At the front door of Lenore’s apartment tower, Darwin presses an intercom button and inquisitively asks “hello?” Calling for Longshot, he asks if he’s up there. It’s Darwin. Theresa said he should swing by on the way back from school and check in on him. Hello? Pressing the button, Darwin notes to himself that that’s weird. Suddenly the front door opens and his expression turns from concern to gleeful excitement. He tells the exiting woman that she has good timing! Perhaps she can help him… Or… not, he then trails as the woman produces a handgun, aimed at his head. Not is fine too, he tells her.
From further down the hall, Longshot races to the front door, calling for Darwin to stop her. With her arm already around him, clutching from his back and her gun still at his temple, Darwin rejoins that stopping her really isn’t an issue at the moment. “Keep back!” she yells to Longshot. “Keep back or he dies!”
Though the pistol is jammed into his cheek, Darwin still manages to speak. Politely calling her ma’am, he tells her, “with all respect,” that he’s been threatened by far more formidable people than she. Ignoring him, the woman reiterates that she’ll shoot him. Stoic in his demeanor, Longshot tells her to go ahead. It’s always interesting to see what happens when people do that. A moment later, the crack of the gunshot reverberates in the hallway, as Longshot’s left eye briefly flashes.
A moment later, Lenore comes racing down the hallway and curses. Apologizing, Longshot aloofly notes that he thinks that was his bad. He believes his luck power caused the gun to backfire. Tragic really, he continues, as if the woman only hadn’t managed to make it to the elevator, he wouldn’t have had to take the stairs and this could have been avoided.
Incredulous at Longshot’s callousness, Darwin takes off his coat to tend to his former assailant, now shrieking as she clutches her hand, whose wound bleeds blood that pools next to her now prone form. Taking this in, Longshot rubs his hands through his hair and supposes that they should call an ambulance. “Y’think?” Lenore replies exasperatedly. When she then asks him if he’s saying that he caused this to happen to her, Longshot replies that he’s afraid so.
Wrapping the woman’s hand with his coat, Darwin tells Lenore not to be too angry with Longshot. He saved her mother’s life. Asked what he’s talking about, Darwin replies that, at the last moment, she turned the gun away from him. She was trying to kill herself.
Unseen by any of the three, the eyes of Lenore’s mom begin to glow a hue of deep purple.
With naked, fluorescent red eyes, Cyclops gazes upon Jamie Madrox and asks if he’s just going to stand there with a stupid look on his fa… Interrupting Cyclops, Madrox lunges toward him and embraces him with a bear hug and a wide smile, yelling “Scott!”
Stating that she hates to interrupt the “love fest” as she does so, Hecat’e points out that more Sentinels could show up anytime. In fact, they probably will. Breaking the embrace, Madrox apologizes to Scott, telling him that that wasn’t very “noir,” the whole hugging bit. As the dumbfounded Scott Summers continues to stand immobile, Layla takes Madrox’s hand and pulls him away, suggesting that they go. Asked where exactly, she tells him Atlantic City. It’s their stronghold. Repeating the word “stronghold,” he asks if she means as part of the “Summers Rebellion.” Told right, he then guesses that they are rebelling against… Sentinels he takes it? Right again, she replies.
As the whole group follows Layla and Madrox, Jamie asks if they all have flight rings or personal jetpacks. His only response is from Scott, who simply tells him not to be an idiot. Taking this as a “no,” Madrox notes silently to himself that the future sucks.
Reclined in the back seat of the Hummer, Rictor is roused back to the land of the awake by Guido. They’re there. Asked what time it is, Guido replies that it’s time to get up. That’s helpful, Rictor replies. Relenting, Guido answers about ten a.m.
Doing a quick mental calculation as they exit their vehicle, now parked in the driveway of a small two story house in a wooded area, Rictor notes that they made Vermont in… what? About eleven hours. Told “something like that,” Rictor rejoins that Guido must be exhausted. To this, Guido replies that he’s got enough energy stored up to go for a week without sleep if he’s gotta. ‘Course after that he crashes out for a few days.
As they approach the house, Rictor tells Guido that Terry’s going to realize they’re gone by now. Told yeah, Rictor adds that she won’t be happy. To this, Guido replies that she hasn’t cracked a smile in a month. Being happy ain’t her thing these days. Good point, Rictor admits, as he knocks on the front door.
Eventually, the door opens a crack, with a woman, Susan Maddox, answering it telling them “no more interviews” before slamming the door in their face. Glancing up to Guido, Rictor opines that, somehow, he doesn’t think that’s gonna replace “Hello, may I help you.”
As Guido knocks on the door again, he tells her through it that they’re not reporters. Or cops, Rictor adds, which Guido repeats. Asked through the door who they are, Guido replies that they’re dicks. Independently Susan and Rictor ask, “Excuse me?” Grinning, he tells them “private dicks.” Flatfoots. Gumshoes. Y’know… detectives. Yeah, okay, an incredulous Rictor replies, adding then that he thinks Guido hung around Madrox way too long.
Still speaking through the door, Susan asks that, if they’re private detectives, who’s their client? Told that by Guido that he can’t tell her that, she asks if it’s confidentiality. No, Rictor admits, they just don’t have one. Glancing down at Rictor, Guido asks what this is, Full Disclosure Day? Look, he replies, the lady’s jumpy. They should just be up front with her.
Now speaking back to the woman, Rictor addresses her as Mrs. Maddox, which he assumes she is. He tells her that a friend of theirs is missing, and they have reason to believe her husband might know something about it. So they wanted to ask him. He swears on his father’s grave, Rictor then adds, that’s the whole thing. With this, he is told to hold on.
Told by an impressed Guido that that was a nice job, Rictor tells him not to thank him yet. She might be calling the police to run them outta there. Grinning slightly, Guido asks Rictor if Madrox is his “friend” now. Sounded better, Rictor replies. That all there is? Guido rejoins. Looking away, Rictor replies that he’s been thinking about that day. With the baby. He was so mad at Madrox… but he’s been thinking about what it must’ve been like for Madrox. Don’t get him wrong, Rictor defends, he’s not his favorite guy in the world… “But?” Guido asks. She shouldn’t’ve broke his finger, man, he replies. She just… It was wrong and some wounds go way deep, and fester, and never go away.
“Like losing you powers?” Guido asks. “Or a girl leavin’ ya?” Ouch, man, Rictor replies.
“Ow,” Madrox verbalizes, his two hands being encapsulated by the glowing hands of another’s as they sit on a bench on the boardwalk. “Un moment, s’il vois plait,” the man states. “Et… voilà.”
Speaking French back to the man, an elderly black gentleman with a receding hairline and an “M” stamped over his right eye, Madrox tells him “Merci monsieur… Salvé. Le nom est Salvé, oui?” In reply, the mutant named Salvé replies “Oui. Vous parlez français?” “Comme ci, comme ça,” Madrox rejoins.
Now switching to English, Salvé compliments Madrox on his accent being quite good. Told in turn that his American accent is really good, Salvé asks back if he would prefer “eeef ah talk like zees?” To this, Madrox quips that Salvé need not turn into Inspector Clouseau on his account. When Salvé asks “Inspector Who,” Madrox notes once again that the future really sucks.
Joining the two, Layla Miller asks if all is better. Replying with a “yup,” Madrox tells her thanks to Salvé. Hell of a healer she’s got. Asked if he wants to tell her how it got broken, Madrox asks Layla if she doesn’t know. Sure, she replies, but she thought he might want to talk about it. She thought wrong, he replies, waving her off for emphasis.
Walking further down the boardwalk, Madrox asks Layla why did she bring him there. She had her reasons, Layla replies. Asked “good ones,” Layla rejoins that it depends on your point of view. Stopping his walk, Madrox pivots in place. Gesturing to himself with his thumb, he points out that his point of view is all he’s got. “Bull, Jamie,” Layla counters. He’s got about three million points of view. That’s always been his problem. Told not to tell him what his problem is, Layla defiantly places her hands on her hip, and asks if that’s because he’s got such a good handle on it?
Changing tact, Madrox asks Layla why she didn’t come back, to which she asks why didn’t he come get her? With this, they begin to say the same things to each other, simultaneously. “Don’t you think I wanted to! How hard did you try? Stop saying the same th-! I’m not trying t-! Oh, for-” Their anger spent, Madrox and Layla pull themselves against the other, their lips quickly locking into a passionate kiss as the sun sets behind them and into the sea.
A moment later, the two part slightly, though still holding each other close. Speaking haltingly, Madrox speaks first, noting that this… this is so wrong. He keeps thinking she’s still a kid. Smiling as his hand brushes her cheek, Layla reminds him that, even when she was a kid… she wasn’t a kid, you know? Told that he guesses, Layla adds that that’s the advantage of being with her. He doesn’t have to guess.
As he pulls her mouth toward his, Madrox notes to himself that before there was almost savagery, a hunger to the kiss. This time… he loses himself in her. This time it’s gentle, and loving, and… salvation. That’s what it is. Salvation. He should have to look outside himself to find it, but he does, and it’s here. With her. For the first time in ages, he feels at peace with himself. And yet he can’t help but think… it won’t last. He supposes that’s how he knows he’s still himself.
Opening the door to his house, Father John Maddox immediately recognizes Guido and, a moment later, Rictor, whom he addresses as Roberto,” for which he is immediately corrected. Gazing down at the dupe, Guido notes that they weren’t imagining it. He really is a…
Beginning to close the door, John with a low voice asks if they can not use the “D” word within earshot of his family. Asked with an equal low voice that they don’t know, John asks Guido how would he suggest he broach the subject. Good point, Guido admits. Can they go somewhere where they don’t have to whisper?
As Father Maddox leads them away, telling them that he has a private study attached to the church where they can go and not be disturbed, a man standing at the edge of the woods watches them. He wears a long, white coat with a black ski mask.
Elsewhere, walking through an upper floor, Theresa tells Monet that she’s really starting to hate hospitals. In reply, Monet tells Theresa that she doesn’t blame her. They should start getting frequent customer points. When the growing irritated Theresa then asks where the hell 14-C is, Monet begins to reply probably between 14-B and… Interrupting with a shout, Theresa tells Monet that she doesn’t need the sarcasm right now, okay? She doesn’t…
Interrupting in turn, a nurse emerges from a room and yells for Theresa to excuse here. In case she didn’t notice, this is a hospital! With patients and everything! Does she need to call security? Gently taking the dutifully-chastised Theresa by the arm, Monet apologizes, telling the nurse that they’re looking for 14-C. Around the corner on the second right, the nurse replies, changing her due to the apology. She then tells the two to please keep it down. They have people there in delicate condition.
As they turn the corner, Theresa thanks Monet for stepping in. She wanted to say “Security? Bring it on!” Told by Monet that she knows, Theresa adds that she’d kill for some security. She knows, Monet replies.
A few moments later, the two enter the room to find Lenore sitting at the side of her mother, who is lying in the bed, her right hand bandaged. Next to her, with his hand on her shoulder, is Longshot, with Darwin standing on the other side. Addressing her two teammates as “Groucho” and “Harpo,” Theresa tells them that it’s good to see them. Tjhey haven’t heard from Chico and Zeppo have they? To this, Darwin asks if she means Guido and Rictor, to which Longshot asks where they went. Judging by the time, Theresa replies, she’d guess they did exactly what she told them not to do. She’ll deal with them later.
Changing subjects, she asks the two if she’s to understand that Lenore’s mother tried to kill her. Replying that he knows, Longshot states that this case has taken a strange turn… They’re X-Factor, Theresa interrupts. As far as their cases go, this barely registers on the strange-o-meter. With this, she turns to Monet, who replies that she’s on it.
As Monet moves to the other side of her mother’s bed and places her hand, Lenore asks what’s she doing. Replying for her as she is already working, her hand placed on the forehead of Lenore’s mother, Darwin introduces Monet and states that, among her many talents, she’s a telepath. She can scan her mother’s mind and determine whether she was in charge of her actions or if someone else was driving. Asked if he means like a Vulcan mind meld, Darwin replies yes. Just like. Except there’s no weird instrumental music playing while she does it. Then asked if it would help is she hummed, Monet tells the two of them that it would help if they both quiet.
A short distance away, Longshot notes that Theresa is on her mobile phone and asks who she is calling. Guido, Theresa replies. He’s still not picking up. She’s going to kill both he and Rictor when…
Theresa quickly stops speaking as Monet begins to grunt, grimacing as the mental exertion takes its toll. A moment later, Monet recoils and disconnects, falling backward. Shouting Monet’s name, Longshot catches her and paces her gently on the floor. At the same time, Theresa yells for Lenore to get a doctor. When Lenore asks if she should call 911, Theresa points out that they’re in a hospital, to which Lenore replies “Oh! Right” and departs into the hallway.
As he, Longshot and Theresa lean over the prone and unconscious Monet, Darwin asks Longshot if he doesn’t have psychic powers. Can’t he help her…? Though Longshot replies that his powers don’t work that way, Theresa points out that they don’t have anything to lose. Relenting, though admitting he’s sure how to go about it, Longshot leans in to touch Monet’s head. However, before he can do so, Monet regains consciousness and grabs Longshot by the neck. Opening her eyes, she speaks a single word. “Cortex…”
Still locked in a kiss, Jamie and Layla pause when they are asked if they need to find the two of them a room. Continuing, Hecat’e adds that they have half a dozen abandoned hotels, so there’s plenty to accommodate them.
Full cloaked, Scott changes subjects and asks “Hec” if she could excuse them, please. Addressing him as Cyclops, she tells him that, if he needs to say something, doesn’t he think he can say it in front of her? Replying simply “yes,” Scott begins to walk away, down the boardwalk, telling Madrox and Layla to walk with him, and for Hecat’e to stay there.
As they follow, Scott tells Madrox that he’s not going to lie: he’s not thrilled that Layla brought him here. They’re in the waning days of a battle against Sentinel domination. Considering this, Madrox asks Scott if they did this… Mess him up this bad. Stopping for a moment for a glance back, Scott replies that he, Madrox, did. Now returning on his way, Scott tells Madrox not to worry. It was a long time ago. And he’s about to make it up to him.
As Scott continues on his way, Layla pulls the stunned Madrox along by his hand, telling him to breathe. Breathe.
Continuing his walk, Madrox and Layla hand-in-hand behind him, Scott clasps the boardwalk’s railing. When their people go into a fight, Scott says, they have a constant telemetry record that foes into a central computer. Asked if that’s so they can monitor their whereabouts, Scott tells Madrox that that’s right. Asked “and…” Taking down the hood of his cloak, Scott glances back and states that they lost track of Hecat’e. For about two seconds, they lost track of her.
“So?” Madrox asks. It was a glitch. Told they don’t have glitches, Madrox tells Layla that even eighty years in the future there must still be such thing as… “We don’t have glitches, Scott emphatically states. Then what is he suggesting? Madrox asks. That she… what… blinked out of existence for two seconds? Yes, Scott replies. That’s exactly right. He’s a detective, he points out to Madrox. Scott wants him to figure out why.
“…and just as he was coming around,” Father Maddox explains from behind his desk, he saw Madrox disappear into thin air. Him, and some blonde woman who had the same “M” on her face as he did. Repeating the word “blonde,” Guido asks if he meant girl and not woman. Perhaps in the “you go, girl” sense, Father Maddox replies.
Considering Guido’s question, Rictor asks if he’s thinking maybe it was Layla. In reply, Guido reminds Rictor that Madrox told her she got the same tattoo as he in the future. Who knows how much time has passed for her since…
Suddenly, through the window crashes the white-coated observer, now moved beyond simply watching. Rictor has only a moment to yell HOLY…!!!, before the man in white extends two blades from a wrist sheathe hidden beneath his coat’s cuffs of his right arm. It is only Rictor’s fast movement off the chair in which he was sitting that he avoids the man in white’s blades as they pierce the back of the chair.
Moving quickly, Guido grabs the man by the head and pulls him back. Calling him “Zorro,” he tells him to settle down, but a moment later Guido finds himself propelled through the wall and outside, only the man’s ski mask in his hand.
Still on the floor from which he fell after tossing himself from the chair, Rictor looks up in wide-eyed bewilderment as he sees that his assailant, now sans mask, is Shatterstar. His eyes glowing purple, Shatterstar speaks a single word through gritted teeth. “Cortex…”