(the Xavier estate, Salem Center)
Angelo Espinosa is heading off the estate and on to Kennedy International Airport in New York. He overhears two removal men discussing his skin condition, who figure that it’s why none of these ‘gifted youngsters’ don’t head into Salem much. The words still echo in Angelo’s ears as he sees a car approaching. He raises a thumb and the red sports car stops. He discovers the driver to be none other than Hank McCoy.
He asks Angelo if he can offer him a ride, but Angelo replies that during his brief association with the X-Men he’s been kidnapped by the Phalanx, subjected to a string-load of tests to determine the extent of his mutant ability and been offered to leave everyone he knows and loves to dedicate himself to fighting a world of strangers who just happen to hate his guts because of what he looks like. He’s had all the help he needs from the X-Men thank you very much.
Hank points out that, apart from thumbing a lift being dangerous, Angelo is on an access road. There is probably no chance of him getting a lift. Angelo sighs and reluctantly climbs into the passenger seat. He advises Hank that, if he has any words planned to convince him to stay, then he should keep them to himself. Hank grumbles as he squeezes the accelerator.
Meanwhile, inside the mansion, Jean Grey and Scott Summers are in conversation with Charles Xavier. Scott is feeling ashamed over lying to his son, Nathan, in the future; promising never to leave him alone before leaving him, again. Charles places a reassuring hand on his shoulder and reminds him that he didn’t really have a choice. Even before he was pulled into the future by the Clan Askani, there was never a moment when his heart wasn’t with his son. He can hide whatever feelings he chooses from himself, but those who know him best have always known better.
Scott replies that it’s kind of Charles to say that, but it doesn’t answer their question. Do they tell Cable that they are the same people who raised him as Nathan Dayspring? Charles feels that it’s an interesting dilemma, and one he cannot solve at the moment. Absorbing nearly ten years of their memories is a little taxing to say the least.
Jean tells Charles that they know exactly how he feels. They requested this meeting immediately after the Phalanx affair because they wanted to provide him with as clear a picture of the origin of the Legacy Virus as possible. Scott adds that they think they witnessed the creation of the prototype, before it could distinguish between human and mutant cellular cores. Before coming to this era to release it into their atmosphere, Stryfe must have found a way for his so-called Legacy Virus to target mutant-specific genes. Indeed, replies Charles. Their discovery may provide them with a starting point, but it might avail them of nothing at all. Only time will tell.
Charles then drops his tea, and Jean catches it in a telekinetic net. Scott asks if he’s all right. Charles admits that the strain of the past few days is catching up to him. He accepts that Banshee had to destroy his ready room in order to prevent the Phalanx from accessing vital information, but the truth of the matter is that explosion represented the loss of years of his life’s work. He feels quite useless. Scott tells him that what he’s managed over the years represents goes a lot deeper than any data stored on a disk or two. Charles appreciates his kindness, but he cannot ignore the emotional investment he has placed in his work. He now needs some time alone to absorb the sheer amount of psionic information he’s received.
Moments later, alone, Charles ponders Scott’s words. Perhaps there is reason to hope that they have their first true breakthrough in the battle against the Legacy Virus. Why, then, does he suspect that they will all suffer so much more before this ordeal is over, and why does he fear it will be Cyclops and Phoenix who will pay the dearest price?
Meanwhile, Jubilee, Monet, Paige and Everett are out on a shopping trip. Paige is shocked at the price tags on the clothes she’s trying on. She’s more used to receiving hand-me-downs. Everyone looks good, though, and Monet hands the assistant her platinum card. Everett asks Monet if it’s ever occurred to her that some people don’t like being handed things for no reason. Monet replies that it hasn’t. She’s being selfless, and thinks he could have the decency to be gracious. She looks him in the eye and asks if he wants to find something that will fit after his mutant ability eventually sheds Sabretooth’s added mass. Everett is dumbfounded, and replies that she does know more than she lets on.
Banshee and the other X-Men look on and Sean is pleased that the kids seem to be getting on like they’ve been kith and kin all their lives. Agreeing to be the new headmaster at Xavier’s school was probably the best decision he ever made. Bishop and Storm both agree. Bishop adds that, based on experience dealing with field operatives in the X.S.E., he thinks Sean will have his hands full to overflowing. However, he admits that they are young and enthusiastic, but for the most part they are untrained in their powers.
Sean replies that they are, individually, but collectively they seem like a fine brood of children. Bishop points out that, individually, there is Jubilee. Just because it was her idea to train doesn’t mean she’s likely to listen to Sean any better than she has the Professor. Paige wants to follow in her brother’s footsteps so badly they can all taste it. M is perfect. She’s beautiful, brilliant, rich and seemingly in complete control of her powers... it’s almost unnerving. As for Everett, he reminds Bishop of him in his youth. Banshee accepts the truth. “They’re going to bury me alive, aren’t they?” Ororo assures him that he’ll do just fine.
Meanwhile, Skin is becoming annoyed at Beast’s constant singing as they drive to the airport. He asks Hank if this is all that life is to him: one big series of laughs and songs and dances. Maybe he doesn’t realize it, tucked away in his make believe X-world, that there is a world out there where people hurt, suffer and starve. Hank quips that maybe Angelo is afraid that his constant singing might distract them from their otherwise moribund business. Angelo becomes frustrated, and his skin begins to ‘thwapp.’ This distracts Hank and he brings the car to a skidding halt.
Hank asks what happened. Angelo explains that, about a year ago, his skin began turning grey and started to sag. It grew. For the most part he can control it… when he concentrates. He can control it less so when he’s forced to suffer idiots. He clicks the radio on and asks Hank if he wants to laugh, sing and dance? “Have a fiesta.” Angelo sits quietly as Hank ponders his troubled friend.
(the Xavier estate)
Emma Frost oversees some removal men who are carrying a new sign which reads ‘Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.’ She warns them to be careful with the sign as it cost twelve times what she’s paying them to surprise a ‘friend’ of hers. She’s about three seconds away from taking over their minds and using their bodies to do the job herself. However, Xavier won’t appreciate that, so she’ll have to be patient.
She senses someone in the trees nearby and wonders from where she recognizes the thoughts. She informs the removal men that she’ll only be a moment but expects the job to be completed when she returns. ‘Done and gone,’ one of them hopes. Emma walks to the trees and asks Bobby Drake not to just stand there. Bobby emerges from the shadows and says that he was hoping they could talk about what happened when she took over his body, and violated his mind. She did things with his ice powers that he never imagined; things he hasn’t yet figured out how to do. He feels that after everything that happened, she owes him.
Emma replies that she owes him nothing. It’s not her fault that he’s a pathetic little loser who never bothered to push himself. She smiles and adds that he should remember that she was inside his head. They both know the reasons he’s been afraid to develop his powers over the years. Bobby becomes agitated, and warns her to stop playing games. He wants to know exactly how she did what she did. “Or what?” replies Emma. Is he going to hurt her? She calls him a fool, and as their faces near one another, she whispers that she likes that in a man.
Suddenly, Bobby’s body ices up and spikes extend from the surface. He asks what she’s doing, and Emma replies that she’s giving him what he asked for. Does he want power, to be dangerous and to be in control? He wants the respect he’ll only get when he quits being the ineffectual clown that he is. “Say it’s what you want?” she barks. Through gritted teeth, Bobby replies that he wants all those things.
Emma de-ices him and tells him to learn how to do them himself. She’s showed him a glimpse of his full potential. It’s up to him to do something with that information. Whether that drives Bobby forward or drives him crazy - it makes no difference to her.
Back at the car, Hank hand the keys over to Angelo, asking him to drive wherever he wants. He can find a place where music and laughter and singing don’t belong. He can find a place where sunshine and light and hope don’t stand a chance. He adds that he should settle down in a foxhole, pull a blanket over his head and ignore the rest of the world around him. When he gets there he can send him a postcard. Angelo takes the keys, drives away and doesn’t look back. “Hasta la vista amigo.”
(the Xavier estate)
Jubilation Lee has her bags packed. She thinks back to when she first met the X-Men. Then they were in Australia, and she met them right after her parents got killed. She wasn’t scoping for a new home then, but she guesses she found one anyway. “You’re leaving?” comes a voice from the balcony. Jubilee notices Archangel standing there in semi-silhouette. “Yeah, Archangel, I’m motoring. What’s it to ya?” Warren replies that he just wants to make sure she knows what she’s doing. After everything she’s been through since she came here, it’s going to be quite an adjustment going from a fledgling x-man to a new mutant in training. Jubes says that she’s looking forward to a change of pace - where she can enjoy breakfast before she has to fight for her life.
Warren wishes her good luck. “If you ever need…” Jubilee interjects, asking him to save it. Warren is surprised at her response. Jubilee turns on him and tells him that she isn’t the one who needs luck. She’s just a kid, she explains. If she wants to pretend like nothing ever bothers her, that’s her right as an immature brat. What’s his excuse? Warren evades a splattering of fireworks and asks where all this is coming from. Jubilee tells him that she can count on three fingers the number of times he’s said more than five words to her since she‘s been cribbing at the mansion. Now she’s out of the door, and he’s getting all concerned about her? “Later for that, dude.”
Warren doesn’t think she’s being fair. He says that he’s always cared about her, though he’s never been the most expressive person when it comes to emoting. Jubilee replies that it’s called being human. He might like to try it once in a while. She calms down a little, and says she’s kinda sorry… sort of. It’s just that sometimes she’s up all night wondering about her parents, and why she never got as close to them as she has to Logan and everyone else. Every morning she comes up with the same answer. It’s because she never told them how she felt, and never really showed it or said it out loud. She just doesn’t want the same to happen to him. Letting somebody know you love them isn’t a bad thing. Warren gives her a hug. “No, Jubilee,” he replies, “It’s not a bad thing at all.”
(the boat house on the edge of the estate)
The former boathouse is the new home of Scott and Jean Summers. Gambit pays Scott a visit, helping him move some boxes. He thinks it’s funny that he asked a thief to move his prized possessions. Scott replies that he’s an ex-thief, no? Remy says that, once it’s in your blood, it’s like being an alcoholic who wants to drink but doesn’t. The need is always there. The fact that he thinks Scott doesn’t know what he’s talking about is just one reason why he’s a lucky man.
Scott says that he does know it. It was incredibly kind of Charles to give himself and Jean some personal space on the grounds. Remy replies that it isn’t exactly what he meant. He’s talking about Scott’s whole life; about his family and friends. He’s talking about a future with a wife that loves him, and a past filled with things he’s not ashamed of. “Except perhaps my inability to hook up this blasted VCR,” quips Scott.
Scott reminds Remy that he was once married to Belladonna. He had the chance to have it all. Remy informs Scott that he had to marry his best friend just to keep their families from killing each other. What Scott has with Jean is love, and that makes all the difference in the world. Scott asks what he calls what he has with Rogue. Remy reckons it depends on which day of the week it is.
Outside, Sean Cassidy is having his farewell chat with Charles. Emma left with the others in her limo twenty minutes ago, so he guesses this is it. Charles replies that he guesses it’s official. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is being transplanted to the former Massachusetts Academy, while his family estate becomes the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.
He places a hand on Sean’s shoulder, and tells him that there isn’t a living soul he would trust more than him to shoulder the responsibility of training this new generation of mutants. Sean assures him he won’t be letting him down. However, he does admit to being a little unsure about his decision to involve the White Queen. Charles reminds him that Emma is the former White Queen. He thinks that she has a much bigger heart and a greater capacity for compassion than even she suspects. If anyone can bring that to the surface and help her deal with the slaughter of the Hellions, then it’s Sean.
Sean is sure that Charles is right, if they don’t kill each other first. Jubilee appears at the doorway. Charles turns to look at her, and she asks him not to say anything or she’ll start crying. She walks over to him and gives him a big hug, thanking him for knowing when to hold on, and when to let go. She climbs into Sean’s car and they leave Charles alone with his thoughts.
Moments later, Hank’s red sports car pulls up with Angelo Espinosa at the wheel. He tells Charles that if he’ll have him at his school, he would like to join Banshee’s program and become a student. Charles says that he would be honored. If he hurries he can catch up with them.
Charles always believed that things happen for a reason, exactly when they’re supposed to happen. Today, he turned the mantle of headmaster over to another, at a time in his life when he realizes he has more to learn from his students, their lives and hopes and dreams, than he may ever be able to teach them. And that’s the way it should be.