Jean Grey makes her way through a snowstorm and recalls she’s walked this road and seen this realm before. It stands between life and death. For most, it’s a momentary point of transit. Always before, the transition was peaceful. Not like this, as the winds almost beats her down.
That’s because she is not supposed to be here, Scott Summers, who suddenly appears before her, informs Jean. How did he get here? What is he talking about? she demands as he disappear in the distance telling her what’s done is done.
He’s right, a new voice tells her. She turns around to see Wolverine. Some things aren’t meant to be changed, he continues. Like it or not, this is reality. But she came back. Jean insists stubbornly and calls him ‘my love.’ She always comes back. She is the exception that proves… he starts before he is blown apart. Horrified, she recalls she was in his mind when it happened.
The nature of life, a new voice tells her. That’s not fair, she complains to Hank McCoy. They are heroes, they saved the world. She has saved everything! So what are they then? he asks. Her prize? Is this really how she wants things to work? She wants a happy ending! Jean cries. Don’t they all? But that’s her story… Phoenix. Theirs was to be a part of it but only for a time. He turns to stone and crumbles apart.
Horrified, Jean wakes up. Grimly, she realizes this was more than a dream. Professor Xavier contacts her telepathically and asks if she is all right. Not even close, she thinks back. Can he help? Charles asks. Can he turn time back, Jean demands, make the car hit her instead of her best friend?
Suppose the wish was granted, Xavier replies, what then? He has wheeled to outside her room and continues, saying that the road she has been asked to walk is unbearably hard but look at what’s come of it. The countless lives she has saved. He suggests she join him for a walk.
Outside later, Jean agrees the morning is lovely. Xavier muses the last time he’d sensed such tumult in her mind was right after he’d gathered the new X-Men and they’d saved her team from Krakoa.
Jean recalls she’d just met Logan. She suspects even then they both knew how things between them would go. And to forestall it, she ran away, Charles continues. Only to come right back, she adds, which led to her becoming Phoenix.
What’s her truth? she wonders. Yet to be learned, he suspects. Suppose she hates it? It’s life, he replies, and life is full of the unexpected. Not an idea answer she sighs.
He starts a new subject. He’s been thinking about the school. Considering their situation, preparations should be made in case something happens to him. She reminds him Scott is handling things. He can’t do it alone, he replies. Scott needs her help as does he. She’ll think about it, she replies. Mutants are fighting for their very survival, Charles stresses. They need her help! She’ll think about it, she repeats.
Cyclops dressed in uniform joins them to inform them Fury’s called a meeting. Their new master’s voice, eh? Jean remarks bitterly. Xavier stresses Fury is their friend.
Scott asks what’s up with them. Jean informs him that Charles wants her to stay to help Scott run the school. Scott assures her she’d be great at it. Would she? Jean wonders. They want her to care for children. Considering what happens to those closest to her, is that wise? She’d rather run away? she is asked. She is tempted, she admits as she telekinetically turns her clothes into her uniform. But the men she loved believed this dream worth dying for. Scott wants to say something. She tells him not to say another word. He has too much to live for. For Nathan’s sake, it’s best they do so apart.
Later X-Men and Fury’s trusted agents both gather in the Danger Room. Nick Fury informs them, mutants as a race, are at a complete risk. It’s also becoming more and more clear that SHIELD is corrupt at its core. They have to find a way to save both. Officially SHIELD is establishing a permanent base at the Xavier School. Off the book, their brief is to keep mutants safe and bust the bad guys out of their shop. He warns them the job isn’t going to be easy. There’s going to be sacrifices and more losses. But Tony Stark, Hank McCoy and Logan all thought this cause was worth dying for. They are going to follow their lead. They are going to make them proud! And they are going to bring down the Consortium.
Man talks well, Gambit remarks. Does he not believe him? Daisy Dugan asks. Talk is easy, Gambit scoffs. Proof will come down the line. Sabretooth announces Fury is a great liar but this time he is talking truth. And all the agents here are following his lead.
Fury continues this is the hardest kind of fight, because they will be going up against their friends. A lot of them will believe they are in the wrong. But they can’t waver and they won’t lose.
“We few, we happy few we band of brothers,” Jean quotes. Question is how this will end, Scott muses. Now she understands why her granddad loved Fury, Daisy admits. Sabretooth warns her not to let the talk fool her. The man is as hard as they come. Which is likely what they need, Gambit points out.
Fury calls Sabretooth, Gambit and Daisy over, wanting to talk to them. He tells them they worked well together on their mission against the Consortium. He wants to keep that team intact as a as a clandestine ops squad. He’d love to include a telepath but Ms. Grey is conflicted and Charles is hurting. Why them? Gambit demands. Fury explains they aren’t just good, they are nasty. Gambit and Sabretooth both agree but Sabretooth wants something to replace his stump first. Cyclops informs them it’s time to go.
Outside the church.
‘ro is nervous and wants to leave. Remy tells her Hank was their friend. They do this to honor his sacrifice. Xavier grieves how young he was. Jean keeps a bit back from the others with Sabretooth, who notices she is keeping her distance from Summers. She is not lucky for those she loves, she replies. She figures Sabretooth can take anything thrown at her and it won’t hurt as much if she’s proven wrong. Sabretooth is amused by this.
In the church, Carol Danvers and Ben Grimm greet Xavier and talk to him, while the other heroes, mostly present and former Avengers and Defenders keep their distance from the X-Men. Sabretooth notes the tension. Jean is certain though the Avengers will wait till later to settle scores.
Iceman and Havok and other former teammates join them. Bobby tells Scott he should have called them. Scott assures him there wasn’t time. Jean tells Havok the Starjammer was out of position. It had no shot.
Bobby offers their help for whatever the X-Men are planning. Scott tells him they’ll talk later. They need to talk to Hank’s parents now.
Charles tells Edna McCoy how sorry he is. She knows he loved Hank as well but all she can think of now is that her baby is gone.
The minister begins the service. Apart from him, the only other speaker is the president of the United States, who talks of Hank’s work, his character and heroics as an Avengers, however his role as an X-Man is never mentioned.
Later at the cemetery, Jean stays behind and says goodbye and puts Hank’s glasses on his coffin.
On the flight back, ’ro wonders whether this is where they belong. It is for now, Remy answers and asks if she has a better idea. She suggests grabbing Kitty and cutting loose on their own. She’s only been here a few weeks and already the world is falling apart. Remy suggests the X-<en need them. He tells her to get some sleep. They’ll be home soon. In the meantime, he throws Kitty a concerned glance.
Xavier addresses Kitty noticing her troubled thoughts. She asks if he is reading her mind. He reminds her that her phasing makes that hard, her anger almost impossible. He was actually thinking they might talk. She tells him she is fine. She absorbed some of Logan’s healing factor with the claw. That’ll help her get better. As a non sequitur, she admits she finds herself dreaming in Japanese. She has to remind herself to think in English. She’d like access to Hank’s lab equipment and computer if that’s okay. Her forte is hardware and right now she is the only brain they got. She figures she’d got through his notes, pick up where he left off and keep looking for answers. Otherwise, his sacrifice was all for nothing.
Back at the school, Xavier informs Scot that he is giving Kitty full access to Hank’s files.
Scott tells Jean they need to talk. She doesn’t think there is anything to say. There is no future between them, no happily even after. Scott stresses that they are friends. And that’s all, Jean agrees. If she stays, they are colleagues, nothing more. Scott tells her that’s harsh. She doesn’t want another funeral. She wants to see him grow old with his son. If that’s what she wants, he promises to do all he can to help. They shake hands.
In the infirmary, Sabretooth and Daisy are conferring with Moira, who informs Sabretooth that, with the data cache provided by Hank and Tony, she can augment his healing factor enough to regrow his hand. Sabretooth asks about his eyes. Moira admits that’s different. Storm’s lightning strike didn’t just destroy his eyes but fry the neural pathways. There is simply nothing left to heal, not even on a sub-molecular level. She warns him that the process of regrowing his hand will hurt. The sooner they start the better, he replies gruffly.
Daisy watches him intently and is in turn watched by Nick Fury, who is concerned about her attraction to Sabretooth. He reminds himself who is he to judge. He is worried about all of SHIELD. Tony was on the side of the angels but, especially during the time he drank, he might not have paid attention. The Consortium could have infiltrated a whole host of SHIELD agents, with nobody the wiser. For all they know, the official agency report will blame the X-Men for Stark’s and McCoy’s deaths. Whatever comes, they have to be ready for anything.
In her room, a normal looking Rogue looks into the mirror with disbelief. Nightcrawler joins her and asks how it is going. She switches off the image inducer and admits this is totally weird. He assured her the inducer is just a mask. What matters is she. And she is gorgeous. He hugs her and assures her that, whoever doesn’t see that, isn’t looking.
She regrets that, due to their power switch, he can’t touch anyone but her. His faith tells him there has to be a reason. But till he finds it he is more than content to have a sister.
Xavier looks at a photobook with pictures of the team’s past. Jean reminisces that, when she was very young her best friend, Annie Richardson died in her arms. That catalyzed her telepathy, which led her to Charles Xavier. Together they had adventures, experiences that led him to create the X-Men. Everything seemed so simple then. Kids in costumes hellbent to save the world. They were pretty good at it. They never dreamed their life would show them such wonders and demand such a price. They didn’t care. Not then, not even now. They’re the X-Men. They are heroes. And that was their beginning.