A Christmas Eve to Remember

Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot and the made up pasts of Azazel and Riptide.

A/N: This takes place in the movie verse and Azazel is just a human mutant here and not a demon or anything. Also, I made up pasts for both Riptide and Azazel that I think are at least believable with how they are in the movie since nothing is known of their childhood. I hope you like this story and please review! They make my day! Now, onto the story.

It was Christmas Eve, and Azazel had just finished getting dressed for the Hellfire Club's annual Christmas party, and he found he had a little time before it started. So he decided to go to Riptide's room and see if he was ready.

Reaching the door, he found it almost halfway open. He pushed it the rest of the way open and saw Riptide sitting slumped over on his bed, looking miserable. He was dressed except for his shoes and tie. His long black hair was uncombed, though.

Azazel entered and walked up to the bed. "What's wrong, comrade?" He asked the quiet, younger man who was his best friend.

"I hate this time of year," He replied softly, not looking at Azazel.

"Hey, I know it's difficult for you, but we're having a party," Azazel reminded him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "It'll be fun!" He almost laughed at his own words. The last time he had had fun at a party was never. His red skin and tail always made him stand out and made people fear and hate him. Not to mention the stares and fingers pointing. For those reasons, he hated parties or being around people in general. The only exceptions were Riptide, and the rest of the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. They welcomed him for being different. But for Riptide's sake, he tried to look and sound as upbeat as possible.

"Partying is the last thing I feel like doing!" Riptide replied forcefully. What he felt like doing was curling up in bed and not coming out until the holidays were over. "In fact, if I could get out of it, I wouldn't even go at all!"

"Comrade, maybe the party will give you some holiday spirit," Azazel suggested. Although even as he said it, he didn't believe it. As long as he had known the other man, he had hardly seen a smile out of him during the holidays, let alone holiday spirit or good cheer.

Riptide snorted. "Azazel, please, a party isn't going to magically make my feelings go away. I wouldn't be going at all if Shaw would let me miss it." But he knew that the Black King, Sebastian Shaw, would never let him miss it unless he was gravely ill or away on a mission. Appearances were everything to him and his lover, Emma Frost, the White Queen. And since it was a Club party, and no one was ill or away, they were all required to attend.

"I understand that, Janos," Azazel replied, using his real name. "But I thought it might help you if you'd just try to enjoy yourself for a little while."

Now Riptide looked into the eyes of the dark-haired, red-skinned mutant. "I appreciate your trying to help, Azazel, but this time of year is just so hard for me, and I don't think anything…" his voice trailed off.

Azazel sat down on the bed and pulled his friend into a tight hug. "I wish I could help you just let go of all the bad memories and feelings, but I know it's just not that easy," he whispered. He knew how big an understatement that was, even as he said it. Janos had had a childhood from hell. After his mother, who was very sick, passed away when he was five, his father, who was already very stern and strict, became abusive. He began beating Janos and verbally abusing him as well.

Then when he was eleven, his powers manifested in the middle of a beating; a whirlwind had erupted from his hands and flung his father against a wall. His father became so enraged that he sexually abused him. That happened many times over the next three years until finally; after a particular violent and loud incident, the cops came and removed him from the house.

He was sent to foster care and his father was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for all the counts of abuse and endangering.

But the damage had been done. Janos's self-esteem and self-worth were so low they were practically nonexistent. After a couple years in different foster homes, he ran away and lived on the streets, stealing what he needed to survive. This continued until Shaw found him and brought him into the Hellfire Club, where Azazel was already a member. It took a while, but eventually he warmed up to them and opened himself to them, especially Azazel, with whom he had become good, and then best friends with.

But still, Christmas was the hardest time of the year for him, and Azazel sympathized completely. He was seven when he lost his parents. Growing up in a rough part of the Soviet Union, where there were several mafias and crime lords operating, his parents had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Coming out of the bank, it had exploded, killing them instantly. Later he had learned it was one Mafia trying to get at an enemy. But it was little condolence. His parents had been warm and loving, accepting his appearance from the day he was born. Unfortunately, that didn't extend to his classmates or hardly anyone at school and his only uncle (His mother had been an only child).

Since his uncle wanted nothing to do with him, proclaiming he was a devil or a demon, he was sent to an orphanage, where he was an outcast immediately. The other kids either made fun of him or avoided him all the time, and the caregivers were less than friendly as well. Naturally, no one was interested in adopting him except a man who only wanted him for his freak show when he was twelve. The people in charge were only too eager to get rid of him so they accepted.

But hours after he arrived, he used his newfound teleporting ability to escape. Then he lived on the streets, staying in the shadows and using his teleportation to steal food and whatever else he needed to survive. This continued until Shaw found him and brought him into his organization, where he was welcomed despite his differences. He later learned about mutants and that he was one.

"Thank you, Azazel. That means a lot to me." Janos said softly, drawing him out of his thoughts.

"You're, welcome," he replied. "You're my best friend. I'm always here for you." And he was. Even though Janos had been a little afraid of him at first, it had nothing to do with his appearance. Because of what he'd been through, he tended to be a little afraid of most people at first. But he'd quickly gotten over that and accepted him the way he was. A friendship had been born and had grown strong quickly.

They pulled back and Janos yelped as he caught sight of the clock on his nightstand.

"What? What's wrong?" Azazel asked, alarmed.

"Nothing yet," he replied. "But something will in about five minutes."

Azazel looked and realized Janos was right. They had five minutes to get to the party! "You're right!" he agreed and handed him his shoes as he quickly put on his tie and combed his hair.

Then they looked at each other. "Ready?" Azazel asked.

"As much as I don't want to do this, yeah, I'm ready," Janos answered quietly.

Azazel put a comforting hand on his shoulder. They had less than a minute but it didn't matter. In a flash they disappeared, only to reappear an instant later right outside the grand ballroom where the party was being held. Teleporting did have its advantages! Then, taking deep breaths, they entered.

A couple of hours later, Riptide was utterly exhausted. Keeping up appearances meant making the rounds and welcoming everyone and making lots of small talk. All that would wear anyone out, but for someone who was naturally quiet and hated the holidays, it was much worse. Taking a seat in one of the plush leather chairs that were spread out along the sides of the room, he sighed and closed his eyes.

Opening them a moment later, he looked around at all the activity; people were dancing, talking and laughing, and generally having a great time. He felt his eyes fill with tears and wished for what seemed like the umpteenth time that he was back in his room in his bed, alone with his misery.

"Hey, comrade, are you okay?" A deep voice asked suddenly.

He looked up to find Azazel in front of him. He shook his head. "Not really," he confided softly.

Azazel sat down in the chair next to him, feeling his heart go out to his friend, who looked completely miserable. "I'm not having a very good time myself," He confessed.

Riptide looked at him in surprise. "How come?" He asked.

"I just don't much like big groups," he replied. "They make me uncomfortable."

Riptide nodded. He understood that perfectly. Azazel's appearance was shocking and scary to most people and he hated the stares and finger pointings he got because of it. It made him angry too. Azazel was very handsome and distinguished to him. "I wish we could just leave the party," he said, and glanced longingly at the door.

"You and me both, Janos," Azazel replied. He looked to where Shaw and Emma were dancing near the middle of the floor. "But Emma would sense our disappearance immediately."

Janos knew he was right. Emma was a telepath and she could read and sense minds. "Yes, she would. It seems like we're stuck here."

Just then Azazel had an idea. "Since we're stuck here, let's dance," he suggested.

Riptide looked at him blankly. "Dance? Us? Together?" He asked, not understanding.

Azazel nodded. "Yes, together," he replied.

"Two guys dancing? That won't work, everyone would stare and laugh and try to chase us away."

"Not if we danced right outside the door where we could still hear the music," Azazel pointed out.

His first thought was that it was absurd, unthinkable. Two guys dancing together was not accepted anywhere that he knew of. But as he thought about it more, he realized that it was actually kind of appealing. "Well, maybe," he said thoughtfully.

"It'll be good for both of us," Azazel insisted. Just then a slow song started to play. "Come on," he urged. He took Janos's hand and gently pulled him up. Janos let himself be led to the door and through it.

Taking a few steps to the right, he knew this was the craziest thing he'd done in what felt like forever. He felt very awkward. But the moment Azazel wrapped his arms around him he felt himself relax. He was surprised at how natural it felt. Tentatively, he slipped his arms around Azazel's neck. Looking into his eyes, he was amazed at how right it felt. He found himself smiling shyly.

Seeing Janos smiling, Azazel's heart lifted. He looked beautiful when he smiled. Of course, he thought Janos was beautiful anyway, but when he smiled, it just enhanced his beauty. He found himself grinning back as he started to sway to the music, which they could hear quite well from here. Janos took his lead and within moments, they were lost in the music and the rightness of what they were doing.

When the song was over, they looked at each other, nodded, and continued dancing to the next song. Midway through, before he really fully realized what he was doing, Janos laid his head on Azazel's shoulder. Suddenly, tense and expecting him to pull back, he was pleasantly surprised when Azazel just sighed contentedly and held him tighter.

As Azazel rested his head on his, Janos relaxed and closed his eyes, feeling safer and more secure than he could ever remember feeling, and he loved it. He wished it would never end. And for a while, it didn't. They stayed that way for several songs.

Finally, they pulled back. "As much as I don't want too, we better get back inside," he said reluctantly. "Emma will know something's up if we don't."

Janos sighed. He knew Azazel was right. This was not the right time for her to suspect something. This was new for both of them and the last thing they needed was for it to be shot down before they had a chance to see where it led. "You're right, but I'd rather stay right here with you," he murmured.

"So do I," Azazel replied. "But we have plenty of time to spend alone." He grinned. "And there's always after the party."

"You really mean that?" Janos asked hopefully.

Azazel nodded. "Of course I do," he said firmly.

Instead of answering, Janos threw his arms around Azazel in a fierce hug, burying his head in his shoulder for several seconds.

Azazel held him tight and rubbed his back with one hand. He knew Janos needed the reassurance and the feeling of security the hug invoked. He also loved the feeling of holding Janos in his arms, and knowing he could provide at least some of that for him.

When they pulled back, Janos gazed at him. "Let's do this," He said resolutely. He wanted to get through the party so he could spend more time alone with Azazel.

Azazel nodded. "Let's," he agreed. Then they both turned and went back in to the party, both feeling they could handle it a little better than before.

Later, after the party was over and the guests had left, Janos sat on the edge of his bed in his pajamas after brushing his teeth. He was debating rather to go to Azazel's room or just go to sleep since it was so late, when there was a knock on his door.

He got up and opened it. He couldn't help a shy smile when he saw who it was. Azazel, also in his nightclothes, stepped inside. "Hi," he said, smiling.

"Hi, Azazel," he replied. They sat on Janos's bed.

"You know, tonight wasn't so bad after all," Janos said softly, looking into his eyes.

Azazel nodded. "I know. Parts of it were pretty special, in fact." He took Janos's hand and squeezed it.

"Very special," Janos agreed, squeezing back.

"And you are very special," Azazel added, murmuring.

Janos blushed as his heart started to race. "I'm just plain and ordinary," he protested weakly. Not to mention messed up inside and full of emotional baggage, he continued in his mind. "It's you who is special; and amazing." His voice was very soft there at the end, but Azazel could still hear every word.

He was so touched, it was almost overwhelming. No one had ever talked about him that way. Except for his parents, that is. He almost started to cry. "That's the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me since my parents died," he replied, barely managing to keep his voice steady.

"It's true," Janos told him.

"Thank you very much, Janos," Azazel said. "But you're wrong about you being plain and ordinary."

He shook his head. "No I'm not," he replied sadly.

"Janos, listen to me," Azazel told him. "You are smart, sensitive, compassionate, and the most beautiful man I've ever seen." His voice was soft, but firm.

Janos knew Azazel meant every word by looking into his eyes and he felt tears form in his own, He was so moved. "Thank you so much, Azazel. That means so much to me." His voice trembled slightly.

"You are very welcome," he replied. He reached out and tenderly brushed back a lock of Janos's silky hair.

Janos found himself closing his eyes at the feel of Azazel's fingers on his cheeks. It was so soft and gentle. A moment later he opened them, and grinning shyly, he reached out and ran his fingers through Azazel's feathery locks.

Now it was Azazel's turn to close his eyes. It felt divine. No one had ever made him feel the way Janos did. And At that moment, he knew something for sure that he was only pretty sure about only hours earlier. When he opened his eyes, he looked directly into Janos's. "I have a confession to make," he murmured.

"What is it?" Janos asked, suddenly looking nervous and unsure.

"Hey, it's okay," Azazel said quickly; reassuringly. He squeezed his hand again. "It's a good one." He paused, licked his lips, and went on before he could chicken out. "Janos, I'm falling in love with you."

Janos was so surprised by this that he could only stare at Azazel for a moment or two. Then, he found his voice. "Am I dreaming, or is this for real?" He asked, softly, half afraid to hear the answer. Not long after joining the Hellfire Club, he'd started developing feelings for the gorgeous red teleporter. But he's always shoved them to the back of his mind or just ignored them out of fear that Azazel would reject him, or laugh at him, or be grossed out and want nothing to do with him. But now he found hope rising in him. He also felt a longing to feel Azazel's soft lips on his own, along with a weakening in his knees and his heart racing.

"It's for very real," Azazel assured him, never breaking eye contact. He grinned a little shyly at the beautiful man sitting next to him.

Janos found himself grinning back. Then he opened his mouth to speak, but was unable to find the right words to express how he was feeling. Instead, he wrapped his arms around Azazel and held him tight. Azazel moaned softly and held him close, stroking his long hair.

After several long moments they pulled back, and just gazed lovingly into each other's eyes. "I've fallen in love with you to, Azazel," Janos murmured happily, stroking his cheek.

Azazel found himself grinning broadly as tears of happiness streamed down his cheeks. Then, unable to help himself, he leaned forward and crushed his lips to Janos's.

Janos moaned loudly and returned the kiss hungrily, caressing Azazel's cheek with one hand as the other held him tight. Azazel tangled one hand in Janos's long hair and the other one started to rub his back.

Janos deepened the kiss, causing Azazel to moan again. The kiss went on until the need for air became overwhelming and they pulled back enough to breathe. "Wow," Janos murmured.

"Amazing," Azazel agreed. Then, as if they were magnetized, their lips came together again in another kiss that seemed to go on and on.

"Mmm, I could do this all night," Azazel murmured when they'd finally pulled back.

Janos nodded. "So could I, Zaze,"he agreed, smiling softly.

Azazel's answer was to capture Janos's lips with his own once more. Janos moaned and leaned into it, holding Azazel tight as he returned the kiss. They stayed in their passionate embrace for a long while, loving the closeness and the safeness it invoked.

When they finally pulled back, Azazel yawned before either of them could speak. "I guess I'm more tired than I realized," he said sheepishly.

Janos nodded. "It's been a long night for both of us," he replied.

"But an amazing night," Azazel said happily.

Janos smiled. "Very amazing," he agreed. Then he yawned. "But as much as I don't want to, we'd better go to bed."

Azazel nodded. "I know," he replied. "But we have the rest of our lives to be together."

"Provided Shaw and Emma let us," Janos said, suddenly worried.

"I think Shaw won't mind, as long as it doesn't interfere with our duties," Azazel told him. "And Emma will probably go along with him." He knew she went along with and agreed with Shaw on most things, so he hoped she would on this too. It would break his heart if he couldn't see Janos!

"I agree with you about Shaw, but what if she doesn't go along with him?" Janos wanted to know. That possibility was almost too much to bear!

"Then we'll figure something out," Azazel assured him. He cupped Janos's chin in his hand. "There's no way I'm going to lose you. I love you!"

"I love you too, Azazel," Janos told him. "And the thought of losing you is heartbreaking."

"That's not going to happen, Janos, I promise," Azazel said firmly.

In response, Janos pressed his lips to his in a passionate kiss. Afterward, Azazel reluctantly stood up. Janos stood up as well. "Good night, Azazel," he said softly.

"Good night, Janos," he replied and pulled him close for one last warm hug. All too soon it ended and Azazel started to the door.

"I love you, Azazel," Janos murmured.

Azazel turned and smiled. "I love you too, Janos," he replied softly.

Janos stared at him as he reached the door and as he reached for the knob and grabbed it. "Azazel, wait," he called in as loud a voice as dared as a thought struck him.

Azazel stopped and turned around. "What? What's wrong?" He asked anxiously.

"Nothing's wrong. I just had a crazy idea," Janos told him.

"And what would that be?" He asked, surprised; for Janos had a little bit of a twinkle in his eye. Mischievousness and impulsiveness and Janos did not go together.

"You could stay here tonight," he replied shyly, gesturing invitingly at his king-sized bed.

Azazel's face lit up. The thought of spending the night curled up with Janos was wonderful! "Really?

Janos nodded. "There's nothing I'd like more," he replied softly, but firmly. Then he smiled.

That was all Azazel needed to hear; in a few quick strides, he returned to where Janos was standing next to the bed and took him in his arms. Janos practically melted into his embrace and closed his eyes.

They stayed like that for a few long moments before pulling back and climbing into the bed. Immediately, they snuggled close. "Mmm, this feels so good," Azazel murmured happily, closing his eyes.

"And so right," Janos added sleepily. His eyes closed as well. A few moments later he opened them. "Azazel," he whispered.


"Thank you," he replied softly.

"For what?" He asked, surprised.

"For making this this most special night of my life, and for being right," he answered, reaching up and smoothing down his soft, feathery locks, before caressing his face gently.

Azazel closed his eyes as he felt a warm feeling come over him. Coming from Janos, that meant more to him than any amount of acceptance ever could. "You're very welcome, but you made this mine too." He paused a moment. "But what was I right about?"

"The party being fun," Janos replied. "It was a little, especially the part where we danced. And it did give me a little holiday spirit." He smiled softly.

Azazel grinned broadly. "See, comrade, I knew it would, he said happily. Janos nodded and he gently brushed back a lock of his long hair and pressed his lips to his.

Silence reigned for several minutes as they kissed passionately. Then, pulling back, they gazed lovingly into each other's eyes. "I love you, Azazel," Janos said tenderly.

"I love you too, Janos," Azazel replied, just as tenderly. "And I have a very good feeling that this is the start of something beautiful."

"So do I," Janos murmured sleepily.

"Merry Christmas, Janos," Azazel whispered, smiling.

Janos grinned. "Merry Christmas, Azazel," he replied. After one more kiss, they snuggled tight and closed their eyes. His last thought before he drifted off to sleep was that maybe the holidays weren't so bad after all. In fact, they could be downright enjoyable!

A/N: So what did you think? I hope you liked it! Please leave a review and let me know!