England's Rose

Chapter Ten: On Every Screen...

"Well, not too shabby." Pizzazz gazed around her in mild approval, taking in the setting with a more detailed glance than first appeared. "I guess this really is a big deal show. Maybe Eric did something right for a change!"
"Eric?" Roxy snorted. "Never. Fluke, that's all."
"Where is he, is he coming to see us or what?" Stormer asked. "I'm nervous as anything...What if it all goes wrong?"
"It won't. We're the Misfits. Relax and stop whingeing." Pizzazz instructed. "We're playing live - so what? We've done it before!"
"Yes, true." Stormer nodded. "But not in England."
"No big deal, duckie. Pizzazz is right, it's like any other venue." Jetta told her, though if she was honest she had butterflies about it herself. "Now come on. We got a rehearsal to get through an' then we gotta fix things for tonight."
"We do." Pizzazz nodded importantly. "Forget that creep Eric for the moment, we'll find him later. Let's go mingle some with these so-called British...Stormer? Are you even paying attention?"
There was good cause for her sudden switch of topic, for Stormer's gaze had been caught by something across the room and her hand had gone to her mouth as she'd let out a delighted cry.
"I don't believe it! Craig!" She exclaimed, leaving the Misfits far behind her as she ran across the studio to where another band were busy setting up. At the sound of her voice, the band's percussionist looked up, a smile crossing his own features as he recognised his sister.
"Mary!" He returned. "I didn't expect to see you here...what's the deal?"
"We're playing Top of the Pops!" Stormer was bubbling with excitement, for it had been some months since the two had last spoken. "It's so exciting, Craig...and I'm so nervous! Didn't you know we were coming over for a big publicity blitz tour?"
"I heard a rumour." Craig nodded. "Which I meant to ask you about, but Top of the Pops? How'd you pull that, kid?"
"Eric." Stormer shrugged. "You guys are charted then?"
"Yep. We're number eight this week." James, one of Craig's bandmates nodded his head. He had always harboured a secret fancy for Craig's unassuming younger sister, though he had never said as much to either Craig or Stormer herself.
"Congratulations." Stormer dimpled. "I can't believe we're going to be playing the same night as you! Of all the coincidences!"
"It's fate." Craig laughed. "Say, you haven't seen Aja recently, have you? I've been so swamped I've not had a chance to call her. I saw her briefly when they were in London, but that was it." Aja Leith, the lead guitarist for Jem and the Holograms was Craig's long distance girlfriend.
"I've not seen her since you have." Stormer shook her head. "You know the whole Misfit - Hologram thing makes it difficult to socialise, even out of hours."
"Ah well." Craig shrugged philosophically. "I have you, anyway." He glanced around him warily. "I suppose that you're not alone, though, are you?"
"No...the others are, well...somewhere over there." Stormer turned to scan the crowd. "You see them? Can't have a Misfit performance without the other Misfits."
"Shame." Craig said dryly. "You're the talent, Mary...I reckon you'd do just fine on your own."
"Well, maybe I could, but this is where I belong." Stormer shrugged. "I always did, only they didn't realise it and nor did I. I'm pretty safe with them now, Craig. Really. I mean, Pizzazz can be scary sometimes, but a lot has changed. They're less like rivals and more like my delinquent sisters these days."
"Heaven forbid they become part of my family!" Craig said sharply. He had never had much love for the Misfits, for they had treated Stormer badly in the past and he was not one to forget such things.
"Craig, really, I'm okay." Stormer assured him. "Oh, they're coming over. Please try and be nice! I want tonight to go well..."
"Well, well, look what we found." Pizzazz eyed Craig with distaste.
"Pizzazz." Craig met her gaze with an equally cool one of his own. "I can honestly say it's a surprise to see you here."
"Well, don't be too surprised for too long, duckie. We're 'ere to stay. Me 'ome turf, after all." Jetta put in. "Bout time we paid it a visit."
"You staying long then?" Craig asked Stormer, who shrugged.
"A few weeks at most, I think." She replied. "It all depends on Eric and on tour dates really. There's still a lot up in the air."
"How professional." Mason Hawthorne, Earl of Wissex but unconventional enough a nobleman to be leader of the band put in dryly, fixing Jetta with a penetrating look. Despite herself Jetta bit her lip. So Mason remembered the fiasco in Wissex, the debacle she had spent the last few months trying her best to forget. She and her parents had attempted to assume his title, though there had been many things behind the scenes that they had not been aware of, and as a result Mason had come close to losing everything, even his life. He was not a vindictive man, but he was also not one to forget Jetta in a hurry.
Stormer saw the look and interpreted the tone with a frown. Her own nature bore little capacity for grudge-bearing, and she preferred to 'let bygones be bygones' where other people were concerned. Spying the look in Jetta's grey eyes, she hurried to change the subject.
"Who else is on tonight?" she asked. "Anyone we might know?"
"Not really sure, actually." Mason cast her a smile. "It's a surprise to us to see you, and we've not really looked at the other billing yet. You girls set up and rehearsed? There's a lot of tweaking about before the cameras go on."
"We're not amateurs." Pizzazz fixed Mason with an icy stare. "We can take care of ourselves."
"Oh, I've no doubt you can." Mason retained his pleasantly polite tone. "And so can we, so if you ladies don't mind, we have a song to run through."
"We're wasting our time with you losers anyway." Roxy put in her bit.
"Stormer, you comin'?" Jetta added.
"I'll catch you later, Mary, we can talk then." Craig cast his sister a look. Stormer nodded.
"Oh, of course. No problem." She agreed. "Later, then!"
And with a backward glance she headed off after her band mates. Craig watched her go with a sigh.
"I wish..." he trailed off.
"She's a grown woman, she can make her own choices and you have to let her." Alan, the group's keyboardist, who had listened in silence to the whole exchange, came up behind him, putting his hand on his friend's shoulder. Craig started, then frowned.
"Oh, I know she is. She's twenty two - almost twenty-three, if you think of it...and that's not a baby at all. But I've looked out for her so long it's habit, and it worries me, Alan, that she's mixed up with people like that creep Raymond and the Misfits. It really worries me."
"I'd say she can hold her own all right." Mason said wisely. "She seems happy enough, Craig. I don't like those girls much either, but if she's happy..."
"Oh, yeah. Her happiness comes first." Craig agreed. "And she truly does want to be and like being a Misfit these days. I just can't help thinking she could have been more, you know?"
"Most of us can say we could have done better, with hindsight." James observed philosophically. "But Stormer's a bright girl, Craig, she has a lot going for her. She'll do okay...don't worry."
"I'll try not to." Craig sighed again, returning to his drums. "Okay, let's go through it once from the top."

Several hours and several runthroughs later, the Misfits were all beginning to feel somewhat apprehensive, though none of them were willing to admit to it. It would be no time at all before the cameras would be rolling and they would be cued to play, and though they had played live many times before there was an extra buzz in the air over this one. Even Pizzazz, usually not one to show her inner anxieties was pacing up and down the dressing room, examining her nails absent-mindedly for chips as she did so.
Stormer glanced across at her and swallowed hard. She was the most nervous of all of them, and the idea of going out there terrified her. What if something went wrong? What then?
"This sucks." Roxy, probably the least perturbed of the four broke the tense silence, sitting herself down in front of the mirror. "Why's everyone so quiet? Stormer, come do my hair, will ya? I can't get the clasp in."
"Sure thing, Roxy." Stormer nodded, glad of the distraction. It wasn't uncommon for her to be called upon to assist with her bandmate's hair, since Roxy had little patience to style it, and she was well-practiced as a result. "What do you want me to do with it?"
"Just tie it up." Roxy pushed the clasp over. "And be quick about it! We're on in twenty minutes!"
Across the dressing room, Jetta bit her lip imperceptably at this, and Pizzazz tossed herself down into a chair, reaching half-heartedly for her hairbrush and glancing it over without really thinking about what she was doing. Scornful to begin with, it had occured to her during the day what a big deal this performance really would be, and that in many ways it could make or break the Misfits' foray into England. As head and owner of Misfit Music, she had fits of responsible thinking, and this was one of those times. Nothing could be allowed to go wrong.
Stormer, for her part, took the clasp from Roxy without a word, scooping up the girl's hairbrush and beginning to brush back the platinum hair without consciously focusing on what she was doing. She was feeling decidedly queasy with nerves, for in twenty minutes she would be out there on stage performing not only to a strange country but also in front of her brother. She badly wanted Craig to be proud of her, even if she was a Misfit...and this was her perfect chance to do it. She couldn't blow it.
"There. I'm done." She said finally. "That okay, Roxy?"
"Yeah, it'll do." Roxy scrutinised her reflection, then shrugged. Despite herself, Stormer hid a smile. That was as close as Roxy generally got to saying thankyou.
"Girls?" Eric pushed open the dressing room door, his own expression harried. "They want you up on stage, since you're the first act, to make sure all's set up properly. Come on, you can't not be ready yet!"
"We're ready." Pizzazz seemed to snap herself out of her daze. "C'mon, Misfits, let's rock 'em!"

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"Hey, Top of the Pops is on!"
Laura settled herself in her seat, sending an interested glance up at the television set. She and her local friends from work and school often spent time together at one or other of their houses, particularly on a thursday evening when Top Of The Pops aired, for it was a game to them to adjudge each song as it played. Tonight they were over at Stuart and Cassie's, and it was a more select group than usual, since only Laura and Charlotte, a girl she worked with had had the night free. In the years since Jetta had left England, Laura had not forgotten her friend, but communications had wavered with Jetta's constant travelling. With a wistful sigh, Laura had put the friendship behind her, and had focused on other things, but often she wondered how her old school pal was getting on in her chosen career.
"Who's on tonight?" She asked. Stuart, her and Jetta's former flatmate shrugged, finally getting the lid off his bottle of beer, and putting his arm around his girlfriend's shoulders. It was the cause of no end of amusement for Laura that Stuart had found himself a 'decent bird' whom he'd actually made a commitment to and moved in with some months before. Cassie was a level-headed girl and kept him well in order, which in Laura's opinion could only be a good thing. Though he had a good heart, he had never had many brains.
"Whoever turns up on stage is my guess." he said now. "The presenter was talkin' too quick to pick it up."
"You mean your ears were goin' too slow!" Cassie grinned, sending Laura a conspiratorial look. Stuart shrugged good-naturedly.
"Well, whatever." he said. "We'll soon know, anyhow. Who had the crisps?"
"Relax, Stu. Munchies are here." Charlotte looked amused, pushing the bowl across to him. "Just don't munch all through the opening song, huh? It's hard to hear then!"
"Whatever." Stuart repeated, taking a fistful. "Difficult to eat these things quietly..."
"Who's this lot?" Cassie frowned, squinting at the screen. "I don't recognise the look or the song...anyone?"
"Whatever it is, it ain't in the chart." Charlotte observed. "Laura, you know?"
"Huh?" Laura glanced absently at the screen, doing a doubletake as she took in what she saw.
"Holy..." Her jaw dropped and she grabbed Stuart by the arm. "Stuart! Stuart look! It's Sheila!"

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"Woo, we were cookin' tonight!"
Pizzazz dropped down into her chair, a self-satisfied look on her face. "We sure showed them how the Misfits perform!"
"We rocked." Roxy nodded her head. "Totally awesome...they didn't know what hit 'em! They loved us!"
"It was a buzz." Jetta agreed. "What's next for us, Pizzazz? Top of the Pops today...what else?"
"Who knows? The world!" Pizzazz laughed. "Oh man, were we hot...our tour can't help but take off now!"
"Congratulations, girls, you were wonderful." Eric lounged in the doorway of the dressing room. "Another professional performance...you've done yourselves no harm tonight."
"It was so cool, being out there in front of all those cameras and lights and people..." Stormer's eyes became dreamy. "Oh, I love England..."
"I gotta say I kinda like it right now." Pizzazz smirked. "Best bit is, no Jem! Eric, what's up for tomorrow?"
"Nothing fixed yet, but I got a call from a lady who wants you girls on her talk show tomorrow night. Says you're the hottest thing out of America since...well, ever." Eric replied.
"All right!" Roxy punched the air. "We rule!"
"Well, so long as you don't wreck her set, you got another great chance to bury Jem in the dust." Eric nodded. "Just remember, play it tame, all right? I know you girls like causing trouble, but if you could do it when cameras aren't about..."
"Oh, relax, Eric, we can handle it." Pizzazz waved her hand dismissively. "We're the hottest sensation out of the States, remember?" She smirked. "Soon they won't even remember Jem."
"Jem who?" Roxy laughed. "Oh, I could get used to this." She stood. "Hey, we goin' to hang out someplace tonight or what? I'm starvin'!"
"You're always starving." Jetta told her dryly.
"So? I been workin' hard!" Roxy put her hands on her hips. "I even missed lunch for this, c'mon!"
"All right, let's blow this joint." Pizzazz nodded. "We'll go check out the London nightlife, see what kinda vibe we can find. Girls?"
"We're comin'." Jetta nodded her head. "Stormer, you with us?"
"Yeah...I just wanted to...to say bye to Craig before we go..." Stormer hesitated. Pizzazz rolled her eyes, but clearly the success of their performance had left her in a good mood, for she shrugged.
"You got ten seconds. We'll meet you by the car." she said. "Jus' don't take all night, all right? We wanna have some fun!"

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"Sheila?" Stuart stared blankly at Laura as if she was mad. "As in Sheila Burns? No way, Laura! She's in America...ain't she?"
"It is Sheila, I swear it is!" Laura exclaimed. "Just look, Stuart...it is her! Who else do you know who plays sax like that?"
"You know...it does kinda look like her." Stuart conceded after scrutinising the screen for a moment. "What was her band again?"
"The Misfits. You remember she signed with them when the Tinkerbillys were out in L.A." Laura looked excited. "Oh, I don't believe it, my best friend in the whole world just played live on Top of the Pops! She's a real celebrity...this ain't sinking in!"
"You knew the Misfits were a big name in the States." Charlotte pointed out. "I remember you telling me about it when she first signed for 'em...its only natural that she'd want to break open 'er 'ome ground."
"I guess." Laura looked pensive. "She must be very busy though...I don't suppose she'll 'ave time to meet up. I miss 'er more than I ever thought I would, you know...it's just so cool to see 'er on television, and such a surprise!"
"She's a big star now. Probably don't 'ave time for normal people like us." Stuart grinned. Laura swiped him playfully.
"Sheila wouldn't be that way. Not with me." she said firmly. "We grew up together...she's no snob."
"She is a star, though." Cassie observed. "Wow, I'm impressed. I'm hobnobbing with the friends of a celebrity!"
"Song's good." Charlotte decided. "But I reckon you're right, Laura...she won't 'ave time for reunions of any kind. If I remember Sheila right, and I only met her a couple of times, but if I remember 'er right, she's the kind to get swept up in 'er new world at the expense of the old...and the old was never that good for her anyway."
"She had an 'ard childhood." Laura agreed. "But she promised me she wouldn't forget me, when she left. I dunno. I suppose it's all speculatin' anyway. She'd be wound up in 'ype and publicity...no time for old aquaintances, even if she'd wanted it." She looked wistful. "Least I know she's okay, though."
"Come on, cheer up." Charlotte told her. "I'm sure you're right and that she hasn't forgotten you. Guess we can only imagine what her life is like now."
"Bloomin' good, I woulda thought." Stuart decided. "I wish I could sing..."
"Don't let him sing!" Cassie exclaimed. Laura laughed.
"I lived with that for long enough, I know 'ow earsplittin' it is." she replied. "Pipe down, Stuart. We wanna watch the rest of the show!"

Chapter One: Life in London
Chapter Two: The Saxophone
Chapter Three: A Friend In Need
Chapter Four: Never Again...

Chapter Five: Sheila's Decision
Chapter Six: A Band In Crisis
Chapter Seven: First Night
Chapter Eight: Making It Happen

Chapter Nine: The Misfits In London
Chapter Ten: On Every Screen...
Chapter Eleven: A Musical Reunion
Chapter Twelve: Jealousy
Chapter Thirteen: An Old Acquaintance
Chapter Fourteen: Doing London
Chapter Fifteen: Sabotage!
Chapter Sixteen: The Final Straw
Chapter Seventeen: Opening Night
Chapter Eighteen: Jetta

(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)