Ashes to Ashes

Part 3 - Child of the Stars

One day passed. Then another. Then another. Slowly but surely, their numbers decreased as people left the mansion for their own teams, countries, or planets. Rogue's three secret guardians detected no change in her behavior, save her habit of retiring earlier in the evening than she used to, but they agreed that this was most likely a result of her body not getting enough rest at night while Rogue's Phoenix was in possession of it.

More days passed, and there were still no signs of Rogue's Phoenix in Rogue. And then, finally, the day they had been waiting for came. It was a relatively normal day, all things considered. Several of the X-Men had made a trip into the city to help diffuse anti-mutant protesters, but all had gone well, and civilian injuries had been minimal. When they had returned to the mansion, Rogue excused herself, claiming exhaustion and a slight headache. Hours later, Gambit peeked in to check on her. He wasn't coming to bed yet, not when he'd successfully talked Logan, Ororo, Scott, and Beast into playing a few rounds of poker, but he wanted to make sure she was all right. Her steady breathing led him to believe she was asleep, but right before he had closed the door completely, Rogue spoke.

"Remy?"

"Yes, chere?" He entered the room and reached for the switch near the door.

"Don't turn on the light."

"What's wrong...de headache's worse?" He made his way over to the bed and sat on the edge.

"No."

"You can't sleep? Wanna join us for a few hands a' cards?"

"No."

"What den?"

She rose in the dark and stood by the window, unwilling to answer.

He figured that Rogue's Phoenix had made her move, and whatever it was she had chosen to do, Rogue found disquieting. He joined Rogue at the window, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Come on," he said gently, "with all we've been t'rough together, dere ain't nothin' we can't take on."

"Ah wouldn't bet on it," she muttered, pulling away and walking towards the door. "Don't say ah didn't warn you."

There was a click, a flood of light, and silence. Before him stood a Rogue/Rogue's Phoenix hybrid - with the black skin and blue accents of the Rogue's Phoenix, but the normal green eyes and white streak that were Rogue's trademarks.

"Not sure dis was de right way t' go," Gambit said to himself, shaking his head. But what was done was done.

Rogue eyed him suspiciously. "Why don' t you look surprised, Remy?"

He took a deep breath...this was going to take some fast talking - his specialty - but he wasn't sure he'd be able to get an explanation out before she did something rash. "See, dere's dis girl, right, an' she's kinda livin' in your head somewhere an'..."

Her eyes glittered with a rage that, lucky for him, had her rooted to the spot. "'Kinda livin' in mah head'? Remy, ah swear ah'm gonna..."

"Let me finish, chere," he jumped in. "She don' want to take over, she jus' wants t' be part a' your life...an' she warned me dat she'd be tryin' to talk to you in de next few days...I guess dis is her way of sayin' hello."

"Well, you can tell her that ah don't wanna hear it!"

Gambit sent his thoughts out into oblivion, hoping Jean would pick up on them. "Hey, Jean, I know you're out dere somewhere...de Phoenix has made her appearance an' Rogue ain't takin' it all dat well." "Your not wantin' other people's memories floatin' 'round your head don' make 'em go away...an' your refusin' to talk t' de girl won't do much good either."

"Nice pep talk. You tellin' me ah have no choice in the matter? With mah own mind and mah own body?"

"I'm with the professor...I just told him about Rogue's Phoenix. He wants to get everyone together to discuss the situation," Jean's voice said in his head.

"Not sure dat's such a great idea," he thought back before responding to Rogue. "We don' get to choose who we are, petite. I'm de one dat can make t'ings blow up, you're de one who borrows powers an' memories...nothin's gonna change dat. In dat sense, you don' have a choice...an' since you can't change who you've absorbed, you're stuck with dis girl. Like I said, she's not lookin' to wage a war for control, she jus' wants you to be aware of her presence. She must a' figured dis was de best way to do dat."

"By changin' me into some kind a' freak?" she asked, putting her hands on her hips.

"No, by lettin' you see what she looks like...maybe she kept quiet 'cause she was afraid dat you wouldn't listen to another voice in your head, or maybe she t'ought you wouldn't believe her, or would t'ink it was your imagination. Dis way, dere's no denyin' her. You see her, I see her, everyone can."

"Ah still don't like it, ah still don't think she has the right to do this..." Rogue sighed and let her arms fall to her sides. "But if you're willin' to vouch for her, ah guess ah'll wait for her side of the story before ah get mahself all worked up."

"Good idea."

"So, who is this mystery guest anyway?"

"Everyone, please meet me in the war room in five minutes," Professor X's voice instructed before Gambit could answer.

Both quickly changed into their uniforms, and made their way to the elevator. In addition to her uniform, Rogue had grabbed one of her many cloaks from the closet, a plain black one that she hadn't worn in ages. She wrapped it around herself, pulling the hood down as far as it would go. She left her gloves behind.

Rogue and Gambit were the first to arrive. Rogue sat and carefully arranged her cloak so not an inch of her skin could be seen, her face hidden in the shadows of her hood. The others spilled in shortly thereafter, first Nightcrawler, then Colossus, Beast, Storm, Cyclops, Angel...when Wolverine entered, he froze. Rogue could sense his uneasiness as he warily sniffed the air. She thought that she had been found out, that he was going to rip off her hood and expose her, but he did not. What Wolverine smelled was a new smell, a combination of Rogue's and Rogue's Phoenix's scent to create a unique aroma. He immediately understood what the meeting was about, and patted her arm reassuringly as he sat in the empty seat beside her. Professor X and Jean were the last to show up, and had somber looks on their faces when they did.

"I have a matter of the greatest importance to discuss with all of you," the professor said, making eye contact with everyone in the team except Rogue, whose eyes were lost in the darkness of her cloak. "The Phoenix Force has returned."

The X-Men who had not known were shocked at his words, but none more than Rogue. And while part of her was astonished and deeply disturbed by the news, part of her had been expecting it. At least now she knew why Gambit hadn't told her.

All eyes were on Jean, who shook her head at their thoughts. "Not to me."

After taking a deep breath, Cyclops spoke. "We must destroy it. Now, while we still can."

"Scott..." Jean began, but was not allowed to finish.

"Don't 'Scott' me, this is not up for discussion. We must destroy it, without thought or hesitation, before..."

"Don't you want to know who the Phoenix has come to?" the professor asked his prize pupil.

"It doesn't matter..."

"Would you say that if it was me?" Jean asked, annoyed at his lust for blood.

"But it's not you..."

"If it was?"

"No," he granted. "Of course not." Not even if it meant reliving the whole nightmare all over again. He couldn't have hurt her then, and he wouldn't have been able to now.

"Well?" Storm spoke up. "Who has been afflicted with the presence of the Phoenix?"

Both Jean and Xavier looked across the table at the motionless figure enshrouded in black fabric, and everyone understood their meaning at once. They waited for Rogue to speak, but she said nothing in her defense.

"I do not understand," Colossus said, turning back to Jean. "How is this possible? There has been no great danger that could have resulted in a deal with the Phoenix Force. How did Rogue gain access to this power?"

"They are all wondering why ah've embarked on the pursuit of such power," Rogue thought to herself in exasperation. "They think ah've asked for this, that ah've wanted this..."

Jean brightened a bit. "It's taken me quite a few days to figure it out, but I think I've finally done it. It stands to reason that Rogue absorbed the power of the Phoenix from me...the problem I've been trying to get around is the fact that I never had it to begin with."

"And?" Wolverine asked.

"And I must have it...somewhere buried deep in my subconscious. I obtained it either from my brief encounter with the force itself, or I gained the ability when the part of my psyche the Phoenix had borrowed was returned to me after her destruction. As Rogue typically absorbs only pieces of us with her touch, it seems that she gained two distinct parts of what we know as the Phoenix Force...one is the Dark Phoenix, who tried to take over her body several months ago, but was successfully imprisoned. The other, who has been dormant for some time, calls herself Rogue's Phoenix, at least until she decides on a more suitable name."

"What do you propose we do about this...new Phoenix?" Angel asked, turning to the professor.

Jean took it upon herself to answer him. "I've spoken to Rogue's Phoenix, so has Gambit and Wolverine, and, as of right now, it's my opinion that she poses no immediate threat. While her powers are similar to that of the Phoenix, she claims that hers are limited, and she seems to want to find a way to coexist with Rogue, rather than forcefully taking over her body, both of which are good signs. I think we should leave things be and see what happens."

"Charles, what is your position?" Storm inquired.

"I have yet to meet Rogue's Phoenix, so I don't think I'm qualified to venture any thoughts on the subject. Until I do, I defer to Jean's good judgment."

Beast's brow furrowed with concern. He hesitated to voice his own opinion, but felt it was necessary. "But there is still an amount of risk involved," he argued calmly. "Is it worth taking the chance that she won't revert to her darker tendencies?"

Gambit spoke up. "Life's a gamble, homme, an' sometimes it's hard t' tell if you should stand or fold." He glanced at Rogue and smiled. "Me, I always stand, even if de odds are against me."

"That's good and well with cards," Storm interjected, "but the existence of the universe does not depend on the hand you're playing. This does."

"She is my universe," Gambit said quietly, almost to himself.

"I don't trust any Phoenix," Cyclops declared decidedly. "Phoenix only brings death and destruction...I don't care what she says. This story will end the same as the last."

Jean touched his arm. "That's unfair, Scott, we don't know..."

"I know all I need to know," he said, shaking her hand off.

Gambit was about to step in, but Wolverine beat him to it. "One-eye, you don' know what you're talkin' about."

"And you do? Really, Wolverine, I'm surprised at you...you were there, you almost killed her yourself last time, and you're going to sit there and tell me..."

He stood and glowered at Cyclops. "Look, bub, I talked to her, an' I think it's worth the risk to give 'er a chance. An' if you don't like it (snikt), you're gonna have to go through me."

"And me," Gambit added, also standing, and fanning out his deck, preparing to charge the cards.

"Mein freunds," Nightcrawler broke in, "let's not fight amongst ourselves. I'm sure ve can come to some kind of agreement..."

Whatever order that was left in the meeting was then lost. Everyone began speaking at once, arguing over the fate of the Phoenix, and that of Rogue as well. For her part, Rogue remained seated, her blue nails tapping the metal table in irritation. She held her tongue as long as she could, until the volume of the voices around her became unbearable.

"Enough!" she shouted, her face still masked by the darkness of her cloak. Everyone stopped speaking at once, and sat down, as if they had been compelled to do so by some unseen force.

"Ah know when ah'm not wanted, so ah'll leave."

"I'm afraid it's more complicated then that," the professor said softly.

"Well, ah ain't gonna stick around while y'all decide whether or not you're gonna let me live...ah'm outta here."

"Rogue," Jean started, "no one's going to..."

"Ah ain't stupid, ah..." Her voice trailed off and she suddenly stood. Her hood fell down and revealed her new appearance to her teammates.

"Rogue...?" Gambit asked, also standing.

She didn't hear him. In an instant she studied the faces of all her friends...she had something very important to say, but she had to convey this message to the right person. She did not tell the woman who had spoken to the real Phoenix, nor the man who had won a battle against the Phoenix Force, though he lost the war...she did not turn to the Russian or the priest who looked like a demon, she did not choose the the winged man, the blue-furred doctor, the weather witch, or the man whose eyes could never be free of their ruby quartz prison...she even disregarded her would-be lover. She looked around until her eyes rested on the wolverine.

Several ideas struck her at once during that moment. She suddenly realized that aside from herself, Gambit, and Jean, who was arguably there in spirit, these were the same people present when the Phoenix's dark side had emerged. And she remembered a time that she could not possibly remember, when Dark Phoenix turned against the X-Men, who tried to stop the devastation that had commenced...to stop her from destroying them....from destroying herself...and the memory that she knew did not belong to her surfaced. She saw Logan attack the woman he loved with all that he had, the only one of the X-Men who could bring himself to not hold back...who would have ended it all if the Phoenix's deception had not made him hesitate. And though it was not hers, Rogue did not doubt the truth of the memory. She knew then that he was the only one she could trust in respect to the changes in her...in respect to the Phoenix within. If this Phoenix was also corrupted, he would do what must be done. Now that he knew her tricks, he would not fall for them again. He would strike fierce and true, and finish her off with a swipe of his claws.

Her eyes locked onto his with a fierceness he had never seen. "What is it?" he asked her, and watched her green irises and black pupils fade as her white scleras rolled over blue.

"They are coming," she told him gravely in a voice that was not hers.

"Who?"

Her accent returned, though her eyes remained blue. "Ah don't know," she cried desperately, grabbing his exposed forearm with her bare hand. "They're comin'....they're comin' now! Go...you must prepare!"

Just as the words escaped her lips, the mansion's alarms went off.

The X-Men sprung into action immediately, splitting up into teams and preparing for combat. Just as Rogue was about to join Beast, Storm, and Nightcrawler, she felt a hand on her arm. "No, Rogue," the professor said, motioning for the others to leave.

"Whadda ya mean, 'no'?"

"At this point, with so little information about the Phoenix you're carrying in your mind, I can't let you fight."

"But they need me..."

"The risk is too great," he argued. "If your Phoenix is wrong, or has lied, and her powers are not finite...if she suffers a traumatic psychological blow...it's quite possible that we will have another Dark Phoenix on our hands. We barely survived last time, I'm not sure we could stop her again."

"Look, professor, ah live here too, an' ah..."

"I know you wish to participate in the defense of your home, but I can't let you out there. Even if nothing happens to your Phoenix, everyone else will be distracted by your presence...they won't be able to focus on the task at hand."

She knew he was right, but she sure as hell wasn't happy about it. She crossed her arms and shifted her weight onto one hip. "Fine."

Xavier wasted no more time, he left her for his ready room where he could monitor the teams' progress.

"This is great, just wonderful...like ah don't have enough problems," Rogue sulked, alone in the room. "Now everyone's gonna treat me with kid gloves 'cause they'll be scared that ah'll gobble up the Milky Way in one bite the second I get pissed off."

A quiet, delicate voice spoke up in her head. "They have reason to fear me, do not be angry with them for acting sensibly."

"So you must be the great Phoenix," Rogue said sarcastically. "Now that you've ruined mah life, can ah help you with somethin'?"

"I have not ruined your life, I have simply inconvenienced it, and I am sorry to do so. But I believe I have just as much right to exist as you."

"Ah don't really feel like discussin' this right now." She could hear the sounds of explosions outside, and felt the vibrations that went along with them. "Somethin' else is on mah mind."

"I would like to help, if you will permit me."

"Well ah would go out there an' fight mahself, but ah seem to have lost mah powers," Rogue said, thinking about her hand on Logan's arm.

"This battle will be long and many will be injured. Even if you joined your comrades in the field with your powers at full strength, that will not change."

"Ah don't think ah like where you're goin' with this..."

"Let me take over this body. The facts of history have been glorified through the years...many have heard the legends of how Phoenix saved the life of Jean Grey, only to destroy millions before finally destroying herself. These myths instill fear in their hearts for anything associated with the Phoenix. I believe I can end the fighting without harming anyone."

Rogue now had a series of dilemmas to contend with - she didn't know if she could trust her Phoenix in any way, shape, or form. What if she was lying about everything just to take control? What if she didn't give her body back when the battle was over? What if she went nuts and killed everyone? What if she wasn't as powerful as she thought, and got the both of them killed? "Either ah sit out while everyone else risks their lives, or ah let you take over an' hope for the best...ah'm stuck between a rock an' a hard place." Her Phoenix gave her time to consider her options, and in the end, she figured she didn't have much choice. "Okay, ah'm game. Let's do this."

"Before I can accept your decision, I must..."

"Forget it, let's go, time's wastin'."

Rogue's Phoenix ignored the interruption and continued. "I must be sure that you are fully aware of what you are getting yourself into. When Jean Grey accepted the Phoenix's help, she had only an hint of the price she might have to pay for it...even the great Phoenix itself did not foresee the damage it would cause upon entering into their agreement. I cannot allow that to happen again. I have to show you what I have learned from their experience before I will enter into battle for you."

"There's no time," Rogue argued.

"You will make time," her Phoenix replied, and in a flash, Rogue found herself living the past. She was Jean, trapped in the doomed spacecraft, her radiation-beaten body barely able to move, her love for her friends, and Scott, the only thing that drove her forward. She mourned her inevitable death in the back of her mind, unknowingly sending psychic signals out into the cosmos...then, Rogue's perceptions were split in two - she was still Jean, struggling with her last ounce of strength to pilot the space shuttle, but part of her became another creature as well...a consciousness with great power, but no substance, the creator and destroyer, mother of the light and daughter of the darkness. It heard the passionate cries of a human desperately clinging to life in order to save the lives of others. And though this human selfishly wished to survive, she was selflessly willing to sacrifice herself in order to ensure the survival of the others. This fascinated the creature, who was moved by the situation to the point that it decided to help.

Thus Jean Grey was approached by the Phoenix Force, and the history of the legend began. For a brief period, Rogue was both Jean and Phoenix Force, but once Jean was cocooned and safely hidden, she was only Phoenix. She was unable to do or say anything herself, she could only sit back and watch the events unfold from Phoenix's point of view through her eyes, thoughts, and emotions. Day by day, she lived the life of the Phoenix until Phoenix became the Black Queen, the Black Queen became Dark Phoenix, and she experienced the raptures of destruction while recoiling in abhorrence at the acts she was enjoying.

In the end, she was with Phoenix on the dark side of the moon when she triggered the ancient weapon. There was no pain, just a flash of light, followed by darkness.

Rogue opened her eyes. She was sitting on the roof of the mansion, and could see the battle going on below her. "How long has it been?"

"As with all dreams, days take mere seconds...you have been gone for several minutes, no more."

"Was all that real?"

"It is how history has recorded it."

"Ah'm beginnin' to understand why Cyclops has his panties in a bunch over all this."

"I have assured Jean Grey and the wolverine that what you have just witnessed could never happen to me...but I honestly do not know if this is true. I am not as powerful as the Phoenix Force because my power has limits, or at least it seems to. I am not sure if the proper motivation would allow me to draw upon the raw power of the Phoenix."

"Ah know the answer, but ah'm gonna ask anyway - the proper motivation?"

"The cosmic force that calls itself the Phoenix has no emotions...it is an ambivalent creature. When it 'became' Jean Grey, it began to feel...it was this exposure to feelings it had never experienced before that began its downward spiral towards Dark Phoenix. In order to avoid the same fate, I have been exposing myself to your emotions a little at a time, but I am not sure that is enough."

Rogue looked down at her friends, defending the mansion with all they had. The intruders' numbers were large...she couldn't tell how many there were, a hundred, maybe more. She recognized a few faces here and there, but the rest were a mystery to her. There was no discernible leader, but they were well organized and well trained. It was only a matter of time before the X-Men fell and the mansion was breached. She didn't know what they wanted, nor did she care.

"Ah understand, but ah won't stand here and watch them fall. Ah'm willin' to take the chance if you are."

"Things may never be the same," she cautioned.

"Story of mah life," Rogue replied. "Nothin' ever stays the same."

"Essentially, we are going to switch places," her Phoenix explained. "I will gain control of your body, and have access to my own powers. You will remain conscious and experience everything - you will see, hear, touch, taste and smell everything I do. It will be similar to what you experienced when you relived the life of the Phoenix, except when you speak, I will hear your voice as thoughts. Just as when I speak, you hear my voice in your head."

"So if ah don't like the way you're handlin' the situation, an' ah say so...?"

"I will take your thoughts under advisement."

"Ah guess ah'll take what ah can get..."

Just as the transformation was about to take place, she saw Gambit get thrown into a wall. She blinked. Her heart screamed.

A bloodcurdling screech suddenly filled the air...all eyes went upward, searching for the source of the inhuman sound.

And time stopped.

Later, when Rogue looked back on this night, she wondered if the sands of time had really ceased to fall for a few seconds, or if it had been an illusion brought on by the fact that everyone on both sides were spellbound by the sight that welcomed them on the roof of the mansion.

A female figure surrounded by the image of the Phoenix raptor left her perch atop the building and gracefully glided down to the ground. Even Gambit, who was struggling to stay conscious, was mesmerized by the terrifying beauty of the Rogue's Phoenix in all her glory.

"I am Firebrand," she announced from within the blue flames in her characteristic soft, gentle voice that somehow carried far enough for all to hear. "Daughter of the Phoenix, sister of the rogue, child of the stars..." She landed in between the two groups, facing the enemy, with her back to the X-Men. The raptor's image shrunk until its flames merely encircled her form. She glanced over her shoulder before continuing, "...friend of the X-Men. My heart burns fierce and true. I will not allow you to attack them without provocation. Leave now or perish."

"No!" Rogue screamed from within the prison of her own mind. "No perishing!"

"I am sorry," Firebrand thought back. "It was a poor choice of words. I have no intention of killing anyone."

"I do not wish to harm you," she said aloud, "but if you do not retreat, I may have to take drastic measures to protect my friends. Do not make me hurt you."

The opposition exchanged glances amongst themselves...Rogue immediately understood the power of the Phoenix legend. It was as if a vengeful Greek goddess had swooped down from the heavens and threatened to bring her wrath down upon them. The intruders scattered and ran in all directions, terrified of what might happen to them if they remained.

When Firebrand was sure that there were no strays left over, she turned to the X-Men, who were standing there staring at her. She made her way over to the fallen Gambit, scorching the grass with each step. He slipped into unconsciousness as she approached, unable to keep his eyes open any longer. The flames around her disappeared completely just before she leaned over and gently scooped him up. Concerned for his wound, especially after seeing the blood dripping down the wall where his head had been leaning, she entered the mansion without a word.

~

Gambit groaned and turned his head to the side. As he drifted back to the land of the living from the dark, painless oblivion he was comfortably floating in, two things become increasingly clear. One was the dull pounding ache coming from the back of his head...the other was the fact that someone was holding his hand.

"Rogue..?." he muttered, his eyelids fluttering in an attempt to open.

Firebrand was sitting next to his bed, but had fallen asleep, her head resting on the bed beside the hand she was holding. But the sound of his voice woke her, and she immediately sat up straight.

"Where's Rogue?" he asked feebly when his black/red eyes were finally able to focus on the woman beside him.

She was hurt by the slight, but buried her feelings deep so he wouldn't see. "Rogue and I have been taking turns keeping an eye on you." She yawned. "I must have fallen asleep at my post."

Gambit smiled slightly. "Dese women, dey're always watchin' me."

"How could we help it?" She laughed.

"T'anks...I know Rogue knows how much I appreciate it...but you an' me don' know each other all dat well yet." He weakly brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it. "Somethin' I hope to change..."

"Charmer," she giggled childishly, taking her hand back and discretely putting a pair of gloves on.

"By de way...love de new name, Firebrand."

Her smile broadened at the compliment. "Thank you...I will get the rogue for you now."

Gambit didn't have a chance to respond; he blinked, and Rogue was sitting there. "How ya feelin' Gumbo?"

"My head hurts."

"Ah'd be surprised if it didn't...you got 22 stitches in there now."

"Great."

"Hey, at least they didn't have to shave any a' that silky hair a' yours."

"Now dat would've hurt," he agreed before changing the direction of the conversation. "How you doin'?"

"Ah'm fine...couldn't be better."

"Really?" he asked, searching her face.

"Yeah. Me an' Firebrand have been gettin' to know each other. We still don't have things figured out, but we're gettin' there."

"Well, I'm glad everthin' turned out all right." He paused, remembering the horrifyingly captivating entrance of Firebrand, and the feeling of dread that had accompanied the idea that he may never see Rogue again. "I wasn't sure what was gonna happen to you."

"Ah gave her control, and ah trusted her to give it back when she did what had to be done."

"I understand dat you wanted t' help, but why..."

"Because she has something the Phoenix did not," she interrupted.

"An' what's dat?"

"Humanity," she said simply.

 

Epilogue

Jean and the professor had been up all night discussing the fate of Firebrand. Although Logan was also present, he refrained from participating in the deliberation. They had shut themselves up in Xavier's ready room as soon as Gambit's condition was stable, and weighed the pros and cons of allowing any form of the Phoenix Force to exist in a physical being.

Scott, who had been sitting unobtrusively in the corner of the infirmary - keeping an eye on Firebrand during her overnight vigil at Gambit's side - entered the room a little after noon. "He's awake."

"How is he?" Jean asked.

"He seems to be fine...but with a head as hard as his, I'm not surprised." Scott tried to discern if the matter had been settled, but he couldn't read the expressions on any of their faces. "So...did you come to a decision yet?"

"Yes. We've decided to let Firebrand stay." Jean replied.

Scott started to argue with her, but the professor cut him off. "At the same time, we're going to take certain precautions...just in case."

He didn't like what he heard, but was glad to hear they weren't going to welcome the creature with open arms and trusting hearts. "Well...as long as we make sure we're prepared for anything, I guess I can't argue with that."

"We'll do our best," the professor assured him before turning to Logan and quietly conferring with him about something. Jean motioned to Scott that they should leave, and the two of them slipped out.

"I'm glad you're taking this so well," Jean smiled. "I was afraid we'd have to fight you on this."

"Whatever you decide, I'm sure it's for the best," he replied, though he didn't really mean it. Despite overhearing Gambit and Rogue's conversation, he was unconvinced of Firebrand's supposed "humanity." She better watch out and not do anything that was the least bit destructive, or she was going to have to answer to him.

 

To see what Firebrand looks like, click here.