Old Man Logan enters and Jean Grey, the waitress, announces she will be with him in a moment. She smiles and asks if she can get him a cup of coffee. Logan is flabbergasted, then states she reminds him of someone he knew. Coffee would be great. She admits he looks kinda familiar himself. Does he live here? He states he is just passing through.
Jean makes some small talk, asking what brings him to town, Mr…? He’s meeting someone he hasn’t seen for a while, Logan replies drinking his coffee. An old friend? Jean coaxes. He’s not sure yet.
The owner, Annie, suggests he drink that coffee on the way. Logan takes Jean’s hand and urges her to think about how she knows him. Annie shouts at him not to touch her. Undeterred, Logan continues that Jean knows somewhere inside, none of this is real. Jean asks what he means. He tells her to think about it. Has nothing about this life, this world ever felt wrong to her? This isn’t her? Annie joins them and orders him to leave. He doesn’t get to scare her staff. In response, he slashes her throat. Jean screams in terror. Calmly, Logan asks for a refill if she has the time.
Outside the diner, the rest of the X-Men are waiting, nervously wondering where the Phoenix has disappeared to. Suddenly, the earth rumbles and Nightcrawler fears this does not bode well at all.
Inside, Jean is nearly hysterical, while Logan calmly sits at the counter, informing her she has been asleep. This is her wake-up call. She won’t look at what’s really going on; it’s his job to make her see it.
Annie suddenly gets up, despite her lethal injury. She knows this is a lot to take in, she begins. Jean reminds her she just died. Things aren’t always what they seem, is Annie’s reply. Told her so, Logan adds, offering a dollar. Coffee tastes like $%#§, by the way.
It’s all starting to come back now, isn’t it? he asks. She remembers who she is. Jean says nothing. He gets up. He’s gonna need an answer, sweetheart. Jean’s eyes begin to glow as she replies she remembers… Logan. She pronounces his name with the Phoenix‘s voice.
Outside, the X-Men see the Phoenix Raptor burst from the diner and Logan is thrown outside. Nightcrawler asks if he is okay. What happened? She remembers, is the concise reply.
Jean steps out from the conflagration, her eyes aglow, wearing a black and red Phoenix costume. She lands in front of them. The X-Men fear the worst. But Jean just says hello to them. She is surprised when she sees young Cyclops, who bursts out he is not who she thinks he is. She states he is afraid of her and he admits it.
Is this it? Beast asks her. Is this, who she is? It’s who she’s always been, Jean replies. No, it isn’t, is his retort.
Suddenly, she screams in pain, battling with the Phoenix in her, which finally bursts forth. Kitty holds back the others, telling them that is Jean’s fight.
Jean angrily rages, why can’t it just leave her… From the Phoenix raptor steps Annie, who asks her to calm down. Jean shouts at her to stay back. Annie assures her the X-Men are tricking her. Talk to her! Jean retorts, Annie is tricking her. The real Annie Richardson died when they were twelve years old. A car accident. The frisbee. She remembers it all!
“Annie” still smiles as she explains that, together, they can change that. Make the world whatever Jean wants it to be. She doesn’t want anything! Jean claims. Yes, she does, comes another voice and her parents appear. Is this real? Jean asks. Anything she wants can be real, they reply. If she embraces the Phoenix. She tells them to leave her alone. She can’t take this…
Many more people have gathered, among them Scott Summers. Her parents continue that the Phoenix is the spirit of death and rebirth. What could be more beautiful than getting to save all the people she lost? Jean is shocked to learn that they all died. Then she lashes out with her power and swats them away.
Finally, she tells the Phoenix she has had enough of this illusion. It has nothing more to offer her. Jean? a familiar voice asks from the smoke. It is her husband Scott Summer – Cyclops – now in the costume he wore when he died. He asks her what is going on. Angrily, Jean lashes out at him with her TK and shouts, she said ‘enough!’
Not how he imagined this going after all this time, Cyclops jokes weakly. A shocked Jean runs to his side as she realizes he is no construct. She learns from his memories how he fell sick and died. She helps him up. She wasn’t there to protect him, she babbles. Scott reminds her she was dead.
Both standing, they look at each other. And now, here they both are. Alive. He didn’t think he’d ever see her again. She asks him to take off his visor and open his eyes. She holds back his optic blast with her telekinesis. They both admit how much they missed each other then kiss.
Scott apologizes. For everything that happened to them, to her. She puts a finger on his lips and tells him she knows.
They turn and look at the Phoenix raptor. Jean apologizes. It’s not supposed to be like this. She can’t let… He hugs her and tells her he knows. They were better off dead, she whispers in his ear. He promises her he will always love her and she reciprocates. Then Scott groans and dies again.
Jean carefully lays down his body and calmly turns around to face the Phoenix. Is that it? she asks. It screeches angrily. She reaches out to touch its beak and continues she knows that was meant to hurt her, but she got to see her husband one last time and that was all she wanted. She’s done now. With all of this. She won’t play God with it anymore. And she won’t let the Phoenix hurt her or the people she loves ever again. All of this, using people, playing with their lives, building fake worlds, it’s not right! It’s not fair to do that to her or to anyone!
She admits she once asked for its help. She doesn’t know why the Phoenix gave it and why it keeps on coming back. Of all the beings in the universe it chose her. That used to make her feel special. Now she doesn’t feel anything at all. She was supposed to die on that shuttle all those years ago. She knows that now. But the Phoenix keeps on bringing her back. It wants her to be something she isn’t. She will never be. And she wanted things from it. Things no person should have. She doesn’t know what it is, what its role in the universe is, but it’s not here. It’s not with Jean.
The Phoenix turns her costume to the Dark Phoenix one as it asks her to understand: together they can be gods! It turns her into the White Phoenix. Then they can transcend this place!
It changes Jean’s outfit to her X-Factor costume. Or they can hide together, it suggests.
Her clothes change to her time when the school went public. Or they can become her best self.
Then to Marvel Girl. Or they can simply go back to how things were before any of this. They can forget any of this happened.
Jean takes off her mask and tells the Phoenix it doesn’t understand. This isn’t how things are supposed to work. It’s trying to protect her from these things, but it can’t! She’s supposed to feel pain. She’s supposed to know loss. And she needs to be able to do it on her own!
The Phoenix warns her that she will die without it. The people she loves will die. With a sad smile, she replies she will regret not being able to save them, but that’s her journey. That’s life. It is trying to save her from being alive. She doesn’t want to die but she needs to be allowed to live.
The Phoenix shrinks. Jean urges it to leave without her. She can’t be but what it wanted her to be, perhaps she never could. It needs to forget she ever existed.
The Phoenix is tiny now and she takes it in her hands. It tells her goodbye and fades. She tells it goodbye then breaks down and cries.
Beast kneels down next to her and welcomes her home.