Set in the Trauma Series Universe; with special thanks to Madame. Ruth created by Michelle Resene, many thanks to her as well.
Davy sat straight up in bed, gasping, trying to will his pounding heart back into submission. A fine sheen of sweat covered his body and he trembled all over.
Another nightmare. Another horrifying dream of waking up in a silent world.
The others had nightmares too, Davy knew --- once, maybe twice a week. What had happened to each of them in what they'd come to call the Year of Hell had had lasting effects on all of them. Effects such as behavioral changes, not taking things for granted ---
And occasional nightmares.
Davy swung out of bed and padded barefoot across the living room. He sat on the windowseat and gazed out over the darkened beach, watching the play of the waves.
The others had nightmares, too -- but Davy was the only one who had them every night. Now I think I know how Peter felt when he thought he was Mike, Davy thought. It hurts when nightmares disrupt your sleep every bloody night!
He leaned his head against the coolness of the windowpane, closed his eyes --- and just listened. While his hearing was normal -- nowhere near the incredibly sensitive ears Mike had possessed for seven and a half months -- there were certain night sounds that Davy could make out quite plainly.
The whoosh of water through the ancient heater. The gurgle of the new icemaker. The occasional sighs and groans of an old house settling. He even imagined he could hear Micky's snoring, very faint with distance.
All lost to him when he had been functionally deaf. All sounds now more precious to him than the most beautiful of music.
Davy moved to the hammock. He settled in, smiling as the soft creaking of the hammock joined the medley.
Still smiling, rejoicing in just being able to hear the sounds around him, Davy let the gentle medley lull him to sleep.
"Poor guy," Peter whispered as he drew a blanket over Davy's sleeping form. "He had another nightmare last night."
"He's still havin' those?" Micky gasped softly.
Peter nodded and came back to the table, sitting down beside Micky. "Every night. And know what kills me about this whole mess?"
"What's that?" Mike asked, before uttering a soft curse and sticking his burned finger into his mouth.
"I told you I'd be more than happy to take breakfast this morning," Peter said. "Offer still stands."
"Nah," Mike drawled, shaking his head. "It's Thursday -- my day. Besides, since when can you make good muffins?"
"You figured out my blueberry waffle recipe," Peter said. "I can figure muffins out."
Mike turned and fixed Peter with a raised eyebrow and a ghost of a smile. "Watch it -- don't get all cocky, here!"
Peter's normal dimpled smile shone, then he modulated it to a ghostly one. Raising an eyebrow of his own, he drawled, "So I'm gettin' cocky, am I?"
A surprised, genuine smile bloomed, then Mike widened his eyes and assumed a look of innocent bewilderment. "You mean you're not?"
Before Peter could answer, Micky shuddered. "Hey, guys --- I know you're okay with it now and you 're only teasin' each other --- but that still gives me the creeps!"
"Sorry," they chorused, then Mike turned back to fish the muffins out of the tins. "Any way," he drawled, "exactly what kills you about this whole mess?"
Peter sighed and leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes. "He won't talk about it."
Micky leaned forward and lay a hand on his arm. "Hey, Big Peter... migraine grabbin' you?"
Peter smiled rather tiredly at him. "No...just sleepy. Migraine's not scheduled to hit till next week."
Mike sat down, laying the plate of muffins on the table. "Youíre losin' about as much sleep as he is, huh?" At Peter's nod, he tapped him on the arm. "You take a nap this afternoon, hear me?"
"Hear ya," Peter said with a grin that dissolved into a yawn.
Micky bit into a muffin and looked over at Davy's peacefully sleeping form. "I wish he'd talk to us," he sighed.
"Yeah," Peter sighed, reaching for a muffin. "We talk to each other -- why won't he do the same?"
"I don't know," Mike said, leaning his chin into his palm and cupping his cheek with his fingers. "I really don't know."
Davy lowered his head and listened to the soft clicks of Isabel's typing. Isabel raised her eyes and gave a slight smile. She'd noticed Davy just listening several times over the last few weeks.
A bit later, she finished her article and stood up, stretching. She turned to Davy, to suggest maybe he should go back home -- and her words turned into a smile with her fingers steepled against her lips.
Mike finished laying the afghan over Davy's sleeping form. He stood and gave an apologetic half-smile. "Sorry," he whispered. "He ain't been sleepin' well."
"I noticed," she chuckled.
"How long has he been here?"
Isabel sighed. "About a couple of hours. He's been coming over just to listen."
Mike frowned. "To listen?" he repeated, looking at Davy. "That's odd. He'd slipped into the living room again last night and he told Peter that's why'd he gone there. To just listen."
Now Isabel frowned. "But why?"
Mike sighed and rubbed a hand along his forehead. "Well, now, see, that's just it. He won't tell us why."
Isabel opened her mouth, then slowly closed it. "That's Davy's way, isn't it?" she asked softly, sitting down and arranging her pages in order, putting them into her delivery folder. "You, Peter and Micky talk to each other about everything. Davy rarely does."
Mike nodded as he lifted her typewriter and moved it onto its storage shelf. "And since the Year of Hell, it's gotten worse. He seems bound and determined not to let us help him."
"Sounds like someone else I know," Isabel said with a slight smile.
The corners of Mike's mouth quirked upward slightly. "Well, Peter and Micky seem to drag it outta me."
Isabel nodded, standing up and laying her folder in her briefcase. "Think they can do it for Davy, too?"
"I'll talk to 'em," Mike said, scratching out a note telling Davy to meet them at the Pad once he woke up. "Let's go before Gregory has both our hides."
As they left, Isabel determined silently to get to the bottom of this. Without a word, Mike had shown her how badly Davy's not talking was bothering him.
Mike had written the note with his left hand.
Davy woke with a cry, looking around in confusion. The nightmares had come again, stalking him with a vengeance, and now he had woken to unfamiliar surroundings, compounding the fright.
He sighed, sinking back onto the couch. "Isabel's," he muttered, rubbing his forehead. "I fell asleep...."
Sitting up again, he folded the colorful crocheted afghan and lay it on the back of the couch. Then his eye fell on the table, at the envelope that bore his name.
Davy picked it up and frowned. The single word bore Mike's distinctive scrawl, but the letters were tilting the wrong way. "Huh," Davy mumbled. "Must be writing left-handed. Wonder what's wrong."
He opened the envelope and read the note. With a single nod, he folded the note and slid it into his jeans.
When he opened the door to the Pad, he found the apartment empty. "Mike? Isabel?" He moved further in. "Peter? Micky?"
He found two notes on the kitchen table. One was from Micky.
Going grocery grabbing. Back ASAP. Davy chuckled. Under it, Peter had scrawled, Gone with him to keep him from buying out the store.
The other note was from Mike. Gone to take Isabel into town. Micky, when you get back, look at her car. Key is in your jacket pocket. Think something's off with the water pump.
Davy winced. "No wonder Mike's writing southpaw," he sighed. "That's a lot of money to fix."
As he spoke, he turned and looked at the bandstand. Fear and sadness mingled in him as he moved closer, reaching out and running light fingers over the guitar strings.
Pure, clear notes emerged. But the soft notes did nothing to soothe Davy. Fear stabbed through him, clearer than ever.
The nightmares that had pursued him every night were drumming a message into his mind, one Ericka's tests had not borne out, but one he nevertheless was starting to believe.
I'm going to lose my hearing again.
He drew his thumb over the strings again, sadness in the touch. How long? he wondered. How long to I have to hear? How much longer will I be able.... He trailed off with a sigh.
Davy looked toward the phone. Well... he thought, moving toward it. As he leafed through the phone book, he decided, If I AM going to go deaf again, I'd better learn how to deal with it.
Setting the book down, he put one finger on the number he wanted and dialed the phone with his other hand. He listened, then when the pleasant female voice answered, he smiled and spoke in his smoothest voice.
"Hello, Community Centre? My name is David Jones. I don't have any way to pay right now, but I was wondering if you had any Sign Language classes...."
Davy walked into the small classroom and sat down. He wondered what the class would be like -- whether it would help him.
He waited nervously with the three other students. The silence was getting to him. Hopefully the teacher would arrive soon.
A moment passed, then a lovely woman with skin the colour of coffee with cream walked in, a blonde woman right behind her. The blonde walked to the back of the room, the other to the front.
The woman at the front raised her hands, which began to dance. "Welcome," the blonde spoke. When all eyes turned to her, she said, "First rule of etiquette --- I am only the interpreter. Keep your eyes on her. My voice speaks her words."
Duly chastised, all eyes swung to the front.
She was smiling. The blonde's voice translated, "As I said, welcome. My name is Ruth Owens. I am your teacher this session. My interpreter is Susan Collins. As we begin, the first sign you will learn is your name. Signs for names are based on a notable characteristic. So please stand and introduce yourself." Her smile grew. "Don't worry, Susan will translate. I'll catch your words." She pointed at Davy. "You first."
Davy stood up. "Hi. I'm Davy Jones. I'm from England, and I'm a musician. I'm here because.... because I was deaf a few months ago for twelve days and if it ever happens again, I want to have a way to communicate."
Ruth's large dark eyes met Davy's for a moment. Then she slowly signed, "Your sign is this." She made a single sign. "After the class, I will tell you the literal translation. Now...copy it." Davy did. Her smile lit the room. "Good job. Keep signing it while I name the others."
Ten minutes later, she went around the word. The sign she had taught him went with the spoken word "Davy". The others in the class were "Jason. Tammy. Lisa."
Over the next hour, the sign alphabet was taught. "Your homework is to practice this till it is second nature. Now -- I'll tell you the literal translations in private. Once I'm done, you may go."
Davy waited to find out what the literal translation of the sign was. First Jason left, then Lisa. After Tammy left, Ruth came to sit by Davy. Susan sat behind him. "You were deaf?" Ruth asked Davy.
He nodded. "I was shot. Lost my hearing for over a week."
Slowly, she nodded. "And now you are afraid it may happen again."
"It will happen again," Davy said. "I have a feeling about that." He leaned forward slightly. "That's why I have to learn sign."
Ruth smiled slowly. "I did name you right."
"What's that?" he asked.
Several weeks passed.
Peter shifted position in the bed, sighing with relief as the crippling pain in his head finally eased to a manageable level. He closed his eyes and sat up slowly. Easing out of bed, he moved, staggering, to the bathroom across the living room.
When he opened the door to exit the bathroom, he found a glass of cold milk being held out to him. He looked beyond it, to find Mike standing there. "Feel better?"
"Some, thanks." Peter smiled as he took the milk. "Where ---"
"Micky's on the beach with Pansy and Davy's out with Charlotte."
He nodded, sipping the cool liquid. ďAnd Isabel?"
"Stopped off to pick us up somethin' to eat. She'll be here soon."
Peter nodded. Anticipating Mike's next question, he said, "I'm....better. Still hurts -- and things still seem a bit loud -- but it's on its way out."
"Good. Gonna feel up t'practice later?"
A pain-tight shadow of the sunny, dimpled smile shone. "We'll have to see."
"Fair enough," Mike sighed. "Did you take --"
"Already got two aspirin in my system." Peter smiled. "And it looks like they're gonna stay there this time."
"Great!" Mike smiled, then turned toward the door as it opened. "Afternoon."
"Hey, sweetheart," Peter said, his smile growing.
Isabel returned it as she walked in, barely restraining the chuckle at the milk mustache between the dimples. "Hey, Peter....how're you feeling?"
Mike followed her gaze and did chuckle, catching Peter's eye and making a hand signal.
Peter grinned and wiped his mouth as he replied, "A little stronger.... lower your voice, please?"
Isabel did. "Better?"
"Much. What smells so good?"
Now Isabel knew without a doubt Peter was better -- his migraines stole his appetite. "Chinese. Where's the other half of you?"
"Micky's out with Pansy," Peter began. "And Davy's...." He trailed off, frowning.
"Davy's out with Charlotte," Mike finished, squeezing Peter's shoulder reassuredly. Occasionally, the migraines left gaps in Peter's short-term memory.
"Charlotte?" Isabel paused in unloading the paper cartons, a frown creasing her forehead. "Charlotte Cox?"
It was Mike's turn to frown slightly. "That's what he said...."
"Mike...." she leaned over the table. "I saw Charlotte at the restaurant. She was working tonight."
Peter's eyes widened in shock. "You mean to say she's not out with Davy?"
Isabel shook her head slowly. "There's no way. She works from four till ten tonight. She can't be out with Davy."
Mike's eyes widened as well, then his hands gripped the back of one of the kitchen chairs as thunderheads darkened his face.
Davy lingered after class was over. Ruth walked over to him. How are you? she signed.
He smiled at her. All right. You?
Tired, she admitted. Long day.
He looked from her hands into her dark eyes. Their gazes locked for what seemed like an eternity. Hungry? he signed at long last.
She smiled. No, but thank you. I will see you tomorrow night?
Yes, he replied, then added. But not the next night.
Why? she frowned.
As he didn't know the signs, he switched to speech. "I told you the first day of class I was a musician. The band I play in has a gig -- a concert -- that night."
Ruth nodded. Where?
Davy spelled it out. March. Then he noticed her grin. What?
Do you mean M-'A'-r-c-h? she asked him with a gentle smile.
He grinned. Yes. I said 'S' for 'A' again, right?
Right. Keep practicing that.
He nodded. See you tomorrow night.
And who knows? Her smile grew. Maybe I'll come see you at the M-'s'-r-c-h, she teased.
Davy laughed. I look forward to it, he signed. Until tomorrow.
Tomorrow, she signed and walked on out.
Davy sat alone in the classroom, his thoughts whirling.
Davy slowly let himself into the darkened Pad, carefully not making noise. He locked the front door and, carrying his shoes, moved toward his bedroom.
"About time you got home."
Davy yelped, actually jumping a few inches into the air as he dropped his shoes. He whirled. "M-Mike!"
Light flared in the room as Mike turned on the lamp.
Before Mike could say anything, Davy stammered, "Wh-what're you doing sitting in the dark?"
"Waitin' for you."
"But in the dark?"
A slight smile touched his lips. "I can navigate the Pad in the dark better'n any of you. I've had enough practice at it."
The soft words were a knife to Davy's heart. "Look, man, I'm sorry. It's late, I'm tired and ----"
"How's Sharon doing?"
Davy blinked, then smiled. "Sharon's just fine. We went to a movie, then dinner, then a walk on the beach."
"No wonder you're wore out."
"Nope. Sharon's quite a lady."
"Now, that's odd," Mike stood up. "Since you told us earlier you were going out with Charlotte."
Davy chuckled. "Oh, yeah.... Sharon, Charlotte.... sounds almost the same."
"Now, see, that I'd buy." Mike sighed for effect. "There's just one little detail, though."
Davy licked his lips, feeling trapped. "What... what's that?"
"Isabel talked to Charlotte. At work. She worked all night -- couldn't have been out with you." He crossed his arms. "So spill it."
Davy gathered his shoes, drew himself up to his full five-foot-three height, and bored his large eyes into Mike's. "No."
Startled, Mike took a step backward. "No?"
"No." He glared at Mike. "You're not my dad. I don't have to tell you where I'm at every minute!"
"I didn't ask that, I just wanted to know why you lied to m---"
"And that's another thing!" Davy roared. "The Papa Nez routine! No one asked you t'be our leader! I for one am not gonna take the third degree anymore!" With that, he spun and stormed toward the bedroom.
"Davy!" Mike called after him. Anger had replaced shock and he was barreling toward the door. Only the fact that Peter was sleeping off the final vestiges of his migraine kept him from pounding on the door. "David Armstrong Jones, you open this door! Right now!" he hissed.
The door opened, all right. A pair of blazing brown eyes bored into Mike's. "Robert Michael Nesmith," Davy hissed back. "You can go to hell."
With the closing of the door, Peter's words rang through Mike's head. He won't talk to us about it.
"Damn, Peter," Mike whispered as he moved to the chaise lounge and sank onto it. "You were right again."
Continue on to Part Two