The Grounds of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning

Emma Frost stood in a graveyard. Although summer had not even arrived, leaves had already begun to fall from the trees. The X-Men had been concerned, but it had quickly been ascertained that this abnormal seasonal change was entirely to do with Krakoa’s unique sense of time. To Emma however, there was nothing natural about a mutant island spreading its influence throughout the Xavier Estate, worming its way through the memorial garden, through the graves…

“Emma.”

The deep booming baritone of Henry McCoy provided Emma with a welcome reprieve. But something prevented her from facing him, throwing her arms around him as she had wished to ever since she had arrived. Her mind was elsewhere, or rather she was wishing that she could cast it elsewhere.

The mutant known as Beast had only recently come out the other side of a battle with the vicious killer, Sabretooth, before the war with the Phoenix. That and his most recently ordeal had certainly left their mark on him.

“You should be in bed, Henry,” Emma advised. Even from her current vantage point, she could see that he was shuffling. She’d long ago learned to read his cat-like visage and could tell he was still in pain.

“And you should have come to visit me,” Hank retorted. “I’m told I have you to thank for saving my life.” He paused and looked around thoughtfully. “Though perhaps I should make you apologise for dragging me out here, instead.”

“Rogue did her part. ” Emma replied.” And I’m sure you heardmuch more than that

“I didn’t come here to chastise you, Emma,” Hank said. “When was the last time we had a proper conversation?”

Emma let loose the ghost of a smile. “When you climbed onto my bed in the middle of the night, back in San Fransisco.”

“I just said that chastisement doesn’t count,” Hank said, chuckling.

“Don’t worry, dear.” Emma said and smiled. “I won’t breathe a word to Agent Brand. Not that I’d have the time to.”

“Kitty’s been running you ragged, eh?”

Emma cocked an eyebrow.

That was an understatement. Emma had barely had a moment to herself since she had become a junior member of staff at the Jean Grey School, let alone one to offer someone else. With Rachel Grey forced to give her undivided attention to manning Cerebra, Emma’s insult of a job title had become just that, a mere title.

Despite what Emma knew was Kitty Pryde’s better judgement, the current headmistress had been relying more and more heavily on Emma and her wealth of experience in the teaching of young mutants. The long restless hours had left Emma feeling more dishevelled than she had while in prison, but she knew she would get by. Grace was her middle name after all.

But Emma had noticed the absence of her older students. Julian Keller, Noriko Ashida, Cessily Kincaid, Santo Vaccaro…Emma wondered, not for the first time whether Pryde had made a conscious effort to keep her away from them and keep her from “sullying” their minds any further.

“I heard about what you said.” Hank continued. “About Warren.”

Finally, Emma tore her eyes off the graves and turned to face Hank.

“Yes?”

“Emma, do you really believe you can help?” Hank asked.

Emma stared at Hank and suddenly she felt indignation build up within her. It did not matter seemingly, that it had been Bobby who had come to her and asked for her help. She may have dragged it up during a spat with Kitty, but that didn’t mean she had done it just to stir up old wounds. With the cosmic might of the Phoenix at her disposal, Emma had done nothing to see if she could salvage a trace of the old Angel. That was something Emma wanted to rectify, now that she had the chance.

“Betsy and Rachel have both scanned his mind.” Emma stated. “And found nothing, I know.” She said, raising a hand to stop Hank from interrupting her. “For all of that, I don’t see Warren’s name on a headstone.”

Hank’s expression turned wounded. He stepped forward again, closing some of the distance between himself and Emma.

“Emma,” he whispered softly. “Explain to me why any of us would want another headstone here.”

Emma’s expression turned cold. “I understand exactly why none of us would want to add another name to our long list of casualties, Henry. I understand what death means. My Hellions are dead. Everett Thomas and Angelo Espinosa are dead. Kurt Wagner is dead. Sean Cassidy is dead. Charles Xavier is dead.”

With each name she rattled off, Emma felt her heart become harder, until she unconsciously shifted to her diamond form. She forced herself back to flesh and blood.

“I’ve never been one to shy away from the facts of the matter, Henry and neither have you,” she said emphatically. ” Can you say without doubt that Warren is gone?”

“And all it would take would be the restoration of your own telepathic powers to find out, is that it?” Hank responded robustly. “We’ve barely put Charles in the ground, Emma!”

“Bobby came to me, Henry. Not the other way around,” Emma reminded him. “He didn’t consider Charles’ death to be reason enough not to deal with Warren’s situation. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think it is either!”

“But what of the man Warren has become now, Emma?” asked Hank. “We all do and will continue to have doubts that Warren is lost to us. But even if there was a chance we could salvage Warren from within Angel’s psyche and I’m not saying there is, Angel isn’t catatonic and he certainly he isn’t an empty shell. Angel is a human being in his own right. Do we have any right to take his life away from him?”