Chapter Seven: Justin
"So, how's California?"
Gianina twisted the cord of the phone around her finger, waiting for her son's answer. Did you get to meet up with this Roxanne girl? Is she who you hoped?"
"Mom, one question at a time!" Justin laughed. "Yes I did and yes she is. And, despite a few initial hiccups here and there, I think we're getting on okay now. I have to admit that when Dad first told me about her, I built up an idea in my head of how she'd be...and she's not like that at all. But I like her anyway."
"Well, that's a good thing at least." Gianina observed. "And what are the Californian women like, hmm?"
"Mom!" Justin rolled his eyes. "I can honestly say that none of the Californian women have captured my heart or anything dumb like that, okay?"
"Well, it was worth a try." Gianina sounded unrepentant. "At least you're forging links with Roxanne, that's something, I suppose."
"Yeah, it is." Justin agreed. "Look, Mom, I hate to cut you off like this but I gotta go. Roxy's meeting me here at the hotel this afternoon - we've stuff to talk about and I think I just saw her drive up outside the building."
"Okay, I won't keep you." Gianina assured him. "Give me a call sometime soon, and keep me up to date, won't you?"
"You know I will." Justin nodded his head. "Bye, Mom. Take care."
"You too." Gianina replied. "Bye!"
Slowly Justin set down the phone, moving to open the hotel room door as he recognised his sister's impatient knock.
It was funny he mused, as he let her in, how many of her little quirks he'd gome to get used to even in the short time they'd known each other. It was a week now since their first meeting, and Justin had been as good as his word in contacting his old professional ally. Now armed with information that he hoped would be of use, he had called Roxy over, knowing that she was insecure about her illiteracy as it was, and preparing himself for a battle.
"Well?" Roxy folded her arms, lounging in the doorway. "You called? What's the deal?"
"I have some stuff to tell you about dyslexia and about your reading." Justin replied.
"Oh?" Roxy raised an eyebrow, coming to sit down in the room's only armchair, and letting the door bang carelessly behind her. "Okay, spill."
"Well, I described to him everything that you told me, and he's pretty sure you have dyslexia." Justin replied. "He also said that the best way for him to help you would be to meet you. I didn't mention your name to him, as I promised, but I really think that you oughta go see him if you're serious about conquering this. He's very discreet, he won't talk."
"I dunno." She said quietly. "I...I don't know him, do I?"
"I promise, Roxy, he's not the kind of guy to let you down." Justin coaxed. "He knows what he's talking about and I know he can help you out."
"Lemme think about it." Roxy's expression forbade any further discussion on the subject, and Justin nodded.
"Of course." He agreed. "Roxy, it's not like I'm gonna make you go. You're a grown woman and you know what's best for your own life. I just wanna help if and when I can, that's all."
Roxy looked startled.
"You're weird, you know that?" She remarked at length. "I should hate you too. You're like Stormer...you wanna help and play nice. But..."
"But?" Justin pressed.
"I...guess I don't hate you." Roxy conceded reluctantly. "I never wanted a brother, don't get me wrong, but I reckon I can put up with havin' you. So long as you let me live my life and aren't gonna always harass me."
"In a few weeks I'll probably be heading back to New York." Justin admitted.
"Oh!" Roxy looked startled.
"Well, much as I'd like to stay here in California, I have work commitments there."
"So get a job in Cali." Roxy shrugged.
"It's not that simple, Roxy."
"Sure it is." A slow smile spread across Roxy's face. "You and Eric are such bosom pals now, I'm sure you could fix it with him to help you out."
"Eric? Ugh." Justin pulled a face. "Roxy, how did you get mixed up with him? He's a no good creep!"
"Tell me about it." Roxy grimaced. "But he was also my road into the Misfits, Justin, and I ain't stupid, you know. I know a good chance when I see one. You don't have to like someone to work with them." She grimaced again.
"Look at me and Jetta."
"I got the feeling that you girls weren't bosom buddies." Justin admitted. Roxy snorted.
"I hate her." She said bluntly.
"Why? Have you met her?" Roxy stared at him. "Smug faced, sarcastic cow who thinks she knows everything just because she comes from some tinpot island across the Atlantic Ocean!"
"I see." He said, amused. "Do you think she feels the same way about you?"
"Like I care." Roxy shrugged. "She calls me dumb. Dumb yank, that's her label for me. I don't care what she thinks, mind you. She's a nobody. She had to pretend she was a somebody to be noticed in the first place...she ain't a real rock star. She's just a hanger-on. What kind of rock instrument is a saxophone, anyway? She's just a publicity stunt that went wrong."
Justin turned this over in his mind, considering it carefully. He had not yet explained to himself his attraction to Jetta, but he was becoming rather resigned to its gradual development. To discover his sister had such vehement feelings of dislike for the girl was a problem, but he could not resist asking questions anyway.
"What do you mean, she had to pretend?" he asked.
"She claimed she was some blue blooded Brit, or something." Roxy shrugged. "Friends with half the rich people in England, or so she said."
Again Justin found himself startled. Such a creation of connections suggested to him some inner insecurity, and he had not gotten any hint of that when talking to the girl herself. Jetta, he was discovering, was an interesting mix of conflicting ideas and opinions, and he had always been a sucker for psychoanalysing the people he met. But in Jetta's case, his interest was more personal. Roxy's words were meant to enforce her own dislike of the Briton, but instead they were increasing the factors intriguing her brother about her bandmate.
"I see." Was all he said, however. "Well, what about Pizzazz and Stormer? You get on all right with them?"
"Stormer...yeah, I guess so." Roxy seemed unsure about admitting to this friendship. "Pizzazz...is okay, I s'pose. She has money, which is useful, but she's also got one hell of a big mouth an' sometimes I wish she'd shut up screaming. Thinks she owns the world half the time, and probably could with her Daddy's say so. But yeah, she's all right. She's fun to hang out with at least - she ain't no wimp."
"I think you like living the high life." he observed.
"Well, what do you think?" Roxy demanded. "Wouldn't you?"
"Yeah, maybe." Justin grinned. "I'm not really that musical, mind you." He paused. "Listen, it's getting late. How about we go grab something to eat? My treat."
"Like I'm gonna refuse free food!" Roxy laughed. "Let's go!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"That guy dropped Roxy off back 'ere again, you know." Jetta turned
away from the window, allowing the net curtain to fall back into place.
Pizzazz raised her eyebrows.
"Who? That Justin guy?" she demanded.
"Yep. 'Im." Jetta nodded her head. "'Ere, do you think ol' thicky 'as a boyfriend?"
"Roxy?" Pizzazz snorted. "Yeah, right. Get real, Jetta. Can you see it? She'd sooner knock his brains out!"
"True." She acknowledged. "They sure seem to be 'itting it off, mind you." She peered back out of the window. "Oh, 'ell, 'e's comin' in with her. Great."
"Well, we should go down and have some fun with them, then." A mischievous sparkle entered Pizzazz's rather bored expression and she closed her magazine, getting to her feet and tossing it aside. "Wind Roxy up a bit. You should be up for that, surely?"
"I'm always game for windin' up Roxy, but she ain't much of a challenge." Jetta replied. "She rises every time. Oh don't worry, I'm comin'." As Pizzazz raised an eyebrow. "I kinda wanna know what the deal is with ol' snappy anyway."
Roxy and Justin were seated in the kitchen, drinking coffee when the two girls made their entrance, Stormer being nowhere in evidence, for she was upstairs in her room writing music. Both glanced up at the interruption, Justin casting Jetta a grin that made her oddly uncomfortable and Roxy rolling her eyes.
"What do you want?" She demanded.
"In case you'd forgotten, Roxy, this is my father's house. I don't have to have a reason to do anything." Pizzazz said sweetly, moving over to the unit and pouring herself a mug of coffee. "Drink, Jetta?"
"Why not?" Jetta winked at her, settling herself down on one of the kitchen stools and eying Roxy in mock-seriousness. "What's this? We interruptin' something?"
"Nothin' that's any of your business." Roxy glowered at her foe. "Justin and me were discussing private stuff!"
"Oh?" Pizzazz looked interested. "Well, you can tell us...what's a little secret between Misfits, huh?"
"It's no big deal." Justin replied levelly. "We were talking about family, that's all."
"Yeah, so butt out and leave us alone." Roxy snapped.
"Family, huh?" Jetta took the mug of coffee Pizzazz offered her with a glib smile, taking a sip. "Didn't think that was one of your favourite subjects, Roxy!"
"Well, meetin' your family put me off it." Roxy retorted.
Justin observed Jetta's reaction to this with some interest. Though she maintained her calm front, there was hurt in her grey eyes, as if her family were something she preferred not to remember.
"Roxy and I are half brother and sister." He explained. "Turns out we got the same Dad."
"Lucky you." Jetta muttered.
"For real?" Pizzazz demanded, taking a sip of her own drink. "Bummer."
"Oh, get lost, the pair of you." Roxy had had enough. "It's none of your business, I told you already! So we're related, big deal. It doesn't concern either of you and it ain't likely too."
"Woo, temper temper." Pizzazz grinned. "Chill, Roxy. If something's going down I wanna know about it."
"Well, you know now."
"Yeah, guess so." Pizzazz feigned a yawn. "Dunno why we bothered. C'mon, Jetta. Let's go out to the pool and leave Roxy to her little family reunion, shall we?"
"With pleasure." Jetta smirked, getting to her feet. "Later, creep."
Once they were gone, Roxy buried her head in her hands.
"Why did you tell them!" She demanded, fixing her brother with an accusing glare.
"I assumed that you already had." Justin replied.
"Well, I hadn't. Listen to me, Justin." Roxy's tone meant business. "I'm Roxy. I'm tough and I stand up for myself. I ain't never needed anyone to fight my battles or take my side. I got a reputation for settling things my way. Now look, I like you, though God knows why I do. Doesn't mean that I want you to be everyone's business all of a sudden. This is between us, not them."
"So what you're saying is that you're ashamed of having a brother?" Justin demanded.
"Don't be dumb!" Roxy exclaimed. "I couldn't care less! Just you don't tell Pizzazz or Jetta anything, you got it? They'll only turn it on me an' though I can take it, I don't need it."
Justin was silent for a moment, then,
"So why do you stick it with the Misfits then, if they give you hell?" he asked. "You're a good musician, I've seen you play. Why not just walk away?"
"Because..." Roxy paused, frowning. "I...dunno. I guess...this is where I belong now. I got money, a good place to live and no bills to pay. People know my name and my face, and I'm a star. Why turn my back on all that, huh? Like I said, I'm tough. I can take the hassle if it comes."
"You were giving as good as you got." Justin observed. "What's the deal with Jetta's family?"
"Why do you care? Jetta's nothing to you!" Roxy shot back.
"I was just curious. I think your remark got to her."
"For real?" Roxy looked pleased. "Rad. It's about time some of the wind was taken outta her sails."
"You're all impossible." Justin grinned. "As bad as each other, I think. But I wanna know now...what's up with Jetta's lot?"
"They're bad news." Roxy examined her nails. "Brother's psycho, parents stuck on gambling. So much for her blue blood." She smirked. "Jetta's no better than I am, and I'm not ashamed to say where I came from. I'm damn proud of myself these days, for getting where I am from where I began."
"Maybe you get determination from Dad. He never gave up on seeing us again."
"He gave up on getting free." Roxy shook her head. "You wouldn't see me stopping a night in a prison cell, let alone twenty five years! I'm too smart to get caught."
"Oh? And what exactly do you have to be caught for?"
"Nothin; major." Roxy grinned. "Stole what I needed to stay alive, that's all. Tisn't anything wrong with taking what you need from people who don't need it so bad as you. And I wrecked a few cars and things, too. But I was bored, Justin. It wasn't anything big." She paused. "We-e-ll, unless you count the train I pinched once. It was just in the yard doing nowt and Link dared me to drive it. I never refuse a dare."
She pursed her lips, remembering.
"Didn't get it far, mind you. Ran the thing into the buffers and had to run for it so I didn't get banged up. They never found me."
"You are so not the sister my mother envisaged you'd be." he responded. "But I think I like you better for it. I wish we'd met sooner, though. I feel like we've missed a lot of time."
"Who cares about the past?" Roxy shrugged. "Bad things happened then. Now I'm a star, you're a hot-shot photographer. Life's good. Who needs to go back?"
"Guess you're right." Justin nodded. "Roxy, when I go back East I'll be stopping in Pittsburgh to see Dad. Will you come meet him?"
"I don't wanna." Roxy shook her head firmly. "I told you, I don't want no parents. He was never there...who cares about him?"
"He couldn't help that." Justin chided. Roxy's eyes narrowed.
"Whaddya mean, he couldn't?" She demanded. "He went to prison! If he didn't do the crime, he could at least have fought! He left me with the two people I hate most in the world. Why didn't he fight for me, if he was so bothered about my safety? Why didn't he take me one night and run? Why didn't he at least try?"
"Oh, Roxy..." Justin sighed. "I wish I could answer that. All I know is that he loves you and is dying to meet you. Maybe if you asked him face to face he could tell you."
"I'm not going." Roxy folded her arms. "It's final and I'm done talking about it. I'm cool with you, but that's it. No family."
"All right." Justin nodded, knowing enough about Roxy's obstinacy already to realise it would not be wise to push things. He glanced at his watch. "Getting late. I'd better head back to the hotel."
"Sure." Roxy nodded.
"I guess I oughta say goodnight to Jetta and Pizzazz."
"Why?" Roxy demanded. "You came to see me, not them!"
"Guess so, but it's good manners." Justin grinned. Roxy snorted.
"Boy, do we have to cure you of that!" She observed. "Leave 'em. They won't care." Her eyes narrowed. "Unless you have some other reason for wanting to talk to them?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"You ask a lot of questions about Jetta...don't get it into your head to flirt with her." Roxy warned him. "She's no good and I don't want you getting messed up in a fling with someone like her. You hear me?"
Justin looked startled. Bright as he knew Roxy was, he had not anticipated this uncharacteristic burst of perception.
"I don't think you have anything to worry about." he said finally. "Jetta thinks very little of me, anyway."
"You do like her, don't you!" Roxy demanded, her expression one of surprised disgust. "Hell, Justin, you do! Why?"
"She's an interesting person and I wanted to know why you and she hated each other so." He tried.
"That's garbage." Roxy snapped. "Don't talk to me like I'm dumb! You listen to me, Justin Pelligrini. Whatever the hell you think you feel for Jetta, forget it now, huh? She has no feelings as it is, so you'd get nowt out of it except a humiliating fling and I'm not having one of my family seduced by her." She wrinkled her nose. "You understand me? Keep away from her. She's no good for either of us."
"Goodnight, Roxy." Was all he said, however. "Let me know what you decide about the professor."
And with that, he was gone.
Chapter One: Just One Wish
Chapter Two: Roxy's Ambition
Chapter Three: New York
Chapter Four: An Unexpected Meeting
Chapter Five: Roxy's Treasure
Chapter Six: The Answer
Chapter Seven: Justin
Chapter Eight: Jetta's Game
Chapter Nine: The Ultimatum
Chapter Ten: Laura's Wedding
Chapter Eleven: Professor Milton
Chapter Twelve: One Night In New York
Chapter Thirteen: Conflict!
Chapter Fourteen: Heartbreak
Chapter Fifteen: A Reunion
Chapter Sixteen: A Fragile Peace
(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)