By Enola Jones and Madame
Davy shambled of his bedroom, wiping sleep from his brown eyes. He walked straight over to the bandstand and sighed, picking up his tambourine and putting two fingers through the hole made when one of the small cymblets had fallen out during their final gig at the Dance a Go-Go last night.
He had been hoping he had dreamed that. Now he'd have to buy another one and he didn't want to. This one had served him so well for so long... Well, at least it had waited till they were unemployed again...Although that meant money was going to get tight again, and he really didn't want to give up hard-earned money for a new tambourine. Wasn't that always the way? he thought ruefully.
Davy sighed again, laying the broken tambourine down and moving to the window seat. He looked out and smiled.
Down below, he could see Mike and Isabel walking on the beach. Mike suddenly stopped short and slid his bare foot over the sand. He bent down and brushed it with his fingertips, then picked up a perfect shell and placed it in Isabel's hands. She curled her fingers around his, their eyes met, and then he leaned over—way over, Davy thought with a delighted grin—and kissed her. All those short jokes Mike tossed out, and he winds up with a girl three inches shorter than Davy! That's justice for you, Davy nodded smugly.
Davy smiled. Since Mike had heard the car horn outside the Pad after he thought things were back to normal, revealing to them all that his sense of hearing still wasn't at its normal level, Davy had enjoyed watching him alternately squirm at and enjoy his heightened senses. Mike's hearing and touch were still very sensitive, though he had regained his sight two months earlier. The other three had laid bets on when those senses would go back to normal.
Davy had already lost. If six months went by with still no change, Peter would win. He had guessed that he didn't know.
"Hey, Peter?" Davy called. "Where's Micky?"
"Still asleep, I'd wager," Peter called from the bedroom. "What do you want for breakfast?"
"How about some of your blueberry waffles?" Davy smiled toward the bedroom. The co-leadership Peter and Mike had worked out was working out, though Peter was slowly backing off, leaving Mike once more in charge, which was a good thing. Now that he had his sight back, Mike chafed at being inadvertently shoved into the follower role again, and it had led to a couple of near show-downs between them. Davy shook his head; he never would have thought Peter had such a stubborn streak in him...
Peter, however, would not let go of making breakfast. It turned out, once he found he could be good at it, that he really liked to cook!
Peter emerged from their bedroom, tucking the orange shirt he had stolen from Mike into his own brilliant blue jeans. "Can't," he informed Davy. "No blueberries."
"Okay," Davy said, "how about that great egg sandwich you created?"
Peter's dimples cut deep grooves in his cheeks. "Okay. You feel like making your special Jones biscuits?"
"Sure." Davy moved to the kitchen and the two of them began breakfast.
While Peter was frying the sausage and eggs, Micky came downstairs. He glanced over at the folded sheets laid neatly—"neatly" being the operative word—on the black chaise lounge and asked, "Hey—where's Izzy?"
"On the beach with Mike," Davy said.
Micky nodded. "I thought she'd gone on to work."
"She has today off," Peter reminded him. "They're going to take Gil to the vet later today, to get his cast off."
"Not a moment too soon!" Micky growled. "I'm sick of that furball stealing my pillow!" The others grinned, and he went on, "I'll miss having Izzy around all the time when she moves back home Monday, but I won't miss that cat!"
"I don't know howshe did it," Davy said, "how she managed to talk Babbitt into fumigating and painting her apartment!"
Micky chuckled. “He didn't have a choice. It was either that or face a lawsuit from Izzy's grandmother for causing her 'Precious Mary Isabel' emotional distress. He brought it on himself, though—throwing rocks at Rose and Gil!"
Anger flared on Micky's face as he recalled how Isabel had cried when they had buried Rose at sea after Babbitt's display of casual cruelty had taken the tiger cat's life and broken Gil's leg.
"Yeah," Davy said, "but he did raise both our rents for three months to pay for the repairs to her house."
"I'll miss the effect she has on Mike," Peter said. "Just his knowing she's right in the next room..." He shook his head. "I've never seen him this consistently happy."
"He's loosening up a little," Micky said, pulling a fifth chair from the card table to the kitchen.
Davy grinned broadly. "Hey, you wanna know what I heard him say last night?"
Micky dropped into his chair and leaned towards Davy in a conspiratorial huddle. "Yeah!" His eyes sparkled with mischief. "What'd he say?"
"Well, it was after you and Peter had already gone to bed, see, and I'd just gone into the bedroom, but I happened to be standing near the door—"
"Uh-uh." Peter shot him a disapproving frown.
"No, I did!" Davy insisted, his tone indignant. "I was takin' off me shoes. Anyway, I heard him and Isabel talking, saying 'good night' and all that, and—"
"Yeah—?" Micky tilted his chair so far forward he nearly fell out of it. "What did he say?" he demanded impatiently.
"I'm gettin' there!" Davy exclaimed irritably. "Anyway, I actually heard Mike tell her 'Goodnight, love'!"
Micky stared at him in disbelief for a minute, and then dissolved into a fit of Micky-giggles. Davy burst out laughing at both the memory and at Micky. Both of them leaned against each other for support as they gave into their mirth.
"All right, you two..." Peter said, checking the biscuits and shutting off the oven. "That's enough. Quit pickin' on Mike."
"Again?" came the distinctive Texas twang from the verandah. "What now?"
"Sorry, Mike," Davy said, wiping tears from his eyes as the two came inside.
"Sorry, guys," Micky added, trying to smother his giggles behind one hand but not succeeding very well.
Isabel swatted Micky on the back of the head before she turned and smiled at Peter. "Mmm... something smells good!"
"Egg sandwich a la Peter," Peter cracked as he drew the biscuits out of the oven and cut each one open. "Mick, would you set the table?"
As Micky set the five places, Isabel and Mike watched in fascination as Peter slid sausage onto each biscuit, then a hard-centered fried egg, then a piece of cheese, then topped it off with a little butter before replacing the biscuit top. As each one was done, he passed it to Davy, who slid it onto a plate.
"I'll get the drinks," Mike said, pushing Isabel's chair into the table. He went to the cabinet and pulled out five small glasses. He turned and asked, "I forgot—milk or coffee, Isabel?"
"Coffee," she replied, a hint of desperation tingeing her voice. Mike nodded, now remembering her caffeine addiction, and pulled out five coffee mugs. He poured orange juice and put on a pot of coffee.
This was Isabel's first breakfast with the guys—yesterday she had grabbed a bowl of cereal on the way out—and all four were bending over backward to make it a nice one, which she recognized and thought was a sweet gesture on their part.
Strange how she had come from being an isolated only child to having a boyfriend she adored, an annoying little brother and a very, very dear friend...and Davy, she thought with a mischievous giggle.
Peter looked over the table, then blew the air out of his cheeks. "Aw, nuts," he grumbled, " I knew I forgot something."
"What?" four voices chorused.
"I forgot to make hash browns." He sighed. "Well, Isabel, I guess this will just have to do."
"Yeah," Mike quipped, sitting beside Isabel, "and you'll just have to miss out on seeing him set off the smoke alarm."
Three others laughed. Peter glared at Mike. "That's not funny, man. I'm real careful now—I've gotta be!"
Instantly all humour fled from Mike's face. "I know," he said softly. "Because of me still being... like this."
Isabel covered his hand with hers. "It'll fade, Mike," she said softly, for his sensitive ears only. He met her large eyes and smiled slightly, patting her hand with his other one and nodding.
When all five were seated, Isabel looked at her plate and sighed. "Well—guess it's time to bite the bullet and taste this cooking I'm always hearing about." She took a bite and her eyes widened in surprise. Swallowing, she said, "I thought you guys were exaggerating! I remember when all he could make was that terrible soup! Peter, this is great!"
Peter couldn't turn on the full grin due to the fact that his mouth was full, but he turned a closed-mouth version to her.
Isabel tilted her head, regarding him speculatively, then said with a deadpan look that almost put Mike to shame, "You've even got those gorgeous dimples when you grin like that."
Three Monkees laughed till they choked as Peter turned bright red.
After breakfast was done and the dishes cleaned up, Peter Micky and Davy decided to accompany Mike and Isabel to the vet. Gil hated the Monkeemobile, so they had him in a pet carrier to protect the vinyl.
"Mike," Davy said suddenly, "It's such a nice day—why don't you park a few blocks down and let's walk to Doctor McNeally's?"
"Yeah," Isabel said. "That's a good idea. How about it?"
For answer, Mike raised one shoulder in a shrug and turned into a public parking lot. He fed the meter and pulled the carrier out, cursing under his breath as the ginger cat lurched and almost pitched the carrier out of his hands. He loved Isabel, but the jury was still out on Gil.
The five walked in silence for awhile, Mike holding the handle of the carrier in one hand. They came to a crosswalk, and Davy scooted behind Peter. "I'm gonna go get some ice cream," he announced. "Anybody else want some?"
"I do," Micky said instantly.
"You don't need any," Mike said. "You've already had two snacks!"
"I'd like some," Isabel said. "Later."
Davy nodded and stepped over to a vendor as the four crossed at the light.
"We'd better wait for him," Peter said.
"We are," Mike said, grimacing as Gil shot a claw out through an air hole and nailed his leg. "Mick, would you hold this monster, please?"
Davy struck up a conversation with a pretty blonde who was waiting her turn at the vendor's, causing Mike and Micky to roll their eyes.
"Casanova's at it again," Peter teased. Isabel was the only one who chuckled.
An unkempt young man, obviously high on something, suddenly lurched around the corner and grabbed the blonde girl. He pushed her against the wall and growled something unintelligible to the others. Davy instantly grabbed his shoulder and spun him around, snapping at him—
Only to back up a step and raise his hands as the assailant flashed a gun.
"Davy!" Peter cried. The four tried to go back across the street—
Only to be stopped by the solid stream of traffic that was speeding across the intersection. They could only watch helplessly.
Davy's eyes flicked from the gun to the young man to the girl, trying to figure out if the gun was a fake or not. The druggie grabbed the blonde's purse, snapping it from around her neck, and began to run.
Fake, Davy decided, running after the druggie and jumping on his back. He rode him like a horse, trying to get him to fall down so Davy could sit on him and hold him till the others got there.
Peter and Micky bounced up and down impatiently by now, silently begging for the light to change so they could help. Mike was poised, ready to run at the first break in traffic, and Isabel watched wide-eyed and still, pet carrier forgotten on the ground.
The druggie roared, struggling to dislodge the Englishman who held on with an iron grip. He raised the hand with the gun and struck Davy on the neck with it. Davy yelled in pain, but held on. The druggie struck Davy again—
And the gun went off with a loud CRACK! Davy screamed in agony and released the man, falling to the ground in a heap.
"Davy!" the four screamed with one voice. They surged forward, not caring anymore about the light. Fortunately, it changed the second their feet hit the pavement.
"Oh, my gosh—" Peter cried out, falling to his knees beside Davy. "He's been shot!"
Isabel dropped beside Peter and yelled at the vendor, "Call the police!"
"Already done, miss," the vendor said.
Mike and Micky pelted down the sidewalk after the druggie, rage contorting both their faces. Though Micky usually outran everybody, fury was making Mike faster than usual. His long stork legs kept easy pace with Micky's churning ones. They rounded a corner, and pulled up short.
"Where is he?" Micky gasped. "He's gone!"
Mike held up a hand. "SSHH!" He lowered his head and closed his eyes, listening...
"There!" Mike cried, pointing toward an alley a few paces up and sprinting toward it. Micky followed, shaking his head in amazement at those ears.
The druggie was trying to climb the brick wall into the next alley. He was not doing a very good job of it, as he was still holding onto both the gun and purse. Mike grabbed his collar and belt, and flipped him down onto his back.
The druggie pointed the gun at Mike. Hand shaking, he cocked the hammer—
Micky raced up behind his head and kicked the gun out of his hand. It went skidding toward the street.
The druggie lurched to his feet and tried to make a break for it. Mike grabbed his shoulder and whirled him around, punching him in the jaw. The druggie sagged into Micky's arms, out cold.
Mike picked up the purse and popped his aching knuckles. Micky smiled up at him. "We make a pretty good team," he said.
Micky heaved the druggie over his shoulders and carried him to where the police and an ambulance were waiting—where Davy still lay in a heap, unconscious, bleeding from his right ear.
Peter and Micky rode with Davy to the hospital. The police arrested the druggie.
Mike and Isabel, with great reluctance, went on to the vet and got Gil's cast off. They wanted nothing more than to get to the hospital and see how Davy was—but Peter insisted they go. "We'll hold down the fort," he had said.
Mike and Isabel had to agree—there was nothing they could do but sit and wait for Ericka Peterson to get to Mercy and check Davy out. Besides, they had to pay for the appointment even if they canceled, and they really couldn't afford to make a second one.
Davy fought his way up from what seemed to be the bottom of a long, dark well. The last thing he remembered was battling that lunatic—
Then the gunshot—
But he didn't remember feeling a bullet impact. His ears ached with the loud CRACK that reverberated inside his head, louder and louder—
He became aware of a sharp pain in his hand and opened his eyes, peering around at the white room. The pain in his hand intensified, and he raised it to see what was going on.
Davy had an IV in his arm. "I hate these things," he murmured. "Where am I? Mercy?" Mercy Hospital was where Ericka Peterson did her residency, and where she saw emergency cases.
Grimacing from the pain, Davy pulled the needle from his hand and shook it a few times to dispel the ache. He sat up—
Big mistake. His head suddenly felt like it had been hit by a hatchet. Whimpering, Davy raised his hand to his right ear.
It was bandaged. That would explain why I can't seem to hear so well, he thought. They've got my bloody ear plugged!
He pushed the call button beside the bed and smiled in relief when Ericka walked in, followed by Peter and Micky.
"Ericka," he said softly, "what's going on? Was I shot?"
All three of them suddenly winced. Micky put a finger in his ear and wiggled it, contorting his face in an exaggerated grimace as if Davy had said that at the top of his lungs. Ericka put a finger to her lips and made a motion with her hand to lower the volume.
Davy's eyes widened. Apparently he had shouted without even realizing it. He made a conscious effort to lower his voice. "Sorry. You've got my ear all plugged and I'm having a little trouble hearing myself."
Three pairs of eyes met. Ericka turned to Davy and said something, and he frowned as he strained to hear her. He could hear her voice, but not understand one word she had said. It sounded like she was speaking from the bottom of a well.
"Ericka?" he said at what he hoped was the right volume. "I... didn't understand that."
Panic welled up within him, and he clamped down on it tight, trying to keep himself from freaking out.
Ericka scribbled something on her clipboard, then crossed over to stand next to Davy's bed, tilting the clipboard so he could read what she had written there.
I was afraid of this, Davy read. The bandages on your ear shouldn't muffle sounds that much.
He began to tremble. "Are—Are you telling me that—"
She hastily wrote some more, then held up the clipboard again. I'm telling you that you have suffered a profound hearing loss. You are not completely deaf, since you can hear voices, but you cannot hear enough to understand or to control the volume of your own voice.
Despite the fact that Davy was exerting every bit of will power he had, he felt the blood drain from his face, and he couldn't stop himself from visibly shaking.
Peter hurried over and sat beside Davy, slipping one arm across his shoulders in an attempt to calm him.
"Ericka—" Davy gasped, forgetting to try to modulate the volume. "I'm a musician! A singer! Please—please tell me—"
Not anymore, you're not. I'm sorry, David.
Davy let out an agonized wail and collapsed against Peter's chest, sobbing. He was vaguely aware that Peter said something—mostly because he could feel the rumbling of Peter's voice—but he couldn't understand that Peter had barked, "You didn't have to be so blunt!"
Unaware of this new development, Mike and Isabel drove to Mercy Hospital as soon as they dropped Gil off at the Pad. Mike was speeding—as usual—but this time, Isabel said nothing, feeling as anxious as he was to reach the hospital.
After what seemed like hours, they arrived at Mercy, and Mike wheeled into a parking place. Once they reached the entrance, they found Micky leaning against the wall outside, waiting for them. He pushed off it and ran over to them. "We gotta talk."
"It's Davy, isn't it?" Isabel asked, a tight knot of fear forming in her stomach.
Micky began quickly, the words tumbling over themselves as he explained, "The good news is he wasn't shot. The bullet went under his ear and through his hair." He smiled slightly. "He's got this really cute little black patch in his hair right now, from the powder—"
"Mick," Mike interrupted impatiently, "what's the bad news?"
Micky licked his lips, reluctant to go on. "The bad news is that Davy has lost most of his hearing. The gunshot was so loud, it—Mike?"
Mike had turned five shades of pale. Isabel and Micky instantly grabbed his arms, one on either side of him, and hustled him inside, letting him collapse in the nearest chair.
"Not him too," he murmured, his voice sounding strangled. "First me... now him..."
Micky ran to get Mike a cup of water, and Isabel dropped into the chair next to him, rubbing his back soothingly. He was staring straight ahead but focusing on nothing, his eyes glazed over. When Micky came back and held out the cup, Mike shook his head as if to clear it, then accepted the water with mumbled thanks. Isabel patted his shoulder and sat back in her own chair, relieved that he was okay again.
"You okay now?" Micky asked, concern etched in his features as he gazed down at Mike.
"What do you mean?" Mike asked, sipping the water.
"You went into shock for a second, man," he replied. "I don't blame you. It's pretty devastating news for a musician."
"Worse than what happened to me," Mike added bleakly. "Blindness doesn't stop you from hearing music. Being—Being—" he couldn't say the dreaded word.
"Being deaf does," Isabel finished softly. "Where's Peter?"
"With Davy," Micky said. "He hasn't stopped crying since Doc Peterson told him he'd never be able to play again."
"She did what?" Isabel and Mike roared in unison.
If it weren't such a serious situation, Micky thought as he watched identical masks of fury spring up on Mike and Isabel's faces, this would be really funny. And he made a mental note to "remind" them about it later.
Davy sat in bed, a thousand thoughts colliding in his brain as he struggled to grasp what had happened to him. After his tears had finally abated, Peter wrote a note saying he was going to get them both some coffee, and Davy had nodded, wanting a moment alone to sort things out.
Part of him still refused to believe it was true.
He climbed out of bed, staggering a little at first. His sense of balance seemed a bit off. Once he got his bearings, he padded on bare feet to the third-floor window and opened it, ignoring the cold tile beneath his feet and the draft from the thin hospital gown.
Looking outside, he could see typical LA traffic on the bridge— and he assumed there were plenty of horns blaring as usual. He looked down—an ambulance was rolling in fast, lights flashing. Doctors ran out to it, and there was a general mad scramble.
And Davy couldn't hear one bit of it. There was nothing but that bloody white noise in his head...
He felt the floor vibrate slightly—someone had come in. "Relax," he said to whomever it was, hoping it was at something approaching normal volume, "I'm only looking. I'm not so stupid as to jump."
He didn't hear an answering mumble—the person didn't speak. Puzzled, Davy glanced over his shoulder—only to see Mike standing in the doorway.
And for once that solemn face wasn't guarded by a carefully constructed mask; his expression was completely open, his emotions plain to read.
Feeling his lower jaw drop a little with surprise, Davy turned around, searching Mike's face and eyes, but he did not read pity there, only grief and compassion.
Mollified, Davy closed the window and perched on the sill, regarding Mike speculatively.
"You do understand," he said at last, realizing the truth of it even as he spoke. "You're probably the only one of us who would. You lost a sense, too."
Mike shut the door and moved to settle in one of the two chairs in the room, propping his left ankle on his right knee as he spread his hands, palms out, his eyebrows raised—a clear invitation for Davy to talk if he wanted to.
"Have you talked to Ericka?"
Mike shook his head.
A twinge of pain darted across his face as he replied, "She says I'm almost completely deaf. I can hear voices, but not understand what they're saying. And I can't control the volume of my own." He glanced up at Mike, suddenly aware that he may very well be shouting and not realize it. "Am I too loud?"
Mike wrinkled his nose and waved one hand as he shook his head, and Davy belatedly remembered that Mike's sensitive hearing would have driven him to react if Davy had been speaking too loudly.
Tilting his head slightly, Mike arched one eyebrow as he looked a question that Davy easily interpreted. It occurred to Davy that even though Micky unquestionably had the most mobile, expressive face of them, the laconic Texan did a great deal of silent communicating, and he was rather visually eloquent—he had to be, Davy snorted, as little as he ever talked!
"And—" he continued, "she was going to come back and check me out closer when she had the time. She hasn't come back."
Mike's dark brows snapped together as he raised his wrist and tapped the dial of his watch.
"I don't know how long it's been," Davy answered. He hadn't exactly been paying attention to such trivial matters as the time of day.
Then he noticed the strange bulkiness of the watch, and he pointed at it, curiosity making him forget his own misery for a moment. "You're still wearing that thing," he remarked.
Mike tugged his sleeve back over the converted pocketwatch with the Braille numbers as if to hide it, seeming to concentrate on that simple task rather than looking at Davy.
"Why, Mike?" Davy insisted. "You don't need that anymore..."
One shoulder lifted in a negligent shrug as Mike deliberately averted his eyes to the wall, the floor—anywhere but at Davy.
"So you won't forget," Davy said quietly, experiencing a sudden flash of understanding.
He'd never really thought about how blindness—although temporary—had affected Mike, mainly because Mike himself never revealed anything about it, much less talked about it to any of them. And since then, Mike had acted as if he were completely normal—completely fine—and Davy had never questioned that perception, never thought to wonder if it were really true.
Until now. He felt a slight pang as he realized what a careless friend he'd been; despite the fact that Mike was naturally reserved, he should have at least made an attempt to help. After all, that's what Mike was doing now for him.
"So you'll never take anything for granted again," he added quietly.
He knew that once he regained his hearing—if he regained his hearing—he would certainly never take it for granted again! He'd never wanted to be able to hear one of Micky's annoying voices so badly before in his life, and if he ever heard one of those awful Cagney impressions again, he would listen to it over and over just because he could.
Mike gave Davy one of his patented you-say-anything-and-you're-dead-little-man looks, and Davy smiled despite himself. "Your secret's safe here, Mike." He took a step forward—
And lost his balance again. Mike sprang to his feet and just barely managed to catch him before he hit the ground. He helped Davy back into bed, drawing the covers over Davy's bare legs and retreated to the chair, regarding at his wounded friend with a melancholy expression unlike anything Davy had ever seen on that particular face before in all the time they'd known each other.
Davy sighed and squirmed. Mike had always possessed the annoying ability to scrutinize a person so closely it seemed his eyes were boring right into his victim's soul—and to make it worse, Peter had started developing the same skill since he'd had to share the leadership responsibilities. Between the two of them, no one was safe, he thought irritably.
"Where are the others?" Davy asked.
Mike blew the air out of his cheeks, and Davy realised for the first time Mike had nothing to write with, and complex questions like that were beyond the scope of facial expressions to answer.
"Charades?" he suggested, not knowing any other option.
A disgusted "oh, man" look crossed Mike's face, but he nodded grudgingly. He took a finger and rolled a lock of his hair in it.
"Curls," Davy guessed. "Micky."
Mike nodded, then mimed very long hair.
Mike wiggled his fingers as if he were rhythmically punching the air with them, then used one forefinger to trace a triangle on top of a box.
"Type...house?" At Mike's nod, Davy put it together. "Micky took Isabel home so she could work on an article?" Mike nodded.
Then Mike rubbed his left upper lip. Davy grinned—that one needed no explanation. "And Peter—"
The door bumped open and Peter came in, balancing a tray with three steaming cups on it.
"—is here," Davy finished.
"How is he doing?" Peter asked Mike, setting the tray down.
"Well... we're communicating." Mike stood up, reaching for one of the cups; after that, he needed something to fortify himself. "Micky didn't give me a notepad, so we had to play charades."
The mere thought of Mike gesturing wildly was enough to cause that ready grin to spread.
"Not a word," Mike warned.
"Who, me?" Peter put on his best innocent angel face. He reached inside his shirt and slid out his long string of love beads—which he had threaded through the spirals of a small notepad. He drew it off and pitched it to Mike.
Mike caught it deftly and smiled. "Your idea?"
"Pencil?" he asked, and Peter fished one out of his back pocket, handing it over.
Mike scribbled something on the first sheet of paper, then turned the notepad so Davy could see it.
This more like it?
Davy nodded, a flicker of amusement making the corners of his lips turn up slightly. Mike could manage to sound like himself even when he couldn't be heard! "Better. If I could hear you, it would be—Hey, where's he going?"
Peter flashed them the thumbs-up signal as he closed the door behind him.
To get another notepad necklace, Davy read. Micky made four.
Davy sighed. "Well," he said, "at least you guys can talk to me again..."
Ericka's findings had to come in a note so Davy could understand it. His hands shook as he reread it for the fourth time, dread and excitement warring for control of his emotions.
Your right eardrum has been punctured. Fluid has built up behind it and the left one as well, and THAT is what's blocking your hearing. We can operate, to drain the fluid. It's just a matter of scheduling now. I'll get back to you on when.
The BAD news—the eardrum can't be repaired. It's just a matter of wait-and-see now. IF it heals on its own, there will be no ill effects. If it doesn't... well, there still should be no IMMEDIATE effects. Twenty to thirty years down the road, you may notice a slight deterioration in your singing voice because you won't be able to hear as well... but that's a long way down.
Cheer up, hon. This is almost over.
Davy crumpled up the note and flung it viciously across the room where it bounced harmlessly off the wall and lay on the floor, a silent reminder of his hateful condition. Almost over... soon as surgery is performed...
First it had to be scheduled...
"I hate waiting," he mumbled and burrowed down low in the bed, pulling the covers over him to form a protective cocoon that did nothing to shield him from his own turbulent mind.
Mike sat in the booth, headphones on his ears, waiting, his left foot bobbing impatiently. Peter, Micky and Isabel were with the technician outside.
Ericka, concerned after what had happened Davy, had talked Mike into having his hearing checked as well, to see why it was still so sensitive— and how sensitive it was.
Sean, the technician, leaned forward and spoke into a microphone. "We're ready to begin, Mr. Nesmith. You ready?"
Mike nodded, reaching up to settle the bulky headphones more securely over his ears.
"All I want you to do is nod your head if you can hear the tones I'll be feeding you through the headphones. Here we go."
Sean pitched the volume so the others could hear what he was sending Mike. Normal musical tones sounded, and Mike nodded his head to each one. Then Sean began dropping the volume. And Mike kept nodding.
Soon the others could no longer hear the notes.
But Mike kept nodding, his lips thinning a little as if he were thinking that Sean was fooling around and not actually lowering the volume much at all.
Sean's eyes were growing rounder by the minute. He kept dropping it softer and softer. Finally Mike frowned slightly, squinting as he appeared to concentrate intently, and he finally stopped nodding.
Sean leaned forward. "We're going to try your range now, all right?"
"You want me to nod or what?" Mike called.
"Nod if you hear it, all right?" Mike nodded and Sean severed the connection.
"Low first..." Sean produced some bass notes, and Mike began to nod. Sean dropped the notes so low the others could only feel a rumble.
Mike kept nodding.
Mike kept nodding.
Mike stopped nodding. Sean whistled, shaking his head with amazement and shifted to the higher end.
Higher pitched. The others were starting to wince a little, and Micky screwed up his face and began to howl softly.
Too high for Peter and Micky and Isabel to hear.
Mike stopped nodding.
"Mmm..." Sean mused aloud. "Hears better in the lower spectrum than the higher... but still, that's better than normal hearing..."
"He can hear the water running upstairs when he's downstairs," Peter added helpfully.
"That's about right," Sean said. "That would jibe with these readings." He turned to face them, his expression mirroring his surprise. "Your friend has one incredible set of ears."
"And another one has hardly any ears at all," Micky groaned.
Isabel shifted positions, rolling onto her stomach--and awoke with a start as she felt herself starting to fall off the edge of her bed. She caught herself just in time, momentarily disoriented--this wasn't her bed—too narrow—
She sat up, the quilt she'd been wrapped up in falling around her hips as she glanced around, wide-eyed—then memory came flooding back, and she chuckled at her own foolishness. She was at the Pad, sleeping on the chaise while Babbitt had her place renovated.
Yawning, she knuckled sleep from her eyes and threw back the quilt. The room was still slightly dark, and even Peter hadn't woken up yet to make breakfast.
She briefly considered trying to go back to sleep—she wasn't an early morning person by any stretch of the imagination—but the shock she'd received had banished any chance of that happening, and she decided to go watch the sunrise instead, capitalizing on an rare opportunity.
Slipping out of her make-shift bed, she padded on bare feet over to the bandstand, wrapping her arms around herself for warmth as she stepped up on it and moved to stand by the back window, peering out at the early morning sky. Faint tendrils of pastel light were just peeking over the horizon, stretching pale fingers across the ocean, making the waves sparkle and glisten. The deep blue sky began fading, the moon began to make its escape, the stars disappeared one by one, and she felt a tranquility settle over her for the first time since Davy's accident.
He was home now. Ericka had released him the day before, and now he had to wait—and learn to adjust—until he could receive the operation he needed. Although she doubted none of them would have an easy time of it while he did! He was already showing signs of depression and impatience, and they would all have to work hard to keep his spirits up.
But for now, he was asleep, and their collective problems were on hold.
She yawned again and, raising up on her toes, indulged in a full body stretch, lifting her arms high over her head and—
"Mmmm..." came a familiar deep-throated purr from behind her. "Nice view." Isabel let out a surprised squeak as she whirled, her eyes flying to the railing where he would have to be standing—
The empty railing.
Where was he?
"A little lower," he coached, an undercurrent of laughter in his voice. She darted a startled glance towards the couch—and there was Mike, sitting with his legs tucked up under his chin.
Legs that were still enfolded in plain white sheets.
"You—" She gaped at him, stunned. "You spent the—the night—"
"Part of it," he said, propping his pillow on its end and settling comfortably against it. "Davy got freaked at spendin' the night in a dark room, so he came upstairs and kicked me out of bed." He gave a one-shouldered shrug.
"Why—?" she started to ask, but then she cut herself off, nodding.
The very small nightlight Mike kept plugged into the socket at the foot of his bed. He didn't have to use it anymore, since he no longer woke up in the middle of the night, staring wildly at the dark, terrified that his blindness had returned, but it was still there beside his bed. Just in case.
"I turned on the nightlight for him and came down here." Mike combed his slender fingers through his tousled hair, but the gesture only served to make him look more rumpled, and she longed to smooth the unruly waves falling across his forehead herself. "I was gonna go sleep on Davy's bed," he added, glancing away from her and fiddling with the hem of the sheets. "But Peter was snorin' fit to raise the dead, and you weren't, so..." He gave another one-shouldered shrug, then glanced up at her.
Their eyes met and held, and suddenly Isabel felt her cheeks stinging with heat as she realized she was wearing a thin nightgown—and standing directly in front of a window which with her luck was providing excellent back-lighting.
"I—uhm—I'd better—I'm going to go take a shower before Peter gets up—" she stammered, turning to make a run for the bathroom.
"No." His soft answer made her freeze, and she stared at him, wide-eyed. "You're not going to do that."
"I'm—" She cleared her throat, feeling unaccountably nervous. "I'm not?"
"Nope." A wicked smile curved his lips, and she knew he was teasing her.
"And just why not?" she demanded, irritated that he was showing no signs of awkwardness while she felt like a vibrating bundle of nerves that was ready to snap at any second.
"Because Peter just went in it."
She opened her mouth to ask how he knew, then shut it with a snap as she remembered his ears.
"Oh..." she said lamely. Trying to pretend a nonchalance she came nowhere close to feeling, she turned back to the window and pretended to be fascinated by the sunrise unfurling before her.
And it was a glorious sight, but her eyes were blind to it, her entire being focused on Mike even though she wasn't looking at him. She shivered suddenly and rubbed her arms, trying to ward off the early morning chill.
But was it the chill? Or the realization that she had spent the night in the same room as the man she loved?
And why did she have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle that deliciously beard-stubbled face?
"Cold?" he asked solicitously.
"I'm fi—" The words died in her throat as she glanced over her shoulder and saw that he'd gotten up and, pausing only to snag the quilt from her chaise, was headed straight for her—wearing nothing but thin cotton pajama bottoms and an enigmatic smile.
She heard the strangled noise issue from her throat, but she was powerless to silence it. Instead, she snapped her head back around, staring fixedly out the window.
It shouldn't bother her, she scolded herself firmly. After all, they had been swimming together countless times. She'd seen him—seen all four of them—in bathing suits, which were snugger and had less material, so what was the big deal about PJs?
And suddenly he was behind her, draping the quilt around her shoulders, and she grasped the edges of it, pulling it close; then he enfolded her in his arms, resting his cheek against the top of her head, and she closed her eyes with a silent sigh as she realized exactly what the big deal was.
The idea...she thought as his body heat seeped through the quilt, filling her with a weakening lassitude. The idea that they were alone—for the moment—and in their night-clothes—a silly thought, but not really when she considered that other than her grandmother, no one had ever seen her in a gown before, especially not a boyfriend. It was a new intimacy, one she hadn't expected despite the fact that they were living under the same roof temporarily.
But she could get used to it, oh, yes, indeed...She could easily adapt to a lifetime of this, of waking up with him, of his face being the first thing she saw every day for the rest of her life...
She shook her head to clear it—no more of that! Those were idle fantasies, and she had no business indulging them. He hadn't given her a reason to think he considered their relationship that serious, and forever-'till-death-do-us-part had certainly never been discussed or even hinted at!
With another quiet sigh, she allowed herself to relax fractionally, to lean against him the slightest bit—
"Hey! What're you guys doing up?" Micky called out as he leaned over the rail on the second floor, and two heads snapped up to fix him with identical black glares. "And what's Davy doing in here?"
"He wanted the nightlight," Mike replied curtly.
"Oh, okay." That explained, Micky wandered back into the bedroom, and a few moments later, Mike heard the bathroom door slam and the distant sound of the shower starting up.
With an exasperated snort, he released Isabel, knowing the peaceful moment had been shattered, and he wasn't foolish enough to try to recapture it, not when she was so obviously unnerved—and trying so hard not to show it.
"He's got a knack for interrupting us, doesn't he?" she remarked mildly.
"I think it's his one true talent."
She stood there for a moment longer, her eyes soft and unfocused as she stared outside, and he wondered what she was thinking, almost tempted to ask. Then she gave another tiny shake of her head and, without looking at him, headed for the kitchen.
"Want some coffee?" she asked in a too-casual tone.
"Nah," he replied, watching her go with regret. It had been nice having her there first thing in the morning. He could get used to it..."I'm gonna see if I can't drag Peter outta the shower."
With that, he ambled to the downstairs bathroom, a tiny corner of his heart hoping for a repeat of that tenuous bond they had shared in the mornings to come. "Hey, Pete—hurry up! You're gonna use up all the hot water!" Mike banged impatiently on the bathroom door.
"Just a minute!"
I oughta time him, Mike thought, but before he could act, the water shut off, and he heard the curtain scrape across the metal rod as Peter slid it back. Satisfied, he leaned against the wall and patiently waited his turn.
The door suddenly flew open to reveal Peter peering around at Mike, curiosity written all over his face. He had wrapped one towel around his waist and was using another to scrub dry his hair which the water had turned dark blonde, but he was still dripping, and Mike stepped back from the puddle that was forming, staring at it with obvious distaste.
"What are you doing down here anyway?" Peter asked. "Where's Davy?"
"Upstairs," Mike replied amiably as he shouldered his way past Peter into the bathroom, shutting the door behind himself. "He kicked me outta bed so he could use the nightlight. I slept on the couch," he added, then mentally kicked himself for inadvertently revealing that little tidbit. Maybe it would slip by Peter unnoticed.
"You slept on the couch?"
No such luck.
"Why didn't you sleep in the bedroom?" he pressed, damp hair forgotten as he stared at Mike, uncomprehending.
Mike examined the floor, suddenly fascinated by the patterned linoleum and conveniently forgetting to reply.
Understanding slowly bloomed in Peter's face, and he smiled broadly as the pieces fell into place. Shaking his head, he leaned against the sink and watched the pink tinge that had begun to creep across Mike's cheeks. Oh, that was a rare sight, that was—he couldn't remember ever seeing Mike blush before, and he chuckled softly, glad for Mike's sake that Micky wasn't privy to this conversation. Otherwise, he would never hear the end of it. "Couldn't bear to leave her, huh?" he asked quietly.
"If you tell a soul..."
"Who, me ?"He grinned. "Hand me those clothes, would you, please?" Mike snatched the pile of clothes that lay draped across the laundry hamper by the door and handed them over. "Thank you."
As soon as he was dressed, Peter stepped out of the bathroom and gestured to Mike. "All yours," he said grandly.
Mike nodded absently and moved to take his turn, but just before he shut the door behind him and just before Peter made his own exit, he couldn't resist—
"See ya, Don Juan," Peter sang out.
"Oh, shut up."
Laughing, Peter waltzed out of the room and headed for the kitchen to make breakfast, humming merrily to himself the entire while.
Davy woke up, looked over at Micky, and smiled. Well, he thought, at least there's ONE good thing about being deaf... His snoring didn't keep me awake!
When he had gotten dressed and joined the others downstairs, he saw Micky practically inside the refrigerator as he cleaned up the mess that had resulted when Gil shot across Micky's line of sight at the precise moment he attempted to pull ten eggs out of the refrigerator all at once. Mike was in his chair at the table, tilted on its two back legs as he read the paper; Peter was nowhere to be seen.
"Hello, Mike!" he called cheerily, not noticing the pained look that shot across Mike's face at the too-loud greeting. "Pete's in the shower, huh?" he added, assuming that was the fact of the matter.
Whistling horribly off-key, Davy strode over to the bathroom door.
"Davy, no !" Mike yelped, flinging down the paper as he scrambled to his feet. The long stork legs the others teased him about served him in good stead, helping him reach the door before Davy, and he plastered himself against it, arms spread out as he shook his head wildly to stop Davy's progress.
"Mike?" Peter stepped out of the downstairs bedroom, a quizzical look on his face as he watched the mad scene unfolding before him.
"Isabel's in the shower!" Mike blurted, and Peter dashed across the room to join him.
"It's all right," Davy said irritably, scowling a little at Mike's strange behavior. "All I need is my toothbrush. I'll be right back out."
Mike did not budge. His jaw set in a stubborn line, and he shook his head again—a clear refusal to move.
"What has gotten intoyou?" Davy gaped incredulously at him. "Have you gone crackers? All I need is my toothbrush! Peter won't care if I pop in to get it!" Davy felt a light tap on his shoulder, and he whirled around, his mouth open to deliver an annoyed, "What?" at Micky—
—And there was Peter standing behind him, smiling and shaking his head as well as he moved to stand next to Mike, adding himself to the human barricade.
"Hey..." Davy gasped, pointing at Peter. "Y-You're here! B-but then— who's in—" Suddenly Davy's eyes widened so much that the whites were visible all around the brown irises. "Isabel?"
Mike and Peter nodded in unison, Peter looking as if he were on the verge of hysterics while Mike's expression was turning grimmer by the moment.
"I—I almost—walked in—on—" he stammered faintly, aghast at what he'd almost done—almost seen.
If that weren't grounds for Mike to immediately kill him, he didn't know what was!
Mike and Peter nodded again. and Mike pointed inexorably away from the bathroom door in a clear warning: Get out—all the way out.
Davy whirled and ran back up the stairs.
Chuckling, Peter went into the kitchen to help Micky clean up.
Mike slumped against the closed bathroom door for a second, his features suffused with relief—and then he nearly fell over backwards when the door opened a little.
"Mike?" Isabel asked, peeping around the door, her voice revealing her bewilderment. "What's going on? What's all the noise?"
He hastily regained his balance, barely able to keep from tumbling into the bathroom with her, but once he was steady on his feet again, he straightened and tossed her an impish grin.
"Just defendin' your honor," he replied.
She gave him a long, steady look that clearly said she thought he'd lost his mind. "Okay, fine. I'm going to pretend I understood that and let it go."
With that, she shut the door again, and he ambled back to the table, determined to change the bathroom arrangements as soon as he got the opportunity.
Mike hung up the phone and turned to face the others who were clustered together, waiting with wide-eyed anxiousness for the report. "Doctor Peterson got Davy's surgery scheduled for the tenth," he informed them, and there was a collective sigh of relief.
He waved his hands in front of his face, trying to catch Davy's attention, and when he did, he motioned for Davy to join him by the wall.
Davy hurried over, his face alight with curiosity, and Mike pointed to the calendar. Then he touched Davy's chest lightly, tapped his own ear, and pointed to the 10th on the calendar.
"Ericka scheduled my surgery on the tenth?" Davy asked just to make sure he'd understood. At Mike's nod, he moaned a little, despair rising up within him like an engulfing black cloud.
"Mike—that's four whole days away! I've gotta spend four days like—like this?"
Mike gave a rueful shrug and nodded again, his expression sympathetic. Davy collapsed heavily into the nearest chair at the table and buried his head in his arms;
Peter scooted a chair next to him and sat down, draping a comforting arm across Davy's shoulders, and with one last "what can you do?" look, Mike left Peter with the job of administering solace and headed to the living room.
"Is that all Doctor Peterson said?" Isabel asked as she followed behind him.
"No," he admitted reluctantly. "She also had the results of the test Sean ran on me yesterday." Mike sank onto the couch, stretching his legs out in front of him as he adopted a deliberately casual air. "She said my hearin' borders on the preternatural. She looked it up in her books, and found this only happens in a real small number of cases where people have lost their sight."
"This?" Micky asked as he burst into the Pad, his arms laden with two full bags of groceries. "This what?"
"The sensitivity going to such a level as mine has," Mike replied. "And it lasting as long as it has is an even smaller number."
"How small are we talking about?" Isabel asked, frowning slightly.
"The sensitivity? About two percent. The duration? Less than one percent." Then Mike couldn't repress the chuckle as Isabel and Peter's mouths both fell open as they stared at him. "Well, that's what she said!"
Davy lay his clothes for the morning on the small table at the foot of Mike's bed. It was nice of him to let Davy sleep up here—with the nightlight, so Davy didn't feel cut off from the world in the dark—until his surgery. Davy did, however, feel a pang of guilt about essentially kicking him out of his room—not that sharing a room with Micky the Messy was a walk in the park!
Although he still didn't understand why Isabel had asked him if Peter snored. And why she got such a funny look on her face when he said no.
For the next two mornings, Davy would shower up here, so there would be no more almost blundering in on Isabel. He smiled, imagining how Mike must have rounded up Peter and bluntly announced that from then on Peter would be showering up here too.
That was, after all, something Mike would just DO. Maybe not in front of people, but he'd do it, incapable of ignoring his protective instincts when it came to those he cared about...which was probably why he hadn't put up a fuss about Davy's taking his bed.
Davy paused partway down the stairs, peering over the railing into the living room. Micky and Peter were on the bandstand, going over the kinks on one of the new songs, Davy guessed. Micky was seated behind his drumkit, his lips moving and his head bobbing, his face screwed up in one of those typical Micky-emoting expressions as he sang. He saw the cymbal rock as Micky hit it, and saw Peter's distinct gyrations as he played his bass and danced to the beat Micky and he were churning out.
Micky stopped abruptly, turned to Peter and said something, which made Peter laugh. Micky laughed too, doubling over his drums in a fit of Micky-giggles, and Davy thought he could hear a ghostly echo-memory of the sound in his head.
Tearing his gaze away from that sight, Davy looked at the couch where Mike sat leaning against one end while Isabel curled up at the other end, facing him; he was reading, and she appeared to be engrossed in proofreading her latest article. As Davy watched, she nudged Mike with her foot to get his attention, and when he looked up, his expression registering curiosity, she held out a page of her manuscript, tapping a certain paragraph with her pencil as she handed it to him, her lips moving in a long and rapid flow of words. He took it, scanned it, then handed it back with a typically brief response, but apparently it was enough to satisfy her because she re-added it to the pile of papers and began to work again.
Tears sprang to Davy's eyes, blurring the scene before him.
Music, conversation... all that was lost to him now. For at least four more days. Just to clearly hear even the ring of the telephone or the knock on the door...
Davy sat down heavily on the stairs, fighting the sobs with all his strength. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mike suddenly glance up toward the staircase, and as soon as he caught one look at Davy through the bars, he pushed himself off the couch with lanky grace, hurrying over to his friend, pausing only to write something in the notebook that he wore around his neck—as they all constantly did now.
Mike stood on the bottom step, turning the notebook around.
What is it?
"It's not f-fair !" Davy sobbed, giving up. "Y-You... you can hear so well... and I c-can't hear at all!"
Mike winced at the volume that Davy wasn't even trying to control at the moment. But he didn't try to shush him. Instead he scribbled something else and turned it so Davy could see.
Yes, but look at what I had to go through to GET these ears.
Davy's eyes widened in horror as he remembered—and he instantly regretted his own petulance. "Mike... I'm so sorry... I f-forgot..."
Mike gave a one-shouldered shrug as he wrote:
Only four days. You're lucky. I didn't know when or if mine would end. You've got a date to look forward to.
Davy nodded. "You're right... I do!" He gave a wavery smile, finally remembering to modulate his voice. "Thanks."
Mike nodded, smiling slightly.
The full moon shone down brightly on the two huddled, dark figures perched on the rickety wood staircase outside the Pad, causing them to cast shadows almost as if it were daylight. Mike and Isabel had wandered outside after the others had gone to bed under the tacit agreement that they both wanted some private time which they hadn't been getting since they couldn't escape to her house. Now they shared the top step, sitting close enough so that their shoulders touched not because the steps were narrow—although they were—and not for warmth because they were both wearing jeans and sweaters. Just because.
"So what have you guys decided about practicing?" Isabel asked quietly, broaching a subject that been unofficially taboo since Davy's accident.
"Aw, man..." Mike sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I dunno. We need to practice, but Davy's bummed enough without havin' to watch us play. It's only a couple more days. We may just wait."
"That's what Peter wants to do," she offered, and he glanced at her, one eyebrow arched questioningly. "He told you that?"
"Mm-hhm." She nodded, then leaned over so that she could rest her head against his arm, feeling the rough wool sweater tickle her cheek. It was white—not a color she would have chosen for him; she much preferred black—but it looked surprisingly good on him nonetheless. "That or get Davy out of the house."
"Yeah. That might work." Mike's voice was distant as if he were already thinking, already planning, and knowing him, he probably was.
Then he straightened suddenly and tugged his sleeve up, brushing his fingers across the modified watch he wore. "Whoa—it's almost two o'clock," he told her.
"So?" she murmured, not moving from her cozy position. "I don't have to work tomorrow."
"Yeah, but how're you gonna sleep in camped out in the middle of our living room with at least one annoying morning person in the house?" he reminded her, and she could hear the smile in his voice.
"Bleah." She screwed up her face in a grimace of distaste. "Peter's just too cheerful in the morning. I don't know how he does it. I'm ready for Babbitt to hurry up and finish so I don't have to wake up to Peter singing 'Your Auntie Grizelda' every morning. It's all I can do not to kill him before I get some coffee in me."
Mike chuckled softly, then gazed down at her, his expression somber but affectionate. "Yeah, but—" he hesitated, then continued slowly. "I've kinda liked havin' you around."
"No privacy," she reminded him with a mischievous smile, and he inclined his head to acknowledge the point.
"There's that," he conceded. "But this is kinda nice."
She raised her head, and their eyes met, sending all the unspoken messages neither were quite ready to say aloud. "Yeah," she agreed softly, her smile infinitely tender. "It is."
Later, in the room he now shared with Peter, Mike tried to undress and climb into bed as quietly as possible so he wouldn't wake Peter, but despite the late hour, even after he lay down and got settled, his eyes refused to stay shut.
One room away. That's all. Just one room away.
And he'd already fed her that story about Peter snoring, so he didhave an excuse...
He slipped out of bed again, cracking the door open just enough so he could hear clearly—her breathing was soft and regular. Sleep breathing.
"Oh, just go," Peter said, his voice blurry with sleep.
Mike nearly jumped out of his skin, barely able to keep from letting out a startled yelp. He whirled around, glaring at Peter, who—teddy bear snuggled in his arms—looked for all the world as if he were peacefully asleep.
"You're going to moon over her all night if you don't, and neither one of us will get any sleep," Peter added in annoyingly pragmatic tone that set Mike's teeth on edge.
"Don't you ever get tired of bein' right these days?" Mike snapped—but he was already reaching for his pillow and blankets as he did.
"Night, Casanova," Peter caroled softly—and two seconds later, he really was awakened by a pillow hitting him full-force in the head. Peter burrowed deeper into his covers to stifle his laughter.
Quietly—this time so he wouldn't wake Isabel and get caught—he arranged his "nest" on the couch and settled in. And this time, his eyes cooperated fully, growing heavy-lidded the moment his head hit the pillow.
The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes and drifted off was Isabel, smiling slightly, probably at some pleasant dream.
So it happened that he missed seeing that same smile widen as she cracked one eye open just enough to confirm what her ears had told her—then with a contented sigh, drifted off to sleep herself.
Davy woke up earlier than usual and headed for the bathroom, casting a bemused glance at Micky, who was sprawled on his stomach, his face scrunched against his pillow as he continued to sleep like the dead. He turned on the shower and lay out some towels. He wasn't worried about the water being too hot—it always let out a whistling noise if it was, and he didn't hear it.
Davy thrust his hand under the water to test it -- and howled in pain as he jerked it out and hastily turned on the cold water.
"Man!" he gasped. "No way!" Then he looked at the water pouring into the shower.
Silently pouring into the shower.
Davy felt his stomach plummet to his feet as reality swept over him. He had forgotten that he was deaf. "How could I have forgotten that?" he wondered to himself.
Then memories of the first morning Mike had been blind came flooding back. In his mind he could still hear Mike's horrified scream as he'd awoken from dreaming of sight, and then...
And then Davy had selfishly gone back to sleep, more concerned with having been dragged out of bed too early than with helping Mike deal with his situation. Davy hung his head in shame. Mike was doing all he could to help Davy deal with the bitter hand fate had dealt him, which only twisted the knife. He wondered if he'd ever be able to forgive himself for bowing out and forcing Peter to help Mike practically all by himself.
Peter had forgiven him. Mike had forgiven him. Micky—well...
Micky didn't realise how Davy felt, or how Mike had felt for that matter.
Davy hadn't really understood either—not until he was forced to live without one of his senses as well.
Davy shook his head to clear it as he tested the shower water again and stepped in, but he couldn't dispel his whirling thoughts.
Those thoughts were still plaguing him when he moved downstairs—
And then he caught sight of the scene downstairs, and—feeling a surge of mischievous delight like he hadn't felt in days—he leaned over the rail, clutching it tight so he wouldn't accidentally over-balance and send himself tumbling down the hard way.
He hadn't bothered to check the time when he got up, and he realized now that it was still quite early; even though the sun was creeping over the horizon, the living room was still quiet, no signs of the usual morning bustle.
Isabel was asleep on the chaise lounge, lying on her side facing the couch, both hands tucked under her chin.
Nothing unusual there, but Mike was sleeping on the couch! He had one arm slung over his eyes, and his chest was rising and falling steadily—he was still out. They both were. It was all Davy could do not to start giggling when he noticed Mike's fingers moving slightly, looking for all the world as if they were caressing the air...or whoever was in his dreams at the moment.
Davy grinned outright. So that was why Isabel had asked him if Peter snored! Mike had used that as an excuse! Lovebirds, he thought. If Micky knew about this...
Trying to be as quiet as he could, he scampered down the steps and into the downstairs bedroom—to find Peter's bed empty. With an irritated grimace, he tiptoed across the living room to the bathroom door, glancing over his shoulder at the sleepers as he knocked lightly. "Peter," he called. "I'm up."
The door opened, and Peter, his mouth full of foaming toothpaste, ushered him in. He nodded a greeting at Davy and bent back over the sink, spitting, then beginning to brush again.
"D'you know Mike's asleep on the couch?"
Peter's shoulders shook with laughter and he nodded.
"I miss your laughter," Davy said so suddenly that Peter turned to him, cocking an eyebrow at him in a perfect imitation of Mike's patented "say-what" look. He really had no choice—with the toothbrush in his mouth, he couldn't express much else.
"Really!" Davy insisted, his features reflecting his earnestly. "I miss hearing you laugh, hearing Micky's silly voices, Mike's grumbling, Isabel's teasing... I miss hearing!" He smiled a bit as he realized what a good impression Peter had done. "Hey—you imitate Mike pretty well."
Peter's shoulders suddenly heaved as he choked on his toothpaste. Once he got himself under control, his whole body shook as he leaned against the door, laughing.
"I mean it! You do!" Davy found himself smiling too. Then he suddenly sobered as a serious thought occurred to him. "I need to talk to you guys after breakfast. It's really important."
Peter regarded him somberly, then nodded.
Davy nodded back and went back upstairs to read awhile before breakfast. Peter finished his morning rituals and tried to sneak across the room, but apparently the laughter and one-sided conversation had caused more of a disturbance than he realized.
"Man..." came a drowsy grumble beneath the pillow on the couch, "Keep it down... people tryin' t' sleep here..."
"Yeah..." came the muffled agreement from the bundled lump on the chaise lounge. "Please... cool it..."
"Sorry," Peter said to Mike and Isabel as he tiptoed back to the bedroom, and he closed the door behind him as softly as he could.
"Yeah, yeah..." Mike grumbled, throwing his pillow in the general direction of Peter's voice, but it was too late—he was already gone.
A muted snort from the chaise roused him further, and, lifting his arm from across his eyes, he saw Isabel peeking sleepily at him from beneath the cocoon she had made of her quilt.
"Morning," she said, her voice still raspy with sleep—but there was a devilish smile playing around the corners of her mouth that made him instantly wary.
"Mornin'," he replied cautiously. She was about as much of a morning person as he was—so why was she smiling like that?
"You slept here again." It was a statement, not a question, but he answered her anyway.
He pushed himself upright, letting the sheets fall around him haphazardly as he rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, well, you know Pete's snorin'—"
"Uh-huh." She raised herself up on one elbow, her expression knowing and a trifle smug. "I know he doesn't."
Her smile widened as Mike actually gave a little start, his eyes growing round as he realized he'd been caught. Now where had she found out about that—?
"Oh..." He stared blankly at her for a moment, his sleep-fogged brain scrambling to come up with some plausible excuse, but nothing materialized, and he was left to flounder as best he could. "Well—I—that is, Peter—It's a sinus condition, you see, and he doesn't do it all the time—it's the weather—the humidity—"
"Oh, please." Isabel rolled her eyes heavenward. "I don't mind if you join me out here," she said softly, pulling the quilt more tightly around herself as she rose to her feet and moved to perch on the edge of the couch next to him.
"You don't?" he asked, barely able to keep the relief out of his voice. He'd worried she might get angry—or offended—if she found out there wasn't a reason for it. Well, not a real reason, anyway.
"No." She smiled and bent her head to nuzzle the tip of her nose against his briefly before sitting back and giving him a fond look. "This is kinda nice," she said, deliberately echoing his words of the night before.
"Yeah," he replied softly. "It is."
Peter went upstairs and snagged Davy and Micky for breakfast. Davy was the last to come down, and he glanced over the couch as he did.
Mike, fully dressed now, was sitting on the couch. All traces of the sheets and pillow were gone. A smile curved Davy's lips as he recalled what he'd seen earlier and he repeated his promise to himself not to tell Micky. No use giving the king of the teasers ammunition.
And what was Mike doing anyway? he wondered. He took a step forward, craning his neck to see. Mike had recovered the cymblet and was threading it through two of Isabel's bobby pins.
"You're fixing my tambourine," he exclaimed with delight.
Mike winced, glancing up at Davy with a pained look before going back to work.
"Sorry," Davy said, modulating the volume. "When you can't really hear your own voice, it's hard."
Mike nodded sympathetically, then raised his head and said something. Davy gaped at him, astonished. Had he seen what he thought he saw? Or was his imagination playing tricks on him, making him give in to wishful thinking?
"You—I think I understood part of that!"
Micky hurried to stand near the couch, and Peter and Isabel joined them as Mike hastily lay aside the tambourine and scribbled on the ever-present notepad, You did?
"You said Micky's name," Davy announced, his eyes sparkling with a light of joy that none of them had seen in far too long. "You called Micky!"
The look on their faces confirmed he was right.
"I could see it! I could actually see Micky's name!" His voice rose sharply in volume to match his excitement as he babbled on, forgetting about Mike's sensitive ears until he saw Mike clutch his head, his face twisted with pain. "Gosh—sorry, mate—I just got so excited—!"
Mike turned his notepad around, and Davy read, It's all right. You mean you could read my lips?
"Not completely. Just Micky's name." He beamed happily. "But it's a start, isn't it?"
Yes, it's a good start.
Four of them went to the table for breakfast. Micky handed over his needle-nose pliers, and Mike stayed on the couch, twisting the repaired cymblet into the hole in Davy's tambourine. He lay the pliers aside and shook the tambourine experimentally, then struck it a few times. Satisfied the cymblet would not fall out again, Mike moved to the bandstand and dropped the tambourine back in its place, then joined the others at the table.
"Hey, Isabel," Micky asked suddenly, "don't you have to go to work?" Isabel shook her head with a pleased smile. "No, it's Saturday, remember?"
"That's right!" Micky said, snapping his fingers. "I'd forgotten." He glanced up as Peter set a plateful of blueberry waffles in front of him. "When are you going to tell us what that secret ingredient is?"
Peter smiled amiably and shook his head. That was a Tork family secret, and he'd never tell...
Mike looked at Isabel, a touch of wistfulness in his eyes. "It is Saturday, isn't it? Two more days."
Isabel nodded, her own expression somber; she knew what he meant. "And the day after that, Davy has his surgery."
"Hey, I've got an idea," Micky piped up. "How about we go over and see how Babbitt's doing on Izzy's pad? Maybe we can help."
Instantly he was on the receiving end of identical threatening glares, and Micky darted a look from one to the other, visibly confused. "What? Did I say something wrong?"
"Forget it, man," Mike replied, a barely concealed note of disgust in his voice.
Meanwhile, Peter was scribbling on his notepad, and when he had finished, he touched Davy's arm lightly so to avoid startling him. When Davy swiveled in his chair to face him, Peter held up the notebook, and he repeated what he'd written aloud so the others would understand what Davy was reading.
"You said you wanted to talk to us about something. We're all here. Go ahead."
Davy regarded each one of them individually, his expression unusually somber. "All right," he said, "I'll just say it. You guys need to practice. You're not because of me. Because you don't want to depress me any more than I am." He saw three hands go to their respective notebooks, and he quickly held up his own hand. "Guys...don't. I'm right and you know it. I want you to practice. You need it. I can't, I know...but you need to keep up."
Mike narrowed his eyes as he stared at Davy, a mulish look spreading across his face that Davy recognized as presaging an argument. He dashed off a few lines and turned his notepad around so they all could read it.
We'll practice—but YOU are going to sit on the bandstand with us. We're not The Monkees without all four of us. Period.
"All right," Davy said, resigned to his fate. If he had to force himself to act far less melancholy than he already knew he would feel, so be it. They had to practice. "After breakfast?"
Mike nodded firmly, obviously satisfied.
After breakfast, the four of them took up their positions. Davy moved a stool beside the amplifier on Peter's side and slid onto it, letting his hands dangle between his knees and trying not to look as useless as he felt. Why had Mike pushed him into this, anyway? he thought with a sudden surge of resentment. Peter met Mike's eyes for a second, then bent down and picked up the tambourine, holding it out to Davy.
Davy just stared into Peter's eyes for a long moment, scarcely believing that Peter was deliberately torturing him as well, but with a dark look at them both, he took it, holding it steady in his lap, idly resting one hand on the nearest speaker.
Isabel took up her listening position on the couch, and they were ready.
"Mary Mary," Mike said with an impish wink at Isabel. He counted off and Micky began the distinctive drum riff. The two guitarists joined in—
And Davy's eyes widened in astonishment. He pressed his hand more firmly against the top of the speaker, feeling the steady, pounding rhythm beneath his palm—YES! He could feel the beat!
Suddenly the distinctive jangle of a tambourine joined in. Three heads swiveled to see Davy playing, one hand on the amplifier, striking the beat that he felt. There was a look of rapture on his face, and tears of joy were streaming down his cheeks.
The song ended, and Davy leaned forward, sobbing. "I did it," he cried, unconsciously echoing Mike's words in a similar situation, "I did it!"
Struck by deja vu, Mike smiled at Isabel. The other two, more comfortable with expressing their feelings, were surging over Davy, pounding his back and cheering till Davy's whole self vibrated with the sound that was so loud he could feel it.
By the end of the day, Davy could read each of their names and a few other frequently-used words, including "cool" and "groovy." When it was bedtime, he called a cheery goodnight and studied each of their faces. "Night, Davy," he read as each one spoke it instead of writing it.
And that simple action on their parts, speaking to him again, made him feel a surge of hope like nothing he'd felt since his injury. Even if the surgery didn't work, he would be able to communicate with his friends again—and that made all the difference in the world to him. When he went to bed that night, he wore a smile on his face that even sleep couldn't erase.
Mike and Isabel went for a moonlight walk on the beach. Peter shouted mock-dire threats after Micky as he darted up the stairs, leaving Peter stuck with the supper dishes—again. With a beleaguered sigh, Peter resigned himself to his fate and got down to work.
Once the dishes were done, he scanned the Pad, walking through and straightening up a little here and there. He abruptly realized what he was doing, and laughed.
"Come on," he chided himself. "Mike's been able to see for two whole months now! Why am I still trying to keep the Pad scrupulously clean?"
"Habit," he answered himself, dropping the clothes he'd picked up into the pile for the laundromat on Monday and scooting into his bedroom to get ready for the night.
Mike and Isabel strolled back in about half an hour later, both looking wind-blown and a trifle smug. The living room was still lit—Peter's doing. He had gotten into the habit of leaving one lamp on for her after they had gone to bed so she could see what she was doing.
They paused at the beach-side door, lingering just long enough for one last kiss, then he headed for the bedroom while she went straight to her suitcase—but as soon as she saw the couch, she clapped her hands over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.
Isabel's smothered giggle brought Mike up short, and he turned back, visibly curious. "What's so funny?"
She pointed beyond him, one hand still over her mouth, and when he followed the line her finger indicated, he had to smile at the sight before him.
Peter had brought out a pile of blankets and a pillow and had lain them on the couch. Ready for Mike to make his "nest."
Mike stirred slightly, cracking his eyes open and peering into the inky blackness that still permeated the room. Not even a hint of daylight glimmered on the horizon, and he could see stars still shining in the clear night sky when he raised up enough to check out the window. With an annoyed sigh, he fumbled for the converted watch dial on his wrist.
Oh, man...he groaned silently. He hoped he could get back to sleep after this...
Then he heard it.
So soft that a person with normal hearing would never have noticed, much less been woken by it—the slightest of whimpers, almost like a wounded child.
Mike sat up fully, tilting his head slightly as he closed his eyes and concentrated on finding the source. Davy, perhaps? Mourning his loss of hearing even in sleep?
But then it came again, a pitiful moan, louder this time.
And coming from the chaise lounge.
Without a second thought, he threw back the sheets and scrambled off the couch, unconsciously using his hands to guide him over to the chaise in the darkness. The habits he'd developed when he had lost his sight were still intact, part of him noted with some amusement.
On the chaise, Isabel tossed from her side to her back, her breath quickening, and he heard her voice then, faint and quavering, the tone that of a frightened little girl.
"Daddy—? Mama—? Where are you—?"
Realizing she was caught in a nightmare so intense she was moved to tears even in her sleep, he knelt by the chaise and lightly caressed her cheek, not wanting to startle her into wakefulness.
"You're safe, Isabel," he said quietly. "You're not alone."
She gasped then, suddenly heaving herself upright and burying her face in her hands. His eyes had adjusted to the dimness now, and he could see well enough to reach out and rub her back soothingly. Dropping her hands to her lap again, she turned her head to face him.
"Mike—?" she asked softly, a little uncertainly.
"You were havin' a nightmare," he told her. "You all right?"
"M-my parents..." She shook her head violently, and he heard a tell-tale hitch in her voice. "I have it every once in a while..."
"It's okay, Mary-bel," he murmured soothingly. "You just go on back to sleep. I'm right over here if you need—" He stood up, preparing to return to his nest on the couch, but abruptly she caught his arm, and he trailed off, looking down at her with surprise blooming on his features.
"Hold me," she whispered, her voice tremulous. "Just—please hold me till I go to sleep."
It would have taken a much stronger man than he knew himself to be to refuse.
She shifted to her side to make room from him, and he stretched out beside her, feeling her contented sigh as she nestled in the protective circle of his arms. Resting her head on his shoulder, she draped one arm across his stomach, and he leaned his cheek against the top of her head with a quiet sigh of his own, enjoying the warmth, the closeness...He could get used to this...
That was how Peter found them three hours later when he tiptoed into the living room, heading for the staircase, clothes in hand. He dropped his clothes into a chair, then tiptoed to the chaise lounge and snapped his fingers over Mike's ear.
Mike waved his hand by his ear as if he were swatting at an annoying fly, and Peter gave a frustrated snort, then moved to the couch. He gathered up the blankets and pillow and arranged them on Davy's bed. He then went back to the lounge and snapped his fingers over Mike's ear again—louder this time—rousing him just a bit.
"Come on," Peter whispered. Untangling him from Isabel's embrace, Peter hauled Mike into something that vaguely resembled an upright position and led him into the downstairs bedroom, depositing him unceremoniously on Davy's bed, where Mike curled up the same way he had been on the lounge. He mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like "Isabel" as Peter drew the blankets up to his chin.
"I'll take care of her," Peter whispered. "You go back to sleep."
Mike nodded a fraction of an inch and surrendered to the beckoning warmth of sleep.
Peter headed back into the living room. Isabel was reaching out in her sleep, and Peter caught her hand, squeezing it briefly before tucking her in as well. He smoothed back a wayward tendril of hair that had drifted across her cheek and whispered, "Go to sleep, Isabel. You're all right."
She nodded slightly and sighed, burrowing deeper into the quilt, clutching it to her chest as if she were trying to hold onto something that was no longer there.
Peter smiled slightly, standing up and rubbing his hands together. "There now," he said to himself. "Last thing those two need is the teasing Micky'll give them if he ever saw that."
He was upstairs and in the shower before what had just happened struck him. Without thinking, Peter had slid back into Leader Mode. He'd seen a need to be filled—protecting the lovebirds from Micky's teasing—and had stepped in automatically to fill it.
Peter's dimpled grin split his face. Good thing Mike had been so out of it, or he would neverhave let Peter lead him around like that! Peter decided not to mention this to Mike or Isabel.
For one thing, he seriously doubted either one of them would believe him.
Continue On to Part Two