The gym at Xavier’s: For the first time in decades, Charles Xavier can walk. He has regained the use of his legs and he means to enjoy it as he plays basketball on his own, pretending he’s in a big game with an audience. He laughs when he fails to score.
Suddenly, though, he screams in agony as something seems to attack his mind. Not again! he curses. He crouches on the ground but, as quickly as it came, the pain fades. He leans against the wall, exhausted, musing this was the worst of the recent psychic attacks. He realizes that, in spite of being one of the strongest telepaths on Earth, his power is nothing compared to this and he cannot even locate its source. It’s a scanning wave, but what is it looking for?
His thoughts are interrupted by Storm, who asks if he is all right. She heard him cry out. He’ll live, Charles replies, though he will ache in the morning. Storm remarks she understands how he must feel. He has only recently regained the use of his legs. Push himself too hard, too quickly and he could do himself serious injury. He takes her point. In the future, he will be more careful, he promises.
Was he an athlete? Ororo asks. In college, he loved sports, Charles confides, but he had to give it up. He could read the opposing team’s thoughts. He knew their plans the moment they did and was able to counter them with ease. It was a cruelly unfair advantage and took all the joy out of the game. It would have been dishonorable to continue, so he quit. He hated his psi-talent then. He’d have given anything to be rid of it.
Turning away, Storm remarks that, when she learned she could control the weather, she thought it was so wonderful. She had no conception of the responsibility such power entailed. But she soon learned. She wishes the cost had not been so dear.
Is she all right? Xavier now asks. Not according to Kitty, she replies, angrily. To her, she has become a monster! Well, she’s certainly changed, he remarks diplomatically. For better or worse? Ororo demands.
Xavier becomes aware for the first time that, in the past, he never thought of Storm as a woman. She always seemed beyond such things. Yet, looking at her now, he suddenly finds himself all too aware of how female and attractive she is.
She once considered herself a goddess and acted accordingly, he tells her. But there’s no shame in simply being human. She wonders, she replies, looking defeated. Perhaps she was better off living that lie. The difference is not cosmetic. Her appearance is an expression of something deep within her and, at times, this transformation frightens her as much as Kitty. She finds herself casting aside the precepts and beliefs that gave her life meaning and hardly missing them when they are gone. She nearly killed Callisto of the Morlocks when they first fought and would have done so during their second battle, had she been given the chance. She, who once held all life sacred. Sometimes she thinks, she fears, she hopes she must be insane.
Xavier scans her and finds no mental illness. However, that was merely a surface scan. For gross physical anomalies, he would have to probe far deeper to learn the nature and extent of any purely emotional disorders. There’s a limit to what even he can or should do. It’s tempting to meddle with people’s minds. But he too learned a harsh lesson; that for all his care and fine intentions, the consequences can be devastating and occasionally tragic. He promises to helps as best as he can, but she prefers to find her own path, though she is torn whether that is to return to her past self or accept that what she is is what she wishes to be.
Elsewhere, in an arcade in Salem Center, Kitty Pryde and Doug Ramsey literally cracked the game, playing such a high score that they overload the game’s microchip. The owner is mad at them for hogging the console, playing for an hour on one lousy quarter and now busting them game, and throws them out for good. Creep! Kitty shouts, now they’ve been banned from every decent arcade in Westchester County!
Doug makes fun of their disgrace and suggests they drown their sorrows in lunch. Later, they talk and Doug asks her if she is okay. She’s seemed awfully down lately. She admits she has trouble with Ororo. When they first met, she was the most beautiful person inside and out Kitty had ever seen. Then, last spring in Japan, she cut her hair, changed her clothes. She suddenly got harder, tougher. The gentleness and serenity was all gone.
Have Ororo’s feelings for Kitty changed? Doug asks. She doesn’t know. In a way, she doesn’t really care, because her feelings for Ororo have changed. She can’t help herself. She always figured that, when she loved someone, it was forever, that didn’t go for her folks, but she thought it would for her and Ororo. But how can she love someone that scares her? She knew what she meant to Kitty, how important she was. Why did she have to become different?
Doug takes her hand and she apologizes for dumping all this on him. It’s just Ororo was so special like her mom and best friend and now she’s a stranger. She’s afraid she’s lost her forever. He’s a friend, too, he tells her and promises to be there for her.
He has some news. He’s got an appointment next week at the Massachusetts Academy. He was hoping she’d come along to show him the school; she was a student there, after all. Only for a week, Kitty replies. She hated it. How come? Doug wonders. Chemistry, she guesses, she wasn’t cut out to be a preppie.
She wonders what to tell him, as she can’t reveal the school is run by their nastiest enemies, the Hellfire Club. But she can’t let Doug go there alone either.
Outside Xavier’s School, the still-injured Peter Rasputin fells a tree in his human form. Exhausted, he leans onto his axe. Wolverine mockingly commends him. Not amused, Peter asks if he hasn’t anything else he’d rather do or anywhere else he’d rather be. Nope, comes the reply. Logan tells Colossus he has no business tearing himself up over Kitty. It’s none of his concern, Colossus replies, armoring up. They are both friends, Logan corrects him. That makes it his concern.
Does he know that, in Russia, he and Kitty could be married now and raising a family, Peter asks. If that is what he wants, it won’t hurt to wait, Logan points out. He thought it was and that he could, Peter replies. It never entered his head that Kitty might feel differently. She gave herself to the Morlocks to save his life, Logan points out. He figures that gives a pretty good idea of where she stands. He wishes he were as certain, Peter sighs.
Is he scared? Logan asks. Douglas Ramsey is everything he is not and can never be, Peter admits. Watching Kitty with him, listening to them brings home some brutal truths. He is an ignorant peasant from a society and culture as alien to Kitty as any they’ve encountered in space. Kitty was a dream, perhaps it is time to wake and face reality.
If that’s what he truly believes, comes the harsh reply, he’s lost already, more than he knows.
The Bronx Botanical Gardens. After a splendid Indian summer, winter has come to New York with a vengeance, but inside the vast greenhouses time seemingly stands still. Ororo comes here often to visit old dear friends – the blossoms that once graced her attic loft at Xavier’s school. She talks to the plants as she used to, this place reminding her of her old home in Africa. How beautiful and peaceful that was, to live in perfect harmony with nature. She feared, not long ago, that she had lost that special rapport with the earth. But on her first trip to these gardens she realized she is as aware of life as she ever was. Only now it no longer seems to matter. Part of her yearns for the peace and innocence of her youth, but if what she was and had was so right; how could she then give it up so easily, so completely? She notices some plants are perched and creates a small rain shower for them.
But then, close by, she hears a voice crying out in pain. An elderly couple is threatened by a few punks. Storm steely suggests they leave the couple alone or they will answer to her. The men leer, seeing the beautiful woman. She is amused at their bravado. As one of them attacks, she uses a judo throw against him, figuring that against foes such as these bare hands will suffice. More fun too.
After she decks one of them, the others draw their knives. Nevertheless, using the fighting skills Wolverine taught her, she manages to take out all four of them. As a coup de grace, she enshrouds herself and the muggers in St. Elmo’s fire and suggests they renounce their evil ways. If they do not, she will learn of it and be very angry.
The men run, Ororo turns to the couple and asks them if they are hurt. The couple thanks her but it is clear that she frightens them far more than the thugs who attacked them. She should be used to that, Storm tells herself. That moment, Xavier mentally calls her back to the mansion. Something urgent has come up.
And so, later that evening, Xavier gathers the X-Men in his study. Kitty explains her and Doug’s situation. She doesn’t want him to fall into the Hellfire Club’s clutches. He wants someone with him for this interview who knows the Massachusetts Academy. She believes the risk is minimal. The Club is in disarray, its effective membership reduced to Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost and, so far as they know, she is still in a coma. If Professor Xavier monitors Kitty telepathically, he’ll know the instant she runs into trouble and the X-Men can act accordingly. Even Shaw isn’t crazy enough to tackle the entire team single-handedly. If she behaves herself and doesn’t give the Hellfire Club any reason to take action, she should be okay.
Xavier muses why the Academy is so interested in Douglas. Could they know he is a mutant? Kitty shouts out in surprise and Xavier explains Doug’s gift is languages, both human and computers. Not as demonstrative a talent as mindreading or phasing, but legitimate nonetheless.
He asks Storm about her opinion as teamleader. She does not like the idea of Kitty walking into the enemy camp by herself, but her plan covers every contingency. With reservations she approves. As does he, Xavier decides.
Later, Kitty walks through the mansion’s hallways, still surprised about Xavier’s revelation. She wishes she could tell Doug, but the professor says it is safer in the long run that he not know. His is a quiet power, more suited to the real world than the X-Men. Makes sense, especially with a telepath around, now that the professor can walk again and join them on missions. She wonders who will be in charge of the team, now that the professor can join them.
At that moment, she notices a breeze. The next, the wind sweeps her outside the window. Storm sweeps her up, stating it is past time they had a talk.
She could have just asked, Kitty snarls. There was no need to be such a show-off! She scared Kitty half to death! The Storm she prefers would not have done so, correct? Ororo asks. That’s right, Kitty replies. So, for Kitty’s peace of mind she must force herself to be someone she is not? she asks. It’s a whole lot better than what she is, Kitty shoots back. Why did she change?
She doesn’t understand either, Storm admits. But the longer she remained an X-Man, the more she cane into conflict with what she thought was her fundamental self. Was she goddess or X-Man? And if an X-Man, could she find a place for the precepts that defined the goddess life? Initially, she believed so. Then, she became team leader and discovered in herself the terrible capacity to if necessary sacrifice the ones she loves. Should the need arise, she can match Wolverine for ruthlessness.
She sounds proud of that, Kitty states. She merely states a fact, comes the reply. Her doubts and the needs that sprang from them have existed a long time but she lacked the courage to give them full voice. Until that night in Tokyo, when fate and Yukio pushed her off the edge. Into the air or the abyss? Kitty asks.
Who knows, comes the reply. Life involves growth and continual change. You may not like these changes, but you cannot run from them. You must face them.
No! Kitty shouts. Some things shouldn’t change! They should be constant. It was bad enough her parents couldn’t keep the promises they made to each other, but she thought she could count on Ororo! By what right? Storm asks. She is Kitty’s friend, she prays she will always remain so, but she is not, must not be her mother! She used to believe she could play that role to fill a void in each other’s lives but that was a mistake.
Doesn’t Storm love her? Kitty asks. With all her heart, comes the reply. But Kitty has other demands on her heart, her love does she not? She takes such freedom for herself, why deny it to Ororo? They each have their own lives to live, their own roads to walk. To their own individual destinies. Friends and lovers may walk by their side, but ultimately the journey is made alone.
She is learning things about herself she does not like, but she must keep learning, striving to find her true self, her place in the scheme of things. She must know who she is. She must live her life as she sees it fit. If Kitty loves her, she must let her do so.
Kitty now hugs her, admitting she is scared. Will it happen to her too like this? If she falls in love, will it only be for a while? Or worse, will the person she loves, stop loving her? She cannot bear seeing Ororo destroy herself. Ororo hugs her back, smiling and crying. Perhaps she is infected with a kind of madness, but for the first time in her adult life she can laugh and cry. She can feel to the fullest extent of her being without having to deny that emotion. She asks Kitty to bear with her. Kitty promises to try.
The following week the X-Men drive a nervous Kitty to LaGuardia airport. Kitty says goodbye to Peter, asking for a kiss, but he seems strangely uncomfortable. She wonders about that as she joins Doug in the plane.
In the plane, Doug marvels about the academy sending a private jet to fly them there. Suddenly, they are greeted by a familiar voice and Emma Frost stands in the cabin, announcing she was looking forward to their reunion. A panicked Kitty tries to telepathically reach Professor Xavier.
Elsewhere, Xavier tells Storm to drive to Central Park. He’s finally been able to pinpoint the source of the force that kept on attacking him, the Sheep Meadow.
They see a big device there. Curious, they walk into it, getting pulled there. And once inside the gate, they vanish from Earth and Kitty’s cry for help goes unheard.