George approached Micky, an anticipatory smile on his face. He reached down and seized the front of Micky's shirt.
Lifting him slightly, he chuckled as Micky's head slipped backward. "Oh, he's out all right... this is gonna be good."
"Just get started, will you?" Dave growled. "Get it over with."
George laughed. "Once he wakes up hurtin', he'll tell us everything we need to know!" He cocked his fist and sent it flying toward Micky's unresponsive face.
The blow never made contact. George's fist slammed into a palm with a loud 'SMACK!' inches from Micky's face. George gasped as the hand closed around his fist with a near-painful grip.
The slack features tightened into a grimace of rage as the head snapped up and glowing blue eyes bored into George's. "Bad. Idea."
Dave lurched to his feet, swearing. George was forced to stand, then to kneel, as Micky stood and pushed him down.
"Let him go," Dave demanded.
"I'll let him go, all right," Micky growled. He released George -- and sent him flying into Dave, knocking them both down.
"Doesn't feel so good, does it?" Micky snarled, eyes flashing with rage as much as from the new, heady telekinesis. Till now, he'd had no concept of how powerful Peter truly was!
He could give this animal what he'd given Melanie -- and more! And nobody could stop him!
Dave snarled and grew a few inches, lunging toward Micky. He was telekinetically sent headfirst into the sand. Stunned, he returned to his normal height and lay there, trying to recover.
Micky then turned his attention back to George. "What's the matter, George?" he taunted. "I'm not helpless now -- it's a fair fight!" He grabbed George and snarled into his face. "Oh, yeah, I forgot -- you don't do fair fights! You beat up on women and unconscious men!"
George struggled in his grasp, true fear showing in his eyes.
Something like triumph reared in Micky to see it -- then it died. Looking at George, he was suddenly struck by how truly pathetic his doppelganger was. And pure disgust welled up as Micky shoved him away. "You son-of-a...."
George cowered in the sand, expecting blows to rain down on him.
Images of Melanie's battered face reared up, nearly choking Micky. With a strangled cry, he shot into the sky and away from the beach. No particular destination, just--- away.
After a few moments, George lifted Dave and limped into the air, flying away in a different direction.
Only then did Peter shimmer into visibility. He smiled grimly toward where Micky had gone. "Proud o'you, man," he whispered, before taking off to finish the mission he'd sent Micky on.
Peter returned to Valerie's mansion, holding twin versions of Mike and Micky. "Where's Micky?" he asked as he let both of them go.
"He... he's not back yet," Valerie gasped, unable to take her eyes off the pair. "Oh, my... Peter...."
He smiled. "Interesting, huh? David here is a clone of Micky, and Rob is Mike from another dimension. The rest of us from there are cruel -- evil. Rob here was the only good one in the batch."
"Yeah," Rob said as he got David settled. "And the bad apples have turned up again, huh?"
Valerie nodded seriously. "How much did Peter tell you?"
"Enough to know George hasn't changed worth squat," Rob growled. "Have you got a safe area close by?"
She frowned. "Yes... Peter insisted we build a safe-floor in the basement... it's fully stocked...."
"Good." Rob met Peter's eyes. "Time to settle this once and for all?"
Peter nodded grimly. "Once Micky returns."
Rob nodded just as grimly, then turned and smiled at Mike, who'd just entered the room. Valerie saw she could tell them apart at a glance: though they were identical in form and features, though they styled their hair the same and had ironically worn identical outfits, Mike wore a thin golden choker visible under his open collar.
"Good thing you like that necklace," Valerie smiled. "Lets me know who's Mike."
Mike's warm, welcoming smile to Rob faltered as his fingers raised to the choker. His fingers felt the shape of the necklace, but only the warmth of his skin. "Thanks," he said rather flatly, his eyes flicking to Peter.
Peter shook his head slightly. I've not had a chance to tell her yet.
Mike nodded, then looked at Rob. "What're you two doin' here?"
"Peter came and warned us --" David began and Mike's head shot around toward Peter.
An image of Micky and a feeling of surprised worry filtered to Peter, who shook his head. I'll explain later, he's all right.
A nod, and Mike focused back on David. "--but Rob wants to fight."
"I have to fight," Rob said, squeezing his roommate's shoulder. "I can't hide forever."
Mike smiled, pleased with how much Rob had grown emotionally.
"So we came here," Rob finished, "so David could be shielded."
Valerie nodded. "I'll take care of him. When are you--"
"No time like the present." The tired voice drew their attention. Micky stood in the doorway, soaking wet, his blue eyes half-closed in fatigue.
Peter and Mike moved to his side. "You get dried off and rest some first," Peter ordered.
Micky's mute nod was testament to how tired he was.
"Where'd you go?" Peter asked gently. Micky whispered something and Peter's eyes widened. He guided him into the bathroom and closed the door.
"Well?" Mike asked.
Peter raised his eyes to meet Mike's. "Jacob's Rock. Where it all began."
Micky groaned as he opened his eyes.
He grinned slightly. "What're you doing here?"
Peter returned his grin. "We blue-eyed beauties have to stick together."
Surprised, Micky barked out a laugh, then he clutched his head. Between chuckles, he ground out, "Don't make me laugh... hurts...."
"I imagine it would. You flew over a thousand miles round-trip in less than five hours."
A slow, painful nod and Micky gratefully accepted the aspirin Peter handed him. "Right when the Pad came into sight, the TK cut out."
"Which explains why you were sopping wet," Peter nodded. "You met the ocean up-close and personal."
Micky chuckled softly. "Mike's bleedin' into you again."
"Hey, I'm a songwriter, too!" But Peter was grinning. He studied Micky, sobering. "Seriously, you overtaxed yourself. Why'd you go all the way there?"
He gave another sigh and settled back into the pillows. "I needed to clear my head. I had no idea ---"
Peter lay a hand on his shoulder. "Yeah."
"H-How do you do it? How do you keep this... this... force under control? How do you manage to stay good, decent -- you?"
Peter's smile returned. "I pray. A LOT."
Micky sighed. "That ain't my bag, Peter."
He held up a hand. "You asked, I answered."
Another sigh, and Micky's eyes closed.
Peter squeezed his hand. "And now, I still pray. For you."
Wordlessly, Micky squeezed back.
"Someone's been waiting to see you."
Micky's eyes opened. "Oh?"
Peter stood up and opened the door. Melanie walked in. "Hi."
Micky smiled and sat up. "Hi!"
Peter silently slid out and Melanie walked to sit by Micky. "How are you?"
Soft blue eyes took in her battered features. "You're stealin' my lines."
She chuckled. "I'm improving. I'm up and around."
"You're still weak."
She nodded. "I will be for awhile. This isn't the first time I've had the shit beaten out of me."
Micky's eyes flashed. "But it'll be the last."
"We'll see." She smiled at him as best she could. "Peter told me you went after George for me."
Micky blinked. "No... George attacked me."
Melanie nodded. "You're nothing like him."
"I hope not."
"Trust me -- you're not." She took his hand. "Peter said you... all.... are going after them."
"Yeah. This has got to end."
"Agreed." She leaned forward and hugged him. "Good luck. I wish I could fight by your side this time."
"So do I," he whispered into her hair. "You're a beautiful, wonderful person who didn't deserve this."
Melanie pulled back slightly. "Really?"
"Really," Micky smiled tenderly. Then, before she could reply, he leaned forward and brushed a gentle kiss on her lips.
Twenty minutes later, Peter opened the door to find both of them dozing. They were holding each other close, Micky's chin resting on top of her head.
Micky was beneath the quilt, Melanie was stretched out on top. Both of them wore tender smiles as they slept.
Peter watched them sleep for a few moments. He walked over, removed Melanie's shoes, and set them beside the bed. He ran his hand over both their foreheads, then he slid out of the room, closing the door softly behind him.
Mike, I'll wake them in half an hour. Find Davy and get everyone together. We've got a lot of ground to cover.
Davy couldn’t be found, but they got down to planning anyway. For an hour, the plans flew.
The intense discussion was interrupted when the mansion shook. “Valerie!” Peter screamed at the same time Rob screamed his charge’s name.
“I’ve got him!” Valerie shrieked back, grabbing David. “Safe room!”
Once they were safe, the four ran out of the mansion. “I knew it!” Peter snarled.
George and Dave hovered, waiting. “Here they come,” Dave laughed. “Come to us, Pigeons!”
Instead, they took up defensive positions, spreading out to surround the pair.
Dave attacked first. He landed and grew to six feet, flinging a handful of wet sand into Micky’s face. While Micky gasped and tried to wipe his face and reactivate his powers, Dave lunged toward him.
Mike shrank two inches to match Dave’s height and plowed into him before he reached Micky. Their bodies tumbled head over heels as Rob raced over, wrapped his arms around Micky, and pulled the temporarily-blinded new telekinetic out of the way.
George watched the super-strong wrestling match continue for a few moments; then he turned an evil smile onto Peter. “Now,” he chuckled, landing in a gunfighter’s stance. “It’s just you. And. Me.”
Peter nodded, his dark blue eyes boring into George’s cold brown ones.
“No snappy patter?” George chuckled. “I’m disappointed!”
A small smile was Peter’s only reply.
George blinked; then his eyes narrowed. He flung his hand toward Peter. Peter’s eyes widened and narrowed, and he flinched as something hard and invisible bounced off his shield.
With a roar, George struck again and again – until Peter was staggering from the blows. George’s smile grew and he began to gather energy for one final powerful blow.
To the side, Rob was helping Micky clear his eyes. With the return of his sight, the telekinesis would return. Micky grabbed a handful of water to try to help Rob out, but in the confusion he seemed to forget the ocean was salt water.
Rob sighed and pulled off his shirt, using it as a towel. “Micky, I swear….”
“Gotta help….” Micky gasped.
“You will – we both will! But we’ve gotta get your eyes cleared first!”
Micky sighed again, in frustration.
Off to the side of that, Dave and Mike continued to wrestle. Equal in height and strength, the match went on and on and on.
Peter tried to fire shields at George, but he found he lacked Micky’s experience, and couldn’t fire and shield at the same time.
Seeing this, George laughed and raised his arms over his head. “Get ready to die, Tork!”
Peter’s eyes narrowed as he made the shield thicker. He hoped he could stay conscious from the impact – it looked like a big one –
Suddenly a red beam struck George in the chest. George had a shield up, but it was still strong enough to knock him off his feet.
Peter whirled, and so did Rob. Rob shoved Micky behind him before he saw where it was coming from. Both of them broke into broad smiles as they saw the figure pelting toward them, pulsing fists at the ready.
Davy had – finally – arrived.
“Where were you?” Peter bellowed.
“Thinking!” Davy replied, covering George as he watched Dave and Mike’s wrestling with one eye.
“Yeah?” Micky called as he blinked the last of the sand from his eyes. “What was her name?”
“Carol!” Davy shot back, grinning.
Rob laughed. “Figures!”
Micky grinned and squeezed Rob’s arm. His eyes began to glow and he rose into the air. “Peter!” he called.
Peter smacked his forehead. “Of course!” he chuckled as he rose into the air after Micky. “More easily defended in the air!”
Rob bolted toward the bodies tangled in the wrestling match. “Davy!”
“Right!” Davy called, whirling partway around and firing a blast of bright white light.
While he was half-turned, George came to sudden life, kicking with both feet. One of his heels impacted Davy in the crotch and he went down, gasping and curling in on himself.
But it had been enough: Davy’s light had hit Dave full in the eyes. Blinded, startled, he jerked away – releasing Mike in his surprise.
Rob’s elastic arm snaked around his throat and pulled him slightly away from Mike, who scrambled to his feet and raced without a word toward a new opponent.
Dave howled, “You son of a – I’ll snap your spine!” He reached behind him, attempting to carry out that threat. But he found himself hard-pressed just to breathe!
Rob – while nowhere as strong – had the advantage of being elastic. He coiled his arm around Dave’s neck more than once – and squeezed. Seconds later, Dave was on his hands and knees – choking. And still, Rob kept squeezing.
George couldn’t help him. Mike pounded powerful fists against the shield around him, and Micky telekinetically battered it with sand and rocks from behind.
The evil shield-caster went to his knees, wracked with pain from the double pounding.
Forgotten, Peter touched down beside Davy. He threw a thick shield over them both, and then turned them both invisible. “Rob!” he called out. “Don’t kill him!”
“Don’t worry,” Rob ground out. “I’m not like him.”
Dave’s eyes rolled back in his head and he went limp. But Rob held on, and Dave began gasping and struggling again.
Rob’s mouth curved in a cold smile. “Thought you were fakin’. Know you too damn well.”
Suddenly Rob found himself holding air. Micky and Mike found themselves striking air.
“Invisible?” Peter asked, shimmering himself and Davy into view again.
“Gone!” Micky gasped. “But – where? How?”
Laughter rang around the five, who gathered in a defensive knot around a still-recovering Davy.
“SHOW YOURSELF!” Mike bellowed.
Instead, the laughter swelled until the air pulsed with it.
Davy finally pulled himself upright, leaning on Peter’s arm. “I know that laugh…”
“We all do,” Peter growled, eyes narrowing. “It’s mine.”
“Very good, pea-brain!” The air thickened into three columns of light. From them stepped George, Dave – and Pete. Pete was wearing the delighted dimpled smile that on him looked twisted and cold.
Peter stepped forward. “What do you want?”
“That’s easy,” Pete laughed. “See, we’re one man short. We need a fourth, thanks to Robbie-boy’s defection.”
Rob smiled at him. “You need to GO AWAY, Pete.”
Pete’s smile vanished. “That’s LEADER to you!”
“No.” Rob tilted his head toward Pete. “You’re not my leader anymore. I’ll not rejoin you.”
“Didn’t figure you would,” Pete sighed. “Oh, well. I guess we’ll just have to make due with a replacement.” His eyes hardened. “Give us Mirrydor.”
“NO!” Micky bellowed, eyes glowing more intensely.
Mike’s hand landed on Micky’s arm. Though no words were spoken, the command was clear on his face.
Calm. Down. NOW.
“Oh, yes,” Pete laughed. “Don’t calm him, Nishwash,” he goaded. “I’d love to go head-to-head with him.”
“Precisely the reason that’s not gonna happen,” Peter replied, moving slightly in front of Micky.
His doppelganger’s reply was a sharp laugh. “And why not? SCARED? Though, to be fair, I can see what George sees in her! She’s powerful and beautiful all rolled into one!” His cold smile returned. “I bet she’s a real terror in bed, too. I’ll have to talk Mara into letting me have her after we kill you—“
He didn’t get any further. With a roar of fury ripped from his very soul, Micky’s power blasted forth.
Mike and Peter were thrown in opposite directions. Davy tackled Rob and sent him to the sand, shielding the taller man’s body with his own.
Wave after wave of uncontrolled telekinetic force battered the evil trio. George and Dave were knocked off their feet and battered unconscious.
Only his own telekinesis kept Pete upright, his eyes burning brown as he focused his energy inward, struggling to maintain his balance.
Pete’s head snapped up and he found himself looking into the eyes of madness. This wasn’t the soft light-blue glow that shone from the irises of his doppelganger’s eyes. This one’s almond-shaped eyes were white-blue from corner to corner, set into a face frozen in a masque of rage.
In that moment, Pete realized what it felt like to look into the mouth of hell.
Micky’s hand shot out and grabbed him by the throat. Rage-enhanced strength plus telekinesis enabled him to lift Pete right off the ground.
The brown glow in Pete’s eyes flickered and died. He grabbed Micky’s wrist with both hands and struggled to pull it away from his neck. Micky’s only response was to tighten his grip more, until Pete was gagging and gasping for air.
“Micky! Micky, stoppit! Micky, he’s not worth it!” The others were yelling at once, trying to get to Micky and being blown back by the telekinetic force.
Suddenly, the white-blue glow in Micky’s eyes vanished, leaving startled blue eye sin their wake. He screamed a denial as the strength vanished and Pete fell to the sand, gasping for breath.
“NO! WHY?!” Micky screamed to the air.
You were killing him, child, came the unexpected answer in a voice like silver rain.
“Roma?!” Micky spluttered.
Yes… and I’m not alone. Twin columns of light shimmered into view, and they stepped out. Roma, serene as ever….
Mara standing by her side.
“MARA?!” was the collective gasp of four stunned Monkees. Rob whispered, “The Dark Lady?”
Roma held up her hand. ’Tis all right, dear ones. She is with me.
“Reluctantly,” Mara growled.
A sweet smile to her sister, and Roma turned to the Monkees. Without a word, she looked at Micky and opened her arms.
The invitation was clear. And irresistible. With a quiet sob, Micky flung himself into her arms, burying his face in her shoulder as her arms closed maternally around him.
Let it out, child, she crooned softly, gently stroking his curly hair. You’ve been dealing with a lot.
Mara walked over to Pete, who rose up onto his knees. He smiled at her. “Good, you’re here! We can attack –“
His words were cut off by a vicious backhand that sent him spinning back to the ground.
“What the hell did you do that for?” he spluttered, sitting up and wiping blood from the corner of his mouth.
“You,” she snarled in a voice so cold they could almost swear her mouth dripped icicles. “You broke our word.”
“So?” Pete snarled at her. “It’s not like we weren’t going to anyway—“
Mara shook her head and grabbed him by the collar. “You understood when we made the deal!”
He shrugged. “I changed my mind! Big dea1!”
“YES!” she snarled. “It IS a big deal! We agreed to leave them BE while this went on! And here you are, MEDDLING!”
Pete rolled his eyes and she shook him. “You have NO idea of the TROUBLE you are in! DAMMIT, Torkelson! YOU BROKE YOUR WORD TO A HIGHER AUTHOURITY THAN ME!!”
Peter, Mike, Davy and Rob looked wide-eyed at Roma, who nodded even as she kept comforting Micky. They gave their word to an archangel. We were only to observe how you adjusted – not interfere.
“But Laughing-Boy here just HAD to get his REVENGE!” Mara shook him again. “That put ME in THIS terrible position!” She glared at Roma. “I HATE having to work WITHyou!”
I love you too, sister, Roma replied with a smile, which grew at Mara’s frustrated sigh.
Pete laughed in her face. “Mara, we’re together. Nothing can touch us, remember?”
She shook her head. “Pete, I’m under orders to punish you!” When his eyes widened and his jaw dropped, she nodded solemnly. “From Above, yes.”
He sighed deeply. “All right, then. If you have no choice….”
“I don’t.” She kissed him and stepped back, looking at Roma. “How long?”
Roma nodded after a moment as if receiving an answer to Mara’s question. One calendar month.
Mara nodded and turned back to Pete. She waved a hand, and he vanished in a flare of light. She bent down and picked up the two-foot-long blacksnake that had replaced Pete. Wrapping it around her shoulders, she addressed the Monkees and Rob.
“You’ve won this round. But if he’d stayed out of it – you wouldn’t have.”
In a stench of sulfurous smoke, she vanished with the snake. George and Dave vanished as well.
Roma rolled her eyes. REALLY, Mara! MUST you be so DRAMATIC?
Peter stepped forward. “Roma…what about us? Will our powers stay topsy-turvy?”
Roma smiled at them. Topsy-turvy… I like that word.
“ROMA….” Mike hissed.
Her silver laughter was the reply. Come the dawn, two of you will have your normal powers.
“TWO of us,” Peter whispered. “And… the other two?”
Shall be restored NOW. She tilted Micky’s chin up and gazed into his eyes. Child, the mistake was made in giving you the full telekinesis without the emotional controls and support their mind-link and his prayers give Peter. It’s been decided: that power shall be stripped from you and your own returned. IMMEDIATELY.
Peter and Micky both gasped, each arching slightly and grabbing onto the nearest person for support: Peter to Mike, Micky to Roma.
It is done.
Peter blinked his eyes twice. Then a long-missed soft glow shone from his irises. “It’s back!” he laughed.
Micky laughed as well, his blue eyes shining with delight. “So’s mine! I can FEEL it!”
Davy stepped forward. “Roma…his eyes….”
She nodded. Yes. They remain blue.
“For…ever?” Micky whispered, his smile fading.
Roma cupped his chin once more. No. Not forever. Until the calendar marks the New Year. No more.
Micky nodded slightly. “Three months, then. I—I can live with that. …But why?”
A reminder, child. To sear in your mind that power uncontrolled is power that can corrupt.
He turned and looked at Peter, who looked back at him with total understanding. A sigh, and Micky’s eyes lowered. “I understand, Roma.”
She ran her hand through his hair once more. Tomorrow, all shall be restored to their proper power. I am very proud of you four.
And she was gone.
Rob, Micky and Davy began walking to the mansion to find the others and assure them it was over. Peter lingered, looking speculatively at Mike.
“Thought you’d go see if Valerie was okay,” Mike chuckled.
“No.” Peter smiled and jerked his thumb toward the mansion, at the lone figure on the porch. “She’s fine.”
Mike laughed. “Just can’t resist watching us fight, can she?”
“One of these days,” Peter chuckled, “that tendency is gonna get her in big trouble.” He sobered a little. “So you’re still a size-changer.”
“For a few hours, yeah…. Why?”
Peter fidgeted for a second. “Well, I’ve been meaning to ask Davy to do something for me. It just never quite felt right – but it feels right to ask you….”
Mike turned to face him. “Ask me what, Shotgun?”
He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Well… you remember when you made me leader?”
Mike nodded. “And you asked me to help you – to co-lead, sort of. You’re still the leader – that’s the way I want it.”
“I know, I know. I’m not asking you to take over. To be honest, I’m used to it by now.” He smiled.
Mike chuckled at that. “So… what is it?”
“Well, it’s a symbolism thing. We’re the co-leaders. The two oldest. The two linked ones.” He turned and looked up at Mike’s eyes. “But I’m… NOTyour equal in one very visible way.”
Mike frowned, and then realization dawned in his eyes. With a small smile, not saying a word, he shrank to meet Peter’s five-foot-ten. The smile widened as he held out his hands to Peter.
Peter’s smile exploded over his face as he eagerly put his hands in Mike’s.
Valerie watched it happen. She was on the move as their hands released, running out and throwing her arms around Peter’s neck, stretching on her toes to kiss his lips.
He broke the kiss and laughed slightly, looking at Mike. “Now we’re equal!”
“Now we’re equal,” Mike echoed, putting his own arm around Valerie.
The trio beamed as they walked back to the mansion, thoroughly enjoying the pop-eyed, gaping expressions on the others’ faces as they did.
Valerie’s five-foot-seven frame was sandwiched between two six-foot-two men.
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