Kneeling behind the screen of the confessional, Theresa O’Rourke asks the father to bless her, for she has sinned. It has been ten months since her last confession.
Continuing, she explains that things have been… well… kind of awful, honestly. It seems lately all that her friends and she have been doing is fighting just to survive. Fighting and fighting and… Interrupting, the priest asks whom they have been fighting, to which Theresa replies people who hate them… because of the way they were born. Seemingly understanding, the priest states that she’s been fighting prejudice. And, Theresa asks, people whose prejudice makes them want to destroy them. That’s a worthy goal, he tells her. Hardly something she need repent… unless there are other things she’s…
As his voice trails, Theresa complies. She took the Lord’s name in vain. A lot. And, uh… she coveted her friend’s new iPhone. Big-time coveting. She had impure thoughts about this guy, Jamie. Replying that he sees, the priest asks if there’s anything else. Not really, she replies. Saying very well, the priest begins to order two Hail Marys and an act of contrition when Theresa interrupts. “And I got myself knocked up with Jamie’s child.” Pausing while he searches for a response, the priest finally comes up with “ah,” to which Theresa finds she must reluctantly agree.
Finding his voice again, the priest asks if this Jamie knows about her… condition. Not yet, Theresa stammers. Things have been so… She means he’s just been so stressed. If she tells him he’ll be… “He’ll be what?” the priest asks. Upset? Beside himself? He could say that, Theresa offers.
At X-Factor’s HQ, Jamie Madrox is irate, turning his back on Rahne, whom he asks heatedly how she can do this. Dammit. While Rahne tries to get Jamie to explain, she’s given the support of a Madrox dupe, who stands behind her, explaining to his progenitor that she’s not being unreasonable, to ask that he… Yelling for his dupe to shut up, Madrox slams his fist onto a desk, generating another dupe in the process.
Chiding Jamie’s actions, Rahne asks him to stop whacking the bloody desk. How many of him do they need? Apparently, she doesn’t need even one of him, Madrox rejoins. Ignoring the situation, the newly created dupe turns to leave, announcing that he’s starving and asking what they’ve got to eat around there. Ignoring his dupe in turn, Jamie tells Rahne that he can’t believe she’s leaving them in the lurch. Now, of all times, when they need all hands so that they can…
So they can what? Rahne yells back. What are they gonna do? Standing up to Rahne’s anger with a snarl of his own, Jamie replies haltingly at first that they will solve… this situation! Layla is trapped in a horror show of a detention campy eighty years from now, he reminds her. The X-Men have scattered to God-knows-where! Something’s going to cause humans to want to round them all up! “But what… precisely… are they going to do?” Rahne asks, this time with a calmer demeanor. I don’t know! Jamie yells back, making up for Rahne’s lack of rage. He doesn’t know! Okay? Happy? He…
“Stop yelling at her!” the first dupe interrupts, ironically with a shout. Doesn’t he see that this will just drive her away faster! Did he ever think maybe it’s his fault that she’s leaving in the… Having had enough, the prime Madrox announces to the dupe that he’s done. Then, proceeding to grab the dupe, Jamie pulls him to his own body, reabsorbing him.
Taking advantage of the lull in their argument, Rahne tells Jamie that they’ve been going back and forth on this for half an hour. Can’t he respect that she’s made up her mind, that she may have her reasons that… “No,” Madrox interrupts. Apologizing, he tells Rahne that he can’t respect that. He can’t respect someone who bails on her friends and won’t say why. Especially when he’s always believed her the most sincere… the most honest… the most spiritually anchored person he’s ever known. He can’t respect a hypocrite. Turning to leave, Jamie tells Rahne to go. Go and be damned. See what he cares.
Though moving to leave, Jamie does not get but a few steps before the lupine form of Wolfsbane leaps over him to block his way. Baring fangs and claws, she asks how dare he. Who the hell does he think he is? He thought he was her friend, Jamie replies. Obviously, he thought wrong! But she shouldn’t worry; she’s making it abundantly clear that…
“I killed ye!” she interrupts. “The both of ye!” As Jamie attempts to understand, Rahne explains. It was when Tryp senior showed her, she explains, reliving the vision as she describes it. He and Layla… and she was grown-up… and it was their wedding night… and she was standing over both of them. She’d gutted them. And… and knowing this, it’s been eating away at her… She…
Collapsing to her knees, Rahne explains that she has an… opportunity… to go elsewhere… and she has to seize that opportunity, for both their sakes. What both, Madrox counters. Layla’s gone! But she’ll come back, Rahne rejoins. She’s seen it! And she can’t be there when it happens. She… Apologizing over and over again, Rahne lowers her eyes as Madrox puts his arms around her. He must hate her, she laments.
Silently, Jamie thinks that he wants to. God, he wants to, but he doesn’t say it. She still hasn’t told him the whole truth. He knows it. Just as she hasn’t told him about her involvement with Rictor… except she doesn’t know he’s figured it out. He should be angry at her… but at the same time, he knows how she feels. Between everything that they’ve seen… experienced… the future isn’t some abstract concept, undefined and unknown. It’s bearing down on them like a freight train. Who wouldn’t want to find some means of getting out of its way? Still, in the end, he can’t be too angry with her for the things she’s held back… thanks to the hope that she’s given him. They’re going to get Layla back. But his hope, Madrox considers, is tempered with burning fury because he doesn’t know how to bring that about. He’s got to find a way. He’s got to find…
“Layla?” Rictor asks, having caught sight of a short, blonde girl with pink leggings passing by him. As she goes to turn a corner, he again says her name, this time yelling. When she does not stop, he darts after the girl, rounding the corner at such as speed as being unable to avoid hitting the towering horned man. Angered by the intrusion of his personal space, the man calls Rictor a jerk and tells him to watch it. Ignoring the man, Rictor attempts to go around, but is halted before getting out of arm’s reach.
Pulling him back, the horned man asks Rictor if he’s one of them X-Factor guys, ain’t he? In the middle of some other fight now? What is he trying to prove, huh? That they’re the big, bad protectors of Mutant Town? Holding him fast with one fist balling top of Rictor’s shirt, the horned man tells Rictor to look around. There ain’t no more mutants! No one’s even calling it Mutant Town! It’s the Middle East Side! Flanking her boyfriend from the side and threatening him with an index pointed upward as if making a point, the woman eggs on her boyfriend to “tell him, honey.” So instructed, the horned man suggests to Rictor that he and the rest of X-Factor just clear out with the rest of the Pans and leave them out of…
UNNFFFF! the horned man exclaims, as Rictors foot impacts against his crotch. As the man crumbles to his knees, Rictor darts off, calling out Layla’s name repeatedly to the little blonde girl. Turning to regard the yelling man, who yells out that it is he… Rictor, the blonde girl, clearly not Layla, replies that she can’t say as she knows any Rictor. But, if he’s got thirty bucks, she can get to know him pretty good.
Staggered by his misconception, Rictor stammers that she’s not her; not Layla he means. She’s the right age… he thinks, but… Finally overcoming the shock, Rictor crosses his arms and asks the girl how old she is. When she replies “eighteen,” he scoffs. Look, the girl says, changing tack. If he doesn’t have thirty bucks, she can live with twenty…
Grabbing her by the wrist, Rictor asks the girl what the hell is she doing there? Drugs, right? Scoring drug money… When the girl protests that he’s hurting her, Rictor asks if he’s hurting her more than herself. Fat chance.
Suddenly, Rictor’s attention is grabbed by a trio of men calling out to him. The center of the three, clearly being flanked by the other two who are serving as his “muscle,” tells Rictor that nobody roughs up his girls. ‘Specially when they haven’t paid for it! “Your girls?” Rictor asks. He’s got more like her? Guy’s got to make a living, hotshot, the pimp rejoins. Now, he suggests he back off, he tells Rictor. To this, Rictor suggests back that the pimp kiss his…
Incredulous, the pimp tells his two compatriots that it looks like they’ve got themselves a hero. Looks like he does, Rictor agrees. Then asked by the pimp if he’s looking for trouble, Rictor smiles back “more than you can believe.” Without further delay, Rictor lays a left hook across the jaw of one of the pimp’s musclemen. As the man goes down, Rictor follows his attack with a right hook to the jaw of the other enforcer. However, before he can move to the pimp himself, Rictor collapses from the electrical shock of a taser, held by the young blonde girl. Their “hero” now down, the trio of men show via blows and kicks the error of Rictor’s ways.
Luckily for Rictor, the lesson is a short one as Guido arrives, picking up the pimp and one of his enforcers with one hand and then effortlessly grabbing the third with his other hand. Yelling to the startled trio, Guido informs them that people are always sayin’ he should pick on somebody his own size. So howzabout this? He mushes all of them together into one big guy and then they can fight. That work for them?
Joining the situation is the horned man Rictor encountered before, who comes racing around the corner to find Rictor. Seeing only Rictor at first, he yells for him to come back so that he can… So he can what? Guido asks through gritted teeth. Given pause, the horned man rhetorically states that he’s Strong Guy. That’s what it says on his action figure, Guido replies. Considering his next statement quickly, the horned man stammers to Guido that he left his girl behind and she’s, uh, probably wondering where he… uh… Without finishing his sentence, the man turns tail and runs back around the corner.
Returning his attention to the pimp and his two enforcers, Guido tosses them away, instructing them to get out of Mutant Town. And stay out. Now bending down to examine Rictor’s wounds, Guido asks if he’s okay. Doesn’t he look okay? Rictor asks back incredulously. Not so much, Guido finds he has to admit. He then points out that there’s an E.R. about a block away. Mebbe they should swing by it, huh? He can get there fine by himself, Rictor remarks, moving to a wall in order to lean against it. He’s not being macho. He just… he’s sick of people thinking he’s weak. Hell, he stood up to that Isolationist guy. Took the best shots and kept comin’ back for more…
Yeah, Guido states. He’s been meaning to ask about that. How’d he manage it? No clue, Rictor replies. How ‘about he head back to HQ, he then suggests to Guido. He can handle this. Man, he wishes he could, Guido counters. He wishes he knew how to quit him, he then adds. “You’re a riot, Guido,” Rictor responds to the joke. Yeah, he’s a million laughs, Guido admits.
Her arms crossed and a wry smile on her face, Monet laughs sarcastically to Rahne, telling her “very funny.” She’s serious, Rahne replies, continuing her packing. She’s leaving. And she’s supposed to… what? Be upset about it? Monet asks. She can’t tell her how to feel, Rahne replies. Oh, bull, Monet counters. She’s always telling her how to feel. She’s always been the most sanctimonious holier-than-thou…
Please, Monet, Rahne interrupts. She’s begging her. Can they not do this? “Fine. Whatever.” Monet rejoins. Pausing a moment to consider things, she then asks Rahne what did Jamie say. And Rictor? Tears coming to her eyes, Rahne replies that they hugged. Then he went out. And she’s… hoping to leave before she sees Rictor. He… wouldn’t understand. Oh, right, Monet replies, again sarcastically. As compared to the rest of them who do.
Changing subjects, Monet holds out a handheld device, telling Rahne that she got it for her. Recognizing the device instantly, Rahne proclaims “an iPhone? Why?” Actually, she got one for Theresa, Monet admits holding the phone in front of Rahne. She’d kept eying hers and it was getting on her nerves. And then she figured, hell, she didn’t need Rahne getting jealous, so she got her one too. And one for Layla before she… “you know.” Reaching for the gift, Rahne tells Monet that that’s such a kind gesture, she doesn’t know how to…
“But you’re leaving, so…” Monet replies as she crushes the iPhone with her strength. “that’s that.” As Rahne’s demeanor changes form delight to annoyance, Monet tells her that, if and when she changes her mind, she’ll keep the one she bought for Layla mint in the box for her. Ignoring the pieces of the iPhone as Monet rubs them off of her hands, Rahne tells Monet that Layla’s coming back. “Sure. Right.” Monet quips.
With this, Monet moves to leave the room. However, before she crosses the threshold, she pauses and half turns back. Calling out to Rahne as “Sinclair,” she tells her not to be a stranger. Or at least don’t be stranger than she already is. Her piece said, Monet exits into the hallway and out of Rahne’s life.
Exiting the hospital, Guido calls Madrox with his mobile phone, reaching Jamie’s voicemail instead of Jamie himself. His point meandering, Guido tells the recorder that it’s him, Guido… which he probably figured when he heard it, ‘cause his voice is… y’know, kinda… Look, he continues, taking charge of his message, he figured he’s wanna known that Rictor is… Guido’s voice trails as he sees Madrox storm past him, clearly on his way somewhere with a purpose. Pausing a moment, Guido tells the voicemail recorder that he’ll call back.
Chasing after Madrox, Guido asks where he’s going. When Jamie replies that he’s looking for some guys to beat the crap out of, Guido replies that he already beat the crap outta some guys, so he’s filled his quota for the day. But sometimes he just like t’watch. He can relate, Madrox rejoins.
As he follows Jamie along the sidewalk, Guido asks him if he’s looking for any guys in particular to beat up. Actually, Jamie admits, from some things he’s been hearing around the Power Plant, he’s got the perfect candidates. With this, Madrox approaches the doorway of a condemned building, which is scheduled for demolition by Gameday Improvements. Though its windows and doorway are boarded up, Madrox finds the doorway is still accessible, as enough planks have been pulled down to gain entry.
Within the building a uniformed and armed Purifier addresses the rest of his likewise attired and equipped brethren. This has been a difficult time for their cause, he admits. They Purifiers took a major hit. They thought they had the future of mutantkind in their grasp… a future that they were going to be able to cut short… and then it slipped away.
But take heart, my brothers, he continues. Take heart – because he is assured by their leadership that this is not over. Not in the least. They are going to take back this area… this so-called Mutant Town… and transform it back into the Middle East Side, as it was before the unholy creatures…
“Excuse me,” a voice interrupts. Pausing in his sermon, the lead Purifier, as well as his congregation, turn to regard the arriving Jamie Madrox, who asks how they are doing. He loves what they’ve done with the place. Look, he continues before anyone can react, he’d like to say something to them. And he’d really appreciate it if they listened.
Finally speaking, the head Purifier tells Jamie that he knows him. He’s Madrox! How dare he profane their gathering with his foul presence? He should have killed him the instant he saw him…! The end of the leader’s threat never comes, as it and the leader are immediately silenced by the firing of Madrox’s pistol. He’s right, he tells the fallen leader. He should have.
A moment later, Madrox stamps his foot three times, generating three dupes, each with a duplicated pistol. Still in the fore of his group, Madrox prime addresses the Purifiers, telling them that he used to have such hope that, sooner or later, it would all work out. Such faith that eventually their two races would come to an understanding. That dark premonitions of the future could be avoided. And he’s come to realize that part of that reason he’s felt like that lately… was because of one girl. Because she was so bright, so cheery and funny and somehow she was always secure in the knowledge that things were going to work out. Because she knew stuff.
And now she’s gone, Madrox continues. And the only future he knows is filled with despair. And he… he has to stop it. And he doesn’t know where to start. Doesn’t mean he won’t give it a try.
Suddenly, the wall behind Jamie collapses, felled by a cadre of gun-toting Purifiers arriving in force. Wearing a grin that is mimicked by each of his dupes, Madrox silently thanks God. Reinforcements. And here he thought this was going to be boring.
Still waiting outside on the sidewalk, Guido calls up into the building, asking Madrox if he’s okay in there. He thought he heard a noise from around back. Does he need any…? Guido’s words trail as his question is answered when Madrox bursts through a boarded window, grappling with a quintet of Purifiers as they fall.
There is no more hope anymore, he thinks. Layla is gone. There is no faith anymore. Rahne is gone. Without them, the only thing that remains is taking action. Even if it’s mindless… and brutal… and designed only to relieve the fury that makes every part of his brain feel like it’s on fire.
As he fights them, Jamie notes how these Purifiers probably think their leader is dead. They don’t know he was only firing tranq bullets. No faith, no hope… but he still has compassion. It’s the one thing that still separates him from his enemies. And as he sweats through the makeup that he’s been using to cover his tattoo…he finds himself wondering what will be required… to take his compassion away as well. What will the final thing be… that destroys everything he is.
At the Power Plant, Monet and Theresa sit at the bar, Monet clasping a glass of liquor on the rocks, while Theresa holds a bottle of water. Asked if she is sure, Theresa tells Monet that the doctor confirmed what the tests already told her. She’s six weeks along. And before she asks, yes, Jamie’s the father.
So… Monet trails. Does she want her to come along? To hold her hand? At first, Theresa is confused by Monet’s meaning until realization suddenly hits her. Taken aback, Theresa asks if she’s serious. They’re talking about a life! Nonchalant, Monet asks back what about Theresa’s life, huh? She doesn’t need it saddled with… She’s too young! She’s the same age her mother was, Theresa defends. To this, Monet retorts that she’s sure her mother’s best friend told her what she’s telling her. Except maybe she’ll be smart enough to listen.
Unphased, Theresa asks back if Monet hasn’t realized how important every life is if their race is to survive? Oh, she’s going to take one for the team, Monet smiles. Wonderful. And Madrox? A father? Please. Her embryo is more mature. Maybe he’ll surprise her, Theresa tells Monet. And since when is she her best friend? Well, with Rahne gone, Monet replies, she’s the closest Theresa has. Taken aback again, Theresa asks Rahne’s gone? What the hell is she talking about? What’s going on around there?
Something weird is going on around here, Rictor tells Madrox as they sit at a table in X-Factor HQ. He’s telling him. The people at the local E.R., they’ve been seeing a lot of what he’s seeing. More fights breaking out… hostilities around town. It’s like the population is splitting down the middle. When Madrox takes a moment from his cup lunch to ask “splitting how?” Rictor replies that it used to be that everyone in town pulled together for mutual protection after their powers vanished. But when those powers went… it left a few people with visible souvenirs of their mutations… Horns, bone, crests, the odd tentacle… that kind of thing.
Most people, though, he continues, wound up with what they call Pans… “Pass As Normal.” As opposed to the others who are referred to as “remnants” or Rems. “Haves and have-nots,” Madrox quips. Exactly, Rictor replies. And the Pans are slowly starting to move out, figuring there’s no point in living a segregated lifestyle, and that’s pissing off the Rems. And then there’s this contractor, “Gameday Improvements,” who’s sprung up everywhere. He doesn’t know what’s up with that.
Tossing the cup away, Madrox asks what the rest of the team says. No one will listen to him, Rictor replies. Siryn and Monet are in the bar across the street and almost took his head off when he tried to interrupt. Guido ditched him at the ER. Suddenly noticing Madrox leaving, Rictor asks where he’s going. Waving back, Madrox replies that he’s not Madrox. He’s a dupe. He’s gonna got see if there’s a late-night pizza place around. Later. “Great,” Rictor mutters dejectedly and very much alone.
A few moments later, Rictor moves upstairs muttering “fine.” So no one else will listen to him. But Rahne will; he knows it. They’re on the same wavelength. Always have been. However, upon entering Rahne’s room, Rictor finds it very much empty, save for a single envelope addressed to him, sitting on Rahne’s empty and abandoned bed.