The story so far: A daring raid on Andrew's lair resulted in the rescue of one of his blood slaves – a human reduced to nothing but a food source – and in the raid, Schneider was blown apart. The ghost that animates his body flowed into Davy, and they called home to report everything. This story picks up four hours after the phone call, after MacLaren has woken up for the night.
It was a solemn quartet who arrived close to ten PM at the safe house where Davy and Niles were staying with the freed blood slave.
"Where is she?" Mike demanded as they entered.
"In the shower," Davy answered. "Niles is assisting her."
MacLaren strode over and grabbed Davy by the chin. He turned his double's face from left to right, studying the single blue eye.
Davy's eyes – blue and brown – blazed. "Release me."
"You've walked into Davy," MacLaren stated. "You will make him ill if you remain there."
The lips quirked in a cold parody of Davy's joyful grin. "No, I won't."
MacLaren dropped his hand. "You can't know that."
"The boy is blood of my blood," Schneider said. "He'll not be harmed."
MacLaren's head tilted. "Blood of your blood?"
A nod of their shared head, and Davy answered, "Apparently I'm a direct descendant of his aunt."
"No 'apparently' about it," Schneider corrected. "You are."
"Only you," Micky chuckled. "Only Davy would give 'talking to yourself' a whole new meaning!"
Schneider laughed, then Davy replied, "Funny, Skillet-Face."
"That's Davy," Micky and Peter laughed together.
Mike nodded. "You 'feel' different," he said. "Depending on who's controlling..." He wiped a hand across his forehead. "Controlling the body."
Peter instantly shook Mike gently. "Turn it off."
"But – how will we know--"
"We'll know," Peter confirmed. "Turn it off, Michael. Now."
Mike groaned and sagged slightly, the relief visible on his face. He dry-swallowed a pair of painkillers, then chuckled as Davy belatedly passed him a glass of water. "Thanks," he laughed as he drank it.
All eyes then turned as a door opened. The former blood slave, wrapped in a towel, stepped out. Niles was right behind her, toweling his own hair dry before wrapping the towel around his waist.
Peter ran to a bedroom and emerged with clothing for them both. Niles swiftly dressed.
She just stared at the clothing. Davy and Peter had to dress her like an oversized doll.
By the time they'd gotten her in the ill-fitting jeans and too-large t-shirt, both men were blushing deeply.
"What's her name?" MacLaren asked Niles.
Niles shook his head. "She hasn't said a word. I don't think she remembers."
Peter met her eyes. "Do you remember your name?"
Her head just tilted.
"Do you know what I'm asking?"
And her dark head dipped in a slow, single nod.
MacLaren gasped. "What? He got a blood slave to communicate?"
Davy grinned. "Peter's special."
Peter was asking again, "Do you know your name?"
Her head tilted the opposite way – then slowly shook a negative.
"We have to call her something," Micky said.
She walked to his side and smiled. She put her fingers on the button at his collar.
Micky smiled. "It says 'Love Is The Ultimate Trip'."
She smiled and tapped the button with her fingernail.
"It's a button," Micky said.
She tapped it again, then tapped her chest.
"You want it?" Micky asked.
"No," MacLaren said. "No....I think she's just named herself."
"Button?" Micky asked incredulously.
And her face lit as she grinned and nodded.
"Button it is," Mike grinned.
"Speaking of names," MacLaren turned to Schneider-in-Davy. "It's time for you to reveal who you really are."
Schneider's smile still looked absolutely wrong on Davy's lips. "No," he replied. "It isn't."
MacLaren hissed. His eyes reddened and his fangs lowered. "We have a right to know who has walked into Davy!"
The smile transformed into Davy's. "It's okay, Mac," he chuckled. "I know, and I trust him."
MacLaren glared at him. "I don't like it."
It was Schneider who answered, "You don't have to."
"Yeah," MacLaren said, "I do. Because we need to trust each other with Andrew out there. And if you won't even tell me your name...."
Schneider opened his mouth, then he felt a gentle touch to his arm. He turned and smiled gently at Button, who was looking at him worriedly.
"It's all right, Button," he assured her.
She shook her head.
"I hate to say it," Peter said, stepping forward, "but Mac's right. We're neck-deep in this – rapidly getting in over our heads – and secrets just aren't gonna cut it anymore."
Schneider looked from face to face and sighed. "Oh, all right. If you will all introduce yourselves to Button, I'll follow suit."
"Fair enough," MacLaren said.
"As a matter of fact," Davy said, coming forward, "I'll go first. Davy Jones."
Peter nodded. "Peter Tork."
"Also known as the group's 'daddy'," Micky teased.
"Shut it," Peter laughed.
"Micky Dolenz," Micky grinned.
Her eyes had swung to them as they'd talked. Now they swung to Niles.
"Niles Martin," he smiled.
She returned it and her eyes sought out the vampyre.
"Peter MacLaren," he said, his features regaining much of their human appearance, though his eyes remained red. "I go by 'Mac' to tell me apart – name-wise – from Peter, here."
Then she looked at the man with the hat.
"Mike Nesmith," he smiled at her.
"All right," Mac said, looking into his double's mismatched eyes. "We've done as you asked."
"All right." The eyes clicked all blue as Schneider answered, "As you've known for awhile, I'm a ghost. I would prefer to remain 'Schneider', as it....suits me. But the name I was born with and died with?"
His shoulders straightened and he locked eyes with MacLaren.
"That name is William MacLaren."
In the shocked silence that followed, MacLaren actually took a step backward. All around the room, those who knew that name were staring wild-eyed at Schneider.
Mike winced. "He's telling the truth."
Peter's hand landed on his shoulder. "Turn it off."
Mike nodded and visibly sagged.
MacLaren stared wildly at the man who inhabited the body of his double. ".....what?"
"Must I repeat myself?" Schneider rolled his eyes – mismatched again, as Davy was listening in.
"No," MacLaren whispered. "You.... you don't."
Button tugged on Niles' sleeve,and he covered her hand with his. He caught the puzzled look in her eyes and explained, "His son."
Her frown deepened as she turned to watch them.
MacLaren was just standing there, staring. ".....William?"
A closed-mouth smile and a tilt of the head was Schneider's only reply.
MacLaren stepped forward , cupping Davy's cheek. ".....William?"
"It's Schneider now," he replied. "But, yes. I was born your William." He reached out and took MacLaren's wrist. "Let's talk."MacLaren nodded, and they stepped out into the night.
Micky stared after them, then walked over to Niles. "I don't know very much about blood-slaves," he said in a whisper. "Why is it such a big deal that Peter got Button to communicate?"
"Because blood-slaves can't," Niles whispered back. "A blood-slave is a human reduced to food. They have no memories. No real consciousness, identity, or even basic sense of self."
Micky looked over to where Button was sitting between Peter and Mike, beaming as they played rock/paper/scissors to make her smile. "She has all three."
Niles frowned. "When we were escaping – we should have had to carry her limp form all the way here. That's how a blood-slave is. But she put her feet down. She ran with us. She seemed to understand what we were doing."
"What are you saying?" Micky asked.
Shaking his head, Niles sighed. "I don't know, Micky. Either she's a very new blood-slave, or....."
"Or?" Micky demanded softly.
"Or she's some kind of plant, and Andrew's on to us."
MacLaren and Davy returned about fifteen minutes later. "Well?" Peter asked.
"I believe him," MacLaren said. "He knows details that only my son knows."
Micky pointed out, "Or another person alive in that era – or someone who has done meticulous research."
MacLaren grinned. "Details peculiar to my family. Things only my son and I shared." His grin faltered as he regarded Micky.
Since when was Micky so suspicious of everything?
Smiles bloomed all around and Peter hugged them both. As Micky did the same, Peter turned toward Mike.
One look at the glazed eyes and the blissed-out expression, and Peter shook Mike. Hard. "Turn! It! Off!"
"But it feels so good," Mike sighed.
"It's like a drug high," Peter said. "The love in here feels so good to you, it's overwhelming. But if you don't turn it off, the comedown is gonna--"
Mike's eyes abruptly cleared and filled with agony.
"I told you," Peter sighed, gripping his shoulders and guiding him into the bedroom.
MacLaren shook his head fondly. Then he turned to Micky. "Tell me what's wrong."
Micky stepped over and said softly, "Button."
"What about her?"
And Micky told the vampyre of his and Niles's suspicions.
"Mm." MacLaren admitted to himself, they were valid ones. He walked over to her. "Button?"
She turned to look at him, standing in front of him.
He caught her eyes. She stiffened with a gasp.
"Tell me your name."
Her hand rose, and she mimed a button on her chest.
"Truly a mute, then," MacLaren said. "But no. Your name."
Her head tilted and her eyes went completely blank.
"Tell me who you are."
Button crashed to her knees and tilted her head back to expose her neck.
"Blood-slave," he translated for the others. "Tell me who you were."
Her eyes filled with tears.
"She truly does not know," MacLaren said, still holding her eyes. "She has been wiped clean. Stand."
She did so, and MacLaren asked, "Button the blood-slave. How are you aware?"
Slowly, she raised a hand and pointed.
"William? Or Davy?"
"She 'woke up' before I went into Davy," Schneider said. "Before I was blown apart, I saw her begin to run with them. Davy and Niles were carrying her between them, each holding one of her arms with both hands."
"Of course," MacLaren gasped. He released Button, and she gasped, rubbing her head. "I am sorry, my dear. But it was necessary. Niles."
Niles put his arms around Button and gently led her to the couch, sitting with her and coaxing some water down her.
MacLaren beamed at Davy. "Of course," he repeated.
Davy frowned. "What 'of course'?"
"Davy, you are a WeaponsMaster," MacLaren grinned.
"Yeah....so?" Davy asked, visibly confused.
"You can turn anything into a weapon."
"That's what you've told me. I repeat, so what?"
"Davy," MacLaren laughed. "You have turned a blood-slave into a weapon. Simply by touching her!"
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