Flying through the city sky with wings made out of light is Warren Worthington III. But he’s been called other things – friend, lover, Angel, X-Man, pretty boy, freak, billionaire, playboy, hero, mutant, mutie, Archangel, Death. In a relatively short lifetime, he’s been so many things to so many people that, at times, he’s not sure who he is himself.
Something’s different, he can feel it. He tries to remember what happened, what’s changed but all he remembers is that he was looking for something. Something elusive, it was like looking for day in the night. The darkness swirled around him, enveloped him, welled up inside of him, the darkness was upon him. Just as Warren flies near a hospital, he is attacked by Logan. The figures both tumble to the ground and it’s only then, at this, his darkest hour that Warren sees the light. It’s always been there, it never left.
Once on the ground, Logan tells Archangel, Warren, that they don’t have to do this and that he appreciates irony as much as the next guy but he ain’t cut out t’ play guardian angel, that’s his bit. He tells him that he’s gotta reel himself in. When Warren only stares at him, Logan pops his claws and tells him don’t make him do this the hard way.
At the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Elisabeth Braddock informs Moira MacTaggert that she has found them both using Cerebro. When Moira tells her that she’s courtin’ danger there, Betsy tells her that it’s all right, she knows what she’s doing. She’s got a clear reading on Logan. He’s still fighting the conditioning that transformed him into Apocalypse’s Horsemen of Death. He’s in control, but just barely. Warren is a white haze, static.
Moira warns Betsy that she knows she wants t’ do this but she’s walkin’ a thin line here. The level of EEG activity is spikin’, and that she’s startin’ t’ subconsciously tap into her telepathic abilities. Betsy doesn’t answer but in her mind the dark is getting darker. As the X-Man Psylocke, she was a powerful telepath but now she’s forced to rely on Cerebro to amplify her abilities. She knew the job would be dangerous when she took it. Wolverine had been turned against them by the madman known as Apocalypse and she sought to deprogram him. Her gamble paid off, but not without a cost.
Even as Wolverine emerged from the darkness, Warren was engulfed by the blackness of his own soul. A blackness she knows could claim her as well. In the wake of an encounter with the telepathic entity called the Shadow King using her own abilities meant running the risk of freeing him from the psionic plane, his prison within the folds of her mind. But she knows too, that Archangel – her teammate, the man she loves – needs her. He’s not alone.
Across town, Logan tells Warren that they can end this all right now and asks him what it’s gonna be. Flight or fight? Just then, Warren unleashes an attack on him much to Logan’s surprise. When it hits him, Logan asks what in blazes happened t’ his wings, it’s like they’re made out of light. Betsy tries to talk to him but Logan tells her to get out of his head as he’s had his fill o’ head games. Unleashing a full attack, Warren knocks Logan to the ground in and proceeds to fly off. As Logan picks himself up off the ground, Betsy telepathically asks him what is happening. Logan informs her that fly-boy just stabbed him with a mess o’ flingin’ feathers, those flechettes o’ his. It was like a smack o’ reality, gettin’ stabbed by the truth, he sees. Logan then tells Betsy to get out of his head as he’s still as full of Apocalypse’s hate as Warren is.
At Xavier’s Institute, Moira tells a sobbing Betsy that Logan is right and that she needs t’ stop. When Betsy tells her no, Moira says that she swears she’s gonna pull the plug on this right now whether she wants her to or… Just then, Jubilee appears on the monitor and tells her that Kitty and Nightcrawler are hurt. Not super bad or anything, they’ll live but she needs help gettin’ ‘em to the medi-lab. Moira replies that she will be right down, maybe Kurt can talk some sense into Betsy. Kurt asks that Betsy is still linked to Cerebro, doesn’t she realize? Moira responds that that’s what’s so bloody frustratin’, she does, all too well. But it appears that part of her doesn’t care anymore.
Flying by a hospital, Warren thinks to himself that he cares. There have been times when he’s been told otherwise. When he’s been accused of being too aloof, too self-absorbed. But he’s always wanted to help, to make a difference. Passing the rooms, he feels their anguish, their misery, their hope. For the first time he can really see. He wonders how long he has been blind, how long he has been blinded by the dark?
A voice says it’s not his fault. It’s sweet, familiar and without intending to, it launches his mind backwards in time. He remembers it all – the pain, the weakness, the desperation. Apocalypse’s plan to mold Wolverine into his Horsemen of Death was by no means his first attempt. Warren, too, had been called the Horsemen of Death. The Archangel, the harbinger of doom. Mutilated, his wings having been amputated, on the brink of hopelessness, he welcomed the darkness as it overtook him. Abraham Kieros, War, had told him what it would be like, he told him it was worth anything. Now, Warren tells Betsy that he knows she’s there and he can feel what she’s trying to do but he can’t let her continue.
On the other end, Betsy calls out in pain. The agony she feels pales in comparison to what her lover has endured. Even as close as they’ve become, she could never have guessed what horrors lay hidden within his fragile psyche. Layer by later, the past is stripped away and there is still pain. Warren recalls when Ozymandias visited him and he lost his metal wings and the pain it caused him. Just then, Warren yells out in pain and on the other end, Betsy exclaims that she’s lost him. So much pain, so much darkness but it’s gone. Warren cleansed her of it all, repelled the darkness with the light.
Entering a hospital room, a young girl by the name of Candy sees Warren standing before her and asks him if he came there to take her to see God. Warren doesn’t answer and, before long, he is gone. While Logan climbs up the outside hospital wall, Betsy asks him where he is. Logan informs her that he is at a hospital. As he looks in and hears Candy tell her family and doctors that she saw an angel and that it couldn’t cure her but made her see. He took the pain away and now, she’s not scared of the dark anymore.
Upon hearing that, Logan asks Betsy what Warren is doin’. Betsy replies that she’s not certain and adds that he is completely open to her. Even though he’s still trying to hide it, his inner turmoil is like an open book. But Warren, as clear and focused as his thoughts are, he’s a complete blank. He’s creating a powerful block. Logan tells her that he figured as much. Even with his hyper-senses, he can’t smell ‘im, can’t track ‘im. However, he can feel that he’s headed for another hospital. Logan then tells Betsy that her boyfriend is lookin’ for somethin’ or someone.
As Logan runs down the street, Betsy tells him that she senses he’s right. She then asks him to let her probe deeper into his thoughts, perhaps she can… Logan informs her that she already told her once; she doesn’t need her muckin’ with his head. Betsy tells him that she understands his reticence but earlier he said Warren made him see the truth. What did he mean, perhaps there’s some clue there. Wolverine’s thoughts are a jumbled mess at best. Even if he truly wanted Psylocke to break her psionic link with him, he wouldn’t make her do it, not now. He’s facing a long dark tunnel, and vulnerability is what he must sacrifice to reach the other side. It’s neither the first nor the most painful sacrifice he’s had to make in recent times.
Eventually, images suddenly begin to merge in Betsy Braddock’s mind. Wolverine and Archangel become as one, their mutual suffering at the hand of Apocalypse searing through her mind, both molded as Apocalypse’s vision of Death. She can feel the trauma of each transformation. The strength so necessary to endure it, the weakness they both felt for giving in to it.
At that moment, Betsy tells Warren and Logan that she never realized, never knew such power coupled with such despair. In another location, Warren grabs his head and yells out in pain. When he does, he recalls a conversation he had with Abraham Kieros. Abraham had told him to look in a mirror and ask himself what he really wants to be. Warren replied by asking him what he wanted to be. Abraham tells him anything other than what he was. He would have become anything, done anything so that he could walk again – anything. Logan then informs Betsy that he thinks that’s it. Warren is lookin’ for Abraham Kieros, the man Apocalypse originally chose to be War.
As the Horsemen War, Abraham Kieros rode as one with Archangel. Bound for glory, the only reward for his allegiance with Apocalypse was a long, painful journey into perpetual night. War no longer; Abraham Kieros lives through the wonder of medicine, a quadriplegic incapable of movement or speech. But he is more than able to see the light floating before him in the form of Warren Worthington. Suddenly, that light fades as Logan appears from underneath the bed and kicks Warren in the chest telling him that’s close enough; visiting hours are done.
From the Xavier Institute, Psylocke feels a surge in all three men. For each of them, the wounds inflicted by Apocalypse run deep. She feels the strength of his grip and fears what Wolverine fears just as the darkness fears the light. She sees them as opposing ends of the same spectrum. Logan is volatile, barely in control. Warren is calm and sedate, too focused.
As soon as Wolverine pops his claws, Archangel’s fingers extend into glowing white talons. When Betsy notices this, she realizes that they could rip through the fabric of a person’s psyche. She has to probe deeper, has to understand. From inside her mind, the Shadow King tells her that she knows what she needs to do. Release him and he can stop this, restore them both to the way they once were. In her mind, Betsy starts to walk towards the Shadow King and states that she knows he can do it, she can feel it.
Before she reaches him, Warren appears and tells her no. Betsy questions how he got in her mind but Warren tells her to calm down and that she needs to send the Shadow King back to his prison, he’s come too far. He then tells her that she needs to disconnect from Cerebro and to trust him. After he kisses her, Betsy tells Moira that it’s time to shut down Cerebro. Moira asks her what about Warren but Betsy tells her that he doesn’t need her help anymore, now more than ever before. He knows exactly what he has to do.
Inside the hospital, Warren and Logan continue to battle. As Psylocke leaves Wolverine’s mind, he feels pangs of anxiety. He knows what she wants him to do. But how can he trust anyone else when he can’t even trust himself anymore? He knows his options. Give in to the fear, the frustration, the violation, the anger, the darkness, of look to the light. With his claws up against Warren’s chin, Logan asks him how he wants this to end; he can stop this now.
Warren tells him he’s right, the choice is his. He can help him make that choice. At his core, he represents pure hope. Not just for himself, but for others too. It’s taken him a long time to understand but that was Apocalypse’s challenge to him. He talks about survival of the fittest, but the greatest test they can face is to overcome themselves. They’re given choices in their struggle; they can embrace hope or despair. He chooses hope but what he, Logan, chooses is up to him. He has to decide if he can trust others if he ever wants to be free of what Apocalypse has done to him if he ever wants to triumph over the ghosts of his path. Just then, Logan withdraws his claws. When he does, Warren’s fingers go back to normal. Darkness fades and night becomes day.
Walking into Abraham’s room, Warren tells him that he came there because he was looking for answers. After everything’s that happened to him, his head was still so full of “whys” and “what ifs” that he had to finally lay those questions to rest. But he realized, too, that he wasn’t just looking for answers for himself bur for him as well. He tells Abraham that maybe he’d forgotten him before last night, but he’d thought about him often. And he wonders, knowing what he knows would he do it all over again? Knowing that the only way he could walk would be to serve a madman like Apocalypse? Would it be worth it to him again?
As a tear drops from Abraham’s eyes, the answer Warren needs comes silently. Even were Abraham Kieros able to speak, no words would be necessary for in that moment, Archangel knows. And for both he and Abraham Kieros the situation is truly enlightening. When Warren bathes the room in glowing yellow light, all of the power dissipates from his wings and onto Abraham. Once the process has been completed, Abraham calls out to Archangel and steps out of the bed. He tells him he doesn’t know how he did it, but he can move again. He thinks he can walk again. Looking up at Warren, he tells him that he doesn’t know what he did to deserve this but thank you, thank you for giving him hope.
In short time, the darkness retreats to the shadows and daybreak comes. Standing on the roof, Warren tells Logan that he still doesn’t understand it himself. Somehow though, when he bathed Kieros in the light emanating from him, he suffused him with the power Apocalypse had given him healing him, curing him.
To this, Logan mentions he then reverted t’ plain ol’ Warren Worthington III, the high flyin’ Archangel in return. Weird, and here he was just gettin’ used t’ the new him. He then asks him what happens now. Warren tells him for them, they take things one day at a time. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, their full redemption will come slowly over time. For him though, he’s wanted to make a difference in people’s lives since he was a kid and he started sprouting wings. He really doesn’t know how then, though. He had the necessary wings, and he’d chosen the appropriate name but maybe now it’s time he put those things together with his wealth to really help people.
Logan remarks that it’s funny. Even after all o’ this, he feels like something’s missin’, like he doesn’t know what t’ do next. Warren tells him he’s just not used to happy endings. Logan says yeah; maybe he just ain’t ever had one before.