In the X-labs on Utopia, Dr. Rao tries to test Teon’s intelligence with several puzzles for young children. Currently he is utterly baffled by solving the equation “2 + 2.” They are making progress, Kavita wryly informs Hope. He is no longer eating the pencil. But he shows no ability on any of these tests and they are supposed to find evidence to prove that Teon shouldn’t be returned to his family’s care. Really, they are just gathering evidence that he should be.
Hope dangles a chocolate bar in front of Teon and asks if he is hungry. Immediately he solves the equation and all the other tests to get the chocolate. He just needs the right motivation, Hope tells Rao. Why can’t anyone see that?
They are going to lose the case, Cyclops tells Hope in his office. Then they’ll need another lawyer, she spits. Cyclops explains that Evangeline Whedon is a mutants rights specialist. She’s the best lawyer the X-Men have ever had. If she says it’s a bad case, it’s a bad case. This is a bad case, Vange agrees. She can play all sorts of delaying actions but she’d think it unethical and beneath the X-Men. Looking at the evidence, she can only agree with the family. Teon should be with them.
He can look after himself, Hope protests. Yes, but he’d do it by sleeping in alleyways and eating trash, Vange states. Surely that’s his choice, Hope points out. Looking at the evidence, is it his choice? Vange smirks. Not this again! Hope protests. It’s this again, Vange points out, because it’s still an issue. When the jury looks at Teon and Hope, they’re looking at a master and a pet.
Hope’s eyes glow angrily for a moment. Yes, he’s imprinted on her, but he was doing even worse stuff before she got to him. She’s calmed him down. She’s good for him. This is just who he is. Who are they to judge him? They’re a court, Cyclops reminds her. Judging comes with the territory. Now if he can talk to Evangeline alone…
Hope meets the rest of her group (without Teon) on the beach and announces they need codenames. Shouldn’t they be worrying about Teon? Laurie asks. Hope claims she isn’t worried about him and nobody’s taking him. When this has all shook down, they’ll need names for the next mission. Gabriel compliments Idie on her new Afro hairstyle. She wanted a change.
Hope still tries to explain why they need codenames when Gabriel interrupts her, shouting “Velocidad!” Spanish for “speed,” Laurie criticizes, which makes it nonsense. He controls time. He doesn’t move quicker. Gabriel doesn’t care. It’s an awesome word and more super heroes should have Spanish names. But mostly it’s an awesome word. Velocidad, he shouts again as if to prove it.
Hope turns to Kenji. She assumes he’s going to be awkward about this. Quite, he agrees. How come she doesn’t have a codename? She’s already called Hope, she replies. Like, duh. Okay, if he must… how about “Derivative?” Kenji suggests bitterly. He was one of the most feted artists of his generation but, when it came down to it, when his body warped… his imagination failed him. And now he’s stuck like this. How about “Whiny”? Gabriel suggests.
Hope tells Kenji he needs something that won’t get Gabriel mocking him, which doesn’t leave much. Rei… he suggests in a small voice. He knows Rei, Gabriel muses. Japanese for “Zero,” Kenji translates. Isn’t it a character in some old anime? Gabriel muses. On second thought, best make it Zero, to make it easy for the team simpletons, Kenji decides. Talking of which, what about their soon to be repatriated Teon?
Laurie begins that “Instinct” is the most logical name and is again interrupted by Gabriel, who shouts “Primal.” That also makes no sense, Laurie shouts. What scares the bad guys more? he asks. “Sic ‘em, Instinct” or “sic ‘em, Primal”? They are X-Men. They go with bad-assery. While Hope wouldn’t put it exactly like that, she’s with him. He needs a name with teeth.
Laurie’s Transonic and Idie is the Girl Who Wouldn’t Burn… Idie doesn’t want that name. She is Oya. Yoruba goddess of fire and magic. Isn’t she Igbo and Catholic? Laurie asks. She is no longer of her people, Idie replies, and if she is to be this, she’s this. She is a witch child. She is a blasphemy and a heretic. What choice does she have but to embrace it? And besides “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Burn” is not true. She can’t burn in this world. She’ll burn in the next. The others look at her shocked. Sighing, Hope suggests they should get ready for court.
Later, they are all dressed in formal wear. Evangeline binds Teon’s tie. When he suggests “mate,” she informs him that she can turn into a dragon and is fine with defending a slightly singed client. “Flight,” he decides. Glad they understand each other, she agrees.
Hope leaves to get Kenji. When he doesn’t reply she opens the door to his room over his protests. The first thing she sees is a lovely portrait of herself. Kenji destroys it with one of his tentacles. It wasn’t right, he announces, it wasn’t right. They better go, Hope tells him.
Later at the San Francisco district court:
Teon’s father is asked to speak. He explains that Teon lived at home. He’d left school, but was always in his room. He was very good with his computers. It was beyond his father. Then he was sick. He had a fever and made the most horrible noises. He couldn’t speak he kept on saying how hungry he was like “Eat, eat!” And, in the morning, he was gone.
Next a young woman describes how she heard a noise in the basement. She went down and found Teon in a kind of nest. A couple of mattresses and stuff and tub upon tub of that pure protein stuff.
She and the more bulked up Teon hit it off and he stuck around for the night. In the morning, they were watching TV, images of scantily clad young women at the Miami spring break and Teon just went straight out of the room. That was the last she saw of him.
Next, a lawyer explains that all the charges against Teon are dismissed due to his proven diminished responsibility at the time. He is asked to list the main charges: petty theft while in the Ukraine, mainly from fitness retailers, breaking and entering, bypassing airport security and stowing aboard a 747. More theft in Miami. Plus a half dozen cases of sexual harassment and assaults, against women and men respectively.
Evangeline asks if there have been any further unfortunate incidents since the X-Men were able to rescue Teon. Not that they are aware of, is the reply. So he’d say that Teon has improved since entering the X-Men’s custody?
Teon’s mother is called to the stand. She wouldn’t know. They didn’t see him. The X-Men contacted them to tell them Teon was safe. They are grateful to the X-Men, but he is their son. The lawyer asks what she says to the argument that only the X-Men can help Teon. Mrs. Macik cries and insists that the X-Men don’t get to make that decision. He needs to be with his family, so they can care for him and find a way to help him. She pleads they want their son back. Is that too much to ask?
The judge thanks her and asks Evangeline if she is ready to start her case. Absolutely not, she mutters. Teon suddenly jumps up, over Vange’s protest. “Fight,” he announces. Fearing the worst, Evangeline explains Teon would like to take the stand.
Teon jumps on top of the witness stand and then begins to talk, addressing the whole crowd. He is different from them, Teon tells them. He is not sentient in the way they are. He is a deeply and profoundly separate way of approaching existence. If humanity recognizes alien and machine intelligence, they must also recognize him. He is a primitive, yes, but he is, as Gabriel said, a modern primitive.
Beyond those traditional primal urges, he is a creature who uses instinct to process the modern world. He cares little for politeness, but his hyper-instincts find solutions to the problems of civilization. Given suitable motivation and an understanding of the social context, he finds optimum if often unconventional routes to their achievement, purely instinctively. Present him with a fridge and he will eat its contents precisely in the order to satisfy his present nutritional needs, normally weighted towards sustaining maximum muscle growth. Present him with a courtroom and you get this.
As much as he regrets his parents’ loss, their child is gone. He will never be that boy again. He has two comforts for them: First, he sprouted from their child like a seed. He is still their boy and in his own way still loves them. But he can’t be with them. The second comfort is more profound and hopefully will help them come to terms with this change: He is happy. In fact, he is probably happier than anyone in this room. He doesn’t suffer any of the alienation of the intellect. He has no angst, no lasting doubts, no regrets. He lives in the second and revels in it. He is the pursuit of happiness embodied. All this court can do is curtail that.
He swings off the desk and walks back to his place. Everybody in the courtroom is dumb struck. “Mate?” he hopefully asks Evangeline, who tells him not now.
Later, after Hope’s side has won, Teon kisses his parents goodbye. Laurie and Kenji sit on the court’s steps. That was something alright, Laurie admits. Teon is a complicated guy for someone who tries to smell her butt whenever they meet. Just needs the right motivation. Appears so, Kenji agrees, but asks her to consider the following: If Teon does exactly what he said… he finds solutions. In this case a solution how to stay with them, with Hope. What they saw there was his most effective solution. Doesn’t mean any of that is true. He could be miserable. He’d lie about it to achieve his goal. Hesitantly, Laurie agrees.
Kenji reveals that he’s been painting a picture of Hope. A pretty picture of a pretty girl. This is not the sort of thing he does. Laurie in turn reveals how, in Tokyo, she went into the middle of a warzone before she had any training. Back home, you couldn’t even get her onto the soccer field without full body armor. This isn’t right.
Kenji recalls the situation with the codenames earlier. There was another he was considering spitting back at their little messiah: Judas. He gets up and offers Laurie his hand. She takes it. What’s the plural of that? she asks. Judases? That’s a terrible sounding word for something that’s not exactly the worst idea in the world. There’s got to be something better. He suspects there is and suspects they can find it together…