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Mirror, Mirror (Under a Lilac Tree Remix)

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There's a knock on the door and Jean had half-risen from where she sat before her mirror, hand stretching out for the knob, before the rest of her brain caught up with her telepathy. No, the visitor was for Ororo, two doors down. Her cheeks blushed red, ugly and splotchy in the mirror. It was Remy Le Beau and his cat-slippery mind - of course it wouldn't be her he was here to see.

Ororo's warm contralto floated on a wisp of laughter, swift on the heels of a sly joke in Remy's drawling tenor. She felt cool metal between her fingers: lockpicks, the memory of paper clips holding together Ororo's secret stash of money. Jean pulled away, her telepathy curling into itself, until the only voices in the room were the usual murmurs.

Jean tied her hair into a ponytail and dipped the tips of her fingers into a pot of concealer, dabbing spots onto her skin. Picking up a brush, she swept foundation powder over her face, staring hard at it in the mirror. The results weren't as promising as she'd hoped: the foundation wasn't quite the right shade for her skin, and she didn't— didn't really want Professor Xavier to know what she'd been up to when she quickly ducked into a drugstore, in their last trip to town.

He probably already knew, because no one could hide things from the Professor, but she hated giving him a reason to make mild comments on vanity. And she didn't have quite enough money, so she'd have to borrow someone else's allowance or wait until her parents sent her more, and try not to hear what her classmates thought of the rash of acne across her skin. It was bad enough when they thought she was pulling up her skirt around Dr. McCoy.

She leaned closer to the mirror, turning her head from side to side. It wasn't that awful. Maybe she could get away with it for a week, if she kept away from the sun so it wasn't too obvious nature didn't give her the paleness.

Jean tried to avoid her eyes in the mirror - she didn't like looking, in case she saw something lurking there. If her telepathy, locked down as it was, could hear someone miles away, what terrible things could she do with it unfettered? Professor Xavier must have sensed something inhuman and dangerous in her, if he thought it was necessary to lock most of her powers in a cage.

She was thirteen when he came to see her parents, almost four years ago. At the time she thought he was kind but slightly frightening, even in his wheelchair. The Professor had been dressed in a navy suit, with a sleek silk tie that matched his shirt. She hadn't seen his armour for what it was until much later, when she happened to have caught sight of him doing up his tie in a mirror.

Xavier looked at himself in the mirror much the same way Dr. McCoy did: they saw not through a glass, darkly, but face to face - with everything that they were, unflinchingly and without shame. Dr. McCoy told jokes, though, and whistled while he brushed his blue fur. The Professor had knotted his blood-red tie with deliberation, smoothing it down his chest in a gesture that made something prickle at the back of her mind. She thought, later, that Magneto had his gleaming helm, Xavier had his tie and suit and kindly eyes.

It was strange, what she could tell about someone from how they treated their reflection, even when she pushed down her telepathy. Scott hated mirrors and took care to avoid the ones around the school, and the bit of her that knew what it was like to hate oneself hurt with sympathy for him. Ororo didn't need to glance at a mirror to know, with absolutely certainty, that she looked amazing. Jean envied her confidence. So much so that for a long time she didn't twig on to the fact that Ororo also used mirrors to case a room, just like Remy.

Jean stared at herself again, despairing. Maybe she was going about it the wrong way, though. She picked up a bottle of lip gloss and uncapped it, defiantly brushing a carmine line on her bottom lip. Hiding wasn't always about being invisible - she could fake a sudden interest in make-up that wasn't pink and quiet, endure everyone's tutting about her growing up too fast. But she was seventeen and it was expected, and no one would see under the powder, or the thing behind her eyes.