Hidden Gifts

"Miss Frost, I would like to ask you a question, if possible."

Emma Frost had entered the submarine's bridge to check on a reading, and Azazel wanted to take that opportunity to see if she could help him with something.

"Of course," Emma answered, though feeling somewhat surprised. Azazel wasn't one for initiating talk, and Emma began to wonder at what point she would enter his mind to find out what he really wanted.

"This might be unusual question, but I will ask if you do not mind. What sort of gifts does Mr. Shaw give to you? Is there something nice that he gave you over the years, something that you really like?"

Emma blurted out a laugh. It looked like she wouldn't even need to read his mind now.

"I'm tempted to ask why on earth you're asking, but I guess it's pretty obvious. You want to get Riptide a nice gift. Perhaps it's because December is here and you want to get him something good for Christmas, given that he was raised Catholic. Or something for New Year's perhaps; I know it's a big holiday in Russia." She paused and shook her head. "I truly never would have guessed that you would fall for him."

Azazel crossed his arms over his chest. "I did not 'fall for him', as you say. The purpose of the gift is only to convince him to keep coming to my bed."

Emma shook her head, took two steps towards Azazel, playfully made a fist and gently knocked on his temple. "Azazel, dear? You can't lie to a telepath. I've been inside both of your minds." She smiled. "I think it's cute that you love each other so much. I like the way you stay in bed together after the sex, your arms all wrapped around each other, murmuring 'sweet nothings' in Russian and Spanish. Don't worry; I don't share every detail with Mr. Shaw. I think he'd die laughing if he saw his henchmen like this, and that wouldn't be good."

Azazel began to fiercely regret ever asking Emma for her help. He regretted too that his own logic was clouded by love and impacting his judgment – thus driving him to seek help from Emma - in the first place.

Emma turned to leave but said, over her shoulder, "Oh, and here are my ideas. Something for him to wear – like a new suit or shoes. Check the sizes of his current stuff when he's not around if you're not sure. He does have a lot of suits though, so you could try something different. Get him a good leather wallet, or some expensive men's cologne. But I think what he'd like best is a nice, warm jacket or coat since he doesn't like the cold and it gets pretty chilly down here."

She stifled the thought of adding on a suggestion for Azazel to knit him a sweater, though it was a visual image that made her grin again.


Riptide lovingly removed his new coat from the closet and slowly put it on. It was iceberg-blue and lined with fur. He had attached a full-length mirror to the back of the door of his room, and he did one last check of his appearance. When satisfied, he pulled on his gloves and stepped into the corridor to knock on Azazel's door.

"Are you ready?"

Azazel opened the door and stepped out. "I am still not sure that this is great idea."

"Come on, it's beautiful; it is nice and clear. Just this once," Riptide urged. "Let's go."

Azazel nodded, grasped his hand, and teleported them away.

He did not teleport them far. The Hellfire Club's submarine was currently in the middle of the Atlantic, far from anything. All Riptide wanted was for Azazel to come out from the bowels of the submarine and onto the top part of the vessel, the yacht.

Azazel only agreed to this because it was the middle of the night.

They had the time to enjoy it. Shaw and Emma were thousands of miles away at some swanky party, and Azazel was simply waiting for Emma's whistle to indicate when they needed to be returned – but they knew it would likely be hours before their leaders were finished with the party.

"Look at the moon," Riptide said, leading Azazel to the yacht's railing. "It's full and so bright."

"It looks nice reflecting on the water," Azazel admitted.

"You still look a little tense. Let me pour you a drink."

As Riptide poured Azazel's favorite bitter beverage, Azazel murmured, "I hope that sensors are right and no other ships are near. We cannot have anyone see me." As the two men had discussed, Shaw was very clear that the world was to remain ignorant of mutants – for now. If someone else spotted Azazel even via binoculars, it could spell trouble for Shaw's carefully plotted 18-month plan.

"Look around. It would have to be some amazing pair of binoculars to see on board this yacht. We're alone out here, really." Riptide handed Azazel the drink and then took a deep breath. "I love the smell of the sea air. And the feel of the breeze. It's cold here but the breeze feels so fresh. Besides, I know you like the cold anyway. I love just watching the waves. It is so beautiful and relaxing to watch. I could stare at the waves for hours."

"It is you that I could stare at for hours," Azazel said, his voice throaty. The alcohol pleasantly burned the inside of his mouth.

Riptide smiled and put his arms around Azazel. Azazel momentarily tensed, and then forced himself to try to relax again. Typically the only places he embraced his lover were inside one of their quarters (or the bridge or the engine room, depending on where Shaw was). Out here on the open seas, he felt so utterly exposed. Humans who looked like demons were not supposed to exist, and two men simply did not touch each other in public. The situation was impossible, intolerable.

But at least Riptide was nice and warm – one might say soft, even, now that he was wearing that fine coat.

And Azazel had to admit that he enjoyed the quiet and still ambiance out here.

"I cannot wait for Mr. Shaw and the Hellfire Club to triumph," Riptide murmured, nuzzling his face against Azazel's. "Then you and I can go anywhere we want, anytime."

"Yes," Azazel replied, planting a quick kiss on the side of Riptide's face and beginning to understand the appeal of the crisp night on the water. "It cannot come soon enough."

"Thank you again for the coat, Azazel. It is perfect."

THE END

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