What a boring gig, Mike thought as he leaned against Peter, closing his eyes. Who the hell booked us at a scientists' symposium.....
He felt the warm body vibrate to the tune of a deep, rumbling chuckle and felt calloused fingertips touch his cheek. "Wake up back there," Peter chuckled softly.
"Am awake," Mike shot back just as softly. "Just bored outta my gourd."
Peter rolled his shoulder, and Mike sat up. "Hey," Peter whispered, "you in the dark again?"
"Yep," Mike sighed. "Guess that blob behind my optic nerve's bored, too." He grinned as Peter blew him a raspberry.
"That Doctor Schnitzler's pretty good."
Mike snorted. "Peter, if you could dig him, you're smarter'n we've ever given you credit for!"
"Call me Einstein," Peter cracked in return.
Davy's sigh as he sat down beside Mike announced his arrival. "Micky's talking to that Schnitzler guy. He's about ready to leave."
"Hey," Mike chuckled. "Peter could understand him."
"You're kidding me!" Davy chuckled. "Our Peter?"
"Laugh if you must," Peter grinned. "But his string theory sounded pretty cool."
Micky came over just then. "Well, that was a rip-off."
Mike turned in his direction, and Micky nodded when he registered that Mike's eyes were no longer focusing. "What was?"
"Oh, I asked him to autograph something for Peter here, since he seemed so taken by his speech," Micky returned Peter's sunny smile before his faded. "But instead of his name, he wrote 'They are taking me to the Remington Clinic'."
Mike frowned. "Isn't that that funky new clinic downtown?"
"Yeah, it's only a few blocks down," Micky said. "Why'd he write something dumb like that?"
Peter met his eyes. "Maybe he's not going of his own free will." He shuddered at his own words, memories of his own all-too-recent incarceration rearing up unbidden.
Mike stood, a hand over his head to make sure he didn't bump it on anything. "So let's go check it out."
"Mike?" Davy asked.
Mike shrugged. "I'm curious."
The next instant, all four Monkees were pitched to the floor as the ground beneath their feet turned to fast-moving liquid. Someone's scream from the other side of the hall said it all.
The rumbling and shaking continued for what felt like forever, though it couldn't have been more than a minute. When the ground under them seemed to regain solidity, Mike raised his head. "Everyone okay?"
Each of his three bandmates chimed in in the affirmative, then other voices began to sound off.
Mike struggled to his feet and squinted around at what, to him, looked like a war zone. "Man good thing it's comin' back. I'd hate to try to navigate this blind!"
"Doctor Schnitzler!" Peter suddenly cried, lurching toward a pile of people and rubble in what had once been a doorway. "Doctor Schnitzler!" He felt around the wrist of an emergent hand wearing a distinctive ring.
A moment later, he looked up. "He's alive! We've gotta get him outta this before he's crushed!"
His friends and a pair of policemen who were patrolling and had seen the building collapse rushed in and started dragging rubble and people off the pile-up.
Two burly men were dragged away, both alive if somewhat the worse for wear. Doctor Schnitzler was next, dazed and battered. Underneath him lay a slight man with a goatee. A policeman checked him out and shook his head.
He'd been crushed to death.
Schnitzler looked around and wheezed out a "Thank you". Then he passed out.
As the ambulance took the victims to Mercy General, the policeman who'd checked the slight man out walked up. "Excuse me you know Doctor Schnitzler?"
"Yeah," Peter said. "Why?"
"He was apparently being kidnapped."
"To the Remington Clinic!" Micky gasped and held out the note.
"Who?" Peter gasped as the policeman read the note grimly. "Why?"
The policeman jerked his thumb at the body. "Found his wallet and hidden ID cards. Shorty here was a Fifth Columnist named Markovitch. That earthquake saved Schnitzler from getting taken by America's enemies." He smiled gently at them. "Just thought you'd like to know, since you cared what happened to him."
Mike smiled as the policeman walked off and Peter sagged in relief. Then his smile faded as he looked up at the open sky where the buildings on the block once stood.
"Hey, guys," he asked. "What do you think that quake did to the Pad?"
Nobody spoke as Peter maneuvered the large Monkeemobile through debris-choked streets. All four were worried sick about their house.
The debris lessened as they exited the main part of town. They'd always liked living near the beach they found it not as confining and more peaceful out there.
Now, it merely looked like a slightly less intense war zone.
As Peter guided the Monkeemobile around the last long blind curve before home, he suddenly let out a whoop. "The Pad's standing!"
Beside him, Mike's eyes closed as his whole body sagged in relief. But as they got closer, he swallowed hard as he realised the celebration was premature.
The Pad was standing, all right. But her porches were not. The bay window overlooking the beach was shattered, as were the sliding doors that led from the bandstand to the balcony that was no longer there. The part of the second story that held Mike and Micky's bedroom and the upstairs bathroom was collapsed onto the first floor.
Peter turned off the car and turned to face Mike. "So how do we get inside?"
"We climb," Mike answered.
Fifteen minutes later, the four entered the damaged Pad. "Oh... my....stars," Davy breathed as he looked around. Mike breathed a curse in reply. Micky just shook his head, struck dumb by what he was seeing. Peter was bravely trying not to cry.
The outside had been bad. The inside was worse, sunlight pouring through the damaged windows providing brilliant illumination to the horrible scene even though the electricity was knocked out.
The tornado staircase was standing, though only the right half now attached to anything, and that by a thread. Where Peter and Davy's bedroom had been, now lay the rubble of the upstairs bedroom and bathroom.
All the cabinets and the refrigerator had been shaken open, and dishes lay in pieces on the floor, as did shattered jars from the fridge as well as much of the food. One single teacup sat alone in the cabinet. Recognising one of the last things his mother had left him intact Davy burst into silent tears and dashed them away quickly. He slid over rubble and removed the precious item to the safety of the Monkeemobile before anyone could say a word.
All of the tables coffee tables as well as the dining room one lay on the floor, their legs smashed. The kitchen chairs were all upright, but they'd been danced into a straight line. The sofa and chairs were dusty and out of place, but were otherwise all right. The windowseat had lost its cushion, but was otherwise intact. The chaise lounge lay on its side, with its back pressed up against the windowseat.
The totem pole lay face-down, with the jukebox lying somewhat ridiculously on top of it. The piano had turned completely around, but seemed otherwise all right.
The bandstand was gone, smashed by rubble from upstairs that had been shaken over there. "Good thing we had our instruments with us," Mike breathed.
Micky suddenly started digging through some of the rubble. He came up with Peter's teddy bear battered and dirty, but intact.
Peter took it with a relieved smile. He then turned to Mike, and the smile faded as he clutched the toy tighter to him. "Michael? What are we going to do?"
"Fix this," Mike said firmly, though he turned in a circle, taking in all he could in case his sight flickered out again. "Just.... just give me a few minutes to figure out where to begin."
Micky went out to the garage and his workshop to see how bad the damage was there. Peter and Davy combined their strength and forced open the warped broom closet door.
Mike brushed dirt and debris off the couch and tested the phone. Finding it working amazingly he sat down. "I'll be the official phone man," he reported.
"Good idea," Micky said as he came back inside, arms laden with construction supplies. "Stay put so if your sight goes out, you won't get hurt. Davy, help me out here."
"How bad's your workshop?" Mike asked.
Micky turned wounded eyes to him. "Flattened."
Peter got the broom and began to clear away the dishes debris from the kitchen floor. Mike dialed the first number on the list he hurriedly wrote out on the notebook he always carried.
After a hushed conversation, he hung up. "Babbitt is coming over to check out the damage. His house has a few cracked windows, but other than that, he's fine."
"You made sure to tell him we were fine, right?" Peter asked.
"He's still comin' over to make sure," Mike said as he dialed another number. Once he hung up, he was smiling. "Mrs. Purdy's fine. She said she'd check on everyone else and get back to us. Far as she can tell from what I described, our house took the worst of it."
Micky called Peter over and they began to nail clear plastic over the exposed windows, to keep out the sand and dust. Davy took a battered tarp outside to lay down and see if it was long enough to nail over the hole in the roof. Once the plastic was nailed, Micky went out to help him.
Peter resumed his sweeping, and Mike resumed his calls to friends. When he hung up five calls later, it was with a wordless, frustrated growl.
"What is it?" Peter called from the kitchen.
"I'm in the damned dark again."
"Car," Davy reported around a mouthful of nails.
Micky finished hammering the nail he was working on, then he looked up. "Babbitt's here. Dave--"
"I'm two nails from being done over here. I'll get yours when I'm done. Go."
"Thanks, man." Micky slid the hammer into his belt and shinned down the ladder as Babbitt got out of the car. "Hey! Mister Babbitt! Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he growled. "Just shook up. You boys?"
"We're fine. We were out working when it hit."
Babbitt nodded and grimaced as he saw the suddenly one-and-a-half story Pad. "Shit, looks like it collapsed."
"It did. Thank Heaven nobody was home at the time." Micky led Babbitt inside.
As he scanned the considerable damage and debris, Babbitt's lips thinned. "Okay, you four!" he bellowed suddenly. "That's it! You're out of here!"
"WHAT?" the three Monkees that were inside roared, and Mike shot to his feet. "You can't do that!" he bellowed.
"Oh, can't I?" Babbitt took a step forward, kicking a hunk of debris out of his path. "You can not stay here like this!"
"Why not?" Micky blew.
Babbitt swept his arm out. "Because there's no power! Because there's nowhere for you to sleep! There's a fire danger! There could be more quakes ! And Nesmith is blind!"
"Only part of the time!" Mike snarled back, then blinked sightless eyes as something clicked. "Wait a second you're worried about us!"
"I'm more worried about what's left of my house," Babbitt snarled. "But I don't want you to get hurt."
"We'll be fine," Micky said. "We'll make sure Mike's okay. I've got a pair of tents we'll sleep on the beach."
Babbitt met Micky's eyes, then nodded. "All right. You need anything, you know where to find me. Don't let Nesmith fall into any of this crap." With that, he left the Pad, kicking debris out of his way.
"As if they would," Mike sighed, reaching behind him.
"I gotcha," Peter said, capturing his hand and guiding him to the couch.
"See?" Mike grinned.
Micky chuckled. "He's been gone for a few minutes, Mike."
"Great," Mike mock-grumbled, but he was chuckling as well. "My big moment ruined."
After a hearty laugh, Micky went back outside to fetch Davy off the roof, dig out the tents from the rubble that used to be his workshop, and set up someplace to sleep.
Mike could hear Peter poking around the rubble. Occasionally, he would let out a grunt as he moved a heavier-than-expected piece. When Mike heard a sigh of satisfaction, he asked, "Find somethin'?"
"Clothes," came the answer. "Underthings, too. Your dresser landed on top of ours, upside-down. Nothing escaped the rubble-dust, but--"
"We'll cope," Mike said, visibly cheered by the practical find. "Why don't you poke near the bandstand see if you can find something music-wise we forgot?"
"Sure." He heard a grunt of effort and the shifting of rubble, then the clear ring of Peter's bootheels on the wooden floor.
Mike folded his arms. "Peter."
"Tell me you weren't in the thick of that huge pile." At the silence, Mike dropped his arms and sighed. "Peter, I swear..."
"What?" There was the by-now familiar sound of rubble shifting again. "I was careful! I know right now you can't see to--"
The sudden sharp intake of breath and abrupt break-off of Peter's voice alarmed Mike. "Peter?.... Peter?!"
"MICKY!" Peter suddenly screamed. "DAVY! HELP!"
"Oh, no PETER!" Mike gained his feet again.
"No, Michael!" Peter's voice rang loud and clear. "You stay put! I'm all right!"
Mike frowned. "You then what--?"
"Michael..." Peter audibly swallowed. "I just uncovered somebody's hand."
Micky and Davy came racing in from two different directions. Mike was vibrating in place. Every fibre of his being was screaming to get over there, to help Peter uncover the body -- but his blindness wouldn't permit him to move through the debris fast enough or safe enough to help and he needed to help and he couldn't help and... and....
"Sit down!" Micky ordered. "If you're still in the dark, sit down! Last thing we need right now is you hurt, too!"
"Who died and made you boss?" Mike growled under his breath, but he felt behind him and sat down heavily. He chewed on his lip and listened to the efforts of recovery.
"No pulse," Davy reported grimly. "His hand's cold already."
"Big man, from the look of it," Micky sighed. "What the hell was he doing in our house, anyway?"
Peter's voice now, shaky with worry. "We're not going to--"
"No way," Micky said. "We're not leaving him here. C'mon, Pete, help me move this off him."
There was a double-voiced grunt of effort, then the crash of rubble. There was a triple-voiced gasp, then a moment of pregnant silence.
Then Mike frowned deeply as the others burst into slightly hysterical laughter. "What?" Mike roared. "We got a dead man in our house and you three are brayin' like--"
"It's Schneider!" Micky howled.
Mike blinked owlishly. Then he blinked again as it sank in. He leaned deeper into the couch and his high-pitched howling giggles rose to join the cacophony.
Mike's eyesight was just beginning to return as the sun dipped below the waves. With power knocked out, it became too dark to work inside the Pad.
"Nice tent city you've got set up," Mike quipped as he crawled inside one of the two tents.
Micky chuckled. "Thanks, I think so, too."
Despite the stress, despite the fact they slept in their clothes, despite the fact they were sleeping on the sand which Mike always complained got into everything the four fell swiftly and deeply asleep.
The stress came out in their sleep, however. Micky went absolutely still in his sleep, his body gearing up for a huge day to come. Davy groaned and tossed.
Peter curled up into a tight ball around his dirty teddy bear, the tears he'd refused to shed in the daytime because with Mike blind, they needed him strong finally falling into the sand.
As for Mike, his stress erupted in a nightmare. He dreamed a concert date had turned into something from a horror movie complete with horribly bad cliches. Their music was forcibly stripped from them and put inside of a shambling android who bore a striking resemblance to a man Mike knew he'd seen before, but couldn't quite place. The nearest he could think of was it was one of Peter's friends, but the name eluded him.
The sound of tyres on gravel combined with bright sunlight brought Mike back to wakefulness. His first thought was gratitude that he could see. His next was wondering who had pulled up.
Mike crawled out of the tent last one awake as usual to see Babbitt getting out of his car. Mike's breath caught sharply as the android from his dream climbed out of the car right behind Babbitt.
"Andy!" Peter yelled, racing over and flinging his arms around the huge man.
"Peter," he rumbled in return, resting a hand on top of Peter's dirty hair before crouching slightly. "Are you all right?"
Peter nodded. "We were working when it hit -- we weren't home. Are you--"
"Fine -- my plane got in after it was all over." He stood and smiled crookedly at the others. "I was in Europe, filming a spy movie. Hired muscle, you know."
Laughing, Peter shook his head. "I still say I'll see you doing Shakespeare someday."
"I'd pay good money to see that, myself," Babbitt laughed as he walked over. He studied Mike's face. "Blobenstein get off your eyes?"
"Yes, sir," Mike nodded. "I'm fine for the moment."
Andy took off his jacket. "I told Henry to bring me. I'm gonna help clean up."
"Then you four are coming to my house to sleep." Babbitt held up a hand. "No arguments. Purdy's already threatened me."
The Monkees looked at each other, then back at Babbitt. As one, they nodded. Davy put the capper on it. "Well, at least we can shower."
They clambered back inside and Babbitt brought out a pair of large suitcases. He began to load the Monkees' dirt-encrusted clothes into them. Davy came over to help, and Babbitt nodded at him. "Purdy's going to take care of these for you."
"How can we thank you for this?" Davy asked.
"Paying your rent on time will help," Babbitt said with a small smile. "Kind'a stupid to tell ya to pay your two-month back rent now. So pay on the first and all will be fine." He left the Pad with the suitcases, leaving Davy stunned.
Today was the third. Babbitt had a heart after all!
Four hours after they began, all five were exhausted, but satisfied. They'd gotten a good chunk cleared way. Mike had been amazed to find that all the damage Schneider had taken was some scarred paint on his forehead and some torn stuffing. He could easily be fixed.
It was Andy who called a halt to it. "Let's get food. I'm starving."
Four stomachs erupted in growls as if in answer to that. They broke for lunch, then went right back to their task.
Their sleep that evening was just as sleep, just as exhausted, and just as stressful. But it was shortened.
That night brought aftershocks.
The mini-quakes lasted most of the night and well into the next day. When they finally ended, nerves were frazzled and arguments began breaking out.
Finally, out of sheer frustration, Mike grabbed his white guitar from the trunk of the Monkeemobile. He sank down onto one of the ramps Andy had made to get them into the Pad easier and just began to play.
Song after song after improvisation after song poured from the twelve strings. Sharp words grew softer and hands began to be aiding where needed without complaint.
Five days after the huge earthquake, the Pad was emptied of debris and possessions. The Monkees were sleeping at Babbitt's place and eating at Mrs. Purdy's. Micky's mother had driven up from LA proper and was helping Mrs. Purdy feed the boys. When she saw the damage to the beachhouse, she burst into tears.
Over the next few days, the Monkees and Babbitt poured over several drafts of plans before they jointly agreed on the best way to rebuild the Pad.
At first, they hit on what appeared to be the perfect answer. The Monkees would do the rebuilding themselves saving hundreds of dollars in labour.
Almost immediately, things went wrong. "Blobby" would shift onto Mike's optic nerve every single time he would get on the roof. Eventually, Mike declared it a conspiracy to keep him from doing his fair share of the work.
Peter took him in hand after that complaint, and the pair of them focused on rebuilding the downstairs while Micky and Davy worked on the upstairs. First order of business the upstairs floor. It took longer than expected, but the iron staircase was eventually attached and stable once more. The floors were redone in all hard wood, and Davy moved downstairs to create a ceiling while Micky worked on the drywall.
Meanwhile, the bandstand was rebuilt and the bay windows and sliding doors restored. They redid one of the doors with a stained glass panel as a memorial to what happened. While Micky struggled with the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom, the others restored the windows upstairs and down.
Practices resumed once the power was restored, though they were often exhausted from construction. "We have to keep playing," Mike put the capper on it. "We have to. When this is over, we have to get back to work."
A week after power was restored, Davy was at Babbitt's, napping after finally nailing the last shingle on the roof. Peter and Mike were working on rebuilding tables when water started dripping on them. "MICKY!" Mike roared.
"Sorry!" Micky called back down. "Didn't get the washer tight enough on the sink!"
Mike settled back, grumbling. Peter smiled at him. "He's on the sink that means he's almost done!"
And just like that, Mike felt his bad mood ease. "Hey Peter?" When Peter turned to look at him, Mike met his eyes and did something he had rarely done, especially since the cycle-blindness had broken into his life.
Mike let all his defenses down. He heard his voice break as he whispered, "Tell me the truth, Peter... Is it really going to be all right?"
Peter's eyes went wide as he recognised the gift Mike was offering him. He reached across the table and wrapped both arms around Mike, pulling him into a warm, tight hug. He pulled back enough to touch his forehead to Mike's.
In words and a tone chosen to honour the rare role-reversal, Peter said softly, "You bet, old buddy. It's all gonna be just fine."
Mike laughed and returned the hug for a moment before backing out of it. Peter retreated back to his side of the table before asking, "Feel better?"
"I've got hope now," Mike smiled. "That.... helps. Know what else will help?"
"Hand me that hammer. Let's get this furniture done. Sooner we get done, sooner we can move back home."
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