Chapter Thirteen: An Old Aquaintance
"It's been one 'eck of a long day." Jetta dropped down onto the
the London hotel suite, kicking off her boots with a heavy sigh. "I
believe 'ow often the cameras botched up and we 'ad to start over
It's almost easier doin' live shows."
"Still, we were fabulous." Pizzazz reminded her. "This is one country Jem ain't going to be top banana in, trust me. Noone is taking over here but us!"
"I reckon we got it made already." Roxy stretched out on the rug in front of the television, lazily reaching up to turn the dial. "Has Eric called, by the way? I mean, do we know what we're doin' tomorrow yet?"
"Haven't seen him." Pizzazz shook his head. "He wasn't even at the studio today...he'd better have been conducting business elsewhere!"
"As ever, my dear Pizzazz." Eric's voice cut through the conversation and they turned to see their business manager in the doorway. "I'm sorry I wasn't on set today, I understand you put on one heck of a performance, both in front of and without cameras." He sent Pizzazz and Jetta a meaningful look as he spoke.
"The Tinkerbillys are losers. We dealt with 'em." Pizzazz shrugged. "Why, did they complain?"
"I heard something about a...well, the word I was given was brawl, backstage." Eric came to sit down. "Care to enlighten me?"
"That creep Allie stole my sax and tried to get rid of it so we couldn't perform." Jetta seethed. Eric raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, I see...and the irony of this hasn't occured to you?"
"Irony?" Roxy stared.
"Give it up, love. It's too complicated a word for you." Jetta told her. Roxy scowled.
"I know what it means, Jetta. I just wanted to know what Eric was talkin' about, that's all."
"Well, a certain group not so far from me have made a career, may I say it, of sabotaging Jem in the attempt to prevent her performing..."
"Oh, can it, Eric. You're not funny." Pizzazz snapped. "Jem is too good to live, and you can hardly act all innocent. You were in on it as much as we were...it's called a team effort."
"Oh, of course. I just thought it amusing, that's all, how the tables have turned."
"Yeah, well, we're the best." Pizzazz responded. "And it's different."
"I don't see how." Eric was evidently enjoying himself.
"It's different, Eric, because we see Jem and 'er dollybirds week in, week out. They shove in our faces every success they 'ave. In front of the cameras she's an angel, but she's so two faced I'm surprised she don't 'ave two passports to cover it. She's too good to live, like Pizzazz said, but she's also a smug witch an' she deserves all she gets. Jerrica too." Jetta responded.
"For once I agree with Jetta." Roxy nodded. "Always pretending to help someone...the biggest help she could ever be would be if she took a runnin' jump off a cliff."
Pizzazz snorted appreciatively.
"I couldn't put it better myself." She agreed. Eric laughed.
"Yes, well, I tend to agree. Jem has always had a definite attitude and I must admit I enjoy undermining her ego as much as humanely possible. But anyway, on to business. Today was a success, tomorrow you have nothing to worry about...a magazine wants to do a spread on you and I'm going to see them tomorrow morning, talk about details...hopefully we can schedule that in this week, whilst you're still riding high on your publicity wave. And then of course there's the little matter of the single you girls want to release here...are you decided on what it should be?"
"Sure." Pizzazz nodded her head. "We got a new song, ready to headline the new album."
"Oh?" Eric sounded interested. "Why is it you girls never tell me anything till it's done, huh?"
"Well, because...let's face it, Eric, you're a loser." Pizzazz replied dismissively. "Anyway, we were workin' on it before we came out here."
"How come you haven't performed it yet?"
"We did, this afternoon, on Perl's show." Stormer put in. "It's called Just Misbehavin', Eric...well, the show airs tomorrow night, you'll get to hear it then. We kinda wanted to surprise you - Pizzazz's idea."
"Just making it clear that if you don't pull your weight we can do fine without you." Pizzazz nodded. Eric rolled his eyes.
"You girls are a real headache sometimes." he complained. "If it weren't that you were so damn good at what you do..."
"Well, face it, creep. You need us." Roxy told him. Eric sighed.
"Like I need a hole in the head." he muttered. "I'm going to bed...I'll talk to you tomorrow evening about the magazine. Don't get into too much trouble on your day off, will you? Remember this tour is all about appearances and reputation - don't blow it!"
And with that, he was gone.
"So what do we do tomorrow, then?" Roxy asked.
"Hang out in the city, I guess." Pizzazz shrugged. "Jetta, you know this place, what can we do?"
"Anything you want to, pretty much." Jetta winked. "London 'as everything, duckie. Just you wait and see!"
"What it must be like to have endless credit cards."
Thus Stormer as the Misfits left Harrods, sauntering along Knightsbridge towards the Underground station. It was the next day, and the girls had decided to hit the city big time, Pizzazz keen to display her immense wealth by shopping in the best of the best and buying the most expensive designer clothes and perfume she could find.
Roxy laughed, shrugging.
"I dunno." she admitted. "Reckon Daddy will freak when he gets the bill?"
"When does Mr Gabor ever complain about Pizzazz's bills?" Stormer asked wisely. "He has more money in loose change in his wallet than we earn in a year doing this job, Roxy."
"True." Roxy conceded. "It's kinda neat though, dontcha think? Hangin' out round London like this and havin' people recognise us? We're on posters all over the place, tickets to our big concert at...what's that place called again? Are sellin' faster than we've ever sold tickets before. This country is a blast! Too bad Jetta came out of it, really. She gets all the press attention."
"We've all had plenty of that, and if we've a photo shoot this week then that's even more we'll get." Stormer replied. "By the way, Roxy, the venue we're playing is Wembley Stadium. I don't know exactly what's so special about it, but apparently it's a big deal. Lots of big groups have played there."
"What is it, a concert hall or club or what?" Roxy demanded.
"I think it's a sports thing." Stormer shook her head. "Hey, Jetta, what exactly is this Wembley Stadium?"
"Football pitch, duckie." Jetta paused in the conversation she was having with Pizzazz to answer the synth player's question. "It's the national stadium, all our big footie matches are played there."
"You have football here too?" Roxy demanded.
"Well, we call it football. You guys call it soccer, for some reason." Jetta grinned. "But yeah. That's where we're playin'. It's big, make no mistake about that...if we can sell out our tickets to it...it'll be the best night we ever played, I swear it will."
"I love walking down this street feeling like a celebrity and knowing people are staring at me because I am one." Pizzazz smiled contentedly. "London ain't so bad, you know...I guess we gotta come back here, haven't we?"
"We better, if this is the reception we get." Roxy nodded. "It rocks!"
"You said it." Pizzazz agreed. "Hey, how about we grab something to eat, huh? Loads of neat little cafes down here."
"I thought you'd never ask." Roxy responded with a grin. "Let's go! I like the look of that one!"
"This place looks kinda familiar." Jetta paused outside a clothes store, which stood ajacent to the cafe in question. "'Ere, I'll catch you guys in a minute, okay? I jus' want to take a look around. Someone I know used to work 'ere."
"Whatever." Pizzazz shrugged. "We'll see you inside."
"Wow, she's laid back today." Jetta mused to herself as she pushed open the door to the clothes shop. "Must be the mix of success and shopping, I think...I've never known her so relaxed. I don't think she's screeched once! London must be good for her."
"Excuse me, Miss, may I help you?" A salesman approached her, and Jetta bestowed him with a smile.
"Maybe. I 'aven't been back round 'ere for a long time, but I was wondering...it's probably a long shot, but someone I used to know worked 'ere. I was curious to know whether or not they still do."
"Hey, you're one of those Misfit girls, aren't you? The ones who played Top of the Pops the other night!" The man realised. Jetta grinned.
"What can I say? My reputation precedes me." she said with a wink.
"Your music rocks...how long you out here for?"
"As long as we need be. We're working each day as it comes." Jetta shrugged. "We're playin' Wembley soon...and projecting our single, too...we got a lot to do." She grinned. "We're on Perl's show tonight, also."
"Wow, you girls do get around." The man returned the grin. "Don't suppose I can have your autograph, can I?"
"Oh, why not." Jetta shrugged. "I got time to kill. 'Ere, you got a pen?"
"Sure." The man handed over his pen and a scrap of paper. "Thanks. I know it's corny, but it's the first time I've actually come face to face with a real live celebrity."
"No problem, love. It was a shock to me when I came face to face with meself in the mirror first mornin' I joined the band and realised I was one." Jetta shrugged, signing the paper with a flourish. "There. An' now, can you 'elp me?"
"I can try. What was the name of the person you were looking for?" The man pocketed the piece of paper.
"Laura Cunningham. I know she used to work here - does she still?"
"Laura? Sure she does. She's assistant manager these days...I think she's out back. If you'll give me a moment, I'll go get her."
"Really? Oh, that would be great!" Jetta's eyes lit up, and in her excitement she dropped her usual cool reserved air. "Thanks."
"Not a problem. Nothing's too much trouble for one of the Misfits." The man winked at her, before disappearing into the back storeroom of the shop. Jetta leant up against the wall, glancing at her watch idly. She had plenty of time yet...she knew Roxy's voracious appetite and that it would take time to feed it.
An all too familiar voice came from across the shop, and Jetta turned, a smile crossing her face.
"Well, hello there, stranger." She observed.
"Sheila!" Laura hurried to hug her friend, a hug which was returned with equal warmth. "Oh God, I never expected..."
"Didn't you know I was in England?" Jetta demanded.
"Sure, but I thought you were too busy...I mean..."
"Laura, I told you when I left that you were the only person I trusted in the world, an' the best friend I ever 'ad. How fickle do you think I am? Think I'd come 'ome to London an' not come find you? You out of your mind, girl?" Jetta's tones were teasing and Laura laughed.
"I guess I must've been. I was kinda worried being a celebrity had gone to your head a bit, to be honest." she admitted. She held her friend at arm's length. "Well, look at you. Dressed up like a star, make no mistake."
"We 'ave a professional designer." Jetta looked self-conscious. "Does it look okay?"
"You look great." Laura nodded. "Listen, I've a break coming up for lunch in a few minutes, I'll clock off a bit early, won't matter for once, since it's such a great occasion. Jason!" She called to the assistant. "I'm going for my lunch - be back in an hour, okay?"
"Sure thing, Laura, have fun." Jason nodded. "I can hold the fort here...not like we're overrun, and Charlotte will be back off break in a few minutes."
"Ta, Jason. I owe you." Laura grinned. "C'mon, Sheila...we have way too much to catch up on and not enough time to do it in."
"Tell me about it." Jetta looked rueful. "This is literally the first moment I've 'ad to meself since we flew in. Top of the Pops, then yesterday filmin' Perl's show to air tonight...tomorrow we might 'ave a photo shoot...then we got Wembley...it's all go."
"Wow. The life of a star's never dull, huh?"
"You could say that."
"Where are the rest of your group? To be honest I'm kinda curious to meet them." Laura linked her arm in her friend's. "I've missed you like you wouldn't believe, Sheila. I mean, Charlotte and everyone are cool and all, but they ain't you."
"I've missed you too." Jetta admitted. "More than you know, to be honest. But the others, well, they ain't so bad. Roxy and I can't stand each other, but..."
"Still? I remember you telling me that when you first signed with them but I figured you'd work it out."
"Well, we ain't. She's more stubborn than I am, and we just clash." Jetta shrugged. "Pizzazz an' Stormer are okay, though. We get on pretty good, all told. 'Ere, they're next door, 'avin' lunch...I said I'd catch up with 'em there. Wanna join us?"
"Sure, if you think it'll be okay." Laura nodded. "I saw you on Top of the Pops, Sheila, I almost fainted. Stuart swore blind it wasn't you, but in the end he had to admit it. We're all big fans already...particularly Cassie, I think, she's on the look out for Misfit records."
"Oh, you don't know her...I forgot." Laura grinned. "She's Stuart's bird...get this, they're livin' together! Been together what seems like ages...she keeps 'im in order beautifully. And I'm livin' with Charlotte and Claudine from work these days...we got a house not far from where we all used to live. Bigger than the flat, which is nice."
"I heard you're assistant manager now...congratulations."
"Ta." Laura grinned. "Not as stunnin' as international superstar, but neat all the same."
"Come on." she replied. "You gotta meet the others."
"Hey, Jetta, over here!" Pizzazz raised her hand in a wave as the two girls entered the restaurant. "Who's this?"
"Guys, this is Laura, she's me best mate from when we were tiny." Jetta replied. "Laura, meet the Misfits - Mary Phillips, Phyllis Gabor an' Roxanne Pelligrini, better known as Stormer, Pizzazz and Roxy."
"Howdy." Roxy cast Laura a glance, then turned her attention back to her lunch. Stormer offered a smile.
"Hi, Laura. You joining us?"
"If it's okay, Sheila said it would be." Laura nodded.
Roxy almost choked on her milkshake.
"Sheila? God, I'd forgotten what a loser name you have, Jetta."
"Shut your face Roxy, 'less you want to be taking all your food by a straw." Jetta warned her. Laura frowned.
"Did I say something I shouldn't?" she asked. Jetta shook her head.
"No, not really. Roxy's jus' juvenile, that's all. Most people call me Jetta, Laura. Stage name, an' all that...we've always jus' used stage names with each other."
"Oh...Well, I said when you left that you'd always be Sheila to me. I think it's been too long for me to change my ways." Laura smiled. "Is it okay for me to join you all, then?"
Jetta glanced at Pizzazz, who shrugged.
"Sure, whatever." she agreed. With a grin, the two Britons pulled up chairs to the table.
"I 'ave to admit I didn't expect to be in the company of celebrities this lunch break." Laura observed once she and her friend had ordered.
"Enjoy it while you can." Pizzazz instructed her. "Come this weekend, we play Wembley and then you won't be able to see us on the high street for paparazzi."
"How on earth did you get a gig at Wembley?" Laura was curious. Pizzazz spread her hands.
"Money talks." she said sweetly.
"Pizzazz is our resident rich girl...'er father owns 'alf the companies in America, and 'as shares in countless others." Jetta explained to her friend with a grin. "She spent the mornin' maxin' out credit cards in 'Arrods, of all places."
"Wow. Lucky for some." Laura sounded envious, and Pizzazz shrugged carelessly, though it was clear to her bandmates that she was preening.
Stormer cast Laura an interested glance, then fixed her gaze on her bandmate. This was a new Jetta...relaxed and open in her behaviour, her usual aloof facade gone. A thoughtful look crossed her face.
"Jetta doesn't trust in anyone easily." she mused. "But somewhere along the line Laura must have come through for her...because Jetta trusts her, there's no doubt there."
She shifted her gaze to Pizzazz, and surprise crossed her face as she read the look in those green eyes. Though Pizzazz's words were flippant and she was thoroughly enjoying showing off her wealth to this stranger by boasting about her latest purchases, the look in her eyes belied her. Pizzazz was jealous.
"Jealous of what, though?" Stormer wondered, glancing back at Jetta and Laura as she took a bite of her sandwich. "Is it that she doesn't like Jetta having other friends? That she considers Jetta her friend now, though she's never said as much? Or is it just that she doesn't like anyone butting in on Misfit business?"
"What's eatin' you? You're real quiet." Roxy nudged her at that point and startled Stormer raised startled blue eyes to her friend's confused brown ones.
"Nothing." She said with a shrug.
"Like we need any of Jetta's friends horning in on our act...as if Jetta ain't bad enough." Roxy muttered. Despite herself, Stormer smiled.
"I dunno, Roxy. I kinda like Laura. She seems nice enough to me."
"Yeah, well you would say that. You've always been soft in the head." Roxy retorted.
Jetta, who had picked up some of this conversation frowned, reaching her leg out to kick her foe beneath the table. Roxy yelped, dropping her drink and spilling it all over the table.
"Roxy, you clumsy goof, what d'you think you're playin' at?" Pizzazz snapped, hurriedly retrieving the rest of her sandwich and the paper plate on which it sat before the lake of pink milkshake devoured it.
"Jetta kicked me!" Roxy protested.
"Why would I kick you, duckie?" Jetta's eyes opened wide with a look that anyone who knew her well knew was feigned innocence. "I'm just 'ere eating me lunch!"
"Oh, you want your lunch, huh? Well, maybe you'd like seconds!" With a scowl, Roxy scooped up the remains of her soggy sandwich, tossing it across the table at Jetta who ducked neatly. The sandwich flew past her ear and hit the wall, sliding down it onto the floor and leaving a pink milkshaky mark in it's wake. Stormer smothered a giggle. Though she knew that she should be breaking up the food fight before it became serious, her mischievous streak made her hesitate, secretly interested to see where this would end up.
"Gotta learn to aim better, ducks." Jetta snorted, flicking a stray piece of cucumber in Roxy's direction. It landed in the blond girl's lap, and Roxy grimaced, getting to her feet and tipping what was left on her plate in Jetta's direction, liberally showering not only the dark girl but both Pizzazz and Laura with milkshake also.
"Roxy!" Pizzazz squealed, reaching for her own drink and squirting it squarely in Roxy's direction. "You really think I'm gonna sit back and let you splatter me? Well, think again!"
"Ugh, I'm all sticky..." Laura glanced down at her work clothes with a grimace. "If you guys don't mind, I'm gettin' out of this before I get more messy than I already am...I kind of 'ave a shift to work this afternoon, if it's all the same to you."
"Come on, over here." Stormer linked arms with the redhead, leading her across to a table a safe distance away. "This is fairly normal for the Misfits - I've learnt over the years that it's best to get quietly out of the way and enjoy the scene."
"Won't they get into trouble?" Laura wondered.
"Probably. And Eric will be mad, but at the end of the day, it won't matter much. Pizzazz owns the music company, Pizzazz calls the shots...and none of them can resist a food fight." Stormer grinned. Laura laughed.
"Well, it's an entertainin' lunch, I'll give 'em that." She observed as she watched Jetta launch her own sandwich at the blond who was rapidly losing what was becoming a two on one onslaught.
"How long exactly have you known Jetta?" Stormer asked.
"A long time. We were about six or so when we first made friends - seems a long time ago now." Laura grinned. "She was actin' all adult an' mature next door, I thought she'd finally grown up some...but I guess not. Guess she's the same ol' Sheila. When she used to work down Tony's Cafe more often than not she'd be instrumental in startin' up a food fight then slippin' out the back so as not to get caught, jus' to relieve the boredom."
"She actually kept her job?" Stormer was surprised. Laura nodded.
"Yeah. The supervisor, Mr Randall, 'e was kinda fond of 'er, knew she 'ad it rough at 'ome an' all." She frowned. "'Ere, I shouldn't 'ave mentioned that. She didn't want anyone knowin' about 'er family or anythin'."
"It's okay, Laura. I think I know most of it." Stormer assured her. "We encountered Jeremy when he was on the run from the police, and he's a nasty piece of work...I understand why Jetta hates him."
"If you ask me, 'e's pure evil." Laura's pretty face became solemn. "I don't often 'ate people, Stormer, but Jeremy I do. After the way 'e treated Sheila...well, I 'ope 'e never gets let out now they 'ave 'im back in jail again."
"She doesn't talk about that much. She did tell me once that he'd betrayed her and tried to use her to clear his own name, or something." Stormer replied. "I kinda didn't like to pry much. She's very private, isn't she? Doesn't like to talk much about herself. It was only after..." She paused, biting her lip. Laura raised an eyebrow.
"After what?" She asked.
"You can tell me. Sheila won't mind...we don't 'ave secrets from each other." Laura assured her.
"Well, it was all kind of a mess." Slowly Stormer recounted events at Wissex. "It might have helped if I'd actually have been there, instead of here in London with my brother...in hindsight I regret that...I think they gave her a rough time. In the end it worked out, but we had a difficult couple of days."
"She's not good with dented pride." Laura admitted. "Worse than anythin' to her is loss of face. Showin' the opposition her weakness, if you like. And she's always 'ad a habit of livin' in a fantasy world. Ever since she was a kid, she's done it. Can't blame 'er, actually. It must be 'orrible to grow up in a family who couldn't give two hoots about you, and to be bright enough to know from the start that you were a mistake an' they never wanted you at all. She's told me before I'm the only person she felt she could trust..." She paused. "I think maybe she trusts you too, though, if she told you anything at all in confidence." she added. "It takes a lot to break down 'er defences...'avin' said that, she's pretty damn loyal once you do."
"She understands better these days the Misfits and how we operate in team formation." Stormer said quietly. "I think it was tough for her to grasp at first, coming into the group the way she did, and then not clicking with Roxy...but she seems okay with it all now. It's tough for me sometimes, though. I like both her and Roxy, but they can't stand each other and I end up in the middle."
"Ooh, looks like security are on their case." Laura nodded towards a door marked private. "I reckon they'll get kicked out now...guess we should make our exit, huh? Keep out of the fray."
"Definitely." Stormer nodded. "Pizzazz will just tell them to send her father the bill for damages, and that'll be that...but since you work next door its probably best they don't think you were involved. C'mon...while the guy is distracted."
Laura grinned, following the synth player out onto the high street.
"Well, it's been eventful, meetin' you guys, and great seein' Sheila again. I miss her - she livens life up." she said.
"She's always been a delinquent, huh?" Stormer asked. Laura nodded.
"Pretty much. Too clever for her own good sometimes, got 'erself suspended from school more than once for cookin' up schemes the head himself would 'ave been 'ard pressed to think of. But she 'as a real talent for the sax...you know it was her grandfather who taught her?"
"Yes, she told me." Stormer nodded. "He must have been important to her."
"He was." Laura agreed. "Noone else in that family understood this craze she 'ad for music. I ain't musical, neither, but it made 'er 'appy and I knew she was good...anyone with 'alf an ear could tell that. But 'er parents 'ad no time for it - wanted 'er makin' money, so they could swipe it, no doubt. She's better off with you girls now, much as I do miss 'er. She's happy...and she sure wasn't that when she left England. Tired, wary an' fed up, more like it...the Misfits are good for 'er."
"When we're not getting into trouble with the law." Stormer looked amused.
"Stormer! Where did you go! Two on one ain't fair, you chickened out on me!" At that moment the girls found themselves accosted by a messy looking Roxy, a decidedly unamused expression on her face. Stormer laughed.
"Sorry, Roxy. I guess I wasn't cut out for fighting today." She said apologetically. "Besides, I had to rescue Laura, she has a shift to work yet."
"We better get a taxi back the the hotel and change." Pizzazz decided, looking from Jetta to Roxy, then down at her own outfit. "But it was fun...we haven't had a food fight like that in ages!"
"Well, I guess I'll see you, huh?" Laura sent Jetta an amused grin. Jetta returned it.
"Yeah, you will." she agreed. "We're on television tonight, don't forget...an' you 'ave to come to Wembley on Saturday night. Promise me."
"I'll do my best. I'm not working, so I'll see if I can round up a posse to come along." Laura nodded. "If I can find the cash for tickets."
"I'll get you tickets on the door. Jus' turn up." Jetta told her. Laura grinned.
"Okay, if you're sure. Ta, Sheila. I'd 'ug you but I gotta work this afternoon, so see ya soon, huh?"
"You betcha." Jetta winked at her. "Bye, ducks!"
"What is the deal with that girl?" Pizzazz asked as they hailed a taxi cab to return them to their hotel. Jetta looked startled.
"I told you, she's me mate. What of it?"
"Gone all soft now, have you? What's gotten into you, Jetta?" Pizzazz demanded. "First you get all sentimental over a dumb saxophone, now you're talking about friends? What's goin' on?"
"I guess I came home." Jetta shrugged. "Things are different 'ere. Look, Pizzazz, stop callin' me soft. It ain't fair. Laura an' I go way back - she's a mate an' she never let me down. That kinda person ain't easy to find, so don't think I'm gonna forget 'er just because you don't like me 'avin' friends. You might run the band, but you don't own me."
Pizzazz scowled, folding her arms, but she did not push the issue further.
"Lets get back and get changed." Was all she said, though her tone was both sulky and petulant. "I wanna go have some fun!"
PART THREE: BACK IN THE CITY
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)
Find your way around!