Today is Brute’s birthday. Ironically today, his worst fears are realized. Standing in his lab over one of his machines, Brute can’t believe that his findings are true. Hoping he has made some errors in the readings, he brutly throws his papers and experiment tubes around the lab until Brute finds what he was looking for. Brute takes his glasses, babbling in himself to use them the next time. Brute quickly reads the papers through, but it stands there, black on white: no mistakes! Angrily, Brute shreds the papers apart and feels sorry for himself. Brute writes in his diary that, once again, he is losing the one thing most valuable to him: his intelligence.
Ice-Man, worried about Brute, comes in the lab checking for him. Seeing all the shredded papers, Ice-Man asks Brute if everything’s all right. Brute quickly says he is; he just threw the place apart, looking for his spectacles. Ice-Man, not knowing what to say to that, asks if he’s too early. Brute tells his best friend that today is the day, but they’ll have to wait until the rest of the team is in the lab. Ice-Man tries to explain to Brute that he came too early on purpose, because he never had the chance to thank him - or apologize - for everything Brute did, trying to get him out of his permanent ice-form.
Brute, happily, tells Ice-Man to think nothing of it, as he would do anything for a friend of his caliber and promises he will find a way to cure him before… Before Brute can finish his sentence, Ice-Man asks Brute what he means with “before.” “Before the next millenium,” Brute quickly replies. He asks Ice-Man to help him order the lab again before the rest of the team arrives.
A short time later…
The entire team of the Six, the world’s premiere mutant fighting team, finally arrives and Ice-Man is eager to begin. Havok asks if Brute is absolutly certain that this is going to work. Only one way to find out, so Brute begins. An hour later, the Six have all put on containment suits. Brute opens the portal of the Negative Zone and rough, green energy rays come out of it. Alex, startled by them, asks if this is supposed to happen. Brute says that Alex’s guess is as good at his. Alex can’t believe that Brute is “guessing” and wants him to step into the Negative Zone. Brute explains that this is actually merly the distortion field, the doorway into the Negative Zone.
Brute says that he would never expect Alex to step into the Zone this early to the experiment. Brute explains that this is a mear “meet and great,” if you will. They will have to harness the tempestuous energies of the distortion field if they are to propel Alex from his home dimension. Alex asks how to do that. Brute expalains that is the reason why they are here. Brute asks Bloodstorm how the containment suits are holding up against the radiation coming from the portal. Bloodstorm confirms that none of the radiation is coming through the suits. Gambit is sarcastically says he’s just happy that they are not turning into ash, with him and Bloodstorm being vampires.
That’s good enough for Brute, so they can proceed. They need to…, he says, first they have to approach… Brute trips over his own words. Suddenly, a black ray comes from the portal. Alex can just in time step away from it. Captain America notices how the cosmic ray has suddenly spiked and reports to Brute that he and Alex best step away from it. Brute is certain that there is no need to concern and they should proceed. He has the situation well in hand. Alex isn’t so sure, because he can hardly stand on his feet. Brute assures Alex that he shouldn’t worry. Brute explains that this is just a small step in the process getting Alex home. But they can only succeed in it if Alex has the fortitude for it… and the desire.
Brute says the next step should be… eh, the thing they have to do next is… Brute again trips over his own words. Suddenly, the black ray grows larger and seems to merge with the green rays. Everybody panics and Alex orders Cap to shut the portal down immediatly. Cap tries to, but can’t: Brute’s tether lines have been cut! Brute’s body almost falls through the portal and only his feet can be seen. Alex tries to haul Brute out, but isn’t strong enough alone. Ice-Man and Gambit quickly help him out. Alex orders them to haul fast, as he notices how quick the portal is sucking Brute up. They have to get him out fast because they’ll have no idea where Brute’ll land in. Brute gets pulled out and Cap shuts the portal down.
Everything turns back to normal and Alex asks Brute what happened. Brute apologizes for his hesitation that almost cost them their lives. Thoguh Alex says it’s okay because everyone survived, Brute is still embarased for messing things up. Alex tells him not to worry because they were all worried about losing Brute. Brute smiles happily. Alex tells the team that they are shutting down for the week. None of them can believe what they are hearing. Alex explains that they are all tired and exhausted; he can see it on everyone’s faces. And it even results in what happened today. They have not saved the word once, but twice in the past year. They need to have a break to recharch their batteries. Nobody’s enthaustiastic about it, but Alex orders the team to go for it, so they leave.
The Six are all packed and in civilian clothes. Alex comes off the stairs and asks where they plan to go. Cap wants to go visit his former Avenger teammates to tell them what he’s doing now. Ice-Man angrily says he’s never more happier when he can go visit his parents. Gambit plans to go back to New Orleans and Bloodstorm wants to find Katherine Pryde and Forge. When Alex asks what Brute plans to do, tells Alex that he’d liked to have a quick word with him. Alex asks him what’s wrong. Brute honestly tells Alex that he has no place to go, but Alex wants him to relax. Brute, almost crying, explains to Alex that his work is his life, and wants to continue it now that he is finally able to do it. And Brute is desperate to find ways to cure Ice-Man from his frozen state, send Alex home and find ways to stop the desires for blood for Gambit and Bloodstorm. Alex tells Brute to relax and that he can stay if he wants to. Brute happily thanks Alex.
A blond haired man in civilian clothes, carying a suitcase, goes to downtown New Hamburgh in New York. The man goes into a bar and takes a beer. The man is approached by a another man who wants to sit with him. The blond haired man says that he isn’t such good company tonight. The other guy insits, because he has never seen the blond guy in the bar before. The blond guy answer that he has never been there before and wishes to be excused now. The other guy sees the suitcase, thinking that the blond guy might be an artist and wants to see some of his work. The blond guy gets upset and takes the other guy’s arm before he can open the suitcase. The other guy apologizes, telling the blond guy not to get upset.
He asks the blond guy if he knows what he hates the most about this place. He touches the blond guy’s beer, freezing it, and sarcastically saying that they never serve any cold beer. The other guy asks if Cap feels the same way. Cap is startled and realizes that the other guy is none other than Robert Drake, the Ice-Man. Ice-Man says that’s correct and opens the suitcase, revealing Cap’s shield. Cap asks how Ice-Man can look so human. Ice-Man says it’s because he uses an image-inducer. The inducer gives him his human look, though he never liked this appearance. Ice-Man asks what Cap is doing here because he thought he would be visiting the Avengers. Cap thought he’d just drop by for a quick beer and then leave. Suddenly, Bloodstorm and Gambit show up as well, wearing sunglasses to hide their vampire eyes. Ice-Man realizes that none of them have any place to go and they all confirm.
Meanwhile, the Brute continues his research in his lab. While working, he also writes in his diary telling it that there is so much to do but, as the time goes futher, he feels his intelligence slipping. But Brute first wants to help his friends before he goes to himself. Curing Ice-Man he finds simple; he just has to continue what he previously started. Gambit and Bloodstorm are a bit more difficult and need more time, but Brute believes that he can succeed in that, too. Sending Havok to his home universe is within his reach. Brute is certain that his experiments shall succeed, though he pitties himself that he, unfotunatly, won’t be able to see the results.
New Hamburgh Station
Havok watches some fireworks and remembers what it was like in his home universe, how he never trully fitted in there. He is so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t notice bumping a bystanding woman and her boy. The woman angrily tells Alex to watch his step, so he quickly apologizes. The woman says it’s okay and didn’t mean to come out so brutly. Alex asks if he can make it up to her. So he does and buys them all an ice cream. The woman introduces herself as Andrea and her nephew, Shane, whom she takes care of for a while. He likes him, but he can be so much work, though at the same time so rewarding. Alex tells Andrea that he knows what she is talking about.
Andrea tells Alex to call her Andy, like her friends do. Andy says now that Alex knows about them, she wants to know about him. They are not from around and could use a friend who knows his way around here. Alex says that he can give her a friend, but explains that he is doubting about staying around or not. Andy suggets they try to figure it out together then. Alex, not knowing what to say, just answers that it would be nice. Andy apologizes, because she knows how Eastern people are so warry of strangers. She comes from a small town and is used talking to people. She apologizes and suggests they just watch the fireworks. Alex finds that an excellent idea.
Ice-Man, Bloodstorm, Cap and Gambit stand on a balcony and watch the fireworks as well. Gambit thinks about his daughter, Raven, and asks Bloodstorm how Raven must feel like, living on the moon. Bloodstorm is certain that the X-Men take good care of her. Gambit knows that, but says that she is a child and children need her parents, though her mother was killed by the Goblin Queen. But Gambit isn’t sure what he is to her now. Cap says that Gambit still is her father. Gambit knows that, but he can never take her out in the sun or play with her. He could just as well be dead to her.
Bloodstorm tells Gambit that he is still her father, who risked his life for her. Ice-Man tells them to cut it out because they are beginning to sound whiny. They’ve all got their problems, seeing that they are all mutants. Gambit says that isn’t true. He and Bloodstorm aren’t just mutants. Not anymore. Dracula saw it when he turned Bloodstorm into a… a… he can’t even say the word. Bloodstorm fills it in, telling Gambit that the word he is looking for is “vampire.” They’ve both been turned into one.
Bloodstorm tells Ice-Man that she hopes that he never feels the pain she and Gambit feel every day. Ice-Man says he knows that, but they can’t dwell on it like that. Like he can’t go on the fact that he nearly killed his best friend, who wast just taking care of him and thinking over the fact that his father and mother don’t want to talk to him because of what he is. To know that he will never be able to have a normal relationship. It’s just the cards they have been dealt with and they have to deal with it. It’s why they are hanging around in a dusty old castle. Ice-Man asks Cap if he feels the same way. Cap, sadly looking down, just says, “Yeah, right.”
Brute continues his work in his lab when, suddenly, his computer screen explodes. He has still so much to do and feels his intelligence sadly slipping away more and more by every minute. Hank just sits, sadly, in his chair. Brute says to himself that he won’t allow himself to return in such a state. Hank gets angry and wants to keep his emotions and the Brute down. He knows that he is lost, but not his friends. Hank goes back to work. Back to Alex.
Andy says to Alex that she can’t believe that he feels inferior to his older brother because it seems that Alex has everything so together. Alex tells Andy that she doesn’t know his older brother, Scott, who is so close in being perfect and doesn’t do anything wrong, unlike him. Alex says he’s most of the time out of control and never could fit in anywhere. Andy says that sometimes they just have to wait and stumble upon their place in the world. Like she had to do.
Once upon a time, her life was a disaster and she was doing the drug thing. She was in a bad way, but then Shane came along. After what happened to his parents, she knew she had to pull through, if just for him. So, in a way, they saved each others lives. Alex tells Andy that she should be proud of herself. Andy says that Shane means everything to her. Andy doen’t notice Shane wandering off. But then she notices and panics when she doesn’t see him. Shane has jumped on the edge of the balcony, thinking he is a robe-walker. Andy runs over to her but she’s too late: Shane falls! Andy is able , just in time, to grab his arm but isn’t strong enough to pull him up. Alex helps them out and, together, they can pull Shane up. Andy thanks Alex dearly, who says it’s all just part of the job.
Ice-Man apologizes to his friends but seeing the fireworks sometimes gets him to this kind of stuff. Gambit says it’s okay; they all got crosses on their hearts. Jonkingly, Gambit tells Ice-Man to just keep his cross as far away from him and Bloodstorm as possible. Ice-Man wants them to understand that he doesn’t feel like his pain is any worse than theirs, but he just feels terrible that he was the reason that Brute lost his intelligence, but mostly finding out that their Havok was responsible for the explosion. Ice-Man wants them to know that they are the only family he has. Gambit puts his hand on Ice-Man’s shoulder, saying that he knows that and they all feel the same way. He suggets that they all go home now. To their real home.
A few minutes later, Alex arrives back in the castle and finds the rest of the team sitting on the stairs, in costume, waiting and greeting him. Alex asks if they all had a good night. They say they did and ask Alex if he had a good one as well. Alex says he has, it helped him figure out some things. Suddenly, a loud roar is heard. Everyone gets up and recognize the roar as one of Brute’s! They rush to his lab and see Hank just fine. He wants to begin. He has found ways to help them all and have so little time to do it in. A short time later, Brute opens the portal of the Negative Zone and reveals the Earth Alex came from. Brute puts some wires on Alex so he can travel safely back. Alex isn’t sure about the safety.
Brute confirms that no protection suits are necesary this time, that’s what made things go wrong before. Alex goes, but then a huge black shadow jumps over the Earth. Alex wants to know what that was, but Brute says it’s nothing and Alex needs to go now. Alex steps into the portal and the green radiaton rays appear again. To himself, Alex wonders if he should go back. He isn’t even sure what changes have took place in his abscence. What has happened to Polaris and X-Factor? Do they even still exist? He doesn’t want to go back to just being Scott Summers’ little brother and never again to see Scotty or any of the Six. Alex steps into the portal, but then the huge black shadow comes out of it, attacking the Six!
Alex asks what the shadow is, but Brute tells him not to worry about it and just go, the rest of them can handle it. Brute tells him to look, he can see his world now. Alex takes a look and sees his New York. Brute tells Alex to move quickly; they can’t keep the portal open much longer. The black shadow creature starts attacking and breaking things and knocks down the Brute. Alex believes the Six can handle it; they acted like a team before he showed up. Alex steps in the portal again but, instead of proceeding, steps out again and fires a plasma-blast against the creature!
Alex orders it to stop hurting his friends and go back where it came from! Alex orders Brute to shut the portal down, now! Brute doesn’t want to, because this is the only chance Alex is going to get. Brute also wants to know if he’s going to be succesful in at least one thing he’s going to do. As the creature jumps at Alex, in an attempt to attack him, Alex quickly jumps away and orders Brute to shut the portal down. After Brute does so, the portal closes and the black creature disappears with it.
Brute feels sorry about letting Alex down. Alex says it’s not his fault; he decided not to go through the portal because he feels like he belongs in this world. Alex comforts Brute, saying that he did exactly what he promised. Brute’s happy and says “goody for me,” Alex notices that Brute is talking like his old self again. Brute sadly confirms, but he has another surprise up on his sleeve: he has found a way to cure Ice-Man!
Brute asks Ice-Man to step into a specially-made chamber. Ice-Man isn’t sure, seeing what happened the last time he did that. Brute begs him to do it, if only to show him the results. Ice-Man steps in the chamber. Brute presses on a button and, when Ice-Man comes out, he’s human again! Ice-Man thanks Brute, who’s happy about it. When cheering, Brute suddenly gets a huge headache and screams out from the pain. Brute falls down and Ice-Man quickly gets him up. Brute tells them not to worry, saying that he shall always be with them.
Brute happily plays with a ball and the Six look at him. They are happy that there are at least no health issues with him. Brute asks Alex where Scotty is. Ice-Man answers saying that he told him already, that Scotty is living on the moon with Magneto and the X-Men. Brute remembers and wants to go visit Scotty soon, so he can find out if the moon is made of cheese. Alex says they shall. When Brute asks him if he wants to play, Ice-Man goes and plays with the ball with Brute. Brute writes in his journal that he played with Ice-Man today, his best friend.