SHIELD helicopters sit on the open grounds of the Xavier Institute. Morning breakfast for the students is distracted by the presence of heavily armed special operatives. Young Jamie takes the opportunity to get close to the military hardware parked out front. He smiles in awe at the high tech war machines he had only read about or saw on television. And with using his ability to create multiples of himself, he can cover more ground making sure he gets a chance to look at all the flashy vehicles. Although the nature of their presence is supposedly top secret, the special operatives of SHIELD smile and humor Jamie as he wanders around their vehicles innocently. Several heavily armed gunship helicopters and transports sit in silence while majority of the action takes place in Charles's office.
Sitting behind his desk shifting his eyes from one side to the other, Charles listens to bickers and demands, mostly between Logan and Colonel Fury. Standing in his office on one side of the room Mystique, Emma and Sean also listen. "This is unacceptable Logan, and you know it." Col. Fury remarks.
"Maybe," Logan replies, "but that's where we stand on the matter, Nick."
Col. Fury adds, "Eric Lehnsherr is a wanted terrorist."
Sean steps forward saying, "Technically, it's Magneto who's the wanted terrorist, not Eric Lehnsherr."
Giving him a sarcastic glare, Col. Fury says, "It's against SHIELD policy to let a known terrorist just walk."
Walking around the room with stern expression, Col. Fury looks at Mystique and her two cohorts a continues, "Not only are we talking about terrorists here, Professor, but you are also harboring Federal fugitives as well."
Emma speaks up, "Begging your pardon, Colonel. But those charges against me were dropped."
Charles adds, "And any charges made on Mystique are completely circumstantial pending investigation on the military's involvement of illegal incarceration of mutant citizens."
Col. Fury nods replying, "Point taken Professor. That just leaves Cassidy here." as he looks at Sean.
"I am a disavowed Interpol agent," Sean remarks, "and I am guilty for what I did. If you want to arrest me, go ahead, I got nothing left."
Sighing out, Col. Fury says, "You're not on our hit list, Sean. And SHIELD has been known to look the other way, especially since you helped us out. But I can't leave Magneto here."
Logan speaks up, "Officially, Nick, this mission wasn't by the book. It was mainly to cover up SHIELD's security breach."
Looking back at Logan, Col. Fury asks, "What're you trying to say, Logan?"
"The way I see it, Nick," Logan continues, "this wasn't an official SHIELD mission. You guys didn't officially capture anybody. And you got the Tri-Sentinel prototype back."
Mystique remarks, "A prototype that shouldn't have even existed, mind you."
Col. Fury smirks and says, "So, what you are all saying is I should look the other way."
Logan adds, "Just this once, Nick."
Nodding his head, Col. Fury grins at all of them and mentions, "Naturally, the President's cabinet are ordering me to keep a lid on this whole thing. They're putting this down as a military anti-terrorist exercise. So I guess I could look the other way, this time."
Hearing Col. Fury's comment brings Logan to a slight grin. "For security measures, I will place him under house arrest." Col. Fury adds, "He'll be in your custody, Professor. But the second he steps off the straight and narrow, I'll be back to bring him in, personally."
The beeping sound of medical monitoring equipment resonates in the background as Hank and a handful SHIELD medical technicians finally stabilize Irene and Allan's conditions. Their expressions aren't confident when they clear the room, especially Hank, who rubs his eyes out of exhaustion. Ororo walks in passing the other medical technicians and approaches Hank asking, "Is everything going to be alright Hank?"
Hanks expression is blank as he replies, "In truth Ororo, I don't believe it will be."
Ororo watches Hank's face sadden. She continues to ask, "But, they both look stable now. What else is wrong?"
"They are both slipping, slowly." Hank remarks, "I'm not sure if there is anything we can do for them."
Rogue's voice speaks up from behind Ororo, "What does that mean, Mr. McCoy?"
Ororo quickly turns around and sees Rogue staring at them with a horrified expression. Hank hesitates at first then quickly says, "Rogue, it's too early to…"
Rogue interrupts, "Ah heard you say they were slippin'."
Falling silent at first, then sighs out, Hank mentions, "Yes…I'm afraid they are."
"How, why?" Rogue asks as her voice begins to break up.
Hank turns to glance at the two beds where Allan and Irene are resting. He swallows then says, "Rogue, maybe you should…"
Rogue interrupts again, "Maybe Ah should what?" as tears runs from her eyes, "Just tell me what's happenin' to them."
Turning to her, Hank gently replies, "Very well, Rogue. A tumor has developed in an inoperable area of Irene's brain. All my scans show that it was part of her mutation. But the power that manipulated her, advanced this mutation. Even if it could be removed, it would more likely leave her a vegetable. Physically, her body was pushed well beyond the threshold. She barely has any motor functions left."
Rogue tries to maintain her composure upon hearing the details. But more tears drip down her cheeks as Hank continues, "We are at a loss with Allan. First of all his body structure is too dense. We can't even insert an IV line to hydrate him. He is barely breathing, his heart rate is extremely low, and I fear dropping. My scans show his brain activity is at a bare minimum. He's been unresponsive to all examinations, as though his body just completely shut down. And with that said, his temperature has been dropping. I am sorry, Rogue. I truly wish there was something I could do for them."
Taking a deep breath, Rogue asks, "Can Ah see them, please?"
Hank looks at Ororo with sad eyes, then sighs out as he turns to Rogue and replies, "Of course. Irene is conscious, just barely. Allan is…"
Rogue looks up at him with tear filled eyes and slightly smiles at him saying, "It's alright Mr. McCoy, thank you." as she slowly walks passed him.
Ororo and Hank quietly back out of the infirmary leaving Rogue. She slowly approaches the draped off area and quietly slides through. She looks at the two beds and keeps herself from crying out right. Rogue takes another deep breath as she steps forward to Allan's bed. He lays in silence with his eyes closed gently. Several sensor nodes attached to his forehead connect to a monitor keeping track of his brain activity. Digital beeps and hums overwhelm the air as the room sits silent. Then Irene's exhausted voice speaks to her, "Please don't cry."
Rogue looks over at Irene and sees her smiling at her. Irene looks comfortable snuggled in her pillow as she smiles at Rogue. Wiping her tears quickly, Rogue moves up to her bedside. Rogue gently leans over and hugs Irene as she starts to cry. Irene holds her and smiles saying, "My little girl, no more tears."
Pulling a chair close to her bed, Rogue sobs out, "Ah don't want you to die."
Irene gently smiles her again and replies, "Everyone has a part in the universe, Rogue. Despite the out come of things, I'm thankful to have played my part."
Rogue holds Irene's right hand with her gloved hands and continues to cry. She looks at Irene and mutters out, "Ah wish Ah could help you."
"Allan said the same thing when he purged the entity from me." Irene says, "But I already knew it was too late."
Wiping her tears again, Rogue asks, "Why was it too late?"
"You died Rogue," Irene adds, "Allan broke a cardinal rule of his duties to save you. He was willing to defy fate to save your life. He loves you that much." as she smiles.
Rogue expression becomes baffled as she says, "But you're both dyin'. Ah don't understand."
Irene turns her head to look at Allan in the neighboring bed with her blind eyes and says, "He's trying to save me. I can feel his power sustaining me." as she smiles at Rogue and adds, "you must tell him to stop, Rogue."
Shaking her head with tears running down her face, Rogue replies, "No, if he's keepin' you alive, then he's buyin' us enough time to find a way to save you."
Irene smiles and gently shakes her head saying, "Rogue, I told you, it's too late for me. Allan doesn't have the power to defy fate again. And he is will to die trying. I won't let him."
"Ah won't let you die, Irene," Rogue states, "if Allan's fightin' for ya, then so will Ah."
The SHIELD medical team make their way up to the main floors and report to Col. Fury. The lead medical officer says, "We did everything we could sir. If at all we are too late, it's only a matter of time."
Logan asks, "How much time are we talkin'?"
The medical officer sighs out, "Well, considering the rate their life signs are falling, I'd give them no more than day left. I'm sorry."
They salute Col. Fury and walk out to their vehicles waiting out front. The hallway leading to the elevator falls silent as they contemplate the news from the medical officer. Mystique expression saddens as she folds her arms looking down. Emma and Sean try to console her. Charles gently rubs his chin with a blank stare and says, "Rogue is down there right now. Let's… give her time alone with them, before we head down."
They all nod at Charles's statement and slowly disperse in different directions. Col. Fury remarks, "I wish all of you luck form here on. And … I'm sorry for your loss."
He nods at Logan then turns heading out the main door. One by one, the SHIELD gunship helicopters and transports lift off and head out to either another mission or classified located military base. The sounds of whipping helicopter blades echo throughout the estate grounds as each vehicle kicks up dust and swiftly speeds off into the sky. With the last SHIELD helicopter speeding off over the trees, the Xavier Institute becomes silent. The emotions within it's walls seem grim despite the sunny weather shining down. The mood though out the house is that of depression. Even though they were victorious in battle, with plenty of scars to show, the Brotherhood feels as though they failed. All the students try to console one another in their own way upon hearing the news of the fatal conditions of both Allan and Rogue's foster mother, Irene.
Allison sits in silence alone out in one of the many private gardens. She sits up on one of the stone benches with her chin resting on her right knee. Her expression is blank as she thinks of a simpler time when she first met Allan. Allison remembers how he quickly befriended her, how he wasn't bothered by her apparent mutant gift when others would turn their back on her. It was very difficult for her to find anyone to take her singing seriously. Most club managers would expect her to dish out more than just a good gig. When she refused, she always found herself looking for another job. The clubs she would usually find were back lots of a handful of people, and the pay was very low. It wasn't until she met Allan did all that change. At first she found him to be a bit annoying. He always seemed to be liked by everyone he met. Nothing ever seemed to bother him and if it did, he would simply blow it off in a few minutes. She remember when she first started falling for him, it was his way of viewing things that captured her heart. He brushed off all the anti-mutant insults as simple ignorance, and never let it get to him. Allan taught her to just to sing to her hearts content, and let people judge her for her talent. That whenever she is on stage, to perform as though its the last show on earth. And that she did, and has been ever since. Although Allan resisted all her advances towards him, they both eventually began dating. She remember how close they were becoming, it was like she was dating her best friend. They played gigs together and even collaborated on songs. Allan didn't talk much about his powers, it didn't seem important to him. Especially when he was with Allison, she had his undivided attention when ever they were together. When they were on stage together, it was like magic. Allan pulled the best out of her at every show, and she quickly became a local favorite. Allison's popularity grew and she was plugged into the high end local scene. Parties, dinners, and recording offers flooded her life and she never looked back. A fact she had always regretted. Despite her growing fame, Allan always showed support and told her how proud he was of her. But now she was going places Allan couldn't follow. Party after party finally caught up with her after one night of intoxicated weakness. An unintentional night of passion with a married man quickly ended any future may have had with Allan as her hung over one night stand walked past him leaving her apartment the next morning. Allison remembers the devastated expression on Allan's face as she stared at him from the doorway. The silence that followed, then the calm manner in which Allan walked away from her signified the end of what ever they had together. Although he never showed it, Allison knew she broke his heart. It became more apparent when he would play solo gigs, it was as though he would drown out his sorrows with his guitar rifts. And when she tried catching up with him back stage, he was already speeding off on his motorcycle. They eventually mended their friendship over a cup of hot cocoa, but Allison knew things would never be the same.
Sitting in the gardens alone, Allison straightens her posture a bit and pulls out a folded note from her back pocket. A warped piece of folded paper that looks as though it has been in her pocket for quite some time. She unfolds it and reads the written inked words to her self, 'Just want to let you know, I'm not mad at you anymore. I have to leave town for reasons I can't explain. Whatever you do, don't stop singing. A voice like yours needs to be heard. I just wish I could've told you how I felt about you, but I guess it's better this way. Stay cool, legs. Allan.'
Allison remembers finding this letter taped on the outside of her door the morning Allan left New York, then the feeling of realization when she ran to his apartment to find it vacant. Her heart sinks as she now comes to terms with the fact that Allan's heart belongs to another, a person who captured his attention that she once had. Allison gently folds the letter and holds it tightly in her hands as she cries in silence. She quickly wipes her tears and whispers out, "I'm so sorry."
Elizabeth slowly approaches Allison and sits next to her placing her hand on her shoulder. "I don't need to be telepath to see you're taking this a lot harder the rest of us." she remarks.
Allison wipes her tears again and sniffs chuckling out, "Well… I'm just getting the crying part out of the way, you know." as she glances at Elizabeth with slight smile.
Putting her arms around Allison's shoulders, Elizabeth comforts her as they sit silently among the blossoms.
The recreational room usually teems with a some what air of excitement. But this day, it sounds more like an empty pool hall with the occasional tapping of pool balls rolling across the tables. Playing with blank expressions, Todd and Fred try to sink their shots into the table pockets. Most of the time, they just ricochet the balls off the banks and watch them shuffle around the table. It's quiet game and no one keeps score. Lance limps as he paces back and forth nearby. Kitty watches him with concern. She remembers Lance's leg being partially impaled with a metal shard and how painful it looked. Now he limps while gritting his teeth with an angered expression. Kitty remarks, "Lance, please, take it easy."
Stopping his pacing and leaning up against the pool table, Lance says to her, "I don't get it, Kitty. We won that fight. In all rough essence, we kicked serious butt."
Kitty replies, "Yes, you did, Lance. From what we were told, you guys were totally awesome."
Todd and Fred glance at each other with slight grins as Lance adds, "If that's true, then how come Allan is dying?"
The room falls silent for a moment as Lance continues, "I'll tell you all why. It's because we're losers! It was bad enough that we couldn't win a single fight on our own, but when our friend needed our help, we still couldn't come through! What's that suppose to tell us, Kitty?"
Fred gently places his pool stick on the table and speaks up, "Lance… buddy…"
Lance glares at his large friend as Kitty speaks up, "You guys did what you could, Lance. You're not losers."
Scott slowly walks in with Jean close behind him and says, "I doubt the outcome would have been any different even with the X-men there, Lance."
Turning his glare at Scott, Lance darts out, "What do you know, Summers? You X-men have never lost a fight!"
Scott glares back at him and says, "Hey, I was only trying to…"
Lance cuts him off, "Save it! You know as well as me that the Brotherhood's been nothing but a bunch of losers! And what's happening proves it!"
Placing his hand firmly on Lance's shoulder, Scott tells him, "What's happening down stairs is not your fault!"
Lance slaps Scott's hand off his shoulder sneering out, "Hands off hero man!"
Scott steps back in defense as Jean step up between them and quickly lifts them off the floor with her telekinesis stating, "I've about had enough of you two always bickering."
Lance and Scott are hoisted into the air and held against their will by Jean's invisible hold. Their surprised expressions as they are suspended in the air causes Todd, Fred and Kitty to giggle a bit as Logan struts in with his own sneer on his face. "I can here ya down the hall. Your yellin' can wake the dead, Lance." Logan remarks.
Jean folds her arms and holds them in the air while Logan walks up to them and continues, "Screamin' at each other ain't gonna help the situation any." As he turns to Lance and adds, "Your team came through when they had to, don't go beatin' yourself up for something that can't be helped. There's enough of that goin' around this hearin' me kid?"
Lance sighs out and nods in agreement. Scott does the same as Jean lets them both down gently. Logan turns and struts out of the room leaving them speechless.
Quietly leaving his room, Pietro and Wanda look back at their father. Resting as comfortably as possible, Eric sleeps despite the notion of all of his limps broken. Several bandages cover cuts and lacerations he suffered from his battle against Allan. Taking another glance at their father, Pietro and Wanda gently close the door to his room. Pietro takes a deep breath, then sighs out in relief telling Wanda, "I've never been this worried for that man."
Wanda remarks, "Tell me about it, I never thought I'd be begging for his life."
"How do you feel about father now, Wanda?" Pietro asks.
"I not sure," Wanda replies, "I'm thankful he's alive, but after that I get mixed feelings."
Pietro nods and adds, "I hear ya on that. So much for our picture perfect family."
Wanda smiles and pats him on the shoulder as she turns walking and limping down the hallway. Pietro sits himself on a plush chair in the hall and rests his face into his hands. He rubs his forehead and cheeks as he begins to think about his future. The cost of mutant acceptance among humans is becoming too high when he thinks about the condition his father is in, but his thoughts are also of someone who befriended him despite being enemies first. Allan had showed the Brotherhood a new bright path of hope when everyone else was willing to turn their backs on them. Pietro feels torn between the acceptance of his father and the loyalties of a friend. These thoughts run through his head as he sits back in the chair across from his father's door.
Rogue holds Irene's right hand with her gloved hands as she sits in the infirmary. Irene smiles looking up at the ceiling with her blind eyes and says, "You want to ask me something. I always know when you have a question. There's a hesitation in your breathing."
Rogue smiles and takes a deep breath as she replies, "Well, Ah'm not sure how to put this. But, Ah need to know, if what Ah saw was real."
Her eyes widening, Irene smiles again and asks, "So you saw it too? You saw that world, a beautiful city of tall pristine shiny buildings with an ocean breeze blowing through?"
"You know what Ah'm talkin' about?" Rogue inquires.
"Yes I do," Irene says with a tone hope in her exhausted voice, "Did you like what you saw?"
Rogue shrugs her shoulders replying, "Ah… don't know. Ah mean, Ah guess Ah was kind of living that dream when I was in a coma. It felt so real, and Ah remember everythin'."
Irene remarks, "It… wasn't a dream, Rogue."
Rogue's eyes tear up as she asks, "It was real?"
"It's a… possibility, Rogue." Irene says, "I had the same vision a few months ago, long before that entity influenced my mind. When I realized the vision was about you, I was overjoyed. You were happy and loved. But life is not about absolutes. If you want that life, you must grab it with both hands and hold tight."
Irene's glazed over blind eyes stare blankly at the ceiling as she gently smiles saying, "Rogue, honey, you have to tell Allan to let me go. There's nothing more he can do."
Rogue replies, "Stop sayin' that, Irene. You're gonna pull through."
"I feel him slipping, Rogue." Irene tells her, "You'll lose both of us if you don't stop him. Please."
Rogue begins to cry again, "Ah, can't Irene."
Irene smiles and remarks with her exhausted voice, "My child, I foresaw this moment years ago. Allan maybe able to defy fate, but even he cannot avoid all of destiny's hurdles. You carry my hope within you, I want you to share it with Allan now. Let me go, and be with him. Allan will need you, more than ever, Rogue. Go to him, tell him how much you love him, that he needs to let me go."
Rogue hesitates as she stands. Tears run down her cheeks looking over at Allan. She slowly walks over to his bedside removing her gloves. Rogue gently takes his right hand and kneels down to him whispering, "Allan, please…"
She looks back at Irene with her sad eyes. Irene turns to her as though looking directly at Rogue and say in a soft voice, "I'm ready."
Rogue closes her eyes tightly then looks up at Allan and says, "Allan, Ah know you can hear me. You…you have to stop." as tears pour from her eyes, "You have to let Irene go, or… or you'll die too. Ah can't lose both of you. Please… Allan."
She begins to cry out as she holds Allan's hand tightly, "Don't leave me, Allan. Ah… I love you."
Irene smiles at Rogue and says softly, "I'm… so happy for you… my little girl."
Rogue glances back and sees Irene's eyes slowly close. Her smile softens as lets out her final breath. Irene's face settles gently into her pillow. Rogue let's go of Allan's hand and shuffles over to Irene's bedside, her eyes trembling as tears run down her cheeks. She whispers softly, "Oh my God…."
Rogue bends down and kisses Irene's forehead. It is the first time Rogue has been able to touch her skin. She hugs Irene tightly as she cries out loudly. Allan's eyes slowly crack open as he hears the sound of Rogue's crying voice. His heart aches feeling the pain of her loss as he slowly turns his head to look at them. Rogue holds Irene in her arms hugging her deeply. A single tear runs down Allan's face as he quietly whispers, "I'm sorry."