So, there was no news yet.
Stormer bit her lip, hesitating and then pushing open the bedroom door. Her friend was sprawled on her back on the bed, dressed in her pyjamas and gazing sightlessly up at the ceiling. She did not look up as her bandmate entered.
"Go away." The words were hard and cold, and Stormer started, then hardened her resolve, shaking her head.
"I came to see if you were hungry." She said softly. "Roxy's back and she brought pizza with her - she's going to eat and get back out there and she says if you're up for it, you could go too. I said I'd come see if you wanted any."
"I don't want any pizza. Go away."
Stormer pushed the door to with a click, coming to sit on the end of the bed. Jetta recoiled from her bandmate's presence, glaring at her.
"I said go away!" She exclaimed. "What part of that don't you understand! Damn, is there no privacy in this 'ouse? Can't you leave a girl alone just for ten minutes?"
"No." Stormer said carefully. "Not when she's acting completely unlike herself. Jetta, Roxy and the men have had no luck yet, but she's determined to keep trying. She also said you didn't seem well out there...she thought the boats freaked you out, and I'd forgotten how much you hate them. That must make all of this worse...you don't have to bottle it up inside."
Jetta muttered the most unpleasant epithets she could muster, hauling herself into a more upright position.
"Roxy's going a good way towards getting her tongue ripped out." She snapped. "She 'ad no right to say that. I was jetlagged, that's all it was. As if it ain't bad enough that she sent me here, where I can't do a bleedin' thing to 'elp!"
"And unless you eat something, Jetta, I'm not going to let you go back out with her, either." Stormer made up her mind, meeting her friend's angry gaze with an impassive one of her own. "You've not eaten, slept or spoken to any of us really, since we got here. It's not natural and I'm not going to have it. You either come down and eat with us...or you stay here and Roxy goes back to the lake on her own. It's up to you."
"You think that I'm going to waste my time listening to a scared little mouse like you?" Jetta spat out. "Stormer, since when did you give me orders? I'll do whatever the bloody hell I like, and it's nothing to do with you! Justin is my business!"
"And you are mine. You and the rest of the Misfits." Stormer said gently, though inwardly she was alarmed at Jetta's flaring temper. "Roxy may or may not be able to help Justin. He may be beyond help. You're not. And I won't let you risk your life if you're not up to the task. We need you."
"You don't know a damn thing." Jetta said coldly. She got to her feet, taking a step towards the door, but Stormer had anticipated her and she stood, grabbing her companion by the arm.
"I mean it." She said softly. "No dinner, and you're staying here."
"You can't make me do anything!" Jetta exclaimed, struggling to break free, but Stormer was struck by how weak her friend's attempts were, and she bit her lip, tightening her hold.
"No, Jetta." She murmured. "You can't help him by making yourself ill."
At this Jetta froze, turning stricken eyes on her bandmate. Unbidden, the tears began to fall, and gently Stormer coaxed her back onto the bed, slipping a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"But he's my husband." The girl whispered, and, not for the first time since they had met, Stormer realised how deep Jetta's emotions really ran. "Oh damn you, Stormer, why did you have to say that! Why did you have to talk about him being beyond help? Why did you 'ave to even come in here? Why couldn't you just...just leave it alone! Why do you want to make it worse?"
"I don't want to make it worse." Stormer said softly. "But I'm worried about you. I think we all are. You can't keep it all in, Jetta. You'll just make yourself ill and that's no good to anyone."
"But now I'm bloody cryin', an' I knew if I...if I started I wouldn't be able to...to stop." Jetta drew an uneven breath into her lungs. "An' you're 'ere, an' I'm cryin' all over you, an'...oh God, Stormer, what if 'e is dead? What if it is too late an' he's gone an' the last damn time I saw 'im we were fightin'? I'm twenty six years old! I can't be a widow...I can't! But dammit, these things always 'appen. I 'ave the worst karma...am I not allowed to be 'appy, too? I've jinxed 'is life with my bad luck!"
"Noone has jinxed anyone."Stormer's tone was soothing. "Jetta, it was just an accident, that's all. And you don't know he's lost. Roxy believes he's still alive."
"Roxy's a goddamn fool." Jetta muttered. "It's been so long...Stormer, how could 'e have survived this long out there? They're not lookin' for a man, they're lookin' for a body. An' if they don't even find that..."
She faltered, as a fresh storm of sobs broke through and Stormer hugged her tightly, running her fingers through the thick dark hair as she attempted to comfort her friend.
"You don't know that." She repeated. "We don't really know anything, not yet. You mustn't give up, Jetta. He needs you not to give up."
"He doesn't need me at all." Jetta's tone was bitter. "He'd 'ave done better if he'd never have bleedin' met me. Oh...oh, but I need 'im, Stormer." Her voice shook. "I never realised 'ow much until now. When it might be too damn late for it to even matter."
"He knows that you love him."
"Does he?" Jetta raised hopeless grey eyes to his friend's, and Stormer's heart ached at the pain reflected there. "How could he? I didn't even know till this 'appened. How could 'e have known?"
"Because he loves you." Stormer told her simply. "Maybe you couldn't see it, Jetta, but Justin's not a foolish man. He wouldn't have asked you to marry him in Vegas if he wasn't fairly sure of your feelings for him too. And you would not have said yes to him if you didn't feel those things. You just frightened yourself by jumping too far, too fast. That's all. Once he had time to think it through, I'm sure he realised that."
"I made him hate me." Jetta whispered. "I said things...we didn't even say a proper goodbye. Just an automatic, mechanical wave and a 'see you soon'. No kiss, nothin'. An' that might 'ave been the last time I ever saw 'im. I'm goin' to be haunted forever by the fact I didn't say goodbye."
"Shh." Stormer chided. "Stop this. Until we know anything for certain, you can't jump to conclusions. You mustn't."
"Nothin' else for me to do, since I got relegated to my room." Jetta said morosely. "Nothin' to do but think it over an' over an' over. An' now you've made me cry an' whine like a wimp an' tell you things I damn well shouldn't have said..."
"You shouldn't worry about telling me things I already know, Jetta." Stormer said with a shrug. "Just because you didn't know you were in love with him doesn't mean other people didn't figure it out. And you have no reason to feel ashamed. It's not easy when you lose someone you love, and the uncertainty of this can't help. Plus you haven't slept or eaten. That's probably taking it's toll too - your body is in shock and it's adding to your mood."
"If I eat anything I'll throw up." Jetta said flatly. "I almost did a few times, at the pier an' comin' back here. It's settled, but I know if I try...I can't face anythin'. Even the thought of food makes the urge come back. Don't try an' make me...it won't be pretty if you do."
"Maybe you wouldn't. Maybe your body is just playing tricks."
"Well, it can play them." Jetta shrugged her shoulders. "I ain't chancin' it. Even the smell of pizza's likely to make me hurl at the moment. Leave it out. Okay?"
"All right." Stormer relented. "But if you change your mind, we'll keep you some."
"Are you goin' to sit 'ere an' gawk at me all evening?"
"For the time being, yes." Stormer agreed. "Roxy's heading back to the lake and I don't know what Pizzazz is doing, but she won't disturb us."
"I don't need company."
"I disagree. I'd rather not leave you alone if you're not feeling well and you're as upset as this." Stormer shook her head. "I've seen you cry before..."
"You don't need to remind me of that."
"Sorry. But I have, and it's never been like this." Stormer looked sheepish.
"I wish I'd never met him." Jetta dropped back onto her pillows with a sigh. "Then I couldn't ever have been conned into feeling all this stuff...an' consequently I wouldn't care if 'e took a dip in a big, 'orrible lake. I know now why I avoided all that love nonsense for so long. It sucks. Okay, it seems fine for a while...but then somethin' 'appens to screw it all up an' it's not worth it. It really ain't worth it. My husband is dead, I'm a widow at twenty six an' I've got the rest of my life to go through on my own, with people whisperin' and pointin' and talkin' about my tragedy. I'm in the public eye...I'm a Misfit...I 'ave an image to protect an' uphold but dammit, Stormer, all I want to do is curl up an' cry."
She bit her lip.
"Or go into the lake after 'im. It's flitted in and out of my 'ead this afternoon, lyin' 'ere. At times when I don't think I can bear waitin' any longer for news, or the idea of bein' on my own again for the rest of my life."
"All right, then I'm definitely staying here." Stormer's expression became one of shock. "Jetta, you don't mean that. You can't!"
"Maybe I do." Jetta said with a frown. "Right now I'm finding it 'ard to care where I am."
"You are in shock." Stormer shook her head slowly. "But you're talking crazy, Jetta. Stop it. You know it's nonsense."
"Is it?" Jetta let out a hollow laugh. "Maybe it isn't. I don't feel all that sane right now. I feel like I'm desperately tryin' to keep a grip on myself, an' it's all slowly slidin' away from me. Like I don't know 'ow to hold it together any more."
She closed her eyes, her shoulders shaking silently as the tears overwhelmed her anew and Stormer squeezed her hand.
"We will get you through this." She murmured. "Whatever the outcome, Jetta, I promise. Whatever Justin's fate, there are people who care about you and who will help you. You're a Misfit, remember? That means you're never alone."
"If it does, it'll be the first time." Jetta muttered. "What did Roxy say, exactly? I mean, 'ow much searchin' did they do?"
"The weather's made it tricky." Stormer owned. "She said she'd eat and run...she didn't want to waste any time. She won't talk to me about it either, Jetta...I wish you guys didn't make a habit of bottling things up."
"At least Roxy's doing somethin'." Jetta said quietly. "I'm sittin' in my room cryin' on your shoulder. An' I can't even fight you on this, because I ain't even fit to walk out the door. I feel giddy an' sick an' not myself at all, if you want the truth. Like everythin' is heightened all of a sudden. Like nothin' else matters an' nothin' else will ever matter again. Not if 'e doesn't come back. I keep tellin' myself that's distorted...but Stormer, it's 'ow I feel. I don't believe in God, else I'd start prayin'. But I swear, I would do anythin' in the world if it meant I could 'ave him back. Anythin'. Even shout it from the roof tops that I feel the way I do. I'd parade naked through the streets of Los Angeles, or even tell Roxy she's a better musician than I'll ever be. I don't care what. Anything."
She sighed, rolling over onto her side.
"But it's only words an' words mean nothin'." She said sadly. "No amount of 'em can bring 'im back to me. He's been missin' damn near a day, Stormer. It takes four minutes to drown. How can 'e still be alive? He can't be. It's impossible."
She bit her lip.
"I don't even know 'ow to organise a funeral." She whispered. "What to wear, 'ow to act, with the whole bleedin' world starin' at me. I'm so scared of it all, Stormer. And of bein' alone most of all."
Stormer looked at her friend long and hard, taking in the shadowy eyes and pale complexion. Her cheeks were stained with tears and, in the chaos, she had not bothered with make up, making her seem somehow even more nakedly vulnerable. The young songwriter sighed.
"If you won't eat, then you need to rest." She said gravely. "Hysterics won't help you and nor will all this morose dwelling. If you have to face the worst, you need to do it with some strength behind you, Jetta. You look all in."
"Don't make me sleep." Jetta begged. "I'll dream an' I don't want...I don't want to see 'im when 'e isn't real."
"You won't dream." Stormer said softly. "You're too tired to even do that. Trust me. Close your eyes and try. I promise, we'll wake you the first minute there's any news, good or bad. I wouldn't keep you in the dark. But you need to sleep. You'll feel better if you do."
"I never 'eard a good night's sleep could mend a broken 'eart." Jetta said flatly.
"And I never said it would." Stormer spoke honestly. "But you're at the end of your tether and I'm worried about you. If this goes on, you will make yourself ill. And that will help nobody - least of all Justin. Imagine if Roxy and the men found him and had to tell him you'd worked yourself up into a fever over it? The worry would be no good for him any more than it is for you."
"Do you really, honestly believe he might still be alive?"
"Yes." Stormer nodded her head, hoping that Jetta could not hear any tinges of doubt in her words. "Until there is evidence to suggest otherwise, I believe he is alive. And so must you. If you love him as much as I think you do, you can't give up on him. Not yet."
Jetta chewed down on her lip hard enough to draw blood, fighting to bring her tears under control.
"I need to get a grip." She murmured. "I just can't see 'ow...to me it seems 'opeless."
"I have faith that if he's there to be found, Roxy will find him." Stormer said softly, reaching for Jetta's discarded bedcovers and gently pulling them up over her friend's body. "There. Now you go to sleep. As soon as any of us know anything, we'll wake you, I promise."
Jetta eyed Stormer carefully for a moment. Then she reached out a hand, grabbing her friend's and squeezing it feebly.
"You won't ever repeat the things I've said?" She asked softly. Stormer shook her head.
"No. Never." She agreed. "Though some of them you need to share with Justin, when he's found."
"If he's found." Jetta corrected. "Yes. Perhaps."
"Bein' a basket case."
"You're not." Stormer smiled at her friend affectionately. "You're in love and it's new to you, and you're realising it on top of something bigger and far more frightening. You're not a wimp, Jetta, nor should you be ashamed because you cried. It took courage to trust me...and I'd have been more worried if you hadn't broken. I know it feels wretched right now, but crying it out will help. And I'm here, if you need me. You can talk to me. Rant to me. Cry all over me - I don't mind."
A faint smile touched Jetta's lips and, though it did not reach her eyes, Stormer was pleased to see it.
"Thank you." She murmured. "You rock. You ain't no soft touch."
Then she closed her eyes, settling herself more comfortably on her pillow. For a moment Stormer watched her, as if unwilling to leave the grieving girl to her own devices. But, once sure that Jetta's exhaustion had won out, she slipped silently from the room, shutting the door behind her and heading down the main staircase to the kitchen.
Roxy was nowhere in evidence, but there was still pizza in the box on the counter, and Stormer scooped up a slice, padding pensively into the main lounge where Pizzazz was idly flicking through television channels. At Stormer's entrance she glanced up.
"I wondered if you were even coming down again tonight." She said, but there was no edge to her tone. "Jetta hungry?"
"No. She's taking a nap." Stormer perched on the edge of the sofa. "I guess Roxy's gone back."
"Yes, though it's dark and the wind's still up." Pizzazz snorted. "I always knew she was at least half mad. Now I think she's completely crazy. She better not damn well get herself killed dredging up a corpse!"
"Do you think he's dead, then?" Stormer asked. Pizzazz nodded.
"What else can he be?" She demanded. "Yeah, I do. And I'm pissed off with him about it, too. I knew he was trouble the moment he walked into our photoshoot and started meddling with Roxy. I knew if Jetta got involved with him there'd be problems. And now look! He's upped and died, leaving Roxy braving crazy weather looking for bits of him to bury and Jetta..."
She trailed off, knitting her brows.
"Roxy said Jetta wasn't right with herself." She observed. "What was your impression?"
"That it's going to take her time to get through this." Stormer sighed, sitting back against the chair as she considered what exactly she could share with her impulsive, domineering companion. Pizzazz's tone and demeanour were uncharacteristically anxious, and Stormer knew that she was genuinely worried about both of her bandmates.
"Whatever happens, whether he does or doesn't come back, everything will change." She added. "Jetta is his wife or she's his widow. Either way, things can't continue as they were before."
"I still can't get over that." Pizzazz admitted, flicking the television set off. "There's nothing on - or I just can't focus on it. Damn, even I'm feeling this. But she married him - what was she thinking? You I could've believed it of. You're a dumb romantic and I could just about picture you eloping to Las Vegas. But Jetta?"
"I wouldn't elope. I'd want a proper wedding." Stormer shook her head. "And Jetta..." She faltered. "Jetta sees something in Justin that some people never get to see in a man. He made her happy, Pizzazz. And if he is dead, I hope you're not going to lay into her about it all. She's..."
She hesitated again, and Pizzazz snorted.
"She's lost over him." She said bluntly. "I'm not blind. I was hoping it wasn't that way, because she kept telling me it wasn't, but she's always been too fond of lying, especially to me. I knew it was going to end up badly. It always does if you trust a man too much. But no. I won't give her hell over it. To be honest, I don't know what to say to her or Roxy right now. And you and I are having meaningful conversation. Things are all out of sync."
Despite herself, Stormer smiled.
"Well, at least it isn't a total negative, if you can speak to me without threatening to rearrange some of my features." She remarked. Pizzazz glowered at her, but there was no real menace in her look.
"I can't even get pissy with you." She admitted. "It's just not the right vibe."
"I'd rather you didn't wake Jetta, anyway." Stormer finished off the last of her slice of pizza. "She's tired and I want her to sleep through for as long as she can. She needs it - she hasn't slept at all since we got here, and it's starting to take it's toll. Jet lag hit her pretty badly at the lake, from what Roxy said."
"Jet lag my ass." Pizzazz muttered. "All right. So, assuming the jerk is dead, what do we do? How do we handle it? I guess...if they find him, we'll have to bury him or something. But aside from that? I don't do funerals and mourning and that kind of junk. Do you think Jetta or Roxy will? I mean come on...Roxy's only known she had a brother for what, two years? And Jetta's not even been sleeping with him that long. Is this going to go on forever, do you think? Because it'll be a dirge of a time if it does...we've music to lay down and concerts to play and God knows what else to schedule in!"
"I think," Stormer said slowly. "That we need to let them both deal with it their own ways. And keep the press out of it at all costs."
"That shouldn't be hard." Pizzazz cracked her knuckles meaningfully. "I'll make sure they keep their distance."
"Do you think Roxy will stay out there all night?" Stormer asked. Pizzazz shrugged.
"She said she wasn't coming back till they found something, so God knows what that means." She said frankly. "I'm not waiting up for her."
"I wasn't going to." Stormer shook her head. "I guess I was just thinking about, well, if she had news..."
"Stormer, face facts." Pizzazz said quietly. "I know you like to
in all that airy fairy heaven nonsense, but bring yourself down to
for a moment, all right? Justin is dead. If the boat explosion didn't
him, he drowned. That's how it is. Sooner you and I accept it, the
we can drum it in to Jetta and Roxy. And the sooner they can get to
with it, the sooner things get back to normal."