Davy sat on the beach and watched the sun set. He would not cry. His fists clenched as he remembered Colleen's words.
"You're plain, Dave. Boring and plain. And with only one fully functional hand..." She had walked away, laughing.
Davy laid his head on his folded arms, curling up into a tight little ball. He was dimly aware of the rapidly darkening sky, but he was in no hurry to return to the Pad and show his roommates his shattered heart.
Not on top of the trouble they were already facing.
He felt a soft impact nearby, but didn't raise his head. He really wasn't interested in returning some kid's ball or something like that.
"Wanna talk about it?" a gentle voice holding a Scottish accent asked from behind him.
"No," Davy sniffled. "I don't really want to talk to anyone right now."
There was a pause, and then a cool hand descended upon his shoulder. "Not even to your 'twin'?"
Davy's head snapped up. He looked into his own smiling face. "MacLaren!" he cried, hugging his friend tightly.
MacLaren chuckled and broke the hug. "You look better'n the last time I saw you!"
Davy laughed. "Too right! Seems I spent that entire visit in hospital!"
"Well, here's hoping this visit ye'll stay hale'n' hearty." He clapped Davy on the back, and then settled onto the sand. "So...why were you weepin' so?"
Davy sighed. He didn't want to burden MacLaren with their big problem. "I really liked this girl...an' she broke my heart. Badly."
"What did she say?" When Davy told him, MacLaren sighed. "Have you spoken to the others?"
"Why?" Davy snapped. "So they can laugh at the womanizer gettin' a dose o'is own medicine?"
"No," MacLaren said, pulling Davy to his feet. "So they can help their friend who's feeling sad."
"No..." Davy said, trying to pull his hand from MacLaren's grip. "I can't do that to them. They don't need to baby-sit me right now!"
"So you're not going in." MacLaren's voice was very calm.
Davy, who didn't know MacLaren as well as the others, grinned tightly and quipped, "That's right, and you can't make me!"
MacLaren smiled a closed-mouthed smile. "Dave -- have you forgotten what I am?"
Davy blinked. "You're... uhm... you're a vampyre."
"That's right." MacLaren grinned, letting his fangs fall. "And that means I can make you."
"Now...now wait a minute!" Davy gasped, taking a step backward. "You -- you promised never to harm us!"
"Aye," the vampyre laughed. "And I'll hold t'that."
Hissing, MacLaren lunged. Davy screamed as his double grabbed him around the waist and lifted them both into the air. After a moment of stunned silence, Davy softly conceded, "Okay, I suppose you can make me..."
MacLaren's laugh rang out over the darkened beach.
Micky did a double-take as MacLaren touched down on their balcony, Davy in tow. As they came inside, his smile bloomed. "MacLaren!"
The vampyre smiled. "Hello, Micky."
Micky stood up. "HEY, PETER! MacLAREN'S BACK!"
Davy and MacLaren each waggled a finger in an ear, making Micky laugh at the similarity.
Peter appeared at the top of the stairs. "MacLaren," he whispered.
MacLaren looked up -- and froze. "Peter?"
The blond nodded as he came down the stairs. MacLaren saw Davy and Micky look away. He walked over and laid a hand on Peter's shoulder. "Why..."
Peter looked down at himself -- at Mike's black shirt and boots and the green hat he held. "It....helps."
"Helps?" MacLaren looked into Peter's eyes, noting the haunted expression there. "What do you mean?"
"You mean you don't know?" Peter gasped. "Isn't that why you came?"
"No," MacLaren said. "I came to see you four -- what's happened?"
The tawny eyes clouded with a deep pain, looking more haunted than before. "Michael...Michael's vanished."
"Vanished?" MacLaren gasped. "Come -- sit--- tell me!"
The four sat and MacLaren heard the story. "We'd played a gig four nights ago," Davy said. "We got paid good money too ..."
"Anyway," Micky cut in. "We were all pretty tired. We crashed soon as we got home -- didn't even bother to change. I heard something -- muffled noises -- woke up, I think ..."
Peter nodded. "He saw them take Michael, but he thought he was having a nightmare."
"Till I woke up and he was gone," Micky added sadly.
MacLaren nodded. "Have you gone to the police?"
"They dismissed it," Peter said with a sigh. "They blew it off as another hippie gone off to find himself."
MacLaren did a double-take. "Hold on -- Mike isn't a hippie!"
"That's what we told them!" the remaining Monkees chorused, and Davy added, "but they wouldn't believe us!"
MacLaren nodded. "And what Colleen said on top of everything else -- no wonder you were crying."
Peter looked at Davy. "I want to hear about this later."
Davy swallowed visibly. Then he pointed at Peter, but addressed MacLaren. "An' we're all about as worried about him! He's taken t'sleepin' in Mike's bed, wearin' his clothes ---"
"Like I said," Peter countered. "It...helps."
"Pete," Davy said, laying a hand on his knee. "We know you're sensitive and all. But isn't this goin' a little far?"
"Peter's perhaps more sensitive than any of us realise," MacLaren said. He lay his hand on Peter's shoulder. "You can feel him, can't you? When you wear his clothing and sleep in his bed --"
Peter blushed, but nodded slightly. "It's... it's like I can... sense him...somehow. I feel he's all right -- but for how long?"
MacLaren squeezed his shoulder and turned to Micky. "You said you saw who took him?"
Micky nodded. "But I thought I was dreaming. I went back to sleep -- I... I can't clearly remember what I saw."
MacLaren smiled at him. "I can help you remember."
"Yeah?" Micky brightened momentarily, and then frowned. "How?"
"I can hypnotize you," MacLaren waved a hand for emphasis. "Help you remember that night."
Peter gripped MacLaren's arm. "And then we can get Michael back?"
"We certainly will try," the vampyre assured him.
Micky lay on the chaise, still and silent. His eyes were closed and his hands lay palms up on his thighs. His breathing was deep and regular.
MacLaren sat beside him. He looked up and smiled. "He's under."
"Tell us again how this is gonna help Mike?" Davy asked.
"The brain stores literally everything a person sees, hears -- experiences," MacLaren said. "Under hypnosis, those memories can be accessed at will."
Peter sighed. "I wish there were some way to give him access to those memories all the time."
MacLaren looked up at him. "You're talking about giving him a photographic memory."
A smile spread across Davy's face. "Talk about the ultimate prank on the prankster! A prank that never ends!"
Despite the serious situation, Davy's crack made Peter giggle. "Do it, MacLaren!" he gasped out. "Serve him right after all he's pranked on us!"
MacLaren grinned and turned to the hypnotized Monkee. "Micky, from this moment forward you will remember everything you see, hear, and experience. The total recall will begin from the night before Mike disappeared." Then he added with a wicked grin, "The recall will not include my triggering your photographic memory."
Davy and Peter laughed.
"Now, Micky," MacLaren went on. "When I count backward from three, you will awaken rested and refreshed. Three. Two. One."
Micky's almond-shaped eyes fluttered open. He yawned and stretched and sat up. "Did it work?"
"You tell us," MacLaren said. "Did it?"
Micky sat there for a few moments, looking off into space. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts.
Suddenly the drummer paled. "I remember," he whispered, shooting to his feet. "I remember!" He tore up the stairs with Peter, Davy and MacLaren in hot pursuit.
"There were three of them," Micky said, turning around in the bedroom and scanning it. "Two girls and a guy."
"What were they doing here?" Peter asked.
"They were trying to rob the place," Micky said. "When I woke up, one of the girls was rubbing Mike's head, saying how --" Micky cut himself off and blushed.
"How --?" Davy prompted.
"She -- ah -- she called him... pretty."
There was silence for a few moments, and then MacLaren chuckled softly. "It's been awhile since I've heard a man called 'pretty'!"
"It has?" Micky asked.
He nodded. "Heard it in England shortly after Victoria became queen. That's about the last time till now."
The Monkees looked startled for a moment, and then shot each other sheepish grins. They'd forgotten MacLaren was a 600+ year old vampyre.
Micky then cleared his throat. "The man told them they'd sort this out at the Aerie. Then I fell back asleep."
"The Aerie?" Peter asked, moving for the phone. "You're certain they said the Aerie?"
MacLaren shot Micky a smile. "He's certain."
Micky frowned at him. "Hold on -- how can you be so certain that I'm certain?"
"I'm/He's certain!" The other three chorused.
Micky's frown deepened.
Peter rifled through the phone book. "Here we go!" he said, laying it down. "Mick, look at this." He ran his finger down four entries for "Aerie".
Micky looked at the entries, nodding. "A nightclub, an observatory, a store, and one I can't place. So what now?"
Davy answered, "Now we scout out each of them till we find Mike."
"Come on," a voice like honey cooed. "You have to eat something."
"No." Mike shook his head. "I'm not hungry."
"You've not eaten since we brought you here!" she protested. "Look -- you have to eat! If you're sick, we can't bring you across!"
Mike sighed. "That's the fourth time you've said that, and I don't dig it now any better'n I did the first time!"
"You will find out," she giggled. "But you've gotta be well! So eat!"
"Look." Mike sat up as well as the handcuffs holding him to the bed would allow. "You kidnapped me. You've chained me to a bad and blindfolded me --- You keep threatenin' t'bring me across, whatever the hell that means -- and you think I'm gonna cooperate with you?!? Think again, lady!"
"Well, that was a big waste of time," Micky sighed as he made a beeline for the couch. "That place I didn't recognise is now a vacant lot ---"
"---And we'll have to wait till dawn to find out about the store," Davy sighed.
"No we won't," Peter said. "Mike's not there."
"Peter," Micky said," sitting up straighter. "We can't know that till we check it out!"
MacLaren laid a hand on Peter's shoulder. "If he says Mike's not there, then Mike's not there."
Micky sighed. He stood and stretched till his back popped. "I'll get the bedroom upstairs ready for you, MacLaren. You can bunk with me."
"I'll go visit the butcher tomorrow afternoon," Davy said. "You won't go hungry, MacLaren."
MacLaren smiled and acknowledged their efforts with a tilt of his head.
Peter swiped tiredly at his eyes. "And tomorrow night we scout out the nightclub and observatory."
"We'll find him, Peter," MacLaren said, squeezing his shoulder. "Have faith."
Peter looked at the smaller man. "MacLaren -- I lost my faith when Carolyn and Mike were killed. Now... facing losing another person I care about..." He shook his head.
"He'll be all right," Davy said, laying his hand on Peter's other shoulder. "We'll find him and he'll be all right. You'll see."
"I hope so," Peter said with a weary sigh. "Because I just don't think I'm strong enough to lose anymore family." He turned and walked into his bedroom.
"What're we gonna do?" Davy asked in a whisper. "If Mike's hurt, we'll lose 'em both!"
MacLaren's eyes flashed red. "Well then... we'll just have to make sure we don't lose either of them."
Micky watched the sun set, lost in thought. It never ceased to amaze him how adaptable the four of them had become. When MacLaren stayed, they altered their own schedules and became creatures of the night so he wouldn't be alone.
He turned and watched MacLaren sleep for a moment, before pulling the protective plastic from the windows.
The sound roused the vampyre. He sat up, stretching. "Nighttime," he whispered.
"Yeah," Micky answered absently. "Nighttime."
"What is it?" MacLaren asked, smoothing the bedcovers down.
"I'm worried about Mike."
"We all are."
Micky's frown deepened. "That girl -- the one that said Mike was 'pretty' -- she said something that confused the fire out of me."
"Which was?" "She said she wanted to bring Mike across. Now what that means, I have no ---"
MacLaren's eyes blazed. His fangs dropped and were bared as he let out a hiss that Micky knew from experience meant the vampyre was enraged.
"Bring him across?"
Micky nodded, almond eyes huge.
"SHIT!" He vaulted from the room and over the railing, not stopping till he was outside Peter and Davy's room. He pounded on the door.
Davy opened the door, blinking in surprise.
"We have to go!" MacLaren snarled, fangs down and eyes blazing. "Mike is in DEADLY DANGER!"
Peter pushed Davy aside. "What?"
"Micky said he remembered hearing a kidnapper say she wanted to bring Mike across!"
"Across what?" Peter asked, frowning.
He hissed again. "Across death! Make him a VAMPYRE!"
Peter's eyes grew huge. MacLaren held out his hands, and Peter didn't hesitate. He grabbed the vampyre's wrists and MacLaren shot them both out of the Pad.
"I'm disappointed in you," the voice sighed as Mike sipped at the water.
"How come?" he asked.
"You've still not taken anything but this!" she shook the water bottle, creating a slosh that he heard.
Mike smiled. "I told you I wasn't gonna cooperate."
"Cooperate or not, we're tired of waiting!" He felt a needle bite into his arm and the sting of something being injected into his bloodstream.
"What the hell...."
"You will be brought across -- TONIGHT!"
...no.... was his last thought before the drug stole his consciousness from him.
She waited, watching the bound man as the injection took hold. She watched him struggle, then slump in his bonds. Silently she counted to twenty, then undid the blindfold and laid a hand along his cheek. "Open your eyes."
Chocolate-colored eyes slid open and stared vacantly.
She smiled. Perfect. She undid the handcuffs. His arms fell limply.
"Sit up," she said after undoing his leg cuffs. He obeyed, moving like a robot.
She caressed his cheek again. "Yes..." she sighed. "Awake but asleep. Perfect for being brought across. Soon. Soon you'll be one of us."
The trio -- two girls and a young man -- walked into the large room, semi-chanting. Mike walked in behind them, dressed all in black the way they were. He looked totally blank -- his staring eyes did not even blink.
The man manipulated some controls and the massive dome of the abandoned observatory slid open. Moonlight spilled in. "Lay him down."
The girls lay Mike down on a large flat table. They circled him, singing and chanting.
Finally, all movement stopped. The man smiled, revealing gleaming fangs. "It is time," he droned. "Now...now we bring him across." The girls revealed fangs of their own as they smiled.
The man caressed Mike's forehead. "You will soon cross over," he said, pulling an intricately carved knife and touching the point to Mike's neck, making a small bit of blood ooze as it penetrated the skin.
A shadow fell across the moon, startling the three. They looked up and the knife clattered to the floor as the shape blocking the light came closer.
MacLaren shot through the opening and landed, eyes blazing and fangs dropped. He set Peter down and hissed at the trio.
"M-More...vampyres?" Peter gasped.
"No," MacLaren hissed. "Their hearts beat. They're no more vampyres than you are."
Peter's head turned as the screech of tires sounded outside. "The others are here." Then he turned to the trio and saw Mike. "What have you done to him?"
No answer. The three were gaping at MacLaren.
Peter shoved the man out of the way and pulled Mike to a sitting position. He pulled part of his own sleeve off and pressed the cloth to Mike's bleeding neck.
"No!" the man protested. "No, we need to bring him across! The process has begun!"
"Process?" MacLaren hissed. He picked the man up and reached into his mouth. He jerked the fangs out and snapped them. "The game is over!"
"No..." the awed man said. "No...it's no game...it's real..."
Peter glared at the cowering women. "What did you do to him?"
"He's..." one stammered out. "He's been...made very suggestible."
Peter's eyes widened. He crushed Mike close and whispered in his ear. "Get well," he ordered softly. "Get well."
The three kidnappers suddenly surged forward and grabbed onto MacLaren, weeping as if given a wonderful treasure. Then they fell to their knees, kissing and stroking his feet and making worship noises.
MacLaren took advantage of their prone position and very gently knocked each one out by squeezing their carotids till they fainted.
Micky and Davy raced in. "Huh," Davy cracked with a grin. "Looks like we missed all the fun."
Micky struck his arm and pointed at the slab.
Peter sat there, holding Mike, who was obeying his command and slowly shaking off the effects of the drug. He held him tenderly with one hand, while the other hand staunched the bleeding wound on Mike's neck. Peter was whispering words of support and comfort.
"Wow..." Davy whispered. "I've never seen Peter act that caring...that responsible..."
"Man, if we needed any more proof he was a father..." Micky agreed, awed.
"But..." Davy said, blinking. "But he said his son died as a baby."
MacLaren had walked over. He watched the tableau and smiled. "He did," he whispered. "A child may leave, may even die --- but the instincts that awaken when a good man becomes a father never truly die."
Mike sighed and lay all the way down. "Look, you don't have to fuss! I'm fine!"
Peter paused in lifting the covers over his friend to fix him with a Look. "Fine, huh?"
The familiar expression on the wrong face threw Mike for a moment, then he glared up at Peter as the tucking in was completed. "Yeah! Fine!"
Peter sat on the edge of the bed. "You were kidnapped. Shackled. You deliberately starved yourself for days. And on top of all that, you were drugged! And you say you're fine?" He shook his head. "Just rest and let me fuss for awhile, Mike."
Mike sighed. "Well...yeah, when you put it that way, maybe I can rest for another day or---" He blinked. His head snapped around and his wide eyes locked onto Peter. "MIKE?!?!"
Peter's dimples shone out. "It fits now. It's still a little...painful...but I can call you that now."
"Oh." Mike looked a little disappointed. "Well...okay then..."
"Hey." Peter pushed the ebony flip from Mike's forehead. "What's wrong?"
He sighed. "I...uhm...I kinda... liked it...when you called me Michael. Made it seem...unique, you know? Special."
Peter smiled. "All right, then --- Michael."
Mike smiled and blinked sleepily.
MacLaren walked in. "How's he doing?"
"Sleepy," Mike replied. "Those idiots?"
MacLaren stood beside Peter and smiled. "In jail. They weren't real vampyres, just kids who lost their own identities in role-play."
Mike shook his head. "Some game. Nearly cost me my life."
"But it didn't," Peter said as he stood up. "You're alive. You're going to be all right."
"Thanks to you guys not givin' up on me," Mike agreed.
"Why don't you get some rest now?" Peter asked, laying his hand on Mike's shoulder as the raven-haired man's eyes began to droop once more.
"...Kay..." Mike mumbled, rolling over and snuggling down so that only the top of his head showed. "Take care o'em, Pete..."
"He will," MacLaren assured Mike, slapping Peter gently on the back. "After all --- he is a father."
Peter frowned at MacLaren as they left the room to the gentle accompaniment of Mike's chuckles. "What did you mean, I am a father?" Peter asked once he'd closed the door. "My son was killed years ago -- while he was just a baby!"
MacLaren nodded. "As was mine centuries ago. But don't you see, Peter --- we had those children. We loved those children." Seeing the confusion on Peter's face he elaborated, "Any male can make a baby. It takes a special kind of man to love that child -- to awaken those caring instincts. It takes a strong man, a good man, to be a father. When the children are gone and the instincts remain --- that takes a truly strong and good man..."
"Like Michael," Peter said. "He has those instincts -- he shows them when he takes care of us."
"That's right," Micky said. "And so do you."
Peter just blinked at him.
Davy smiled. "We saw how you took care of Mike -- of us all -- durin' this trial. You're a father too, Peter. A good one."
While Peter let that sink in, MacLaren flew up the stairs to the darkened bedroom and prepared for bed. Fathers and friends, he thought, smiling. Could it be? After all these centuries --- could I finally have found what I've been searching for?
Could I finally be --- HOME?
Return to The Realm