Five words to strike fear into the hearts of spies and evildoers everywhere: Jamie Madrox, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Except Madrox has decided that it’s time to start gathering in the stray dupes that are still wandering around, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent doesn’t especially want to go...and S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t especially inclined to let him go.
“Yeaaaaah,” Jamie thinks, as he considers to the held-held automatic rifles pointed at him. This day isn’t going the way he’d hoped.
Trying to remain calm, Jamie silently tells himself to think of something incredibly clever to say. When “Hey, there,” is what comes, Jamie chides himself. Perfect. There’s dazzling witty repartee for you. Then again, even though he’s trying to get his act together, this hasn’t exactly been his day for knowing just what to say or what to do, has it? Considering it started off with his failing spectacularly in fence-mending with Theresa and Monet, the best thing one can say about him today… is that he’s been consistent.
As repairmen from “Danny’s Home Repairs” attend to the broken window through which he was thrown earlier, Jamie pleads to Terry to say something. Do something. Don’t just… Kneeling next to her as she sits on the couch, looking at a magazine, Jamie asks if hitting him would make her feel better. Then do it, he instructs her. Slug him. Or yell at him. Or cry at him. Or grab his hair and tear it out at the roots. Something Anything. Just not the glare and the silent treatment.
Look, he pleads through his distraught countenance, pot-marked with three band-aids, he’s… He’s ninety-percent sure that he’s the one she slept with her, and not his… y;know… unleashed libido. And he should have told her earlier, but she…
Interrupting, Theresa speaks Jamie’s name in a whisper. Smiling that he has finally received a reply, Jamie replies that he’s listening. She doesn’t have to whisper. Yes, she does, she rejoins. See… if she whispers, it’s easier for her to control herself. If she starts talking… she’s going to start shouting, then comes yelling, then comes screaming. And then comes a demolished neighborhood. So she needs him to walk away before that happens.
Understanding, Jamie rises to his feet and, his arms wide in acceptance, suggests that they do this later when she’s not as, y’know… Homicidal, she offers, not even looking in his direction. Right, he answers. That. Not taking his eyes off of Theresa, Jamie instead backs away. Okay, later then… Suddenly feeling himself pulled backwards, Jamie emits an understandably worried, “Uh-oh.”
Half a moment later, Jamie finds himself lifted off his feet by Monet, who presses him against the wall with enough force to generate a dupe. Incensed, she announces that she wants to talk to him. When Jamie doesn’t seem to understand, Monet clarifies. The dupe who seduced her. She realizes now there’s no point kicking his tail. She wants the dupe’s. Turning her attention to the newly-created dupe, she asks him if he is him. When the dupe begins to sob, tears streaming from his eyes, she says nope. Definitely not.
Still off of his feet and against the wall, Jamie suggests that she put him down and they can… He is interrupted, as Monet pulls him away from the wall far enough to push him back, generating another dupe by the impact. Pressing his finger against his jugular, the new dupe announces that his pulse is going like a jackrabbit and wonders what is diastolic is… Ignoring him, Monet tells Madrox Prime to c’mon. Is he hiding him?
Calling her “super ex-girlfriend,” Jamie has had enough. He tells her it doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t have any control over it. He can’t just… just will one particular dupe into existence! It’s the luck of the draw! Coldly, Monet repeats his words, “luck of the draw.” Fine, she tells him. She’ll just keep dealing it out. Bumping him up against the wall again, Monet shouts to the new dupe, asking, “Are you him?” Sheepishly, the dupe replies that violence is not the way to enlightenment. Instead, they must…
Ignoring the new dupe, Monet returns her attention to Madrox Prime and begins repeatedly and violently to bump him against the wall.
Standing outside a door, Guido announces that he’s changed his mind. He can’t do this. To this, Rahne replies that she doesn’t want to be there. He forced her so she could force him. Just get on with it, okay? But be tactful. After a quick rap of his knuckles on the door, Guido tells her to screw this. He should just turn himself over to the cops, get it over with. If that’s what he wants, Rahne replies. She won’t stand in his w…
Her words trail as the door is opened by Alix Buchanan, who recognizes Guido. “Mister, uh… Carosella, is it? Of X-Factor.” When he confirms, Ali then notes “Miss Sinclair,” saying that he wasn’t expecting to see them. Has there been a break in the case? Do they know where…”
Interrupting sheepishly, Guido tells Mizz Buchanan that, here’s the thing… Rahne begins to say that they’d like to come in and explain, but Guido cannot hold it in any longer. Gushing, he explains that her husband’s dead. The reason he knows is that he killed him. Crushed his throat. Before Guido can elaborate any further, Alix Buchanan faints, landing with a thud onto her floor. Lifting his miniscule goggles, Guido asks Mizz Buchanan if she is okay, while Rahne rolls her eyes. Yeah, bloody tactful that, she mocks.
At the former mutant bar called the Power Plant, Jamie and Rictor are the only two patrons. The rest of the bar is deserted, save for the bartender and their waitress, who brings them a fresh pair of bottles. Remarking to Madrox’s bandages, Rictor asks what happened to him. He looks like something the cat dragged in and then barfed on. It’s… complicated, he replies. And private. He doesn’t need to know. To this, Rictor asks if this is a bout him and a dupe doin’ the horizontal mambo with both Monet and Terry.
Reeling from this, Jamie haltingly asks how’d he… Interrupting, Rictor replies, “I’m Rictor. I know stuff.” Hearing this, Jamie remarks that Layla blabbed. To this, Rictor remarks that she annoys the snot outta him, but he’s gotta admit, the kid’s got her uses. So, Rictor then adds, pointing his fresh beer bottle at Jamie as the waitress provides him his. Fess up. Which filly is the wilder ride? Dismissively, Jamie tells Rictor that he’s a real pig, does he know that? A real pig. So announced, the table is devoid of conversation, as Jamie takes a swig of his beer, while Rictor examines his fingernails with a whistle. The table the turns to complete silence as Rictor brings his own bottle to his mouth, as he casually takes a swallow. A moment later, looking away, Jamie finally answers with “Monet,” to which Rictor excitedly yells, “I knew it. I freakin’ knew it.”
Turning back to Rictor, Jamie explains that Theresa’s like… like ocean waves washing over you. Monet’s like a monsoon. Remarking back, Rictor says that it sounds like, either way, anyone in the first five rows is gonna get soaked. Pretty much, Jamie replies. And now they both hate his guts, he adds, moving his fingers against his chin in thought.
Still smiling, Rictor replies that they’ll get over it. And hey, man… what a night he had, right? He always says, if you’re gonna go, go down in flames. When Jamie replies that he supposes, Rictor then says, speaking of going down… Interrupting before he can go further, Jamie tells him to shut up, or he swears to God…
Holding up his hands defensively, Rictor agrees. Change the subject. Fine, Jamie replies. So… he notices Quicksilver’s taken an interest in him lately. What up with that? Looking away, his demeanor changing slightly, Rictor replies that nothing’s “up.” Dude’s got a lot of interesting stuff to say, that’s all. Keeps talking ‘bout giving him his powers back. Not sure if he’s on the level. So, he’s been, y’know… feeling him out. No big deal. It ain’t like he’s sleeping with him… As Jamie then takes a swallow from his drink, sporting a playful grin, Rictor then adds “…anymore.” To Rictor’s surprise, in reaction to his own, Jamie spews forth a stream of beer from his mouth, covering Rictor’s face.
Wiping his face with his hand, Rictor calls over to the waitress, asking if he could get a towel. Still choking from the beer, Jamie haltingly asks Rictor if he and Quicksilver… Incredulous, Rictor replies to Jamie that, ever since he went all noir, he’s got, like, zero sense o’ humor. As Rictor then wipes his face with the towel, brought by their waitress, he realizes that it was just a joke. Of course, Rictor replies. Not that the guy/guy thing is… It’s just that Pietro’s semi-evil, and… “Gimme a little credit, huh?”
A little embarrassed, Jamie replies that at this point he’s ruling nothing out. He means, jeez… His dupes are out of control. Siryn and M are livid. Rahne only just started talking again. And she still won’t say what’s wrong. Guido’s a wreck. Even Layla’s looking jumpy. Some team. Lifting his bottle, Rictor toasts X-Factor: for putting the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” To this, he then adds that at least Pietro and he aren’t an item, so that’s good, right?” So toasted, Rictor takes a long drought. Not joining for the moment, Jamie replies that he supposes. With a slight smile, he adds that God knows Rictor wouldn’t want to make Shatterstar jealous. To this, Rictor involuntarily expels his mouthful of beer all over Jamie. Holding up the towel to the dumbstruck Rictor, Jamie remarks “First five rows, huh?”
Sitting on the couch, across the coffee table from Alix Buchanan, Rahne tells her that that’s the whole story. Guido wanted her to know. Standing some distance behind Rahne and her couch, Guido reclines against a stairway guardrail, his eyes downcast and arms folded across his stomach. Regarding Guido, the subject of Rahne’s tale, Alix asks if she’s saying he’s… he’s all right? Kinda depends on what sense, Rahne rejoins. They brought in a hypnotherapist who undid Singualrity’s damage. Among other things, Guido now remembers where SI’s operatives, uhm… Knowing full well why Rahne is hesitating, Guido finishes her sentence. “Dumped the body,” he says.
Agreeing, Rahne continues. The police were alerted via an “anonymous” tipster, so they’ve doubtless recovered it… him…, she corrects. So she will likely be hearing from, uh… The conversation having grown too difficult, Rhane’s words trail off, her eyes moving to avoid Alix.
Silent as she does so, Alix Buchanan reaches out, placing her coffee mug onto the table before her. Equally as mute, she stands, bypassing the wide-eyed Rahne as she makes her way toward the immobile Guido, still sheepishly reclined against the railing. Stopping a short distance from Guido and addressing him as “Mr. Carosella,” Alix asks him if he believes in God, much to his surprise. When she repeats this, more emphatically, he reluctantly admits that he’s kind of a lapsed Catholic. Why?
Henry and she were regular churchgoers, she replies. They believed that everything happens for a reason. Every thing, and every one… for a reason. She doesn’t know what his reason for being on this Earth is any more than she knows hers. But she knows what it’s not. It’s not to rot in jail because the monsters at Singularity victimized him. Henry wouldn’t have wanted that nor does she.
“But… his murder…” Guido stutters. Placing her had gently on his massive one, Alix replies that it will be just one more unsolved murder. Singularity gets no more victims. “They don’t get you,” she says. “Promise?” When he stammers in his response, she repeats it more emphatically. Though still stammering, Guido says that he guesses so… His word given, Alix Buchanan presses her diminutive form against the bulk of Guido Carosella in a heartfelt embrace. As he wraps his arms around her in reciprocation, tears come to them both.
Pondering the events at this meeting from elsewhere, Jamie Madrox is as sure as he knows anything that Guido is making a huge mistake, talking to Alix Buchanan. He can just image it, he thinks. The screaming. The recriminations. He killed her husband. She’s not gonna let him walk away from that. She’s probably calling the cops right now. He wishes he could help him, or her, or somebody. But how can he do that when he can’t even help out himself? So, he decided there’s only one guy for the job.
Walking among the other visitors at the Central Park Zoo, Jamie thinks how gorgeous a day it is. He likes looking at the animals. Some people get outraged at the caged beasts. They say it’s unnatural. Wrong. He says they’re lucky. No decisions. No choosing who lives and who dies. It’s bliss. Viewing the penguins, Jamie, still bandaged from his fight with Monet, says, “Remember: cute and cuddly, boys. Cute and cuddly.”
Approaching Jamie, Doc Samson asks if he is aware that he could have just come to his office. Replying that he does, Jamie then thanks the “Doc” for coming out there. Not a problem, Samson replies, adding, “Leonard Samson, shrink. Have couch, will travel.” It’s right on his business card.
Getting to business, Samson asks Jamie how things are with Monet and Theresa. When Jamie then asks what he thinks, Samson replies that he doesn’t see glass shards in his hair, so he takes it he hasn’t been thrown through another window. As he leads the psychiatrist outside, Jamie replies that, don’t get him wrong, it is a nice change of pace, but he was hoping for more out of life than not being defenestrated.
A moment later, the two find themselves in the sublevel of the polar bear section, where they can view the subsurface of the polar bears’ diving pool. One such polar bear dives below the surface, eying the two inquisitively. Regarding the bear, Jamie remarks that he read that, within a few decades, polar bears might be extinct ‘cause of global warming, courtesy of mankind. Asked how he feels about that by Samson, Jamie replies that it sucks. For one thing, what’ll they use to sell “Coca-Cola?” Rejoining that that’s the true tragedy, Samson then asks him to come on. His gaze still fixated on the polar bear, who returns the stare, Jamie admits he thinks it shows that things of beauty can be hurt without anybody intending to.
To this, Samson asks Jamie if he thinks if that is what he believes he did with Theresa and Monet. Jamie does not reply, however, as his attention is fixated on his hand, which reaches out and presses against the glass holding back the water and separating he two from the polar bear. Almost in mirror image, the bear extends one of its paws, touching the glass in the same way from the other side.
When Samson repeats his name inquisitively, Jamie adds that it’s just that… He feels like he’s all over the place. Literally. And because his life is out of control, the team’s out of control. The widening gyre, center cannot hold, that whole thing. He needs to pull it together, but he doesn’t know how.
Leaving the section and entering the monkey area, Samson asks Jamie in what respect his life is out of control. In response, Jamie asks if he means aside from finding out he’s not technically a mutant, but part of this… this “other race”… and he’s not even sure what that means yet? Besides that, Samson replies. Well, Jamie begins, his dupes are literally all over the place. It’s like they’re running the show and he’s playing catch-up and damage control. One’s apparently working for SHIELD, of all things. And there’re others he sent out in his “great Odyssey of learning” who still haven’t come back…
Considering this as they view some chimpanzees, Samson suggests that that’s certainly a place to start, isn’t it? At first not following, Jamie suddenly does. He means get himself together by doing that literally. Go out and gather up his stray dupes. When Samson confirms, Jamie replies that he thinks he’s right. How can he be in charge of anyone else if he’s not in charge of himself? It might be tricky, Samson then adds. From what he’s said, his dupes can be unpredictable. To this, Jamie asks what’s the worst that can happen? A moment later, an immense SPLAT! resounds, as something impacts the glass between the chimps and the two. Though Samson recoils in reflect, Jamie does not flinch, but continues to look forward in near-shock. Grimacing slightly, Jamie remarks that no monkey’s ever thrown excrement at him before. When Jamie then asks him if he thinks that’s an omen, Samson replies that they should hope not.
Heartened by his conversation with Samson, Jamie feels that he now has a new purpose. A focus. Rather than returning to X-Factor HQ, he decides that it’s best to start immediately. Hell, he thinks, probably smarter to stay away until things cool down. The girls can handle anything that comes up, he’s sure. He means… it’s not like they resent each other over what happened. That would be silly.
Inside the main room in X-Factor HQ, Theresa and Monet sit in silence, Theresa at a table and Monet at the counter. Each is engrossed in reading, Monet with a copy of Vogue and Theresa with a newspaper. Though just a short distance separates them, a gulf of hostility exists between. Through this sea of enmity Layla Miller enters and ponders. Considering the situation, she regards Theresa and Monet with pursed lips and her hands on her hips.
A moment later, much to Monet’s surprise, Layla positions herself behind her chair and pivots it around so that Monet is facing Theresa. Monet begins to protest, but is silence by an emphatic “Shut Up! from Layla. Before Monet can recover, Layla moves to Theresa’s chair and repeats the maneuver. Moving between the two, Layla begins to gyrate her arms as she scolds the two.
They both feel used, she tells them. Fine. She getsthat. But Jamie, he’s all… all. And they are so… and she knew it wouldn’t end well, but he made them feel good for awhile, right? And… and… just… just… Just stop, she finally says. Okay?!? If they can’t stop being mad at Jamie, at least stop being mad at each other, ‘cause she hates how it is now, and if it doesn’t change… then she’s gonna make it change.
Her piece said, Layla turns around and storms out, much to the dumbstruck surprise of Theresa and Monet. Once again alone, the two regard each other silently, sizing each other up. Deciding to break the silence, Monet unenthusiastically asks Theresa if she wants to go shopping or something. Incredulous at this, Theresa in turn asks if that’s her answer to this? Shopping? When Monet replies with a “yup,” Theresa replies that of all the… that is the most… Where was she possibly thinking of shopping? Paris, Monet replies simply. She can have a chartered jet ready to go in half an hour. Considering it for a moment, Theresa tosses aside her newspaper as she rises. “Yeah, all right,” she says.
Approaching an immense building, Jamie Madrox considers its occupants. SHIELD. Central Headquarters of the Super-Hero Internment, Elimination and Licensing Division. That’s not what it actually stands for, he muses, just what it’s become. And he – or more accurately, one of his dupes – is an agent there. The dupe confused the hell out his people when he came to sign them up for the Registration Act. “His people,” he thinks somberly. He wonders if he even has “people” anymore.
Though lost in thought, Jamie strides into the building as if he belonged, dressed in a suit befitting an agent of SHIELD so that he looks as such as well. However, entering the expansive main foyer, Jamie Madrox is unsure of where to go next. Sensing this, another agent approaches him, asking him if he’s okay. He seems a little confused. Trying to rebuff the question, Madrox replies that he just has a headache. Feeling dizzy… got kind of turned around heading to his office. To this, the other agent remarks that he doesn’t blame him. He’s been there two years and he still gets confused. Poking his thumb over his left shoulder, the agent tells Madrox that his office is down there. Third door on the right.
Remarking that he thought that was it, Jamie thanks the agent and heads to that direction. A few moments later, he opens a door, only to find a pair of hand-held automatic rifles pointed at him. Almost trying to think of something clever to say to this, he remarks, “Hey, there.” When someone from beyond the two gunmen says, “Hey, yourself,” Jamie immediately recognizes the voice as belonging to Val Cooper. Sitting at the edge of the desk in the room and flanked by two other armed SHIELD agents, Val Cooper confirms with a smirk. Val Cooper. His old boss, back in the day.
Flabbergasted, Jamie asks Val if she’s with SHIELD now, to which Val quips with a wry, Nooo. She’s still with the Office of National Emergency. She had a meeting there… Luckily for him. They were ready to drop him the second he bluffed his way in. She talked them out of it. When he then asks her if he’s that transparent, she replies that he makes cellophane look opaque, for God’s sake. This is SHIELD, she tells him, not Wal-Mart.
Pressing her point, Val moves around the desk, asking Jamie if he seriously thinks they didn’t make allowances for the fact that their Madrox isn’t unique? He has a subcutaneous I.D. chip so they know it’s him. Remarking to this, Jamie quips that, when it comes to him, she knows zilch. His dupes, he tells her, are becoming unstable. She needs him to take the one they’ve got off their hands, before it’s too late. Undeterred, Val informs Jamie that the only reason he’s not in jail is because of her. She’s been running interference between the feds and his agency, out of a sense of… she doesn’t know. Call it old time’s sake. She thinks he has a lot to contribute. But she can’t protect him forever. When he then rejoins that he doesn’t need her protection, Val retorts that he does. More than he knows. And stay out of SHIELD’s way, she then adds. Got it?
Without missing a beat, he says her name inquisitively. “Val?” When she responds, he Jamie Madrox narrows his eyes, tersely fixating them deeply into hers. This was really special, he tells her. “Let’s do it again soon.”
A few minutes later, Jamie Madrox is walking along the street, away from SHIELD HQ. Well, they didn’t go for the “dupes becoming unstable” thing, he laments, even though it might be more accurate than even he wants to know. Maybe he did underestimate them, he then ponders. But they underestimated him as well. He has a low-level psychic link to all his dupes. He can track one to a general area by concentration… and the closer he gets, the more he knows it. He was there in the next room, Jamie thinks of his SHIELD agent dupe. In the next room or somewhere close, and that means…
Madrox’s thoughts are interrupted by the calls of a young girl, calling out “Excuse me, mister.” Turning to her, he apologizes. He was having am inner monologue. When this only serves to confuse her, he tells her to never mind. What’s up? Holding up her box, labeled Girl Scout Cookies, she asks if he would like to buy some. She has thin mints. Examining the box closer, Jamie informs the little girl that he had an overweight friend who ate a thin mints box every day. Never got thin. Why does she think that w…?
As she had interrupted his thought’s earlier, now the little girl’s box interrupts Madrox’s words, as a cloud of grey gas fwoooofs from it, knocking him out. Luckily for him, the little girl catches his, chiding him for being a “funny guy.” Addressing two men emerging from an unmarked white van, she tells them to Schnell! Schnell!. As they and a few other men in dark suits and dark sunglasses, the little girl calls someone on her mobile phone. She instructs the party on the other side to inform their leaders they have captured Agent James Madrox of SHIELD. They are on their way back to headquarters immediately to proceed with the plan.
As she enters the back of the van herself, closing the door behind her, she shouts to her men. “Well done! Hail Hydra! Let’s go.” So ordered, the van takes off, losing itself in the heart of the city.