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Chapter Four

"OK. We gotta figure this out. Calmly. Like grown ups." I stared at myself - Howie, in my body - pacing back and forth. "This is, after all, impossible, and cannot be happening. One of the two of us is asleep." I - Howie, I mean - looked at me. Who looked like Howie. But was me. "It's gotta be you."

"Me-me or you-me?" I asked, "Or Me-you? Wait. Who's asleep?"

Howie - er, me? - reached over and pinched me - er, Howie? - in the arm.


"Don't swear like that in my body," Howie demanded, "My son might hear you and emulate you."

"Well then if I can't cuss you can't use fancy words. What the fuck is that? Emulate? Jesus, D, seriously? What is that? Like some kind of fancy word for master--"

"AJ can I come back in yet, sweetie?" Rochelle called through the door.

"Not yet Monkee-poodle-pie!" I called without thinking. In Howie's voice.

"Um... Okay..." I heard RoRo's heels clicking on the hallway.

"Look at it this way, AJ, she won't wanna have sex with you for awhile once she finds out you've got insane and dreamt all this crap." Howie said, "Now wake up so I can go back to the hotel and play darts with your picture."

"I'm not sleeping, you dildo," I growled. "Pinch your own damn self."

"What did I just say about the swearing?" Howie demanded.

"I'm sorry, do you see Baby James in this damn room? No? Then I'm not swearing anywhere where the tater tot can hear me, am I? How the shit is he supposed to emulate me if I'm no where near him?"

Howie glowered at me with my own eyes.

"Fine then I'll say a bunch of long words and people will think you're smart and you'll have to give up the stupid act."

"Nick is the one with the stupid act," I snapped.

"Oh yeah, yours just comes naturally, I forgot."

If he wasn't in my body, I would've beaten the shit out of him, but as it was I was a little scared to do so because I'd probably morph back and have to suffer the pain. Or worse, he'd retaliate. My body could so beat the crap out of D's body.

We stood there staring at each other.

"AJ," Rochelle called again, this time just coming into the room, "Monkee-Bunz, they wanna send you home, they say you're fine." Ro walked right by me and wrapped herself around my body. I felt sick.

Howie, in my body, grinned back at me. "Wakey, wakey," he muttered to me.

I closed my eyes. For the love of duct tape, handcuffs and condoms, wake up McLean! I demanded. Rochelle grabbed my/Howie's hand and pulled him toward the door. Howie's eyes widened. "Dude, seriously," he hissed, "Wake up man!"

Then I had a trippy thought.

What if I was Howie and I was delusional? I mean after all I'd have to be to think I'm not perfect right? So I closed my eyes and thought, WAKE UP DOROUGH!

But still nothing happened.

My mind buzzed. I needed more time witH Howie. We had to figure this out. Better, Howie couldn't go home. He couldn't. "WAIT!" I wailed.

Howie/Me and Ro looked at me like I'd gone nuts. Howie rarely has outbursts for no apparently reason.

"Wait, I need a - a place," I stammered, "A place to - to - to stay. Yeah, cos I'm Howie. That makes sense... Dude, Ro," I said, thinking fast, "I need to go home with you guys."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I watched my own face flood in a wash of desperation. Ro looked at me/AJ and then back at Howie/me.

"What happened to your hotel room?"

"It--" I stopped. For the first time ever, I hated hearing AJ's voice. I wanted to hear my voice. "There was a screw-up and they gave it away."

Howie (damnit, AJ!) nodded.

"Okay, well, sure, come on. I think it's the least we can do since my husband here almost broke your nose."

She pressed up against me. "My strong monkee-wonkey."

I glanced over at AJ. My body was making furious hand motions towards the door.

"Let's go!" I blurted. Ro stepped back looking disappointed. "I...I..."

"You know how your husband hates hospitals," J said with my voice. Ro stroked my hand.

"Of course. Let's go."

The ride back to J's place was uncomfortable; I endured the whole ride with a knee slammed in my back. Of course, I couldn't blame him. Ro drove with one hand. The other hand she put on my leg. Every time it would go higher, I would squirm and a foot would slam right into my back. After about the fourth time, I yelped.

"What's wrong?" Ro asked.

"Leg cramp," I lied.

For the remainder of the drive, I hunched over working on the cramp that didn't exist. Ro parked and smacked the wheel. I looked at her in surprise.

"D, I totally forgot. Where's your luggage?"

"My luggage?" I asked.

"Why would you have luggage monkee-wobbles?" She turned at stared into the backseat. I coughed loudly.

"Yeah, HOWIE, where is your LUGGAGE?"

"Luggage? Uh---it's at the hotel. I'll have someone send it over."

Ten minutes later, I was sitting in J's condo watching my bodily self call the hotel and request my luggage to be sent over. Ro was in the kitchen. J hung up and looked at me.

"It's sent," he whispered. He held out my arm. I'm sure he wasn't used to actually seeing skin tone.

"How did this happen?" he whispered.

"I don't know," I said. "But you better fix it."

"What makes you think this is my fault?"

"This whole thing has been your fault."

It was weird to see my own eyes narrow. "You were the one that wouldn't leave well enough alone, nosy."

"You're the frickin' drama queen. Just because you--"

"Hey D, you want a drink?"

We both jumped at the sound of Ro's voice. Ro stood in the doorway holding a wine bottle.

I'll be the first to admit I love a good drink, but as with everything in my life, I use in moderation.

AJ...well...just the sight of the bottle caused a burning desire in the bottom of my stomach that almost made me want to scream. I stared at the bottle hungrily. My mouth went dry; the only thing that could possible quench me was what was that alcohol.

"I'd love some," AJ/Howie said.

My eyes widened. Ro turned to go get a glass.

"What are you doing?"

"You don't have a problem. I'm going to enjoy a fuckin' glass of wine." He leaned forward; his smile was tense.

"Did you feel it?"

I shifted my gaze. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"The desire. The struggle. The pain."

I scowled. I was beginning to sweat. I didn't know why. AJ didn't even have any hair. Why did he need to sweat?

"Here you go," Ro said cheerfully. She handed bodily-Howie a glass and sat down beside me. She gave me a wink before downing her entire drink in one gulp.

"For good luck," she whispered in my ear. She set the glass down and I felt her fingers under my armpit. I couldn't keep the loud shriek from escaping from my mouth. Ro giggled and threw herself at me.

"WHOOPS!" my voice said loudly. Ro's fingers were inches from my crotch. She sat back up and looked over at the growing red spot spreading on the white carpet.

"CRAP!" she yelled. She bounced up and headed in the kitchen. I slumped back in relief.

"Touch her, you die," AJ whispered.

"Then you find a way to keep her off me!"

We death stared each other.

Unknown McLean Fact #4: For someone who always shields his eyes, AJ is the master at staring contests.