Mike and Davy returned to the beach house to find it empty. Davy turned to Mike and grinned. "Ten to one they're in the bedroom."
Mike frowned at him. "Pete isn't like that, man."
Davy grinned over his shoulder as he raced up the stairs. "Betcha!" He disappeared into the bedroom. After a second he emerged, red-faced. "They're not there."
Mike grinned. "Told you Pete isn't like that."
Peter walked in the front door just then, mail in hand. "Like what?" he asked. Davy turned even redder. Mike couldn't stifle the chuckle. Peter looked from one to the other, then pointed at the bedroom. "Davy thought that... Man, Davy, I'm not that kind!"
"That's what I told him!" Mike said.
"Well," Davy challenged, "where is she?"
Valerie had come out of the bathroom and was leaning against the jamb behind Davy, watching this exchange. She cleared her throat. Davy was so startled he automatically grew three feet and hit his head on the ceiling. He whirled, returning to normal size. "Don't do that!" he exploded.
"Right," Valerie said. "Don't do that, Davy. Don't make assumptions about us based on your own character."
Davy's jaw dropped. "Now wait a..." he began.
Micky entered from the verandah, laughing. "Quit while you're behind, pal."
"Jason?" Mike asked.
Micky grinned. "Safe and sound and unconscious behind asbestos walls. He won't be bothering us for awhile."
Peter frowned. "He's still unconscious?"
Micky nodded. "Woke up as they were transferring him. Had to be sedated..."
"Monkee!" suddenly rang from outside. "Face me!"
Valerie rolled her eyes. "Ronnie..." she groaned.
Peter went to the verandah and looked out. "He's brought company."
Farnsworth hovered over the beach. A young woman hovered beside him, glaring at the house.
"Who's that?" Mike asked, looking over Peter's shoulder.
"Never seen her before," Peter said. "But if she's with Farnsworth, I wonder what lies he's told her?"
Again Farnsworth bellowed his order. "I said face me, Monkee! Are you a coward as well as a thief?"
Peter walked out onto the verandah and down the stairs. "I'm neither one," he said. "Are you a coward who hides behind young women?"
Farnsworth twitched with rage. "This is Mirrydor," he said. "And she is my friend!"
Peter met the woman's green eyes. "My name is Peter," he said. "And Ronnie has told you some things about me that I assure you aren't true."
"He said you are a liar," Mirrydor said. "That you seduced his wife and stole her. That he had to become what he is just to combat your treachery."
Valerie had walked out on the verandah. "First of all, lady," she snapped, "I was never his wife. Second, Peter did not seduce me. I chose him over Ronnie."
Mirrydor blinked and turned to Farnsworth. "You said..."
"She's lying, too!" Farnsworth cried. "I hate you!" Suddenly he dove at Peter, talons splayed.
"No," Mirrydor cried. "He's powerless!"
"Not that powerless," Peter said. His eyes began to glow and he shot into the air seconds before Farnsworth's talons impacted the ground where he'd stood.
Farnsworth whirled, eyes filled with rage and shock. "You... You have...."
Peter smiled slightly. "Yep." Then he turned to Mirrydor. "Come on," he said, reaching out a hand. "Listen to the truth." She turned to face him and Peter recoiled as her eyes began to glow the same shade of blue as his. "Your eyes," he gasped.
Mirrydor smiled. "That's my power," she said. "I'm a sponge. I soak up other people's powers and imitate them like a mirror. Mirrydor, get it?"
He smiled. "I get it. What's your real name?"
"Melanie, listen to me..."
She shook her head. "I don't have to. When I absorbed your powers, I absorbed your memories as well. I know who the liar is now." Melanie moved backward a few feet, and the glow of her eyes faded. "This isn't my fight. You were right, Peter. He is a coward who tried to get me to do his dirty work." She shook her head. "And I refuse."
Peter sensed she was leaving. "Will we see you again?"
She moved forward, and her eyes began to glow again. "Bet on it." She leaned forward, eyes closing, and kissed him on the cheek. Smiling, she flew away.
Farnsworth had spent these last few minutes trying to get his talons out of the beach. Finally, he was free. Roaring incoherently, he launched into the sky toward Peter.
"Pete, look out!" Micky screamed. He tackled Farnsworth in mid-air, knocking them both to the sand. Farnsworth reacted swiftly, slicing his finger talons across Micky's face.
"AAAA!!!" Micky screamed, releasing him and staggering backward, hands to his face. "My eyes...!"
Mike was instantly at his side. He pried the hands away and examined the damage. "You're all right," he said gently. "Your lids have been scratched, and your corneas nicked. You'll be all right in a few days." He led Micky up the staircase.
Valerie took the wounded Monkee in her arms and led him to the kitchen to wash the bleeding cuts.
Peter lowered to hover next to Mike on the verandah, both of them looking into the pad. "Is he..."
Mike nodded. "For now. He'll be able to see again in about forty-eight hours."
Anger etched itself on Peter's handsome features. Before he could say or do anything, however, Farnsworth hit him in the back, knocking him to the verandah, narrowly missing both Mike and the glass doors.
"That... is... it!" Peter yelled. He whirled around and caught Farnsworth in the stomach with both feet, shoving the birdman off the verandah. Peter gained his feet and headed for the railing.
Mike grabbed his elbow. "Peter, temper," he reminded in a whisper. Peter looked at him wildly for a second, then reason reasserted itself. He nodded, closing glowing eyes and taking two deep breaths. Then he opened the glowing eyes and vaulted off the verandah.
Mike headed down the staircase, meeting Davy at the bottom. "What can we do?" Davy asked, watching Peter head for the downed birdman.
"Nothing," Mike said. Davy looked at him like he'd lost his mind. Mike sat on the stairs and nodded grimly toward the battle. "This is way beyond a normal battle. This is personal."
Davy opened his mouth to protest, but then remembered Mike had said that he could usually tell what Peter was feeling. He nodded and sat down beside Mike on the staircase, watching.
Farnsworth landed on his back in the water. He cried out in pain as he landed on a wing. He rolled over and gained his feet, shaking his wings to see if they were injured.
From above him came, "You want me, Farnsworth? You got me!" Farnsworth looked up. Peter hovered there, eyes glowing.
Farnsworth sneered, "You've just signed your death warrant, Monkee!" He launched into the air, finger talons splayed. Peter just hovered there. As Farnsworth neared, his hands shot out and grabbed Farnsworth's wrists. He forced the birdman's hands over his head, effectively neutralizing the talons.
Farnsworth grinned evilly. "You forgot, Tork," he sneered, "I have more than one set of talons!" He brought his foot talons up and dug them into Peter's thighs.
Davy came off of the staircase, ready to charge to the rescue. Only Mike's firm hand on his shoulder kept him still.
Peter screamed in pain, but held on. He glared at Farnsworth. "And you never knew," he gasped, "that my power isn't limited to flight!" He glanced down at his legs.
Farnsworth's grin turned into an expression of shock as the talons were forced from Peter's thighs. "How," he gasped, "how are you doing that?"
"Telekinesis, Farnsworth," Peter said between clenched teeth, struggling to keep hold of his temper. "The ability to move things with my mind. Or, in your case..." He released Farnsworth's wrists, shoving him away. Farnsworth tried to fly, but every muscle in his body was paralyzed. "...To freeze things with my mind."
Davy's brown eyes widened. "Man," he gasped, "he froze a full-grown man! Pete's that powerful?"
Mike said under his breath, "Peter's more powerful than you know." Davy turned to study Mike's face. Mike's eyes were haunted by a secret he and Peter shared -- a dark secret.
Davy sat back down. "Mike... is that why Pete can't lose his temper? Because he's so powerful?"
Mike looked Davy in the eye. "Later, man. Leave it alone for now."
Above, Farnsworth was struggling to move. "It's not over, Monkee!" he cried. "I won't let it end this way!"
"It's over, Ronnie," Peter said. He headed for the staircase, Farnsworth in helpless tow.
Suddenly, a Herculean effort broke Farnsworth free of Peter's grip. Peter staggered in mid-air, hands flying to his head. Farnsworth grabbed him and squeezed his fingers around Peter's neck.
Peter's telekinesis cut out as he grew weaker. Only Farnsworth's wings now held them in the air. Peter's eyes stopped glowing and darkness licked at the edges of his vision.
Farnsworth sneered, "Now it's over! She is mine, Monkee! Not yours! Never yours!"
"And never yours, Ronnie!" rang from the verandah. Three pairs of eyes swiveled to the verandah. Peter was fighting unconsciousness. Valerie stood there, fists clenched, eyes blazing. Micky's blood covered her paisley minidress. "I hate you, Ronald Farnsworth the Third!" she yelled. "I hate you for what you've done to these boys, especially Micky! I hate what you're doing to Peter!"
Farnsworth abruptly released Peter, who fell five feet straight down into the ocean. He stood up, dripping wet and rubbing his sore throat. He looked up at the odd tableau unfolding on the verandah.
"Pete?" Davy asked, approaching the water with Mike. Peter held up a hand for silence.
"Valerie..." Farnsworth said, raising his hands. "I love you!"
"Yeah, you love me all right," Valerie snapped. "You love me so much you gave up your humanity! You kidnapped me and dropped me from a hundred feet up when I didn't return your obsession! You blinded Micky and nearly killed the man I do love! Yeah, you love me, all right," she repeated sarcastically.
"Valerie, you don't understand," Farnsworth pleaded. "I did it for you!"
"You did it for yourself!" she snarled. "Be honest with yourself for once, Ronnie! You don't love me! You love power! You love prestige! You love yourself most of all! I'm nothing to you but an ornament to be displayed, a trophy to be won! And you've gone stark raving mad trying to possess something that will not be possessed!"
Farnsworth stabbed a shaking talon toward Peter. "He possesses you!"
"Nobody possesses me! Not you, not Peter! I am with him because I want to be! I am not a thing to be possessed! I am a person to be loved!"
Farnsworth's hands flew to his ears. "No!" he screamed. "No, it's not true! You are mine, you are!" Suddenly, Farnsworth's body was surrounded by a pinkish glow. "You are mine," he sobbed.
"What's happening?" Davy gasped.
"His body," Peter answered, voice still croaking from the near-strangulation. "It can't retain the powers!"
"He's reverting to normal," Mike said.
Farnsworth kept sobbing. The talons on his hands and feet reverted to normal fingers and toes. The bird wings shrank and vanished, leaving white scars on his back.
Farnsworth plummeted into ten-foot-tall Davy's arms. Davy shrank to normal size and gently lay the taller man down on the sand. Farnsworth's face returned to its normal proportions, and his eyes to their normal colour.
"B-But... how?" Davy gasped as they watched Farnsworth curl into a fetal position. "We have ours for life!"
"How much did he take?" Mike asked Peter. Peter indicated the size of the vial with his fingers. "That explains it," Mike said. "He only got a fraction of the dose we got. Of course his powers would only be temporary."
"Here," came from above them. Valerie tossed her coat down the stairs. "Wrap him in this." Mike wrapped the coat around Farnsworth's bare shoulders as Valerie finished, "Don't want him dying from pneumonia."
Davy grew to seven feet and picked up the sobbing, unprotesting man. They brought him into the beach house, where Micky was on the phone. "Yeah, that's right. 1334 Beechwood. Yes, we'll be waiting."
Peter's heart broke as he saw Micky fumble for the phone cradle before laying the receiver in it.
"Who was that?" Mike asked.
Micky smiled, turning around. "The hospital. They're coming for Farnsworth."
Valerie sighed. "It's for the best, I suppose. He is completely insane." She ran a hand along Farnsworth's shoulder. Farnsworth, completely lost in his own inner world, did not even notice. Valerie looked at Peter. "Would you come with us?"
Davy blinked. "You mean you're gonna ride with him?"
Peter grinned at him. "Somebody has to check him in. Yes," he addressed Valerie, "I'll go with you."
"Mike?" Micky asked, reaching a hand out. "Check me out, will ya? She got the blood off. You can have a better look." At his hesitation, Micky said softly, "I need to know the truth, man. Am I gonna be this way the rest of my life?"
Mike took Micky's hand and led him to the black leather lounge chair. He sat Micky down and crouched down in front of him. "Let's see," he said. He shone a light into Micky's eyes.
Valerie whistled. "So that's Mike's power. He can generate light from his body."
"And laser beams," Peter said.
Valerie blinked at him. "You mean like those ray-gun things?"
Mike grinned at her. "Yeah, like those ray gun things. Only they're more dangerous than that." He turned back to Micky. "You want the honest, unvarnished, blunt truth?"
Micky squared his shoulders. "Yeah, give it to me. I'm ready."
"You're gonna be blind for about two days."
Micky blinked in surprise. Then a grin spread across his face. "Two days? That's it? Just two days?"
Mike grinned, and it showed in his voice. "Course, if you want it to be permanent..."
Micky held up a hand. "No! No, two days is fine! I can handle that!"
Mike chuckled, then sobered. "Here's the lowdown, buddy. Those talons raked you right across the eyes. Fortunately, you closed 'em, so your eyelids took the brunt of the scratches. The corneas and lenses, the clear part of your eyes right up front, are injured slightly. Basically, Mick, your eyes are in shock. They're sort of on strike, refusing to work till they're better."
"And they will get better, right?"
Mike lay a gentle hand on Micky's shoulder. "Definitely, pal. This won't last very long."
Micky closed blinded eyes in relief, and the horrible scratches on his eyelids were revealed. Valerie shuddered and buried her face in Peter's shoulder. Davy shook his head in sorrow. Peter sighed deeply, trying not to start shaking.
A knock sounded at the door. Davy grew to see through the peephole, then shrank back to normal and opened the door. "He's over there," he said to the two men in white who stood there with a stretcher. The men came in and coaxed Farnsworth into a straitjacket. It wasn't difficult, as he was now completely gone into a world of his own making. They steered him to the stretcher and carried him out.
Peter grabbed the car keys and his jacket. "Come on," he said to Valerie. "We'll be back soon," he said as they left.
In the hallway, Valerie whispered, "Pete, why aren't we just... uh..."
He smiled at her. "Those are our secrets," he whispered back. "We've gotta keep it as normal as possible." She nodded, understanding.
Davy grabbed an apple from the fridge and sat down on the couch, munching. "Hey, Mick?" he said. "One thing bothers me."
"What's that?" Micky asked, running a hand along his drums.
"How'd you know to call the hospital?"
Micky grinned, locating what he thought were the sticks. "I heard some of the battle. Valerie told me what had happened earlier. I figured the idiot was insane, so I got him some help." He picked up the "sticks" and started to tap out a riff. "Hey, how come this sounds so soft?"
Davy finished the apple and went for another one, tossing the core in the garbage. "I don't know. Maybe because you're trying to play with a couple of pencils."
"Say what?" Micky ran confused fingers over the long, thin sticks in his hand. "Mike! Have you been using my snare as a writing desk again?"
"Sorry, buddy," wafted from the verandah where Mike sat strumming his guitar. "Till those stands get here, your snare's all I got! Gotta get my music down somehow!"
"Yeah, yeah..." Micky groused, hefting the pencils over his shoulder and groping for his sticks. Giving up, he moved from behind the set and off the bandstand. "Hey, Davy, that's your third apple in a row!"
"Had to change size a lot in the last few days. Hungry," Davy said between bites.
"Eat something besides apples, willya?" Micky groused. "I need those for the pie I'm gonna spring on Pete for his birthday next week!"
"Really?" Peter said, coming through the door. "Sounds good. Don't forget, though, I'm allergic to nutmeg." He headed out to the verandah, snagging Mike's extra guitar on the way.
Micky put his head in his hands and shook it. Davy laughed so hard he choked on the apple.
Mike looked up as the door slid shut and Peter came and sat beside him. "Hi."
Peter smiled at him. "Hi yourself. What are you playing?"
Mike played a few bars of "Don't Call On Me" and Peter joined in. They played in silence for a few seconds, then Mike asked, "How'd it go?"
Peter sighed. "Michael, that place is incredible. They had us there for only a few minutes before they got him some help. By the time we left, he recognized Valerie and still claims she is his. He's got a long road ahead of him."
Mike nodded, sensing Peter's anxiousness and regret. "You did what you had to do, man."
"I know. Sometimes I wish there was a better way to handle things, though." Peter stopped playing and turned to Mike. "Did you struggle with these feelings when you led the gang?"
Mike smiled. "Odd question coming from someone who knows me literally inside out."
Peter grinned lopsidedly. "Yeah. I guess it is. I've never tapped into those memories. I didn't see the need for it." His eyes lost their focus as he looked inside himself. "...Yeah," he said softly. "You had the exact same struggles I'm going through now." He turned back to Mike. "One thing I'm not clear on. How'd you manage to keep sane?"
Mike grinned. "I had you guys. Your friendship keeps me sane. Our friendship will keep you sane too, pal. Don't worry."
"I'm not," Peter lied.
"Yes you are," Mike corrected.
Peter blinked at him. "You retain more of me than you think."
Mike didn't say a word. He kept his secret to himself.
Peter sighed. "I've been thinking. You did most of your leading before we were transformed, before our merge. All of mine has been after." He fell silent, strumming a few bars. Mike could sense his struggle to say whatever he had to say.
After a few minutes, Peter said, "I can't lead by myself. It's too much. The powers, the strategy... Man, I'm still trying to sort out who I am from the merge! Michael... I know you like the freedom, and I won't ask you to take over... but I need help."
Mike looked at the ocean lapping onto the beach. "You mean... like co-leaders? You and me both?"
Peter smiled slightly. "Yeah. I was leanin' that way. What do you think?"
"Let me think about it, okay?"
They spontaneously broke into another mellow song. Halfway through, Mike abruptly said, "I think it's a good idea."
"Yeah. Let's do it." Peter met Mike's eyes. They both smiled. They turned to the ocean and serenaded it for a few more songs. The pair then went inside to inform Davy and Micky about the new arrangement.
Return to The Realm