The moon shines down on Earth, while the star-covered sky glows up above, as Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel soars across Salem Center, Westchester, carrying his good friend Dr Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, who holds onto several bags of tools and equipment. ‘You misunderstand, my formerly feathered friend! I was not suggesting the X-Men seek to divert themselves of responsibility for this incident. Rather, it was my contention there might be other mutants better suited to the task’ Hank remarks. ‘My apologies, Hank. Thirty-dollar words to the contrary, it sounded to me like you were complaining’ Warren replies.
They land outside a demolished building, and Hank sighs. ‘You caught me. But really, Warren…clean-up duty?’ Hank asks. Warren reminds Hank that less than forty-eight hours ago, this used to be Harry’s Hideaway. ‘Is your memory that short that you’ve forgotten what this place meant to us all over the years? After school malteds and late night cram sessions?’ Warren exclaims. He continues: ‘Jean’s surprise “sweet sixteen” party? The celebration bash we threw when you took that job at the Brand Corporation? It’s up to us to maintain a tradition. We owe it to the X-Men past, present and future’.
‘To say nothing of poor Harry’ Hank remarks as he places the bags on the ground. ‘Won’t you concede after-hours construction is a less than dignified use of our genetic attributes?’ Hank asks. ‘Conceivably’ Warren replies. ‘Which is why we’re not going to tell anyone’ Warren declares. ‘Fine’ Hank replies, putting on some goggles. ‘In my experience - good deeds always last longer than that’ he exclaims. ‘To work?’ Hank asks. ‘To work’ Warren replies.
Meanwhile, on the rooftop of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, the young woman known only as Rogue sits under the night time sky, a wind blowing leaves all around her. Like so many nights before this, and in all likelihood for many nights to come…she is alone. And never more so…than in the company of one man that has come to intrigue her more than any she has ever known. ‘Pardon the intrusion, chere’ Remy “Gambit” LeBeau announces, cigarette in hand, as he walks up behind Rogue on the roof. Gambit tells Rogue that, according to Dr Moira MacTaggert, she is still recovering from the optic damage Strobe caused, and points out that Moira has restricted her to complete bed rest. ‘Don’t tell me, Gambit - you’re here to fill the prescription’ Rogue mutters, not turning to Gambit, her eyes hidden behind small sun glasses.
‘That wasn’t my intention’ Gambit replies. ‘But since you brought it up…’ he remarks, before Rogue tells him that if he has any feelings for her at all, then to leave her alone. ‘S’funny. My feelings for you…are the very same reason I’m staying’ Gambit replies as he sits down next to Rogue on the roof.
Elsewhere on the sprawling Westchester estate, the youngest X-Man Jubilee a.k.a. Jubilation Lee roller blades along a path, exclaiming ‘Too cool. Scott and Jean are free - Professor Xavier is cured - and our problems with Cable and Stryfe are a thing of the past. Or future. Or whenever’. The giddy teenager wonders why the rest of the “X-dudes” spend so much time moping around, as from here, it has to be the coolest gig in the world. ‘Perhaps you need a broader perspective? a telepathic voice calls out. ‘Wha - who -?’ Jubilee shouts, before falling to the ground on her blades. ‘I thought I was alone out -’ she begins.
‘As did I, child. I did not mean to startle you, Jubilation. My apologies’ Professor Charles Xavier declares as he stands under a tree, holding his shoe in his hands, his bare feet on the grass. ‘No prob, Prof’ Jubilee exclaims as she looks up at the Professor. ‘No prob…at all…’ she whispers, puzzled as to why the Professor is able to stand up.
Back at Harry’s Hideaway, Warren remarks that Forge may be gone, but that he is not forgotten. ‘Only a mutant genius of his intellect could have created a noiseless hammer gun’ he adds as he uses the gun to nail in a piece of steel which the Beast holds up. ‘A textbook example of “the use of genetic advancements in practical and commercial employment”!’ the Beast exclaims. ‘”…use of genetic advance -?” why does that sound so familiar?’ Warren wonders. ‘It was the title of your term paper. Junior year’ Hank replies. ‘You paid me one thousand dollars to write it in your stead’ Hank grins. ‘Right’ Warren smiles. ‘The same paper Professor Xavier changed his mind about the day it was due. We had to deliver our reports mentally’ Warren recalls. Beast adds that the Professor called it “an exercise in psionic projection”.
Hank remarks that Warren looked quite the ignoramus standing in front of the class without a single original thought in his head. ‘I think I was praying for the Sentinels to attack!’ Warren exclaims as both men continue working. ‘How is it the Professor always seemed to know everything?’ Warren asks. ‘Honestly? In this particular case - I told him’ Hank reveals. ‘You told him?’ Warren asks. ‘But only after I cashed the check’ Hank exclaims, before bursting out laughing. ‘You told him?’ Warren asks, shocked. ‘I swear - don’t know how Bobby kept a straight face!’ Hank declares. Hank picks up another instrument: ‘If it looked anything like this one - it was easy!’ he exclaims as he fires the wood varnish at Hank, which strikes him in the back. ‘I surrender, post haste!’ Hank exclaims, asking Warren if he knows how long it takes to scrub wood varnish out of fur.
Back at the Mansion, Jubilee is still on the ground, and looks up at the Professor: ‘Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but…aren’t you supposed to be, like - crippled?’ she asks. ‘Normally, yes - I am disabled. While I don’t understand the specifics - Dr MacTaggert assures me this is a temporary after-effect of Stryfe’s techno-organic virus’ Xavier explains. He smiles, before remarking that until it burns out - a moment from now, or an hour perhaps, he is once again blessed with the ability to walk. ‘I guess for like anybody else, that would be cruel’ Jubilee replies. ‘But you…you’re the most tightly stitched adult I ever met!’ Jubilee exclaim, getting to her feet.
‘I mean, not walking never seemed to bother you. Standing? Sitting? I mean ya still got the most powerful mind in the world, right? That’s gotta mean something. No?’ Jubilee exclaims. Xavier listens - first he smiles, then he hangs his head, before smiling again and remarks: ‘The grass beneath my feet. To be able to stand straight and tall. All these are things that “mean something” Things I miss. There are times, Jubilation, I believe…with all my heart…that I would gladly exchange all the psionic abilities in the world. For the chance to run - to walk again’ he tells her, before excusing himself.
Suddenly, ‘PROF!’ Jubilee calls out, crouched over, she is rummaging through a bag. ‘Spare set somewhere…’ she mumbles, before telling the Professor that if he is serious about experiencing the finer things in life, then he hasn’t lived until he has bladed. Jubilee smiles as she holds up a pair of inline skates for the Professor to use.
Back on the rooftop, Rogue tells Gambit that it isn’t fair. ‘Again, Ah’m hurt - slugging it out against some equally pathetic mutant…for a place in a world that doesn’t want ANY of us. A world in which Ah don’t ever have a chance of finding happiness. Fine. Life as an X-Man. Ah can deal with that. It’s the personal side of my life where everything falls apart!’ Rogue declares. Holding her hands against her head, Rogue declares that all she asks - all she needs - is somebody to hold her. To stroke his fingers through her hair and to promise her that everything is going to be fine - that all the cuts and bruises are worth it in the end.
‘More than anything, Remy…Ah want that person to be you’ Rogue announces. Gambit looks surprised, before Rogue turns away from him, hanging her head, she declares that is never going to happen. There is silence, before Gambit reaches out to Rogue, ready to put a hand on her shoulder - ‘Don’t ya get it?’ Rogue snaps, spinning around, she knocks Gambit backwards. ‘It won’t happen ‘cause it CANT!’ she shouts, telling Gambit that her entire mutant power is about restraint, that she cannot touch another living person without fear of swallowing that person whole. ‘Their thoughts and hopes and dreams become mine. Ah got no control over my abilities!’ she declares, before telling Gambit that he has no control over himself. ‘Changing an object up and throwing it away - that’s your “special gift”. Ah ain’t an object, Gambit. Ah’m a woman. If ya can’t - if ya won’t - treat me like one, then please…leave me alone’ Rogue tells him. Gambit remains silent, before turning away from Rogue and leaving the rooftop.
Nearby, ‘How did I let you talk me into this?’ Professor X asks as Jubilee helps him stand up while he balances himself with the inline skates on his feet. ‘Puh-leaze and a half, Professor - you’re the one who’s always going off in the Danger Room - thinking at us about pushing ourselves to the max and back!’ Jubilee points out. She begins to skate alone a path, pulling the Professor behind her. Charles tells Jubilee that the Danger Room is different, for it is a controlled environment with an elaborate infra-structure of safeguards and - ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ Jubilee exclaims, interrupting him. ‘Out here on the pavement it’s a lot simpler. You fall down? You get up and start over’.
Jubilee asks Xavier what he is scared about, telling him that he is a natural. ‘Most dudes practise hours before they get this good’ Jubilee tells him. Wide-eyed, the Professor replies that he is hardly “scared”, but that if he should die, a copy of his will can be found in the upper right hand drawer in his study. ‘That’s it, close your eyes. Relax already. Admit it…you’re getting into this!’ Jubilee exclaims. Xavier confesses that the sensations are not unpleasant. ‘Righteous!’ Jubilee declares, before telling the Professor that all he has to do now is forgive her. ‘Forgive you, child? For what?’ Xavier asks as he opens his eyes - moments too late though: ‘For this!’ Jubilee exclaims as they both plunge from the pavement into the lake. ‘Again, I ask - how did I let you talk me into this?’ the Professor calls out.
Back at Harry’s: ‘This place looks almost as good as new!’ Warren exclaims. ‘Now there’s a thought that has always perplexed me’ Hank remarks. ‘What - house keeping?’ Warren asks as they sweep up some debris. Hank laughs, before explaining that he is referring to people’s propensity to equate “good” with “new”. ‘The implication being the “old” X-Men were “bad”!’ he adds. Warren replies that he would go back to the old days in a heartbeat. ‘Who’d have thought the day would ever come that I’d actually miss being a self-absorbed boy millionaire?’ he asks.
‘If we’re going to exchange t ales of woe - let me go first! I’m responsible for the beast I am today because I couldn’t leave well enough alone!’ Hank exclaims, while pointing out that, conversely, Warren’s current condition was something that happened to him. ‘Ok…so it took you a while to get a handle on things…the point is you didn’t let it destroy you. You even came through it all a stronger person’ the Beast declares. Warren smiles at his friend and asks ‘You really think so?’. Hank tells him that he cannot think of a person he respects more than him. ‘Thank you’ Warren replies, before the Beast grabs him by his hair and exclaims ‘No! No! No! No! No! The correct response was “but Hank - you are much more deserving of respect than!”. Here, say it with me…’ Hank begins. ‘In your dreams, you -’ Warren begins, when suddenly, ‘HEY! What’s going on in here? This building’s been - condemned?’ a Police Officer exclaims as he shines his torch into Harry’s Hideaway, unsure now why it has been condemned.
‘Is there a problem, officer?’ Warren asks. ‘No, but had our image-inducers not automatically activated -’ Hank whispers, though Warren shushes him. The Policeman approaches Hank and Warren, disguised as construction crew, and tells them that they do good work, but asks if it isn’t a little early for construction. ‘Wish our boss thought so’ Hank tells him. ‘Business has been so good lately, we’re making a killing in over-time’ Warren adds as he hands the officer a piece of paper. ‘”D & A Reconstructions”, huh?’ he remarks as he shines his torch on the paper, unaware that Hank is making “rabbit ears” behind his head, while Warren tries not to laugh.
Back at the Mansion, the sun slowly rises, while Rogue still sits on the rooftop. Gambit approaches her, blanket in hand, which he wraps around her shoulders. Crouching down beside Rogue, Gambit tells her that everything is going to be fine. ‘Promise?’ Rogue asks. ‘Promise’ Gambit tells her.
And nearby, Jubilee and the Professor sit on the dock over the lake huddling in large blankets. ‘Um…can I make a confession?’ Rogue asks. ‘Certainly’ the Professor tells her, asking if this is about the two thousand dollars in structural damage that Jubilee caused by replacing Scott’s ruby quartz eyeglasses with a pair of Foster Grants? ‘That, too. But I just wanted to say…well…you’ve never been, like, my favourite person. I always thought your life was just about hassling Wolverine. And this “Training! Training! Training!” riff in the Danger Room - gets really played, really quickly’ Jubilee declares, while the Professor asks her what her point is.
‘I guess what I’m saying is…I mean, just hanging with you and stuff…it’s nice to know that underneath it all…there’s, like, this vague semblance of a normal guy’ Jubilee announces, smiling. ‘Assuming that was a compliment…thank you’ the Professor replies, adding that it has been a long time since someone accused him of being “normal”. The Professor gets to his feet and tells Jubilee that he must be getting back, before thanking her as he reveals that he cannot remember an evening he enjoyed himself more. ‘Yeah, Prof - it was fun…in a parental bonding kind of way’ Jubilee replies
Jubilee watches as the Professor begins to struggle as he walks across the grass, making his way back towards the Mansion. ‘Can I…?’ she thinks to herself. ‘Say it, dweeb! Just say “Can I help ya back to the house”!’ Jubilee tells herself. ‘Right. Like a guy like him needs a girl like me for help’ she thinks to herself. Tears begin to roll down Jubilee’s cheeks as she whispers ‘Look, whoever up there is in charge of these things…? Give the dude a break, huh? It’s only a few more steps. Please?’ she whispers, while Xavier leans against a tree for support. Jubilee doesn’t expect a reply - but she receives one nonetheless. Not with a parting of the clouds or in a brilliant flash of lightning from high. Rather in the actions of a single man. The Professor continues on towards the Mansion, and in that moment, Jubilee realizes she doesn’t need to say the words aloud. She only needs to be there, and rushes up to the Professor, putting her arms around him as he appears to stumble.
With the last of the strength in his legs, and aided by Jubilee, the Professor makes his way to a wheelchair on the porch. For one night…in the life of Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the Uncanny X-Men…it is more than enough.