The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, an orange haze covers the sky, while on the Institute grounds Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel is speaking on his mobile phone. ‘I don’t know, how many SKU’s do we have in the Fullerton warehouse? Really? When did it close down?’ he asks. His good friend and long-time teammate Bobby “Iceman” Drake approaches Warren, asking him where his cast is. ‘You can’t be healed already!’ Bobby remarks, while a blue-skinned female mutant sits on the edge of a nearby water fountain. ‘A moment, Bobby’ Warren calls out, holding his hand up. ‘Why wasn’t I informed? But you could have sent me an e-mail. I check it regularly’ Warren tells his caller. Suddenly, ‘Gimme that, you poser’ Bobby calls out as he grabs Warren’s phone. ‘Hey!’ Warren exclaims, AS Bobby throws the phone into the nearby water fountain.
‘You know, my uncle ran an electronics store…’ Bobby remarks. ‘My cell! What the hell did you do THAT for?’ Warren shouts. ‘…and if there’s one thing I learned about business while working for him all those miserable summers - and God knows I didn’t leaRn much - it’s that you can’t phone it in’ Bobby explains. Bobby smiles at Warren and adds if that was true of a small business like his uncle’s, then there is no way a multinational guy like Warren Worthington can pretend to be running a billion dollar organization by cellular. ‘Is there a point to this, Bobby, or did you wake up on the wrong side of an empty bed this morning?’ Warren asks.
‘Hey now! A witty retort from the formerly blue angel of death!’ Bobby jokes. ‘Wait, wait - I think I feel hell freezing over Or maybe that’s just me!’ Warren asks his friend what he wants. Bobby tells him that he wants to know what happened to his casts. ‘You can’t be healed already! You just broke those spindly limbs, like, a day ago’ Bobby reminds him. But Warren points out that it was weeks ago, and that he just suddenly healed. He adds that their new nurse, Annie, did the x-rays and the bones are solid again. ‘No pain, nothing’ Warren boasts. ‘Rapid healing, huh? Maybe you’re actually developing a useful power after all this time’ Bobby remarks.
Bobby asks ‘So what’s next? You pop claws out of your forearms, develop a taste for beer and mousse your hair all pointy on the sides?’ Warren ignores Bobby and declares that Annie told him Bobby has been avoiding his follow-up appointment to have his wound checked - the one he got from Black Tom. ‘Nice segue. Not!’ Bobby mutters. As team leader, Warren orders Bobby to get to the infirmary and let Annie check him out. ‘First of all, Warren, you’re not technically team leader, Kurt is. Just because he wimps out on the responsibility doesn’t make you king by default’ Bobby lectures him. ‘And secondly, shut up! You’re not the boss of me!’ Bobby adds, before shouting ‘Later!’ and walking away from Archangel.
Suddenly, ‘Um…pardon, but you are both the X-Man, no?’ the blue-skinned woman sitting on the edge of the fountain calls out to Warren. ‘That’s correct. We are both the X-Man, no. He’s the X-Boy’ Warren replies, before turning to the woman, and telling her that he doesn’t think they have met. He introduces himself, and the woman replies that her name is Josette. She explains that she is staying here temporarily because her home in Genosha was destroyed. ‘Xavier invite us’ she adds. Warren tells Josette that he is sorry for her loss, and asks if she was off the island at the time. Josette replies that she was visiting relatives, and that she is lucky. ‘I have many friends who are not so fortunate. They die or lose everyone. All things’ she declares with her thick accent.
Josette is wearing a very revealing tank top, and leans forward, exposing more of herself to Warren. ‘And you. You have lost someone also’ she notices, revealing that she is an empath, and can feel inside of Warren the loss of the one called Betsy. ‘You hide with business, but the hole is still there. You hide with fighting, but the pain, it does not go away’ Josette announces, before looking up at Warren and smiling, telling him that she knows better ways to forget this kind of pain. Wide-eyed, Warren looks down at Josette and mutters ‘I - I, uh - id you’ll excuse me, I have things that need my attention’. Josette stands up and one of the straps on her top falls over her shoulder as she declares ‘I know you cannot love me - not with your heart. This is okay’.
Warren takes a step back, while Josette sits back down and remarks that they may still have much fun. ‘Uh, that’s right. We may still have much fun - no. Really - it was very nice meeting you, Josette’ Warren replies, before turning from her and wishing her an enjoyable stay here at the Xavier Institute. ‘Why is he so frighten? It is only passion. I will not crowd his love. I know nothing can’ Josette tells herself, forlorn.
Iceman bursts into the infirmary, where Nurse Annie Ghazikhanian is tending to the injured Northstar a.k.a. Jean-Paul Beaubier, formerly of Alpha Flight. ‘Hey, Annie! What are you doing going around telling people I’m not making my appointments?’ Bobby demands. ‘Oh, my goodness, Jean-Paul…did you just feel that icy wind on the back of your neck?’ Annie asks Northstar, before she turns and smiles, ‘Oh, look! It’s Frost-boy!’ Annie stands up and mutters that she was afraid an Arctic Wind had come howling through her door. ‘But it’s only your warm and loving personality that’s giving me chills, isn’t it?’ Annie mutters.
‘First of all the name is Ice-MAN! Get it right, lady!’ Bobby shouts. ‘Frost-boy, Ice-man. Either way, it suits you’ Annie replies, before telling Bobby to take his shirt off, as she wants to check that wound he got from Dark Tom. ‘It’s “Black Tom”, princess. “Black Tom”!’ Iceman corrects Annie, adding that there is no way he is taking his shirt off to give her a cheap thrill. ‘No way’ he states again. Annie scowls and tells Bobby that if all she really wanted was to see his chest, she would be nicer to him. ‘Now show me some skin or I’ll take it up with Xavier’ Annie orders.
Bobby frowns, before replying that they will do it in one of the private rooms. ‘No sense getting everyone all hot and bothered…right, Jean-Paul?’ Bobby jokes. ‘More stripping, less talking’ Annie orders as Bobby enters one of the adjourning rooms. ‘A bit of help you were, Silent Sam’ Annie mutters, turning to Northstar. She asks him what happened to that world-famous acid-tongue of his. ‘I’d almost think you were nervous or - oh - my God’ Annie bursts out as she realizes why Northstar never spoke up. ‘Don’t say anything. Not one word’ Jean-Paul warns her.
‘But -’ Annie protests. ‘I mean it, young lady!’ Northstar declares. ‘But he -’ Annie begins. ‘Not one word!’ Northstar tells her. ‘Fine! I’ll keep your secret. But I gave you more credit for taste than that’ she adds as she leaves Northstar’s side. ‘A rich, powerful handsome man - and you go falling for a jerk like Frost-boy’ Annie remarks. Northstar just smiles.
Meantime, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, ‘You know I’ve been having these nightmares, lately. I mean, of course you know. But you, indirectly, are the cause’ Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler remarks, as he looks up at a cross with a statue of Jesus upon it. ‘Your death was intended to show us a shining example of how we should live in loving union with you and those around us. Yet even those of us who hold you deepest in our hearts - fail - in keeping true to your divine word’. Kurt frowns as he adds ‘Clergy, parishioners, priests - me’. He declares that he has such thoughts, feelings he cannot escape, desires for the touch of a woman.
Kurt adds that now, another Holy War is brewing - more fools are taking up weapons of murder in Jesus’s name. ‘And you allow it. Perhaps even encourage it’. Kurt is angry, and declares ‘If we take you into our hearts, does that mean fighting and killing in your name. Which is the right answer? And what purpose does it serve to torment your most faithful when the goal is maybe one day sitting beside you - alone - possible forever apart from the ones we love and desire - who chose wrongly and failed your uncertain tests?’ Kurt exclaims that next time they meet, he expects answers.
Back at Xavier’s: ‘You undress slower than my kid’ Annie needles Bobby as she enters the other room and asks him if he wants her to help him. ‘No. No, I can do it’ Bobby replies, before telling Annie that it is all over the school that she doesn’t like mutants, and that he needs to know he can trust her before he opens the shirt. Annie admits that she is nervous about mutants, but assures Bobby that she only dislikes certain ones and would never jeopardize her job if he needed something kept in private. ‘I need to keep this private’ Bobby states as he pulls his jacket open, revealing his body, part of his chest and stomach has transformed into ice. ‘I think it’s what they’re calling secondary mutation…from something Black Tom did. I’m actually becoming ice, and I can’t change back’ Bobby explains.
Shortly, Annie and Iceman return to the main ward, and Bobby smiles as he does his jacket up, thanking Annie for the check-up. Bobby turns to Northstar and asks ‘When you gonna get up off your lazy butt and start doing some work around this place?’ Annie announces that Jean-Paul can actually leave the infirmary now for walks and meals, so long as it is not too strenuous. ‘If he wants’ Annie adds, before suggesting that Bobby and Jean-Paul go get something to eat. ‘Grab some dinner together?’ she remarks. ‘Well, I - uh -’ Northstar begins. ‘Yeah, come on. The Dining Commons is still open. I’ll buy’ Iceman announces. ‘Sure. All right’ Northstar replies, smiling as he gets out of the bed.
Making their way down a corridor, the men are unaware that Josette is watching them. ‘So Xavier asked you to join the X-Men, huh? He told you about all the training and stuff, right?’ Bobby remarks. ‘Training?’ Northstar enquires. ‘Yeah, special moves and stuff we practice. You can’t just “join” the X-Men. There’s lessons and practice and classes -’ Bobby explains ‘Really? Xavier gave me no indication -’ Northstar replies, when suddenly, ‘Hello!’ Josette calls out. ‘Well, hello there. I don’t remember meeting you before’ Iceman smiles as he turns to Josette. ‘I am new’ Josette replies. ‘Really? You look rather used to me’ Northstar scowls.
‘Dude - chill. Why don’t you go ahead without me? I’ll catch up’ Bobby smiles. Northstar frowns, and looks annoyed. Bobby leans against the wall that Josette stands against. ‘Don’t mind him. He’s foreign’ Bobby tells her as Northstar walks away. ‘But so am I’ Josette announces. ‘Really? I never would have guessed’ Bobby smiles.
Outside, Bobby and Josette sit in the garden under the light of the moon. ‘Your skin is so cold, Bobby’ Josette remarks. ‘So warm me up…’ Bobby tells her. Bobby puts a hand on Josette’s shoulder and informs her that he has a room here, so they could have some privacy. ‘Why? Don’t you like it here?’ Josette asks. ‘I like it anywhere you are, Josette’ Bobby replies. ‘Oh. I have no words’ Josette declares, before remarking in French ‘Tu me fais tourner la terte’. They kiss, as Josette tells Bobby that he is so loving, so passionate. ‘And you’re incredible’ Bobby replies, wrapping his arms around Josette, adding that he has never been so caught up in anyone like this before. ‘Especially so fast’ he adds.
Josette smiles and agrees that she never expected this, too. ‘Your heart was so close when we meet, I think this is only about passion, but now…now, you steal my breath’ she declares. Suddenly, a large being - seemingly covered in mud - appears behind them. ‘I’ve been closed off for a long time, but now -’ Bobby begins when suddenly, the mud-being shouts ‘DAAAAM YOUUU!’ and attacks the seat that Bobby and Josette are sitting on, knocking them both to the ground. They land with a thump, and the muddy mutant shouts ‘What are you doing with my wife, X-Man?’ ‘Uuuuh…Josette?’ Bobby calls out. The mud mutant storms over to Iceman and shoves a mud-covered fist into Bobby’s face. ‘Why do you keep doing this to me, Josette? I love you. If you persist in using your powers on men like this, I’ll have to keep ripping them apart!’ the mutant shouts, but Josette tells her husband - Rober’ - not to hurt Iceman, as he is innocent.
‘Ask me if I care’ Rober’ replies as he glares at Josette, while pulling Iceman up by one of his arms. Rober’ asks Josette if she knows the difference between a murder of fortune and a murder of passion. ‘In a murder of fortune, the killer stops when the victim is dead. In a murder of passion, the killer keeps going until he’s not angry anymore - no matter how dead you are’. His eyes glow yellow, before he swings Iceman around, and smacks his head into a tree, ‘Non! Mon dieu!’ Josette shrieks. ‘Ha…ha. Didn’t hurt…’ Bobby utters, his head flopping back. ‘It will’ Rober’ warns him as he begins to cover Bobby’s face with the muck that covers his own body. Bobby goes wide-eyed as the muck covers his face, and Rober’ asks ‘What’s the matter, smart guy? Trouble breathing?’
Suddenly, Rober’ arm is stretched backwards, and the mud is separated from him as Northstar speeds into the night, freeing Iceman from the muddy mutant. ‘What the hell was that?’ Rober’ enquires. Nearby, Northstar, wearing his very own X-Men costume - a cross between his classic Alpha Flight costume with the accessories of the current X-Men uniforms - and he begins to tear the muck from Bobby’s face. ‘Bobby…it’s me, Jean-Paul! Breathe, my friend - be alive!’ Northstar declares. Bobby coughs, and smiles as he utters’ Hey, handsome. Nice suit. Come here often?’
Rober’ strides towards Northstar: ‘Outta the way, fancy-pants’ he exclaims, adding that this does not concern him. ‘Rober’, please do not do this! There are many X-Men here!’ Josette exclaims. ‘Well, bring ‘em all on!’ Rober’ boasts, clenching his fists which have reformed. Northstar punches the muddy mutant in the face - only for his hand to get stuck in the muddy mass. ‘Feels niiiice’ Rober’ mocks, before smacking a fist down to the ground, only Northstar dodges his attack. Northstar frees his hand from Rober’s face, and flies away from him, before swooping back - and flying directly into Rober’, who utters ‘Uh oh’. Landing near Josette, Jean-Paul glances back and asks ‘So how about that, Rober’…does that “feel niiice”?’ - while Josette screams ‘NOOO!’ as Rober’ is split in two thanks to Northstar flying through him.
Soon, Iceman lies in one of the beds in the infirmary, with Annie at his side, and Northstar stands away from them. Annie tells Jean-Paul that she thinks Bobby will be fine once he wakes up, but that need to keep an eye out for a concussion. Annie smiles at Northstar and tells him that she is more worried about him, reminding him that he was not supposed to do anything strenuous after the explosion he sustained last week. ‘Heh. You should see the other guy’ Jean-Paul replies. ‘Did you - you didn’t kill him, did you?’ Annie asks, wide-eyed. ‘No, but I - no’ Northstar tells her, explaining that the shock kept Rober’ from reforming for several minutes - long enough to pour him into a containment chamber in Xavier’s basement.
‘Did you get any time alone with Frost - I mean, Iceman - before all this happened?’ Annie enquires. ‘Not really’ Northstar replies, adding that Iceman is straight, and that is the end of it. ‘Maybe he just doesn’t know it yet’ Annie smiles, but Jean-Paul tells her that everyone knows, only sometimes they can’t admit it to themselves. ‘But that’s not the case with Bobby. I saw him with that skank. Some loves just aren’t meant to be’ Northstar declares. Annie tells Jean-Paul that she is sorry, and that she admires his strength. ‘When you love someone who’s meant for someone else…I know how painful a secret that is to keep’ Annie announces as she turns to the catatonic mutant known as Havok….