They never went to the zoo that day. They were just finishing getting ready when Davy began tugging on Peter's sleeve.
"What is it?" Peter asked, looking at him.
Davy's eyes were drooping. "I'm tired," he whined.
Peter smiled, brushing his hair from his forehead. Then his eyes widened and his hands moved to Davy's cheeks. "Michael?" he called.
"Hm?" Mike called, coming in from the kitchen. "Something wrong, Pete?"
"Davy's burning up."
Mike joined Peter at Davy's side. "Burning up? With fever? Is he sick?"
"He's hot to the touch. Here, feel." Peter released Davy.
Mike knelt down beside the small child, pressing a hand to his forehead. "Wow...he's really warm," he said, softly. "What do ya suppose is the matter with him?"
Micky came barreling down the stairs then. "Hey, you three!" he yelled. "Ready for the zoo?" Davy winced at the volume and whimpered slightly.
Mike shook his head. "We ain't goin' to the zoo, Mick. Davy's sick." He was so concerned about Davy he barely noticed Peter had moved to the phone and was dialing.
"He's what?" Micky knelt beside Mike and touched Davy's cheek, letting out a low whistle.
"I ain't sick," Davy whined, but he was swaying in place.
Peter hung up the phone. "Doc Adams will be right over. She said to strip him and put him in the coldest water we could fill the tub with."
Mike nodded, standing and scooping Davy into his arms. "Micky, fill the tub, will ya?" he asked.
"On it!" Micky cried, already halfway into the bedroom.
Davy leaned unprotestingly against Mike, limp but awake. This was the stillest he'd ever been while awake since the... change. "You gonna be okay, kiddo?" Mike asked, pressing a cheek against the top of Davy's head as he carried him towards the bathroom.
"Daddy Mike..." was all Davy whined, half-sobbing.
Mike nodded, swallowing the lump that rose in his throat. "It's okay, Davy...I'm here, man," he said, gently. "We're all here. We'll take care of you."
"I...I'm..." And Davy suddenly moved fast, sitting up and throwing up all over Mike and Peter.
"Oh, man..." Mike groaned, wiping his free hand on his jeans.
"Sorry..." Davy whimpered, shaking in Mike's arms.
Micky came back out then, beaming. "Okay, I've got the water - ewww...what happened to you two?" he asked, seeing Mike and Peter.
"Davy happened," Peter said, taking him from Mike and beginning to undress the limp little boy.
The pounding on the door sounded just as Peter lowered Davy into the cool water. Mike opened the door. Doctor Beverly Adams stood there, all business. "Where is he?" she asked.
Mike sighed, waving vaguely in the direction Peter had gone. "In the bathtub...soaking in cool water..."
She nodded, moving toward the bathroom. "How old is he now?" She knew of the unusual circumstances surrounding Davy... they had told her two weeks ago once they decided she would be his pediatrician.
"Four!" Micky told her. He'd gone out to the kitchen to get Mike a towel, and now he returned, handing it to him. "Today's Davy's birthday!"
"So to speak, huh?" she cracked a slight smile. "Looks like you got nailed pretty good."
Mike made a face as he wiped off his hands, and scrubbed his shirt with the towel Micky'd given him. "Goes with the territory, I guess," he said lightly.
She chuckled, resuming her trek to the bathroom. "Sure does," she laughed. Seeing Peter supporting Davy, she asked, "Nailed you too, huh?"
Peter smiled at her. Then he sobered. "Davy's really sick, Beverly."
She produced a thermometer and stuck it under Davy's arm, rubbing the child's hot cheek. "Hey there, sport," she whispered.
"Hi," Davy greeted her, in a barely audible tone.
"You not feeling well, huh?" she asked him, running a gentle hand along his throat, checking his glands.
Davy shook his head, tears welling up in his eyes.
Beverly slid her hands to his stomach, and Davy stiffened in pain. "Hurts there, huh?"
"Uh-huh," he managed, nodding, as his own hand slid instinctively to his stomach.
Beverly pulled the thermometer out and checked it. "102," she read aloud. "You're one sick little boy, Davy."
She turned to Peter and Micky and Mike, who stood side by side in the doorway. "Looks like he's got the stomach bug that's been going around. He should be better by tomorrow afternoon. I'll give you some liquid medicine to bring down the fever. Don't give him any solid food for two days, and keep him warm and quiet till tomorrow." She then turned back to Davy. "I'm gonna give you something to drink, Davy. It'll make you feel better. Then I want you to mind your dads, okay?"
The little boy nodded, solemnly. "Okay," he agreed.
She smiled and petted his arm. To Peter, she said, "Keep him in the water for 15 more minutes. Then dress him in his pajamas and keep him there." She stood. "I'll get the medicine now."
A moment later she was back with a spoon and a bottle. "Here, Davy," she said, pouring a green liquid into the spoon. "Take this."
Davy eyed the spoon suspiciously. "What is it?" he demanded.
"It's something to take the fever away," she said.
He wrinkled his nose. "Does it taste yucky?"
"Why don't you tell me?"
The four year old glanced at up at his 'parents' who nodded, encouragingly. Then, he opened his mouth so she could spoon in the medicine.
"Well?" she asked.
Davy made a face. "It tastes funny," he informed the doctor.
She smiled. Handing the bottle to Micky, she said, "Give him another spoonful right before bedtime and right after he wakes up tomorrow. I'll be back around two to check on him." She petted the child's arm again. "You get better, you hear me?"
Davy nodded, smiling just a little for Beverly's benefit. "Okay."
"Good boy." She kissed him on the forehead and reminded Peter, "15 minutes."
Peter nodded. "Thanks, Beverly."
"My pleasure." She smiled at Mike. "He's so cute."
Mike beamed, his chest puffing up with pride. "He sure is," he said, grinning. "I just hope we can get the poor little guy to feeling better..."
"He will. He's just got the 48 hour bug."
"Bug?" Davy piped up from the tub, his voice filled with concern. "What kinda bug?"
She chuckled. "That's doctor talk for what's making you sick, kiddo."
"Oooh," Davy said, brown eyes wide.
Micky showed Beverly out and Peter lifted Davy out of the bathtub and wrapped him in a warm towel, handing him over to Mike and going up the stairs to get some clean clothes for all three of them -- Peter, Mike and Davy.
"Daddy Mike?" Davy whimpered, nestling his burning-hot cheek against Mike's neck.
"Yeah, kiddo?" Mike asked, looking down at the child in his arms.
"M cold...." And Davy began to cough violently.
Mike was at a loss for how to handle the sick child. He gently shifted Davy's weight, so his head rested on Mike's shoulder, and began to rub his back, murmuring soothing words.
Davy's coughs abated somewhat, but then a precious thing happened. His small arms wound around Mike's neck, and he clasped his hands together, locking them in place as his head buried into Mike's shoulder and the tears began.
Mike sighed, tightening his grip on the child, and rocking him back and forth, gently.
Peter came down the stairs then, wearing a clean shirt. In one hand he held a clean one for Mike, in the other Davy's pajamas and robe. "Want me to?" he asked, nodding at the pjs and Davy.
"No, man, I can do it," Mike answered, carrying Davy to the couch, and lying him down there.
Peter shot Micky a look of pride. "Guess Davy's not the only one growing up," he whispered. "We all are."
Micky nodded in agreement, watching with astonishment the care Mike took in dressing Davy. "You're right..." he said, softly. "Guess we might learn something from this yet!"
"I've learned one thing," Peter whispered. "I can't imagine living without you guys now."
The other man jerked his head up, surprised. Clearly he hadn't been expecting the sentimental testament. "Wow..." Micky said, his voice still soft. "That's about one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me!"
"What nice?" Peter said with one of those dimpled grins that seemed to rival the sun when he showed them. "It's the simple truth." And he moved to Mike's side. "Here you, go get changed. I'll read to him tonight."
Mike nodded his gratitude, and then leaned down dropping a soft kiss on Davy's head. "Yell if ya need me, okay?"
Davy nodded wearily, eyes already drooping. "Want Jeremy."
"Jeremy...?" Mike muttered, glancing over at Peter. "Oh, you mean that old teddy bear?"
"Not old!" came the indignant bellow from the four year old. "My teddy bear!"
Peter turned his back to hide the laughter he couldn't control.
The look on Mike's face could only be called pure bewilderment. "All right, okay, now don't get excited," he said to Davy, waving a hand towards the four year old. "I'll go find ya your teddy bear!" With that, he took off up the stairs.
"Now," Peter said, sitting on the edge of the couch and chuckling as Davy shifted position to lay his head in Peter's lap as Peter scooted back. "What to read..."
"Green Eggs and Ham" suddenly dangled in front of Peter's face, held by two grown-up hands. Peter grinned as he took the book. “Thanks, Mick." He began to read, pausing only to turn the pages and run a hand through Davy's hair, noticing how the boy's tight shoulders were beginning to relax.
Peter closed the book at the end and just sat there, rubbing Davy's head. The boy had fallen asleep.
Peter walked across the street and down it a few minutes. He stood in front of the house and hesitated.
Then he raised his hand and pounded on the door of Babbitt's house.
After several moments, Peter heard footsteps approaching, and the door was pulled open to reveal their landlord, Mr. Babbitt.
"Oh, hello, Tork," he said, a note of surprise in his voice, as he looked his visitor up and down. "Something I can do for you?"
"May I come in, Mr. B? We need to talk... about Davy."
"About Davy? Oh, of course," he said, stepping away from the door. He made an awkward gesture with his hands, inviting Peter to step in.
Peter smiled and walked inside, unzipping his jacket as he did so, though he left it on. He whistled. "Nice place!" Peter sat down on the leather couch and met his landlord's eyes. "Mr. B, Davy will be five in two days."
"So he will," Babbitt said, taking a chair across from Peter. "They grow up quickly, don't they?"
Peter laughed. "Well, you gotta admit, Davy grows up a little... faster ... than most kids."
Babbitt chuckled at that. "Yes, he's a very...special little boy."
Peter suddenly became very interested in one of the buttons on the couch. "And, well... that's what I need to talk to you about."
"Oh?" The landlord's voice took on a slightly suspicious tone. "Come on, then, out with it."
Peter sighed. "Since he does age at such an... unusual rate... he can't go to school like other kids."
Babbitt considered that for a moment. "No...No I suppose he can't. But, what does that have to do with me?"
"Not you ... your sister. The one that you told us works for the school system here in Malibu Beach." Peter began to chew on his lip.
"Agnes?" he asked, frowning slightly. "But why...Oooh." Realization slowly began to dawn on Babbitt's face. "You want my sister to help you get around the system, is that it?"
Peter nodded. "Davy's learning seems to be as accelerated as his aging. He can already read simple books. We were wondering if she could just get us a copy of each textbook for every grade...."
Babbitt considered for a moment. "Well, I really can't see that just getting you the text books could hurt anything...and it is important for Davy to get a good education..." he began.
Peter's dimples cut deep grooves in his cheeks as a full-force grin burst forth. Then it faded. "Math," he whispered.
"What's that, Tork? You've gotta speak up - don't mumble."
"Math!" Panic filled his eyes. "None of us is good with math! We can help him learn the other stuff, but... math...."
"Nothing hard about Mathematics," Babbitt said, shaking his head. "It's just common sense, most of it."
"It's hard... I just hope he can grasp it!"
"Davy's a smart lad," Mr. Babbitt insisted. "And, if he needs any help...well, you can send him over here."
Peter blinked. "You? Really?"
The landlord shrugged. "I'm no Albert Einstein, but I have a pretty good grasp on the subject...I'm just looking out for the boy's best interest, mind you. I just don't want to see him get behind, that's all."
Peter smiled a knowing smile. "Thank you, Mr. B. So you think she can get us the books? We can pay for them..."
Babbitt shook his head. "I'm sure that won't be necessary. Money's not really the issue here...I'll give Agnes a call tonight, and we'll see what she can do."
Peter stood and held out his hand. "Thank you, Mr. B. We appreciate this."
Mr. Babbitt stood, too, grasping Peter's hand in a firm handshake. "It's nothing, really. I just want to see the boy do well. You know how it is."
"I know." Suddenly Peter snapped his fingers. "Oh! I almost forgot..." He reached into the pocket of his jacket and extricated $500. "Here... the rent till the end of the year."
"Oh...yes, well, thank you," Babbitt said, surprised. Normally, they didn't pay their rent until two months after it was due, but lately the boys had been paying it months in advance. He quickly thumbed through the money. "$500...that certainly should cover it."
"Great." Peter smiled. "I'll go tell the guys you'll call your sister and we'll keep our fingers crossed!"
"Certainly, I'll get on that right away. Nice doing business with you, Tork."
"Same here, Mr. B." Peter's smile seemed to linger long after he left the house.
Hours later, the three men and one boy were sitting around the dinner table splitting a meat loaf (courtesy of Mrs. Purdy) when there came a knock on the door.
"I got it!" Before they could stop him, Davy had jumped from the chair and was across the room to the front door. He opened it and yelled over his shoulder, "It's Mister B, Peter!"
Micky wagged a finger in his ear. "Little softer, okay, kiddo?"
"Kay!" Davy cried, bouncing back to his chair.
Peter laughed as he stood up and walked over to Mr. Babbitt. "Hi."
"Hello, boys," Babbitt said, strolling into the room, his usual smug smile in place.
"What's up?" Micky asked.
"I just got off the phone with Agnes, my sister who works for the Education Department..."
"And?" Peter asked.
"Well, I told her that you boys were interested in obtaining some text books for Davy's schooling...And, she's agreed to look into it. Agnes said it shouldn't be a problem, text books are a little steep in cost, but other than that..."
"We can afford them," Micky said. "Then it's a go?"
Babbitt nodded. "She said she should be able to get ahold of the books you wanted by the end of the week."
The three other adults began to cheer. Davy just looked confused.
Babbitt happened to glance at the coffee table just in time to see a billfold shimmer into existence. He frowned slightly, scratching his head. Then, he went over to the table to take a closer look at the wallet. "Just appeared out of thin air..." he muttered to himself.
But Peter heard him. "That's right. One appears every month, always with the same amount of money. Father Time's way of helping us raise Davy."
Babbitt had picked up the wallet, and thumbed through the bills. "So that's how you've been paying your rent so far in advance," he muttered. "Father Time, of course...makes perfect sense."
Peter took the billfold and pitched it to Micky. "The usual?" Micky asked Mike. At his nod, Micky set aside $4000 of the $10,000 that was in the wallet.
"What's he doing?" Babbitt asked Peter.
Peter smiled. "For the savings accounts we set up with the first walletful. We put half the rest in a checking account, and the rest in our cash place."
Babbitt nodded his approval, and then suddenly turned his attention to Davy. "So, are you excited about starting your home-schooling?" he asked.
Davy nodded. He smiled. "Sure am!"
"What's your favorite subject?"
Davy thought. "I like reading. I like playing music."
Babbitt shook his head. "Still wants to be a rock and roller, eh? I guess some things don't change..."
"My dads play music!" Davy announced proudly. "They're good!"
"Davy!" Micky chided, but he was blushing as red as the other two.
For once, Babbitt didn't have a smart remark about their line of work. He just smiled at Davy, and nodded. "So, I've heard."
The three grown Monkees turned astonished eyes to Babbitt. But, their landlord didn't notice. He was still talking to Davy. "So, what instrument do you play?" he asked, smiling kindly.
"Well, I bang the tambourine and Micky's teaching me a beat on the maracas. Mike said when I get older, he'll teach me guitar, and Peter said he'll teach me all the instruments he plays!"
"Very impressive," Babbitt said.
"Since when?" Mike muttered to Micky and Peter, but neither Babbitt, nor Davy, paid him any heed.
"I think Davy's made a true friend," Peter grinned.
"I didn't think Mr. Babbitt could be friendly to anyone," Micky whispered, for his friends benefit. Mike snickered, but Peter gave him a reproachful look.
Babbitt went back home after a while. Mike and Micky went out to the beach while Peter, who had won the finger shoot, got Davy ready for bed.
Peter read a page of a book called Play With Me and Davy read the next page in his slow, four-year-old way. Once the book was finished, Peter played horsy, giving Davy a lift to bed on his shoulders. He sang Davy a lullaby and tucked him in with a fatherly kiss on the forehead.
Peter then came downstairs. He sank onto the couch and snapped on the TV. He shook his head in disgust as the news droned on for the ten minutes before Ed Sullivan. Same old garbage as every night...
Peter jumped to his feet and turned. Davy only put the "Daddy" in front of their names when he was upset. "What is it?" he asked.
Davy stood at the top of the stairs. He was staring wide-eyed at the TV. "What..."
Peter looked at the TV. "Ed Sullivan," he said. Then he climbed the stairs and began to haul Davy back to bed.
As Peter was pulling the covers up, Davy suddenly asked, "Daddy Peter... what's Vietnam?"
Pain and anger flitted across Peter's face. "Senseless," he told Davy, bending down to kiss his forehead again. "Mike, Micky and I will talk to you about it in the morning, okay?"
Peter sat with Davy till he fell asleep, and then went back downstairs. He shut off the TV and moved to the bandstand, strumming on his bass to calm himself down.
Peter came out of the bathroom and crossed into the kitchen, smiling at the six-year-old boy bent intently over his schoolwork. They'd managed to work things out so Davy covered a chapter a day in most of his subjects, and half a chapter a day in math. And Davy seemed to absorb everything like a sponge.
Peter had been right, however. Davy struggled with math.
"What subject?" he asked Micky.
"Science," Micky said, not looking up. "His favourite subject."
Peter poured himself a cup of tea and smiled. "I thought Music was his favourite subject!"
Davy looked up and smiled briefly before bending over his workbook again. His right front tooth was missing, and freckles were sprinkled liberally over his nose – a result of being out in the sun a lot.
"Okay then," Micky said, grinning. "His second favourite subject."
Peter chuckled and moved toward the bandstand, tousling Davy's straight brown hair as he did so, and noting with amusement Davy straightened it automatically. He moved to sit by Mike. "Did you remember to leave the money from the Tooth Fairy?"
"Hm?" Mike asked, looking up distractedly. "Oh... yeah, I did." He chuckled slightly. "Who would've thought — Mike Nesmith playing Tooth Fairy?"
Peter smiled and took a sip of his tea. "Yeah.... we're all doing things we never dreamed we would... having a son is changing us all."
"Speaking of changing," Mike said, looking over at Davy, "Wasn't Davy right-handed before?"
Peter frowned. "What?"
"Look at him."
Peter did. Davy was bent over his workbook, intent on answering the questions — and gripping his pencil firmly in his left hand as he wrote.
"Done!" Davy cried, closing the book and bounding over to Peter. "Can we jam now?" he asked, brown eyes huge.
"Didja get all your work done?" Mike asked.
"Yep!" Davy said, ticking them off on his fingers. "Language Arts, Social Studies, Science..."
Peter smiled at the small lisp that erupted every time Davy said an S. Without a front tooth, his tongue had nowhere to go, and a lisp was the result. "What about Math?" he asked.
"Aw, Peter..." Davy moaned.
"You know the rules," Mike said, cool as a cucumber. "All your schoolwork's gotta be done before we can jam."
"Aw, Mike..." But he was moving very slowly back toward the table.
Peter and Mike shared a smile and Peter sipped his tea again. "You know what's really unexpected?"
"Micky." Peter's smile became a grin. "I mean, you and I both work with Davy on schoolwork – but who's taken over the lion's share of teaching? Micky."
"Unexpected choice," Mike said. "But it seems to be workin'."
"Hey," Micky piped up. "You know what they say – those who can, teach."
"And those who wanna jam gotta do math," Davy grumbled, tapping his pencil on the table. Twenty minutes later, he slid the book over to Micky to grade and hopped down again. "Now can we jam?"
"I don't know," Peter said. "How'd he do?"
Micky stood up, smiling. "He only missed two this time. He's starting to get it."
"What do you think, Michael?"
Mike rubbed his chin and solemnly regarded the six-year-old who was practically vibrating in place with impatience. "Well, now..." he drawled. “I don't know... what do you think, Mick?"
Micky grinned. "I think you two had better stop teasing him and give him a straight answer."
"All right," Mike and Peter said at the same time, and then Mike added, "Let's play."
Davy let out a whoop and threw his arms around Mike's neck, then jumped onto the bandstand and pulled the tambourine from under the bass drum. "Ready!"
"Me too," Micky said, sliding behind the drums.
"Here too," Mike said, beginning to tune his guitar.
"Not me," Peter said. "My picks are missing."
Three pairs of eyes met, and then turned to Davy. "What?" the boy challenged.
Peter sighed and reached over, pulling the picks from the pocket of Davy's shirt. "What did we tell you about asking permission first?"
"I was just makin' sand patterns!" Davy protested. "Yours work the best!"
"You were using Peter's picks to make sand patterns?" Mike gasped, exasperated.
Davy turned to him, eyes wide. "Well... I've used yours too, but his work better..."
Peter and Micky began to grin. Mike glared at them. "You're not helpin'," he groused.
"Sorry," Micky said, though he didn't sound it a bit.
"No more usin' the picks for sand patterns, okay?" Mike said.
"At least not without asking permission first," Peter added.
Davy agreed. Micky counted them off, and they began to play.
After a few songs, the three adults noticed the tambourine's rhythm got softer and more erratic. Eventually, it dropped out all together. Three pairs of eyes met, and then Peter and Mike chuckled as they looked down. Micky stood, looking over his drums, and laughed as well.
Davy lay on the bandstand, sound asleep, using the tambourine as a pillow.
Mike lay his guitar aside and picked him up, carrying him up the stairs. He chuckled as he went, "Poor little guy, he's worn out."
Peter nodded, unslinging his bass. "We got started with the lessons late today."
"True," Micky agreed, emerging from behind the drums. "But he sure had a good time at the park!" He suddenly yawned and stretched. "I'm tired too — Man! I never knew parenting was such hard work!"
"Especially with a kid like Davy," Peter said, going to the refrigerator and pouring Micky some orange juice and himself some cold water.
"Really," Micky said. "With him, you never know what tomorrow's gonna bring!"
Peter chuckled. "Well, I can tell you what tomorrow's gonna bring, all right."
"Oh?" Micky said, taking a sip of his juice. "How's that?"
"Tomorrow's Sunday. No schoolwork. If it doesn't rain, we'll try again to take him to the zoo."
Micky nodded, grinning. "Hopefully this time he won't turn off sick!"
"Hopefully," Peter chuckled.
At six AM the next morning, Peter was awakened by the crash of thunder and the unmistakable sound of heavy rain spattering against the windows. He groaned, and pulled the pillow over his head, shaking it in disgust. "Not again...."
Two months passed fairly routinely. Davy grew taller and lost his baby fat. He also lost most of his baby teeth, and the permanent ones grew in crooked. The other three agreed among themselves that once he stopped growing physically, they would get him braces.
Davy's schoolwork progressed as fast as his growth. In two months, he had covered grades one and two, and they were beginning grade three's books.
The second Sunday in November dawned crisp and just cool enough for a jacket. Peter came to the foot of the stairs after he put in a batch of waffle batter to cook. "Micky!" he called. "Mike! Davy! Come on!"
Upstairs, Davy rolled over and pulled a pillow over his head as he tried to burrow deeper in the covers.
Mike groaned, sitting up on his elbows. "How anyone can be so cheerful this early in the morning, I'll never know," he groused.
"What in the world is so important that we gotta get up at seven in the mornin'..." Davy griped, sitting up and wiping his eyes.
"With Peter, anything's possible," Micky muttered, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed.
Davy stretched. "I don't have school today, do I? It's Sunday, right?"
"I don't know, it's too early to tell," Micky said, stretching.
Mike rolled his eyes. "Yeah, kiddo, it's Sunday...The day that most civilized people sleep in!" The last two words were hollered in the direction of the door for Peter's benefit.
"Very funny!" Peter called. "Tell Micky to inhale, and he'll wake up! As for the rest of you, I've got a surprise for Davy once you get down here!"
Davy heard the word 'surprise' and he hit the floor running, grabbing his robe on the way out the door.
"Guess that's our cue, Mike said, sitting all the way up and then climbing out of bed. "Come on, Mick, Peter's got breakfast ready."
Micky reacted much the same way Davy had a few moments later. "Hey, I think I smell waffles!" he said, his eyes snapping open. He pushed past Mike and bounded down the stairs.
Mike rolled his eyes, and then moved to follow. "Why me?" he muttered to himself.
They came downstairs to see the tail end of Peter's giving Davy his good-morning hug. Then he released the child and scrambled to get the waffle out before the blueberries scorched.
"Hey, Pete?" Micky asked, going to take his seat at the kitchen table. "Why did you get us up so early?"
Peter turned and smiled over his shoulder. "It's a beautiful day. We have nothing to do.... How would you like to take Davy to the zoo?"
"The zoo? Today?" Mike asked. He had to shout to be heard over the sound of Davy's loud cheers.
"Hey, man, Pete's right...It's a gorgeous day!" Micky said, nodding enthusiastically. "A trip to the zoo sounds like a groovy idea!"
Davy had leapt from his chair and was dancing all over the living room, cheering at the top of his lungs, "We're goin', we're goin', we're goin...." He was coming dangerously close to falling over his flapping robe.
"Whoa, shotgun," Mike called. "You'd better cool it before you fall and hurt yourself. Then, no one would be going anywhere!"
Davy stopped. He then grinned, pulled off his robe and threw it on the couch, and started up again.
Micky laughed, shaking his head. "Now see what you've started?" he asked Peter teasingly.
Peter chuckled. "Davy, you're gonna miss breakfast if you keep that up!" He sighed dramatically. "I guess I'll just have to give Micky your waffle, then..."
"And you know how fast he eats," Mike added. "Chances are it won't last long."
"Hey!" Micky protested.
"Coming!" Davy cried, racing across the living room. His foot caught on the toy car he'd left out the night before and he slipped and fell on his bottom.
"You okay, champ?" Micky asked, concern ebbing into his voice.
"Seem to be," Davy said, standing up. He looked sheepishly at Mike. "Should'a listened to you last night, huh?"
Mike shook his head, smiling. "Well, maybe now you'll remember to pick up your toys when we ask you to. Just so you didn't get hurt..."
"No, I'm okay," Davy said, picking up the toy and dropping it into the large cardboard box in the corner of the living room with his other toys.
Peter smiled over his shoulder. "Come on then, Champ. Breakfast!"
Davy bolted for the table, nearly colliding with Mike.
"Walk, shotgun," Mike said, taking hold of his arm and slowing him down.
"Sorry," Davy said, drowning the waffle in syrup as Micky poured him some milk and orange juice, setting them down in front of him before pouring himself some orange juice. "I’m just excited!"
Hours later, the Monkeemobile pulled up outside the zoo. Mike handed over the money for admission, still marveling at the fact he paid three adult and one child prices. He also procured a map of the zoo, which he handed to Micky to hold.
He parked the car and they got out. Davy was wriggling impatiently while Peter snapped the gaudy piece of red plastic onto his wrist. While Peter snapped his own bracelet on, Davy broke into a run.
"Hey!" Mike bellowed, grabbing for him and missing. Micky sighed and grabbed another bracelet, snapping it on as he ran after Davy.
"Fast sucker," Mike sighed as Peter passed him the last admission bracelet.
Peter grinned despite himself. He grabbed the map and they followed Micky and Davy into the zoo.
A minute later, Micky came walking up to Mike and Peter, Davy's small hand firmly in his own. "Found him," he said with a smile. Davy beamed up at him, shoving the last bites of a hot dog with chili and onions into his mouth.
"Yeah you found him all right," Mike said, trying to sound gruff, but the smile betrayed him as he wiped the last traces of chili off Davy's mouth and tousled his hair. Davy shot him a Look and straightened his hair with his free hand.
"I think we should take him to the petting zoo," Micky began.
"I wanna go see the elephants!" Davy interrupted.
Peter was poring over the map. "Well," he said. "The petting zoo is right over that corner, the elephants are clear on the other side of the zoo."
"Okay then," Mike said. "How's about we to the petting zoo first and then work our way around to the elephants?"
"Yyyaaayyy!" Davy cheered, letting go of Micky's hand and starting to run again. Mike's hand landed on his shoulder.
"Hang on there, shotgun... you don't go runnin' off like that." Mike took Davy's hand in his own and jerked his head toward the petting zoo. "Let's go."
The four were almost to the petting pens when Davy broke away again, screaming about the funny looking horses and running right towards the llama pens. Before the other three could stop him, he had clambered up onto the rickety fence and was stretching to reach the fuzzy head of the beast.
"Careful, Davy," Micky called to him, jokingly, "we wouldn't want ya to fall in or anything!"
Davy turned and shot the three a grin. The llama turned as well, and spit at Davy, startling him. With a shout, Davy lost his balance and started to fall.
Only to be caught by four strong arms working in tandem. "Gotcha!" Peter gasped as he and Mike set the boy on his feet --- safely outside the pen.
"You okay, kiddo?" Mike asked, concerned.
Davy shot him a wide-eyed look, and then nodded slightly, throwing his arms around Mike and holding him tightly for a moment --- then turning and repeating the gesture with Peter.
He did not cry, but he stayed close to them all through the petting pens.
Once they were through the pens, though, and they could no longer see the llama, Davy grabbed Micky's hand and began dragging him to the nearest hot dog vendor.
"You just ate!" Peter cried after them.
"But that was at least fifteen minutes ago," Micky called back to Peter over his shoulder, flashing him a grin.
"Kid must've inherited Mick's stomach," Mike said, careful to keep his voice low enough that only Peter could hear.
"Must be a case of nurture over nature," Peter quipped in the same low voice. "I have to keep reminding myself he's not any one of our’s biological child... he's so much like all of us..."
"Man, tell me about it!" Mike muttered, shaking his head. "There's hardly any of the old Davy left..."
Peter turned to him. "Any? I haven't seen a trace of him in weeks."
"Yeah, you're right. It's funny, but I can hardly remember the way things used to be...I mean, it just sort of feels like we've been raising the kid for years instead of months."
Peter sighed, and had to agree. "I can barely remember the four of us onstage... the way the girls would flock to him..." he smiled. "The way he'd not lose that accent when he sang..."
"Do you ever miss him?" Mike asked, suddenly, meeting Peter's eyes.
Peter didn't even hesitate. "Yes. Every morning when the little boy bounds down and reaches out his arms for a hug, all I can see is the man he used to be. And I have to force myself to hug him like a father... instead of cuff him and tell him how silly he's being."
Mike didn't answer, only nodded, and silence stretched out between them.
"Do you miss him?" Peter asked finally.
Mike looked down, studying a crack in the sidewalk. "Well, yeah...Yeah, I miss him! I mean, he was my friend! I mean, he got us into a lot of jams, but nothing that we couldn't find a way out of! Then this had to happen." His voice dropped then, and Peter had to strain to hear his words. "This was one problem I just couldn't fix..."
"Michael?" Peter gasped, stunned at the revelation.
Mike shot Peter a challenging look. "Well, it's the truth, ain't it?"
Peter shot a look over at Micky and Davy, who had wandered over to the bird house and were trying to out-macaw the macaws. He took Mike by the arm and pulled him over to a stone bench, pushing him down. "What are you talking about?" he whispered.
The other man took a deep breath. "Peter, I...Well, I can't help but feel responsible. How could I have let this happen? You guys depend on me, and I let ya'll down."
"It's not your fault!" Peter said, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Davy brought it on himself with his woman-hungry ways! You told him to stay home and practice, but no, he had to go to that party!"
Mike sighed. "I don't know, Pete. Every time I look at Davy, I can't help but feel like I let him down. Like I shoulda gone with him, or something ...anything."
"Then join the club," Peter said with a coldness that took them both by surprise.
Mike arched an eyebrow. "Where'd that come from?"
"From the same place yours is. Mike, I should have said something too. So should Micky. We should have made him stay home, but we didn't. We figured hey he's a big boy; he can take care of himself. Well he couldn't. Don’t you think I've not been blaming myself just as hard as you have?"
Mike stood suddenly. "Yeah, well, talking like this ain't gonna bring him back. Davy's gone. Guess we lost a friend, and gained a son in the process...for better or for worse."
Peter sighed. "Guess so." Then he looked around. "Hey --- where'd they go?"
Seconds later, Micky appeared from the direction of the horse show, carrying Davy -- who was visibly upset. Peter was instantly by his side, taking Davy and moving to the birds again, to calm the boy down.
Micky stood there, his own hands shaking as he looked after them with wide almond eyes.
Mike strode over to the point where Micky was standing. "Mick, what happened?" he demanded.
Micky turned stunned eyes to Mike. "D-Davy..." he whispered, then shook his head.
"What about Davy?" Mike pressed.
"He's... he's afraid of the horses."
Continue to Part Three