Over the phone, Warren breaks the bad news to his parents: he will not be coming home for Christmas this year. His mother is absolutely devastated. Sitting in front of her vanity mirror and dressed in an ostentatious evening gown, she tells him his relatives will be oh-so disappointed.
On the other end of the line, Warren elaborates why he needs to stay home. With the big push for college admissions approaching, he needs to focus on his studies. Andrew, standing nearby, laughs out loud at this lie: Dartmouth, Yale, and Harvard would each kill to have Warren attend their universities. Warren asks him for some privacy.
Meanwhile, Warren’s father, putting the finishing touches on his evening tuxedo, applauds Warren’s decision. It’s about time Warren applied himself to his studies, he says before ordering his wife to put down the phone. Margaret tells her son she needs to go; she and his father have to go to some holiday fundraising event at the Lincoln Center, and she needs to make an entrance. Frustrated with his wife’s cavalier attitude toward punctuality, Warren Worthington II curses and orders her to put down the phone before he smashes it! Their son overhears this threat and tells his mom she should not let him treat her that way. She does not seem to mind. “Kisses and we love you,” she says.
“Keep smothering him like that and he’ll never amount to anything,” the elder Warren says. “If he wants to stay at school over Christmas break and get ahead, I say ‘Hallelujah’.” Click!
These parting words linger in Warren’s ears after the phone call ends. He hangs up, slumps over to Andrew, and laments his parents will never change. At least Warren’s parents remember he exists, Andrew says. When he called his house to tell his mom and stepdad he would be spending Christmas break at St. Joe’s, they had to ask who he even was! Warren concedes the point: Andrew’s family is much worse.
He once again thanks Andrew for offering to stay with him over Christmas break, and Andrew grows ecstatic. “Are you kidding?” he says, his face positively beaming. “Two weeks alone with yo--” Andrew catches himself right there, and modifies his word choice. “…two weeks alone on campus? That’s, like, a dream come true!” he says, brushing away the awkwardness. Besides, he owes Warren for saving him from Brandon and his track team cronies.
Brandon, meanwhile, stands outside the St. Joseph’s academy dormitories in the snow with Warren’s ex-girlfriend Amanda. His limousine waits nearby. Amanda asks why he is just standing there instead of leaving to catch his flight. “I didn’t see Worthington pack for break, Amanda, did you?” he asks. Amanda has to remind him that she and Warren have not been exactly close lately. Besides, she adds, this obsession with Warren is unhealthy. Brandon insists it is no mere obsession; something weird is happening to Warren. Something freaky. Amanda sighs and reminds him they can get revenge on Warren after break. For now, Brandon needs to leave, and his father’s secret service agents are getting restless waiting for him.
Andrew interrupts Warren, who sits in a daze at the dinner table. Warren apologizes for his inattentiveness. They discuss how empty campus has been since everyone took off; Warren has counted thirteen people total. It’s like an Agatha Christie novel, Andrew says. Abruptly, he changes the subject, and reminds Warren he still has not “shown” him. Warren claims he will soon, but Andrew refuses to let him off easy. “Sorry, couldn’t hear you. When, did you say?” he asks, grinning. Warren shoots him a devious smile.
In the privacy of the vacant campus chapel, Andrew faces the wall and stares at his shadow. He begs Warren for permission to turn around, but Warren tells him to wait; he is still busy taking off the tape and bandages. “Man, I can’t believe you’ve been doing that all this time, to keep them hidden,” Andrew says. He doesn’t notice the wings growing from Warren’s shadow. “It’s like…what women did to pass for men?”
“Binding,” Warren answers. “And I can tell you from firsthand experience…it hurts like hell.” Andrew empathizes, especially if they are as big as Warren says. They’re certainly big, Warren replies, but when he folds them up, they become very compact. Andrew tells him people have begun to talk, having noticed Warren no longer takes gym classes or showers with anyone else present. Warren assures him that his reputation as an untouchable, golden-boy will protect him for some time. Finally, Warren gives him permission to turn around.
Andrew is literally left speechless at the sight he beholds. Warren’s wings, fully expanded, fill the emptiness of the chapel almost entirely. The first words Andrew manages to utter are “can you fly?” The shirtless Warren lifts himself into the air and hovers there, juxtaposed against the sunlight pouring through the stained-glass window behind him. He looks truly angelic. Andrew asks how fast he can go. “Wanna help me find out?” Warren replies.
The two friends head out to a nearby river, which has completely frozen over for the winter. The sun shines and a fresh layer of snow blankets the ground. Andrew tells Warren to treat this like a science experiment. They will start by seeing who can cross the river the fastest. Andrew dons his ice skates, while Warren removes his jacket, unleashing the full majesty of his wings once more. “Palmer, my friend,” he says, “you’re toast.” The race begins.
Andrew darts forward immediately, while Warren, wearing only jeans, sneakers, and his long, flowing scarf, takes to the skies. With every beat of his wings, he lifts five feet higher. The sun caresses his face and wings. When he closes his eyes for a moment, he thinks of the legend of Icarus. When he opens his eyes, however, he sees Andrew skating headlong toward a patch of thin ice. “Oh my God!” he screams. “Andrew, look where you’re going!!”
Andrew fails to stop himself in time. The ice directly underneath him begins to crack, and he falls through a hole in the surface to the icy waters below. He clings to the surface for as long as he can before the current pulls him under. He drifts through the freezing blackness, farther and farther away from the light pouring through his entry point.
Warren repositions himself in the air and initiates a dive-bomb maneuver directly at the hard icy surface of the river. As he plummets, he says a prayer, asking for the strength to save his friend. He sees Andrew desperately screaming beneath the glassy surface. Warren hits the ice, breaks through, and after sensing the direction of the current, locates the drowning Andrew. With Andrew safely in his arms, he launches himself upward with enough force to break the ice’s surface once more and heads straight for the warmth of the dormitories.
Warren immediately begins performing a resuscitation maneuver on his unconscious friend. Andrew coughs up a lungful of water and opens his eyes. “Merry Christmas, pal,” Warren says as Andrew recollects himself, “…you’re still alive.”
Warren and Andrew, who still endures a case of the sniffles from his brush with freezing-cold death, bump into Father Reynolds in the dining hall. He asks Mr. Palmer if he will be in good enough health to serve at Christmas Vespers that evening. Yes, Andrew replies. “Good, good…I’ve been extremely keen to spend time with you in…devout contemplation over this break,” Father Reynolds says as he leers at the frail young boy, “…but you’ve been suspiciously difficult to pin down.” Andrew stutters a response, rapt with fear. Warren steps between them and leans overbearingly close toward Father Reynolds, who hunches back a bit, accentuating the flesh folds of his chin. Warren asks if he could help with the Christmas Vespers too; it might be really helpful for his spiritual well-being and all. Father Reynolds glares at Warren. After a pausing for a moment, he tells him that is certainly acceptable. “There is room in God’s heart for all His children,” he sneers.
After Father Reynolds leaves them alone, Warren shudders. He may be turning into an angel, he says, but Father Reynolds is officially creepy. Warren, laughing hysterically, tells Andrew he will have to explain what is going on between him and Reynolds. Is the man illegitimate father or something? Andrew freezes and hangs his head in shame. He asks Warren a question: if he tells him the truth about Father Reynolds, does he promise to keep it a secret? Sure, Warren responds, reminding Andrew that he is trusting him with his personal secret. Andrew struggles to say the words out loud. “Warren, Father Reynolds isn’t a good person,” he says as tears form in his eyes. He has to bite his lip to stop it from trembling. “He…makes me do things. With him. To him.” This revelation stuns Warren. What are you saying, he asks?
“There is evil in this world, child,” the man in black says. He stares out through the venetian blinds of their motel room in Nebraska. Even on this holiest of nights, he says, Lucifer’s armies wage war on God’s followers. “Can you feel them, Mary Margaret?” he asks his prisoner.
Mary Margaret, tied to a chair, cries for her mother. The man tells her to hush. Her mother has been dead for three months, as Mary Margaret would be, were it not for her gift of divine sight. “You are my eyes, Mary Margaret,” he says. Only with her visions did he find the old woman in Illinois who could heal with her touch, or the little boy in Georgia who spoke every language known to man, or the conjoined twins in Nebraska who walked on water. “You led them to me, Mary Margaret, and I…I set their souls FREE!” he shouts. Mary Margaret asks why he had to kill them. “To have faith is to believe without proof,” he says. He labels his victims abominations, living proof of God’s works, who comfort to the weak and the faithless when neither deserve it. “Only those who believe without seeing shall be allowed entry into his holy kingdom.”
He reminds her theirs is a grim task, but Mary Margaret never chose this path. This man killed her mom, and shot off her foot, she cries! He only hobbled her, he says; he could not allow her to run away.
He asks Mary Margaret what she will dream about this night. Perhaps the winged boy again? If so, they will seek him out, and this time, it will be this false angel who feels the wrath of God.