Chapter Three: New York
"Okay, girls, that's a wrap."
The man with the clipboard sent the five tired musicians a sympathetic grin, indicating the seats offstage. "Take a break, have a coffee...we gotta set up the next drop before we can take any more snaps."
"Thank God! I'm beat!" Kimber Benton, the Holograms' young and impulsive keyboardist exclaimed, clambering neatly down off the stage and making herself comfortable in the softest chair she could find. "Standing around waiting is not my idea of a good time!"
"Cool it, Kimber." Shana Elmsford, the group's bass guitarist and fashion designer said dryly. "We're only half way through the day, you know."
"It's not easy being a star sometimes." Raya Alonso, the band's percussionist observed philosophically.
"True, but it's a lot of fun." Shana reminded her. "At least when we're not stuck under hot lights like this."
"Hey, Aja, where are you off to?" Jem cast the guitarist a frown. "Aren't we getting coffee in here?"
"Yes...but I just thought I'd go find out what the plans are for this afternoon." Aja Leith, the Holograms' lead guitarist said quietly. "Chill out, Jem. I know we're all kinda wound up, but..."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap." Jem sighed. "Go ahead. It might be useful to know. I'm just hot and bothered - don't mind me."
"We never do." Kimber quipped, winking at Aja, who grinned, slipping out of the room. Jem cast her sister a look.
"Thanks, sis." She said dryly. "Hey, something up with your shoes? I told you they were too small!"
"They're not too small." Kimber protested, removing the second stilletto and rubbing her feet. "They just weren't designed for hours of posing. Thank goodness we're changing costumes soon!"
"Yeah, this is really uncomfortable." Raya agreed, adjusting her jacket. "And hot, too!"
Meanwhile, Aja had located the backroom where the technicians and photographers were sitting, chatting and drinking coffee. At the sight of her one of them stood.
"Looking for coffee?" He joked. "Are they starving you poor girls out there?"
"Well, we're waiting for our coffee to arrive." Aja grinned. "I actually came to ask a more technical question of the guy pressing the shutter. May I?"
"That would be me." The guy's eyes twinkled at her. "And of course, you're very welcome...Aja, isn't it?"
"Yep." Aja agreed, coming to sit down. "I only came to ask how many shots this afternoon is likely to consist of. We flew here this morning, early, and we're dropping like flies."
"Not many more, I promise." The photographer assured her, offering her some coffee which she accepted with a grin. "We're just as beat as you girls, to be honest. And, of course, you're all used to this kinda set up so it means we get through quicker. There's nothing worse than dealing with beginners." He rolled his eyes. "I take pictures of anything and everything, and I swear people are the most difficult subject of all."
"Well, we've been in this business since 1986, so a fair while now." She told him. "I should hope we're all seasoned pros." She paused. "I don't think I caught your name, by the way."
"Oh! Pelligrini. Justin Pelligrini." The photographer grinned. "It's okay, I don't expect you to have heard of me. I tumbled into this line of work by accident and I've been lucky enough to do so well in such a short space of time, especially as I've grown to love it." He frowned, noting her odd expression. "Is something wrong?"
"No, nothing." Aja hastened to reassure him. "It's just a bit ironic, that's all, you being called Pelligrini. I know someone else with that name, too. Back home in Cali. Only she's from Philadelphia originally. I wouldn't have pegged it to be that common a name."
"Really?" Justin's brown eyes lit up with hope. "You know someone else with my last name?"
"Yes." Aja agreed. "We work in the same business. Why?"
"Her name...it isn't Roxanne, is it?"
"Yes!" Aja looked confused. "How did you...?"
"Oh my God, I don't believe it." Justin grabbed Aja's hand excitedly. "You know Roxanne Pelligrini? For real? You know where she is? Oh, this is too good to be true!"
"You lost me somewhere." Aja looked nonplussed. Justin looked sheepish, releasing her hand.
"I'm sorry. Maybe I should explain." He said slowly. "You see, I was brought up by my mother here in New York. My parents split up when I was just one or two, and my mother didn't remarry till I was seventeen, so I never really had a dad growing up - my real father was in the military and when he was posted someplace else, well, I never heard anything of him. Well, not until a few months ago, anyway. He'd served some time in prison, apparently on a trumped up charge, and had just gotten parole. He'd begun trying to locate me at once, but not just me. When I met him, he told me I had a sister - well, a half sister, I guess she is - who was born in Philadelphia in '64. He told me he feared a lot that she might not have survived...though he didn't tell me why he thought that way. Since then I've been looking for her. Her name is Roxanne and she was born in April 1964, in Philadelphia. That's all I know."
"Roxy's birthday is April, I'm sure it is!" Aja too was getting excited now, for Justin's friendly manner made him easy to like. "You're really her brother?"
"Roxy? Is that what people call her?" Justin asked. Aja nodded.
"Yes. Everyone does." She paused. "Justin, have you never heard of the Misfits?"
"Sure I have." Justin nodded. "I..." Then he stopped, as realisation sank in. "Wait a minute - Roxanne Pelligrini is Roxy of the Misfits? My kid sister's a star?"
"Roxy's a lot of things." she said dryly. "Listen, Justin, Roxy's been on her own a long time and she's grown up pretty tough. I don't know how I'd react if a brother I never knew I had showed up and Roxy's more impetuous and unpredictable than I am." She eyed him thoughtfully. "You know, you don't look real alike...other than your eyes. You have the same eyes, I'm surprised I didn't see it before."
"The Misfits are based out in Cali, aren't they? Like you girls." Justin looked thoughtful.
"I have to try and see what happens." Justin shrugged. "Just knowing she's alive somewhere is a huge boost, but knowing whereabout she is...I can't let the chance go."
"I guess I understand." Aja grinned at him. "Good luck."
"Hey, Aja, are you gonna spend all day in here?" At that moment Kimber materialised in the doorway. "They're done with the set and want us back in makeup."
"Okay, Kimber, I'm coming." Aja grinnned, getting to her feet. "Let's go. Nice talking, Justin. I hope you find what you're looking for."
"Me too." Justin agreed. "Thanks, Aja, your help is appreciated."
Once the two Holograms were out of earshot, Kimber turned big, curious eyes on her elder.
"What were you and he so cosy about?" she demanded. "Forgotten Craig already?"
"No, of course not!" Aja laughed. "I'm as faithful to Craig as ever I was. That was Justin, the photographer. We were just chatting."
"He's a hunk." Kimber decided.
"Oh, and now look who's not talking about fidelity!" Aja laughed. Kimber shrugged.
"I'm more free than you are." she replied. "Till Shawn's sorted his marital situation out things are on ice between us. Justin, you say?"
"Yeah. He's Roxy's brother, apparently."
"I didn't know Roxy had a brother." Kimber looked surprised.
"Neither does she." Aja looked grim.
"Huh?" Kimber looked bemused.
"I think Roxy has a shock coming her way." Aja observed quietly. "I can just feel it..."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"What's got you all excited tonight?"
Gianina Ianucci paused in the doorway of her son's kitchen, an amused look on her face. "You're going to have that all over the floor if you're not careful!"
"Mom." Justin grimaced across the room. "If you're gonna be a backseat cook...you wanna do it? I invited you over here out of the goodness of my heart to give you a night off cooking for yourself, and this is all the thanks I get! I didn't expect a cooking lesson!"
"You said you had some news too." She reminded him. "And you know full well you're a good cook, Justin. I just like to tease you, that's all."
If truth were told, Gianina and her only child had always been close, and affectionate bantering between them was common. Justin had never known any other parent growing up and had not objected when his mother had accepted the proposal of one Stefan Ianucci weeks after his own seventeenth birthday. Since Stefan's death from heart failure a year earlier, too, the bond between mother and son had been doubled in strength, and it seemed the most natural thing in the world for him to share his news with her.
"Well, that's nice." Justin grinned at her now. "You only come to hear the gossip, don't you, Mom?"
"You know I do." Gianina returned the grin. "I rather wondered if you'd found yourself a girl at last. I mean, you've been casually dating girls here and there since you were fifteen - are you ever going to settle down and give me grandchildren?"
"Well, it's not that kinda news." Justin told her, checking the temperature on the oven before adding the saucepan to the back ring. "I wish you'd not tease me about my lovelife, Mom. I've had serious girlfriends before, and you know it!"
"Yes, true." Gianina agreed. "But none of them have lasted. You're twenty-eight, Justin...I worry about you growing old alone, you know."
"Well, I don't think that twenty-eight is any age to panic at." Justin laughed. "Thirty eight, perhaps. But don't push me, Mom. I haven't found the right girl yet, that's all. And I think I'm about ready to serve."
"Want a hand?" Gianina offered. Justin nodded.
"That would help." He agreed. "Thanks."
"What about Martina? She was a nice girl." Gianina observed, opening the cupboard and pulling out a couple of plates.
"Yeah, a nice girl." Justin moved the saucepan onto the counter, pulling a face. "And that's precisely why it didn't last. Her manners were impeccable, she was beautiful and charming...but Mom, she was boring! It was all very well when we first started going out, but I need more than 'nice'. A girl's gotta have a personality!"
"You've always been the same. So damn picky and into the girls who are gonna break your heart." She said resignedly, scooping up the plate her son had just filled and leading the way into the dining room. "This apartment is all very well, but it's a guy's apartment. Blatantly."
Justin looked amused, taking his own plate and following her, sitting down at the table.
"Well, I'm a guy." He pointed out un-necessarily. "And don't fuss. If it comes, then it will. I'm not gonna rush into anything."
"Well, if you've taken some lesson from your father and I, then I suppose you're right to be cautious." Gianina shrugged. "What's your big news, then?"
"I'm going to California this weekend." Justin responded.
"Oh? More business?" Gianina raised an eyebrow. Justin shook his head.
"No...this is personal." He replied. "I got a lead on the whereabouts of my sister...I'm going to chase it up."
"Oh, that again, huh?" Gianina looked thoughtful. "Well, lots of luck this time, Justin. I hope it's more fruitful than your other endeavours to find her have been. Your father was always a restless soul...she could be anywhere. Why California?"
"The band I was working with today know her. Well, the guitarist does." Justin replied. "Said she'd worked in the same business as Roxanne...Roxy in California for ages, and she reckoned we had the same eyes, too. It's not much to go on, but worth a shot."
"You had a girl notice your eyes?" Gianina asked sharply. Justin rolled his eyes.
"Oh, Mom, you're impossible!" He exclaimed. "It was a business chat! I didn't even think of it that way when we were talking. I just wanted to know anything she could tell me about Roxy."
"I'm the impossible one? You're hopeless!" Gianina protested, laughing. "But you can cook, I must admit. Ah well, maybe this sister of yours will knock some sense into you and find you a wife for me."
"You never give up." Justin pulled a face. "Leave it, Mother. If I'm meant to meet someone then I'll meet her and that's all I can say on the subject!"
(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. Justin and all characters who do not appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley (2001)