Disclaimer: I do not own the x-men.


Chapter One: It is Not Someone Who Has Seen the Light

"Love is not a victory march… it's a cold and broken hallelujah."-Rufus Wainright

When she dreamt she saw only the dark, and wondered if it reflected on the void in her soul.

Everyone dreams, we just forget most of them, and then those we do remember tend to fade into the morning like a mist absorbed by the sunlight. These intangible bits of psyche however, are perhaps one of the most important things about being alive. They show a mirror to our own psychological state, whether we're at peace, troubled, or scared, it will come to you into the night in the clothing of your own personal mythology. You see things you never see in waking life, laugh with people you've never met, visit places you've never knew existed, and remember. Remember the ways thing used to be, or should be.

Danielle used to know all this, perhaps better than any human being that has ever lived. She used to be able to tap into any person's consciousness and bring forth their most secret desires in the form of ethereal illusions. She had once even been known by the common term given to this part of the spirit; "Psyche". But that was so long ago, and now she was beginning to wonder if the absence of dreams were a signal that this existence was the real dream.

How could it happen? That one day you just wake up with no powers? That suddenly you can be "normal"?

She knew a good portion of the mutant population had been relieved, perhaps happier than they'd ever been. But not her, she'd staked for too much of her life, her very soul into this identity thinking it was her true self. She knew now though, she knew that even her genes were just a mirage of self. Then what did make a person? Just their consciousness of being alive perhaps; she just knew the never ending question made her ill inside.

She stirred, the room becoming uncomfortably warm as the sun rose higher into the sky and predicted another muggy summer day in New York. She forced herself out of bed and walked shakily out of her bed room to first turn the coffee maker on before dressing herself for the day. Since being kicked out of the mansion (as she crassly thought of it) she has allowed herself to slip into the habit of sleeping in. Well relatively, it was seven am and her job didn't start until ten, but most of her life she'd been up by five am.

Of course she might as well been kicked out of the x-men's abode the new bitch in charge couldn't have made it any clearer that she wasn't wanted anymore. Yes it would be rather hypocritical to allow a non-mutant teacher to continue to stay there, but Frost really didn't have to be so snotty about it. Dani blamed it on the New Mutants kicking the Hellions' collective asses all those times back in the old days. Ah, the good old days, if she had only known she was crossing the future headmistress of the Xavier Institute and Cyclops's leash holder…she probably would have just fought even harder.

After dressing in only a tank top and a pair of sweats sat down with her coffee and turned on the news. Her new job was nothing to write home about, she was an assistant at a flower shop. She'd never worked outside of the mutant community before and just seeing the name "Xavier Institute" on the application was enough to scare most potential employers away though she told them she was one of the newly de-powered mutants. Old prejudices would hang around long after the threat was gone she supposed. Mrs. Kail was a nice old woman though, so blind she probably wouldn't have even noticed if Dani had two heads though.

She sighed, so was life after the x-men, a steady but boring job, a small one bedroom apartment, and beginning all over again. She was thinking about returning to the reservation she had been born on, though her grandfather had been dead for years. There was just about much for her there as here, except there was where the souls of her parents and ancestors dwelled, and perhaps that counted for something. She was still a Cheyenne at heart.

Sprawled out on her ratty couch, she wondered if she should just let her life go into an idle auto-drive of normalness, or try to augment the cold dish fate had served to her. What made her happy? Adrenalin had made her happy; her dangerous adventures with the x-men had caused her much grief but she had thrived in the high stress environment, like a cactus that blooms despite a fifty year long drought. But without her abilities, could she still perform such feats? Her body was still fit, but would anyone want her to use that body in its full potential?

Its all such a mess, she thought to herself as she surfed past the channels rendering them into indistinct flickers.

The sound of the doorbell actually made her startle and she felt rather stupid for it. Now my nerves are going, she reasoned miserably. When the buzzer rang petulantly again she assured the person on the other side of the door, "Yes! I'm coming!"

She opened the door and just about the last person she expected was suddenly looking her in the face.

"Dani, are you all right?" Xi'an broke the silence first after a few awkward moments where Dani was a little too surprised for words and Xi'an was trying to find her tongue. The tone in Xi'an's voice and the fact her hands were clenched and hovering at the waist made Dani wonder if someone had told Karma that she'd been in a car wreck.

It was somewhat funny because at the moment Dani didn't own a car.

"Of course I am," Dani answered, "Why did someone tell you I wasn't?"

"Well I heard, that you had lost your powers and then I heard only yesterday night that you weren't at the school anymore…so I…so I wanted to make sure you were getting along all right," Xi'an explained, feeling more foolish with every word that came out of her mouth. Dani was the most self-reliant person she knew and here she was getting all worried about her like she was some helpless damsel, no wonder Dani was giving her that puzzled look.

Dani felt just about as bad as Xi'an, she'd not even said good-bye to her friends at the school, completely convinced they'd no longer want to be around her. Surely she could think better of those who'd watched her back in so many battles over the years. Yes she'd acted like a grade-a jackass all right. Dani was truly touched too, she and Xi'an had drifted apart over the years, yet here she was, worried about her in spite of how crazy she knew the Institute must be.

"Yeah I'm getting along all right, why don't you come in?" she asked, allowing the smaller woman inside.

As Xi'an walked in Dani walked into the small kitchen worked into a corner of the front room and poured her friend another cup of coffee. Xi'an looked at the rather bare room, it was obvious Dani had just moved in, the only pieces of furniture were the couch and the TV cabinet.

"Hey! You take milk and sugar in your coffee?' Dani called from across the room.

"Just black thank-you."

Dani chuckled, "Always so simple," she remarked as she walked towards Xi'an.

Xi'an smiled archly, "That a bad thing?" Xi'an couldn't help but to give the now rather cheery Dani a once over. Lord knew she'd crushed on the girl enough as teens, and despite "moving on", the other woman still stirred something in her, and probably always would.

Dani just shook her head, freeing some of her black tresses to hang rather endearingly in her face. "No, just, some things change so drastically over the years yet some things never do."

She set down the coffee cups onto an over-turned box near the couch and motioned for Xi'an to sit down next to her.

"Well I can assure you," Xi'an quipped as she sat next to Dani, "I am quite capable of change."

No shit, Dani agreed mentally, remembering the first time she'd seen Xi'an after she had "come out". She'd never seen it coming but Xi'an had always been such a guarded personality that it probably would have been impossible for anyone to see it, save maybe a telepath. She looked at Xi'an's sensible wavy bob of black hair, and thought she had looked rather cute with the pink buzz cut though.

"Well I guess I'm going to have to pull my own magic trick now too." Dani sighed taking a drink from her cup.

"So it's true, you lost your powers?"

Dani nodded grimly, "Yeah and it feels like shit," she admitted.

Xi'an looked away, "I can imagine", she looked back at Dani, "do you know what you're gonna do?"

"No, not really, I've got a job, but everything…nothing, nothing is the same." Dani tried to explain setting down her cup. She was a little surprised that she was opening up so easily, but Xi'an was an old friend and she was so frustrated with the whole situation she needed to vent.

Almost unconsciously Xi'an's rested her arm on the top of the couch and touched Dani's opposite shoulder with her hand, Dani didn't seem to notice. Instead she had her cup in a vice like grip and was staring at it hatefully, like the coffee done anything in its life other than grow, be ground up, and brewed.

"It was like, waking up blind or deaf. I had become so used to using my powers as a second sight that I had forgotten what it was like it to not have them. The way I see people, the way I sense them, it's so different now, now they seem to all just be uniform shadows, lacking any real uniqueness outside of face, hair and body. I can't see inside of them anymore." Dani's voice became lower, almost too afraid to voice her fears aloud, "And my very being has changed, I feel so out of it all the time, like I'm stumbling around a dark room with many things to trip on. No wonder humans are so afraid all the time if they have to live like that."

"Are you afraid?" Xi'an asked lowly, never had she seen Dani so beaten down, the look in those usually vibrant eyes was tearing her up inside. To her Dani had always been a strong well of human ardor. However "M-day", as it was now called, had shaken that fighting soul and made it cower in fear. Xi'an wanted to see that soul rise up again and shine, in fact she was quite ready to believe she wanted to see that more than anything. In response to her earnest thoughts her arm tightened on Dani's shoulders and brought Dani closer to her.

Dani just closed her eyes, "I don't even dream anymore, and that scares me."

"Why?" Xi'an asked bringing her face closer to Dani's as if trying to see the truth written in her features.

Dani opened her eyes, and if she was somehow not surprised to see Xi'an only about an inch away from her face. Somewhere inside of her wanted someone this close to her when she was this vulnerable, that was just human instinct. However the fact that she had lowered her shields this much at all revealed her mind was in chaos. Dani was one for distances between her fellow humans, not closeness.

"Because when I dreamed, I could see hope for the future, but I fear that there is nothing for me now." She divulged, "I am so useless like this, no one cares about you when you're not special anymore."

"No!" Xi'an said in a breathy whisper yet her tone was just like an order on the battlefield. Dani began to pull away from the angry look in Xi'an's usually serene expression, however suddenly Xi'an's hand was on the back of Dani's head and pulling her into a passionate kiss.

Not important? You're very important Dani, and I'll show you how important you are, Xi'an vowed to herself, for you have always been important to me.