Sensing the shift in emotion, he turned. *Beautiful?*
*Warn me when you're gonna have your shirt off.*
He tugged it on, shaking his head in confusion. *You've seen me shirtless before.*
*Not with you lookin like that I haven't!*
*Not again... Agnes, please!*
There was a note of pain in his voice.
*I can't HELP it!*
*You can help not takin your shirt off . . . at least, when I'm around!* She smiled sweetly, to show there were no hard feelings and started out the door. *I'll be back soon . . . I need to do some beachcombing.*
*Thanks* she replied as she stepped out on the beach and breathed in the salt air. *Peter gave it to me . . . he's such a sweetheart -- in ANY dimension!*
*I know. Agnes... about earlier...*
I didn't know you were there...* She had the distinct feeling his next words weren't meant to go throught he link. *s*** this is hard... why did she do this to me....*
*I dig . . . you couldn't have known I'd dress that quickly . . . and Roma had her reasons . . . solid reasons . . .we'll just have to live with them.*
*Agnes, this is hurting you! You're having trouble dealing with... well, with me looking like I'm your age! And I'm having trouble dealing with it too...*
*We'll deal with it.* she told him firmly . . .and then squealed as her hands ran across a perfect shell . . . buried near a few others that matched well. *hmmm . . . * she mused over the idea of making a multi-shell bracelet or necklace as she continued to dig.
*Peter -- as a thank-you for the beads.*
*Necklace. Men feel silly wearing bracelets.*
*Micky does. But you're right . . . plus that's more Peter's bag.* She started digging eagerly, looking for enough shells to make a necklace.
*HAve you taken a close look at that bracelet?*
Amusement was in his voice. *Micky has no CHOICE but to wear it.*
*Oh?* she sent a mental raised eyebrow his way as she started sliding piles of shells into her pocket.
*It's a MedicAlert bracelet. He has major-league asthma.*
*Oh . . . yeah . . . I guess I didn't pay that much attention.*
Al smiled, and she sensed it. *Hungry, beautiful?*
After this morning, he called her that....
*Now that you mention it . . . but I gotta sneak some findings and a string outta Peter's box before he gets up.*
Laughter. *Too late, beautiful.*
*He's up? Argh. I forgot Peter was a morning person!*
*Not only that, he's cooking omelettes! I'm standing here watching him... Aggie, if I didn't know he was blind, I'd swear on a stack of Bibles the man can see!*
She giggled, *He seems to have adapted amazingly well. I'd try and sneak the stuff out while he's there but I just have a feeling he'd sense it somehow!*
*Yeah...* and she sensed the rest wasn't meant to leak through. *I guess you adapt pretty well to a major change when you don't really have a choice in the matter.*
*Just like we're going to adapt. . . .trust me.* She brushed the sand off of her hands and walked back into the house, tiptoeing past the kitchen and heading back to the bedroom to hide the shells.
Al had moved from the railing and was now standing by the window, hands jammed into his back jeans pockets as he stared out over the beach.
Aggie slid the shells into the empty drawer in the nightstand and moved to stand beside Al. *You okay?*
The green eyes lowered, those lashes that Aggie had always teased were wasted on a man hooding them. *No. And I won't be for a long time.*
*Yes you will. I know it's hard but we'll get through it . . . and I'll try and rein in my hormones.* She giggled.
A slight smile touched his lips and he looked out over the beach again. *I don't even feel right anymore, Agnes.*
*How? You uncomfortable being young again?*
*Young... powerful...SOLID...* He shook his head. *It's too much...*
*Oh come on - this oughta be a dream come true! What man doesn't want to be young again? And don't tell me you never read the Fantastic Four and wished you could be one of them . . . and don't deny you hated being a hologram cause I've heard your complaints one too many times.*
*I did... I did... And I did. But now... having all your dreams HANDED to you on a silver platter...* He shook his head and sank onto the bed, running his hands through his short black waves.
*Don't look a gift horse in the mouth -- * and anything further was cut off by Peter's bellow from downstairs. "BREAKFAST!!!!" Aggie winced, "He's got a lotta lung capacity. C'mon, let's eat."
"Oh . . . you haven't merged lately. Besides -- how can you RESIST those omlets!?"
Al began to protest --- but a loud rumble from his stomach silenced him.
Aggie grabbed his hand and dragged him downstairs to the kitchen.
Breakfast was good. Peter in this dimension was a cook on a par with the best of them.
Halfway through, the doorbell rang. Davy opened it to reveal an older gentleman with a box in his hand. "Where's my goddaughter?" he laughed.
Tina jumped up from the table and bounced over to him. "Hiya! Lookee the new necklace Aggie made me last night!!" She pointed to the shell necklace she wore.
"Is that for me??" She asked, pointing to the box.
"It certainly is," Mr. Cartwright -- for that's who it was -- said, giving her the box.
She ripped off the pink wrapping paper to reveal a music box, with pink and lilac roses on the top. "Ooooo . . . it's beautiful!!" She opened it and it started playing It's a Small World." Squealing, she ran over to Micky, "Daddy, Daddy! It's the song you sing me to sleep with!!"
Micky chuckled as she jumped into his lap. "Sure is sweetie. Thanks Mr. C." he said, looking up at Mr. Cartwright. "Seems you picked the perfect gift for my little angel."
Mr. C smiled. "She certainly is that, Michael."
"Daddy, Daddy -- sing the words please!" Tina cried.
She opened the box and Micky began to sing... only to have his eyes fly open wide as his throat began to close up and his breathing become laboured.
He dug in his shirt pocket and pulled out a red inhalor with a pink cap on it, and he took 3 puffs of the medication. After a few minutes, his breathing started to sound normal, and he smiled at Tina.
*What does he do for a living again?* Al frowned at Agnes.
*Construction.* Agnes replied.
Al's eyes widened. *Asthma THAT bad, and he's in CONSTRUCTION?*
Agnes shrugged, *Don't look at me. It's his job.*
Aloud, Al asked, "Micky... doesn't that interfere with your gigs?"
Micky shrugged, "Nah, if I take my medicine beforehand. I forgot to take it this morning . . . as usual." He laughed, "Not a morning person ya know. My mind's kinda groggy at first."
"Gee," Kayla said, passing behind him and kissing the back of his neck, "I wonder WHY?"
And Micky blushed, his grin widening.
Al was drinking coffee and he suddenly began to choke on it.
*Al? You okay?* Agnes asked, alarmed.
He shook his head. *Not used to... MIKE... and Micky...* He went off into another coughing fit.
*Me neither . . . that's I think THE biggest shocker of all in this dimension!* Agnes replied and mentally giggled.
Kayla walked over and knelt beside him. "Are you all right?"
She smiled and went back through the kitchen, trailing a slender finger suggestively through Micky's curls as she did so.
This time, *Agnes* nearly choked on her orange juice . . . *Oh, boy!*
*SEE?* Al crowed.
*Yeah . . . I know. But hey -- YOU didn't once have a crush on Micky in another dimension!! And be teased about having curls like his . . . and I won't even mention the fanfic!*
*No... just on Doris Day.*
Al began to smile.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Tina played with the music box. Davy went to the library to work on a research paper, Micky to a rare Saturday work session. Kayla curled up on the bandstand with her 6-string and began to work the kinks out of a song she was arranging. That was HER job -- she was an arranger/producer.
Peter and Valerie got the three kids down for a nap, then Valerie went to her typewriter and Peter grabbed his cane for his daily walk on the beach.
Agnes snuck into Peter's bead box as soon as Peter was on the beach and pulled out three strings and the neccessary findings. She slid them into a pocket and went downstairs to drill the holes in the shells she'd gathered earlier. Working quickly, she braided the shells into a necklace for Peter, deciding to give it to him when they were getting ready to go to the concert later.
A couple hours later everyone had returned and were getting dressed for the concert. Valerie loaned Agnes a mini-skirt set to wear, and Agnes dressed quickly -- being one of the first to be ready, along with Valerie, who then started in on the task of getting the twins ready. Aggie sat in the living room, fingering the necklace, waiting for Peter to come out.
Micky was ready next. "Hey - what's that Aggie?" he pointed to the necklace.
Aggie pointed to the love beads. "Peter gave me these . . . I wanted to give him something in return, as a thank you."
"What's this about" Peter asked as Al pushed him out of the bedroom. He wore the same outfit as Micky -- 8-button navy shirt and charcoal pants.
Agnes stood up and grabbed Peter's hand, laying the necklace in it. "Here . . . uh, think of it as a thank-you for the beads." she said softly.
Peter frowned. His fingers danced over the necklace, feeling the myriad shells and beads in between them. His blind eyes widened and that grin broke forth. "Agnes, this is beautiful!"
She grinned. "I'm glad you like it."
He fastened it around his neck and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you."
Her heart skipped a beat. "You're welcome."
Kayla came down the stairs, and Al did a double take.
She wore an 8-button navy minidress and charcoal knee boots. Her raven hair was loose, flowing down her back in waves held in check by a vivid green cloth headband.
*Wow . . . * Agnes thought, *That's some outfit!*
"You look great Kayla! I love that minidress!" Agnes said aloud.
She smiled. "Peter's idea. First gig we played after... 'IT'... happened, he took Mike's 8-button shirts and had them all converted to minidresses for me."
Agnes grinned. "Handiman Peter, huh?"
"Shut up," Peter teased, but he was grinning even though he was rapidly turning red.
"We'll be late if we don't hustle!" Valerie called.
Davy ran down the stairs, and Tina bounded behind him. They all piled into two vans and drove to the Dance a Go Go.
And it was there the Leapers got another shock.
Peter didn't dance here... his blindness prevented him from doing the gyrations that might make him trip over a wire.
Kayla on the other hand....
Agnes' jaw dropped as she saw Kayla dancing around the stage like she was used to seeing Peter do.
The male members of the audience certainly enjoyed it... and Kayla knew it!
*Geez, how does Micky stand it, with all the men ready to pounce on Kayla?* Aggie wondered.
Micky, as if to answer her question, suddenly grinned and shook his head amusedly.
She giggled. Watching Micky, she noticed that his antics certainly were still there . . . he pounded his drums with remarkable enthusiasm, and when Davy, Kayla, and Peter conspired to stand in front of him during one song, he leaned over, waving frantically at Aggie, and knocking his snare over in the process.
Micky jumped up and grabbed the snare, replacing it and continuing to play as if nothing had happened.
After the song, the audience roared for more. Kayla moved around Davy to Peter, whispering something only he could hear. Peter nodded and moved to the double keyboard on the edge of the stage.
Kayla got a stool and sat on it, beginning the opening notes of a song she had only begun to work on a week ago.
"I can tell by... your face... that you're lookin' to find a place... to settle your mind and reveal who you are..."
Micky came to stand beside her, adding his tenor to her alto. "And you shouldn't... be shy.. for I'm not gonna try...to hurt you or heal you or steal your star..."
Then their voices rose in harmony as Davy grabbed two acoustic guitars, passin one to Micky. Peter produced flute sounds from the keyboard as the married couple's voices rose in harmony.
"Open your eyes... get up off your chair... there's so much to do in the sunlight... give up your secrets... let down your hair.. and sit with me here by the firelight..."
Agnes smiled . . . they were certainly playing her song! She'd always loved "As We Go Along", ever since the first time she heard it.
They sang the whole song, and wolf whistles went up from the crowd when it was over...
Because Micky kissed Kayla full on the lips there onstage.
Once they got home they saw the door was open... and a man in a jumpsuit was walking inside.
*Who could that be?* Agnes wondered.
"HEY!" Micky bellowed. "Who are you?"
The man gave a surprised start. "Sorry," he quipped. "I'm Jim... I work on the crew that's doing your new addition."
Micky thought a moment, then looked at his watch. "And work time is over . . . I'm not paying overtime -- so you're not supposed to be here," he told the man sternly.
"I was just cheking out the new stuff..."
He stammered. "You know, seeing what needs to be done..."
*Checking out is right . . . he's probably the robber, caught in the act.* Agnes thought to Al.
The man left in a hurry.
Micky sighed and folded his arms. "You can never find good help nowadays." He then led the way into the house.
But the encounter rocked Aggie and Al, who retreated to their bedroom -- and both blushed at how easily the thought of it as that occurred to them.
A few minutes later, Tina bounced in. "Aggie -- will you read me a bedtime story!?"
*Read her the little engine that could.* Al smiled. *That's long enough I should have time to get ready for bed myself.*
"Sure . . . get ready for bed and I'll be in in a few minutes." Aggie replied.
Agnes laughed. *Knowing who her Daddy is . . . I wouldn't be surprised to be reading something way more advanced than that!*
She quickly changed into her nightgown and walked over to Tina's room . . . decorated in modern NASA style. *Figures . . . but it is my kind of room, that's for sure!*
Al's gentle chuckle wafted through her mind.
She had a sudden mental picture of that lethal smile...
Agnes shook her head to clear it and walked over to Tina. "So, what's up for bedtime reading tonight kiddo?" she asked.
Tina smiled and held up a chapter book.... Nancy Drew.
"The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes huh? I love this one!"
"I'm on chapter 3 -- there's a bookmark." Tina said, and snuggled down under her covers.
"Okay . . . "
Suddenly an intrusion slammed into her mind. Al was relaxing, letting his mind drift... and it had drifted into hers....
*Al . . . please . . . I'm trying to read to the bundle o' energy here!* she giggled.
"Who are you talkin' to inside?" Tina suddenly asked.
Agnes' eyes widened, "Whatever do you mean honey?"
"Your eyes go all funny and you giggle like you're talkin to an invisible friend. What's his name?"
*Oh boy . . . the tyke's on to us!* To Tina, she smiled. "Well, it's not really an invisible friend . . . Al and I can talk in a special way -- just by thinking."
"COOL! Can he hear me?"
Al's chuckle answered that question.
"Well, yes, through me." Agnes giggled, and gave Tina a hug.
"I love him," Tina whispered, sharing a secret.
Agnes winked at her, "You've got good taste in men, sweetie. Now, why don't we start reading?"
Tina nodded and leaned against her shoulder as she began to read.
In the next room, Al listened to her read in his mind, smling at the child's words.
Then the smile faded. What was it with him and females named Tina, anyway?
Al sighed and climbed into his pajamas, sliding under the covers and waiting for his best friend.
Agnes read part of chapter 3 and all of chapter 4 . . . and then looked down to see Tina fast asleep. She smiled, putting the bookmark in the book to mark where she'd left off and pulling the covers up for Tina. She left the book on the nightstand and returned to her and Al's room.
Al was lying on the edge of the bed, his green eyes closed, his chest rising and falling rhythmically.
Agnes smiled . . . he looked so peaceful sleeping like that. She carefully climbed into bed, trying not to disturb him and turned out the light.
She sensed movement on the other end of the bed, and before she could react, his arm was aroun her waist once more, pulling her close...
Then both sat bolt upright as a scream was heard from downstairs. "TINA!" Agnes cried, as she ran downstairs.
Tina was tiptoeing down stairs, looking for her music box, when she was struck from behind. She screamed in pain.
Agnes flew down the stairs to see Tina lying on the ground, and a dark figure scrambling out the window.
Aggie and Al raced downstairs to see the robber cutting out. "Stop him!" Al yelled to Aggie.
Aggie ran like a flash after the robber and took a flying leap . . . landing on the man and knocking him down.
Kayla came downstairs, screeching for Micky as she saw Al kneeling beside the child. Al looked up. "She's not hurt badly... just stunned."
*Why... why didn't he shoot her? What changed?*
*Me. Racing down. He changed his mind and ran*
Kayla gathered Tina in her arms and rocked her. The child's eyes fluttered open. "Mommy..."
"I'm here..." Kayla soothed. "I'm here..."
"Who are you?" Micky snarled. "Why were you after my child?"
"I don't care about the brat," the robber snarled. "I wanted the COIN! The old man taped a coin to the inside of the music box -- THAT'S what I was after! I could sell it and make my OWN fortune!"
"I know you," Valerie gasped, emerging from the bedroom. "You're Michaelson--- the butler Daddy fired a few weeks ago!"
He scowled at her and the police sirens began to wail outside.
Kayla lifted Tina up and kissed the top of her head, whispering words of love as Micky enfolded his family in his arms.
And that was the last thing the Leapers saw and heard before the blue fire claimed them and they left that dimension behind.
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Last updated 03 DEC 98
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