Chapter 1: Through the endless days and nights

"Mike?" Blonde bass player Peter Tork called as he entered the upstairs bedroom of the Monkees' pad. "Hey, Mike?"

Micky Dolenz threw a pillow at him and rolled over, refusing to get up yet.

Peter wasn't deterred. "Have you seen Mike, Micky?" he asked the curly haired drummer who shared a room with the missing guitar player, ignoring the fact that Micky had been asleep when he came in.

"mmm…nope…not home yet," Micky yawned. Suddenly he sat up, frowning. "Wait. What time is it?"

"It's after 10." Pete replied, frowning. "He's awfully late. I thought he got off at 2."

"He was supposed to," Micky agreed, suddenly wide awake. Micky hoped perhaps Mike had already come and then left again, but the sheet music he'd tossed carelessly on his roommate's bed yesterday was still there. The bed had obviously not been slept in at all. His imagination immediately turned to all the things that could have happened to their missing friend.

"Did you try calling Mr. Antonelli? Maybe Mike's still at the restaurant." Micky asked, rising and grabbing his robe as Pete shook his head. He hadn't thought of that.

They ran down the stairs, intending to call the restaurant, when Mike Nesmith dragged himself in, yawning.

"Hey, guys. Soups on," the tall dark haired Texan called the others, tossing a paper bag with three plates in it onto the table and going to pour himself a cup of coffee, coughing weakly. He sank into a chair, opening the newspaper. "Sorry it's late."

"Sorry it's…." young British bandmate Davy Jones sputtered, hanging up the phone. "You must be joking! We weren't worried about the food, Mike. We've been pulling our hair out thinking you were in an accident somewhere."

"Yeah, we were about to start calling hospitals or something," Micky added while Peter nodded his head in agreement. "Where have you been?"

Mike sighed, tilting his head back and rubbing his eyes a moment before trying again to focus on the paper, looking for any upcoming auditions their band might be able to attend. He coughed again then attempted to clear his throat before answering. "Sorry guys… Mr. Antonelli needed me to stay. I thought about callin', but I didn't want to wake anybody then we just got too busy." He yawned again. Blinking hard, he began pouring through the newspaper, looking for the next audition, pinching the bridge of his nose to try to force the pounding headache he'd had all night at bay.

His three bandmates gathered around the table, pulling out the plates of food and beginning to eat, all the while watching him intently. "You okay, Mike?" Micky asked at last around a huge mouthful of food, noting how pale and exhausted his friend seemed.

"mmmhmm," Mike answered quietly, circling an ad.

"Did you want some of this?" Peter asked him, holding out his plate, frowning at the fact that, once again, there were only three in the bag instead of four. He couldn't swear to it since Mike had stopped tucking in his shirts so that they now all appeared to hang more loosely on his slender frame, but it sure seemed as if the tall, skinny Texan had lost more weight he couldn't afford to lose over the last few weeks.

Mike just shook his head, holding up his cup of coffee as if to say he had all he needed before setting it aside and circling another ad.

"Maybe you should let the audition hunt go for today and just go to bed," Davy suggested, his brow furrowing in concern. "I mean, you've been up all night and…well…you're not looking so good, you know, and that cold seems to be hanging on kind of long, don't you think?"

"Now, Tiny, you know we can't afford to do that." Mike replied, sounding surprised it would even be suggested. "Our gig at Antonelli's ends in two weeks and I'm still pulling shifts bussing tables and doing dishes besides that just to pay for that lighting control panel that Coke got spilled on. We need to get another gig lined up and fast just to pay rent next month."

"Sorry about the Coke, Mike," Pete offered sadly. "I really didn't mean to."

"It's okay, Pete. Accidents happen." Mike answered, smiling wanly. Coughing yet again, he turned his attention back to the paper.

The three turned back to the table, whispering worriedly among themselves as they finished their breakfast.

"Still coming down to the beach with us after practice?" Micky finally asked, though he, like the others, was hoping that the answer would be, "are you nuts? I'll be sleeping!"

"Sorry, Shotgun. Not happenin'." Mike sighed without looking up from the paper, much to his bandmates relief. That relief was short lived, though, as he continued by saying, "I got too much to do before headin' to Lucy's for a while before our gig. "

"Like what?" Davy demanded, determined to argue if the answer was anything besides sleep. "What's so important that it can't wait?"

"Besides practice, and calling on these auditions, you mean? How about Mick's laundry, the downstairs bathroom, and last night's dishes for starters." Mike answered, setting the paper aside in exasperation.

Micky looked surprised. "You're the one who's been doing my laundry? Cool. Thanks, man."

"Yeah, well, I tried askin' nice but it refused to do itself, and I can't see lettin' you go out naked waitin' on it to change its mind." Mike deadpanned, his Texas drawl made all the more apparent for his fatigue. "Now go get dressed so we can practice, will ya?"

"What about sleep?" Davy finally asked. "I didn't hear that on your to do list."

"You know, maybe we shouldn't practice today." Peter suggested timidly, knowing how volatile Mike could be when he felt pressured. "That way you could sleep a little before starting on everything else."

"No, now, we need to practice," Mike insisted. "and then I got to get some things done around here. No matter how it might seem to you three, this place doesn't clean itself. I'll just have to try to catch a few winks when I'm done here before goin' to Lucy's."

"Or you could pass on seeing your girl tonight," Davy pressed, begging Mike to see reason. "Come on, man. You've been over there every night for three weeks now. And look at you. You're dead on your feet. If she's as groovy as you think she is, she'll understand."

Mike shook his head, clearing his throat. "You guys don't understand. It ain't like that."

"So, what is it like, then?" Davy countered angrily. "What is there about her that makes her worth killing yourself over?"

Mike hesitated, considering his answer carefully. "Why don't you guys come with me tonight and find out," he replied at last. "Her and her mom live just a couple houses up the beach. 1330. Meet me there around 4. You'll see why I can't just skip it."

The guys looked surprised. Had Mike finally invited them to meet his new girlfriend?

"Yeah, okay," Davy reluctantly conceded. "Just try to make sure you get some rest before then, okay?"

Mike nodded, rising and heading into the kitchen area for more coffee. "Can y'all maybe get dressed so we can get on with it?"

The guys hurried to comply. Within minutes, all three were dressed and ready to go.

"Maybe we should just refuse to practice until after he's slept a few hours," Davy suggested conspiratorially to Micky quietly as they headed to the alcove where their instruments were set up.

Micky looked at him like he'd lost his mind. "So you're suggesting we trade in sick and tired Mike for angry, sick and tired Mike? Yeah….no."

Peter picked up his bass with an apologetic glance at Davy, making it obvious he was siding with Micky on this one.

"I thought you said Mike never got sick, Davy," Micky pressed Davy. "Well, except for sea sick, I mean."

"Well I guess there's a first time for everything," Davy pouted. "He's done it proper now, hasn't he?"

"Imagine how good he'd be at it if he practiced," Pete chimed in absently, tuning his bass. Micky and Davy looked at Pete in disbelief before shaking their heads, turning their attention back to their own instruments.

Mike joined them, setting his coffee cup aside and grabbing his Gretch 12 string guitar, clearing his throat again. Trying hard not to cough, he playing the opening chords to "She", carefully steering the others toward songs he didn't sing at all on just as he had been for over a week. Midway through the practice, Mike pulled up a stool and sat down, pale, winded, and slightly shaky, but he didn't miss a note. None of this went unnoticed by the others, though none bothered commenting on it, knowing it wouldn't do any good.

Once the practice was over, however, Davy placed a hand on Mike's shoulder. "Seriously, man. Please, just take it easy today, okay? Don't feel like you have to get everything done all at once."

Mike nodded, setting aside the 12 string. "You guys go on and enjoy the beach. I'll see you at Lucy's later on."

"You gonna get some sleep?" Davy asked hopefully.

"I'm gonna get a shower," Mike answered, a ghost of a smile upon his lips. "After that…we'll see."

Believing that was probably as close to a concession as they were going to get, Peter, Micky and Davy headed out to enjoy the sand and water, leaving Mike to himself in the hopes that tired Mike plus quiet pad would equal sleep.