Ironhorse's favorite colors were black and white.

Not in the aesthetic sense, of course. In the metaphorical sense. He liked black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. It pleased him immensely when the world at large sorted itself out along those lines. Doing good was terribly important to him, and that only worked out well when 'good' was clear.

As far as he was concerned, the universe generally obliged him. Most of the situations he had been in were rife with pleasing absolutes. Death did not frighten him (although he was in no hurry to go there), as long as he had that certainty to sustain him. So it was a damn shame, he thought irately as he stared at the man weeping on the desk, that Blackwood had such a knack for screwing up his satisfyingly straightforward worldview.

It had been so easy, not an hour before, to touch the man and hold him. Well, perhaps not quite easy; Ironhorse had never found touch easy. He liked to think that it was part of being a warrior - that unease when a hand neared him, the wariness at showing any kindness (as kindness was the sister of vulnerability). But holding Blackwood was easier than seeing the man falling apart in front of him. Blackwood was insufferable, yes, and over-educated, and pacifistic and vegetarian and everything Ironhorse neither liked nor respected in the abstract. In the form of Blackwood, however, all of that annoyance was pleasing, in some strange manner. Blackwood was an anchor in a world that had suddenly become alien - in every way. Seeing the man fall apart was like seeing cracks form in the earth and the sky, and Ironhorse had grabbed the man as much to keep his own world together as to comfort Blackwood.

Now, though - the rules of the game had changed.

Ironhorse had expected the rage and the insults; he had seen withdrawals from addiction a time or two before. Blackwood's condescention had bothered him a bit more than he had expected, but it was no more than a passing matter. He had even expected the desperate bargaining; again, it was all part of the trend. But when Blackwood broke down yet again, and Ironhorse stepped forward almost instinctively to offer another bit of comfort - not to Blackwood the scientist, but to his friend Harrison - well, Ironhorse had frozen, and then stepped back. And there he stood, with blacks and whites failing to come to his aid.

Yes, Blackwood was in a state where he would offer anything to get his music back, wasn't he? If the man were less intelligent, less perceptive, there would have been nothing in that to faze Ironhorse. But the icy feeling of he knows crawled over Ironhorse's spine, and whether it was accurate or not, he could not touch Harrison again. He could not open the doors to the offer that the man might make if he did know. Ironhorse would not give him that stupid damn music no matter what - but he might very well take even a sick facsimile of love if Harrison offered, and that was something that the man would never forgive, once he came back to himself.

Arms folded, hands hidden. Yes. That was - better. Watch Harrison - no, Blackwood. Watch. Don't touch. That was right, and Ironhorse always did what was right.

That thought held a distressing tang of grey, however.