Inside a taxi that takes him, Beast and Archangel through the Alaskan woods, Iceman suddenly spots an animal outside. He asks his friends if this is a moose. Hank corrects him: caribou actually. They come into the town looking for food. Bobby remarks that is so cool. Bemused, Hank wonders if Bobby really considers that beast “cool?” After all he’s seen in his life, a simple Alaskan mammalian quadruped fascinates him?
Bobby urges Hank not to get jealous: he’ll always be his only real beast. Besides, he can have fun. This is a vacation, isn’t it? Turning his attention to the morose Archangel, he tries to motivate him: “Yo! Sourpuss!” Warren firmly advises him to leave him alone. Bobby asks him what’s up. Gazing outside the window, Warren again warns him to leave him alone. Iceman encourages him to lighten up. They’re out again! Just the guys! Like in the old days. Warren reminds him he was too young to go out in the “old days.” That was just Hank and Warren.
Bobby wonders if Warren’s major attitude is because he had to fly coach. He reminds him not all of them have the Worthington fortune to squander! Beast notices that Warren has been awfully quiet since they left; anything wrong? Archangel explains it’s Betsy. Things were going so well with them, but suddenly it’s all… friction. She’s still acting so strangely; so distant. She’s not the same person she was before their experience with the Crimson Dawn. It’s like a wall’s going up between them and he can’t do anything but watch it climb. What’s worse, he doesn’t feel bad about it. He feels kind of relieved… like he’d like it to end… he doesn’t know. Beast asserts that it’s always harder to hold onto a relationship and work on it than let it go. They tell themselves differently, but it’s true. He and Trish have had some…
Suddenly, the taxi driver begins wailing: “What the…?! Bird! Bird!” A dead crow comes crashing against the windscreen. The panicked driver tells them to hold on, as he momentarily loses control of the vehicle. “Oh no! Look out!” the driver shrieks as he accidentally runs over an animal that was crossing the street. The X-Men come out of the car as soon as it comes to a standstill. Observing the bloody animal, Bobby asks if it’s a caribou. “Moose,” Hank corrects him. “Bummer,” Bobby snarls. Beast examines it and realizes it’s not dead – but that’s just a technicality at this point.
“Can anyone else say omen?” Warren quips. He knew coming up to Anchorage was a bad idea. He doesn’t know how he even got talked into this. “You don’t?” Bobby exclaims – he does. He remembers it as if it were just yesterday… because it was just yesterday! Bobby had just come back for a visit when Logan said he’d better listen to the message Scott left on their machine. Scott was way out of character… something to do with Jean’s powers. Logan had business to take care of, so Bobby decided to go ‘old school.’ He recruited Hank, then they both recruited whimsical Warren Worthington to travel north to Alaska so as to help their oldest friends in the world… but they ran into some local wildlife along the way – end of flashback!
Beast admits that sometimes he wonders if puberty will ever end for Bobby. “Or start,” Warren quips. Iceman snaps back: if it means getting the amount of body hair either one of them has, he’ll pass! He’s smooth to groove… except for his all-new, too cool love-patch, he adds, rubbing his tiny goatee.
A police officer appears and asks if everyone is all right. The blue-furred Beast hurriedly asks Warren to cover him and takes cover behind Archangel’s back. Archangel nervously informs the officer they’re okay – mostly. A bird hit their windshield and they crashed into that totem pole. The officer reveals he saw it all from the quick-stop window over there and introduces himself as Chris Miller, Anchorage police.
Chris kneels down and proceeds to examine the dying moose. He concludes that this fellow’s not looking long for this world. They try to keep them out of town, but one or two aren’t used to these new suburbs. He discerns that the moose is suffering and decides he’d better take care of him. “No way,” Bobby retorts – he is not just going to shoot him! Chris explains it’s either that or let him die slowly; that’s even more cruel. He points the gun at the animal and suggests everyone covers their ears; this isn’t a cap gun. He then shoots the moose and relieves it from its suffering.
Bobby covers his ears… and almost simultaneously, sees two huge, glowing eyes appearing before him, hidden among the leaves of a tree. “Screeawww! Hee hee hee!” a mysterious man with a painted face cackles before he vanishes. “No way!” Bobby exclaims and points his teammates to the man’s direction. Reeling from the shock, he mumbles there’s some strange guy… he… he… “Over where?” Hank asks and Bobby points him at the tree. No one is there, however. Hank thinks Scott’s message about Jean must have gotten Bobby’s imagination going. There’s no one…
Hearing this, Chris asks if they are friends of Scott and Jean from New York. Bobby nods and asks if he knows them. Chris explains they’re neighbors. He and his wife Staci met them on a plane coming back from a wedding back east. Bobby humorously mentions that he’d say it’s a “small world” but he doesn’t want that stupid Disney song in his head all day. He explains they’re on their way to see them now. Warren retorts they were on their way. As usual, they got sidetracked.
Carl, the taxi driver, wonders what he’s going to do with this. Chris assures him he’ll radio in a tow. If he needs a witness for the insurance, he can just phone Chris at the station. He’ll call one of the local tribes to come pick up the moose; they’ll at least put it to use. He then tells the three mutants to grab their luggage and hop in his cruiser. He’ll give them a lift to Scott and Jean’s. Bobby sarcastically wonders if they lucked out or what. Warren would say “or what,” what with a cryptic message, a falling bird, a cracked windshield and wreck. Beast stresses that the real question is: why did the blackbird cross the road? Or more accurately… fall from the sky?
The Xavier Institute – Westchester, New York
In the front porch of the Institute, a chained-up Karl Lycos watches a herd of animals running in the nearby forest. He wonders if they are moose. Smoking a cigar, Wolverine corrects him: deer. Moose smell gamier. He deduces they’re probably looking for food down here since Storm’s weather bubble made the place prematurely green. Speaking of which, Lycos’ green seems to have faded, Logan quips. Dr. Lycos stresses he’s no longer the evil that is Sauron. In fact, Wolverine should release him. He’s no threat to him. “No can do,” Wolverine retorts. Not after Lycos tried to get away and made Logan go after him. He feels bad that Lycos was used as a human punching bag in that run-in they had with Alpha Flight, but all it takes for him to go from human to monster is one cold-blooded touch…
Rogue appears and announces she’s going to the city. Does Logan want her to take Lycos to the Fantastic Four? Logan explains he’s already made arrangements with G. W. Bridge at S.H.I.E.L.D. They should be beaming Lycos up in a minute. Rogue asks Logan if he trusts Bridge. Logan stresses that Bridge is one of the good guys. He’ll see that Doc Lycos gets the help he needs. Lycos retorts he’s fine now! In order to intimidate him, Wolverine unsheathes his claws. A more tamed Lycos complies, mumbling it might be good for a little while to get himself together and…
Rogue remarks that S.H.I.E.L.D. is running late. Very, Wolverine agrees, adding that they’ll show. He asks her where she’s running at. Seeing her in her original costume, he wonders what’s up with the old duds. She once said they remind her of “darker days” – is she feeling darker? Something she wants to talk about with him, maybe? Rogue assures him she’s right as rain – honest. She explains that she had this costume stashed someplace the removers didn’t find when they cleaned out the mansion. Anyway, she’s got to run. She hopes Logan’s men show up soon – and then flies off. “Yeah… Me too…” Logan talks to himself. There’s nothing worse for waiting around for something to happen…
Suddenly, Lycos is beamed away in a searing explosion of light and sound that causes the ground to shudder. “Real subtle, Bridge,” Wolverine grumbles.
Ptarmigan Creek, Anchorage, Alaska
Seeing the entrance of Scott and Jean’s house cleared from the snow, Bobby is impressed: major ski lodge digs! He’d hate to have to shovel these walks! Phoenix comes out to greet them. Long time no see, Beast greets back. “Yeah… at least… what… a week? Two?” Iceman snaps. Jean hugs him and urges him not to be a smart aleck. It’s not how long someone’s away, it’s how long you miss them – and she misses them all tremendously. Iceman mockingly calls her “mom” and thanks her.
Archangel suggests she introduces them to her ‘beautiful friends’, two women coming out of Scott and Jean’s house. Chris Miller explains one of them is his wife, Staci Murphy Miller; not available. Staci explains that the other beautiful one is her sister, Melissa; very available. Embarrassed, Melissa can’t believe Staci said that to strangers! Warren shakes her hand and admits he can’t believe she isn’t spoken for. He also stresses they’re only strangers until they meet. “Warren Worthington,” he introduces himself. “Semi-taken, but always looking,” Bobby interposes. He introduces himself to Melissa and boasts he is younger, cooler, hipper than Warren… “Louder,” Warren snaps.
Jean urges the boys not to confirm Melissa’s suspicions of the New York men all at once. Chris announces he’s got to take the girls home and get back to work. Staci admits it was a pleasure to meet them all and tells Jean to call if she needs anything.
Phoenix encourages everyone to go inside; Scott’s eager to see them. The mutants enter the house and quickly make themselves at home. Phoenix insists she’d have put some balloons if Scott had told her a little sooner than this morning that they were coming. Cyclops nervously justifies himself: he wanted to… surprise her. Jean admits there’s no surprise like a last-minute, emergency, radical housecleaning. What she wants to know is, why a reunion? It’s terrific, but they haven’t even been gone that long. Were they just worried about Scott’s surgery or…?
Hank is baffled: didn’t Scott tell her? He thinks Scott should be the one. Iceman also urges him to fess up. Cyclops nervously explains that he thought the five original X-Men needed some time together – time to look back. A lot has changed since those early days. Too much, he thinks, in some ways and he thinks it’s time to take stock. “That’s all, really,” he insists. Hank quickly agrees that’s what Scott’s message said to them all right. Scott just wanted them to be a surprise to Jean. Phoenix quips that’s the man she married: always thinking about her. Hank can’t argue with that and asks Scott to show him to his room, since he needs to unload some baggage.
Left alone with Bobby and Warren, Phoenix wonders if it’s just her or Scott seemed weird to anyone else right now. Bobby argues that Scott seemed weird to him the first time he met him. He is amazed that Jean is picking up on that now – and she’s supposed to be psychic! Suddenly, he remembers they forgot to tell her that they saw some excitement on the way over…
Jean tells him to hang a second as she’s sensing something – a dark cloud hanging over her favorite Angel. Realizing Warren is troubled, she asks if there’s anything she can do. Warren assures her he’s okay; just feeling a little blue… Before Bobby has the chance to make a joke at the expense of Archangel’s blue skin, Jean warns him not to even think about it. She tells Warren she can sense his anxiety. Is it Betsy?
Warren confirms that things are pretty tense right now. They were thinking about taking a step forward, but now he thinks maybe they want to take a step back. He wonders how she and Scott do it. How do they get past all the junk? They have been through everything, but it seems like it only brings them closer together. Jean explains it takes a lot of work. It’s not easy…
In the guest-room, Cyclops repeats what he said: he’s concerned about Jean, in light of what happened to Professor X with Onslaught. He reveals Jean’s been wearing her old Phoenix uniform. Hank reiterates what he said: “Whaaat?” He didn’t mean “what?” He meant “are you suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress?” He reminds Scott that Jean can’t be the Phoenix. She was never possessed by it in the first place. That was the alien entity mirroring her form.
Scott reminds him that he’s known the three of them longer than almost anyone. They’re his family. The last time this happened, Scott watched, alone. He trusted what Phoenix told him, going out of his mind, wondering what to do. When the end came, he stood on the moon’s surface and watched the woman he loved blown to ashes right before his eyes. He regretted not telling people sooner. Not getting her help when there was still time, so he’s doing that now. And, in light of the whole Onslaught crisis, they have to reassess what they know about telepaths. Charles is one of the decent, most courageous men he’s known. Yet his psionic powers drove him to the brink of madness and the world to the brink of destruction.
Hank asks him if he’s worried the same could happen to Jean. Exactly, Scott reaffirms. The power of telepaths is a frightening concept to begin with, but left unchecked? It’s not just the Professor. He invites Hank to look at the thresholds of peril the world has faced lately. Mastermind altered the world around them and Madelyne Pryor apparently sprung full-blown from the mind of Nate Grey. Hank deduces that Scott wants people who know Jean like they know her to watch and tell him there’s nothing strange going on with her. He stresses that Scott needs only ask; has he spoken to Jean about this? Not yet, Scott admits. And what he said downstairs isn’t a lie. He does think it’s about time to look at where they’ve been and where they’re going as X-Men. How little they know about psi powers is only a small part of that. So much has changed since those early days. Amen to that, Beast mumbles studying his face on the mirror, before he exits his room, following Scott.
A little later, in the living room, Bobby is building a fire at the fireplace, proudly asserting that should hold them until dinner. Iceman building a fire – Archangel asks Hank if that is ironic… or is it the wrong word? Ever since that Alanis Morisette song, he can’t tell anymore. Bobby argues he’s cool and he’s hot; no irony, just fact. Hank barely answers something, absorbed in a newspaper.
Cyclops notices that Jean looks distant and asks her what she’s thinking. Phoenix reveals that Bobby asked her something about the first time she met him, and she was just trying to decide if he was right or not. “And…?” Scott waits for the verdict. Jean concludes that she definitely didn’t think Scott was weird back then. She thought he was nice, offering her a chair while all the other ‘Romeos’ were trying to make an impression. He was looking out for her, even that first day they met.
Bobby is shocked that Jean fell for Scott because he got her a chair. He’s the one who saved her from that fuel tank Magneto threw on them on their first mission! That made no impression? All this time he’s been doing the big heroics when it all it takes to land a bombshell babe is a piece of furniture? He then apologizes to Scott. He didn’t mean “weird weird,” he meant… weird.
Scott retorts that what’s weird is that, after all he’s put them through, all they’ve suffered at his hands, Magneto would wind up joining the X-Men. Phoenix retorts that Joseph’s earned their trust. “Has he?” Scott wonders. Or do their lives go so fast that they have to move on long before deciding if they should accept certain things or not? And now “Joseph’s” disappeared. What have they done about that? Warren points out they’re always opening their doors to wild cards. Wolverine; Rogue; Gambit; Warren himself after Apocalypse. It usually works out. He remembers that Hank said that Joseph took off in New Year’s. Does he think they have a Magneto problem now?
An absentminded Beast apologizes for not paying attention; he was reading an article in the newspaper. It seems Scott and Jean moved themselves right in the middle of a local uproar. “Sacred Inuit Indian grounds displaced by subdivision?” he reads. So it seems, Scott confirms. Jean admits they had no idea when they first came out, though ignorance is never an excuse. Cyclops states that given the state of things, they probably won’t be staying here long anyhow. “We?” Jean retorts. She doesn’t think they have discussed that. She know his heart is in the right place – that he’s doing exactly what he thinks Charles would do – but sometimes he makes her want to reach inside that tight little mind of his and shake loose some consideration!
Speaking of the Professor, Beast suggests they should devote some energy to locating their spiritual forefather and foremost educator on all things mutant. He knows his turn as Onslaught put them all a little-ill-at-ease, but still, they should at least be looking. When they last saw him a few months ago, he went along willingly with Val Cooper, ostensibly to consult with government scientists about the Onslaught phenomenon. But they’ve scarcely heard a word from him since. Jean reveals she’s searched, but there’s no trace of his presence anywhere in the world. Beast is at loss: she’s traveled the world since they last saw her? Not physically, mentally, Phoenix explains. She’s been pushing against the limits of her power, trying to branch out farther. As for why they didn’t start right away, the Professor said…
Coughing increasingly, Jean suddenly calls after Bobby. Smoke comes out of the fireplace, although Iceman insists they don’t blame him! Warren angrily asks him why he didn’t check the flue. Bobby insists he did – it was open. Phoenix remembers it was clear earlier. Maybe some snow or ice fell in and clogged it. Archangel tells Bobby to blast some ice up through the chimney. He’ll go on top and see what comes out. Scott warns Warren not to get spotted; they’re trying to keep a low profile here. Iceman blasts some ice through the chimney. Warren flies to the roof and sees what clogged it. He tells them this is getting weird: it was a bird. A big, dead bird.
Nearby, Melissa is walking her dog, together with Staci. She tells Staci that something’s going on over at Scott and Jean’s. Staci, however, doesn’t have her contacts in and asks her what it is. Clearly seeing the winged Archangel standing on the rooftop, Melissa tells Staci it’s a bird; a big, blond bird.
Dr. Agee exits a building which bears the insignia “Mutopia.” Spying on him, Rogue enters the building and asks the receptionist what they do here. The receptionist replies he works the desk, check people’s IDs… Rogue rephrases it: she meant this company, Mutopia. Some kind of genetic stuff, the receptionist replies. He doesn’t know what exactly. Test-tube babies maybe? He asks her if she’s here to see someone. Already did, she replies and exits the building.
Genetic stuff? Rogue thinks. And she just saw that Dr. Agee leave here? The man she trusted with her DNA? That was dumb, really dumb, and she isn’t normally stupid. No matter how much she wants to be common folk, she should’ve done her homework on this guy first, and put her trust on him second. Now she’s got to think how to get to the bottom of this… fast.
Agee grabs some food from a salesman on the street and walks into a park. Rogue startles him from behind and announces her power is touch. He wanted her to tell him last time what her power was. Skin-to-skin contact lets her absorb people’s life energy… and their hidden thoughts. People like him. Visibly frightened, Agee asks her where she was; she missed her appointment earlier. He waited…
Rogue coldly explains she wanted to see what he does with his days – find out a little more about him. She thinks he told her his institute for genetic studies didn’t have any outside ties. It seems he was lying to her. Agee hastily replies he wasn’t. Then, he realizes: did she see…? Rogue replies she saw him coming out of that office building, “Mutopia.” She wonders if they are his partners; government cover? What’s their secret agenda?
Agee explains that they claim they want to create the perfect world for all races. More than that he does not know. They asked Agee to join their consortium of scientists and he declined – fervently. He told them, as he told Rogue, that his sister’s successful reversion from Homo superior to Homo sapiens, from mutant to human, has dictated his life’s only work. Helping other mutants, people such as herself, makes that same transition. “I hope you can come to trust this, Miss…?” he tells her. Rogue suggests they stick with “Ms. Smith.”
Cyclops is driving the gang to the city. One of them asks if the car is a Land Rover. Cyclops explains it’s a Pathfinder. It’s a rental, but it gets him and Jean around. He believes they will all get a kick out of this place they’re eating at. The customers all look like Yosemite Sam and the waitresses wear these outfits that…
Jean interrupts him and announces they may not be eating. The car stops, the main street being blocked by a team of protesters. The X-Men get out of the car. Seeing Chris nearby, Jean asks him if there’s trouble. Chris explains that’s a protest. Inuits laid claim to this land, even though they lost it in the Native Claims Settlement Act of ’71. They said if Americans could take over their sacred ground for new houses, they could take over theirs to restore their totem poles or something like that. Governor ordered the authorities to just wait it out, so Chris is afraid that Jean and the others will have to go around.
Beast finds this a staunch reminder that they aren’t the only group being oppressed in this world. Bobby remarks they look pretty calm for protesters, sort of passive aggressive. Still, he notes it’s easy to forget other people have it bad too, get caught up in one’s own little world…
Suddenly, the mysterious Indian with the painted face again appears close to Bobby and announces that Chulyen the Crow God will make the world black with his shadow! He will rain down on his land and steal it back like he stole the sun and the moon! He knows, because he is who summoned Chulyen! He urges Iceman to listen to him: Chulyen comes! He comes from the North in numbers too big to ignore even now – beware!
Oblivious to any of this, Hank watches the protests, arguing how interesting it is that much of their haptic ritual translates without any formal education of the Inuit language. It’s extremely efficient in its use of intuitive iterations and…
Iceman cuts him short and points him at the guy – the old Indian bird guy he saw this morning at the moose! However, the man is no longer there. Beast tells him he doesn’t see anyone. Iceman insists he was… he… Beast asks him if he’s ever heard the story of the boy who cried “wolf” – or in his case, lunatic? Jean calls after them and announces they’re going to have to take the south road out.
A little bit later, the group enters the Hunters Lodge. “Summers? Party of Five?” the waitress asks them. Cyclops confirms it’s them. The waitress suddenly remembers the Party of Five and asks them if they ever watch that show – they’ve got that cute little Claudia on there. She thinks she’s the one who got her throat slit in one of those Scream movies! She wishes them a nice dinner! Bemused by the waitress’ quirky behavior, Iceman recalls that Twin Peaks was canceled a couple of years ago!
While they wait for the food, Cyclops decides to get back to what they were talking about earlier. He has been doing a lot of thinking about the school, the team, the past and everything since they came up here. Iceman notes this sounds big. Scott assures him it is big. Maybe the biggest thing he’s ever tackled. He thinks it’s time they reconsidered the Professor’s dream and maybe replaced it with their own. He knows that may sound scary, but he thinks in the long run it’s going to be a very good thing. Unbeknownst to everyone, a herd of crows gathers outside the diner…