"I Need You" by The Who
"Can't Explain" by The Who
"Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers(extra verses written by Enola Jones)
JD was unusually late.
Buck prowled like a caged tiger. "I knew I should'a drove him to work... that stupid motorcycle...."
"It's not like JD to just vanish with no explanation," Vin agreed.
Chris looked up from his guitar. "Bad feelin'?" At Vinís nod, he stood up and moved to Buck's side, squeezing his old friend's shoulder.
Even Ezra remained quiet, in his own reflective thoughts and concern for JD.
The phone behind the bar jangled, and six pairs of eyes flicked to Inez, who picked it up. "Four Corners Nightclub...." Her hand tightened on the receiver. "Yes... I... I'll tell him. Thank you." She hung up shakily, her face pale.
"Inez?" Buck asked.
Her dark eyes met his. "JD is at Mercy... his motorcycle was hit by a car..."
Within seconds, Inez was alone in the nightclub. She sat down and began to pray.
JD looked terrible. Hooked up to several machines, bandages swathing his head and chest, a cast on his left leg....
It was a comfort to Buck, however, to find just a nasal cannula -- no ventilator or respirator.
"Aw, kid..." Buck sat down beside him and rubbed his arm.
Dark eyes fluttered open and locked onto him. "Bu... uck?"
Buck nodded. JD's voice sounded odd, but he chalked that up to what he'd gone through. "Yeah, kid, it's me." He pushed the call button. "You're gonna be just fine...." When a nurse came flying in, Buck smiled at her. "He's awake...."
The nurse came out and told the assembled men, "He's conscious, alert and oriented. We'll keep him here for observation a few days, then he can go home -- now that we've found a pain medication he can tolerate."
Chris blinked. "A what?"
"Mister Dunne told us he's allergic to morphine and all its derivatives."
Buck's eyes widened. "He never told me ab---" Then his eyes grew even wider. He grabbed the nurse's arm and pulled her aside. Lowering his voice, he whispered, "Does he have an accent?"
Puzzled, she nodded. "A lovely British one. Why?"
Without a word or a backward glance, Buck raced to JD's room, his heart threatening to thud right out of his chest.
The hapless nurse found herself swarmed by five anxious men.
Buck entered JD's room and just looked at him for a moment.
At the sound of the door opening, the dark head turned and a sunny smile parted the lips. He made no move to sit up -- a mute measure of the sheer amount of pain he was in.
"Where's JD?" Buck whispered.
The smile turned sad. "He's in here," the British voice replied. "I can't seem to wake him up."
Buck's eyes closed convulsively.
"How'd you know?"
"That it was you, not him?" Buck opened his eyes and saw the ebony-haired head dip once in a slow nod. "The so-called allergy that I know for a fact JD doesn't have."
"I didn't want to take any chances," he said softly. "I'm an addictive personality and the absolute last thing I want is for Johnny to come out of this hooked."
Buck sighed and nodded. "Thank you."
The un-IV'ed hand waved. "Not a problem... so, I'm assuming we tell the others?"
"No way around it."
A heavy sigh and he turned away.
"We'll get through this, Keith." It was the first time he'd said the name aloud.
"We have to," the man who looked like JD but wasn't said, turning back. "For Johnny's sake."
As they were talking, a doctor came in, a sheepish expression on his face. "Mister Dunne, he said gently.
"Doctor," JD replied, nodding at the saw the man held. "If I may ask...?"
A sheepish smile touched his lips. "With everything that has happened, there was a mix-up in your X-rays. A Mister Dunnigan's X-rays were put in your file." He held up the saw. "So I'm going to remove that cast."
A bubbling laugh welled up. "All this... and my leg's not broken!"
"That's right, Mister Dunne," the doctor said as he lowered JD's leg and began to saw. "You'll be back drumming again very soon."
"Can't think of anything I'd rather be doing!"
Minutes later, Keith sat shakily on the edge of the bed, sighing. "I don't know how I can do this, Buck. I don't know how I can tell them, 'Oh yeah, and by the way, I'm Keith Moon'! They'll think I'm looney!"
Buck sat beside him. "It's up to you, kid... uh, Keith...."
He chuckled. "That's all right, Buck. I don't mind bein' called Kid. It's been a long time."
"I bet it has," Buck grinned. A large hand closed over a slender shoulder. "It's your choice... Kid. No matter what you decide, I'll stick by you."
Large dark eyes raised to meet Buck's, and the older man's smile faded a bit. It never failed to startle him when JD's hazel eyes shifted to Keith's dark brown ones: the one certain cue as to who was whom. When he answered, his voice was a trembling whisper.
"Really." Buck nodded. "Your choice, in your hands, your decision -- hell, I'm sure Ezra could say it twenty other ways...."
Keith laughed, a hand going to his head. The smile fled completely. "Buck, I just want Johnny to wake up. I... I'm not even supposed to be here!" He gave a strangled sob. "I have been dead for twenty-two years... It's Johnny's turn to live... I'm nothing but an intruder...."
"An intruder?" Buck asked softly, incredulously. "Keith, your being here is keeping JD's body active. When he wakes up, his muscles won't be atrophied like a coma patient's normally are!"
"You speak like you've tended a coma patient before."
"I have," Buck said, a painful memory crossing his face.
Keith decided to file it for later. "I... I think I'll pretend to be Johnny. I think it'll be... simpler."
Buck nodded slowly. "Can you speak with an American accent?"
"Uhm... not very well...."
"Oh, boy," Buck sighed. "This is gonna be one of the shortest masquerades in history...."
"I don't want to face them yet," Keith said four days later as he slid out of the hospital by another way than that the other five were congregated at.
"Gonna have to sometime," Buck said as he followed him. "Been avoidin' them for days."
He nodded. "I know... but not yet." He all but collapsed into the front seat of Buck's car, closing his eyes.
"Not physically," came the quiet answer. "Trying to will Johnny to wake up."
Buck pulled out into traffic. "Any luck?"
"No." Keith sighed deeply. "Hey, take me to the Club."
Keith turned unsettling brown eyes to him. "Yes. I'm itching to drum. Way I feel right now, it'll keep me from losing it completely."
Buck nodded and turned the car back toward the Four Corners nightclub.
Chris pulled up beside Buck's car and got out of his own. "Buck, you idiot...." He walked in through the back door. "...better be a damned good explanation for takin' him out and not lettin' us see him...."
Chris fell silent as he heard Buck ask: "You feelin' better?"
He peered around the corner and saw that Buck and JD were already on the stage. Alone.
JD sighed, and a British voice rang out from his throat. "I'm stronger.... but oh, I wish Johnny would wake up! This is his life, not mine!"
Chris frowned. O...kay....
"So, you want to play another one?"
"Yeah," JD said, tapping a cymbal. "How bout one I wrote?"
"Sure!" Buck enthused, and suddenly some rapid-fire drum notes rang out. JD leaned forward and began to sing.
The voice coming from his throat into the microphone wasn't his. It was a deeper, less reedy tenor.
That when people tell you
That you're thinking wrong...."
His arms flew as he played, coaxing riff after riff from the drums at warp speed.
But they really mean so long...."
Chris's eyes widened. He knew that voice, knew that song....
"You talk to them
They laugh aloud
Yet they run to you
In any crowd...."
And the drumsticks flew faster still.
"Please talk to me again!
I need you...."
Chris had to hold onto the doorframe. He wrote that? But that song was thirty-plus years old....
Written by Keith Moon of the Who!
Chris stared at the young man whaling the fire out of the drums and suddenly didn't see him as a kid anymore.
"Please talk to me again!.... I need you....." With several drum rolls, it was over. Keith looked up at Buck, a sad smile on his face.
Chris licked his lips and walked out, clapping. A slight smile touched his face as he climbed onto the stage. "Not bad."
"Th-thanks," Keith stammered.
Chris slid on his guitar and looked 'JD' right in the eyes. "Impossible as it seems, I think I know who you are."
His eyes went wide. "Y-You... you do?"
Chris nodded. He struck the opening chords of one of the Who's early songs.
Keith grinned and struck the riff that belonged there. Buck started the bass. Chris grinned and leaned into the microphone, singing it as best he could.
"Got a feelin' inside..."
Buck and Keith harmonized, "Can't explain..."
"Feel hot and cold..."
"Way down in my soul, yeah!"
During the very short musical break, nobody noticed a hand in the wings picking up and turning on a cordless microphone.
"I said," Chris went on.
"I'm feeling good now, yeah, but--"
"I can't explain!"
Chris opened his mouth to do the next line, but an amplified voice from offstage supplied it.
"Dizzy in the head and I'm feelin' blue
The things you said, well maybe they're true...."
He climbed onto the stage, moving to the beat.
"Gettin' funny dreams again and again...
I know what it means but...."
All action froze as the music stopped, then Keith hit a roll and they began again. Keith couldn't help but smile and shake his head.
A manic drummer.
A bassist who let the beat move him madly.
A guitarist who preferred to let the music speak, not gyrate to it.
A charismatic lead singer who sang with his whole body, green eyes shining merrily as he let the music make him high and take him wherever it would.
"I can't explain
I think it's love
Try to say to you
When I feel blue,
But I can't explain..."
As they played on, and the other three gathered to hear and move to the beat, Keith suddenly knew why helping JD all those years ago had felt right. And he knew why he still stayed.
Keith had, in an odd, roundabout way....
"--I can't explain....." The song faded, and Ezra lowered the microphone to applause from the other three.
"Marvelous, brothers!" Josiah laughed. "The Who themselves couldn't have done better!"
Ezra beamed at Josiah, as Chris and Buck both turned to look at Keith. Their smiles died on their lips as they found the drummer looking down at his hands --- so very still....
"Hey," Buck said, taking a step forward. "Hey... kid?" He shrugged out of his bass and handed it behind him without looking, barely aware Chris took it from him.
Slowly, the drummer's eyes raised to Buck. Eyes that were tired... glazed... very confused....
And hazel-coloured. "...Bu....ck?"
"JD!" Buck roared, racing around the set and hugging him tight. "Thank Heaven! You're awake!"
JD smiled shakily and leaned into the embrace. "Not...f-for long... awf-ful tired..."
Buck nodded and carded a hand through the long, sweaty hair. "You will be awhile, kid. Just rest... we'll be right here... You just wake up again, got me?"
JD chuckled weakly. "G-got you... full-a...sh-shi--" And he sagged slightly in Buck's arms, eyes closed. One eye re-opened and turned up to him, the brownness startling. "He woke up," Keith whispered gleefully.
"Yeah, buddy," Buck whispered back, grinning though one tear snaked down his cheek. "He woke up."
The smile lingered as the brown eye closed.
In the silence, Ezra moved over and lay a hand on Chris's arm. "...Chris...what just happened here?"
"Got a story t'tell you boys," Buck drawled, lifting JD's sleeping form from the drums. "And a lot of it is gonna be hard t'swallow. But it's all true."
Seven days later, the Magnificent Seven hit the stage once more. "You sure you're up to it?" Buck softly mother-henned.
"Nope," a laughter-filled voice replied as brown eyes raised to look at him. "Stamina's still way down. S'why I'm gonna play for him today."
"Understood," Buck smiled, then frowned as he saw the sticks hitting the pair's shared legs rapid-fire. "Nervous?"
"Petrified," came the quiet admission. "Never been onstage before without -- uhm -- enhancement."
"You gonna be okay?"
A shaky grin and a slow nod. "Johnny's in here, givin' me a shot of confidence when needed." The grin turned slightly cocky. "That way I'll not need a 'shot of confidence', if you get my meaning."
Buck nodded. "Meaning got. Ya ready?"
Keith sighed. "Let's do this."
You can do this, JD told Keith. All the times you've helped me... I'm finally returning the favour.
It was another few minutes before Keith had enough control over his emotions to make it onstage.
The set went wonderfully. To Keith's delight, they worked in a few Who songs. 'Won't Get Fooled Again' had the double effect of a standing ovation after Keith's electrifying drum solo, and of giving the others teasing ammunition when Ezra replicated Daltrey's shriek so perfectly he'd irritated his throat and nearly drained the water bottle dry!
While Ezra was near the set getting relief, Keith leaned over and whispered, "All y'need is a long blond wig...." He laughed at the acid look Ezra shot him. "Just kiddin'. Great job, mate -- Goldilocks himself couldn't have done better!"
Ezra smiled. "Thanks," he whispered back. "Don't know what possessed me, there! I didn't even attempt that howl in rehearsals!"
"I don't either," JD replied tiredly, coming out and smiling. "Besides, I'm the possessed one, remember?"
Ezra winked at him. "Go rest, JD. We're nearly done."
A nod, and the eyes clicked to brown again.
Ezra regained the microphone at the front of the stage as the set rolled on. Three songs later, he announced, "In 1974, a song was recorded as a tribute to those who had left us much too soon. More have left since then, and so..." He took a breath, and Vin cut in.
"What Ezra is tryin' to say --"
"And takin' all day as usual," came from Nathan, making the audience laugh.
Vin chuckled as he finished, "Is that he and Buck added two verses to the song, in tribute to four of the best that left too soon."
"So without further ado," Ezra said, grinning at Nathan as he added, "or further 'ah-don't'..." the audience roared again, and Ezra finished simply, "'Rock and Roll Heaven'."
The music began and four voices rose in the harmonized chorus: Ezra, Buck, Chris and Vin.
"If you believe in forever,
Then life is just a one-night stand.
If there's a rock-and-roll heaven,
Well you know they've got a helluva band."
Ezra stepped forward, his tenor giving the song a somehow lighter feel than the original bass voice.
"Jimi gave us rainbows,
And Janis took a piece of our hearts,
And Otis brought us all to the dock of the bay...."
Buck's voice rose in a higher solo, completing the verse.
"Sing a song to light my fire--
Remember Jim that way."
Their voices blended in duet as they finished the verse together.
"They've only found another place,
Another place to play..."
The quartet sang the chorus together, then the three-line/two-line/duet again as they sang the verse honouring Jim Croce and Bobby Darin, then the chorus once more.
Then Buck asked, "You ready for the new stuff?" The crowd cheered and with a "Well, all right!" Buck nodded at Ezra, who smiled and began the verses they had written.
"With a plea to love me tender,
The King, he took us to the sky --
Changed the way we love to this day."
Buck nodded and picked up,
"And sweet Karen stayed close to you,
Though rainy days would get her down..."
Ezra stepped closer and they harmonized,
"They're all there together now,
And their music still takes us away...."
A repeat of the chorus, and six winks toward the drummer, who grinned -- knowing what was coming.
"Though he still can't explain,
Bet Keith is still keepin' time
With a devil's gleam in angel eyes of brown --
And just imagine if you can --
It's easy if you try --
How this world would shine bright as one
If John were still around...."
The club went deathly silent as the words impacted. As the chorus went on, a single lighter flicked on in the darkness.
"If you believe in forever--" Another one.
"Then life is just a one-night stand--" Another.
"If there's a rock-and-roll heaven--" Every table was illuminated by light.
"Well, you know they've got a helluva band!"
Ezra made a motion and the music stopped. He sang the bridge a capella.
"There's a spotlight waiting
No matter who you are
Cause everybody's got a song to sing....
Everyone's a star!"
Ezra lowered the microphone and ended the song right then and there.
The Magnificent Seven took their bows in a silent, contemplative crowd. And the lights came up as they walked off the stage.
Out of sight, all of them hugged the two drummers in one body. No words were exchanged.
They were just extremely glad JD was among the fold again -- and thankful for the ghost that had held on while JD wasn't able to pilot his body.
Perhaps... just perhaps... he'd stay a little bit longer.
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