Chapter Six: Breaking Down

Pizzazz dropped down onto the couch, closing her eyes briefly and rubbing her temples. She did not speak, and Stormer shot her a concerned look.
"Pizzazz, you're all in. You need to get some sleep." She said quietly.
"Sleep?" Pizzazz glanced up at this. "You kidding me? You think I can sleep, with the press hounding this place day and night, God knows what happening at Misfit Music over us missing our concert Saturday and my dad in ICU? You want me to sleep? Hah!"
"You need to, though." Stormer said sensibly. "You can't go on like this,'s not healthy. You've barely eaten or slept in the three days we've been here, and you're gonna collapse if you carry this on."
"Don't tell me what to do!" Pizzazz bristled. "I can send you back to LA like that, you know." She clicked her fingers to illustrate her point. "Now leave me alone, will ya? I got a phone call to make, gotta tell Eric for sure that we ain't comin' back to DC for the stupid concert."
She got to her feet, heading across the room to where the telephone stood, but the world swam before her eyes and she grasped out for the back of a nearby chair to steady herself. Stormer, sharp-eyed as ever, saw.
"Pizzazz, please!" She tried again.
"Look, I told you to leave it already." Pizzazz snapped, her head buzzing as she abandoned her quest for the phone, sinking down into the chair. "You think I like having an unpaid minder flitting around me like this? It's bad enough Daddy's gone and gotten himself sick and dragged me all the way across America like this without you trying to be my damned mother on top of everything!"
Something in the singer's petulant retort sparked Stormer's generally dormant temper. She did not often snap at her bandmates, but she was, in all honesty, tired herself, and fed up with her companion's attitude. She frowned.
"Can't you stop the spoiled brat routine?" She demanded. "It isn't helping anyone!"
Pizzazz stared at her in shock, then her eyes narrowed.
"Don't mess with me, or you'll regret it." She threatened. "Nobody crosses Phyllis Gabor and gets away with it!"
Stormer's scowl deepened.
"Don't you think we've all had enough of your attitude?" She retorted. "No wonder Elliot and the others at your father's office think so bad of you as they do! You only ever think of yourself...while your father's lying in hospital! Pizzazz, he could die, dammit! I watched my mother die, and it took me apart, but you don't even care that you could be without him this time tomorrow! All you care about is the inconvenience it causes to you, and I'm sorry, but that's more damn selfish than I ever thought you were! Can't you think of someone else, just for once, and realise that more matters in this world than just you?"
"How dare you!" Pizzazz's voice shook. "You miserable little dare you talk to me like that? How dare you?"
"Someone has to." Stormer stood her ground, though her initial anger was beginning to fade. "Someone has to make you see what things are really like some time, Pizzazz, before it's too late."
Pizzazz bit her lip at these last words. Inwardly she was still seething and longing to deliver a stinging retort back at the synth player, but a mix of exhaustion and her emotions, which at the moment were more than a little unpredictable prevented her.
"You don't understand anything." She choked out, her voice barely more than a whisper. "Leave me alone, Stormer...I don't want to speak to you."
And with that she pushed past her bandmate and out of the room, banging the door behind her.
Stormer stopped, her expression stunned...for she had seen all to clearly what her companion had been trying to hide in the abruptness of her departure.
Real tears in Pizzazz's eyes.
Immediately remorse began to replace her anger. How could she have snapped so, when the singer was so exhausted? And how could she not have seen what now she saw only too clearly - that Pizzazz's emotions over her father's condition ran so deeply she had no idea how to handle them, so had done her best to push them back under a veneer of spoilt anger and temper tantrums.
She opened the door, heading slowly up the stairs towards the room that was Pizzazz's own. Two days ago, in a fit of pique Pizzazz had sent all of the house staff away, so it was just them alone in the house, and for some reason this made Stormer all the more nervous about confronting her companion, but she knew she had to do it.
Pizzazz was curled up on her bed, her head buried in her arms and it didn't take Stormer long to realise that her bandmate had been unable to prevent the tears from falling. A fresh wave of remorse hit her. How could she have been so cruel?
"Pizzazz?" She murmured, hurrying to the singer's side.
"Get lost, Stormer, before I rearrange your face." Pizzazz's voice was muffled, and she wouldn't meet the synth player's gaze.
Stormer took no notice.
"Pizzazz, I'm sorry." She said softly, sitting down on the bed. Somehow she no longer felt so intimidated, and gently she stroked the girl's long, wavy hair. "I was outta line and I should never have said what I did. You do care, don't you?"
There was a strange noise, almost like a gulp, and then Pizzazz raised her head to her companion, her eyes wet with tears.
"He's all I got." she whispered.
Instinctively Stormer hugged her bandmate, knowing that it was as much exhaustion as anxiety that had broken down the girl's defences.
"I guess I was being dense." She murmured now. "I should have realised that you were feeling this more than you were letting on."
"It makes me so mad." Pizzazz murmured. "Some people have huge families, and then there's me and my father, and now they wanna take him away from me too." Her tone was bitter. "Though I can hardly say he's been there, as it stands, can I? So long as it gets me out of his hair, that's all he cares about."
"Pizzazz, I'm sure that's not true." Stormer chided. "I'm certain he cares as much as you do. It's just that things have gotten in the way over the years."
"It;s all that witch mother of mine's fault." Pizzazz growled, clenching her fists. "She did this to us. She took my family away from me. You think you're so great, Stormer, with your nice little home and your happy memories and your doting brother...well, I coulda had that, only that...that creature stole it from right under my nose!"
Stormer paused, digesting this slowly. Amazed that Pizzazz had not resisted her embrace, she realised with startling clarity that at that moment the singer needed someone to listen...however much she might pull away from it later. As she sat there, she found herself thinking about her companion's childhood.
"Do you miss your mother?" she asked at length.
"Mom? Hah!" Pizzazz was scornful. "I hope something nasty happened to her, that'd pay her back for deserting us. Some mother she was!"
Stormer winced at the strength of the other girl's hatred towards her absent parent. Pizzazz was full of hate and scorn, for people, for things, for relationships...and bit by bit it was beginning to become clear exactly why. Inwardly Stormer berated herself for nnot seeing it earlier, for allowing her personal fear of Pizzazz to stop her from seeing it. Behind the anger and scorn and the intimidating persona, Pizzazz was clearly miserable. The tears remained unchecked, and Stormer wondered if her companion was even aware of them. It seemed that the flood gates had been opened, and now everything was pouring out helter skelter; her fear for her father's life having opened up a chink in her formidable armour.
There was a pause, then Pizzazz sighed.
"All I ever wanted was for him to be proud of me." she murmured sadly. "But he never wanted a rock singer for a daughter. He told me enough times he didn't want me in showbusiness."
Stormer looked thoughtful, then,
"Have you tried telling him how you feel?" She asked.
"You mad?" Pizzazz's temper, unpredictable and brooding flared up once more at this. "My father? The man I practically have to make an appointment to see these days?"
"Maybe you need to."
"Unless you'd forgotten, Stormer, my father is in a coma and on ICU." Pizzazz's tone was both bitter and scornful. "You said it yourself, he might still die. What's the use? He doesn't give a damn what I do or don't do, anyway. He never has. He'd probably rather have Kimber or Jem or...or even you as a daughter than me."
"I think you're wrong." Stormer replied carefully. "I think he just doesn't know how to reach out to you, that's all. Elliot said..."
"Elliot? Who the heck's Elliot?" Pizzazz interrupted.
"Your father's chief executive." Stormer replied. "We talked a bit at the Gabor building, after you left. He said that your dad thought the world of you...and I'm sure he's right. Only that you didn't seem to want to listen."
"Can you blame me?" Pizzazz demanded.
"I don't know. Maybe." Stormer shrugged. "In truth, Pizzazz, I think both of you are to blame. You've both let your relationship go. Kimber told me something once that I'd forgotten till now, about when we were in Malberry - you remember, your father arrived with them? She told me that he'd wanted to talk to you, she'd encouraged him to try...but you pushed him away."
"Damn Kimber." Pizzazz scowled. "She has no business interfering."
"She wanted to help." Stormer protested. "And he wanted it, too."
Pizzazz sighed.
"He really wanted to make amends?" She asked doubtfully.
"I think so." Stormer agreed. "He looked so upset when you pushed him away...and now I think about it, so did you. You're fighting at crossed purposes, that's all. You give up too easily." She smiled. "Think about all the things he's supported you in, all of the times he's indulged you. I don't know if he should or not, but only a father who loved his daughter would act that way."
Pizzazz bit her lip.
"I love him too." She whispered. "I just don't know how to tell him...and it might be too late..."
Stormer hugged her tightly.
"It's never too late." She murmured. "Not while there's still life and hope. Your father's stable and I think you need to take a rest, too, because you're exhausted and it's making you emotional."
"So what?" A sulky note crept into Pizzazz's voice. "If I want to stay up, I'll stay up, Stormer. You can't make me do anything!"
"No, and I'm not going to try." Stormer replied. "But if your Dad was to wake up and find that you'd made yourself ill worrying about him, it wouldn't help either of you, now would it?"
Pizzazz's green eyes filled with surprise as she contemplated this.
"I never thought about that." She admitted slowly. "How do you do that, Stormer?"
"Do what?"
"Know what other people will think and feel and...I dunno, see those things so clearly?"
"I guess...I dunno. I was brought up to think that way." Stormer looked startled.
"I always hated you." Pizzazz observed absently, clearly determined that while she was confessing things she might as well get everything off her chest at once.
"Hated me? Why? Because I'm soft?"
"Yeah, partly." Pizzazz nodded slowly. "But have everything, Stormer. You have Craig, who'll defend you over anyone else in the world, no matter what. You have so much musical ability - you can write and play and sing...and what do I have? I can't play guitar, not really. If I'd bothered payin' attention when I had lessons, then maybe I would, but I didn't. Sure, I have money...but so what? I know Eric gave you a record deal because he knew you were good. He told me all about you before we met...a musical whizkid, he called you."
"He did?" Stormer looked taken aback. "Gee, Pizzazz, I dunno about that..."
"Do you know how I got my recording contract?" Pizzazz interrupted her. "Do you? I paid for it. Bribed Eric to sign me. There. Now what do you think of me, huh?"
Stormer met Pizzazz's green eyes thoughtfully, noting carefully the uncharacteristically helpless look they held, and the almost desperate tone in her companion's voice. It was painfully clear that the singer needed reassuring...though she had too much pride still to ask for it.
"I don't think any different of you than what I already do." She said quietly. "I don't care how you got your contract - you've proved that you belong in this industry as much as anyone. You're one hell of a performer...I'm sure Eric would have signed you anyway, once he'd heard what you could do."
Pizzazz looked startled at this. Then she sighed.
"Perhaps you're right." She acknowledged tiredly.
"I know I am." Stormer replied. "And Jetta and Roxy wouldn't argue it, either. We all know that without you there are no Misfits."
"You know something else?" Pizzazz's expression became one of consternation at the mention of her bandmates.
"Jetta...her work permit." Pizzazz frowned.
"What about it?"
"As far as she knows, she doesn't have one yet." Pizzazz's expression was uncharacteristically troubled. "But she does. Has done for ages. Only I didn't tell her, because...because..."
"Because you wanted to be in control?" Stormer suggested gently. Pizzazz nodded.
"I guess so." She admitted. "The dumb thing is though, Stormer, I...I like Jetta. I don't think I actually ever liked anyone before, but Jetta's kinda different. We get along. I'm not saying we're friends or anything," She added hurriedly. "But I don't mind her company like I do some people."
"Is that why you didn't kick her out after Wissex?" Stormer wondered. Pizzazz shrugged.
"Guess it was." She agreed. "I mean, who cares about money? Daddy has so much that it ain't gonna run out."
She bit her lip.
"I don't want him to die, Stormer. I don't care about inheriting or anything like that, like the papers say I do. I'm not here because of that."
"I know." Stormer told her gently.
"You won't tell Jetta about her permit, will you?"
"No...but perhaps you should."
"I will. Sometime." Pizzazz stifled a yawn. Stormer grinned.
"Look, how about I go downstairs and fix you something to eat, and then you take a nap? If there's any news I'll wake you, I promise."
"I couldn't eat." Pizzazz shook her head. "But...I am kinda sleepy now." She yawned again. "Whaddya know? Guess talking helped."
"Sometimes it does."
"Well, I ain't plannin' on making a habit of it. You mention this to anyone and you're dead."
Stormer laughed, glad to hear a hint of the old, determined Pizzazz back in the singer's tone.
"I promise." She agreed. "Hey, do you still hate me now?"
"Hate you? God, who knows?" Pizzazz made herself comfortable, resting her head on the pillow and closing her eyes. "I don't got the energy right now to think about it."
"Then I'll let you rest." Stormer got to her feet. "Sweet dreams, Pizzazz. Everything will work out in the end, you'll see."
But her words fell on deaf ears, for, comforted more than she would ever openly admit by their little chat, Pizzazz was fast asleep.

Chapter One: The Magazine
Chapter Two: A Phone Call
Chapter Three: Washington DC
Chapter Four: Harvey Gabor
Chapter Five: Answering To Eric
Chapter Six: Breaking Down
Chapter Seven: Riot
Chapter Eight: A Change Of Luck
Chapter Nine: Harvey's Proposal
Chapter Ten: A Cunning Plan
Chapter Eleven: As It Should Be

(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)