Notes: The characters aren't mine, and the story is! This fic is for the Monkeesfest challenge, the prompt being to tell the story behind Mike's hat, and while I did have that, the sudden increase in Doctor Nez postings on tumblr inspired me to take this particular direction. My readers may consider this a bridge between my Red Sky fic and the two sequels that I will be writing next year.
That was the last thing Mike remembered before everything went dark. Everything had happened all at once; he and his friends had been just lazing around the Pad that morning, as they usually did on the days they didn't have any gigs to worry about. Peter had been in the process of trying to come up with an idea of what they could do to scrape together lunch when the door of the Pad was suddenly kicked open.
Before he had turned his head to face the intruder, Mike's first instinct had been that it was Mr. Babbitt, furious about yet another late rent payment—an idea that quickly died upon realizing that their landlord was not likely to damage the property he owned.
Whatever it was that Mike had expected, it was not the face of one of the ghosts of his past—the face of a young man whom Mike hadn't seen since they were both boys, a face that he had never wanted to see again.
But the young man was not alone; he was flanked by several burly thugs that Mike also remembered all too well.
"Who are you!?" Davy had demanded.
"Y'all remember Black Bart?" Mike had responded, not taking his eyes off of the hated face. "How he had two sons with him? Well, meet his third kid."
The young man had put on a fake hurt look.
"Mike, you never told them about me?" he had asked. "Now that hurts. Name's Adam Cartwheel, Boys. You three can all skedaddle; the business I have here only concerns the nester here."
But Davy, Micky, and Peter had stepped closer to Mike in response.
"If you're as much of a piece of work as your old man, I think we'd better stick around," Micky had declared.
"Your problem, then," Adam said, as he had turned to Mike. "You know why I'm here. Where is it?"
"We had an agreement," Mike had retorted. "Of course, seeing as though what happened, I shouldn't expect you to keep your word. Just answer me something. Why? Why, after all this time?"
"Why else?" Adam had replied, smirking. "I found it." He had then gestured to the men around him. "We found it."
Mike had glanced at the others with an expression of disgust.
"So, you went from just joining them to becoming their leader. Well, you would, wouldn't you?"
"And you're the leader of a group of long-haired, singing weirdoes. You would, wouldn't you? Give it up, Mike; I, clearly, have much more use for it than you do."
"How do you know that? You don't even know what's in it!"
"And I don't need to. There wouldn't have been a legend written if it wasn't something important. Now, for the last time… hand it over."
Mike had glanced at the thugs—the Riley gang, as Mike remembered them—filing into the Pad and quickly made his decision.
"Not a chance," he had snarled. "Run for it, Guys!"
They had all anticipated the retreat, edging towards the back door and then flying through it as Mike had given the order.
Adam and his posse had given chase, leading to the Monkees turning to their usual backup plan—running down the beach. One thing Mike had neglected to take into account, however, was the sinkhole beneath the beach—the sinkhole that Mr. Zero had made during the time he had enacted his revenge plot to try to separate the Monkees for good, which had led to a maze of underground caverns.
Shifting sands had hidden the sinkhole since the incident. And it was Mike, in the lead, who had found it in the worst way possible.
He had seen the fear-filled eyes of his friends as he fell, the distance growing between them with passing moment.
That's what always happens, isn't it? he had silently asked himself. One way or another, I end up alone…
That was when he had let the darkness take him, his mind recalling memories from a time when Adam Cartwheel had been someone he had called a friend…
New Gallifrey, Texas, 4.5 years prior:
The New Gallifrey Town Festival had always been one of Mike's favorite days, even as a child. It was the one day that he and his cousins, Lucy and Clara, worked like mad to finish their daily chores so that they could spend the rest of the day at the festival; the girls would go their own way, while Mike would often spend time with Adam, whom he had considered his best friend at the time. That had been before Adam's father had become Black Bart (well, he'd had no reason to at the time; the crude oil on the Nesmith Ranch's property had not yet been discovered)… and before Mike had been stabbed in the back.
It was that year that everything had changed. Most of the day had gone normal as usual, but it was that evening, after the traditional reading of the town legend, that things began to change.
The reading of the legend was everyone's favorite part of the festival. It was a simple one, albeit having been distorted through time: somewhere, in the town, were clues—valuable clues that would lead the way to a lost, but valuable, blue box. No one could make any sense of it, nor was there any clue as to who had written or started the legend in the first place. And after the legend was read out loud every year, it was then the challenge of the townspeople to search for the clues. To date, no one had found even one of the clues. But, more than that, it was the mentions of the blue box that intrigued the then-seventeen-year-old-Mike, who had joined the search before.
"They talk about that blue box every year," Mike said, running a hand through his hair as he attempted to stop it from falling over his eyes. "But what does it mean? What could it be, that even the clues to finding it are impossible to find?"
"It's obvious…" Adam said. "A treasure chest made out of wood that's been painted blue."
"Yeah, maybe," Mike sighed. "Well, here we go again, joining the hunt for the clues." He hesitated. "You know, this is going to be my last year at the festival, but I've got a good feeling about it."
"Your last year?" Adam asked. "Why?"
"I'm going to California now that I'm 18," Mike said. "Aunt Kate bought me a car—the prettiest little GTO you ever did see! I'm all packed and ready to go—heading out to be a successful musician. And, if there is a treasure chest around here, I could use some of the loot to help me out when I get over there."
"Well," Adam said. "I'm thinking of brushing the dust off of my shoes, too. Pop wants me to take over the ranch, but… I'm just not feeling it. My brothers can take over it, as far as I'm concerned. This treasure hunting's more my thing."
"Well, good luck," Mike said. "I'll catch up with you later; hopefully, my little bit of intuition won't steer me wrong."
"Yeah, hopefully," Adam said, but then he paused. "Hey, Mike?"
"You… you wanna look for the clues together? It's just that… well, this sorta thing… You probably shouldn't go at it alone. The Riley gang is up and around; you wouldn't want to find the clues and have them snatch them from you."
Mike just smiled in response.
"Sure. You're the best buddy I've got. So just follow my lead; I'm pretty sure there's one part of town that no one's searched."
He took off, his hair flying in the breeze as the grin found its way to his face.
"Mike!" Adam yelped, running after him. "Mike, wait up! Mike!"
Mike's entire body ached—from the fall, he assumed. He wasn't even sure how he managed to get through it without any worse befalling him. Trying to think about it wasn't helping since his mind was clearly back in his memory world; he could still hear Adam calling to him.
Wait a sec… That's not Adam…
"Mike, wake up! Wake up, please!"
He heard a sharp intake of breath—was that relief he could sense?
Slowly, Mike forced his eyes open. He was in the caverns under the beach, with Davy by his side. He was aware of one other thing—that he was reclined on some sort of vegetation, and that he didn't have his wool hat on.
"Hat…" he murmured. "Where's my hat?"
"I've got it," Davy said, handing it back. "Mike, you had me so worried…"
"Sorry, Tiny," the Texan said. "I just… Wow. I can't believe I forgot about that hole. Well, actually, yes, I can; seeing Adam again just threw me off…"
He tried to sit up, but felt woozy immediately. Davy grabbed him by the shoulders and gently laid him back down.
"Don't try to get up too fast," the English boy instructed. "Just take it easy; you'll be alright."
"Well, I will be now," Mike said, sincerely. "Where are Micky and Peter?"
"They're trying to find a way down here," Davy said. "I'm sure they'll join us once they do."
"Oh. …Hold on…" Mike frowned as something clicked. "Just how did you get down here?"
"Ooh…!" the English boy gulped in response. "Um, well… You see, I didn't know any other way, so I just…"
"I didn't jump the whole way," Davy promised. "Micky and Peter made a human chain and lowered me down as much as they could. It's… not as bad a fall if you're only falling halfway."
Mike just shook his head.
"What am I gonna do with you, Tiny?"
The younger boy managed a smile.
"You should know by now that I'm absolutely incorrigible," he said. His smile faded after a moment. "Mike? What was it that Adam and those other fellas wanted?"
Mike's hands clutched around his wool hat.
"They want your hat?" Davy asked, baffled.
"No, not the hat," Mike said. "They want what's hidden in it. A few years ago, just before I headed out here, I was looking for clues back in our old town—clues that were supposed to lead to a blue box—a treasure chest, I thought. This…" He folded down the band of the hat to reveal the small object he had hidden there. "This is what he's after."
New Gallifrey, Texas, 4.5 years prior:
Adam stared uneasily as Mike hopped onto the edge of the stone well, peering down inside.
"Yep, just as I thought," Mike said. "No one's thought of this yet. The town's well hasn't had any water in it for as long as our history has been recorded—it's been completely dry. More than that, there doesn't seem to be any sign that there ever was any water in the well, since there's no record of any groundwater. Now why would anyone dig a well that has no water? Logically, they'd stop after realizing that they didn't hit any water, wouldn't they? But, nope—they kept on digging and built the stone wall around it, too."
"You think the clues are down at the bottom of the well?"
"Well, sure—no one's found them anywhere else within the town limits," Mike said, now taking a length of rope out of the bag he had been carrying with him.
He whistled the beginnings of a tune—a tune that would eventually become "Papa Gene's Blues" several months later—as he tied one end of the rope around a tree and threw the other end down the well.
"Mike, you know there could be rattlers down there…" Adam warned him.
"Well, they're gonna have to look out," Mike said, as he began to clamber down the rope and into the well, his voice muffled through the flashlight he was carrying between his teeth. His feet hit the ground, and he took the flashlight from his mouth and looked around. "There's a tunnel down here! You coming down, or what?"
"Uh… Yeah, just sec…"
Adam hesitated a little while longer, but soon climbed down the rope and began to follow Mike down the tunnel.
"Do you even know where this tunnel leads?" he asked.
"Nope," Mike said, cheerfully. "But that good feeling I had is only getting stronger, so we must be heading in the right direction…"
He trailed off as his foot hit something, causing him to stumble and fall. He quickly aimed the flashlight at the ground, the beam falling upon a small, rectangular box about the size of a small footlocker. It didn't look special at all, but the fact that it was here, at the bottom of the well, was all that Mike needed to see.
"This is it!" he exclaimed. "This is it! This must have the clues to the blue box…"
He trailed off a second time, staring blankly as he opened the box to find it filled with very odd-looking hats.
"This is just some guy's hat collection!" Adam said, with a snort. "A Stetson, a fez… just a whole bunch of hats!"
Mike sighed, picking up one of the hats—a green wool hat that had managed to catch his eye.
"Well, it's not a whole loss," he sighed. "I could use something like these to keep the hair out of my eyes."
He still couldn't hide his disappointment, however, and it was as he idly pulled some of the other hats out to look at them all, when his flashlight beam glinted off of some metal objects at the bottom of the box.
"What's that!?" he and Adam exclaimed, in unison.
They each made a grab for them, each retrieving one of the two objects at the bottom of the box.
"Look…" Adam said, holding out a pocket watch with odd markings on it. "It must be some sort of a code to the treasure. What do you have?"
Mike uncurled his fingers from the tiny piece of metal clutched in his hand, revealing a shiny, but old, key.
Davy stared in surprise as Mike pulled the key from the band of the wool hat.
"A key?" Davy asked. "Adam wants that key? But what is it for?"
"Now that's a bit of a long story," Mike said.
"Well, we're not exactly going anywhere, are we?" the English boy pointed out. "Not until Micky and Peter reach us, at any rate…"
Mike managed a smile.
"Good point. Okay, then… I actually found this key the same place I found my hat. It was all in a box, hidden in a dried-out well back in my hometown of New Gallifrey, Texas."
"Oh, yeah; I remember seeing that well. Wondered why there wasn't any water in it… Were you in the middle of a drought?"
"There never was any water," Mike said. "That's why this hat stayed intact after all this time."
"And you just took the hat and key?" Davy asked.
"That's right," the Texan said. "I'd been carrying the key in the hat's band all this time, just in case I found whatever it is that it unlocks."
"But how did Adam find out that you had it?"
"He was with me when I got it," Mike said. "He actually has one of those old pocket watches—there was one in that same box we found."
"You found it together?" Davy asked, his eyes widening. "You were working with a creep like him!? Why!?"
"Adam… Adam was my best friend at the time," Mike confessed, quietly.
Davy's eyes widened.
"We made a vow," the older boy went on. "Not unlike the ones that you and I have made with Mick and Pete…"
He sighed, and began to relate the whole story to Davy.
New Gallifrey, Texas, 4.5 years prior:
Adam's eyes had started shining at the sight of the key.
"A key!" he exclaimed.
"I bet it unlocks the box," Mike said, quietly. He smiled. "Tell you what. You've the directions, and I've got the key. Let's make a deal—I'll head on out to California with the key, and you hold onto the watch and figure that code thing out. Once you figure it out and find the box, I'll come back with the key and unlock it. Because, let me tell you… That's what I want to do—unlock that box with my best buddy right there to share whatever's in it."
"You've got yourself a deal," Adam said. "Now let's get outta here and tell everyone what we found—"
"Don't bother," a third voice said. "Just hand over the watch and the key."
Mike's shoulders went rigid; he recognized the voice as one of the Riley gang—a group of brothers and cousins whose family owned a lot of land in and around New Gallifrey, leading them to think that they had the run of the town and could do whatever they wanted.
"What do we do?" Adam asked, clenching the pocket watch in his fist.
"We split," Mike announced, and he pushed past the burly bully, fleeing back down the tunnel. As he ran, he slipped the key he had found into the band of the wool hat he was carrying. Hopefully, no one would think to look for it there…
He had almost reached rope when, all of a sudden, Adam sprinted ahead of him, grabbing for the rope first. Mike looked behind him, seeing the Riley gang member catching up to them very rapidly, assuming that to be the reason for Adam's desperate attempt to get out of the well as quickly as he could.
But when Mike turned back, he could only stare, stunned. Adam was hanging onto the rope, but something was pulling him up and out of the well.
"What…?" Mike asked, stunned to see more members of the Riley gang around the outside of the well, rapidly pulling on the rope. It was then that the horrible truth began to sink in. "Adam, you…"
"Sorry, Mikey," Adam said, not sounding apologetic at all. "They made me an offer I couldn't refuse. They already run the town, and, let's face it—even if you'd have found the treasure chest, they'd have just swooped in and claimed whatever was in it."
"But we had an agreement…!" Mike said, feebly.
"I made the deal with them first."
"But, you and I were… We've always been…"
"Times change, Kiddo," Adam said. "You honestly think everyone's going to stick around forever? Stick around you forever—a wannabe musician? How many friends—besides me—have you managed to hold on to?" He shrugged. "Maybe it's a good thing that you're leaving town soon. Maybe people will learn to appreciate you after you've left. Or maybe they won't care at all."
The brute behind Mike now picked him up.
"Hand over the key," he snarled, after going through Mike's pockets and not being able to find it.
"I… I don't have it," Mike lied. "I dropped it while I was running. It's somewhere in the tunnel, lost…"
"Forget him for now," Adam said, in dismissal. "We'll let him spend the night down there; maybe that'll convince him to hand over the key in the morning when we pull him out of there."
He lowered the rope slightly. Mike made a grab for it, but the creep with him knocked Mike to the ground and grabbed the rope himself, upon which Adam and the others quickly hoisted him up.
"Adam!" Mike cried. "Adam, please! Don't leave me down here!"
"The key, Mike. Give me the key, and I'll get you out of there right now."
Mike opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
"No?" Adam concluded from his silence. "Then I guess you'll be spending the night there. For your sake, I hope there aren't any rattlers… I'd hate to have something happen to you before you tell us where the key is."
Adam's words stung more than a snakebite ever could. It only drove home how little their friendship had meant to Adam, and that the whole day today—perhaps even longer, such as months or even years—had all been an act on his part.
"See you in the morning, Mike," Adam sneered. "I hope…"
One by one, the faces disappeared from the well wall, their jeers and laughter retreating. Mike cried out for help until his throat gave up, whereupon he sunk to his knees, staring up at the small bit of darkening sky he could see.
Never again, he vowed, would he ever be so foolish as to trust anyone else.
"He… he just left you down there?" Davy asked, horrified.
"Yep," Mike said. "Just me, my new hat, and this key."
"How did you get out?"
"Once I got my voice back a little bit later, I started hollering again," Mike said. "Someone must've heard me, because someone threw the rope down, and I climbed out of there and set the new rope climbing record in the process. But when I got out of the well, there was nobody there; whoever saved me didn't want to stick around—or couldn't. I didn't wait after that; I grabbed all my stuff, threw it into the Monkeemobile, said goodbye to Aunt Kate and my cousins, and then I split."
"…You never told them what happened?"
"I couldn't," Mike said, his face reddening. "It was so humiliating for a variety of reasons. Actually, other than those guys who were there that evening… you're the only other one who knows."
The Texan looked to the English boy with a wan smile as he blinked in surprise at the revelation. And Mike realized that he had long since broken the vow he had made to himself about never trusting anyone again. He trusted Davy, and though there had been instances when things had been very trying, Davy had always pulled through for him in the end.
"So…" Davy said, after some time. "What happens now?"
"After Micky and Peter get us out of here, you mean? Well, we've gotta figure out where the treasure is. Obviously, Adam knows exactly where it is; he wouldn't have been looking for the key, otherwise…"
"That's right," Adam's voice spoke from one of the caverns.
Mike's eyes widened, and he sat up quickly again, this time pausing so that he could stand. Davy held onto his arms to support him.
"It's interesting, really," Adam said, as he stepped into view. "After you vanished in the dead of night, we decided that if we found the treasure chest, we could just break the lock off and open it without the key. But when we actually found it… Well, no lock pick or crowbar in the world worked."
He walked closer towards them, the members of the Riley gang flanking him.
"And you want to know where we found it?" Adam went on. "We found it right here, in these caverns, beneath your little beachside hideaway. And would you like to know why?"
Mike shrugged, backing away, but making sure that he was standing between Davy and Adam's posse.
"It's because of the key," Adam said. "Somehow, the box is connected to the key. And since you had the key, the box followed you."
"You must be joking," Davy said. "You mean to tell me that a treasure chest can walk around and follow someone just because they have a key?"
"But it's not a treasure chest," Adam said. "It's a blue phone booth. And, apparently, it's been following you, Mike."
"I don't know what you're talking about, but I've been here for four and a half years, and I've yet to see a blue phone booth follow me around," the guitarist said, his eyebrows arched.
"Look, I really don't care what you have and haven't seen," Adam said. "I want the key—I want a chance to prove that I can open it!"
"Well, get yourself a spare key," Mike said. "Because if you think that I'm going to help you after what you did to me…"
"Yes, I do think you're going to help me," Adam responded, smugly. "And do you know why? I'll tell you. You're so desperate not to lose those dumb friends of yours—just like how you lost me and everyone else—that you'll do anything to make sure that nothing happens to them."
"Not without you!" the English boy retorted.
"Wow, so you actually found one that'll stay, huh? Well, that's what you think. I'm sure that, given the right motivation, you'll soon be talking about him the same way you talk about me."
"Davy, please…" Mike said, gritting his teeth.
"I'm only going to leave here if you do, too," the younger boy promised. "And that is a vow I won't break."
Mike knew he had to stand on principle; otherwise, he would've thanked Davy for being so loyal.
"Okay," he murmured. "On the count of three. One… Three!"
It was a ploy that Micky had come up with—skip from one to three in the hopes of throwing off your pursuer long enough for you to get a decent headstart. And, like many of Micky's out-there ideas, this one worked perfectly.
Mike and Davy took off down one of the adjoining tunnels in the chamber. It didn't take Adam and his posse long to gather their bearings and follow.
"We need a plan!" Davy said, looking back. "We have to find Micky and Peter before they do!"
"Well… isn't that tunnel to that bar up ahead?"
"The Purple Pelican, you mean? Yeah, but we have to cross either of the two smaller tunnels before it to get to that main tunnel that leads to the," Davy said. "Why?"
"That's the nearest place I can think of that leads aboveground," Mike said. "We'll be better off if we can get out of these tunnels without them knowing."
"And how do we do that?"
"You said that there are the two smaller tunnels up ahead," the Texan answered. "You take the one on the left, and I'll take the one on the right."
"Do you really think splitting up is a good idea?" Davy asked.
"No," Mike confessed. "But I'm banking on the fact that they'll be a bit confused on which way to go."
"Don't make me regret this," the English boy said, as he veered off to the right-hand tunnel.
"I'm hoping that doesn't happen," the Texan agreed, veering to the left.
He was also hoping that, by some chance, Adam would be able to tell by their footprints as to which one was Davy and which one was Mike—he would, he hoped, be able to recognize Mike's longer stride. Thankfully, Davy hadn't realized that and figured out that Mike had been trying to get the pressure off of him.
Mike pushed himself to run faster. If he was caught by Adam, Davy would never forgive himself for leaving him. And Mike couldn't have that any more than Davy being caught, too.
It only took a few minutes to run through the small, adjoining tunnel as it opened into the main tunnel again. Ah, yes, this was the way to the Purple Pelican. Once he and Davy made it out, they could seal the trapdoor to ensure that they weren't being followed any more. And then… Well, they'd have to find Micky and Peter and find a safe place for them to go, because going back to the Pad wouldn't work with Adam around…
His thoughts trailed off, and he screeched to a halt as he saw something block his way—a large, blue wooden box with the words "Police Box" in larger letters and "Public Call" in smaller ones up near the top of each side. Was this the blue phone booth that Adam had mentioned? Then, did that mean…?
Mike yelped in surprise as the key in his hand began to glow, feeling very warn to the touch. His eyes traveled from the key to the lock on the blue phone box, and, almost automatically, he slipped the key into the lock and turned it. The lock clicked, but before he could do anything else, he could hear the voices of Adam's posse drawing nearer.
Upon hearing that, Mike did the logical thing—he backed into the box, keeping his eyes fixed upon the tunnel as he closed the door, leaving it a crack open so that he could keep watch. And though he noticed that this box didn't feel at all stuffy, he didn't bother to turn around and look behind him—especially since he had just seen Davy emerge from his tunnel just as Adam emerged from the other.
Both Davy and Adam looked at each other in disbelief.
Davy tried to run back the way he had arrived, but the posse quickly blocked off both small tunnels. The English boy now tried to run down the main tunnel, freezing as he found the way blocked by the box.
"What the…? What's this doing here?"
"You know what it is?" Adam asked.
"Sure; it's a police box," Davy said. "They're all over the place back where I'm from. Wait, you mean this thing was what a small town in Texas built itself on—even writing a legend about it? An English police box?"
"Obviously, it's not the box itself, but something inside it," Adam said. "That's where the key comes in. And seeing as though it's from England, I'll bet it's full of royal treasure that was smuggled over here."
Davy's eyebrows arched. And Mike, from his hiding place, was tempted to look around, but he couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene outside—not with Davy in danger.
"Right," Davy said, sarcastically. "Well, you're more than willing to speculate all you like; I'll just go and be on my way—"
"Oh, no…" Adam said, as the Riley gang drew in closer, prompting Davy to back away—closer to the police box. "Now that you're here, we can talk about some potential business deals."
"…Now I know you must be joking."
"Oh, but I'm not," Adam assured him. "Listen… You know as well as I do that Mike is never going to be the success he wants to be. To be honest, I'm surprised that you even stuck around with him this long. Guess you really must've felt sorry for the guy. But I'm giving you an opportunity here—you don't have to be stuck with him forever. You can come along with me."
Mike's shoulders went rigid. Was Adam seriously trying to convince Davy to abandon Mike for him?
"I stayed with Mike because he's my friend," Davy said. "Not that I even have to justify my actions to you!"
"Like I said, you're sorry for him. In the meantime, you're missing out on being the success you could really be."
"What…?" Davy asked, in disbelief.
"The reason why he's not going to be a success is because he's not what people these days want to hear," Adam said, plainly. "But you are. And all you're doing in your little band is playing tambourine and singing a song here and a song there—a waste of your talents, just to allow that no-talent idiot to try, and fail in, making a name for himself. He's been playing you along all these years!"
Davy didn't respond to this; he just stood exactly where he was, about a foot from the doors of the police box.
"Come with us," Adam went on. "Once we get the treasure, we'll set you up with your share. And then you can become the success that you always wanted to be. All you have to do is convince Mike to hand over the key to you—tell him you want to keep it safe. Then, you just slip it to me. How does that sound?"
There was a long silence. Mike could only stare through the narrow opening at the back of Davy's head, wondering what was going through that determined mind of his.
"It sounds," the English boy said, at last. "Like you really think that everyone thinks and acts like you. Well, we're not all like you—ready to ditch someone who trusted you, just because a chance for something supposedly better! And whatever it is you think is better, I know it isn't! Nothing can be better than what I've got here with Mike and Micky and Peter right now!"
Adam shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, then it's your loss," he said, as the Riley gang now moved in closer.
Davy gulped and backed away even further, and Mike saw his chance. He pulled the door open and grabbed the younger boy by the arm, dragging him inside the police box. Within seconds, Mike had the door closed again, and he braced himself against it to stop them from coming in.
"Mike!" Davy exclaimed.
"Well, after that heartfelt speech, you didn't think I was going to let such loyalty lead you into even worse trouble, did you?"
"Of course not. I knew you'd find a way…" He trailed off, blinking as he took a moment to look around at their surroundings. "Mike…!?"
The Texan finally turned his head to look behind him, and his jaw dropped. The small police box had given way to a large room with some sort of odd control panel in the center—with doors leading to other rooms.
"Davy…" Mike said. "Hold the doors for a second."
The English boy nodded, not taking his eyes off of the spectacular console room in front of their eyes. Mike now walked over to the console, the key in his hand still warm.
"I think…" he said. "Davy, I think it's trying to tell me something."
"It? You mean this thing is alive?"
"I don't know," Mike said, running his fingers over the console. "But this thing has got more buttons than an El Dorado!" The console hummed and flickered under Mike's touch, and he blinked. "She's called the TARDIS."
"How do you know?"
"She just told me."
"I can't explain it, but—"
He was cut off by a yelp from Davy; the Rileys were taking turns trying to ram the doors open.
"Mike, we have to do something!" he exclaimed. "I can't hold them."
"Ah…" Mike mumbled under his breath as he looked around the console. "I don't know what to do…" He stared as the console lit up and started humming again. "But I think she's telling me what to do. Just hang on, Davy!"
A button here, a lever there… Mike wasn't sure if it was instinct or if the TARDIS really was guiding him through the process. Whatever it was, a loud vwoorp-vwoorp-vwoorp began to fill the air, and, suddenly, the whole room lurched.
Mike grabbed onto the console as Davy fell over with another yelp.
"What's happening!?" he asked.
"It's okay," Mike said, his instincts speaking for him. "Just… just go with it. We'll be fine."
It was all over in a minute. The shaking and the noises stopped, as did the attempted intrusion that had been going on only moments before. Davy slowly picked himself up off of the floor.
"They're not trying to break in anymore," the English boy announced. "What happened?"
Mike ran a hand over the console again.
"She says… she'll take us back home in just a bit, but there's something we need to do outside first."
"How can you understand that?"
"I just do," Mike said, opening the doors and stepping outside. He froze, as did Davy, who followed him.
"How is it night?" Davy asked, looking at his watch. "It's ten in the morning. And how did we get out here, out of the caverns, with a bunch of trees and this…" He trailed off, staring at the well. "This is a well."
"This is the well," Mike said. "But why? What are we supposed to do, throw the key back down the well since we finally unlocked—"
He was cut off by a voice calling for help from inside the well, and a chill ran down his spine as he realized that the voice was his own. Davy gripped Mike's arm.
"How can you be down there when you're right here with me?" he asked. "You can't be in two places at once! Maybe this is all an illusion—that we're seeing this because you told me the story of what happened that night when you found your hat and the key. What do you think?"
Mike looked from the well to the TARDIS.
"I think the old El Dorado over there meant it when she said she brought us here for a reason," he said, quietly. "With 'here' meaning not just New Gallifrey, but… here on that specific day."
"We've gone back in time?" Davy asked. "But… why? What are we supposed to do here?"
"You're asking me as though I've got an answer. I don't."
Davy just scratched his head, not knowing what to do. He cringed with every frantic cry that the Mike in the well was making. Mike himself seemed disturbed by it, not realizing how desperate he must've sounded.
Davy had taken a step towards the well when the Mike beside him suddenly let out a gasp. The English boy turned around and let out a cry of his own; Mike had suddenly turned transparent and was staring in horror at himself, which seemed to be fading further with every passing second.
"What's happening!?" Davy asked, trying to touch his shoulder, but going right through him.
"I… I don't know…!" the Texan gasped. But Davy was even more stunned by Mike's next words as he looked back at him with a frightened expression. "Can you help me, whoever you are?"
What was happening!? Why was this happening!? Why was Mike vanishing in front of his eyes, losing his memory in the process?! Why was he losing his best friend like this—the friend he had known for… how many years now?
And Davy now gasped in horror. His memories of Mike were starting to get fuzzy, too—as though Mike was fading from his life completely… like he was never there.
"I'm forgetting you," he realized, terrified. "Mike… Mike, you're disappearing, and I'm forgetting you—just like you've forgotten me."
Mike could only stare back at him in open-mouthed horror.
"Help me," he pleaded.
"How!?" Davy cried, trying to touch his fading friend's shoulder and only going through him again.
It was too much—far too much. Here was one Mike pleading to him for help, and another Mike in the well, crying out for someone—anyone—to help him, but no one in sight or earshot…
Davy's thought screeched to a halt as he desperately clung to the threads of memories that were crumbling from his mind—the snippets of conversation that he and Mike had just had only a half-hour ago…
"Someone must've heard me, because someone threw the rope down, and I climbed out of there and set the new rope climbing record in the process. But when I got out of the well, there was nobody there; whoever saved me didn't want to stick around—or couldn't. I didn't wait after that; I grabbed all my stuff, threw it into the Monkeemobile, said goodbye to Aunt Kate and my cousins, and then I split."
The English boy's breath caught in his throat.
"Something that we need to do here," he repeated.
Of course, it all made sense now. No one else was there to help Mike out of the well—and if Mike never got out of the well during the night, he would not have been able to leave for Los Angeles. And if he hadn't been able to leave for Los Angeles on this night, of all nights… things could've been very, very different. And that different reality was happening—which must have been why Mike was disappearing; in the new reality where Mike hadn't gotten out of the well on this night, they never would have met.
The frightened Mike had now almost vanished completely, and Davy knew that he was almost out of time. He dashed over to the well, picking up the rope that was lying on the ground, and he threw it into the well.
The cries in the well had stopped, and now everything was silent—completely and eerily silent. Davy shut his eyes, inhaling and exhaling—praying that he had done what he had needed to do. And then, to his utter relief, he heard a familiar voice behind him, uttering his name in awe.
The English boy turned around and almost cried in relief. Mike was solid again, trying to catch his breath, also—and he remembered!
He ran back over to his friend, hugging him tightly and receiving a hug in return.
"Don't you ever scare me like that again!" Davy ordered.
"I'll… I'll try not to, Tiny," Mike said, sincerely. "I… I just can't believe… All this time, it was you."
"It's weird," Davy admitted. "But I think I understand it."
"I think I do, too," Mike said. "But our comparisons can wait; I'm not supposed to know who got me out of the well, so we'd better split."
Mike and Davy were soon back in "the El Dorado," as Mike had dubbed the TARDIS. After playing around with the console, Mike soon had them back on their beach in Malibu. The police box was parked behind some large boulders, and the two quickly gathered some smaller rocks, seaweed, and palm fronds to cover the rest of it.
"You said that you understood what happened back there," Davy said.
"That's right," Mike said. "You figured it out, too, didn't you? That you had to be the one to get me out of the well?"
"Time is… weird," he said. "I'm just glad I figured it out."
"You and me both," Mike said. "Because while I was disappearing from there and losing my memories of you, I was seeing where I would've been if you hadn't gotten me out of there." His mouth thinned. "I had joined the Riley gang with Adam out of desperation. Never made it to California. Never sang—ever. I just went along on the El Dorado with Adam and the Rileys, scaring people half to death and helping them get a collection of stolen treasures from all ages of time."
"That's not you," Davy said.
"I know. So, in a way, I've got you to thank for helping me be who I am today." He paused, looking at their handiwork. "That should do it. Come on."
They headed down the beach, soon finding Micky and Peter. Clearly, they had not been able to get access to another way inside, and so Peter was lowering Micky down on a rope.
"You can call off the search party, Shotgun," Mike said, with a grin. "We're fine and aboveground."
Micky was so stunned that he almost let go of the rope; Davy lunged forward to grab him by the wrist anyway as Mike helped Peter pull him back up.
"What happened!?" Peter exclaimed. "We couldn't find a way in, and you didn't answer us when we called you…"
"And then we heard that Adam and his crew were in the tunnels with you," Micky added. "So then we knew we had to find you. Though we got a little hopeful when we got a call from the Purple Pelican; apparently, he and his crew were arrested for trespassing after they came up through the trapdoor—but he was ranting about the two of you disappearing in some kind of weird phone booth, and that the 'the pocket watch never said anything about that.' I don't know what he meant; your guess is as good as mine."
Mike and Davy exchanged a glance—and a bit of a mischievous smile.
"Yeah, about that phone booth…" Davy grinned, not quite sure how to phrase what he wanted to say.
"I think there's something that we need to show you guys," Mike finished for him, grinning also.
Micky and Peter exchanged baffled glances and shrugged, following their bandmates back down the beach. Davy was trying to explain what had happened to them, but finding it difficult to find the right words to describe the miniature adventure that had all apparently brought everything full circle.
And Mike, as he listened to Davy's storytelling, just mused to himself about having found the great treasure of New Gallifrey, Texas. But he acknowledged that what he truly appreciated was not the odd time machine box (as awesome and amazing as it was), but the fact that, in a roundabout way, the box had been what had led him to the first of his three companions—which then led to him meeting the other two. And here they all were, together, still, as they should be, getting ready to share in another adventure.
That, he decided, was the greatest treasure of all.