1. Under the New York Sky
The lilacs were blooming. Their pale and dark purple set against the sudden shading blue of the New York sky, cris-crossed with trails left by jets and marked by barren clouds. Underneath the towering bushes, their sprigs of tiny royal blossoms dipping delicately to the ground, spread a carpet of green Bermuda grass shooting up to the late spring sun, flushing a vibrant emerald, which was almost as bright as her eyes.
He stood quietly on the stone walkway, his arms folded over the old rock wall near the house, looking in on the courtyard in secret, his mouth quirked up as he watched the puppy squirm.
"Hold her still, Ana," Ororo laughed, grasping the golden puppy around the ribs as the small girl plopped down on the grass in front of her mother, bending her head of dark brown curls to grab at the puppy's head, squealing as the small dog strained forward to lick her on the chin.
"Be still, Buttons," she cried, wrapping her small fingers in the puppy's thick gold fur.
He laughed softly, still wondering how any child of his could willingly name their first dog Buttons. Yet, that had been the first thing out of her mouth when the golden retriever had come bounding down the stairs and into the little girl's arms.
"Whoa," Ororo crooned as the puppy wriggled and stumbled, trying to get free. He watched his wife press the tip of her tongue between her teeth in concentration as she fitted the bright pink collar, picked out especially by Jean, around the puppy's neck, her long fingers working nimbly as she buckled the small piece of material, finally letting go.
The puppy bounded out of Ororo's lap, taking off across the courtyard. Ana jumped up also, taking after the puppy in full pursuit, her wild hair bouncing around her head in the sausage curls that she had been born with, exactly five years ago.
As Ana chased the tawny puppy around the yard, he watched Ororo lean back on the grass, crossing her jean-clad legs at the ankle, her feet bare under the sun. Her bright blue eyes were focused on Ana, a satisfied smile curling on her mouth. He smiled himself, returning his gaze to his little girl, wondering in the back of his mind how the two of them had created such a perfect creature. He knew it was well within Ororo's capability, but definitely not in his.
It hadn't been so long since he had found her on an island covered in white, reflecting the rays of the hot Greek sun and lined with oleander blossoms quivering in the harsh wind. Ana had been born there, opening her shocking green eyes for the first time to see the rushing blue-green sea.
When he turned back to Ororo he was surprised to see that she had found him standing there in the shadows. She cocked a regal eyebrow at him and grinned, silver-white hair gleaming as she shook it out behind her head, the platinum strands slipping over each other softly.
He watched her with dark eyes, rubbing his thumb over the gold wedding band on his left ring finger, feeling the perfect smoothness of the element circling around his rough skin.
He could remember sitting on the hydrofoil, staring out at the rising sea as they skipped over the waves, the wind whistling through the vents over the low growl of the engines as he made his way back across the Mediterranean, back to her room decorated with rainbows.