‘My mind is stronger than yours, Emma! If we fight, there’s no doubt as to the outcome!’ Professor Charles Xavier shouts at Emma “White Queen” Frost as the land around him crumbles and he falls into the Mindscape, while his once prized pupil, Scott “Cyclops” Summers, leader of the X-Men, stands nearby, arms folded across his chest. Emma appears as a giantess, holding Xavier in the palm of her hands now, she replies ‘That’s moot, Charles, but we won’t be fighting’. Emma reminds Charles that he took control of Scott’s mind, but that she was inside, waiting, biding her time. Emma adds that the slightest contact would have been enough. ‘You caught me like a virus!’ she exclaims, telling Xavier that she has been working away in his subconscious ever since.
Emma beings to flick Xavier as if he were a pack of cards, each card representing a different era in his life. Emma declares that she has been installing blocks and inhibitors, fail safes and blind spots, all as required. ‘We’re in my Mindscape now. And, at the risk of sounding vulgar - I own you!’ the White Queen declares, holding Charles up as if he were a strip of film. Xavier replies that he came here in good faith, to help Scott, not to harm him. ‘I know. Hence you still have the use of all your limbs. And you’re not barking like a dog’ Emma replies.
Scott admits to the Professor that he had a strong desire to teach him a lesson. ‘I haven’t forgiven you for what you did. I can’t Scott declares. Scott points out that they have gone beyond that now. ‘You said Sinister took control of your mind. I need to be sure - beyond any possible doubt - that he’s still not there!’ Scott exclaims. Xavier replies that he is sure, and declares that he does not consent to being scanned, or interrogated. ‘Nor do I feel that Emma is qualified for such a task!’ he adds. ‘Ready?’ Scott asks his lover. ‘Ready’ Emma replies, preparing a projector. Emma tells Charles to believe her when she says that this is something she is not looking forward to. ‘Horror stories have their place - and Heaven knows I’m not the squeamish type…but I think there are some scenes coming up that I’ll want to look away from!’.
Xavier begins to “fall” past film strips of various X-Men line ups. The Original X-Men. The Classic X-Men. The All-New, All-Different X-Men, The Australian-era X-Men, The Original New Mutants and Kitty Pryde, the Gold and Blue strike force teams and more. The Professor lands on some hard ground, and finds himself watching a scenario play out before him from a very long time ago: ‘Best to let them go, Henry McCoy. Your destiny lies elsewhere’ a younger, wheelchair-bound Xavier says to Henry McCoy, clothes torn, who stands before Angel, Cyclops and Iceman. The young Charles Xavier introduces himself, and informs Henry that he runs a school, where people like he can learn to use their abilities for the good of all the Earth.
The present Xavier watches intently, only turning to Emma when the White Queen exclaims ‘You always play that card first, don’t you, Charles. Altruism. Do unto others’. Emma remarks that, back when she was competition with Charles, that made her job a lot easier. ‘Emma, what is this charade meant to achieve?’ Xavier asks, motioning to the scene behind them. ‘It’s a walkthrough, Charles. And I’m afraid it’s going to hurt!’ the White Queen replies, matter-of-factly. Xavier hangs his head and asks Emma if she thinks Scott will love her any more if she tortures him. ‘I wasn’t referring to physical pain, Professor. I’m mainly concerned with your emotional responses’ Emma replies.
The mindscape changes, and Emma and Xavier now appear inside Xavier’s mansion, with the past versions of Xavier, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel still. Emma walks over to the past Xavier as the present one tells her to release him. ‘Not yet’ Emma replies. ‘Then I’ll have to make you’ Xavier tells her. ‘Make me?’ Emma asks as she passes her hand through the past Xavier’s head, explaining to the real Charles that everything he sees here, all of it, is playing out inside his mind. ‘This is the last place in the world were you want to pick a fight with me!’ Emma warns him.
Xavier walks over to her and asks once more what the point of this is. ‘To see how you react. To see if you’re really - and purely - Charles Xavier, or Charles Xavier with a twist of Nathaniel Essex’ Emma explains. ‘And that’s all?’ Xavier asks. Emma narrows her eyes, ‘Well, there’s also the pleasure of your company. But to be honest, I find a little of that goes a long way’ Emma replies. Xavier watches as his past self tells Henry McCoy that he has taken the liberty of erasing the fact of his existence from the minds of everyone he has ever met. ‘You can control people’s minds?’ Henry asks, shocked. ‘As you saw. But for ethical reasons, I do it only as a last resort’ the past Xavier explains.
Xavier watches his past self closely as he asks Henry if he would rather those who knew him remembered him with hate, fear and regret. ‘I’d say it’s better this way, wouldn’t you?’ he asks. Xavier turns to Emma and explains that he was removing Henry from a situation where he was unhappy and vulnerable. ‘Is that what was in your mind? Is that what’s in your mind now?’ Emma asks. ‘You know what’s in my mind now!’ Xavier retorts. ‘Doubt’ Emma declares. ‘Yes’ Xavier replies. ‘Uncertainty’ Emma adds. ‘Yes’ Xavier replies. ‘The fear that you have done this amazing thing to see if it could be done’ Emma remarks, while the past versions of the X-Men celebrate, welcoming Henry to their team. ‘If there’s really no element of torture in this, then let’s move on’ Xavier suggests.
‘I notice you didn’t deny that last accusation, Charles’ Emma remarks. ‘How can I? I barely remember these events!’ Charles points out, adding that he remembers them as a stranger might. ‘The words, the actions, not the motives behind them’. The White Queen asks Xavier if he remembers how he felt when his power first showed itself. Charles replies that he remembers some of it, that he remembers being terrified at first. ‘Everyone around me had a whole world inside their head. I saw…infinity’ Xavier exclaims. Emma asks if that frightened him, to which Xavier replies that he was a child, in a maze of adult minds, he was too small.
‘I thought I might get lost in there and never find my own thoughts again!’ Xavier reveals. ‘I felt the way God must feel. Weighting men’s souls in my hands’ Emma explains. ‘I don’t presume to speculate about how God feels’ Xavier retorts. ‘No?’ Emma asks, before the next scene in the Mindscape flashes before them: ‘This is Rogue. I’m sure you remember her’ Emma tells Xavier, standing behind Rogue, who is clutching herself and crying.
‘Ah don’t know what to do, Professor. Ah think Ah’m going crazy!’ Rogue exclaims, curled up on a chair. The past Xavier replies ‘Yes. So you said to the others when you first arrived here, Rogue. You don’t have to maintain the pretense when we’re alone’. ‘What do you mean? Ah’m telling you the truth!’ Rogue exclaims, surprised. The past Xavier spins his wheelchair around, ‘Like everything else you’ve ever done, your coming here was motivated entirely by self-interest’ the past Xavier declares. ‘No, I -’ Rogue begins to protest, but the past Xavier interrupts, declaring that Rogue wants to be saved from the consequences of her own ruthlessness and cruelty.
Rogue continues crying, as she stares at the past Xavier, who doesn’t even look at her as he declares that, in time, she may be worthy of salvation, and he may be prepared to offer it, to help her control her powers. ‘That time is far away. You must prove yourself, Rogue. I offer no pardons, and no free gifts’ the past Xavier declares. Rogue covers her face with her hands, sobbing, while the White Queen asks ‘Well? We were talking about God…’ Xavier looks somewhat forlorn as he stares at Rogue, ‘Thank you, Emma. I take the point’ he mutters.
Xavier tells the White Queen that he believed Rogue was capable of change, of redemption. ‘I did what I thought was best’ he claims. ‘By lying to her? Holding out the hope of a cure you couldn’t provide?’ Emma asks. Xavier replies that he if had just said no, told Rogue that he couldn’t help her, then she would have just gone back to Mystique. ‘Back to the life that was twisting and destroying her. I told her - what she needed to hear!’ Xavier claims. He hangs his head as he tells Emma that he thought he had forgotten this day. ‘I found a piece of it here, a piece there’ Emma explains, adding that she has done an immaculate reconstruction.
‘It’s a little like splicing together damaged tape. Some of what you’ve lost isn’t lost, Charles, it’s just misplaced. Or perhaps suppressed’ Emma explains. Xavier replies that might be for the best, to which Emma asks him why. ‘Because you made mistakes?’. ‘Because I was arrogant. So sure of my won rectitude that I never -’ Xavier begins to reply, when Emma slaps him in the face, ‘Oh, turn off the pathos!’ she tells him, annoyed. Emma asks Xavier where he thinks his arrogance comes from, to which Xavier replies ‘It’s a fault. A personality flaw’. Emma asks him where he thinks her arrogance comes from, to which Charles tells her that it comes from her upbringing, the privileges she enjoyed.
‘It comes from being young, Charles. From never having tested yourself against the world and come away bleeding. Everyone who ever lived has been through this. Everyone hits that wall with the same velocity!’ Emma explains. Xavier points out that not everyone has power like they do, to which Emma asks Xavier to remember who he is talking to. ‘Our sins are greater because our reach is greater. Does this come to you as news?’ she asks him.
The Mindscape changes once more, and Emma and Xavier appear in some sort of lab. ‘Oh my God, this is -’ Xavier begins, before Emma interrupts, ‘What? Just another station of the cross? Or the place where you finally understood?’ she asks him. Emma angrily tells Xavier that he has to go forward. ‘The other way is closed!’ she exclaims.
Two figures from the past begin talking: ‘I watched it, Professor, and then I ran…what could I do? My powers are gone, and they didn’t hurt that place even -’ a young Cyclops exclaims, upset. ‘You did the right thing, Scotty…’ the past Xavier assures Cyclops. ‘Oh God…no. I let me own brother die! And Alex and Jean and…oh God…what’ve I done?’ Scott asks. ‘There is still hope, my boy. Listen to me!’ Xavier exclaims, before telling Scott that he must sleep. Scott lies down on the bed, exclaiming that he can’t sleep, he can’t go on with this any more. ‘I can’t take it!’ he exclaims. Charles puts his hand to Scott’s forehead.
‘And now we’re getting somewhere!’ Emma exclaims. ‘What -? My legs! I’m -’ Xavier begins, as he finds himself trapped in the past Xavier’s wheelchair. Emma tells Xavier that he is living this one, not just a tourist taking the bus. ‘So tell me about it. How does it feel?’ she asks. Xavier retorts that his life is not a puzzle for Emma to solve, for anyone to solve. ‘What I’ve done - can’t be undone, now. I won’t try to justify it. I won’t plead my case to you’. Looking at the young Scott, Emma tells Xavier that he could have pointed out that the others were still on Krakoa, and that if he hadn’t got Scott back on his feet and functioning again, they all would have died.
‘I have nothing, nothing to say!’ Xavier declares. Emma tells Xavier that the fact of the matter is he did not ask Cyclops, he simply took his consent for granted. ‘You were still thinking like God. All alone in your majesty, looking down on the world!’. Charles replies that he said he wasn’t offering any defense, that he accepts his guilt, and turns away from Emma and the past Cyclops. ‘Only to get out of thinking about it’ Emma points out. ‘Not good enough!’ she tells him. ‘You want guilt? Try this!’ Emma declares, snapping her fingers, scenes begin to unfold before them:
‘You murdered you own sister in the womb!’ Emma reminds Xavier as he and Cassandra Nova appear inside their mother’s womb. ‘You erased Magneto’s mind and consciousness, turning yourself into a monster in the process!’ Emma exclaims as Xavier stares at himself attacking Magneto. ‘Love and hate, pragmatism, the greater good - they all served as excuses for you to do whatever it was you wanted to do!’ the White Queen points out, as a scene with Xavier and Amelia Voght plays out. ‘And the ones who suffered most were the ones you said you cared for!’ Emma declares, while Xavier watches himself delving into the mind of Wolverine.
‘Nnnn! No! No!’ Xavier cries as he lies on the ground, out of the Mindscape now, Scott asks Emma what she did to Xavier. ‘I clarified the issues, Scott. Now please, let me work!’ the White Queen tells her lover.
Back in the Mindscape, and Emma apologizes to Charles, ‘That must have come as a shock’ she remarks. ‘Those memories - they were lost. They were lost to me!’ Xavier gasps. Emma remarks that it is a question of leverage. ‘There’s a reason why you can’t lift yourself by your own bootstraps. It’s a lot easier for someone else to find the right fulcrum’ she remarks. Xavier, still lying on the floor, tells Emma that she has done what she set out to do. ‘Proved your point - to anyone’s satisfaction. Please - leave me now!’ he asks. Standing over Xavier, the White Queen asks him to tell her what her point was.
‘If you were God, Charles - all-seeing, and all-knowing - then the things you’ve done would be unforgivable. Is that the standard you’re judging yourself against?’ Emma asks him, before remarking that if that is the standard, then he has not learned anything at all. ‘Enough, Emma. Enough!’ Xavier declares. But the White Queen tells Charles that he is just and old reprobate with a wheelchair fetish and a bad habit of grubbing around inside other people’s heads. Emma motions to the sleeping Cyclops and remarks that he looks so peaceful. ‘I said -’ Xavier begins, but Emma interrupts, ‘I heard you’ she tells him, before asking Xavier if he thinks the truth would have broken Scott. ‘When he learned about Gabriel’s death, Gabriel was a live again’ Emma points out, adding that Scott didn’t have to live with that burden, not for a single day.
‘You think that I was right?’ Xavier asks Emma. ‘Oh don’t be so bloody dense, Charles!’ Emma retorts. ‘I want to kick you into a pinky-red paste for what you did to him!’ she shouts, before telling Xavier that you make the choice and live with the consequences. ‘Just like we all have to do!’. ‘”Listen well to those who love you”’ Emma quotes. ‘What? What do you mean?’ Xavier asks. Emma replies that it was something else she found whilst spring-cleaning his brain. ‘Would you like to see it in context?’ she asks. Wiping his brow, Xavier replies that he thinks he has seen enough.
The Mindscape vanishes, and reality has returned to normal, as Xavier looks around at the forest where he has been all this time. Scott and Emma stand over him, and the White Queen tells Charles that she is not sure what Dr. MacTaggert meant anyway. ‘I think we’re done, Charles. There’s no trace of Mister Sinister anywhere in your gray matter’ Emma announces. ‘When? When did she say it?’ Xavier asks, referring to Moira MacTaggert’s comment. ‘As she was dying’ Emma reveals. Emma notices Xavier staring at her, and asks him if he thinks staring at her long enough will enable her to say “Ego te absolvo”. Emma promises Xavier that she won’t say it, remarking that she only uses Latin in the bedroom.
Xavier reveals that he would like to know hear what Moira said, in context. ‘Well, to be brief, the X-Men were flying back from Muir Island, having saved the day yet again. ‘A Tuesday, I think - or perhaps a Wednesday. You were at the Academy…and the woman you loved was dying, half a world away…’.
(Flashback, X-Men (2nd series) #108)
‘Professor!’ gasps Jean “Phoenix” Grey as she and Nightcrawler enter Cerebro, where Xavier has just collapsed, mumbling that he couldn’t maintain contact. Jean places the helmet on her head, assuring Xavier that they will go back together. ‘Unacceptable, Jean. I won’t put you through such agonies again. It could destroy your mind, or worse!’ Xavier replies. ‘Have you so little faith in all you taught me, Charles?’ Jean asks, as she and Xavier enter the Astral Plane, ‘I’m all grown up now. I’ll be fine!’ she tells him.
Jean and Xavier arrive aboard the Blackbird, where Moira MacTaggert’s body lies motionless, and her Astral form joins them, while Jean tells Xavier that he only has a few moments. ‘Use them’ she tells him. Xavier takes Moira in his arms, asking how this could have happened. ‘It is what it is, Charles’ Moira replies, telling him not to dwell on what cannot be changed, and to focus on what truly matters. They kiss, before Moira pulls away, ‘Listen well to those who love you. Make us proud!’ Moira tells Charles. ‘Moira!’ Charles shouts, reaching out to her.
Moira’s Astral projection moves to a blinding white light as she tells Charles that with him, she has known joy. ‘Even with the mistakes we’ve made, I’ve no regrets’ Moira announces, adding that Charles cannot imagine the beauty and peace here. Jean holds Charles back while Moira tells him that she loves him, and wishes him well. ‘Until we meet again’.
Tears form in Xavier’s eyes as he gazes off into the distance. Emma asks him if he can stand, to which he replies that he hasn’t tried. Emma informs him that she and Scott are leaving, unless there is anything else he feels he needs to say. Xavier, shaky, gets to his feet, announcing that Jean once told him that death and birth can be the same thing. ‘That when your life stops, new possibilities open up’ he adds. ‘Jean said that?’ asks Scott. ‘Yes’ Xavier replies. ‘Well, she’d know better than anyone’ Scott remarks. ‘Yes’ Xavier agrees. Xavier extends his hand and tells Scott that he is glad he got to see him again, and that he is leaving the X-Men in such good hands. ‘Goodbye’ he declares. Scott stares at Charles for some time, before shaking his hand.