Chapter Five: Executive Meeting
"And that's about where we stand."

Elliot concluded, dropping the folder down onto the table and glancing around at the assembled staff. "It's going to mean a lot of administrative shuffling over the next few weeks. But, thanks to Mr Gabor's timely intervention and,"

He paused to glance across the room to where all four of the Misfits were huddled, "The work of some of the staff, the company should survive. There will be no layoffs and no wage cuts at this time. All unpaid salaries should begin to be paid from tomorrow morning - I've already sent a memo down to payroll. And that's pretty much all I can tell you at the moment."

A slim executive raised her hand.

"No layoffs?" She repeated. "Is that a guarantee?"

"Yes." Elliot nodded at her gravely. "Mr Gabor is committed to ensuring every one of you keep your positions. This is an unfortunate situation, but he has no wish to punish innocent staff for the actions of one man. Work should continue as normal for as much of the week as possible. If you have administrative enquiries, you should pass them for my attention. Or, of course, the attention of Ms Gabor."

He gestured towards the Misfits' leader, who started at the sound of her name. He frowned. She was white-faced, her eyes mere shadows and her thick hair pulled back in a careless ponytail. This wasn't the woman he'd met in Washington DC those years earlier, and it unnerved him to see it. Harvey had told him that this company meant the world to her, but he hadn't really believed it. Yet, at that moment, reading her tired, anxious features, he saw that it was true. Losing Misfits Music would be like losing a member of her family, and a slight smile touched his lips.

So she was a Gabor, after all. Harvey would be proud to know that, at least.

"I think that's all, then, if noone has any further questions." He said at length. "Thank you all for coming at such short notice."

A low buzz of chatter began to echo from corners of the room as, bit by bit the representatives from each department filed out, each one carrying the news with them to their waiting colleagues. Finally, it was just him and the Misfits themselves left, and he moved across to where they were sitting.

"The company will survive this." He said softly. "You have my word on that."

Pizzazz stared at him. Then she shrugged.

"Daddy wouldn't let me down." She said frankly. "I just wish it hadn't come to asking him. It's my company. It ain't his. You make it sound like he's the one pulling all the strings when you talk to the staff like that. This wasn't my fault, dammit! I didn't ask Eric to steal money from us or put our business in jeopardy."

"Assigning blame is irrelevant at the moment." Elliot spoke with equal bluntness. "You girls have done a lot to keep this place afloat and I have to admit, you've done it well. Without that, we might be having to make staff cuts and that's never good for morale. But I understand you're still pursuing the idea of legal action against Mr Raymond? With the company finances so drained, is that wise?"

"Misfits Music ain't paying for it. I am." Pizzazz's eyes were of stone. "You don't get it, do you, you bonehead? This is my company. My fight. I'm fighting it. The company's fine. Daddy's fixed it like he always does. But Eric's mine. And I will nail him, if it takes every cent that I've ever earned singing. I'm not letting him get away with this."

"It;s not quite as effective as beating the hell out of the loser, but it will do." Roxy added reflectively at this point, cracking her knuckles as if to emphasise her words. "I'm not a big one for court cases, but I might even stay awake, if it's Eric getting what he deserves."

"Besides, it's an open an' shut case." Jetta shrugged her shoulders. "Eric's guilty. We proved what 'e did. Pizzazz gave that stuff to her Dad's lawyers..."

"My lawyers." Pizzazz interrupted, shooting her companion a dark look. Jetta returned it with a rueful one, then continued,

"Her lawyers and they told her over the phone this morning that they think it's a go-er. You work for a Gabor. You should know that they very rarely lose a legal case."

"Daddy always says that we only lose when it would benefit us more than winning." Pizzazz added speculatively. "God knows what that means, but this one we're gonna win."

She tilted her head on one side, meeting the executive's gaze with a pensive one of her own.

"You mightn't still be in LA when that comes to pass, though." She said dismissively. "You're only here for the time being and you're not in charge. I'm still that."

"Trust me, I wouldn't want to be here permanently." Elliot told her with feeling. "I hate the climate and this isn't exactly an easy task. If I didn't feel your father was testing me by sending me out here..."

He paused, then shook his head.

"Either way, we'll get it fixed and then I'll be back to my office and you'll be back to normal here. Everyone's happy." He finished. "In the meantime, is there anything you want me to do right now?"

"Just get back to that office and finish sorting what you've been sorting." Pizzazz reached up absently to loose her hair, running her fingers through it in a gesture that bordered on agitation. "I'm meeting someone for lunch about the case, but someone will help you."

Her gaze fell on Jetta, and the dark girl grimaced.

"Me? Pizzazz! You know I have plans for lunch!"

"Well, un-plan." Pizzazz said inexorably. "Didn't we already establish that I'm the boss?"

"Yes, but..."

"Then don't 'but' me. Your plans are cancelled." Pizzazz did not let her finish. "We both know who they were with, anyhow, and I'm not letting a man - especially not that man -  take priority over the future of this company. Besides, you sorted out all the sponsorship crap. Elliot will probably need your help."

"I doubt it." Jetta glowered. "Fine. But only because it's all 'ands on deck at the moment, and my bleedin' work permit relies on it. I ain't shippin' back to London if I can 'elp it."

"Then it's settled." Pizzazz almost looked smug, Elliot decided, as if somehow she had prevented a major catastrophe. He pursed his lips. Perhaps she did care about the company, but she was definitely still Harvey's spoiled, petulant daughter.

"Then I suppose we'd better get down to it." He said with a smile. "Sooner we do, sooner it's finished."

"Yeah, but at the moment that might mean never." Jetta muttered. She got to her feet with obvious bad grace. "Well? Get a move on then! They won't sort themselves!"

Elliot bit back his retort. Instead he led the way to the door, pausing to open it and then, with a moment of mock gallantry, he held it open for her. Jetta grimaced at him, but made no comment, merely heading down the hall towards the lift shaft. Elliot paused, then rolled his eyes, inwardly wishing he had been assigned a more friendly work partner.

"But I'll do the best I can." He murmured to himself, speeding his pace to catch up with her. "Because it's as I said. Sooner I do this, sooner I can go back to DC!"

"Thank God he's gone." In the seminar room, Roxy tilted back idly on her chair, pulling a face at the closed door. "He's such a stiff, he gives me the creeps. He walks around like he's Dad and we're the bad kids - anyone else notice that?"

"I think it's comforting to have someone else around to help out." Stormer remarked. "He knows the job and that's more than we do, really. Eric stayed on here because we needed the executive clout while we were busy with the music. Pizzazz, what are you going to do about that? I mean, surely someone's got to take that job?"

"I've already done something about it." Pizzazz said absently. "Someone got a mirror? My hair's all over the place and I have to do some legal sucking up in less than an hour. It's gonna be all I can do not to throw up all over them...I swear, if Daddy makes me fly on that plane again, I'll be making him eat the food."

"You're still sick?" Stormer's expression became one of sympathy. "That stinks."

"Well, the timing stinks most of all." Pizzazz said acidly. "I could use some sleep and a clear head...instead I'm meeting lawyers, sitting in stuffy offices and I haven't even got the time to go out on the town. If this is the kind of life business people lead, I'm not into it. The sooner things settle around here the better."

"Think of it this way." Roxy put in with a smirk, rummaging in her bag and pulling out her compact mirror. "Here. You're spending the lunch hour plotting how to ruin Eric's life. That should cheer anyone up."
"There is that." Pizzazz acknowledged, clenching and unclenching her fists absently as she thought about the disgraced executive. "And believe me, there won't be much of him left when I'm through with doing it."

She scooped up the mirror, glancing at her reflection then grimacing.

"I look like a damn ghost." She muttered. "This won't do. I'll have to go home and do something about it before I go out. I'm not going to have the world whispering that I can't handle my music company and I look frazzled."

"The stress probably isn't helping you sleep." Stormer reflected. "It's all been so uncertain, and you've been dashing about."

She paused, eying her companion warily, then,

"You have seemed different since you got back from San Fran. Not quite, well, yourself."

"Not?" Phyllis dropped the compact onto the table with a clatter, ignoring Roxy's exclamation as she did so. "What the hell do you mean, Stormer? Who else am I likely to be? Wonder Woman? That would be damn useful right now, I'm telling you."

She rubbed her temples. "What are you talking about? How am I not myself?"

"Well..." Stormer bit her lip, then, "You've seemed...quiet, somehow. It's hard to explain."

"Are you saying I'm loud?" Pizzazz raised an eyebrow.

"Usually, yes, because you are." Roxy interjected laconically. "Girl's right, though. Considering the situation, you haven't screamed at us half as much as you usually do. Or at Elliot, for that matter...even when he's been asking for it."

"I'm not loud!" A sulky look crossed Pizzazz's tired face. "I'm just beat, is all. This is all on me, and all everyone's gonna see is Daddy bailing out Spoiled Little Rich Kid again. I'm fed up of it. No matter what I do, that's where it ends up. Noone thinks I can run this company on my own and all this just adds fuel to the fire. Not even Daddy thinks I can. I'm twenty six, dammit! I'm not a little girl!"

She banged her fist down on the table, making Stormer jump.

" that's more normal." Roxy looked amused. "Ranting and raving and table slapping we understand. For a godawful moment there, I thought you were missing Eric."

"You have to be kidding." Anger glinted in Pizzazz's eyes. "Miss him? Miss him? I want to kill him! If I thought I had a shot at getting away with it, I probably would!"

"Good." Roxy remarked. "Because the thought you might actually...I can't believe I'll say this, but like him...I think I'd have to smother you. Or section you. Or both."

"But you have been quiet." Stormer added hurriedly, before Pizzazz could react to her companion's bluntness. "I guess we just wondered if you were all right."

"Well, I've also been throwing up since I got back from San Fran." Pizzazz said flatly. "And I haven't slept right since before that. Get off my back, will you? I have enough to do without you guys bugging me. And if I'm going to be at this damn lunch, I have to move. Now. So find yourselves something useful to run along and play with, huh? Leave the grown up work to the adults round here? Later, kiddies. I'm off to discuss life-ruining tactics."

She got to her feet, stalking purposefully out of the boardroom and into the hallway. As she shut the door with a bang, however, a wave of dizziness washed over her and she dropped back against the wall, closing her eyes.

"What a damn time to get food poisoning." She muttered, taking a deep breath as she tried to compose herself. "No sleep, no time to relax...and now lunch with people I hate. Great. Eric, you are so going to regret doing this to my company, I swear. And as soon as I'm done negotiating with morons who think Daddy's word is the only one that's really important, I'm going home and to sleep. Lord knows I deserve it, after all the crazy rushing around I've been doing!"

*    *    *   *   *   *   *   *

"You know, if you don't want to be here, I can finish this up on my own."

Elliot glanced up from the desk where he had been collating forms, casting his companion a pensive look.

Jetta started, turning from where she had been half-heartedly pacing across the floor. She grimaced, dropping down into the empty seat and folding her arms across her chest.

"So you can tell tales on me to Pizzazz? No dice." She said frankly. "I just have other places I'd much rather be and other people I'd rather be spendin' my lunch time with. That's all. I don't like being penned in with a bloke from DC who thinks he can sweet talk the staff. It wasn't you who dug out this company's problems, or who kept it afloat before Harvey got involved. It was us. An' I resent bein' punished for that - made to give up my own plans to hang out with you an' talk numbers."

Elliot pursed his lips, setting down his pen.

"You had a lunch date?" He asked lightly. "It's not my fault it was cancelled, you know. I didn't choose to be sent here any more than you chose to be stuck in here with me now. It's all for the company's benefit."

"And some of us have lives outside of work." Jetta bristled. "Which are none of your business, by the way. If my work permit didn't depend on this..."

She sighed, resting her chin in her hands. "But it does. So. If I got to be up here, Elliot, I'm going to be in on this from the top. I know what things were like the last time I saw the files - when I tied up all the usual sponsors an' got them back on board. But I ain't seen anythin' since. I know Pizzazz deposited Harvey's cheque an' the company is solvent again...everyone's bein' paid bit by bit an' it's all startin' to get back on an even keel. What else?"

"Harvey wanted me to ensure that the company began new forays into the public domain." Elliot said simply. "He wanted me to make sure that Misfit Music wasn't simply back doing good business. Though you have the sponsors on board, their investments don't completely cover the huge defecit Mr Raymond left in his wake. There's the matter of missing money - I know you're aware of that - such as from the Moss agreement."

He pursed his lips.

"I discovered among Raymond's papers some opening negotiations for shares." He added. "I didn't realise Misfits Music was going to float on the stock exchange."

"It isn't." Jetta shook her head. "How can it? There aren't any shareholders. Pizzazz owns the whole shebang."

"Well, this looks pretty well drafted out."

Elliot flicked through his pile of documents, handing it over. "It's not completed - papers haven't been signed so nothing has been settled. But Parker and Whyte are a good, reputable company. Investors who would do the business no harm in the long run and even help it in terms of credibility and status. Misfits Music has been barely turning a profit in the entirety of its existance. Now it's scraping the barrel in a big way. It's not just a case of paying existing staff, but covering additional expenses. Overtime hours. New staffing to replace Mr Raymond, which also requires publicity and human resources in it's own right. Specifications need to be drawn up, scrutiny panels elected, interviewers prepped..." He shook his head. "And then there are other things. Essential supplies. Compensatory payments to members of staff whose payment has been overtly delayed - Harvey was very particular about keeping those people happy and on board. You mentioned musical instruments, but it's about all the business has to offer. Old bills have been paid, but new orders haven't been placed, authorised or satisfied for a lot of the administrative necessities. Some have been cancelled due to non-payment of earlier invoices."

He patted the edge of the document.

"If Miss Gabor could be persuaded to sell even a twenty percent share in her company, all of those things would easily be taken care of."

"That would mean splitting the company ownership though, right?" Jetta's eyes narrowed. "This don't mean a lot to me, but that is what you're saying, isn't it?"

"On the broadest level, yes - but they'd be a silent partner." Elliot nodded. "Many companies do this to increase capital. It isn't the end of the world or even a sign of weakness. Sometimes quite the opposite. Solidarity among big business is smiled on in many circles."

"I see." Jetta's brows knitted together. Then she shook her head.

"No." She said, dropping it down onto the table. "Pizzazz would never go for that. Even if you put it to her how you just put it to me. This is her company an' she ain't sharin' it with anyone outside. She's a rich kid, this is her project. Turnin' a huge profit isn't her goal. She doesn't need to - she's always got her Dad in the wings an' he's always willin' to indulge her. If you take this any further than Eric already 'as, you'll find yourself next on her hitlist. She won't sell shares. I guarantee it."

"I appreciate that, Jetta, but you don't see the bigger picture. The business angle in all of this. You don't understand..."

"Don't patronise me!" Jetta cut across him, banging a hand down onto the table and making him jump. "That's all you've done since you got 'ere. Talk around us like we're children who don't know what we're doing. It's you who doesn't understand."

She shot him a dark look.

"We're Misfits." She said softly. "We don't operate on your level. We operate on our own. Pizzazz won't sell any part of the company, so back off and ditch that idea where it belongs. If we need capital, we'll find other ways of raisin' capital. Misfit ways. We don't need to sell out to cover those bases. You're jus' lookin' at it through DC specs rather than' seein' things the way they are."

"It would be easier to talk to you on even levels if you stopped answering everything I said with threats or complaints, too." Elliot said evenly. "You don't make it easy for me to work with you. Any of you. I'm trying to seem to forget that all too often."

Jetta sighed, sitting back in her seat.

"Fine." She said flatly. "But there'll be no share selling. I promise you that. So you'll have to think again."

"We're running out of options." Elliot admitted. "Selling assets, or encouraging new investments...or downsizing staff, which we already promised wasn't going to happen."

"So we need to find new investors, alongside the existing ones, then?" Jetta mused. "Without selling shares. New that what you're saying to me?"

"Your sponsorship bases seem pretty well covered to me already." Elliot frowned. "I've been over those, but short of breaking contractual agreements, I don't see how any of them can be increased."

Jetta was silent for a moment.

"But we only have musical sponsorship for instruments." She said at length. "Moss's money is' there's no tellin' how much of the cash Pizzazz will drag out of Eric when she sues him, so it probably is well an' truly gone. But that's not the only angle. You're thinkin' like a business nob...this ain't Washington DC. There are hundreds of things people might want to invest sponsorship money in us for."

A wicked smile touched her lips.

"Did you never 'ear of celebrity advertisin'?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Labels. Designer contracts. Publicity." Jetta counted them off on her fingers. "An' we're not jus' talking about the Misfits. Riot an' his Stingers play for this company too an' their contracts are just as much on the line as ours have been. They need shuttin' up an' dealin' with - you've met Rory Llewelyn, I take it?"

"Yes." Elliot pursed his lips. "Are you going somewhere with all this?"

"Yes, so shut up." Jetta bristled. "At least hear me out. The Stingers need keepin' busy, an' any investment right now is a good thing. Right?"


"So maybe it's time to work some marketing pitches for that lamebrain group." Jetta said slowly. "Within reason, like. Nothin' substantial enough to make them more important than we are. But we're all tied up with this. We 'ave concerts an' shows already up to our ears. The tickets are sellin' out an' I'm pretty sure I can negotiate a good deal with the photographer to save on other costs. But Riot an' his vanity is an untapped resource. He spends most of his time preening and getting other people to fawn over him. Can you imagine the number of hair care products he uses? Not to mention his skin lotions, body waxes, haute couteur clothing..."

She grimaced.

"We toured with them. Believe me, it ain't pretty."

Comprehension dawned in Elliot's eyes.

"You think that the people who make these kinds of products would really look to invest money in a company that represented someone like Rory Llewelyn and his group." He said softly. "Is that it? You think that clothing labels and cosmetics companies would be interested in having Riot and his band as their publicity machine?"

"Well, if you worked in that line, wouldn't you want someone who women fawn over endorsin' your new aftershave?" Jetta asked astutely. Elliot let out a low chuckle.

"I begin to see your point." He acknowledged. "It's an angle I had overlooked, and it's one that's worth pursuing. Do you think the Stingers would be interested?"

"Attention flung their way? Bound to be." Jetta nodded her head. "Reach for the ego. The rest of Riot will come willingly once you've nailed that."

"Then I'll get on to that this afternoon." Elliot made a note on his pad. "Any other sparks of fluke genius to share with me while we're at it?"

"I'd be doin' your job for you, if I said yes." Jetta's tones held an edge to them. "It's not fluke an' it isn't genius, neither. It's common sense. You know the business side of things, but you don't know the people you're workin' with or for. You keep makin' the mistake of thinkin' what Harvey would do. This ain't about him. You need to tap your resources too, you know. Us. We know stuff. We don't jus' get kicks out of mindless violence. Sometimes we do some thinkin', too. Even Roxy. So I've been told."

Elliot pursed his lips, eying her keenly.

"Maybe all of you are wasted in this line of work, then." He said evenly. "And perhaps I'm wasted here, when you could all do such a good job without me."

He cast a glance at his itinerary.

"I can't see us getting much more done now, then." He added. "I want to grab a sandwich before I start calling contacts in the cosmetics industry, and putting your idea to them. I'm sure you've other things you want to be doing, I won't keep you. If Miss Gabor asks, I can tell her you've been go. You don't need to be here and I know you don't want to be."

"Whatever gave you that idea?" Jetta raised an eyebrow, getting to her feet. She headed to the door but, as she reached it, she paused.

 "Do you think you'll get them interested then? I mean, my idea could work out?"

"It could, though I'll need to talk with Rory Llewelyn and the other Stingers before anything is finalised." Elliot nodded his head. "I'm willing to give it a shot, though. Besides, I have a friend pretty high up at Zteca who owes me a favour. Perhaps I'll call it in. They are always looking for new promotions."

"Oh." Jetta fell silent, digesting this. Then she shrugged.

"Well, so I guess there's wheeler dealin' in the business world, an' all."

"There's nothing safe and tame about big business, you know." Elliot looked amused. "You see it as all facts and figures and bits of paper, but it's not like that at all. Working for a man like Harvey Gabor, you get to play the shark quite a lot, too. Going for the best deal, sniping it out from under someone else's nose...that's the kick of it all. The real reason people go into it. That's why he sent me here. This is a challenge and I like challenges. The tougher the better - the bigger the prize when you bring things to fruition."

Jetta stared at him. Then she offered him a wry grimace.

"Maybe the music industry isn't so different from what you do, then." She said flippantly. "But at least we get to wear better threads."

"I'm sorry if I've been patronising." Elliot offered. "I haven't meant to be. Just...well..."

"None of us are Ivy League material, none of us 'ave your nobby education or experience an' we're all chicks who spend more time fightin' the system than bein' it." Jetta said astutely. "But we care about this company too. Makin' it work. It's not just money to Harvey's coffers. It's who we are. Our entire identities are wrapped up in this damn place an' you better 'ad know what you're doin', keepin' it afloat."

"I do." Elliot assured her. "Trust me, the company is in safe hands."

"I've 'eard that before." Jetta said frankly. "An' even if you're right, for how long? You're a temporary measure. What happens when Harvey calls you back to DC - who's going to run the place then?"

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.