Chapter Five: Complications

"You know, why is it a trip to the beach with any Misfit always ends in someone being yelled at by a lifeguard?"

Stormer slid her key into the front door lock, turning to cast her companion a quizzical look. "Is there never a day when we hang out there that someone doesn't push someone else in the sea?"

"I still think that guy would 'ave fallen in without Roxy's 'elp." Jetta said pensively, following her friend inside and dumping her jacket onto the hook. "But it was fun, all the same. We ain't 'ad any fun moments recently, 'ave you noticed that? Even 'anging out with Roxy wasn't so bad for once. We badly needed a break from all of this chaos."

"We did." Stormer nodded. "Though where the Misfits go, so does more chaos, Jetta!"

She smiled, a mischievous look lighting up her pretty blue eyes.

"His face when he belly-flopped was amusing." She acknowledged. "You're right. It has been a while since we've just caused trouble and laughed at it rather than worrying about something or other."

"Do you suppose Pizzazz went back to the office or is she still in town?" Jetta wondered. "I'm not sure I'm ready to face her 'issy fit an' Roxy's already taken my usual alibi - which I bet she did on purpose, by the way. Justin 'as too big a soft spot where she's concerned an' says 'yes' to 'er whims far too often. I'm almost tempted to go out for dinner or somethin', just to escape the lecture. You up for goin' dutch someplace snazzy?"

"I don't think Pizzazz is in town." Stormer frowned, reaching up to finger the cuff of the singer's jacket, tossed carelessly onto the coat rack when the girl had arrived hours earlier. "I think she's come home. She might even still be here...we shouldn't take off again without at least asking if she wants to come."

"In the mood she was in earlier? Yes, we can." Jetta pursed her lips, but Stormer shook her head.

"She wasn't well this morning." She reminded her friend. "Even if it was just a brief moment of being overheated, she still passed out and I still want to make sure she's all right. Humour me, huh? I'm going to check if she's here and if she is, I'm going to ask her to come with us."

"Fine." Jetta sighed. "Tell her if she comes, she's paying the tab, then. But I hope she's calmed down. Usually I like 'angin' with Pizzazz, but of late she's been a total 'eadcase. I really don't know what's gotten into her, an' that's the truth."

"Well, perhaps by now it's gotten out again." Stormer suggested. "I'll run up and see if she's upstairs...I can't hear the television in the lounge or anything."

"All right. I'll wait for you here." Jetta agreed, sinking down onto the bottom step and examining her nails for chips as she did so. "But don't take too long about it, huh? I'm startin' to get 'ungry after all that beach excitement."

"I'll try not to be." Stormer promised.

She headed up the stairs, crossing the landing to the little group of steps that led up to the singer's sleeping quarters. As daughter of the house, Pizzazz's accomodation was always expansive, but she had set her roots firmly down in Los Angeles and had long since made the big, spacious room her home from home. As Stormer knocked gently on the door, she mused wryly over the number of houseguests that had been brought up here in the early hours of the morning.

"But not Eric, thank the lord." She murmured, knocking again. "Pizzazz? Are you here? Jetta and I are going into town and we're going to go dutch at some restaurant or other - do you want to come?"

There was no reply, and Stormer frowned, running her finger over the door lock. It had been fastened, she could see that, but from the inside, and she knocked again, more frantically this time.

"Pizzazz? Are you in there?"

Again, there was no response, and Stormer bit her lip, afraid her friend had collapsed once more. She took a step back, eying the lock and muttering a curse as she realised the bolt had also been drawn across.

"Even Roxy couldn't pick her way in." She muttered. "So how am I supposed to get in there?"

She glanced up and down the hall at the surrounding doors, and her gaze fell on one at the far end of the hallway. Chewing on her lip, she made for it, turning the handle and letting herself in. It was an empty bedroom, big, open and expansive just like all of the bedrooms the mansion boasted, but this one was uninhabited by Pizzazz's precise orders, because it opened out onto the same balcony as the singer's own room.

"Sharing isn't in Pizzazz's vocabulary, but it means I can get to the french door and easily, too." Stormer spoke out loud, crossing the floor and manipulating the lock open with little difficulty. She slid the door back, stepping out onto the rear view balcony and then taking the few paces across the slabs to the identical door that led into her friend's room.

At a glance, she could see the singer, curled up on the bed with her back to the door, and her frown deepened. She pulled at the french door, but at first, nothing happened. Then, noticing one of the windows to one side was slightly ajar, Stormer slid her little finger in through the gap, loosening the catch and creating enough space to slide her whole arm into the room. Reaching down, she groped for the key, touching it with the tips of her index and middle fingers. Clumsily she turned it in the lock, relief flooding her as she heard the familiar click. The door slid back, and she stepped into the bedroom, approaching the still figure on the bed with caution and apprehension.

"Pizzazz?" She murmured. "Are you all right?"

There was no reply, but, as she drew closer to her friend, she could hear the sound of breathing and a second wave of relief washed over her. She moved carefully around the bed, crouching down by her friend's side.

"Pizzazz?" She whispered. "Pizzazz, wake up!"

The singer did not stir, and as Stormer went to shake her awake, a slight catch in the steady breathing made her pause. For the first time, the synth player became aware of her friend's tearstained cheeks, and she hesitated, biting her lip.

"Why were you crying?" She asked softly. "I wish I could wake you and ask you but I know how you'd feel if I did. You always hate people seeing you this why you took off and left us? You needed to be alone? But why? Passing out is a bummer, but it's not the kind of thing you'd get upset about."

She hesitated, then sighed.

"I'll let you sleep." She decided reluctantly. "Whatever it is, you'll speak to us in your own time, if you want us to know. And you've been through enough recently without me asking the twenty questions. Jetta and I will be back later, okay? Roxy too, most like. I'll write you a note, so you know where we are."

She laid a gentle hand on her friend's shoulder.

"I hope you feel better, when you wake." She murmured softly. Then she stood, padding across the room to the main door and carefully unfastening the lock and bolt. Pushing it open, she stepped out into the corridor, pausing to send a fleeting glance back at her sleeping friend. Then she shut the door behind her with a gentle click, making her way slowly back down stairs.

"You took long enough." Jetta cast her a curious look. "Is she home? Is she coming?"

"She's home, but she's sleeping. I didn't want to wake her." Stormer said briefly. "I figure I'll go write her a note, so she knows that we're out for dinner, and we'll speak to her later. Whatever got to her earlier, she's obviously decided a nap is the best way to shake it, so I didn't like to disturb her."

"Probably a good plan, if only it puts her in a better mood." Jetta rolled her eyes. "All right. You write your note and then we'll go, okay? I'll drive, and we'll split the cheque."

She shrugged.

"Tomorrow we'll be back in studio." She added wisely. "So we might as well enjoy ourselves while we're off the leash!"

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"So what exactly can I do for you this morning, Miss Gabor?"

Elliot sat back in his chair, eying his companion with a mixture of surprise and confusion. "It's early - very early, actually. I didn't think you kept office hours."

It was the next morning and, mindful of all the paperwork still left undone, he had headed to the company first thing to tie up as many loose ends as he could. It was now just past eight o'clock, and in the middle of his file reviewing, the flighty, petulant owner of Misfits Music had descended upon him, thick wavy hair pulled back into a casual ponytail and a suspicious lack of exotic make-up touching her cheeks. She looked, he mused, almost normal without it - and yet there was still that predatorial glint in the green eyes that reminded him that yes, she was indeed a Gabor.

"I have a lot of things to do today." Pizzazz snapped, dropping down into the seat opposite. "And I'm not going to waste any time in doing them."

"That could apply to both of us." Elliot gestured to his in-tray. "Seems like everyone in the building dropped me a memo yesterday. I'm just trying to clear some of the backlog."

He eyed her keenly. "Yourself?"

"Why are you looking at me like that?" There was a wary, defensive note in the singer's voice and Elliot frowned, shaking his head.

"Like what?"

"Never mind." Pizzazz grabbed the top document out of his pile, glancing it over and dropping it back down. "How much more of this junk is there to be got through?"

"I've been here about an hour already - maybe another hour, or an hour and a half's work." Elliot considered. "I'll have it done by the time you girls are through in the studio, if you wanted me to coach Jetta some more afterwards."

"Yes, you'd better see Jetta." Pizzazz's expression became thoughtful. "After all, if she's going to get into her thick head what running this place is all about, she's going to need as many pointers as you can give her."

"She's not doing badly." Elliot owned. "You know I still have my reservations about all of this, but considering everything, she's picking up bits and pieces that will hold her in good stead. Who knows? With a few more months of training..."

"There won't be any more training after this." Pizzazz cut across him, shaking her head. "You've both had plenty enough time to hand over the reins and I advise you to think about doing that this afternoon, when you see her."

She reached a hand into her pocket, pulling out an envelope and pushing it across the desk.

"You'll be leaving Los Angeles tomorrow morning. I've got you a seat on the eleven am flight to DC."

"What?" Stunned, Elliot scooped up the envelope, opening it and tipping out a single airline ticket. "But...Miss Gabor, I thought you realised that this was a bigger job than just a quick fix! If you want Jetta competent to run this company in any capacity, then she needs a whole lot more training on the business basics! And with the place still in some upheaval...are you sure this is what you want?"

"Don't pretend you like being here." She was every bit the spoiled brat today, Elliot decided, as she folded her arms across her chest, fixing him with another patent Gabor glare. "You hate Los Angeles, you hate us and you hate this music company. You're here because Daddy sent you and you've outlived your usefulness. If you've not had enough time with Jetta, that's your problem. I've given you plenty of opportunities to train her. And my patience with your company has about make sure you gather your things and you catch that flight."

Elliot's brows knitted together in consternation.

"I just don't want this project of yours to fail." He said at length. "And it seems awful soon to be..."

"Well, you're not the one who makes those decisions in the long run. I am." Pizzazz's eyes flashed fire and she brought a hand down on the desk hard, making him jump. "So how about a little less questioning and a little more agreement, huh?"

"It's just short notice." Elliot set the ticket on one side. "Have you spoken to your father about all of this?"

"Daddy doesn't make the decisions here. I do." Pizzazz's eyes glinted at this, and Elliot instinctively knew he'd chosen the wrong tack. "But just to set your stupid head straight, I made two decisions when I fired Eric's sorry ass all the way to Canada. One - no more men would tell me what to do with my company. And two, no outsider was going to run it. You're a man and an outsider, and you've done your job. Besides, do you think I haven't noticed how you fawn around Stormer like some lost puppy? It's enough to make me vomit. She doesn't need you or your kind of trouble messing up her head, and that's final. So finish up, pack and get the hell out of my hair. Is that understood?"

"I don't fawn around anyone." Elliot objected hotly. "Mary and I..."

"Mary and I." Pizzazz mimicked. "Don't give me that. Men are only looking for one thing and you are not going to mess up the Misfits by thinking you can get it, do you understand? Romance and relationships are not Misfit values and I won't have any of it. We're here to focus on music and you're enough of a distraction as it is, turning up with your bits of paper to be signed and finding excuses to drop into practice sessions and ogle her under the pretence of needing my authority. Well, if you needed my authority that badly, you're probably not cut out to do this job long-term anyway."

Elliot stared at her, struck silent by this hot-tempered, embittered speech. Then, at length, he got to grips with himself.

"If that's what you want." He said mildly. "Then I'll be sure to do as you say. In truth, it would be nice to go home for Christmas, and see something of my family over the holiday season. I won't pretend that doesn't appeal. But when I do a job, I like to do it wholesale. You kicking me out like this is going to leave a lot of things undone. Smart as Jetta is, I'm not sure she's ready for such a huge undertaking. I've already warned her that other members of staff - departmental heads and the like - they might not take her seriously. She's young, she's a rock musician by trade and she has no experience in this business sphere. I'm worried that if you throw her in too soon, this company won't survive."

"I'll take that risk." Pizzazz said coldly, her eyes like ice, and Elliot sighed.

"All right." He said resignedly. "Send Jetta to me when you're done practicing and I'll get through as much stuff as I can this afternoon. That's the best I can do...but you're the boss. If you're really adamant, then I'll be on that flight tomorrow. You can explain to your father why."

"Believe me, I'm perfectly capable of that." Pizzazz assured him. "Good. Fine. Then that's all I wanted to say. And since you've so much junk to sort out, I suggest you get to it, huh? Just because it's your last day on the job, it doesn't mean that you can slack off."

With that she was gone and Elliot let his breath out in a rush, glancing down at the remaining stack of papers. He frowned.

"I won't be sorry to leave." He admitted to himself aloud, pushing back his chair and moving to the window. "The climate stinks, and Harvey's daughter is impossible. No, that's an understatement. She's completely delusional, and that's a fact. Working for her is taking every ounce of my tact and my patience...the sooner I get home, the better."

He glanced down at the front forecourt, taking in the rest of the Misfits as they made their arrival to the music company. His gaze fell on Stormer and his frown deepened.

"Delusional, but sometimes far too damn perceptive." He acknowledged. "I'll regret not getting a chance to get to know Mary better. We seem to have chance encounters, and that's all - but maybe I can speak to her before I go. It would be nice to stay in touch - write, maybe phone. We seem to click and I like her company. She's the one person in this madcap city that I actually have time for. Fake as people seem to be in LA, she's not, and I like that."

He sighed, turning back to the desk and his pile of remaining work.

"I better get cracking." He realised. "If I'm going to teach Jetta anything else to keep this wretched company afloat, I'll need as much time as possible to do it!"

Pizzazz, for her part, had made her way slowly down the stairs to the main studio, pushing open the door as she waited impatiently for her colleagues to join her. She had not spoken to any of them the night before, and had awoken early, the shock of her previous day's discovery still fresh in her mind. In her panic, it had been easy to fix on Elliot as a potential source of more trouble, and as she perched herself on the unit, she grimaced.

"Good riddance." She muttered. "Men are garbage. All men. Except maybe Daddy. Now I have to try and fit in a visit to some discreet clinic inbetween practicing and whatever else and I just don't have time to do everything! Plus, how much is it going to cost me to keep this thing quiet? Can those people even be paid off? I dread to think. Dammit, Eric, you'd better be damn glad you're not within firing range right now. It's guys like you that make me wish murder was legalised in this state."

"You look troubled, my dear."

Her father's voice made her jump and she glanced up, shock flooding her features at the sight of him. At her expression, he smiled, coming across the room to greet her properly.

"Am I to understand my message didn't get to you?" He asked amiably. "I sent word on ahead that I'd be spending a while in Los Angeles, but I wasn't sure the girl took the note down properly when I phoned this morning."

"I haven't checked my messages yet." Pizzazz admitted. "And no...Daddy, honestly I'm surprised to see you. What brings you to LA now? Don't you have some big business deal winding up in Maine or something? Isn't that what your secretary told me the last time I called?"

"Your memory is good, but no, we came to terms over the phone last week and the gentleman flew in to sign papers here." Harvey shook his head. "No, I came to see how my daughter was coping with the rebuild of Misfits Music."

His smile widened.

"Well, by the looks of it." He added. "I'm pleased. Pleased and proud to see it, my girl."

Pizzazz looked taken aback.

"It ain't been so hard." she said, forcing more nonchalance into her tone than she felt. "Things are slotting together fine now. Just fine. So much so that I, er, I'm sending Elliot home. You know, with Christmas and...and all..."

She trailed off, gauging her father's expression.

"I thought he'd rather be with his family." She added quietly.

Harvey reached out to take her hand.

"Well, we all should spend Christmas with family, huh?" He said playfully. "But don't be afraid to call him back in the New Year, if the need arises. Jetta, I'm told, is a smart young lady - but green. I don't want you piling more work on yourself while she's getting to grips with how things work."

"Believe me, I won't be." Pizzazz said with feeling. "And I don't intend on bringing him back, Daddy. He's done all right, sure. He's helped. But he's your man. He's not mine and I don't want him here. I don't want any guy telling me what to do. Eric spent too long doing that, and look how that ended up! I want someone who isn't going to rip me off and I don't trust Elliot one bit. He's a jerk and he keeps smarming up to other employees like he wants to do more than just talk to them. So he's going home, and we'll manage. I'm not completely incapable, you know...we'll cope."

"I have every confidence in you, my child." Harvey assured her. "I just want you to know that the option is there."

"What did you mean, by the way, about spending Christmas with family?" Pizzazz asked. Harvey beamed.

"Well, since I'm in town, I thought I might as well stay over the holiday season." He admitted. "I will have one or two business affairs to see to while I'm here, but we don't usually spend Christmas near one another, Phyllie, and it's about time we did. Don't you think?"

"You haven't called me Phyllie since I was seven." Pizzazz bit her lip, then, "So you're going to stop at home? I mean, won't we drive you crazy with the noise?"

"Perhaps, but it's Christmas and I'll make an exception for you." Harvey laughed. "Plus, your New Year's Eve parties are legendary, so I'm told. It would be a shame to completely miss that."

"New Year's...?" Pizzazz looked blank, then a mixture of horror and consternation flooded her features. "Oh dammit. I'd forgotten about that!"

"Forgotten?" Harvey eyed her keenly. "My dear, I thought I was the Gabor who spent more time working than playing...or am I wrong?"

"Everything's just been so manic." Pizzazz ran her fingers through her hair, loosing the band and letting it fall unheeded to the floor. "Invitations went out months ago. I guess I'd better talk to Matilda tonight...oh, another thing to worry about!"

"I'll speak to her for you, if you like. I'm headed there now." Harvey offered. "And I can hear voices, so no doubt you'll be getting down to some music. I'll get out of your way."

"Yeah. Yes, we have a song we want to push out before Christmas." Pizzazz agreed absently. "I guess I'll see you later, huh, Daddy?"

"Of course." Harvey nodded. "Maybe I can treat you and your girls to dinner, to celebrate the rebirth of the music company. What do you think?"

"I'll run it by them." Pizzazz managed a smile, inwardly wincing at her father's innocent choice of words. "Thanks, Daddy."

"Nothing is too much for my girl." Harvey winked at her. "Especially when I see her following more and more in her father's footsteps."

He kissed her on the cheek, and then retreated from the studio, closing the door carefully behind him.

Pizzazz muttered a curse.

"Of all the Christmases to spend with me, he chooses this one." She muttered. "I'm not following in your footsteps, Daddy! I'm not a damn businesswoman! I make stupid decisions, I seduce worthless guys and now I'm knocked up with no clue what to do about it or who I can trust! And I'm not sending Elliot away because I care about his family or because I think we can cope without him. I'm sending him away because he's a man and because men hurt you! How the hell am I supposed to take care of things now, with my father right on my doorstep all the time? He'll sniff it out for sure, and then what will I do? I'm getting more and more caged by the minute...what the hell am I supposed to do?"

"Sing, that's what you usually do."

Roxy pushed open the door of the studio at that moment, making her bandmate visibly jump. "Hey, cool out, huh? I was just answerin' your question."

"Well, it was a private rant and it was a rhetorical question." Pizzazz snapped, as Jetta and Stormer followed their platinum companion into the studio. "How much were you eavesdropping on?"

"Nothin'. Just heard the last line." Roxy shrugged. "Why? Did I miss something worth hearing?"

"No. Just...listen up." Pizzazz shook her head. "All of you. Daddy was just here. He's stopping in LA over Christmas."

"He's spending a holiday with you?" Jetta raised an eyebrow. "Is he dyin' or somethin'?"

"No, he just wants to spend some quality family time, I think." Pizzazz rubbed her temples. "Just when I thought I had enough to do."

"So Papa's crashing the party? Big deal." Roxy shrugged. "He's never bothered about us much before. I wouldn't sweat it."

"Roxy's right." Stormer agreed. "Plus, it might be nice for you to have him this year. I mean, it has been a hell of a year all round."

Tell me about it." Pizzazz said darkly. "And we're wasting more time gassing over it. Jetta, when we're done, you're to go see Elliot. He'll be leaving in the morning, so you have today to cram and then that's it. I'm bored with him. He's a jerk."

"You're sending him away?" Jetta's eyes almost dropped out of her head. "Do you want to kill this bloody company? I'm not nearly ready to take on the job, Pizzazz!"

"Then you better work hard this afternoon." Pizzazz was unmoved. "And as for you," She turned her attention to Stormer, who had been eying her with consternation. "Don't look at me like that. So I've sent your new playmate away a little early...well, tough. Believe me, it's for your own good as much as anything. Men are trouble."

Stormer sighed.

"Does he know yet?" She asked. Pizzazz nodded.

"Yes. He knows." She agreed. "Now, that's enough on him for one lifetime, I swear! Sooner it's back to being just us the better."

Part Four: Desperate Times
Chapter One: Recovery
Chapter Two:  Harvey
Chapter Three:  A Disturbing Realisation
Chapter Four: Shock
Chapter Five:  Complications

Chapter Six: New Year's Eve
Chapter Seven:  Bombshell

The Boring Disclaimer:
Pizzazz is not my character - she and the Misfits were created by Hasbro and given life by Christy Marx and the writers of the Jem series. However, the events, concepts and plotline contained in this story is my own and may not be duplicated. Justin, Alan and any character not featured in the Jem cartoon are entirely my creation and are also not to be duplicated anywhere else.