girls. They trust physical mutations more, people who look like them.”
“Really?” She said, surprised. “I've never known anyone but Erik to prefer that face.”
“Lehnsherr?” Janos was a little startled at that revelation. He hadn't realized they were involved. They didn't act like they were. “You and Lehnsherr?”
“No, no, nothing like that.” She corrected, teetering a little in Emma's shoes. “Well, maybe, I thought, for like a minute, but I just...I can't explain it. I thought I was attracted to him. But...” She kept trailing off, looking confused, and it was honestly a little more than Janos wanted to know. “It doesn't matter, I guess. I thought I'd be more disappointed. I want to be around him, and I really do want to be here.” She said it like she thought her loyalties were in question, like she knew about the way Emma's eyes followed her, the way Azazel kept his swords near the bed. The way Janos was always prepared around her. “I just don't want to sleep with him.”
“Then don't.” Janos told her, pulling her closer to him when she shivered a little. “No one is making you.” He honestly didn't think Lehnsherr was the type. In fact, he was a little surprised Lehnsherr had shown sexual interest in a woman. He had suspicions now, ever since that day in the library.
“I'm sorry, I'm talking too much.” She was, but Janos liked that she recognized it. “I'm still getting used to having people to talk to about things like this. I was pretty scandalous, back home.” Janos had no idea what she meant by that, but he didn't care much either. As long as she was growing more comfortable, then he was reaching his goal of bringing her into the fold.
“Trust me, there's nothing you've done that would scandalize any of us.” He reassured her. “And don't say anything of the sort to Azazel. He'll see it as a challenge.” She giggled a little, and they stepped up into the lobby of their building, the doorman holding the door and nodding respectfully to them, recognizing them.
“And what sort of stories could Azazel tell me about you, Janos?” She teased, poking at him playfully. He smiled at her in dry amusement and shook his head.
“Nothing you need to know.”
They stepped into the elevator and the operator, a different one from before, one who knew Janos, smiled and tipped his hat to them before pressing for their floor.
“How have you been James?” He asked courteously, and the operator smiled at Janos remembering his name. “Has your wife recovered?”
“She's doing quite well now, Mr. Alvarez, thank you for asking. She had a boy. We named him Richard, after Richard the Lionhearted.” The man said, puffing up in pride.
“It's a good name.” Janos agreed.
“How are you two?” James was now quite cheerful, obviously still in rapturous awe over his new son.
“We have been very well, thank you. We were in Barcelona for a long time this time. Family affairs, you know.” Janos lied easily, and Mystique nodded along with a polite smile.
“Family is always trouble.” James nodded, and the trip up was spent in comfortable silence, James wishing them a good evening as they left him.
“You're good with people.” Mystique commented. “How do you do that? I mean, I know how Charles does, and Emma. They cheat. But you just, I don't know. People like you.”
“It doesn't mean I like them.” Janos reminded her, unlocking the door. “Being charming gets me my way. But make no mistake, I don't like humans. I don't like anything about them.” He meant every word, his lips curling in a sneer he knew wasn't terribly attractive. The vicious hatred that coursed through him at times for the humans around them was almost as deep as the hatred for his own family. He hated what they were, hated what he knew they were capable of. Hated the thought of what could happen to Azazel, to Emma, to Angel, if they were found out. His friends, in camps, or simply executed. It frightened him, and he hated being afraid.
“Janos can be as pleasant as he wants when he thinks it will get him something.” Azazel's dry, and surprisingly sober voice, drifted over from the sitting area, and Janos strolled over to find him lying across the couch, hands behind his head. He heard the door to the bathroom shut behind him, Mystique ducking in to change, most likely.
“Have you just been lazing about the whole time?” He asked, leaning on the back of the couch on his elbows.
“No, I have not.” He jerked his head over to the coffee table, where a doll with fine porcelain features and the lightest hair Janos had ever seen sat, beside a stack of books with Spanish titles. Children's books, he realized.
“Azazel, were you getting presents for our newest members?” Janos teased, a smile on his face at the thought of Azazel being so sweet, so protective.
“And if I have?” Azazel clearly knew how much his gesture had touched Janos, and was now looking to milk it for what it was worth.
“Then you have managed to persuade me.” Janos offered, using Azazel's earlier phrasing, and the man smiled in anticipation up at Janos.
“I should steal them a whole toy store. Imagine what you would do then,”
“Don't push your luck.” Janos warned, as Azazel freed Janos' hair, letting it fall around his face.
“I hate your hair pulled back.” He explained mournfully, brushing it back behind Janos' ear. “You should never be confined like that, Мой шторм. Nothing should ever dare try to hold you down.”
“You seem to like doing it.” That made Azazel smirk, his tail winding around Janos's forearm. Janos got a grip on it, and brought the spade to his lips, kissing it. Azazel's bright eyes darkened as his pupils dilated.
“Keep tempting me Janos, and I will fuck you on this floor.”
There was an embarrassed half-giggle, and Janos looked over his shoulder at Mystique, in her natural form, and more conservatively dressed, her hands clapped over her mouth, the bathroom door still open behind her.
“Oops.” Azazel said, feigning innocence.
“I could uh, go downstairs and eat at the restaurant, or something. Anything. Yeah, anything that will get me out of this room.” She offered, nodding vigorously.
Janos separated himself from Azazel with a laugh.
“You can't go down alone, and you know it. Don't worry, he could do with a lesson in patience.”
“How you torture me, my darling. It is like a knife in my chest.” Azazel was putting on quite the show of weariness, and Janos rolled his eyes. “Mystique, you must comfort me in my time of need.”
“I wasn't aware you were eager to become a eunuch.” Janos commented casually, as Mystique shook her head.
“See how he abuses me, sweet girl?”
“Judging from the hickey on your neck, you like it well enough.” Mystique teased right back, showing a little more of the personality that Janos was coming to like.
“What does that word mean?” Came Azazel's puzzled voice, and Janos laughed to himself as there was a knock at the door. The bellboy had brought them their parcels, and Janos tipped him after he stacked them up inside the foyer, Azazel out of his sight as Mystique quickly shifted back to Emma's face.
After he left, Azazel managed to get to his feet and come investigate.
“Did Emma have you buy half the store?” He mused, eyeing the large pile.
“You know how she is.” Janos reminded him, Azazel shaking his head in disgust. “Come, let's go home.”
They teleported away, and arrived back in Emma's room, where Miranda squealed happily at the sight of her new doll, that Azazel was only too happy to present with a flourish before he carefully set Neena's down on the table beside her, taking care not to come too close.
She stared at them for a moment, as though she was surprised at Azazel not only keeping his word, but going beyond it.
“Gracias,” She said quietly, not looking at Azazel.
“De nada,” Azazel answered, using the little Spanish he knew, attempting to make the girl comfortable, and Janos' heart warmed at his care.
“Did you get everything?” Angel asked, her hair in a braid that looked like small hands had woven it. “Emma is lying down in my room. I don't know what Erik had her doing, but she's exhausted.” That explained why she had gone silent in Mystique's mind then. “Janos, Erik said to tell you he wanted to speak to you in the morning. But whatever they were doing, he's got the headache from hell, and he doesn't want to be bothered for now.”
Janos nodded in acknowledgment, and took Azazel's hand. Azazel picked up on the hint, and away they went, back to their own room, or rather, Janos'. Azazel was only staying, he reminded himself.
They took a shower without talking about it, Azazel washing Janos' hair, his fingers welcome on Janos' sensitive scalp. More than anything, the hot water felt good, the simple closeness reassuring after the endless day. He hoped that whatever Azazel wanted tonight, it wasn't too energetic. Now that he was naked and clean, he was suddenly tired, his emotional ups and downs catching up with him. This hadn't been a normal day, he thought, a normal mission. Killing meant nothing, normally.
But not this time.
They dried each other off, hands lingering until they started kissing, Azazel taking them to the bed, the soft, warm bed that wrapped around him like a cocoon.
“So what did I need to be persuaded to?” He asked, in the space between a kiss.
This made Azazel stop, and withdraw, sitting up, away from Janos.
“You want me to stay, Janos. But for how long?” Janos frowned.
“What do you mean?”
“How long do I have this?” He emphasized the last word with a gentle caress of Janos' face. “Before you tire of me? I need an idea, you see. I need to know if I have months, or maybe a year or so, before you leave me.”
Janos was shocked, down to his core, and though he was still tired, the adrenaline of his anger helped him sit up, furious at Azazel and his presumptions.
“Is that what you think of me?” He demanded. He wanted out of the bed, out of this room. How dare Azazel make that kind of assumption about him? How dare he say something like that to Janos, who had been so embarrassingly open about his devotion this whole time?
“Janos,” Azazel started.
“Fuck you,” Janos hissed, and got out of the bed. “Fuck you.” He dressed quickly, hearing Azazel rise behind him, a tail reaching for him. He smacked it away, not in any mood for it, and almost felt Azazel's recoil. “You have known me for eight years, have been my friend. I told you how I feel about you, I have let you know everything, I have given you everything I have to give you, and still,”
Azazel was getting dressed as well, but his hand closed around Janos' forearm, trying to pull him close. Janos knew what he was going to do. He was going to wrap his arms around Janos and say something sweet and loving, like he always did. Something pretty to appease Janos, some lie about his trust and devotion to Janos. Azazel didn't trust him, not an inch. It was all lies, charming lies to hide his doubts in Janos.
Janos yanked away.
“Do not touch me,” He warned. “Do not dare, bastard.”
“Janos?” Azazel looked afraid, and that just angered Janos more. He'd expected it, hadn't he, so why should he be afraid? “Janos, please, I did not mean that,”
“Yes, you did.”
Azazel did not try to lie again.
“You do not trust me.” Janos told him. “You do not trust anything I tell you.”
“Janos, I love-”
“Do not lie to me!” He shouted, loud enough that they had to be overheard. “You do not love me. You do not trust me, and if I do not have that, I have no love from you.” Azazel looked like Janos had struck him, and Janos liked it. He wanted Azazel to feel how he felt now.
“You have to understand my point of view, Janos. When I see you, I cannot believe you will stay beside me long.” That he would even say it to Janos, after they had spoken of this already, just insulted him more. “I did not want to fight with you. I should never have said it, I am sorry.”
“No.” Janos replied, crossing his arms, looking away. “No, it is good for you to say this. Before it went too far. Before I thought you were really mine.” I know your heart. “This is better. We can still go back to how we were.” And you know mine.
“What do you mean?” Azazel asked, but Janos thought he already knew. After all, he had been waiting for this, right? Waiting for Janos to turn on him, to abandon him. That was the kind of man he thought Janos was, right? The kind of man who was cold enough to kill his own flesh and blood, but pathetic enough to cry over it. Not someone Azazel could trust, could see as his to keep. What was even worth keeping?
“I am going for a walk. When I come back, you need to be gone.”
Azazel grabbed at him again, turning him around, forcing him to face him, or at least trying. Janos kept looking away, refused to meet his eyes, refused to give Azazel anything more, not when he already had so much. And none of that had been enough, he told himself. None of it would ever be enough. He would never be enough.
“No. No, no, don't, don't, Мой шторм, don't do this to me,”
“Stop calling me that! I do not even know what it means!” He didn't struggle, but he didn't turn into Azazel, no matter how badly he wanted to.
“My storm,” He whispered the words with reverence, and Janos' heart ached.
Azazel had been calling him that long before they fell into bed. He had been Azazel's for so long, without ever realizing Azazel had already laid his claim. God, their relationship had never been innocent, had it? They'd been heading towards this from the very beginning.
“Let go.” He ordered, and Azazel released him.
“You do not trust me.” Janos repeated.
He shut the door quietly.
After all, people were sleeping.
A/N Oh gawd, please don't stone me.