AUTHOR'S NOTE This is the end of "From the Ashes." There is one more chapter, which will be the story's theme song and then no more. I may do a sequel to this, but not for a while as there are 5 other stories I'm working on at the moment, lol.

DISCLAIMER I don't own the X-Men, the Phoenix, or anyone in this story.

SperryDee You came in at the end! This is the last chapter *sad face* But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

The storm raged throughout the afternoon. The X-Men sought refuge in the mansion's lower levels, restricted to everyone save the elite team. Something about the unnaturally savage storm unnerved them.

Kurt seemed the calmest of them all. He crouched in a corner, mumbling to himself and holding his rosary. Logan on the other hand, who had returned from his search with no beer, had passed edgy and was quickly approaching stressed.

"What the hell is going on out there?" he growled.

"A thunderstorm," Scott snapped back. "It tends to happen. It's called weather." Everyone's nerves were rattled.

"The storm is breaking. Please come upstairs." Each of the X-Men heard the Professor's psychic call as thought it had been played on a loudspeaker. Obediently, they heeded his request.

Once all six members of the team had gathered upstairs, the Professor herded them towards a sliding patio door.

"Wait a minute," Bobby protested. "We're going outside?" Xavier smiled, indicating yes.

"But Professor Xavier, didn't you see the storm?" Rogue asked.

"I believe the storm is over." Sure enough, the black clouds had parted. Beyond them, a spectacular mottling of stars shone on black velvet sky. But as beautiful as it was, none f the X-Men could figure out why the Professor had called them there. They stood in silence.

Kurt saw it first. "Look!" he whispered. Sure enough, a bright orange star seemed to be falling toward them. They watched in silent awe, mesmerized by its glow.

As it neared Earth, the dot began to take form. A giant majestic bird of flame flapped its wings and circled the skies. "What…what is it?" Bobby asked.

Scott's eyes filled with tears behind his glasses. "Jean!" he called brokenly.

He was right. The heart of the fiery bird, her body a part of its, was Jean Grey. Her red hair danced in the phoenix's fire. As she opened her eyes, warmth and peace radiated from them. "Hello," she said, her voice sounding of happiness.

"Jean," Logan whispered, afraid it was all a dream.

"Jean! Is it you?" Storm asked incredulously.

Jean smiled. "I am here. The Phoenix was with me at Alkali Lake. She chose me. We are one. And from our death, together we rose from the ashes."

Logan's heart skipped a beat and he looked to Professor Xavier. The Professor smiled and nodded. "It was you. You came into the mansion last night!"

Smiling, Jean and the Phoenix both nodded. "But I had to see you all, so I fled before anyone saw me." She fixed glowing eyes on Logan. "Or remembered seeing me."

Logan's heart broke. Jean had come back!
"Are you really here? Did you really come back?" Rogue asked hopefully.

The eyes of the Phoenix turned sad. "No."

"No?" The shaky voice of the X-Men's leader broke the momentary silence. Scott had just gotten his wife back…now she was leaving him again?

The lady of fire in the sky would have shed tears if she could. "No. I cannot stay. The Phoenix is a being not of the world. I cannot confine her to Earth. But I came here tonight to reassure all of you that I am okay and not to worry."

Scott didn't even notice the tears running from his eyes. Never had anyone seen Cyclops so broken. His team just watched in silence. In a small voice, Scott asked, "But why can't you stay?"

The Phoenix flickered and Jean herself smiled just a little. "I will stay with you always. With all of you. I will watch over you. Each one of you is strong."

Storm shook her head. "I don't know if we are," she said sadly. "You were always our strength."

Jean smiled. "In your heart, you know I am right. And in your heart, I will always be with you. And one day, things will be different. Time has its own healing powers."

"But how much time?" Kurt asked, mostly for others who could not speak.

"It will be the day that you least expect. Carried by fire, I will return." Her image shivered and suddenly the Phoenix was gone.

Jean Grey stood on the ground in front of them. Every eye was tear-filled as she walked toward them.

Husband and wife were reunited for a moment as Scott took Jean in his arms one last time. "I love you!" Jean whispered.

Then she returned to the sky, engulfed in flame. "Please don't cry for me. I'm safe and so are you." A tendril of fire seemed to reach out and caress the cheeks of everyone. "Good-bye."

Before anyone could register it, she was gone. A softly glowing orange star faded into the blackness above. "Come on everyone," Professor Xavier said softly. "It's been a long day."

The team known as the X-Men went to sleep that night one member short as they always had since that day at Alkali Lake. But each one felt just a touch more reassurance that one day the pain would be less. One day things would feel normal again.

Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, Rogue, Nightcrawler, and the Wolverine all dreamt of a fiery-tailed phoenix circling over their heads, watching out for them.