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Changes: Micky Dolenz

Warnings for this Chapter: Themes of child abuse, mild graphic violence, language.


George Michael Dolenz (Better known as 'Micky') had a very nice childhood... for at least part of the time. When Micky reflected back he could only smile about his early years. For a good while he was just an average, playful young boy – he'd go on adventures every day, which usually involved getting into things he shouldn't have and having to listen to his parents' lectures at least once every other day. In no time he learned these lectures by heart, as did his sister, Coco. Unlike most girls their age, she loved getting into the same things Micky did. Rather than dolls and tea parties she would rather help Adventurer Micky in his quest to defeat the dreaded, evil Bully from across the street and get the Golden Baseball back from the Monster’s lair. Then when the quest was triumphant she would duel him to a game of one-on-one baseball.

When he wasn't getting into trouble or exploring, Micky also learned to play guitar. He loved the idea of making cool sounds with such a simple item as a guitar. Music was always a fun alternative for him when he couldn't go do stuff. What was even more fun then guitar, though, was drums. He never let go of the guitar but drums was where it was at. They complimented his energy and that was something that would never go away.

Micky's mother was always a loving, stay-at-home woman and was always there for them if her kids got into any sort of trouble and his father was a strong man who supported his family and made sure everybody followed the rules. Another family member was their little cat name Fusker – a black and white little trouble-making rascal. To Micky and Coco's eyes, little Fusker would usually be the dreaded monster, guarding the magical baseball glove and at other times the feline was their trusty wingless dragon, aiding in their fights.

However, one day marked the slow end of Micky's childhood... it was the day little Micky found out that his Daddy had to go to war. Of course, this was horrible news, and the day his father left was filled with many tears and kisses and prayers for a safe return... but at first not much changed. Coco and Micky would still battle the mean Bully who was across the street and would still blame the mischievous Fusker if they broke something. They still would sneak fresh baked cookies while they were still hot and stayed up late at night past their bedtimes... but soon, things started to change.

Micky had no idea why some weird guy came to live in his house about a year after his dad left. He wasn't told that his Mommy and Daddy got into a fight. All he was told was that 'Your dad is being mean and I need someone to help around the house.' That immediately raised red flags in the young boy's mind... somehow he knew this wasn't the full truth but he couldn't figure out what the truth was. He could tell this guy, Hank, wasn't someone to trust... something was wrong about him. After privately consulting Coco, he found that she felt the same but there was nothing they could do. Something was bad on the horizon – both kids could feel it but there was nothing they could do about it.

Sure enough their lack of trust was well warranted. They didn't know it at the time but Hank was a vulture – he had seen that Micky's mom was weak with the pain of her loved one being away with the prospect of never returning. Like most vultures he was great at sweet-talking, getting her to trust him and feel like she needed him to help out with the family but then by the time it was clear he was toxic, it was too late and too dangerous to pull away.

Within the first year of Hank coming into the family there were a number of drastic changes. For one, his mom had another kid. It was their dad's kid, of course... she only showed her pregnancy after their dad was shipped away, but it was certainly their dads. It was a baby sister and though Micky was fine with the new addition, it was weird... For years it was only Micky and Coco and now on top of their dad having to go away a new baby joined them? It was weird. On top of this Micky's mom had to work double, and soon after triple, to support the family. Three children wasn't easy to take care of and Hank refused to help out once he managed to dig his claws into the unsuspecting family. He spent a lot of money and didn't list a finger to make any. It was another stark contrast to usually having a stay at home mom and only one sibling with a dad who worked.

Coco had been sent off to a fancy school, thanks to Hank, despite it costing as much as it did. Micky's mom could barely afford things as it was and this made it close to impossible but Hank refused to hear anything different. Coco was only able to come home on weekends and Hank even then tried to talk her into staying away. As for Micky's baby sister, she was usually sent to a sitter which wasn't nearly as expensive as the school but it was all that more money trickling away. It was pretty clear Hank was trying to push as much of the family away as possible to reap the benefits of what he siphoned out and took with nobody to get in his way, but that only made Micky wonder why he wasn't in some fancy school or something. It became pretty clear, though, why not – Hank needed a punching bag, especially when he got drunk. Micky was still young so Hank held back, usually – just a slap here or verbal abuse there but no damage was left. But... Micky knew, something just told him that it was only going to get worse.

It was no secret that young Mr. Dolenz needed to get a job – his mom needed the help and if he could support his own necessities that would only help his mom as well. Not only that, however, was the need to get away from Hank. Hank had somehow convinced their mother to letting him stay, despite it clearly being a bad thing – whether it was a psychological game or under threat, Micky didn't know. All he knew is he had to try to fend for himself to get away. Though he was only thirteen, Micky was still able to find some things to keep him out of the house. Volunteer jobs and helping at stores the family had known – he started off as a paperboy but worked into getting to do more from there. As soon as he was fifteen and legally able to get a real job, he did. He managed to get decent enough pay and hours thanks to the experience he already had and that's exactly what he needed.

Through all of this, Micky's love for music stayed with him and if anything else, it grew with his age. Listening to his records was the newest way to pass the time without the rest of his family to play with. He would almost always sit in his room lost in his music, air drumming or strumming along with his eyes closed. He even occasionally played the regular instruments, despite knowing how much Hank hated it. It was pretty clear that Hank despised absolutely everything about Micky, though the boy never would figure out why and frankly he didn't care either way. He didn't exactly like the drunken leech, either, but there was nothing he could do about it yet. So instead he'd do what he could to keep Hank happy but dropping his music was simply not an option no matter what Hank thought of it.

Unfortunately, shortly after Micky turned sixteen, he found out just how much Hank hated his music.... the hard way.

______________________________

Amazingly it had been a pretty good day at work, today, and Micky was feeling absolutely terrific. He hadn't even had to see Hank since getting home which was wonderful. So he bounded into his room and dumped his stuff on his bed before sitting himself behind his drum set which was nestled in a corner of his room, grabbing a part of simple yet nice sticks. He knew he probably shouldn't play – Hank was getting drunk and Micky had the misfortune of having to be home but hey... it was only 7pm so it wasn't like it was late. He'd go ahead and play a little while, that shouldn't cause an issue so long as he didn't do it for too long, right?

So against his better judgment, he looked through his records and picked one he felt like playing along with. He set it to play very quietly and began to play along with the song. He was pretty quiet at first but about halfway through he started to feel the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. When that happened he usually should listen but again... he ignored it and kept drumming. By now the song wasn't really as quiet as it had been before but he didn't want to stop. The bad feeling grew but he just chalked it up to nerves.

It wasn't nerves.

As the song faded out the door to Micky's room burst open revealing a very angry, and very drunk, Hank. The door collided with the wall with enough force that something would have fallen from a shelf if this hadn't been a regular enough occurrence that Micky hadn't already learned how to prevent that. Normally what would happen next was a lot of yelling and maybe a very painful slap or two but usually nothing terribly... bad. But this time... it wasn't normal. Without any warning Hank rushed at Micky with more anger then the teenager usually recalled and with more steadiness then what would usually be expected by someone so dunk. Micky had tried to get away but he got entangled with his drum set and before he knew it, Hank was upon him and had a fistful of the boy's hair. Hank yanked Micky from the set which earned a pained hiss and this only seemed to fuel Hank even more – whether that fuel was anger or joy of hurting the boy, Micky didn't know. All he knew was that it was bad. He struggled and squirmed and tried to get away but it was no hope – Hank was much bigger and stronger then Micky and to top it off he was drunk and there was no stopping him.

Hank grabbed the record from the turntable and smashed it over Micky's head, getting the plastic scattered all around the ground and littering the boy's hair. Luckily the spray of vinyl was able to give the teenager a split second to get away and he nearly made it to the door but he simply hadn’t been fast enough. One of his sticks hit in squarely in the back extremely hard and the pain was enough to make him loose balance, tripping over a discarded shirt on the ground before he could regain himself.

Before he could push himself up Hank stopped him with a boot heel into the boy’s back, shutting the door to muffle the sound as he 'punished' Micky for playing the drums.

___
It wasn't till many hours later that Hank finally got tired and passed out drunk. Micky was bruised and bleeding... bad. His arm had been twisted in a bad angle at some point had pain shooting all up it even as he cradled it to his body. His leg felt like something was very, very wrong with it, but it didn't matter. Micky just limped downstairs and out of the house as quickly as he could. He needed to get away, somewhere, anywhere. He didn't care how badly he was bleeding or how badly his clothes were torn. He didn't care about the looks people would give him, they'd probably just think he was some dumb kid who got into a fight anyway. Hank had never been so vicious and deadly before, sure he'd been bad but this... Micky had actually feared for his life. And somehow... Micky just knew this was only the start of what was to come.

Micky wandered down the street with ragged breath in almost a daze. The sun had gone down hours ago but he didn't live in a bad neighborhood so he wasn't too worried. Either way... nothing could beat the danger that was in his house right now.

As he walked time just passed by in a haze; Micky was unable to focus on anything... the only things that was in his mind was the pain and shock and a distinct feeling that he was going to pass out any time now if he didn't find somewhere to rest and stop bleeding. Finally something snapped him out of his daze – a small movement caught the corner of his eye. He looked around and realized he was actually a pretty good distance from home and in a bit of a shadier street but still it wasn't too bad – he just needed to try to keep his wits about him... easier said then done at the moment. He noticed then that he had been passing by a dark alley and there had been a movement that came from there. Common sense would have told him or anybody else to just move along as quickly as possible – it was stupid to be curious about a dark alley at night in a shady part of town. Of course in his current state he wasn't thinking as straight as he probably should be so instead of walking away, he leaned heavily on a wall at the entrance of the alley, “H-Hello?” His voice was weak and shook just a little but it wasn't from fear. Now that he snapped out of his daze it became that much more apparent that he needed to find a place to rest soon.

A few moments passed before the figure in the darkness answered back, “Whoever it is, go away.” That made Micky freeze at the sound of the voice, everything else leaving his mind for the moment. That voice... it sounded remarkably similar to his own, just a little rougher and slower. Micky shook his head a little bit, trying to snap his mind out of it and attributing it all to the blood loss. He probably was just hearing things but one thing he was sure was that this guy's tone wasn't to be messed with.

So with a deep of breath as he could managed he started to turn, but before he fully pushed himself off the wall the figure fully stepped into the dim light which trickled into the alley. The sight Micky saw caused him to freeze again and his eyes widened. This person.... he was a mirror image to Micky himself, as similar as an identical twin. There were a few key differences, however. One of which being his clothes were business casual as opposed to the hip clothes young people usually wore. His eyes were also dark – not as in color but as in he wasn't exactly a sweet, innocent person for sure. Oddly enough, though... Micky could feel something relatable in those eyes, though that might have once again been due to blood loss. Both men were equally amazed at seeing an identical doppelganger but the one in the alley had a better time at hiding the surprise.

Neither of them spoke for a few good long minutes and it was then Micky who broke the silence. He knew he'd collapse if he had to just stand here any longer - he could feel himself getting weaker and weaker as time went on, “Um... My... My name is Micky...” He double stared back with bone chilling, sinister eyes. It gave Micky a small shiver to see such a cold, callous look on his own face. The double regarded Micky with scrutiny seemingly not realizing, or more likely not caring, about Micky's injuries. He regarded the boy as if debating whether to just leave or converse or worse (at least that was the thought in Micky's mind.) Finally he spoke, “Call me Baby Face.”

That made Micky nod but he was unable to do much more than that. The wall he was leaning against was the only reason he wasn't on the ground and his vision was phasing in and out. Finally Baby Face seemed to actually acknowledge the blood and bruises, “Get into a fight did ya?” It was still a shock to the injured boy to hear his own voice speaking to him but he was getting over it. It was much more gravely sounding than his own – be it on purpose or not – and that sort of helped Micky ignore the similarity. He could only imagine how weird it would be if Baby Face spoke in a voice identical to his own. But that wasn't the question, so he shook his head – both as an answer and to clear his mind, “No... no fight.” A fight would entail he had actually tried to hit back. He had merely tried to lessen the injuries as much as he could so that wasn't really a 'fight' at all. He didn't want to go further though... if he let someone know he could be really up shit creek. Hank knew how to sweet talk anyone and could make himself seem very respectable. His word against the kid with daddy issues would be a million times stronger and then? Micky didn't even want to think about it.

Baby Face waited a few more minutes to see if Micky would cough up any more information but when it was clear that wasn't happening he stepped forward, closing the gap between he and Micky. The drummer felt his muscles tense but honestly that was all he could do – he was a sitting duck and he knew it. Baby Face frightened him but who wouldn't be frightened of a mean looking guy who was in an alley at night? But even besides that, Baby Face scared Micky more than even Hank did but he was in no position to protest as Baby Face strongly, yet not roughly, took Micky by the arm and helped him further into the alley, pulling him out of view of anyone that would see this. That scared Micky even more but he couldn't pull away if he wanted too.

Baby Face didn't stop, though. He led (or more like half carried) Micky into a building with the door that was connected into the alley. It opened into a pretty bare room that had a few plain pieces of furniture in it. There was one door that led into a bathroom and another door on the opposite side of the room that was sealed off. It was most likely this was probably attached to a store or something but the store owner had no need or want for it. To be honest it was like a very bare apartment – clean and empty yet efficient for a place to rest. Baby Face answered the question Micky was about to ask before the drummer even opened his mouth, “I know the owner of this place. He won't mind and won't be back for a while.”

With that he unceremoniously, yet still gently, plopped Micky onto the couch and went straight to the bathroom. A moment later he returned with a first aid kit and set it on the sofa next to Micky and sat across from him in a comfortable looking chair. Micky still didn't move, however, so Baby Face spoke up, his voice sharp, “Don't expect me to fix you up. Do it yourself or bleed to death but if you choose the latter then get out. I don't need to explain a dead body.”

Okay... so he was actually allowed to clean himself up? That was... good. So after a deep breath he began to slowly fix himself up, judging his wounds. This had certainly been the worst Hank had ever gotten and he'd been pretty bad in the past. There would be scars left over for sure and he was pretty sure he leg was seriously messed up. But he tried not to think about any of that... for now all he could do was focus on bandaging up what he could, so he did.

The whole time he could feel eyes boring down on him but he said nothing, hoping that any questions would be left unsaid. Unfortunately as soon as he was done Baby Face spoke up, “You didn't get into a fight at all, did you? Someone you know did this to you – someone who you can't fight back.” His voice wasn't as sharp but it was very matter-of-fact. He was certain of this and the accuracy of his assessment caught Micky off guard enough that he nodded, “Yea... Hank... he came to live with my family about six years ago. Sometimes he gets... well... usually it's just threats... it's never gotten this bad...” Shit why did he say that? Well... the surprise of Baby Face knowing exactly what had happened, probably. If Baby Face went to the police, though, there would be hell to pay but somehow Micky felt that the other man wouldn't go tell anyone and upon looking up and seeing that look in his eyes, Micky knew he was right. Instead Baby Face merely nodded with a sort of empathy in his voice and a short, simple, “I know.”

That seemed to break the ice between them and Baby Face allowed himself to be a lot more talkative after that. And Micky figured that now that Baby Face knew what was going on, the details wouldn't exactly make any sort of difference. The two of them talked as Micky tried to regain some energy. He let Baby Face know more about what had actually been going on and Micky learned not quite as much about his doppelganger but he did find that Baby Face dealt with an abusive guardian for a while and after piecing some things together, Micky realized that the kid was getting into a life of crime as well and Baby Face reluctantly confirmed the fact. Micky had no intentions of going to the police, however... after all Baby Face saved his life. Had Micky not been able to get fixed up, who knows what would have happened. Eventually Micky returned home in the early morning to find that Hank had moved to the couch. Carefully he was able to sneak up to his room and straighten some things up before he passed out on the bed. At least he felt better, now... maybe not by much but he didn't feel quite so alone anymore. He had met somebody he could relate to and possibly turn to... he hoped. Either way... he survived the night. Now it was time to rest.

______________________________

It was only some time later that year that Micky had a tremendous stroke of luck. He managed to find a band that needed a drummer and this meant less time to be at home and more time around music. The whole while he kept in touch with Baby Face all that he could despite learning that the other was actively involved in a gang. It was a bit shocking but at the same time, somehow Micky didn't mind... in fact he felt all the more grateful that the criminal was the way he was with Micky – the drummer always had a place he could go with no questions asked and that was truly a blessing. Yes, Baby Face was dark and cruel but Micky never saw that side of him... he was sure if he ever made it on Baby's bad side it would be much worse than Hank but yet the criminal still made an active decision to help Micky. For that Micky was eternally grateful.

There were even a few times Baby Face helped Micky even more then one would ever expect. Usually little things like a mysterious few bucks here or there to help with actually eating once in a while, or a few tips and tricks to erase scars or mend injuries. But sometimes... it was more. One time in particular Micky recalled being jumped in a parking lot. Baby Face had been stalking that part of town that night and came across the scuffle - before the drummer knew it, his attackers were limping away and Baby Face had nothing more than a slightly sore jaw. The fact the criminal put himself in harms way for somebody else would remain in the back of both of their minds... though neither mentioned it ever again.

In time Micky developed daily schedule that almost never deviated...
-Get up as late as possible, yet still way too early;
-Make Hank something for breakfast before he gets angry;
-Get ready for work;
-Make Hank something for lunch later;
-Rush to work barely on time (and sometimes late);
-Finish work and head home, making Hank something for dinner before he gets angry;
-Clean up from work and get ready for the evening;
-Clean up the house and dinner dishes;
-Rush to Bob's house to practice or do a gig;
-Return home as quietly as possible – hopefully Hank is passed out somewhere;
-Change into clean clothes if necessary and gather school supplies, then hurry to college night classes;
-Get home and hope Hank didn't wake up, or else he gets mad;
-Pass out in bed, fully clothed usually;
-Catch a few hours of sleep, though usually closer to one or two before rinsing and repeating;
-Fit in food, study and schoolwork on the go – usually during breaks at work if it's possible.

Clearly this wasn't a very great life for a teenage boy but it was just what Micky was used to. He never considered himself an unhappy teenager, despite the fact he was often treated as a punching bag with his family damn near held at ransom for him to keep quiet about it. The way Micky saw it... it was what it was. Others had much worse lives and though he always had to walk on eggshells, Micky at least had a roof over his head, access to food, and was overall pretty happy. His job was easy enough and rarely stressful or draining, he was used to running on little sleep, and usually he was occupied enough to stay away from too much of Hank's rage. Life was life.

Of course this wasn't to say he liked certain aspects of it. He hated when Hank got out of control. The drunken bastard would usually just threaten Micky but those threats were never empty. Plenty of slaps or punches were used to keep Micky in line but Micky shrugged those off like flies. However.... when something set Hank off – no matter what it might have been – there would be no stopping him. Micky did his best to avoid Hank when the man was the most drunk, as those were the times Hank generally could be set off easiest, but try as he might Micky could never evade it all. As Micky got older Hank's temper got shorter, which was only added on to the fact that Hank got more violent every beating.

Luckily, Micky could usually fix these issues before they really resulted in any problems. Baby Face seemed to know tricks to make scars fade and certain injuries to leave no marks at all. Not everything could be hidden, but most of it could be.

All good things come to an end, though... so eventually Baby Face and Micky had to part ways. It was about a year and a half after their first meeting when Baby Face broke the news. Their paths simply had reached an end... Baby Face had his own life to live and for Micky's good he couldn't know where or why but long story short in the future if they met again, to not trust him. Baby Face was a criminal after all and just because they had a past together didn't mean he could show weakness and let his personal feelings get in the way... heck there was even a chance he'd not even remember Micky. Micky could continue to use this little hideout when he needed it, but always be careful because if some other group of thugs found it when Micky wasn't here, there would be no protection from them. It was somewhat sad, but Micky understood – he didn't necessarily understand what Baby Face was doing or even why he wanted to live that sort of life but he understood that their paths simply had crossed and it was time for them to split again. That would never change how thankful Micky was to have met Baby Face, even if he could never really speak of him again.

It was sad to say good bye for the last time – they had both helped each other a lot, after all, even if it wasn't completely noticeable. The drummer had no idea if they'd meet again and part of him hoped they wouldn't... he wanted to remember Baby Face for the tough but strangely kind criminal... not a cold, seasoned gangster. But for now he merely had to move on.

Without Baby Face, life was still life. Micky always found it a blessing that his sisters never knew Hanks anger and he was pretty sure his mom didn't either. Micky never could piece together why... they were all from Micky's own father, but honestly it didn't even matter as long as he took the brunt of the force. Maybe it was simply he abused them differently – after all they were all too afraid to push him out of their lives. He hurt them mentally and Micky was just his preferred physical target. That's mainly why he stuck around, even despite being able to move out – he was afraid that if he did, somebody else he cared about would get Hank's brutality and possibly even worse. Maybe once Coco was done with schooling she could convince the others to get away but until them, Micky would have to stick around.

Despite all of this, along with the small amount of sleep or study, he managed to keep his grades up... at least if it was an interesting class. Micky was one of those kids that couldn't concentrate in a class he found boring, even to the point of falling asleep in class (thank goodness college was more lax on that then high school and his professors were somewhat understanding). But if it was a class he found interesting... that was another story. Science, all science, hooked his interest almost as much as music. Chemistry might have actually been his favorite but anything that was called 'science' intrigued him. Even the most basic little study would have him enthralled while the rest of the lass was half asleep. Had life turned out a little differently he may have even ended up a chemist. But life was not so simple.

Years later Micky would think back to his teenage years with a sort of indifference. He never thought of them as bad per-say... but they weren't necessarily good either. Some people would think he had a terrible teenage life but life was life. Sure, nobody his age, or at all, should have to deal with what he dealt with but there was nothing he could do to change it years later and he did what he had to do. Most people may have become bitter but Micky wasn't like most people – he was always a fun loving person and nothing would change that, certainly not some drunk bastard. Some of the sincerity of his nature fell away but not all of it – he had a little more of a contemplative side and a little darker outlook on things near the end of living at home but he wasn't enough to kill his want to see things in a happy light. If anything, he had his rough youth to thank for finding humor as a defense mechanism. It could lighten a mood and hide his emotions – even take the sting off of something truly bad. If he was angry or sad or simply wanted to hide what he felt, crack a joke. Most people would buy it knowing his regular nature and those who didn't wouldn't be able to figure out what he was hiding.

One day, however, was a day he'd never forget.
____________________
Micky was floating on the clouds, not a care in the world. He looked down and saw his mom, dad, Coco, Madelyn (his baby sister) and of course his sweet little Fusker. All of them were just... so happy it seemed. They were smiling and waving up at him as he floated by. He glided slowly over the back yard of his house and saw a young version of him and Coco playing in their favorite tree. He smiled at the memories, sighing a little as he missed such simple times.

Suddenly something crashed into his stomach, knocking the air out of him as he plummeted to the ground heavily. His eyes shot open and luckily found himself at least safely in his bed. He then looked down and saw a large, old textbook lying on his stomach – oh... so that's what hit him. That made sense. A few seconds later he heard a slurred yell come from his doorway which hurt his still half asleep ears but he kept himself from groaning at the noise.

“Micky! Get your lazy ass down here! You have things to do, boy, I'm tired of having to tell you!” The door slammed shut, rattling things on the shelves but nothing fell this time. Micky groaned to himself now that he was alone. He hated being woken up like this, though it was a common enough occurrence he wasn't shaken by it. He was more tired then normal, though... why was that? Micky didn't drink or have time for parties or anything, but then he remembered. He had a test the past night so all the studying finally caught up to him. With a groan he sat up, book falling to the ground before he stretched his muscles with a yawn. 'At least it was the last night of classes. I might be able to get sleep tonight. Maybe.'

So, first thing to do... Hank's breakfast. Micky stood and stretched again before he had to take a moment to pause, looking down quizzically at his baggy and wrinkled pajamas. He didn't remember changing into pajamas last night, though to be fair he didn't remember much at all after walking through the front door last night. Normally he wore his clothes to bed so having had the mind to change into pajamas caught him off guard a little but he couldn't dwell on his confusion for long as an angry shout seemed to shake the house, “Micky, don't make me come up there!”

With an annoyed huff Micky headed out the door and down the stairs. When would this useless man learn to take care of himself? This was quite honestly ridiculous but he didn't want to test Hank's patience any more this morning, he was in a relatively good mood and didn't want to mess that up.

As soon as he stepped foot at the bottom of the stairs his expression became blank, a look which he perfected with the help of Baby Face. He knew better then to look annoyed around Hank and even happiness sometimes annoyed the drunken bastard. Politely as possible he asked Hank what he wanted for breakfast and once the answer was spat back at him, as if it was his fault for Hank's hangover, Micky went to start preparing said meal.

Quickly and quietly Micky prepared the food, making sure it wasn't too much lest he get blamed for wasting and not too little to get blamed for, somehow, trying to starve Hank. He of course didn't bother making anything for himself, having long ago given up the hope of eating breakfast anymore, or any full meal for that matter. As soon as the meal was prepared, served, and coffee pot started, he headed back up the stairs to the bathroom. He undressed and stepped into the shower for the short time in his daily routine he could relax. He let the hot water wake him up and soothe his tired muscles.

Unfortunately, he spent a little too much time in the shower this time around and was already running about ten minutes late for work. There was nothing that could be done about that, though, since Hank always expected a hot lunch ready for him when the time came, despite the fact that Micky worked. So despite the fact he really needed to get going to work, he knew he would be much worse off if he didn't make that and make sure it was ready for the older man before he left. Nobody was going to be home today so there would be absolutely nothing to hold Hank's anger and hate back, and Micky really didn't feel like having to go through all of that (when did he ever?)

As quickly as possible Micky got ready for work then rushed to the kitchen again to make Hank's lunch before pouring himself a large travel mug of coffee and nearly running out the door. The young man almost certainly broke a handful of traffic laws in his desperate attempt to get to work on time but it was a futile effort, as the clock in slip read fifteen minutes late once he managed to punch in. Almost immediately Micky felt a terrible feeling deep in the pit of his stomach, and the strange looks supervisors gave him all day wasn't helping that feeling in the slightest. Micky knew they had been looking for an excuse to fire him for months now and he feared he just gave them their chance. He was a long haired weirdo, after all – nothing more then silly teenage trouble maker. At least that was what their eyes could see – in truth Micky was a very good worker, probably one of the best the place had, but that didn't matter to them.

Once his shift ended and he clocked out Micky turned to leave, hoping that bad feeling he had all day was just a fluke, but he should have known better because as soon as he was about to make it out the door a supervisor came up to him, pulling him to the side, “Mr. Dolenz, we need to talk.”

That gave Micky a small shiver but he hid it pretty well. He needed this job more then anything right now, though. He couldn't loose it but what could he really say or do? He just let himself get led away from the main area of the building as to not be seen by customers as they held a private little meeting.

“Now, Micky... You have been a great worker for the whole time you've been with us. It's rare to find an employee willing to work whenever is asked for as long is necessary.” The man paused and Micky held his breath, wondering how they were going to word the inevitable part that was going to follow. It was true Micky covered shifts more then anyone else, often cutting into the short amount of time he had to himself when it was necessary, but apparently it wasn’t enough, “But you've been late every day for a week, young man. True it's usually five minutes or less but that shows a lack of integrity. We've tried to look the other way, but today was inexcusable, Mr. Dolenz. I'm afraid we must relieve you of your duties here. You're no longer a member of this company.”

Needless to say, Micky felt shocked. True, he had known this was coming, but that didn't make it any better and it certainly didn't make him need this job any less. Maybe he could just bargain with them, hopefully... “But, sir... I-” The older man waved his hand dismissively, cutting him off mid-word, “I'm sorry Mr. Dolenz but you must leave. You're not allowed on this property any more unless you are a customer. Now leave before we have to have security escort you out.”

Micky's face turned dull and blank, one of the few times his true emotions bled through the happy exterior. He knew they didn't like him being a 'long haired weirdo' but he as still a hard worker and this was the first week since he started this job that he was ever late. He even made sure to volunteer to stay late as long as they needed for every day that he was late and they almost always took him up on that offer. They, like many adults, just saw no worth in young people and didn't want him 'hurting their image'.

Well there was no use to it any more, might as well go out with a bang, right? His face went from being blank to feigned emotional hurt, his emotional shield back up in full force. If he had to go he would go out in style and everyone in the building would know about it. He took a couple steps back so the customers all could see him and luckily the place was packed right now which gave him an even bigger audience. He loved having an audience. With that he forced out a couple of crocodile tears, “Fine, I'll go.” He sniffled and threw the back of his hand up to his forehead, “I'll go into the cruel wide world, unable to pay for my food, unable to support my family.” He forced more show tears and a few deep sobs, burying his face into his hands. After a few moments of sobbing very loudly he looked up, face red and stained with tears, “How will I ever survive. More importantly... how will I ever be able to take care of my poor baby sister?!” With that he sniffled and gasped sadly and left with a flourish, every set of eyes in the room on him. He had certainly drawn a lot of attention and he was pretty sure he heard a few sad gasps at the last statement.

Now, though, he made it to his car and let the display drop once he was sure he was out of view. He fired up the engine and smiled a little at his own performance. He put on quite a show and as dramatic as it was he was he was pretty sure most of the people had believed his act. Sure he stretched the truth some – he didn't need to pay for his baby sister's needs for instance, but nobody needed to know that. He dried the last of his tears, proud of all the fake tears he managed to pull out. He was getting good at this acting thing.

But the pride with himself slowly faded as reality sunk in. As fun as that display had been, that didn't change the fact that he was without a job completely. He had no income and therefore no way to help his mom. She was struggling enough without needing to support him. Usually he used his paycheck on himself and whatever was left over went to her but now he couldn't do that... And to make matters worse with no school or work or money he was going to be stuck with Hank a whole lot more and that was not a good thing.

But there was no time to dwell on that. He needed to get home to make Hank his dinner and get to Bob's place. There was a gig tonight so maybe that would bring in at least a couple pennies.

Micky was able to make it him in good time and started Hank's dinner. The thought of having something for himself flirted through his mind but he waved it off, knowing he wouldn't have time for that. He was busy and besides, performing with a full stomach might have a bad outcome and he would rather not deal with that. Maybe after the gig he could pick something up but not now. After he finished cooking the meal he served it, noticing the human leech seemed somewhat sober. This was rare, but no less dangerous. After all, sober or drunk, he still seemed to hate Micky's guts.

With that Micky cleaned the house as quickly as he could. It was amazing how much of a mess a single man could make and Micky didn't even have time to freshen himself up by the time he was done cleaning. Hank had finished eating by now and was flicking through channels on the television as he waited for Micky to clean up dinner dishes. Micky knew that he was technically supposed to do that as well as put away left over food but he was running late again and really didn't have time. Normally it wouldn't have mattered but they had a gig today and he couldn't let the whole group suffer like that. Hank didn't care, though, he just wanted Micky to do as told, “Boy! Get your ass over here and clean these up! Now!”

With a hand already on the handle and turning it, Micky thought for a fleeting second he should just pretend he somehow didn't hear the man and leave, but against his better judgment he turned to face Hank. He knew it was a mistake as the words tumbled out of his mouth but his mouth was always ahead of his brain and he couldn't catch himself in time, “Couldn't you do them today? I really need to go.” His tone held a slight whine to it but the words would have been, to most people, relatively agreeable. Hank didn't see it that way.

Without waiting for an answer Micky turned to go, hoping he could get out of the door before Hank could stop him again or more likely punish him for what he had said. The door was opened halfway and one of his feet was already making a move before a sharp pain appeared on his shoulder. Hank was already behind them and spun the drummer around violently, causing Micky to gasp in shock. Before he could really react Hank drew back a fist and smashed it into Micky's jaw, causing him to get flung back and slam into the door, making it shut violently.

The first thought in Micky's head was the fact that would probably bruise. This normally wouldn't bother him, especially since he knew ways to help make a bruise less severe but he didn't have time for any of those things right now and what's worse – he had a gig tonight and didn't want the bruise showing. He grabbed his jaw and looked at Hank with wide eyes, honestly kind of surprised by the fierceness of the attack. He had expected maybe a slap or two but not that, “Wh-What'd I do?”

Hank looked at Micky with the utmost fury though Micky really couldn't tell why. Hank grabbed Micky by the collar of his shirt, holding the younger man firmly though Micky knew better then to struggle, “Don't you dare talk back to me, boy!” Once again Micky's mouth got away from him as a confused look spread across his face and the words sprang from his lips, “I-I didn't. I just asked you to-” His sentence was cut short as the air rushed from his lungs. Hank let him go and Micky grabbed his stomach where he had been punched, trying to regain his breath. He hated punches in the gut like that but at least the marks weren't noticeable there.

It took a few moments but Micky managed to catch is breath and he straightened, looking at Hank and hoping that was it and he could go. Instead of hitting him again or scolding him more, Hank stared at Micky with an unbelievable amount of hate, “Get out.” That confused Micky quite a bit and he stared at Hank, his head tilting a little as he thought he heard wrong, “Wha-”

“I said get out!” Micky jumped a little at the tone of Hank's voice, “And don't come back! If you return to this property I'll call the cops on you!”

Wait... what? Micky stared at Hank, feeling like he was hit in the face with a brick. Hank was kicking him out? True Hank had threatened him with this before but he was always drunk in those times and never remembered the threat by the morning. But right now Hank was sober and knew exactly what he was doing and he knew Hank had the power as well.

After a few more moments that seemed like eternity Micky made up his mind. 'Mom can't support me, so why not?' Just like before the shock of the situation dissipated into Shakespearean styled woe, Fine! I'll go! I'll go into the cruel, hard world. No home, no food, no family!” He raised the back of his hand to his forehead and leaned back, knowing Hank was too shocked by Micky's boldness to really react on his rage yet, “Please think of me in the cold nights as you eat your nice hot dinners as I'm left to scavenge for food like a dog!”

With that he spun on his heels and bolted out of the door, shutting it behind him and immediately hearing the dull thud of a fist hitting the door right where Micky had been standing a second before. It was followed by pained and enraged cursing which made Micky smile very proudly to himself as he mumbled softly, “To fast for ya this time, huh Hankypoo?”

Just like earlier in the day, though, reality once again came rushing back into him after the high from his spectacular exit. He glanced at the car but knew he couldn't take it. It wasn't his so he would get the police on him immediately once Hank saw it was gone and on top of that he didn't even have the keys on him. Looked like he would have to walk, which wasn't the first time and luckily it was only a couple of blocks but that didn't mean he had to like it. He sighed and walked away briskly, shoving his hands in his pockets as he resisted the urge to look back. He knew that this time, he wouldn't be entering that doorway after this gig. Even if Hank hadn't been completely serious, there was no coming back from that rebellion just now.

As he quickly walked along his mind wandered away, the stinging of his jaw and throbbing in his stomach all but forgotten within half a block. It wasn't really clear if that was due to his mind wandering or just because he was so used to it and admittedly that wasn't a good thing. But that didn't matter, his mind was on more important things... things like, what was to become of Madelyn, Coco and his Mom? Coco still went to that fancy school but she would be getting out soon if he remembered correctly. However she was an independent young woman and around Micky's age so she could probably move away immediately. Maybe she could take Madelyn and convince his Mom to finally go too. Part of him was curious what would happen to his stuff. Would Hank leave it there and tell his Mom that Micky was busy which is why he was never home? Or was Hank at this very moment tossing everything he had to the curb? Would he ever be able to retrieve any of it again? Micky didn't have much in the way of 'stuff' anymore, Hank had broken so many of his things Micky learned to never bother with material items, but he still had some priceless things like pictures that he hoped to keep.

Ugh this was all just too much. Micky shook his head, looking up to the house in front of him. He already was at Bob's house so he walked up to the door and knocked. The second his knuckles hit the wood he had, once again, a bad feeling in his gut like he had when he went to work and that frightened him. He assumed (hoped) that it was just nerves because of everything that had happened today but he was learning to trust his gut and had a feeling that he wouldn't be so lucky.

Steve answered the door, his bass strung loosely around his shoulder with his performance attire on. He didn't seem too thrilled to see Micky but the drummer hoped that just was because Micky wasn't dressed right, but there was a spare outfit that he knew he could fit in so that shouldn't be an issue.

Putting on his usual happy, hyper face he bounced in, the problems of the day as well as his gut feeling temporarily forgotten. Whenever he got to play music all of his troubles just melted away. It had been his lifesaver for years.

Dick, the guitarist and leader stared as Micky headed into the living room. The drummer was about to go get the spare outfit when he noticed the look on Dick's face and stopped. He had seen that kind of look enough to know that he was thinking of something that would probably be pretty bad for someone, and in this case it was likely Micky himself. With his attention on that, now, Micky glanced around to the other members of the group in the room and noticed that everyone looked tense and serious, which while they were never the most fond group of men this level of serious vibe was out of the norm. The real interesting thing, though, was a figure in the corner of the room which caught Micky's eye. That figure was in performance attire, which was probably that spare outfit that Micky was going to wear, and had drumsticks in his pocket. Before Micky could inquire, hoping they just had another drummer for some reason, Dick motioned for him to sit, which Micky did. The happy, spunky smile of his faded and his voice became serious. A person could only keep a fake smile up for so long and today it was just getting to be too much. “What's going on?”

Dick stared at Micky for a few more moments, his expression unreadable. Micky waited, keeping still and holding that serious look on his face despite feeling painfully anxious and truly worried. He knew that something bad was coming, and there was no denying it. He just hoped that it wasn't what he thought it was going to be. Finally Dick spoke up, “Listen, Micky... the thing is, you sing, we all sing, but I don't think your voice... fits. Besides, you're the drummer and drummers shouldn't sing.” Micky opened his mouth to protest or at least try to defend himself but Dick cut him off before he could get a single syllable out, “Also, you play drums, which is fine since every group needs a set. But then you start to fool around whenever we don't give you enough fills. Hell even when we do give you fills you screw around. We don't need that childishness in our group.” Once again Micky took a breath to object but was cut off, “Further-more, when you play guitar, you act like a fool. Every single time.”

Finally Micky managed to take the break between Dick's sentences to speak, “But the crowd loves it! The audience is always ecstatic after I do my thing!” Dick shook his head, “I don't care. Your thing will keep us from ever being taken seriously.” Micky sat straight up, his voice raising a little in a mixture of anger and desperation, “But we're a garage band! No one will take us seriously if we fool around or not! Might as well have fun and see where it takes us!” Dick's voice was steady though he was clearly aggravated at Micky's protests, completely ignoring them as he went on, “We've decided it would be more beneficial to the group as a whole if we... changed some band members around. And by that, it means taking you out of the group.”

Micky glanced over to the corner where that unknown guy was. The poor kid didn't seem to be very happy being stuck in the middle of this drama but it looked like Micky's hunch was right... he was Micky's replacement. They must have been planning this for a while and practiced with the guy behind Micky's back. It would explain why practice sessions were unusually short recently. Micky looked back to Dick with a blank mind and expression, too tired to try acting like he wasn't bothered. He lost his job, home, and now this, the only true love in his life.

Micky had put on two shows already today and really didn't feel like thinking of another witty exit, not right now and not for this. Instead he took a different route – his face hardened and every drop of emotion was erased from view. This was something Baby Face had helped him perfect in their time knowing each other and it was the best he could do to keep himself together right now. He stood and started out of the house, keeping his eyes forward and body calm. One of the members, Harry, seemed kind of upset by this. He had always been a little warmer towards Micky then the rest and knew this stone faced Micky was incredibly rare. Micky was pretty sure he heard a soft 'sorry' as he passed by the guy but he didn't acknowledge that he heard it at all. Harry just felt guilty, that was all, so why would that possibly make Micky feel any better? He still hand a hand in this so what good would a 'sorry' do?

Micky left the house without looking at any of them, keeping his eyes straight ahead as he made it outside into the humid California evening and began just walking. He knew he was going in the general direction of town but he didn't really have any plans on what he would do once he got there. He had literally nothing anymore. He couldn't go back to his house because at best Hank would kick him out again, but more likely Micky would need to be rushed to the hospital after Hank finished with him. The apartment Baby Face had given him was recently taken over by some homeless people and Micky didn't feel like fighting it out over a criminal's hideout, regardless if he'd win or not. He had no place to go.

He felt... numb – everything he once had was gone all at once and the reality was crashing down on him now. He felt hot tears slipping from his eyes but what was the use in wiping them away, more just kept coming, silently, as he walked mindlessly down the road.

After an hour or so of walking he found himself deep within the town. He was nearly ran over by a car and that at least was enough to pull him into reality enough to remind him that he was very thirsty. He supposed he should be hungry since he hadn't eaten all day but he wasn't, not with everything that had happened to him, but he certainly could use something to drink and possibly somewhere to sit down for a bit. He looked around to see if anything was nearby that could fulfill these needs and sure enough there seemed to be a nice little restaurant a few buildings down. It seemed to be a sort of mixture of sit down and fast food and more importantly it looked cheap.

With the need to get something to drink ever growing he headed over and went inside, deciding he could at least get something to drink and rest for a little while as he figured out what he could do now. He went in and bought a coca-cola from the 'fast food' style line and looked around for a table to sit at. Most of the tables were full, well to be honest he was pretty sure all of the tables were full and none of them seemed like they'd appreciate a long haired weirdo just joining them. In the back corner of the room though, a table caught his eye. First of all, it only had one person at it as opposed to a full party and second of all, it had someone that looked to be about Micky's age and also with longer hair. He seemed to be kind of brooding at the moment but oh well, it seemed like his best shot unless Micky wanted to sit on the curb. What's the worst that could happen? He'd be told to leave? Not like he hadn't heard that a million times today. So carefully he maneuvered his way though the room and to the table, remaining seemingly unnoticed by the kid sitting there.

Once he made it Micky pulled out a free chair and sat down opposite of the raven haired man. Now that he could see better Micky could tell the boy was definitely about as old as him though maybe a couple of years older. He had long black hair and his eyes held a darkness in them, not of color but Micky was almost sure he'd been through or seen something pretty heavy in his life. Outside of that, Micky couldn't tell anything which was kind of a surprise but at least it wasn't the same kind of darkness that was in Baby Face's eyes and it intrigued Micky but also told him to try not to overstep any lines (as if sitting at a table of a stranger completely uninvited wasn't overstepping anything.)

Micky glanced down and saw the stranger's hand was wrapped in some gauze, only slightly cut up fingers poking out from the wrappings. Needless to say Micky was very curious but knew better then to ask. He may sit down randomly at someone elses table but he at least knew better then to ask about that sort of thing so soon after meeting, especially when he was lucky enough to not have been immediately booted from the table.

In fact the stranger still didn't mention anything to Micky at all, let alone telling him to move or not, so Micky figured the intrusion may not have been minded too much. He stared at the man for a few moments, regarding him with mild curiosity. It didn't seem like this guy smiled a lot, yet something kind of drew Micky to him. Finally Micky's eyes found their way up to the green wool hat that rested on the guy's head. It looked heavy and very uncomfortable in the hot, humid evening so, deciding it was the safest topic to inquire about, he would ask about that.

“Isn't that really hot to wear in this weather?”

With that, he was rewarded with a smile, and he smiled in return. His first sincere smile all day.