In the beginning, one man was there, with a singular dream -- a broad goal. Little did he know, despite all of his incredible abilities, how his dream would expand. How methods would fall into place, depleting the broadness and filling in the goal with multiple details.

That man was Professor Charles Francis Xavier, and if he could've picked a sucessor -- Scott Summers would be it. The first X-Man -- the first boy that became a man, growing along with the dream.

That boy -- lost, and needing something to believe in -- to envelope him -- is his sucessor. His path was always clear. To Charles, to his fellow X-Men, to Scott himself. There was no escaping it. He knew he would be the next man responsible for the X-Men. To ensure the team's -- the family's -- future.

He just didn't look for it to be so soon.

* * * *

Scott Summers looked down at the photographs which he held in his hands. He'd only just found them, and it brought a smile to his face instantly. The first was a picture of Alex Summers, his younger brother; now deceased. The second was a wedding photo. From his wedding.

There he was, the luckiest man in the world, holding the most beautiful woman in existence. Jean Grey, the woman he'd loved since his eyes (sort of) first met hers as one of the original X-Men, had only just become Jean Summers. The picture showcased the newly weds holding one another, with Scott's best man .. Alex Summers .. and the maid of Honor -- Ororo Munroe. Professor Xavier sat solemnly in his chair in the background of the picture.


His mood darkened as thoughts rushed through his mind. What if the happier times, such as the one in that very photograph, were truly behind he and the X-Men? Summers let out a low sigh, burrying the first picture within the desk drawer he'd found it in. Looking among the team's ranks pained him. The team had seperated after the Professor's death, becoming two different factions.

It pained Scott -- more so than he would let on. The ones that had left -- Bishop, Psylocke, Gambit, Rogue, Quicksilver, and others -- didn't they trust his capabilities? It was yet another internal battle that would have to be dealt with later.

Cyclops stood, placing the picture atop his nightstand. He'd been in his room. Well, the room he shared with his lovely wife Jean, that is. As he turned, he saw his wife standing at the doorway.

Most other men would have been surprised .. but due to his psychic rapport, the special bond which intertwines his very emotions and sensations with Jean's, he knew she was there all along.

"Joining us for breakfast, Scott?" Her words came swiftly, and although she was simply asking a question -- they were full of compassion.

"I'm not very hungry," he replied in a low tone. A sigh followed it, and he turned away.

"I know you've been having a rough time," Jean said in a comforting tone, moving towards her lover and husband. He turned, and her fingertips ran across his cheek. "We'll get through this. One step at a time, if we have to -- but we'll get through this."

"Don't we always?" Scott said with a smile. Jean knew he was just changing the subject. Scott was a strong man, but this was the way he dealt with things.

Just usually not with her.

"You can't keep blaming yourself, Scott," Jean pleaded, "You'll tear yourself apart."

Summers finally gave in. He'd never been good at refraining from Jean, in any way. "I know. Don't you think I know that? It's just so hard sometimes. Especially today."

Jean glanced at the love of her life, and wrapped her arms around him. It was more comforting than any words -- or thoughts, for that matter -- could have ever been.

Welcome to the very reason Scott fell in love with her.

* * * *

The optic blast glided through the air until finally making contact with it's target -- shattering the metallic robot into dozens of pieces. Within seconds, two more replaced it. Cyclops followed up with the same attack, taking down one of the structures. He narrowly avoided a laser blast -- diving to the right just in time.

The floor beneath Scott suddenly began to rise up, and before he knew it -- he was ten feet into the air. Summers stood atop the platform as his very surroundings began to shift. Where there once were the cold, silver floors and walls of the Danger Room -- were now skies. Birds darted passed him, weaving throughout the clouds with care.

The platform which had been holding Scott whithered away, leaving nothing below the man. He began to fall, but landed atop a large robot -- painted with various pinks and purples.

A Sentinel.

Summers scrambled to stay atop, despite the fact that no real harm could come to him in this place. Wincing beneath his visor, he managed to remain on the shoulder, despite the force of the wind as the Sentinel continued to rip upward into the sky.

Without warning, the massive robot stopped mid-air. "Self destruct in 5 .. 4 .. 3 .."

Cyclops dove from the shoulder, just as the being exploded. The blast propelled Scott downward -- and he hit the floors of the Danger Room hard.

Someone had overidden his codes, and shut down the simulation. "Oh, fearless leader?"

He recognized the voice instantly as he stood. Dr. Henry McCoy, the founding X-Man known as the Beast. Hank was one of Scott's most trusted friends. "I asked not to be disturbed."

"A brief hiatus from your grueling training will do little harm, my friend," Hank assured. The blue-furred man made his way to Scott, putting his large hand upon his shoulder. "You need a break."

"I'm fine, Hank. I was just--"

"--Doctor's orders," he smiled.

Scott couldn't help but chuckle, and pulled himself up with McCoy's support. Moments later, he began to exit the Danger Room with his old friend. "I suppose Jean sent you after me?"

"Ahh, the dear Mrs. Summers would never do such a thing," Hank protested, "I assure you. But yet, I am forced to wonder exactly how well you're fairing."

"I appreciate your concern, Hank. I really do. But, like I already said, I'm fine."

"On this day of all days, my friend, I sincerely doubt that. He meant a lot to us all, but especially to you."

Scott turned, a smile on his face. "Just trust me on this."

Hank sighed, pondering the statement for a moment. "If I must. But I'll be keeping an eye on you."

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

* * * *

Summers, Scott
Personal Data Entry System
Log No. 93

I have so much to live for. I have a beautiful wife, a great group of friends, and I'm the leader of the X-Men. The team that continues to strive for Professor Xavier's dream, that is.
But what about the negatives in my life? He's gone now. It's time for me to really come to terms with the fact that he's dead. I just wish I could've been at my best for him .. like I should have been.
Now here I am, leading what's left of Charles' dream -- but how many are at my side? What's it all mean? Where is it going? It's been a long day, and it's still not over. I suppose I just keep prolonging the fact that I have to go out there.
To the grave.
I don't have a choice .. and I'm not going to put it off any longer. I have to do it.

--Scott

* * * *

Scott Summers pushed his car door open, stepping out a few seconds later. He was dressed in civillian clothes, including his ruby-quartz sunglasses in his visor's place.

He moved quickly, heading in the general direction of the man he was here to see. In theory, that is.

He'd meant so much to Scott .. and he hadn't been gone for that long, either. The pain of the loss still hurt like a fresh wound -- and Summers doubted it would ever go away.

He stopped infront of the tombstone, carefully looking over the engraved letters that spelled out his name. The tombstone's 'owner' had meant a lot to every X-Team, no doubt about it.

Scott sighed, looking away briefly. "Happy Birthday....."

As he turned back around, a metal rose gently floated down, touching the base of the tombstone. Scott finished his sentence, a first of many tears running down his cheek, "...Alex."

Cyclops didn't have to turn around to know who he was about to talk to. "Hello, Lorna."

She tenderly moved towards Scott, stopping beside him. "Jean isn't here?"

"Jean is always with me, Lorna. I just.. wanted.. I don't know what I wanted," Cyclops sighed, turning away in frustration.

Polaris wiped the tears from her face, her head drooped towards the ground. She moved forward without saying a word, running her fingers across the imprinted "Alex Summers," upon the stone. After choking out the murmer of "I love you," she looked back to Scott.

"I keep trying to tell myself he's coming back, Scott," Lorna admitted. A sigh erupted from her throat as she continued, "It's what X-Men do, isn't it? They always come back ... and we never found .. never found a .."

A solemn look swept across Scott's face as he put his hand on Lorna's shoulder. Cyclops choked back his tears -- he had to be strong for Lorna, didn't he? "You can't go on like this, Lorna. On your crusade to bring him back. Maybe it's time you came home. To the X-Men."

Polaris pulled back. "Did you talk to Jamie, or something? He said the same thing.. But you don't understand. I know he isn't dead .. I just .. know it." She looked to him, tears in her eyes. Her compassion overwhelmed Scott .. and he didn't know what else he could say. He wanted to bring her back to the X-Men. To look out for her. It's what Alex would've wanted.

It was painful to accept the fact that Alex was dead -- but even more painful to think otherwise. He'd come to terms with that, for the most part. "Lorna, you're tearing yourself apart.."

Polaris jerked away, floating into the air. A green magnetic bubble surrounded her as she accelerated into the skies, shaking her head. "I'll show you he's alive," she spoke in bursts; tears preventing her from normal speech. ..I will.. she thought desperately.


The Next Day

Cyclops pulled out the first picture he'd recently put in his desk drawer. A smile met his face as he looked down at the picture of his brother during happier times. He turned it around, reading Alex's handwritten enscription on the back.

To my big brother,

Thanks for always being there.

Love,
Alex

"I love you, Alex," Scott spoke, placing the picture on his desk. He turned to meet Jean Summers, his beautiful wife, standing at the doorway just as before.

"Scott? What are you doing?"

"Looking forward to my future," Scott replied, taking her in his arms.

"..And it looks promising."