Micky was tightening one of the heads on his tom-toms when he heard a familiar long-suffering sigh. He looked up to see Mike gazing across the remodeled club's dance floor, lips thinned in annoyance. "What's the matter?"
Mike didn't take his focus from what he was looking at, but his head jerked toward it. "Look what the cats vomited up," he growled.
Frowning, Micky looked to the base of the second stage, where four black-clad toughs were surrounding the manager. "Oh, lovely," he sighed. "The Four Swine."
"Back from whatever hellhole they crawled out of," Mike sighed.
The four toughs suddenly broke off and oozed their way toward a pair of newcomers. Mike cursed suddenly and jerked his guitar off even as he broke into a run.
Micky dove and caught the guitar before it could hit the stage. Even as he set it into place, his brain was whirling. What could have made Mike drop his beloved guitar like it was nothing?
He looked up and had his answer. The newcomers the Swine had surrounded were Peter and Davy.
Micky joined them just in time to see one of the Swine shove Peter. Peter staggered into the wall and Davy and Mike surged forward.
A shoving match ensued as Micky went to Peter's side. "You okay, man?"
Peter nodded. He gained his feet with Micky's help and locked huge, worried eyes on the brawl. "Micky, stop them!"
"You're sure you're okay?" At Peter's nod, Micky petted his shoulder. "Stay here."
Micky nodded and waded into the fray. He got in between his friends and the Swine and put on his bravest voice. "Hey! That's more than enough!" He drew himself up to his full height and glared at the Swine. "Just what are you four idiots tryin' to prove? Huh?"
The leader of the Swine got in Micky's face and Micky involountarily cringed at the man's fetid breath. "We ain't tryin' to prove nothin'. We are provin' who's the best."
"Yeah?" Micky shot back, finally losing his temper. "The best at beatin' people up? Real high aspirations you got there!"
"Yeah?" the man snarled into Micky's face. "At least we are the best at somethin'!"
Micky's fists clenched. "The best at bein' dirty, rotten, stinkin' crooks!"
The Swine shrugged. "At least we get somethin' outta this. What do you four have that's better'n what we got?"
"Integrity," Mike shot back from his position at Micky's side.
"Boys!" Mister Connelly, the new manager of the Vincent Van, called. He jerked his head toward the stage. "Show me what you've got, Monkees!"
The Monkees pushed past the Swine and onto the stage where their instruments were set up. Three of the Swine turned to their fourth, who had peeled off as the argument had escalated.
He smiled coldly at his fellow felons. "Relax. It's all taken care of. We're a shoe-in!"
Mister Connelly smiled at the Monkees as Mike and Peter shrugged on their guitars and Micky settled himself behind his drums. Micky frowned as he kicked a poorly placed microphone cord out of his way.
"Are you ready, boys?" Mister Connelly asked.
"Almost," Mike said. He turned to his bandmates. "Which one?"
"Door into Summer," Micky suggested. "I'm still too mad to sing."
Mike gave a grim nod and turned back, counting them off. Peter's fingers danced over the bass strings to start them off, and the song began.
Across the room, one of the Swine let out a low whistle. "They've improved."
He was shoved by the leader. "We're not here to admire them, stupid!" The leader turned to the smirking smallest member. "Well?"
The leader rolled his eyes. "No, idiot, last week! Of course now!"
Laughing softly, the smallest lifted a small device from his jacket pocket. He untangled the wire from his feet and attached it to the device. Then he waited, his thumb poised over the button.
"What are you waiting for?" the leader snarled.
"Just shut up and let me do my job," the small Swine snarled back.
Onstage, the Monkees moved from "Door Into Summer" into "Love Is Only Sleeping". Micky was still too upset to sing.
One verse... the chorus...
One line into the second verse, the small Swine pushed the button. Energy crackled from the device through the very "microphone cord" Micky had moved when he sat down.
"and I cannot give, or feel, or even--"
With a roar, and to the accompaniment of a hideous scream, Micky's drum set exploded.
Looking back on it later, Peter would forever be startled at how fast Mike and Davy moved. All three of them were by Micky's side seconds after he was flung backward and deposited in an ungainly heap on the ground.
Peter scanned Micky's form, then acted. Swiftly unbuttoning the four buttons at his own throat, he whipped off the cheery yellow eight-button shirt and used it to blot up the blood oozing from a myriad of cuts on Micky's face, neck, chest and arms.
"You got him?" Mike demanded, eyes burning with rage and fear. At Peter's nod, Mike and Davy shot to their feet, Mike using Peter's t-shirt clad shoulder for balance.
Not one word was spoken, but the pair dashed from the smouldering stage into the shadows where the Four Swine were laughing and cheering.
Mike charged in with his head down and leading with his shoulder. He tackled one of the Swine from behind and sent him plowing into another. The three went to the ground in a tangled heap of limbs.
Davy also took the high road. He used the momentum of his run to vault off the floor and slam both feet with all his weight propelling it into the shoulderblades of another Swine. That Swine was knocked into the one who had detonated the bomb, and they fell. Davy hit the floor in a controlled fall, rolling to his feet. His normally warm eyes were filled with a cold rage.
The downed Swine shot to their feet and fought back. Four against two and each of them was bulkier than the Monkee they double-teamed. Normally, that would have been enough to overpower the mismatched pair of scrappers.
However, rage and revenge were fueling Mike and Davy. The Swine soon realised these two were not only holding their own, they were slowly gaining the upper hand!
With a double wail of sirens, police and ambulance arrived. The ambulance attendants went straight to Micky, and the police waded in to break up the fight.
One of the Swine pointed a trembling finger at Mike and Davy. "Arrest those two!" he snarled. "They assaulted us!"
"If anyone's gonna be arrested, it's you!" Mike shot back. "You blew up the stage and hurt Micky!"
"Oh, yeah?" the vocal Swine growled. "
"Gladly." All eyes turned to Davy. He was stepping away from the smallest Swine.
In his hand rested the detonator.
Mike and Davy stood side-by-side and watched the police wrestle the last of the Swine into a patrol car.
After Davy had produced the detonator, the Swine had used their collective one brain cell to figure out the jig was up. They had tried to bolt.
The police were able to catch them, and add resisting arrest to the charges. In the resulting melee, one of Mike's eyes was blackened and Davy's nose was bloodied. One policeman received a broken hand and one would later swear he saw stars turn into little Marilyn Monroes and start crooning to him after he was cold-cocked.
But it was over. All of the Swine were now riding away in the back of a police car. Mike watched with his chin slightly raised, bearing his darkening eye as a badge of honour.
Mike had taken his figurative pound of flesh. Micky had been avenged.
A nudge to his ribs brought Mike aware of Davy standing there with his hand outstretched. "What?"
"To go to hospital?" Davy as suddenly addressing Mike as if he were Peter coming out of one of his spells. "To be with Micky?"
Mike glared at Davy, his black eye somehow making him look even more deadly. "My eye is fine. My brain is fine. I'll drive."
Davy put his hands up and took a step back. "I'm just saying--"
"Yeah, I know what you're sayin'." Mike walked to the Monkeemobile and unlocked her. "You can say it till you're blue in the face. Now ain't the time for us to be squabblin'. Get in."
Without another word, Davy got in.
They arrived at the hospital to find Peter staring blankly down at the clipboard in his lap.
"Shit," Mike growled. "We got here just in time this is a bad one."
Nodding, Davy took the clipboard and handed it to Mike. He put his hands under Peter's shoulders and hauled the taller man to his feet. "I've got him you take care of the paperwork."
Mike nodded and sat down as Davy guided Peter away. Peter hadn't gotten far before the stress had triggered a spell.
Mike crossed out the line that trailed off the form where Peter's hand had slid off the clipboard. He finished filling out Micky's information and returned the forms to the nurse.
Mike turned at the soft baritone and smiled to see Peter and Davy walking up side-by-side. "Back with us, buddy?"
"Not... completely," Peter admitted. He raised his soda with both trembling hands and took a deep pull of it before repeating, "Any word?"
"Not yet." Mike swung a hand toward a chair, and Peter fell gratefully if not yet gracefully into it. "How's he?"
Davy shook his head. "He's comin' out of it, that's about all I can say. Hell of a night."
Peter was always slightly addled after one of his spells. After the other Monkees had had to extricate themselves from lifetime dance contracts, phony treasure maps, Chinese spies and a deal with the devil himself; they had eventually learned to never, ever leave Peter alone until his brain re-engaged.
Tonight, it all seemed more surreal than usual. They were supposed to be ont heir way home or to a restaurant to celebrate getting a however-many week gig at the Vincent Van.
They were not supposed to be haunting a hospital waiting room waiting for news on one of their own.
So preoccupied were they by their own worry that they almost missed the "For George Dolenz?"
Mike shot to his feet. "Micky," he corrected. "He he goes by Micky. How is he? Is he awake? Is he gonna be all right? How how bad is it?"
The doctor held up a hand, bringing Mike's rapid-fire litany of questions to a sputtering halt. "First of all," he said as he waved them back into their seats and sat down himself, "Micky is awake."
They cheered at this, with Peter hugging Davy.
"He knows his name, his age, the date, and where he is."
More cheering, and this time Peter hugged Mike.
Silence fell with a nearly-audible thud.
The doctor sighed. "The explosion did a number on him. He's sustained quite a number of lacerations to his face, neck, hands and chest. None were very deep, and we've closed most of them."
"How many stitches?" Mike asked.
"Eighty-four. And still sewing."
Mike and Davy gave low whistles.
"We only anticipate seven or eight of those to scar." He fell silent, worrying his lip.
"There's more," Peter guessed softly.
"There's more," the doctor sighed wearily. "Several of the lacerations and a couple of burns are centred around the area of Micky's eyes."
When his voice trailed off, Mike ordered, "Bottom line."
The doctor nodded. "The bottom line, then, is that we donut know at this point whether it is temporary or permanent. But at this moment your friend is completely blind."
There was another silence, this one pregnant with horror.
Then Peter began to scream.
Micky lay on the hospital bed, being what seemed for him unnaturally still. The only signs that he was awake were his open eyes and the nervous fidgeting of his fingers on the soft coverlet.
He didn't remember the explosion. The doctors assured him he eventually world, that his mind had more or less blocked it out because it was so traumatic.
As if its effects weren't.
Funny Micky had never been afraid of the dark before. He'd often teased Peter about needing a nightlight and a teddy bear to sleep especially when they spent the night somewhere other than home and one of the others would unwittingly become a sleepwalking Peter's teddy bear. More than once, Micky had woken unexpectedly to find the man-child's arms wrapped around him, a contented smile on his face.
Since they'd discovered Peter's spells, Micky reflected, the man-child had begun to show less and less, and an incredible man shone through more and more.
His reflections were interrupted as his throat squeezed in panic. Right now he'd do anything to see Peter acting like the man-child. To see Mike smacking Davy on the head.
To see anything but this relentless, almost physical blackness.
Micky wished whoever was making those ghastly awful sobs would stop and let him think. It was only when his plugged nose forced him to take a gasping breath that he realised those sobs were coming from him.
Giving up, Micky curled painfully onto his side. He drew his legs up to his cut and burned chest and burrowed his face into his arms. Then he just let the sobs come. He let the emotional tidal wave slam into him, though part of him was terrified he would drown in it. His whole body shook with the sheer force of emotion.
That was how Mike found him when he walked into the room. There was no hesitation at all as soon as Mike's brain processed what he was seeing and hearing, his long legs were already in motion.
Micky felt the bed sag under a second person's weight. He felt warm hands lift him and turn him around. He felt himself being pulled against a solid form with a too-warm body temperature and a scent he remembered from years of shared laundry chores. "Mi...Mike?"
"Yeah, buddy," came the softly-spoken answer as Micky was rocked like he was a young child. "M'here."
And, like a child, Micky clung to him and begged, "It's... it's gonna be all right, right? I'm gonna...I'm gonna be okay?"
When Mike hesitated before answering, Micky felt he had his answer. The sobs became full-blown screams of terror and grief.
Grief had passed into silent, sullen despair by the time Peter and Davy entered the room. Mike met their eyes over Micky's head, which he held to his chest in a grip of comfort, and shook his head slightly.
Peter read their body language and turned slightly away, his hands clutching into fists and his head bobbing in a single, jerky nod as a very foul word flew to his lips but was not voiced.
Despite the situation, Mike smiled and gave a single, satisfied nod. Peter had figured it out without having to have it explained and had vented his grief and anger without startling Micky.
Peter was fully back with them once more.
Micky lifted his head from Mike's chest, frowning. "Who...there's someone..."
"It's us, Micky," Peter said before Davy could open his mouth. "The doctor finally let us in here."
Micky reached a hand toward his voice and found it clasped between strong, calloused ones. "Peter," he whispered. "I'm scared."
"I know you are, man," Peter said gently, reaching to brush a damp curl from Micky's forehead. "Anyone would be."
Davy stepped forward. "We just got done talking to the doctor. The test results came back."
"What did they say?" Mike asked even as Micky turned his face back into Mike's chest. Mike jostled him. "Are you listening?" Micky nodded miserably, and Mike finished, "All right."
Peter smiled at them, aware it would show in his voice. "It's good news, Micky. The burns are su...super..."
"Superficial," Davy put in. "He showed us the results. Your eyes they're not as badly injured as they first thought."
"This is temporary, Micky." Peter's huge grin was audible. "You're gonna see again."
At that, Micky's body shuddered and he went limp in Mike's arms. Mike eased him down to the pillows and smiled. "About time."
"Cried himself out, huh?" Peter sighed, the smile fading. "Good."
Mike looked up, startled. "Good?"
Davy nodded. "We weren't looking forward to telling him the rest of it."
Confusion drew Mike's brows together. "What rest of it?"
Peter met Mike's eyes. His voice was baritone steel. "The cops want to talk to him. The state he's in right now, and they want him to testify."
"Now?" Mike half-roared, clamping a hand over his mouth and casting a worried glance toward Micky. When satisfied he hadn't woken him, Mike lowered his voice to a hiss. "What the hell are they playin' at? He's in no shape!"
"They want him to testify now," Davy acknowledged, "while it's still fresh in his mind."
Mike shook his head. "Except for the little hink that Micky can't remember what happened!"
"Will you sit down, already?" a Swine grunted to his pacing cellmate. "You're drivin' me crazy!"
He shook his head. "We gotta get outta here, man.... we gotta get outta here...."
"We will." He smiled an oily smile. "It's already in motion."
"We gotta... huh?" The pacer stopped and looked at him. "It's... huh?"
The seated Swine hooted with laughter. "You're slower than that blond retard today! I told you, it's already in motion." He stretched his arms over his head. "I called in a favour instead of a lawyer."
"You did? What's that?"
"My brother has connections to the hospital. The drummer Monkee's gonna be took care of. He never wakes up, he never testifies. He never testifies...." He spread his hands. "We go free."
The pacer began to smile, then he frowned. "But what about the other three?"
"They'll be taken care of, too. Relax. We're almost outta here."
And this time, he did smile.
Micky felt himself begin to smile. "Seriously?"
"Seriously," Mike said gently but firmly. "It's temporary and you'll be seein' again before you know it."
Giving a delighted wiggle in place, Micky then sobered. "How are we gonna get through till it's over?"
The other three shared a delighted smile at the "we". Then Peter answered Micky's question. "We communicate. We'll read to you, guide you you'll have your other senses and six eyes to make up for your two until they get working again."
Davy's eyes widened and his jaw dropped even as Mike grinned proudly. Micky frowned, thrown for a moment, then he began to proudly grin as well.
So much for the man-child.
"Thanks, man," Micky smiled, groping for and finding Peter's hand. "You always seem to make me feel better."
"I try to, at any rate," Peter smiled back.
The door bumped open and a young man dressed like an orderly came in. He turned and used his hip to move the nightstand to block the door.
"Hey," Mike began. "What's--"
His words cut off when the man turned to face them.
Micky frowned, feeling the sudden tension in the room. "What's going on?"
"Hush," Peter ordered gravely. "He's got a gun."
"Who are you?" Mike demanded, rising to his feet. "What the hell do you want?"
The man's face twisted into a cruel smile. "Dolenz."
Peter moved to cover Micky, standing in front of him. Davy had been hidden by the door and it was obvious the man had yet to see him.
Mike took a step forward. "I'm Dolenz," he lied through his teeth.
"Then who's on the bed?"
"My cousin. What do you want me for?"
The gun moved from the bed to cover Mike. "I've been sent to make sure you never testify."
Mike raised his chin defiantly. "Like hell you will. I'll testify even if I have to do it as a ghost!"
The man laughed nastily. "I'm positive that can be arranged." Slowly, he pulled the hammer back.
"No!" Peter yelled. "Don't do this!"
"Shut up, blondie," the man snarled. "Once I've taken care of Dolenz here, you're next!"
At that moment, Davy made his move. He lunged forward, striking the man's side with the entire weight of his body. He slammed his hand into the man's arm, deflecting the gun.
The wild shot echoed through the small room as the bullet lodged into the wall.
Mike threw himself into the fray and grappled with the man as Davy did. Peter raced over, shoved the nightstand away from the door and screamed, "Get the police!" to the startled hospital personnel who were racing to investigate the shot.
Micky, meanwhile, was running his hands over anything and everything around him, searching for something to help. At last, his fingers encountered the cool metal of the unused bedpan. "Peter! Here!"
Peter grabbed the pan and lunged forward. The CLANG! when he brought it down on top of the gunman's head was almost as loud as the bullet had been. The man's eyes crossed almost comically.
Mike and Davy released their holds, and the gunman slid senselessly to the floor.
The police arrived moments later. As the story spilled out, the unman was cuffed and taken away.
"Sir?" Micky called abruptly. "Detective?"
"Yes, son?" the detective asked. "What is it?"
"I.... I'm ready to give a statement now, sir. I... I.... I remember."
Based on the Monkees' testimony especially Micky's and corroborated by Mister Connelly, the arresting officers and the hospital personnel that had treated Micky, the Four Swine were each convicted of attempted murder and sent to prison for a very long time.
The hospital gunman ended up sharing a cell with his Swine cousin. Neither one appreciated the irony.
The Swine that couldn't stand to be confined had a mental breakdown and served the remainder of his sentence from a padded cell.
Micky's sight returned very slowly, but it did return. In the interim, his friends did exactly as they said they would.
The Monkees stuck together, helped each other out, and became the stronger for it.
To cap it all off, Mister Connelly bought Micky a brand-new, larger drumkit to replace what had been destroyed.
"I told you," Peter couldn't resist crowing. "I told you it was all gonna be okay!"
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