Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters yet—Marvel does. This takes place in the waaaaaaay current events of X-Men: ReLoad... hope you enjoy, please read and review. :D

And Then There Were Four

"It's harder than I thought it would be, I'll admit that."

"It wasn't necessarily designed to be easy, Scott."

"Hank's right... I mean, why do you think Professor Xavier was bald?"

"With a student like you, Drake?"

"...you're payin', right Warren?"

There were five original X-Men once.

Years ago – five very different teenagers; different from those around them; different from those they'd recently met at a very special "private" school.

Scott Summers, Henry McCoy, Robert Drake, Warren Worthington, and...

"Jean," Scott Summers began in a low tone, "should be here. When was the last time the four of us were actually together?"

A quiet fell over their small table like a fog – it seemed at the very mention of Jean Grey-Summers, the now-deceased X-Man known as Phoenix, the entire restaurant had stopped to pay their respects.

The nervous eyes of the other three men gazed at one another until Henry McCoy, the large and bulbous Beast, spoke up. "Ages, in the least. She would definitely enjoy herself right now."

"She loved these little gatherings more than any of us, I think," Warren continued, somewhat of a dark tone in his words. "She always used to say it was the unspoken X-Rule... for the five of us to get together at least once a month. I'll never forget her speeches... 'I love Betsy, Warren... I do... but unless you've worn a ridiculous blue skull-cap and clunky blue and gold gear... you really don't need to be at this one dinner.'"

The Angel forced a chuckle as another silence fell over the table, finally broken by their waitress. "Refills, gents?"

"Yes, thank you," Hank replied. "Wat—"

"Water, I know... an' two more just like it with a Mountain Dew," she smiled. The short waitress stared at their glasses for a moment before the necessary liquids climbed their way back to the top.

"You'd think that wouldn't make me uneasy," Scott said as she walked away. "It's definitely a changing world."

"How else could a man with wings, another composed entirely of ice, and Belle's beau—blue dye included—eat lunch in broad daylight?" Hank smiled.

"District X... isn't that what they're calling it?" Warren asked.

Iceman nodded. "Bishop works here on the side."

Scott stared out of his glasses through the window into a ruby quartz- tinted world. "Didn't Betsy come anyway, Warren?"

The group smiled as a whole and Worthington nodded. "That was definitely... interesting."

"Jean's redheaded temper was indeed a beautiful thing," Hank smiled even bigger. "I'll never forget the first time a patch of blue hair floated past her in the pool."

"Of course it didn't help that I'd also frozen the water around her," Bobby grinned devilishly.

"I think you almost laughed, Bobby."

Drake's face narrowed at his blue friend's comment. "Not that again," he thought. He'd heard enough about his mood swings since turning permanently, though he didn't like to use the word, into ice.

"How are you doing, Bobby?" Scott asked, concern in his voice.

"I'm fine. Sage has ran a thousand tests, and so has Hank," he motioned to his longtime friend. "No one freaked out like this when Hank did his 360, when Gambit started buyin' more decks of cards to charge, or when that witch of yours started turning into a diamond."

The mood quickly dropped.

"I... uh... er," Hank tried to change the subject, failing miserably.

"Emma has made several attempts to better her relationship with you, Bobby," Cyclops threatened. "You're the one who refuses to grow up and accept that people change. And I meant emotionally."

"Let the witch mess with your mind and your body for awhile, Scott... see how well you accept her then." Bobby paused, Warren and Hank watching desperately.

"Drake—" Warren attempted, but he was too late. He knew where this was going.

"..but wait," Bobby began again, "I suppose you know exactly what it's like to have her mess with you. I mean, now that Jean's gone."

A flare shot out of Scott's glasses.

"I know I could go for dessert," Hank said nervously.

"If you have something further to say, Iceman," Scott said in a serious tone, "I suggest you say it right now."

"Well, there's the joke that is my team of X-Men... the one your brother is leading? Not that putting his ex-fiancée on his team isn't smart – she didn't just try to kill him a few months ago..."

"Bobby, please..."

"What, Hank? I'm just saying what everyone else has been thinking. It hasn't been a month since Jean died, and..."

"Actually, Iceman," Cyclops stood, "it's been a month and a half."

"Scott, sit down..."

The now co-headmaster of the Xavier Institute flashed a look to Warren Worthington. "No one is forcing you to stay at the Institute – any of you, for that matter. Without Emma there wouldn't even be another mansion."

"Which obviously gives you every reason to sleep with her," Iceman challenged, standing as well. The two men, two of the original X-Men, stared at one another from opposite sides of table 39 in the small District X diner.

They'd faced hundreds, maybe thousands, or threats in their years as X-Men... worked together for years...

Scott used to argue with Bobby about his antics and practical jokes – about freezing drinks, freezing dinner, whatever it may have been during that particular moment.

This was different.

They were different.

"Scott Summers, Robert Drake. Sit. Down."

Neither man dared to question Hank McCoy's tone, reluctantly (if only for their pride) sitting back down.

"While none of us... agree... with Scott's, er, fornication..." The Beast grimaced, Cyclops instantly gazing in the other direction, "it isn't our place to judge.

Scott, we're your friends and we love you. We'll always love you."

Warren perked up, having been silent for some time. "And we'll always love Jean."

"And I won't?"

"Could'a fooled me," Bobby mumbled, a flare shooting from Scott's glasses once more.

"You don't honestly think Jean would be happy with this."

"Betsy would've loved your relationship with Paige, Warren."

"I wasn't married to Betsy, nor were we together when she was killed," Worthington growled. "And Emma is a far cry from Paige."

"I didn't come here to be attacked by my so-called friends," Scott stood once more, throwing a ten on the table. "You're my X-Men, and if that's all you want us to be, so be it. But membership is still optional."

The first X-Man left and Hank McCoy simply sighed.

"Oh dear."

Scott Summers settled into his usual spot, the grass conforming around his body. His hands laced together behind his head, he looked above with a blank expression on his face.

"Everyone is back," he said. "Ororo's finally returned with her... well, whatever that team was calling themselves, and even managed to bring Rachel with her.

I remember Nathan telling me that he'd rescued Rachel from ... something ... a year or two ago – and that she was going to go to college. Apparently she had to be rescued again.

She won't even look at me.

Lord knows that most of them, even if they are looking at me, aren't looking at me the same. I just don't know how to explain myself to them. I don't know that I should have to.

I'm not the same boy that first led the X-Men against Magneto all those years ago, blue and gold strapped across my chest. I'm not the same boy everyone knew would eventually replace Charles – even if I wasn't given a choice.

I'm just ... not the same.

I don't really know why I'm doing some of the things that I am... maybe it's just because I can."

"Scott, dear, I don't know why you're there... but if it's all the same to you, training schedules also apply to team leaders."

"I'm on my way, Emma," he said aloud.

Hesitating a moment, he looked to his left... reading the words etched in stone, words that meant more and more by the passing day.


"I miss you."