Chapter Ten: Kimber's Gauntlet

 Nine p.m.
Kimber glanced up at the big clock on the mantle and frowned, toying with her hands as she did so. It was odd, she realised, spending time at the Misfits' place. The night she had spent with Roxy and Stormer watching horror films had been a lot of fun, but it was different now that Pizzazz was returned from Washington DC. Somehow Kimber realised that there was a lot more going on than her simply being a welcome houseguest. Pizzazz had seemed only too eager to make her feel at home, and that had made her suspicious. She knew that the Misfits' leader was as dubious about the truce as Jerrica, and she had confided to Stormer the night before that she was sure somehow Pizzazz was going to manipulate the situation to her own ends.
"It's not that I don't believe in the truce." She had whispered. "But Pizzazz is acting very strangely to me, and I can't help thinking she thinks she can get something out of me. Or use me to spite Jerrica. Perhaps both. Is that a terrible thing to think?"
"In any other circumstance I'd say yes." Stormer had responded. "But I actually agree with you. I asked Roxy earlier if she knew anything, but she said Pizzazz hadn't said a thing to her." She'd shrugged. "Mind you, the fact that this story appeared on the front page of the local tabloid this morning is a bit coincidental. Just be careful, okay? I love the Misfits to death and I like and respect Pizzazz but sometimes she can be hard to fathom out."
"She still hates me." Kimber had sighed. "And I don't love her very much either at the moment."
The redhead frowned, remembering the conversation. Stormer was not there, having retired to her room to write an hour earlier, and Roxy was idly flicking through channels on the television. Pizzazz had gone out with all of her usual fuss and noise and Jetta, after having sent the Hologram a troubled look, had settled herself in a corner to file her nails, not meeting Kimber's gaze.
"She knows something's up too." The Hologram decided. "I wish there wasn't all this behind the scenes manipulation! When we called a truce, the idea was for the two groups to get along. It wasn't for Jerrica and I to fight and then Pizzazz to take advantage of the mess!"
"There ain't nothing on." Roxy decided finally, tossing the handset down in disgust. "Cable TV blows. All it is is a bunch more channels playing garbage."
"Depends on your intellect level, Roxy." Jetta responded absently. "In your case, if they ain't playin' Tom and Jerry I can see you'd 'ave a problem workin' out what was going on."
"Oh, drop dead, will you?" Roxy snapped back. "Else I'll do you over like I did before and there's no way Stormer will break it up this time."
Jetta raised an eyebrow, setting down her nail file.
"I don't want to fight you." She said sweetly. "I was jus' pointin' out that different people 'ave different tastes."
"Yeah, and you'll be tasting blood if you don't quit it." Roxy muttered. She got to her feet. "I'm gonna go out, take the car for a spin and get away from you and your smart alec remarks. Later, Big Nose. Later, Kimber."
"Bye, Roxy." Kimber cast the Misfit a slight smile, inwardly amused by Roxy's remark, for it had evidently annoyed the saxophonist. Once the blond had gone, she cast Jetta a doubtful look.
"Jetta, am I really welcome here?" She asked at length. Jetta looked startled, then she shrugged.
"Dunno. Kinda surreal to me." She admitted. "Look 'ere though, Kimber. I voted in favour of this truce because I were blinkin' sick an' tired of us worryin' after what you guys were doin' all the time. We're Misfits. We shouldn't care what the competition is doin', we should jus' be doin' our thing and doing it the best we can. But since this fight between you an' Jerrica, things are slidin' backwards. Pizzazz..." she faltered, shaking her head. "No, it don't matter. Just it bothers me, that's all. I don't want things to end up 'ow they were before."
"Pizzazz what?" Kimber pressed. "Jetta, Stormer and I both think she's up to something. Do you know what?"
Jetta fixed Kimber with a meaningful look.
"Kimber, we may 'ave a truce, but it don't mean I'm goin' to betray everythin' I know to you." She said quietly. "Pizzazz is a fellow Misfit, we look out for each other an' that ain't changed jus' because we called a truce with you guys."
"You weren't looking out for Roxy just then." Kimber pointed out.
"Yeah, an' that's because I 'ate her bleedin' guts." Jetta admitted. "But if anyone outside of the band went for 'er in any way, Kimber, I'm a Misfit an' I know which team I'm loyal to. You...you're outside the band, an' it ain't my business to tell you what Pizzazz says." She frowned. "Stormer shouldn't 'ave said anything, neither. She'll only get 'erself into trouble."
Kimber frowned, pursing her lips.
"Okay." She said finally. "I guess I see that." She frowned. "I just don't like feeling like I'm a pawn in some big game, that's all."
"Then don't let yourself be." Jetta shrugged, leaning over and scooping up the handset. "Do what you wanna do. We all do."
"That's why Jerrica and I fought. Because she wanted to stop me doing things my way." Kimber remembered. "Well, fine." She smiled. "Aja and I are going to record my song, whether Jerrica wants to back it or not, because half of Starlight Music is mine, and I want the proceeds to go to the Starlight Foundation, since if the Holograms aren't recording, they're going to suffer. We can't use Shana, because she's so busy with fashion design and stuff and making clothes for the girls. Aja told me that on the phone last night. And Jem..." She faltered, "Uh, well, she sides with Jerrica. We have Raya for drums, but we're missing three players." Her deep blue eyes became determined. "You said I should do what I wanted to do. Okay. What I want is for you, Roxy and Stormer to help us make this record, and for Misfit Music to help back it. That's what I want. I want all of the proceeds to go to the Starlight Girls, and I figured if two music companies and two bands were involved, it would get a lot more hype and publicity."
Jetta stared at her, then she began to laugh.
"You don't 'alf want a lot of bleedin' things, Kimber." She observed, amused.
"Well, you said..."
"Yeah, but I didn't realise you were livin' in fairy land."
"Jetta, stop laughing at me, I'm serious." Kimber put her hands on her hips. "Nobody believes that I can do anything myself, without my big sister's backing. Well, I can! As soon as Pizzazz gets in, I'm going to ask her about the record. And I'll make her say yes, too! You see if I don't!"
"Why would Pizzazz care about the Starlight Girls?" Jetta demanded.
"She doesn't. She cares about keeping me happy." Kimber's eyes twinkled mischievously. "You said not to let myself be a pawn. Well okay, two can play that game. If Pizzazz wants to keep me sweet in the rift with Jerrica, then she can back my project, can't she? That'd keep me happy."
Jetta stared at the redhead for a moment, then she let out a low whistle.
"You're a bloody connivin' cow, that's what you are!" She exclaimed. Kimber grinned.
"Aren't I, though?" She responded, opening her eyes wide and adopting an innocent look. "But if Pizzazz says yes, will you play?"
"If she does - and I do mean if...then I'll play on your record." Jetta nodded. "But I'm lookin' forward to seein' the persuading session first. That'll make the whole thing worth it!"
"Good." Kimber looked satisfied. "Ooh, but now I have to run. I promised I'd be at Shana's outrageous fashion shoot and I'm gonna be late if I don't scoot!"

 "Everything looks so professional."
Shana stared around the auditorium, a look of awe on her face. "It's so big, I didn't realise how big a deal we were talking here. Regine, do you have goosebumps? I do."
"Oui." Regine shivered. "Just think, Shana, all those seats will be full of people coming to see our designs!"
"Not just ours, others too." Shana reminded her. "But ooh...it's quite a buzz."
"If you ask me, it's much deserved." A voice came from behind them and the two girls turned, Shana exclaiming in delight as she recognised the speaker.
"Saffron!" She cried. "Are you modelling tonight?"
"Of course." Saffron, or Meredith Allen, a model the Holograms had encountered in the past cast the designer a grin. "As soon as Paul told me that you were designing for it, I leapt at the chance." She cast Regine an interested look. "Who's this?"
"Oh! Saffron, this is my good friend and fellow designer, Regine Cesare. She's a protegee of Danielle Du Voisin and very talented into the bargain." Shana hastened to make the introductions. "Regine, this is Meredith Allen, otherwise known as Saffron - we met her when we did the Rock Fashion Spectacular some months back."
"I 'ave seen your pictures, Saffron." Regine cast the tall model a smile. "It is nice to meet you."
"Likewise. Shana mentioned you to me, but I'm glad to make the acquaintance in person." Saffron returned the smile warmly. "How go things with you?"
"I wish I could say they were going well, Saffron, but the group's hit a bad patch." Shana frowned. "There have been some...things said. Maybe you've seen the morning's paper."
"I did, but I assumed it was idle tittle tattle." Saffron looked concerned. "Nothing serious, I hope?"
"Well, fairly serious." Shana sighed. "Aja and Kimber have pretty much left the group. Raya and I aren't really sure where we stand on the whole thing - I'm burying myself in my designs, I'll admit it, this is a welcome distraction - and Jerrica is working way too hard."
"What of Jem?"
"Well, she rather takes Jerrica's view that Kimber's acting irresponsibly." Shana groaned. "I don't like it, but I'm hoping it'll blow over, and, in the meantime, I'm staying with Anthony."
"I hope things sort themselves out soon." Saffron told her. "Hey, and here's some more faces I know! Hi Aja, hi Raya!"
"Hello, Saffron." Raya cast her a grin. "We're here to help Shana with her big show - are you to model in it?"
"Yes, me and a couple of the girls from the agency are modelling Shana and Regine's clothes." Saffron nodded. "I only hope there will be enough...one of the girls had to pull out because of flu and everyone else was booked out. We're kinda short a model."
"Well, we can volunteer Raya." Shana's eyes twinkled. "She's good on stage, you know."
"Shana, don't tease me." Raya pulled a face. "I am a drummer, not a model!"
"Actually, Raya, you'd make a good model." Saffron cast a cursitory eye over the other girl, making her blush. "You have good features and a nice figure."
Raya blushed, shaking her head.
"You all tease me." She responded. "The only time I am good on stage is behind my drum kit - I am happy there."
"I dunno, Raya, you wore our threads like a pro." Shana told her with a grin.
"That was only because you wanted a live model to stick pins in." Raya retorted. "Nothing else!"
"Do we know who else will be here tonight?" Aja wondered.
"I did hope Kimber would be." Shana admitted.
"She will be, I'm sure." Aja assured her. "She plans to come, anyway."
"Everything's ready backstage, sweetie." Anthony Julian, Shana's longterm boyfriend emerged from behind the scenes at that moment. "They want you to make sure that everything's right, if you could."
"No problem. Regine and I will be right there." Shana agreed.
"So, tell me more about this fight within the Holograms?" Saffron's dark eyes burned with curiosity and she linked arms with Raya and Aja, leading them away from the others and taking a seat, indicating for them to do the same. "My twins will be heartbroken if they find out their favourite act is splitting up. They're quite the envy of their class, you know, having met you guys in person."
"We don't want the band to split up." Aja said slowly. "I assume Shana told you?"
"More or less." Saffron nodded. "What happened? That is, if you don't mind my asking."
"Jerrica happened." Aja groaned. "That basically sums it up."
"Jerrica Benton?"
"She is tired and works too hard - she takes it out on us a little too much." Raya responded. "Kimber quit, Aja went after her and Jerrica told her not to bother coming back. That is where we are now, and worrying about funding the Starlight Foundation."
"If there's anything I can do to help, just ask." Saffron offered. "I make enough to keep the twins and me plus more these days, and the Starlight girls are a worthy cause. I'm more than willing to help any way I can."
"You're an angel, but I don't know if there is anything you can do." Aja said. "Still, thanks for the thought." She rubbed her temples. "All this is giving me a headache, but somehow we really must work through this. I don't know what other option there is."
Chapter One: Ceasefire
Chapter Two: Teamwork
Chapter Three: A Stumbling Block
Chapter Four: Tackling Jetta
Chapter Five: Cracks
Chapter Six: Kimber's Escape
Chapter Seven: Confronting Jerrica
Chapter Eight: Dilemma
Chapter Nine: Begging Sanctuary
Chapter Ten: Kimber's Gauntlet
Chapter Eleven: The Plot Thickens

This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley as of Spring 2002 when it was first begun. Any characters not appearing in the jem series are also copyrighted to myself (E A Woolley) and are not to be reproduced in form or character without express permission. Any character from the Jem series are copyright to Hasbro Inc, Sunbow and Christy Marx 1985-1988.