Flanked by two of her former students, Phoebe and Celeste, Emma Frost sits on the floor of the room, her back against the wall. With the rest of her students, as well as the assistant mayor of Salem Center, she is trapped in a building set aflame by rioters still mulling about outside. Having finished her latest attempt, Emma tells her students that he doesn’t know if she’s getting through to Scott. The bashing she took on the head is really making speaking telepathically rather inconvenient.
Speaking for herself and her sisters, Celeste asks Emma if they can help. She states that, while their powers are diminished with fewer Cuckoos, they can put some pleasant thoughts into the mob’s heads. It might slow them down. The offer bringing a smile to her face, Emma tells Celeste that that would be lovely and thanks her. It’s good, she says, to see that they recognize that, by coming back to her, together they can be an unstoppable force. In contradiction, Celeste rejoins that they’re not back with her. In fact, they still completely disapprove of her, but this is about survival.
The second sister, Phoebe, regards the third sister, Mindee, standing some distance away, noting that she still finds her too upsetting even to be near. Noticing Mindee then move into the arms of a young man, Phoebe adds that she thinks she’s using it as an excuse to cuddle with Germaine, who they all know has no real interest in her other than that she’s pretty.
Ignoring Mindee and her actions, Emma creeps back to the open window and cautiously looks outside. Whatever it takes to win, she states wryly to her “beautiful angels.” Only Esme ever really completely understood… though she tried very hard to teach them all that concept. Gazing down at the mob, which has seemed to grow larger and more violent, Emma re-states the lesson: “Against all odds… whatever it takes to win.” Now speaking to herself, almost in a whisper, Emma calls out to Scott, asking where he is.
Trapped beneath the rubble that was once the Xavier Institute, Hank McCoy, the Beast, gradually returns to consciousness. Locating his friend through his groans, Cyclops calls out to Hank, asking if he is all right. Not getting a response, Cyclops hastens his approach, asking him to please be all right.
Finally opening his eyes, the Beast immediately asks Scott why he did that. Not understanding at first, Cyclops asks if he meant about blasting to roof. He had to, he states, he… Stating that, yes, he meant blasting to roof, Hank tells him that he could have killed them. Moving his thumb and forefinger of a pawed hand to a point where they are almost touching, he tells Scott that he was this close - this close - to disconnecting the robot’s remote power… and he nearly crushed them both. He’s never known him to be so foolishly impulsive.
Stammering out a defense with an expressionless face, Scott finally but simplistically states that it worked. Repeating the phrase as he rises to his feet, the Beast asks Scott if he thinks that’s a good enough reason to do something. Replying defensively, Cyclops asks Beast in turn if he’s instructing him on what’s impulsive and what’s considered.
Now dusting himself off, the Beast remarks on how interesting it is the way things change. To this, he then thanks Cyclops for helping him up, to which Cyclops gives a standard, you’re welcome. Hank recoils in a mock laughter, noting the sarcastic comment to a sarcastic reply. Careful, he tells “Mister Summers,” that’s dangerously close to humor from someone such as himself.
Sensing the hostility, Scott asks Hank what his problem is. Replying with even more hostility, Hank rejoins that he doesn’t know, does he have a problem? When Scott counters that he’s say he does, Hank then states that he must have one. Finally saying what it is, Hank tells Scott that he’s angry. More angry than he realized. As Scott begins to apologize about blasting the ceiling, explaining that the robot was crushing his neck, Hank interrupts – it’s about Jean. Taken aback by this, Scott looks on in silence, his face as expressionless as ever.
Explaining further, Hank reminds Scott that he was married to her, which implies certain commitments. He likes Emma, Hank tells Scott, but he betrayed a friend. Someone he loved. And this is very hard for him to say… but he doesn’t like him very much right now. His piece said, Hank leaves the room, leaving behind a very silent and stationary Scott Summers.
Trying his best to hold back the rioters, with the help of his partner, a Salem Center policeman calls out to a rioter by name, Jeremy, and tells him to hold it. Replying back to the officer, calling him by his name, Dean, Jeremy replies that the people in the building killed thousands in New York and… Interrupting Jeremy’s rant, Dean states that it wasn’t these people. It was their kind, Jeremy counters. With their mutant powers! Weapons, all of them! Weapons to use against them!
Undeterred, Dean calls out to the whole crowd, telling them to stop throwing things and calm down, all of them. What they are doing is against the law. Another rioter, a woman, yells to Dean that they took her and Judy Jenkins into their school and performed experiments on them! That was against the law! They used mind probes and locked them in the basement and tortured them! In agreement, another rioter yells that they have a right to be safe in their hometown. Another yells that they don’t want to be afraid anymore.
Having had enough, Dean draws his sidearm, yelling back to the people that none of that’s been proven. And most of that has never been brought to their attention – so this is what they do… Dean’s words are interrupted by his partner, who orders once again for the crowd to stop throwing things. The moment gives way to a sudden rush by the mob, which storms past the two officers, pushing them down and walking over them. The crowd breaks through the building’s front door, chanting out over and over again, No more mutants! No more mutants!.
Hearing these noises from their room upstairs, the assistant mayor declares the obvious: they’ve rushed the building. When one of the students shudders in utter panic and asks what they’re going to do, Emma replies that she doesn’t know. With a sudden thought, Emma asks the girls how did they get through the crowd to rescue her outside. Speaking up, even as Mindee continues to clutch at his side, Germaine states that it was he. He made them move with his fire powers. Replying that she sees, Emma adds that perhaps his powers are too destructive in this situation. When Germaine counters that the mob is trying to kill them, Emma states that they can’t reduce themselves to their level, can they?
Ignoring Mindee as she responds to Emma’s statement with a why not?, another Cuckoo informs Emma that she’s made contact with Mister Summers and has appraised him of the situation. She then adds that he’s outside the building with Dr. McCoy. Told that she can now see them out of the window, Emma does so and voices her thanks.
Arriving by vehicle onto the scene, Cyclops asks the Beast if he has any suggestions. Replying with a simple, yep, the Beast leaps from the Humvee and tells his partner to follow his lead. In a manner by which few could indeed follow, Cyclops not being one of them, the Beast leaps over the heads of the mob, still entering the building, and follows his contact with the building’s side by leaping to a streetlight post and swinging to the upper level where Emma and the students are holding up. As he approaches the window with great velocity, the Beast yells out for everyone to back away from the window, which he crashes through seconds later.
Not missing a beat, nor wasting a moment, the Beast declares that he can take two or three people at a time. Hearing this, the assistant mayor tells him that the children are first. Gathering up two such children, the Beast stands on the windowsill, about to jump to the pavement, several stories below. As Cyclops calls up that he will take them to the jeep if he just gets them to him, the Beast yells out a playful ready or not and makes his leap.
Hank’s powerful leg muscles easily absorb the shock of the impact and he proceeds to hand the two children to Cyclops, telling them all to run to the jeep. Even as he prepares to make another trip, a man at the tail end of the mob realizes what is going on and tells the others that they’re getting away. Seeing this, Hank informs Cyclops that he’s going to need a few more minutes; there’s a lot more people up there, and one of them is quite large. As the Beast makes another series of leaps to get to the upper floor, Cyclops calmly states that he’ll do what he can.
Now incensed, the crowd begins to charge Cyclops, telling to each other to get him! and to stop the kids!, accompanied by the earlier chant, no more mutants! Their advance is halted suddenly and forcefully by the scarlet optic blasts emitted from Cyclops’ visor. Having felt the impact of the blasts, the crowd begins to disperse, one rioter telling that the mutant has lasers in his eyes. Calmly, Cyclops informs them that they’re not laser, they’re force beams. And if they all stay back, no one will get…
The crack of two gunshots ring through the air, followed by three more. Reeling from the impact of being shot, Cyclops is thrown from his feet to the pavement. Calling out to the Beast, Emma asks what happened and if those were gunshots. Is Scott all right? Not receiving the immediate denial, Emma proceeds to yell out Scott’s name, as she races to the window. Forgetting Germaine and Mindee, whom he was about to take outside, the Beast holds Emma back, telling the others to get back inside.
A new situation is heralded by Germaine, as he draws Emma’s attention to the door, which has been broken through, allowing the mob to enter. Even as the crowd declares to the larger mob that they’re in that room, Germaine extends his hand, telling Mindee that he’ll protect her. Emma’s protestations go unheard as Germaine brings forth flames from thin air, separating the entering mob from the other students.
Her composure now restored by a new crisis, Emma tells Hank to get her girls out of there and to take the mayor as well. She will see to Germaine. Mindee’s protests of not leaving Germaine are ignored, as the Beasts, complies, leaping out of the window with her and the assistant mayor.
Surrounded by flames and now alone, save for Germaine and those who wish them harm, Emma switches to her diamond form and calmly removes her fur coat. Now, enough is enough, she tells the mob. The first attack, however, does not against her but against Germaine, and Emma is only able to impotently yell out his name as she sees a rioter hit the youth over the head with a baseball bat.
Outside, other rioters continue, encouraging the flames to burn down the building. Still, other try to overturn nearby parked cars. A safe distance away from these people, as they are held back by Cyclops’ optic blasts, Mindee continues to yell out for Germaine. Trying to hold the youth back, Hank calls out to Cyclops inquisitively. When Cyclops replies with instructions for him to get the kids to the car, the Beast points out the obvious: he’s been shot. Ignoring this fact, Cyclops repeats his order for them to move, all the while covering their flank.
Inside the burning building, Emma presses her own attack, punching one of the mob with her diamond fist. Thought invulnerable, Emma is nonetheless pulled down by the weight of her attackers. Calling the rioters unwashed peasants, she tells them to let go of her and get off the boy. Ignoring her warnings, the mob throws her against the window, shattering it, and proceeds to hold her outside of it, as if to drop her to the street below.
Emma’s declaration to the mob that she will fry their skulls when her head clears is heard by the Beast and Cyclops on the street below. Her further warnings are ignored and the mob tosses her out of the window. Rather than hitting the pavement, however, she is caught by Cyclops. Quickly getting back onto her feet, Emma returns to the burning building, informing Cyclops that there’s still a child in there. He should stay and keep her girls safe.
In the room above, one of the rioters makes a personally horrific discovery, announcing to the rest that the boy is dead. Beginning to stammer, he states defensively that he never intended to… Another rioter disagrees, saying that he did. At this moment, another rioter makes another discovery, that the building’s on fire and they have to get out. Still another realizes that the door is blocked, while another notes that the flames are too high. Finally making their way to the same window they tossed Emma out moments before, the group calls out for somebody to help them. Seeing this from the street below, the Beast says a mocking oh, wonderful and tells the others to stay there.
Suddenly, a new exit is made to the room, as the diamond foot of Emma Frost kicks open the door. Unaffected by the flames, she walks through them, her demeanor as searing as the temperature. Looking up at this former focus of hate, one of the mob asks her to help them… please? Snarling a response, Emma spits out a bile-filled help you? Now incensed, she strides through the remaining flames separating her from them and grabs the former rioters by their clothes. As they state in panicked voices that they didn’t mean to kill him, Emma takes them to the window and dangles them out.
Before another action can be taken, Emma hears her name being called out. She sees, clutching the side of the building outside the window, the Beast, who innocently and inquisitively states that she wanted to hand those people to her, didn’t she? To take them down to safety? Emma’s pause causes the Beast to once more say her name, questioningly. After another moment passes, Emma clearly deciding her course of action, she finally replies, of course. That’s exactly what she intended to do.
On the street below, Mindee continues her panicked vigil, repeatedly asking no one in particular for them to please let him be okay. When Cyclops speaks up, beginning to tell her that he knows how difficult this is, Mindee snap back, asking if he does. Then why was he with Miss Frost while his wife was dying? she asks. The shocked Cyclops finds himself unable to respond.
Mindee’s disgust quickly gives way to sorrow, as she sees Emma walk from the building’s entrance holding the inert body of Germaine. As Mindee sobs uncontrollably, Emma tells Cyclops to leave Xavier’s if he wants to… but she’s staying. These children, she tells him, need a safe place to live. People to take care of them while they learn to take care of themselves. Now placing Germaine’s corpse into Cyclops’ arms, she tells him that, if he feels differently, she doesn’t want to hear it. Tell it to him. Her piece said, Emma walks away.
(several days later)
The service concluded, the X-Men walk back down the hill, back to the Institute, which is currently under re-construction. Finding himself now alone at Jean’s grave, Scott Summers tells his wife hello. Searching for his words, he tells her that they’ve rebuilt the school. He still feels it’s dangerous to be there but, as Juggernaut so eloquently pointed out, “So? Let ‘em come.”
Faltering in his speech, Scott admits that he’s thought about this so long but he still doesn’t know what to say. He realizes he did something wrong… but he doesn’t know if he would have done them differently. Could they have worked it out? Did he act impulsively? Did he hurt her? Did she even care, anymore?
Still staring at her grave, Scott admits to Jean that he guesses he always thought he knew what she would say, and that gave him the excuse to find the answers he wanted elsewhere. But that’s not what he promised when he married her, was it? He promised to honor her, didn’t he? And honoring her should have meant facing her with his doubts. Part of him thinks he’ll be able to, someday. She is the Phoenix, after all.
Now raising his head, Scott states that, so, for what it’s worth, he’s sorry if he hurt her. He loved her too much to ever want that.
His goodbye and apology now made, Scott Summers leaves the gravesite and follows his friends and teammates to the school below. Trying to leave behind more than what was interred in the sacred ground, Scott speaks to himself. It’s time to start over. Behind him a tiny Phoenix raptor appears over the headstone.