By Enola Jones

July 10, 1967

The black-haired woman walked into the Pad and sighed as she listened to the music. It once brought her such joy, now it only brought pain.

She walked to the chaise and sank onto it, brushing the flip of hair from her left eye as she did so. Sad chocolate colored eyes watched the trio onstage.

Peter poked his way around the unfamiliar 12-string, which was slowly and disturbingly becoming familiar to him. Davy was getting more experienced on the bass, and it showed in the smooth way his hand slid on the frets. Soon, she reflected, he may be able to do You Just may be the One. Micky was the only one on his accustomed instrument, and even his playing seemed tinged with a sadness now. They were picking their way through Papa Gene's Blues, and Peter's tongue was still twisting over the deceptively simple-sounding melody.

Finally, he stepped back from the microphone and hung his head for a second, shaking it as if to clear it. "No heartaches from the lights are low and..." he said again, trying to get it straight.

"No heartaches felt, no longer lonely," she spoke up, her Texas soprano ringing out.

Peter smiled at her. "Is that what it says? It's so fast I couldn't hear it."

She smiled a crooked smile. "No heartaches felt, no longer lonely, nights of waiting finally won me happiness, the thought of lovin' you."

Peter chuckled. "I'll get it right eventually," he said, pain twisting his face at that.

Micky came from behind the stage and embraced her. "This whole thing's got us flummoxed, Kayla. All of us."

Kayla Nesmith returned the hug. "I can't even begin to imagine." She sighed and looked around. "Where is he?"

"In our room," Micky said.

"How is he?"

"The same," Peter put in.

She nodded. "Let me talk to him."

"Kay," Peter said in warning, "he threw a lamp at me."

Kayla schooled her face into impassivity and nodded. She walked up the stairs and opened the door, not bothering to knock.

Her carefully stoic facade crumbled at the sight of him. He lay on his side, facing the wall, his long legs curled into a near-fetal position. His dark head was bowed and it took her a moment to realize that the tremors wracking his body were silent, uncontrollable sobs. "Oh, Mike...." she whispered, taking a step forward, her every instinct screaming at her to make it stop, make it all better ---

To make her twin brother stop hurting so bad.

Somehow he sensed she was there. Mike turned and looked at his twin, tears pouring down his cheeks. This was the person who'd seen him through having his hand shattered, falling out of the tree and busting his leg, the whole nine yards. She was the only person he was not ashamed to cry in front of.

She sat down and touched his cheek, then raised her hands. *What wrong?*

Mike sighed. When they'd learned sign to be able to communicate with their deaf grandfather, neither twin had even remotely thought they would be using it to communicate with each other. *What you think wrong?* he shot back. *Thank Davy ears no work!*

Thanks to Davy my ears don't work. Kayla sat and let that swim around in her mind. *Mike, firecracker was accident. Davy no did mean --*

Mike cut her off with a very rude, universally understood gesture. He began to turn away, to end the conversation.

Kayla grabbed him and whirled him back around. Her hand went crack! against his cheek, knocking him back onto the bed.

Stunned into listening -- his twin had never hit him before -- Mike's eyes went wide, then wider still, as he deciphered her angry hand motions. Even in the different syntax of sign, her anger shone loud and clear.

*Davy no did mean it! He no know firecracker that close! Accident! Just stupid accident! Davy feel so bad about your ears he no talk now!*

That got Mike's attention. He sat up, his jaw unhinging. *Please tell me you kidding.*

Kayla shook her head.

With a snarled aloud, "That little son of a -- " Mike was off the bed and out of the room, moving so fast Kayla couldn't keep up.

Mike grabbed Davy and hauled him up off the bandstand, taking off his bass and throwing it down so hard the top string broke. "Why?" he shouted at Davy. "Why did you stop talkin'? I'm the one who's deaf!"

Davy turned his head away, his expression full of shame. Peter stepped behind Davy so that just in case he spoke, Peter could translate. He and Micky were learning sign as well -- Davy had refused thus far. Kayla stepped up behind Mike to help with any words Peter stumbled on -- she'd sign them and Peter would copy for Mike.

Mike grabbed Davy's chin and forced his head up, forced him to meet chocolate brown eyes blazing with anger. "I asked you a question, little man!"

Davy licked his lips. "Be...Because....I did this to you....my fault...."

Mike looked at Peter's hands then back at Davy. "It was an accident. I know that now. I was furious, I was blamin' you. But Kay finally got through to me -- you're not to blame, Dave. Honest."

"I am!" he wailed. "I lit that damn firecracker!"

Kayla signed the last two words for Peter, who copied them. Mike sighed. "Dave....look. I'll make a deal with ya, okay?"

Davy's large eyes went even larger. "A...a deal?"

Mike nodded after Peter translated. "You start talkin' again and learn sign till this little problem of mine eases --- and I'll quit blamin' ya and help ya through this. What d'you think about that?"

After a very long moment, Davy grabbed Mike in a hug and began to cry, nodding against his shoulder. Mike nodded in satisfaction.

Micky lay his hands on Kayla's shoulders. "The only thing keeping him going is the hope this is temporary."

"I know the feeling," Kayla sighed. "Wonder why Doc Russell hasn't called us back with those test results?"

"You wanna call him?"

"Yeah." She turned and kissed Micky, then moved to the phone, dialing a number on a small card beside it. After a moment, she said, "Doctor Samuel Russell please."

All eyes were on her now. She smiled at them and then spoke into the phone. "Doc? Hey, it's Kayla Nesmith. We were wondering if Mike's test results were --- they are? Great! What do they say?"

At the look that began to creep across her face, all of them realized what the results must have been. Peter and Davy both grabbed onto Mike, who stood there wide-eyed, all the color draining out of his face. Micky moved swiftly to Kayla's side as the phone fell from her suddenly nerveless fingers. She took one step back...two....

Then for the first time since they'd known her, Kayla began to scream.

The End

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