Somewhere in a jungle, Cyclops gives chase to Angel. He fires an optic blast at him and shouts at him to keep his hands off Jean. Elegantly, dodging the blast, Angel points out it didn’t look like she minded. “Jerk!” he calls Scott as he decks him.
“That’s it!” Jean Grey aka Marvel Girl, the object of their affections, shouts and separates the two telekinetically, then orders the Danger Room to stop the program. Warren blames Scott, who points out he was only trying to help. She’s so sick of this, Jean shouts. She tells Warren she is not his girlfriend and, if he keeps acting like this, she won’t even be his friend friend. She informs Scott she isn’t his property and doesn’t need him defending her. She can handle herself just fine.
In the background, Iceman asks Beast to remind him never to date Jean. Or look funny at her. He knows she can hear him, right? Hank asks. Jean glares at them and lashes out with her telekinesis a moment later.
Sometime later in his office, Xavier strictly informs her that this is unacceptable. She is one of the strongest beings on the planet. No other mutant has powers even close to her. And while she should be the master of them, too often her power controls her. She could have seriously injured her teammates! She knows Jean admits. Does she really? he asks. Her emotions must be controlled. It’s not healthy and it’s going to get someone hurt!
Jean promises it won’t happen again. Yes, it will, he tells her, again and again, until she can find the root of this anger and move past it. Her safety and that of her teammates is his responsibility and he must make hard decisions to protect each of them. She needs to take a break from the X-Men. Get her powers in check and then come back. What?! she protests and jumps up. No way! She’s not leaving the team! Calmly, Xavier points out she is out of control. Fine, she’s going home, Jean replies coldly.
On his own, Xavier muses that there is so much weight on her shoulders. He’s tried so hard to unburden that weight, perhaps it’s time she faced the truth head on. This is one battle she must face alone.
Jean returns to her parents’ home. Both of them happily greet her and assure her how much they worry about her and miss her. Jean makes an excuse and leaves, claiming she forgot something, thinking to herself she thought Scott was needy.
So she goes to the Hudson Valley Mall, where she hasn’t been since she was a kid. She recalls the first time she was here with her mother and her best friend, Annie Richardson. Elaine Grey told both girls not to talk to strangers. Jean scoffs that they weren’t babies and Annie’s 11! Annie adds that her mom lets her go to the mall alone all the time.
Laughing, the two girls run and look at costume jewelry. Annie offers to buy a bracelet for Jean which Jean can’t afford. Now the girls run to an arcade and watch a boy named Tony playing. Annie swoons that someday he’ll own the place and then they can get married and she can do all the math he hates. Barely listening, Tony tells her she’s a spaz. Besides, he’s going to be mayor or governor or something. Crying, Annie runs away.
In the present, Jean is surprised to find the real Tony still playing there. She’s surprised he is still here. Didn’t he want to be a governor? And give up his awesome job working here? he scoffs. He makes minimum wage and can set his own hours. That’s way better than being governor or whatever…
Jean figures this place is strange. All the people act like they are trapped here, stuck doing what they did when they were kids. Every single person. Like they are just going through the motions without goals or passion or dreaming. She decides that someone must be doing this to them. She should call the professor. They need to help these people.
Suddenly, she believes she hears Annie crying. Telepathically, she calls for the professor while trying to find Annie. When she calls out for Annie the other girl asks her to leave her alone. Instead, Jean focuses and reaches out, finally finding the little girl, the memory of Annie or whatever it is.
So she came, the crying Annie remarks. She figured Jean forgot about her. How could she? Jean protests. She was her best friend! She left her alone! Annie replies. Thought she could just go off with her fancy new friends and start a whole new life!
Jean sits down beside her. When she went away, she tells Annie, it hurt her more than she can know. Angrily, Annie retorts it hurt her a heck of a lot more. She didn’t “go” away. She was hit by a car! The ghost image of that memory appears. And Jean left! She found new friends and forgot about her! Thanks, really helpful! Here’s an idea: How about instead of using her powers to fight Magneto she’d have used them to save her life!
She transforms into a monster. Jean stammers an apology. Well, that’s just great, Annie mocks. She is gone and Jean is sorry. Who is doing this? Jean cries out confused. Mysterio? Taskmaster? No one is doing this, comes the impatient reply. This just is!
The monster grows huge, trying to capture Jean. She deserves to suffer like they did. Jean refuses to believe it is Annie. She was wonderful and sweet and her friend. And if that monster were Annie’s ghost or soul, it wouldn’t be such a Grade A jerk! And it’s not Jean’s fault she died!
She lashes out with energy, then stops, for Annie appears again in her little girl form. Annie thinks she’s going to walk home now. Young Jean tells her she shouldn’t. It’s dark. Jean’s mom said she’d give them a ride home. Annie turns away, admitting she’s embarrassed. Running out of the arcade, crying like a baby. She’s just going to… Annie walks away, despite Jean’s pleading.
Alone with her younger self, Jean tells her “hi.” ’S up? the younger version asks. She knows it’s not her fault, right? grown Jean asks. Does she? her younger self retorts.
Jean flies away over the streets till she lands on the street where the fatal car accident happened. She sees her younger self cradling Annie. She wishes she could have done something, she tells them. She misses Annie so much! She wishes she could see her now, all the things she’s seen and done. She wishes she could share them with Annie.
Xavier mentally appears, apologizing for not coming when she called. He felt it was important for her to experience this alone. That’s okay, Jean replies. She doesn’t think there was really a monster here. And all of that stuff was just her being out of control again. Xavier agrees. And now he’s here to play psychoanalyst for her? If she wishes. She accedes.
Xavier explains she was expressing the fear that she was trapped in her past, just like so many people in the world truly are. But they are very much the sum of their parts, at the same time some of them can be so much more. When she lost Annie, it opened a door for her and she stepped into a whole new world. Whether Annie had lived or not, very likely their paths would have diverged. Jean’s power would have come and soon she would have taken her place at his side as his best pupil. Annie will always be with her, just as he will.
Jean sobs. Xavier tells her he’s also lost many people on his journey and while the pain never fully subsides one learns to live with it and cope and not let it define one so.
Jean looks at Annie’s headstone. She sniffles, then begins to chuckle. She gets it now. It feels like a weight’s been lifted off her shoulders. She means… the things she’s done! She’s had a chance to do the most amazing things a person could ever imagine and all she’s done is going through the motions. Not anymore though! She’s going to live now! Not just for herself, but for Annie too! She’s going to have an amazing life for both of them!