Pairing:Warren Worthington/Piotr Rasputin
Summary: After the Battle of Alcatraz, Warren loses both his father and his wings and has to adjust his whole life. Old and new friends help him with it.
A/N:This is unbeated as it is a comment_fic. It's spell-checked though, so I hope it won't be too bad.
One moment he’s flying away from Alcatraz with his father in his arms and in the next he feels a sting, like from a bee, and suddenly falls harder and faster than he ever did before. He was never afraid of falling because he always instinctively knew that his wings would catch him but his wings are gone and he hears himself scream.
When he wakes up everything feels fuzzy and cold and hard and wet. He hears people scream and yell.
“Dad.” He whispers but there is no answer. He opens his eyes and sees the pavement is red with blood and something else and his father stares with open, dead eyes into the emptiness of the sky they fell from.
Angel can’t move. He wants to but he cannot move, his body is too heavy and too numb.
They bring him back to the mansion and once his head is more or less clear from all the painkillers they gave him, Dr. McCoy sits down at his bed and explains everything to him.
That the soldiers thought that he was a Brotherhood member.
That they shot him with the ‘Cure’.
That he will need physiotherapy because his muscles are used to his hollow, bird-like bones and cannot fully support a normal, human skeleton.
That his father is dead.
Angel doesn’t cry for him. He didn’t want his father dad but he still wasn’t over the fact that his father had considered him an abomination, a monster. And like every parent with a monstrous child he had hid his son away from the world.
He feels like a horrible son, though, because he can’t mourn for his father.
Jimmy comes by every day, tells him about living in the mansion upstairs, and the other mutant kids and that he can beat Artie Maddocks at basketball. They’re not blood related but ever since his father brought Jimmy to Alcatraz he had been Angel’s little brother and now he’s the only family he has left.
Harry, Angel hasn’t seen since he was twelve, comes by. Half of his face is horribly burnt and Harry explains with a lab accident and a spider. They may not have seen each other in ten years but Angel can still tell when his childhood best friend lies.
Harry tells him that he’ll help with the succession of Worthington Labs because he has already been through this and they’re still friends.
He’s not the only mutant in the infirmary. Angel doesn’t know him but he’s pretty sure that the dark haired man in the bed next to him that Bobby visits every day didn’t come to Alcatraz with the X-Men.
And then there’s Piotr. Piotr helps him with his therapy, helps him with the frustrating task to relearn everything he already knows he can do.
“Are you trained in this?” Angel one day grits out between his teeth while he tries to climb up a staircase.
“I can’t do this.”
“Yes, you can.” Piotr’s hands are strong and steady and his grip allows Angel to relax for a moment until he attacks the next step.
“Why are you doing this when you’re not trained for this?” He asks to prolong the brief interruption.
“Because I’m no teacher.”
What are you doing then? Angel wants to ask but Piotr lets go of him and he’s forced to carry his own weight again.
He makes progress sooner than he anticipated and can leave the infirmary. Harry asks him if he wants to return to New York but Angel declines and instead makes Harry his stand in for the firm.
It’s almost funny how Harry’s father was always disappointed with his son because Harry was a horrible scientist but a competent business man while for Angel it was exactly the other way round.
Angel likes to sit with Piotr and Jubilee, mainly because all the others around his age carry their stories around like crosses. He doesn’t know how to make friends with Bobby or Rogue or Kitty or John without knowing their history.
He shares a room with Piotr now instead of Bobby because Bobby asked for John to get his old bed back and Angel didn’t object. He likes Piotr more anyway.
Three months after Alcatraz he dreams of falling for the first time. His screams wake up Piotr but the other man doesn’t say anything. He simply holds Angel until he falls asleep again, dreamless this time.
Sometimes he stands in front of a mirror, twisting until he can see his back in the reflection and the scars that crisscross his skin and tell the world where he tried to hack of the same wings he misses now.
“What are you looking at?” Piotr comes up to stand behind him. He always stands close to Angel and Angel likes that. It’s as if he falls now, he knows Piotr will catch him.
“I tried to hack them off when I was twelve.” He has never told anyone this before: “And now I want them back more than anything else in the world.”
“Do you miss your wings? Or do you miss being able to fly.”
“Both. I didn’t fly much, my father wouldn’t let me. But my wings, they were always there, like another wall between me and the world.”
Piotr moves and his chest touches Angel’s back when his strong, warm arms wrap themselves around Angel’s torso.
“I can’t make you fly.” Piotr says calmly, his eyes never wavering from Angel’s where they meet in the mirror: “but I can protect you.”
And Angel lets himself fall.
In the following weeks Angel spends a lot of time with Harry, Hank and Rogue. He doesn’t tell Piotr any details and Piotr doesn’t ask. It’s something about the firm, something about the Cure and Piotr knows that Angel will tell him when he’s ready.
Angel appreciates Piotr’s silence and patience. And that he isn’t jealous about the amount of time Angel spends with Harry. It’s going to be long and complicated and he doesn’t want to talk about to anyone outside their little group until he has all the details and he sincerely hopes that he doesn’t hurt Piotr with his silence.
“It’s about the Cure.” Angel tells him one evening. They’re playing a card game Piotr taught him that Angel can’t pronounce but it is fun.
“Rogue asked me not to withdraw it completely.” He continues and finds it easier to talk than he expected with Piotr’s eyes on him. If he can do it here then he will be able to do it in front of the press: “She said that it is useful but dangerous. Hank works on a legal possibility to prevent abuse. Like an initiative that will check every applicant because I don’t want anyone ending up like me. That and the research was only half done by my father.” He has visited Worthington Labs more than once in the last weeks and looking back he’s not sure if he was ready for it just yet. He hasn’t been in the apartment yet and Harry has the keys because Angel knows that he sometimes gets ideas like walking into his childhood home on a whim and he also knows that a break-down is the last thing he needs right now.
“I’m going to hold a press conference in a few days” He rushes the next part out: “Could you come with me, please?”
He can feel himself tremble but Piotr touches his hand lightly and says:
“Of course,” His fingers curl around Angel’s: “They are going to ask questions.”
“Are you ready to answer them?”
“I have no idea.” He gives Piotr a sincere half-smile. He has never done this before and since Alcatraz Harry and the mansion have shielded him from the outside world as much as possible. But he knows that he needs Piotr at his side tomorrow because Piotr has become to him was his wings had been: this thin layer he can pull around himself that shields him from everyone and everything. On some days it feels impossible that there has been a time when he and Piotr weren’t together.
“If I decide to run tomorrow, will you cover me from bullets?” He doesn’t even know what he’s asking or if he’s asking anything at all but Piotr draws him into his arms with one hand splayed against Angel’s back.
“I can only protect you from real bullets.” And Angel supposes that makes sense. Sometimes he believes that he likes Piotr so much because with Piotr he feels small and fragile and vulnerable but Piotr is strong and big and silent. He’s like the protector he and Harry used to dream of when they were in elementary school and the other kids picked on them because they were smaller and didn’t play any sports and dreamed of being Batman and Alfred.
After he learned to live with his changed body, Angel took to climbing trees, ropes, parachute jumping, everything that would get him off of the ground for as long as possible. Ororo grew a bit concerned with his obsession but he brushed her off and Piotr never said a word about it. Sure he told Piotr that he misses his wings more than the flying and that still holds true but before he rarely ever had the freedom to fly.
It’s been a year exactly since someone shot Angel out of the sky and most mutants who were forcibly cured have reverted by now but not Angel. Hank tried to comfort him that re-shaping Angel’s entire body is probably not possible until the Cure has worn off completely but with every passing day Angel accepts more and more that he will never fly again.
It is late afternoon when Piotr comes into their room, opens the closet and throws a shirt at Angel who lies half naked on their bed and reads.
“You never complained before about me being shirtless.” Angel grins when he holds up the shirt. Piotr gives him a mildly impatient look so Angel pulls the shirt over his head. It clings to him like all of his clothes do. HE has hidden his body for far too long and is sick of it.
“Where are we going?” He asks when Piotr takes his suit jacket from the closet.
“It’s a surprise.” Is the only answer he gets and as soon as he sits in the car Piotr binds a cloth around his head so that he can’t see.
“Isn’t that a bit much?”
“I don’t want you to run.”
‘Dancers in the Sky’ is the newest show by the Cirque du Soleil. Angel has never seen it but he heard about them. For a premiere they’re very casually dressed but he doesn’t care whether people stare at them because of their clothes or because Piotr has his arm securely wrapped around Angel’s shoulders.
The show is magnificent but Angel wants to cry because he wants to be up there and fly and fall and fly again. He wants to curse and to kiss Piotr for bringing him here.
“Why did you bring me here?” HE whispers.
“I don’t want to give up.” Piotr lies a hand on Angel’s cheek and strokes his temple with his thumb: “You are more beautiful than them. I believe that I will see you fly and I want you to believe it, too.”
Angel slides over. He used to wrap his wings around himself when the emotions he felt became too much but he has no wings, only Piotr’s arms. They barely fit into one seat but they manage and here, safe and free, Angel allows himself to hope again.
Shortly afterwards Warren founds his initiative. It’s called ‘Dancers in the Sky’ and supplies mutants with the Cure after reviewing their case and interviewing the individual mutant while maintaining the research into said substance. Piotr is there with him when Warren, Hank and Harry give their press conference.
It’s a thing of beauty.
Warren doesn’t flinch once, not even when some journalist brings up his own forced cure and asks him whether Warren takes the Cure himself.
“No.” Is all Warren answers.
Afterwards, when Piotr lays an arm over Warren’s shoulders as he always does, he says: “I’m proud of you.”
Warren’s answering grin is brighter than the sun above them.
That night Piotr is woken up by screams and Warren writhing on the bed next to him as if he’s possessed. He claws with his fingers at his own skin as if he’s trying to rip it off and his whole body is shaken with seizures. Piotr tries to get Warren to tell him what’s wrong but his teeth are too tightly clenched, so Piotr picks him up and brings him down to the infirmary, alarming Storm and Hank on his way down.
He holds Warren down so that Hank can inject him with a sedative to examine him.
“Warren’s body is forcibly reverting back to its natural shape but it’s going to be ugly.” Hank tells them after he finished his examination and had a midnight conference with Moira McTaggert.
“Ugly” is one word for it, Piotr supposes. Hank also says that he would like to put Warren into an artificial coma until the reverting is done, to take a bit off of the strain Warren’s body is put through at the moment and to help the process along, as he puts it.
“How is he?” Harry comes by every week, Piotr is in the infirmary every day but then he doesn’t have a company to run. Jimmy comes by every day, too. Piotr has overheard when Ororo tried to spare him the experience of seeing Warren like this but Jimmy pointed out sharply that Warren is brother for the better or the worse. And Ororo like Piotr knows all about family’s that aren’t forged with blood but with love.
Instead of answering he steps aside and lets Warren’s body speak for itself.
“He’s not getting better, is he?” Harry asks. Piotr half - heartedly wants to ask sarcastically what gave Harry that impression but it wouldn’t do to alienate Angel’s best friend. Warren is on his stomach and his wings are growing and they’re growing slowly. Hank is unwilling to wake Warren up before the growth is complete but no one ever thought about asking Warren how it took the first time for his wings to develop.
They cannot do anything but wait and Piotr, who has never been impatient before not even as a child finds himself tapping his fingers as the hours go by. With Warren time has become real in a way it wasn’t before and every day he’s unconscious is another day is another day that’s gone from them irreplaceably.
To be confronted with your own mortality is a terrifying thing.
It’s been six weeks when Hank sits down next to him at Warren’s bedside and tells him that the metamorphosis has progressed enough that they will try and let Warren wake up gradually over the next week.
Piotr nods solemnly when Hank tells him that even if everything is alright with Warren he will still be weak and helpless for some time because of the atrophied muscles and will be in physiotherapy for another month or two at least, barring any complications that can still arise both from the metamorphosis and the artificial coma.
Piotr knows that it’s not over yet but simply the news that they most likely made it through the worst, makes Piotr feel as if he could fly. If this is anything like Warren feels when he’s actually flying then it’s no wonder that he missed his mutation as much as it’s no wonder that Rogue loathes hers.
Warren opens his eyes three days after they have taken him off of the most meds. He only blinks a couple times without any sign that he recognises anything around him but the sight of Warren’s open eyes is enough to make Piotr cry tears of relief.
The next day Warren is already awake when Piotr comes to visit him and when Warren sees him, he smiles. He’s awfully skinny and still looks ill and exhausted but it’s the most beautiful sight Piotr has ever seen.
Hank didn’t lie; Warren’s recovery does progress slowly but steadily. The first few days he can’t speak and everything he tries to take into his hand slips through his fingers.
When Piotr comes back a few days later, after a recovery mission with the other X-Men that Warren told him to take, he’s standing upright on his own two feet if leaning heavily on Harry.
“Hi.” He looks over Harry’s shoulder at Piotr and smiles blindingly beautiful. However, when Warren tries to take a few steps forward, his right leg falters under him and he nearly falls to his knees.
Piotr calls for Hank while Harry helps Warren back to his bed and as soon as he arrives, Hank ushers both of them out of the room. He looks concerned, if not overly so, but both Harry and Piotr wait around for him to finish his examination.
“He’s going to be okay.” Harry sounds more like he’s speaking to himself than to Piotr. He’s walks back and forth and Piotr can understand him because the second he saw Warren crumble his heart stood still and he couldn’t breathe.
Hank comes out and holds up a hand before either of them can ask.
“He’s fine. Due to the coma some nerves in his right leg are damaged. It will take time to cure and there’s no guarantee that he will make a complete regression but it’s nothing serious even though he will have to bury any athletic aspirations he had.” Hank looks and sounds exhausted. Too many hours trying to fight the poison in Warren’s body, too many hours spent on research that went nowhere and yielded nothing.
Piotr would like to help but he isn’t a scientist and he isn’t a doctor, he’s good for carrying heavy stuff and soothing kids when they have nightmares and being a human meat shield, he likes art and architecture and running. He misses his little sister and his older brother and his parents.
He wants to help people but he’s nothing special and has no skills or knowledge or influence or power that will help him change the world. He’s not like Hank or Xavier or Harry or Warren.
Rogue comes by a couple days later. She and Warren talk for a long time, sometimes serious, sometimes laughingly. Harry joins them during the afternoon, helping Warren with his exercises for his leg.
Piotr is watching the kids, helping a couple of them with their homework when they ask him to and Ororo isn’t watching. He watches Warren and Rogue and Harry, too, and finds that he’s deeply jealous. It’s a foreign feeling for him.
Rogue shares the Cure with Warren, an understanding what it’s like to lose your powers, voluntarily and involuntarily, they understand both sides of the issue, that’s why Warren wanted her on ‘Dancers in the Sky’.
Harry and Warren have history, they have the company, that’s not something Piotr can understand either.
And now that Warren has his wings back, the wings that he can curl so protectively around his body that they shield him from the world, Piotr feels like he has no place in Warren’s life anymore.
He goes to Ororo’s office and knocks.
“Come in.” She calls and when he opens the door, she sits behind a desk that vanishes under paperwork but she still smiles warmly when she sees him. “Hi, Pete, what can I do for you?” With the Professor and Dr. Grey and Scott and Logan and Hank gone, there’s barely anyone left to teach the children. Between her research Moira acts as the school nurse, Bobby only does a part-time degree in accounting so he has time to teach Spanish, Kitty does workshops in computing when she’s home from MIT and Rogue sacrifices her spare time for piano and French lessons. That leaves Ororo and the surprisingly returned and apparently reformed Magneto and John to handle the bulk of the classes plus administrative work necessary to run the school.
He comes inside properly and closes the door behind him. “I want to help you. With the teaching.”
Her reaction is not what he anticipated because she looks like she wants to hug and kiss him so grateful is the expression on her face.
“Thank you.” She says and he can hear how much she means it. Ororo gestures to the chair in front of her. “Please, sit down. We have much to discuss.”
They agree that he should teach art and physical education and when Ororo tentatively asks if he would consider helping out Moira in the infirmary Piotr welcomes her offer.
Warren, when he tells him, couldn’t be happier for him. Piotr points out how small it is compared to what Warren does on a daily basis but Warren shakes his head and calls him stupid.
“You listen to the kids, “he tells him, “that’s worth a lot. A good teacher can inspire you to reach for the stars.” It could sound trite but Warren’s smile is so honest that it doesn’t.
“Who was it for you?”
“Mrs. Enders, she taught maths and physics. And Rani, our maid, she had a degree in aerospace engineering from the Putra University in Malaysia.” Warren takes Piotr’s face into his hands and kisses him. “You will be brilliant.”
Harry’s birthday is a couple days later and Piotr who feared a fancy cocktail party with lots of people, is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself among only a handful other people in an average New Yorker apartment. Warren gives Harry a big world map and a booklet full of colourful dot stickers and they promise each other grinning to decorate the map together soon.
Piotr gives him a sketchbook specifically made for aquarelle painting, a technique Harry had off-handedly mentioned he’d like to try back when Warren was still in the infirmary.
Harry’s genuinely touched that Piotr remembered, he can see that and it feels like they reached an understanding: they’ll never be friends but as casual acquaintances they’ll manage just fine.
Piotr doesn’t know anyone else at the party but finds himself engaged into a conversation that goes from photography to foreign countries to immigration issues by a very bright, intelligent girl named Gwen and her boyfriend Eddie while Warren shares primary school stories about Harry with Peter and Mary Jane in exchange for high school ones while Harry helps out Peter’s aunt with the cooking for dinner.
Being here makes Piotr wistful for his own family and his home. He finds himself thinking that he’d like to take Warren to Ust-Ordynski. He hasn’t been home too often since he left with Xavier but now he’d like to go back and introduce him to his father and his mother, to grandfather Grigory and grandmother Elena, to Illyana and Mikhail, to his aunts and uncles and cousins and his childhood friends and his family’s neighbours and friends. He wants to show Warren Lake Baikal and share with him all the places he has fond memories off.
Mentally, Piotr makes a note to ask Warren to come with him next Eastern when Illyana will marry her childhood sweetheart Nikolai
“Hey, “Warren smiles when Piotr enters their room. He has made enough progress to move back upstairs. He joked once that as long as he could stand he didn’t his legs since he could fly everywhere. Now he has his wings neatly folded along his back, nearly as if they weren’t there at all. He crosses the room to put his arms around Piotr’s waist and Piotr automatically wraps his arms around him but it’s different than before, the wings are in his way. If Warren wouldn’t almost radiate with happiness for having them back, Piotr would resent them.
“Let’s go outside.” Warren smiles at him, taking Piotr’s hand. He walks gingerly since he mostly can’t feel his right foot. Once outside they sit down on the stairs leading to the lawn. They’re the only ones, it’s early morning and all the kids have classes.
“I want to go to University.” Warren says and Piotr nods to make him go on. “I’ll put Harry in charge of Worthington Labs and Marie will handle Dancers in the Sky. I’ll still be involved just not as much as before.” He hesitates and then adds, looking at Piotr. “I want to change my name.”
Piotr gives him a surprised look.
“Into what?” Warren shrugs, self-conscious and uncertain.
“What do you think about Angel?” He asks deliberately lightly, Piotr can tell. It makes him laugh.
“Angel Worthington?”It wouldn’t been anything new, Jimmy calls Warren Angel all the time. Warren gives him a long look and then replies tentatively, “I thought about Angel Rasputin.” He stares very intently at the fountain while Piotr stares at him. He shudders and can feel his hands changing to metal and running up his arms which hasn’t happened since he was a young teenager and kissed Jelena Iwanowna Kurdan in Ust-Ordynski for the first time.
The silence stretches between them and Piotr notices a faint tremor in Warren’s wings like he desperately wants to wrap them around him.
“Sorry, “Warren says, “That was dumb. Forget I said anything.” He moves like he wants to get up and leave but Piotr reaches over and rest his hand on Warren’s neck, the tips of his fingers in Warren’s hair and the heel of his hand on Warren’s spine.
“No.” He can feel the tension in Warren’s muscles. “I like it.”
And Angel’s smile tells him all he needs to know.