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You Be The Voice In My Head

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They don't talk about it.

It's easier that way.

Mystique finds that if she doesn't think about it all, she can pretend like it never happened, like everything is exactly how it was two months ago. She can pretend Riptide is okay, that Azazel is okay, that they are still sleeping in the same room, and that she can't hear the fights.

She cannot pretend about this. Azazel looks so broken, his forehead against the door, palms braced. He's not saying anything, not doing a single thing, just, for all intents and purposes seemingly just waiting.

Maybe she makes a sound, or maybe it's that weird sense that Azazel seems to have for people, but he sees her. She can't hold that gaze. She looks away, biting her lip.

He is gone when she looks back up.

Riptide's door stays shut.

-

Emma stays as far away as humanly possible. She cannot be near Riptide, can't bear it. He keeps thinking about it, at random moments, things reminding him of the room where he was held, the hands on his body, the way-

She stuffs her fist in her mouth so that her screams can't be heard. His memories are overlapping with hers, the stench of cologne and cigarettes and filth all around her, and she can't, she absolutely cannot do this. She turns diamond, and his thoughts are gone. She can't cry like this either, thank god.

She lies down on the floor, and crawls under her bed, curling into herself. Her body's clinking is muffled by the thick carpet, as she rocks, arms around her knees. She can't hold the form long like this, and she reverts after a time. Wherever Riptide is, he's farther away now, and she can block him out.

She feels it in her throat, the tightening, and the heat in her eyes. She sobs brokenly, her nails digging into her skin, as she remembers, remembers being small and helpless. She hates Riptide, hates him for bringing up these memories, these awful thoughts that she has spent years forgetting.

She stays under her bed for the rest of the night.

-

Eric thinks nothing of the situation. Riptide has recovered, as far as he can tell, and is back in fighting form. He's more vicious than ever, more cutthroat, and Eric sees it as a benefit.

Everyone needs an event like this, he thinks. That moment when you realize exactly who it is that surrounds you, exactly what men are truly capable of. Riptide has always been more generous of certain behaviors, excusing things that had no right to be excused. He will not ever be so lenient again.

As for the apparent disintegration of his and Azazel's relationship, whatever it was, maybe it's for the best, in the end. He wants their first loyalties to be to him, and that wasn't the case with them before. Now, maybe that will change, as they both start to focus on what is truly important.

-

Angel wants to help, but she has no idea how. She sits with Riptide, when he won't ask, but clearly wants her to, holding his hand through the night. It's nice to have someone there, she thinks. There have been a lot of times in her life when she wanted someone to just hold her hand, tell her it was going to be alright.

She sings some nights, in Spanish, old songs her grandmother sang to her. Riptide follows along if he knows it, or just listens if he doesn't.

She doesn't ask him about Azazel, why he won't talk to him, why he won't let him sleep in their room. Azazel is devastated, anyone can see. She thinks he blames himself for what happened, for how Riptide was captured, for how he couldn't find him, no matter how hard he looked, even though Emma had told them all that they had a telepath, shielding them.

She doesn't like to think about what Eric had done to the man. He'd called him a traitor. And then he'd-

She swallows and puts it out of her head.

-

Janos thinks there might be something wrong with him. His body has healed. He moves easily again. He fights better than before, even.

And yet, he still sees it. The flashes come back to him hard, making his pulse pound, every nerve in his body on alert. They wake him in the night, the images, the smell, the pain. He remembers all of it with crystal clarity.

Azazel has touched him once since, a palm on the back of his neck. The gesture, once affection, was now a threat, and he'd shouted at him to never do it again, never touch him again.

He thinks he could have slapped Azazel, and the result would have been the same.

He's tried since then, to approach him, to invite him back, but they just end up yelling at each other. He doesn't want to, doesn't want to ever fight with him, but he keeps getting so angry as Azazel makes assumptions about what he needs, what he wants. He doesn't want to talk about it, doesn't want to think about it-

“It's all you think about though.” He's been expecting Angel, her comforting presence what's been helping him sleep, but it's Emma. Emma, with her arms crossed defensively, looking at the floor. “You're keeping me awake.” He had not thought of that, had not realized that she would feel the nightmares too. He starts to apologize, but she shakes her head. “It's my fault. I hid instead of helping you.”

“Help me?” She shuts the door, sits down on his bed. She's trembling.

“Emma?” He takes her hand, attempting to calm her.

“You have to confront it.” She tells him, voice cracking. “You have to look at it, and tell yourself that it doesn't define you. It's just something that happened. It's not everything. It is nothing.”

They are in the room, on the floor, only now Emma is beside him, her hand gripped in his. The room, the place they held him, is different, smaller, more lit than he remembers.

“It's just a room,” She begins, “And that's all it will ever be.” The memories begin, but Emma's hand stays locked with his.

-

Azazel has been sleeping in a spare bunk. He's slept in worse places.

He does not sleep well here though.

Janos blames him. He can feel it, down in his bones. Janos blames him for not being fast enough, for not noticing quickly enough, for not rescuing him before they hurt him, and he will never forgive Azazel.

He can hear it still, Janos shouting at him, ordering Azazel to never touch him again. The look on his face had almost broken Azazel, if the words hadn't already done the job.

He'd tried since then, tried to apologize, to do whatever it was Janos needed him to do, but everything he did was wrong, and ended in a fight. He just wants to make it better, to make Janos forget. He loves him. Seeing him suffer does nothing but give Azazel pain. But this, he has no idea how to fix this.

The place had been a bloodbath when he was through. The man who had hurt Janos had been one of the few people to ever see his own insides pinned to the wall, and yet it did nothing to ease Azazel's anger, or Janos' wounds. Azazel is lost. If violence will not solve this, he has nothing left to offer. Janos does not want him, or his comfort.

The door opens.

Janos stood there, looking...different. Not how he was before, but he looked somehow better than how he had since. Something he'd been carrying, something Azazel could not see, seemed to have been lifted.

“Azazel,” He sounds exhausted, “Please come to bed.”

-