Hanging from the light fixture in the library, Beast reads the poetry of John Donne. Leaving the library, he meets up with Cyclops and Emma Frost in their office.
Miss Downing, the Xavier Institute’s guidance counselor, has tendered her resignation. She shows Hank the white spots covering her face and hands, inflicted on her by one of the students. Unable to maintain her professionalism, Miss Downing is afraid she will do something to one of the students that she may regret.
Hank reminds Miss Downing that the students are only children. She retorts that they are cruel little monsters and she has had enough. Miss Downing storms off, slamming the door behind her.
Scott turns to Hank and asks his friend to fill in as guidance counselor until they find a suitable replacement. Hank thinks this must be a joke, but Scott assures him it is not. Trying to convince Hank, Scott tells him he has a great rapport with the students, plus he gets his own office!
Later, Hank settles into the guidance counselor’s office and starts reading the file of his first appointment, a student named Linus Sinker.
A voice from the door points out that Hank is not Miss Downing and Hank looks up to find Linus in the office. Noting Linus’ keen observation skills, Hank approaches the young mutant.
Linus nervously questions where Miss Downing is and Hank informs him that he is filling in. Hank asks Linus if he can do anything for him, but Linus abruptly turns him down and morphs into a bright pink blob of goo and disappears from the office. Hank thinks to himself that could have gone better.
Walking down the hallway, Hank notices two girls arguing in the hallway. Hank interrupts them and demands to know who started the fight. A sophomore, Anne Moore, admits to initiating the argument and she accompanies Hank to his office.
Hank asks the girl what the problem is and she exclaims that it is just terrible. Anne rattles on about her parent’s divorce, problems with a boy and her roommate, and being unable to control her powers, which are currently causing her to cry an oily substance all over Hank’s office.
Unable to handle the girl’s highly emotional state, Hank suggests she return next week after she has calmed down. He then escorts Anne to Kurt Wagner’s drama class to explain her tardiness.
On his way back to his office, he notices a shadowy figure lurking in the hallway. He leaps over and grabs the student by the arm, asking her why she is sneaking around.
Jaime Vanderwall tells Hank she is ditching fourth period and plans to drop out at the end of the semester. Hank asks her why, and she replies that this place is not for her as she is a normal kid, not a freak.
Hank picks up a book labeled “Thoughts about myself” and inquires about it. Jaime says it is her journal for English class and is supposed to be her private thoughts and feelings. Hank again presses her on why she wants to drop out so badly, but Jaime evades his questions and walks away.
In the boys’ locker room, Linus Sinker sits on a bench. A group of boys approach him and throw a jock strap on his head. Calling him “Amoeba Boy”, one of the bullies transforms his hand into a metal club and starts smashing it into Linus, who has taken on his pink, gelatinous form.
In English class, Hank fills in for Emma while she is away. They are working on poetry and the girl Hank caught in the hallway, Jaime, reads an impressive poem that she has written. Hank asks her to stay after class to speak with him.
After class, a nervous Jaime tells Hank she didn’t rip that poem off, that she really wrote it herself. Hank says that is why he asked her to stay, as he feels she should be applying to creative writing programs at college with her talent. Hank helps her fill out her application to Pratt and Jaime gives him a big hug to thank him.
Feeling good about his progress, Hank is certain he is one of the best counselors the Institute has ever had. After a few short weeks, Hank thinks his accomplishments with his students have been nothing short of extraordinary.
However, he runs into Anne Moore fighting with her roommate in the hallway again. Hank ensures the roommate is okay and sends her off to class. Approaching Anne, he tells her violence will not solve anything and she will have to apologize to her friend.
Anne seems indifferent to anything Hank is saying and he asks her what the problem is. Anne tells him that he thinks he knows what it is like to be a teenager but he’s clueless and the worst guidance counselor ever.
Walking away, Anne says everyone thinks he is a total joke and that his sweaters are awful. Hank watches her leave, mumbling that he likes his sweater.
Later, Hank returns to his office to find Linus sitting there. Hank is happy Linus has returned and inquires what he can do for the boy. Linus starts to cry and says “it” happened again in the locker room today.
Pleading, Linus asks if Miss Downing is never coming back. Hank replies that unfortunately, until a replacement is found, Linus is stuck with him. Again, the poor boy dissolves into his gooey form and leaves the office.
Jaime stops by Hank’s office later to thank him and he tells her there is no need for thanks. She disagrees, as she needs to thank him for getting her hopes about going to college, only to have them send her a letter of rejection.
Hank tries to talk to her, but she cuts him off. She has a trigonometry test that she really doesn’t have to pass now that she is not going to college. Jaime snarls that maybe she will just live a mediocre existence and become a really unsuccessful guidance counselor and ruin kids lives. Disappearing in a poof of smoke, Jaime leaves Hank muttering about an available counselor position that has just come up.
Hanging from the light fixture in the library, Hank’s reading is interrupted by the arrival of Linus. Linus asks if things get any better the older you get. Hank says in some important ways things do get better, but in other ways not at all.
Hank tells a crestfallen Linus that loneliness does not get easier with age. Seeking common ground, Linus asks Hank if he likes science fiction. Hank prefers more classical works, but quickly leads Linus off to show him “The Martian Chronicles”.
In Dunfee, Illinois, a pickup truck pulls up along the side of a dirt road. Scott Summers turns to a bandaged Henry McCoy and ask him if he really wants to get out here, as it’s so dark and empty. Hank tells his friend that is precisely why he asked Scott to pull over here.
Scott reminds Hank that he doesn’t have to leave, that Jean, the Professor and the rest of the X-Men are worried about him. Hank thanks Scott for his concern and for the ride, but all he wants is to be left here alone.
Scott leaves and Hank walks up a dusty driveway to an old farmhouse. He opens the barn door, and it creaks loudly. The noise brings Norton McCoy out of the house, wielding a shotgun.
Mr. McCoy approaches the open barn and is stunned to find his bandaged son lying on the ground. He helps Hank to his feet and asks him what happened to him.
Hank tells his father about taking a hormonal extract while he was employed at the Brand Corporation. Something went terribly wrong and Hank was transformed into a grey-furred, apelike figure.
Inside the house, his mother, Edna, puts Hank to bed. No matter what the reason, she is glad to have her son at home and will help him get as much rest as he needs. Norton tells Hank that perhaps it would be best if he stayed away from the windows for now, as the town hasn’t changed much over the years and Hank’s “condition” may cause a panic.
Apparently the town folk are spooked as something has been killing small animals and no one has been able to trap it. Edna tells her husband to shush, and assures Hank that he is safe with them.
Downstairs, Edna and Norton sit at the kitchen table. Edna says she always dreamt that her son would come home like this, but worse. She figured he would be brought home dead, so no matter his condition now, she is happy to see him alive.
Norton fondly reminds his wife that even as boy, Hank caused her to worry and it is no different now that he is a man. They go to Hank’s room to check on him but they find the bed empty and the window wide open.
Walking down the empty main street, Hank finds a dead bird. He walks on and approaches the Nyles residence. Hank climbs up a tree and peers inside Jennifer Nyles’ bedroom.
Jennifer is sitting on her bed but approaches the window and calls out “Mom?” when she hears a noise. Hank says her name and she demands to know who he his. It’s me, he says, Hank McCoy.
Hank leaps onto her windowsill and a startled Jennifer asks what he is doing in her mother’s tree. Hank tells her he has been in an accident and he has come home to “recover”.
Jennifer notes that Hank looks awful and asks what he has done to himself. Hank replies that he doesn’t really know and asks why she is at her parent’s house when she should be overseas studying.
Teary-eyed, Jennifer fills Hank in. Her mother past away last week, about a year to the day since her dad died, and she has come home to pack the house up and sell it.
Jennifer asks about Hank’s parents and he replies that they are as worried about him as ever. Recalling his father’s comments, Hank asks Jennifer what has the town’s people so afraid.
Jennifer says there is something terrible living in the woods by the cemetery and it has been killing all the animals at night. She turns to talk to Hank but he has disappeared.
Hank walks to the high school football field, where he remembers his days playing football, dealing with bullies and being told he had a promising future in athletics and sciences. He could have done something really wonderful, become almost anything, and now look at him.
Hank stumbles back to his parent’s house and collapses on the front lawn. His father rushes out, thankful that his son has returned. After letting Hank sleep for two days, Norton and Edna bring some food up to his room. When they enter, they are disappointed to find Hank has taken off again.
Hank roams around the local fairgrounds, lost in memories. Jennifer comes up to him, knowing she would find him here as this was where he would go when kids picked on him in high school.
Hank feels that not much has changed for him since then and he is still the awkward creature he used to be. The only difference is back then there was hope that he would become something else.
As they walk, they discover three more dead birds. Hank frets over their unknown cause of death and Jennifer remarks that she has never known Hank to shy away from the unknown, that he is one of the bravest people she knows.
Hank asks what she would think of him if he told her how terrified he is of everything right now. Jennifer grabs his hand and tells him he’s never been afraid of anything in his life. Perhaps they should both be brave and go check out what might be hiding in the cemetery.
They walk to the cemetery and discover a dead rabbit. At first Hank thinks the death was quite sudden and mysterious, but quickly notices lesions on the rabbit’s side. They find three more dead rabbits and Hank deduces what the problem must be.
The dead bodies buried there have contaminated the water running down the hill from the cemetery. Most of the people had worked at the power plant and been exposed to radiation for years, which was now running down the hill into the town’s water supply.
Jennifer excitedly tells Hank they must tell the police and the newspaper, as they may have just saved all the animals and livestock, as well as the entire town. Hank regrets that he can’t go into town with Jennifer and tells her there is something she must see.
Hank removes the bandages from around his face and reveals his furry appearance. Jennifer kisses him on the forehead, but Hank takes off into the woods.
Later, Hank looks in on his sleeping parents and leaves some flowers on their windowsill. He also climbs up the tree to peek in at a sleeping Jennifer before walking down the road out of town.