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You've Got To Hide Your Love Away

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They were in the bath when Janos first brought it up.

It was an old claw-foot tub, and easily wide enough to hold them both, so they indulged in it. Janos lay between Azazel's legs, head on his chest, while Azazel smoked a black-papered cigarette. Occasionally, he passed it down to Janos and let him have a drag. Azazel had not really considered what they were doing, what he was allowing, only thought that it was nice, easy.

“I need to tell you something.” Azazel took a long drag, humming a little in acknowledgment. “But before, know I expect nothing from you.”

“I hope you are not telling me your mutation means you can carry baby like woman.” He said with a chuckle, amused by the seriousness in Janos' tone.

“Do not be stupid.”

“I will try my best.” The water sloshed as Janos sat up, and climbed out, rivulets running down his body and onto the tiles as he reached for a towel and dried his hair. “I say something wrong?” Janos shook his head, his face expressionless as he patted himself down.

“Water is cold.” Azazel didn't think so, but he and Janos had vastly different definitions of cold, so it might very well be. “Maybe best we do not talk about this. Was stupid idea.”Azazel huffed and climbed out, pulling the drain as he did.

“You brought it up.” He teleported to the sink, so he could stand behind him, dripping onto the plush carpet the hotel staff had laid in front of it. Janos knotted his towel around his waist before grabbing another and wrapping it around Azazel's neck. He used it to pull him forward, into him as he leaned back against the sink. Azazel sought out a kiss, but even that felt strange. The odd mood that seemed to have settled over Janos was not lifting until he said whatever was on his mind. “You are not telling me something.”

“Hm.” He dried Azazel's shoulders, moving down his back and chest until he reached his waist, where he tied it off. “You are getting water everywhere. And you need to shave.”

“You tell me that every day.”

“And every day you ignore me.” He traced two fingers down Azazel's beard in an oddly fond gesture. “You have been ignoring me for a year now, you know.”

“Have I?” Janos nodded, and wrapped his arms around Azazel's neck, letting Azazel support some of his weight. The pose was familiar, comfortable, and Azazel let his hands settle on Janos' hips. “We work well together.” Janos nodded, eyes troubled still. “Just tell me. It cannot be that bad, can it? Is not as though you are sleeping with another man,” When Janos didn't laugh, something twisted hard in his chest. “Or are you trying to confess an affair?”

“I am not your wife,” He started, but Azazel's hands tightening on his hips stopped him. “Are we like that, Azazel? Only with each other?”

“I assumed yes, but maybe I am wrong?” He didn't like how this felt, this jealousy burning through him, or the ache in his heart, all at the thought of Janos with someone else, some other man putting his hands on Janos' skin, kissing him, touching what belonged to Azazel.

“No,” Janos answered, shaking his head. “There is no one for me but you.” Azazel's grip relaxed as he settled down, relieved at the words. The rush had startled him, the feelings unfamiliar. There had never been a man like Janos in his life before though, never one who had managed to keep Azazel interested for so long. “And for you?”

“There is just you.” He promised, leaning over and taking another kiss. “Only you.” They stayed like that for a time, kissing softly against the counter, but Janos stopped it with a hand to his chest. Azazel sighed and rested his forehead against Janos', their breath still mingling. He could still smell the tobacco on Janos'. “Still your secret to tell, yes?” He asked. “Out with it then.”

“Azazel,” He looked afraid, Azazel realized., but of what, he had no idea. “I love you.”

That was unexpected.

He stood silent at first, attempting to process what Janos had said, what the meaning was. No one had ever told Azazel they loved him before, and the idea was foreign to his mind. Even in childhood, the affection he'd received from the circus people had never been named, never given name. And there had certainly been no love after the circus. The idea was astounding, and he wasn't sure he liked it. Talk of love, between men like them, men like Azazel, seemed foolish to him. What did Janos expect now exactly? Declarations, promises?

But he just sighed, and kissed Azazel. “I thought so.”

“Thought what?” He was still reeling from the confession, and he couldn't understand how Janos was so unbothered.

“I told you Azazel, I expect nothing from you. Only that you are loyal to me.” He was sad, but it was a kind of resigned sadness that Azazel had no idea how to relieve. “I think we are done with this, please?” He ducked out of Azazel's arms and headed to the bedroom of the suite.

-

The second time was four months later, after Shaw made his offer. It was a good offer,would lead to more money, and something even better: A world without humans. The thought gave Azazel a bit of a thrill, honestly.

“You have been quiet.” He said, when Janos came back in. The man removed his suit jacket and hung it without a word, but his thoughts were clear enough to Azazel. “You think this is dangerous.”

“I think many things about this offer.” His cufflinks clattered down into a bowl on the dresser. “It is foolish, insane, and yes, dangerous.” The belt came off next, the black one he'd bought in Italy. He moved down to his shoes. “My life has had enough danger in it already, I think.” He started on the buttons of his shirt, but Azazel strode over to him and took over.

“I like this shirt on you.” Janos rolled his eyes, but let Azazel finish and push it off his shoulders. “I love how it looks against your skin.” He kissed Janos' bare shoulder, and placed the shirt on the dresser.

“It's going to wrinkle.” Janos chided him, but he let Azazel tug off his undershirt too. The trousers went on the dresser too, somewhat less neatly folded then usual, but not on the floor like the underwear. Azazel knew how far to press his luck with Janos' clothes. “Why am I always the one who ends up naked?” His eyes were half-lidded as they kissed, arms looping around Azazel's neck easily.

“Because you are beautiful.”

“Azazel,” Janos had that look, the one that told Azazel sex was not going to be a distraction from this conversation. “What do you want to do?”

“A number of things that all end with you gasping my name,” He answered, and Janos scowled. Azazel secured his grip on him, just in case. “You know what I want to do.”

“Shaw is the kind of man who wants to watch the world burn. I am not so sure his method is the best method to get what we want.”

“What we want? What is it you want Janos?” He shifted in Azazel's embrace, and looked away.

“I want you to be able to go outside, without a disguise, without hiding. I know you want that too. And I want this,” He pressed himself closer to Azazel, “I want this to be accepted. I want to be able to kiss you in the street, for you to have your hand on me, and to be able to tell people I love you.” It was Azazel who pulled away now, and he could have damned Janos for how he seemed to expect him to. “I do not care that you do not love me. I love you.”

“If you do not care how I feel, then why do you say it?”

“Because it is how I feel. And it influences my decisions.” He shifted again uneasily, and turned so that he could lean against the dresser.

He really was beautiful, Azazel reflected. The way the light from the lamps caught on him, and the shadows it cast across his skin, turned him into art, a masterpiece that was for Azazel alone. It wasn't even really his beauty that had caught Azazel's attention at first. It had been his attitude, the arrogance he wore on his sleeve like a badge, and the passion in his personality. The other mutants in the room had feared Azazel, had kept their distance. It didn't matter that Azazel was one of them, that he was as welcome as they were in this hole-in-the-wall. He was too strange, even for them.

The mutant they called Riptide though, the one women, and some more subtle men, flocked around, he had looked at Azazel with something resembling delight. He'd wanted to drink with him, invited him to sit in an obviously coveted seat near him. And that night, he'd invited Azazel somewhere even more coveted; his bed.

Azazel was still waiting for the buzz to fade, for the day to come when he looked at Janos and felt nothing. But the warmth Janos inspired had yet to cool, and Azazel was starting to worry it never would, that Janos had his hooks in him for good.

“If I decide to go with Shaw, what will you do?” He asked, breaking the silence.

“I will go where you go.” He crossed his arms over his chest, the light shifting on him with the movement, changing. Azazel couldn't resist the image, even if he was frustrated with Janos. He forced Janos' arms down, and lowered his head to Janos' neck, nipping the skin. Janos groaned obligingly and let Azazel continue, let him push him back to the bed. “You are still dressed,” Janos complained.

Azazel ignored him, and moved down his body, taking Janos in hand. He went from half-hard to completely in a few strokes, his hips thrusting up into Azazel. He put an arm down across his hips to keep him still, and took the head in his mouth.

A quick stream of Spanish came from above him, and Janos' hips strained under his arm. Janos liked when Azazel did this more than he cared to admit, and Azazel liked how easily Janos came apart during it.

Janos was more than he deserved, he suspected, wrapping his tail around the base, while his spare hand undid his own fly. He was too beautiful, too clever, too powerful. He was a match for Azazel, always had been. A man worth his respect, his time.

The Spanish died and was replaced with a moan, Janos' fingers carding into his hair. He was close then, and Azazel doubled his efforts. He was rewarded quickly, the bitter taste of Janos' release filling his mouth. He swallowed, and finished himself while Janos panted on the bed underneath him. “Mi amor,” He called, and Azazel pulled himself up. “Mi amor,” Azazel knew what it meant, and he pressed his mouth to Janos' so that he couldn't say it anymore.

-

The third time was after they had been with Shaw for a year. Janos was tired, hovering on the edge of exhaustion, Shaw driving both of them hard. Janos' power had always taken more out of him than Azazel's, and the large-scale destruction Shaw wanted out of him at a quick pace was pushing his abilities to their limit. He had yet to complain, but the way he collapsed in bed every night told Azazel more than if he had.

“You need to rest,” He told him, trailing his fingers up Janos' spine. His back was tense, the muscles tight under Azazel's hand. “You are wearing yourself out.”

“And where am I supposed to get this rest exactly? Not here, where Shaw has his psychic shake us out of bed in the middle of the night four, five times a week, so we can go fight his war.” This was true. The slippery cold feel of Emma's mind had been their wake-up call too often, and it felt like it had been an eternity since the last time they'd had enough time to enjoy each other's touch.

At the thought, he bent over and kissed the back of his neck. “Maybe we should take a vacation.” He moved down Janos' back, kissing down his spine. “Go somewhere warm. Greece?”

“Spain.” Janos suggested.

“Or maybe Mexico?”

“It does not matter how many times you suggest it.” He opened his eyes and turned, lifting himself up on one elbow. “No.”

“I am still waiting for that story, you know.”

“What story?” There was a bruise across his right pectoral, yellow and grey smudging his skin. Azazel did not like how it seemed to stain his skin, trying to steal from his beauty.

“Two years ago, when we had the offer in Mexico, you told me you would tell me why you would not go one day. Two years, is a long time to wait.” Janos smiled, and shook his head. “Do not laugh at me. I want to know why it is you will not return home.”

Janos huffed. “Is not very interesting story. Childhood.”

“Maybe I want to hear about your childhood.” He kissed his jawline, moving his hair back so he could kiss the skin below his ear.

“Do I get a story in return?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your childhood.” He moved his head so that Azazel was looking into his eyes. “A story for a story.”

“Janos,” He shook his head and Janos frowned.

“Two and a half years Azazel. And you still do not trust me?”

“It has nothing to do with trust.”

“Then what?” This was heading into an argument, the last thing Azazel wanted. The only thing he could do was bend a little, but damn if this wasn't something he would have kept to himself forever.

“I do not know my parents. Whether they looked like me, or not. When I was a child, perhaps four, the circus found me. They have never told me how, or where. I stopped asking. They called me Azazel, for my appearance. He was an angel, who rebelled against God, and was cast into Hell. You see the joke, yes?” Janos did not appear amused.

“Why did they take you?”

“The circus was full of mutants. They hid their abilities behind illusions, tricks. And there were others, like me, who could not hide. The woman who raised me, had wings like a bat. Her husband, his hands and feet were webbed. They were good to me. I was with them until I was maybe thirteen.”

“Then where were you?”

“You said one story. Now you tell me yours.” Janos seemed disappointed, and to be fair, Azazel had not told him much. He had never been one for elaborating though.

“Fine.” He shifted in the bed, so that he was laying down, his arm tucked under his head. “You must understand, I was born in Mexico.” No matter how good his English had become, Janos still said the word with a Spanish lilt, like it was too far ingrained in him for anything different. “But my parents, and their parents, were Spanish. We were very wealthy, I think, and we lived in a very big house, with lots of land, and gardens. My mother, she liked gardens I think. I remember her sitting out there. But uh, was a very long time ago.”

“You do not remember your mother?” Janos shrugged, his expression uncaring.

“There was a war happening in my country, I think. Not a war with armies, but uh, when the country fights itself?”

“Civil war.”

“Yes, something like that. Or maybe it was just my town. But Spanish families started to disappear. This was just after the great war, though I did not know that at that time.”

“How did you not know about a world war?”

“I was ten.” He answered, shoving at Azazel's shoulder. “I did not have a lot of uh, contact with anyone else. And my family certainly did not talk about it.”

“Sometimes I forget how young you are. I fought in that war.”

“That is because you are an old man.” He said cheekily. Azazel's tail slid between the ticklish junction of his thigh and pelvis mischievously in revenge, so Janos grabbed it and held on. “None of that. You wanted story, yes?” Azazel held up his hands in surrender, and his tail was released. “Finally, the soldiers, they came to our home, and they burned everything. I was eleven. They took us before the people, and first they brought up my abuelo. I do not remember him very well. I think he was an officer of some kind. But they called him names, uh, they called him traitor. Things like that. Some of them do not translate well. Then they shot him. I think he was my mother's father, because she cried, beside me.

“My mother was beautiful. I remember that. She is a blur though. I do not think I saw her much. But next they killed my father, then her. I was very frightened, I remember. Then they brought my oldest sister up. She was very pretty, was sixteen. I remember everything about her, and my other sister. I think our parents must have left us to ourselves often. My sisters though, they were not going to kill them. They were calling them names, different names. At the time, I did not know what they were going to do to them. I know now. I knew they were going to hurt them though.” The wind was moving around his fingers now in a controlled movement, a complicated twisting around his fingers he did when he was anxious. “That was when it happened. I felt the wind, in every part of me, singing through my blood. I had no control, only the need to save them. And I did. Or I thought I did. My sisters, they grabbed me, told me we had to run, run now. Marisol, she was fourteen, she fell first. Lupe and I, we got a little further. Not very though. Lupe tried to shield me. They shot her. Then they took me.”

“And then?” Janos smirked.

“A story for a story. I told you the first part, just like you told me.” Azazel surprised him by pinning him down, holding his wriggling body beneath his easily, though it helped Janos wasn't really trying to get away.

“I think you are difficult on purpose,” He accused, his tail creeping back into the sensitive spot, making Janos gasp.

“Why would I do that mi amor?”

“Why do you do any of the things you do to me?” He teased, burying his nose into Janos' hair. He could smell his aftershave, a sandalwood scent he had purchased for him in France. He liked when Janos used it, liked knowing he'd pleased him with a gift.

“Because I love you.” Azazel was used to the idea enough that he didn't pull away or stiffen, but as usual, he said nothing back. Janos, on the other hand, did react to his non-response for the first time. “Azazel?”

“Hm?” He kissed Janos' neck, inhaling the scent, stronger here.

“Do you think,” His hand settled on Azazel's shoulder, head tipping to the side to give Azazel room to work with. “Do you think you will ever love me?”

“I thought you did not care.” Foreboding stole over Azazel's heart, and he held on to Janos all the tighter, kissed him harder, as though he could brand himself on his skin.

Even after, with his tail around Janos' thigh, and his arm on his waist, the feeling that Janos was slipping away gripped him tight.

-

The fourth time was the worst. It was two months after Magneto had taken over, and the feeling that he was losing Janos was increasing all the more every day, every time Janos sighed and would not meet his eyes, every kiss that held a bitter aftertaste.

It was when his mission went wrong that things came to a head.

He could not teleport, and the stitches he had sewn were ripping. Infection, he suspected, in his fever-haze. Death was approaching, creeping around the edges of his vision, and he could not so much as lift a hand to stop him.

Death looked like Emma.

“Oh god, oh god, Riptide, drag them if you have to!” Janos was here, Janos and two men, and a woman in white. “Yes, he's here, Janos is here Azazel.” The world went black for a moment, a rush of unbearable heat flushing his face. He was as light as air, his muscles nothing but smoke, but then there were hands, cold hands pressed to his face and the tickle of fur on the top of his head. Janos was upside down in his vision, bundled up except for his hands, bare and cold as ice. They felt wonderful against his face.

“You must stay with me, mi amor, please. You must not go to sleep. The doctors, they will save you, yes?” His cold hands stroked Azazel's brow, his voice low and soothing, catching on the English in his familiar accent. “It took us so long to find you mi diablo, so long.”

The pain was increasing, a burning that refused to subside, as foreign hands touched him. He tried to escape, but a heavy weight threw itself across his chest, something sparkling in his vision.

“Damn it Riptide, keep him still!”

“He is delirious, I do not think he even knows-”

“Janos,” He looked down at Azazel, his eyes wet, mouth open. “Janos,”

Mi amor, you must listen to me. You must lie still, yes? Lie still and let them save you, por favor, or I will lose you. You do not want to leave me, do you?” He thought he shook his head, but the effort was too great, the pain horrific. “Then you must lie still, lie still mi amor,”

The heavy weight on his chest stayed, kept him still even when he wanted to thrash, but through it all, the Spanish crooning above him kept him awake and attentive, the cold hands his anchor when nothing else was substantial.

The surgery, performed in a safe-house in Turkey, succeeded, and two weeks later, Azazel was well enough to walk. He had always healed quickly, quicker than any human had any hope of. His mind was clear now and he was troubled by what he remembered, and scared.

When the fever had him, it was Janos who brought him back, Janos his mind sought for safety. This spoke volumes about him, about what he had come to rely on. He had never relied on anyone in his entire adult life, had needed no one but himself. This was weakness, and weakness was danger.

It was time they settled this.

“So what inspired this?” Janos was admiring the hotel room, the expensive furnishings and luxuries clearly pleasing to him. “A vacation seems very unlike you. Have you done something you need to make up for?”

“No.” He pulled Janos into his arms, back to his chest, enjoying the feel of him, steeling himself for what he had to do. The thought was painful, and he could almost convince himself that this was unnecessary, that there was nothing wrong with what they were. “I want time to enjoy you, is all.”

“That plan sounds good to me too. You should start now, I think,”

He took Janos to bed and kept him there for the whole three days, trying to fill himself up with the other man, imprint him on his skin. He needed this, this indulgence in his own softness, just this once. He told himself that every time his heart raced as Janos called him “Mi amor”, or “Mi diablo”, that it was just this once.

On the fourth day, when they were due back, he waited until they were both dressed and clean. “There is something we must discuss Janos.”

“What?” He looked happy, relaxed. Azazel wanted to keep the words inside just looking at him, so he turned his eyes away. He was confronted with the bed, and that was little better. “Mi amor, you look-”

“That is what we must discuss.” Just like that, he put out the light in Janos' eyes. “You have been telling me you love me for nearly two years now.”

“And I have been telling you to shave for three, what of it?”

“This ends here Janos.”

“What exactly do you mean by 'this'?” He asked, something desperate creeping into his voice. “You want me to stop saying it, fine, I will.”

“All of it ends. What we were doing ends, now.” Janos was too shocked for his face to show much else, but when his expression started to shift into hurt, Azazel looked away. “I should not have let this go on so long.”

“And this? You take me here to do it? Why? To fuck me one last time?” His anger was becoming apparent, as the pictures on the wall rattled with a hard gust of wind. “What have I done?”

“You sound like a child throwing a tantrum. Stop.” The wind died around them, and the only noise left was Janos' breathing. He sat down on the bed heavily, where the sheets were still tangled, where Azazel had been against him only two hours ago. Even now, Azazel wanted to take it back, apologize, beg for him back. He wanted him to stop looking as though he were about to sob. “Janos,”

“Take us home.” He ordered.

Azazel obeyed.

Janos moved into a different room in the house that day, taking his things quietly. Azazel would have preferred an argument, where they screamed and insulted each other, so he could be angry at Janos, could feel something other than this ache that followed him around whenever he and Janos were in the same room, but Janos refused to oblige him. He said nothing to him at all.

They could not avoid each other long, and two months later, they were assigned together for a recruiting mission. The silence between them was uncomfortable, and Azazel could not quite repress the longing to break it, especially not when he saw the familiar shine on Janos' wrist.

“I thought that watch was broken?” He'd given it to Janos a year and a half ago, a present he had picked up in Switzerland on a whim. It had stopped working after a fall into the water, and neither had had the time to take it to be repaired or replaced.

“It did. The new man, King, he saw it on the dresser, and fixed it for me.” Suspicion and dread rose in Azazel's stomach.

“What was he doing in your room?” Janos shook his head and looked away.

“Why do you care?”

“Two months and you are already replacing me?” He could not keep his tone even, not when all he wanted to do was kill the man who dared touch Janos.

“Do not do this,” Janos commanded. “Do not act like you have any say over who is in my bed, not when you are the one who ended things.”

“Janos-”

“I still love you.” He said, a waver in his voice. “But you do not love me, and now you do not want me. Do not fault me for finding some comfort with a man who does want me.”

The conversation was over, and Azazel was too furious to try to start another one. His jealousy almost consumed him, and for the next few days, he was haunted by the images. Now that he knew what to look for, he could see the affectionate way King looked at Janos, the casual way he touched him, so sure of his welcome, like Janos was his, when he was so clearly Azazel's. He wanted to rip the man to shreds.

One night, a week later, he got spectacularly drunk, and had sex with an equally drunk Mystique. It did nothing to quell the ache, but there was a satisfaction in how it so obviously hurt Janos. He took some savage joy in that.

-

The fifth time was three months later, after Janos had pulled through the night by some miracle in Xavier's mansion, where Magneto had ordered Azazel to take him and Mystique. The order alone had told Azazel just how afraid Magneto was of losing them.

“Hank says he's going to be asleep for a bit longer. Staring at him won't make him wake up.” Mystique droned from the next bed. Her arm was in a sling, and the doctor, the great blue gorilla who had once bested Azazel, had wrapped a bandage around her head after he'd stitched the wound there. “It's sickeningly sweet though, if that makes you feel better.”

“Did I ask you to talk?”

“It's my house, I can talk if I want to.” She said mockingly.

“I do not think it is still your house after you leave brother on beach bleeding.” He shot back, making her scowl.

“He's still my brother, so this is still our house, so kindly bite me asshole.” She twisted in her bed noisily, trying to get comfortable. She had been uncomfortable for the past two months it seemed, and she had become quick to snap at everyone for the smallest infraction. “I'm sure he'd love having you pine after him like this, especially after that move you pulled three months ago.”

“Do not talk about things you do not understand Mystique.” Despite her bravado, she was still frightened of him, and the tone he used silenced her quickly. She fell asleep after half an hour, the drugs in her system taking hold.

Janos slept on.

Azazel gave up his vigil when his own needs called, and it was sometime after he'd eaten and fallen asleep on a couch in what he thought might be a library that Janos woke up. By the time Azazel was told, he was sitting up and speaking to McCoy, describing what happened. Mystique was staring at nothing, with a strange expression on her face, a folder gripped in her hand.

“He sliced here, several times. Did it cut deep?” Janos was touching his bandaged side, as McCoy consulted a clipboard.

“No, but it was a pretty bad wound. It was his nails? What did they feel like?”

“No, not nails. Claws. Coming out of his hands.” Janos made a fist, pointing to the space between his knuckles. “They were like bone, but sharp. It did not matter how many times I hit him, he just kept getting up. Mystique tried to confuse him, but he knew she was her, and then he broke her arm, slammed her into the wall.”

“He could tell?” McCoy asked, scribbling away. “Do you know how?” Janos shook his head.

“He said he could smell me.” Mystique offered, sitting up a little straighter. “I've never met anyone who could tell like that.”

“Smell you?” Mystique nodded. “Azazel, did you notice anything about him?”

“I was busy with his friend, large man, smelled like a bear.”

“Well, what about him, did you notice anything special?”

“He could not fly.” He said, with a shrug and a grin. Janos shook his head, fighting a smile as realization dawned on McCoy. Even Mystique shuddered at the thought. He certainly had left an impression on them that first meeting, he thought with pleasure. Making Janos smile gave him more though, even if it was reluctant. He decided that mischief was probably the quickest way into a conversation, so he took out a cigarette when McCoy's back was turned. Janos couldn't keep the corners of his mouth from turning up as Azazel blew a smoke ring at the furry man.

McCoy finally caught the scent, and whirled on him, blue hair on end like an angry cat. “Are you smoking?” Azazel blew out another smoke ring in answer. “You can't smoke in here, especially not around Raven, she's pregnant!”

“Hank!”

Azazel put the cigarette out.

Whatever smile he'd coaxed out of Janos was gone, and now he wouldn't even look at Azazel. Mystique looked up at him, sort of shrugged and nodded at once, and looked back down at her hands. McCoy put two and two together quickly enough, and judging by the hard way he glared at Azazel, he didn't approve.

Azazel disappeared, reappearing up on the roof, anywhere to not be in that room. He smoked through half his pack up there, until the stars were high in the sky. A child was just as foreign a thought as love, and he had no idea what to do. He had no intentions of marrying her, and he doubted she would have him anyway. What could either of them do with a child though? Would she even keep it? There were ways to get rid of pregnancy, maybe she would choose that route. It seemed more likely for her. So maybe there was no problem.

Well, yes, there was a problem. Whatever hopes he'd had of charming Janos back were gone, if he'd ever had any. There'd been no infidelity, not really, but somehow he did not think Janos would forgive him this. This was not something that could easily be erased from memory, like Janos' dalliance with King. This had resulted in something real.

He needed to talk to Mystique first, and alone. Find out what she wanted.

He waited two days, until Janos and her had been moved out of McCoy's section of the mansion.

“Jesus, don't do that!” She screamed, when he appeared in her room. It was very obviously her room too, even after her months away. Xavier had changed nothing about the place. Maybe he had just been waiting for this day. “I don't know how Janos put up with that!”

“I have many talents to make up for it.” He assured her with a leer.

“Thank you for sharing.” She held up a hand, stopping him from saying more. “Yes, I'm keeping it. No, you can't convince me otherwise.” She wrapped her arms around her middle in a protective gesture. “I don't care what you want to do. Be here, don't be here, whatever.”

“Here? You are staying?” She nodded.

“I don't expect you to understand. But Charles is my family, and I certainly can't go on Magneto's missions while I'm like this. Hank's not even sure my physiology is the same a human woman's. He wants to monitor me, make sure I'm okay.”

“Are you sure that's all he wants to do?”

“Oh shut up.” She hissed. “Don't you dare talk to me about Hank, not when you and Riptide aren't even talking. By the way, have fun talking your way out of this.” She gestured to herself. “I thought he was going to cry, honestly. I have no idea what he even sees in you.”

“I have told you many times Mystique,” He warned. “You stay out of our business.”

“What business?” She asked in a nasty tone. “You really think he'll ever take you back? You knocking me up is the least of your problems with him.”

“Don't pretend like you know anything, you stupid whore, you have no idea what happened five months ago-”

“News flash Azazel, he actually talks to me. He talks to me and Angel all the time. So let me inform you, you asshole, you two had problems a long time before you pulled that bullshit. Angel told me he'd been thinking about leaving you for months, you just got there first-!” His hand stopped an inch from her face. For her part, she didn't flinch.

She was pregnant, he reminded himself. He was better than that.

“You. Lie.” He hissed. “He would never have left me.”

“Oh, keep telling yourself that. You told him you didn't love him Azazel, how long did you think he was going to put up with that? Do you have any idea what it's like to love someone and know they don't love you back? It hurts, Azazel.”

“I never said that!”

“You as good as!” She yelled back. “You know what? I hope he finally gets over you and stops moping about how much he's still so stupidly in love with you, you fucking asshole! Now get out of my room!” Azazel obliged her easily, and teleported away, out onto the grounds. There was a grove of trees by the water he liked, and he appeared there in a puff of smoke, up on a branch he'd picked out as being a good hiding place from McCoy and his crusade.

He smoked until he felt calmer, but his mind still reeled from their fight. Fuck Mystique and her self-righteousness. She knew nothing about them. How could she, a stupid little girl, not even a woman. He must have been half-mad to even touch her.

He had certainly felt like he was, at least. Watching King with Janos had made him sick with jealousy, still did, even if their affair seemed to have ended. At least there was that.

Someone was approaching, singing low under their breath in Spanish.

Janos walked under his tree, and stopped, smelling the air. He looked around before looking up. “Are you hiding from Hank?” Azazel took a long drag. “Or Mystique?”

“I have spoken to her. She is keeping it. Staying here.”

“And you?” Azazel shrugged carelessly.

“She doesn't need me and I have no need of her. I might come see the child, see how it turns out. I do not think I would make much of a father though.” Janos leaned against the tree, his dark head bowed so that Azazel could not see even a hint of his face. “I was jealous. And angry. And very drunk. I do not care about her, and her dislike of me is quite apparent.”

“Jealous?”

“You were sleeping with King. I hated the thought. Still do.” It sounded like Janos was laughing, under his breath. “What is funny?”

“Nothing, I guess. I slept with King because I was angry at you. You slept with Mystique because you were angry at me for doing that.” Azazel swung down easily, putting them face to face. “We are very good at hurting each other, aren't we?”

“I do not want to hurt you Janos.” Azazel stroked his face, and felt hope flare in his chest when Janos turned into it.

“You do it so well though.” He whispered into his palm.

The moment was gone as soon as it had come and Janos pulled away, turning back towards the mansion. Whatever had brought him down here was not worth Azazel's company then.

“Do you still love me Janos?” He called after him, one last desperate question. It stopped him, at the very least, made him turn just a little.

“Yes.” Azazel teleported over to him, the little flame fanned by the answer, but Janos put it out with his next words, just as honest. “I wish I did not though.”

He walked away.

Azazel let him.