Chapter Fourteen: Show Must Go On
"Well, good evening Los Angeles!"
Topaz scooped the microphone out of it's stand, gazing round at the sea of faces below her and grinning. "Are you enjoying yourself so far?"
There was a resounding cheer from the audience, and Topaz laughed.
"Good!" She exclaimed. "And I hope you're going to go on enjoying yourself, because this concert is a very special one for all of us. Not only are a proportion of the proceeds going to the Starlight Foundation, represented here tonight by Kimber Harrison of the Holograms, but on a more personal note, tonight has been a chance for us to work with some of the biggest stars from twenty years ago. It's been very special to me...I can only imagine how it's been for N...Goldie and Sylva and Copper and Sammi, playing the same show as their mothers...and of course, still to come tonight Sirena's here with a very special performance...so there's a lot to look forward to - don't go home yet!"
She winked, slipping the microphone back into it's stand. "We're gonna start our set with the song that's been rocking it's way up the music charts since 1986...and it's such a good song it's still a big hit today -We just heard some great news - thank you everyone for making it our second number one single! This is Takin' It All!"
There were further cheers and whistles, and from the wings Dean hid a smile. He had not been privy to the tricks played on the Stingers, though he had noticed that their performance had been a little below par, but other than that, things had gone well. The Teenangel Outsiders had played their set through without a glitch and had gotten a rousing reception, and Jewel could always be counted on to drum out a good performance.
"Then the Holograms, Kimber and Stormer, Roxy, and finally, Sirena and the Misfits. What a night!" He murmured to himself, grinning.
His gaze fell on Nancy, and a sense of pride swelled up inside of him to watch her. If he was honest, he couldn't imagine not being with her now. It had taken a long time for them to get it together, but it had only made him more in love with her, and he knew beyond all doubt that she felt the same.
"I wonder if she has tomorrow night free...I want to take her out to celebrate this hit show and their number one single." He mused.
A soft voice came from behind him and he turned, smiling as he recognised Rose, followed by the other Teenangels. Sammi had her arm linked protectively in her friend's, and as he looked at her, Dean realised all Nancy had told him about Rose's health was true. Gently he took her by the hand.
"You were brave to come tonight." He murmured. "I guess you wanted to see your friends play, huh?"
"I wanted to be out there." Rose's eyes were wistful. Then she smiled, and the moment was gone. "But this was the next best thing. Weren't they fabulous? You gotta have them on your show again sometime soon, you know, before they go home to England! The crowd loved them!"
"They were very good indeed." Dean nodded, returning the smile. "And I suppose you're their lucky mascot?"
"That's me." Rose nodded. "How could I miss this show? I wanted to see Aja play, anyway...and Kimber, too. Aja's like a mother to me, and Kimber's a friend to us all."
"I'm glad you made it." Dean cast the rest of the group a warm grin. "And I hope that you will play my show soon, too. I suppose I'll speak to Mr Russell, see if it can be arranged?"
"That would be great." Violet nodded gratefully.
"Dean, Aunt Sheila is buzzing about back here looking for you, she said..." Taylor entered at that moment, stopping dead at the sight of the Teenangels. Violet's hand flew to her mouth.
"Taylor!" She exclaimed, only just remembering to mute her voice so as not to be heard on stage. "Why are you in America?"
Taylor blushed to the roots of his dark hair, not even registering the young compere disappearing to speak to the agitated Misfit.
"I came to see you play." He admitted. "Nancy and Aunt Sheila too...but you especially. See, I wanted to talk to you about something before you left, then I lost my nerve and, well, you girls kinda left before I found it again. When I called round your house I was told I'd just missed you and when I got to the airport the plane had gone. I knew you were likely to be out here a while, with Rose not so well as she should be, and you wanting to help her find her a donor...I didn't know what might happen in the meantime and I didn't want to let things lie."
"I didn't expect to see you." Violet seemed both touched and embarrassed. Rose gazed from one to the other, then smiled.
"That's what love can do, Vi...travelling across the whole Atlantic just to see you perform live. Again." She quipped with a wink. Amber rolled her eyes heavenwards.
"What...what did you think?" Violet asked hesitantly. "Were we good? Did you like it?"
"I...have to admit I didn't listen to much of the music." Taylor admitted, his tone slightly sheepish. "I...was too busy watching you play and thinking how pretty you were looking tonight. You look stunning, Vi."
Now there was no hiding Violet's embarassment, and, despite himself, Taylor laughed. Gently he hugged her.
"I'm sorry...I'll listen next time." He murmured. "I promise. But there's something on my mind...something I want to ask you, Vi."
"Ask...me?" Violet looked nonplussed.
Gently Taylor took her by the hand. Very conscious of the surrounding Teenangels, he rather awkwardly got down on his knee, fumbling in his pocket. Jade let out a gasp, as he produced a small box. Opening it up revealed a ring, and he held it out to the bemused and dazed keyboardist.
Veronica Angela Anderson, will you marry me?" He murmured.
"Oh my god, that was so sweet!" Rose hissed in Sammi's ear. Sammi nodded, only half listening, for her attention was entirely focused on the little scene unfolding.
Violet looked utterly stunned.
"Taylor..." She began, then, she laughed rather awkwardly. "I'm sorry, you;ve knocked me for six. I don't know what to say...I mean, I wasn't expecting..."
"Say yes!" Rose piped in.
"You pipe down, ketchup-head." Amber put in, more affection in her voice than she normally used when dealing with Rose's remarks. "This is Vi's life, not one of your soap operas."
"You don't have to tell me now." Taylor assured his girlfriend softly. "It's taken me a long time to think this through and get up the courage...I want you to think about it and tell me when you know."
Violet looked at Taylor for a moment. Then she smiled.
"Thank you for understanding." She murmured. "I...I promise that I'll do that. I'll think about it. And...and tomorrow...I'll tell you how I feel. But tonight, too much has happened...I'm too worn out and too excited by the show. Tomorrow, Taylor...I promise."
"Then it's a definite maybe?" Taylor sounded hopeful. Violet nodded, smiling.
"A definite maybe." She agreed. She hesitated, then kissed him.
The other Teenangels exchanged looks and grins, then settled themselves in the wings to watch the rest of the show.
It wasn't long before Jewel's set was over, and the four musicians, excited and flushed from the thrill of playing live joined their friends backstage to, as Sylva put it, wait for the real stars of the show to come out.
The Holograms were billed to play next, but much to everyone's surprise, the stage went dark, and a sole spotlight highlighted a figure perched on a stool. In her arms was an acoustic guitar, and in front of her a microphone, but there was no sign of anyone else, and, bemused, the young musicians in the wings exchanged confused looks.
"That's Kimber." Sammi murmured. "What's she doing?"
"A solo?" Jade suggested.
"Did she do any solos?" Amber demanded.
"Nope...only with Mom." Sylva responded. "What is this?"
"Shut up and we'll find out." Nancy snapped. "She's about to speak."
"Good evening, everyone." Kimber strummed a couple of chords, then paused to address the crowds, a sombre light in her usually bright blue eyes. "Tonight the Holograms are playing together for the first time in twenty years or so. We're doing it for the Foundation, but we're also doing it for other reasons. We've all grown up, moved apart and begun our own lives since the band split up, but these last few weeks has proven beyond all doubt that we're all still as close friends as we ever were."
"Sadly there is no Jem here tonight." She continued, beginning to strum softly once more. "And no Jerrica either. But we hope that you'll enjoy our music just as much without them. Jem and the Holograms stood for a lot of things, but most of all, we loved our music and even now, we still do." She smiled. "I'm going to play a song now which is very special to me...you may know it. I wrote it in memory of my father...he died when I was just nineteen. Since then, of course, a lot of water has passed under the bridge and, sadly, I've lost ties with some very important people...family among them. This song...well, it's dedicated to those people who, despite everything, are always in my heart."
Carefully she played the introduction of the song which had been such a huge hit back in the eighties, but somehow, played as it was just on an acoustic guitar, it had a more haunting, wistful sound to it than it had ever had before. Then, when Kimber began to sing, her voice rich and pure as it ever was, many members of the audience felt a tear come to their eye.
"It's beautiful." Copper murmured, her own eyes tearful with the emotion of the song. "I didn't know she wrote it for her father...I wish I could write a song like that for mine."
"I wonder who she meant, when she dedicated it." Sammi murmured. "Her father of course...but who else?"
"Jerrica." Topaz settled herself more comfortably. "It must be hard to have a sister who you never talk to any more, especially if you grew up close."
"I'm glad I have Anna." Sylva nodded. She sent Sammi a small smile. "And, I guess, Sammi too. Family's important."
"Very." Copper nodded, as Kimber's song ended to a standing ovation. "And Kimber knows it as well as we do. Tonight's a family concert, after all."
"I wish Dad was here." Rose murmured wistfully. Then, as Sammi shot her a concerned look, she smiled.
"It's okay...it was just the song. Syl's right about family being important, and I guess I miss him."
"Well, Copper's in tears, so you're not doing so bad, Rose." Nancy grinned. "She did sing it good, though. I knew Kimber wrote Hologram music, but that was just something else."
"And here are the rest of them." Topaz observed. "Oh! Yay! Beat This! Now here's a song I know!"
"Well, don't sing it. This isn't the Holograms featuring Topaz!" Sylva teased. Topaz giggled.
"Okay, okay." She said good-naturedly. "But come on...everyone knows this track!"
"Mama looks amazing." Copper decided. "And Papa was wrong...I'm not as good a drummer as she is. I don't think I could ever play like that!"
"I never thought I'd see Mum singing on stage." Sammi admitted. "This is incredible...totally incredible."
"What's this track?" Sylva wondered as the next song began. "I'm sure I know it..."
"We come from different worlds, different points of view..." Copper grinned. "Love Unites Us. Nice choice, dontcha think? And Aja has a great voice, Sammi...now we know where all your talent comes from!"
"Hey, some of it comes from Mom too!" Sylva protested. Nancy laughed.
"Yeah, all the genes you didn't get." She teased. Sylva swiped her companion playfully, for once in too good a mood to snipe back.
The show continued as the Holograms played through their set, then Kimber and Stormer took the stage to play 'I'm Okay' and a couple of other hits from their albums together. Roxy appeared on stage not long afterwards, confident and brash as ever to perform 'I'm Gonna Change' and two other solo hits, then the lights dimmed, and Dean announced the Misfits.
For a moment there was silence, and utter darkness. In the wings, the young musicians held their breath. Had something gone wrong? Was there something up with the lights?
But then, from the darkness came a melee of red and green light, dancing along the stage and highlighting the scene below. In the centre of the stage, her hair once more in the colours of Sirena, was Emily Gabor, and beside her, dressed as a Misfit and looking almost as young as her daughter, was Pizzazz. Revelling in the attention, as the lights went on to reveal Roxy, Stormer and Jetta in the background, Pizzazz yelled a greeting to the crowd and was rewarded with an approving roar. Then she gestured to her bandmates, and the song began.
"Sirena and the Misfits...new band, perhaps?" Amber suggested dryly.
"Sirena can drop dead." Sylva muttered. "I don't know why she's playing with them."
"Em's out of practice and Aunt Phyl didn't want her playing her own set." Nancy explained. "Besides, Emily wanted to play with her mother. We have a number one single, Sylva, and we played a blinding set. Let Emily have her moment, huh?"
"Whatever." Sylva rolled her eyes. "I still can't stand that girl."
"She sings good, though." Topaz remarked. "She's not lost any of her ability through having a baby...if you ask me, it's like she never left."
"Well, noone asked you." Sylva poked her tongue out at her friend. Topaz laughed.
"Your eyes are going green, my friend." She teased. Sylva just pulled a face in return.
Once the song was ended, and Sirena had taken her leave, Roxy began the opening notes of Universal Appeal, and from there the Misfits' own set began proper. But the crowd were in for both a treat and a surprise, for, though Pizzazz had kept for herself the vocals of her beloved Universal Appeal, she had allowed her bandmates their moment in the spotlight too, and after Roxy had sung Gimme Gimme Gimme with much animation and enthusiasm, it was Jetta's turn to take the mic.
"Mom's gonna sing?" Nancy's eyes almost popped out of her head.
"Can Jetta sing?" Sylva frowned, sending her bandmate a confused glance. Nancy nodded.
"Yeah, of course. She did a solo album when I was a kid." She agreed. "But I never heard her sing as a Misfit before...she never took lead vocals on any of their music. I didn't expect..."
"Phyllis took lead vocals on all the Misfit songs." Copper pointed out. "I think it's nice that they've shared it out, like the Holograms did. Don't you think?"
"What's she gonna sing, you reckon?" Topaz wondered. A twinkle touched Nancy's eye.
"There's only one song my mother would sing, for the Misfits." She said with a smile.
"And that is?" Opel demanded.
"Designing Woman." Nancy giggled. "The number of times she's shrieked that at Dad over the last twenty years...that 'she's a designin' woman an' she don't care what 'e thinks about it'"
"That was a scarily good take-off of Jetta." Rose admitted. She bit her lip, stifling a yawn. "Oh no, I refuse to get tired now! I want to see till the end and the finale...keep me awake, you guys, okay?"
"We'll try, but you're like a log when you're asleep." Amber said dryly.
"Shh." Sammi urged. "I want to hear!"
As Nancy had surmised, Jetta did indeed perform Designing Woman, a wry smile on her own face as she did so. It had been a standing joke between the Pelligrinis for years, for when they'd first met Jetta had proudly announced herself as one, who didn't need and wasn't interested in any man. Then Sylva's mother took the microphone to sing 'How Does It Feel', and the Misfits finished their set with 'It Takes Alot'.
"Finale...Rose, pay attention." Jade murmured. "I think something special's going down...The Holograms are back on stage."
"I'm awake, I'm awake." Rose promised, squinting to see. "Ooh, so they are..."
"What do you reckon this is?" Copper wondered.
"I think the Holograms and the Misfits are going to play together." Sylva clasped her hands together. "Oh! I hope I'm right!"
At that moment, Aja appeared in the wings, casting them all a smile.
"Well, since we're all out here, you guys should be too." She said, grinning. "Teenangels and Jewel - plenty of room for you all. We're gonna sing 'Share a Little Bit...I know both you groups practiced it through and then we told you to drop it...well, this is why. Now we're all gonna play it...think you can handle it?"
"For sure, Aunt Aja." Sylva grinned, grabbing Topaz by the hand and reaching for her synth. "We're always ready."
"Well, looks like it's gonna be a finale to remember too." Sammi grinned, reaching for her own guitar. "Wish us luck, Rose!"
"Like you need it!" Rose scolded her. "Go out there and show them what you can do, okay?"
As the groups assembled onstage, Rose settled herself to watch, a slightly wistful smile on her face.
"Well, next time I'll be there too." She murmured. "Next time..."
Chapter One: One Jewel Down
Chapter Two: Fireworks
Chapter Three: Phyllis Steps In
Chapter Four: Esteban Speaks
Chapter Five: Consulting the Teenangels
Chapter Six: Rose Helps
Chapter Seven: Mending Ties
Chapter Eight: Misfit Reborn
Chapter Nine: Dean's Show
Chapter Ten: Sylva and Jack
Chapter Eleven: Sabotaged!
Chapter Twelve: Settling the Past
Chapter Thirteen: Revenge
Chapter Fourteen: Show Must Go On