AoA: Epilogue

November 22, 2017:

An hour or two after the battle with Sinister Lorna, Jean and Nate have a final conversation with Jean/Phoenix. Scene backdated to those few hours-turned-weeks in late September the X-Men visited Earth-295.

AoA Washington


NPCs: AoA Jean Grey (emitted by Nate)

Mentions: Rachel

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

While Jean and Lorna's X-Men team defeated Ms. Sinister and freed the other Jean, Phoenix-empowered Jean, the rest of the team, both foreigners and natives, and the newly formed Avengers, had to face head on the most powerful mutants of the Apocalypse Empire's army.

It was a tough fight. Having also to deal with quickly teleporting elite mutant squads coordinated telepathically. But once Sinister and her inner circle were defeated, the mutant army crumbled.

The teleporter, Eden Fesi/Manifold, captured months ago by Sinister agents, needed medical attention and has already been taken to safety. Nate, prisoner for a couple weeks, refused the same medical attention and hangs around in ill-fitting clothes he savaged from some storage room somewhere in Sinister’s tesseract. Jeans and a rumpled long-sleeved shirt. No shoes. He looks pale and angry.

Jean, the other Jean, looks glorious, glowing with the energy of the Phoenix unbound. Eyes glowing gold with power. The woman should be in her early forties, but looks as young and strong as a woman in her mid-twenties. Just like the foreigner Jean.

They are not completely alike, though. Her hair is a bit shorter, there is a black lightning-ish tattoo covering much of the left side of her face. There are other tattoos under the black and red mesh outfit, and many scars. She looks stronger, more muscular, more a warrior.

In her mind Jean can feel her twin presence. She is very strong. A willpower forged by twenty years of war. And an acceptance of her more savage side learned by a lifetime as Logan's lover and partner. She handles the Phoenix' Song with deep self-awareness, well-tamed emotions and a will of the finest steel. And she is still humble enough to ask Jean all the advice she can give her to handle near-omnipotence.

Outside now, they are looking the city at the other side of the river from the top of the 'orphanage'. The sun is setting over Washington, there are fires in the streets, but they are not scars from the battle. Those are bonfires lit by the soldiers and the freed citizens. They are throwing a city-wide party. Celebrating the victory as one people. Even the somber mood of the Astral Plane feeling a little less dark now.

Jean had done what she could to offer her counter-part advice, but it was an uncomfortable sensation to be so close to someone who was essentially you just with a different life and world to have shaped the person you became.

She was tired and eager to return home, unsure of the amount of time that had passed between realities, whether it was the same or entirely different. The kind of questions someone like Hank McCoy might be better suited to figure out so she banished them from her mind.

Approaching Nate, she rests a hand on the young man's shoulder and reassures him as best she can, "We'll get you treated as soon as we get back. I'm happy they've won, but we have our own world to get back to." There was a pause and her brow furrowed, a note of concern deep within her thoughts that Nate might choose to remain behind, "Right?"

Lorna had hung back from the the group of inter-related Greys and Jeans. It had seemed like they needed the time. As inhabitants came out and fires were prepped, she walked along. Eyes that went her way were bright and joyful. Even the helmet, tucked under her arm, brought comfort and warmth in the expression of those that saw it. Magneto's helmet.

Here, a symbol for a hero. A good man. She clutched it close to her, tucked in her grasp protectively.

For a while, as she walked, she could pretend that he was her father. That her father was in fact, a good man.

Silly as it was, it made pausing to chat with the various inhabitants while Jean talked to Jean, more bearable. Still, eventually, she found herself returning to Jean and Nate's little group.

"Hey.." She offered softly.

At Jean's question, Nate's eyes drift from looking at the city to looking at the other Jean. His mother, which he barely knew. They have been communicating, of course. "I suppose… I should be able to return through the Spiral." Which definitely is not fit to summon now, he is still dizzy from the drugs. "I built my life there, although right now it is not much of a life. I lost a lot in Genosha."

"Hey Lorna," he greets, giving the helmet a wary glance. Yes, Magneto is 'good' here, but not in her world. But Magneto should be arriving Washington in the morning and retrieve his helmet. It doesn't matter.

< "I think you all will return soon, Nate," > says Jean/Phoenix, her voice gentle, but resonating with psychic power. < "I think it was me who called for you through the void between worlds. I was trapped and needed help. But now I can feel the energy… the weight that keeps you all here is fading quickly. You will be back to your homeworld soon." >

"Hey." Jean replied to Lorna before eyeing the helmet, "Planning to keep that as a souvenir or going to give it back?" She wished she could reassure Lorna of the feelings and doubts she had, but she could not.

She knew what Magneto was on their world and the aftermath of Genosha had seen him free to wreak havoc again. If this world's Magneto could become 'good', could theirs? She had to believe so.

"I know you did Nate, but we're all here to help you through whatever happens. Even if you want to stay here.." She tried to maintain a smile as she looked between Nate and Jean, "We'll support you and know you're in good hands."

Lorna glanced down at the helmet as Jean asked if she was going to keep it or return it. "I was planning to return it. I was only borrowing it—" She broke off as this world's Jean spoke of them returning home soon. Her brows shot upwards and she glanced between Nate and Jean alike.

"Is Nate coming back with us? Is he staying? I know this is your world Nate.." Her brows furrowed and she seemed to hold onto the helmet all the more.

"How soon is soon? Like do we get a chance to say goodbye? Or what?" She glanced toward Nate's mother, how strange to think of, though she understood that this Jean could hardly be counted as a 'mother' per say… It was like having double vision, to look at her best friend Jean and then this world's version of her.

The other Jean offers Lorna a friendly smile, and then shakes her head. < "I don't know Lorna. I am speaking going on instinct and guesswork. My way of viewing the world is… a little off. The scope is almost painful to contemplate. I honestly don't think anyone should have so much power as I do now. It is unsuitable for a human being." > It is the cosmic awareness, so hard to handle even for super-human minds.

Nate snorts. "You earned it. Use it to fix what Apocalypse destroyed. But yeah… get rid of the firebird as soon as you can. It has caused so much pain to…" he does not look the other Jean, instead his eyes widen. "Damn. You have to meet Rachel! Is she is Washington?" Mind-check. "Ah… she is still in New York. Gotta tell her, though."

Jean looked to Not-Jean and Lorna in turn before saying, "Never forget that power can corrupt even the most well-intentioned of people. Sometimes what power can give, it also returns to take away." In this instance she was probably speaking from personal experience.

Her attention was solely on Jean now, "You can use this power to rebuild, to help right wrongs, but the more you lean on it, the more not only you, but this world will become dependent on it and that is no future for anyone."

Lorna fell silent as the 'soon' was left in the air. She had no advice to lend, no wise words to impart. So she stood, awkwardly listening to the conversation around her. Green eye lifted to turn her focus on the people celebrating. "…They'll see another day. There's hope. I think.. that they'll make it.. super powered bird or not you know.."

The other Jean smiles more broadly now. < "Yes. There is more hope now than five years ago. They have rebuilt much very quickly, it is wonderful," > But then she loses her smile. < "But there are still much danger. I can feel shadows lurking at the edges of my mind-eye. Some come from within, others will come from the stars. There is no peace, just brief truces." >

"Like usual," replies Nate. "Happens also in the place I am living now, y'know? One enemy after another trying to tear apart the world. Only there must humans never realize how much they need the X-Men, and the Justice League, or the Avengers. Only if we fail they will have…" he points to the half-ruined city, "…this. This is why we can't fail," he is looking at Jean and Lorna.

Jean shared Lorna's sentiment, "I think even without the phoenix this world will do just fine. Working together will always triumph over those who would seek to do others harm." Whether it was a subtle hint that she didn't feel Jean should be using the Phoenix Force to rebuild was left in the air.

"I feel the same way Nate." She breathed a sigh of relief as she was assured that Nate would be returning, "I just hope the world hasn't had too much trouble without the X-Men there to help hold it together."

Lorna shrugged, meeting Nate and her Jean's gaze. "Well, life gets boring if there's nothing evil coming to fight." She joked weakly, cracking a smile as she glanced to the horizon briefly. At the celebrating people around them. Then, her gaze returned and she pursed her lips together briefly.

"Yeah, I really hope we're not like Rip Van Wrinkle and wake up a few decades in the future. That would suck. I really don't want to try to play catch up with technology or what not.." Another lame joke, but it was all she had. All she had to cover up that gaping fear that maybe the world had already fallen and they're return to some horrible reality of their own. Bad way to bring up that whole concept.

The other Jean nods. She is going to send the Phoenix away as soon as she can, she decides. There will be no Dark Phoenix. Nor there will be an easy way out from the Age of Apocalypse in which a goddess saves everything. < "Thank you," > she says to the three.

And then Lorna's arm goes transparent. And Jean can hear Xavier's telepathic voice calling her. It is just a few seconds before the arm returns, and Xavier's voice fades. Nate looks startled. "Is that it? We are just going to…" how does he call him this thing? "Fade sideways?"

< "I believe so, Nate," > replies Jean. < "It will be soon" >

Jean raises an eyebrow in surprise as Lorna begins to fade away and the voice of the professor calls to her from across worlds, "If it's a brighter future, I guess it would have been worth what we missed and I'll start calling you Rip."

"Looks like this is it." Jean said to the other Jean before extending a hand, "I wish you the best of luck, and hope whatever choices you make lead you down the right path."

Lorna freaked out when her arm faded and returned. Her eyes went wide and she clutched the helmet to her chest in a jerky movement. It had become almost her security blanket. Something to keep the shadows out of her head. Though it could never be such in her world. As she faded back into view her, eyes wide, turned on the other Jean.

"But I didn't get to say goodbye. I didn't get to tell him.. I didn't get to tell Magneto the truth. About what Pietro did. About what happened to this world's version of me. About her daughter." The words tumbled from her lips in a quick, and hurried fall.

Not that she didn't want to go home.. but.. but damnit there were things that she'd wanted to say. Pietro to confront..

Of course that didn't seem to matter all that much as she seemed to be going home regardless.

< "You still have a few minutes," > replies the other Jean, offering Lorna her hand. < "Let me help. I can get you in contact with Erik. And I wish to talk with him again myself. He was like a father to me." >

Nate closes his eyes. He is hearing the Danger Room too. Looks like he has no choice about staying or returning. Not now. He does have the choice to return here. Or at least to attempt to return here through the Spiral of Worlds. Fair enough. "If you see Scott," he tells Jean. "Tell him I am sorry I couldn't see him. Maybe I will return, though. I gotta think." Then he steps back to let Lorna have a last conversation with that other Magneto in private.

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