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Brendon said, "Mikey! Mikey! You have got to see this!" but Brendon said that about a lot of things. He said it about the rabid squirrel on their block that they had nicknamed Scrappy McDoo and the boy with all the tattoos who had moved in last summer that Brendon was still totally pining over without even knowing his name. Granted, both of those items had been worth seeing. Mikey shrugged, and followed where Brendon lead. As it turned out, Brendon's big idea of an outing was the junkyard that they really weren't supposed to play in but always, always did. Neither of them had gotten the scabies that Brendon's mom seemed to fear yet. Brendon scrabbled over discarded dryers and a fridge and four or five tires to get to the husk of what Mikey identified as a '72 Chevy Camino, or something like that. It was old and crappy, that much Mikey could verify.

Mikey said, "Uh, Brendon--"

"No, no, you have to get in!"

Mikey looked at Brendon. "Um, why were you in that thing in the first place?"

"Oh, shut up, like you don't dream about having a car, too. Come on Mikeyway!"

Mikey was doubtful about this, all things told, but Brendon, for all his spasticness, was usually right about these sorts of things, so Mikey wrenched open the door--nearly eaten through with rust--and sat down in the driver's seat. Or, well, it should have been the driver's seat. Instead Mikey landed on his ass in a wide meadow. "Um."

Next to him, Brendon was grinning. "Didn't I tell you?"

"Where are we?"

"I don't know, Canada?"

Mikey frowned. "Why would we be in Canada?"

"Just a guess. I've never been there, and a lot of the pictures I've seen are nice and green like this. Have you been?"

Mikey had not. Still, he sensed this wasn't precisely Banff. His suspicions were confirmed moments later, when a large spotted cat--almost like a leopard, but longer, sharper--roamed up to him, sniffed and said, "You are not of the royal court." Canada experience or no, Mikey was one hundred percent sure they didn't have talking cats up there.

He asked, "Royal court?"

Brendon said, "We fought a war not to have one of these, damn Canadians."

The cat growled and started to advance on Brendon, but a man in loose, flowing clothes almost like the ones Mikey had always been taught were appropriate for the desert appeared from out of nowhere and said, "Dylan. What did I say about scaring strangers?"

Dylan the Cat huffed, and backed off. Brendon just followed him, though, said, "Can I pet you? My mom says I can't have a cat, she says I won't take care of it, but I totally would, and you don't seem like you need taking care of, anyway, and--"

"You may scratch at the back of my neck," Dylan told him, standing regally. Said posture lasted for all of about ten seconds under the assault of Brendon's fingers, and then the two of them were sprawled in an undignified, but clearly happy, heap of fur and boy on the ground.

Mikey turned back to the man--who had a sword strapped to his back, an honest to fuck sword--and said, "I'm Mikey. He's Brendon. Thanks for saving us from being eaten."

The man touched his hand to Mikey's shoulder in what Mikey could only assume was some sort of greeting, like a handshake. "I'm Jon, and Dylan has a point. You're not royal, but you're in royal territory. Try as we might, we haven't made it past that yet."

"No, uh. I think we're lost. Have any idea how to get back to New Jersey?"

Jon frowned. "Is that a principality?"

"No, it's a state."

"I haven't heard of those."

Yeah, Mikey had been kind of a afraid of that. He was totally going to kill Brendon if he couldn't get back to Gerard. "Okay, this is going to sound kind of crazy, but we got in this car--"

"What's a car?"

Mikey jumped as a second man appeared from nowhere, this one in considerably more formal clothes, and kind of fidgety with it. Not so much that it was obvious, but Mikey had seen Brendon in a tie before. He knew the signs. "Stop doing that!"

"Doing what?" New guy--who was more Mikey's size, and had sexy hair and the nicest blue eyes Mikey had ever seen and, fuck, this really wasn't a good time to be developing a crush--asked.

"That," Mikey gesticulated, "showing up thing."

"Oh, well, you could have been court spies. I needed Dylan and Jon to be sure of you first." Then, a bit sheepishly. "Sorry."

"Mikey," Jon said, "this is his highness Robert Cor--"

"Bob, Jon, how many times have we gone over this? Bob."

Jon grinned, and Mikey got the feeling that Jon had done that on purpose. He said, "Bob, Mikey."

Mikey said, "So, um, I guess you are of the royal court?"

"Only if Jon and I can't get past its borders soon," Bob muttered.

Brendon, who had evidently exhausted both himself and Dylan, and was panting on the ground beneath the cat, asked, "Why don't you wanna be a highness?"

"They marry highnesses off, you realize?"

"Huh, they still do that?" Brendon asked. Both Bob and Jon looked mildly perplexed at the sentiment.

Jon said, "I'm sorry, Bob is right, we have to keep moving. It's not safe for us, here."

As if to prove his point, the grass that Mikey was standing on began to grow rapidly from the ground, the blade edges of it sharpening to knife point. Bob said, "Hold on," and before Mikey knew what was happening, there was a loud buzzing sound and he was standing by a pond, his head spinning. Bob was still holding him up, his hands at Mikey's biceps, and oh, that was nice. Bob asked, "You all right?"

"Dizzy," Mikey admitted, and was sort of glad for it when the hands stayed where they were. He asked, somewhat frantically, "Brendon?"

"Holy shit, Mikey. They beamed us out!"

Jon looked over at the pond and he and Bob shared a look. Bob seemed to shrink a little bit. He asked, "We're back where we started, aren't we?"

Jon stood straight. "I'm sorry, your highness, if I'd had only slightly more time to train--"

"Bob," Bob said, sounding terribly sad, "and this isn't your fault. You were the only one I could trust to go with me. That-- I wouldn't have wanted someone more experienced."

After a few moments of silence, Mikey said, "Look, I don't mean to sound like a moron here, but it seems to me that if we solved our problem, your problem would be solved, too."

Jon looked at him like he was some sort of beacon of hope.

"I mean," Mikey shrugged, "my world isn't magical and exciting and full of princes and knights, but it has Gerard and cars and...well, good things, and nobody would want to marry Bob off to anyone." Except maybe me to me.

"What's a Gerard?" Jon asked.

"Mikey's older brother," Brendon said with a lingering note of awe. Brendon had been in love with Gerard forever before tattoo boy from down the street had come along. They really needed to learn his name.

"But how do we get back to your world?" Bob asked. "We can't even get past the boundaries of my kingdom."

Mikey had to shake his head. He had no idea. Brendon asked quietly, "Have you ever been past those boundaries?"

"Well, um, no," Bob admitted. Jon shook his head.

"I think-- I think it's maybe that you have to know where you're going. I mean, you can do that getting from one place to another thing just fine, but you seem to keep ending up in places you've been, right?"

Jon nodded. "Bob, Bob, I think he's right."

"So if you were to hold to Mikey and me, and we thought all our favorite thoughts about home really, really hard, maybe--" Brendon shrugged. "Trust me, it's not the worst idea I've ever had."

"It's not," Mikey had to agree.

Bob said, "What's the worst that could happen?"

Jon said, "Um, the transfer magic gets confused and rips us all to pieces?"

Bob thought about it for a second. "Better than what happens if we get stuck here." Mikey paled, but then Bob took him fully in his arms, and okay, this wasn't the worst way to possibly die ever. Mikey thought really hard about Gerard, about how badly he wanted to get into art school and how Mikey was going to miss him, but Gerard would probably let him visit and take him to all the cool places--Gerard always found all the best places--and Mikey could bring him their mom's brownies, which were just from a package, but the best ever anyway and--

Gerard said, "Whoa, motherfucking, whoa!"

Mikey tore himself from Bob even though he was dizzy and Bob's arms were sturdy and he threw himself into Gerard's arms. "Gee!"

Gee hugged him back, even if his arms felt a little unsure. "Hi, Mikey."

Mikey said, "I'll explain, I promise. You're totally not going to believe what happened."

"There's a guy with a sword in my room, Mikey."

"That's Jon, you'll like him. He has a talking cat."

"And the other one?"

Mikey drew back a little and said, softly, "That's Bob."

Bob said, "You'll like him, too. He has a thing for your brother."

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile