Notes: The characters aren't mine (except for random OCs) and the stories are! This is a series of unrelated vignettes and short fics surrounding the friendship of Mike and Davy (fictional/TV personas only)—they are going to vary in timeline position (some, like this one, will be pre-series, while others will be episode-based, etc) and in genre. The main reason I wanted to start this short story collection is because of the importance of memories in my other ongoing fic, "Red Sky, Take Warning," especially since Mike will be taking a more pivotal role in that in the upcoming chapters; as such, his memories, particularly his memories of Davy, will be key. I do have a backstory for their fictional selves, and this story collection will help me flesh that out more. One more thing: I'm writing these short stories as I get inspired for them, so they will be out of order; I will, however, make it clear as to when each story takes place.
Malibu, CA; three years prior:
Mike was pacing the floor of the beachhouse he had rented only a few months ago. Things were not working out as he had hoped. When he had moved to California from Texas and rented the place out, he had been under the assumption that he would've found a steady job with a chance to write and perform some songs during his spare time. What he had found was a lot of spare time, no jobs available, and not very many chances to perform his music. The money Aunt Kate had given him to get started would only last for so long at this rate—and at that said rate, it wouldn't last long enough to cover all of his expenses. The landlord, Mr. Babbitt, would be expecting the next rent payment any day now—another dig into Mike's dwindling finances.
Mike exhaled, knowing what he had to do. Grabbing a marker and a piece of paper, he began to write.
Roommate wanted to share rent and utilities expenses at pre-furnished beachhouse:
1334 North Beechwood Drive, Malibu.
Ask for Mike.
He added the phone number underneath his name, and picked up the finished flyer, sighing as he looked at it.
"Man, what are you getting yourself into…?" he asked himself aloud.
He had been a loner all his life; taking in a roommate had been the last thing on his mind—and, indeed, the last thing he wanted to do. At 18, Mike had wanted to prove that he could make it on his own, far from home. Writing this flyer had indeed wounded his pride, and it would only get worse the more he went through with this.
More than that, Mike wasn't sure how on Earth he'd get along with a roommate. Just the thought of having to share this space with anyone else was more frustrating and annoying than anything else he could possibly imagine. But he would have to contend with grated nerves if it meant being able to stay. And besides, there were two bedrooms; perhaps it could work out, and he could just avoid his roommate as much as possible.
The boy stood up now, holding the competed flyer. One flyer wouldn't be enough, he knew, but this was a huge step. Perhaps if he could go through with posting the first flyer, the rest would be easier.
But where to post it?
Mike thought for a moment before deciding on the bulletin board at the nearby bus depot; a lot of people posted notices and advertisements all the time, and Mike often went there to look for available odd jobs. The boy's mind was rather blank as he got into his red Pontiac—another gift from Aunt Kate—and drove to the bus depot.
No one gave him a second glance as the passengers and travelers in the depot filed around him, yet Mike felt that all eyes were on him. More than anything, he wanted to just get this over with.
As he crossed the expense of the room, heading to the bulletin board, he caught bits and pieces of conversations. Mike didn't think twice about them, either, though his ears took notice of a voice with an accent he had never heard before.
"What do you mean there's an international baggage surcharge? For the plane, yes, I believe that—and I paid for it! But you mean to tell me there's one for the bloomin' bus, too? You must be joking!"
Despite himself, Mike took a look. A boy even younger than him—and much shorter, too—was standing beside a cart piled with luggage, clearly tired and jet-lagged as he argued with the man in the information booth.
"Them's the breaks, Kid," the man in the booth said. "You want to get a ride to one of the hotels downtown, you're gonna have to pay the international baggage fees. But, I'll tell you what; you can pay it to me here, and I'll send it to where it needs to go."
The boy grumbled to himself, pulling out a wallet.
"Hey, that's English money, isn't it?" the man in the booth asked.
"Brilliantly observant, you are," the young boy said, his voice dripping with cold sarcasm.
"Yeah, well, you're going to have to pay up a currency exchange fee, too."
It wasn't a question. It was an utterance of disbelief.
"Look, Kid, it's not up to me," Information Booth Man said, pulling out a regulations manual. "It's all right in here if you don't believe me. But I'll see to it that the money goes to where it belongs."
Mike shook his head as the boy grudgingly started to pull the money out of his wallet. Information Booth Man was lying through his teeth just to fatten his own pockets, knowing that the kid wouldn't bother to look through the manual. Suppressing a smirk, Mike walked over, deciding that he was going to call the man's bluff.
"Hey, can I see that that there book?" he asked. "You know, that international baggage fee thing? See, I'm planning a trip down to Mexico, and I need to know the rates, so as long as you've got that book out, I'd like to take a look."
Information Booth Man let out an "…Uh?" as he stared at Mike. The English boy looked up at Mike, as well, slightly taken aback by the Texan boy's height.
Mike quickly dropped playing innocent and narrowed his eyes.
"You heard me, Man; I want to see that info in plain black and white—or shall I ask one of your supervisors do the research?"
"Ah, well…" Information Booth Man said, quickly paging through the regulations manual. "Oh, my, look at this—it seems that the international baggage fee was very recently thrown out; it no longer applies."
"I thought so," Mike said, smugly.
"Well, that's a small miracle anyway," the English boy said, pocketing his money again. "But I still need to get downtown and find a hotel."
"Well, take a look at one of the maps over here," Mike said, jerking his thumb towards the bus route charts on the walls. "You, uh… you traveling by yourself?"
"Yeah; I've always wanted to visit the Colonies," the boy said, stifling a yawn as he lugged the cartful of suitcases over to the wall. "My grandfather sent me here after I'd begged him enough times; he set me up with some posh private school and expects me to stay in the dormitories."
"You're getting a hotel room instead of staying in the dorms?" Mike asked his eyebrows arched.
"Well, wouldn't you?" the boy asked. "I know what those dormitories are like—curfew at 9:00, lights out at 10:00, and no girls allowed within 100 feet of the boys' dormitories. It's like a military barracks! Well, I don't intend to have any of it; I'm getting a reimbursement from the school for lodging costs and using it for myself."
"And you're how old?"
"So… how do you expect to rent a hotel room when you're a minor?"
"They're not going to rent out a room to a kid like you. And if you do find someone willing to bend the rules, they're sure to try to take you for a ride like that guy back there did," Mike added, staring pointedly at Information Booth Man.
"What are you talking about?" the boy asked, his eyes widening.
"There was never any international baggage fee for the bus lines—he was just trying to get some money from you."
The boy's eyes flared and the turned on his heel.
"That smug daylight robber…!" he hissed, heading for him.
"Whoa, there!" Mike said, holding him back. "I agree, that was unacceptable of him, but there's no need to make an international incident out of it. You don't want to get arrested on your first day in America, do you?"
The boy froze.
"Good point," he mumbled. "Grandfather made it clear that if he heard of any trouble, it's back to England I go."
Mike wasn't so sure this hotheaded kid's grandfather had made the right decision by setting him loose—and across the ocean, yet. On the other hand, by the sound of things, the kid probably hadn't given him much of a choice in the matter.
"Yeah, well," he said aloud. "Good luck with… school and everything. And stay out of trouble."
Mike crossed to the bulletin board and pinned his flyer to it. But when he turned to go, he was surprised to see the younger English boy looking at it.
"Hey… Mike, is it? You're looking for a roommate?"
Mike let out a hollow laugh.
"That's right, Tiny; roommate—not to adopt a kid."
The boy scowled.
"Well, I'm not looking for a guardian, either," he said, icily. "I've got one already that I'm finally far enough away from so that I can live my life my own way. And the name isn't Tiny; it's David."
Mike took a moment to register the kid's name before continuing with his explanation of his refusal.
"All the same, I need a roommate who can prevent my sorry self from being evicted. What do you know about paying rent and utilities?"
"Enough to know that you can't do it on your own, and that you need someone with the money to help you out," the boy replied, pulling out his wallet again. "Grandfather will send me money every month to pay for my school expenses—and I'll always get the housing reimbursed, so you know I won't skip on the rent."
Mike stared at the English boy in utter disbelief. How on Earth could he live under the same roof as this little smart-aleck and stay sane? On the other hand, he did make some sense—Mike had no use for a roommate who wouldn't be able to pay his share of the rent when Mr. Babbitt came around. And the kid did seem very independent and feisty, even if inexperienced with the world; he clearly wanted to be on his own, and that would, hopefully, mean that he would stay out of the way. Mike wouldn't have to have any other association with him; the kid wanted to be on his own? He'd get his wish.
"Okay, you can stay," Mike said, pulling the flyer from the bulletin board. "But you're going to have to handle all of your little affairs on your own; I don't want to see you bringing your troubles to me, and don't expect me to hover over you and make sure you're doing your homework. In fact, just pretend that I'm not even there; you chip in for your own food and fend for yourself."
"Trust me when I say that it will be easy," Davy assured him. "Very well, then; now that we've settled that, lead on."
Though Mike moved to help push the cartful of luggage, Davy quickly took control of the cart on his own; he didn't need any help, and he was more than determined to prove it. Mike kept his expression neutral, biting back a smirk; he didn't want to let on—both to Davy and to himself—that he was actually finding him amusing. Was that why he had given in and let him come along?
Mike led the way back to his Pontiac, standing by in the driver's seat as he watched Davy insist on loading each of the suitcases into the back seats of the car himself. When he had finished, Davy had all but collapsed into the front passenger seat from a mixture of exhaustion and jet lag.
"You may drive on," the English boy said, reclining the seat back and sighing with contentment.
"And that's another thing we need to get cleared up here," Mike said. "Yeah, it's true I've got a set of wheels. Just don't get too comfortable in that passenger seat, okay? Part of the 'pretend I'm not around' thing also includes the obligatory 'don't expect me to drive you around everywhere.' And I'm assuming you're smart enough to figure out that driving it yourself is out of the question, so you're going to have to learn how to hoof it around this place, or learn how to get bus rides around town without being conned into all sorts of phony fees and charges."
He had been waiting for another quip from the English boy, but none came; Mike quickly gave him a sideways glance and saw that it had only taken a few seconds for the exhausted boy to fall asleep.
That slightly-amused smile found its way onto Mike's face. All that fire, all that spunk… this kid was something else. He was out to prove something, and, hopefully, he'd manage to do it without getting into too much trouble.
Don't try so hard, Tiny…
Perhaps Mike could give him a few pointers—things he'd learned during his short time alone. That might help make things easier for Davy as he learned to fly on his own wings. Mike did have the advantage of a few more years' worth of knowledge in doing balancing acts with time constraints and budgets, and how to avoid unscrupulous scammers from trying to con him again…
The Texan boy quickly caught himself in mid-thought, shaking the sentiments from his head.
Watch yourself there, Mike, he said to himself. You've got enough on your plate to worry about already without looking out for the kid, as well. You don't want amusement to turn into concern.
And yet, as he drove down the streets of Malibu, heading back for the beachhouse that he would now have to share, Mike couldn't ignore the little voice in his head saying that it was too late to avoid being concerned…
…But that it may not be such a bad thing.