A gray spade drops another shovelful of earth onto a freshly covered grave. The wielder of the spade then sinks it into a mound of dirt off to the side, noting whimsically that there’s always more dirt in the pile than does back into the ground. Ever notice that? Ignoring the “no” which he receives from someone standing a short distance away, the digger asks why they think that is. In reply, the other party rejoins that, never having noticed it, they hadn’t really given it any thought. Fair enough, the bearded, red-haired digger replies as he mops sweat from his brow.
Now turning his attention to the recovered grave, and its tombstone marked “A-113,” the digger notes that this is way more work than he’d’ve thought he’d go to. Burying the evidence, he means. He thought’s he would have, he doesn’t know… some kind of zapper or something that just makes stuff go away. Asked “like this?” by the other man as he shows a small, glowing, hand-held device, the gravedigger chuckles at first, telling the man that he’s a funny guy. A moment later, however, he is writhing in pain as the other man activates it, frying the gravedigger in crackling energy until nothing is left but ash.
Now left alone, the other man, in fact Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, agrees somberly. Everyone claims he’s hilarious. With that, Reed turns and departs, the coat covering his Fantastic Four uniform ruffling in the wind behind him.
Asked to repeat what he just said, Franklin Richards, standing next to his sister, Valeria, raises his arms in exasperation and declares that the Invisible Woman has vanished! Replying immediate with a “wow,” Madrox remarks that he’s writing that down. When Darwin begins to reply with confusion, Madrox quips that it’s a great title for, he doesn’t know, something. He loves irony.
Though her brother continues to stand, Valeria sits down in a chair on the other side of Madrox’s desk. In reply to his statement, she notes that it’s not irony. Irony entails unintended humor on the speaker’s part because he’s oblivious to the subtext. That isn’t present here. It was, at most, whimsical. It’s a common mistake, she adds, if that makes him feel any better. So chastised, Madrox looked up at Darwin, who is propped against the wall, looking down at Madrox in mutual silence.
Speaking for the two of them, Darwin asks the girl who she is again. Told “Valeria Richards,” Madrox asks to guess: her father’s Reed Richards. Wow, Valeria rejoins sarcastically, he should be a detective. Though Franklin begins to protest, she presses. Hercule Poirot would have nothing on him. When Darwin then asks if she’s referring to the guy from “Pink Panther,” Valeria points out to Madrox that that’s irony. Rolling his eyes at his partner, Madrox instructs Darwin not to help, okay?
Rising to his feet, Madrox reminds the two kids that their dad is, like, the smartest guy on the planet. “Not ‘like,’” Franklin corrects him, “is.” Ignoring him, Madrox continues that, if their mom has gone missing, then he has to think their dad’s on it. He’s not entirely sure what he’s going to bring to the party. Looking down, Franklin replies that their dad’s not on it. He says the there’s no problem. Told by Madrox then maybe there’s not a problem, Franklin remains resolute. His mom took off in a Fantasticar without saying why, he states. It came back and she wasn’t in it and his dad said not to worry about it.
Interrupting Madrox’s next objection, Valeria adds that their father was displaying numerous facial cues that indicated lack of candor. Plus, she secretly used the building’s sensors to monitor his pulse when he said everything was fine, and noted an eleven percent spike. Asked by Darwin if she has spoken to any other members of the Fantastic Four, Valeria replies that Uncle Johnny’s out of town and Uncle Ben said it was “grown-up stuff” and that she wouldn’t understand. Incredible, she then opines. The man can’t complete a soduku to save his life and he’s telling her there’s something she wouldn’t understand.
Okay, kids, sit tight, Madrox says. He wants to confer with his associate. Leaving the room, Madrox asks Darwin what he thinks, to which Darwin replies that he thinks the little girl’s creeping him out. That’s only ‘cause Layla was before his time, Madrox replies. So, putting her aside… Actually, Darwin counters, it’s all about her. Asked his meaning, Darwin elucidates that, however smart her dad is, she obviously ain’t no slouch herself, which tells him that if she says there’s smoke… “Then there’s fire?” Madrox asks. Yup, that’s what he was thinking too.
Back in the room, Franklin asks Valeria if they’re going to help, to which Valeria replies yes. She creeps Darwin out, but they feel their concerns might be valid. Asked how does she know, Valeria answers that she used her peripheral vision to lip-read them. Taken aback, Franklin admits that now she’s creeping him out.
“Are you not entertained?” yells someone from the television screen. Answering the character, Shatterstar replies that, speaking for himself, he is. Although the character’s swordsmanship is pathetic. He could disembowel him in five seconds. Passing the popcorn to him, Rictor asks if he gets that the guy’s an actor, to which Shatterstar replies that it’s no excuse, but he delivers the dialogue nicely.
Entering the room, Guido asks the two men what they are watching. When Rictor replies “Gladiator,” Guido leans over the back of the couch and asks Shatterstar to tell him: does he like… gladiator movies? “Apparently so,” Shatterstar replies, innocently munching on some popcorn. After Guido rejoins with a “figures,” Rictor tosses some popcorn into Guido’s mouth, informing him that that was not funny. Not funny! Craning his neck to regard the two, Shatterstar states that he just missed something, didn’t he?
Popping his head into the room, Madrox instructs the trio to saddle up. They’ve got a case! However, Guido experiences confusion upon seeing Franklin and Valeria, causing him to ask if kids are hiring them. Told yes, he notes that this’ll be a snap. Whatever it is, Bugs Meany is prob’ly behind it. He stole that bike last week, remember. When Madrox begins to chastise him, Guido adds that that brat’s outta control, is all he’s sayin.
Stiffening her body, the short Valeria begins to rise in the air, eventually hovering a few inches above Guido’s towering head. Our mom, the Invisible Woman, she tells him, has vanished. Does he think that’s something worth joking about? Well? Does he? Taken aback, Guido stammers negatively at first, but then adds that, although, the Invisible Woman vanishing is kind of iron… Placing his hand over Guido’s mouth to silence him, Madrox says, “I swear to God, don’t go there.”
As he leads them out the front door, Franklin informs Madrox that, by the way, they don’t have any money to pay them. To this, Madrox asks Franklin if his sister can give him stock tips. When she replies “absolutely,” Madrox replies “Then let’s find your mom.” Following Madrox out the front door, accompanied by Shatterstar, Guido whispers to Madrox, asking him if it is just him, or does the girl remind him of Lay… Interrupting his teammate, Madrox replies that it’s not just him.
Back in the New York air, Madrox silently notes that he can’t believe they’re back. That they’re operating out of an abandoned funeral home he managed to buy on the cheap. When he told the crew that Guido and he were going to restart X-Factor Investigations in New York, so that Terry could have Detroit all to herself… He didn’t know that most of them would show up on his doorstep a month later, because Terry decided to shut down the office.
Noting both kids floating at his height, Guido asks Franklin if they flew there using those jackets. Told “uh-huh,” Guido rejoins that he’s gotta get him one of those. Then told by Madrox that they should ride in the back with the rest of the group, an incredulous Franklin asks if he means the hearse. To this, Madrox explains that it came with the building. No worries, he then adds, they’ve had additional seats put in. Changing subjects, Franklin asks Madrox if he doesn’t want them to go on ahead and let their dad know he’s coming. Madrox asks back if they told their dad that they were hiring them. Receiving a no, Madrox suggests that they keep it on the down-low for now.
Getting in the front passenger side, Shatterstar asks Rictor, who is behind the wheel, if this endeavor going to involve a fight. He could use one, otherwise they muscle memory of his killing stroke could atrophy. Leaning in toward Shatterstar, Rictor smiles that, if he asks him, Madrox is just humoring these kids. Nothing’ll come of it. On the other hand, the Thing might womp on them just on principle. “We can only hope,” Shatterstar opines, as they pull away.
Elsewhere, Theresa Cassidy pulls on her jeans while sitting on the edge of the bed. Asked rhetorically by Wade Wilson, still lying within, that she’s up already, Theresa replies that they day’s half gone. Asked to come back to bed, Theresa replies that she can’t, as she has things to do. As Theresa pulls her sweater over her head, Deadpool reminds her that she’s the mistress of the castle. She can have someone else do them so she can do him. He’ll let her be on top. Hell, they can both be on top. They’ll just need a chin-up bar, duct tape and some WD-40. Then asked by Theresa if he doesn’t have someone to assassinate, Wade replies “sure,” but if they have to wait a day, it won’t kill ‘em. Now finished dressing, Theresa turns to leave, noting back to Wade that, seriously, this was great, but they’re done now, okay? Once alone, Wade whimpers that he misses her already.
Back in New York, Madrox allows his thoughts to wander as the hearse makes its way to the Baxter Building. Lost in thoughts of Theresa, he notes that every time the phone rings, he hopes it’s her. Every time there’s a knock at the door, he thinks maybe it’s her. He knows they’ll never be a couple again. That ship has sailed on several levels, not the least of which is that his mind is still scrambled over Layla. But the way they left it after he showed up back in Detroit… dropped back into his own time courtesy of Doom’s time machine… When they parted, she broke his finger, swore the next time it would be his neck… and there he was right back in front of her. She stood there and stared at him… just stared… and then she flew away.
Everybody else was filled with questions: Where had he been? How did he come back? Did he know about Rictor and Shatterstar. That last one, he don’t get, he thinks. Did anyone not know about Rictor and Shatterstar? Anyway… lots of questions. Especially when it came to questions about Layla. She’s there… she’s gone… They’re back together, and she’s an adult. And then she’s gone again. She’s like an emotional washing machine and he’s caught in her spin cycle. He knows she’ll wander back into his life again, and part of him can’t wait for that… and part of him is terrified of the prospect.
In the Baxter Building, Reed Richards asks Franklin and Valeria what they thought they were doing, dragging Mr. Madrox and his associates into a personal, family matter. They weren’t dragged, Valeria retorts dryly, they were retained. Look, Reed, Madrox interjects, they kids were clearly upset, so he thought they could… Interrupting, Reed tells Madrox that, no offense, but his thoughts on the matter aren’t of all that much interest to him.
Turning next to his children, Reed tells them to go upstairs. They’ll talk about this later. Chiming in, Guido tells Reed that the kids are upset. They’re scared. Groundin’ them ain’t ‘zactly… Interrupting, Reed asks… “Mr. Strong Guy is it?”… whether he has kids. Receiving a negative reply (and the information that “Guido” is fine), Reed suggests that he kindly leave the parenting to him. He then adds to Madrox that he’ll reimburse them for their time. Good day.
Rising from the couch, Madrox notes to himself that this is brusque, even for Reed. Something’s going on here. Or maybe it is just a family thing. Then again, he silently notes to himself, most detective work involves divorces and it doesn’t get more “family thing” than that, so…
Meanwhile, as Reed continues to coach his children upstairs, Guido follows, reaching out to Reed and telling him that he can’t just… Interrupting both verbally and with a clench to Guido’s wrist, the Thing replies that, yeah, he can. Immediately told to let go, Ben replies that he will, soon as he promises to pack up his two-bit posse and vamoose before things get ugly. Undeterred by the threat, Guido replies in kind, asking if the Thing said that just cause he’s the expert on ugly. A short distance away, Madrox lowers his head. “Oh, this is not going to end well.
Back at X-Factor HQ, Monet enters the former funeral home, finding it a dark and seemingly abandoned. Yelling out, she calls that she’s a evil super villain there to destroy… whatever. Fortunately, she tells them, she’s overwhelmed by their total lack of internal defenses. Which is why she’s walking around, completely undeterred. Giving up, Monet mocks that she could be lining the air conditioning with anthrax and they’d never…
Suddenly, Monet notices an opened morgue drawer and approaches to investigate. Pulling on its handle, she pulls out the tray and, much to her surprise, finds the immobile form of Longshot lying within. Whispering his name at first in initial shock, Monet then screams it in greater exasperation. She then immediate recoils in fear as the very much living Longshot sits up with a start. Still reeling, Monet is further startled when a hand clasps on her shoulder from behind, causing her to lash out with her fist, backhanding her assailant. She then immediately apologizes, upon seeing her assailant was actually Darwin, who is now half-buried within the now-cracked wall. Speaking through his half-crushed face, he informs Monet that he’s fine. He just can’t feel anything… from the neck up… which is probably good… all things considered.
Still on the morgue tray, Longshot asks everyone if they could please keep it down. He’s a little hung over. Incredulous, Monet yells hung over?! She thought he was dead! Grasping his pounding ears, Longshot replies that he’s not, though he’s starting to wish he was. Stepping off of the tray, Longshot notes that this must have been Guido’s idea of a practical joke. When they went out drinking last night and, well…
Still incredulous, her hands on her hips, Monet repeats “practical joke” and declares it hilarious. She then asks why was nobody at the desk. Having healed and able to speak more easily, Darwin answers that this was his week for being the receptionist, and he was in the bathroom. Sue him. Turning the tables, Darwin then asks Monet what is she doing there? He thought she was off with Siryn. Replying that she was, Monet adds that she needs to speak with Madrox. Is he there? Baxter Building on a job, Darwin replies. Great, Monet rejoins, crossing her arms. They’re probably in a pointless fight right now. Nah, Darwin replies with a smile. He’s sure everything’s fine.
(the Baxter Building)
With a deafening BLAKOWW, Guido is thrown into a wall, which crumbles from the impact. Nearby, Valeria glances at her watch, noting that Uncle Ben restrained himself for twenty-seven seconds before getting into a fight. That may be a personal best. When Franklin adds that he has issues, Valeria corrects him that Uncle Ben has the entire Time-Life library.
A short distance away, Madrox yells up to the towering Reed, who is crossing a large distance with a towering stride, to feel free to go on ahead of him. To this, Reed retorts that he’s in no hurry. Madrox’s man provoked this brawl… let him deal with the consequences.
In the next room, Guido begins to get up, as he spies the Thing barreling toward the hole in the wall, made just a few moments before by his impact. Rather than getting up, Guido seems an easy mark for the Thing to strike, but at the last moment Guido grab’s Ben’s fist and then, leaping to his feet, grabs the Thing by the throat and lifts him off of the ground. Then, before Ben can recover, Guido slams him into the floor. Again not waiting for Ben to recover, Guido grabs him by the leg, swings him around in an arc and tosses him away, knocking him into the wall of the Thing’s gym.
Finally recovering a bit, the Thing asks Guido to let him guess. A Mets fan, right? ‘Cause that’d, y’know, explain the hostility. Leaping into the air for a downward blow, Guido rejoins that at least they came back against Boston in ’86, not like his team choking four years ago… Guido’s words trail as one of the Thing’s immense barbells is tossed into his midsection, causing him to slide a large distance away. Stomping back toward Guido, his New York Yankee’s jersey torn, Ben grabs Guido by the neck and lifts him up, ordering him through angry, halting speech not to bring up the ’04 Red Sox!!! With that, the Thing pounds Guido into the floor. Now having trouble recovering himself, Guido rejoins with a gravly voice that it’s lucky… the Yankees didn’t start 2009 going zero for eight against the Sox… Oh, wait… they did…
Having had enough, the Thing raises another of his massive barbells, preparing to use it as a club to Guido’s head. A moment before impact, however, another barbell, this one wielded by Shatterstar, is placed between the Thing’s barbell and Guido’s head. Asked by the Thing who the hell he is, Shatterstar provides it. Asking “seriously?” Ben then asks if they’re coming up with names just by slappin’ two words together now. Why not Sassyspam or Dizzyduck? Or Helmethair? Okay, he then reconsiders, that one works but still…
A short distance away, Franklin laments to Valeria that you’d think Uncle Ben would let the ’04 ALCS go since the Yankees won the series this year, but noooo… Behind the kinds, Reed has stretched one of his arms around Madrox several times, effectively tying him up. As Madrox attempts to appeal to him to let him get in there, Reed resists. And get his handed to him? He doesn’t think so. He then instructs Madrox to stop struggling. It isn’t doing him any good.
Smiling slightly, Madrox silently notes that it’s doing one good thing. It’s helping to keep Reed distracted... so that he doesn’t notice that Rictor is M.I.A.
In another part of the building, Rictor follows a racing Madrox dupe, who proclaims that it’s this way. Asked by Rictor if he’s sure, the dupe replies that he has all the memories of when he was a SHIELD agent and SHIELD had a full blueprint of this place. He’s positive. Stopping in mid-stride, the dupe then adds that he’s almost positive. He’s absolutely pretty sure that it’s… Passing the dupe, Rictor tells him to never mind. Valeria gave him directions.
Entering a room, Rictor yells back that it’s up here. This way. Following, the dupe glances back, noting that it got awfully quiet back there. Does he think it’s over? No, Rictor replies. He thinks it’s the calm before the storm.
Back at X-Factor HQ, a town car pulls up to the front door. Opening the door, the passenger in the back asks the driver if they’re sure she’s there. When the driver confirms that their intel is solid, the passenger, in actuality Val Cooper, steps out, proclaiming it good. Well, not good, actually, she then reconsiders. Considering all the lousy news she’s had to delivery in her life… it’s impressive how much she’s dreading this conversation.
Within the building, Darwin and Longshot follow Monet as she heads for the door. When Darwin asks her why not wait for Madrox, Monet rejoins that he knows her better than that. Waiting around for people to show up isn’t exactly her style. A few steps behind, Long offers that she wants him to go to Ireland and square things with Theresa. Asked by a startled Monet how did he know, Longshot answers “Lucky guess.”
Then asked by Darwin if she is going to want to see him, Monet replies probably not. Monet then offers the same answer of “probably not” to Darwin’s question of whether she would talk to him or whether it’ll help in some way. Then asked “why?” Monet answers that it’s because she has to do something. Because she went with Theresa to Cassidy Keep, her ancestral home, to help her recapture her soul. But it didn’t work. Every day she got emptier and emptier. Every day… she was a little less Terry. Now lowering her head, Monet admits that she’s running out of ideas. Occasionally, she then adds, leaving the two men behind as she heads for the door, saving someone is more involved than just rescuing them from bad guys.
Opening the front door, Monet finds Val Cooper, halted in the process of her first knock on the door. Without even a greeting, Val informs Monet that she needs to speak with her. At first Monet begins to ask how she even knew she was there, but quickly decides that she doesn’t care and continues on her way, informing Val that she has to go. Told that she can’t, Monet yells back that, with all respect, she sure as hell can.
Rather than chasing after Monet, Val stands in place, propping her weight atop her cane. Succinctly, she asks Monet when was the last time she spoke to Cartier? Stopping briefly, Monet looks back and asks if she means her father. Last month, actually, she replies. She calls him on his birthday. He was at home in Monaco. Why?
At first, Val suggests to Monet that perhaps she should sit down. When Monet then begins to balk, Val cuts to the chase. She informs Monet that her father’s been taken by extremists. By terrorists. If their demands aren’t met, they’re going to film his beheading and broadcast it. As she, as well as Darwin, reel at the news, Monet manages to haltingly ask what they want. “You,” Val replies.
Back at the Baxter Building, the Thing sizes up Guido’s teammate. When the Thing mockingly asks if he decided not t’hang back anymore, Shatterstar replies that he wasn’t hanging back. He was studying his technique… at least what there is of it. Twirling the immense barbell around like a baton, Shatterstar notes that the Thing’s a basic brawler. Leads with his fists, depends on his roundhouses and uppercuts and his strength. Agreeing in a mocking manner, the Thing adds that he’s a helluva dancer too. That’s why the ladies love him.
Ah, yes, the ladies, Shatterstar notes with a grin. How’s his honeymoon going? Seeing the grimace he expected, Shatterstar asks if he hit a sore spot. In reply, the Think says that that ain’t the only thing that’s gonna get hit, and punctuates the statement with a blow from his barbell, which Shatterstar easily sidesteps. Ducking the next swing, Shatterstar declares that now he’s just getting sloppy. The Thing’s strength, he tells him, doesn’t mean a damn thing if he keeps missing… and his strength, he announces about himself in mid-leap, means everything because he never misses. In demonstration, Shatterstar clocks the Thing across the jaw with his barbell, following it with several other blows. “And by the way… don’t every… screw… with my teammates… again.”
With his final blow, Shatterstar knocks the Thing through the window, causing him to fall to the street below, which crumbles from the impact. Now grinning wildly, his hair blowing from the wind which rushes into the shattered side of the building, Shatterstar looks down below and spreads his arms wide in mock contempt. “Are you not entertained?!”
Far down below, surrounded by astonished and curious bystanders, the Thing states to no one in particular that he’s definitely shoving that guy’s head so far up his backside he’ll be able to wear his colon for an Easter bonnet.
Back on the upper floor, Shatterstar joins Madrox, who is still held fast by the stretched arm of Reed Richards, and states that he thinks they should go. Asked “yeah?,” Shatterstar replies definitely. Relinquishing his grip, Reed notes that it’s past time, really. He thinks the best thing he could be when Ben gets back is elsewhere.
Nearby, Shatterstar attempts to help Guido to his feet, only to be rebuffed. Told by Guido that he can take care of himself, Shatterstar offers that being on a team means he shouldn’t have it. Yeah, whatever, Guido rejoins, walking away.
Meanwhile, Madrox kneels next to Franklin and Valeria, as to be closer to their height. After telling their dad that they’ll let themselves out, he tells the kids that he thinks their dad is right. This is something they should stay out of. It’s all going to be fine now. Giving Madrox a hug, Valeria thanks him for coming and tells him it meant a lot. However, once leaning in close to his ear, Valeria rhetorically states that he has something doesn’t he? Told “yeah,” she then notes that the fight was a distraction. Once again told “yeah,” she compliments the tactic.
As the group leaves, accompanied by Rictor and the dupe, Madrox silently notes that the kid doesn’t miss a trick. She’s almost as smart as Reed. The thing is, he then considers, if she figured it out… then he should have, too. Which means either he did and doesn’t care, or Reed didn’t, and there’s even more wrong here than he thought. Either way, he’s not liking this at all.
A moment after the elevator closes, the second elevator next to it opens, out of which steps the incredibly angry Thing, who nearly incoherently demands “Where izzee?”
At X-Factor HQ, Monet, Longshot and Darwin stand and sit around their desk, all faced toward the sitting Val. Asked by Monet to tell her where they are, Val replies that it’s not that simple. To this, Monet rejoins that it is. They want her? Fine. They get her. And once they have her, she’ll strangle them with their own spines.
Considering this, Longshot asks if she extracts their spines, won’t they already be dead? So why would she need to… Catching Monet’s extremely irritated gaze, Longshot notes aloud that he realizes now that she was speaking in hyperbole and perhaps it would be best for him to shut up. Good, Monet replies.
Entering the room, Madrox is surprised to see Monet and begins to ask about Terry, only to be told before he can finish that she’s not with her, no. The noticing Val, Madrox asks if the two of them are together. Not… in the romantic sense, he means, he then adds, stumbling over his line of thought. Interrupting, Val instructs Madrox to, once in his life, to listen.
Over the next few minutes, Val lays it all out for him. About how the state department was contacted, and they kicked it over to the O*N*E because a mutant’s involved. About how details are sketchy and are still coming in. Val concludes by telling Madrox that she has a security briefing in an hour but will be back to give them the full update.
Once Val has left, a visibly distraught Monet tells the others that she would really appreciate it if they could all give her some space right now. Just… go. Honoring her request, they convene in another room. Asked by Rictor if they’re going to help, Madrox replies that if they can they will. Chiming in, Darwin notes that it’s not “if they can.” They find a way.
To this, Madrox replies that they have to handle one thing at a time. Asked by Darwin what he means, Madrox states that there’s two kids counting on them to find their mom. Now addressing Longshot, Madrox informs him that Sue Richards was last known to be in the Fantasticar, which Rictor combed through while Reed and Ben were distracted. Holding out a small bag for Longshot to take, Madrox tells him that Rictor found this in the front seat. It’s a Bobby pin. Probably doesn’t belong to Reed, Johnny or Ben… When Longshot notes that maybe it’s Bobby’s, Madrox ignores and tells him just to try to see if he can get a read off of it.
Taking the pin from the small, plastic bag, Longshot replies that he’ll try. Closing his eyes, he concentrates for a long moment. Everything is silent. Finally speaking, he explains that she’s in the car… but… she’s struggling. Asked with who, Longshot (who now psychically finds himself in the past in the Fantasticar with Sue) replies that it’s not with a person, but with the vehicle itself. And, he continues his explanation, they’re being dragged toward… something. Some sort of spatial rift in the air.
Still within his psychic flashback, Longshot explains that they’ve come out the other side, or wherever. It’s dark, cold and there’s… there’s someone coming. It’s a woman. And she’s looking right at him! So hard to see her… can’t quite… Wait… she’s saying something.
Asked from the here and now by Madrox what she’s saying, Longshot repeats her words. “Hello, you’re Longshot, aren’t you?” When he confirms and begins to ask her a question, the cloaked woman with an M tattooed over her right eye replies that she sees him because she does stuff like that. They haven’t met. She’s Layla Miller. She then welcomes him to Latveria and informs him that, if he ever has the chance, he should try the bratwurst. It’s to die for.
In a graveyard, Theresa Cassidy stands before a mausoleum, on which is etched the message of “Sean Cassidy, beloved father.” Speaking to him, Theresa Cassidy tells her “da” that she’s sorry. She never should have let them be burying him in the States. Her fault it is. Just… she didn’t believe he was really gone. She figured, “Why fret? He’ll be back. We always come back.” So much for that.
So, she continues, speaking to the grave, they’re going to pull some strings, get him brought back to the family mausoleum. He’ll have a nice view of the keep from here, and it’s the graveyard of the family church so… But she’s warning him: if he comes back from the dead afgter all the trouble they went to, she’ll kill him. She’ll absolutely kill…
Theresa’s voice trails as her emotions overcome her. A voice offering a handkerchief brings Theresa out of her state of mind. At first, she notices only the handkerchief itself, then the priest’s collar. She thanks him, only to be told by name that there’s no apologies necessary. Looking up to his face in confusion, wondering how he knows her, she is startled to see the visage of Jamie Madrox looking back at her.
With swift ferocity, Theresa delivers a devastating right cross, knocking the priest off of his feet. Asking Madrox how dare he, she towers over his near-prone form, asking if he came all the way to Ireland just to be making fun of her grief? And pretending to be a priest when she knows perfectly well he’s the Multiple Man… and… Trailing, Theresa notices that Madrox didn’t multiply on impact and that he doesn’t have the “M” tattoo…
Asked if he can have it back, Theresa wonder is he means the tattoo, only to be told the handkerchief. He’s bleeding a little, he informs her. And anything she can do to mitigate her going to hell for punching a priest might be… The priest trails and thanks Theresa, as she hands him the cloth. He adds that he’ll have to draw a black eye on his passport photo so it matches.
Finally realizing who he is, Theresa states that he’s the dupe who was in the news a while back. The one who was attacked. Wiping the blood from his nose, the dupe replies “Reverend John Maddox.” That seems to happen a lot when he’s nearby members of X-Factor. Apologizing, Theresa says that she thought he was Madrox. Jamie Prime, she means. And the appropriate response, he rejoins, to Jamie offering her something to dry her tears would be a right cross?
Crossing her arms, Theresa guesses that Madrox sent him, didn’t he? Told no, she then guesses Guido, only to be told that he was sightseeing. Coincidences happen, he tells the incredulous Theresa. You run into people in the damnedest places. He’s a priest. He’s in Ireland as part of a seminar. He thought he’d see some old churches. Lo and behold, there she is. “Lo and behold,” Theresa smiles and then apologizes.
Now upright and no longer bleeding, Reverend Maddox tells Theresa that, though Guido may not have sent him, he did tell him what happened to her. Her father passing and her son… Trailing for a moment, he offers her condolences on both of her losses. Thanking him, Theresa abruptly tells him goodbye. Asked if she wants to talk, Theresa continues her exit, replying with a curt “no.”
Pausing for a moment, Theresa turns enough to inform the reverend that she’s not a member of X-Factor anymore. Receiving a confused reply, she reminds Maddox that he said he gets hurt when he’s near members of X-Factor. And she’s not one. She needed to clear that up. Beginning to follow her, Reverend Maddox asks if she needed to. Wanted to, she rejoins. Anything else she “wanted” to do, he then asks her. To this, she tells him that he has to stop following her. Very well, he tells her. If she’s afraid to talk…
“Seriously?” Theresa stops for a moment, turning to him. Reverse psychology? He figures he could call her “afraid” and she’ll talk to him about… Asked, “about what?,” Theresa tells him to never mind. It was just a stupid idea. With that, Theresa walks away… for a moment. Stopping and turning, she asks what does he want from her? When the reverend asks if she means Madrox, Theresa points upward and counters that she means his boss. God. What does He want from her?
Well, Reverend Maddox considers, He hasn’t shown him the file on her, if that’s what she’s asking. Leaning against a stone cross, Theresa looks away, finally noting that he’s not a Catholic priest. Episcopal, Maddox informs her, but a priest of any denomination recognizes a soul in pain… Yeah, yeah, she gets it, Theresa interrupts. Because she’s talked to priests of faith and it’s all, you know…
A young priest raises his hands in a whimsical smile, noting that it’s all part of God’s plan.
An older, balding priest with a rosary tells her that God doesn’t give them any more hardships than they can handle.
A middle-aged priest from behind a confessional screen tells her that God loves her.
So, Theresa continues to Maddox, maybe he can save both fo them some time. If he’s just going to give her the same old… “God hates you,” Reverend Maddox suddenly states. Taken aback, Theresa tells him that, okay, none of the other priests said that. Asked if she punched any of them, she replies “no” and is immediately told that’s probably why.
Seriously, he continues, God hates you. He looked down and said, “Theresa Cassidy has really pissed me off… and I’m going to keep battering her until she breaks, because I really have nothing better to do.” When she replies that she gets it, Reverend Maddox replies that she doesn’t. Bad things happen, he states. To him, to her, to everyone. And it’s random and it’s unfair because that’s that’s the way the world is.
Asked by Theresa is he’s saying God doesn’t have a plan, Maddox shrugs his shoulders and replies that he doesn’t know. Maybe. And maybe it’s a good plan, or maybe it’s a lousy plan. Maybe at the dawn of man, it was God who fell, not Lucifer, and everything else has been one massive cover-up. Then asked by Theresa how they are supposed to get through the day, Maddox replies that they do so because of what God gave them. Asked if he means “His only son,” in order to redeem them of their sins. No, Reverend Maddox replies. Each other. With a mock smile, Theresa asks if God sent him to her to take the rap for him. Replying something like that, the reverend reconsiders and adds except nothing like that. But sort of.
Suddenly, Theresa’s attention moves to the distance and asks Maddox if he heard that. He immediately confirms that he did: a gunshot.
A short distance away in the woods, one hunter berates another. Calling his friend an idiot, the seconds asks the first why’d he shoot the fawn for. Eying the dead fawn over which its mother still lingers, the first hunter tells the other that he didn’t mean to. The damned thing ran in front of its mother. A moment later, the sonic scream of Siryn knocks the two off of their feet. Recovering to their feet, the two cover their ears in pain and run off into the woods, declaring it scream from a banshee.
Arriving in the clearing just as Theresa lands, Maddox asks if they thought she was Banshee. Replying no, she corrects that they thought she was a banshee. Mythic harbinger of death… which are traditionally female. Don’t ask her what her da was thinking when he picked the name.
Kneeling at the immobile fawn, Theresa examines the wound. Calling the men cretins, she notes that they were poaching in her forest. She let them off too easy. Asked how it is, Theresa replies that she’s gone already. Suddenly, Theresa finds herself forcibly nudged by the head of the fawn’s mother. Acquiescing, Theresa gets up and moves away, sitting on a log next to the reverend, as the watch the mother lie next to her child.
Pondering the sight, Theresa wonders aloud if she should start calling herself “Banshee.” Asking Maddox if he thinks her da would approve, she’s told that he thinks her dad would be honored. So, the reverend continues, who does he think she blames? Seeing her confusion, Maddox refers to the deer, Bambi’s mother. Who does she blame for what happened to her child? Told “humans,” Maddox then asks who does she pray to for strength? Or who does she get angry at for supposedly letting these things happen. Does she think she has a concept for God? Looking away, Theresa replies probably not. She just has to… to deal with it… and go one with her life. Then asked if that makes the deer better off than her… or worse, Theresa begins to cry. She doesn’t know. She just… she doesn’t know.
Holding a handkerchief up, Reverend Maddox offers it to her. It’s a little bloody, but… Much to his surprise, Theresa engulfs Maddox in a hug and holds on for a long moment. In the few rays of sunlight which break through the tree canopy above, he embraces her as well.