The sky was thick with cloud as the aeroplane cut it's way across the American land mass towards Michigan.
In silence, Jetta stared out of the window, her expression fixed and her eyes preoccupied, lacking all of their usual impish sparkle. From the adjacent seat, Stormer cast her companion a sidelong glance, observing from beneath lowered lashes the rigidity of her friend's demeanour.
Jetta had not spoken a word since they had taken off some hours earlier. After her first snappish outcry she had fallen silent, and the younger girl was unsure how to break through the hard barrier that had suddenly risen between them.
She turned, casting a glance across the plane to where Roxy was idly tearing strips off the back page of her magazine, and bit her lip. Roxy had insisted on sitting on her own, away from the risk of company or conversation, and her own expression was impassive. Stormer knew that the don't care nonchalance was a front, and it tugged away inside of her. Between Jetta and Roxy, the atmosphere in the small private jet was heavy and unbreachable. She sighed, sinking back in her seat, and inwardly thanking her stars that Pizzazz was not in the main body of the plane. Her decision to sit up front with the pilot had shown a rare moment of perception, and Stormer was grateful for it.
The mood was thick enough without a temperamental singer to take into the equation.
She turned her attention back to her silent neighbour, hesitating for a moment and then reaching out a hand to touch her friend's shoulder.
There was no immediate reply, and Stormer frowned, biting her lip.
"Jetta." She tried again. "Are you all right?"
"Get your paws off me."
The words were flat and lifeless, as if the speaker was unable to even inject a note of menace into her threat. Stormer swallowed hard.
"You're so quiet. I wondered if you were..."
"I don't want to talk to you, so shut the hell up." This time there was more of a snap to Jetta's tone and she swung around, grabbing the younger girl's hand from off her arm and tossing it aside. "I told you to let me alone, so do it, all right? I didn't ask to sit with you on the plane and I sure as 'ell didn't ask you to talk to me."
"I just wondered..."
"Well don't. All right?" Jetta's eyes flashed with anger and emotion, and Stormer could see tears buried deep in the grey depths. "Worry your pretty 'ead about somethin' else an' let the rest of us alone, huh?"
Stormer sighed, but obediently sat back in her seat, folding her arms across her chest.
Jetta turned her attention back to the window, taking in none of the scenery as the plane began to descend into the airport below. Slowly Stormer shook her head.
"I'm sure they'll find him, you know." She murmured.
"I won't warn you again." Jetta did not move, and the words were muttered more to herself than out loud. "I'm not thinkin' about him."
"Not even a little bit?" Stormer was startled. "Jetta..."
"Do you want to be alive when we land or don't you?"
Jetta swung around once more, grabbing her companion by the arms and glaring into her surprised blue eyes. "I've warned you enough times an' I don't want to slap you silly, but if you don't shut your gob I'm goin' to shut it for you. For the last time, enough! I don't want to talk! Not to you, or anyone else. So get that into your thick 'ead an' go an' bother Roxy, will you? I've 'ad it with you."
Stormer bit her lip, but she made no response, as at that moment the front wheels of the plane touched down onto the asphalt below. There was a light bumping, but the pilot had an expert touch and the small aircraft came to a stop with remarkably little juddering.
"I've arranged a car from the airport to Daddy's Michigan estate." Pizzazz's tones cut through Stormer's musings, and she glanced up, seeing the singer had rejoined them. "I figure that's easier than a hotel."
She drew her lips together, her expression both annoyance at being dragged across the country and apprehension about what awaited them. Her gaze flitted between Jetta and Roxy, and then rested on Stormer, who offered a faint smile.
"I think you're right." She said with a nod.
"Well, I don't care where I'm staying." Roxy unfastened her belt, getting to her feet. "Because I don't intend on spending much time there. I'm going to the lake, Pizzazz...as soon as I can get there. I want to know what's going on and why those boneheads haven't found him yet."
"I'm going with you." Jetta spoke quietly.
Roxy frowned, then nodded her head.
"All right." She agreed. "I guess this is your business as much as anyone's, now."
"If you want to go straight there, Roxy, I'll make sure your bag gets to Pizzazz's Dad's place safely. Jetta, yours too." Stormer offered. Roxy nodded curtly.
"Sure." She agreed briskly. "Seems the best plan. No time lost, then."
At that moment, the aircraft door was opened, and Pizzazz shrugged her shoulders.
"Fine." She said reluctantly. "Go to the lake. We'll see you back at my place later on."
Roxy glanced across at Jetta.
"Then let's go." She said levelly. Jetta nodded her head. Without a word, she followed her fair haired rival out of the plane, and down onto the asphalt below.
Now alone in the plane, Pizzazz and Stormer exchanged looks.
"I think they're nuts." Pizzazz broke the silence. "What can they do?"
"Knowing Roxy, whatever they can." Stormer sighed. "Pizzazz, there's something you need to know. Something...I'm not supposed to tell you, but...well, now I think I need to."
"Something?" Pizzazz's gaze narrowed. "What kind of something?"
"About Jetta. And Justin." Stormer pursed her lips, following the singer slowly down the steps towards the waiting car, pausing only to collect the bags along the way. "Pizzazz, they didn't just take a vacation in Vegas."
"What do you mean?" Pizzazz's tone was wary, and Stormer sighed.
"Promise me not to freak out at her. Or Roxy. Or anyone." She asked. "I mean, if you want to freak, do it at me...right now I think I can probably take it better than them."
"What are you talking about?" Pizzazz demanded. "Spit it out, Stormer! What about Justin and Jetta?"
Stormer drew a deep breath into her lungs, then,
"They got married in Vegas." She said quietly.
"What?" Pizzazz stopped dead, almost causing her companion to walk into her. "They did what? Stormer, tell me you're kidding. Tell me this is some crazy ass joke...Jetta got married? To...him?"
"Yes." Stormer nodded, inwardly alarmed by the anger in her bandmate's expression. "Jetta told me when she got back...showed me the ring. It's true enough...no joke."
Pizzazz's expression became unreadable. For a moment she was silent, then,
"Why?" She demanded.
"Because she's in love with him." Stormer sighed. "Even if she doesn't know it, Pizzazz, I'm pretty sure that she is. I know you think I'm a romantic idiot and that I'm stuck on mushy endings...but the truth is, Jetta's been into Justin for a long time now. Anyone who's seen them together can see there's something between them."
Pizzazz clenched her fists.
"I knew he was trouble." She muttered. "Not only has he screwed up our schedule, caused me to cancel concerts and fly half way across America because he's decided to go drown himself...not only that, he's seduced one of my employees into marrying him and into...God knows what else! Stormer, why didn't you tell me this before? We could have done something about it."
"I didn't know she was going to do it until she came back from Vegas." Stormer shook her head. "And she made me promise not to tell anyone. But..."
"I don't know how bad Justin's accident is, or if they'll find him unscathed." She added. "But if they don't...Pizzazz, Lake Michigan's a big place. And, well, I wanted you to know because Jetta and Roxy both might need a friend in a day or two. That falls to us. Whatever you think of Justin...we have to be Misfits and pull together over this. Even if you hate his guts."
Pizzazz was silent once more, digesting this. Then she frowned.
"Damn him." She said darkly. "Men. Always the same."
"Oh, don't worry. I'll shut my mouth." Pizzazz responded. "But I'm not happy, Stormer. I should have nipped it in the bud before it happened...now who knows what chaos this is going to cause? We're already in the wrong state ignoring our musical obligations. I've left my company run by amateurs because you all thought flying to Michigan was a good idea. What else is it going to do, huh?"
"You didn't have to come, you know."
"Yes, I did." Pizzazz sighed. "It's what you said. Being Misfits. But dammit - if he gets out of this, I'll have words with him. Serious words! Roxy's brother or not, he's gonna pay!"
Stormer looked grave.
"He may already have done so." She said, her tone troubled. "With his life."
* * * * * * * * * *
There was a chill in the air, and in the distance, the sound of thunder heralded a storm in the offing.
Jetta wrapped her coat more tightly around her body, following Roxy along the edge of the lakeside in a numb haze. She could not remember when it was exactly that they had arrived, or how they had even got to the lake. It had all seemed to go in something of a blur and now, a good few hours on, she was beginning to feel the strain.
"Jetta, will you quit lagging?"
Roxy paused, turning impatiently to glare at her bandmate. "I thought you wanted to find him!"
"I do want to find 'im!" Jetta exclaimed back. "I just..." She bit her lip, then, "I don't want to find 'im too late."
"Well, the quicker you move your butt the quicker we can find him."
Roxy told her firmly. "Come on, will ya? He's out there
somewhere and we're gonna help bring him in!"
"What if we're already 'ere too late, though?" Jetta obediently sped
up her pace, falling into step with her fair haired companion.
"What if 'e were killed, like the other blokes? I don't want to find 'im that way, Roxy."
"Ok, that's enough of that." Roxy stopped, grabbing her companion by the shoulders, giving her a short, sharp shake. "They brought one dude out alive, Jetta - I heard it on the taxi radio as we came out here, so there's no reason to keep whining that Justin might be dead. Now ain't the time to get morbid about this! Justin's a Pelligrini, and he ain't killed so don't you go saying defeatest things like that! We're gonna find him and we're gonna find him alive. Okay?"
"I bloody 'ope you're right." Jetta muttered. She gazed out across
waters, still now, but still concealing so many secrets
beyond the misty, murky weather. "It's so big. I never realised 'ow big Lake Michigan was. Where do you suppose we can
look? It's such a damn big place, what can you an' I do?"
"Well, we can get in that boathouse and tell them they're going out
on the water to search, like it or not." Roxy narrowed her
eyes in determination. "If I have to hotwire the damn boat I will. Come on, we're Misfits. We can take them."
"You really think goin' on a boat's a good idea in this weather?" Jetta shook her head. "It ain't safe!"
"You're not gonna be safe if you don't snap out of it!" Roxy
"Jetta, dammit, you drive me up the wall most days and
I'd happily throttle you, but at least you usually have some fight. Now damn well fight, will you? We're here looking for your
goddamn husband as well as we are my brother. I thought he meant something to you!"
"Roxy, shut your face, you don't understand anything about this."
snapped back. "And I'm 'ere, aren't I? Look, you take
the boat out, I'll look on the shore, in case 'e got washed up. I'll take the 'ire car, drive around, see what I can find."
"If you think I'm letting you out of my sight in this frame of mind,
you can think again." Roxy shook her head, grabbing her
companion's arm. "Look, come on. What're the odds of two boats going up? Besides, if he's out there,and he must be, then
he's gonna be out there somewhere." She pointed towards the expanse of blue. "What's the point in wandering aimlessly along
the shore? We need to get right to the heart of the lake if we're gonna stand a chance!"
"And let me guess, you're gonna dive in, as well?"
"If I have to." Roxy said grimly. "Come on, will you? We're supposed to be proving we can do this as a team!"
Jetta swallowed the bitter taste in her mouth, then nodded.
"I'm with you." She said softly. "Let's go."
As they reached the boathouse, Roxy sidelined one of the officials
duty there, demanding to know what was being done to
find the survivors from the lost vessel. The entire area had been populated by swarming rescue teams, but the weather was
delaying their progress, and one of them dolefully told Roxy that in the current mist, there wasn't much hope of finding anything.
"Listen, buster, my brother is out there and if you're not gonna go out there and find him, I will!" Roxy pushed the unfortunate
individual up against the wall. "You hear me? I want a boat!"
"Miss, it's dangerous out there!" The man protested. "We're sending specially trained..."
"Look, what good is specially trained if they're all sitting around here drinking coffee?" Roxy demanded.
"There's no point in risking more lives when the weather is
and the prospects too." Another man tried to reason with
her, but Roxy was in one of her most obstinate tempers and she was having none of it.
"You're all wimps, the lot of you!" She exclaimed. "If you're not
there in ten, looking for my brother and the others, I'm
gonna smash you to kingdom come and you'll damn well wish you weren't alive!"
"Riskin' your life on the water is better odds than against Roxy's
Jetta added dryly. She lounged up against the doorpost,
her head buzzing as she watched her bandmate advance slowly on the frightened crew.
"Well?" The blond demanded. With one accord, the five men who had
taking shelter in the boathouse fled, and Roxy
folded her arms, looking satisfied.
"Better." She decided. "Hey Jetta, you coming? We...Jetta?"
For Jetta had stumbled, grabbing wildly for the doorpost as she felt herself falling. For an instant it had seemed like the whole world was turning and racing away from her, and that the floor seemed very close all of a sudden. She closed her eyes, trying her best to right herself, but it was no good, she was too disorientated.
Then, from somewhere she felt a strong grip take a hold of her,
her over to a chair and forcing her to sit down.
Gradually the waves of dizziness passed, and she blinked several times, regaining coherence and focus. She drew a deep, shaky breath of air into her lungs, fighting against the rising wave of nausea. She raised her gaze to her rescuer, meeting Roxy's confused brown eyes with clouded grey ones.
"What the hell was that, Jetta?" The guitarist demanded. "Are you going sissy on me now?"
"I...I'm all right." Jetta managed, though her legs had turned to jelly and she was grateful for the chair that supported her. "I guess I'm tired. Lag. That's all. I ain't slept..."
She trailed off, moistening her lips.
"I'm all right." She repeated.
Roxy chewed on the end of her thumbnail, a troubled look on her face.
"Don't lie to me." She said bluntly. "You're white as a damn ghost and you look ready to hurl. I knew you hated boats, Jetta...don't tell me the thought of goin' out on one of these babies in the storm really does have you freaked? Dammit, we're looking for Justin - or doesn't that matter to you?"
"It matters to me." Jetta swallowed hard, glaring up at her. "And I'm not...I'm not afraid. I'm just lagged. I'm all right now. I'm ready. We can go."
Roxy eyed her companion carefully. Then she shook her head.
"I can't." She said defeatedly. "I'm not cut out to deal with a fainting woman and the last thing we need on board is you dropping all over the place."
"I already told you, I'm fine!" This sparked Jetta's temper and she got to her feet, grabbing Roxy by the arm. "Do you want my help or don't you? He's my damn husband, Roxy! I'm going to look for him as much as you are! I..."
She faltered, swallowing once more, and Roxy grabbed her by the wrists, shaking her head again.
"You might think I'm dumb, but I'm not as stupid as you think." She said softly. "Get a clue, Jetta. Whether you're lagged or scared of the boat or what it is, I don't know and I don't care. But I ain't taking you on board. If you're dizzy, in this weather, all you'll do is puke anyhow. And you might fall overboard. It ain't in the plan, to lose more people than we set out to find."
Jetta opened her lips to protest, then sighed, the fight flooding out of her.
"I can't stand." She admitted. "I want to 'elp, though. I should be 'ere. It's just the bloody jetlag, that's all. I want to do something, Roxy! You can't keep me from that!"
"So shut up and do as I tell you." Roxy said bluntly, ably manoeuvring her companion back down onto her seat. "I'm calling a cab and putting you in it. You're going back to the Gabor place and you're gonna pull yourself together. When you have, you can come back out here. But I am not going to be the one who tells Justin that I drowned his wife. When we find him, I've got a lot of things to settle with him over - and that's not going to be one of them. He might be deluded and blind and half-stupid sometimes, but he's still my brother and even if he has lost his mind and married you, I'm not going to take the risk."
Jetta closed her eyes briefly, as the deck swayed and swam before her vision. A fresh wave of nausea engulfed her and she clenched her fists, praying that she wasn't going to embarrass herself. Roxy had withdrawn to speak to one of the sailors, but in a moment she was back, fastening her coat as she did so.
"We're going." She said briefly. "That guy's calling a cab for you. He's been told where you're going, and that he's not to let you follow us else he'll meet my fists when I get back. He's understandably not keen to be introduced to them just yet, so don't try and fight him. Right now I don't think you'd win, anyway. You don't look fit to fight with a Hologram, and that's saying something."
With that she turned on her heel, heading off towards the vessel that a group of reluctant men were priming for departure. She did not look back, and Jetta felt a sense of humiliation tinged with relief wash over her. To show weakness in front of her greatest rival was something that left a bitter taste in her mouth. And yet, she knew that Roxy had been right. And more, had put her needs first, despite her anxiety over her missing brother.
"I wish I 'ad the same faith you do that you can find 'im." She murmured, watching the fair haired girl clamber deftly aboard the swaying boat. "Fog an' wind an' heavy weather, an' no sign of 'im in all the time 'e's been missing. I can't 'elp but be afraid...if all you bring back is a body, what then?"
This thought sent a wave of panic through her and she gripped the edge of the seat, half-afraid she was about to pass out. By the time she had brought her mind back into focus, the taxi had arrived and, almost numbly, she clambered into the back of the waiting vehicle. Roxy's chosen minder gave the driver the instructions, handing him a ten dollar bill and Jetta felt further humiliated...that Roxy had not even thought she could handle paying the fare.
"But she might be right." She muttered, sitting back in the seat as
the driver pulled out onto the busy main road. "Oh God, please don't
me throw up...not 'ere. Dammit, Justin, when I get my 'ands on you...I
need a goddamn cigarette! Why did I ever give up? I need
to calm me down before I lose my mind completely. Get a grip,
a hold of yourself! You're stronger than this...don't let yourself
Listen to what Roxy said...focus on it, an' damn well try and believe
Because if he is lost out there...oh God...what then?"