"What did your parents think?"
That had been the first thing that Raven had wondered, when she had got around to thinking about her new companions. She remembered the hatred of her own parents, the way that their fingers had dug into the soft skin of her neck as they held her underwater. And she didn't even have a tail.
Azazel turned his head to look at her, raising an eyebrow. "My parents?" he asked, voice amused.
"Yeah." Raven swung herself up onto the wall, their feet dangling down over the cliff edge. Below them, the sea surged white-capped against the rocks, hurling salt-spray yards into the air in its timeless, endless battle against the land. "What did they think, when you became –" she waved a hand, encapsulating Azazel's demonic appearance. "You know."
"Let us pretend that I do not," Azazel said, and he was definitely smirking now; although Raven had seen him smirk like that whilst strangling a man with his tail, so. She hesitated, the words catching in her throat as she looked at him because she always took it badly when Charles had commented on her natural appearance.
"Well," she said, stalling. "You're red. And you have a tail. I mean," she continued, swiftly, relying on humour to defuse whatever possible situation might arise from this (stupidstupidstupid why couldn't you just leave it alone?), "I know you're Russian, but isn't that taking things a little far? Surely they weren't impressed. Or whatever."
Azazel snorted, eyes on the tiny sillhouettes of fishing ships, out on the ocean. "I am sure," he said, "that my parents would have been rather more unimpressed with this avenue that I have taken with my life."
Which was just – Raven had no idea what that was supposed to be.
"Because you're fighting against humans?" she hazarded.
"Yes," he answered, after a moment. "Because I am fighting humans." He glanced at her. "What about yours? They had a negative reaction to your – change, I assume."
She smiled, ruefully. "Negative reaction," she repeated. "Yeah, you could say that."
Azazel said nothing, and they sat together in sea breeze and silence as Raven tried to figure out what it was that she wanted to say – and why she had wanted to say it in the first place. She had never discussed her life before Westchester and Charles, not even with Charles; although he probably knew, anyway, because he hadn't been all that good at blocking out her nightmares when they were younger.
"They tried to kill me," she said, eventually. Azazel's tail twitched, the tip flicking angrily through the air, but otherwise he made no reaction. "When my skin changed. They held me down in the bath and tried to drown me."
"I am sorry," he said, after a long moment.
"I don't care," she said, quickly. "I don't care about what they think of me. They're just scared. Because I was so obviously different."
Azazel inclined his head, slightly, in acknowledgement of her reasoning. "Da," he said, "but that was not what I was meaning." She looked at him, confused. "I am sorry," he clarified, "that you are still affected by it."
"I'm not," she snapped. "I'm not afraid to be me, anymore."
"But you are," he said, his calm voice goading at her. "It is clear in the agression with which you now wear your own skin. I am not complaining," he added. His lecherous look made Raven laugh, and she punched his arm.
"Dick," she said. It was his turn to laugh, low and deep and rolling up from his chest like the smooth Scotch that Charles had never let her drink, that Erik was more than happy to share with her.
"I have never been called that before," he said, teeth bared in a grin.
"Better get used to it." Raven settled back on her elbows, gaze once more on the ships twisting on the sea.