It was twilight in New York City, where taxis weave their way through traffic-congested streets, people everywhere. Fat pigeons strutted around pecking at leftover crumbs on the sidewalk, while birds sang their last songs of the day, ready to go to sleep.

***

Somewhere in the apartment, the phone rang.

*BRRIINNGG!* *BRRIINNGG!*

Jarred from her sleep by the ringing of the telephone, Maddie squinted at the alarm clock by her bedside. 5:30! Who could possibly be calling at 5:30 on a Saturday? She sighed, knowing she'll never get back to sleep again. But then, after the nightmare that she'd had, she wasn't sure she wanted to go back to sleep. She shivered, and instinctively drew the cover up. The dream... It'd been so..real. She couldn't explain it. It was herself she saw in the dream, except that it wasn't exactly her. And the somebody had died all of a sudden, collapsed in a snow drift. *Well,* Maddie thought with a weary sigh, *at least the telephone was no longer ringing, maybe now that migraine headache will go away*. Her husband, Scott Summers, had gotten up to answer the phone, still half asleep, grumbling. He'd been gone for at least 10 minutes now. *Who IS that on the phone??*, she thought, as she started to drift back to sleep. She was almost asleep when Scott came back in, looking like he'd just seen a ghost and shaken very badly. He stumbled over to a chair and sat down in shock, running a hand through his thick brown hair.

"Oh my God," he whispered.

"What? Honey, who was that?" Maddie asked.

But Scott did not seem to hear the question. He jumped up and walking briskly to the closet, pulled out his suitcase. He then started dressing, throwing on a shirt and a pair of pants. Then, grabbing all his belongings from the closet, he stuffed them into the suitcase. Maddie was now more than fully awake, and she looked on in disbelief.

"Scott, honey, what are you doing?" she asked.

"Packing", was the reply.

"Packing. Packing...for what?" Maddie asked suspiciously.

"I - I can't explain it, I hardly believe it myself. So that's why I have to be gone for a few days to see for myself." Scott answered, his words hurried as he rushed all over the house, jamming his toothbrush, toothpaste, towels, EVERYTHING into the suitcase. "Look honey, I'll - I'll have to go somewhere for a week. It's...sort of an emergency that's just come up."

"For a week?!" Maddie shrieked, incredulous. "Scott, all that stuff will last you for the rest of your life!"

"Maddie, please." Scott looked at her tiredly. He didn't like to acknowledge it, but the fact was the only reason he'd married Maddie Pryor in the first place was because she'd looked so much like his first love, Jean Grey. He'd only married Maddie to fill the void left by Jean after her death. The telephone call conversation floated back into his mind. *"Scott?" Warren Worthington III had informed him, "I just found out, Jean is alive and she's here, and she wants to see you..."* Alive...here...see you... Those words played over and over inside his head. Jean is ALIVE?? So that was why he'd have to leave here, fly back to New York, right now. He hoped Maddie would understand. Leaning down, Scott gave Maddie a quick kiss, then started to lug the suitcase behind him, going out the door. The last thing he heard was Maddie screaming after him that if he left, don't bother coming back.

***

When his plane touched down at New York LaGuardia Airport, Scott looked up. Grabbing his bag and walking through the terminal, he searched for a familiar face. Spotting Warren waving at him, he made his way quickly to his friend. Warren... Scott hadn't seen him since he'd quit the X-Men shortly after Jean's death.

"Hello Warren!"

"Hello Scott, old buddy! Long time no see." Warren replied.

"It's been too long," Scott agreed. As the two men walked to Warren's parked Benz in the parking lot, they discussed a lot of things, including how the team is right now and Jean.

"She's eager to see you Scott." Warren said.

"I'm dying to see her. But how did ... she..." Scott asked, trailing off.

"After she died on the moon, Scott..." Warren said quietly, "it - it wasn't her. Scott, Jean never died."

Scott paled. "What are you saying?" he whispered. "She was alive the whole time? Then who was that who died on the moon and who was Dark Phoenix?"

"That was Phoenix. Don't you remember the gas leak on the space shuttle you guys were on and Jean was controlling the stick with her telekinesis? She got exposed to the gas and would have died. The Phoenix, a cosmic firebird with unlimited power, offered Jean life if she would allow Phoenix to duplicate her body, her mind, and her memories. Apparently, Jean agreed, and Phoenix sent Jean into a healing coccoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. So, you see, that Jean who died was really not Jean, but Phoenix. But Phoenix can never truly die, because it's a cosmic entity. Dark Phoenix was created when our friend Jason Wyngarde manipulated Phoenix's mind and she snapped."

"My God," was all Scott could manage to say.

***

Back at the mansion, safe in her room, Jean Grey waited. A torrent of emotions washed over her. To come back, a year and a half later, and finding everything still the same...and yet so completely different. She had known she'd been gone for some time, but never had she ever realized she'd been gone for so long. A year and a half. When Moira and Sean had asked her how long she thought she'd been gone, Jean had replied a couple of months at the most. She sighed. To see Scott again... A part of her longed for Scott, for his presence, for the closeness that they'd once shared. Another part of her held back, doubtful. *What if Scott had found another lady of his life?* Jean thought. *Would he still be the same man that I have loved my entire life?* She sighed again, and turned to look out the window. *Everything is so... peaceful*, she thought. *Oh, if only Scott hasn't changed...*

The door behind her creaked open, as if hesitant. Jean continued looking out the open window, but she knew who it was who stood at her doorway, with his brown hair and sunglasses, even before he spoke her name.

"Jean?"

It was the loveliest sound to her ears. His voice was just as she'd remembered it to be. Tears blurred her vision as she thought back to the way they once were. The way they were... Turning around slowly, Jean looked across at the tall ruggedly-handsome man standing there.

"Scott...", she whispered.

Scott stood there, still not quite believing this was happening. It was her. Her long, fiery red hair blew gently with the breeze that was coming in through the open window. Unshed tears sparkled in her brilliant emerald-green eyes. It was her! Uncertainly, Scott took a step toward her and stopped, afraid that if he continued any farther, she would disappear into thin air like a dream. He couldn't lose her again. Cautiously, he took another step, then another, all the while keeping his eyes on Jean. But Jean didn't disappear. Her smile grew bigger and brighter with each step Scott took.

"Jean...", Scott said, and suddenly Jean was in his arms. It felt so good to hold her again, to once again feel her presence there with him. That presence had been missing for far too long. Silently, to himself, Scott vowed never to lose Jean again. Once had nearly killed him.

They embraced for a long time, ending with a soul-felt kiss. Jean's tears finally spilt over as a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, as if begging to be born. *Home IS where the heart is.*, she thought, as the couple left the room holding hands. *And after all this time, I'm finally home*

***

Chapter Two coming up next!