He hadn't grown up knowing sign language besides a few basics, and neither Shaw nor Azazel understood it anyway. No one in his home town had questioned the quiet boy who always sat in the corner, watching people walking by. He responded when someone asked something of him, so they shrugged and figured it hardly mattered if he never actually said something in response.
One time at school, a teacher tried to take him to task for it, over the smallest issue. The boy had no thanked her and she railed at him, demanding to know why he didn't talk. Tilting his head to the side, the boy had simply considered her quietly, and was sent to the principles office for disrespect. The principle did not even care, and sent him back with no punishment.
Home life was quick and hurried, and he grew up among many other children. His silence was rarely remarked upon until he was taken out of school at a young age and sent to work. His siblings all knew the boy did not speak, since he was protective of them like a mother panther but he never spoke to them, never sang them lullabies to sooth them to sleep.
At work, he was expected to do do what every other worker did, and he was nimble and quick, enough that it was not hard for him. If he accepted each paycheck quietly, with only an incline of his head, no one cared either.
They did care when one day one of the foremen hit down a lazy worker that was one of his sisters and a whirlwind blew him off his feet and into a wall. The boy who never spoke was fourteen at the time, and didn't bother to pack anything when he left. He left his wages on his eldest sister's table.
That day he left behind more than his brothers and sisters, hometown, and wages. He left the name he'd grown up with there as well, never again going by Janos by choice. Later, the name would be ripped from his memories, but few people were allowed it.
He went to America, because that was were all who were lost and lonely went, even after the World Wars.
The silent youth lived down by the docks. He would work for any ships that came through, though ships were a dying breed they still came in and out of big cities. Sometimes a ship from his home would come in and he unloaded the cargo he had once harvested.
The sea called to him though, and at night he would walk along the beaches, and if they were empty enough he could create whirlwinds off the coast waters.
They felt more powerful coming off the ocean then when he made them of himself.
He learned at this point that he could grow sharp objects out of his bones, and when they appeared these bones felt like they itched to become a part of the winds. But when one day they almost tore apart the walls of the small room he was in, he decided never to use them again. They were dangerous—they were deadly. Sharp enough to tear through metal, he actually had no inclination to see what they would do to flesh.
Several years passed like this, and he did not leave the ocean's side. He'd grown up in a city land locked and never wanted to have to do without this sort of connection again. The salt water was like a piece of him he never knew had been gone.
Eventually he stopped working at the docks and waited a bar instead. In some ways this put the most stress on him than he had ever encountered before. People walking into a bar wanted to talk about their problems and he could only nod or hand them another drink. On the other hand, it perfected his English and taught him more slang and dialects than he knew what to do with.
He learned how to make martinis.
He also learned a lot about how people worked. Or at least how the dregs of civilization functioned. Walking home at night he would see the terrors of humanity lurking in alleys, and hear more confessions then he figured any priest heard. Particularly classy people did not walk into his bar.
Until the time they did. He had no idea what to make of the blond who wore white that left nothing to the imagination, her hair framing her cold eyes. The man who walked in with her had hair cut in the latest fashion and smoothed down, his suit well cut and of rich fabric.
Blinking, the quiet man poured them both drinks. The well dressed man leaned against the bar. “Nice place you have here.” It was a dive and the quiet man raised a brow as if to question before shrugging and offering a refill. The other man frowned, glancing back at his woman before back to the bartender. “We've been hearing rumors,” he continued, voice smooth but with a slightly harsh edge to his accent, which was more obvious on the shorter, Germanic words. “Rumors about whirlwinds appearing in the middle of the night here. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?”
The quiet man froze, finally raising a hand to brush back his thick hair that was getting long enough to hit his eyes. He shrugged, and was about to turn away when the woman spoke. “Sebastian, he won't be able to tell us anything. He's mute.”
The man turned back to look at her in some surprise and the well dressed man—Sebastian—arched a brow at him. It was the first time anyone had actually come out and stated he was mute.
“Emma,” Sebastian murmured. “Be more polite.” Emma shot him a quick look and turned back to the quiet man.
“You also know exactly where those little hurricanes come from, don't you?” she continued, considering him up and down. “He would clean up well,” she added to Shaw, who rolled his eyes heavenward.
“Emma, Emma, Emma, what did I just say about being polite?” She pouted at him for a moment and the quiet man quietly slipped from behind the bar and toward the door. The two guests glanced at each other and rose to follow him.
Once outside he fully intended just to walk away from them, maybe leave again before they told anyone. Stepping into the night he froze as a puff of smoke and the smell of sulfur suddenly appeared in front of him and he was standing chest to chest with a red demon in a well cut suit. Blinking, he looked the other down and then back up, ending at where the demon was smirking.
The demon held out a hand. “Come, Komrade,” he said in a ridiculously thick Russian accent. The quiet man blinked again. “We mean you no harm,” the demon continued, nodding to where Sebastian and Emma were standing behind the quiet one.
He turned to look back at the other two and Emma stepped forward. “We have to call you something,” she said and he frowned. He may be able to understand English but he could not write it, and he certainly would not give them their name. “Oh, I know all that,” she said and he rocked back in confusion. “But what about a title? Like,” she frowned and he felt something poking around his mind and just about started running away before it withdrew. “Riptide,” Emma declared happily, and Sebastian just shrugged while the demon looked pleased.
The quiet man had no idea what to make of any of that and so just nodded. “They're what comes just before a hurricane,” Emma explained and Sebastian looked somewhat surprised she knew that.
“Riptide,” the demon murmured, and held his hand out again, red and strangely welcoming. “As good as name as any. I am Azazel. Now, come, Komrade.”
This time the quiet man took his hand and stumbled back a moment later when they abruptly changed locations, Emma and Sebastian left behind in the alleyway. He raised his brows in alarm and Azazel shrugged. “They had other business to attend to,” he explained. “They will call when they have need of me.”
Blinking again, the newly titled Riptide sat down on one of the nearby couches, swaying slightly. Azazel gave him a half concerned look, leaning down nearby. “It's disorienting the first time,” he explained. “Do you need anything?”
Riptide looked him over and shook his head, motioning over the couch to explain he just needed to sit so his head would stop spinning. Azazel raised his brows. “You are not talkative, are you Komrade?”
Eyes darting up, Riptide gave him a long look before shaking his head. The demon paused before his next question. “ Can you speak?” Pausing, the quiet man shook his head, looking around the opulent room. His eyes lighted on what looked like a bar and he motioned toward it, asking the red demon permission.
Azazel followed his gaze and shrugged. “Do as you like,” he replied and Riptide rose, moving over to make a martini, the gestures rote and well memorized. Quietly, Azazel watched him, red tail swaying behind him as he sat on the stool by the bar. Riptide raised a brow at him, asking him if he would like one as well.
Grinning, the demon nodded. “Only if you make it with vodka.” Riptide made a face and Azazel grinned as the martini was made with vodka and set in front of him.
They sipped their martinis in silence, Riptides made with gin, considering each other.
About half an hour later, Azazel straightened. “I am being called,” he said with a grin and disappeared in a puff of red smoke. Coughing, Riptide waved a hand in front of his face to clear away with the smoke and the smell, which both quickly dissipated.
Maybe ten minutes later Azazel reappeared, Emma on one side and Sebastian on the other.
Emma was making a face at the smell of sulfur, stepping quickly away and straightening what passed for her outfit. “I see you've made yourself at home,” Sebastian beamed as Azazel slipped back over to finish the second martini that Riptide had made for him. Riptide simply shrugged one shoulder as Sebastian moved over. He considered making a third martini and decided against it.
Sebastian looked like he wanted to make a speech after all, so Riptide leaned his elbows against the counter and prepared himself to listen.
“Now, you might be wondering what you are—” Sebastian started and Riptide did not move to contradict him, though honestly he had never given it any thought. He just danced on the salty waves and kept his head low in the daylight hours. “—And why you have abilities other people do not.”
Noticing the pause Sebastian was leaving, Riptide nodded and Azazel, who was watching him more closely than Sebastian hid a smile behind his glass.
“You, my friend, are a mutant, like all the rest of us,” Sebastian said, smiling in a way that sent a shiver up and down Riptide's spine. “We are born special, and are a new race of beings.” Riptide blinked, and let him continue, as Sebastian went over what mutants were, how they came to be, and what his plans were to help the mutants of the world against the oppressive humans. “So then, Riptide,” Shaw said as he wound down. “Will you join our fight?”
Riptide glanced over at where Azazel was watching him and grinning, and further to where Emma was sitting on the couch, looking at a pocket mirror and fussing with her hair with a frown. Even though the action looked unbearably vain, something about the economy of her movements and the sharp tilt to her mouth implied there was a predator lurking inside her and just waiting to lash out. He turned his eyes back to Sebastian and nodded.
For a moment he couldn't tell whether Azazel or Sebastian was wearing the larger grin.
Shortly therefore Azazel was conducting him to a bed room as opulent as the other room had been. Emma and Sebastian went the other way together and Riptide did not judge enough to question that, walking along side Azazel instead in contemplation.
“You know,” the red mutant said, his accent slipping slightly and Riptide's head jerked up. “All that talk about mutants being children of the atom? Isn't as true as he'd like it to be.” Riptide tilted his head, expression inquiring what the other meant and why he followed the other then. Azazel just kept grinning and shrugged, accent slipping further. “I don't care if he blows half of humanity into a nuclear wasteland. I might help for the entertainment value, because even he does not want to wipe away all life. Mutants have been around longer than he has though, no matter how long he's used his power to keep himself young. You have the king of Atlantis, who likes to pretend he was first but even that's a lie. You've had mutants around since the time that people sat down to write stories. Where do you think demons and angels came from?”
Riptide looked him over again and arched a brow, considering the other certainly looked like a demon.
Azazel grinned and opened a door, leaning against the door frame. “Here's your room,” he said and Riptide's eyes widened slightly. “We'll need to get your size to get you some better clothes.”
Still looking around the room in some wonderment, Riptide turned back to him, as if to protest it was too nice.
The demon just laughed. “Sleep well,” he said, voice dropping low and Riptide took a step back from that, a flutter in his stomach that he didn't know what to do with. Rather than walking to where ever his own room was, Azazel suddenly disappeared into a puff of smoke, leaving the door open.
Hesitating, Riptide stepped forward to close the door, locking it for no reason he could think of.
The next few months were an education in a whole new way. He discovered that suddenly he had the ability to get suits as well cut as Sebastian's and took complete advantage of that. Just because he could never have afforded it before did not mean he had no appreciation of men's fashion. In fact, Riptide treated his suits more preciously than the other men, perhaps only on par with Emma's feelings for her clothes.
He learned that the more he got to know Sebastian the less he called him Sebastian and the more he called him Shaw. The man had no real attention for the wake of bodies he tended to leave, and hearing stories about him just made Riptide's blood run cold. Azazel took pleasure in the battle, but it was nothing compared to Shaw's disregard to what he only seemed to consider flies that needed to be swatted.
Sometimes it made Riptide think about the brothers and sisters he left at home and he missed them for the first time since leaving.
Months later and he really had no idea what to do with the red demon that would sometimes appear right behind him with no warning. More and more often Azazel would let his accent slip around the mute mutant, and Riptide wondered how old the other mutant actually was, and why he seemed to be amused by the idea of living as the embodiment of the “red communist” more than what he actually was.
Miss Emma Frost, however, he learned to understand. He learned shortly after arriving that she was a telepath, which meant for the first time someone knew exactly what he meant and what he meant no one else to ever hear. Having lived his entire life in his own mind, he realized after meeting her how often he thought things he would prefer no one to have access to. For the most part, she allowed him that privacy but occasionally they would talk while sitting on the couch and sipping drinks, he with his martini and her with whatever struck her fancy that day. Sometimes Azazel or Shaw would also be in the room but they heard nothing.
They became the other's confident. Emma let Riptide know about her doubts and her past growing up in Boston with a father who ruined his family's happiness and tried to make her his heir before she left. She was a predator through and through, but sometimes she had her own fears, and sometimes she would watch Shaw with something melancholy and something bitter in her mind. She could tell Riptide what she would kill anyone else for knowing because he could hardly tell anyone else about it. His gestures could convey not subtly and she breathed subtly.
Riptide finally had someone he could actually talk to, form entire sentences for. She heard about working from the age of eleven on a fruit plantation, about his slew of siblings that used to swarm around his every waking and sleeping moment. His confusions and doubt, and his joy to stand by the ocean. She was only the ever person allowed to call him Janos, in the safety of their own minds.
Shaw had a private beach, and a yacht with an attached submarine. Riptide would stand outside at night and call up the winds, letting the salt of the air wash over him. There were many days he thought being allowed to do this freely was enough to follow Shaw's vision.
Riptide hardly cared about intimidating whoever Shaw asked him to intimidate, though a small part of him feared showing his powers to people he never met before, who could one day perhaps turn that against him. When the general came through and Azazel took him back to Washington, Riptide did not really think much on it, unaware of how very close Shaw felt to completing his plans.
He was aware soon enough, and they moved to Miami with the help of Azazel who took them across the country effortlessly. Now used to Azazel's transportations, Riptide was more curious about how he did them. If he paid enough attention it actually felt like they were going through another dimension, but he shook the thought off as silly.
Then the general was back, and Riptide felt arrogant about his blustering. He is acting rather foolish , Emma remarked, working on her nails as they watched the confrontation go down. She had to pause to say something to Shaw and returned to Riptide. Blustering around like a portly cartoon.
Riptide smirked and suddenly there was a grenade in the mix. Emma continued doing her nails and having seen Shaw work before Riptide was less than concerned.
So the general was dead in front of them, and shortly there was another mutant on the ship—destroying the ship for that matter.
Riptide did not mind being in the submarine, though Emma was looking more and more like she wanted to be anywhere else. The affection she'd tried to hold for Shaw was slipping by the moment and she was scared of the moment it was gone. Their bunks were small and cramped, and Azazel shared the small space with Riptide. Emma and Shaw slept off the living room he had set up, one of the couches folding out as far as Riptide could tell.
It was only then he found out how very serious Shaw was and how close to his plans he was. Riptide lay in one of the bunks, Azazel somewhere above him with his hands behind his head the first night. He could feel the hum of the sub's engines and thought about all the water around them. But his powers were for the surface of the water, not deep below it.
“Did I ever tell you about the king of Atlantis?” Azazel asked from above him. Riptide raised a brow and had no way to respond, but Azazel continued, telling him story after story like he was drawing them out of hat.
Riptide fell asleep to the sound of the other's voice, vaguely wondering if he was scared too.
They spent a lot of time on that submarine, and then one day Emma finally got off it, heading somewhere else as they turned back to the United States. Riptide missed her, but Azazel brought a bottle of vodka for the pair of them back on the submarine, and they went through it that first night in their cramped quarters. Shaw had his own alcohol supply and they only had the one cheap bottle.
Riptide thought he heard the demon murmur something to him, but he wasn't sure it was a language he could understand and all he knew was the next morning making sure the sub was on course was more painful than usual as his head throbbed with the aftertaste of too much vodka. He knew there was a reason he drank gin.
He wished for more bottles of vodka than he could count shortly. They reached the CIA base, and Riptide later got a look at the carnage they left behind. Once Azazel transported them off the sub, he had been sent to deal with what was apparently called Cerebro. He regretted destroying such a fine piece of technology, but that was easily rebuilt. Soon though Riptide was fairly certain the only people left alive in that base where the four mutant children. They killed one mutant and took another with them.
Back in their cramped bunks, Riptide and Azazel spent several long minutes staring at each other, Angel in the room with Shaw, probably having drinks.
“You're angry,” Azazel remarked and Riptide glanced away. “You are, Komrade. Why are you angry?”
Riptide looked away, going to climb into the bunk and Azazel stopped him. “Because of death? Or because another girl is suddenly in the place of Emma Frost as we leave her to whatever fate she might have?”
Making an angry gesture, Riptide made to move back and Azazel's grip on his arm just tightened. “Komrade,” Azazel started and paused. “I don't even know your real name,” he murmured, accent thick again for no reason Riptide could tell.
He just shook his head. He left his name behind like he left everything in his life behind at one point or another. It was hard to bond with people when you could not even tell them what the weather was like or how much you loved or hated them.
“Everyone should have a name,” Azazel protested and Riptide wondered what the point was since he could hardly respond in any meaningful way.
Instead of replying—since he couldn't—he put a hand in Azazel's chest and shoved back. The demon didn't budge, but let him go. Glaring at him, Riptide had to crawl around him to get into his bunk.
There was a moment of silence and suddenly the mattress shifted and Azazel crammed himself onto Riptide's bunk. Eyes widening, he turned his head, about to shove the other off when arms wrapped around him. “I'm sorry,” was murmured into his hair. “Even for the things I did not do.”
His hand pushed at Azazel's chest with no real strength behind it and they slept that way that night, almost on top of each other in the tiny space. In the morning Riptide woke because Azazel transported out of the bunk, leaving him cold and alone and with the smell of sulfur still in his nose.
Somehow they got news that Emma was being held by the CIA, but they didn't storm that CIA base. Shaw seemed perfectly content with the new girl they had picked up. She had been an exotic dancer and whore, and did not appear to regret leaving that profession, though she didn't mind reprising the skills since she spent each night with Shaw.
Riptide wasn't entirely sure what he thought of her, and she didn't seem inclined to seek them out either.
Azazel spent the next few nights up in his own bunk and Riptide refused to feel lonely or cold. They were miles under the water's surface—it was supposed to be cold down here.
Shaw convinced the Russians to follow his plan as well and everything looked set for complete nuclear warfare. Riptide more and more thought he should have stayed anywhere else, but maybe with Shaw himself there would be some measure of protection for his loyal followers.
However, they still had to wait for the actual ship to get across the sea, and the waiting was just about to drive him mad.
Azazel hardly looked pleased as well, and one night when Riptide was getting ready to crawl into that little bunk of his, the demon pulled on his arm, keeping him standing. He glared at the other, who shrugged in response. Tilting his head, Riptide narrowed his eyes further to demand to know what the other was doing.
The next thing he knew they were standing in a hotel room and Azazel was giving him the strangest look. Maybe this explained why he hadn't seen Azazel earlier that day, since to appear in a room Riptide was assuming—hoping in fact—that the other had already paid for it. Though he wondered what sort of a hotel would let a red demon take a room there.
It was too clearly a hotel room to be anything else, tasteful but boring art on the walls and the bed spread that combination of red and gold and brown so many of them seemed to be. Riptide turned his actual gaze back to Azazel, brow arching in question.
The demon shrugged slightly and went to sit down on the edge of the bed. “You were getting stressed, komrade,” he said as if that explained this. “I thought a change of scenery would do you good.”
Riptide made a short angry motion meant to express he'd seen the CIA base and Azazel just frowned. “You've been so angry,” he murmured, accent slipping again into something more rounded and less harsh.
Looking away, Riptide considered the room again, the set of his shoulders defiant and annoyed. Azazel frowned again, moving up to stand by the other mutant. “Riptide,” he started and paused. “You know, I don't know your real name.”
He made it sound like a tragedy and Riptide just shook his head, taking a step back. He meant to express that no one did anymore, and he had no inclination to tell it. He could write it but that thought alone was actually painful. Azazel was still frowning at him, moving forward and Riptide took another step back. Azazel muttered something in a language Riptide didn't quite catch. “What is wrong with you?” Azazel asked and Riptide did manage to laugh at that, the sound coming rusty from his chest, more a vibration than a laugh.
This time when Azazel stepped forward the mutant allowed the demon to put red hands on his shoulder. “I just want to help,” Azazel murmured, sulky, and Riptide pushed him in the chest, anger still bubbling up in him.
Anger at Shaw for leaving Emma to the CIA and picking up Angel without a backward glance. Anger at Emma for being caught. Anger for ever joining this group. He should have stuck to making martinis for the scum of humanity rather than try to destroy them.
But he was mostly angry at Azazel at the moment. For not caring who he killed, for taking pleasure in it. Which paled to the fact that the red demon could go where ever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and still he stayed in cramped little bunks, squishing Riptide to him. He hated the other for the ability to leave whenever he wanted, and resented the fact he didn't take it.
Though, Riptide would hate for Azazel to leave. Then it would just be him and Angel and Shaw and the thought made him want to be sick.
He kept shoving at Azazel's chest but the other was a solid weight. “What's bothering you?” the demon demanded and for the first time Riptide wanted to cry for not being able to speak. Instead he buried his face in the chest presented to him and they stood that way for a moment.
Finally Riptide pushed back, walking around the hotel until he came to the stupid pad and pen, and did something he'd never bothered to do before.
He turned the pad toward Azazel after a moment. My name is Janos.
The red mutant's eyes widened and he took a step forward and Riptide shook his head. He tore that page off and started writing on the second one, not caring that he might have been wasting paper. Why do you not leave ? The paper demanded. You could go. The world . His handwriting was terrible but Azazel seemed to have no problem reading it.
This time when he stepped forward, Riptide let him, his eyes burning. Reaching a red hand up, Azazel ran it over Riptide's hair and he had to do his hardest not to flinch away from the touch.
“Where would I do?” the demon asked. “I am impossible to hide. I could kill, I could live. I do that now. What difference does it make where I am?”
Do you hate humans? Riptide scribbled and held it up between them.
Azazel just shrugged. “I don't like them most days,” he replied.
But kill all of them? Riptide protested and Azazel tilted his head.
“Do you hate Shaw's plan then?”
Grew up around death and not caring humans, came the response. I do not like all this death.
“You must hate me then,” Azazel remarked, keeping his eyes on Riptide who paused, anger still swirling in his chest. But he shook his head quickly and the demon stepped closer, arms coming up around the other lightly.
Frowning, Riptide scribbled another note. What are you doing?
“God,” Azazel drawled and it actually sounded like blasphemy. “You really are dense, aren't you, komrade?”
Baring his teeth, Riptide shoved at his chest again and Azazel just leaned down, stopping a breath from Riptide's mouth. “Get it now?”
he asked when the other mutant froze.
Riptide considered Azazel, and the fact the red mutant had possibly discovered a use for his mouth besides eating. He used it far less than others, and for the first time wondered if that lack of practice would translate into being a terrible kisser. Azazel was still waiting, eyes boring into his. Taking a deep breath, Riptide considered again and nodded shortly.
Taking that final distance, Azazel kissed the other mutant, sparing no time for being gentle or chaste.
That was no surprise, but the kiss in general was. After a short while, Riptide actually pushed into it himself, accepting it and actually wrapping his own arms around the mutant's red shoulders.
“I sorta wanted to do that for a while,” Azazel said and Riptide's brows shot up in surprise. Azazel snorted, shaking his head as if wondering how Riptide didn't noticed, before kissing him again, this time more languid.
They spent that night in the hotel, back at the sub before Shaw missed them. Angel gave them a long look, but for all his power and intelligence, Shaw did not even notice any changes.
Riptide wasn't entirely sure what had changed himself, but he thought he liked it. Unsure, he would look over at Azazel and see the demon's eyes darken slightly and be reassured. Riptide was even less inclined to like Shaw's plans now, but they weren't the kind anyone could back away from.
So he continued to go along with them, Riptide a solid weight at his side.
He knew something was going wrong the instant his ear drums were nearly blown as they waited for Soviet Russia and the United States to start nuclear war. For a moment he panicked that he had just lost his hearing as well being unable to speak, but the pain passed.
Azazel shot him a worried look, but then they were trying to create their own nuclear bomb out of Shaw, and the sub was suddenly lifted from the water, throwing Angel, Riptide, and Azazel off their feet.
Thinking of no better plan, Riptide went out of the submarine top, well aware crashing the jet was going to send them down as well, and jumping back in as soon as his winds were doing their job. Azazel actually grabbed ahold of both him and Angel, transporting them to the side of the beach and back in front of the sub once it landed.
Riptide had never been happier to not be thrown around in his life.
Which meant just about nothing as a plate of metal landed him on his stomach in the sand, all his breathe leaving with a woosh of air, his lungs suddenly empty. That hurt almost more than the weight on his back.
Just as abruptly, Azazel and Angel were off. But at least he wouldn't have to see them killing people, he mused, and it gave him the time to try and drag himself back up, sure his back was going to be bruised enough he wasn't sure how he was going to walk after this.
Somehow they did survive the battle though Riptide wondered how he was still standing up by the end of it, when the German mutant floated Shaw's dead body out of the submarine. He'd watched Azazel, keeping track of him as best he could by the flashes of red smoke and smell of sulfur. Now they stood together again as the metal mutant kept talking. Riptide was sure he'd heard the name before and didn't really care. Honestly, he barely cared what he said either, checking to make sure Azazel was alright, only paying attention when—what was it, Erik—turned and held his hand out.
The humans—the damn humans, they'd fired all the nukes meant for them at the mutants instead. Suddenly Shaw's speeches and plans made so much more sense and Riptide had a moment of terror before all the missiles were stopped. Azazel had already grabbed hold of his hand, but they remained on the beach once the missiles were stopped.
They watched quietly as the other mutants played out their little drama. Riptide was sure it was tragic, but it wasn't his and his mind was spinning with too many other things to care about what the fallen telepath was saying to the blue girl. The thought of the telepath was setting his teeth on edge, remembering Emma still far away from them. Briefly he wondered if she would mourn Shaw, or if she had been too far gone in her affections and instead welcome it when she found out.
When Erik turned to them, he looked at Azazel only to find the other looking right back at him. They stared for a moment before striding toward the mutant who could bend metal to his will together.
Once they were back at one of their old bases that Lensherr was thinking of remodeling to suit his needs, Azazel hurried Riptide away and they checked each other closely. Riptide touched the side of Azazel's face where the large blue mutant had hit him in the face so far, and Azazel stared at the bruise forming on Riptide's back and the smaller, less impressive one on his stomach where he'd landed on the sand.
“Going to be sleeping on your side for a while?” Azazel asked, all traces of accent gone in his voice. He sounded strained, actually angry and despite everything Riptide had not been expecting that. So he just swallowed and nodded. Azazel touched his hair, smiling faintly at something he was thinking that he didn't share before kissing Riptide's temple where his hair was falling over his face. “Janos,” he started and Riptide was done with whatever Azazel was going to say before he started, so he kissed the red demon instead. That seemed to content the other mutant, and Azazel curled his tail around Riptide's leg.
When they emerged the next morning, Raven and Angel were watching each other across the room, as if coming to terms with being on the same side again and Riptide vaguely noted that the blue mutant had shed her clothing. Beside him Azazel's brow arched upward and Riptide glanced toward where Erik stood, considering the group.
“We're missing something,” he replied.
“Emma Frost,” Azazel replied and Riptide leaned against his side. “A telepath.”
Neither Erik nor Raven looked thrilled with that but Erik nodded. “Yes, a telepath. That would be most useful.”
When they actually went, fetching Emma was no actual problem at all. While Erik spoke to her, she glanced over his shoulder at Riptide, who quickly filled her in, showing her Shaw's death. Her face didn't change but something in her chest twisted hard before she set it aside. You seem to have joined with him.
Yes, Riptide sent back. He offers as much as Shaw. He has more respect.
She took one look at how he was all but leaning toward Azazel and didn't react in her face, laughing in his own mind. Finally.
This is finally? He asked back. Pay attention to the man talking to you.
Finally, yes, and I'm paying attention , Emma said, before speaking to Erik. I have plenty of practice on this. A pause and she was back. I may be hard pressed to get a read off a teleporter, but he tends to solidify around you. When you're in the room he's all there too, like he's not otherwise. He tends to want to be moving, and only half focused, except on you. You really are dense, aren't you Janos?
Riptide scowled and Angel leaned back ever so slightly, Azazel well aware that Emma and Riptide were probably talking even as Emma was discussing terms with Erik.
Not dense, he protested to Emma who just smiled before stepping closer to Erik and nodded. The rest of the group moved forward then and they transported off again.
Later, Emma was sitting on a couch as Azazel twirled Riptide around slowly, some jazz playing on Shaw's old player. Angel was gone and Raven and Erik were talking somewhere else. Riptide leaned back halfway through, pulling out the notepad he was taking more of a habit toward carrying. His handwriting was slowly improving. Do I make you more solid ? He wrote and held it up.
Azazel's brows shot up and Emma smiled from where she was working on her nails. “Yes,” the red demon said, accent gone again and one of these days Riptide was going to hear about that.
For now he smiled and let Azazel spin him slowly around again.
There were certainly benefits for a megalomaniac bent on taking out the majority of the world's population to hire a man who was mute.