Shades of Black

Disclaimer:› Not mine.› Never were.› Never will be.

Feedback:› Sure, why not?› I'm feeling lucky today.› ;)›

Notes:› A little different from the usual.› Blame the tin of shoe polish (yup, shoe polish) that sparked this bunny and Perch and Darkstar for adding fuel to the fire with their latest offerings.› A special thanks to the usual suspect for the beta and to Mr. Carroll for his Wonderland 'nonsense'.››››

Black:› The absence of color.› That which is devoid of light.


A brilliant mind enthralled by the exacting black of logic.› Equations and theorems, written in granite. ›Inflexible.› They do not judge.› They do not distinguish between man and mutant.› They have never made him feel ashamed.› Words on a stark page, he understands.› They are timeless.› Comfortable.› Predictable.› Giving neither condemnation nor warmth.› They do not care that intelligence glitters from eyes of amber or that the hands holding them are oversized and tipped with claws of gleaming jet.› To them he is a mind, not a hulking beast.› A single talon taps absently on a lacquered surface.›

Click.› Click.› Click.

Blue.› Blue, not black... and a sad resigned smile.› Cerulean, indigo, azure.› Fur not flesh.› Is it the pelt or the color that makes him, marks him, unworthy?› The smile fades to something else.› There is no need to play at being lighthearted here.› The lab is cold and sterile and empty.› There is no one to see his true colors.› And no one to ease the loneliness.› Blue, not black... or perhaps, that should be rephrased.› Black and blue.


That is fitting.›



A tricky one, that.› The almost-black of shadows.› A thing wholly different from the inky black of absolute darkness.› By its very definition, a shadow needs some illumination to exist.› A source to block out, thereby creating a space devoid of light.› There are other shadows, too.› Shadows that the rest of them don't see.›

That they don't feel.

They reside in those dark voids in that in-between place she so often finds herself.› Not here.› Not there.› But slightly out of phase.› Shadows hold no secrets for her, only sensations.› The English oak Charles favors is thick and sluggish.› Metal solids are worse.› Cold and sterile.› They make her skin prickle icily and grow numb.› Walls are unique.› Paint and plaster, wallboard and wainscoting - all with that hollow sliver hidden inside.››

Four little inches.› A place without heat.› Without light or scent or sound.› Without color.› There is no true black for her.›

There is only gray.



Matte black.› Rebuilt engines and modified parts.› A piston.› A tweaked transmission.› A motorcycle designed to fly on land when he is forced from the sky.› It was by no mistake the button is red.› Thoughts scatter and rough fingers caress dusky metallic skin.› A wry smile appears.› Blackbird.› His bird.›› Jean calls her 'the other woman'.

She's right.

He knows them both intimately.› His long blunt fingers have traversed every last inch, both inside and out.› They are the only two with the power to send his heart hurtling through the heavens.› The perfect extension of his imperfect body.› She does not see in shades of red.› The thrill of pushing the envelope still excites him.› Still has the power to make him hard.›

If a man is not living on the edge, he's taking up too much space.›

There is grease under his nails and a smudge on one cheek.› Jean will tease him tonight.› White collar mind.› Blue collar hands.› He won't care.› He knows she loves the feel of his rough hands on her soft alabaster flesh.› He drops a tool and curses as he sucks his bleeding knuckle.› Now they have exchanged blood.› Now she will allow him to fix her properly.› The trickle of hydraulic fluid becomes a river.› His bird is bleeding and he quickly works to staunch the flow.› It is her life's blood.› It keeps all her parts working smoothly together.› Like his red keeps the team working smoothly together.› Like Jean's red keeps them together.

Everything in his world is so cut and dry.› He would see in nothing but black and white were it not for one thing.› For Scott, there is no white.› And so, he exists in a world of black and red.›››


St. John›

Charcoal black.› Cold.› Dead.› They do not understand.› He is many things, but not that.› The spark smoldering inside him is never extinguished.› He cannot explain it.› It is alive and yet not alive, like fire itself.› It breathes.› It eats.› It breeds.› He has no need to purse dry lips and exhale to breathe fire to life.› For him, it ignites with a mere thought.› Charred carbon, sooty and dark, suddenly glows a familiar orange-red.› He is transfixed by the flickering glow as it plays over the surface and throws the grain of the wood into detailed relief.

A shiver slices through him.

He is always cold.› They do not understand that, either.› He is afraid to voice the words.› Afraid it will get out.› Afraid he will like it.› Afraid to let them know he has to fight against the overwhelming urge to crawl into the fireplace or down into the kiln so he can burn the bitter chill from his body.› Everything seeks its own level.

It is the same with fire.

He is afraid to tell them the only time he is truly warm is when it is close to escaping.› That the acrid scent of smoke makes heat prickle under his skin.› That he steals away under the cover of darkness to enjoy cadmium flames licking against a midnight sky and the terrible, wonderful urge to let go and watch it all burn.›

Pyro.› Oh, if they only knew.›

And yet, here he is not a threat to the tinder-dry world, but a hero in charcoal leather.› He thrives... Waiting, living for those glorious moments when he can throw off the black blanket smothering him and let the vermilion inferno rage.



Professional, classic black.› An elegant, conservative suit and stylish leather pumps.› Her one concession to vanity.› At thirty-five she doesn't quite have the body she had at twenty.› Med school and residency always came first.› But she's always had killer legs... and there isn't much Scott likes more than a pair of sexy heels at the bottom of long shapely legs.› How she wishes he were here.› She has never liked crowds or giving speeches.› She misses his quiet, steady strength.› Tired, aching feet stand behind a mahogany podium while she listens to a small-minded senator twist her words to further his cause.

This was a mistake.

She is a doctor - and on occasion, a reluctant soldier, but never a politician.› She fights her battles with sutures and scalpels, not rhetoric and ridicule.› She stifles the gleeful, improper urge to telekinetically knock him on his pompous ass.› Looking out at the sea of faces, she knows she will not win this war of words.› The fear and mistrust they are projecting spreads out from them like a dark stain.› Like blood seeping through clenched fingers.

A wound she cannot heal.

Their thoughts bleed black.› Like blood in the moonlight.› It is a color she knows all too well.› Real blood isn't red.› And it doesn't look like Kool-Aid.› It is opaque.› Thick with life and slippery between her fingertips.› It is Scarlet.› It is the color of pain.› Of passion.› Of life.› It is the color of the unexplored, untapped power maturing inside her.› The color her body burns under Scott's work-roughened hands.› The color of the flame holding her steady to her life's course.› And the color of Scott's unborn children, waiting to grow in the warm, dark space beneath her heart.

For him she is both.

She is the inky darkness under him, the midnight leather at his back, the sable silk at his side and the blood that binds them together.› He may be the team's soul, but she is its heart.› Sanguine scarlet in an ocean of black.



Swirling black chaos.› A body, a mouth, a mind, continually in motion.› Flitting about with the impetuousness of youth... yet always with grace, with purpose - be it healing, helping, or simply hiding the hurt that is far too noticeable when all is still and silent.› Golden skin.› Raven hair.› Almond eyes.› She is unique, even here.›

A swallowtail among moths.

Flicker bright and oh, so terribly fragile.› Her words are her shield.› A shell to protect the soft, vulnerable parts underneath.› Parts she does not want them to see.› Parts she does not want to see.›

Obsidian masquerading as ocher.› She is both.› Amber liquid in a Waterford tumbler and the fiery kick that follows.› A shadow that accessorizes itself in sunshine to keep from being seen.› Kohl liner passed over a saffron flame.› The sharp stink of a permanent marker, hiding the scuffs on her favorite shoes.› Black tea steeped in a chipped personalized mug that reads:

~ Property of Jubes ~
Break it...and find out why
your parents always told you
not to play with firecrackers.

She is a strange, wonderful blend of ancient and modern.› Small, but powerful in her own way, like lemon zest.› It doesn't take much to flavor the mix... but without it, things have a way of tasting flat.› A recipe that holds as true for cooking as it does for life.›

Especially life as an X-Man.›

It was not an easy choice to make, for both brilliant sunshine and dim shadows can make the path difficult to follow.› But she has found a place to alight.› And for now, she is content to be the scrap of yellow, fluttering against a field of black.›



Black ice.› Invisible.› Deadly to those who do not tread with caution.› He is far beyond manifesting his gift in delicate roses spun of glittering ice and foolish boyhood dreams.› None of them have ever noticed that his ready smile does not touch his glacial blue eyes.› He is the jokester because that is what they need.› In time, their needs will change, and he will reshape himself accordingly... as all great leaders must do.›

So like Scott in his youth.›

A sharp wit, expressed differently, yet with the same intent.› The soul of an old soldier bound in a young man's body by words like duty... honor... sacrifice.› A life devoted to an impossible dream and a heart that bleeds for the simple existence he longs for, but will never have.› An inner flame that no amount of hardship will ever extinguish.› It glows blue-white, steady and unwavering.› Azure tongues, so bitter cold they burn on contact.› How appropriate.› Drake.› Dragon.› King of beasts, breathing icy blue flames.››››

Xavier saw it in him from the beginning and groomed him for the position, just as he did with Scott so many years ago.› Charles is not a fool.› He knows all too well that no man is invulnerable.›

Scott will not lead them forever.

How odd that it is the man of ice who will not shatter under the heavy yoke of responsibility.› One day it will be his turn.› He will pull the black mantle of leadership over a core of cobalt ice and pick up a torch that no longer burns red, but deep, vivid blue.



Ebony and Ivory.› Silver hair and dusky skin.› Luminous opaque eyes crackle above a body encased in revealing jet leather.› White man's English spilling prettily from full dark lips.› Quintessential black and white.› But things are never so clear cut.› There are those who do not - will not - look past her white hair and softly accented words.› Some hold their tongues, but others are not so kind.›

Swirly.› Coconut.› Oreo.

They have a hundred such names... and she has heard them all.› Bright Lady, if they only knew the truth.› She has stood naked in the cradle of the world, on dark rich soil made fertile by her own hand, and been worshiped as a goddess.› They, whose soles have never touched Mother Africa, would judge her unworthy.› She, who has been all things to all people.› A woman.› A deity.› A lover.› A conduit between earth and sky, possessing the power to scorch the earth and coax it back to life once more.

Alpha and omega.›

Logan would be amused.› But as a fellow child of nature, he understands.› She is an alpha of a different sort.› He may be a lion among men, but it is her verdant field he hunts on.› Only the truly powerful are born with the ability to both create and destroy.› She walks in two worlds because she can.› Because she must.

Because nothing is ever simply black and white.



Black asphalt disappearing under worn tires.› A dark ribbon leading him nowhere.› Leading him home.› He is like the road, gritty and hard.› Meet it too carelessly and rough edges will tear flesh from bone.› A predatory light flashes in his dark, intelligent gaze.› Of all of them, he is the most comfortable in the long, ominous hours between sunset and sunrise.› The blackness suits him.› Monstrous dark things live in the shadows and he is the darkest of them all.› Not a man.› Not a beast.› But a blending of the two.›


'Claws that catch' and 'eyes of flame'.› A made-up thing.› Isn't that the fucking truth?› There is a metallic sound.› And pain.› Six blades sing into being, examined under his critical eye.› A made-up thing.› Yeah.› Man made.› His eyes grow cold and flat.› Eat me.› Drink me.

Cut me.

Perhaps he was not meant to know the answers.› Or perhaps his is a rabbit hole with no end.› Maybe he was not meant to unravel this wonderland of cover-ups and lies.› A modern day 'Alice'.› Scott would be amused, but only because he has his own 'looking-glass', and it's just as dark.

With a soft grunt, the claws vanish and his eyes are drawn to the ring on his left hand.› It is smooth and plain.› Like hers.› Designed to be worn easily under gloves or to rest undisturbed between deadly blades.› The color reminds him of her.› The streaks in her hair.› The sound of her laugh.› The look in her dark eyes when he holds himself deep inside as the world falls away in streams of starlight.

Perhaps his heart and her skin were not quite so untouchable after all.› It will never be easy for them.› They are what they are.› But with her, he isn't just a Jabberwocky.› He is also a man.› A lover.› A mate.› A wild thing, restrained only by his own unique concept of honor and the loving touch of a gloved hand.› He is mercurial sunlight glancing off silver scales.› Moonlight on adamantium.›

A creature, cloaked in darkness.› And a man steeped in black, shining silver within.››››



Black velvet charm in a soundless, honeyed voice.› Attractive.› Seductive.› Irresistible, when he chooses to be so.› He is a creature of feeling, of emotion.› Fashioned for pleasure... and passion.› It is as much a part of his nature as breathing - and just as vital.› The rush is overwhelming.› Electric.›


Red-on-black eyes flash, as the card manipulated between nimble fingers begins to glow with a crimson charge.› He feels that, too.› On his skin and under it.› Like the heady feeling after a bottle of fine wine.› A tingle, like arousal, only better... and worse.› The kinetic high is quick and addictive.› A soft patois breaks the silence.› It is a voice as suited to a colorful curse as it is to broken French issued in the heat of passion.› A cigarette glows red, leaving behind spicy smoke and a mouth that tastes of cloves and heartache.›

Another card joins the first.

Passion and despair.› Diamonds and spades.› Clubs and hearts.› Red and black.› A bittersweet smile ghosts across his sensual lips as the king of hearts disappears in a burgundy flash.› If only his past could be erased as easily.› But it cannot.› And he will not apologize for it.› He did what he had to do to survive.› And now, he is what he is.› An enigma.› A lover.› A loner.› A connoisseur of beautiful things who owns nothing.› A thief with a strict code of honor.› A genteel man with old world charm, as comfortable in the finest drawing rooms as he is surviving hand to mouth on the streets.

He is everything and nothing.› A hero.› A whore.› A demon.› A savior.› A survivor.› An X-Man, but still not truly one of them.› A wraith, silent and still.› At home in the shadows where only Kitty will walk.› A man, haunted by a black past and a lonely heart that bleeds crimson.››



Parade gloss black.› A soft green rag swirls again in the waxy tin of polish and she wonders which man in her head she is appeasing.› Perhaps Erik.› The boy who had everything violently ripped from him grew into a man who learned to take meticulous care of all his worldly possessions.›

Soft black bristles polish the scuffed toes of her heavy lug sole boots.› The movement is quick and efficient.› Automatic.› Her mind wanders.› Logan is another possibility.› He's the one who makes beds with hospital corners and despite his intense dislike for authority, it is his voice who tells her to take pride in the black leather uniform she now wears.

A wry smile touches her lush red lips.

She has never understood why her 'inner Logan' would insist she make their bed so perfectly when he knows full well it won't remain that way.› Her husband does not restrain his passion any more than she does.› It flares quickly.› And often.›

There.› One last pass of the brush and she is finished.›

Dust motes keep a silent vigil in the late afternoon sun as she returns her boots to the closet and places them next to his larger ones, underneath the two uniforms that now hang side by side.› Sunlight catches on an adamantium wedding band as ungloved fingers trace lightly over black leather and emerald piping.› Erik smiles.› Charles always did have a touch of the artist in his proper British soul - and he'd always been able to see a person's true colors.

The green is fitting.› It is a transition from the carefree yellow of youth to the steady blue of maturity.› It is the color of waning naivet» and of unseasoned soldiers.› It is the color of the forest that draws her husband north and of the flecks in his hazel eyes when they make love in the sunlight.› It is a raging sea and still waters that run dark and deep.› It is the absinthe in her fleeting kiss.› And for the woman whose unguarded touch brings the solemn black of death, it the very life that flows into her.

Such a bittersweet gift.

It is joy and sorrow.› It is the touch of a gloved hand on sweat-slicked flesh.› It is sex with barriers of latex and silk.› It is a blessing and a curse.› It is life.› It is death.› And for her, it will always be both black and green.



Dignified, reserved black.› Refined, not rigid.› Never that.› His wit is far too dry for that to be the case.› His quiet, timeless strength brings to mind dark covers of antique leather-bound texts and the austere robes of old schoolmasters.› He is the impeccably dressed gentleman, sipping perfectly brewed tea from fine bone china, while he calmly discusses covert missions by black-clad operatives and the difficulties of acquiring parts for one of the government's 'lost' titanium birds.› Despite the seriousness of the situation, the latter never quite comes without a touch of wry amusement.› He's always liked a challenge, be it a game of chess with a worthy opponent or scavenging parts for a plane that doesn't officially exist.

Scott is not the only one who dreamed of flying.

Were it not for his legs, he would have been fitted for that black leather as well.› Every man needs dreams, both large and small.› They forget he was not always an old man and that there was a time when his brilliant mind was not trapped in a broken body.› His mysterious smile appears again.

Ah, yes.› They were quite a pair in their day - the young man who could make people think or do whatever he wanted and his friend, the boy who could control metal.› He swallows a chuckle.› And they wonder why their antics never get the rise they are expecting.› Oh, to be young and full of piss and vinegar.› But better to be old and full of treasured memories.››

He brushes an invisible speck of lint from his dark suit.› He has another role now and he wouldn't trade it for anything.› Not even for the use of his legs.››

Teacher.› Mentor.› Father figure.

He is the stone that anchors them and the rock they break themselves against.› It is his hands that shape and guide them, chipping away at their dark shells to reveal the brilliant colors underneath.› Charles, himself is colorless.› He is the black canvas they shine against.› The dark field they choose to distinguish themselves upon and the man who sees bright, vivid colors where others see only black.›

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