A Bolt from the Blue

by D'Artagnon

Chapter 1

Two greater spirits sat on the beach, one disguised as an older man with a metal detector, the other disguised as a beach chair. They sat together, or more specifically, the one sat on the other. As they sat, both were watching with great interest as the humans went about their activities, not realizing that two very powerful entities were hiding in plain sight near them.

"So you are sure he's the one?" the old man spoke out loud. His metal detector seemed to be resting in the sand, his large hand only barely holding the handle. High overhead, clouds began rolling in from the sea. Humans were calling to one another to get out of the ocean for fear of the approaching squall line.

Oh certainly, the chair thought. He has great potential, and a mixture of bloodlines that makes him unique. Of the many humans inhabiting Gaia, only this one has what is necessary to funnel my powers. He is my only hope to help these mortals in their struggles. The coming war will be brutal, and I want to help. He is the contribution I can make while we have other things to attend to.

"Surely, one of the Garou is more worthy," the old man argued. "Or perhaps one of the younglings of your human tribal followers out west. They would love to receive your direct blessings."

Yes, and some of them will get that. More than you suspect, actually. But this one is different.

"He's arrogant. He has a cruel streak. This one, a long time ago was pure, trustworthy. Now," the old man said with a huff, "he's tainted. Are you sure you want him?"

I must choose him. We have no time for another, and in all honesty, Thunder, he is perfect. His body can contain and use and regenerate my power. No other mortal or Garou can. And I'd just as soon leave most of the Mages out of this. They get greedy. The old man seemed to squirm in the chair a bit considering the implications of the chair's explanations.

"This boy's already greedy. And prideful. And wantonly, openly harmful. Give him access to your power, even if it's already in him, and you may will unleash greater harm than what we must fight. In the short time before He gets here, this boy would destroy this area, ruin the defenders already here, and possibly even side with Him."

The chair sat in silence for a moment, considering the old man's points. I have to try, the chair thought at length. When I activate him, I will make him clean again. The taint is not so deep that it cannot be undone. You have given your chosen Gifted second chances in the past. This one is young enough to change his ways.

"And look how well that turned out," the old man replied, grumpily. "But I can see your mind is made up. Your brother Phoenix agrees with you. And, with some reservations, so do I."

Thank you, Grandfather Thunder, the chair replied, giving the older spirit the impression of a slight head bow.

"When will you do it?"

Just about... now, the chair said. A sudden burst of lightning out over the water shook the entire beach area. The ripples of sound were enough to flatten sand castles and make taller humans drop to their knees, holding their hands over their ears. A few fell over, surprised by the sound and light. Other still sat up from where they'd been reclining, soaking up the vanishing sunlight, wondering what had happened. The humans panicked in predictable human ways.

All save one.

The tingles suddenly spiked through his body, causing the boy to arch his back in agony. Toes twitched and curled, calf muscles tightened painfully. His thighs separated, lifting at the knees, moving apart. His arms spasmed, wracked with contortions, wrists turning and shaking, fingers shortened into grasping claws. His back, once relaxed against the sheets, bucked from the hips, flexing his neck backwards as his mouth opened to scream in agony.

Yet no sound emerged other than a strangled gasp, as if finally coming to the surface from deep under water, that first breath of life. His eyes snapped open, and the pain flooded his senses. The air rushed into his lungs, his body jerking up into an "L" shape, locked in agony. Seconds seemed to pass as he felt his body relax, his breathing return to normal, despite the strange pain in his throat.

As he lay back, his senses seemed to reboot. Sound was first, even as he heard his own labored breathing returning to something less than an all-encompassing echo chamber. He could hear a strange electronic beeping sound, and some sort of constant tone, annoying in its pitch and volume.

His vision returned to normal soon after, the fuzzy dark splotches and dazzles muting down to show the soft lighting reflecting off the acoustic ceiling tiles. A brighter patch over his head caught his attention as his back bones realigned with the bed beneath him, unbowing from the muscle twitches that slowly faded from his trunk.

He coughed, feeling something hard and flexible in the back of his throat. Oddly, it seemed like the hard thing was entering his body through a nostril. A hand went to his face to feel the tube entering there when he noticed the trailing wires and tube attached to his wrist, taped to his skin. His hand shook as he began to panic. First the pain, then the disorientation, the weird things stuck to and into him. The boy felt slightly dizzy and contemplated just laying down until he could make sense of it all.

The door opened and a lady in pale green clothes walked into the room, followed by a man wearing similar clothes, only he had a long white smock. They began speaking rapidly, and the boy couldn't understand at first. He began figuring it out as the man shone a light into his eyes, checked the bandage on his chest that he realized had been there all along.

"Glen, can you hear me? I'm Doctor Marcus."

"Thirsty," Glen croaked out, feeling how parched his throat was. He felt right about the doctor calling him Glen. The name fit how he felt about himself. It was a familiar thing he could hold on to.

"We'll get you some water in a little bit. Do you remember why you're here?"

Glen shook his head, feeling a little scared that he couldn't remember what had happened that he needed to be in a hospital. It had to have been something fierce, he guessed, and possibly involved the bandage on his chest. He felt the doctor pulling the gown back over his upper body after checking the bandage. Meeting the doctor's eyes, he gestured to the bandage with his free arm, while the nurse checked the wires and tube running into his left hand.

"You are healing nicely, Glen. The burn is almost completely back to normal. I will tell you more when your parents get here. Just try to relax a bit. We'll take out the feeding tube and try to get you some real food tonight. Okay?"

Glen nodded, feeling the tube move inside his throat.

"Do you have any pain? Any discomfort?"

Glen shook his head gently, trying to make it so the tube in his throat didn't move much. The doctor patted Glen's leg and that motion drew Glen's attention to something else that had a tube in it. His eyes flew open when he realized there was something plastic stuck up his, well, a place a boy doesn't want something stuck up.

"We'll take out the catheter, too, if you are feeling strong enough to get up on your own later. I know it's not very comfortable, but it was necessary. You had us scared, little guy. We're glad to have you back.

"Doctor, his vitals are normal," the nurse said, flipping over a metal clipboard to display the current medical readings she had recorded. Dr. Marcus consulted briefly before looking over to Glen and smiling.

"Extraordinary," the doctor smiled. "Before that IV ends, give him a shot of vitamins and a broad spectrum antibiotic shot. His electrolytes are still a bit low. And, uh, let's get that catheter out of him in about an hour."

"Yes, Doctor," the nurse said. She turned to leave and nearly bumped into two other adults walking in, a short girl walking between them, slurping on a Wendy's cup at the straw.

"Glen?" the lady said, her hand going to her mouth in surprise. Tears began to well in her eyes almost at once. She rushed to Glen's un-taped up arm, gripping his bicep tenderly, her other hand brushing a strand of hair back from his face. "Mygod, thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh my Glen!"

"He just woke up, about ten minutes ago," Dr. Marcus said. The other man picked up the little girl and held her against his hip so she could look down at the boy in the bed. "He's still weak, but we will start checking him out. Dr. McCoy, the neurologist, will want to check him over. I need to inform him that Glen is awake." He turned back to where Glen was staring at the lady looking down at him with tears in her eyes, smiling.

"My baby boy," she said, stroking his face as he looked up bewildered. "You had us all sooo worried."

"Sorry," he squeaked out, his voice still sounding soft and aspirant. "Water?" he asked, looking past the lady to the doctor.

"The nurse will be back in a little bit, Glen. She'll pull out the tube in your nose and help you with that other problem," the doctor said glancing down to Glen's hips. The boy felt a slight blush warm his cheeks at the doctor's subtle hint. The doctor smiled, tapping the side of his head. "I'll let you folks visit for a bit, and then Glen will need some time to get on his feet without an audience."

"Dr. Marcus, we can't thank you enough," the man holding the little girl said.

"Glen did most of the work. We just helped him fight his way back to us. I'll see you in a bit, young man," the doctor said, smiling as he left. He took a moment to rub his finger on the tip of the little girl's nose, getting her face to go from a scowl to a childish giggle.

Glen looked at the man with the little girl. She bore a striking resemblance to the man. Same pointy chin, same hazel eyes, same sandy hair, although the man's was cut in a neat man's cut, parting from left to right across his forehead, while the girl's hair hung in neat pig tails to both sides, behind her ears.

His gaze traveled to the lady sitting beside him. Her bright green eyes were wet with tears, although her face showed joy rather than pain, something that startled Glen. She kept staring at him, focusing on his eyes, which made Glen feel uneasy. He had the impression that he should know who these people were, but for some reason, he couldn't put names to the faces, nor to the relationships they apparently had to him. He knew there was something he was missing. Something important.

"How do you feel, boy?" the man asked. It was spoken with the kind of easy smoothness that Glen realized this man was used to saying it. Used to saying it with emotion behind it. Endearment.

"Thirsty, sir," Glen replied, his voice still sounding weak, even in his own recently re-awakened senses. "How… how?" Glen asked, his hand going to the thick bandage on his chest, under the hospital gown. He felt his hand touch the spot, through the layers of gauze, but felt no pain when his fingers contacted the middle of the bandage. He could feel a place that was somehow different than the skin around it, but he wasn't sure what that might mean.

So much was still confusing to him. And so much had happened just since his painful awakening. It wasn't easy to process.

"You don't remember?" the man asked. Glen shook his head, not trusting his voice. "It was a freak of nature, son." Glen recognized that by calling him "son" the man just wasn't asserting his age difference. He'd claimed Glen as his own child, and while Glen was uncertain how he felt about that, he realized that the relationship was true. This man was his father. Meaning that the others in the room were his family as well. He looked to the lady and realized by her emotions and actions, that she must be his mother.

"We were at the beach. Picnicking," his mother said. "Your friends Peter and Jason were with us, and their families. There was a storm that blew in off the ocean. Remember?"

Glen shook his head sadly.

"Daddy, why doezen Gwen wemembew?" the little girl with pigtails asked. In his head, Glen recognized that the girl had trouble saying "R" and "L" sounds.

"I don't know, Carolynn," their father responded. "The doctors will figure it out," he reassured her. She scowled and leaned her head on her father's shoulder, a move that looked to Glen to be common enough, practiced enough as to be automatic.

His mother continued. "When the storm blew in, the lifeguards called everyone in from the water. You and Jason were very far out. He started in, but you were dragging the float you two had brought out there. It slowed you down. Jason was barely up by our spot on the sand, you were still in water up to your hips…" Her voice faltered at this point, as if remembering. Her eyes closed and she partly turned her head away. Glen felt a sadness for this lady's pain, suddenly. He wasn't sure what he felt for her himself, but seeing her experience such distress over something that had happened to him struck him deeply. He wished there were some way he could remove her pain.

"The lightning," the father continued, "came out of the clear blue sky. The storm clouds were out over the water, but that bolt that hit you clearly came outta nowhere. Slammed right into your chest." Glen's hand went back to the bandage on his chest.

An image suddenly washed over him, the flash of light, brighter than the sun. He felt his body shudder at the memory of the energy coursing through him. His feet involuntarily flexed, twitching inwards, crossing right over left. He smelt the sharp tang of burning salt, the acrid wash of ozone. And the heat, filling him, erupting from him, spilling around and under and through him as water became vapor, rushing away and towards him, frying his fluids from the inside and then rushing cooling water from the Atlantic Ocean spilling back over his battered and crispy flesh. And then the crippling, empty feeling of not feeling, as his mind retreated from the pain in his body.

"Glen?!" his mother said, massaging his arm. He opened his eyes as the memory passed away from him. He felt her grip tightening against the muscle there. He looked up to her eyes, feeling his own chest heave under his hand. He relaxed a bit. His breathing slowed, his eyes blinked several times, focusing back on things in the hospital room.

"I'm okay," Glen whispered. He looked over and saw the little girl, Carolynn, he told himself, crying against her father's shoulder. Against his father's shoulder, Glen reminded himself. The little girl's sobs pulled deep at Glen's heart strings, although he wasn't sure why. He knew he should feel something about his sister being upset at his pain, but he felt something was missing. His gaze drifted back to his mother. "Just…"

"Remembering," the deep voice of an older man said near the doorway. "Good morning, Glen. Good to have you back with us."

"Dr. McCoy," his mother said, smiling.

The man was dressed in neat slacks, a brilliant orange dress shirt and the ubiquitous doctor's lab coat. His stethoscope hung about his neck with the practiced ease of someone born to be a doctor. His black and white hound's tooth print tie seemed strangely out of place, yet somehow, it worked. The doctor was a tall man, dark skinned with a venerable patch of neatly trimmed gray hair close to his skull. He had the smooth demeanor of a man well used to dealing with people with dignity and respect, even when he might have difficult news to deliver.

Dr. McCoy looked to Carolynn, his hand fishing into his pocket of his lab coat. "Oh, my. Carolynn, I wonder if you could help me."

"Me?" Carolynn sniffed, looking up at the doctor, who was a good four inches taller than her father.

"Oh most certainly. You know Sherman, of course?" the doctor asked, looking towards the pocket his hand was in.

"Youw widdwe mouse fwiend?" She asked, looking towards the pocket. At the edge of the pocket cuff, a small mousy face poked out, apparently looking back and forth nervously before slipping back inside.

"Yes. Sherman has been a naughty little mousy. He snuck an extra lollipop into his pocket this morning. I wonder if you could find something to do with it." The doctor's hand fished out of the pocket, holding a clear green lollipop, semi-translucent, still wrapped in a square of cellophane. "I think it's an apple one."

"Appwe's my favowite!" Carolynn replied, her sobs drying up. She reached out her hand and accepted the candy from the doctor. "Thank you, Doctow McCoy," Carolynn said, smiling. The doctor returned the smile and Glen immediately felt much better himself.

"I wonder if I might have a moment alone with young mister Glen. Just a moment."

"Of course," his father said. He put his daughter down, the little girl putting her attention on getting the wrapper off the lollipop while handing her father the Wendy's cup she'd been slurping on when they entered the hospital room. Glen was partly surprised when his mother leaned over his head and planted a kiss above his eyes. He smiled up at her, not sure what he should do in response to her kiss. She smoothed back his hair again, and moved away from the hospital bed, staring at him with what he assumed was a mother's love.

As the door closed, the doctor pulled up a rolling stool and sat beside Glen, his hands folding across his broad chest. "You have a lot of people happy to see you awake," the doctor said. "How do you feel?"

"Thirsty, sir," Glen replied, his voice starting to sound better. He still was unsure if his voice sounded like his voice should.

"We'll, we shall have to remedy that soon. I mean more like your body. Any tingling? Pins and needles?"

"No, sir."

"Trouble breathing?"

"Not really."

"Any pain in your extremities, perhaps in your chest."

"Sir," Glen said, feeling that his question was being politely put off. "How long have I been… since I was…"

"Since you were stuck by lightning?" Glen nodded. "I'm glad you're still laying down, Glen. You've been here with us for six weeks now." Glen's mind reeled at this information. "Now, before you get too worried about that timeframe, I have to tell you this: very few people, of any age, survive being struck by lightning while standing in water, whether that lightning strike directly hits the person involved or just the body of water they are standing in. Technically speaking, you are the first person to survive such an event that I have personally heard of. Ever. In that respect, you are quite a lucky young man."

"Thank you, sir," Glen responded, unsure of what else to say.

The doctor chuckled slightly, his arms uncrossing and one hand tapping on Glen's wrist companionably. "Don't thank me, young man. I'm only the guy that gets to document your recovery. I'm not responsible for the circumstances that brought you to us."

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, no worries, Glen. No fault, no foul. You seem to have no trouble speaking and hearing. How is your vision?"

"Hard to tell," Glen squeaked. "Dark in here."

"Yes, well, you weren't exactly reading very much. Do you mind if I examine you? I need to inspect your eyes, the area around where the lightning entered you, and your extremities, primarily your legs."

"Okay. Is there a problem?"

"Well, electrical injuries are very dangerous," Dr. McCoy said, standing and getting an instrument off the wall. He fitted the wand with a plastic cone and looked through the viewer, clicking on a small light. "They can cause all manner of tissue damage, fluid imbalances, involuntary muscular contractions, bone stress fractures," he sighed, "very nasty and dangerous stuff. As you may remember from school, your nervous system is basically an electrical network, effected through electrical and chemical means."

Glen considered that for a moment as the doctor helped him sit upright in the bed more. The doctor performed a quick inspection of Glen's eyes, speaking calmly the whole time. "Ah, very nice. No detachment of the retinas, no signs of burning or scaring. No clouding of the fluids."

"I felt a lot of pain when I woke up," Glen said calmly as the doctor put the eye exam wand back onto its wall mount. He went on to describe the sensations that passed through him upon waking. And then he admitted that he didn't recognize his parents or sister.

"The pain is not unusual. Often victims of trauma do seem to experience a sort of muscle memory or sensory echo after waking from induced comas. And, to be honest, young man, the amount of energy you absorbed was quite phenomenal."

"But what about not knowing my family. I see them, and I know who they are, at least I figured out that much. But I don't feel anything towards them. I don't remember them." Glen felt himself getting flustered. A bit panicky. Uncertain.

"Relax, Glen. Some memory loss is common with survivors of lightning strikes," the doctor nodded. "This may or may not be permanent. You may experience moments of full recognizance in some areas, like how you understand language and emotional states, or you may have times where certain memories come back to you in seemingly chaotic fashion."

"But, I don't remember things. Important things. I don't feel anything for them."

"For your parents and sister?" Glen nodded. "She's a handful, that one. And she apparently doesn't like you very much."

"She doesn't?"

"Do not panic. Sibling rivalry is hardly something new. Little girls love attention, and they often get angry when they don't get it. Especially from someone they think should pay them the most attention. She certainly has your father wrapped around her little finger. I think she and you did not have a strong relationship before the accident."

"Oh. I didn't think about that."

"Well, in your defense, you did just wake up. Glen, you are going to find that until your memories return, your emotional slate has basically been wiped clean as well. The people in your life will be confused by your confusion about your relationships with them. You see, to them, the emotions and memories and ties in common are still real, and comfortable. Reconnecting with those people wont be easy. Do you understand what I am saying?"

"I don't know," Glen said, feeling his whole face frown.

"Let me put it another way. People you know, friends, teachers, neighbors, will expect you to be how you were before. It is up to you as to whether you can or even want those relationships to return to where they were before. Everything I have heard about you from your time before the lightning struck you in the heart…"

"In my heart?" Glen interrupted, stunned.

"If not directly there than very close. From what I understand, you died three times on the way to the hospital. I was extremely worried about that during your recovery. I took a lot of pictures of your heart while you slept. I feel confident that there is no lasting damage to your heart, lungs or pericardium. Or any of your other organs, for that matter."

Glen realized his hand had strayed back to the bandage over his chest. "All of them?" he asked, his hand drifting south to where he felt the plastic tube and tape around his penis. Touching the sleeve of the catheter moved the tube within his body, and his face twinged with discomfort.

The doctor followed the look on Glen's face to the position of the boy's hand and Dr. McCoy couldn't suppress the laugh that barked from him. A short, loud burst of a laugh, followed by a more subtle chuckle. "Oh, my boy. As far as I know, everything there should work as normal. We'll have to trust you to give it a proper field test, but I found no evidence of damage there. Thankfully. Considering the injuries you did sustain, I would have thought that those might bear the brunt of the damage. After all, the water you were standing in at that time was about that high on you."

Dr. McCoy continued the examination, primarily using a metal probe with a rounded ball end to press in at certain places on Glens' skin. The bottoms of his feet, inside the ankle, outside and back of the knees, inside the elbow and wrist, and along Glen's spine. The examination seemed to go quickly, with some minor discomfort for Glen. But in the end, the doctor seemed satisfied that there was no nervous system damage to Glen's limbs. The doctor did ask Glen to tell someone immediately if he felt any tingles or pain in his legs, particularly in his feet.

All the while that the doctor was performing his examinations, Glen's mind wandered, forming questions, wondering if he should ask them. He decided that Dr. McCoy was trustworthy. He needed to know.

"Doctor, when I died in the ambulance, did my memories die with me? Am I someone new now?"

"I don't think that your memories have died. We know so very little about the mind, the internal complexities that turn the brain into something more than just a lump of fatty tissue and neurons that somehow stores information. But, while you may not have the capability, at present, to access your memories, I can't see any major damage in your brain scans that would lead me to indicate that you have lost them entirely. Think about your previous life like a treasure, locked in a pirate's treasure chest. The gold and valuables are still in there, but if you don't have the key to the lock…"

"You can't get the gold," Glen finished the thought. "See, I understand about pirates. And I speak, like you said. And I know about Disney movies, and football, and I know I like the three color ice cream."


"Yeah, that. I know that I don't like onions on my hamburgers. And that I'm allergic to cats but not dogs. And that pineapple doesn't belong on pizza. I know all that."

"Oh, you're definitely on the mend. Only a teenage boy would think so much about food," Dr. McCoy chuckled.

"So why can't I feel anything when I think about my family? Why can't I remember any friends? I mean, do I even have friends?"

"You do. I've meet several. Including your girlfriend, Jill. And your buddy Jason. They visit you fairly frequently."

"Jill. Jason." Glen said the names, as if tasting them for the first time, hoping to feel something, anything about them.

"Anything?" the doctor asked. Glen shook his head sadly.

"I should, shouldn't I? And the other name they mentioned. Uhm, Peter, I think. I don't feel anything when I think those names."

"Give it time. Your body sustained significant injuries. You literally absorbed hundreds of millions of Volts of electrical energy, while hip deep in water, no less, and you are still alive. To think that you would not bear some residual effects from channeling that much energy would be difficult to believe at best. To be honest, you probably shouldn't be alive. So in a sense, you are already super human. Just don't forget that you are still very human in here," the doctor said, his finger flicking up to push gently on Glen's forehead. Glen's eyes crossed as he followed the finger to contact. Which brought a giggle to both doctor and patient. "And in here," the doctor said, bringing his finger to a spot in the middle of the bandage on Glen's chest.

"Be patient with the people in your life. They are going to have to relearn you just as you relearn them. And they may not be exactly who they at first seem."

"Thank you, doctor."

"Well, my young man, you are doing well. I sense that you want to have the nurse come in and take out at least some of these tubes?"

"Yes sir!"

"And your voice has improved as you have been speaking here. So I have no worries about you being able to swallow liquids, maybe some solid foods. We'll start you off slow. I am going to have you go through some physical therapy and I'm going to proscribe lots of fluids. With any luck, you should be able to go home in about a week, ten days tops. Just in time for school." Dr. McCoy watched, waiting to see how Glen reacted to the possibility of school. The passive look on Glen's face spoke volumes, that clearly the boy didn't have an opinion one way or the other.

"Why the physical therapy?"

"Doubting my medical training?" McCoy asked, smiling.

"No sir, just… I want to know things. I've forgotten so much, I want to know what I need to do to get it back."

"That, young man, is a very wise way to think of things. While you were asleep, essentially, your muscles atrophied somewhat. Not enough that you will be unable to walk, but enough that you will need to take things slowly at first. I understand that before this incident you were an athlete with your school teams. Soccer, baseball, basketball, all that. You'll need to rebuild some of the strength you had from all of that activity after being sedentary for so long."

"I'm almost afraid to ask this next part, doctor. I'm not even sure what grade I'm in, or… or how old I am."

"Nothing to be ashamed about, Glen. While you were sleeping, you had your 14th birthday. You will be going into the 9th grade when school starts back up. Same age as my grandson, DeVon. Maybe you and he will be in some of the same classes."

"9th grade. High school. Fourteen." Glen said, almost as if he were trying to memorize it.

"I'll send the nurse in. She'll help you get those tubes out. Don't be embarrassed if your body reacts while the catheter is removed. It's natural. But, also don't be too proud to ask for help getting into the bathroom if you need it. I'll check in with you tomorrow about the physical therapy schedule and your other treatments. We'll try to get you home quickly so you can have a few days of summer before you go back to school."

"Thank you, Doctor. For everything."

Having the tubes removed from his upper and lower areas helped Glen's mood immensely. The IV drip remained, but many of the wires were taken off, and the steady beep-beep-beep of the heart monitor momentarily went to the continuous alert tone before the nurse shut it off. Thankfully, the nurse that came in to remove the catheter was a different person, and male, which eased much of Glen's embarrassment when certain automatic reactions occurred. The nurse helped Glen sit on the toilet, helped him get into and out of the hospital bed. The doctor had been right about his muscles feeling weak. He wasn't sure why, but he got the impression that his body had been a bit chunkier before the lightning. He looked lean and thin in the mirror when he glanced over in the bathroom, but he wasn't sure exactly how it compared to his life before.

All he did know was that having the tubes out of his throat and penis made him feel enormously less self-conscious. The open back hospital gown didn't do much to alleviate the rest of his personal anxiety, but at least they let him put on a pair of underwear. Somehow, although he wasn't sure how, he felt that it was massively undignified to walk around with one's butt hanging in the open.

His parent's came back in, with little Carolynn held on Dad's hip again. She looked tired. Glen suddenly realized he had no idea what time of day it was, or what day, for that matter. The doctor had said he'd been in the hospital for six weeks. Glen felt a slight panic when he realized he didn't even know what month it was.

Mom kept up a long attempt at conversation. Glen tried to be polite, but much of what she said just sailed passed him. Names came at him like a swarm of bees, bumbling around and looking for something to do, but not seeming to have a great sense of direction. She eventually got the idea and pulled out her iPhone, cycling through pictures. Seeing a face to attach to a name helped Glen keep track of the conversation, but it did nothing to stir memories.

"Honey, I think we need to get Carolynn home. She's had a long day and it's getting late."

"You feeling sleepy, Carolynn?" Mom asked. The youngster made an elaborate show of ponderously nodding. "Okay," Mom said, standing but looking back to Glen like she was afraid to leave. Like it might break the spell somehow if she left the hospital and he would shrink back to the dark realm he'd been trapped in for so long.

"We'll be back tomorrow, Glen. We'll see if Jill or Jason want to come along as well."

"And Peter?" Glen asked. He didn't feel anything for any of the names yet, but for the sake of completeness, he offered Peter's name.

The parents exchanged a look, but Glen had no idea why. "We'll see, baby," Mom said, leaning over and embracing Glen. As if on instinct, his free arm went up behind her back in an empty hug. It was something people did, he knew, but he didn't know how long to hold the hug, or if his hand was in the right place, how much pressure to use. Glen kept his touch gentle, light, and in his own mind, felt uncertain about if he had performed the social custom properly.

"Say g'night to Glen, Carolynn," his father said.

"G'night Gwen," the little pig-tailed girl said in a bored monotone. Her yawn was huge, and her eyes drooped closed as she leaned on her father's shoulder.

"Don't give the nurses too much trouble, boy," Dad said with a wink, getting a gentle arm slap from his mother, her softly hissed "Allen!" a testament to the tension that seemed to be lifted between them now that Glen was awake.

"Is there anything you need from home?" Mom asked just before she passed by the doorway.

"Some fresh underwear, and socks?" Glen asked. He understood what these things were, and their general function. He just couldn't tell anyone what particular ones were his, waiting patiently in his home, all these weeks. And the hospital issue boxers felt two sizes too large, scratchy and stiff in the wrong places. And suddenly, the realization that there was an entire other world beyond just these walls he'd known since waking, that was waiting for his return. He found himself staring off into space even as his mother said she'd bring a small bag of clothes for him.

"We'll see you tomorrow, baby-boy," Mom said, reluctantly leaving. "Love you!"

Left alone with his thoughts, feeling suddenly very exhausted, Glen lay back in his hospital bed, trying to sleep. And while he rested, while his mind idled and stirred to something like dreams, he found that he simply couldn't sleep much. He clicked on the hospital TV, mounted on the wall opposite the foot of his bed, and became entranced by a series of cartoon heroes fighting for truth, justice and decent pizza. Somewhere during that night, he slipped into a deep, fitful sleep, but dreamed of nothing other than replaying the events of the day mixed in with teenaged superheroes getting in over their heads.

The next morning, his parents were by as promised. They talked while waiting for the doctor to come in and remove Glen's bandage. The doctor recommended that he get outside and stretch his legs some, but to stay on the hospital campus. He changed into street clothes with a little help from the nurse. He just couldn't handle climbing into his shirt while still connected to the IV drip. Not enough hands. He thought about pulling off the bandage still centered on his chest, but the nurse said the doctor would probably take care of that when he came by.

The conversation went by the way of news about the family. Things like cousin Jenny's wedding plans suddenly dropping when she found her fiancée was having "meetings" with multiple other ladies, including Jenny's best friend; Uncle Dale's new back porch deck finally getting finished after the bad contractor he'd initially hired making good; Dad's promotion at work; and of course, the coming school year, and how Carolynn was ready for her first year of big girl school. It all seemed very interesting and important. Yet Glen could only feel a detached understanding of most of it. He couldn't connect the ideas to faces, emotions.

His parents excused themselves, mostly because Carolynn was complaining that she was hungry. Glen tried to put on a smile as they left, but his mind was still trying to deal with so many "family facts" that he felt a bit lost. Obviously, there were a lot of family connections and other people in Glen's… in his life from before the lightning. It still boggled him that so much could be out there and to everyone else it was just normal.

So while he sat in bed, trying to understand the connections of his life and enjoying not having his back open to any passing eyes, he was surprised when the door to his room opened and three teens walked in, two boys and a girl, roughly his own age.

"Glen! Oh Em Gee! You're awake!" the girl squealed, rushing to his side. She delicately picked up his hand and promptly squeezed it, almost painfully. She leaned in and brushed her lips against his cheek, careful not to touch the padded area under his shirt. The bigger of the boys took up a spot right behind the girl, his grin huge and bright. The other boy seemed more subdued, and stayed on the side of Glen's bed closest to the door, nearer his feet than his hands.

"About time you got up, you lazy slacker," the grinning boys said, holding his knuckles up for a fist bump. Glen, not recognizing the gesture, stared at the extended hand for a moment before the grinning boy got a confused look. He traded a brief glance with the girl and then looked back. "Don't leave me hangin', dude," the smiling boy said, trying to recover his grin.

"I'm sorry," Glen started to say, when Dr. McCoy walked in. He wasn't sure who these kids were or what their relationship to him was, but he felt that something really different had just happened. Something he couldn't make sense out of right away or put a thumb on, but it felt oddly wrong. He looked to the doctor with some trepidation. The expression on his face spoke volumes to the doctor: please don't leave.

"Ah, you have visitors. I can come back." The doctor noticed the sudden panicked expression from Glen and paused. "I'm not sure we've met, children. I am Dr. McCoy. Who might all of you be?"

"The nurse said it was okay," the girl shot back, defensively. The boy at the foot of the bed looked almost apologetic.

"I'm sure there's no problem with all of you visiting with Glen," the doctor smiled. He looked at the younger boy.

"I'm Peter Johnson," the smaller brunette boy said from Glen's foot area. "We met twice before, sir. It's okay if you don't remember me." Peter's face sort of sagged a bit as he said that, his screen of dark hair covering his large brown eyes.

"I think I do remember you, Peter," the doctor said, laying a big paw on Peter's slumped shoulder. Almost immediately the boy perked up some, giving a smile that seemed constantly hidden but suddenly brilliant, braces and all.

"Which makes you, uhm, Jason," the doctor said, pointing to the blonde teen girl with the green eyes and long pony tail, "and Jane?" he asked, shifting his clip board holding pointing hand towards the brown haired boy with the green eyes beside her.

"Uhm, it's Jillian," the girl corrected, a lot of attitude and emphasis on her voice as she let go of Glen's hand to point at her obviously on display cleavage. "He's Jason," she said, pointing to the boy beside her.

"Ah, my mistake. Well, I'll leave you to get reacquainted."

"Uhm, Dr. McCoy," Glen spoke up before the doctor had a chance to turn and leave. "Am I going to start therapy today?"

"Later, yes. We have a few more tests to perform before we begin torturing you," the doctor intoned ghoulishly, getting a chuckle from both of the boys. "Feeling strong enough to go home now?" Part of Glen wanted to say yes, but he held his tongue. "I was just coming in to remove the bandage from your chest. If you want I can do that now. Dr. Marcus will be talking with your parents right about now about the next few steps. So after I take the bandage off and remove your IV, you can get dressed and be ready to go for a walk before lunch time. How's that sound?"

"Uhm, good, I guess."

"Excellent. Let's get the bandage off then. Do you mind if your friends stay to see?"

"Is he like, all gross under there?" Jill asked, her hand finding its way back to grip Glen's.

"The scarring was minimal, considering," the doctor replied, keeping his irritation at the girl's tone out of his voice. "Although there was some rather interesting fractal scarring that showed up. We don't get many survivors of lightning strikes when the patient was in water. This may be a temporary mark or it could be something unique and possibly permanent." The doctor looked to Glen's face as he pulled the IV tube out of the back of his hand. The needle sliding out relieved a slight pain that Glen hadn't realized he had.

"Will it keep him from playing sports?" Jason asked.

"Not likely. For the most part Lichtenberg or fractal scarring is superficial. No long term health problems should come of it. It is merely…" and the doctor paused for a moment, considering his next phrase carefully. "It's more an oddity. Something unique and interesting. Nothing to be too concerned with. All the tests have come back showing Glen in the pink of health."

At the doctor's instruction, Glen leaned forward and together they stripped off his shirt. Glen was suddenly grateful for the heavy blankets over his midsection, as he started to get a boner. He kept his hands folded over his groin as the doctor asked him to lay back. At the foot of the bed, Glen saw Peter also have to make a minor adjustment in his pants, even as the brown eyed boy moved to look more from the foot of the bed, all the way up Glen's form while the doctor began lifting away the layers of gauze and tape.

The tape pulled up and away from his body, unzipping as it were, and left Glen's skin feeling the touch of open air. It felt suddenly colder over the middle of his chest, and then colder still when the doctor applied a moist cloth to areas the tape had clung to. He watched the faces of those around him as the bandages came off. The closer to his body, the more the bandages had layers of pinkish and yellowy stains in splotchy patterns. The eyes of his visitors seemed glued to his chest, which made Glen a little more self-conscious and made his boner grow a little harder.

Finally, the doctor pulled the last bandage away and the cool air touched all of Glen's chest. He gasped in surprise at the tingling sensation. Apparently his three visitors gasped as well, since their faces all showed signs of shock and amazement. Even Peter seemed unable to keep his eyes from whatever was on Glen's chest as a reminder of the lightning he'd survived.

"What?" he asked, trying to look down.

"Why don't you look for yourself," the doctor suggested, pushing the covers down over Glen's knee. Immediately, Glen tried to keep the blankets in place, but decided instead to just hold his shirt over his tented underwear. Dr. McCoy, helped Glen stand so he could walk to the small sink in the room, and look at himself in the large mirror over it. His steps still felt unsteady, but his sense of balance was unhindered.

What he saw made his boner drop away completely to limpness. His face stared back at him, but his pale green eyes kept flicking back and forth from his face to the large blue pattern of tiny scars on his chest. They stretched across the middle of his sternum, up towards his shoulders and down towards his belly, almost in a feathery bird of prey shaped pattern. As he watched, he saw his chest move with a gasp, the subtle shifts in lighting showing the scars were mostly below the surface, his skin showing only slight rises with the blue lines.

"The blue is caused by blood vessels near the surface," Dr. McCoy said, as if reading the minds of everyone else in the room. "We believe that was roughly the area the lightning contacted you. The muscles of your chest contracted extremely strongly at the point of contact. The blood vessels were forced closer to the surface because of this. You did have some bleeding problems in that area for a while, but your body has adjusted, without any negative effects as best we can tell."

"It looks like the Thunderbird," Peter said in awe.

"The what?" Jill said, getting a confused look on her face. "It looks nothing like a car, you little dweeb!"

Peter dropped his eyes and took an unconscious step towards the door. He clearly wasn't someone used to dealing with confrontations. By contrast, Glen noticed, Jill seemed all to ready to start confrontations. Perhaps she was just being protective of her boyfriend, Glen reasoned. Part of him, however, wanted to shout her down for being so aggressive at someone who wasn't hurting anyone.

"I think he means like the Indian legend of the thunderbird," Jason said. Something about how he said that stuck with Glen. Almost as if Jason had stopped himself from saying a word at the end of that phrase. He kept his eyes roving over the tracings of blue on his chest. Glen flexed his arms and chest, watching as the muscles moved under the blue lines, just under the skin.

"Do you feel any pain? Tingling perhaps?" McCoy asked, moving into view behind Glen. The doctor seemed to stand to one side in the reflection, while Jill and Jason stood to the other, over his shoulders.

"It was cold when the bandages came off. But I don't feel anything different. Should I?" Glen asked, his fingers reaching up to trace over the smooth lines on his chest, feeling how the slight rises of the scars tickled lightly under his tentative touch.

"There is no evidence or references to such scars causing pain afterwards, generally. There are rare cases where extensive nerve damage has occurred, but we see very little to indicate such in your case."

"It's weird," Jill said, looking skeptical.

"It's wicked," Jason said, awe in his voice.

"It's beautiful," Peter mumbled. Glen was fairly sure he was the only one that heard Peter say that. A slight smile twitched Glen's lips at that thought. He took another long, penetrating gaze at the pattern and had to admit, it looked kinda cool. Like something out of a comic book.

"It's… wow," Glen said, uncertain. "Will the physical therapy we talked about do anything about this?"

"No. Your therapy schedule is more about improving muscle tone and coordination. You were on your back a long time, we just want to make sure there is no lingering neurological damage and to build some strength. After all, you have school soon. Can't send back a weak Glen, now, can we?"

"Suppose not," Glen admitted. "Thank you, Dr. McCoy. For everything."

"My pleasure. I'll leave you young folk space to catch up."

The door had barely closed behind the doctor when the mood in the room changed dramatically.

"Wow! What a kook!" Jason said. "Talk about old school."

"Yeah, like, is he serious about stuff," Jill said as Glen shrugged into his shirt. He paused a moment, still looking in the mirror at the way the blue marks sharply contrasted with his skin tone. It did remind Glen of an eagle in flight, wings spread wide to catch the wind and command it.

"He's okay," Glen said, pulling the shirt over his tummy and turning to the bed. Jill and Jason still stood on the other side, with Peter standing at the foot of the bed, holding his elbow across his chest so his wrist hung in front of his hips. Glen suspected that Peter still had trouble hidden behind his long t-shirt and jean shorts. Glen understood how it was. You didn't always want people to know if you had a boner. It wasn't polite, somehow.

"So, when they gonna let you outta this freak show?" Jason asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

"About a week. I'm gonna try to get them to let me go home early, though."

"Now that's my boyfriend talkin'!" Jill beamed. "You've missed sooooo much stuff. Like Roxy Bender is pregnant, and she wont say who the father is. Can you believe it? I mean, we all knew she was a slut, but to have her prove it like this? Crazy. She's already gonna drop out, I betcha. 15 and washed up. I bet it was Roland Barnhill. He always was sniffing around her like a dog in heat."

Glen stared at her as she spoke, uncertain how to respond. She'd praised him in one breath and then went out of her way to trash talk another girl. He had no idea who the kids in question were, but just the way she slammed the poor girl was enough to anger Glen. Jason didn't seem to find it either out of place or rude to talk like that about the girl.

Peter sort of kept his head down, trying hard not to be noticed.

"What did Roxy ever do to you?" Glen heard his own voice say. The look that crossed Jill's face also stopped her cold. Literally, in mid-sentence, she simply stared at Glen as if he'd suddenly sprouted wings and a lion's mane. Jason quickly tried to cover his mouth for the sputtering laugh he could barely contain, but even that caught Jill's attention and her dumbfounded stare of incredulity.

"She didn't have to do anything. Everyone knows she's a skank. She got what she deserves."

"Just because she's had sex and got pregnant? That makes her… bad?" Glen asked. His voice held no anger. He was unsure what the rules were.

"No, not just because. Because she's a foul, loud mouthed, slutty whore!"

"Have we had sex yet?" Glen asked, and he couldn't believe that he suddenly felt embarrassed about having asked, especially with other boys in the room.

"Of c-course," Jill stuttered. "You don't remember?"

"Unfortunately, no. I don't remember anyone. Or anything. The doctor said that my memories might come back in time but, I just don't remember anything from before."

"But, you can talk," Peter said, looking up at Glen's revelation. "I mean, we understand you, you understand us. Can you read?"

"They said that things like reading and speaking, things I've done for a long, long time, are stored in a different part of the brain. The place where more recent memories are was wiped clean, though. So I can remember how to walk, write, do math, all that. I just don't know who Roxy is, or who Roland Barnhill is, or…"

"Or even us?" Jason asked, suddenly catching on. "You mean all those years are like, gone?" Glen nodded slowly. "Is that why you asked Doofus here to come along?" he pointed to Peter, who promptly lowered his eyes. "Because someone said he was hanging around your room like a lost puppy all the time?"

"My parents mentioned his name. I asked to know who he is."

Peter cautiously lifted his eyes at hearing that, glancing hopefully at Glen. "Really?"

"I wanted to know who people I used to know are," Glen replied, getting a shaky grin from Peter. His upper teeth showed briefly with the glint of his braces, just a bare smattering of a smile. Glen smiled back.

"See, fag!" Jill said, looking at Peter like he had just peed on the carpet. "You aren't really wanted. He just heard your name and thought you actually were somebody. You can get the fuck out now!"

"Don't talk to him like that," Glen said, feeling suddenly very angry. "He's a person and I did ask him to be here. I'm beginning to wonder why I hang out with you, though."

"I'm your friggin' girlfriend. You just don't remember yet. I get that, so I'll forgive you for talking to me like that in front of others."

"How come I can't talk to you in front of others the same way you talk about others in front of everyone?" Glen asked, without inflection. "Are you hiding something? Or just afraid?"

"Dude!" Jason exclaimed, getting another shocked look from Jill, first aimed at Glen redirected his way. "That wicked tongue of yours still works just fine!"

"You're taking his side? I thought you said the little queer should roll up and die."

"Hey, he might be a waste of skin, but at least he's not hogging all the air. Bitch!"

"You fuckin' jackass!" she said and thumped his shoulder with a closed fist. Jason just giggled as she continued her assault. "You're a fuckin' asshole, you know that Jason."

"Yeah, well, at least I ain't getting bitched out about Peter-Peter, Penis-eater!" Jason said, enduring her fists like they weren't anything.

"I never should have slept with you!" Jill shouted. And then, as if she'd said something she shouldn't have, both Jason and Jill stopped their confrontation and stared at each other, horrified. Jill actually brought her hands up to her lips to cover them, as if more secrets might slip out.

Together they turned to look at Glen who stared dispassionately at the two of them. "Get out," he said, softly.

"Glen, baby…"

"Dude, it was an accident. Like she was so worried about you and…"

"And we were the only ones who came to see you, and…"

"Just get out. I don't remember what kind of friends or boyfriend-girlfriend we were, but clearly, you two aren't nice people. And while I don't remember anything from before, I know I don't want to be like you two now. I think it would be best if you both just go."

"Baby, I'm so, so sorry. It was only one time!"

"Well, four, but who's counting," Jason said. Jill's mouth snapped open in surprise again. "It's cool, though," the smug boy said, looking at Glen. "I was about tired of you hogging all the glory anyways. Far as I'm concerned, you died that day on the beach. You're not my buddy anymore. You're just somebody that I used to know." Jason lifted his chin Glen's way, as if acknowledging their former friendship, and then he walked out, purposefully banging his shoulder into Peter hard enough to push him partly over the end of the hospital bed. At the door, he looked back to Jill with an arrogant expression. "You coming?"

Jill shifted her look from Jason to Glen, a pleading look on her pretty features. "Glen, you gotta believe me. We thought you were dead. Or, like, gonna die. I was lonely and…"

"Jill!" Jason commanded.

"Gawd, this is sooo gonna be all over Facebook. I just know it. I'm sooo screwed!" Jill said, starting to walk towards Jason. She gave one look back to Glen. "Please don't tell anyone." Glen just nodded, and kept his eyes away from her. As she passed Peter, she sneered at him. He kept his eyes away from her gaze as well. "And you, ya little freak!" she started. But Glen interrupted her with a sudden finger and a stern look. His green eyes seemed to flash in his anger.

"Just leave. And you leave him out of it," Glen replied.

"Oh, is the little faggot your property now?" she replied snidely.

"No, but if you give him any grief, now or in the future, I'll tell everyone about what happened here today. How would that make you look?"

"You wouldn't!" she said in horror.

"Like he said," Glen spoke softly, "I'm not the same person you once knew. So you don't know what I'll do other than what I say I'll do." He looked Jason in the eye, then back to Jill. "Do you want to test that, or just accept it?"

She nodded, taking a step towards him, arms coming up for a hug, but Glen just extended his finger more in Jason's direction. She got the hint and walked to Jason's side.

"Good luck," Jason said. "We was bros once. Hope you get your head together. If you do, you got my digits. Call me."

Glen simply turned away, a signal for Jill and Jason to leave. Glen couldn't believe how angry the exchange with the other two kids had made him. And it had nothing to do with them sleeping together. Glen really had no feeling one way or the other about that, since he didn't remember Jill as his girlfriend. It was that they'd so readily betray him with each other, and that they'd so easily attack someone who was not a threat to them. Peter hadn't even tried to defend himself in the whole mess, yet they'd continued to hammer him, like he wasn't a person.

For some reason he couldn't put words to, Glen found that behavior not only unbearable, but stupid and thoughtless. Peter hadn't deserved any of the harsh words or attitude they'd shoveled his way. Part of Glen realized that they did it just to feel superior to someone else. Another part of Glen realized that since they were expecting him to be so chummy with them, that he'd probably been like that himself. And that sickened him.

Glen also realized that there were a lot of parts of him that seemed to know things, but were still disconnected from each other. Maybe there was a reason for that. He made a mental note to explore this further with Dr. McCoy.

"Why did you do that?" Peter asked as Glen came down from his anger high. He felt the smaller boy's presence, like a shivering spot in a calm sea. He limped back to his bed and pitched his hip down, sitting so he looked towards Peter. "Nobody ever stood up for me before," Peter said, his eyes nearly liquid with unshed tears.

"I don't really know," Glen replied. He nodded towards a seat near the bed, inviting Peter to sit. "I just… It felt wrong for them to treat you like that. For them to treat anyone like that. I just couldn't stand it."

"Oh," Peter replied.

"Tell me, before the accident… I was kinda a… a not so nice guy. Wasn't I."

Peter looked up, a bit scared. "You were kinda rough with people." Glen could tell he was holding back

"For real. I wont be angry with you. I just need to know the truth. Was I as bad as Jason?"

"Worse. Jason looked up to you for a lot of the stuff you guys did to others."

"Tell me?" Glen asked, feeling his eyes getting a bit blurry. Peter's face was also showing signs of extreme emotion, although his seemed to be more based on fear than anything else. "I promise you, I'm not gonna get mad. I want to… I want to be better than I was. And if I was like Jason and Jill, then I have to change things."

"Are you for real?" Peter asked, his frustration starting to get the better of him. "Is all of this for real? You're not setting me up for some kinda sick prank, are you?"

"Peter, I don't know what I was like before. I don't. I can't remember who that Glen was. But you came here while I was brain dead in a hospital bed. You came here to visit someone who obviously was an asshole to you. Who else would do that, except someone who is honest and good? I get the feeling that the old me would never have done that for you. Which sucks, and I apologize in advance."

"You can't apologize for something you haven't done yet," Peter pointed out.

"See, that's the thing. I probably should be apologizing to you for crap I already done to you. Stuff I can't remember now, but just seeing how Jason treated you, I have to guess what I did was at least as bad, or worse. And probably like every day at school, right?" Peter simply nodded. "So, I can't trust someone who was my best friend, and I guess my former girlfriend wasn't really a gem either. But I can trust someone who came to visit me even when I was not the best friend to them at all. See?"

"Yeah, sorta," Peter mumbled.

"So dude, give it to me straight. No matter how bad it is. I wanna know."

"Do you really?"

"I need this. I get the feeling that you do too."

Peter sighed and seemed to be collecting himself. Collecting memories he could site to explain things, without letting the emotions that touched those memories overwhelm him. Glen saw the struggle on the other boy's face and realized that in his previous life, the name Glen was attached to a lot of pain for Peter.

"It started in middle school," Peter began, his hands toying nervously with his shoe laces after he drew his foot up into the seat. "You were on all the sports teams, seems like. You were always good at sports. Anyways, I think it was after Christmas and we were in sixth grade. Late January, I think. We were in the same Gym block. Coach had us doing outdoor track, so we were all sweaty but also cold. Sweat pants and t-shirts soaked to the skin. We all wanted those showers like bacon for breakfast.

"Guys were rushing to get into the showers, you know, the first ones to get the hot water. A lot of guys hogged the showers like that, even though we only had a few minutes. You and your friends were some of the ones hogging the showers in the back of the wash area, you know where it's warmest." Peter looked up and met Glen's clear, steady gaze for a moment. "Guys were talking, guys were being jerks, guys were just being guys, I guess. Soon as one shower opened up, people hurried to get in. I wasn't really quick for that, and I was shivering a lot. Well, you know, you kinda stand there naked in the lines, waiting your turn and like, the cold and the nakedness make you kinda shrivel, you know… down there," Peter said, blushing.

"You mean, your penis?"

Peter blushed harder, and nodded in answer.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to embarrass you."

"You did then," Peter countered, an emotion Glen couldn't quite describe adding tension to the other boy's voice. "You were still in the back, yuckin' it up with Jason and the others when I finally got in, last in, by the way. That water felt so good, so warm. I was lucky there still was hot water when I got my chance to rinse off. Well, you know, when the water is warm after being so cold, things… loosen up. And like, droop."

"And I made fun of you?"

Peter nodded, his eyes drifting back to the shoelaces there in his lap. "I started getting a little chubbed. Not hard, just a little thicker… and like, longer. You know, it was the water, I wasn't looking or nuthin' like that," he said, and Glen noticed a tear drip over his cheek. "But Jason called attention to it. Laughed and pointed and he claimed I was getting a boner looking back at you guys in the back. I swear, I wasn't, but Jason started calling me…" The boy broke off, turning his head away and sniffing loudly. His hand darted up to his face as Glen watched, emotions of his own making Glen feel uncomfortable. And somehow, connected to this boy.

"He called you something that marked you. Made others think less of you, tease you," Glen said, not remembering it, but making a guess, even though he didn't phrase his pronouncement as a question. "And I agreed. Even… even persecuted you as well. Didn't I?"

"Everyone did," Peter said, his voice trembling and small. "I ran out of the shower, trying to cover up. I didn't even get to rinse out my hair. I had shampoo still in my hair as I got dressed." Peter's hand in his lap turned into a fist and he thumped the insole of his shoe, angrily. "It wasn't fair. Everyone treated me like… like…"

"Like what?"

"Like I was some horrible queer that wanted to just look at them or do things to them or whatever!" he sobbed. "Like I was less than human. Just some thing that they could ridicule. Not even allowed to fight back. Any time I tried, they just called me… Peter-Peter, Penis-eater." Glen identified the emotion in Peter's voice as he said this. Anguish. Not just sadness or anger or even remorse. This was something deeply moving for Peter. He'd been wounded socially as well as emotionally that day. And it had been a wound that had not only festered over the few years, it had isolated Peter. It had taken from him his confidence, his energy and his chance at any kind of friendship.

Glen felt emotions of his own at this. Shame at what he'd done to Peter, how he'd made it worse. Glen didn't know exactly what sins were his to be held accountable for, but he had the feeling he'd done more than his share in keeping Peter's head down over this incident. I've helped torment him for years, Glen thought, and he still came to visit me while I was laying here all but dead. He also felt that Peter needed a friend. More, he needed his friendship.

Glen reached out, leaning slightly over to stretch his hand to Peter's shoulder. His fingertips just brushed over Peter's shirt, above his shoulder blade, but the reaction between them was almost instant. Peter jumped as if shocked. Glen felt as if his hand had been bounced the moment he touched the other boy. He drew his hand back, hoping he hadn't somehow hurt Peter. Both locked eyes as Peter turned around. For a long moment, they simply stared at each other.

"I am sorry," Glen began. "I don't know what all I did, but I know it had to have been horrible. And if I can, I'd like to try to undo whatever wrong I've done."

"You don't have to," Peter started, but Glen gently interrupted.

"Yes, I do. Peter, you came to see me even when I was a total ass to you. For years I treated you like crap because it was easy, popular, or… or whatever else made me feel better to make you feel worse. And that's wrong. And I can't let that happen to you anymore. I can't." Glen felt like there were tears in his own eyes as he spoke

Peter closed his eyes, a tear slipping out and dripping onto his shoe. "I wont," Glen said, suddenly feeling much more conviction. Peter opened his eyes and smiled, his braces coming out to sparkle in the soft light of the hospital room.

That first day of physical therapy had almost seemed like the torture that Doctor McCoy implied it might be. Glen's body was a lot weaker than he'd felt in the hospital room. The exercises felt good to him, however. Like the burning in his muscles felt familiar, necessary. He was almost too exhausted to eat the lunch sent up to his room.

Almost, but not quite. Glen was a fourteen year old boy, after all, and his body demanded food, nearly continuously. He scarfed down the chicken breast, mashed potatoes with gravy and carrots like they were the last meal he'd have before crossing a desert. The milk seemed to evaporate almost as soon as he tilted the carton to his lips, and he supplemented it with ice water. After the food, he fell into a very contented sleep.

Waking hours later, he heard a soft sound from near his bed. He opened his eyes in the darkness, with only the nightlight from the bathroom casting a glow into the room. Beside his bed, Glen's mom was kneeling in front of a chair, a chain of beads in her hand, a crucifix hanging at one end as she mumbled softly, reverently. Glen realized that somehow this was a ritual for her. Some action she performed out of faith. Out of love. Glen was a bit confused at first. He didn't understand exactly what she was doing, or what the words meant. There was a feeling about his mom's actions, however that made Glen feel a surge of tenderness for her.

She was praying. Praying for Glen. And he got the feeling that she had been praying just like this since the first day he'd come into the hospital. She was praying for him to get better, to come back to her, to come back to life.

"Mom?" he asked, feeling his throat constrict a bit. He felt a bit thirsty.

"Glen, hiya," she said, looking his way, smiling. "I didn't mean to wake you, baby boy."

"I slept since lunch," Glen said, sitting up. "You should get some sleep too. Is Dad here? And Carolynn?"

"They went home. I couldn't leave without… well, I guess my prayers were answered. You came back to us."

Glen felt the corners of his mouth twitch as he realized she was still on her knees. He scooted over on the bed and made room for her. She seemed to understand and crawled into the bed beside him. On some instinct, they both turned left, so that his mother spooned Glen, her arm going up to hug him around his shoulders.

"You haven't let me do this since you were in grade school," she whispered. Glen couldn't put a name to the feelings in his head, but somehow, he felt comforted in her embrace. The presence of her breath on his shoulder, the weight of her head against his, it all made him feel somehow better.

"I don't remember that."

"Do you remember anything from… from before?" Glen shook his head slowly, just a bare fraction of movement, magnified by their proximity.

"Dr. McCoy thinks those memories are still there. He says I just don't have the key to the lock anymore," Glen whispered over his shoulder.

"Maybe you'll find it."



"I was a pretty rotten person, wasn't I?"

"Oh honey!"

"Seriously. Like no bullshit. I was pretty mean before. Right?"

"First, don't say bullshit to your mother. Second, you were a… well, a very aggressive boy. You knew what you wanted and weren't afraid to fight to get it. It's an… an admirable trait. Especially useful when you are athletic and need to make things happen on the field. You were…"

"Was I a bully?"

Glen's mom wasn't sure what to say to that. She considered for a moment, trying to find the best way to say things, the best way to sugar coat her own concerns and fears about how Glen had been, personally, before the lightning.

"I was," he said simply, a sad grimness coming to his tone.

"You were," she admitted. "And I hate to say it, but you were mean to a lot of people unnecessarily."

"Was I a bad brother, too? Dr. McCoy thinks that Carolynn and I don't get along."

"Well, if you were a bully, my little girl is still a spoiled little brat," his mother chuckled softly. "She definitely likes to be in charge. I used to think that it was a good thing that both of my kids were such strong personalities. Now…" she trailed off.

"Now you hope I don't remember," Glen said, as if reading her mind.

"I do, and I don't. Glen, you have to understand. I nearly lost you. A few times there, we nearly did. It changes a mother to see her child suffering. Hurt. I prayed every day that God would spare you. That he'd give you back to us. I was so…"

Glen turned under her arm and hugged her, drawing her head against his shoulder. She started crying, letting out weeks of tension and anxiety. Glen, still not sure exactly how he felt or what to do about what he felt, simply held her and let her cry. It touched him to know that she cared so deeply for him. That her love had been unconditional, despite how flawed and at times rotten he had been. She knew he was a bad person, and still she loved him, anguished over his injury, prayed with all that was in her for his safety and return to health.

And in that moment, Glen understood. His previous self had been selfish, arrogant, and capriciously hurtful in how he dealt with those he thought of as inferiors. And at some point, he realized that he had once thought his parents also fell into that category of inferiors. The same category he had maliciously deposited Peter into as well. How many others had he wronged, he wondered.

He felt a tear of his own slip over his chin as he held him mother and they both drifted off to sleep.

Peter couldn't make it over to visit every day since Glen's awakening. It was simply too far on his bike from their neighborhood to the hospital, and the New England summer heat was especially brutal this year. But those times he did show had become precious to Glen. They'd play cards, watched TV together, talked about things, mostly with Peter explaining things to Glen. One time, Jill tried to call and beg Glen not to tell anyone about her actions while he'd been "out sleeping" and she broke down in tears on the phone. Peter left the room when the call came through, but Glen ended it quickly and called him back in. His old life, it seemed, didn't really register to Glen as much as building from where he was now.

The physical therapy sessions left him exhausted. He worked hard with the trainer, a lady named Jasmine who looked to him to be of mixed White and Hispanic heritage. She pushed him past the point he felt he would have quit on his own, keeping him working on recovering his leg strength. She told him that she had been a dancer, classically trained, until she'd been injured in a car accident. It took her two years to recover the use of her legs, and while she couldn't perform for ballet anymore, she knew that helping others recover from their own trauma was her true calling. She gave Glen hell, but he stuck with her program and in only a few days, he could walk unaided. He only tired after heavy exertions. Jasmine told him that his progress was far better than she anticipated.

Peter became Glen's personal cheering section in his therapy sessions. Those days he could come, the dark haired boy got permission to push Glen down to the therapy room in a wheelchair and bring him back up. He also got to help Glen walk around the small courtyard near the elevator banks of the hospitals residency wing, taking in the sunshine. More talks, more joking, more laughter. Glen wondered why his previous self hadn't liked Peter before. Then he realized that Peter wasn't comfortable in large groups and Glen had apparently been a very popular boy in school. With so many other people so close, Peter had found himself on the outside, looking in. Shame, Glen thought. Because Peter was a great person to talk with, one to one. He listened, but he also had insights that sometimes surprised Glen. He chalked it up to Peter being more of a deep thinker than a social butterfly. He was a dreamer, not completely comfortable as a doer. Glen wondered if there was something holding his friend back, but decided not to push the issue for the moment.

As with all things with Peter, Glen had come to realize, if you give it time and gentle encouragement, eventually, he would come out of his shell on his own. But once he was out of that shell, he was the brightest spot in any room. Glen came to treasure their time together.

The window had been a favorite place for Glen, once he'd proven himself strong enough to stand unaided. He'd have to join that world outside soon, and he wanted as much information as he could about what was out there. There had been one storm during that time and he sat watching the roiling clouds with rapt anticipation. Every flash of lightning in the sky got his full attention, as if just seeing it would somehow make things come back into perfect focus for him. However, any flashes of insight remained obscured by clouds as he watched the storm. Part of him wanted to go outside the safety of the hospital walls and enjoy the rain on his skin, the wind in his hair. Part of him wondered if he'd get struck by lightning a second time, and if it would bring his memories back.

Another part of him wondered if he really wanted to remember.

From the window he could see the Merrimack River as it wended its way through the eastern part of town. Parts of the river had dried to the point where large, oblong mounds of sandbar rose from the normally mirror perfect surface. From his recovery room, Glen could see small boats drift to the bars in the wider spots on the river and people getting out to fish from the islands. He wondered for a moment if fishing was something he liked. He had a feeling that most things to do with water were good for him. Mom had shown him pictures of himself at swim meets and other pictures dating back many years of trips to the ocean, pool parties, and even scenes from a water park. In all of them, Glen was happy, smiling, and carefree. He looked a bit chubby in a few, he noticed, but only a little bit. He looked down at his stomach now, fresh from a post therapy shower, and was pleased to see he hadn't regained the unnecessary weight. In fact, his diligence in therapy seemed to be putting definition to his body in ways he found pleasing.

Jason and Jill and quite a few other kids featured in many of the pictures as well. There were not many of him and Carolynn once she got to the walking stage. Glen worried for a moment that in his arrogance before he'd probably hurt a lot of people, and done so in a casual way that some seemed to admire. Thinking back to Jason's remarks, it seemed even his "friends" held some resentment for Old Glen.

"Humans are social animals," Dr. McCoy had explained in one of their discussions. "In some situations, a pecking order must be maintained to keep what some view as a social hierarchy in place. A structure that others can use to understand their relationships to others."

"So, it's a competition?" Glen asked.

"It can be to some people. The question you need to figure out is, where do you fit in such a structure, and, if it is a competition, do you want to play that game?" Glen liked talking to Dr. McCoy, but it always seemed like he left the conversation with more questions than answers. More to think about. He felt that he'd miss that mentorship when he left the hospital.

Glen stood back from the window and pulled the towel from around his waist to dry his hair. Tomorrow he'd be going home, and he wondered what that would be like as well. He hoped they'd have bigger towels. As he dried his hair, he surrendered himself to the feelings the motion of his fingers behind the towel produced. Eyes closed, he didn't hear the door open and close, nor the gasp as Peter turned around in the doorway, presented with Glen's naked butt.

Glen turned around and dropped one hand full of towel to his groin, sensing a bit of wetness deep under. In doing so, he opened his eyes and saw his own body reflected in the mirror over the small sink. The blue fractals on his chest stood out in the lowered lighting of the room, almost glowing. And then he saw Peter, standing in the doorway, mouth open and staring.

In a moment of surprise, Glen took a step back, his hand and towel momentarily stopped in their ministrations. He wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed by Peter's open stare, or if he shouldn't be concerned. Since awakening, more than a week ago, he hadn't been overly worried about other males seeing his body as he had been about females. His first few sessions with Jasmine showed that clearly. He hadn't been afraid of showing himself, but he somehow felt there was a taboo about opposite sex types seeing each other naked after a certain age. There was something deeply seated in Glen about that. Perhaps a cultural understanding that naked with others tended to imply either no meaning at all, or some form of sexual activity.

Like he'd apparently already had with Jill. Somehow, the thought of being naked with Jill made his skin crawl. Like the thought of being intimate with her now that he knew what kind of person she was made him regret something he couldn't even remember. Still, he felt shame that he'd been with someone so callous, that the act meant so little to her. So many emotions and thoughts bubbled at the concept that he cringed inside. A feeling apparently reflected in his fractals, as he thought he caught a trace of movement in them.

And while he hadn't felt anything sexual when working with Jasmine, she did have her hands on him rather a lot. Certain reactions, she told him, were normal considering the work they were doing. She promised not to mention it as long as it wasn't a problem for him. She even asked if he preferred a male therapist. Jasmine's candor and her unflinching will in getting him to perform his therapy, however, convinced Glen to keep working with her. He wasn't sure if another trainer would get the same results from him, but he admired her courage, her tenacity, and the simple fact that she looked things squarely in the eye and didn't back down. It was a trait Glen hoped to develop in himself.

"I'm sorry," Peter said, turning to leave.

"No, you can stay. We've seen each other in the school showers, as you've told me. I guess it's not much different than that."

"I… I didn't mean to stare," Peter apologized, turning his eyes away. Glen continued to dry himself, moving the towel to up over his abdomen more, letting the cloth hang down to cover his hips. As Glen watched, the other boy had to quickly insert his hands into the deep pockets of his baggy cargo shorts. Glen suspected there was some adjustments going on there and strangely, he felt a movement in his own equipment. Not becoming suddenly erect, but a slight thickening, a small twitch.

"Jasmine says that my last therapy session went well," Glen said, trying to take some of the awkward tension out of the room with small talk. It was a skill he'd come to realize he used frequently, and very easily. "She thinks I'm about 90% back to where I was before."

"That's good news. You are definitely trimmer than you were before."

"Not so chunky?" Glen asked, leaning a hip on the bed, which gave Peter a chance to find the chair near the sink. Sitting down appeared to give Peter some relief from his predicament.

"Well, you were always one of the stronger kids in gym class. But, yeah, you're more streamlined now. Less like a full back, more like a wide receiver."

"Like Gronkowski?"

"He's a tight end," Peter corrected. "But yeah, I guess more like him, too. Except he's a beast."

"Jasmine thinks I should try out for sports teams when I get to school. Although I probably can't get into the football program since they've been training all summer."

"Yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about that one. Our high school football coach sucks. The only reason they can't get rid of him is he's got tenure. We're always getting beaten by Methuen and Andover and those huge, fast kids from the Lawrence schools."

"Guess I'll have to wait and see which is which." Glen paused, using the towel to rub out a wet spot behind his ear. This exposed his flank slightly from hip to underarm and Peter noticeably averted his eyes. "So, you're here kinda late," Glen said, hoping to restart the conversation again.

"I got a job."


"Yeah, I help old man McMillian fix bikes up at the Schwinn store. It's on the way here, so I thought I'd stop by before going home."

"That sounds like fun. Does it pay much?"

"Not a lot. It keeps me out of the house." Glen understood almost at once why that was a bit deal to Peter.

"Parents been fighting again?"

"Seems like it's all they ever do anymore. Ever since my sister left for college, one or both of them will come home late, stinking drunk. The last year it's been hard to stay asleep at night. At least with my job I don't have to ask them for money. They mostly leave me alone. As long as I keep the house cleaned up and they don't see my laundry all over the floor, they kinda ignore me."

"I didn't know it was that bad," Glen remarked, lowering the towel to mostly just pile in his lap. "Does you sister know about this?"

"She couldn't be happier to be away," Peter smiled, wryly. "She got her full ride scholarship and never looked back. She's less than a year from her degree and then pretty much can pick and choose from job offers in the IT community. She's already talking about going to work for Google."

"So, she doesn't know how they treat you?"

"I don't think she cares. She's out and that's all she worries about. She never returns my calls or texts."

"Maybe a letter?"

"Not her style," Peter said, glumly. "It's good though. She used to try to stop them from fighting all the time and it just made things worse. She never took up for me, but the fights usually weren't about me, so I just stayed out of it. I didn't want to get hit again."


Peter's face became flushed as he realized he'd said too much.

"They hit you? Hurt you?" Glen said, moving more to the edge of his hospital bed. A sense of protectiveness towards Peter flared in Glen. A mix of anger and concern for his friend.

"They don't do it anymore," Peter whined, defending his parents. "I stay out of it. I stay out of sight. I don't do things that upset them anymore."

"They're your parents. They shouldn't be beating you."

"They don't. Just a smack if I'm in the way, or a kick. It's not as bad as it used to be. They're… they're not so bad if I keep out of the way."

"You shouldn't have to defend your abusers, Peter," Glen said standing up, throwing a corner of the towel over his chest to give Peter a little modesty. "You should report them. Someone should be able to help."

"We don't have any relatives in town. Dad worked for that tech place across the river, and when the owner turned out to be that crazy Nazi guy who shot up Lafayette Square last month, well…"

"So your father is out of work?"

"Mom too," Peter grinned, grimly. "Downsizing at the plant, she said. She's doing some hours at a couple of fast food joints. Dad's driving for Momma Leoni's Pizza. But it's not anything like what they're used to bringing home. I guess that's what's making the fights more brutal."

"It's still not right for them to take it out on you." Glen said with increasing anger. "It's not your fault."

"Glen…" Peter said, his eyes going wide.

"No, it's not fair! You aren't the one drinking their money away! You're not the one with the crappy job! Heck, seems like you're going out of your way to just keep them from having a reason to fight. And they still take it out on you?! That fuckin' bites, Peter!"



"Your… your chest," Peter said, pointing. Glen shot his eyes to the mirror over the small sink. What he saw reflected caused him to gasp.

In the mirror's liquid surface, he saw himself standing with the towel draped lazily across his shoulder, barely covering his boy parts. But it wasn't any sort of provocative image that caught his attention, it was the pattern of blue lights, tiny, moving, flowing under the towel, roughly in the shape of a bird of prey, spread over his entire chest.

Glen whipped the towel down and saw the fractal scars surging and pulsing with bluish light. A light that was oddly mirrored in his eyes, which were a much lighter blue tone than his usual green. He took a step towards the mirror, the towel dropping to the floor, forgotten. He traced the glowing scars with his fingertips, feeling a slight warmth under them. As if his sudden fascination drained him of anger, the scars slowly lost their glow. His normal skin tones over the blue fractals resumed as the light faded.

"Wicked!" Peter breathed out, staring at Glen as the light show ended. "Do they always do that?"

"I don't know," Glen replied, noticing his eyes had also resumed their normal hue. "It's the first time I've noticed. I… I dunno why that happened."

"Should we tell your doctor?"

"Tell your doctor what?" Dr. McCoy's voice said from the doorway.

"Did you see?" Glen asked, gesturing at his own chest in the mirror.

"I see that apparently that other question you asked me about seems to be a moot point," the doctor joked, his eyes flicking down. Glen followed the doctors gaze and realized that for some reason he had a full on boner. He quickly turned away, bent over and grabbed the towel off the floor. Peter squirmed more.

"I wonder if I might have a moment alone to talk with Glen, Peter."

"Uh, sure," the dark haired boy said, standing. "I need to get back anyways. I'll uh, I'll see you tomorrow at home. Your mom is throwing a big welcome home party for you." His eyes remained glued to Glen's back as the other boy twisted the towel about his waist.

"Okay. Thanks, Pete," Glen said, turning back around. "Hey," Glen said as Peter started to head towards the door. Peter stopped and then his heart about stopped as well when Glen brought him to his chest in a "lean over from the hips" hug. Peter felt stiff at first, his posture uncertain, afraid. But their hips were far enough apart that no accidental rubbings might occur. Peter relaxed into the hug a bit and allowed himself to actually enjoy the contact.

"Thanks for being my friend."

"Sure," Peter replied, uncertain of what to say. The boys broke the embrace and a very red faced Peter turned and left the room, looking back to wave as he cleared the threshold.

"That boy's mood has improve exponentially since you've been back with us," Dr. McCoy noted, grinning. "Seems getting good medicine into you brings out good medicine in others."

"I have a lot of damage to undo, it seems."

"Son, you are on the right track to accomplishing just that. I take it there is something that happened between the two of you that I should know about?" the doctor asked, taking the seat that Peter had just vacated. Glen, looking down and realizing his boner still partly showed in outline through the towel quickly planted his butt on the hospital bed to cover it up.

"It's not what it looks like. That happened after the other thing happened."

"First off, no need to be defensive about an erection. I was once your age and believe it or not, I still get them too at awkward moments. However, I wasn't referring to anything of a sexual or romantic nature between you and Peter. He obviously thought there was something that might require my attention. Care to explain?"

Glen sighed, his chest deflating as he lay backwards across the bed, arms splayed out in frustration. "You wouldn't believe me."

"Try me."

"I don't believe it myself," Glen said, staring up at the ceiling. "If Peter hadn't seen it first I'd think I was going crazy."

"Crazy is a relative term," the doctor said, checking his wrist watch for a moment. "Literally. Some people in my profession actually have a scale of how quote-unquote crazy a given person is. Sometimes, crazy has a physiological reason, something treatable medically. Sometimes crazy is more a software problem. Scrambled eggs because of misconceptions, fear, emotional confusion or stress, even something as simple as not being willing to let go something from the past. So when you say crazy, I have to wonder if you mean something psychological or something we can explain from a physiological perspective."

"Peter saw something. He pointed it out to me and I saw it too. In the mirror."

"How did Peter see it?"

"With his eyes, I'd imagine," Glen shot back, his sharp tongue coming out of storage.

"Let me express this differently then," Dr. McCoy said. "Peter was watching you and saw something. Before you tell me what he saw, I need to understand the context in which he saw it."

"The what?" Glen exclaimed, looking towards the doctor.

"When he witnessed the crazy event he alerted you to, what was going on? Were you in a conversation?"




"Something about your past?"

"Only a bit," Glen said, rolling back up to a semi-seated position, slumping with his elbow braced over his thighs. "Mostly we were talking about, well, first about how Jasmine thinks I should do sports in high school, but then we started talking about how Peter had a job at the Schwinn store."

"Ah, I used to love that place as a kid. Old man McMillian still trading kids busted inner tubes for brand new ones?"

"I guess. Peter seems to love working there. But mostly it keeps him away from home."

"I had a feeling he had trouble of some kind. So, was it in discussing his home troubles that you became agitated?"

"Yes. I got… I got so mad at his parents, arguing all the time. They don't treat Peter right. Doc, they hit him when they get mad at each other."

"I see," the doctor said, sitting forward in his chair, mirroring Glen's pose. "And that sparked an emotion in you?"

"Yeah. I got… not really mad. More like," Glen said, his hands gesturing as he searched for the right word.

"Sad?" the doctor suggested, adjusting his glasses.



"More than a little," Glen replied, tilting his head a bit, still trying to figure out the right word.


"Yes. Yes! Exactly!" Glen said, sitting upright more. "Like, if I could, I'd just knock their fool heads together and make them see what their fighting is doing to Peter. To see what they've done to Peter. I just got so," Glen said, holding his fists out in front of himself, tension evident in his arms.

And then it happened. A spark, thick and bright passed between Glen's fists. It lit the room with a flicker of blue-white light that reflected on the doctor's glasses. Glen shot a look to the doctor after the spark. Then he looked across to the mirror and saw the tracings of blue glows chasing around in the fractal scars on his chest. His eyes showed a slightly lighter color as well, rapidly fading. As Glen watched, the glowing eyes and chasing patterns of lights on his chest reduced in brightness back to his normal eye and skin tones, the scars just showing the darker blue of normal blood vessels under skin.

"Fascinating," Dr. McCoy said, adjusting his glasses. "Seems you did it again."

"Yeah… well I didn't make a spark like that before. Ohmigawd, Doc! That was real?"

"And quite possibly not the first time you've done it. Shortly after you came here, there was some kind of power surge on this floor. Shorted out equipment in both rooms on either side of yours, as well as all the stuff in there. We had to move you to this room. Our repair staff had no idea how it had happened. I guess now we know at least the why."

"But how? Doc, if this is from me… I mean, like, how?"

"First thing's first. Calm down. Apparently you can access whatever it is when you are emotionally charged. So let's focus on remaining calm."

"Calm," Glen said, rolling back across the bed, arms slack at his sides. "How can I be calm when I could accidentally shock someone?" he asked, blinking up at the ceiling. "This makes me a freak, doesn't it?"

The doctor stroked his chin at length before replying. "We are all of us, as humans, mostly the same." Glen looked twisted his head to look at the doctor. "Oh sure, you have white skin and I am black. You have green eyes, most of the time, and I have brown. You have a more slender build and my entire family are all stocky, broad shouldered and thick through the chest. There are obvious physical differences between us. I also have an allergy to dogs, which is a shame since I love dogs immensely. So there are chemical differences between us as well.

"But, for the most part, at the genetic level, we are essentially the same. The genetic, chemical, internal differences between you and me are statistically insignificant. Less than 3% of your genetics are different than mine. So, you are not a freak in that sense."

"But, this," Glen said, his hand going to the fractals on his chest.

"Makes you different. It doesn't make you bad. It doesn't make you a monster. It does make you unique, however." The doctor stood up, his hands going into the pockets of his lab coat. "It means that you will have to learn exactly what it is you have there. Young man, you have a gift. I know, it might not seem like that at this point. I understand that it can be a bit scary to be different. The question is, what you plan to do with this gift."

"What can I do?"

"If I were you, that's the first question I'd want answers to."

"I don't understand."

"In an old cop movie, the main character says a line something like, oh, a man has got to know his limitations. You need to find out what you can do, how you can do it, and how to control it. Just like Jasmine would say, you need to treat this new ability of yours as a muscle."

"A muscle?" Glen laughed, skeptically. "A muscle that can blow up three hospital rooms while I'm still not even awake." He sat upright suddenly, a look of panic on his face. "Doc, what if I do this at home? What if I lose it and get mad and blow up the house?"

"Do you want to do that?"

"Of course not! What kind of question is that?" Glen shouted. The doctor pointed to the mirror and Glen saw the chasing lights starting to flicker through the giant bird pattern of scars on his chest. The glows radiated outwards from the center of the bird shape, almost making it look like the bird was angry, flying, searching for something to let its fury out on. Glen's face instantly flushed in embarrassment mixed with a bit of fear. He swallowed and consciously made an effort to calm down.

And the glows slowed, dimmed, returned to normal.

"And that, is how you'll keep that muscle in check," the doctor said. "This is part of you now, Glen. And it is yours to do with as you choose. But I think the key to controlling and understanding this is all in your head."

"What… what can I do?"

"Be Glen."

"I still don't know what that means. I still don't remember who I was."

"Perhaps you don't know who Glen was. It is time for you to find out who Glen is now. And who you want Glen to be."

The boy nodded. "Will you help me?"

"If I can. I just want to caution you. People often react badly to things they don't understand. Fear, distrust, anger, aggression. You probably are feeling a bit of that yourself just this moment."

"Got that in one," Glen replied, sarcastically.

"With that in mind, your secrets don't always keep themselves. Do you understand what that means?"

"I think so."

"Then, to be clear, be careful whom you trust with your secrets. And think about who it is that you want to know about this."

"Well, so far only you and Peter, and he doesn't know about the spark, just the… the whatever it is in my chest and eyes."

"I've scheduled a follow up appointment for you on Thursday. We can talk more then. I will try to have some equipment available so we can learn about the nature of this gift of yours. In the meantime, young man, I suggest you consider who you can trust with this information and what you plan to do with it once you have a better understanding of this new facet of you."

"Don't tell my parents yet!" Glen blurted out suddenly.

"I don't think that's a good idea," the doctor replied evenly.

"I don't want them to think I'm some freak, or unsafe around Carolynn. I… I've worried them enough."

"Do you think they would reject you if they knew?"

"No. They're not like that. I just… I need to think about this. Like you said, secrets."

"Do you understand," Dr. McCoy said, his hands going behind his back, "the concept of Patient-Doctor confidentiality?"

"I think so. It means that if I tell you something you keep it between just us, right?"

"As far as medical matters go, yes. Lawyers might argue that extends to other areas of the relationship as well, but mostly it's for medical issues that might be embarrassing to the patient. You and I have such a relationship."

"Good," Glen replied, relaxing slightly.

"However," the doctor began.

"However?" Glen interrupted.

"Yes, there is a however. If I may continue?" Glen realized he had been rude interrupting the doctor and blushed slightly, nodding. "The however is about your age. Legally, since you are still a minor, your parents are included in the Patient-Doctor privilege. They are ultimately responsible for your wellbeing and therefore need to know about significant changes to your health, growth and general medical condition while you are under my care. I should also include Dr. Marcus in this as well since he was your primary care physician and surgeon."

"Oh, man! Okay, but can we at least not tell them until after we know what all this," Glen gestured to his chest, "is all about? No need to worry them until we know that it wasn't like some weird one-time thing."

"I think we both know this is not a single moment event, Glen. I think we both know that somehow you are changed from the rest of us. Or if not changed, then at the very least your contact with the lightning may have awaken something dormant within you. For all we know right now, you might have accidentally generated or attracted the lightning yourself, unknowingly."

Glen considered that for a moment. "Does that mean no swimming?"

"Until we know more, I think that's a prudent choice."

"What about showers?"

"Well you haven't had any trouble in there so far. I'd just keep it to a minimum and try not to worry about it. Your mental and emotional states seem to somehow trigger access to this ability. Until we know more, I'd focus on keeping a calm and level attitude."

"Yeah," Glen muttered, his gaze shifting to his lap. A sudden thought occurred to him. "What about peeing? That's liquid too, right? And drinking? And, uhm…" he trailed off, his hand making an obvious cup over his crotch over the towel.

"Well, I think that urine is particulate enough that it shouldn't conduct electricity. You've had no troubles with liquids so far, although I will have to consider the electrolytes and other chemicals we injected you with during your recuperation, and all of the saline your body absorbed as well."

"And for… you know…."

"Well, if the field test worked for you, I see no reason that it should pose other problems. To be honest, I don't know if semen is even conductive. For the meantime, I would suggest that you restrict any sexual urges to personal activity and not involve any others."

"I don't think there will be any others. I broke up with Jill."

"And you think she is the only one interested in you as a sex partner?"

"Well, who else?" Glen asked, meeting the doctor's level gaze with one of his own. "I don't remember anyone else I might have… done things with before. I don't even remember doing things with Jill, though she said we did."

"My boy, I think if you keep your eyes open, keep your mind open, and let people come to you, you might see a bit more going on with your friends than just what the public sees."

"I don't follow."

"When the time comes, I think you'll see what I am suggesting. Anyways," the doctor sighed, "I'm going to call Dr. Marcus in on the consult when you come back to see me. Together we will give you an examination and see if we can't figure this out a little more. Okay?"

"I guess. You're the doctors."

"And once we know a little more, we'll make a decision together about what your parents need to know, and if there are things we can do to help you."

"Thank you, Dr. McCoy."

"Anytime, Glen. Now, I suggest you get some clothes on before the orderly comes in with your dinner. There's already talk among some of the late shift ladies about you. No need to give them an extra show."


"Oh my stars and garters, son. You really don't remember a lot of what it means to be a boy, do you?"

"You know my memory's gone."

The doctor chuckled. "Life is about to be one big beautiful adventure for you, Glen. I'll see you tomorrow when we release you. Sleep well."

"Thanks Doc. Again." Glen waited until the door closed completely before he stood up and draped the towel over the edge of the sink. He stared at his chest, the fractal scar pattern seeming to stand out, a feathery lifting of dark blue waves under his pale skin. Absently he ran one hand over the scars, feeling the tiny ridges of them. He had done this many times since waking up, but somehow it seemed different now that he knew there was some sort of energy, some electrical force in him that made the marks glow so pronouncedly.

His eyes wandered over the rest of his body, looking to see if the fractals had spread during the glowing. He could discern nothing new. His hands played over his skin, tracing the lines, moving to his flanks, his hips, the sides of his legs. One hand moved in a familiar way and cupped his boy parts. He could feel the temperature difference in his testicles compared to the warmth of his flat stomach. A tingle and twitch greeted his wrist gently bumping the shaft of his penis. He wasn't as excited as he had been before, but the hang of it was still a bit longer than normal, slightly heavy-feeling.

A knock at the door alerted him to the arrival of dinner and Glen quickly stepped into the bathroom to get dressed. The lady bearing the dinner tray smiled warmly as he came out of the bathroom, tugging a long T-shirt over his head. He'd barely had time to grab his long basketball shorts as well, but was suitably covered up for mixed company.

"Looks like this is your last supper with us," the lady said, reaching into the tall cart that kept the dinner trays warm. She pulled out a small plate with a wedge of yellow cake, frosted in dark chocolate. "Thought you'd like something sweet to remember your time with us, sweetie."

"Thank you," Glen smiled. "Guess since I turned 14 in here, this is sorta like my birthday cake."

"Well, happy birthday, sweetie. And try not to wind up here too often," she winked and left Glen to his food. His teenage metabolism kicked into gear and he ate everything, even the soggy, overly peppered green beans. As he ate, he thought about what Dr. McCoy had said about his parents, secrets and keeping an open mind. Some things made sense. Some of what he thought of only raised more questions.

And some of what he thought kept going back to the worry about what he might be able to do if he didn't learn to understand this thing on his chest.

After finishing his cake, he rolled over in the hospital bed, curling the thin sheet over his shoulder and went to sleep.

Going home was a new experience for Glen. He'd had several walks around the hospital campus during his awakening, at first pushing the wheelchair around while walking with Peter and getting exhausted enough that Peter had to push him back. He'd gotten an appreciation of the outdoors in those short forays. Trees fascinated him, especially with the way that light would play through the leaves, creating cooling shadows in the late New England summer.

Driving through town was simultaneously less and more than he expected. More in that as he saw things Peter had told him of, he'd ask questions and hear more about his hometown from his parents. Less in that he was hoping seeing something from his past would trigger a memory of some kind. He knew it was too much to hope for everything to come flooding back to him. He was holding on to some sort of visual image to at least spark something.

His family drove to their home, a tall building on a steep hill, in an area of town known by the old timers as "the Acre," but his parents simply called it the Avenues. They were fairly regularly laid out with increasing numbers, 2nd Avenue, 3rd Avenue, and so on. The higher the numbers climbed, the nicer the neighborhoods seemed until they reached 22nd Avenue. The family turned up hill, passing a small school building with a clock tower, and turned onto a street named Lakeview.

The house was a large single structure, with a wide porch going around the ground floor and steep gables ringing the top level. There were tall maples and elms and a few birch trees spread around the property, and a pool out to the back right of the house, surrounded with a deck of its own. The house was painted in a soft almond paint, trimmed and shingled in bright green, true to Victorian style. As they drove up, Glen could see a porch swing on the deck, a flagpole with no flag on it, and what looked like a small girl's bike leaning to one side of the broad front steps.

None of it surged Glen's mind with memories, and he felt slightly let down by that. He remembered what Peter had said about his life before, and he felt a slight bit of shame. Peter obviously didn't live in as nice a house as Glen's family. He didn't have all the advantages that Glen did. Yet he was still the nicest person from his previous life, and for some reason, in that previous life, he'd treated Peter like crap.

"Welcome home, son," Dad said from the driver's seat as the Subaru Forrester pulled up in front of the separate garage to the left side of the home. Glen smiled, looking up towards the house. He looked over to his sister, buckled into her car seat beside him and saw a look of irritation on her face. He tried to grin at her, but she just crossed her arms and looked away, the sunlight tracing highlights in her hair.

"Anything familiar?" Mom asked, an edge of hope in her voice.

"I… I don't know. It looks very nice. Does Peter live near here?"

"Crummy old Peter," Carolynn muttered, keeping her eyes away. Glen realized that she was jealous. While he was sleeping, she'd had the house and their parents all to herself. Glen coming home meant that the little girl was going to have to share again.

"I think he lives over on Marsh Avenue," Mom said. "It's not far. You can take your bike there later if you like."

"Okay, Bergerons. Let's get inside," Dad said. Glen hopped out and almost immediately got a side hug from Mom while Dad helped Carolynn out of her seat.

"You ready for this, Kiddo?" his mother whispered, kissing the top of his head.

"Guess so. Can't stand outside all day, can I?"

"Not unless you want to freeze your tushy off," she said, swatting his butt as she walked up the back steps. Glen grinned and followed her, his body automatically taking the steps two at a time. He banged through the screen door a few steps behind his mother, passed through the mudroom and into the kitchen and he came to a complete stop.

Something was familiar here, he could feel it. He looked around, seeing the various appliances, the sink, the decorations on the walls, even the stack of unread mail by the window seat, none of it resonated with him, but something about the kitchen itself stopped Glen in his tracks. He paused beside the breakfast bar, looking around in wonder. His hand came to rest on the surface of the countertop and he felt, somehow, smaller.

"Glen?" Mom said, noticing his expression. "You okay in there?"

"Dunno. I feel… something. Not a memory but more like, just… I can't describe it."

"A place feeling?"

"Is that a thing?"

Mom came forward and enfolded him in a hug. "My grandmother, who you never met, would say that places have a spirit all their own. She was kinda the family kook, but she was a very wise person. They say," Mom said, dramatically, "that she was the daughter of the last Pawtucket shaman and that she could talk to spirits and ghosts." Her tone was teasing and funny, which made Glen giggle. "I think maybe you have some of that in you. You always were a little bit sensitive about people and places when you were little."

"That's how I feel right now," Glen said. "Little. Like, I've been here before and…"


"Cinnamon," he said, his inflection somewhere between a question and an admission of guilt. Mom tried and failed suppressing a laugh of her own. "Does that make any sense?" Glen asked, sensing a story about to come out.

"When you were little, maybe three, I used to keep you with me when I'd bake. Well, you weren't content to just sit and watch, you had to get your paws into ev-ver-ry thing. So, I was making cookies for the church bake sale and you were my little helper, standing about right here and… I turned my back for a moment and," she paused, holding her hand out towards the counter. "Somehow you'd crawled up onto the counter and grabbed the cinnamon and said something like 'Mommy, I help,' and you lifted the container up over your head, over the mixing bowl and dumped the whole thing in."

"Oh," Glen said.

"The stuff went everywhere," Mom said, bringing a hand to her chin. "And you were covered in cinnamon powder, head to toe. I had to rush you to the tub."

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, baby, don't be. I was laughing my fool head off the whole time. You were crying and upset. I think some of the cinnamon got caught in your nose and eyes. You thought I was mad at you. It was so… so cute." Her hug tightened around his shoulders and he sank back against her, savoring her memory. "Wish I'd had a picture of you sitting in the tub like that, pouting, cinnamon and flour all sticking to your skin."

"Does Carolynn do things like that?"

"All little kids do. Thanks for reminding me about that, though. I'd almost forgotten. I can see it now, clear as day, like it happened only yesterday."

"I… wish I could remember it more," Glen said, a little sadly.

"Doc McCoy said to give it time. No rushes. In the meantime, we can make new memories," she grinned down at him. "Why don't you go upstairs and check out your bedroom."

"Okay… uhm?"

"Oh, right. Take the hallway here, up the stairs, first door on the left. I think you'll figure it out."


"Hey, what do you want for dinner?"

"I dunno. Food."

"Now that's a Glen answer," his mother chided. "Up!" she commanded, letting him go. Glen walked towards the hallway, grinning. He got as far as the hallway before he stopped again. The front door ahead of him framed the end of the hall, but it was the many family pictures that filled the walls to either side of the hallway that stopped him dead in his tracks.

Pieces of time, stopped, captured, stared back at him. Himself as a youngster on a sled surrounded by evergreens and snow. A picture of him holding a tiny Carolynn, grinning up at the camera with a big brother smile of pride. His parents on their wedding day, dressed all formal, with other people that Glen didn't recognize standing to either side. A few people he didn't recognize in some of the other pictures held some family resemblances and Glen realized that some of them must have been grandparents and aunts and uncles, cousins, friends. Another picture showed Glen on the first day of school as a smaller boy, grinning up at the camera, holding a Spiderman lunchbox up like it was a prized treasure.

And surrounded by some of the pictures, on the right side of the hallway, was a large mirror. Glen could see the look on his own face. It was like he'd walked into a huge, gloriously decorated church, with angels floating and playing instruments on the high vaulted ceilings. He was shocked at his own expression. He didn't have that flash of remembrance, but he felt that there was something here. Some part of the mystery that was his old life, waiting to be rediscovered. Encoded, it seems, in the photos lining the walls of the very entrance of his family's home.

The mud room door banged open and closed in the way that screen doors do, and Glen shook himself out of the sense of history. He heard Carolynn running into the kitchen asking if she could have a cookie. He turned and headed for the stairway, putting his hand up, automatically to the worn wooden bannister rail. He kept his hand on the rail as he turned around the short landing and onto the main run of the stairs. He felt like his muscles remembered the stairs more than his mind did, so he let them run the show.

At the top of the stairs, he turned and found himself in his bed room. The door hung open, and he looked around. Again, no flash of memory, but a sense of the place filled him. A sense that felt familiar but in a way he couldn't put words to. It had all the hallmarks of a boy's room. Sports banners and posters on the walls, blue paint, computer desk, unmade bed. He took a cautious step into the room and heard a curious whine.

Glen followed the sound to the edge of his bed, where he almost missed the dog laying partly under a large rumpled blanket. The dog's snout poked out and it licked its lips in greeting. With a shudder and shake, the dog exploded off the bed and bowled Glen over into the hallway, decorating his face with multiple licks. Glen knew right away that the dog's breed was a Great Pyrenees, and the thick, fluffy white fur tickled his neck and face as much as the dog's mobile tongue. The huge, friendly animal easily weighed at least as much as Glen did.

"Gah!" he cried out, flat on his back in the hallway. He couldn't stop the flood of giggles that escaped him as the dog welcomed him home. His hands found their way, as if familiar with the route, to the sides of the dog's head, rubbing fingers through the thick ruff of fur on the dog's cheeks, scrubbing his floppy ears. The dog pulled back a moment and began sniffing at Glen's chest, hands and face, as if uncertain that his boy had returned.

"I see Chase came out of his shell," Dad said from the top of the stairs. Boy and dog seemed simultaneously embarrassed at being caught like that, and the dog retreated into the room, diving for cover under the blanket again.

"Is that his name?" Glen asked.

"As much as we tried to talk you out of it, you insisted on that name when we brought him home from the puppy farm. Off all the pups that were there, he was the one that chased you the most, so that's what you called him."

"Is he always so… idunno, shy?"

"Actually, that's the happiest I've seen him in ages," Dad said, offering Glen a hand up. "Used to be the two of you were inseparable. You went everywhere together."

"What changed that?" Glen said, regaining his feet.

"Well, boys grow up differently than dogs, I guess. We found old Chase when you were only four years old. Over the last ten years or so he's lost a step or two. And you discovered girls kinda young. He just kind of faded to the side I guess."

"You mean, I neglected him?" Glen said, suddenly feeling very low. He looked to the bed and heard before he saw the thump-thump-thump of Chase's tail bouncing off the bed. The dog licked his chops from under the blanket, staring back at the boy as if uncertain Glen was the same boy he knew before.

"I wouldn't be so quick to judge, Glen. He's getting old. He couldn't keep up with you as much, and he can't really compete with girls. I mean, whose kisses would you rather have, his or Jill's?"

"Not a good comparison right now, Dad. Jill and I aren't together anymore."

"Something happen there, son?"

"I… I think she and Jason figured out they were a better fit for each other than she and I were."

"Ah, so she and your best friend," Dad said, understanding dawning on his face. "Is that why you and Peter seem so chummy lately?"

"He stayed loyal to me, even though I was a complete shit to him in school."

"Language, son," Dad warned.

"Sorry. But it's true. Everyone treated him bad, and I was part of that. Yet he still came to visit me while I was… gone."

"That is the mark of a true friend. I always had a good feeling about Peter, but he seemed a bit awkward. Maybe he's growing out of it."

Or into it, Glen thought.

"So, any questions?" his father asked, noticing the look of concentration on Glen's face.

"Probably too many to ask at once right now," Glen replied, stepping into his room, glancing about. "Did… did I always like sports?"

"Well, you had a very strong soccer fan thing going for a while there, when you were small and played in the little kid's leagues. You sort of gravitated towards football and basketball and baseball more as you got older."

"And hockey?"

"Some. More as a fan than a player though. I remember you saying something about there being too much stuff to wear to have fun playing it." Dad leaned against the door post. "Much like your Uncle Carl like that. He was the sports guy in my family. Always looking for something to test himself against."

"Is he one of the ones in the pictures in the hallway?"

"Downstairs?" Glen nodded to the question. "Yeah, in our wedding pictures, he stood right beside me."

"Oh. Will I be seeing the other members of the family tonight?"

"Some of them," his father said, looking a bit sad. "Before you ask, Uncle Carl wont be there. He passed away a few years ago."

"Oh," Glen said, feeling slightly upset at having made his father sad. "Was he sick?"

"No, son. Your uncle made the ultimate sacrifice. He was a member of a search and rescue team in Kandahar province, during the war. His unit were helping victims of a minor earthquake when they came under attack. He… he was shot while trying to save a lady and her kids from a collapsed building."

Glen took two steps to his father's side and wrapped him in a hug. He wasn't sure what motivated him to do so, but it felt right. After a moment of almost stunned silence, Dad hugged Glen back. "Good to have you back, boy," he whispered into his son's hair. Glen squeezed harder around his father's ribs.

"Ahem, anyways," Dad said, breaking the embrace. "I'll leave you to explore a bit. We're expecting some guests in about 4 hours, so if you need to nap, change clothes, shower, any of that…"

"Thanks, Dad."

"No problem, sport. And, uh, don't get too lost on Facebook. I know you've been gone a while, so your timeline is probably full."

"Not sure what that means, but okay."

"Daddy?" came Carolynn's voice from the stairs. "Can you help me?"

"Father's work is never done," Dad said and turned to go find his daughter. Glen turned back to his room and walked around, looking at all the trophies on the shelf by the bed, glancing at the posters, reading over the titles of the books near his desk. All of these things belonged to him, or to his former self. All of them were pieces of the puzzle of who Glen was. And then his gaze fell to Chase, whose tail started thump-thumping again as they met eyes again.

"Hiya, Chase," Glen said, dropping to his knees in the center of the room. The dog cautiously stood on the bed, making the springs creak and the blanket slide off his back. "C'mon boy. It's okay." The dog stepped off the bed, moving halfway to the boy and then squatting. The dog's eyes moved nervously about the room, as if trying not to anger the boy with his direct stare.

Glen held out his hand, letting the dog sniff him. The cold nose touched Glen's palm and seemed to quiver, taking in more of the boy's scent. "It's okay, boy," Glen said, scooting forward a bit. Chase seemed more nervous, but held his ground, his large dark eyes searching the boy for signs of anger or irritation. "It's okay, Chase." And then, Glen's hand brushed over the dog's head, his thumb finding a spot between the dog's eyes and rubbing softly. The dog closed his eyes in a moment of pure canine pleasure and leaned into Glen's touch. His jaw dropped open, and the long tongue came out to hang to one side.

"Things will be better, Chase. I promise."

Chase whined, tilting his head slightly.

"Yeah, I think you're right. I don't know better than what yet. But better than before, I hope. Does that sound like a plan, buddy?"

Chase barked, a single, loud, deep sound that made Glen giggle. And then Chase surged forward again, pushing his boy to the ground and starting a wrestling match.

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