It was a very subdued Micky that climbed the stairs for bed that fateful evening. He was shaken to his core, rocked by what he’d done to his three best friends.
It had started so innocently. All he’d been trying to do was to create a new soft drink flavoring in a bid to get something he could sell and make money for them. He’d poured three drinks and asked each of his friends to taste.
They each had said it tasted like lemonade – peach lemonade in Peter’s case, which made him smile – and he’d subsequently poured it down the sink.
Two hours later, when the first alterations had manifested themselves, he’d wished he’d kept it.
And now, he was heading to bed, hoping sleep would bring him clarity as to just what he’d done wrong and how to fix it.
Disturbed when the door opened, Mike rolled over and looked silently up at Micky.
Micky met his eyes and felt his heart break for about the millionth time that evening. He forced a smile to his lips. “It’ll be all right. Go rest.”
“Are….Are you sure?” Mike’s voice trembled, the Texas accent thick with worry. “I don’t want to live like this forever.”
“I’m sure. I’ll figure it out.”
“You didn’t drink it.”
Micky shook his head. “No, I didn’t.”
“You’re the only one of us still okay.”
“Yes, I am. I’ll figure this out, Mike. I swear.”
“Maybe…” He chewed on his lip for a second. “Maybe Peter could help? He’s real smart now.”
Micky looked down at the floor and sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’ll see, Mike.”
Silence. He raised his eyes to find Mike curled into a small ball, rocking back and forth slightly. His dark eyes were huge and moist and his clefted chin trembled slightly.
“Aw, Mike.” Micky went over and sat on his bed. He rubbed the tense back gently, wincing as he felt the cruel curve that he knew had to be hurting Mike because of his posture. “Here, lay down. Stretch that back out.”
Mike obeyed instantly, turning his face to the wall. But it was too late.
Micky had seen the tears.
Reaching out to wipe them away, Micky silently rejoiced. Mike was still fighting this – he was trying to hide the emotions that were storming inside him. “I’ll fix this. I swear.”
“I trust you.” And his eyes closed.
Once he was sure Mike was asleep, Micky fled the bedroom and ran to the balcony. He took great gulps of the night air, trying to calm himself. But he heard himself start moaning out his grief anyway.
“This was my fault!” he cried. “My fault!”
“Yeah, it was,” a calm voice behind him said.
Startled, Micky whirled to see Peter leaning against the frame of the sliding door. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his legs were crossed at the ankles. But what chilled Micky the most was his expression.
“This was your fault,” Peter repeated. “So you’re going to fix it. And I’m going to help. Come on.” He straightened up and jerked his head to indicate indoors.
“Where…are we going?”
“You’ll see.” He led the way back inside and into his bedroom. “Hey. Wake up.” He nudged Davy.
Davy rolled over and sat up, blinking sleepy eyes.
“Go sleep upstairs. Micky and I’ve got to talk.”
Davy nodded and weaved his way to the door. He froze, turning. “Peter…”
“No girls up there, only Mike. I promise.”
Relaxing in relief, Davy headed up the stairs. When the door closed, Peter let out a heavy sigh. “Davy afraid of girls. Good grief.”
“Mike afraid of his own shadow, trusting us utterly. You thinking clearly and sharp-tongued—“
“Yeah, that was the only good thing to come out of all this.” Peter smiled a shadow of his familiar sunny grin. “Come on, let’s brainstorm.”
“But it’s one AM.”
“Micky – we can’t live like this forever. This isn’t us.”
With a groan, Micky keeled over on Davy’s bed. “And it’s my fault.”
The next second, a pillow smacked Micky’s face. He sat up, glaring at Peter. “What was that for?”
“We’ve established blame,” Peter growled, leaning forward and jabbing a finger at Micky. “Now we focus on fixing it. Got me?”
Micky nodded, still shocked at the forceful personality his potion had unlocked in Peter.
“Good.” He sat back against the wall. “Now tell me this – did you keep notes of the formula?”
“I always do. They’re in a notebook underneath my workbench as I create them. That way if there’s a harmful…” His eyes widened. “Peter!”
Peter’s full, dimpled sunshine grin shone on him. “Go to sleep, Micky. If those notes are there, then we’ve got a starting point in the morning.”
“More than we had ten minutes ago!” Micky cheered as he slid into Davy’s bed and curled his legs up. “You’ll all be okay soon!”
After he watched Micky drift to sleep, Peter’s smile faded. “……maybe not.”
Peter and Micky worked side-by-side all day long in the lab, preparing another batch of the ‘flip formula’ as Micky called it. They had tried several alternatives, several batches of possible antidotes – and each and every one of them had either exploded or melted test tubes.
One even produced a cloud of steam that turned into a snake and crawled off down the beach. That one made them look at each other with huge eyes, and Micky subsequently lit a Bunsen burner and sentenced that particular formula to burn at the stake.
Micky was amazed at the changes his formula had made in Peter. He was devastated at what it had done to Mike and Davy, but amazed at what had been done to Peter.
The boy-man was now a capable, strong-willed man. Somehow, Micky knew this was the man Peter would have grown into had the car accident when he was ten never happened.
Micky was going to miss him when they found a cure. Were it not for Mike and Davy, he’d almost be willing to not make one at all, just to have this Peter around.
They broke for lunch. Mike – now eagerly and overly helpful – was setting the table while Davy finished making the fajita fillings. Mike filled bowl after bowl with cheese, olives, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes – chopped by Davy – anything he could think of to top the meal.
Micky looked at Peter, tears welling up.
“That won’t help,” Peter said softly. “A cure will.”
Nodding, Micky took the soda from Mike and turned him toward the table. “Let someone else help. You go sit.”
Mike heaved a sigh and arched his aching back before he sat. “Wish that’d reversed my body, too. That way my back wouldn’t hurt so bad.”
It was the first time they’d ever heard Mike openly complain about his mild scoliosis. In his now-halting way, Davy asked if it hurt a lot.
Nodding matter-of-factly as he loaded his plate with filling and then grabbed a tortilla, Mike answered, “I’m in pain all the time. Some days are better, some are worse, but I’m in some degree of pain all the time.”
Peter, Micky and Davy shared glances. “Okay,” Peter sighed. “A whole lot about Mike suddenly makes sense.”
“Especially…why so…aloof,” Davy whispered.
Micky just watched Mike eating – not caring one whit he was being talked about or that he’d just divulged one of his biggest secrets. Micky shook his head. “There’s gotta be something…”
“There is,” Peter said firmly. “And we’re going to find it.” He finished cutting the too-big hunk of onion on his plate and gestured at Micky with his fork. “Provided you don’t pull anything stupid again.”
That got their attention. “Stupid?” Mike asked, visibly bewildered.
“What…do?” Davy forced out.
Peter spoke around a mouthful of fajita. “He tried to drink some of the original formula – test it on himself.”
Micky scowled at Peter. “That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me.”
With a sound midway between an sigh and a groan, Peter dropped the fajita to his plate and leaned forward. “Micky. Think. That formula did this to us! If you’d taken it, it would have reversed you, too!”
“But you would have my notes! You can study my shift, learn from watching—“
“DAMMIT, MICKY!” Peter rocketed to his feet so fast his chair toppled over. “You’re the smartest one of the four of us – start acting like it!”
Micky shot to his feet as well. “I am!” he roared back. “I’m trying to help you three and all I’m getting from you is patronized!”
“Micky, I swear to G—“
“Mike!” Davy yelled.
Peter and Micky both turned to face Mike. They then looked at each other and raced to Mike’s side.
Mike had toppled his chair as well. He was curled into a tiny ball, his back impacting the wall as he rocked. As Peter and Micky crouched by him, they could hear him sobbing softly, “Stop it….stop it….stop fighting….stop…fighting…”
Micky put his hand between Mike’s back and the wall. “We’ve stopped,” he assured Mike. “We’re sorry.”
“Yeah, man,” Peter said, lifting Mike’s chin and wiping the tears off of his high cheekbones. “We’re sorry.” He looked over at Micky. “You’ve seen this before?”
Micky nodded. “It’s a flashback. He’s not had one in ages – and never in public.”
Slowly, Mike’s eyes cleared and he reddened in embarrassment. He ducked his head back down in his arms.
“Come on,” Peter said. “Let’s get you out of this without hurting your back.” When Mike was settled again, Peter turned to Micky. “Let’s go. Let’s get this fixed. He can’t go on this way.”
Micky nodded and led the way back to the lab. The work would go on.
Several more unproductive hours passed with several more lousy tries going wrong.
At last, in a burst of frustration, Peter sighed, “Why don’t you just remake the formula and see if it flips us back?”
Micky looked at him, then began to smile. They had been working fast and furious ever since.
When they reappeared inside the house, Mike and Davy shot to their feet and demanded in unison, “Well?”
Micky grinned. “It’s cookin’. It’s got to heat for two hours and rest overnight. We’ll have it after breakfast and you should be back to normal by noon. If it works out.”
Davy nodded. “I hope… works… out.”
Mike rubbed his shoulder, smiling easily at him. “It will. You just gotta have a little faith.”
It was a much happier household that went to bed that night. All but one.
Davy watched Peter get ready for bed. The Englishman’s silver tongue had been all but silenced by the reversal potion, and he couldn’t find the words just yet to say what he wanted to.
But his scrutiny made Peter squirm and he turned as he pulled the covers over his legs. “What?”
Davy took a deep breath and forced the words out. “You… don’t…. want….”
Peter frowned. “Want what?”
“Don’t be stupid. Of course I want to go back -- we all want to go back.” He lay down.
“Not you. You … like… way you are … now.”
Peter’s eyes closed convulsively.
His bed dipped slightly as Davy sat beside him. “I’m…right.”
“Yeah. You’re right.” He sighed.
They sat in silence for a long time, then Davy whispered, “What….going… to do, Peter?”
“I don’t know yet.” He sighed again and pillowed the back of his head on his laced fingers. “But I’ll think of something.”
The next morning, Micky was up with the sun, racing out to his garage lab to see if the formula had set up right.
When he returned, he found Peter up and making breakfast for everyone. “It’s ready to roll!”
“Great,” Peter said without much enthusiasm as he watched Micky pull down three glasses and measure out a precise amount of formula into each.
Micky froze and turned to face Peter, who wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Hey. Peter, what is it?”
One paisley-clad shoulder rose in a shrug.
Micky studied him for another moment, then his eyes widened. “Oh.”
Peter turned to him and forced a shadow of a smile, though it didn’t reach his eyes at all. “It’s all right, Micky. I’ll drink the thing. I’ll go back the way I was, just like everybody else.”
Micky looked at the three glasses, waiting silently to be imbibed. He seemed to be thinking for a long moment, then he ordered, “Peter, let me finish those eggs. You go get everybody up. Let’s get this over with as fast and as painlessly as possible.”
Peter nodded. He drug the wooden spoon around the pan once more, fully dislodging all the scrambled eggs, then he snapped off the stove and set them off the heat. Wiping his hands on a towel, he jogged up the stairs to wake Mike.
Micky watched till he vanished into the upstairs bedroom, then he grabbed one of the glasses.
When the other three Monkees congregated, they found the two remaining glasses waiting for them. Cheering, Mike and Davy drank them down. Peter frowned, unable to figure out where his glass had vanished to.
As the others slowly began to return to normal, Micky walked in the front door – carrying an empty glass. Peter’s eyes widened and he grabbed the drummer, pulling him into a quiet corner. “You didn’t!” he hissed. “Tell me you didn’t!”
“What, this?” Micky smiled and set the glass in the sink. “No. I didn’t. You wanted to stay the way the formula made you – now you can.”
Peter blinked at him. “You…. for me?” At Micky’s nod, he turned away slightly, blinking back tears of gratitude. “Micky…”
“It was nothin’, man. You’d have done the same for me.”
Nodding, Peter frowned slightly. “But… if you didn’t….who did?”
The gentle smile broke into one of Micky’s beaming grins. “I decided to be a good little tenant. I took Babbitt a free glass of peach lemonade.”
Peter’s eyes widened again. “You. Took.”
“Babbitt?” Peter chuckled.
“Oh my heavens!” And Peter burst into laughter so hard he had to lean on the sink to keep upright.
Micky watched him laugh and watched the remaining two slowly regain their normal personalities. “Mission accomplished,” he whispered to himself, vowing to destroy all copies of that particular formula.
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