The red notebook sitting on his lap was worn around the edges from constant use, and
the cover was marred with left-handed doodles and quotes in black marker, courtesy of Spike.
Each page was made of slightly thicker than normal paper and was larger in size than standard
notebook paper. Loose leaf papers and printouts were crammed in the front of the notebook.
The notebook was labeled "Xander's Research."
Xander's fingers ran over the bumps on the notebook page, a frown of concentration furrowing
his brow. The page of braille type was difficult for Xander to read. It had only been nine months since he
took the beginner's braille class at the Oxnard Red Cross. He knew his number and letters, and
he could use the hand-held type setter that was sitting on the ground beside him. But reading
braille was like reading Spanish -- a subject he failed in high school.
It had been while Xander was at the hospital that he had found that he could
no longer see words on paper. Books, newspapers,
calendars, posters, everything that was flat and could be drawn or written upon looked blank. Computers were impossible to use because of the light within the screen. Dr. Eckwood hadn't known why he could see but he couldn't read, other than to chalk it up to the lightning strike and to hope it went away on its own. There had been nothing physically wrong with his eyes, beside the pupils not dilating properly. Xander had lied how things actually appeared to him. He hadn't wanted to become a test subject.
The notebook page Xander was reading consisted of a series of columns and numbers. The first
column listed dates, the second listed the amount of time the storms lasted, and the third was the
number of lightning strikes Xander felt before unconsciousness overtook him. The most recent
addition read: 82100, 243, 23 -- August 21, 2000; 2 hours, 43 minutes; 23 bolts.
Xander was attempting to find a pattern and was utterly failing. The dates, storm lengths, and
number of hits varied greatly. He felt anywhere from two to fifty lightning bolts hit him in the
center of his chest before he lost consciousness with every storm. The storms themselves lasted
between five minutes to twenty-four hours, and the days they came had no rhyme or reason,
With a sigh, Xander shut the notebook, rolled it, and triple-wrapped a thick rubber band around
it. He stuck it back in his weather-beaten leather satchel, then pulled a clean t-shirt from the bag
and put it on. He looked over at Spike, who was crouched by the stream that ran through their
It was weird seeing things without really seeing them. To Xander, at a distance Spike looked as though he'd
been dipped in white paint. The trees and plants around the camp were varying shades of gray and white. The ground was a blanket of light gray with a bright white slash
cutting through it where the stream was.
It had taken Xander awhile, but he'd finally puzzled out why everything looked the way it did, or what he could glean from his rudimentary knowledge of science. It wasn't much. How was he to know he'd actually need to use what he had been supposed to be learning in school?
From what he guessed, getting hit by lightning twice in the same exact spot had somehow altered his vision to see the sparks and strands of electricity that all
living things were comprised of. Plants, animals, microscopic bacterium and the like were made up of it. When he'd first woken up in the hospital, the little bluish-white moving lights he'd seen
instead of Nurse Pritchard's skin were the nurse's electricity moving within his body.
The shade of gray
Xander saw was dependent upon how densely packed the electricity was in an area. The
more there were in a concentrated spot, the lighter the area looked to Xander.
Therefore, the stream looked pure white because of the millions of super-small bacterium moving
within the water. The ground was light gray because the bacterium, plant and microscopic animal
life were unmoving. Spots of black or dark gray were where little to no life existed.
When Xander had first laid eyes on a vampire after his vision had changed, it had spooked him.
A vampire was, for all intents and purposes, a demon inhabiting a corpse. Their bodies were not
living and looked almost completely black to Xander, except for the brain because it was there that the
demon resided and traces of white where the blood flowed through their bodies.
A vampire's brain was like any other living creature's brain. Strands of electrical activity wove
through the head area, and Xander had learned each strand controlled certain functions in the
brain. As with humans and other animals, when a vampire was about to perform a specific
activity, the area of the brain utilized flared bright white as the electricity within the synapses were put
When Xander had met up with Spike, he had already learned how to manipulate the strands that comprised all living things. With little effort, Xander had deadened the areas in Spike's brain which controlled his bloodlust and violent tendencies. The notebook held painfully crafted, detailed notes on the progresses and failures of prior experiments on controlling vampires. Spike had been the first success Xander'd had in totally altering a vampire's behavior.
Xander's goal with his experiments had been to learn to help, rather than be a hindrance, when it
came to slaying. It was entirely on accident that he found out that he could control any sort of
electricity, which included microbiological electricity. With a small amount of concentration, he
could manipulate or destroy the molecules that made up everything.
It was a scary power to have. And it seemed to grow stronger every time he was hit by lightning.
Xander closed his eyes and slowed his breathing. In his mind's eye, he pictured his body as he
remembered it -- he could no longer see reflections -- and he pulled on the electricity in the air
to him. He felt tingles as electric ions packed tightly together and formed an impenetrable layer on
When Xander opened his eyes and looked down, his body appeared to be solid white. He knew
that practically nothing could pass through the dense barrier of electrical energy that he'd created
on himself, making him semi-invulnerable. It was like wearing a suit of invisible body armor and
he was protected from almost everything.
Xander turned his gaze to Spike once again and concentrated. Xander could see the air
shift around as he manipulated it. With little effort, he pushed the
electricity into Spike's body. Spike's body flared brightly for a brief moment before forming a
solid white figure once again.
"Bloody hell, Xander!" Spike exclaimed as he shot to his feet. He fiercely rubbed his arms. "I
hate it when you don't warn me first!"
Xander smirked. "Sorry," he said in a completely unapologetic voice.
Spike scowled at Xander as he walked over to where Xander was sitting. The semi-invulnerable vampire plopped down on the ground beside Xander and dug into his own battered,
army-issue satchel. He extracted a pack of cigarettes, popped one into his mouth and lit up.
"So, what's the plan?" Spike asked, cigarette dangling from his lips.
"I'm going to head into town, find some eats, then either take a ride or hang at the Bronze for
awhile," Xander replied. "Want I should drop you somewhere?"
"Willy's, I guess," Spike said with a shrug.
Xander stood and headed for the Honda Superhawk. The bike was his baby, a gift to himself that
was both long-wished for and practical. Because of his strange sight, he couldn't read the
speedometer or other panel warnings on an automobile. With the motorcycle, he could tell how
fast he was going by sound and feel.
He'd been taught to ride by one of his co-strippers at the Fabulous Ladies Night Club and, in
payment, he'd given his first of several blowjobs to his teacher. Xander had enjoyed every
lesson... and learning to ride the Hawk, too.
Xander straddled the bike and fired her up. The purr of the engine cut through Estel Woods,
drowning out the sounds of nature. Spike climbed onto the Hawk behind Xander, and Xandser relaxed at the familiar feel of Spike's body pressed snuggly against him.
To Xander, there was nothing more comforting than the feeling of control over both the powerful
bike and the powerful vampire seated behind him.