X-MEN: RISE OF THE PHOENIX

A Fan Fiction by Joshua Belyeu

Based on Marvel Comics characters

CHAPTER 1

The year is 1983. In a small suburban neighborhood, a dark blue Rolls-Royce moves down the streets, and stops in the driveway of a particular house. A sign above the mailbox simply reads, "Grey". Two middle-aged men exit the automobile, both in suits. Charles Xavier is bald and in a wheelchair, while his friend Erik Lensherr stands tall, with a full head of silver hair. As they approach the door, it opens, and a woman in her 40s appears. This is Elaine Grey. "Thanks so much for coming, sirs; my daughter's been like this for a month."

Entering the living room, Erik and Charles are introduced to another man, the same age as Elaine. He looks disheveled and uncomfortable, as if he hasn't slept in days. Still, he wants to make a good first impression. Shaking both their hands, he introduces himself. "John Grey; I really appreciate you coming here." "Its no problem, Mr. Grey", Charles says. "These kinds of things are hard for some people to understand." John nods, and sits back down on the couch. "What...", he stammers, not sure where to start. "Why is this happening?" Calmly, Charles tries to reassure them both. "I can explain, but first, please try to calm down." John and Elaine nod, still unsure.

"To put it simply, your daughter is a mutant." With these words, both parents look confused, even horrified. "What? You mean, like a monster?" "No, not at all", Charles continues. "For many centuries, a select few people have been born, with genetic differences that affect their lives. Jean is one of them...and so are we." Still alarmed, John speaks first. "Did we do something wrong? Elaine had trouble concieving after we married..." Erik cuts him off. "Your daughter is not sick, Mr. Grey, and she is not crazy." Looking to Charles for permission, he sees him nod, but with a warning. "Nothing large, Erik."

"What are you doing?" Elaine asks. "I just want to show you what I can do, so you know we're not dangerous." He removes a coin from his pocket, and lays it in the palm of his hand. Suddenly, the coin floats into the air, and starts turning slowly. "I can manipulate many different forms of metal." The coin descends back into his hand, and he returns it to his pocket. John speaks next. "What about you, Mr. Xavier?" "I am a telepath", Charles replies. "I can communicate with the minds of others, but I prefer not to invade their privacy. I don't need to be psychic to see you're both very scared. Trust me when I say that neither you or your daughter are alone in this."

"Can...can you help her?" John asks. "At our school, children like Jean are taught to use their abilities responsibly, for the betterment of mankind." Charles says. "Would you please call Jean to come speak with us?" Nodding, Elaine speaks loudly, towards a staircase not far away. "Jean honey, would you please come in here?" Shortly, a 10-year-old girl with red hair comes down, and sits next to her parents. Charles speaks first. "Hello, young lady." Jean's voice is troubled, yet firm. "What do you want?" "I'd like to help you, but only if you'll let me." "Why?"

"Because Mr. Lensherr and I are like you, Jean. We're different from others." "Prove it." she challenges; her mother interrupts. "Jean, please. Its not nice to be so mean." Erik intervenes. "No, its fine. We've dealt with difficult children before. This process is not always easy." Suddenly, Jean's expression goes from sullen to scared, as Charles' voice fills her mind. "I know about your friend's death, Jean, and I am truly sorry. I know you miss her terribly." Jean's resolve weakens, and she starts to cry. "What happened?" her father demanded. "I spoke to Jean through her mind, Mr. Grey. I am well aware of the recent accident. No youngster should have to suffer like that." Charles turns his attention back to Jean. "Now...will you let us help you?" She nods, and wipes the tears from her eyes. "Thank you."

CHAPTER 2

It is now 2004, and Scott Summers sits alone in his room at Charles Xavier's mansion. Even though he wears red sunglasses, you can still see tears running down his cheeks. He holds a framed picture of Jean Grey in his hand. Suddenly, there's a knock at the door, and Ororo "Storm" Munroe enters. "I know you said no visitors, but the Professor sent me to check on you. It's been a week since you left this room." Scott nods. "It's just so hard," he says. "We'd only been married eight months." Trying to gather himself, he stands, and turns back to Storm. "Give me a few to clean up; I'll be out in a bit."

Several minutes later, Scott emerges into the mansion's main hallway. Waiting for him are Storm, Charles, and Kurt "Nightcrawler" Wagner. Briefly confused, Scott stops in his tracks. "Is this an intervention?" he asks. Shaking his head, Charles speaks. "You know all too well I would never do such a thing unless absolutely necessary. I must confess however, I am deeply troubled by your behavior." "Why?" he replies, almost bitterly.

"I haven't known you very long, Scott", Kurt says. "But I do know what its like to lose a loved one. She made her choice...and none of us were able to stop her." He drops his head, grasping the small cross around his neck. "My mother abandoned me at the same cathedral where Ororo and Miss Grey found me. The priests eventually were relocated or died, and I was left alone."

"No offense, Kurt", Scott sighs. "But its not the same thing." Looking at Charles, he stammers a bit. "I...I'm sorry sir...but..."

"I know, Scott," Charles says. "I don't blame you. When you're ready, you're welcome back any time." Nodding, Scott walks toward the garage, with a small backpack over his shoulder. Getting into his car, he drives through the mansion's exit doors...passing a returning Logan, approaching on foot. Noticing Scott's car didn't even slow down, the gruff man sighs to himself. "More drama, as usual."

Walking into the main house, Logan sees Kurt and Storm talking quietly. Never one for patience, he moves toward them, only to hear Charles' voice in his head. "Welcome back, Logan. If you're here for another mind reading, the answer's still no." Sighing loudly, his obvious frustration does not go unnoticed by either of his comrades. "I hate it when he does that," Logan delcares. "Hey, guys. What's with old red-eyes? He sure busted out of here real quick." Storm replies, very simply. "Not everyone's grown as accustomed to intense pain like you have, my friend. They were married for less than a year, but they grew up together as students in this house. Scott was the only one Jean trusted completely."

Sighing again, Logan sits down on a nearby staircase. "She chose him at the end, Storm...but I can't forget my own feelings. I spent 6 months roaming around Canada, even visiting the ruins of Stryker's base at Alkalai Lake. I don't remember much of my earlier life, but Jean was definitely special." Rising to his feet, Logan walks toward one of the elevators leading to the mansion's underground floors...only to be startled when it opens to reveal Charles Xavier. Seeing his reaction, the professor simply smiles. "You did say you hated me speaking to you mentally, so I didn't bother letting you know I was coming." Shaking his head in exhaustion, Logan grumbles. "I've seen my share of some weird stuff since meeting you, Professor...but the whole telepathy bit still rattles my nerves." "An interesting phenomena for one who's fought in so many battles, Logan...not to mention a man almost impossible to kill."

CHAPTER 3

Suddenly, a door at the far end of the hall opens, revealing two of Charles' younger students: Bobby "Iceman" Drake, and the young lady known only as Rogue. She immediately approaches Logan to give him a hug, careful to keep her face away due to her energy-draining abilities. Iceman's attitude is one of respect, yet slight weariness. His smile fades slightly as Rogue walks away to speak with Logan. Noticing his reaction, Charles simply nods, indicating he's aware of Bobby's conflict. "It just feels like I'm not enough for her, sir." The professor speaks mentally to Bobby, not wanting to embarrass his pupil with a public discussion. "Don't blame yourself," his voice sounds, a gentle whisper in the boy's consciousness. "Rogue is calmer around Logan because of his healing factor. She doesn't have to worry as much about hurting him, but her heart lies with you." Speaking aloud yet quiet, Iceman sighs in relief. "Thanks, Professor; I needed that."

Charles just smiles, and moments later, a knock sounds at the front door. Answering it, Bobby is pleased to see a tall man standing in the daylight. He is broad-chested, about six and one-half feet in height, and covered in blue fur. His face is adorned with black-framed eyeglasses, and he wears a stylish suit. "Hey, sir; its been a while." Suddenly, Charles' voice sounds from behind him. "Robert, please invite Hank inside; he has some helpful information to share." Sighing in resignation, Bobby obeys. The man just looks at him, his eyes full of sympathy. "You learn fairly quickly that its hard to keep secrets from a master telepath, Mr. Drake." Approaching the Professor, Hank chuckles. "Its good to see you, my friend...though I do wish you'd indulge my attempts at surprises for others' sakes every once in a while." "Noted for future reference, Hank; welcome back."

Hearing the commotion, Logan and Rogue re-enter the main chamber. Struck by Hank's appearance, Logan tries to diffuse his own nervousness with sarcasm. "Who's the furball?" Not offended in the least, Hank steps forward, offering his hand in respect. "Dr. Hank McCoy, geneticist and biochemist. Its nice to meet you, Logan...or do you prefer Wolverine?" Taking Hank's question as a challenge, Logan extends the claws on one hand as a warning. "Tread carefully, doctor. The last scientist I knew didn't meet a happy ending." "I'm well aware of your tendency for violence, Logan, as well as your helping Charles and his students in the last year. I just wanted to offer my thanks; I know you don't get that very often." The claws retract into Logan's arm, and his skin promptly heals over the wounds again. "Don't mention it."

Turning to Rogue, Hank extends his hand like usual, only to have Rogue politely refuse. "I am well aware of your mutation, young lady. My own includes an ability to heal like your friend Logan; there's no reason to fear me." Relaxing, Rogue removes one glove, and shakes Hank's hand. The blue tone disappears from his skin, and the amount of hair returns to normal very briefly, only to revert within seconds. Meanwhile, Rogue's exposed hand now matches Hank's, surprising Bobby. She looks at him, a reassuring tone in her voice. "No worries; it'll change back in a few minutes." Nodding, he calms back down. "Well," Hank says, in part to break the tension. "As Charles mentioned, I do have something to report." Moving toward the center of the room, Hank addreses everyone present. "As some of you know, I have spent the last decade employed by the Federal government, as their Secretary of Mutant Affairs. While attending a conference yesterday, a promising scientist by the name of Warren Worthington announced his development of a single-use injection, designed to supress the mutant gene. Confirmation of the effects are still pending, but many are hopeful it remains a permanent cure."

This news has various effects on the listeners. Storm appears the most troubled by this, while Rogue can't help but smile. She turns toward Bobby, only to see him flinch a bit. Logan, ever the pessimist, speaks first. "So...this guy's invented a drug to turn mutants fully human again?" Hank nods. "It would seem so, yes." Storm then responds, clearly agitated. "This is ridiculous; what kind of coward would accept this drug, just to be like everyone else?" Rogue starts to speak, but Hank raises his hand. "Allow me, please." She nods, and he addresses Storm. "Tell me, Ororo: is it always cowardly to protect oneself from persecution? Not all of us can blend in so easily; you don't shed on the furniture." Taking this to heart, she sighs, then looks at Rogue. "I'm sorry; I thought of myself before you or anyone else. My powers have defined me for most of my life. The elders in my village exiled me because of them." "I understand", Rogue says. "But at least you can hold someone's hand without killing them." Bobby then speaks. "Most of you know how the truth affected my family. My parents finally started calling recently, but Ronnie still sees me as a freak."

Hank then turns to Logan, who simply shrugs. "To be honest, I don't remember most of my life until about 20 years ago. I can't even tell you where I was born, or when. All I know is my healing factor keeps the metal on my bones from poisoning me, not to mention my hands intact. Recovering from almost anything's not a bad perk, either."

CHAPTER 4

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the medical offices at Worthington Engineering are very busy. Founder and CEO Warren Worthington II speaks with his aide, securing the final steps for testing the "mutant cure". Within minutes, the man's aide checks her phone, and reports a text message: "Sir, your son is here." Nodding, the elder Worthington heads downstairs, toward the main lobby.

Waiting on his father to arrive is Warren Worthington III, nicknamed "Angel" by most except for his father. He wears a long trenchcoat that notably bulges in the back...but those at his Dad's company seem unfazed by it. Escorted upstairs, neither man says a word to the other; their silence indicates a level of estrangement. Entering a large medical lab with wide windows, there's only one piece of equipment: a large metal chair with electronic restraints. Removing the coat, we see the reason for the bulge; the younger Worthington has a large set of white wings, sprouting from his back! This obviously explains the nickname...but at the moment, the youngster's face is full of mixed emotions. "Dad, listen...um...I'm not sure..." "We have already discussed this many times, Warren", his father replies sternly. "It is far better, for all involved." His son's tone suddenly becomes more firm, almost defiant. "You mean for you."

"I seem to recall a memory of you, Warren", the older man begins. His son sighs, obviously having heard this routine before. "I found you in the bathroom at age 12, trying to cut those things off with a hacksaw." "I was a child, Dad!" the boy yells, having reached his breaking point. "You never listened, no matter how hard I tried to explain!" "What's there to debate, Warren?" his father says. "The truth of the matter is you were never meant to be this way. Mutation is a disease, plain and simple...and after two decades of research, we finally have a cure. You agreed to be the first subject, and a man who breaks his word is no son of mine." Resigned, Warren III sighs. Looking his father in the eye, we see a single tear form. "So be it, sir. I have a different example for you." Grabbing the electronic chair, he hurls it through the room's window. It crashes to the street below, where some pedestrians barely miss being crushed. The elder Warren's look is one of shock and anger, not a shred of sympathy on his face. "Have you lost your mind?! You could have killed someone down there!" Solemnly, his son fires back. "Better to remain as I am, than forced to change by someone who refuses to love me." Removing his wallet from his pocket, he throws his credit cards and ID at his father's feet. "Your words, sir...I am no longer your son." With that, he turns, jumps through the window, and flies through the air.

CHAPTER 5

Scott Summers' car slowly comes to a full stop, by the remnants of William Stryker's base at Alkalai Lake. Getting out, he walks to an outcropping that looms over the water. There's a few moments of silence, and he finally speaks. "I thought I'd have tons to say when I finally came here, Jean...but the truth is I miss you." Tears start to flow again, and he finally breaks down. "Why, Jean...why didn't you let us save you? Its not fair; how could you let yourself die like that?" His grief is suddenly interrupted, by a soft voice echoing through his mind. "Scott...help me..." "Jean?", he says aloud, then quickly corrects himself. "No, that's impossible." Jean's voice echoes again, slightly more intense. "Help me, Scott; I'm trapped. You left me here..." This angers Scott, who tries in vain to will the voice away. "No...no...leave me alone!" The voice of Jean Grey then gets louder, almost demanding. "You left me here, Scott; I need you! Set me free!" In a desperate rage, Scott whips his glasses off, opening his eyes toward the water. Screaming at the top of his lungs, an uncontrolled optic blast hits the lake, vaporizing most of it. Closing his eyes, Scott hits his knees, a bitter and pained expression on his face. "I'm so sorry, Jean; its all my fault."

Suddenly, a woman's hand touches his shoulder. Replacing his glasses, Scott looks up...and gets the shock of his life. Jean Grey stands before him in a beautiful white gown, her red hair longer than it had been. She speaks in a comforting tone, reassuring him. "No fear, Scott; its me." He hugs her tight, and kisses her cheek...then stands back in disbelief. "You drowned; I saw it. How?" She smiles, and Scott realizes he's not hallucinating. "Don't worry yourself with that for now", she says. "Come here." Drawing him closer, she starts to remove his glasses. Afraid he will harm her, Scott's eyes remain clamped shut. "Look at me, Scott; its okay." "No", he says, shaking his head. "I just got you back." Gently, Jean touches his face. "Its okay, Scott; trust me. I can control it." Reluctantly, Scott opens his eyes...but instead of the optic blast, his pupils remain glowing red. Slowly, the color fades, and finally disappears completely. Seeing his love unfiltered for the first time, Scott trembles with joy, and grabs her in another hug. Letting go, he stares at her again, not wanting to shield his eyes anymore. Sighing, she looks down, then back up at him. "I'm sorry, Scott; I can't stop it forever. You'll have to keep these." Nodding, he accepts and replaces the glasses. Jean's expression becomes slightly calmer, and we see Scott's eyes briefly glow red again. "The others will want to know, Jean; they deserve to know. We have to go back to the mansion; this is a miracle." Nodding again, she gestures to her white gown...and it suddenly morphs into a red coat with black pants and a matching shirt. Scott gasps, surprised by this new ability. "Many things have changed, Scott", she assures him. "But my love for you never will." Leading her to his car, Scott hastily returns to the road...headed back home with his resurrected bride.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the U.S. President is speaking to a group of leaders from other nations. The subject is his recent visit by Charles Xavier, and his fellow mutants. "With due respect to all of you, and your homelands", the President says, "This is an issue which affects the whole world, not just a single country. I'm not asking you to mandate Worthington's so-called "cure" worldwide, but something must be done with regard to mutants who can't control their abilities...or would otherwise use them to kill and destroy." "What are you proposing?" one leader says. "I will address the American people tonight, offering Worthington's injection to any mutant who voluntarily desires it." "What about potential threats, who refuse the cure?" another leader asks. "We'll have to jump that hurdle when it comes; I don't want to start a war. For now, a peaceful alternative should help us gauge what we're dealing with."

CHAPTER 6

Back at the mansion, Charles Xavier is teaching some of his younger students on the subject of ethics. Among the new faces are dark-haired Kitty Pryde, who raises her hand. "Yes, Kitty?" Charles asks. "Professor, didn't Einstein say ethics were a purely human construct? That wouldn't apply to us." Charles nods for a moment, then answers with a teasing glint in his eye. "Einstein wasn't a mutant...so far as we know." Kitty smiles, along with some of the other students. Suddenly, Charles' expression grows very serious, almost panicked. His voice echoes through the entire school, registering in the minds of everyone present. "We have a visitor approaching the school, who is very unpredictable. Younger students, return to your rooms until further notice. The rest of you, meet me in the main lobby."

No sooner has the message ceased, that Charles follows some of his students out in his wheelchair. Approaching the main lobby, he sees several gathered there: Logan, Storm, Hank McCoy, Rogue, and Bobby Drake. "No disrespect meant to either of you", he says aloud. "But you are still among my younger students. This is a very delicate matter; I'd appreciate you heading upstairs." Nodding, Rogue and Bobby do so...right as the sound of Scott's car is heard in the driveway. Entering first, he sees the Professor. "I assume you already know, sir...but I have to get this out." Charles nods, and the others seem confused. Not sure how else to reveal it, Scott blurts it out. "Jean's here. I don't know how, but she survived. Something's different, too; her powers have grown." "What?" Logan asks. "That's impossible." Looking to Storm and Hank for help, they simply shrug. Suddenly, Jean Grey walks through the door...and Scott can't help but smile. The rest, however, remain cautious...especially Charles.

Noticing the hesitation, Jean speaks. "I know you all doubt me. You don't know what to think, after what you saw." Looking at Xavier, her tone becomes slightly more aggressive, and her eyes turn the same color as her hair. "Of course, this is no surprise to you...Charles." The head of the school can only utter one thing, a conflicted expression on his face. "Phoenix." The woman nods, and the others react to her silent acknowledgement. Scott speaks first, emotional and confused. "Jean? What's happened to you?" Phoenix answers, calmly and slowly. "I am still very much the same...but to quote our brave leader, sometimes evolution leaps forward." Returning her gaze to Charles, the woman's voice returns to a slightly-aggressive tone. "You held me prisoner, and I demand to know why."

This shocks everyone else, made only worse by Xavier's lack of denial. "You continue to ask questions, already knowing the answers." "You were afraid of me", Phoenix challenges; in response, Charles nods. "But I was more afraid of what you would do, to yourself or others." "You think me a monster." she says, her voice growing more fierce. The lights in the mansion dim, and the air grows colder. "Your powers had almost consumed you", the Professor explains. "I was left with no choice." Phoenix's expression becomes almost deathly, and her voice distorts in a similar fashion. Windows pop open across the mansion, and the air inside becomes a fierce wind. "You stole my future; how dare you speak to me of choice! I know you wish me bound again; who made you my authority!?" The others look terrified, but Charles' face shows only compassion. "I still love you a great deal, and I have never stopped wanting to help you. Phoenix, please...right my wrongs. Allow Jean to choose for herself." At this, the wind suddenly stops, and the windows close. A brief moment passes, and the redness fades from Phoenix's eyes. Suddenly, she is encompased in a glowing light...and when its gone, Jean Grey stands before them. Her hair has returned to its shorter length, and she's dressed in her uniform from Alkalai Lake. She looks around for a moment, her breathing raspy...and faints.

CHAPTER 7

Charles looks at his conflicted students; their anger and fear is very plain. "Hank, would you please take Jean to the medical lab? I need you to secure her until she wakes up." The scientist hesitates, but nods slightly. Once he's gone, the rest prepare to speak, but Charles stops them. "I know you're all angry, especially at me. I can explain..." Scott speaks, angrily cutting him off. "What could you possibly say, that could make sense of what just happened? The love of my life has become a terror, and you are somehow responsible! We trusted you; how do you expect any of us to handle this?" Charles sits very still, unmoving. After what seems like an eternity, he speaks. "Are you finished?" Seething, Scott walks out the door, and we hear a loud scream, followed by a huge red glare bursting toward the sky. Logan straightens up, and heads outside. Storms starts to object, but her fellow mutant reassures her. "He can't kill me; I'll talk to him." She nods, and while Logan leaves, Charles starts his story.

"Jean Grey is the most powerful mutant I have ever met. I sensed her potential very quickly, but her lack of control was a tremendous concern. To protect both her and everyone else, I placed a series of psychic barriers into Jean's subconscious mind. As a result, the Phoenix emerged as a split personality. From what we saw, the stress she suffered at Alkalai Lake clearly upset the balance." Storm asks a question, but her face shows she's unsure about wanting the truth. "What happens now? Something tells me there's no way she'll let you cage her more destructive side again." "I'll have to speak with her, and having Scott there would probably allow Jean to function better."

Meanwhile, Scott paces back and forth, almost stomping with each step. Muttering under his breath, Scott hears the mansion's front door open. Turning quickly, almost like a predator...he sees Logan approaching him. Grunting with disgust, Cyclops' voice is filled with contempt. "Now is not the best time...particularly for you." Logan sighs, his expression showing he'd preferred a less bold approach. Extending the claws on one hand, he keeps approaching Scott, who instintively prepares to remove his glasses. Raising a hand in a peaceful gesture, Logan's words are simple and honest. "You can't kill me, Scott...so don't even try. The most you'd do is damage the house, and maybe a few trees." "Coming to calm me down, Logan?" the man asks. "Interesting switch, me usually stuck with helping you." "I never asked you to, and this is not about us." "You're right", Scott fires back. "Its about Charles, who spent 20 years pretending to care, only to allow my wife's corruption by some kind of demon." "You know that's not it, Scott; we both know you're using anger to hide your worries about Jean." Relaxing briefly, Scott sighs loudly. "No disrespect, Logan...but how can you relate to anyone about something like this?"

Logan smirks a bit, and lights a cigar. Taking a puff, he speaks. "I don't know much about split personalities, but I understand what its like to be conflicted about who you are. My earliest memory is escaping from Stryker's lab; everything before that is gone. I don't even know how old I am, or where I come from...and right now, Jean's going through something similar. Whatever the Phoenix is, Jean's become intertwined with it...and the only person capable of helping her is Charles." Scott snaps back, his tone almost venemous. "He lied to us, Logan...all of us!" Logan's speech remains calm. "Given the choice between Jean living, and killing herself or others...what would you have done?" "I'd rather she remain under that lake, than go through what we just saw." "A part of me feels the same way, Scott...but this is about Jean. She needs help, and in spite of his previous actions, this is still Charles. We fought Magneto at Liberty Island to avenge him, and ransacked Stryker's base to save him. Charles needs all of us now...and Jean needs you." Nodding in resignment, Scott sighs heavily, and nods his head. Logan heads back toward the house...and after some brief hesitation, Scott follows.

CHAPTER 8

Re-entering the mansion, Scott and Logan see the younger students have resumed filling the school. Expecting both men, Storm approaches them both. "He's in the med bay with Hank; come on." Arriving by the door first, Storm opens it, while Scott and Logan walk in hesitantly. Seeing them both, Charles simply nods, and his voice echoes softly in Scott's mind. "Thank you Scott; I know this isn't easy for you." In response, Cyclops simply crosses his arms. "Don't expect an apology; I'm here for my wife." Suddenly, the equipment connected to Jean starts sounding alarms, and Charles simply places his hands near her head. The alarms calm down, but Jean shifts around...evidently fighting her other self mentally and emotionally. "I placed her in a kind of trance", Charles explains. "Where she can confront the Phoenix herself. At the moment, the latter appears to be winning."

Suddenly, Jean's eyes snap open, and the rest can see they have once again turned red. Her voice is that of the Phoenix, angry and defiant. "I know its you, Charles; enough! Set me free, or I'll kill her!" Charles' own voice remains calm and patient, aloud for everyone to hear. "You need Jean to survive; that's why you haven't made an attempt on her life. I asked you to allow Jean her choice. Now, please...respect that choice." The Phoenix's voice echoes again: "Jean Grey is weak and fragile; I deserve to control this body, not her!" Suddenly, the voice subsides, and Jean's own speaks. She is scared, but also determined. "This is my body, and I'm taking it back. No longer will I live in fear; you will bow to me..." Charles speaks again, with words of encouragement. "Fight back, Jean. Remain strong; we're all here for you." This only triggers the Phoenix again, who practically shrieks in fury. "No! You stay out of this! Jean is the past; I am the future!" Suddenly, Scott approaches the bed, looking directly at Jean with his hand by his glasses. His tone is determined, but also pained. "She is my wife, not your slave...and if you do not free her, I will destroy you. She's beter off dead than in your chains; release her, now!" The red faints again, but as Jean's voice returns to normal, we hear one last threat from the Phoenix. "Not even she can keep me locked away forever...and one day Charles, you will need me."

At last, it is over. Jean's breathing returns to normal, and the equipment resumes functioning properly. Injecting Jean with a sedative, Storm speaks. "This will knock her out for a few hours." "Will she be okay?" Logan asks. Charles answers: "Yes, but it will take some time. Imprisoning the Phoenix was a huge mistake; Jean will need to train with the full extent of her powers now. Controlling them will be an important step, toward keeping the Phoenix at bay. With enough patience and effort, she will learn to focus her aggression, instead of it taking her over." "Will she ever be the same again?" Scott asks. "Not entirely, Scott. The woman you love and married is still very much alive...but her thoughts and emotions will be chaotic for a short while. She may react in ways you don't expect; be prepared for that." He nods, obviously still shaken from the recent ordeal. Hank speaks next. "I will look after her...but in the meantime Charles, you need to speak with Worthington."