She Knows Where She Has To Be

** This story takes place immediately following the events in New Avengers # 24 and prior to Avengers vs. X-Men #2. Team X! **


I feel T'Challa's hand against my side and I hear him whisper. "Ororo? Ororo, are you even listening?"

I am not.

The great Captain America, a man for whom I've no shortage of respect, has gathered each of us – each of The Avengers – to this place. He's assembled men and women from all of his teams: men and women I've fought and fought alongside for years. His voice is deep, stoic. A nervousness and a calm. My husband's fingers tighten against me, another disapproval of my vacant stare ahead as Steven Rogers continues on…

But I can only look at him.

At Logan.

Across the room, eyes down; avoiding my own. I know this man, far better than I know any of the Avengers—and far better than any Avenger knows him. And he avoids my eyes. As if to say –

"Who here knows what the Phoenix Force is?"

No. It's not Logan that says it. It's Steven.

Captain America.

I feel my body fall forward against the table. My husband's fingertips break away. No one speaks, though I've no choice.

"Goddess."

I look at the Captain. He looks at me.

And I turn.

I hear my husband's voice: "Ororo."

I do not look back. "Let her go, Panther. She knows where she has to be," I hear Captain America say.

And he's right.

I feel the New York wind against my face as I rise above Avengers Mansion. What am I doing here?

I've not seen eye to eye with Scott for some time, but I respect him. I love him—if not for shouldering the burden of mutantkind in a world where we're nearly extinct, in a world without Charles Xavier's guidance—then for Jean.

Goddess. Jean.

For Captain America to have assembled so many… for Logan to have avoided…

"Who here knows what the Phoenix Force is?"

Could it be Jean? Has something…?

"Cyclops," I speak into my earpiece without response. "Scott."

Nothing. "Scott, it's Ororo. I'm en route to Utopia. Respond."

I push against the winds and I feel them bend. They rip across my skin and through my hair and I push forward, each current obeying my will. The speed may be interfering with my communicator. I feel my stomach drop a second time as I focus my mind—and I call out to her.

"Emma."

The wind continues to dance and I concentrate harder. "EMMA."

Nothing.

I fly blindly ahead—racing across the country—wondering if Logan had known… No. Knowing Logan knew.

Wondering if my husband had known… No, T'Challa knew nothing.

I know nothing.

Save for what my instincts scream: that I am needed, and it is not in New York. Not with the Avengers.

Whatever has happened—is happening—I have not forgotten the hell of the Phoenix. I have not forgotten Jean.

And I have not forgotten what I am.

I am an X-Man.