A New Way Of Seeing Things

by Saber ShadowKitten
And Now For Something Completely Different 5

Friday, October 1, 1999

The steady beep, beep, beep was starting to annoy Xander, and he threw his arm out to hit the alarm clock... only to hit air.

Xander's brows furrowed deeply as he felt around the empty space where the motel night-stand was normally located. Did he spend the night with one of the club's patrons and forget? He didn't remember drinking that heavily. He didn't remember drinking at all.

Xander pried open his eyes and immediately closed them again against the bright whiteness. The beep, beep, beep continued to sound above his head and to his left. As he listened, more noises not associated with a motel room greeted his ears.

A hospital, Xander realized. His memories of getting struck twice by lightning came back to him with all the grace of an elephant. Wonderful, he thought, there went his money.

Xander opened his eyes a second time and squinted as he tried to take in his surroundings. It was too damn bright.

"Well, looks who's awake," a pleasant male voice said. "Welcome back, Mr. Harris."

Xander peered through slitted eyes at a man standing at the foot of the white bed. Xander's frown deepened even more. The man was wearing a suit of light blue sequins that shimmered and seemed to move in the light.

"I'm Nurse Pritchard," the man introduced himself.

"Uh, hey," Xander said. He forced his eyes open a little more in order to focus on Nurse Pritchard's face, only to find that Nurse Pritchard's face was covered in light blue sequins, too.

Xander blinked rapidly. The sequins didn't disappear.

In fact, they moved like little blue specks of light.

Xander closed his eyes tightly, then opened them again when he heard another voice. He let out a decidedly unmanly squeak of distress when his gaze landed on the new person.

The new person was completely composed of moving blue specks of light, too.

"Hello, Mr. Harris, I'm Dr. Gladstone," the new person said. "You have good timing. I was just making my rounds."

"Uhhhhh," Xander responded.

"How do you feel?" Dr. Gladstone asked, moving closer to Xander.

Xander swallowed and slammed his eyelids shut. "Uhhhhh..."

"Mr. Harris?" Dr. Gladstone questioned.

Xander cracked one eye open, saw the speckled-light doctor, and shut his eye again. "I think I'm going crazy."

"And why is that?" the doctor asked.

"I can't see you."

"You can't see anything?"

"No," Xander opened his eyes and looked directly at the figure with the moving blue bits of light, "I can't see you."

"Hmm," Dr. Gladstone moved closer, "let me take a look at your eyes."

"Knock yourself out."

"I'm going to shine this light in them. Try and continue to look straight ahead," the doctor instructed.

Xander let out a choked-off yell of pain when the small beam of light was shined in his right eye. The light was bright. It seriously hurt.

Dr. Gladstone quickly moved the light away. "Hmm."

"Is that a technical term?" Xander said sarcastically, squinting from the pain.

"Nurse Pritchard, will you call Dr. Eckwood, please," Dr. Gladstone said.

"Yes, Doctor," Nurse Pritchard said and left the room.

"Mr. Harris," Dr. Gladstone said. "Dr. Eckwood is our resident Optometrist--"

"What's wrong with my eyes?" Xander interrupted.

"Why don't we let Dr.--"

Xander reached out and grabbed the Doctor's light-speckled arm as he went to walk away. Fear and a bit of anger rolled through Xander, and he said in a tight voice, "Tell me."

Dr. Gladstone winced and Xander gasped in shock when little sparks erupted from where Xander had grabbed him. Xander quickly yanked his hand away and his sensitive eyes widened when he saw several streams of what looked like electric current run from his fingers to Dr. Gladstone's sequinish-arm. Xander made a fist and the lines of light vanished abruptly.

"Isn't static electricity interesting?" Dr. Gladstone commented with good humor in his voice. "The last time I was able to see the shock I had been petting my cat goodnight, then touched the light switch when I went to turn off the light."

Xander wasn't really paying attention to what Dr. Gladstone was saying. His focus was on his hand. The same little blue lights swam in the area that was the shape of his hand.

"I'll be back," Dr. Gladstone said.

"Holy...," Xander breathed after the doctor had left. Xander turned his hand over, staring at it in shock. He suddenly grabbed the light gray cover and looked underneath. Instead of skin or a hospital gown, he saw that his entire body glowed with the small bluish lights.

The bed's footboard looked like a white footboard. The blanket looked like a gray blanket. His body looked like someone went crazy with a Bedazzler.

Xander paused in his inspection of his body to look closer at the gray blanket. After a moment, he realized that the blanket was faintly glowing, tiny specks of light dusting the entire surface.

Xander's head shot up and he quickly looked around the extremely brightly lit room through squinted eyes. Everything in the room was various shades of gray against the sharp whiteness caused by the light.

Then, Xander saw the air move.

"Aah!" Xander yanked the blanket over his head and closed his eyes. Then, he remembered he was a Slayerette, and what he thought was an air monster wouldn't just vanish if he held really still.

With a womanly yell, he threw the cover off of him, jumped out of the bed and raised his fists. He blinked rapidly against the brightness, eyes stinging sharply, and tried to find the air monster.

"Mr. Harris?"

Xander yelped and spun around. The blue-lighted shape of Nurse Pritchard stood in the doorway to the hospital room. Xander slumped in relief. "Oh, it's just you."

"Did you need something, Mr. Harris?" Nurse Pritchard asked.

"Uh... bathroom," Xander lied, thinking that was a much better answer than 'a weapon to kill an air monster that may have been a figment of my imagination.'

Nurse Pritchard nodded, walked into the room, and stuck his hand through the light gray wall. Xander's mouth dropped open when a white rectangle in the shape of a door abruptly appeared.

With a sense of dread, Xander realized that he hadn't seen the bathroom doorway until the nurse had turned on the bathroom light. It had looked like a solid, light gray wall to him.

"There you go, Mr. Harris," the nurse said. "If you need any assistance, I'll be right out here."

"Th-thanks." Xander hurried into the bathroom, fumbled for the door -- which now looked brighter gray against the slightly darker gray walls -- and shut it. He leaned back against it, glad to be able to feel what he presumed was hard wood against his back.

"What the hell is going on?" Xander asked the air in a plaintive whisper. Everything was either white or gray or made up of tiny bluish lights. He had been able to make out Nurse Pritchard's and Dr. Gladstone's features, but they both had looked as though a mask of sequins had been formed to their faces. He couldn't even see the flesh on his own body, or the hospital gown he could feel he was wearing.

Or could he? Xander lifted the hem of the gown and, as he pulled it away from his body, it slowly changed from the sequin-y blue of his body to a light gray color, almost the same color as the blanket from the bed. When he dropped it back into place, the gray disappeared and all he could see was the tiny moving lights that made up his body.

It dawned on him that he was seeing through the hospital gown when it was close to his body. Which explained why Nurse Pritchard and Dr. Gladstone both looked as though they were wearing sequined body paint rather than clothing.

But why was he seeing himself and others comprised of little blue lights rather than skin? And why was he suddenly color blind? And why were the lights in the hospital so damned bright?!

Xander stumbled forward to the gray object in the shape of the sink. He turned the faucet on the left, and a bright white stream poured forth from the water spigot. He cupped his hands under the white stream and was glad to feel cold water. He quickly splashed his face several times, turned off the faucet, and used the hem of his hospital gown to dry himself off.

He moved to the gray object in the shape of the toilet, lifted the seat and his gown, and started to relieve himself. His eyes grew round when he saw his piss was black.

Oh fuck, I'm dying, Xander thought fearfully. I got struck by lightning -- twice -- and now I'm in the hospital and I'm seeing funny and I'm pissing black and I still haven't had a chance to try sex with another guy...

"Mr. Harris?" Nurse Pritchard knocked at the door. "Are you all right?"

"Ye-es," Xander squeaked in reply. He finished doing his business, washed his hands again, and exited the bathroom. He went directly back to bed.

Nurse Pritchard left again and Xander closed his sensitive eyes against the increasingly annoying brightness of the hospital room. His mind roved to the morbid side of things. He wondered what his funeral would be like and who would go to it. He pictured his skinless body in a coffin, looking like a withered husk instead of a human being.

"Mr. Harris? I'm Dr. Eckwood. I'm here to check your eyes, if you don't mind."

Xander turned his head and squinted at his new visitor. Just like with Nurse Pritchard and Dr. Gladstone, Dr. Eckwood looked like she was wearing a full bodysuit of tiny moving sequins. Even her hair looked like strands of beads of bluish-white lights.

"Go ahead," Xander sighed. "Maybe after I'm dead, you can use them for a transplant or something."

Dr. Eckwood leaned close to Xander's face as she gently opened his left eye. Like Dr. Gladstone, she shined a light in his eye and Xander uncontrollably cried out in pain and jerked his head away.

"Did the light hurt your eye?" Dr. Eckwood asked.

"Just a lot," Xander replied through clenched teeth.

The doctor then proceeded to check his other eye by shining the excruciatingly bright light in it, too. Xander managed to act more manly and only grunted from the pain. She then went through a series of tests involving following her finger with his eyes, and finally she ordered more tests to be performed in the hospital's eyelab before she left the room.

By six o'clock at night, Xander had been put through the visual Olympics by Dr. Eckwood and all he wanted to do was sleep. On the up side, he'd learned that he wasn't dying. Other than his vision, there was nothing physically wrong with him. Dr. Gladstone reiterated many times as to how lucky Xander was, not too many survived being struck by lightning.

Dr. Eckwood's diagnosis wasn't that good of news. She had told him that getting struck by lightning must have had effected the size of his pupils, causing his extreme sensitivity to light. According to her, the brown irises surrounding his pupils were only a quarter millimeter wide and they did not expand and contract with the light like normal, healthy pupils did.

She had tried to show him with a mirror what his eyes looked like, but Xander had found that he couldn't see any reflections what-so-ever in the mirror. To him, it was just a plain gray surface, like the door or the wall.

Dr. Eckwood had informed him with clinical remorse that his eyes would either heal or not, but there was no type of surgery to fix them. She had written out a prescription for special sunglasses that he could get at any optics store with a frame of his choice, and had given him a pair of old people's square-framed sunglasses with side-blockers to wear in the meantime.

Those glasses were currently residing in the trash can beside his hospital bed.

Xander had lied to Dr. Eckwood, though, and hadn't told her about his sudden color blindness or the odd way everyone looked. The light of her machines had made it impossible for him to see anything, and the chart she'd had him look at had appeared blank to him. He knew that something Hellmouthy had happened to him, even though he was in Oxnard, not Sunnydale. Throughout the tests, things kept happening that he knew were in connection with whatever had happened to him.

He shocked Dr. Eckwood every time he accidentally touched her hand or arm.

He saw what looked like lines of electricity running from his fingers to her hand or arm when he pulled his hand away after accidentally touched her.

Each machine she used to test his eyes started to lose its power after being in contact with him for more than two minutes, as if he was draining the electricity.

In the morning, Xander was being discharged from the hospital. His parents may be pricks, but they did have good insurance which included coverage on him until he turned 21. Although it would probably eat all the money he had saved to pay the co-payment, at least he wouldn't have to work emptying bedpans for the rest of his life if he'd had no insurance.

And, once he was out of the hospital, he was going to find out what the hell was really wrong with his eyes.