Aside from the creaking and skittering of the mechanical spiders, utter silence filled the chamber.
"I'd say it was impossible if it wasn't for the fact that we're staring right at him," Micky said. He let out a yelp as a spider tried to take advantage of his and Peter's distraction. "AAGH! Davy, forget about who or what he is—once your break the curse, it won't matter!"
"Right!" Davy exclaimed, raising the crook and the flail to smash the medallion again.
He let out a shuddering gasp as one of the Forbidden One's hands grabbed the top of his head.
"DAVY!" Micky and Peter yelled.
They tried to run towards him, but were rewarded with a giant spider leg to the stomach. To add insult to injury, the mechanical creatures were now secreting sticky, golden webbing, entrapping the would-be rescuers.
"There," the Forbidden One said. "Now none of them will be able to interrupt. It's just you and me, Jones. The boor can't talk—he can't tell you what you can and can't do anymore. You know that after all you've been through, some gold would be worth your many efforts. Not just anyone can make it here, you know. You deserve a reward."
"I don't want a reward!" Davy shot back. "I want to break the curse!"
He tried to bring the crook and flail down on the medallion, but found that his arms couldn't move.
"What… what's happening to me…?" he whispered. "Why can't I move?"
The Forbidden One laughed.
"Because you are no different than Rico. Greed resides in your heart, just as is does in his!"
"No!" Peter yelled back. "Not our Davy! You're the one messing with him!"
"Don't you listen to him, Davy!" Micky agreed. "Fight him off! You can do it—for Mike! For all of us!"
The Forbidden One laughed in amusement as Davy looked back at Micky and Peter helplessly, and then back at Mike. Only the Texan's face remained flesh and blood—and that, too, would soon fall to the curse. But he was looking at Davy with pleading eyes, yet silently mouthing words of encouragement.
Fueled by this, Davy tried again to lower his arms, but still found that he could not. Nor could he pull free of the Forbidden One's grip upon his head.
"You are absolutely powerless against me now!" the Forbidden One sneered in amusement. "Just where is the great power you boasted about 3000 years ago, the last time we met?"
"The last time we met—3000 years ago?!" he repeated, baffled.
"You do not remember?" the Forbidden One asked. "You trespassed in my domain in Egypt, three millennia ago. I was more than a spirit then; I was a flesh-and-blood beast who commanded a hoard of wealth when you, Jones—going by the name of Djonessu, which the locals called you—turned me into this trapped spirit!"
"…You are off your rocker!" Davy said, trying to pull away.
"You boasted that you held a power that was more powerful than any spell of mine," the Forbidden One insisted. "And you used it—whatever it was—to seal me away! Had it not been for the medallion being able to hold my spirit, I would have been forced to depart to Duat—the afterlife."
"It's not possible!" the English boy said. "How could I even have been around 3000 years ago?!"
"I know not how you did it, but do you really think me to be so much of a fool as to not know the face of the one who reduced me to this?!" the Forbidden One hissed. "When this fool Rico awakened me the first time he saw my crook in the museum, I heard your name again—and when I realized that he was being antagonistic towards you, as well, I could take advantage of that."
"Then it was you who convinced Rico to get on Davy's case and not give him a moment's rest!" Micky angrily accused, struggling against the gold webbing.
"Yes; it was my hope that, in an attempt to outdo Rico, Jones would accept me—allow me into his heart and let me harness the power with which he used to defeat me 3000 years ago," the Forbidden One snarled. "But one thing stood in my way!"
They all turned to almost-fully-encased Mike on the ground. Only a small mask of skin remained around his eyes—eyes that looked pleadingly to Davy.
"Mike…" Davy whispered, softly. "Oh, why didn't I listen to you…?" He turned back to the Forbidden One, tears in his own eyes. "Please… please let him go. Set him free. He was just looking out for me—just like he's always been doing since I met him. He's never asked a thing in exchange."
The Forbidden One merely smirked.
"So. You took away my power—the thing I held most dear. Now it looks as though I've taken away what you hold most dear. And the other two…" He leered at Micky and Peter. "They'll be next. You won't have anyone to protect you."
His transparent hands gripped both the sides of Davy's head; the spirit's entire form started glowing with a golden light.
"Let me into your soul," he hissed. "I nearly made it—you almost listened to me. And without the boor to interrupt, you will listen to me this time."
"Davy won't ever stop fighting you!" Peter yelled. "You think he's going to go along with you, after what you did to Mike?"
"Yes," the Forbidden One hissed. "Because the precious friend you idolize is just as fallible as the rest of the world—and will succumb to greed, just like the rest of them."
The glowing of the spirit increased, and Davy let out a quiet gasp as his own body glowed with a golden aura.
"Do you see that, Jones? You are nothing special. You want wealth. And you know I can give it to you."
Davy's eyes started to glaze over; his irises were flickering from their normal brown to an eerie gold.
"DAVY!" Micky and Peter both yelled.
Their voices, and the painful absence of a third, caused Davy's eyes to snap back to normal. He forced himself to turn his head and look at Mike.
Only one of the Texan's brown eyes remained normal now as the gold encasing began to close in on it—the one part of him still flesh and blood… still alive…
"I have to… save him…" Davy said, softly.
Once again, he tried to lower his arms, which were still holding the crook and flail to smash the medallion, but his arms still would not move.
Davy's eyes flickered back to their normal brown, and he gritted his teeth, straining against the magical hold that the Forbidden One had his arms in.
"Still fighting, are you?" the spirit sneered.
"Ah, I see. You still believe that you owe something to that boor," the Forbidden One said. "But have you considered that there are things far more valuable than some backwards fool?"
"Get away from me…!" Davy hissed, trying to break free of the Forbidden One's hold upon his head.
"There is something you need to understand, Jones. Gold can give you things that those fools cannot. Why settle for three fools to serve you when wealth can bring you friends of a much higher caliber than the ones you've settled for?"
"If I'd wanted friends of a higher caliber, I would've gotten them!" Davy snapped. "I want the friends I have now—and that includes Mike!"
"Why not have them all—including your precious boor?" the Forbidden One offered.
"All that is gold can be manipulated by me," the spirit said.
To demonstrate, he moved his hand to manipulate the golden Mike so that he now stood on his feet. Mike's gaze of his non-cursed eye darted back and forth, panicking.
"And you have seen the spiders," the Forbidden One. "I can make gold completely sentient. Accept me, Jones, and I will give life back to the statue of your pet."
Mike's eye widened as Davy looked back at the spirit.
"Do you mean that?"
"Yes," the spirit said, smirking that he had, at last, found something to bargain with. "He will serve you as selflessly as before—but with a considerably new look."
"I could save him, then," Davy said, quietly. "That's how I could save him…!"
"No!" Peter cried. "Davy, no! You know Mike—you know he'd never go for that! He would never want you to make a deal like that!"
"He's always sacrificing himself for us!" Davy shot back. "If this is a way I can help him—!"
"It's not even about that, Man!" Micky added. "You really think Mike's going to be happy walking around like that?! Unable to feel anything—unable to… be the Mike we all loved so much!"
"Why do you need their approval?" the Forbidden One asked, impatiently. "Accept my deal. You save your friend. You become the wealthiest man in the world. Where is the downside in that?"
He placed both transparent hands on the sides of Davy's face again.
"Just accept my deal," the spirit said, softly—hypnotically. The golden aura around Davy glower brighter as his eyes started to glaze over once more. "Yes, that's right. You let me into your heart, and I will give you everything you ask for."
"No, Davy!" Micky pleaded, thrashing against the webbing. "Davy, you can't do this to us—to Mike!"
Peter's eyes suddenly widened as he got an idea.
"Yes, he can, Micky," he said, loudly so that Davy could hear. "We can't tell him what to do. As our leader, Mike probably could've but he can't talk anymore. None of us can stop Davy if this is what he really wants. Mike would probably disagree and tell us to stop him. But who is he, to tell Davy what do? Even if he's been looking out for him longer than you and I have… If Davy wants to throw all that away, then it's his choice. Maybe he knows something we don't. I bet even Mike would agree to that—Davy's much more savvy than he is, and he knows it… Heck, he's even said it himself. …And I'll be willing to bet that it's only just a tad of some of the things he actually believes about himself."
Davy let out a shuddering gasp, recalling how Mike had put himself down before. He cast a glance back at the Texan, just in time to see a solitary tear slip from his eye again, seconds before the golden curse claimed the last flesh-and-blood part of him.
Only the lifeless, golden statue was all that remained of his best friend.
Peter's heart plummeted as Micky let out a defeated gasp. He had hoped that, thanks to his plan, he could've gotten Davy to snap out of the spirit's control quickly enough so that Davy could've broken the curse before Mike had been fully encased. Without Mike to help him fight, would they now lose Davy, too?
This train of thought came to a screeching halt as a truly horrifying sound filled the chamber—an anguished cry of despair erupted from the English boy's lips, screaming for the friend who could no longer answer.
With his friend's name on his lips and tears in his eyes, Davy brought his arms down, the glowing ends of the crook and flail striking the medallion with the force of every ounce of strength that he possessed.
The spirit let out a roar of pure rage as it was suddenly aglow with an even brighter, blinding golden light. Davy yelled out again as the light consumed both him and Rico.
"DAVY!" Micky yelled. "DAV—!"
He was abruptly cut off by another glow—the golden statue in the center of the chamber was now glowing with a golden aura, as well—a glow that was growing brighter and brighter by the second—especially around the statue's head and hands.
"Mike!?" Peter cried.
Before Micky could even open his mouth to call out to him, too, eruptions of golden light shot from Mike's head and hands. Micky and Peter now struggled even harder against the webbing trapping them, trying desperately to reach him. Finally, the webbing snapped, and the two crawled free from it as the spiders began to shut down.
That was when a sound reached their ears—Mike letting out an exclamation of surprise just before the glowing abruptly stopped. Mike still stood in the center of the chamber, flesh and blood again, gasping as he realized this. The Texan quickly gave himself a once-over, taking inventory.
"Feet… legs… abdomen… chest… arms… hands… fingers…" He gave a wan look at his crooked finger. "Still wonky…" He quickly felt his face and hair, an ecstatic grin spreading across his face. "Davy, you did it! Ah, I knew my little buddy wouldn't let me… down…" He turned towards the pedestal, and the grin was wiped from his face and replaced with a look of horror as he saw Rico and Davy both lying motionless on the stone floor. "No, no, no!"
He tried to run, but his legs, still locked up from just being released from the curse, caused him to trip and fall as Micky and Peter reached him. Micky gently held the Texan up as Peter gathered their bandmate in his arms and carried him back to Mike.
"It's okay," he said, softly, handing him over to the Texan's waiting arms. "He's just knocked out."
Mike exhaled in relief.
"Come on, Tiny—wake up. You won; you can sleep all you want later. I just want you to wake up and see that you won and you saved us all—the curse is broken. You pulled through for us… for me."
A chill suddenly swept the room, and Micky yelped as he saw a wispy, golden mist seep from Rico's body and creep towards Davy. Mike's shoulders went rigid, and he quickly drew Davy into a protective hug.
"Get away from him!" he hissed at the mist. "It's over, Man! You lost! The curse is broken!"
"And that is why I must claim him," the Forbidden One's voice whispered from the glowing mist. "I cannot remain in this world as a spirit, and I have no desire to pass through to Duat. I will take him as a vessel—and the best time to do so is when he is completely incapable of fighting back!"
"We'll fight for him!" Peter vowed, removing his shoe and trying to swat the mist away. Micky tried to blow the mist away. Neither of them achieved anything for their endeavors, of course, and the mist now penetrated through Mike's protective embrace and started to swirl around the unconscious English boy.
"NO!" Mike cried. "Davy! Davy, you have to wake up! You have to fight him off! You can win—you've proven that you can win! The power's inside you, remember? You just have to use it!"
"No," hissed the Forbidden One. "I know not what this power was that he used to defeat me, but now I will harness it for myself and recast the curse even stronger than before! All three of you will be statues for eternity! But first…" The glow around Davy grew brighter again. "What is this great power that granted you so much strength?"
The mist tried to seep its way through Davy, but, suddenly, the golden glow ceased as the mist was repelled.
"Davy!?" Mike exclaimed, hopefully, as the Forbidden One shrieked in angry frustration again.
The English boy's eyes opened, revealing them to be their normal brown. He shook the cobwebs from his head as the Forbidden One hissed at him furiously.
"What is this?!" the spirit demanded with a screech. "You are the first and only one who could not give into the temptation of the wealth I offered—and even now, you somehow stopped me while unconscious! What is the secret of the power you hold?! How were you able to do this?!"
Davy just gave the spirit a triumphant smirk.
"'Because, Baby, in the final analysis, love is power,'" he quoted. "'That's where the power's at!'"
With a final roar of rage, the golden mist vanished; the spirit had departed for the afterlife. Davy stared at the empty spot for a moment before smiling at Peter and Micky, and then he looked up at Mike.
"You're you again," he said, keeping his voice calm despite the fact it was noticeably quivering.
"Thanks to you," the Texan said, softly.
They both exchanged a smile, blinking back a few tears as the full weight of their narrow escape fell upon them. And then, they simultaneously hugged each other. A wave from Mike's hand instructed Micky and Peter to join in, and all four of them were soon in a triumphant group hug.
Another trial had been won—with their friendship having grown stronger than ever before.
The quartet was still in the group hug when Rico awoke. He rolled his eyes at the sight of them before doing a double-take and realizing that Mike was back to normal.
A horrified gasp issued from his lips as he saw the remains of the shattered medallion.
"Jones, what did you do!?" he yelled. "You've destroyed it!"
The quartet looked up, staring at Rico in collective disbelief.
"You are kidding, right?" Micky asked.
"Jones, you were an absolute fool—all the wealth, all the gold in the world could've been yours, and you threw it all away!" Rico snapped. "And for what?! For that boor, and two more inept flunkies!?"
Davy opened his mouth to argue, but then realized the futility of it. Rico had learned nothing; what was the point?
"Yes," he said, simply.
A part of him pitied Rico. His search for treasure had left him friendless and convinced that wealth was the most valuable thing.
"You and I have very different definitions of wealth, Rico. You look at me in my shabby little beachhouse with these guys here, and you think I've got nothing going for me. Well, I happen to think I'm the richest person in the world. But I don't expect you to understand, seeing as though you probably think I'm an idiot who doesn't know what he's saying, so let's just agree to disagree, shall we?"
Rico looked genuinely baffled as Davy turned back to his bandmates and led the way out. Quickly realizing that he did not know the way out, he followed them at a distance.
A series of yells from up ahead soon came upon them as Cyndia, Elisa, Sydney, and his cronies headed their way, fury in their eyes as they all rounded on Rico.
"Hoo, boy…" Mike said, trying hard not to smirk. "Looks like Rico learned what happens when you treat your only followers like they're expendable…"
"You know what I think?" Micky said, with an evil smirk on his face. "They seemed to be in a very involved conversation; I'd sure hate to interrupt it, wouldn't you?"
"I sure would," Peter said, smiling a mischievous smile.
Slowly, the quartet moved to shuffle off, casually whistling "Last Train to Clarkesville," but soon came across a familiar face.
"Agent Honeywell?" Mike asked, blinking in surprise at the CIS man, as a whole bunch of his fellow agents quickly swooped in and began to apprehend Rico and his team.
"That's right," Davy grinned. "I figured he owed us a favor after we helped him capture Boris that one time, so I asked a new friend to deliver a message to him and help him find us."
"What friend?" the Texan asked. He blinked as Professor Song stepped into view, a smile on her face. "Um… hi, there. …Have we met before?"
The smile faded from her face, a growing sadness rising in her eyes.
"Never mind that," she said, shaking his extended hand.
"I gave Grandfather's notes to Professor Song and asked her to lead Honeywell to us," Davy explained. "She helped me translate all of the ancient script in them; I couldn't have led you all through here without her."
"Oh, really?" Mike asked. "Well, listen, I owe you big for all your help, you know. If you hadn't helped Davy out, I'd probably still be a statue back there. So, thanks, Professor… er, I don't believe I caught your name?"
"Professor River Song," she said, softly.
"Well, Professor Song, if there's any way I can make it up to you…"
"Oh, please; there's no need for that," she insisted. "Take your friends and go home—the CIS has a plane to take us all back. Trust me when I say that there's no need to make it up to me."
Mike nodded, smiling as he turned back to his bandmates, and Professor Song's voice lowered to a whisper.
"You've already done it," she said.
Her whisper went unheard on account of another voice filling the temple corridors.
"—You and I are through!" Cyndia was shrieking at Rico, as they were led along by the CIS men. "Absolutely through! I'm sticking with Davy—once he clears my name!"
"Ahh, no," Davy scoffed.
"What do you mean?" she asked, turning her doe eyes back to the percussionist. "Davy, you know that Rico was using me; I do love you—I really do!"
"Sure—only when it's absolutely convenient for you!" Davy countered. "Mike was right about you all along. You're on your own now, Cyndia. And if you think that I'd vouch for you when you were a willing player in Rico's little game that almost cost me the life of one of my best friends, you'd better think again."
"That's right!" Micky quipped. "He's not your steppin' stone!"
"I couldn't have said it better, Micky," Davy agreed, as Peter applauded. "Goodbye, Cyndia."
The English boy looked up at the Texan, who smiled back and gave him a nod of approval.
Within the hour, Rico's circle was in custody and under guard in the back of the CIS plane. Micky, up in the front, couldn't resist turning back to thumb his nose at them all.
"Don't antagonize them!" Peter chided in the seat next to them. "They'll probably get parole or something and come back after us!"
"Oh, come on—after what they tried to do to us—to Mike? They'll be put away for life!"
"I think a healthy dose of cynicism is in order here," Professor Song said. "Rico is more than likely to get some good lawyers—he'll probably bargain to get a reduced sentence. The ladies will probably manage to get a lighter sentence, as well. Sydney… Well, that's anyone's guess. He has a history of smuggling, but I wouldn't put it past him to find a way out of a harsh sentence, too."
Mike and Davy glanced at the conversation going on across the aisle.
"So, basically, we're only going to be safe for a short amount of time?" Davy asked, quietly.
"We'll be okay," Mike said. He let out a very loud yawn, and as he exhaled, a small cloud of gold dust blew out of his mouth. He blinked at it as Davy stared, concerned. "Residuals from the cursebreaking; they'll probably stop on their own soon enough. Don't you worry, Tiny; I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I'm just tired. It's draining, you know—being cursed." He paused. "You know, for that moment when I was fully under… I was still aware of what was going on. I think that would've been the worst part about being like that if the curse hadn't broken—that I would be able to hear all of you being so upset and missing me, and I couldn't do a thing about it. And I'd have to stay like that forever."
"I'd have missed you so much," Davy said. "That's why I considered the Forbidden One's offer of making you sentient gold—I wasn't a hundred percent sure that breaking the medallion would restore you."
"Took a lot of guts for you turn him down, then," Mike said. "I'm glad you did. Even if breaking the medallion wouldn't have brought me back, what Micky said about me not wanting to live a life like that was true. You couldn't really call it a life."
Davy looked up at Mike.
"I'm glad I didn't, either," he said. He sighed. "One thing still confuses me, though. What on earth did he mean when he said that I stopped him 3000 years ago? How is that even possible?"
"Reincarnation?" Mike offered, with a shrug. "I dunno. I wouldn't worry about it, though; it's all in the past, right?"
"Guess so," Davy said.
Mike smiled, and then yawned again, exhaling another small cloud of gold dust. He grumbled quietly to himself as he rubbed his eyes.
"…You should get some sleep," Davy instructed. "You need to get your strength back after all this."
"Eh, I just can't get comfortable…"
But Davy just smiled in response.
"You want to borrow my shoulder?" he quoted.
Mike looked to him first with surprise, and then with gratitude.
"I think I'll take you up on that," he said, using the same reply Davy had given him.
The weary Texan rested his head on the English boy's shoulder; Micky and Peter, not as oblivious to their bandmates' conversation as they seemed, wished him goodnight, which he returned with a wave of thanks. Within minutes, he was asleep.
And as Davy engaged in quiet conversation with Micky and Peter, he cast frequent glances back at his sleeping friend, just to reassure himself that this was, indeed, real, and that Mike would be okay.
It had been quite alarming, seeing the effect that the Forbidden One had on people—himself included. But he knew exactly what had saved him—the knowledge that, years ago, he had already acquired a treasure far more valuable than all the gold and jewels in the world put together.
And it was a treasure that he knew he would hold close to him forevermore.
Notes: There, it is finished! As I mentioned, I'm being deliberately vague as to River's connection to Mike, as I know that everyone in the Doctor Nez subfandom have their own theories and headcanons; I do have my own headcanon, though. And speaking of Doctor Nez, yes, the entire cursebreaking scene was meant to be one huge shoutout to "The End of Time."
A huge thanks to everyone who read and reviewed! I'll be using next week to catch up on a couple requests for Lone Star and Union Jack, but the Red Sky sequel will start the week after that; in the meantime, keep an eye on my tumblr, where I'll probably post a couple teasers and, perhaps, a prelude. And yes, there is a huge foreshadowing to the upcoming fic in this final chapter. I should also mention that this fic takes place before my "Nesmith and Jones" oneshot, while the Red Sky sequel will take place after the oneshot, and that is rather plot-relevant, as my readers will soon see. Thanks again, and I hope my readers find my future endeavors just as entertaining!