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Don't Let Me Fall Again

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Janos rarely dreamed, or if he did, he did not remember them. He has never given the idea of dreams any power, not being a superstitious type. Azazel was, he knew. He believed, to an extent, in luck and stories. Janos did not though. Dreams were unimportant, silly things.

That night though, he dreamed. And it was of nothing silly, or unimportant.

His father adjusts his grip on the bow, and shows him how to slide it across the strings so that the sound is better, more like his own playing. His father is a master musician, he knows. He plays for many people. Janos plays too, his fingers quick where his brothers' are slow, clever where they are clumsy.

Here in the music room, he is his father's favorite, his focus. He's the youngest, and the least talented. Only here is where his father sees his worth.

“Now, play the Bach again,” His father says, releasing his hands.

“Which one, Papa?”

“Which one can you play perfectly?” His father asks in a stern tone. His father takes the music seriously, and he expects Janos too as well. Janos tries his best, despite how small he is compared to the instrument.

“The first one.” He says decisively, and begins.

For the first time in his life, something is coming easily to him, and the music flows like water from the cello at his urging. He moves his fingers without thinking about it, as he finds a place where there is only him and the music.

Something else surges up in him though, in his fingers, and the strings snap.

He woke with a start, feeling cold and tense. His father's voice had followed him out into the waking world, his awe at his youngest finally manifesting, showing his ability at last.

A hand touched his waist, sleep warm and comforting.

“What is wrong?” Azazel's English was rougher when he was half-asleep.

“Nothing.” Janos replied, but Azazel's arm came around him, pulling him back against Azazel's chest. Janos turned in his embrace, so that they faced one another. Azazel's eyes were alert in the darkness, and worried. “What?”

“This is the fourth time in a week you've had bad dreams.” He said. “You shake in your sleep, and I cannot wake you.” Janos frowned, confused. He had not slept well in the past two or three weeks, but he had not known he was waking Azazel up.

“I'm sorry,” He apologized. “Maybe you should go sleep in your room.” It was the last thing he wanted, but Azazel needed to sleep, and to make him tired because of his childish need to keep him close was selfish. Not only that, Janos hated being so needy when it came to Azazel. It was him who insisted Azazel share his bed.

Azazel's hand left his waist, and he sat up on his elbow. Janos closed his eyes and waited for the sound of his disappearance, but it didn't come.

“Do you want me to leave?” Azazel was frowning, and Janos realized his blunder. He shook his head and tugged on Azazel's arm, encouraging him to lie back down beside him.

“No, I want you here.” Azazel put his hand back where it belonged, on Janos' waist, and Janos curled into him, feeling like an idiotic child even as he did it. The comfort it gave him though, to have Azazel wrapped around him, was perfect. He had spent so many years starved for closeness, for affection, and now he had Azazel's. Azazel, who his heart had set itself on. He'd had no idea he could even be so happy.

Azazel's arm came around him tightly, holding him close, and he was grateful for it.

“What are you dreaming of Janos?” His accent always roughened Janos' name, and Janos was embarrassed at how much he liked it. When they were more settled with each other, he knew that he would be used to these things, but for now, it made his heart race.

“Nothing.” He attempted, but Azazel knew him better than that. He tilted his head a little, raising his eyebrows, and Janos scowled. “My father. I have not thought about him in years, and now I dream of him.”

“Was your father human?”

“No,” He answered, rolling back onto his back. Azazel's arm stayed on his waist, and Janos rested his hand on Azazel's arm idly while he watched the shadows on the ceiling. “My parents were mutants.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes. My mother, she could um, make things move? Without touching them. Nothing bigger than my cello. Once, when she was very angry with my father, she made every book in his library fly off the shelves.” He laughed a little at the memory, and heard Azazel's own huff of laughter. “When I was ten though, she died. Childbirth. I was the last one who lived. My father, he never really seemed the same. I think he must have loved her very much.”

“What could your father do?”

“My father, I have never met anyone with something like his. It was something to do with language. He could learn any language, just by reading it. So he worked for an American company. They would send him books, and he would rewrite them in all these languages. He loved music best though. He died when I was twelve.”

“He taught you to play then.” Janos nodded. “And your brothers?” His heart skipped a beat as the cold feeling stole over him again. Just thinking of them could send him into a panic these days, the memories he had locked down suddenly close to the surface and haunting him. “Were they mutants?”

“I don't want to talk about them.” He turned over, putting his back to Azazel, but Azazel turned him back with a hand on his shoulder. “Azazel,”

“It bothers you.”

“It didn't bother me until you made me think about it.” He shot, feeling it to be unfair even as he said it. Azazel was too used to his mercurial moods and biting words though, and he only got Azazel's fingers pushing through his hair as a response. “Drop it, Azazel. I don't want to talk about them.” Azazel considered him for a long moment, his fingers tangling in Janos' hair.

“Have I ever told you about my mother?” Surprised, Janos shook his head. Never once, in all the years he had known Azazel, had Azazel mentioned either of his parents. “Her name was Nadezhda. She was very beautiful. But maybe I am biased, yes?” Janos smiled at him, and when Azazel leaned over to kiss him, his smile grew.

“Was she a mutant?”

“She was. She had wings. We were part of a circus, and she was always the beautiful angel in the show. When I was born, it was a great joke among the circus. You can guess why.” He smirked, without an ounce of self-pity. For all that Azazel had suffered, he never seemed bitter for it. “It was only after she died that the military came looking for recruits. You see, he was aware of mutants, Stalin. He was a man obsessed. He thought he could make us. But when that failed, he had every mutant in the country tracked down and put in his forces. I was only a boy. But my ability, well.”

“You were valuable.” Janos said, watching Azazel as he listened, how his eyes went far away as he told the story. It was like the first time again, when Azazel had told him every scar, even the one he clearly hated the most. Janos could still vividly remember the way Von Roehm had howled in pain when Azazel had slammed him straight into the wall with his tail, hard enough Von Roehm had dented it. Janos wondered if he could ever tell Azazel how much this meant to him, that Azazel confided in him, trusted him.

“I was. Капитан, she was a shape-changer, like Von Roehm. She did not turn into a wolf, like him though. She turned into a dog, a big one. She was a great tracker. врач was a healer, like I told you. They became my family, over the years.”

“What happened to them?” Azazel's face clouded over, and Janos worried he had hit on something painful when Azazel did not immediately reply. They were gone, he realized. That had to be it. And now Janos had brought it up, brought him pain. He shrunk away from Azazel, angry with himself and his stupid mouth. “You don't have to tell me.” He offered, looking off to the side.

“врач was killed when I was in my twenties. Капитан was executed less than a year later. Things were getting very bad, you see. Everyone was at risk. They made her turn into her other self. And then they hunted her down. I did not find out until after.” Azazel pulled his hand out of Janos' hair, and stroked his face instead, tracing Janos' cheekbone with his fingers. “It was a long time ago, my darling. Do not trouble yourself over it." Janos turned his face into Azazel's fingers, kissing the tips in apology still. Azazel smiled in the darkness, relieving Janos' worry. "You know, Emma told me something today.”

The subject change threw Janos off for a moment, but he recovered quickly, and tried to think of what Emma could possibly be sharing with Azazel. They did not get along at all, really, often arguing over petty things.


“Lehnsherr might ask you to go on a recruiting mission in a few days. He got some information on some mutants, or something. Emma was unclear over what it was exactly. But it would be just you and him, apparently.” Janos wrinkled his nose, not liking the sound of that.

“I am always with you.” It wasn't that he didn't like Lehnsherr, only that he was uncomfortable with the man. He was intense, and though he was less frightening than Shaw, there was something about him that made Janos uneasy. And being separated from Azazel was, well, perhaps not an unbearable thought, but he didn't like it. They were always partnered. It was how this worked.

“That is why I am telling you now. I would rather I go with the two of you. But Emma says Lehnsherr might want me in Ireland.” Azazel rolled his eyes. “I can guess who he wants me to go visit.” Janos scowled at even the mention of the country.

“What does he think he will get out of him?” Janos asked. Azazel shrugged, shaking his head with a frown.

“It will do no good to explain. Lehnsherr will have to see what he is like for himself.” It could be no one but Black Tom, and just the thought of him made Janos' fingers itch. The man was reckless, and incredibly stupid. There was a reason Shaw had not wanted him in the Hellfire Club. “In any case, maybe I can convince him to let that one wait, and go with you two. I would rather know where you are.”

“I can handle myself.” Janos assured him, not sure if he should be insulted.

“It has nothing to do with that. I would never doubt your ability to fight, and win. Remember, I have seen you at full power, my love.” Azazel said, in a placating tone, though it took on more of a purr at the end. Azazel had already told Janos how much he loved seeing him let go, seeing him unleash his ability at its fullest. “It is only that you have been strange, ever since Lehnsherr took over. You don't sleep well, and sometimes, I feel as though you are somewhere else. Not with me.” The way he said it gave Janos pause. Azazel was trying to say something without saying it, and Janos wasn't sure what it was exactly.

“It has nothing to do with Lehnsherr.” He answered, truthfully, but if anything, that made Azazel withdraw more. “What is wrong? What are you trying to ask me?”

“Janos, you want this, yes?” He asked. “I assumed, after the first time, but maybe this is more than what you were after?”

Janos stared at him in disbelief before pulling him forward, so that some of his weight was on Janos, and that they were close enough to kiss. Azazel shifted, moving himself over Janos so that most of his weight was on his own arms as Janos pulled him close, opening his legs so that Azazel could settle between them. “Azazel,” He said, quietly, “Sometimes I want you so badly it hurts. You don't need to question your place with me, I promise.”

“Janos,” He breathed, in the space between a kiss, and Janos lifted his head so that their mouths met again, biting Azazel's lip just a little, the way he liked. Azazel groaned at it, and Janos spread his legs further, feeling Azazel against him, how hard he was getting just from this, just from kissing Janos. The power he had over his body was heady, and he couldn't help himself, as he slung a leg around Azazel's waist, bringing them into close, arousing proximity. Azazel groaned, and Janos felt the vibration through his muscled shoulders, tense under Janos' arm from holding himself back.

“It's only been a few hours,” Janos tempted, bringing his other knee up.

“I was rough earlier. I don't want to hurt you.” Janos tightened his arm around Azazel's shoulders, and his other hand slipped down to wrap around Azazel's hard cock, feeling him, and the vague sheen of oil still there.

“You never hurt me,” He promised, releasing him. Azazel groaned and gave in, guiding himself back inside Janos. The pace was slower this time, gentler, and Janos was grateful for it. He was sore from earlier, Azazel's enthusiasm after a hard training session with Lehnsherr having carried into bed, but not sore enough it was uncomfortable, as long as Azazel was careful this time.

When they were doing this, when Azazel was inside of him, it felt like every cold place inside of him was warmed, and he couldn't get enough of it. Just having Azazel touch him, for no reason other than because he wanted to, was enough to make his heart sing. It was as though he had been empty, and Azazel's affection was filling him up. There was never going to be enough of it, never enough to make him tire of Azazel.

“Do you have any idea how good you feel?” Azazel asked, kissing the spot below Janos' ear. “This bed, inside of you, this is the best place I have ever been,” His tail snaked between them, wrapping around Janos and matching the rhythm of Azazel's hips.

Janos didn't have much of an answer, absorbed in his own body and what Azazel gave it, how he was learning so quickly what felt best for him, how to make him moan Azazel's name. Azazel's tail was quickly becoming his favorite part of this, the smooth texture warm, and gentle enough not to chafe, but tight enough to get him off. He hoped Azazel was his last, because he couldn't imagine sex without it now, couldn't imagine sex with anyone but Azazel.

“If I could stay like this,” He whispered, in Janos' ear, so that only he could hear it, as though there were spies in their room. “If I could just stay with you forever, I would.” His tail tightened in exactly the right way, and Janos came with a quiet groan between them. Azazel kept going, his pace achingly slow, like he was trying to make it last just a bit longer. He didn't drag it out though, didn't push Janos' exhausted body into an uncomfortable place. Janos felt his back shudder, and the way his hips stilled, the wetness of Azazel's orgasm dripping down inside of him.

Azazel pulled out carefully, pressing kisses to Janos' temple as he did so. Janos tilted his head, encouraging Azazel to move to his mouth, kiss him properly. Azazel obliged, and Janos slipped his tongue in, tasting Azazel. He was tired again now, ready to go back to sleep, and hopefully stay asleep, but he just wanted it to last, this space they had between sunset and sunrise where it was just them, and no one else. In the morning, he would have to let go, and share Azazel with the rest of the world, but for now, he was only Janos'.

If he dreamed again that night, he didn't remember.

Morning dawned, the day overcast and smelling like water. The wind from the coming storm he could feel approaching as easily as his own heartbeat, but he could just barely sense the buildup of rain, his secondary mutation much weaker than his primary.

Azazel was already gone, awake before the dawn, as he always was. Janos had felt him kiss the top of his head before leaving, but had been too sleepy still to acknowledge it.

He forced himself out of the warmth of his bed, and into the shower, washing away the evidence of the night before almost reluctantly. After sex, there was always the vaguest hint of Azazel's scent hanging on him, the curious mix of cigarettes and smoke and his cologne. Janos liked it, in its own way, liked feeling so owned. But though he was sure almost everyone in the house was aware of what they were to each other, he didn't want to test their goodwill by throwing it in their faces. Lehnsherr, Angel, and Mystique were strangers, and he didn't know them well enough to gauge their feelings towards he and Azazel's unusual relationship, didn't know if he was facing mere indifference, or scorn. He wasn't eager to find out either.

He contemplated his hair as he dried it, using his mutation in possibly one of the most mundane ways ever, the strands locking into curls naturally. He normally brushed it straight, but Azazel liked the curls. It wouldn't hurt, he supposed, to just let them alone for the day. Wouldn't hurt to see Azazel's pleased smile, feel him run his fingers through them discreetly when he saw them in the afternoon. Emma's knowing smirk would be worth it, to see Azazel's smile somewhere beyond the bedroom.

He finished and dressed, in trousers and a cotton shirt, leaving his cleaned suits for another day. As far as he knew, today was only going to be spent planning, and getting the groceries.

The women were at the table when he got downstairs, Angel staring out the window over a cup of coffee while Mystique, in her blue form, stirred a spoon in a cup of tea blankly. Emma was reading the newspaper, a pen between her teeth, her breakfast untouched beside her. That explained Angel's distant stare, at least. The eggs Angel had cooked looked perfect on the plate, over easy and burnt around the edges, just how Emma liked them. So why, Janos wondered, was she pretending they weren't even there?

“Did you make up the list?” He asked Angel, breaking the silence as he grabbed a mug and filled it with coffee before putting in a few spoonfuls of sugar. He liked his coffee sweet, to Azazel and Emma's disgust.

“Yeah. Check it before we go.” She pushed across the pad of paper to the empty seat beside Emma, and he sat there obligingly, giving it a precursory glance.

“Why do we buy groceries?” Mystique asked. “Can't Azazel just pop in at night and get them?”

“Azazel is not an errand boy.” Emma told her, the pen making her words a little mumbled. She removed it to circle something, placing the paper flat on the table. “And it's an unnecessary risk. These stores are starting to put in alarms now, and other things. What do you think will happen if a bunch of humans spot Azazel?”

“Wouldn't he just kill them?” She said it in a strange tone, still stirring her tea, though there was nothing in it as far as Janos could tell.

“Because the clerk at the grocery store deserves to be viciously murdered by our favorite Russian?” Emma's tone was condescending, and Janos got the feeling he was missing something. “Could you be any more stupid?” The sharp little glare she turned on Angel was accusing, and as gone as quickly as it came, leaving Janos even more confused.

“God, get over yourself.” Mystique said with a huff, scooting her chair back loudly and leaving, her tea still sitting on the table. Janos frowned at it, hoping she didn't expect him to clean it up. He was no one's servant.

Children.” Emma hissed, and Angel shifted uncomfortably. “I don't know what anyone sees in her, do you?” She directed the question at Janos, and he raised an eyebrow, silently asking her what exactly was going on. Whatever petty little game she was playing, he wasn't participating until he knew exactly what she was on about.

-Nothing- She projected, along with an undercurrent of, -Shut up, now-. Janos rolled his eyes and drank his coffee, wishing he hadn't left his cigarettes upstairs. Emma's games inevitably made him want to smoke.

“Anyway," She said, out loud. "Lehnsherr wants to see you sometime this morning. As I'm sure you've already been told,” She raised her perfect eyebrows smugly, “He has a mission he wants to consult you on. Something about some traders down in Mexico.”

It was like ice had been dumped in his veins, and Emma clearly felt it, furrowing her brow in confusion at his sudden mood shift. He projected a feeling of calm quickly, trying to reassure her it was nothing, but he couldn't fool her for a minute. Something was wrong, and she knew it, but if he was lucky, she wouldn't ask later. Emma was loyal to him before anyone else in this house, and she would never put him on the spot in front of a stranger like Lehnsherr, or Angel, but her own curiosity and concern would bring her around sooner or later.

“Sounds nice.” Angel said quietly, finally taking a drink of her coffee. “I'd like to be warm. It's cold here.” Emma shot her another angry look, her focus leaving Janos, and Angel recoiled, visibly turning in on herself.

“I have things to do,” She informed them both icily, getting to her feet. “I will see you later.” She said this to Janos pointedly, and he wondered if it was about him, or about hurting Angel. With Emma, probably a mix of both. She always did like the expression, "two birds, one stone".

“You should eat,” Angel had a pleading note to her voice, but Emma only waved her off, her boots clicking on the floor as she stalked off. Now thoroughly and completely confused over the two of them, he turned to Angel, but she just shook her head.

“Don't worry about it.” She told him, and he shrugged it off, figuring they would work it out amongst themselves. He was not in any mood for whatever drama had stirred up among them. Women had never been his strong point to begin with, and their petty mind games gave him a headache. Men were direct about their needs and wants.

“This looks like everything we need,” He said, and pushed the list back over to her, as he stood to make his exit. “I had better go see Lehnsherr now.”

“Okay.” She replied in a dull tone, and went back to staring out the window.

The women fighting couldn't be good, however, in Janos' opinion, and he wondered what exactly it was about, and if perhaps he should at least attempt to speak to Emma about what was going on. Emma appeared spiteful to Mystique and angry at Angel, while Angel was clearly trying to make nice with Emma. But as for why, he honestly had no idea. They'd only known one another for two weeks, and he'd been sure they were getting along fine, at first, or rather, as well as Emma got along with anyone. Emma had not seemed terribly interested in Mystique, to be honest, closer to Angel in age and temperament, but now there was a definite animosity towards the shape-shifter. Maybe it was because Mystique had not bonded to Emma psychically the way Angel had, when Shaw had first brought Angel aboard the submarine. Emma had reached out to their new recruit from her CIA cell, getting to know her on a more intimate level than if they had met face-to-face. And Mystique was experienced at blocking telepaths. Could that be it? Emma was feeling prickly over a perceived rejection? But would Mystique even know she was rejecting the tendrils of Emma's mind?

Women, he huffed. They were so strange. And he had the added bonus of them being mutant women. This was so much easier when it was just Emma.

He reached the room Lehnsherr was using as a planning room, a large one with cathedral ceilings that Janos supposed might have been a drawing room of some kind, and knocked politely before entering. Lehnsherr was reading something in a manila folder, seemingly absorbed by it.

“You wanted something?”

“Your surname is Quested, isn't it?” He asked, without preamble. Janos nodded, confused. “Do you know a,” He squinted at the folder, “A Joseph, a Joash, a Jesimiel, and a -”

“Josiah?” Janos finished dully, shocked.

Lehnsherr looked up at him at last, seemingly pleased. “You do know them. Relations?”

“My brothers.”

“Do you have a good relationship with them?” Janos shook his head, trying to get his nerves under control.

“Lehnsherr, trust me, you do not want them in this Brotherhood of yours.”

“Of ours,” Lehnsherr corrected. “And why not?”

“Because they're insane. All of them. They will follow no orders, no leaders, except Joseph. And Joseph will kill you before he follows you.” Or he would have one of the others do it. That would be more his oldest brother's style.

“Not even for the advancement of our kind?” Lehnsherr seemed to be almost laughing at the idea, and it angered Janos. He walked over to Lehnsherr as carefully as possible, feeling the itch in his fingers as he did, the need for a cigarette now screaming through his mind as he tried to keep himself under control.

“Lehnsherr, listen to me. Even Shaw did not want my brothers, and if you knew Joash's You do not want them anywhere near here.” Anywhere near me, he wanted to say, but didn't. He would never show his hand like that, not to a stranger.

Lehnsherr opened the folder and pushed it across to Janos.

“Thank you for your honesty.”

The contents of the folder were enough to make Janos want to recoil, but he stayed outwardly calm.

“You were testing me.” He hissed. Lehnsherr shrugged, unapologetic. “Why? What do you want from them?”

“Sit down Janos,” Lehnsherr directed, gesturing at the chair catty-corner to him. “Your brothers have gotten involved in an interesting business in the past few years, it seems. Very interesting.”