ASCENSION

BY MADRIPOOR ROSE

Disclaimer: Marvel Entertainment owns everything, this is a work of fanfic, no copyright infringement intended.

Author's Note: A Kitty's eye view of the events of What If Magneto And Professor Xavier Founded The X Men Together, collected in the trade paperback What If Why Not?

Good Shepherd Clinic

Raven's Rock Vermont

Charles Xavier, Founder & Director

"Professor X... Here's your new computer. Made it all by myself!"

I scribbled the note on a memo pad that was on his desk after I finished setting up the new computer. There was a lot of stuff on the desk, and it took me a minute to find pen and paper. I wasn't snooping. Not exactly.

But if he's gonna leave a big file marked University of Chicago Student Evaluation: Katherine Pryde, stamped ON PROBATION in big ugly red letters lying around, I'm agonna look at it. It's like, literally got my name on it. Yuck. The usual stuff. I'm missing too many classes while I'm helping save the world.

There was also other neat stuff, like a proof copy of Understanding Magnetism by Erik Lehnsherr and Gabrielle Haller-Lehnsherr, a Report to the President on Strategic Implications of Hyper-Accelerated Evolution of the Human Genome, with all kinds of interesting little Post-It notes attached to the cover. I spent a minute looking at it and wondering if there was a color code or if it was just package potluck.

Mutant Threat, What To Do About Genosha, and Where's Wolverine were on pink Post-Its. Global Mutant Conspiracy? and Purity were on yellow Post-Its and Alice Tremaine and Trask were on green Post-Its.

His dayplanner was open, too. Today. Monday, he had the weekly meeting and a new patient consultation, Jean Grey. I was supposed to remind him before the transport ambulance was due, so he'd have time to greet the new doc.

The schedule was packed pretty solid. Meetings with C.C. for his new book, White House Security Council briefing, lunch with Reed Richards, Berlin Nightcrawler.

That one made me blink.

The Prof could definitely use a vacation, but if he wants to go fishing, don't we have bait shops in the good ol' US of A?

And the last entry. Saturday: Katherine. Discuss school. Great. I get him when he's all jetlagged and cranky.

I added a little 'Hey!' and frowny-face to that entry, initialed it, and went back to my note.

"Terabyte hard drive, quantum increase in clock speed, and you can carry it in your pocket! Last licks---Can Doug and I take over the universe?"

A shifting of weight on my shoulders and a set of talons digging in a little as Lockheed leaned down to read over my shoulder and chirrup at me made me add, "And Lockheed needs fresh kibble."

I glanced at the clock and then did a doubletake. It was ten minutes after I was supposed to remind Prof X about the newbie, so he'd have time to clean up and change.

"Oh crap! The time! Dragon, why didn't you say something?" I jumped to my feet and hurried out into the hall. Lockheed still clinging to my back and coming along for the ride. "How could you let me just sit there? Sage," I called out, spotting Her Spookiness at the end of the hallway. "Sage, where's the Professor?"

"In the gym. Meeting with the Gang of Four." Sage looked amused as I started to sink through the floor, but Sage always looks like life is a joke and only she knows the punchline.

"Thanks," I called out as I dropped.

"Kitty, what about your..." I heard her call back.

"Homework? I'll do it later," I muttered, running on.

The Gang of Four. Weekly meeting with Alexei Vazhin (Federal Security Bureau), Val Cooper (Presidential Assistant For National Security Affairs), Nick Fury (National Security Council), and Brigadier Alysande Stuart (Weird Happenings Organization).

They were meeting in the hologym because Vazhin was the only one who was really physically here. The rest were holo-conferencing from their own offices in New York and DC.

And the main reason Vazhin comes in person is for a little one on one. Most global power brokers play golf. The Prof is a B-ball fiend. And this is the only thinktank in the world where international policy is hammered out between slam-dunks.

Lockheed was trying to climb on top of my head as I entered the gym through the wall. I could feel hairpins spring loose as he tugged.

As I expected, the hologym was set up as a basketball court, and the Professor and Vazhin were scuffling over the ball just under the net. The ghostly holographic images of the rest of the meeting were standing on the sidelines, next to the bench and...

...Hello Nurse!

There was a hottie here live and in person too. Coal black hair so wavy it just begged for fingers to run through it. Light blue eyes that widened slightly as they met mine, and returned my gaze with interest. Broad chest, biceps filling out the sleeves of a light blue Polo shirt, gorgeous as a Greek god.

"Professor! The new patient's here," I called out, and felt my wig slip backward off my scalp. "Dragon, whatever you're doing, stop!" I added in a hiss, not wanting to look dorky in front of Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

The reaction was not what I was expecting. Vazhin coughed and looked away, and Professor Xavier put his hand over his eyes. "Katherine," and he was using his patient voice, trying not to laugh. "Remember our talks about the importance of concentrating while using your powers?"

He was talking to me like he did when I was a kid and first came here. "Absolutely," I started to ask why he wanted to go over the basics of power practice when he should be wrapping up the meeting and hitting the showers, when I noticed something.

How cold the floor was under my bare feet.

Bare feet?

I gulped, and looked down, then yelped, covering my breasts with one arm, hugging myself, and putting my other hand in front of my crotch.

Bare everything.

I must of left my clothing on the other side of one of those walls I'd phased through.

"Why didn't somebody TELL me?" I wailed, and threw myself backward through the wall.

Before I made it through, I heard Vazhin ask, "Does this happen often?" and the Prof reply, "A lot less than it used to, thank heaven." And then the hunk said, "Pity."

Great. Four of the most powerful people in the country just saw me naked. It's hard enough trying to be taken seriously, since I'm only seventeen. Eighteen in three months. And I'm cute.

The cute doesn't help.

I've tried every intimidation technique Wolvie can teach me and people still want to pat me on the head.

Right now all I wanted to do was get to my room and get dressed before anyone else saw me. Oh, and hide under my bed for a million years. That's probably how long it will take before I stop blushing.

But that's the sort of thing a ditzy teenager would do on a bad sitcom.

The responsible adult thing to do would be to get dressed, find my clothes and put them away, and then go downstairs and make myself generally available to help with the patient transfer...and pretend like hell the whole accidental flashing of the briefing thing never happened.

And, okay, that's kinda a bad sitcom plot too, but it's all I got.

So I ducked into my bedroom and got dressed. Panties, socks, black sports bra, black jeans, hiking boots, and a short sleeved gray hoodie. Ran a brush through my short shaggy-cut mouse brown hair.

There.

Presentable enough.

Lockheed had flapped off somewhere, probably to watch the new arrivals. He's intelligent and more than that, I think he's sentient, not just smart for a dumb animal.

He is an alien after all.

And he's just a baby alien dragon, so who knows what he'll be like when he grows up?

Too bad he's mindblind so Prof X can't tell just how smart he is, but Lockheed's pretty smart, he always knows what's going on. Even if he's just hoping that the new people will have shiny things he can steal, or might feed him.

I backtracked, and found my clothes in the hall outside the Professor's office.

Doc Martins, pleated plaid miniskirt, purple knee-highs with holes, white oxford shirt, red tie, spiked leather cuff bracelet, and my backpack and blazer.

With the blue wig, it was my Punk Prep look.

Individuation's a damn awkward stage, ain't it?

I haven't settled on a fashion statement or personal style yet. I haven't really had the best role models for all that girly junk.

There's Sage. Just...ew. Bodysuit, cloak and shades.

Professor Haller is elegant, but the twinset and pearls thing just isn't me, that I do know.

And Mystique...well. She just changes herself for the same effect I get with a wardrobe of theme outfits and a rainbow of pastel wigs.

Mysti's cool, though. For my fourteenth birthday she bought out a Sephora, and one of those Makeup Tips Of The Stars magazines, and we spent the afternoon playing with lip gloss and glitter nail polish and gunk. She didn't know how to use any of it either, she always just mimicked it.

She wouldn't let me try the eyelash curler though. She did, cursed in German for fifteen minutes, and then threw it out. She said her dad would have had one in his dungeon, if they'd been invented yet.

I hauled my stuff back to my room and put 'em away, then swung back to the now thankfully deserted gym for my blue wig, and put that away too.

Just my luck, when I came back down to the foyer, Colonel Vazhin was still there with the hunkski. I thought about hiding in the corner, but something drew me over, and I suddenly remembered in the gym, he'd LOOKED, but then looked up to meet my eyes. Looked, but not leered. I could work with that. And like they say, curiosity killed the Kitty. I wanted to know if that meant he was gay or had good manners.

I was kinda hoping for good manners. Tall, dark, and handsome all right. As I walked over I noticed that the top of my head barely reached his bicep. No wonder Vazhin had brought him along for basketball.

He was smiling at me a little.

The three of us were silent as the attendants rolled the gurney with the thin pale figure of a beautiful redhead past us to the elevator, and Professor Xavier came in with another guy. Doctor McCoy, I presume.

He was tall, dark, and kinda cute too, but too old for me. Like thirtysomething old. Unless he's like Logan and Mysti and is way too old for me. Like remembering the Civil War old. Okay, so Logan was only ten at the time, and living a Canadian version of The Secret Garden that went horribly wrong, but still.

McCoy was wearing jeans, a green sweater, and steel-rimmed glasses, and his hair was in this retro-adorkable crewcut.

Professor Xavier introduced us, "Henry McCoy, Katherine Pryde, one of my associates."

He gave me the once-over. "Really?" he asked in a dismissive tone of voice that put my hackles up.

I bared my teeth at him in something that someone who didn't know me very well would assume was a smile. "Child labor. He runs a sweatshop."

"A moment, Charles, please?" Colonel Vazhin took the Professor aside and they spoke briefly. I could hear him say, "I think you'll like my lieutenant, I borrowed him from the Red Room..." before they lowered their voices. Vazhin left.

The Professor announced, "Katherine, Peter Rasputin will be joining us for awhile as liaison with Colonel Vazhin. Once Ms Grey is settled, why don't you give him and Doctor McCoy the nickel tour?"

I looked up at McCoy. "Do they call you Bones?"

"Don't start," he chuckled. "It's Hank. Mr. Rasputin, you're in the military?" Okay, McCoy got a few points back for offering his first name.

Hunkski---Peter Rasputin---smiled slightly. "My boss used to be. Call me Peter."

"Ignore the Katherine. I'm Kitty."

McCoy went off with the Prof to see to his patient, and I found myself alone with Peter.

"Want me to show you around?" I offered.

"No sense in doing so twice. I will wait until the good doctor can join us," he said. Mmm. I could get used to that baritone rumble and the accent. "I was told I am to sleep in the blue guestroom and that my things were being brought there. Perhaps you could show me?"

"Oh sure. You've got a great view of the woods there, the maples are pretty spectacular in the fall. You're just down the hall from me." I led him upstairs to his new bedroom. The blue guestroom got the name from the way it was decorated in shades of blue, with sandy tan and brick red accent colors.

Peter left the door open, so I took that as an invitation, and pointed out the view, and the attached bathroom, like a hotel bellhop. The bed had been replaced with a king in the same dark Mission style. With Peter's height, he'd need it. And a Japanese print of cranes and irises had been swapped out with a landscape in a simple gold frame. I didn't recognize it, and drifted over to look.

Rolling hills leading to mountains, and a long lake. At first I thought it was a new acquisition and had been placed here for the shades of blue in the lake and sky.

And then I noticed that the canvas had been signed P. Rasputin.

"You did this? It's really good."

"A hobby of mine. That is Lake Baikal, in Siberia. I grew up not far," he was looking for something on the desk against the far wall, and when I turned to look at him, I noticed the easel. "I was wondering, if while we await Doctor McCoy, I could persuade you to pose for me."

Oh grrreat.

I glared at him, eyes narrowing. "You aren't talking naked, are you? Because I'm not an exhibitionist. The thing in the gym with the being naked was an accident," I told him in my best Wolverine growl.

He raised his eyebrows. "If I wished a nude study of you, I could likely attempt one from memory," he shot back. "I meant a casual pose, dressed as you are now. I thought we might get to know one another before McCoy joins us, and you seemed interested in my artwork. It was an idle suggestion, and I meant no offense. I could strip for you instead, to even the score, if you like."

I grinned at him. "I think I like you. You're fiesty," I told him. "Okay, where do you want me to pose?"

He picked up a sketchbook and pencil box. "Outside?"

"Yeah. There's a shade garden with benches by the koi pond. Trees and shrubs for background."

"Sounds good."

We headed out, and he asked, "So how long have you worked here?"

"Since I was thirteen. Came in as a patient and sorta never left." I glanced up at him. "So you work for Alexei Vazhin?"

"Yes."

"Guess I can't ask you any questions about that, the answers are all classified, huh?"

He laughed. "Yes."

"You grew up in Siberia near Lake Baikal. Any brothers and sisters? I'm an only child."

"I had one of each. My older brother Mikhail was training to be a cosmonaut when he was killed in an accident. I was ten. Now I have a little sister, Illyana. She's four. I don't get home to see her as often as I'd like."

"I'm sorry. Gee, a spy who gets homesick? There's something you don't see in the Bond movies."

"Not even From Russia With Love," he agreed cheerfully. "How old are you, Kitty? If you've been here since you were thirteen?"

"Seventeen. Almost eighteen. I know, I look younger, darn this babyface. How old are you?"

"Twenty-two. Do you have a boyfriend? I ask only in case a jealous brute sees me sketching you and gets the wrong idea."

"You have to admit, 'will you pose for me' sounds like a pickup line, and artists have that reputation. Having a last name like Rasputin can't help either."

"I find that people are more familiar with the evil wizard from the Anastasia cartoon than with Great-grandfather's...excesses."

"Heh. Nope, I don't have a boyfriend. I'm at that awkward age, and girls mature faster any way. I'm a certified Grade-A genius, and guys my age are still kids. The guys old enough to hold an intelligent conversation aren't exactly dateable. For another couple of months at least."

He flirted, "do I qualify to be added to your waiting list?"

I winked at him. "So far you're definitely showing potential."

We were walking down an avenue of oaks, their leafy branches intertwining in a canopy overhead. Thick shrubs and hedges walled off a kind of a little courtyard, with benches overlooking the koi pond. It was still early enough in the spring that the scattered violets and lily of the valley were blooming, scenting the air.

"This is pretty," he agreed.

I never posed for anything but school pictures before. Peter had me sit on the bench shaded by an oak, with the pond behind me. Sitting on my hip, legs crossed at the ankle and leaning on my left hand. He rumpled my hair---see what I mean about everybody wanting to pat me on the head?---and tugged at my open hoodie sweatshirt.

"Adjusting the drape of the cloth," he explained that one, and retreated to the other bench across the path, propped his sketchbook on his knees, and began to draw.

I've always had a problem with sitting still. I like to be doing things. So the novelty wore off posing pretty fast. I spent some time wondering about Peter, and why Vazhin had assigned him as liaison to us. That was a pretty cushy desk job for someone so young and highly trained.

And okay, he's obviously here to spy on us, but it's not like we do anything Vazhin doesn't already know about, more or less.

Bond movies. I amused myself by making up a story out of every bad action flick I've ever seen to explain Peter joining us. He must have just saved the world from some mad scientist supervillian with alien minions. He'd been hurt, badly, almost killed, and just got out of the hospital. And there was a big breasted, pouty lipped spy chick he'd been working with and fell for, who turned out to be a double agent and broke his heart. Her name was Ivana Plei or something like that.

Vazhin, of course, had assigned him to us as light detached duty because he was afraid Peter would try to suicide by field op, and we were somewhere he could recover. And because Alexei was something of a matchmaker at heart, he hoped a certain elfinly pretty, whacky computer genius would teach Peter to laugh again and heal his broken heart.

I swear to God, at the time I honestly thought I was making that up.

Floored me when I found out later that was pretty much what happened.

It was a warm sunny day, and it was kind of nice to sit outside and look at a cute guy for a while. Feeling the warmth of the sunlight, a breeze ruffling my hair, the cool solid stone of the bench under me. I think I was starting to get the point of that meditation junk Logan does.

"I've got it roughed in, you can stretch," he said presently, so I got up and went around to look over his shoulder. You could tell it was a thin girl sitting on a bench under a tree, but it didn't look much like me. He hadn't really done any detail work yet, but it was still way better than the stick figures I can draw.

He used the edge of his thumb to smear some charcoal lines on the tree trunk, and suddenly it looked like the bark, exactly down to the scars from Wolverine's claws.

"Neat," I told him. He smiled up at me, kind of a shy smile, and then pointed at the bench with his charcoal pencil.

"Thank you. Position, please."

I sat back down and tried to get my arm and elbow and legs back the way they'd been. But I barely got settled when I felt a mindtouch, the Professor looking for me. I didn't say anything.

A few minutes later, Doctor McCoy came ambling down the path, his hands in his pockets.

"Ready for your tour, Doc?" I called out, and Peter packed up his art supplies.

"I should be with my patient," McCoy grumbled guiltily.

I stood up and gave him a little punch to the shoulder to snap him out of it. "Trust the Prof, he knows what he's doing."

McCoy just shook his head. "My colleagues think I'm nuts for bringing her here. They consider your Prof a kook."

"Yeah, well, what do they know?" I took his arm and gave it a comforting pat on the shoulder. "Do any of them have an explanation for Ms. Grey's coma? Or the telekinetic activity that just started? You've seen the working areas of the clinic, and this is the garden."

Peter came up, flanking me on the other side as we walked back to the house. "The house is a lot bigger than it looks. Everybody in the staff has their own room," I started as I led them into the kitchen.

"He called you an 'associate?"

"I'm a gearhead. I build things. Audio and video. Computers. Stuff like that. What I don't do is cook."

"Actually, I'm a great cook," Peter was investigating the gourmet-grade appliances with approval.

"Excellent!" They'd seen the living room, and the offices were off-limits, so I took them around to the pool annex, with the huge skylights. "Pool's up here, but the main gym's down Below."

One of the cargo/vehicle elevators was back here, so I took them Down through that.

McCoy gasped, "what the devil is this?"

I grinned. "Totally cool, is what it is." I took 'em down level by level, showing off what could be seen through open elevator doors. The library and vehicle storage were the most impressive floors. "The house is actually a front," I explained, "for the bunker complex underneath. It was built during the Cold War as a remote National Command Center...literally a backup White House...in case of your basic global thermonuclear holocaust. We got labs for every conceivable discipline, we got one of the best libraries in the world, access to the latest technotoys. There's a garage for cars and a hanger for aircraft, including a couple that are beyond the state of the art."

I had to show them the datawomb next, even though Sage usually hangs out there. The round room lined with screens with a swivel chair in the center is just too cool to miss.

"From here we can tap into any datanet, and everybody's satellites. Totally wicked what's available as government surplus on the 'Net. This is where we do most of our work."

McCoy's brow furrowed in puzzlement. "Which is what, exactly?"

"Mainly, we're a thinktank."

He turned to Peter. "Mr Rasputin, are you an associate too?"

"I'm here on loan."

"I saw you sketching. Are you an artist?"

Peter smiled. "Actually, I'm a secret agent."

McCoy's jaw dropped.

And that was when Sage slinked in to join us.

"Doctor McCoy. I'm Sage." She peeled off a glove and offered her hand.

Still out of his depth, McCoy blurted, "Are you a spy too?"

"Professor Xavier's personal assistant."

McCoy took her hand, stammering, "This isn't at all what I expected. It's all so fantastic. I'm not sure why you're showing it to me."

Sage licked one of her fingertips after shaking his hand. "Charles has an...instinct about people. And he's rarely wrong. Fascinating. I have to process some data. I look forward very much to our next meeting."

And she walked out.

Peter raised an eyebrow.

McCoy looked like someone had just hit him across the forehead with a two by four.

"Is it just me or is Sage...!"

"No way. Sage totally creeps out everyone. I think she likes you, you sexy beast," I teased him.

If I told him Sage can read DNA by tasting it, and only needs a tiny sample of shed skin cells to do so, so if he was a latent mutant she'd just seen what he'd probably mutate into, he'd run screaming from the house.

"My day is made," he muttered.

I was gonna take them to the hologym next. Peter had already seen it set up as a basketball court, but it can do so many other things. If you're a trekkie, think holodeck.

KATHERINE. WE'RE UNDER ATTACK. LARGE AUTOMATONS COMPOSED OF PLASTICS AND CERAMICS. HURRY.

McCoy brought his hands up to his temples. "I just heard...Xavier's voice...inside my head."

"The Clinic's under attack! You guys stay here, you'll be totally safe," I hoped. I started to shortcut through the nearest wall.

"Holy Mary!" Poor Hank. He hadn't seen me phase before, and doesn't really seem to react well to surprises.

"Kitty, wait! This is what I'm trained to do. Take me with you." Peter grabbed my hand.

I took him to the nearest armory, grabbed a bag and started filling it with grenades, glancing up at him. "Want a railgun?"

"Nyet. So many weapons for a thinktank."

I met her gaze, and wondered how much of this Vazhin knew. "Xavier was a Boy Scout, y'know, Be Prepared. Lehnsherr and Haller are both survivors of the camps, and Erik lost a wife and child to antimutant rioting after the war, he's kinda invested in the right to bear arms." He got it, I could see it in his eyes. I nodded once. "And we got hostiles Topside, so it's a good thing." And we boogied.

Coming through the outside wall was a doozy. I never tried to phase anything as big as Peter through the embedded reinforcement. It...tingled...but we made it okay.

"What a trip, Kitty, that was so incredible---! Bozhe moi, what in Holy Peter's name are they?"

They were about twenty-foot tall purple flying Lego-man looking robots from hell, and they were destroying the house.

They were destroying my home.

"Giant killer robots, what do they look like?" I yelled, dropping his hand and charging forward. "Whatever it is you do, Petey, don't wait to be asked!" I phased, dove into the robot's foot, and airwalked up, dropping grenades as I went. Came out of the shoulder, yelled "FIRE INNA HOLE!" and jumped, phasing clear of the explosion.

Peter had his shirt off. I felt like applauding. Especially since his body gleamed metallic silver, and he was lifting a robot foot that had to weigh as much as Logan's beloved pickup truck.

"Hey there, hunky, look at you, you're some kinda Colossus!"

"This from a girl who walks through walls?" he yelled back, "Watch your back!" and he threw the foot at a second giant robot.

A third went down in flames, and I turned on my vantage point of wreckage to see Hank and Sage up on the hill with railguns.

There were still two of the damn things. But our odds got better as a semi roared through the gate, Logan jumping out of the gap where the driver's door should be. Mystique following him a second later.

Logan was all torn up and shirtless, healing up. Whatever they'd been up to, it wasn't nice.

Peter was trying to knock over one of the robots. Logan greeted him, typically. "You're new."

"On loan from the Rodina!"

"Hey Tovarisch, how's your pitching arm?" Logan trotted over to him.

Peter gave him a look. "I rooted for Havana against the Yankees in the last World Series," he offered, confused.

The five foot tall bundle of testosterone and aggression popped his claws out. "Fastball Special, Big Guy. Throw me as hard as you can. My claws'll do the rest."

And Logan went through the robot's chest like a hot knife through butter.

We regrouped. I was watching one of the fallen robots.

It didn't look quite as blown up as it had.

Logan.

Healing factor.

Nanites.

Patches of shiny new repair.

Oh crap.

"Four to one odds," Logan snorted, facing the robot that was still standing. "We should be fine."

"Reality check, Logan! The robots are fixing themselves," I warned.

A shimmering forcefield appeared around the robot, with a loud kapow!

"Bozhe moi, that robot deflected one of Sage's railgun rounds," Peter gasped.

"They're adapting to battle conditions," Mystique said flatly.

"We are so screwed," I whimpered.

And that was when it happened.

A firestorm surrounded us.

And for a second in the shape of the blaze, I thought I saw wings, and a raptor beak opened in a fierce cry of victory.

And then the fire was gone, and so were the robots. Burned to ash, crumbling in the breeze.

None of us had been so much as singed.

"They're gone," Sage toed a bit of ash. "Every one of them shattered right down to their component molecules."

"Lehnsherr?" Logan asked.

"Not even close."

"We still got a robot in our truck," Logan jerked a thumb back at the semi parked on the lawn. "We take it apart, we learn how to beat 'em."

I grinned at him. "You never forget to bring me back a toy from your trips."

McCoy was looking around vaguely. "Does this...happen often?"

"First time," I told him.

And then we all heard Professor Lehnsherr screaming for help.

"McCoy! Sage! For God's sake come at once!"

In the ruins of the clinic wing, Jean Grey was awake, floating about six feet above the ground. An unconscious Xavier draped across her lap. And the golden aura of the fiery bird glowed around them both.

She looked at us with wide green eyes. "Can you help him, please? Can you help me?"

Later...

Jean had been given a clean bill of health, more or less. She was a strong telepath and telekinetic. But she was a little behind, developmentally.

She'd been in a coma since she was eight, after witnessing her best friend's death in a car accident. Feeling it telepathically, and her brain shut down in self defense. She might be able to catch up on the years she'd slept through.

I let her have some of my old dolls to play with while she worked on it.

We had the house rebuilt, and I took a look at my new robot. And then we had a meeting.

"I'm not sure what happened. I'm still processing it. What I know is that Jean saved me. Saved us all. She's awake now, her power speaks for itself. We've got no choice but to deal with it."

"Any chance of nailing Trask legally? I mean, his name's on all the trucks," Mystique asked.

Logan snorted. "With his lawyers? That bird won't fly."

"I've been examining the surviving robot. Professor, there's some kind of sensor array specifically calibrated to the mutant genome!" I reported, too excited by the possible applications to keep silent.

"So he can track us anywhere?" Mystique, always paranoid.

"Yeah, but we can use it, to start building a catalogue of how many mutants really exist in the world and what their powers are."

"One step at a time, Katherine. Before we save the world," Lehnsherr interrupted me, grimly, "we need to resolve the threats that are on our doorstep."

Xavier nodded in agreement. "The world is changing---Humanity is evolving---faster and more drastically than at any time in history. Humanity can be overwhelmed by these changes, or we can try to manage them. To that end, someone has to blaze a trail over this brave new horizon, to set an example that others like us can live by, for the betterment of all," he paused, and slowly looked at us, holding each person's gaze for a moment before moving on.

"That, I believe, is our job. If we're willing to shoulder the burden. My friends, we are the stuff of dreams, but also---possibly---that of nightmares. I believe we've been drawn to this particular place and time for a reason. From the ashes of our conflict, comes the hope to build something lasting for the future. And the price that might well be paid if we fail. The letter X usually refers to the unknown. That applies to us, and to what lies ahead. Who better to wrestle destiny for the fate of that undiscovered future than a band of X-Men?"

The End...or The Beginning?