Iowa, Elkader Community Hospital, a handsome young man is brought into the hospital from the ambulance bay. ‘Nurse, prep me an IV drip and a hemodialysis filter - and bring me some blankets and glucose gel!’ a doctor exclaims. ‘Yes, doctor!’ the nurse replies. The doctor remarks that the patient is pretty far gone, and while other staff begin working on the patient, the doctor turns to the ambulance officer and asks him where he found the patient. ‘Right by the side of the road, naked as a jaybird. Said he fell out of a plane’ the ambulance officer replies.
The doctor announces that the patient is hypothermic. ‘Can’t expect him to make sense’ he remarks, before declaring that they have to get his core temperature up, slow and steady. The doctor orders the other staff to warm the patient up and plug him into the dialysis machine for an hour. The nurse tells the doctor that it is not looking good, their patient’s blood pressure is way down and brain activity is close to coma levels. ‘Cold! Got to - cold -’ the patient - Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman, shudders. The doctor assures him that he will not be cold for long. ‘We’re gonna thaw you out good as new!’ he declares.
(Flashback to X-Men (2nd series) #200)
‘If this was your last night on Earth, Robert - how would you want to spend it?’ Raven “Mystique” Darkholme asks her teammate. ‘With someone I care about’ Bobby replies, looking deeply at Mystique, who replies that, on the last night, he would care about everyone. ‘Every scrap of human contact would seem precious, wouldn’t it?’ she asks, before telling him to pretend. Bobby loses his ice form and steps forward, kissing Raven on the lips….
Bobby moans as he wakes from his dream and falls out of bed, to the hospital floor. ‘Mister Drake! You really shouldn’t be out of bed!’ exclaims the nurse as she enters the room and proceeds to help Bobby back into bed. Bobby declares that he doesn’t need blankets, but the nurse replies that they have to be cruel to be kind, ‘If the treatment hurts - well, that’s how you know it’s doing you good!’ she explains as she attempts to put the IV back into Bobby, who pulls away, ‘Get your hands off me!’ he shouts. ‘You think I’m stupid, Mystique?’ he exclaims. ‘I think you’re delusional!’ the nurse replies, taking a step backwards as she warns Bobby to lie down before he falls down.
‘One step, and you’re an ice sculpture. I mean it!’ Bobby warns the nurse, whom he believes is Mystique. Bobby ices-up his arm, just as the doctor enters the room, asking the nurse if there is a problem. ‘The patient is refusing his medication, doctor. And he threatened me!’ the nurse replies, backed up against a wall. ‘Threatened you? Good Lord!’ the doctor replies, shocked, before grabbing the nurse and shoving her head against the wall. ‘He must have mistaken you for somebody else!’ the doctor exclaims, before Mystique reveals herself, switching from the doctor into her default form, she tells Robert that she is trying to keep this between the two of them. ‘I know how sentimental you get about innocent bystanders’ she remarks.
Bobby takes a punch at Raven, but misses, ‘There’s nothing between us, Raven! Nothing!’ Bobby declares. ‘Well, you may be right at that. But it’s touching that you chose to use my given name!’ Raven replies as she kicks Bobby in the head, sending the founding X-Man careening across the room. Bobby blasts Raven with an ice-beam, but Raven just smiles as it barely affects her. ‘That’s it, Robert. Keep fighting. Don’t give up. An X-Man never gives up!’ Mystique exclaims. ‘Even when the odds become ridiculous!’ she adds as she kicks Bobby hard in the head once more, while he is still on the floor.
Raven kneels over Bobby and holds a dagger to his throat, ‘I could kill you so easily. I could have killed you in Mississippi, or Flint. You keep rolling over for me, Robert. Do you think I find that cute?’ Raven exclaims. Bobby looks up at Mystique, warning her that he will find her and bring her down. ‘I’m going to end this!’ he boasts. Mystique laughs, ‘Just what Logan said!’ she exclaims, before asking ‘What about all that pillow talk, Robert? “I’m not sure what I bring to the X-Men, I’m not sure who I’m meant to be”?’ Mystique asks as she pins Bobby to the floor.
‘What do you want from me, you lunatic!?’ Bobby demands. ‘A little understand. A little tenderness’ Raven replies, before grinning wickedly as she exclaims ‘Actually - I’m testing both of us to destruction!’. Raven tells Robert that she never loved him, to which Bobby exclaims ‘Good! Thank God!’, before Raven reveals that she pulled her punches with him, all along the line. She prepares a syringe, filling it with some drug, as she wonders what that means, after she has killed so many people, betrayed so many people, ‘To hesitate, without knowing why’. Raven explains that the drug she has is about a thousand times the dose of Sinister’s nerve-killer compound that Bobby has already had more than enough of to shut down his whole system.
Raven presses the tip of the needle to Bobby’s cheek, ‘For the love of God, Raven!’ Bobby screams, but Raven tells him to shush, when, suddenly, a security officer smashes the glass door open, ‘Stop! Stop what you’re doing!’ the real doctor shouts at Mystique. ‘Kill or cure, Robert. Kill or cure!’ Mystique whispers as she shoves the needle into Bobby’s stomach. Bobby screams. ‘Either way, it’s going to be educational!’ Mystique boasts as she tosses one of the security guards over her head when he lunges at her, while Bobby lies in agony on the hospital floor….
The Middle of Nowhere, in Nevada. 6.42 P.M. at the “Dirty Pig”. Several vehicles are parked outside as the sky turns a dark orange color. ‘He just always liked him more, you know? It’s as simple as that. You get that…um…I’m sorry, man, what’s the name again?’. ‘B-B-Bernard’ a voice stutters. ‘Right, sorry. I don’t mean to change the subject here, Bernard, but…can we go ahead and put that musket away?’ asks Cain Marko a.k.a. the Juggernaut, as he holds onto his glass of beer while a scrawny man called Bernard holds a musket up to him, and various other patrons at the bar mill about, watching. Cain grins from under his protective helmet as he tells Bernard that he can pretty much guarantee that if the relic of a musket goes off, he will not be the one laying on the floor bleeding.
8.15 P.M. Juggernaut looks uncomfortable as he sits on a small chair, while a woman called Lauren looks at him and exclaims that, from everything he has told her so far, she thinks he should be good. The bar tender declares that he agrees with Lauren. ‘The X-fellas seems to get all types of cool stuff, crazy space planes and what not. I’d go good!’ he declares. ‘I’m voting bad’ a younger guy mutters while he taps away on his mobile phone. ‘I’m surprised you’ve had time to chime in with all your note-passing’ a man with glasses remarks to the young guy, who replies ‘It’s texting’. ‘Call it what you like, son, it’s dumb. We’ve been listening to this giant idiot for hours now and you’ve barely noticed that attractive young girl because of all your “texting”!’ the older man with glasses declares.
This annoys the young woman, who mocks the older man, ‘Good parenting, Ward’ she tells him sarcastically “Hey, son, stop playing with your doo-hickey and look at the skank, she’s so hot and skanky!” The young woman adds that she agrees with Beav. ‘Bad is where it’s at’. Cain turns to the elderly man at the bar and asks ‘What about you, old man? Good guy or bad guy?’. The old man replies that it doesn’t matter to him, ‘Either side you pick, you still got a big bucket on your head!’.
Cain frowns, and declares that he has tried to be nice here, deliverance, but any more of that kind of speak and he is going to make things real uncomfortable. Cain stands behind the man at the bad, ready to grab him, when a voice exclaims ‘Very. It’s very, not real. Wasn’t the X-Men’s fort also a school?’ asks Beav. ‘Nicky, Nicky, Nicky’ Juggernaut mumbles as he picks Beav up by his shirt and holds him off the ground.
8.42 P.M., and Beav is stuck to a hook on the wall. The young woman brings Juggernaut some burgers, while Cain, looking at Beav’s phone, announces that he agrees with Ward. ‘You have to have little girlie fingers to even use this thing!’. Addressing Beav as Nicky once more, Cain asks him if he is a little girlie. ‘Enough!’ Ward shouts, declaring that he hates to say it, but they need to get back to Juggernaut’s “problem” so they can be on their way. ‘Good idea’ Cain agrees, before shoving a burger into his mouth and telling Bernard that he wants another round.
9.37 P.M., The blonde woman tells the old man at the bar that she is so tired of hearing about “morals”, and while Juggernaut downs another beer, she exclaims that she is not some crazed criminal activist, but that she doesn’t see much of a difference between “good” and “bad” anymore. ‘Both sides do whatever they want, whenever they want. At least if you’re “bad” you don’t have to pretend to follow anyone’s rules!’ she points out. ‘Dam right about freedom, man!’ Beav exclaims from where he is still strung up on the wall. ‘What would you be doing right now if you were an X-Man?’ Beav asks. ‘Moving’ Cain replies. ‘Moving?’ Beav asks, surprised. ‘To San Francisco’ Juggernaut explains. ‘Lame’ Beav mumbles.
The dark-haired woman, Lauren, suggests to the blonde woman that she calm down a bit, but the blond-haired woman snaps ‘In a minute’ as she continues on with her speech, ‘Seriously, man, they’re just words now. Good or bad? Hero or villain?’ she remarks, adding that both sides are just imitating some concept of those words that used to be relevant, but not anymore. ‘We’ve watches “heroes” fighting “heroes” because one side didn’t want to be told that they couldn’t run around blasting things whenever they see fit!’. The old man at the bar picks up Beav’s phone and begins texting a police officer, informing him of the current situation. ‘That sounds like a villain to me!’ he remarks to the others in response to the blonde woman’s comment.
Bernard tells the blonde woman that she is taking reality for a ride around in the country. ‘What does that even mean?’ the blonde woman replies. ‘If I took out a gun and shot one of you in your hick head today, I’m sitting in the chair tomorrow’ the blonde girl remarks. ‘If I shoot one of you with …uh…mind bullets and I happen to have some skittles suit on, then I’m probably free as a bird regardless of “good” or “bad”. Why waste time pretending?’ she asks.
10.04 P.M. and Beav is still strung up to the wall, while the old man and the blonde girl lean against the bar, and Ward makes his way over to a table where Lauren and Bernard are sitting. ‘Okay, this has been good. You all gave me a lot to think about and I appreciate that’ Cain remarks as he puts his helmet back on, addressing the blonde woman as Mac he tells her that she scares him a bit, and made good points. He begins to say something else, when suddenly, a voice booms ‘This is the Police. Come out with your hands up!’. The old man at the bar just taps the mobile phone and grins.
Juggernaut makes his way out of the bar, ‘It’s okay. I’m a good -’ he is about to say “guy”, but one of the Police Officers orders him to freeze. Cain goes wide-eyed as a myriad of cops begin firing at him. Cain continues to walk forward, finishing his sentence ‘…guy. But since you didn’t ask…’ I’m good with the bad!’ he concludes as he demolishes all the cars in sight while walking away from the “Dirty Pig”.
Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen stands in her diamond-hard form, gazing out over San Francisco. ‘A new start. A new beginning’ the sultry villainess-turned-heroine thinks to herself. ‘That’s what we came here for. What Scott led us here for’. Emma thinks that moving here is an scape from the endless cycle of hate and fear, of death and destruction, an escape from the past they hold on to so tightly. ‘The X-Men will let go of it all, and meet the future headfirst with hopeful, open arms’. But she decides that is rubbish, of course some things cannot go forgotten, cannot be forgiven. ‘And I know they hate me for it!’ she tells herself.
Later, inside the X-Men’s new home and headquarters, the White Queen thinks ‘I don’t deserve this. Any of this. I don’t deserve him. And they all see it’, as she looks at her lover, leader of the X-Men, Scott “Cyclops” Summers. Emma watches Scott sleeping, she stares at him, wondering when she will wake up to find out that this is just some cruel joke. ‘When no one is watching, I can’t even bring myself to touch him’ Emma admits to herself, knowing that Scott does not leave himself open, the way he did with little-miss-perfect. ‘I can feel that part of him he keeps hidden, just in the way he looks at me’. Emma decides that, no matter what Cyclops says, he will never completely trust her. Emma pauses over their bed, where Scott still sleeps, before she walks out onto their balcony, deciding that Scott is right to feel that way. ‘I have to force myself not to read his mind while he’s sleeping’ she admits.
Later, Emma is with Dr. Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, who is working on the new Cerebra. ‘…and still haven’t my favorite café, yet. Somehow I keep getting sidetracked in Ghirardelli Square’ Hank explains, before telling Emma that she should join him, though he doesn’t look up from his work. Emma thinks to herself that she and Henry casually talk about the finer things in life, but it is a world that Hank knows Emma doesn’t belong in. ‘He’s judging me. He knows of my tawdry past, before I remade myself’.
Emma makes her way through the new headquarters, and stops outside a room where Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner and newcomer Armor a.k.a. Hisako Ichiki, are gathered. ‘No way. You’re making this up!’ Armor exclaims, shocked. ‘You wish’ Logan replies, while Kurt explains that you are on TV in another dimension right, the star of a top rated show. ‘There’s probably an Armor-Baby, too’ he adds. ‘WHAT?’ asks Hisako, shocked again as the long-serving X-Men discuss the Mojoverse. Emma tells herself that Logan and Kurt play along with her, but always keeping one eye on her, wondering if Cassandra Nova is still inside.
Further along, Emma comes across Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin, who is using his incredible strength to move various pieces of large equipment. Emma watches him and thinks to herself that Peter doesn’t talk much, certainly not to her, and she feels that he blames her for the loss of Shadowcat.
Angel a.k.a. Warren Worthington III and Ororo “Storm” Munroe walk past the White Queen, without acknowledging her. Emma watches them, ‘Too good for me’ she thinks to herself, knowing that Storm and Angel are too loyal to Jean and Xavier, and too sure that she has sunk her hooks into Scott’s mind. ‘They’ll never let go of my time with the Hellfire Club’ Emma realizes.
Soon, Emma stands before a group of remaining students, who ignore her, too busy interacting with each other. She realizes that the students have kept their distance after everything that happened before they shut the Institute down. Emma decides that Hellion and Mercury were right to turn on her, then the others followed. Emma knows that her darling Cuckoos are more lost to her than ever, and that she doesn’t need to read any of the minds to know that deep down inside, they hate her, and will never forgive her.
‘So I wait. I wait and I try. I do everything I can to be the person they want me to be, to be the person that deserves him. But I watch them all, and know’ Emma tells herself as she is gathered with Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Colossus, Angel, Nightcrawler, Armor and fellow newcomer Megan Gwynn a.k.a. Pixie, in a dockside restaurant. ‘They talk and laugh like a family, like real people. Except for me’ she thinks, sitting between Kurt and Piotr, but slightly back a bit. She watches, waiting for it to come, for the other shoe to drop - the moment they turn to her and tell her that she doesn’t belong, that she is the villain of their story, that this was part of their plan all along. ‘That I don’t deserve to be with them’.
Emma tells herself that, when that time comes, she wouldn’t have to work so hard, she wouldn’t have to open herself up to them, to hate herself every day for holding herself to their standards. ‘Please just tell me that I’m a fool to think that you would forgive me…’ Emma thinks to herself, before shouting ‘Tell me already! Hate me, judge me, cast me out! Just get on with it!’ she screams at the other X-Men. The others all look at her, some concerned, some stunned. ‘Um, sweetie? Everything okay?’ Scott asks from across the table. Emma gets to her feet, ‘Absolutely fabulous, darling’ she replies as she walks out of the restaurant. ‘Just tell me when it’s over’ she adds. ‘She’s not going to melt our brains or anything, is she?’ Pixie asks.
Emma thinks to herself, as she stands on the water front, that she has done terrible, evil, things in her life. ‘I don’t belong here’ she declares, when suddenly, someone approaches her. ‘Then go’ he tells Emma in response to her comment. Wolverine reveals himself and tells Emma that she has been sulking around here ever since they arrived. ‘You’re killing the mood’ he tells her. ‘I don’t “sulk”!’ Emma replies, turning to Logan. ‘Emma Frost doesn’t sulk. I don’t know who you are, babe’ Wolverine replies. Emma tells Logan that she is not in the mood, and that he knows quite well who she is. ‘You’ve seen the true me, and it’s not this. Even when I try to play hero, the villain always shines through!’ Emma exclaims.
‘I am the White Queen. I always have been. I always will be. You know it, they all know it. We’re all just waiting for me to show my true colors, aren’t we?’ Emma snaps at Logan, who replies ‘You wanna know who you are? I’ll tell you’. Logan proceeds to tell Emma that Scott Summers would give his life for her. ‘That’s who you are!’ he exclaims. Logan assures Emma that they all would. ‘Even the kids’ he declares, telling Emma that they all know she would do the same for them. ‘You’ve done nasty things? Look around. We all have, even Cyke. There’s blood on all our hands, there’s dark in all out souls. That’s the price we pay, doing what we do’ Wolverine declares.
Emma remains silent as Logan gives his speech, concluding with ‘The evil we deal with, it gets inside us all’. Emma tells Logan that, with her though, it stayed. ‘Fact that you hate the darkness within you so much, that’s all I need to know’ Logan assures Emma. ‘You’re an X-Man, Frost. You’re one of us. You want forgiveness? Start with yourself’.
‘I never thought this would happen’ Emma thinks to herself later, looking out over San Francisco once more. ‘That I would care so much. That I would let them get inside me. That I would fall in love. That they would care for me, defend me, comfort me’. The White Queen tells herself that all the X-Men would give her the second chance that she would never give herself. She shifts into her diamond-hard form, where she feels nothing. ‘I’ve worked all my life to make my mind as perfect as my body. To be cold and hard and emotionless’ Emma declares, before returning to her human form, and realizing that may be her flaw. The emotions wash over her like icy water, and Emma feels it for the very first time. ‘This is what forgiveness feels like. Here, in this place, with these incredible people…maybe there can be such a thing as a second chance for even me’ Emma tells herself, before she begins to cry.