Chapter Three: Aftershock

"It seems strange, being in here and not having Eric breathing down our necks."

Stormer pushed open the door of the main recording studio, holding it open for her companion. "Pizzazz is stopping the night in San Francisco, so we're not too sure what the next plan of action is supposed to be. But it's a big deal, Kimber. The company is taking a huge step here."

"Are the finances really as messy as you thought?" Kimber Benton eyed her companion in some astonishment. "I would never have imagined Pizzazz to be short of cash!"

"Well, technically she isn't. It's the company itself that is." Stormer pulled herself up onto a side unit, indicating for her companion to do the same. "Between you and me, I'm not sure the Misfits are going to be playing at the Arena at the end of the month. It'll be all we can do to get this place back up and running. Roxy, Jetta and I will have to hoe in and help, and from the call Pizzazz made to us last night, Harvey is sending people down to assist too. We're gonna be knee deep in administrative chaos from now till Christmas."

She looked rueful.

"Which is why I called you up. I needed a break and we haven't hung out or shopped together for a while now."

"I know, but I'm glad we did this afternoon." Kimber set her shopping bags carefully down on the unit beside her. "And hanging out here is always fun, so long as Pizzazz isn't around. Now that Eric's gone, do you suppose she's going to be the boss all on her own? I mean, wouldn't that mean giving up the Misfits anyhow?"

"We haven't a clue, yet." Stormer sighed, shrugging. "It's something I don't want to think about. Her accident was bad enough - but this is worse. That's another reason for shopping this morning. I am worried about the band and I needed to spend some time with someone so wholly unconnected with this mess."

She pursed her lips.

"You have kept it to yourself, haven't you? I mean, it will get out. Eric will blab and if he doesn't, the press will jump on the legal case, but..."

"I promise." Solemnly Kimber crossed her chest. "I haven't even told Aja. After all, Starlight Music has been none too steady since we had our big falling out with Jerrica, and I know what that kind of publicity is like. I won't say anything."

"How is Jerrica?"

"I don't know." Kimber admitted. "I mean, she's back...back at home, back at work, and she's taking over more and more of her old responsibilities. Having her away has been strange - but I think it's done all of us good. Tempers have cooled and, well, I don't know. She seems more relaxed. But we don't know yet what will happen about Jem and the Holograms. From the time she's been back here, people have been asking if she knows where Jem is. The Holograms' records aren't doing so well as they might, and I know Jem was a big part of that buzz, even though we're trotting along." She grimaced. "Raya's accepted another cameo part in a film, too. So much for not wanting to be an actress. It's all about-turn and crazy still, unfortunately."

"But Jerrica herself...she is better?"

"Yeah." Kimber nodded. "Rio probably did her the best thing in the world by taking her away from Los Angeles when he did last April and making her take a break. From all accounts she pretty much broke down once the strain was off her, but she's recovering and I think she needed to get it out of her." She shrugged in her usual happy-go-lucky way. "So things might be all okay again soon. I hope so. Weird it might seem but I miss Jem sometimes."

"I hope it will." Stormer smiled. "So tell me about Raya and her movies. Is this a serious career move for her?"

"She's juggling us and it." Kimber responded. "First she said she hated Esteban Santiago...but that didn't last long, probably because he's a gorgeous hunk, even though he's older than she is by, like, fifteen years or something silly. So now she's going out to dinner with him and all that stuff. And he's pulling her more and more into that line of work. She's said that if Jem and the Holograms were to shoot off again, or if things were to come to a crunch and she had to choose, she'd still choose us. But I think she likes acting, Stormer. I don't think we should make her choose. After all, noone stops Shana from designing."

"Or you from writing." Stormer pointed out. "That's another thing I'm doing very little of at the moment." She rolled her eyes. "Except writing cover notes and stuff."

"Big business isn't your style either, huh?" Kimber grinned. Stormer shook her head.

"I guess I'm realising that an office job really wouldn't have suited me." She admitted sheepishly. "I can type, but I hate writing letters to people I don't know. I can add up, but the account statements give me a headache and I admit I've had Roxy adding more up than me, simply because she's quicker at it and can do it in her head. I have to scribble it down on paper. And I'm sorry, but I really don't like using a computer. They're ugly monstrosities that get in the way and make the job twice as hard."

"Synergy won't love you for saying that." Kimber teased. Stormer looked rueful.

"Okay, Synergy excepted." She amended. "But those horrible things with their black screens and garish type..." She shivered. "Nope. I hate them. I hope Pizzazz gets someone in to do all this stuff soon, because I honestly would rather be holed up in my little room writing music."

"What about Jetta and Roxy? Did you say Roxy was doing the math?"

"Well, reading mightn't be her strong point, but Roxy's math was a big part of us finding all this out. That and Justin complaining." Stormer nodded. "As for Jetta, God knows. She seemed to enjoy firing Eric, though. I don't think she's ever liked him."

"Who could?" Kimber grimaced. "The man's a slimeball."

She pursed her lips.

"So you don't know who Harvey Gabor might send down? Maybe he'll send some cute young execs...I might have to make an excuse to come over here."

"Kimber!" Stormer laughed. "What about Shawn?"

"Shawn's divorce isn't through yet." Kimber said matter-of-factly. "And I didn't say I was going to ask any of them out. Window shopping for guys is good too, you know." She winked. "And hey, we might find you a hottie, mightn't we?"

"I'm not looking for a hottie. Or any other kind of guy." Stormer blushed. "Men make me feel uncomfortable, Kimber, you know that. I find it hard to read what they want and after the mess I made with Ryan, I'm quite happy to go the whole of my life without involving one, if that's what it takes not to be hurt again."

"That's so boring though." Kimber complained. "You're a Misfit, you're not supposed to play it safe."

"Well, I'm a special kind of Misfit. I'm one with common sense." Stormer said wryly. She glanced up at the clock. "It's almost dinner time. Wanna come back to the Gabor place and grab something to eat? I'd suggest eating out, only in light of the news reports probably about to break, it mightn't look good splashing out on expensive meal somewhere after spending $60 on a new dress."

"No, they might think you were embezzling too. Or that you framed Eric." Kimber said playfully. "But sure. I'm game. Since Pizzazz is out of town, I know I'm not gonna be ripped to shreds if I visit your place."

"Nope. She's definitely not coming home till tomorrow." Stormer assured her. "She told me over the phone that she was stopping with her father at the estate in San Fran, and then coming down about lunch time. She sounded tired...I don't think she slept so good last night, actually. I guess the company means a whole lot to her, and it's probably a good thing she's staying the night there. Better that than her falling asleep at the wheel and winding up back in hospital for the second time in a few months. She's only just over the last one!"

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

"So what do you suppose happens now?"

As Kimber and Stormer were heading off across the city to the Gabor Estate, Jetta had taken refuge at Justin's apartment, dropping down onto the sofa with a gusty sigh.

"Right now, I've no idea." She admitted. "It's no surprise to me Eric's done all this, an' there's probably no risk of Pizzazz losin' the lawsuit, once she's got Daddy on 'er side. But as for the Misfits? The company? The future? No idea."

She glanced at her hands.

"No bleedin' idea if my work permit will be allowed to run on till renewal or if there will even be a place 'ere to renew it." She added. "Roxy seems to think 'Arvey will bail it out all right. I dunno. Maybe 'e will. But we've noone to run it. Pizzazz only kept Eric on because there weren't anyone else to do the job. An' the only other person I can think of from within the company...well, that's Riot." She shuddered. "An' the day 'e takes over is the day I move back to London. I can't stand 'im any more than I can Eric."

"Shh." Gently Justin kissed her, sitting down beside her and putting his arm around her shoulders. "Relax. Roxy is probably right. And Pizzazz owns the company. As far as I understood it, she's a woman that, once crossed, never forgives. She's unlikely to put Riot in charge. From all I can tell she hates him."

"She does. Loathes 'im." Jetta agreed. "But in a time of crisis..." She shrugged. "Oh well. She's comin' back from San Francisco tomorrow an' then we'll know better what's what. She did say 'Arvey would put the money in to pull the company up, now I think about it. Stormer mentioned as much. But whether she can carry on as a Misfit an' still keep the business afloat is anyone's guess."

A sad look touched her face.

"The Misfits 'ave been everythin' to me for the past couple of years." She murmured. "I don't want Eric Raymond to be the reason they fizzle out."

"Then don't let him be." Justin responded matter of factly. "You girls have talent. Real talent. If you didn't, you wouldn't be where you are. You've had horrible luck lately, that's all. First Pizzazz has her accident. Then all of this..."

"The two are connected, I swear they are." Jetta interrupted. "If Pizzazz 'ad never signed that bleedin' bit of paper givin' Eric control of the company while she was in 'ospital...she never rescinded it. I found it in one of the files when we were sortin' junk. It was still valid. Not only that, someone - 'im probably - 'ad forged 'er signature on a couple of other documents grantin' 'im this or that right. She 'adn't even noticed. She might own the place but she can't run it, an' if an outsider comes in 'e - or she - will try an' control 'ow we do things."

"I can't imagine anyone working with Pizzazz for long." Justin said dryly. "I begin to see your problem."

"I work with her." Jetta objected. "Stormer an' Roxy, they do too. It's not impossible."

"No, but it's not necessarily a pleasure." Justin winked at her. "Though you can thank her for me - I received a cheque this morning for the amount owed me. I trust it won't bounce?"

"Cheeky git." Jetta punched him playfully on the chest. "No, of course it won't. It's from 'er account, not the company's."

"Then I'll cash it tomorrow. I have my rent payment this weekend, anyway." Justin responded. "I'm grateful to you and Roxy for getting to the bottom of this for me, by the way. Especially since it seems to have caused ripples all over."

"No, Eric did that." Jetta sighed. "Jerk. I 'ope Pizzazz does sue 'im for every penny 'e 'as."

"Knowing Pizzazz, I'm sure that ain't in doubt." Justin observed. "In the meantime, you need to stop worrying about what's going to happen. I don't think the music company is in jeopardy - nor do I think your job or your permit is going to disappear. The Misfits have fought through crises before and you'll get through this one, else you aren't the tough girls of rock you tell everyone you are."

He kissed her gently on the forehead. "So don't fret. It will be fine."

"I 'ope you're right." Jetta grimaced. "I don't like it when things ain't in my control!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

It all seemed so complicated.

Pizzazz sprawled on her bed, spreading out the sheets of paper before her as she struggled to comprehend everything that her father had told her. He had been as good as his word, phoning his lawyers and making copious notes of their advice, before putting a call through to Washington DC. It had all been arranged so easily, and Pizzazz felt a touch resentful that her own business venture was in such chaos, whilst her father's was running so smoothly.

Still, he had agreed to help her. He had had his secretary type up his notes, and had given them to her half an hour earlier, as he had said goodnight and retired to bed. Unable to sleep, Pizzazz had decided to take a look at them, but the complicated jargon was giving her a headache.

"Who am I kidding?" She muttered. "I'm a rock star, not an executive. I haven't a clue what all this means. Maybe it's true what they say. Maybe there is more to Daddy's business empire than just tons of money. I dunno, though. How he understands all of this is beyond me. All I know is that Eric screwed us over - me especially - and I want payback, big time. If that's what these bits of paper say, it's a damn long winded way of putting it!"

She swept the papers onto the floor, burying her head in the cool pillow. It had not been an easy twenty four hours, she acknowledged. Though she had not been in love with Eric, her pride still stung at the thought of his betrayal. When she came to think about it, she wasn't sure whether the state of her company or the illicit liason Roxy had claimed to have witnessed were annoying her more. Finally, with a sigh, she decided it was a combination of the two.

"It wouldn't matter if the others hadn't found out about Eric." She reasoned. "I felt odd enough doing it, so God knows why I did. I dunno. Guess I was proving a point. They wouldn't get the point, though. I can hardly go explain to them that the reason I seduced that slime of an executive was to prove that I could have any guy I wanted, even the most unlikely. If that even was the reason in the end. I'm not sure any more. I just don't know. If it was the reason, why the hell didn't it just end at once? One time could be forgiven, but..." She groaned, turning over onto her back as she contemplated. "Dammit, sometimes I don't even understand myself. All I know was that it was an embarrassing mistake and I'd die if Daddy ever got to know of it."

She stared up at the ceiling, idly making out the pattern around the light fixture. Harvey was a creature of habit, and something in the familiarity of it comforted her.

"I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse sometimes, being a Gabor." She reflected. Then she laughed aloud. "Gee, I'm getting to be a philosopher now! But it just sucks. I look at all this junk Daddy has and that's just it - it's Daddy's. None of it's mine. None of it ever has been. It's always been his money, his this, his that. But Misfit Music IS mine. I can't let it fold and die. Maybe I ain't the businesswoman Daddy wants me to be, but I'm not letting go of it. It's the first thing I've really had of my own, well, ever! Somehow Im gonna make it work out. I don't know how yet, but Eric is not gonna take that away from me!"

Part Three: To Hell And Beyond
Chapter One:  Confrontations
Chapter Two: Harvey Gabor
Chapter Three:  Aftershock
Chapter Four:  Enter The Cavalry
Chapter Five:  Executive Meeting

Chapter Six:  Legal Wrangles
Chapter Seven:  New Recruits

The Boring Disclaimer:
Pizzazz is not my character - she and the Misfits were created by Hasbro and given life by Christy Marx and the writers of the Jem series. However, the events, concepts and plotline contained in this story is my own and may not be duplicated. Justin, Alan and any character not featured in the Jem cartoon are entirely my creation and are also not to be duplicated anywhere else.