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Two Meetings, One in Person, One Not.” Think it’s tough to convince fans that one of Marvel’s mighty mutants was genuinely killed in action and never returning? Try convincing one of X-Factor’s members, lost in denial over the death of a loved one. Meanwhile, Jamie Madrox has his first face-to-face confrontation with Mr. Tryp, the mysterious head of Singlarity Investigations...and let’s just say it doesn’t go very well for Madrox.

Issue Summary:

Jamie Madrox is propelled through the window of Damian Tryp’s high-rise office building, dozens of stories above the street below. He – along with his dupe, created by the impact of the window – begin the long fall to certain death.

(earlier that morning)

In their office of X-Factor Investigations, Rahne calls out to Jamie, just arriving at the office, informing him that he just received a letter by courier from Singularity Investigations. When he asks what they want, she replies that “he” wants to meet with him. Further asked “he who,” Rahne tells him that it’s Damian Tryp, senior. The head of the company.

As he tries to place his coat on the hanger, failing to make the toss, Jamie wonders why Tryp wants to see him. Maybe he’s a fan of his work, Rahne suggests. Incredulous at this, Jamie reminds her that they got one of his clients thrown in jail for manslaughter and one of his operatives blew her brains out rather than having them catch her. A fan? Not likely.

After finally successfully placing his coat on the rack, Jamie asks to see the letter. He notes that it is at 3 PM that day and wonders aloud what’s the worst that can happen. To this, Rahne suggests that Tryp kills him. He should send a duplicate. It’s too easy not to. All he has to do is hit something and… presto - instant duplicate. Dismissing this, Jamie rejoins that he’s not afraid to face him. When Rahne quickly declares that he’s being an idiot, Jamie replies that he’s not afraid to be that, either.

Jamie and Rahne’s conversation is suddenly interrupted by a new arrival, who promptly greets the two. Looking up from the letter, Jamie greets the new arrival in turn, asking what brings them there. The new arrival informs them that they need to see Siryn… Theresa. They heard she’d been injured. Jamie replies that she’s well on the mend. In great spirits.

Upstairs, Theresa announces to the Lord almighty that she needs a drink. Holding a tray, Layla replies to Theresa that she’s in luck. She brought up a root beer with her lunch. Irritated, Theresa asks where they get off, calling soda pop “beer?” That’s just … un-American. She needs a real drink. Just one, swear to God. Just to ease the pain. Still trying to be helpful, Layla suggests that she could get her some more aspirin. However, Theresa replies that it’s not that pain. She was beaten half to death. She was held bound and gagged. Does she have any idea… any… how humiliating that was? How…

Interrupting as she places the lunch tray on a table, Layla asks Theresa if she wants her to bring her a drink. She’s an alcoholic. Why not just ask her to shoot her in the heart? It’s the same thing… Angered, Theresa points her cane at Layla, telling her not to dare lecture her. When Layla begins to defend that she wasn’t, Theresa replies that she was, the little sanctimonious…

A voice interrupts the escalation of Theresa’s rant, apologizing if this is a bad time. Turning to the new arrival, Theresa greets Scott Summers of the X-Men, calling him a stranger. Saying a proper hello to her, Scott informs her that he needs to speak to her about something, if it’s not too much trouble… In private, right, Layla says. Not waiting for a reply, she states that it’s okay. She’ll make herself scarce. Before leaving, however, Layla takes a moment to tell Theresa that she’s sorry. Sitting in a chair, Theresa apologizes back, saying that she was out of line just then…. Interrupting her, Layla places her hand on Theresa’s, rejoining that it’s not about that. She’ll understand later.

As Layla leaves, Scott asks what she’s doing there. When Theresa then asks back if he knows her, Scott begins to reply yes, but then thinks better of it. Instead, he states that he was just… surprised that some young girl is hanging around there… Who, uh… he stammers. Who is she? Cocking her head back, Theresa replies that she’s Layla Miller. She “knows stuff.” If Nostradamus was reborn as Wednesday Addams, that’s be her.

Changing subjects, Theresa asks if she can guess. Scott heard what happened to her and got all worried and wanted the details. Stumbling over his answer, Scott replies that he was worried, but that’s not… Regaining his composure, Scott tells Theresa that, as leader of the X-Men, there’re some things that fall to him, and they’re not easy to…

Sitting forward, Theresa asks Scott what’s going on. He explains that there was a plane… a plane full of innocent people and… Crazed at the slow pace of information, Theresa asks Scott to please just tell her what’s… Banshee was killed in action, he tells her bluntly. He’s sorry.

Explaining further, he tells her that a madman had taken over their jet, the Blackbird, and was flying it toward a planeload of innocent people. Sean took a run at stopping the Blackbird, but his sonic scream hasn’t been the same since Mystique slit his throat. Anyway, he blew straight at the Blackbird, and his sound assault didn’t slow it, and… The Blackbird hit him straight on. It was incredibly brave, Scott says, and he was honored to have fought at his side. All the X-Men were, and X-Corporation…

Trailing, Scott’s words end and he stands in silence as Theresa takes in his news. When she does not reply after a few moments, he says her name inquisitively. He then tells her that there’s going to be a reading of the will but he has some personal effects that he’s got there for her… Shaken out of her trance, Theresa asks about the reading of his will. When Scott confirms, Theresa asks why. It’s not like he’s really dead. To this, Scott Summers is speechless.

Later, at Singularity Investigations, Damian Tryp, senior, welcomes Jamie Madrox with open arms into his spacious office. Shaking Jamie’s hand, Tryp thanks him for coming. Well, he asked him, Jamie replies. So…

Returning to behind his desk, Tryp senior gestures to another present, telling Jamie that he believes he’s already made the acquaintance of Damian junior. Replying with an “Ohhh right,” Jamie recalls him from the park the other day. Shaking Jamie’s hand, Damian junior recalls it as well. It’s hard to forget forty of the same man standing there with bats, looking threatening. Well, you know what they say, Jamie replies. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Clearly not amused, Damian junior asks if he calls trying to scare him a “good first impression.” His own face the height of calm and dispassionate, Jamie replies that he guesses it depends on one’s definition of “good.” Indeed, Damian junior rejoins.

Walking to the stand, upon which rests a small statue of Romulus and Remus as infants, suckling the she-wolf that raised them, Jamie tells the two that he loves what they’ve done with the place. It oozes confidence and gravitas, with just a dollop of testosterone. And age. Like they’ve been in business for centuries. How long have they been around? Quite some time, Damian senior replies. It’s a family business.

When Damian senior directs him to have a seat, Jamie complies, leaning back with his hands behind his head. He suggests that Damian junior sit as well. These are really comfortable chairs. When junior replies that he knows, as he picked them out, Jamie rejoins with a “good on you, then.”

Wishing to get to the subject, Jamie tells Damian senior that, while he could just stay there, luxuriating in rich Corinthian leather and trading dazzling self-conscious repartee the whole day, he suspects that they both have other things to do. Agreeing, Damian senior informs Jamie that they want to invite him to join the Singularity Investigations family. When Jamie does not seem to immediately understand, Damian senior explains that they– how to put this… They want to sign him to an exclusive contract. Jamie takes a moment to take this in, before exploding in uncontrollable laughter.

Angry at such impertinence, Damian junior reminds his father that he told him that this was a waste of time. Still smiling, Damian senior replies that Mr. Madrox hasn’t heard the details… Wiping the tears from his eyes, Jamie agrees, asking, by all means, for him to hit him with the details. Is he talking all of X-Factor or just him? How about medical? Dental? Is there a signing bonus?

Growing serious, Damian senior replies that it is for all of them. They would investigate the cases they provide them, plus be put on a regular – and very generous – stipend. A guaranteed minimum. A “pay or play” deal, as it were. Yes, they provide medical and dental. A signing bonus is open to discussion.

Taken aback, Jamie tells Damian that he’s got to dig up a sense of humor. He wasn’t serious. Undeterred, Tryp senior then informs Madrox that they’ll buy him outright. Fifty million dollars for the whole operation, soup to nuts. To this, Jamie Madrox can offer only stunned silence.

In the common room of X-Factor Investigations, Guido finds Rahne, Rictor and Monet lounging in a melancholic mood. When he asks them why all the long faces, Rahne replies that they have bad news… Sean Cassidy is dead. Shocked at this, Guido replies that that’s too bad. He remembers him from “the Hardy Boys.” When Rahne is taken aback by this, Guido replies that he stared in the show with, what’s his name, Kirstie Alley’s ex. And he did a nice cover of “Da Doo Ron Ron…”

Rising to her feet, Monet rejoins that it’s not Shaun Cassidy, the actor. S-E-A-N Cassidy, the Banshee. Embarrassed by his error, Guido swears, saying that he feels like an idiot. Sitting back down, Monet suggests that he go with that feeling. Rictor tries to defend Guido, asking Monet to cut him some slack, but Monet replies with a sarcastic, whatever.

Ignoring the two, Guido asks Rahne what happened. She explains that Scott came by. He said Banshee died in combat, saving a planeload of people. Well, that’s how he’d have wanted to go out, Guido replies. He then asks how’s “Sy” been taking it. He bets she’s a wreck. Interrupting their conversation, Theresa sticks her head in. She informs the two that she was thinking they bring in Chinese for dinner tonight and asks who’s in. Seeing only silent faces, with jaws dropped, she assumes that his means Chinese’s no good.

Finally speaking up, Guido tells Theresa that he heard about her dad, and he’s… Dismissing it, Theresa asks him to give her a break. Half the X-teams are always mourning the other half, thinking them dead. If he’s thinking he’s dead, if he thinks she’s falling for it, he can just forget it. Her “da” is fine. He’ll turn up. Returning to the subject of dinner, she announces she’s finding the menu. They should leave their orders on the kitchen table. She’ll phone it in. With this, Theresa turns and leaves, leaving behind a dumbstruck group. Speaking first, Monet proclaims that “denial” really isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Leaning across Damian Tryp senior’s desk, Jamie Madrox tells his hosts that there’s no denying he’s impressed… Interrupting, Damian senior replies that they felt it only respectful to make him a serious offer. Oh, not the offer, Madrox corrects, placing his fist on the desk. It’s that they must be getting close to something in their investigation. Something big. Something they don’t want X-Factor to find out. Placing his own fist on his desk, Damian senior asks through gritted teeth what might that be? The Decimation, obviously, Madrox rejoins. He’s thinking he had something t do with it. “Oh, really?” Damian spits back. And how does he come to that conclusion? They’ve been spending the past weeks rousting the usual suspects. People who have a grudge against mutants. Bad guys who’d like to see them dead. No one admits to knowing anything. Now… they could all be lying… or maybe someone who hasn’t been on their radar until recently is involved. Someone like them, Damian replies. Yup, Madrox rejoins.

Sitting back, Tryp smiles. He tells Jamie that he’s beginning to think their offer was too high, if that’s the limit of their investigative thinking. “The Usual Suspects” will suffice if they’re Claude Rains… or even Kevin Spacey. Why hasn’t he considered going in the opposite direction? What, Madrox asks. Does he mean their friends? Their allies? They went to them first thing. None of them knows anything about it. So they say, Damian junior chimes in. Yeah, Madrox agrees with a quirk of the mouth. So they say.

Continuing, Madrox adds that he says that he still thinks they’re the ones who beat up Siryn. So he wouldn’t sneak up behind him if he were him. He’s hate to overreact. Now leaning over Madrox’s chair, Damian junior asks if he thinks their friends would have no reason to lie to him? Turning away, Jamie defiantly replies, “none.” Everyone lies, Mr. Madrox, Damian senior tells him. To each other. To themselves. Everyone.

“He’s not dead,” Theresa tells herself as she its on the edge of her bed, examining the box that Scott brought. Da’s not dead. Why don’t they get that? Is she the only sane one there?

Okay, okay, she tells herself, as she removes the brown paper wrapping of the box. Fine. She’ll play along, okay? Opening the box, she finds a DVD marked “to Theresa” and something wrapped in bubble wrap. Great, she says. Fine. Placing the DVD disc into the player, Theresa remarks that she knows what this is. It’s “Brigadoon.” He’s always swearing he’ll find a way to make her watch that damned movie, so… Theresa’s words trail as she hears the voice of her father from the television. “Hello, Terry,” he says. Stunned for a moment, Theresa eventually says hello to her father.

On the screen, Sean Cassidy stands before a stone keep, waving to the camera – and Theresa though it. If you’re seeing this, he begins, then I’m afraid ye won’t be seeing me anymore. For that, I’m truly sorry. I’m hopin’ I went out in a blaze of glory, instead of… I dunno… getting meself drunk, falling off a barstool and breaking me fool neck. Either way… don’t waste too many tears. I had a good run, and catered to me better angels more than he devils… so here’s hoping Saint Peter will smile upon me.

I hear you’ve been introducing yourself as “Theresa Cassidy” lately, rather than Rourke. Hopefully, Maeve Rourke, your dear departed mother, won’t complain about it to her when I see her. I’m thinkin’ not. I’d like to think she would be pleased you’re trying to embrace your heritage. Lord knows I was flattered… and very, very proud. I don’t think I’ve ever told you enough how proud of you I am.

Anyway, Sean continues, pointing to the stone keep behind him, Cassidy Keep will be yours, of course. Treat it well. Still… a castle is just cold stone, and money is heartless. So I wan you to be leaving you something… more. With this, a horse moves into the camera’s view. No, it’s not this horse, Sean tells her. That’s just for me dramatic exit. It’s something that me father passed on to me, and his father to him, and so on. And I’m bequeathing it to you. Scott will make sure that it accompanies this message. It’s just me way of showing that you’re me heir in every respect... and just how much I love you… something else I haven’t said nearly enough. As her father speaks, Theresa glances down at the cylinder from the box, previously wrapped in bubble wrap.

Back on the screen, Sean has climbed onto the horse for his dramatic exit. Hopefully, between now and the time you see this, I’ll have plenty more opportunities. Sadly… One never knows. And now, he says, preparing the horse for riding, it’s time to ride off into the sunset. Slán agat, me love. With this, Sean rides off into the sunset and his dramatic exit.

Goodbye, Mr. Madrox, Damian senior announces to his guest. Asked by him if they’re done, he senior replies that he’s afraid so. He’s sorry they couldn’t do business. Well, Jamies replies, that being the case, let me say one final thing… Standing to his feet, Madrox points his finger accusatorially and announces, “You’re going down.” Pointing his own finger back in kind, Damian senior replies, “You first.” Picked up by an unseen force, Madrox is lifted off of his feet. Asking if he’s afraid yet, Damian senior throws Madrox towards the window, informing him that he really should have sent a dupe.

Jamie Madrox is propelled through the window of Damian Tryp’s high-rise office building, dozens of stories above the street below. He – along with his dupe, created by the impact of the window – begin the long fall to certain death. However, long before they reach the street, they begin to decorporialize and are reabsorbed by the original Madrox, standing on the roof of a nearby building. Watching this, Damian junior remarks in disgust that that figures.

Reabsorbing the duplicates, Madrox is glad that Rahne talked him out of being an idiot. With both dupes sucked back into him with what he needed to know… maybe Tryp will be a little fearful of him

Back in his office, Damian Tryp senior remarks that at least they see each other plainly.

Calling back to base on his mobile phone, Jamie reaches Layla and instructs her to have the office swept for electronic bugs. Yes, he knows they did it two days ago, but she should do it again. Singularity Investigation’s listening in on them. She needs to call him back when she’s found them. And, he continues, eying the two rings he is wearing, Jamie notes that, when he gets back, they’ll have these DNA samples he took off Messrs. Tryp and Tryp analyzed… so they know exactly what they’re dealing with.

Eying Madrox from across the street from the hole in their office window, Damian junior tells his father that he didn’t need to tip his hand that way… literally. It was going to happen sooner or later, Damian senior replies. May as well be sooner. Realizing this was intentional, Damian junior asks his father if he knew if was dealing with a dupe. Of course, he knew, senior rejoins. As he said, everyone lies… To each other. To themselves. Certainly if they have reason to suspect listening devices are present. But let him think he was willing to kill him. That knowledge will eat away at him, make him nervous. And if it doesn’t junior asks. Well, then, senior remarks, they see how he reacts when he finds out he was responsible for the death of his parents. Let him stick that in his pipe and smoke it.

Smoke wafts past the now open and empty canister from Theresa’s father. Its contents, now in a pipe held by Theresa, are alit and smoldering. Sitting in her chair, enjoying the smoke, Theresa is silent in contemplation. Considering the pipe, he remarks that he’ll be back. He’s not fooling her. Nope. Not for a minute. “Nice try, da.”

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