Chapter Seven: Sadie's Tattoo
"Well, I wondered 'ow long it'd take you to infiltrate this place."
Jetta cast her sister in law a look of mock resignation from behind her desk, setting her folder of papers aside. "What do you want, Roxy? Food? Money? A strait jacket?"
"Haha, funny." Roxy dropped down in a chair. "Listen, I've come looking for something to do. Stormer insists on spending this morning writing music for some kid, and I can't reach Sylvina on her phone. I'm guessing she's working too. Justin's outta state till Friday...so that leaves you."
"And what makes you think I ain't workin', hm?" Jetta demanded.
"Well, if you are, it'll be the first time in your life!" Roxy shot back. "I came to Los Angeles this Christmas looking for something fun to do, and I didn't expect to find everyone knee deep in paperwork and manuscript. It's Christmas, for heaven's sake! It's the holiday season!"
"Yeah, but you know well as I do that the 'oliday season in this place can mean working up till Christmas Eve. You've been a musician, you know 'ow it goes." Jetta reminded her. "Go bug someone else, will ya? Pizzazz is in 'er office - go see if she wants to skive off and play with you. I need to file this paperwork by tonight if I'm gonna be free to go with Justin to New York for new year!"
"Blah, everyone here's gone soft in the head." Roxy grimaced, making no attempt to move. "Sylvie's bleating about some friend and some baby...you're worried about spending a romantic new year in New York...excuse me while I vomit. Stormer's fussing over some worthless singer's music..."
"Is your memory that bad?" Jetta mocked her companion. "Don't you remember Sirena? Pizzazz's daughter? She played with us at the reunion concert. That's who Stormer's busy writin' for - her January release!"
"Sirena? Oh, for heaven's sake!" Roxy groaned. "This is unreal! What does it take to have some fun around here, huh?"
"Listen, Roxy, the last thing I enjoy doin' is filin' tax reports an' goin' over demo tapes, but it 'as to be done." Jetta said simply. "Jewel are working on their new video today - even though yesterday someone tried to sabotage it by settin' fire to one of the other studios...an' we 'ave several deadlines to meet. It's stressful and no, it ain't fun. But it's life. You 'ave to grow up."
"Why?" Roxy demanded. "You chose to marry and have kids. I didn't." She frowned. "Someone sabotaged Sylvie's video?"
"Well, they tried. That's not uncommon when your music company is a few blocks from Rory Llewelyn's." Jetta shrugged. "He plays dirty in ways that would make us blush."
"Riot's a creep. He needs his head sorting out." Roxy grimaced, clenching her fist. "Sylvie and her group are damn good, you know, and it's thanks to me that she got sent down here. I'm not having someone messing with her work, just because they're too inadequate to produce good music!"
"Well, not much we can do, love. No proof." Jetta responded. "Pizzazz an' I both know that Rory an' one of 'is employees are behind it, but we couldn't nail it in a court of law. That's the problem. They get away with damn near murder, an' we 'ave to smile an' get on with it."
"Not much of a Misfit, if you just sit back and take whatever he throws at you." Roxy said scathingly. "We never did that."
"No, if I remember, we did most of the throwin'." Jetta looked amused. "Listen, Roxy, I work 'ere. I can't jeopardise Nancy's career or me own by droppin' to Rory's level. Pizzazz's status makes this company very 'igh profile, if you get my drift. If you want to settle a score with Rory an' 'is little saboteur, nothin' would make me 'appier...but officially, I don't know anythin' about it."
"Settle a score, huh? Now that sounds more like it." Roxy pursed her lips. "You know who the kid is doing all this? What else has she done?"
"Well, she tried to blow up Nancy on national television once." Jetta's grey eyes darkened at the memory. "Which was charming of 'er, to say the least. I believe she's been behind a number of unpleasant press scandals for Jewel in recent months, an' I 'eard the girls talkin' once about 'er threatenin' Cynthia's life. On a personal level, she 'as her eyes on gettin' my son...an' there's no way in 'ell I'm lettin' that 'appen."
"Aaron's a big boy, and playing the protective Mom doesn't suit ya." Roxy said derisively. "But she sounds like she might be a fun prospect for a little Misfit mayhem. Who's Cynthia, by the way?"
"I'm Cynthia." At that moment, the door of the office opened to reveal the hologram herself, dressed in overalls and with her curly hair pulled back from her face. "Did someone want me? I've fixed the outage in Studio 1."
"Cynthia, this is Roxy Pelligrini." Jetta indicated the former Misfit with her hand. "Roxy - Cynthia Benton. You might remember - she 'elped play some pranks on Rapture at the reunion show, with some computer program or other she was workin' on."
"I remember you." Roxy's eyes narrowed. "You put that stuck up bitch well in her place, too!"
"Jewel are my friends, and my loyalty is to Misfit Music." Cynthia said demurely. "I wanted to help."
"Did you say your name is Benton?"
"It's a distant kinship." Cynthia dismissed it with a wave of her perfectly manicured hand. "There is no family love between Jerrica and I."
"Look, it would really 'elp if you both cleared out of my office, an' let me get to work." Jetta fixed both with a thoughtful look, then indicated the door. "I 'ave a deadline, even if you don't!"
"Anyone would think she ruled this place, the way she tells people what to do." Once outside the office, Roxy rolled her eyes, leaning up against the door. "Say, you work with Sylvie, don't you?"
"Yes, often." Cynthia agreed.
"Good." Roxy's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Jetta said that someone had tried to sabotage Jewel's video shoot. Now, I ain't a family kinda girl, and Sylvina is Stormer's brat, not mine. But it's the principle at stake here. Nancy and Sylvina are Misfit kids, and I'm not gonna have their work cut into by Rory Llewelyn and whoever the hell is working for them. You pulled off a pretty neat game at the reunion show, and Jetta said that you'd had run ins with that company too. Maybe you can tell me what I want to know."
"It all depends on what that is." Cynthia responded innocently. "I am a lighting technician...not a spy."
"Jetta said whoever was sabotaging Jewel also threatened your life." Roxy folded her arms, standing across the corridor to block Cynthia's way. "Wouldn't you like to have the pleasure of sorting this creep out?"
"I assume that you are referring to Stefana Ranieri." Cynthia's violet eyes darkened, and for an instant Roxy saw a flash of pure hate cross them, before the hologram got herself under control once more. "She almost killed me, and she has caused much upset. I have no love for her at all."
"Well, I'm looking for someone's gig to crash here in LA, and I don't like people messing with Misfit business." Roxy spread her hands. "You don't like this...this Stefana girl, either, and you're damn good with machines. Don't you think we could teach the little creep a lesson for messing with the Misfits?"
"Nothing would give me more pleasure." Cynthia said darkly. "What did you have in mind?"
"What are we doing here?"
Sylva glanced around her, a frown crossing her face as she took in her surroundings. It was that same evening and, after a long day on set, Jewel's video had finally been filmed, leaving the girls with a few hours free for frivolities. Sadie had suggested coming in to town, and Sylva, always up for a shopping trip had eagerly agreed, but she had not banked on finding herself in the main foyer of a busy tattoo parlour.
"It's been a long day, and I thought we were coming shopping, to unwind! Sadie, I know you said you were looking for something specific, but I thought you meant..."
"Syl, relax." Sadie grinned, taking her friend by the hand and leading her over to one side, indicating for her to take a seat. "It's not a big deal. I mean, you've had your ears pierced, right?"
"Well, this place does that kinda stuff too." Sadie shrugged. "It's nothing out of the ordinary. Besides, I'm the one who wants to get a tattoo. Not you."
"True." Sylva pursed her lips. "I think you're mad, though, to be honest. Why do you want people poking needles in you?"
"Oh, don't be silly, it's not gonna be like that." Sadie scolded. "I waited till after the video shoot was done, because I didn't want it all red and sore for the cameras, and I didn't know what I was to be wearing. But now it's done, and I feel like celebrating my first Jewel video by doing something daring. Besides, I don't want a huge great mosaic all over me. It's just something I've always wanted to do, but I could never find the money." She pointed to a certificate behind the counter. "See? They're licensed and stuff, they have a good rep. They're not some hell hole tattoo parlour. It's all clean and sterile."
"Well, I s'pose it's okay." Sylva conceded. "But doesn't it hurt?"
"My brother has four or five tattoos, and he said it doesn't hurt that much." Sadie seemed unconcerned. "Besides, Syl, I'm an artist. It's body art."
"Okay." Sylva spread her hands. "What are you gonna have done?"
"I was thinking...maybe a butterfly." Sadie looked thoughtful. "On my shoulder or my arm, something like that. My arm, probably. Or maybe a little dragon. Or...well, I did think of having the word Jewel done, but you know, that's kinda tacky."
"I still think you're mad." Sylva decided, as Sadie retrieved a booklet from one of the parlour's employees, taking a seat and flicking through it with some interest. Sylva sat down beside her, glancing across the shop and catching sight of a man having a huge snake design tattooed along his fore-arm. Despite her determination to stay cool, she swallowed hard at the needle. Though she had never admitted it to the other Jewels, she was petrified of needles and even the idea of a tattoo made her feel sick.
"What am I letting myself into this vacation?" She murmured. "Topaz's baby and Sadie's tattoos...god help me! As if filming a video solid for hours wasn't enough for one day!"
She turned her gaze away, meeting the eyes of a girl at the counter, who was watching them with some interest.
"I think we're recognised." She murmured. Sadie glanced up, looking the way her companion indicated, then smiled slightly.
"That still gets me." She admitted. "People recognising us. I'm not used enough to this whole superstar business yet to totally understand people taking an interest in me. I mean, we've barely done anything yet since I joined the band. With Topaz's baby imminent and you guys showing me the ropes, we're only now really settling down to producing a single."
"Mm, but the press know what we're about, and Jewel are California's own special property, even though only Nancy grew up here." Sylva responded. She stretched, pretending to yawn. "Sadie, this is so-o-o dull, will you get on with it already? I don't wanna sit around and be gawked at forever!"
"Oh, calm down." Sadie scolded her. "You don't have to stay with me, you know, and I'm not going to make you get anything done."
"I know that." Sylva swallowed hard, then, "I said I'd come with you so I'm here, but you shoulda told me exactly what you were planning before I agreed!"
"Syl, are you scared by needles?" Sadie lowered the booklet, eying her companion in some interest. Sylva's cheeks pinkened, and she glanced down.
"I'm not their biggest fan." She admitted. "I wouldn't say I'm scared, Sadie, but I don't like them a whole lot."
"Ooh." Sadie looked thoughtful. "I'm sorry, I really didn't know." She grinned. "I wouldn't have brought you in this place if I'd have known." She indicated Sylva's hoop earrings. "You're pierced, though."
"Yes, but that's not a needle exactly." Sylva responded. "Besides, Anna and I were two and a half or thereabouts when Mom got our ears pierced. She figured that if we had it done young then we'd not remember much of it and she bought us ice cream afterwards. I never really thought of having any more piercings."
Sadie looked sheepish, then,
"I s'pose that was a given." She acknowledged. "That you got your ears done properly, I mean."
"Well, the first time, sure." Sadie nodded her head. "The second time, it was a friend of mine from school - we were at her house and she dared me. I was...um...feeling slightly rebellious." She blushed at the memory. "And I wanted them done again anyway, but I didn't have any money, so Clare did them with a needle and some ice. I had plenty of studs, and it didn't get infected. I took care of it."
"You're making me feel sick." Sylva admitted. "You mean to say your friend just sat there and stuck a needle through your ear?"
"Yep." Sadie nodded cheerfully. "I'm not squeamish, and it didn't hurt much, with the ice and all. Big sewing needle it was - but she stuck it in a match flame first, so it was clean and all that."
"You're mad. What if it had gotten infected? Or worse?"
"Well, god only knows what was on the needle!"
"Syl, relax." A slightly dark look crept into Sadie's blue eyes. "It didn't have anything like that on it and as I said, Clare put it in the flame so that woulda killed stuff, I think. I'm not HIV and I don't have hepatitis or anything like that, so I don't think it scarred me permanently."
"Maybe you got lucky. It still makes me sick to think of it."
"Well, don't think of it." Sadie instructed. "You asked, anyhow."
"Please tell me that you got someone professional to do your nose?"
"Oh yes." Sadie laughed. "I wanted my bellybutton pierced, but Dad said no, so I went and got my nose done instead." She grinned. "Did I mention being a little rebellious? I was fifteen I think." She touched her nose stud absently. "Besides, it's definitely cool. I like my stud."
"Well, cool it might be but no way." Sylva shivered. "I'm all for image and all that but no way is anyone sticking anything sharp anywhere near me, unless it's strictly necessary and a matter of life or death!"
Sadie fixed Sylva with a thoughtful look, and the keyboardist noticed the strange look in her companion's eyes once more.
"You're probably right." She said finally. "But this is a little different. It's art and they're licensed and safe. It's no risk and I've always wanted to do it."
"It'll cause a stir in the press." Sylva decided. "They're anal about stuff like that. I had my hair cut to my shoulders and suddenly everyone was "ooh, Sylva's new 'do'" in all the papers! It's grown out a lot now, but seriously, it was mad! And Copper reverting back to her curls, too...that caused chaos for weeks as they held polls - if you please - to determine whether or not they were natural and to decide if she looked better with or without them. I don't know how they'll cope with the 'New Jewel's Tattoo' story."
"That's silly." She decided. "They're really that nuts?"
"There is no private life." Sylva told her. "Oh, they don't get into the Starlight and our security is good but seriously, the things they think are news..." She rolled her eyes. "Mind you, it might be eclipsed by the news of the first baby Jewel."
"Mm. I hope everything goes okay there." Sadie admitted. "I'm not sure that I would have chosen to have my first baby at home."
"I think she's worried about the press hounding her." Sylva replied. "And her doctor thinks it'll be all right, because her health is so good and the babe is so strong, but I think I agree with you." She shook her head. "If I ever get into that situation, and I don't want to yet, but I'll be taking all the drugs they can give me and if there's an ambulance in the vicinity you won't see me for dust!"
"My sister said exactly that kind of thing when she was expecting Megan." She remembered. She looked pensive. "And now there are three...Baby Josh is apparently so cute. I wish I could be there to see him, I really do. He's my first nephew, and photos just aren't the same as seeing the baby for real."
"You'll see them if we go to Europe in January." Sylva assured her. Sadie bit her lip.
"That's a whole other can of worms." She murmured.
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing." Sadie dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "Back to tattoos. What do you reckon to this one? I think it's really cute."
"Yeah, sure, if you like butterflies smeared in blood on your arm for all eternity."
"Better than bruises inflicted by angry exes." Sadie said darkly. "Come on, Syl, be helpful, huh? I'm gonna have it in pinks and reds and lavenders because of the whole Garnet - pink - Sadie thing going on, but I need some input. That's why I brought you along."
"Okay, okay." Sylva pored over the book. "If you really want my opinion, I like that one." she pointed. "It's kinda chic and elegant. Are you really sure you want to do this, though? It's not like you can just wash it off!"
"I'm sure." Sadie nodded her head. "And I agree - I like that one best, too. Let's go!"
"Where are Syl and Sadie?"
Topaz opened the door of the Starlight Mansion, a frown crossing her face as she registered the two weary Jewels. "Did you lose them on the way back here or something?"
"We finished early, and they headed into town." Copper said, stepping into the hall and tossing her jacket onto the hook. "Sadie said she wanted to do something to celebrate, and Sylva was up for a shopping trip. Why? Everything's okay with you, isn't it? No more false alarms?"
"Nope, none. I'm fine." Topaz responded, leading the way to the main lounge and taking her seat, switching off the television. "Sadie's settling down well with you guys, isn't she?"
"I suppose so." Nancy pursed her lips. "Topaz, I hope you don't feel that we're leaving you out."
"No. I know you're my best friends and I'm fine, don't worry." Topaz responded. "I was asking more for Sadie's sake than my own. She's such a sweetie, but she can be such a strange, withdrawn little thing, too. I worried that she wasn't settling down with you girls okay."
"Well, I like her. She's quirky and fun to be with." Copper reflected. "She can be very pessimistic and self-doubting on occasion, but I'm guessing that's nerves coupled with what that idiot in England put her through. It's still very early days, Topaz, but we like her."
"You didn't sound so convinced, Nance." Topaz observed. Nancy spread her hands.
"It's hard." She admitted, oblivious to the click of the front door. "I spent time with her when we were rescuing Michael from that crazy woman, and it was like she was in her element...whereas most people would have balked at talking their way into a stranger's home to rescue a baby, she just went ahead and did it. I admire her a lot for that - it showed a hell of a lot of bravery. Sometimes she feels like one of the team, and sometimes she pulls away. You can talk to her about her family and she'll chat away about Alyssa and what happened with her Mom and all of that...but you never hear the stuff in the middle. Did you ever notice that? Her Mom died when she was ten - she moved in with Alyssa when she was nineteen. She's never told us anything more about her life inbetween."
"If that abusive moron Neal was involved then, I can understand why." Copper grimaced. "Besides, Nance, Sadie's her own person. We don't have a right to pry into her life any more than folk have a right to pry into yours."
"I know that." Nancy agreed. "It's more a case of...well, she reminds me of Mom, in a way, and I think Mom's seen the link too, because she's taken Sadie almost under her wing since we signed her on. But I can't help thinking there's something else. Sometimes Sadie seems afraid - and I don't just mean of the Neal aspect. Afraid of the press, afraid of Mom and Aunt Phyl...afraid of us, even."
"I don't see what you're getting at." Topaz looked confused. "She's always pretty open with me about things."
"Yes, well, she knows and trusts you." Nancy pointed out. Copper shrugged.
"Well, I still think that her memories of Neal have made her shut out part of her memory." She said. "And come on, what's the worst she could have done, huh? She's just shy and nervous in a new country - as all of us would be in her position. Give her some time - she'll settle in fine."
"Maybe." Nancy frowned. "I hope you're right. I like Sadie a whole lot, and I want her to shake down with the rest of us. I just wonder sometimes what goes on in her head. Things she does, things she says...the way she looks at a situation. I can't put my finger on it...but there's something. I just know it."
"She has an edge, but life has been rough on her." Topaz murmured. "I think Copper's right. And whatever there is, Nancy, it's not our business."
A sound from outside the door made the trio look up. There was noone there, but the sound of footsteps on the stairs betrayed the fact that some of their conversation had been overheard. Sylva sauntered into the living room, pausing and frowning.
"What did you do to Sadie?" She demanded. "I went in the kitchen to do coffee and she said she was coming in here...where'd she go?"
"I think she overheard us talking about her." Copper looked guilty. "I'll go upstairs and make sure she's all right."
Before anyone could stop her she was gone, up the stairs and along the corridor to the bedroom Sadie had adopted as her own. She knocked lightly on the door.
"Sadie, you in there?"
"Where else would I be?" Came the reply, and Copper pushed it open, slipping inside. Sadie cast her a cold look from the bed.
"I didn't say come in." She muttered. "Wouldn't you prefer to carry on your little conversation downstairs about the newest Jewel?"
"We were just talking." Copper ignored the hostility in her companion's eyes. "We didn't mean to upset you. Topaz asked if we thought you were settling in okay, and we said that you were. Nancy was just concerned you were holding back from us - not trusting us enough."
"My life is my business." Sadie said quietly. "I'm not from your rich, priveleged backgrounds, and I couldn't hope to match up to them. Does it matter where I came from? It wasn't the kind of beginning a star should have had, if that's what you care about."
"No, it's not what we care about at all." Copper hugged her bandmate gently. "You shouldn't be ashamed of where you came from, Sadie. We love you just how you are - so if that's it, forget it. You're a Jewel now, like all of us. We're equal. I realise that Syl, Nancy and I all have parents who have been in the business and so you might feel we had more preparation for the mad world of showbusiness before we got here. We've also had several years doing this...but you're doing great! The press love you, you sing and play damn well, and we were having a blast earlier, weren't we? Doing the video?"
"Yes." Sadie sighed. "I don't know, I feel like it's all a dream still." She winced. "Mind the arm, by the way."
"Arm? What in hell did you do?" Copper looked surprised, eying the dressing with some alarm. A slight smile touched Sadie's lips.
"I did something I've been dying to do since I was fourteen." She admitted. "I got a tattoo. Only it's kinda red and sore right at the moment...so don't touch, okay?"
"A tattoo?" Copper stared, then, "Okay...what kind of tattoo?"
"It's only a butterfly." Sadie assured her. "My brother Mark got a tattoo when he was seventeen, and I've wanted one ever since. I think they're the coolest things."
She pursed her lips, looking doubtful. "Are you sure I'm going to fit in with the rest of you? I mean I smoke...I get tattoos on a moment's whim...and I shut myself in my room in a paranoid sulk if anyone says anything I take the wrong way. Are you sure I'll ever be really one of you?"
"You already are, Sadie. Trust me. Noone was saying bad about you. We just don't want you to isolate yourself and feel homesick." Copper assured her. Sadie sighed.
"All right." She said finally. "I believe you."
A troubled look crossed her face. "Thanks for sticking up for me, as well. There are things I'd rather not remember...they're past now. I'm moving on."
"Yes, I realise." Copper nodded. "Don't worry. Within a week Jewel's video will be circulating the music channels, and we'll have a hit. Whatever you feel you are now, you're on the verge of being Garnet, one quarter of a hit single's success. Think about that, huh? That's what the music business is all about." She winked. "Don't worry. You'll soon get the hang of it."
"I hope Jewel chose the right girl." Sadie said softly. Copper grinned.
"We did." She murmured. "I guarantee it."
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Chapter One: Back In Los Angeles
Chapter Two: Christmas Plans
Chapter Three: Like Old Times
Chapter Four: The Truth About Anna
Chapter Five: The Video Shoot
Chapter Six: Topaz's Sensation
Chapter Seven: Sadie's Tattoo
Chapter Eight: An Unlikely Team
Chapter Nine: Misfit vs Devil
Chapter Ten: An Old Flame
Chapter Eleven: Topaz Again
Chapter Twelve: A Christmas Present