It was a quiet night at 1334 Beechwood. The Pad's four inhabitants were lying snugly in their beds, oblivious to the shadowy figures poking around in the living room
The gray beings with huge black eyes opened the door to the downstairs bedroom. "This one," one said, laying a four-fingered hand on Peter's head. "He will be a perfect choice."
"Glaxo has the one chosen from upstairs," came the reply. "Bring them both and let's go!"
A light flared, and they were gone.
Davy rolled over and stirred, briefly, before going back to sleep. Upstairs, Micky did the same.
Neither noticed their roommates beds were empty.
Hours later, Peter opened his eyes to find himself in a bedroom, in a king sized bed. He rolled over and found he shared the bed with Mike.
There was nothing unusual about that, the four of them often shared beds when they had to sleep anywhere other than the Pad, but Peter thought it was unusual for Mike to be in his bed at home!
Peter nudged his new roommate. "Michael.. wake up."
Mike stirred, disturbed by the poking at his back. Opening bleary eyes, he looked at Peter "What are you doin' in my room, man?" he groaned.
"I was gonna ask you that!" Peter sighed. "But then what are you doing in bed with me?"
"In bed...." Mike opened his eyes fully, looking down at the strange bed. "This is not your bed! Or mine!"
Peter looked around... dressers, king size bed, closets, an open door leading to a bathroom, another to a kitchen... "This isn't the Pad!" he screeched.
"No kidding, Shotgun!" Throwing back the covers, Mike rose from the bed, preparing to inspect the strange room. Nothing at all in the closet but two utilitarian-looking jumpsuits. Nothing in the bathroom that shouldn't be. No matter where they were, somebody had gone to some lengths to make sure they were comfortable.
Peter was poking in the dresser drawers. "Underwear," he reported. "Enough for two men... and food in the cupboards..." He straightened up. "Think someone wants us to be roommates here?"
"No offense, good buddy, but I don't want to be anybody's roommate - at least not here!"
"None taken," Peter said, grin winking at Mike. "I don't either... I wanna go home."
"Yeah, me too." Looking around the room, he decided to try the one door they had ignored - the one leading out to the living area. "You ready to go out there, Pete?"
Peter pulled one jumpsuit from the closet. "Soon as I change."
"Don't wanna wear the PJ's around a strange town huh?" Mike joked. "Throw me one of those."
Minutes later, the pair walked into the living area --- to receive a jolt. It had a couch, a pair of chairs, a row of library books, even a bandstand with musical instruments ----- but no windows, and no other door.
There was no way out.
"I don't like the looks of this, man. No windows, no door - looks like a cell in here...."
*Very astute,* came a voice from the air. *A cell would describe what you are in perfectly, Michael.*
"Who the hell are you!" Mike looked for the unfamiliar voice.
*My name is Glaxo. I am from what you would call an alien race. You are currently in a place known as Roswell, New Mexico. Our kind crashed here several years ago, and we have begun to study your kind. You are our latest specimens.*
"Specimens? Like in an experiment?"
The voice laughed. *Precisely so. You and your friend shall live here until we are satisfied with what we desire to know about human relationships. Then you shall be released.*
Peter grabbed Mike's arm. "Michael," he whispered, "I'm scared!"
"Hang on Pete," Mike urged. "There's gotta be someway out of here - they had to get us in somehow. Maybe we can find out how they did it." Mike began prowling around the room, feeling along the walls, hoping to find a hidden switch or a panel of some sort, but to no avail...
*Plotting to escape? Oh, how predictable. Why must they always try to escape?*
"What do you want us to do? Sit here and let you use us like lab rats?"
*You would be wise to restrain your words, Michael Nesmith... or there will be consequences.*
"How did you know my name?" Mike asked suspiciously. "Is this one of Micky's jokes?"
*We have monitored you for days. We shall monitor you closer now.*
Mike shivered at the thought that they had been watched, even while at the Pad. "Mind telling us what you've got in mind?" he questioned sarcastically. "Or do we just go along blind, here?"
*Have a care, Texan... your tongue flies too swiftly. We have monitored you closely... you lead, and the blonde follows meekly... we intend to slowly reverse your positions, and see what adjustments happen after the final change is made to you.*
Peter turned shocked eyes to Mike. "I don't like the sound of that," he gasped.
"Don't worry about it Pete - I'm not going anywhere." Mike gave his bandmate a gentle jab on the arm. "Aliens...Well I don't believe you!" he shouted to the room in general. "If you want me to believe your some sort of creature from outer space you've gotta prove it to me!"
*That is it!* the voice screeched. *We were going to delay this, but no more! You shall never be the same for failing to rein in your words!*
A brilliant green beam shot from the ceiling, bathing Mike in its glow and knocking Peter away forcibly as it struck him. He scrambled to his feet and ran to Mike's side, shielding his eyes from the glow, reaching to try to pull Mike out of it. The beam shone for a full minute, then cut off abruptly.
And the young, petite woman that had replaced Mike slumped forward into Peter's arms.
Peter touched a wet cloth to the young woman's forehead as he tended to her. He'd lain her on the couch and was hoping she would come around. "Come on," he whispered. "Wake up, will you please?"
She started at the touch of the cold cloth. Opening her dark brown eyes wide, she stared up at Peter. "Oh...." she groaned. "What happened, Peter?"
Peter smiled. "It isstill you... the eyes are the same... Michael, they turned you into a woman."
"What?" she questioned. Looking down she took in the totally unfamiliar curves that were now filling out the jumpsuit. "Oh, my God...."
"Take it easy," Peter said, pushing a strand of damp black hair from her forehead. "You're gonna be fine.
"Fine!"she exploded. "I'm a chick!" Struggling to her feet, she headed toward the bathroom, where the one and only mirror in their prison was located. Looking at the feminine features that were reflected in the glass, she did the only thing that came to mind.
She fainted dead away.
This time, when she regained consciousness, she found herself in the king-sized bed. Peter was pulling back from bending over her... and her lips tingled. "Wh...what were you doing?" she asked, scooting away from Peter.
He grinned. "Sorry.... you just looked so cute lying there, I couldn't resist."
"Well, don't do it again! It's still me, Peter---Mike!"
Peter shook his head. "MichaelA. Mi-KAY-la," he repeated, rolling the new name on his tongue and smiling. It seemed to fit. "Kayla," he whispered with a smile.
"Kayla" sighed, letting her head fall into her hands. "I guess they really were aliens..."
"Yeah." The bed sagged and gentle fingers were pushing her hair from her face again. "They really were." Peter leaned back on the pillows and sighed. "So... this changes things."
"Yeah," was all Kayla could think to say. "How are we gonna explain this one to Davy and Micky?"
"I have a more important question."
"Hmm..." Kayla murmured, deep in thought. "What is it, Peter?"
Peter sat up and suddenly stroked her cheek. "How are we gonna live here together? Especially since ..." He broke off and moved off the bed to the far side of the room, back to her.
"Since...?" she said, relieved that Peter had put some distance between them. That casual touch, which "Mike " would never had tolerated, had been surprisingly - and disturbingly- pleasant.
Peter's voice was a whisper. "Since I think... you're beautiful and I'm... feeling things I don't think I should be..."
"Hold it there, man. I know I look different, but I'm still Mike - your old buddy. Remember?" she stressed, trying valiantly to ignore the little voice in the back of her mind that was saying the very same thing he had just said.
"I remember." Peter turned to face her. "But you are also Kayla ... a woman.And I'm trapped here with you."
"Listen, Pete. Let's just try to act like this never happened. We can still be pals..." Kayla turned to bury her face in the pillow. Pals...oh G-d she thought. I can't be attracted to him!
But the same beam that had transformed Kayla had done something to Peter as well. He crossed the room and sat on her bed, rubbing her back. "I see the way you're acting..." he observed. "You're as attracted to me as I am to you."
"It doesn't mean we have to act on that attraction, Pete!" Kayla stated. "Besides, I'm not ready to believe this is permanent - what if they change me back - how would we feel then?"
"Probably really silly," Peter grinned. "But ... Glaxo said you would never be the same again."
"Don't remind me!" Kayla said. "Listen to me - I even soundlike a woman!" Mike's Texas drawl had indeed softened to a lovely and very feminine southern accent. "I just don't know what to do..."
Peter pulled her to a sitting position, and into a hug. "First thing... accept this is who you are now. If it's forever, that'll make it easier. If it isn't, then it'll get you through each day."
"I guess I have to, at least for now," Kayla agreed, settling into Peter's hug with all signs of enjoyment. "I'll have to admit I must be changed but good - Mike would never let you hug him!"
Peter laughed. "And Kayla enjoys it."
"Yes," she said, so softly that he almost didn't hear . "She does."
That day, they found out their food was delivered via a slot in the wall. They found out they could watch television if they wanted to.
And nighttime brought the first challenge... they had to share the bed.
"Look" Peter said with a sigh. "For the last time, I don't see the problem! I'll stay over here,you sleep over there... the bed's big enough there won't be a problem at all!"
"There's a big problem!" Kayla began. "I'm just not sharing that bed with a man - not when I'm like this!"
He made a sound of frustration. "Look, that couch is too small for either of us to sleep on! There's no other blankets you or I can make into a bed on the floor! We have no choice!"
"We could always sleep in shifts..." Kayla began.
And the lights were extinguished.
Peter sighed. "Well... I guess that answers that."
"Aw...." Kayla's grumble was very reminiscent of a grumpy Mike. "All right. But make sure you stay on your side. At least you don't snore!"
"Yes Ma'am," Peter cracked, and Kayla heard him chuckle.
When the lights flared the next morning, Peter and Kayla were revealed, sound asleep... both rolled into the center of the bed, his arm around her waist. Without opening his eyes, Peter groaned. "Who turned on the day?"
"Stupid morning," Kayla moaned. "Shut off those lights!" She pulled the covers over her head, then stopped in shock as she realized that the warmth she felt was not only from the blankets...
Peter shifted position and sighed, inadvertently tightening his grip on her waist. He still did not open his eyes. "I'm a mornin' person, but this is ridiculous..."
"Umm..Peter?" Kayla said hesitantly.
"You didn't stay on your side of the bed."
"Mm... Hmm...." he squeezed her waist. "You're over there... 'm holdin' m'teddy bear..."
"I am not your teddy bear!" Kayla screeched. "Let me go!" Pushing against Peter's chest, she finally got him to loosen his grasp, and she quickly scooted to the far reaches of the mattress.
Peter's bleary tawny eyes opened, filled with confusion. "That... was you?"
"Yeah, it was me!"
Peter rolled onto his back, digging the heels of his hands into his eyes. "Okay," he sighed. "So... we -- uhm -- slept together... oh this is lovely."
"What do you mean by lovely?" she questioned suspiciously.
That drew another sigh as he lowered his hands and turned to look at her. "I mean I had raging dreams about you last night --- and I wake up to find you in my arms. I'd forgotten that you were female, I was wondering who the woman in my dreams was. And I wake up to find you're here..."He shook his head, aware he was rambling.
"I don't want to hear it," Kayla pressed her hands over her ears. "Nothing happened, so let's just get dressed, and see what these creeps have in store for us. Maybe we can find a way out now that we have some light again."
Peter nodded, and sat up. He turned to face Kayla again, and there was an odd light in his eyes, one she had never seen before --- the light of cunning intelligence. "I'm for that," he said, rummaging under the bed for the jumpsuit.
"You look - different.." she said. "Are you sure that beam didn't affect you in some way?"
He frowned. "My head seems... crowded."
"Thoughts." He sighed. "I can't make my mind turn off anymore. It used to be so easy, and now I can't make it happen."
"I never knew you could do that...turn your thoughts off, I mean. I just thought you weren't too ..." Kayla cut her words off as she realized what she was about to say.
Bright. "Mike" had always thought that Peter wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.
"Bright, you mean?" Peter smiled. "It's okay... Mike and Micky were so smart... it was just easier for me to shut my brain off and coast through life. They took care of me." He sighed again. "But now I can't do that anymore."
"In a way I'm glad. We're gonna need both of us to figure a way out of here. I don't suppose you have any brilliant ideas on the subject..."
"Actually..." Peter blushed. "I think I might."
"Spit it out, Shotgun!" Kayla ordered, then giggled a little. "Sorry. I guess Mike dies hard."
"It's okay," Peter smiled. "I like that nickname." He crossed the room and suddenly lay his hands on her shoulders, bending as if to kiss her. Then he whispered in her ear, "We're being monitored.. so act like I'm kissing you, okay?"
"Just so long as it's an act..." She allowed him to hold her close, brain shutting down as she felt Peter's rough cheek against her much softer one.
"I know that glazed look too well, sweetheart," his warm breath tickled her ear. "Snap out of it... listen to me."
"Go on..." she breathed. "What do you have in mind?"
"We act like we're totally in love... and I make a comment about wanting to photograph you. They'll have to give us a camera for that... and maybe we can see the way out in the photos. Sometimes film picks up what the eyes can't."
She nearly pulled herself out of his arms at that. "You have changed...that's brilliant!"
"I've changed?" he chuckled, hugging her for the monitors' sake. "For the better, I hope?"
"Yes," She said. Especially since my brain's not working at all right now. This stupid attraction....
Brushing her ear again like he was kissing her, he whispered, "You're female now... tempt me. Make it look good." He finally released her and announced in a normal voice, "I'm gonna hit the showers."
"Want some company?" she replied coyly, laughing at the sudden blush on Peter's cheeks. Two could play at this game.
A slow smile spread over his face. "Sure, why not?"
"Okay, first let me get a towel..." Kayla trotted toward the bathroom, only to be stopped by Peter's restraining arm around her waist, crushing her to him in a tight embrace.
"You are so beautiful..." he sighed, still in a normal tone. "Oh, I wish there was some way I could photograph you... hold you like this forever..."
Not losing her smile, Kayla gritted through her teeth "This act is getting a little too real for my comfort, Peter!" she hissed. "Cool it a little, huh?"
Peter just chuckled.
And a camera materialized on the bed.
"Talk about service!" Kayla quipped. "Picking up the camera, she held it out to Peter. "Here you go, Shotgun. " she said brightly. Then under her breath, "Where should we take the pictures?"
His smile widened involuntarily and his face lit up at the nickname -- he really did like it! Not moving his lips, he said very softly, "Living room." He stood and took her arm, guiding her gently into the living room. "Let's start here," he said normally. "You looked so cute lying on the couch... lie down." This was delivered with a wink.
"Don't push it!" she muttered through her smile. "Just take the pictures! You know I hate havin' my picture taken!"
"Shut up or I'll kiss you for real," he hissed through his grin. "Pretend you like it. Pose like you really like it, so this will look real."
"Okay, are you ready?" Kayla asked. At his affirmative nod, she stretched out on the couch - and promptly pulled the ugliest face she could manage, sending Peter into gales of laughter.
"You're still beautiful," he giggled, raising the Polaroid to his eye and snapping the first of many pictures.
An hour later, they sat on the bed, pictures spread out before them. Kayla was in most, Peter in some -- and every square inch of the living room had been photographed.
"Here," Peter whispered, jabbing his finger at one of Kayla sticking out her tongue. "Look... an outline of a door."
"Where?" she asked, leaning so that their heads nearly touched.
He turned his head and kissed her on the cheek before he traced the outline with his fingertip. "There."
Flustered by the kiss, Kayla quickly pulled away. "So we know where it's at...how do we try to open it with them watching us every minute?"
Peter leaned back against the headboard and sighed, becoming something she'd never seen him... lost in thought. At long last, he asked her in a whisper, "How good are you at playing sick?"
"Ahhh..." she replied, thinking that she knew where this was going. "I play sick, they come in here and..."
"And we jump them and get out... the only question is, what sets off the illness? It has to be something convincing... something debilitating enough so they don't expect you to be able to run.."
Wracking her brain, Kayla uttered a few choices ."Broken limb...no too easy to disprove...headache...not serious enough, they'd probably just zap us some aspirin... appendicitis..."
"You don't have an appendix," Peter reminded her.
"Oops!" she grinned. "You're right! What, then?"
"Food poisoning... no, they scan the food I bet..." He suddenly grinned from ear to ear. "Got it... but it'll test our acting to the limit and you may not go for it
"What?" came the wary question.
Peter took her in his arms and whispered into her ear, "We could pretend I injured you during our 'first time'."
"What!!!!" this time there was no question behind it.
"Like I said... it would stretch our acting skills and you may not go for it at all."
"How am I supposed to act out that?" she returned, face crimson.
He took her hand and began a slow waltz to a tune in his mind, whispering as he did so, "We slide under the covers and move around like we're undressing... and then I kneel over you and you scream like I've hurt you. Then I move swiftly like I'm dressing us, I throw off the covers and we limp toward the door."
"How I let myself get talked into these things...All right. But one wrong move, and you'll get acquainted with my knee!"
"Understood... let's make this look good." And he kissed her full on the mouth, steering her toward the bed.
Sweeping the pictures off, he pulled down the covers and slid off his shoes, lying her down and pulling the covers over them both. "Showtime," he whispered.
"Just remember what I said" she warned. "Let's get this over with."
They moved their shoulders and hips like they were pulling the jumpsuits off, and his mouth never left hers. Then he rolled on his hands and knees over her, carefully not touching her with anything but his mouth, and moved his hips forward hard. "Now," he hissed.
"AAAHHHH!!!!!" she shrieked in pain, pushing at Peter's shoulder's.
Peter pulled back, crying, "Oh my stars... oh my stars... Kay, honey, I'm so sorry... oh man..." He moved his body and pulled at hers like he was dressing, unzipping his jumpsuit and flinging back the covers. His bare chest added to the illusion. He pulled her shoes on her feet and his on his own, then he zipped the jumpsuit and gently pulled her to her feet. "We need to get you some help..."
"It's hurts, Peter," she moaned piteously. "Help me.." She bent over, feigning pain.
"Help us!" Peter screamed. "You did this to her... You made her this way, made me love her... HELP US!"
*Move to the living room... help will arrive shortly.*
"Hear that?" he cooed to Kayla. "They're gonna help... you'll be fine..." He assisted her in walking into the living room. "Good act," he whispered.
"Thanks," she replied. "I just hope this works."
A white circle was outlined on the floor. *Stand here.*
Peter moved into the circle, holding her close. The door appeared and slid open, revealing two gray aliens with huge black eyes.
*She will be taken to the infirmary,* one said with Glaxo's voice. *You will remain here.*
Kayla grabbed Peter's wrists and cried, "I won't go alone! I want Peter with me!"
A sigh of annoyance. *Very well... march.*
They were led from the cell down a corridor lined with glass. Outside the desert was plainly visible. Both recognised it --- they were indeed in New Mexico.
"Give the word when you're ready to break for it," Peter whispered.
Kayla waited till they reached the end of the hall, where it branched out into two smaller passages. As the reached the fork, she yelled "Now!"
Peter released her and whirled, knocking Glaxo into the wall and wresting the laser pistol from it. He fired, blowing a hole in the glass. "Go! Go!" he screamed.
Squeezing out of the small hole, Kayla stood outside, reaching back in for Peter. "Peter! Come on!" she yelled, "Get out here!"
Peter knocked the other alien down and grabbed her hand, squeezing out to follow her.
They began to run. Peter looked back to make sure they weren't being followed --- right when Glaxo grabbed the other one's gun and squeezed off a shot.
The laser shot right across Peter's face and he stumbled, going down to the sand.
"Peter!" Kayla screamed in horror. Reaching down, she slung one of his arms across her small but sturdy shoulders. "Come on, Shotgun...we've got to keep going!"
He nodded and leaned against her, matching her stride, letting her lead him.
He refused to tell her just yet that the world had turned black.
At long last, they reached one of the myriad cliff faces. Peter sighed as she helped him sit down. "Thanks."
"Don't thank me yet. We may be free, but I have no idea where we're at. Nothing but desert as far as I can see. " She shaded her eyes with her hand, scanning the horizon for some signs of life. "What about you?"
"Well, the sun sets in the west..." he said dully. "California is west... if we travel due west, we're bound to hit some sign of civilization eventually..." He leaned back and closed his eyes.
Kayla turned to look fully at Peter. Something in his voice wasn't right - he should be as elated as she that they had escaped.... "Peter!" she gasped, as she saw the blankly staring eyes. "What happened?"
"I'm fine," he said dully. "We need to keep moving." He scrambled to his feet, automatically reaching to make sure he didn't hit his head.
"You're not fine!" she said. Moving to stand in front of him, she deliberately waved her hand in front of his face.
Pulling him slightly forward, she reached up to gently turn his face toward the sun, frowning as she realized that the pupils didn't react to the light.
"I have to be fine," he said. "We need to keep moving,Kay." There was near-panic in his voice, but he was trying to hide it.
Kayla sighed. "I would argue with you if I didn't know you were right. We Do need to keep on moving. Are you up to it?" She, too, refused to give voice to the word "blind".
"I have to be, don't I?" he smiled slightly, holding out his hand. "Let's move."
Together they moved toward the direction they determined to be west, pacing themselves so as to not get too tired.
Hot and very dry, the desert made for lousy walking conditions. They almost didn't notice when the sand turned to asphalt under their feet.
Peter suddenly frowned. "It feels... solider. Kay, what's changed?"
"It's a road!" she informed him. "An honest-to-God, real-life road! I was afraid for a while they'd lied to us about being in New Mexico, and they'd just taken us to some foreign planet for their 'tests'!"
Peter smiled. "You wouldn't happen to see any golden arches would you? I'm starvin'."
"No such luck!" Kayla laughed hoarsely. "Not a thing but this road, and I'd kill for a glass of water."
"Well, let's keep walking... maybe we'll get lucky, who knows?" He squeezed her hand. "We don't have to worry about money, at any rate."
He unzipped his jumpsuit slightly and put his free hand into it, sliding out his wallet and smiling. "I was a boy scout --- I prepared."
"I guess that's why they booted me...I never would have thought of that!" Kayla grinned. And at least we'll have money to get you to a doctor, she thought.
Peter suddenly frowned. "I never would have either --- Before. Oh, Kay.. they really did change me! Davy and Micky won't recognise this smart version of me!"
"I think they'll adjust to that, Peter. But what are they gonna say when they see this?"she gestured at her female form. "I'll never live this down!"
His frown deepened. "Live what down, sweetheart? What are you talkin’ about?"
"This!" she repeated. "Mike Nesmith, leader of the Monkees, a girl! Micky alone will get two weeks of material out of this!"
Peter grinned. "Not to mention Davy! I'd love to be able to see the stars he'll get in his eyes..." He broke off and frowned again.
"He'd better not try to hit on..." she broke off as she noticed Peter's expression. "Why Peter, if I didn't know better I'd say you were jealous"
His mouth was set in a grim line, "I am."
"Oh..." Kayla's words stalled. Clearing her throat, she started again. "Well, unless we get back there, we'll never know. Are you ready to start again?"
"Yeah..." His fingers moved to her cheek. "I meant what I said back there... you are beautiful, Michaela."
Hands linked, they continued walking, Kayla leading Peter, each deep in their own thoughts, speaking not a word, but drawing comfort from the closeness.
Suddenly a horn blast cut into their reverie. A battered blue pickup pulled up alongside them and the hippie lady inside leaned over. "Heya! Where are you headin?"
"California," Kayla answered. "Could we possibly pay you to give us a lift to the next town or somewhere?"
"Nope!" the lady grinned. "But I'll do it for free! Next town west is Altoona... I'm headin' there to meet my sister! Hop aboard!"
"Thanks," Peter said as Kayla positioned his hands and he climbed into the truck.
"No problem. My name's Star, what're yours?"
"I'm Kayla, and this is Peter," came the answer.
Star nodded as she started up the truck. "You two got guts, I'll give ya that. This road is hard enough to walk, but him bein' blind... that's something else!"
It was the first time the word had been uttered aloud.
Peter lowered his gaze as if to the floor. He didn't speak.
"We appreciate the lift," Kayla quickly covered, putting her hand on Peter's and giving it a gentle squeeze. "It's been an interesting couple of days." Without further elaboration, she settled herself next to Peter.
"Anywhere in particular you wanna be let off at?" Star asked as she began to drive.
"McDonald's," Peter said with a grin. "We're starving."
She laughed. "McDonald's it is," she said. "Interesting outfits... you two some kind of scientists?"
Peter and Kayla managed to deflect the chatty hippie's questions for the ten miles into Altoona. When she let them off at McDonald's, both ate huge meals.
Then Peter turned his blinded eyes toward Kayla. "We need to find somewhere to stay tonight... and call the guys." Peter said, extending his wallet towards Kayla. "How much is in there? Enough for a hotel and a rental car I hope?"
"I think so," she replied. "Let's see...fifty, seventy, seventy-five...If I'd known you had this much cash I'd have hit you up for a loan, Shotgun!"
Peter stuck his tongue out at her. "I only had 80... I keep saving."
"Well, it's enough to get us a bed for the night. We can see about a car in the morning."
Peter smiled. "Lead the way, sweetheart."
Minutes later, they entered the lobby of a small Holiday Inn. "May I help you?" the man behind the desk said.
"We'd like a room please. With two beds," Kayla said pointedly, nudging Peter.
"Ah, family tiff, is it?" He produced a key. "Room 110, down the hall to your right. And that will be forty dollars for the night."
Kayla produced Peter's wallet, which she'd held on to , and pulled out two twenty-dollar bills.
"Enjoy your stay," the man said with a grin as he took the money.
Peter mumbled something about highway robbery as they entered the room. Kayla let out an unladylike snort. "Not as if we had a choice!"
Flicking on the light she looked at the room. Thoroughly pedestrian, modern hotel style. "Well?" Peter asked. "Two beds?"
"Yes, so tonight you have no excuses!" releasing Peter's arm, she headed for the bathroom. "I need a shower like nobody's business. Will you be all right for a few minutes?"
"Yeah." Peter felt his way to the bed and picked up the phone receiver. "I'm gonna call the guys.. fill them in."
"Oh, man..." Kayla stopped as she pondered this. "What are you gonna tell them?"
"The truth," Peter said, feeling for the numbers. "What choice do I have? We can't hide any of the changes... your gender, my handicap, my intelligence --- none of that can be hidden."
"I know," she sighed. "Just do me a favor, huh...don'ttell me what Micky says. I can imagine it well enough myself!"
His million-dollar smile was the last thing she saw as she closed the door behind her.
Once the door closed, and she was truly alone for the first time since waking up in the bed with Peter that morning, she began to shake. Hard.
What's happening to me? she thought frantically. This is ... I'm reacting like... Like some kind of lovesick schoolgirl! This is not right....I'm still Mike Nesmith inside!She lay her head in her hands and trembled for a moment, then stood slowly and began to undress.
A few minutes later, a knock on the bathroom door reached Kayla's ears over the sound of the shower. "Kay, it's me."
"Peter - did you say something?" Kayla was sure she'd heard his voice over the sound of the rushing water.
Then the unmistakable sound of the door opening reached her ears. "I said it's me."
Kayla pulled back the shower curtain enough to stick her head out. "Peter! What are you doing? This is hard enough without an audience!" Kayla was still getting over the shock of seeing a female body in the mirror, and the feeling of warmth when she lay eyes on Peter confused the heck out of her still.
Peter laughed, fingers skimming the sink as he searched for the toilet. Finding it, he lowered the lid and sat down. "You don't really have one.... I can't see you, remember? Long as I don't touch you, your secrets are safe," this delivered with a saucy wink.
Kayla sighed. "What do you want, Peter?" she repeated.
His expression went blank. "I just got off the phone with the guys. They don't believe me."
"Can't say I blame them," she said. "Would you believe a story like this?"
Peter smiled again, shaking his head. "The operator told them the collect call was coming from New Mexico, though. They believed that part of it, that we got spirited away to New Mexico, and only have one outfit apiece... they're cabling us half the rent money for clothes."
Kayla shut her eyes. Having to buy clothes was not something she'd thought about yet. She knew one thing, though - dresses were out of the question! "We can do that in the morning," was all she said.
Peter stood up, shaking his head. "Man, Kay... I really with I could see right now... the image of you in a miniskirt is something I'd kill to witness!"
"Save yourself the trouble and the life sentence...It's never gonna happen!"
"We'll see," Peter said, smiling as he felt his way to the door and back into the bedroom.
Kayla pulled her head back in the shower and spent the next five minutes with her head buried under the spray, as if this new body was something that would wash away with enough soap and water. Part of her was praying the new emotions would wash away as well. Finally, deciding that she was about to become waterlogged, she shut off the shower, wrapping herself in a towel.
She reached tentatively for the door, peeking out to see where Peter was, and saw him stretched out on one of the double beds, staring sightlessly at the ceiling.
Hearing the door open, he sat up. "Done?"
"Yes," she said, hoping he couldn't detect the warmth in her voice.
"Good." He stood up and held out a hand. "Show me where the towels are... I need one too."
Taking Peter's hand, she led him into the bathroom, quickly showing him the controls for the shower, and retrieving him fresh towels from the rack on the wall.
"I'll put these here on the ledge of the sink, Peter," she said, guiding his hand to the soft pile. "Think you can handle it from here?"
"We'll find out," he said, sighing. "Man alive, this blindness thing is gonna take some major getting used to..."
"Join the club," Kayla retorted.
He smiled and unzipped his jumpsuit, turning his back on her.
Five minutes into his shower, a knock sounded on the main door to the hotel room. "Is this a Mister... Turk?... Tork?.... whatever's room?"
Putting on the safety chain, Kayla pulled the door open a crack. "Tork." she corrected. "Peter Tork. And yes, this is his room. What do you want?"
"Ah," the delivery boy said. "Well then, Mrs. Tork, I'm from Acme Money orders... a Mister Jones cabled you a goodly sum of money, and we need either yours or your husband's signature before we can release it to you."
Kayla was just opening her mouth to say that she wasn't "Mrs. Tork" , then she shut it quickly. They needed that money, and this guy wasn't about to give it to someone who was not "Mrs. Tork". Grabbing the clipboard the man thrust through the crack, she took the attached pen and signed "Kayla Tork" on the line he'd indicated . Shoving the papers back through, she held out her hand for the proffered envelope. "Thank you." she said, closing the door, ignoring his outstretched hand.
"Who was that?" Peter called from the bathroom as the shower cut off.
"The money Davy cabled just got here," Kayla yelled so that Peter could hear.
"Groovy! How much?" He came from the bathroom, a towel firmly around his waist, toweling his blonde hair with one hand while the other stretched out in front of him.
Kayla watched, heart aching as she saw him groping for obstacles, moving with none of his usual bounce and energy. Shaking off the thought, she finally answered quietly, "Half the rent, just like you said. I hope Babbitt doesn't come around for a few days."
"Well if he does," Peter grinned. "I'm sure I'll think of something to get him off our backs... thinking's the one thing I seem to be able to do easy now!"
"I'm glad one of us is thinking clearly, because I'm so tired I'm about to fall asleep standing up." Kayla yawned to prove her point. "What do you say we try to get some sleep?" "
Sounds good," Peter said, shrugging into the jumpsuit. He slid back the covers and between them. "Night, Kayla. Sweet dreams, honey."
"Night, Peter." she replied, ignoring the warmth that flooded over her at the endearment. Sliding into bed, she reached over to the lamp that was perched on the night-stand between the two beds, and switched it off.
Half an hour passed, and unmistakable sounds of tossing and turning were coming from Peter's bed, punctuated by an occasional soft sigh.
Groaning, Kayla pushed her head out from under the covers. "Peter, go to sleep! We've got a long day ahead of us, and I for one don't want to go through it like a zombie!"
"I'm trying," Peter sighed. "I just can't seem to sleep!"
Softening at his forlorn tone, and realizing that she wasn't the only with a major adjustment to make, Kayla sat up, seeing Peter curled into a small ball in his bed. "Can I do something to help?"
"I don't know..." he said in that tone that she'd learned meant maybe but you might not like it.
"Out with it, Peter."
"Since I was very little, I've had a teddy bear... something to hold. I can't seem to relax without holding something..."
"Something like..." she began, before realizing what he meant. "Peter...I thought we agreed that two beds were for the best..."
"I know... and I'll try harder. I'm sorry." He turned his back to her, but she saw how one arm automatically reached for something that wasn't there... before he realised what was happening and pulled it back to his side.
Sighing, Kayla made her decision. If she wanted any sleep, there seemed to be just one way. "Peter?" she called.
"What?" he sighed.
"Get over here before I change my mind."
He sat bolt upright. "What?"
"You heard me. I need sleep, and if that's the only way I'm gonna get it, then I deal with it." Covering her face with her hands, she ignored the little voice prodding her. Sure. You're only doing this to get some sleep it said. Nothing to do with that attraction you two admit you have...
"Kay, I'm sorry," he whispered as he slid in beside her. "If there was another way I could sleep..."
Kayla let out a small squeak as she felt his arms come around her, pulling her as close as if she were his favorite teddy bear. "It's okay, Shotgun," she said in a choked voice. "Just go to sleep."
His lips brushed the part in her hair before he lay his cheek on top of her head. With a sigh, he was asleep.
The shrill jangle of the telephone jolted both sleepers into wakefulness. Peter released his hold on Kayla and rolled over, groping for the phone. "H-Hello?" he slurred.
"Call from Malibu Beach California," came the voice. "A mister Dolenz."
"Accept," Peter slurred. "Micky? Whaddaya want?"
"Peter, man..." came Micky's familiar tones. "You get the money we sent?"
"Got it," Peter sighed, absently running his fingers through Kayla's hair and touching her cheek. "Half the rent, like you said... all seventy dollars."
"I hope it's worth it man. After that story you tried to pawn off on us yesterday. I'm gonna leave it up to you to explain when we can't make the rent!"
"No story," Peter snapped. "That was the truth, Micky. We got shanghaied and altered! I'm not the same as I was and Kayla certainly isn't!"
"Sure, babe. Whatever. When are you and Mike going to be home?"
"Kayla and I will be home when we can! We're going clothes shopping and then going to try to rent a car. Barring that, we'll hitch."
"All right, then. I'm telling you, you've got some majorexplaining to do when you get here, altered or not!"
"Mick... there was one thing I didn't tell you last night... and you should know."
"You mean there's something else?"he groaned.
"I told you about Kay, I told you about my... uhm.. enhancement... I didn't tell you that I got shot in our escape... Micky, I'm blind."
"Peter, that's nothing to joke about!" Micky scolded.
"I know that. That's why I told you --- to make you see this entire thing is the truth. I don't joke about things like that!" He squeezed Kayla's hand, crossing his fingers.
"I...I don't know what to say, man..." Micky was silent for a few second. "Listen, I'm still not sure whether to believe you or not, but something obviously happened to you two. Why don't we just let it go for now, and we'll deal with it when you get here."
"Hold on..." Peter reached the receiver toward his bedmate. "Say hello, Kay."
Kayla took the phone. After a deep breath and a small prayer, she spoke into the mouthpiece, "Hello, Mick."
"Who is this?" Micky said suspiciously.
"Micky, it's me. Mike. Or Michaela, as Peter named me."
"Did Peter put you up to this?" Micky asked. "Cause if he did, it's a lousy joke!"
"It's no joke, Micky. It isme." Kayla covered the phone and looked at Peter "He doesn't believe me..."
"Oh, man." Peter put a hand over Kayla's free ear and yelled, "Ask her something only Mike would know... something even I don't know!"
"I heard that!" Micky thought for a moment. "Okay, Peter wouldn't know this. "Where do I hide my little black book so Davy won't find it?"
Peter blinked, "He has a little black book too?"
Ignoring that, Kayla laughed. "Top right hand dresser drawer, underneath your socks. You always said no sane person would ever go near there!"
Peter smiled in Kayla's direction, tucking a strand of errant black hair behind her ear.
"Oh sh...It really is you!" Micky started to laugh, only this time with a slightly strange tone. "I can't believe this...Mike a chick!"
"That's enough, Dolenz!" Kayla snapped. "You can laugh all you want later. Right now, we need to get some clothes and get back to California. If we're lucky, we can rent a car and get there in a few hours. If we have to hitch, God knows how long it'll take!"
"Right," Micky agreed, making a concerted effort to control himself. "You two be careful out there."
"Yeah," Kayla sighed. "We've got enough troubles." Hanging up the phone, she turned to face Peter. "I think we've almost convinced him."
"Hope so..." Peter keeled back onto the pillow. "A few hours... oh dear... I just remembered something."
"What ?" she said, concerned.
"We'll have to spend at least one more night on the road... there's an entire state between us and California... Arizona!"
"Yeah, but if we drive straight through...." Kayla stopped.
"And how are we gonna do that when you are the only one who can see the road?"
"I'm sorry, Peter. I just forgot for a minute..."
He reached for her and pulled her close again, inhaling the fragrance of the hotel shampoo that clung to her hair. "It's okay... you're forgiven."
Kayla sighed as they lay together in silence. Suddenly she stiffened as she realized -- again -- what was happening. Not only was the body she inhabited female, it seemed that the mind was female, too. Why else would it seem so natural to lay here like this with Peter?
"What's the matter, honey?" he whispered. "You... tensed up."
"I'm so confused, Peter!" She stared at the ceiling, unwilling for the moment to look at him. "What are we doing?"
"I'm holding..... ohmystars..." He let her go and rolled to the far side of the bed, useless eyes closing.
"Yeah. Kind of blows your mind, huh?"
"It feels.. .. right."Peter sat up. "It's like you ... belong in my arms..."
"I know. " Kayla heaved a deep sigh. "Could they have changed the way I think and feel, along with my body..."
"Kay..." Peter began, but he was interrupted by the ringing phone. Fumbling for the cradle, he barked, "What?" Then he went ash pale as he listened, and then stammered, "Th...Thanks... okay... b-b-bye." He hung up awkwardly and began to shake.
"Peter..what's wrong?" Kayla sat up, scooting across the bed to sit beside him. "Who was that?"
"Did you say Glaxo?"
His blind eyes huge, he nodded.
"What did he...it...say? You're white as a ghost."
"The... relationships experiment they captured us for... has been scrubbed.... they're being recalled back to their homeworld... they said we'll never see them again... and that they hoped we enjoyed how they..." he snorted. "How they 'improved' our lives."
"Improved?" Kayla shouted. "Why that..." she sputtered to a stop, too angry to even speak.
The ground suddenly shook, and through the window Kayla saw a silver ball rise up and shoot into the sky.
"What was that?" Peter screamed. "An earthquake?"
"If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes..." Kayla ran to the window.
"What?" Peter screeched, reaching for where her body heat had been.
"Some sort of...ship...just lifted off and headed straight up..."
"Glaxo..." Peter's voice had dropped to a whisper. "That means I'm stuck smart... blind... and you're stuck... like that...."
"No!" Kayla shrieked, clawing at the glass. "Come back here! You can't leave us like this!"
The ship continued to climb, and within seconds it was out of sight.
"It's gone," Kayla said dully, knees collapsing. She sank to the floor, curling in on herself. "Oh G-d, it's gone..."
Peter followed the sound of her voice, kneeling behind her and wrapping his arms around her. "Oh... Kayla... honey, I'm sorry..."
She refused to answer for a moment, too lost in her own torment to respond to the care in his voice. Finally, after a long silence, she lifted her head. "What do we do now?" she moaned, tears beginning to form in her eyes.
Hearing them in her voice, Peter straightened out his legs and without a word, pulled the smaller woman into his lap, holding her close and stroking her hair, punctuating the motion with small kisses on the top of her head.
Kayla sat in Peter's lap, shivering. "I'm never going to be Mike again! I'm gonna have to live the rest of my life like this!" she cried, with a disdainful swipe at her body. "Why?"
"I don't know," Peter said softly. "All I know is that I will be at your side, Michaela... forever if I have to be... you will not face this alone."
Kayla stopped, stunned by his sincere words. That was so like Peter, she thought. A person couldn't ask for a better friend, or a more caring ally. Shame washed over her as she remembered what had happened to him. "Oh, Peter. You must think I'm selfish, going on like this..."
He lay a finger on her lips, stopping her. "I think you're human," he said. "You're hurting..." He froze, an unreadable expression coming over his face. Then he leaned forward, replacing his finger with his lips, kissing her softly.
Kayla stiffened at first, then let herself be pulled into the kiss. She might have been Mike, have Mike's memories and history, but now she was Kayla, and Kayla wanted this kiss.
Peter deepened the kiss after a moment, parting his lips and moving them along hers, pulling her deeper into it.
Finally, Kayla broke off the kiss, gasping for breath. "I can't believe we did that," she murmured.
"I can't either," he gasped, running a gentle fingertip along her cheek. "I think I'm in love with you, Michaela."
"Whoa!" Kayla pulled away, looking into his sightless eyes. "Love? Peter, I know we've been thrown together but..."
"But what?" he asked. "After the shot, just before my eyes stopped working, I saw you. Your face is imprinted on my mind and heart --- it was the last thing I clearly saw. Your voice is music to my ears, your touch electrifying to my heart. If that's not love, Kay... what is it?"
"Propinquity!" she replied. "We've been through a lot these past couple of days, thrown together into trying circumstances, with only each other to rely on. It's only natural that we might develop...feelings for one another. It doesn't mean that it's real love...or that it will last once we get back home."
Peter nodded slowly. "Makes sense... but in the meantime?"
"In the meantime, we do our best to keep things on an even keel. We don't have to ignore each other, but it's probably better if we don't try that again," she said, referring to the kiss. "Things are just too confused right now, without adding that into the mix."
Peter stood up slowly. "I'll.. try. But I love you, Kay. I know that in my heart of hearts."
You're not the only one, Shotgun, she thought. "Peter," Kayla said softly. "I know you think that now, but you don't know how you'll feel when we're home. Think about it, Peter. You and me, the Pad, Davy...Micky. Things are going to be awfully strange. I just want you to realize that this could all change...."
"I realise that," he said, finding her cheek and caressing it again. "But I also know they'll adjust. And I know that for this moment -- which is all we truly can say we have -- I love you."
Kayla let that sink in. Peter, her friend, sometimes confidant, bandmate... If that wasn't a solid basis for her feelings... Throwing caution to the wind, she straightened her shoulders. "I love you, too," she returned softly.
He clearly had not expected that answer. His blind eyes widened, and his mouth worked but no sound came out. "You... you do?" he whispered after a moment.
"Yeah." Kayla shook her head. "Maybe you're right. Now is all we've got. It doesn't look like we're going to be changed back, and you're the only other person I know who can understand what I'm feeling." Looking at his face, she had to chuckle. "I've shocked you. Not used to 'Mike' talking like that, are you?"
He smiled, shaking his head. "So... where do we go from here, Kay?"
Standing up, she grabbed his hand, pulling him to his feet. Looking at their rumpled jumpsuits, she gave a tiny shrug. "Shopping," she said, hoping to lighten the mood. Some things hadn't changed, and baring her soul was as difficult for Kayla as it was for Mike. "We look like hell."
He threw back his head and laughed. Then he caressed her cheek again... he liked doing that a lot. "I still can't shake the image of you in a miniskirt."
"Dream on!" she laughed. "I will not wear a dress, I don't care what your fantasies are!"
An hour later, the salesman led Peter from the dressing room. "Well?" Peter asked, turning in a slow circle. He wore blue jeans, belt left of center as always, and a light blue plaid shirt. On his feet were a pair of black boots.
"You look fine," Kayla assured him.
His million-dollar smile shone out, and he said, "I've got another pair of jeans just like this, and a red shirt... and some clean unmentionables. What did you get?"
"Pretty much the same," she said, turning red as she recalled shopping for her "unmentionables." She'd never known there was such a variety...
"Jeans?" Peter asked, frowning slightly. "And what kind and colour of shirts?"
Kayla sighed in irritation. "Just shirts. Plain shirts. One white, one green. No miniskirts," she teased. "And boots," she added, laughing at Peter's frustrated look. "What's the matter - don't care for my new wardrobe?"
"No that's not it... just kinda wanted to see you -- so to speak -- in a miniskirt... a red miniskirt." His grin spread as he winked mischievously.
"The miniskirts are two aisles over..." the salesman began.
"No thank you," Kayla interrupted. "We'll stick with these." She lowered her voice. "Nice try, Shotgun."
"I thought so," he said, taking hold of her arm as she guided them toward the checkout counter.
After a few moments, they departed the store $40 poorer. "Now, to see about a car." Kayla pulled at the stiff collar of the new shirt. "I asked the desk clerk at the hotel, and he said there was a place up here." At that moment, they turned at the corner. "There it is. I hope we've got enough money left for this."
Peter did some quick mental subtraction. "We've got sixty, right?"
"Uh-huh" she said, concentrating on getting them across the street in one piece. "Sounds right."
"Well, 30 for the car... and they'll charge us per mileage at the end of the ride... plus tax..." More mental arithmetic. "Should cost 35 now. That'll leave us 25 for meals and gas."
"Here we are," Kayla announced. She paused to pull open the heavy glass door, and led Peter inside.
Twenty minutes later, they pulled out of the parking lot in their new rented car. Peter had been right -- 35 dollars on the nose.
Peter laughed. "Kayla Tork?" he giggled. "Why in the world..."
"It's just easier this way," she said, reaching out to lightly slap his arm. "Stop laughing! That kid wouldn't give me the money if I'd told him I wasn't your wife! And I'm not going to explain our situation to everyone we run across!"
"So you're gonna pose as my... as my..." He held his stomach and went off in another paroxysm of giggles.
Kayla gave into giggles herself then. Peter's laugh was always contagious, and it was funny. "Why did Davy have to send the money in your name?" she asked. "He could have used mine."
"That's one of the things we'll have to ask him when we get home," Peter said, wiping his eyes. He sighed. "One thing I forgot.... I hate the desert in the afternoon --- it gets hot!" He rolled up his sleeves and forgetting the gender of the person beside him, unbuttoned a couple of buttons on his shirt to provide some ventilation.
"Hm?" His eyes had closed and he was drifting with the heat.
"What are you doing?"
"I mean, are you gonna undo any more buttons, or are you drawing the line there?" Kayla asked sarcastically.
Peter's eyes flew wide open and he sat up as much as the seat belt would permit. "Oh... Kay, I'm sorry..." his fingers reached to re-button the two he'd undone.
"Don't, Peter." Kayla stopped him. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be so grouchy. I guess I'm just jealous. I never realized that I would miss being able to go shirtless in the heat!"
He grinned and looked like he was ready to let fly one of those innuendo-laden cracks that had become routine since their alterations, but he pressed his lips together and shook his head instead, leaning his head against the back of the seat and looking for all the world like he was watching the scenery go by. A hand snaked over and rested lightly on her knee and he asked, "Wake me up when we get into Arizona, will you please?"
"Sure." Kayla thought about protesting that he'd had enough sleep last night, but stopped herself. It must be terribly boring for him to just sit there while she drove, unable to even see where they were going.
Reaching over, she clicked on the radio, hoping to find a station interesting enough to keep her awake on this deserted road. However, none of the music stations were to her taste and she gave up, turning the radio off and resigning herself to a long, dull trip.
Peter suddenly sat up. "Hey, I just thought of something."
Kayla looked at him briefly. "What?"
"Give me your hand for a second," he said, tugging at his right pinkie.
Puzzled, she held out her right hand. When her fingers brushed his, he turned her palm up and lay the plain gold band that had adorned his pinkie in her hand. "See if that fits your left ring finger. If you're gonna pretend to be my wife, people will bust us instantly when they see you ringless."
"Oh." Grimacing, Kayla glanced at the ring. Since she'd known Peter, or rather, since Mike had known Peter, it had never left his finger. She'd always meant to ask if it had some sort of special meaning to him.
"Peter, I can't take your ring. Can't we just pick up something cheap somewhere?"
"All the money we have needs to go for food and gas, and you know it. I want you to wear that... it was my mom's wedding ring."
Silently, Kayla slid the ring onto the third finger of her left hand. "Well, what do you know..."
"It fits, doesn't it?"
"Like it was made for me," she reluctantly admitted. This whole charade was starting to become very real all of a sudden.
And from the smile that froze suddenly on his face, she could tell it hit home for him as well. He stammered something about being glad, and then sighed. "Any sign of a restaurant around?"
"Looks like something up ahead," Kayla replied, glad to be off the subject of the ring for a while. "It's just a small place, but it seems okay."
"Long as it's food, I don't think I'll mind," Peter said with a smile.
Kayla pulled up in front of the restaurant. Putting the car in park and shutting off the engine, she got out and walked to the passenger side, commandeering Peter's arm as he stood and shut the door.
Going in the front door of "Kate's Kitchen," they were greeted by the mouthwatering smell of home-cooked food. "If it tastes half as good as it smells, this is going to be great!" Kayla exclaimed, as she let them to a secluded booth.
Kate herself was the one who came to their table. "Strangers, huh?" she asked with a smile. "Few and far-between this far outta town. Honeymooners?" she asked, tapping Kayla's ring with her pencil.
"Uhhh..." Kayla stuttered.
"Yes," Peter said, claiming her hand. "We're on our way to California... would you be so kind as to tell us where we are?"
Kate smiled. "Ten miles from the Arizona border. From there, if you get on Highway 8, you should be in California by dark. Eight is a fast road."
"Can't be fast enough for me!" Kayla said under her breath. Then to Kate, "Could we have a menu, please?"
"Two menus, comin' up." She looked closer at Peter... "Sheesh... sorry. I'll bring you a menu, ma'am."
She hurried off before Peter could assure her it was okay. But hurt flickered on his expressive face.
Kayla reached across the table to grasp the hand lying idle on the tabletop. "Peter, she didn't mean anything by it."
"I know, honey.... it just bothers me the way people's attitudes shift when they realise I'm blind."
Kayla couldn't begin to imagine what this must be like for Peter. Yes, she had been changed, but only she and Peter knew that. Everyone could tell that Peter could no longer see, and he had to deal not only with the loss of his sight, but with other's - stranger's - reactions to it. "I don't know what to tell you. You can't make people not react to your blindness."
"Hold me, honey," he whispered. "Hug me, call me by my nickname, tell me things will be okay..." His hands had begun to tremble, as had his lower lip.
Acting on pure instinct, Kayla quickly shifted to the other side of the booth, scooting in next to Peter, placing an arm around his shoulders. "It's gonna be okay, Shotgun," she whispered in his ear. "I'm here."
At the name, Peter's eyes had closed and his shoulders had visibly relaxed. Somehow, the term of frustration Mike had used often had become transformed into a special nickname used only for Peter. And it never failed to relax him or put him in better humour. "Thanks, honey," he whispered, hugging her and kissing her lips quickly. "I believe it now."
"And don't forget it," she returned in a firm voice. "We're in this together." Removing her arm, she reached her hand down to clasp his. "Better, now?" she asked.
"With you by my side, I can conquer the world," he teased, winking at her.
"We don't need to conquer the world," she teased. "Just Highway 8!"
An hour later, full stomachs and $4 poorer, the couple were back on the road. Peter suddenly tilted his head. "I hear traffic," he said softly.
"Good ears," Kayla responded. "We must be gettin closer to civilization, cause traffic is picking up. There's a sign up here..." Kayla hesitated . "Welcome to Arizona...Peter! We made the border!"
Peter flung both fists into the air and whooped for joy.
At the truck stop where they'd parked the car, Peter surrendered the dime he had taped to his leg so Kayla could call the Pad.
"Monkees Pad, Jones 'ere," came the answer.
"Davy!" Kayla's smile grew. "It's good to hear your voice!"
Silence for a second. Then, "I'm afraid ye 'ave me at a disadvantage, Miss... uhm..."
"Kay...oh, man. Didn't Micky and Peter tell you? I'm Kayla."
"Kay..." He paused again. "Ye... Ye mean it's true?"
"It's true," she answered simply, waiting for his reaction.
"....deah Lord..." and she had the feeling it was more of a prayer than anything.
"Snap out of it Davy!" she ordered. "This is bad enough without you freaking out, too!"
Silence. Then, "Wheah ah ye two?"
Kayla breathed a sigh of relief at his question. At least he'd pulled himself together! "Arizona. Somewhere outside Phoenix."
He was quiet again, but she could hear a slight rustling in the background. "West or East of Phoenix? And along Highway Eight?"
"Highway Eight," Kayla confirmed. "West of the city. What are you, my travel agent?"
"No," he laughed. "Do me a favah... look around an' tell me if ye see Casey's Truck Stop, will ya please?"
Kayla's eyes widened in surprise. "We're right in front of it!"
Davy laughed. "We're five hours from ye then. You two get a good night's sleep. We'll see ya in th' morning."
"If it's only five hours, I'm tempted to drive straight through," Kayla mused.
"You stay put!" Davy roared. "That way we'll find ye easier!"
Kayla held the phone away from her ear. Gingerly putting it back, she replied "Yes, Sir, Sir! Orders received!"
Davy laughed. Then his voice took on a somber tone. "Petah... is 'e really... I mean 'e can't..."
"No, he can't." Kayla looked at Peter. "But we're doing the best we know how..."
"That's good. I'm gonna go now.. we'll be there around nine or ten."
"See you then." Hanging up the phone, Kayla announced "Davy says to stay put, and that they'll be here in the morning."
Peter's eyebrow rose. "They're coming here?"
"That's what he said," Kayla took his arm, leading him away from the phone. "I said I would drive straight through, but he wouldn't hear of it."
"Smart guy," Peter said. "You've driven all day. You're tired... I can hear it in your voice. Let's get back in the car and let you get some sleep."
"Is this your sneaky way of trying to get me in the back seat?"
"No," he said. "In the front... curled up in my arms."
Kayla looked at his face, expecting to see a grin. It threw her we she saw that he was completely serious. "Isn't it going to get awfully crowded with both of us in the front?" she hedged.
"I'll pull the seats back all the way," he said, as his hand touched the smooth metal of the rental car's hood.
"Oh, that's good!" she quipped. "Lots more room that way!"
Kayla opened her eyes the next morning, and smiled without looking around. She was lying on something warm and soft, throbbing under her cheek and palm....
It moved, and Kayla jerked upright, startled to realise that she had been sleeping on Peter's bare chest. Where is his SHIRT? she thought wildly, then clutched at the covers threatening to fall from her shoulders.
It was then she realised they were in the car, and the 'covers' was Peter's shirt! Sometime in the night, he'd removed it and draped it over both of them to give them some protection from the desert's nighttime chill. "Peter!" she said urgently. "Wake up!"
He stirred and raised a hand ineffectually. "What's wrong?" he mumbled.
"It's morning." Not getting much of a response, she tried again, this time giving him a little shake. "Peter!"
He sat up. "I'm up." He ran a hand along his bare arms. "You got cold... Covered you up..."
"Um...thanks" she mumbled, shoving out of his arms. Catching his shirt as it fell, she handed it back to him. "You'd better put this back on..."
He nodded and slid it on, feeling for the buttons one at a time. When it was half-buttoned from the bottom, he suddenly paused, tilting his head and frowning.
"I thought I heard..." His face brightened. "I did! I'd know that engine anywhere!"
Kayla heard it too, now. Looking in the rear-view mirror, she spied the familiar red figure of the Monkeemobile. "It's them!"
The GTO pulled up alongside their car, the only car in the truck stop, and Davy got out.
Kayla got out and helped guide Peter out --- and Davy whistled. "Man!" he cried. "Ye turned out gorgeous!"
Kayla turned beet red. "Davy!" she protested. "Stop it! I'm not one of your girls!"
Davy's eyes went huge as he focused his eyes on Peter's arm. "I'd say not. Ye two didn't waste any time, didja?"
"What do you mean by that?" Kayla asked, voice dangerously low.
Davy raised his left hand and tapped the ring finger.
"Oh, that. Listen," Kayla explained. "It's not for real. We just needed to look married..." seeing Davy's disbelieving expression, she gave an exasperated sigh. "It's a long story, all right. We are not married!"
"She's right," Peter said, smiling. "We're not. But an unmarried man and woman traveling cross-country raised so many eyebrows... well, we just got tired of explaining."
Davy fixed them with a look that said he was not buying this. "She turns into a gorgeous woman and ye get brains and ye don't pounce 'er first chance ye get? Ye don't marry 'er off the bat? Petah, you're still a little off."
"Maybe he just has a few more scruples when it comes to women, Jones!" Kayla growled. "Pounce - is that what you call it?"
"Uh-huh... then tell me why 'is shirt's 'alf-undone? An' why ye're beet-red and clingin' t'im?"
Peter's fingers went back to work, buttoning the shirt as his face flamed as well.
"Never mind!" Kayla pulled away from Peter, putting a few inches between them. "Are we goin home or standing here all day?"
Davy nodded toward the car. "Let's go 'ome."
Davy drove the Monkeemobile to the first rest stop -- a McDonald's just inside San Diego. He turned off the car and looked in the rear view mirror, and his mouth twisted.
Micky was stirring in the middle seat. Peter and Kayla were in the main back, not speaking -- holding hands. Davy chucked the keys at Micky, hitting him in the stomach.
"Wha..." Micky sputtered, looking blearily at Davy.
"Wake up," Davy cracked.
Peter jerked in the seat. "What was that sound?" he gasped, alerting the sleepy drummer to their presence.
"Peter!" Sitting up quickly, Micky looked at the back seat. As he caught sight of the pair, fingers intertwined, his mouth dropped open.
Peter smiled, his unfocused eyes staring seemingly right at Micky. "Hi, Mick."
Micky shook is head in disbelief. "You must be...ahh...ahh..."
"Kayla," she supplied. "Close your mouth, Micky. You're gonna catch flies!"
Micky gulped, then looked down at their hands. "You've really..."
"Yes, Micky," Peter said. "She has really been transformed. I have really been made smarter. I have really lost my sight. Still think it was a story?"
"More like a bad dream!" Micky replied. "How did this happen?"
"I told you over the phone. Aliens tried to use us as guinea pigs, but we fought back and escaped."
"I never thought I would say this...but I guess I have to believe you, now that I've seen you..."
"Welcome to my world, Dolenz!" Kayla said. "You think it's hard for you, try living it!"
Davy sighed. "I dunno which'll be 'ardah t'get used to... ye bein' a chick, or the changes in him!"
Peter sighed and closed his eyes, slumping slightly in the seat. "See, honey?" he said. "I told you attitudes shift once people find out I'm blind..."
Davy's eyes flew wide open. "Honey?"
"Cripes!" Kayla muttered. Just what she needed. "Don't worry Peter. Davy will get used to your not being able to see. We all will...eventually."
Peter smiled slightly and gave her a very quick hug.
Micky looked at Peter strangely. "I'd almost forgotten that you were..." he broke off, not wanting to voice the word.
"Blind," Peter said. "It's okay... it's not a dirty word."
Davy sighed. "Let's go eat... and what is the deal with you two?" he blurted .
"No deal," Kayla insisted.
"Right," Davy sighed. "That's why you've 'eld 'ands since gettin' in th' cah."
Kayla looked down. She never even realized when it had happened, or who had made the first move, but the evidence was clear - Peter's hand held her now much smaller one firmly.
Peter squeezed her hand and released her, opening the door and stepping out, closing it behind him and standing there, a hand slightly extended to his side.
Kayla quickly scrambled out the opposite door, immediately rounding the back of the Monkeemobile to take Peter's arm, earning her yet more knowing looks from Davy.
Davy then blinked. "Whoa," he said, beginning to smile slightly. "Ey, ye're only three inches tallah than me! Four inches shortah than Petah!"
Peter smiled. "Yes, she is. They cut eight inches off her height."
"Good thing they did," Kayla grinned. "Imagine me as a woman at six foot two!"
"You turned out just right," Peter said, squeezing her hand with his free one. "I think you're the perfect size."
Davy's eyes swiveled to face Micky, shooting an amazed question with his eyes. "What is going on 'ere?"
Micky merely shrugged, his glib tongue failing him for once. "I don't know, man, but it's weird!"
Davy nodded, agreeing completely. Dropping his voice, he whispered, "It's almost like she is a woman... through and through... and in love... with Petah!"
Micky studied the altered pair. Even though they were not speaking, their body language said volumes. They stood shoulders touching, slightly turned toward another, heads tilted in as if in silent conversation. "I'm getting a bad feeling, you're right, Davy. Look at them!"
"An' 'e called 'er 'oney...an' that looks suspiciously like a real weddin' ring on 'er 'and..."
"Do you think they....Nah! They wouldn't have done that. Would they?"
Peter's right hand lowered, and Micky flinched involuntarily, waiting for the light to flash off the ring he wore on his pinkie and strike Micky in the eyes... but there was no flash. "Davy!" Micky hissed. "Peter's ring...it's gone!"
"Is mothah's weddin' band? 'E always wears that!"
Micky stole a quick glance at Kayla's left hand, then nudged Davy. "Not anymore!"
"What d'ye..." Micky nodded his head, and Davy's eyes followed. "Cripes... 'e gave it t'her!" Davy looked at Micky, chills running down his spine. "Oh man... we were right..."
Peter leaned his head down and whispered in Kayla's ear, "We're the topic of conversation."
Kayla gave a very Mike-like growl. "What do we do with them? They're gonna drive us crazy, you know that."
"We need to talk, guys," Peter said aloud as Kayla led him to a table. He told her what he wanted, and she nodded, scooting to the line while Davy sat down and Micky followed Kayla to the line.
Minutes later, the pair returned with food for all, and Micky asked, "What do we need to talk about?"
"Us," Peter said succinctly. Of its own accord, his hand went back to Kayla's. Micky sighed.
"Go ahead," he finally replied, still not sure if he was ready for this.
"Tell us what's bothering you," Peter said calmly.
"What's bothering us?" Micky screeched. A few scalding looks from other customers caused him to lower his voice. "You two disappear, then you show up like....like...this!" he said, waving his hand at them "And to top it all off, you two look suspiciously like a couple! What could possibly be bothering us?"
"We are not a couple!" Peter and Kayla chorused.
Micky raised his eyebrows. "Sure looks like it to us!" was his comment.
"What?" Peter snapped with an unPeterish scowl. "She has to touch me, to guide me! I can't see, dang it!" "
All the time?" Micky countered. "Even when you're in the car?"
Peter tilted his head toward Kayla. "We weren't aware that was happening," he said with a note of anger in his voice.
"My point exactly!" Micky crowed. "You were touching without even being aware of it. What do you suppose that means?"
Peter couldn't answer. He squeezed Kayla's hand under the table, silently asking for help.
"Davy," she snapped, "This is hard enough for us without you two handlin' this badly!"
"What do you mean?" Davy snapped. "I think under the circumstances, we're handlin' this very well!"
Kayla pushed the burger away. "I don't know about you, Pete, but I've suddenly lost my appetite."
Peter sighed. "Fellas.... can we just go home?"
When the four walked into the Pad, Peter said suddenly, "Get me to the bandstand."
"Are you sure?" Kayla asked. "Maybe you should —"
"Michaela, get me to the bandstand." His voice was full of fire.
Licking her lips, Kayla led him to the bandstand and sat him down.
He reached, finding his bass and slipping it on. He played a few minutes, smiling in relief at the fact that blindness had had little to no effect on his skills.
Kayla walked to the other side of the riser, picking up the twelve-string. She was surprised at the weight and size of the instrument. Strapping it on, she reached her left hand up toward the neck, then froze as she saw another result of the change.
Her hands were much smaller now, and not nearly as strong. Fingering the chords would be much more difficult. Still, she gave it a good try, wincing at the less than melodic results.
Peter sat up. "Oh no..."
Davy walked over. "Kayla..." he winced as he heard the name come from his throat. "We can do like you guys did for me... have Mister Carson at the instrument shop cut it down to 3/4 size so you can play it easily..."
"I guess so..." she stopped, heartbroken at the though of that drastic a solution. "It'll never be the same.." she mourned, stroking the smooth finish lovingly.
"Neither will we," Peter said softly, reaching blindly for her hand --- again. "Thanks to Glaxo."
"Yes," she said softly. "I guess when you put it that way, the guitar doesn't seem so important."
Peter smiled in her direction then sighed, unslinging his bass and standing up. "What time is it? It feels late."
Micky looked at his watch, grimacing when he saw that he'd forgotten to wind it that morning. "Davy, you got the time?"
"Ten," Davy said, checking his watch. "We've been on the road nearly sixteen hours."
Micky set his watch, then stifled a yawn. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm beat. I'm going to bed."
"Old on," Davy cried. "Where's Kayla gonna sleep?"
Kayla stood stock still. Where would she sleep? The last few nights she and Peter hadn't had much of a choice, but now... "Maybe I'll just sleep on the couch..." she began.
"We can't let you do that," Davy said. "Ye're a gi'l! Micky, you sleep on the ---"
"No," Peter said. "She's right. Micky down here would keep us both awake snoring. Kay doesn't snore... let her have the couch till we can figure something else out."
Micky laughed at that. "And just how do you know she doesn't snore, huh?"
Peter and Kayla both flamed red and looked at the floor.
Davy's jaw dropped. "Ye slept t'gethah?"
"Slept being the operative word, Davy!" Kayla stressed. "Don't put us on your level!"
Peter sighed. "There was only one bed in the cell. We had to share it. Then when we got out, we could only afford one hotel room. Last night we slept in the car."
"Leave them alone, Davy, or you'll wind up on the couch." Micky said through another yawn. "You guys figure this out - I'm going to bed!"
Minutes later, Davy emerged from the bedroom in his pajamas to leave Peter alone while he changed. Kayla came out of the bathroom in her new nightgown, and Davy's jaw slammed to the ground. "K...Kayla?"
Kayla's head shot up, eyes widening as she saw Davy. "Davy," she stuttered, wrapping her arms about her. "What are you doing out here?"
"Gettin' a drink an' leavin' Petah t'change... Does 'e know yer gown is... that... style? Was tha' all the store 'ad?"
"Do you think I would choose this for any other reason?" She gestured in disgust at the soft material. "All I wanted was a nice, comfortable pair of pajamas, but do you think they had them? Of course not. So now I'm stuck in...in...this!" she finished, walking toward the couch.
"In what?" Peter asked from the doorway.
And Kayla listened in horror as Davy described her gown to Peter. "It's cut to 'er knees... lace trimmed... powdah blue... little low cut in front an' back, spaghetti straps..."
Peter grinned. "Kayla in a skirt?Even if it's a nightgown?"
"Don't listen to him, Peter!" Kayla said with a laugh. "It's ugly plaid flannel, down to the floor - and I'm wearing wool socks, to boot!"
Peter moved so that his fingers grazed the back of the couch... then shot his hand down, stroking her back before she could protest. "Kayla.." he whispered. "This is silk!"
Kayla quickly moved out of his reach. "So it is. What do you know?" she said weakly.
Peter smiled slightly. "Davy, would you leave us alone awhile please?"
"Sure, man," Davy said, walking to the bedroom and disappearing inside.
Peter guided himself to the front of the couch and sank onto it. "Kayla, why'd you lie to me? The picture of you in my head is beautiful... why'd you try to damage it?"
"I don't know, Peter." Kayla hung her head. "Maybe it's all just going too fast for me..."
"It is going awfully fast," Peter sighed. "I mean all of a sudden, BLAM! I love you! When not a week ago, you weren't even female. I'm starting to wonder if Glaxo and company didn't alter us more than what's readily apparent."
"You mean that they might have changed our feelings, too?" Kayla asked in horror.
"Think about it," Peter shifted position and ticked them off on his fingers. "They claim to have 'improved' us. You have adjusted to being female incredibly fast. They force us to share a bed, then when we're alone, we are still forced to share a bed. Last night, I had no trouble sleeping... but you were in my arms all night. You fit perfectly in them, your size and shape are perfectly matched to mine when we lay there. We've kissed each other several times, we can't seem to quit holding hands, and the sound of our nicknames relaxes us instantly." He lowered his hands and sighed. "What does that add up to, Honey?"
Kayla sighed as a feeling of security washed over her at the name, underscoring Peter's words. "It feels like it's all part of a plan. Like we're still acting out their experiments..."
"Like we've been... somehow conditioned to act and respond this way," Peter whispered, horror filling his heart.
"That makes as much sense as anything that's happened so far," she observed. "I mean, we were friends before, Peter, but what other reason could there be for this powerful attraction?"
He sighed. "Let's head on to bed, Kay." He felt for her mouth and kissed her. Then he pulled back and said, "Apart. We'll see for certain if we've been conditioned, okay?"
Kayla nodded. "I think we'd better," she replied. "And I really don't want to give those two any more ammunition than necessary!"
"Me either." Peter found the sheet edge and pulled it back. "Milady," he teased.
"Thank you kindly, sir," Kayla answered, slipping into the makeshift bed.
Peter gently drew the covers to her neck and leaned down, kissing her softly on the lips. "Pleasant dreams, Honey. I love you."
"G'night, Shotgun." Kayla snuggled into the soft cushions. "Think you'll be able to sleep...?"
"Got my teddy bear in there... I should be.'' Dropping his voice to a whisper, he repeated, "I love you, Kay."
Kayla opened her eyes to see Peter waiting expectantly. Knowing what he was waiting for, she smiled softly and whispered, "Love you, too."
Peter's million-dollar smile split his face as he stepped confidently forward --- crashing into the coffee table as he did so.
The sound brought Davy running and Kayla shooting to a sitting position. "What 'appened?" Davy cried, bursting out of the bedroom.
Peter was rubbing his shin and half-sobbing. "I... I ran into something..."
"It was the coffee table," Kayla supplied as Davy walked to Peter's side and crouched next to him.
"Did you break anything?" he asked, half-jokingly.
"Does pride count?" Peter cracked. "Get me to the bedroom, please. I'm ready to go to sleep."
"Sure, mate." Davy pulled him to his feet, and helped Peter limp to the bedroom door.
An hour passed. Peter turned one way and the other, clutching his teddy bear close. It wasn't helping. He was exhausted, but he just could not seem to keep his eyes closed!
Kayla woke with a start, alerted by the sound of creaking bedsprings. Peter... The name sprang unbidden to her mind. Getting up off the couch, she walked to the bedroom and opened the door.
Davy was dead to the world, as usual, but Peter was tossing and turning, covers in a complete tangle. "Peter," she whispered, trying not to wake Davy.
"It's not working," Peter whispered. "I can't sleep..." He sounded about to cry.
"Peter, you've got to try! We can't sleep together here!"
"I'm trying.... Oh my stars, I've been trying so hard.. I've even tried not to try..." he moaned into his pillow. "Blast it, we have been conditioned...."
Kayla thought about that, and it struck her that this "programming" was working both ways. Peter hadn't been making that much noise, but she'd heard him clearly. “Peter," she began shakily. "I think you're right..."
His eyes squeezed shut, and a tear slid soundlessly from each corner of each one. Without a sound, he turned on his side and moved till his back touched the wall.
Kayla pondered the unspoken invitation. Did she have a choice? It appeared that Peter couldn't sleep without her, and she couldn't sleep when he couldn't...
Peter's eyes opened and he whispered, "I'm sorry."
Kayla stopped fighting. She didn't know if it was programming, or something else, but the urge to go to Peter was too much to resist.
Tiptoeing into the room, she slid into the bed, her back to him. His arm slid around her waist, pulling her close. And it struck them both that a feeling of... completeness ... washed over them.
"Davy's gonna roar," Peter whispered.
"Let him," Kayla replied, more than half-asleep.
Peter kissed the top of her head, and snuggled close. Soon he was asleep as well.
Continue to Part Two