A cold smile stretched across Christopher Black's face. He crouched low on the fire escape, reaching down with one hand to slide his gun from his jacket. The jacket was, of course, black. It matched his shoes. It also matched his trousers, his gloves, his glasses, his hat, and the raven-feather hair it covered. The shirt obscured by the jacket was a light grey. He liked to think it lightened up the outfit. It was not an outfit made to stand out, and he adjusted it to fit the situation. Dressed down in the summer, a scarf added in the fall. Even a splash of color when necessary. Overall, though, he preferred black. He liked to think it obscured him. A nice black outfit made wandering eyes glance off of him like light reflected by a mirror- and that was just the way he liked it. Exactly how a spy of his caliber should be perceived. As nothing but a shadow.

He liked to think of himself as very high caliber in fact, thank you very much. Especially when one considered that, at twenty-six, he was one of the youngest members of his organization. He was confident enough in his own skill to forego a real codename. The use of his last name was an old joke from the agency. As his own little pun he had enjoyed referring to himself as "Black. Christopher Black." It hadn't caused any problems at all until the day when, midway through a training exercise, he had introduced himself to the 'target' as "Black. Damn it..." It had become a running joke, and he had never seen a reason to let it go. Besides, such an obvious name provided its own kind of protection. So Black it was.

Perhaps it was the sentimentality of thinking back to his days at the academy, but his trip down memory lane took a sudden detour, and he found himself remembering that it had been only two years later that he and White had their first encounter.

It had been a simple assignment. One pull of the trigger, one muffled shot, and a political figure who had fallen out of favor with the agency would shuffle neatly off his mortal coil. Christopher had positioned himself on the roof of a nearby building, and aimed his rifle down to the stage below. He had the target in his sights, but just as the figure on the podium shifted directly into the crosshairs, something knocked against the back of his head. The cold chill of metal seeped into his skin.

"Ah ah ah," a cheerful, sing-song voice chided. "None of that now. Just think how bad it would be for business if the man I've been hired to protect were killed right under my nose. You understand, don't you?"

The familiar click of a safety being turned of rung in Christopher's ears, and he unfroze. The barrel of his rifle cracked against the figure behind him like a whip, and he dove to one side as they pitched back. He caught a glimpse of his attacker as they raised the gun up again, poised to fire. It was a male, about his height, but slightly shorter. He wore a white trench coat, which billowed out behind him as he spun to face Christopher. His sunglasses were adorned with thick white rims, and Christopher glimpsed white jeans and sneakers beneath the coat. A white hat was perched at a jaunty angle over his surprisingly long hair. The ends curled slightly at his ears, and its complete lack of pigment shocked Christopher. The man crowed a delighted laugh as Christopher ducked beneath his range and swung himself over the opposite edge of the roof, crashing through a window and bolting for the hall, where he blended in perfectly with the crowd that had begun to gather, wondering about the sound of breaking glass.

That wasn't the last time their paths would cross by a long shot. The next time they met, Black knew what name to call his adversary by. White. What were the odds? His mind wandered, and he pondered whether the other man might have gotten his name from his distinctive hair. He had heard it described as platinum blonde, but it wasn't. It was purer than that. Platinum blonde suggested a kind of falsity. Bleach and dye. White's hear was just that. White. Pure white. The color of freshly fallen snow, of crisp paper, of salt and sand and ice.

Christopher hated to see the mottled red tendrils of blood mar that perfect white expanse. His own personal pet peeve. He tried to avoid giving White head wounds, unless he was going for a clean kill. Not that he had ever achieved that goal with White.

That brought him back to the present, and he slunk along the platform to the window of White's newest hideout. He pressed his ear to the wall and listened intently. Satisfied, chipped at the lock on the window before oiling up the edges of its metal frame with a cloth in his pocket, allowing it to glide silently up.

He waited a moment. There was no explosion, no puff of smoke, no gunshot, not even an alarm. This was a little worrying. Christopher flicked off the safety on his gun and, with a deep breath, threw himself through the window. He spun in a tight circle, gun held out like a shield, casing the small apartment at a glance. There was no sound but his own heavy breathing.

Nothing reacted to his entrance. There was no trap, no ambush, no sneak attack. It unsettled him. He searched each of the three tiny rooms, living room and kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. He returned to the center of the complex with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. There had been no tripwire. No secret papers. No traps, nothing worth stealing, but most problematic of all- no White.