Chapter Six: Fire vs Fire

"This 'as been the longest week ever."

Jetta dropped down onto the couch, making herself comfortable among the cushions. "I swear it 'as, an' getting longer by the minute. Does anyone else feel bloody surreal about everythin' goin' on 'ere?"

"Well, it sure is quiet." Roxy observed, switching off the television and dumping the handset down onto the table. "Without her screeching and yelling every place. But guess that won't last long. Didn't Harvey say she'd woken up?"

"Yeah." Jetta nodded. "Mind you, even that don't mean she's in the clear." She frowned. "That doctor keeps bleatin' about post-operative infections and stuff. I don't like it."

"Pizzazz is strong and she's survived a lot already." Stormer put in softly from her corner. "I don't think she'll die now, Jetta. I think we've seen the worst of it."

"I 'ope so." Jetta grimaced, then, "Feels even more surreal but I guess I'm kinda worried about 'er."

"I think we all are." Stormer looked thoughtful. "However much of a brat she can be."

"She's a Misfit." Roxy added. "She's one of us."

"For how long?" Stormer looked pensive.

"Huh?" Roxy stared at her friend. "What do you mean, Stormer, for how long? Pizzazz is a Misfit to the bone, you know that."

"Yes, I do." Stormer nodded. "But I can't help remembering what Dr Garcia said about her injuries the first time we spoke to him. It still gives me chills to think of it. He said one of her lungs was torn to ribbons, pretty much - and you know Harvey said she could barely speak. How long is it going to be before she can sing again? Will she ever sing again? Takes a lot of air to belt out our songs, you know."

Jetta cursed.

"I didn't think about that at all." She admitted. "But you're right. She might get better, but it don't mean she'll be the singer she was before all of this 'appened. I suppose that the bottom line is, she might not ever 'ave the same lung capacity as she did."

"I wonder if it's occured to her." Stormer sighed. "I'd hate to be there, trapped in that hospital bed, not knowing if I'm gonna even make it, dwelling on my future..."
"Pizzazz ain't soft, Stormer." Roxy interrupted. "More likely she's wondering how to bust outta there." She shrugged. "Besides, she's tough. You said so. She'll heal. We're Misfits, we ain't ready to call it a day yet. Sure, this sucks, but she'll get over it. Don't fuss! We'll be fine."

"I hope so." Stormer murmured. "Because Pizzazz's voice is a large part of our sound and you know how fussy and difficult she gets if she has even a bout of laryngitis. Strikes me that convalescence for an injury like this isn't going to be over in a few days and patience is not one of her biggest virtues."

"It's gonna be a bloody nightmare." Jetta remarked succinctly. "That's what you're sayin', ain't it? We're screwed till she's better an' we're gonna 'ave to sit through 'er tantrums on the subject, an' all!"

"Pretty much. Not to mention Eric's." Stormer rubbed her temples. "Poor Pizzazz. I know she's tough, and all that, but I'd still be afraid. To come so close to death..." She shivered. "Can't help but think about it. One second you're there and the next, bam. You're not. She came so close to that line."

"Don't remind me." Jetta muttered. "If it 'adn't been for that stranger she woulda crossed it."

Stormer sent Jetta a surrepticious glance, noting the look in her companion's grey eyes and deciding to change the subject. Jetta had sought no medical help after the accident, and, although she had been quiet and shaken for twenty-four hours following the crash, she had not suffered any major effects. However, Stormer knew that forgetting the incident was quite another matter, and that secretly the saxophonist was still berating her lack of first aid knowledge.

"What's Eric said since he got back?" She asked now. Jetta shrugged.

"Beats me, Stormer. I ain't spoken to the bloke." She admitted. "Roxy?"

"Think I spend my time hunting down Eric?" Roxy snorted. "I dunno. I think he went to the office, and that's that. None of us have been to Misfit Music since the accident, so why would we know what he's doing?"

"Good point." Stormer spread her hands. "I was there early yesterday, collecting some things, but that was before he got back. His...length of time in returning was kinda strange to me. You know? He took his time."

"Business comes first." Jetta intoned dryly. Roxy nodded.

"Big nose is right. Eric only cares about things which are small, green and made of paper."

Jetta glowered at the insult, but for once held her tongue and Stormer said a silent thank you. Life had not been easy for any of them during that week, but for her, caught in the middle of two girls whose anxieties were sparking frayed tempers, it had been nothing short of hell.

"We are his business." She said now. "The Misfits are the biggest act that company has. I mean, there are the Stingers, and they're big too, but..."

"I would think Eric's working out how to make the company cash in on Pizzazz's accident. We're all insured." Jetta said dryly. "I'd lay money on that bein' 'is first course of action. If the Misfits can't record because one of us is ill or injured, the company gets a pay out to cover costs. I bet that's what 'e's thinkin' an' why we ain't seen 'ead nor tail of him."

"Probably." Stormer sighed. "It's clinical and awful to think like that, but I suppose at least the company is stable whilst we're not."

"When do you suppose she'll be outta there?" Roxy asked. Stormer shrugged.

"I don't know. I don't know if we can even visit her." She admitted. "I think it's going to be a long, slow recovery, you guys. No flash in the pan this time. We're in for the long haul."


"Well, your heart rate sounds normal."

Dr Garcia sat down beside the bed of his patient, ignoring her rebellious glares as he calmly measured her temperature and her blood pressure, then made a note on her chart. "And your blood pressure is good. Plus, there's no temperature, which means no infection. You're looking good, Miss Gabor! Now, if only we could chivvy your lung to heal a little more quickly, everything would be perfect."

Pizzazz's green eyes darkened mutinously, and despite himself, Alan chuckled.

"Oh, so you don't want it to?" he asked gently. "You intend to thwart every attempt I make to get you better, then?"

Pizzazz's eyes sparked angrily, but she made no attempt to retort, and Alan shrugged, reaching once more for his stethoscope and placing it gently on her ribcage. Involuntarily she winced, and his eyes became grave.

"I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you." He said, contrite. "I know you must be pretty banged about still, and the ribs still haven't healed, but I'm being very gentle. I need to listen to your breathing, to make sure it's all all right."

"I wanna get outta here. I don't want you messing with me any more." A disgruntled whisper came from the patient, and Alan frowned.

"Miss Gabor, you're far too ill to even think about getting out of here yet." He told her gently. "I'm sorry. I know it stinks, but you still need our help."

An obstinate look entered those green eyes and, before Alan knew what was going on, she had brought her right arm up, swiping the stethoscope away and glaring at him.

"Don't tell me what to do." She croaked. "Noone tells Phyllis Gabor what to do!"

"Well, we've two ways to look at this, then." Alan said evenly. "I know you're a powerful young lady with big money backing, but your life is, whether you like it or not, in our hands here.You can either let us help you and get better, or don't let us help you, and you won't. It's entirely up to you."

At this matter of fact appraisal of her situation, Pizzazz's temper was roused in full force and she struggled to bring herself more upright in her bed, fixing him with the vilest look she could muster.

"Don't be cocky with me!" She seethed. "I could have you struck off, I could make your name mud, I could..."

The rest of her threats dissolved into a breathless fit of coughing as her damaged lung gave way under the strain, and Alan put a gentle arm on her shoulder.

"Shh. You can yell at me when your lung's a bit stronger." He promised her. "You'll only make yourself worse if you do it now."

Pizzazz dragged a clumsy breath of air into her lungs, her eyes no longer angry but wild and frightened.

"I...can't...breathe..." She gasped, grabbing Alan's hand in a vicelike grip, making him wince. "Help me! Please!"

"Let me go, I can't help you unless you do!" Alan snapped, and, startled by his tone into obeying him, his patient did as she was bidden, allowing him to grab the oxygen mask and place it gently over her face. He began to talk to her gently, reassuring her with his soothing tones and encouraging her to breathe slowly and deeply, whilst he summoned various nurses into the room, making absolutely sure that her situation was not critical, and that she had simply panicked in reaction to registering her own debility. Though he knew that he could stop her attack, he had realised in an instant that the spark of fear in the green eyes was genuine, and that the girl's own fright was adding to the confusion.

"Don't struggle." He told her firmly. "I can help you and you'll be fine, but you have to calm down. It's no good for either of us if you panic and hyperventilate. Your lungs can't deal with that right now."

Somehow his words seemed to penetrate her skull, for she closed her eyes, a look of determination crossing her face as she fought to bring her rising hysteria under control. As she did so, her breathing began to steady, and, with Alan monitoring her like a hawk, she took a deep, painful gulp of air into her lungs, opening her eyes once more.

Now the crisis was over, Alan dismissed the nurses, eying her solemnly.

"You have to trust me." He told her softly. "I told you that you weren't well enough to fight me - when will you believe me? You could have done yourself real damage then."

The singer, too weak from the terror and physical impact of her attack of breathlessness, appeared to have momentarily lost her defiance for she slowly and meekly nodded her assent, allowing him to gently remove the oxygen mask and then listen once more to her breathing. Though her heart pounded violently in her chest, Alan was relieved to find that no actual damage had been caused, and that her breathing rate was far more even.

"I am here to help you, whether you believe me or not." He said. "You don't have to like me, I don't expect you to. But I would appreciate it if you would listen when I give you advice. This isn't a musical venture, a game, a tv show, or anything like that. This is life - your life. I'm pretty sure that, if you do as I suggest, and cooperate, that you will make a full recovery from your injuries. But if you don't...I don't want to have to rush you down to surgery again in the middle of the night in order to re-suture a torn lung. Okay?"

Another small nod, though a spark of fight was returning to her expression and secretly Alan was glad to see it.

"Good. Then I suggest we make a deal, you and I." he suggested matter of factly. "Whilst you're sick, you do as I tell you. Okay? No lapses into temper, no matter how frustrated you're feeling. You've seen today what will happen if you do. Then, when you're better, you can yell and scream at me and call me every name under the sun, as loud as you like. Is that fair enough?"

"I...I guess." Pizzazz's tone was barely a whisper, and she eyed him thoughtfully. "Most p...people are scared of me, you know."

"Yes, I know." Alan agreed.

"Are you?"

"Here you're just another of my patients who needs help. I'm not afraid of anyone who needs my treatment."

"Oh." Pizzazz's frown deepened, then, "We'll have to put that right."

"You like people being scared of you?"

"They d...don't m...mess with me. I like that. They things my way and don't a..argue."

There was a pause, then, "Will I be okay? Really?"

"I think so."

"I don't want think, dammit!" Pizzazz's temper threatened to flare up once again but she seemed to recall the panic of a few moments earlier, for she stopped herself, taking a deep breath to calm herself, before continuing in a low whisper. "I want to know. I'm tough, I'm a Misfit. I can...can take it."

"Well, like I said, I can be pretty sure that you will make a good recovery, so long as you follow orders." Alan responded.

"I don't like taking orders from anyone."

"I noticed." Alan pursed his lips. "But you're also an intelligent woman, Miss Gabor, and you're quick witted enough to realise that you need to work with me at the moment, like it or not. I'm a surgeon and I've been a fortunate one, in that I've slipped into a position I love dearly at this hospital. I take great pleasure in using my vocation to help people of all walks of life return to their normal everyday routines, and I have no intention of letting you be my first failure. You were a surgical mess when they brought you in, and now you've every chance of healing. It would do neither of us any good if you didn't."

Pizzazz's green eyes widened with surprise.

"I didn't realise there was something in it for you too." She said slowly, then, "How much is my father paying you to make sure I get better?"

"Put a price on your head?" Alan asked. "He hasn't. Mr Gabor told me in no uncertain terms to do whatever it took to get you well - that the cost was not an object. Myself, I get paid good wages by the hospital to treat people and see them discharged, happy and healthy. I don't want any bribes or payoffs. Your father loves you a great deal, and he's willing to do anything it takes to get you well. In my mind, that makes you worth more than any price, don't you agree?"

Pizzazz pursed her lips, thinking this over.

"Daddy's rich." She said at length. "You could name your price. I'm all he has, you know. He'd pay it."

"But as I said, I don't want it." Alan shrugged. "I want you to get well and walk out of here, then my job will be done." He winked at her. "It does my reputation no harm, either, to say that I've treated and cured Phyllis Gabor successfully."

Pizzazz stared at him, then,

"You know, I think you have as much ambition as I do!" She murmured. Alan shrugged.

"I like being a doctor who's known for being good at what he does." He replied. "I won't lie to you, my reputation in this field is important to me. There are too many quacks, too many sloppy medics and too many people who just don't inspire people's confidences. I don't want to be one of them. Treating you has attracted a lot of media attention. It would be no good for my professional reputation if I were to botch this case up and let you die."

Pizzazz looked thoughtful.

"Is th...that why you think you can get away with being so rude to me?"

"If rudeness gets through, then I'll try it." Alan told her. "I really don't mind if you hate and despise me forever for it, to be honest with you. My preoccupation is that your lung heals, and heals well enough for you to be able to be the singer and performer you were before the accident. I'm not someone who's intimidated or impressed by status - all patients who enter my care will get the same careful treatment, that's just how it is. Like I said, you can't put a price on life. The publicity isn't bad for me, so long as you do well, and I think you will. But I'm not afraid to be rude to you if that's what it takes to effect your cooperation. My vocation was always to help make sick people better. Any man has pride in what he does, particularly if he ranks top among his profession and is esteemed by his colleagues as such. You must know what that's like, in the position you're in in the music industry. You're a big name in your field and I am in mine. It's not very different, really, from that point of view." He smiled. "Besides, I genuinely want to see you better. Human life is not something that can be played with or bartered for with prizes, acclaims and awards. It's more important than all of that put together."

Pizzazz's eyes had narrowed at his initial flippant words, but her expression changed into one of unrest as she registered the implications of what he had said.
"You...there's a chance I wouldn't sing again?" She demanded, grabbing Alan's arm and gripping it tightly. "What kind of surgeon are you, if you can't guarantee a proper fix?"

"I'm doing my best." Alan told her levelly. "But if you continue to throw temper tantrums like the one you threw a while ago, you'll upset your stitches and be back in theatre. The more times I stitch you up, the weaker your lung will be. If you do as you're told, I can almost guarantee you will, in time, sing again. But I've no time for the spoiled brat and the threats. You have to know that that won't help either of us one bit, and it will only mean we're forced to see each other for longer."
"Why do you call me Miss Gabor?"

"It's your name, isn't it?" Alan gestured to the name tag above her bed. "Phyllis Gabor."

"Most people call me Pizzazz." Pizzazz's green eyes sparked contemplatively. "Because I'm a star."

"Yes, but there aren't any stars in hospital. Only patients needing help." Alan shrugged.

"Hm." Pizzazz seemed to be thinking this over, and the doctor stood.

"I have other patients to see. Be good for once, okay?"

"Bah." Pizzazz scowled. "I'll be bored out of my skull!"

Alan laughed.

"Patience." He chided. "You'll be fine, Miss Gabor, if you just bide your time and use a little patience."

There was no response, and he pulled open the door, going to leave the room.

"Dr Garcia?"

A faint call from the bed made him turn.


"You know my name is Phyllis. What's yours?"

"Alan." The doctor seemed startled. "But..."

"Right. Alan it is." Pizzazz seemed satisfied.

"Miss Gabor..."

"No. Phyllis." Now she fixed him with those green eyes, as if daring him to disobey her. "That's an order. If you won't call me Pizzazz, you'll call me Phyllis."


A smile touched Pizzazz's lips.

"Because I said so." She responded. "I'm not being Miss Gabor. And I'm calling the shots.

 Got it?"


Part One: Summer, 1989
Chapter One: Alone
Chapter Two: A Night Out
Chapter Three: Tragedy
Chapter Four: Aftermath
Chapter Five:  Alan Garcia

Chapter Six: Fire vs Fire
Chapter Seven: Eric

Chapter Eight: Ambition
Chapter Nine: Eric's Offer
Chapter Ten: Misfits To Arms