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"Shades of Grey"
Title: Shades of Grey
Pairing: None really.
Rating: PG-13 for language
Warnings: The aforementioned language; brief violence
Disclaimer: Do not own!
Summary: Mike's repressed feelings lead to more complications.
Author's Note: I am going to apologize in advance. This is not a happy chapter at ALL. But I'm sure many of you knew something like this was bound to happen.
During the next couple of weeks, the musical efforts of the Monkees really seemed to be paying off. They had a couple of new club bookings for multiple night appearances, and a friend of one of the club owners had even offered to film them doing what he called a “musical short film”. The friend was a free-lance video producer, and he had been completely blown away by the Monkees’ latest song, “Star Collector”. He envisioned a totally psychedelic scene to film the boys in, pantomiming a performance of their song, to be shown locally and attract even more kids to the band’s music.
The boys had been extremely excited by this offer, and had agreed to shoot the film later on that month.
Despite these positive developments, however, Mike often seemed displeased with the rehearsals, acting sharper than usual with his criticisms, and insisting they play the same song over and over again until it sounded “right” to him.
The most disturbing thing was that more often lately, Mike seemed to be taking out his frustrations on Peter. It was just spotty at first, but had steadily increased over time. Peter took it all in stride, the way he always did, since Mike’s comments were mainly of a professional nature and never sounded outright rancorous...at least at first.
However, it was plain to see that it was really starting to wear away at Peter...and at Micky, who was becoming quite resentful of Mike’s completely unwarranted stealth attacks on Peter’s abilities. He hadn’t the slightest idea of why Mike was acting this way. It was really getting old fast, however, and although Peter never said anything, Micky could tell that Peter was both hurt and confused by it, which made Micky’s resentment grow all the more.
It had all come to a head one rainy afternoon as they rehearsed a brand new song that Mike had just completed that morning. It was titled “Don’t Call On Me”.
It was a curious sort of song for Mike. He had labored on it for the better part of three days, and during that time had seemed even more quiet and moody than usual. Now he stood at his microphone, his resonant Southern-tinged voice crooning the lyrics.
“Don’t call on me
When you’re feeling footloose and fancy free
You’ve done that before
And like a fool I came back for more
It’s all over now. I’ve finally seen the way.
I need you no more. Not now, or any other day.”
Suddenly he stopped as his voice choked a bit on the last few words. He cleared his throat, and then suddenly burst out.
“Okay, hold it! We aren’t going to get anywhere like this.”
The other three looked at each other with “here we go again” expressions. They had all become used to such interruptions in rehearsals by now.
Davy, knowing what a hair trigger Mike’s temper had been on of late, ventured cautiously, “What’s the matter, Mike?”
“It sounds like shit, that’s what,” Mike huffed. He turned to glare directly at Peter. “If some people here could keep their minds on what they’re doing, maybe we could get through this song.”
Peter’s brow creased with confusion. “Me? What did I do?”
“Oh, nothing at all,” Mike said, his voice heavy with sarcasm as he set his guitar down. “Nothing except missing your cues and fucking up the tempo, that’s all.”
Peter’s confusion increased. “What do you mean? I didn’t miss anything. I came in on the third bar, just like you wrote it.”
“Mike...maybe we should...” Davy began nervously, but Mike cut him off cleanly.
“Yeah right, Peter,” Mike snapped. “The timing was completely screwed and you, who claim to be such an accomplished musician, couldn’t hear that?”
Micky had been watching this exchange closely from behind his drum kit, his eyes moving uneasily back and forth between his two friends like someone watching a tennis match. He tensed now as he realized that this was turning into more than Mike’s usual gripe session.
Peter, meanwhile, set his bass carefully aside as well, his jaw carefully set. His normally patient, open expression hardening a bit as his bewilderment started to be replaced by annoyance. Mike had been picking on him far too much lately, and it was time to stop trying to placate him by simply apologizing and brushing it off.
“I was hearing it, Michael,” he said now, keeping his voice calm and even. “And from what I could hear, it sounded just fine.”
“Whatever,” Mike said harshly. “Why don’t you just go smoke another joint, Peter? Maybe if you get more drugs into your system, we’ll sound like the goddamned Philharmonic Orchestra to you.”
Micky and Davy both exchanged a worried glance. This was starting to really get ugly. Mike could be a bastard when it came to wanting their music to sound just the right way, but now he was starting to get personal. In the midst of his worry, Micky was starting to get pissed off as well. What right did Mike have to talk to Peter this way?
Evidently Peter had been having similar thoughts, for his expression had hardened even more. It was rare for Peter to show his anger, but the flat shine in his eyes betrayed how he was reaching his boiling point. He had had enough.
Taking one step toward Mike and fixing him with a penetrating glare, Peter said quietly, “Maybe my playing isn’t the problem here, Michael. Maybe it’s just your songwriting that’s fucked up.”
Before anyone could react, Mike had crossed the small space and had nailed Peter with a vicious swing of his right fist. Peter tumbled over backward, knocking one of their amps over in the process, and sprawled to the floor.
Davy stood frozen in stunned disbelief, his mouth hanging open as he stared first at Peter, and then at Mike. He only snapped out of it when he caught sudden movement out of the corner of his eye. It was Micky lunging out from behind the drums, his dark eyes blazing with anger. He went straight for Mike.
“You motherfucker,” Micky snarled, advancing on the taller man.
“Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa, Micky!” Davy cried with alarm, swiftly intercepting Micky. Even though he was much shorter, Davy had about seven pounds on Micky and a far stockier build and was able to keep the furious drummer at bay. Micky struggled in Davy’s grip, flinging curses and oaths of violence at Mike.
Mike seemed not even to notice Micky’s tirade. His gaze was fixed steadily on Peter as he sat up, slowly disentangling himself from the amp wires, looking dazed. All the anger had disappeared from Mike’s face, and he had paled significantly. In fact, Davy would have sworn that Mike looked almost haunted.
Then the Texan’s expression closed up completely as he turned away, heading with long strides toward the front door. “Fuck this scene, man,” he muttered, and the Pad shook as he slammed the door behind him.
They all heard the Monkeemobile’s engine roar to life, and then a brief squeal of tires as it peeled away.
There was a beat of stillness following Mike’s departure, and then Micky was breaking out of Davy’s loosened hold and rushing to Peter’s side. Davy followed not far behind.
“Peter?” Micky asked, his eyes wide and worried as he dropped to his knees by his lover, surveying the damage. Mike’s fist had caught Peter’s left cheekbone, and the area around it was already bruising up and starting to swell.
“I’ll go and get some ice,” Davy said, rushing toward the kitchen, still unable to believe what had happened in just the past minute.
Meanwhile, Micky was slowly helping Peter to his feet, his own emotions going through a whirlwind as he did so. First and foremost was concern for Peter’s well-being. Another part of him shared Davy’s feelings of absolute shock and incomprehension of how things had come to this, while yet another part of him was seething with just plain anger. This part of him wanted to go out and track Mike down and beat him to a bloody pulp for doing this to the man he loved.
Trying to keep these more violent urges at bay for now, Micky steered Peter over to the couch. He encouraged Peter to lie down, stretching out full length on his back while Micky sat on the edge of the cushions beside him, leaning over him.
“Are you all right?” he asked softly, carefully smoothing Peter’s bangs away from his forehead with the gentlest of touches.
Peter nodded, murmuring a thank you as Davy handed him a makeshift ice pack made up from a dishcloth. He placed it against the injured side of his face, wincing slightly as he did so. Everyone was silent for a few moments, and Micky became lost in his tumbling thoughts again, cycling from worry to anger to confusion and around again. His dizzying contemplation was instantly abandoned, however, as he heard Peter sniffle loudly.
The sight of tears in those gentle tawny eyes did nothing to improve Micky’s present feelings toward Mike. Nor did the sound of Peter’s voice, trembling and choked and miserable.
“Why, Micky? Why does he hate me now? What did I do?”
“Awww, Peter, don’t,” Davy said, distress in his voice. Micky tipped grateful eyes up to the Englishman. Davy had always been a good friend to Peter, and hated to see him upset almost as much as Micky hated it.
“He doesn’t hate you, man,” Micky said, and even though he said the words as more of a comfort than anything else, he knew they were true even as they exited his mouth. No, hate was not what was driving Mike’s actions. That he could almost bank on. “How could anyone hate you?”
“Then why is he doing this?” Peter asked. “If I only knew how to make him happy again...I just don’t understand.”
He tried to stifle a sob, couldn’t quite manage it, and instantly Micky had him in his arms. He rocked Peter against his chest, stroking his hair soothingly, but his eyes were troubled as he turned them up to Davy. Davy’s expression almost exactly mirrored Micky’s as he sat chewing thoughtfully at his thumbnail.
Where the hell would they go from here?