Shades of Blue, Shadows of Grey

A/N: Generally A/U fics are not projects I like to tackle, but by the time I sat down to write this first bit, the story had already finished in my head. I've put a lot of work into keeping the characters in line with their personalities as much as I can, but this story is primarily centered around C.C., so this first chapter is all about how C.C. ended up where she is for the duration of the story, both figuratively and mentally. It also features the introduction of our favorite characters. I hope you enjoy it!

Prologue

Great skyscrapers stretched into the horizon and beyond, as if reaching with all their might towards the smoggy, blue sky, where the sun hung high, beating down on the city in the late August heat. C.C. Babcock stood near one of the skyscrapers, standing still on the sidewalk as people, too busy with their own hurried lives to worry about an awestruck young woman, milled around her.

California had been so different. L.A. was big, broad, crowded, but somehow, everyone knew you.

Here she could get lost in a sea of faces— here she could hide from it one stopped to look at her, no one pushed her, no one noticed her.

This was where she was meant to be.

Here, she could escape the looming title of C.C. Babcock, daughter of Alexander Babcock, worldwide business tycoon, billionaire extraordinaire, and founder of Babcock Architecture, Inc.; here, she was no one, she was just as important as anyone else. She had begged her father to let her go.

At nineteen years old, she was ready to break away from it all, ready to make her own name. Alexander Babcock was, if anything, ready for her to carry on the family legacy. With salt and pepper hair and sharp grey eyes that served him well in the boardroom, he certainly was formidable. But C.C. pushed anyway. She wanted out. Wanted away. So, when her father threatened to turn her out lest she fulfill his wishes, she set her jaw, giving her father a steely look that he had so often used himself, turned her heel, and walked away from the giant, steel tower that housed a billion-dollar company, and in turn, walked away from any inheritance she might've once had.

"You'll never amount to anything on your own, Chastity; nothing you do will be good enough. You don't mean a damn thing to anyone if they don't know you." Her father's voice, clear and cold, echoed in her mind. Shaking her head as if to clear it, she instead focused on the more positive aspects of her new life. She had once been Chastity Claire Babcock, heiress to the billion-dollar empire that had been created by her father from the ground up. She had long since left her name— her legacy— behind; she was now C.C. Babcock, and as far as she was concerned, she was no heiress.

Now she stood here, ready to take on the world, just as small as anyone, just as ordinary.

And she felt relieved. C.C. broke away from her brief enchantment, and she looked around. Men in business suits pushed past her, women in long, thick fall sweaters passed her. A man on the corner looked pleadingly at her as he jingled a can in front of him, a cardboard sign propped on the wall.

Hungry, need help. Any appreciated.

With sympathy, C.C. brushed a lock of blond hair behind her pierced ear and reached into her trench coat pocket, searching its contents for loose change. Finding a couple dollar's-worth of quarters that she had exchanged for the cab that had dropped her off, she tossed it in the can, giving the poor man a warm smile. The scraggly man endowed her with a toothless smile. She moved past the crowd to the great revolving doors of the building she was standing in front of.

On a whim, she had cashed out her trust fund, placed it in a hidden account before her father had the chance to cut her off, and decided to go to school. Not that she hadn't already taken her fair share of courses for years already, but taking college level courses as a billionaire's daughter hadn't been as exciting as she had hoped it would've been. Then again, being the only seventeen year old in an advanced theater and business courses at Yale hadn't exactly made her any friends, either. Everywhere she went, whispers followed.

Her father greased some palms, her father had paid, her father was a billionaire, her father…

Quite frankly, she had gotten sick of it.

Perhaps that was when she had decided enough was enough, all that time ago. So, here she was, standing in the lobby of NYU, a regular four year college, and she couldn't be happier. She had chosen New York City as her new residence partly because of the anonymity of the large, brightly lit city, and partly because it was somewhere she had never been and somewhere her father wouldn't look.

Her heels clicked on the linoleum, announcing her arrival to the receptionist behind the oak counter.

"Hello, Ms. Babcock. We've been expecting you. Congratulations! NYU is glad to have you. Welcoming orientation is just through those doors," the grey-haired lady looked to her right and pointed, "You'll need to fill this form out while you get acquainted with the school and your fellow peers. Oh, and, as you're starting as a freshman, you'll get a chance to meet your roommate.", she added.

C.C. took the clipboard from the older woman's proffered hand, grabbing a pen from the cup on the raised counter, giving the receptionist a kind smile and a 'thank you' before she clicked away towards the swinging double doors.

C.C. pushed through the doors, eager to see what her new life would bring her.

The two hundred or so incoming students mingled with one another comfortably, and some peered over the crowd, as if searching for familiar faces. C.C. heard the shrieks of once-separated-now-reunited best friends. Slightly put off, yet relieved that she didn't know anyone, she quietly took a seat in one of the many unoccupied plastic chairs to side of the conference room. A few sparse students graced the chairs, but for the majority kept to themselves. A pair of good-looking young men slowly ambled towards the seats next to her, sinking into them with less grace than a pair of elephants. The nearest one smiled jovially at her, his crooked grin somehow contrasting his seemingly stuffy suit. Thin, Grecian-like futures were the highlight of this man's physique, closely followed by his perfect smile. His dark eyes gleamed as he ran a manicured hand absently through his dark hair, then offered it to her.

"Maxwell Sheffield. My father owns Sheffield Productions. Perhaps you've heard of it?"

C.C. was caught by surprise at the accent. Rich and smooth, his English accent nearly swept all knowledge of how to properly string words together from her mind. For a few moments, she stared at him, completely startled. Then a loud shout of joy from somewhere in the crowd jolted her into action. Grasping his warm hand in her own, she shook it.

"C.C. Babcock." Her voice seemed small, so she cleared her throat. "I'm afraid not."

Of course she had heard of the company, as her father had received the contracting to build the office complex for the company. But she wasn't her father's daughter anymore so instead she offered a naïve, apologetic smile. Maxwell looked rather stumped at that, then his eyes lit up.

"Any relation to Alexander Babcock?"

Her mouth was incredibly dry. If he had figured it out so soon, how fast would others?

"No, none." She laughed, pleased when he joined in.

"Well, I suppose there are other Babcocks around the world. After all, what are the chances that a relative of Alex Babcock would decide to attend NYU when the programs in California are so much better? My mistake." Another lopsided smile. More silence.

A cough behind Maxwell interrupted the lull in the conversation and, subsequently, C.C.'s distraction.

"Ah, yes," Maxwell started. "C.C., this is my good friend, Niles; we grew up together in England before our families came over." Maxwelll turned to introduce his friend.

If Maxwell Sheffield was an attractive young man, this man was drop-dead gorgeous. Crystalline blue eyes complimented fair, blond hair. Blessed with a fair complexion, the man had tanned slightly, and C.C. absently found herself wondering whether the tan travelled to other parts of his body. A quick check at his loosened collar, complete with a relaxed Windsor knot, confirmed it. C.C. found herself flushing slightly at the thought. A strong chin defined his jaw-line. The young man's oceanic eyes had deep laugh lines around them, as if he had spent all his life laughing at jokes. She could only imagine what sense of humor lay behind those relaxed eyes. The polar opposite of his companion, his smile came modestly, merely a small twitch of his lips as he politely offered his hand.

Firm, but gentle, his handshake was solid. There were small, miniscule flecks of grey in his serene blue eyes. C.C. almost didn't hear what he said next.

"Niles Davies. Unfortunately, I'm no-one important, unlike my friend here."

His accent, also British, was slightly more subdued, yet somehow, it seemed all the more attractive. It reminded her of a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day and wonderful novel, her favorite way to spend a rainy day. C.C. could spend all day listening to him speak. Her voice was slow, as if it had gotten caught in her suddenly dry throat.

"C.C. Babcock. Pleased to meet you," she said, "I-" A bell rang out, interrupting their conversation, and the two of them withdrew their hands.

The orientation director cleared her throat at the small podium that stood in the front of the conference room; the throaty sound echoed, stopping any lingering conversations. The

"As the Director of the Orientation department here at NYU, on behalf of everyone here, I'd like to say, Welcome, Bobcats! We here at NYU are thrilled to accept some of the brightest students in the country into the den. Now, first things first. As incoming freshman, it is our policy that you stay in a dormitory, which are housing buildings located here on campus. Now, we have evaluated your preferences as indicated by the personality tests we sent out in the information packets, and as such, have chosen your roommates for the next year," At this, a few groans echoes through the rabble of students. "As I was saying, we've chosen, and we have your results included on the top of your information sheets you'll need to fill out later." Whoops, groans, hollers, and murmurs of curiousity rang out in the few seconds that ensued as people veiwed their roommates names.

Looking at the sheet, C.C. read the name aloud. "Fran Fine. Huh…"

Niles and Maxwell grinned at each other and high-fived. A swift look at Maxwell's clipboard confirmed that he and Niles had managed to get a dorm room together.

Suddenly, among the clamor, a high, loud voice rose above the rest.

"Oh, my gawd. I'm so sorry I'm late! Ma didn't tell me it started already!" The entire cluster of students moved fluidly to clap eyes on the young woman who had interrupted. Her black hair… well, C.C. could only describe it as… big. Beyond that, C.C. couldn't discern much of her features. A nasal laugh broke the silence, and the orientation guests all flinched simultaneously. C.C. looked on with a slack jaw. As the young woman took a seat clumsily, C.C. felt terrible for the poor lady that had to room with that girl.

A/N: I know that this premise might be new to the C.C./Niles shippers, but I wanted to try something new. I usually dislike A/U fanfictions, but I've already read most of the C.C./Niles stories out there and wanted to contribute my own story. However, almost everything had already been done, so I decided on an A/U story. I know the personalities might be a little off, but there wasn't much character interaction in this prologue, it was mostly background for C.C., so it was impossible to show much of the personalities. Given the A/U nature of the story, I'll do my absolute best to keep the characters as close to their true selves as possible, and any input on doing so would be so very much appreciated. Anyhow, I've got the next few chapters already planned and written, so if you are interested in seeing more (or not) leave me a review please!