Fresh Blood.

Chapter Two: Enter Roxy

“Get out and stay out!”
With a mighty shove, the beefy doorman gave the girl a hefty shove, closing the door firmly in her face. Rage building inside of her, she beat on the door with her fists but it was no good. She was out and she was staying out.
“Creep.” She muttered to herself. “Who needs this place, anyway? I can find some place else, no problem.”
Roxanne Pelligrini was twenty-two years old, and completely alone in the world. That was the way she had wanted it to be, ever since the day eight years earlier that she had packed her immediate belongings and climbed out of the window of her house, never to return. She had grown up in a bad neighbourhood with her aunt and uncle as her guardians, and two people more lacking in love she had yet to find. Her uncle had a temper, her aunt could be malicious, and if Roxanne had been honest with herself she had spent much of her childhood fearing both. Finally, after another dismal school report had mounted into a terrifying row she had taken the initiative and left. However hard things were for her outside the walls of the house, she had no doubt that it had to be better than what had gone on inside.
It had not been difficult to find a place to stay in her native Philadelphia. She knew a bunch of other kids, a year or two older than her but pushed back grades who had also dropped out around the same time, and they were tough and ready to face anything. One of them had broken the chain on the door of a disused ground floor flat and set up a squat within. It wasn’t much, but it was a roof over her head, so Roxanne had taken up the offer immediately. No more school, no more family…she was on her own.
And eight years on, things were still the same.
The only thing that had changed was the location.
She had arrived in California the day before yesterday, and had yet to find somewhere from which to grab a proper meal. It had been an idly placed comment that had first spurred her to leave her hometown, a careless boast that she could make it if only she were in Hollywood, that she could achieve the fame and fortune that she so wanted. She had left in an indignant huff, determined to prove everyone wrong. And so here she was.
Roxanne was no stranger to breaking the law. She had stolen petty cash or food from places before and had been quick to take advantage of situations when they arose. But she was a stranger in this place, having never been out of Philadelphia before, and she did not like feeling so helpless. Part of her make-up required her to be in control – permanently and absolutely. Otherwise it didn’t bear thinking about – she had too many past nightmares to allow them to fly loose around her mind.
She clenched her fists, giving the door of the nightclub one last violent battering, and then turned on her heel, heading slowly down the steps and onto the main street. It was getting dark, and a cold wind was whipping in. Roxanne had never imagined California could be cold, but somehow the whole situation she had found herself in made it worse. She sat down on a bench with a sigh. So now what?
“Come on, Rox, think.” She ordered herself, idly glancing around her for any unsuspecting passer – by from whom she could solicit spare change. “You got yourself here! Now you just gotta find someone who’ll give you your big break and that’s it. You’re a star.”
She had held this naïve, fondly nurtured hope since she had left Philadelphia. That once she’d reached the west coast her luck would change…so far though she had had little success.
There was a crackle of thunder from above, and lightning split the sky. Despite herself, Roxanne shivered. She wasn’t a huge fan of storms, if she was honest about it. Getting to her feet, she sauntered slowly down the street, looking for somewhere to shelter from the torrential rain she felt sure would follow. As she reached the end of the road, activity from across the other side of the street caught her eye. It was too dark to see clearly, but a guy was loading a case into his car, and then, a girl ran out of the house, hugging him tightly and handing him his car keys. After exchanging words, the guy got into the car and started up the engine. As Roxanne watched from where she had ducked behind a bush, the car pulled away with the girl still waving even after it had disappeared into the distance. Then she turned, making her way back into the house.
The girl was young – not more than twenty, was Roxanne’s guess, and certainly not someone from the same background as Roxanne herself. She had been well-dressed, and the car her guest had driven had been an expensive hire car.
 “Some people have all the luck.” Roxanne muttered to herself. “Although…if she’s all alone in there, she shouldn’t put up too much of a fight. Looks to me like she’s never raised her fists in her life. Maybe I can get in round the back – must be some food somewhere in a place like that.”
To think was to act, and she glanced around her to check for witnesses, before sauntering casually across the road. As she did so, thunder split the sky once more and with it came the rain, in driving torrents, soaking through Roxanne’s worn clothing to her skin. She shivered. Great. Just what she needed to make things better. She paused, considering. Maybe she should wait till the rain eased off. No sense in getting wetter than she need be.
Then a flash of lightning shot out of the sky, scorching the ground not far from where she stood, and with a yelp she darted forward across the road, narrowly missing a car that was coming down towards her. There was a squeal of brakes and angry shouting, but Roxanne was oblivious. She had always hated storms, ever since she had been locked out in one as a small child. Doing her best to keep a grip on her rising fear, for Roxanne never showed her feelings to anyone, she slipped around the back of the houses down a narrow passageway, scaling the rear fence of the garden and pulling herself over. In the driving wet she found it was hard to keep her grip and with a cry she slipped over into the grounds, scraping her arms and legs on thorns as she went and landing in a heap in the mud.
Another crash from overhead brought her to her feet and she hurried helter-skelter towards the house, all of her plan of attack gone from her mind in her panic. She struggled with the door handle. Why wouldn’t it let her in? In her fear she had put herself back in Philadelphia and the squat she had called home for so long.
At that moment the door opened and from somewhere behind the rain she heard a horrified squeal. But then, with another crash of thunder Roxanne’s senses left her once more and she shoved past the girl and into the house.
The house-owner stared at her bedraggled guest who was gripping hold of the end of the stair rail, breathing hard. From the look in her eyes she was clearly afraid, though she was trying her best to hide it, and she was mud stained, scratched and drenched from head to foot. Initial fear and shock was replaced by concern.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
“I’m just fine.” Now she was safely inside the house Roxanne’s senses were returning to her and she was beginning to feel a little bit silly. “What are you staring at?”
“I…I was just wondering what you were doing in my house.” It sounded lame, she knew it, but it was all she could think of to say.
There was a long pause. Then a shrug.
“Who cares?” the intruder demanded. “I’m here.”
“Don’t you have anywhere to stay?” The girl asked hesitantly. Another pause, then a grudging shake of the head.
“Then…then you can stay here till the storm passes.” She did not know why she had made the offer, but her heart was too kind to put someone so already dishevilled back outside, into a storm they were clearly afraid of. “What’s your name?”
“Who wants to know?” Roxanne demanded.
A third pause, as Roxanne tried her best to regain any dignity and looked her hostess up and down. Then,
“Roxanne.” She said curtly. “Roxanne Pelligrini.”
“I’m Mary…Mary Phillips.” The house owner said. “You…well, you’d better go upstairs and clean up. There are towels in the cupboard over the sink. Or would you like me to…”
“I can manage!” Roxanne snapped. She stalked up the stairs, leaving Mary staring after her.
“What on earth is going on?” she murmured to herself. “Oh, I wish Craig was still here. He’d know what to do!”
After a couple of wrong turns Roxanne finally found herself in the bathroom of the house, pushing the door shut and locking it as an afterthought. She shivered involuntarily. The rain had been cold, and as she eyed her reflection in the mirror she grimaced.
“Ugh.” She muttered. “Rox, you’re a mess!” She grabbed hold of one of the towels roughly, rubbing her face clean and then setting to work at removing the mud from her skin. All the time she kept glancing over her shoulder, as if afraid to be disturbed. She wasn’t used to such kindness, it made her uneasy. In her whole life very few people had ever shown Roxanne any kind of affection, even fewer without an ulterior motive. She had been abandoned by her parents when just a baby, and as a result had been raised by her disinterested aunt and uncle. She had always known she was not wanted…and it had angered her more than anything. Her entire drive to live and to ‘show everyone’ was the only thing that had kept her so strong through the years – to find someone who asked no favours of her, and yet who was willing to be so understanding had thrown her off guard.
There was a knock at the door.
“Roxanne? I…I was wondering, do you want a drink or anything? I was going to do some coffee…”
“Sure.” Roxanne found herself answering in far more pleasant tones than she knew she possessed. Then she got a hold of herself. “I mean, don’t bother yourself on my account, I’m okay. I can manage.”
“Well, if you’re sure.” Mary paused. “I’ll do you a cup anyway, just in case. Do…do you have any clothes to change into? Your other ones were very wet.”
Roxanne flicked the lock back, pushing the door open with a hefty shove.
“What’s with all the questions, little miss nosey?” she demanded, and Mary shrank back.
“Nothing! I’m sorry…I just…I was just trying to help.”
Roxanne scowled.
“I don’t need your help. I don’t need anybody’s help.” She snapped.
From outside a fresh peal of thunder echoed around the bathroom and despite herself Roxanne gave out a little cry, shrinking back against the bath and almost overbalancing into it.
“Please, let me get you some dry clothes, and…and put yours through the wash – they’re all muddy and you’ll catch cold!” Mary’s natural will to help was fast overcoming her shyness. Roxanne stared at her hostess for a moment, as if trying to figure out the other girl’s motives. Then she shrugged.
“If it means so much to you.” She responded curtly. “Now leave me alone, will ya? How can I clean myself up if you’re fussing over me the whole time?”
“Oh, I’m sorry…of course.” Mary nodded her head. “Let me just…” She scurried into her own bedroom, rooting through her wardrobe. Most of her clothes were fairly demure and sensible, for she had never had much confidence to go around in any of the wilder fashions, but somehow she didn’t think that those would appeal to the rough and ready stranger she had suddenly made a houseguest. Then, at the back of the wardrobe she found an outfit that her brother had bought her as a joke one hallowe’en, when he had dared her to dress ‘wild’ for once. It consisted of a purple, one-sleeved jumper, a neon yellow belt and brightly spattered trousers. Mary had never dared to wear it.
“Perfect.” She murmured with a smile, taking it from the wardrobe and heading back to the bathroom, where a bored looking Roxanne was waiting. There was no word of thanks, the interloper merely took the outfit, shutting the door and locking it once more. With a helpless shrug of her shoulders Mary turned to go down the stairs, sinking down onto the sofa with a sigh.
“What have I done?” she asked herself. “I don’t know anything about this girl – she could be anything…she could be a murderer, for all I know!”
 “But she was wet and afraid and she needed your help.” Her conscience scolded her. “What else could you do?”
“Craig wouldn’t like it if he knew.” Mary frowned. “I’m not sure I like it, either. But…well, it’s only till the storm clears.”
“Where do you think she’s going to go, if you boot her out?” Her conscience demanded. “You only have to look at her to know she’s been living rough.”
“I can’t deal with this kind of situation.” Mary retorted. “She…she’s nothing like me and I don’t know how to deal with her – She…she scares me. I can’t let her stay here, not when I’m all on my own like this.”
“Well, do what you think is best.” Her conscience seemed resigned. Mary nodded.
“I will.” She murmured, leaning over and picking up a book.
It seemed forever before her visitor re-joined her, rubbing her hair with a towel and tossing herself down into a chair. Mary set down her book, eying the other girl in interest. Now she was less bedraggled, the synth player realised that the other girl was not much older than she herself, with long, wavy, platinum blond hair. She was actually fairly pretty, though her expression was wary and warned against too many friendly overtures.
“Where are your clothes? I’ll go wash them through for you.” Was all Mary said, and Roxanne tossed the ragged bundle in her companion’s direction. As Mary stood to take them out to the kitchen, the visitor spoke.
“These threads aren’t bad.” She said in an almost grudging tone.
“My brother bought them for me but I never wear them.” Mary turned, offering a hesitant smile. “You…you can keep them if you like.”
“You sure?” Roxanne looked taken aback, then suspicious. “Why?”
“Well, they suit you.” Mary shrugged, taking her guest’s original outfit to put it through the wash. Roxanne settled herself back on her chair, examining her clothes more carefully. What was with this girl? Why did she keep wanting to do nice things? It wasn’t like she had no choice. And yet…Roxanne shook her head. It was beyond her.
Outside the wind howled and the lightning flickered. With a frown she got to her feet, pulling the curtains shut. There was no way she wanted to go out there again that night. Even if the storm passed, the streets would be wet and cold and she had nowhere to go. She turned from the window, sauntering across the room to examine the furnishings.
“Nice place.” She admitted to herself. “The girl must have some money, at least.” She reached up to pick up a photograph from the fireplace – a picture of a man and a little girl. “Ugh. Sensitive mush.”
“That’s my Dad.” Mary returned at that moment, sitting down once more on the sofa. “And me…he died when I was seven.”
“So?” Roxanne demanded. Mary looked taken aback.
“I thought maybe you were interested.” She said, a slight look of hurt in her eyes, for her family were very important to her. “Where are your family, Roxanne? I mean, where are you from?”
“I don’t have family.” Roxanne spat out. “Not that it’s your business, but I take care of my own. And I’m from Philly, if it means so much to you to know.”
“You don’t have family?” Mary was horrified. “Noone at all? Oh, you poor thing!”
Roxanne opened her mouth to retort, but paused, confused. Noone had ever shown her sympathy before, and she wasn’t sure if she liked it. She shrugged.
“Who needs ‘em?” She responded shortly. “I’m better off without ‘em.”
Mary moved over to the window.
“I don’t think the storm is going to clear for a while.” She said, and there was a note of reluctance in her voice. “I suppose you…you should stop here for the night, if…if it suits you. There’s a spare room at the back of the house – the bed’s made up since my brother was home till this afternoon.”
“I can?” Once more Roxanne was taken aback by the kindness. She smiled slightly. “All right. But…don’t you have any food in this house? I’m starving!”
“Oh!” Mary’s hand flew to her mouth. “I’m sorry – I didn’t think! And I forgot all about that coffee…follow me. I don’t have much at the moment but I’m sure there’s something.”
“Girl, I’ll eat anything you give me.” Roxanne assured her. Somewhat relieved that her guest seemed more disposed to be friendly Mary offered another hesitant smile and led the way into the kitchen, pulling open the door of the big refrigerator. For a moment, Roxanne just stared at the choice. Then she got a grip on herself.
“Help yourself.” Mary told her. “I don’t like to have the oven on in a storm, so…”
“I can cope with that.” Roxanne shrugged. She paused. “You’ve been mighty nice to me, you know. What gives?”
“I don’t understand.” Mary settled on a kitchen stool, watching her guest select her meal with a puzzled frown. “How do you mean, what gives?”
“Why are you doing so much for me?”
“Well, I couldn’t just let you stay out there and catch pneumonia.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Roxanne remarked dryly. Mary smiled.
“Well, not this time.” She said. “When you’re done eating I…I’ll show you the spare room. You should be okay there for the night.”
Roxanne nodded. Then, with a small smile of her own she turned to face her hostess.
“Thanks.” She said abruptly. That was all, but it was enough…enough to dispel the last of Mary’s apprehension over letting the girl stay. She met the smile with a warm one of her own.
“It’s okay.” She said softly. “Just glad I could help.”

Chapter One: Mary Phillips
Chapter Three: Developments
Chapter Four: Birth Of A Star
Chapter Five: Eric Raymond
Chapter Six: Outta My Way!
Chapter Seven: London
Chapter Eight: Shawn Harrison
Chapter Nine: The Tinkerbillys
Chapter Ten: Jerrica
Chapter Eleven: Only The Beginning

(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. All characters who do not appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley (2001)