It had been four months since the events that had irrevocably altered Mike's vision. He had accepted it --- more or less --- and all four of the roommates were working to adjust to Mike's living roughly half his life in the dark.
Mike had gotten up about an hour ago and had finished breakfast. He arranged his clothing on his bed and settled in a pair of towels --- one on the toilet seat and one on the toilet back. Feeling for and finding the rug, Mike turned on the water.
Putting the dirty clothes in the hamper, Mike reached into the stall and found the soap and the shampoo. Once everything was in place, then and only then did Mike step into the shower.
Bathing blind had never ceased to be interesting. Washing his hair especially was a challenge, as he had had to learn to tell lack of soap by touch instead of by running a hand through and seeing if suds remained.
But it would seem today was going to be a good day. Mike's vision returned as he was finishing his shower.
So Mike was able to finish his hair the normal way, and dress swiftly, efficiently --- and matching.
When he came down to breakfast, he announced, "Okay, what time is our audition at the embassy?"
"Two hours," Davy said as he slid eggs from a pan onto the last of the plates on the table. "Your eyes behaving?"
"For now," Mike said.
Nothing else was said, but Mike could see in their eyes that all of them were plotting ways to help him if the blob took his sight at the audition.
That was the maddening unpredictability of their lives now. Things had to stay clean, the others had to drive, and a contingency plan had to be made --- if not stated --- for every single thing they did.
All because of Mike's unpredictable blindness.
And it drove him crazy sometimes.
His thoughts were interrupted by Peter's palm landing gently on the top of his head. He tilted it back, blinking at Peter.
"You're brooding again," Peter said, softly but firmly. "Stop it."
"I can't help---"
"You can. Just keep telling yourself it will be okay."
"You don't know that."
"I do know that," Peter countered. "Because we're going to make it okay."
He meant it. Mike could read it in his eyes. He meant every word of that.
And in the face of that faith --- Mike couldn't help but believe that it was so.
The worst part about Mike's in-and-out blindness -- to Mike -- was the complete lack of independence he had. Even when he could see, he was very painfully aware that the other three were taking care of him.
They had never really talked about it, and he knew they were overdue for a chat. A long, serious, potentially argumentative chat.
But now --- arriving at their audition --- was not the place or the time. Mike helped set up the drums and keyboards --- and then let out a wordless snarl of frustration as the dark curtain veiled his sight again.
Gentle hands touched his arms, and Peter's soft, "Now?" caressed his ear.
"Yeah, dammit," he snarled.
"C'mon. I'll get you plugged in and you can tune up while we finish."
"Fine," Mike sighed, allowing himself to be led to the stool and doing the tuning while he waited.
Definitely overdue for a chat.
"Okay," Davy's whispered voice, close to Mike's left shoulder. "This is bizarre."
"What's bizarre?" Mike asked.
"There are these two fellas in rich-looking clothes," Davy whispered. "One's wearin' some kind of uniform. They're staring at me with their jaws hanging open."
"Fellas?" Mike frowned. "Men?"
"I know --- it doesn't make sense!"
"You're right, it don't make sense at all --- especially since we haven't even started playing yet!"
"I told you --- bizarre."
"Boy, is that the truth." Mike stood. "Are we about ready?"
"Yeah," Davy said. "Did you have a chance to look over the set list?" Mike's sudden flare of panic must have shown on his face, because Davy took a deep breath. "Okay. I'll get the songs to you or be sure to announce them."
Mike smiled. "Thanks, buddy. That got me worried, there."
"Mike," Davy chided softly and Mike felt a hand squeeze his shoulder. "We keep telling you, you don't have to worry. We're going to take good care of things."
Mike cringed slightly, still picking up on the unspoken ...and of you! "You guys just really don't get it," he muttered.
"Get what?" Davy asked, a frown in his voice.
"That's the entire problem," Mike groaned.
"Okay," Micky announced. "We're ready!"
"We'll talk later," Mike promised Davy. "After the audition."
His shoulder was squeezed again. "I'll hold you to that. We're starting out with 'I'm a Believer'."
Mike nodded and stood.
Peter introduced them and Micky counted them off.
And the audition began.
Four songs in, the man in the strange uniform stepped forward.
"Thank you," his accented voice said. "We must decide about your music, but you must remain."
Mike frowned, dark brows drawing tightly together over blank brown eyes. "If we gotta wait t'know about the music, why do we gotta stay?"
Davy took a step backward, his eyes wide. "Fellas, he's starin' at me again."
"Or course I am," the man snarled. "You made a grave mistake, returning here. Did you think you would not be discovered?"
"What are you talking about?" Davy yelped. "I've never been here before in my life!"
"Nice try," the man sneered. "But ultimately, foolish. Seize them!" He gestured at the stage. "Hold them for questioning, and imprison the prince in the dungeons until I question him!"
"Now hold on a second!" Mike roared as he heard footsteps approaching.
"What in the hell are you talking about?" Davy bellowed, even as the three closed ranks around their blinded fourth. "My name is Davy Jones, I'm not a prince, and you have no right---"
All action froze and all heads but Mike's snapped to face the other side of the stage.
"Unhand those men and stand down!"
Mike gasped, "D-Davy?"
"That's not me, Mike," Davy breathed.
"It sounds like you --- sort of." The slight shift of accent had the blinded guitarist confused.
The sighted musicians weren't in much better shape. "There's two of them," Peter gasped. "There's a man dressed like royalty --- and he looks exactly like Davy! Same hairstyle, even!"
The second Davy spoke, his voice cold. "I don't know where you got the idea I'd run off again. I've been here the entire time. And you need to remember who is in control, Premier --- and it's not you."
The uniformed man swallowed hard and said through his teeth, "Yes, your highness."
Mike tilted his head. "Okay, why do I have the feeling we've just came into the middle of something? Again?"
The Monkees were brought into a reception area. The double of Davy studied them all. He stopped in front of Mike.
"You can't see," he said, his voice startled and, the others noticed, his large brown eyes even larger with shock.
"No," Mike said, his voice even, not knowing where this was headed. "No, I can't see."
"It's a.... recent development."
"Ah." And Mike heard a smile in his voice. "Then your friends are friends indeed, to keep you in the band."
Mike stiffened. "What?"
"Now, listen," Peter said, his voice filled with such ice that Mike had the insane urge to shiver. "I don't know how it is your --- wherever you come from --- but friends don't just abandon each other when hard times come!"
"I can fight my own battles, Peter," Mike ground out, his fists clenching at his sides.
"Family fights together," Peter said, still in that cold tone that was clearly not aimed at Mike.
But Mike felt the air fly out of his body anyway. He suddenly felt light-headed and found himself unable to draw a clean breath.
Three words. Peter had only spoken three words.
But in those three words, he had taken everything Mike had been experiencing since these maddening cycles of blindness had begun and crystallised it into brilliant clarity.
Mike suddenly realised that the other three were taking care of things -- because they loved him. They truly saw themselves as a family. It had nothing to do with Mike being weak or overly dependent.
It had everything to do with the fact that Mike needed them. despite his pride saying otherwise, he did.
And Mike's friends would even fight Mike's pride to deal with what had to be dealt with.
Because they were family.
It really and truly was as simple as that.
He became aware of Micky jostling him. "---okay, there? Back with us?"
Mike took a deep breath. "Yeah....sorry. Just --- got my head rearranged a little."
"Good. Because Davy just caused an international incident."
Mike stiffened. "You're joking."
"Believe me, I truly wish I was. But Davy just decked the prince."
"Davy!" Mike gasped. "What the hell did you just do?"
"This big-eyed freak wouldn't shut his mouth," Davy spluttered. "So I shut it for him!"
"Davy," Peter groaned. "He's the prince of a sovereign nation -- you can't just go around decking---"
Peter spluttered to silence as everyone realised the prince was --- laughing. He sat up, rubbing his tearing eyes and his laughter turned into outright hiccuping guffaws.
"O-kay," Micky said, and Mike tilted his head as the guffaws began to degenerate into hiccups.
"I don't get it," Mike mused.
"Neither do I," Micky said.
The prince waved a hand toward Davy and then he was off again, trying to control his mirth.
"Seriously," Davy snorted, "It wasn't that funny!"
"Yes, it was!" the prince gasped out. "I've heard.... I've heard many people say they wanna deck me --- but you're the f-first to ever do it!"
"Oh, please," Davy rolled his eyes. "I can't have been the first."
"Davy," Mike chuckled. "He's a prince."
"So what?" Davy snorted.
And Mike took note of a very loud silence. Then the prince began to laugh again.
"I mean it! So what?" Davy asked. "I mean, I'd never hit the prince of my home country, because I know he'd not be a spoiled bastard taking cheap shots at my friends!"
The silence was somehow warmer this time. "You mean to tell me," Mike gasped, "you'd drop the Prince of Wales if he ---"
"Damn straight," Davy said. "Peter said it --- family's family."
Mike found Davy's shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"So ---" Micky asked. "No international incident?"
"No international incident," the prince laughed. "Just increased respect. My name is Ludlow."
"I'm Mike." He put out his and and felt a small hand with many rings take it. "The bandmate they say looks like you---"
"He does," Ludlow said. "It's eerie."
"I can tell the difference," Mike said. "Your accents are just different enough. the one who looks like you is Davy." He felt the hand release him.
"Davy of the mean right hook," Ludlow quipped.
"You should feel my uppercut," Davy chuckled. "I was a boxer once."
"Moving on," Mike interrupted. "The blond is Peter."
"Ah, the wise one," Ludlow said. "As opposed to this wise guy."
"Hey!" Micky roared.
Mike laughed. "His name is Micky."
"Micky," Ludlow said.
"Ludlow," Micky said coolly.
"Well, then!" Mike heard hands clap together, and Ludlow continued, "Misunderstandings and putting princes in their place aside, I see no reason to prolong auditions. You four are perfect."
"Perfect for what?" Davy asked.
"Why, to play my wedding!" Ludlow crowed.
"Neat!" Micky laughed. "When?"
"Where?" Peter asked.
"Here -- at the Embassy. In two days' time."
"Who's the lucky girl?" Davy asked.
Ludlow's answer made them all gasp. "I don't know. But I'll find her!"
Three pairs of working eyes widened and focused on Ludlow, who was grinning from ear to ear as Mike frowned, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Say that again?" Peter yelped. "You're getting married?"
"In two days, yes," Ludlow smiled.
"And you don't know to who?" Micky gasped.
"No --- but I am a prince!" Ludlow spread his hands. "A woman would be a fool not to marry me!"
"No," Davy said, crossing his arms. "A woman would be a fool to marry you."
"What?" Ludlow gasped.
Micky leaned over to Mike and whispered, "The guy who tried to arrest us is smirking."
"You heard me," Davy pressed. "You are nothing that any woman would want."
"Oh?" Ludlow crossed his arms and the doubles glared at each other. "Pray --- enlighten me."
"Let me put this in words small enough that even you can understand," Davy snarled. "You're a jerk. You're a selfish, egotistical lout and any woman who marries you would have to check her brains at the door, because I don't think you know how to love!"
"Wow," Micky whispered to Mike. "Casanova Jones is pissed off."
Mike couldn't repress the small grin.
Ludlow's chin rose. "Your opinion is duly noted. However, your invitation to play at my wedding is hereby rescinded. I want you off my property in an hour."
Mike's vision chose that moment to begin to lift. His first clear sight of the prince was of a belligerent glare aimed in their direction, before the young man whirled and stalked away.
"Damn," he whispered to Micky. "He does look like Davy!"
"Told you," Micky chuckled. "It's back, then?"
"Just now," Mike said, breaking off as the man in the strange uniform walked over.
"My apologies," he said.
"You've got some explaining to do," Peter said. "Why did you react like you did when you thought Davy was the prince?"
He spread his hands. "The people of my country are in revolt. The prince is, as you probably surmised, rather unpopular. He has been sneaking out to woo women."
Davy smirked. "I take it he's not been successful?"
The man smirked. "At this rate, the wedding will be to himself!" Laughter rang out, and when it died, the man sighed. "We were under orders from the king the next time he did that to lock up whoever was helping him and return him home instantly if he returned."
"Which explains the reception we got," Mike sighed.
"I am sorry, young man. but the resemblance is uncanny."
Davy shrugged. "Everybody's got a double somewhere.
Back at home, three days later, came two surprises. First of all was a substantial cheque addressed to Davy. The attached letter was a warm thank you from the king for the firm way Davy had treated his son.
The second was an article in the newspaper that said that Ludlow had been removed from his station and disowned for causing profound embarrassment to the royal house. His cousin Gerald was now the next in line for the throne.
That was where they stopped reading the article and went on with their lives. Had they continued reading, however, they would have seen the sidebar that had the new line of succession now that Ludlow was gone.
The current king. Then Gerald Cornwall. Then Gerald's son Jasper. Then Jasper's sister Lisa --- who the paper said was deceased. Then the throne would pass to her children.
Her daughter Amelia. Her daughter Julia. Her daughter Constance. And then, finally, to her son.
David Armstrong Jones.
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