MARIA'S GIFT: PETER

By Enola Jones



Micky walked into the kitchen and just stood there, watching while Peter cooked breakfast.

"Hi, Micky," Peter said without turning around.

Micky chuckled. "You and that radar!"

Giggling, Peter slid the pancakes onto a plate."Remember when it sure busted you and Michael?"

"Oh, yeah." Micky shuddered. He remembered that nightmarish twenty-four hours stuck inside Mike's body. His back still twinged in phantom memory on occasion. He'd never realised Mike lived in such pain. "Hey, where are the others?"

"Already eaten -- and gone to scout for gigs." Peter passed him the syrup. "I just got done eating, myself. I sensed you wake up, so I --"

At that moment, the phone rang. Peter set the juice in front of Micky and moved toward it, wiping his hands as he did so. "Hello?"

"Peter!" a joyful woman's voice chirped. "My sunny little grub-chick!"

Peter smiled and shook his head. "Hello, Maria."

Mid-bite, Micky looked up, frowning deeply. What could she possibly want?

"I wanted to thank you for all that you did when my gift to Micky went so horribly wrong."

Peter shook his head. "Oh, Maria. You didn't have to thank me. Any friend would have done the same."

"Ah, but no, Peter. they would not. That is what makes you so very special. So this is for you."

Peter's smile vanished in a heartbeat. "Maria -- no!"

Micky rose to his feet.

"Maria! Stop!" Peter gasped as she began to chant. "Stop!"

"Hang up the phone!" Micky yelled.

Peter obeyed at once, a look of horror on his face.

"What did she say?"

"I... I don't know," Peter mumbled, a hand ghosting over his forehead. "It.... It was in Romani."

Micky moved to his side. "But she was definitely casting a charm?"

"Oh, yeah," Peter growled. "There's no doubt about it. It was a charm -- on me."

"On you?" Micky gasped. "Why?"

"To thank me for what happened when you... you..." He doubled over, groaning as his hands flew to his head. "Oh, my head...."

"Come on," Micky groaned. "Let's get you to bed. Sleep off the headache."

Peter leaned against him. "Micky.... what did she....do to me?"

"We'll find out. And we'll make her fix it. You've got my word."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Mike and Davy arrived in high spirits. They were quite startled when Micky met them near the door. One look at his face, and Mike's smile fled. "What's happened?"

"Peter," was all Micky said before Davy broke into a run, racing into the downstairs bedroom.

Mike's eyes narrowed. "What about Peter?"

"Maria's 'gifted' him."

"Oh, shit! Tell me you're still you!"

Micky couldn't help but smile at that. "Yeah, I'm Micky. She didn't do what she did to us. He's got a severe headache right now."

Mike sagged slightly in relief at Micky's assurance that he and Peter had not switched bodies, but frowned at the news of a headache. "Did she send did he touch--"

"No." Micky shook his head. "She called him and chanted something in Romani. Next thing I know, Peter's almost blind with pain. He was asleep I don't know if he still is, after Davy charged in the way he did."

"He is," Davy said as he emerged from the bedroom. "He's got a bit of a fever, but otherwise he's sleeping sound."

Mike blew the air out of his cheeks.

Micky snapped his fingers. "Hey how come you two were all smiles when you came in? Did you manage to get us a gig?"

"Yeah," Davy grinned. "Saturday at the Vincent Van!"

"I hope we can still make it," Mike grumbled. When they shot two confused looks at him, he spread his hands. "We don't know what she did to Peter. I hope it's nothing that'll interfere with the gig but with her, you never know."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Peter groaned as he rolled over. His hands flew to his ringing head and he groaned again.

At least the pain had lessened. He thought he could manage it now.

Shakily, Peter gained his feet. He wove his way to the bedroom door and missed the doorknob twice before he landed it and pulled the door open.

Almost immediately, he crashed to his knees in the doorway. Fists grinding into his ringing head, he rocked back and forth, barely aware that the low keening sound that filled his ears was coming from his own throat.

It felt like Peter was being beaten from within. His brain was being battered by what felt like three miniature tornadoes.

Peter groaned out each of his room-mate's names before pitching face-first onto the hallway's shag carpet.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Peter came back to himself to feel a cool, wet cloth bathing his forehead and cheeks. The cloth slid to his neck and upper chest, then back to his face.

Worry slammed into Peter, making him flinch and moan. The weird thing was, it seemed to come from outside of him.

It seemed connected to... He turned his head, his eyes still closed. "....Mi....Michael?"

A bit of shock and then amusement wound around the worry. "How do you do that?" Mike chuckled.

Peter smiled gently, his eyes opening a crack. "I can....feel you."

"Feel me?" Mike asked. "I don't understand."

"Micky....calls it my... my radar." He groaned. "Ow, my head..."

"It's never caused you pain before," Mike whispered, and Peter felt the worry spike to a painful level.

Peter groaned, his hands flying to his head. "Stop it, Mike please stop worrying! It hurts!"

Shock. Surprise at the statement and the use of the nickname. Then, slowly cold fear. "My worry...hurts you?" Mike gasped.

Peter nodded miserably.

"How?"

"I don't know..." Peter groaned. "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know...." He thrashed slightly, desperate to relieve the pain.

Mike caught his head and held him still, turning his face to bore eyes into eyes. "Peter... are you tellin' me you can feel what I feel?"

Sniffling, Peter nodded. His eyes were huge with pain and fear.

"Oh, no," Mike groaned. He dropped his head and released Peter, who watched him curiously, though he still trembled in pain.

Mike took several deep breaths, and Peter gasped when he felt Mike's feelings --- mute.

"That's... enough," Peter sighed. "That doesn't hurt."

"You're sure?"

"Positive. It.... I feel almost normal. How'd you do that?"

Mike looked up and smiled slightly, but a trickle of sadness and regret leaked through to Peter. "What, shut my feelings off?"

"Well, you've not," Peter said as he sat up. "I can still feel them but they're a lot quieter. They're not battering me like fists."

"Coping mechanism," Mike said simply. "Kept me sane growin' up. Wait--- my feelings batter you?"

Peter nodded. "I had no idea you felt things as strongly as you do. Man, I'd be completely distracted--" He broke off, frowning. "What's wrong?"

Alarm had stabbed through Mike as the full implications of this struck him muted, but there. "Your radar...." he breathed. "Peter...I think we've just found out exactly what Maria's 'gift' to you was."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Micky and Davy drove up, they were very surprised to see Mike sitting on the front porch clearly waiting for them.

Micky slid out of the car and frowned. "He's still out, then."

"You're startin' to sound like Davy," Mike quipped, a corner of his mouth quirking upward before he sighed and shook his head. "He's been awake. Did you get the aspirin?"

"Two bottles full." Davy rattled them. "How is he?"

"In a hell of a lot of pain. We know what Maria did to him."

Micky's spine stiffened. "Not good, huh?"

"No. Y'know that 'radar' of his." As they nodded, he went on. "She upped it. It's full empathy now."

"Empathy?" Micky and Davy gasped together. Then Davy asked, "What's that?"

Despite the situation, Mike found himself amused by their antics. "That's where a person can feel another person's emotions. Ours are so strong they're painful to him."

Davy frowned incredulously. "Our feelings hurt him?" At Mike's nod, he spread his hands helplessly. "We're sunk, then! Nobody can control his feelings!"

"Sure you can," Mike said firmly. "S'why I'm out here gonna give you a crash course before you go in t'see him."

Micky blinked, pointing at Mike. "How can you--"

"You were in my skin for a day, Micky. How do you think?"

Slowly, Micky's eyes widened. He knew nothing of Mike's past, beyond what scraps Mike had shared. But having lived in Mike's body, he knew of the near-constant pain Mike's curved spine caused him. "Yeah... I guess you gotta, to keep that under control."

Mike nodded. "So let's get started. Pete misses you guys a whole lot more'n he's lettin' on."

"You're an empath, too?" Davy teased.

Mike smirked. "Nah I just know Peter."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Peter's cry of pain coincided with Micky's peeking around the door. Micky's eyes widened. He knew Peter couldn't see him from that angle.

Following Mike's directions, Micky imagined a thick blanket creeping over the surface of his mind, wrapping his emotions up and muting them.

When Peter collapsed in visible relief, Micky shook his head. Damn! he thought. Mike was right!

We've gotta find some way to make her reverse this Peter can't take much more of this!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria was genuinely confused as her guard led her toward the warden's office. Never before had she been summoned before the warden, having been a model prisoner.

The summons had been abrupt, with no explanation given. Maria was completely baffled.

"Prisoner Maria Romanoff," she was announced.

She walked in to see the warden seated at her desk and a man standing in the shadows. "Yes, ma'am?" Maria asked, baffled. "You sent for me?"

"No, Maria," the man said, stepping into the light. "I sent for you."

Confusion turned to absolute delight. Maria's face lit and she stepped toward him, manacled wrists outstretched. "David!"

Davy allowed the awkward hug, then he broke the embrace and cupped her chin, gazing intently into her eyes. "Maria." His voice was kind but firm. "You need to come with me. I've cleared it with the warden."

"Certainly, my smallest grub-chick," she said even as her brow furrowed in confusion. "Where are we going?"

"We're going home, Maria. There's something you need to see words can't adequately describe it."

Slowly, Maria nodded. The manacles were removed and a small blinking bracelet was fastened to her ankle.

"Ah," Davy smiled. "You've perfected the technology, then? Micky will be happy to hear that!"

"We're experimenting," the warden smiled. "Have her back by noon tomorrow."

"I will." With that, Davy led the baffled Gypsy out of the prison.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When they pulled up outside a yellow beach house, Maria asked, "Where are we, David?"

He turned off the car. "This is our home, Maria. One of us is very ill, and only you can help him."

"Who, David? Who is ill?"

His gaze turned hard and the word he spoke made her realise just what she had done.

"Peter."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria sat at the kitchen table and nursed a hot cup of tea as she listened to the troubling events that had come about. She sighed deeply, bowing her head. "It sounds as if my spell was too powerful."

Three pairs of eyes met, then looked back at her. It was Mike who spoke. "So you can fix it?"

"Aye," she said, looking at them. "But I fear if I attempt it, I will strip that amazing ability of his."

Micky leaned over and took her hand. "Maria -- please. He can't live like this."

Mike nodded. "And if his ability is removed -- at least he'll be alive. If this continues, he'll lose his mind, and then his life. Please, Maria."

She looked from one to another to another. Then she calmly sipped her tea. when she put the cup down, she took a deep breath and nodded. "I will do what I can, grub-chicks. That is all I can promise."

"That's all we're asking," Mike said. "But we gotta teach you something first."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria paused outside the bedroom and took a moment to pull the mental muting blanket over her emotions as Mike had showed her. Then she gently opened the door.

Peter lay on the bed, pain contorting his handsome features as he twisted in a futile attempt to flee the torment.

Maria leaned against the jamb and whispered, "Oh, my sunny one." She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and began to do exactly what she'd told the others she would.

She changed the exact same charm -- in reverse.

Peter's body arched from the bed. His hands fisted the sheets as something silver rose from his head and floated to the ceiling, dissipating along it.

With a loud groan of relief, Peter collapsed onto the bed.

With a soft moan of effort, Maria collapsed to her knees.

And the remaining Monkees swarmed. Davy flew to Maria's side, and Mike and Micky to Peter's.

Peter smiled and reached his hands up to them. "Michael," he whispered, eyes still closed. "Micky."

They each took a hand. "How are you?" Mike asked.

"Normal," Peter whispered. "Pain's gone. I feel fine." His eyes opened a little and he frowned. "Bit confused, though."

"About what, Big Peter?" Micky asked worriedly.

"Why do I 'feel' Maria here? Isn't she in jail?"

At this vivid proof his "radar" was still intact, Maria burst into tears.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria gave them her word she would not escape. Though they all were skeptical, they agreed to let her have the couch.

In the morning, when they came from their bedrooms, they found the Gypsy woman still curled there, sound asleep.

She had kept her promise.

When they returned her to jail by the noon deadline, Maria watched them depart with a smile on her face.

Mike was not wearing his hat. Her smile grew as she recalled the charm she'd cast on said hat while he slept.

Twice, she had messed up. The third time, she would succeed.

Mike would love her gift. She was sure of it.

THE END




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