Mike opened his eyes and turned his head slightly to the side. He frowned and raised his hand to his eyes.
His fingers brushed his eyebrow and felt the curved softness of his girl-long lashes brushing his fingertips.
Yup – his eyes were open, all right.
Rolling onto his side, Mike sighed as his eyes roamed from side to side, trying to pierce the black curtain that had seemingly fallen over his eyes in the night.
Thankfully, there was no panic this time. Somehow, knowing what caused the blindness – knowing the pressure behind his perforated optic nerves had merely shifted in the night and would eventually shift off of them – made panic unnecessary.
So Mike focused on figuring out what was going on around him. First of all, he didn't hear Micky snoring. He could smell the distinctive scent of bacon cooking, along with something cinnamon-y.
If it was Davy's cinnamon buns, that meant he was the last one up. If it was Peter's cinnamon toast, Davy was.
Mike sighed. Only one way to find out. Slowly, he sat up – fighting the vertigo shifting positions in the dark produced – and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
Mike sat there for a few moments, trying to picture the room's layout in his mind. Then he pushed his bare feet to the wood floor and stood up.
He found the door a few minutes later,and opened it. The railing was in his hand a moment after that, and he started heading down the stairs.
"Well, hello there!" Peter called merrily. "How're you doing this morning?"
"Blind," Mike said evenly. "Thing shifted in the night."
There was a moment of awkward silence, and then Micky's voice. "I'll get him – you finish breakfast."
Mike smiled his thanks as he felt the expected touch on his forearm. "How many steps do I have to go?"
"Three." Micky let out a breath of relief at the same moment Mike felt his bare feet touch the carpet at the base of the stairs. "Table?"
"Table," Mike agreed. "We havin' cinnamon toast or Davy's cinnamon rolls?"
"They're buns!" Davy growled from the vicinity of the oven, answering the question. "And just for that, you get the smallest one!"
"Walked right into that one," Mike sighed as he sat down. Chuckle erupted all around as breakfast began.
Halfway through, the blackness Mike saw lightened to a dark grey with indistinct shapes. "Hey, guys?" he announced with a grin. "It's comin' back."
And thus began the first morning of his new life of in-and-out sight.
Visibly startled, Davy blinked his eyes as the large red car pulled up. Then he narrowed his eyes as he crossed his arms. "And just what do you think you're doing?"
"Pickin' you up, like you asked," Mike replied with a chuckle. "Next time a girl says she'll drive, make sure you won't be stranded!"
"Not my fault she would rather be with a Warren Beatty lookalike," Davy shot back as he got in the car. As Mike pulled out, he said, "Maybe I'd better drive home."
Mike snorted and rolled his eyes. "Aw, c'mon, Davy! I've not lost my sight in nearly two weeks! That blob's more'n likely dissolved. I'm fine!" To prove his point, he pushed the gas pedal further down.
Davy's eyes narrowed again as the needle crept ten miles over the speed limit. "You're bound and determined to get us a ticket, aren't you?"
Mike chuckled as he navigated the first of many large curves between LA proper and the Pad. "No, I'm just--" He broke off abruptly, blinking rapidly, his knuckles going white on the wheel.
"Oh, shit," Mike whispered as his face went ashen. Davy tilted forward and echoed the sentiment.
Mike's eyes were glazed and unfocused. "Bloody hell," Davy gasped. "You're blind, aren't you?"
Mike nodded wildly.
There was no time to think. Davy pulled Mike's right hand from the wheel as he threw himself into Mike's lap. Mike completely released the wheel as Davy took it. "Foot off the gas!" Davy roared.
Mike jerked his feet back and Davy had control of the car. He guided it back onto the road they were in grave danger of vacating, and around the second large curve. He ignored the blaring horns as he pulled the Monkeemobile to the side of the road half a mile later. "We're safe now," he sighed.
Mike's forehead gently rested between Davy's shoulderblades as they both trembled. For a moment, the only sound was the laboured breathing of fright, then Mike whispered, "Don't you dare say you told me so!"
"Wouldn't dream of it," Davy whispered back. He pulled himself up with the steering wheel. "Move."
Mike slid over to the passenger side and Davy restarted the car. "Better?"
"No," Mike said, his eyes – open wide as if trying to pierce the blackness – roaming from side to side. "Get us home."
"Okay," was all Davy said as he did so.
Three days later, Mike had a scheduled checkup with Doctor Stein, a follow up to the visit where he'd learned about his cycle blindness. The Monkees all went with him.
When Mike came out, his lips were compressed with emotion and his eyes were blazing.
Peter stood up. "What's wrong?"
"Restriction," Mike growled. He dug his key ring out of his pocket and snapped the ring with the two Monkeemobile keys off of it. He grabbed Peter's wrist and pressed the car keys into his hand.
Both of the others stood now. "Mike?" Micky asked in a gasp.
In a clipped snarl, Mike growled, "I ain't allowed to drive no more." He met each of their eyes and the last words came out choked. "For the rest of my damned life."
Mike squinted through the haze of his returning vision and couldn't repress the large smile.
Peter had a look on his face that could only be described as rapturous. To Mike, the sounds coming from the next room weren't music. They sounded like a dischordant cacophany set to a faintly Eastern European beat.
Peter obviously heard something very different. Something he liked very much.
Mike made a mental note to get Peter some Eastern recordings. And headphones, he added as an afterthought, wincing as the woman singer's voice broke as she strained for a high note to end the song.
The musicians came out and sat across from the Monkees a few moments later. Mike immediately wished they hadn't.
The musicians were four sour-faced men – slightly older than the Monkees – and a middle-aged woman who had obviously been a strikingly exotic beauty in her youth. All of them wore gypsy clothing.
Mike's worries only intensified as the men snarled at them. Their potential employer came out and told the Monkees they had the job.
Their celebration ended when one of the gypsy men loomed over them, threatening to kill them. This guy's insane! flashed through Mike's mind as the woman lunged forward and settled the man-mountain.
When she apologised to them, it sank into Mike's mind that this was the man's mother. Mike nodded, accepting her apology.
The woman smiled, and Mike's thought that she once had been a beautiful woman was confirmed. Toothy and calculating it may have been, but her entire face lit as if from within.
She apologised for her son once more, and explained their disappointment. "But!" she laughed, "to show you that gypsies do not hold a grudge, you are invited to our camp tomorrow noon!"
Peter grinned and began to list the fun things he remembered from summer camp.
"Good!" the woman laughed – though they'd never said yes! Directions were given, and the laughing gypsies walked off.
"Huh," Mike said, standing up and fishing in his pocket for the car keys. "That was strange."
"Very," Micky said, standing up and producing the keys from his own pocket. "Let's get home."
Mike scowled, his balled fists jamming into his jeans pockets. "I ain't never gonna get used t'not drivin'," he grumped.
Peter rubbed his shoulder in silent comfort as they headed out of the mansion.
Mike sat morosely in the back seat of the Monkeemobile. He gazed out the window, watching the scenery flash by without really seeing it. His mind was a million miles away.
Davy reached across and poked his knee. "You lose it again on us, mate?"
Mike turned and spared Davy a small smile. "No, it's intact right now. I'm just..."
"I know," Davy sighed. "I've got a bad feeling about this, too."
"Then why are we even going?" Mike asked, throwing his hands up.
It was Peter who answered. "Because if we don't go, we wont know what's going on and if we don't know what's going on, we're gonna get blindsided."
Silence greeted that, then Micky asked without taking his eyes from the road, "What was all that, Peter?"
Peter shot him a grin. "They're up to something. They weren't good enough musically – once the woman started singing, that is – to get a gig and I have a feeling they know it. So--"
"So what are they after?" Mike interrupted, suddenly animated again. "What do they want?"
"And how are we going to find out," Peter pointed out with surprising pragmatism, "unless we go there?"
Silence reigned, and Mike shook his head. "Hey, fellas?"
"Yeah?" Micky asked.
"Is it that annoying when I do it?"
Three nods – albeit ones with grins – was his answer.
"Lovely." But Mike was chuckling.
"We're here," Micky said suddenly as he pulled the Monkeemobile over and turned it off.
"Show time," Mike muttered darkly as they spilled out of the car.
The next twelve hours were a blur that – looking back on it – Mike would never fully remember.
The gypsies had wanted access to the mansion to steal a priceless statue. Using threats, they had forced the Monkees to do their dirty work for them.
Mike would never be able to say exactly how they'd managed it, but they'd gotten out of that chaotic twelve hours with the statue still with its owner, the gypsies arrested, and the Monkees mostly together.
It was now two AM and the Monkeemobile was speeding through the darkness back to LA proper. It's three inhabitants were tight-lipped, with anger keeping them awake.
Mike's mind flashed over and over to what had happened only two hours earlier.
No sooner had the police taken the gypsy thieves away than Mike had noticed his watch was missing. Davy's had been taken as well. Micky never wore a watch, but his wallet had been taken.
And Peter was missing.
The Monkees had – with permission – scoured the mansion for him. They had found their missing watches and wallet discarded with other things the gypsies had thrown away in the chaos of capture. The search for Peter, however, proved ultimately fruitless; and an hour after it began, they were reluctantly packing to leave when the phone had rung.
Davy, the nearest, had picked it up. "Hello?" His already large eyes had gone huge in shock. "Peter... Peter, slow down!"
"Peter?" Micky and Mike ran to his side.
"All right...we'll be right there. ... I know it's an hour's drive, you just sit tight. We'll be there as soon as we can. ... Yes, Peter. I promise." Then he smiled slightly. "No, Peter, we'll not crash speeding. .. Okay, Peter. Sit tight. We're on our way."
When the phone was back in the cradle, Micky and Mike had both burst out with, "Well?"
Davy had sighed. "Peter's at the police station. Because he was dressed like a gypsy, the cops thought he was a gypsy – and arrested him with the others. They won't release him. We have to vouch for him."
"Wait," Micky had gasped. "How'd he get this number?"
Davy had smiled. "Peter's smarter than we give him credit for, apparently. He'd saved the card she gave us when we got the job."
Mike nodded as the memory retreated. He saw the police station come into view. "Almost there," he breathed in relief.
"All over but the parkin'," Micky informed him as he swung the massive car into the garage.
"Good," Mike said, hands twisting helplessly in his lap, yearning to hold a wheel he never could again. "Let's get this over with," he growled as the car slowed. Then – maddeningly – the lights began to blur and dim.
"Aw, shit, not now!"
They entered the department with Davy guiding Mike. Micky described Peter, and he was brought out a few moments later – in chains.
After he was released and they were all back in the Monkeemobile – Mike sitting beside Peter in the main back seat – Peter pulled the gypsy necklace he wore off so fast that it snapped. "I need a long bath," he growled.
"Jail was that bad?" Micky asked.
"Worse," Peter and Mike said together. Both were scowling, trying to fight back memories. Mike had the advantage, however – his were half a decade older than Peter's handful of minutes.
"Hey," Mike said suddenly. "It gets better. Trust me on this."
"All right," Peter sighed. "Does the hot bath help?"
Mike groped for and found his hand. "Yeah," he said firmly. He found Peter's ear and whispered, "And so does cryin'. And yellin'."
Peter wrapped an arm around Mike and hugged him close for a long while. Mike let him, knowing Peter needed the hug more than he did.
The bath did help, as did Peter's crying himself into an exhausted sleep. Mike would be the only one he would tell any details of his experience.
Mike was very pleased to discover Peter did know how to street-fight – and had done so, to protect himself. That innocence Mike envied in Peter – that compassion that was so strong and unique – was intact.
Damaged somewhat – but intact.
For a few weeks, Mike held off on broaching the topic of getting Peter some Eastern music. He feared the sound would trigger bad memories of the gypsies and Peter's subsequent jail ordeal.
But Peter himself solved Mike's dilemma when he came home with a recording of sitar music. As the exotic sounds filled the Pad, Peter's face took on the same rapturous cast it had before this mess began.
Mike knew then that things were going to be all right.
When the dark curtain of his cycle blindness settled onto him as he sat there beside Peter, that rapt expression stayed behind, imprinted on his mind. That expression alone gave Mike hope and strength till the curtain parted and sight returned.
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