Chapter Four: The Morning After

"She's not even here!"

Back at the club, oblivious to what was going on at the music company across town, the other Misfits were just waking up to the realisation that their leader had deserted them.

"She's taken off, I swear she has! The car ain't even here!"

Roxy muttered a curse.

"I told you she was sulking! Didn't I say it? She's taken off and left us here to walk home or call a taxi, just because my stupid brother can't time his entrances any better."

"You think so? She wasn't in the best of moods anyway." Stormer sighed. "Great, so now what? Do we assume she's gone home? Or are we supposed to trot out and look for her?"

She frowned.

"Is the driver gone too? Harry, or whatever he's called? Or has she downed however many drinks and taken it into her head to drive herself? We don't want another accident."

"He's gone." Roxy nodded. "She's taken it all, lock stock and limousine."

She glanced at her watch. "And it's only just hit midnight. She won't have gone home. She's probably gone to some other club just to spite us or whatever."

"She has been strange since the accident. Spasmodic." Stormer looked thoughtful. "One minute focused on the business, one minute wanting to go out and have a minute she cares what we're all doing and the next she wants nothing to do with any of us. I dunno. I'm wondering if losing all that oxygen when her lung was messed up has turned her brain, to be honest. She's always been unpredictable but don't you think she's been more so of late?"

"I don't know. Maybe." Roxy was uncharacteristically grave. "But as you said, she's always been sick in the head."

"Maybe we shouldn't have left her at the bar." Stormer bit her lip, glancing guiltily across the club to the empty bar stool. "I mean, it wasn't really nice of us, considering that this was a Misfit night out and Jetta had already taken off with Justin. Perhaps she just wanted a night out as a group like we always used to do...I guess she's mad at us because we didn't see it that way."

"I'm not a dog. I don't need a leash, and nor do you." Roxy shrugged. "Pizzazz is cool to hang out with, but she can be a drag when she's sulking. Besides, she's a big girl now. She gotta know we do our own thing and it doesn't make us any less Misfits. And you still got change for a fifty in your pocket. Why ruin our evening when she's obviously out someplace having a blast?"

"I suppose so." Stormer sighed. "Though she'll probably be mad at us in the morning. She has had a rough couple of months, and this was supposed to be a group night."

"Well, we had a rough couple of months too. Especially while she was convalescent." Roxy said bluntly. "Are you coming, or aren't you? Pizzazz can take care of herself and in the mood she's in, I don't really want to bother about finding her. She'll have cooled off by the morning, because she knows we've got a lot of work to do on that damn song of yours once you've finished writing it. You'll see. She'll forget this when it comes to a chance to show off for the studio technicians."

"That's true." Stormer pursed her lips. "Okay. I guess you're right. She wouldn't thank us for tracking her down, anyway. She'd say we were interfering."

"Right." Roxy agreed.

"Should we tell Jetta she's gone?"

"Nah." Roxy shook her head. "She's off with Justin and trust me, I might be able to live with that gross thing they call 'dating' " She emphasised the quote marks. "But I do not have to see any of it, and would rather not."

"Hey, the Holograms are finishing their set. We could go say hi." Stormer suggested. "You can tell Aja how her bike acquired a screw tonight, and I haven't had a chance to talk to Kimber much lately!"

"Then we'll do that. Though no sissy talk about boys or whatever." Roxy ordered. "I know you when you're with Kimber. You're like damn adolescents."
"Well, I kinda missed my adolescence with being too shy and then my mother dying." Stormer shrugged her shoulders. "And noone said that being a Misfit needed maturity. In fact, I thought it was pretty much a rule of thumb to be the opposite."

Roxy chuckled.

"And you were such a mild little wimp when I first met you." She said playfully. "You're much more fun to hang out with now. Come on. We got money to burn and it's still early, yet!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


Pizzazz pushed open the door of the office, padding slowly down the corridor to the ladies rest room. Her head was buzzing and aching from the night before, and she knew that, whatever her claims, three glasses of a potent drink after so long banned from alcohol while her lung healed had taken it's toll on her body, and that she was not completely back at full fitness yet. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror, setting her purse down on the counter and beginning to fix her appearance.
"Too much alcohol, too much being screwed about by idiots." She muttered, carefully redoing her eyeshadow, then pausing to examine the effect. "In a million years I would never have come here last night if I had been one hundred percent sober...and God only knows what I thought I was up to. But hell, I don't even care! Damn the lot of them! I'm Phyllis Gabor, and I can do what I want! I said I could get any guy and I damn well proved it last night!"

A slight smile touched her lips.

"He didn't know what hit him." She mused, running her tongue over her teeth absently as she fished in her purse for her lipstick. "But he didn't exactly complain when it came to it, either. Hell, he'll be feeling the effects of last night for a long time to come, and that's for sure! I ain't lost anything from being invalided, which is good to know. I really wondered when that stupid Dr Garcia turned me down. But nope...I still got it."

She let out a low chuckle.

"Daddy would throw a fit." She murmured, a wicked glint entering her green eyes. "Daddy, who wants his daughter to be a good little businesswoman in a suit, and spend less time in clubs late at night, more hours at the office. Well, I spent the night at the office, Daddy...what do you make of that?"

She ran her brush through her long wavy hair, hunting in her bag for a spare band, then pulling her thick mane back from her face. Satisfied with the result, she tossed her belongings back into her purse, grinning at her reflection.

"I don't look like I had two hours sleep." She decided. "I look like a complete knockout, and that's as it should be. Roxy and Stormer might have had their fun last night and Jetta might have trotted off with Justin, but I don't care. I was having some fun of my own."

Amusement touched her expression. "And who knew it could be so much fun to seduce an employee? If I'd have known what a buzz it would be I'd have done it years ago. Eric's no Nick Mann but I proved my point, and hey, maybe I'll get my kicks out of him yet. Perhaps it'll be fun. He's not the kind of guy who's likely to get bogged down in all that stupid romance nonsense that Jetta seems to have fallen for, and he's got too much sense to give me stress because he knows his job rides on me being happy. Yeah, maybe I will play this one for all it's worth."

She flexed her fingers.

"After all, it's very hard to refuse Phyllis Gabor."

She left the rest room, heading downstairs slowly. The lift was still powered down, for overnight it remained switched off, and she paused at the coffee machine on the third floor, grabbing herself a drink.

"I suppose I should head home." She mused. "I don't have to be here for at least another four hours and there's no reason that the others should know what I did last night. They took off on me, so why should I tell them anything? But they'll wonder why I'm here so early. Better I get a car home and they think I spent all night in some club or whatever. Give it some sense of mystery. Make them jealous."

She sauntered out into the parking lot, taking a sip of hot coffee as she did so. The car which had dropped her off the night before was nowhere to be seen, but it was a fine morning, and with a shrug she set off on the path out of the city.

"My head needs the fresh air." She acknowledged, taking another sip of her drink. "If I woulda changed anything about last night, it would be what I drank. I swear it's not usually that strong."

She stopped at the end of the street, turning to gaze back at her music company. Eric was still inside, she knew that, and half of her wondered if he even knew she'd gone.

"But he won't expect me to have stuck around. That's not what I do." She decided at length. "And he won't tell anyone, in case I get mad at him." She giggled. "It's fun to have that kind of power over someone. It's almost a pity he's such a stick in the mud workaholic. Running Misfit Music would be a hell of a lot more fun if he wasn't. Still, I suppose he did net that sponsorship deal. At least I think that's what he said last night..." She rubbed her temples. "I forget. Well, whatever. I know I signed that contract thing, anyhow, so if it's not a done deal yet, it will be very soon. I suppose he deserved some kind of reward for his hard work. It's more than Riot or any of the others have done."

A frown touched her lips at this.

"I woulda thought Jetta and the rest would have at least given a damn about the company while I was out of action, but all I find is that Eric's been holding the fort and Riot's been whining like the baby he is. I bet they've spent the whole time socialising and messing about and not doing a damn thing. Stormer hasn't even finished the new song, which is a first for her. I swear they're getting more and more unreliable! Sometimes I wonder what the hell they think the Misfits are gonna be if they're not committed!"

"You're out early."

A voice startled her, and she glanced up, meeting Stormer's quizzical gaze with a defiant one of her own. Aware that she had been remonstrating out loud, she wondered how much Stormer had overheard, and for a moment neither girl spoke.

Finally Pizzazz drained her coffee cup, crushing the styrofoam vessel absently in her hands.

"I'm allowed to be out and about. I don't have a curfew and you're not my mother." She said, in tones verging on the petulant. "So are you, but you don't find me staring at you."

"We wondered if you were all right, when you didn't come home last night." Stormer ignored the unwelcoming note in her friend's voice. "We got back around half two and you weren't there. Last time you didn't come home you wound up in hospital. I was heading into the city to see if I could find out where you'd got to."

"Well, you shouldn't be so interested in what I'm up to, should you?" Pizzazz snapped. "You didn't care overly whether you left me or not last night, so why care now? I'm a grown woman, and I don't need a minder. I made my own kicks and I had a good time without you. Okay?"

"Did you go to a club or something?"

"It's none of your damn business." Pizzazz retorted. "I haven't asked you what you did when you disappeared, have I?"

"No." Stormer admitted. "Pizzazz, I am sorry we did that. It didn't occur to me till you'd already gone that maybe you'd be put out. Roxy saw someone she thought she knew and we went after them - but it wasn't them - and then..."

"Save your excuses." Pizzazz held up her hands. "Because quite honestly, I don't care."

"Were you heading back to the Gabor place?" Stormer asked.

"I was. Why, are you going to walk me home?"

"If you don't mind. I would only have gone on to the music company, and I've realised that my manuscript is at home." Stormer responded. "Roxy needs to look at the bass part for me, anyhow. With any luck it'll be finished by tonight and we can start recording it tomorrow."

"Well, it had better be." Reluctantly Pizzazz fell into step with her younger bandmate. "We've been too long without a new song."

"Yes, I know." Stormer decided that it would not be the best time to remind the singer exactly why. "But I...I think you will like this one. It's very upbeat and dynamic and I think it has a lot of our earlier flair in it. You know, it's a rock-out number like some of our first songs were. Something to remind people exactly what we're about."

"Sounds promising." Pizzazz admitted grudgingly. "I want to see the lyrics when we get back. Might as well learn them."

"Sure. I'll dig them out when I give Roxy the scripts." Stormer nodded. "She was asleep when I came out - I couldn't sleep for worrying where you'd got to - but it shouldn't take long to find them and you can have the words for sure."

"What about Jetta?" Pizzazz eyed her sharply. Stormer shrugged.

"She didn't come home either." She said simply. "I saw her leave the club with Justin around half she's probably sleeping over at his."

"She'd damn well better not be late for studio." Pizzazz muttered darkly. "We might not have an actual song yet but that doesn't mean we can't talk about it, and how we want to do it."

"I'm sure she won't be. She's not usually late." Stormer said tactfully.

Pizzazz didn't answer, and for a few minutes they walked in silence. As they did so, Stormer stole a glance at her companion, reading the displeasure in the singer's expression, and noting the way she was still crushing the coffee cup between her hands.

"She's still in a bad mood." She realised with a sigh. "Great. I hoped she'd sleep that off - though I suppose if she hasn't been home yet she hasn't had a chance."
Her brows creased as she took in the logo on the cup.

"Weird." She mused. "That's the brand of coffee we have at Misfit Music. She can't have been to work this early, surely?"

"What are you staring at? You look like you tasted something funny." Pizzazz demanded at that point, making Stormer jump. The songwriter shook her head.
"Nothing. I just had a thought for the song." She lied. "So you want us in studio itself today? Do you want me to bring what I have of the scripts along to work with me, then? Maybe we can go over them."

"Yeah. Do that." Pizzazz nodded. She frowned. "Whether you care or don't, the company has just sealed an important sponsorship deal, which means we'll have a bunch of new equipment and cash for promotions. It's the best time to be putting a new song on record. Besides, I want us doing photos at the end of the week, and then we should go to somewhere new and exotic to do the video. This money's gonna come in hella useful."

"That;s a relief." Stormer murmured. Pizzazz frowned.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"Well, Jetta was afraid that Eric would use your illness to wreak havoc with the company." Stormer explained. "But I guess he has been working in it's favour after all."

"He sealed the deal." Pizzazz said shortly. "Like I told Jetta, the guy has too many brains to mess over a Gabor. We're dangerous people to antagonise."
"So you've been to Misfits Music this morning, then?"

"What makes you think that?" Pizzazz looked startled.

"Well, you mentioned this deal..."

"I signed the paperwork yesterday." Pizzazz shook her head.

"Oh." Stormer frowned. "Sorry. I guess that would make more sense. It is really early."

"It's quarter past six." Pizzazz checked her watch, stifling a yawn. "First thing I'm doing when I get in is take a shower then take a nap. It's all very well spending the night on the town but dammit, I hate the morning after."

"Do you want us to put studio back from ten till eleven, then?" Stormer suggested softly. "Maybe if we did that I could get Roxy to go over this bassline and I might even have it finished before then. I won't sleep now it's light, not now I have my brain focused in on music, so I don't mind."

"Then we'll do that." Pizzazz nodded approvingly. "At least one of you is bothered that we have a song to put out."

"I always care about the music, Pizzazz. You should know that by now." Stormer responded.

Pizzazz shrugged.

"Well, just get it done." She said irritably, as they reached the front drive of the immense Gabor Estate. "And get rid of this, will you? I'm going inside."

With that she tossed the mangled coffee cup at her companion, stalking across the gravel towards the front door.

Stormer paused, turning the cup over in her hand to better examine the logo.

"I thought that's what I saw." She murmured. "But where else in town serves that brand of coffee in stamped cups? It's not a local brand...Pizzazz has it imported into LA from the East Coast and it's expensive."

She pursed her lips.

"But if she didn't get it in town, that means she was at Misfits Music this morning. And that means she lied to me. Why? She's often at Misfits Music. She works there. She owns it, even. It's not odd for her to go there, although this is early in the morning. But then she has been having phases of overzealous business interest. Maybe she did sign that contract this morning, and wanted to cover up the fact she'd been working when the rest of us were having a night on the town."

She shrugged, heading up the front steps and into the house, tossing the crushed cup into the bin and making her way upstairs to her room to dig out her manuscript. "Whatever the ins and outs of it, she's home safely now and I better get to work on this song, if we're going to be tackling it in studio today. Hopefully she'll like it and it'll put her in a better mood once we're back doing something musical."

She settled herself on the end of her bed, selecting the relevant sheets of manuscript and poring over them, losing herself in her work. Soon her encounter with Pizzazz was all but forgotten as she wrestled with the final few phrases of the melody.

"After all, this is what the Misfits are about." She told herself, as she pencilled in harmonies. "And I won't be sorry to get back to it, either!"


Part Two: A Test Of Faith
Chapter One:  Back In The Spotlight
Chapter Two:  Eric's Deal
Chapter Three: Siren
Chapter Four: The Morning After
Chapter Five: Schemes

Chapter Six: Roxy Acts
Chapter Seven:  Cracks