"This is driving me up the wall!"
Emily Gabor tossed her microphone down onto the stage with a groan of frustration, stomping down the steps and into the audience. "Why the hell can't they get the lights right? I said not sissy colours...this is a big deal show, I don't want people going to sleep!"
"Chill, Em." Nancy Pelligrini, once Emily, or 'Sirena''s biggest rival sent her companion a grin. "They'll get them right on the night. I know you're kinda wound up over this, being your big comeback concert and all, but it'll all work fine. You'll see. Cynthia knows what she's doing."
"I guess." Sirena sighed, dropping down into the chair beside the other girl. "Least you ain't let me down. You sure know your music, Nance."
"I'd like to think so." Nancy grinned. "Syl didn't like the fact I was helping you out here today instead of going to the really life-changing makeover session she had planned...but I'd rather be working with music than putting on makeup."
"Sylva's an airhead." Sirena snorted. "She needs a taste of the real world to put her back on the ground."
Sirena was the only daughter of former rock singer Phyllis Gabor, once known to all Misfit fans under the pseudonym 'Pizzazz'. Despite a long estrangement, relationships between mother and daughter had been gradually growing since the birth of Sirena's son Michael, six months earlier, and she was now signed to Misfit Music, the big corporation that Phyllis owned. Nancy too was signed to the same label, being singer, guitarist and songwriter for a band named Jewel. Nancy was the daughter of Phyllis' closest friend Jetta, another former Misfit, and she, along with Sylvina Martescu, Elizabeth 'Copper' Santiago and Aurora 'Topaz' Stapleton made up one of America's most popular bands, playing their own instruments and, in Nancy's case, writing their own music. Nancy had also begun writing for Sirena, since the truce had been officially called between the singer and the group, and the two girls had found they had much in common, beneath the hostilities. Though Sylvina, or 'Sylva', as she was generally known disliked Sirena with a vengeance still, both Copper and Topaz were indifferent to the new friendship being formed, and noone had been more glad than Nancy when her new ally had decided it was time for a comeback show. Though she had performed in a show some months before, it had been only in a small capacity, and this was to be her first real concert since the birth of the baby.
To put things in a nutshell, Sirena was nervous.
So much had changed in her life since the day she had first sauntered into Rebel Records' head office and solicited a recording contract from the grasping Rory Llewelyn. A new contract, a new company, and a new outlook had dictated the style of music that she had begun to adopt, and, though her music was as upfront and dynamic as ever, it held a new, deeper note to the lyrics that had not been there before.
"Is there a problem?"
At that moment Cynthia herself made her appearance, eying Sirena with a calm, questioning look. "Am I doing something wrong, Sirena?" As technical director for many of Misfit Music's big shows these days, Cynthia's generally unflappable nature and impish tendancies made her a natural in her chosen line of work. Her origins were shrouded in some mystery to the world at large, and it was only Jewel and Copper's boyfriend, Nancy's brother Aaron, who knew that Cynthia was really only a solid projection from a powerful mainframe computer. The machine, known as 'Synergy', had once been a big part of Jem and the Holograms' act in the 1980s, and these days she was housed deep in the basement of Jewel's home. Cynthia had grasped her freedom with eager hands, and she loved working with the young performers the company boasted, though Jewel would always be her pet favourites.
"Did you listen to anything I said about lights?" Sirena demanded. "Do you understand what kind of music I do? This isn't a recital of Beethoven, you know!"
"I was just testing the bulbs and circuits." Cynthia said mildly. "I have made a note of the colours you want, there is no need to panic. If it would be better, I'll switch them off while you perform...if they're distracting you."
"Fine. Whatever." Sirena snapped back, glancing at her watch. "I don't have all day, you know! I have to pick Mikey up from the Foundation in two hours!"
"Being a single Mom's not all it's cracked up to be, huh?" Nancy asked. Sirena rolled her eyes.
"You have no idea. I have no life!" She exclaimed. "That's why I want to get back to work. I can only take so much staying in changing diapers, even if I am kinda fond of the wriggling brat. Thank God for Kimber's agreeing to take him at the Foundation during the day...it's kinda far to take him to Grandpa in San Diego and I can only imagine what Mom would say if I brought him into Misfit Music and dumped him on her desk!"
Nancy giggled appreciatively at the picture.
"Aunt Phyl would not be amused." She acknowledged. Introverted and generally slow to interact with people, Nancy had bonded with Phyllis since childhood and had always referred to her as 'Aunt'. In many ways it was the same difficulty of communication and trust that had brought Nancy and Sirena together...they had many similarities in their characters and were fast becoming very close. Though she would never say it, Sirena was glad of having someone she could call a friend, and was a little envious of Nancy's bond with her bandmates, Copper in particular.
"How's things going?"
At that moment, Phyllis herself entered, casting a glance around the auditorium. "Well? What's the deal?"
"There's some dispute over lights, Aunt Phyl." Nancy said, amused.
"Oh, they can be sorted out." Phyllis seemed unconcerned. "Emily? You got your stuff ready?"
"Of course." Sirena nodded her head. "I've had my music ready a while now. Nancy's helped me with the running order and I really like the song she wrote for me, so I wanna do that as the single you wanna release in a few weeks from now. It's suitably in your face and cynical - I want people to know I'm back in town, and that I haven't gone soft, just because I've had a baby."
"Good." Phyllis looked approving. "Where is the brat, anyway?"
"With Kimber, at the Foundation." Sirena replied. "I gotta pick him up in a coupla hours, so I kinda wanted to run through stuff, but Cynthia's dabbling with 'testing bulbs' or somethin' stupid."
"Quit complaining and just get on stage and sing." Phyllis told her unsympathetically. "The lights will be seen to, trust me. I'll handle it. You ain't been in the public spotlight a while...you need all the practice you can get. We want the whole world to know Sirena is back with a vengeance. Rory Llewelyn most of all."
"Yeah, too right we do." Sirena got to her feet. "He has some new group, apparently...so I heard, anyway."
"Yes. Jetta told me so." Phyllis pulled a face. "More no-hopers."
"Hey, I was one of his so called no-hopers." Sirena protested.
"You're a Gabor. It hardly counts." Phyllis dismissed this, unconcerned. "Enough yakking. I wanna see this great new song of yours, Emily. You and Nancy have been stuck in a studio going over it at odd hours the last week or so, and you ain't given us a sniff of it. If I'm gonna manage your career..."
"You're gonna manage me yourself?" Sirena looked taken aback.
"Well, who else do you suggest?" Phyllis demanded. "You're my kid!"
"Some might say that was exactly the reason why you shouldn't." Nancy said archly.
"Quit being cheeky." Phyllis shot her a look. "Are you involved in this song?"
"Yes, I'm playing guitar."
"Then you get up there, too." Phyllis told her firmly. "You heard Emily, we ain't got all day."
"Sure." Nancy picked up her guitar, following the singer up to the stage.
"The band will be here for runthrough tomorrow, for now you'll have to manage." Phyllis added. "Can you?"
"Of course. Mom, you gotta realise that I'm a professional." Sirena replied with a smile. "Even if I was workin' for tinpot Llewelyn. There's a good reason why my debut single was number one and my debut album went platinum...it wasn't old Rory's PR, either."
"That I'm sure of." Phyllis snorted. "He'll never hit the musical bigtime if he keeps getting rid of his biggest acts. I mean, look at things. He let you go under real dodgy circumstances...he let Blade get shot...I hope his newest wannabes know what to expect."
"They're probably just desperate for a contract." Sirena scooped up the microphone. "Okay. I'm ready when you are, Nance."
"Right, then here we go." Nancy plugged in her instrument, briefly checking the tuning, then strumming the opening chords of the song she had written. The music was hers but the lyrics were all Sirena's own, for although composition was not her forte, Sirena had a natural gift with language.
And, of course, for singing...
* * * * * * * * * *
Rory Llewelyn opened the door of his office, sending the gathered hopefuls a smile. "I'm glad to see you're here so promptly...please, come in. We have a lot to discuss. You have a very exciting sound - contemporary rock and roll with a hint of eighties beat...I forsee great things for you."
"We'd like to hope so." Luca, always the group's PR man sent Rory a smile, shaking his proffered hand. "It's Marissa who's the creative talent, though. She writes what we produce, and often Clay helps her. Our sound is very much a team thing."
"As it should be." Rory looked thoughtful. "When the Stingers were still recording, Luca, we operated in much the same manner. In fact, both Minx and Magique play important roles in the running of things here, and we're in contact with Rapture, also. Minx is an accomplished song-writer with many hits to her name...if you want any tips, Marissa, I advise you to see her."
He sent Marissa a smile at that point, making the girl feel inexplicably uncomfortable. "She's always willing to work with our musicians, to help them hone their skills."
"There ain't nothing wrong with Mari's skills." Stefana told him. "She's the best damn songwriter you'll ever meet!"
"Stef, put a sock in it." Clay told her with a grimace.
"I'm sorry for my sister, Rory." Luca glared at the unrepentant guitarist. "She has rather a bigger mouth than is good for her."
"It's just naivety. She'll grow out of it." Rory cast Stefana an infuriating smile. "A year or two in this business soon controls the urge to speak your mind...the press can be an asset or an enemy, depending on how you handle them."
Stefana scowled, but Madeleine saw the explosion coming and intercepted it neatly.
"I'm sure that you're right." She agreed with a smile. "We're all a bit new to this, Rory, but eager to learn all we can. It's kinda cool to visit LA, too."
"You'll be seeing plenty of it now." Rory grinned back at her, but the smile did not reach his eyes. "I'd prefer you to be based out here than in Connecticut. You can probably see the logistical problems."
"That's fine, we'd anticipated that." Luca nodded. "I think we're all up for the challenge."
"Good. Then all that remains is to take you downstairs and have you play for my business partner, Sophie Devereux." Rory told them. "She's working down there. I trust our equipment will suffice for now? Or have you a preference to use your own?"
This last seemed directed at Stefana, who merely sent him a withering look, and did not deign to answer him. Luca rolled his eyes.
"Remind me to gag her next time." He murmured to Madeleine, as they followed the executive downstairs. "She's gonna blow everything before it begins with her big mouth and her attitude!"
"She's just an overactive kid." Madeleine replied. "It's like Rory said. She'll grow out of it."
"I sure hope so. She's always been troublesome." Luca sighed. "She has so much talent, really, but she rarely applies it to good things. That's partly why I'm always keen to keep her with me. I guess I wanna keep her out of trouble if I can."
"You'll have a job. Rock and roll isn't a tame world." Madeleine said quietly. Luca nodded.
"I know, but I promised Dad I'd look after her." He said soberly. "And I will. Mom's never understood her, or really even tried. They've done nothing but row and fight since Dad's death, anyway. To be honest, Mom's never been bothered with either of us too much...there is only me."
"I know, and she should be grateful you care as much as you do." Madeleine assured him. "Don't worry, Luca. It'll work out."
"I hope so." Luca nodded.
Unbeknownst to either speaker, Stefana's keen ears had overheard most of this conversation, and she bristled, indignant. She already disliked Madeleine enough for her close friendship with Luca...as her brother had said, she had no other family who really cared...and her father's death was something that she never spoke of. Giani Ranieri had died of a long-standing heart complaint when she had been fourteen, and her wild behaviour had begun at much the same time. Heartbroken at the loss of her husband, and never a natural mother, his widow Bianca had neglected her children in pursuit of her own needs. Too late she had retaken some interest in Stefana's needs when that girl had turned seventeen, but the relationship was already broken beyond repair.
"What's up with you?" Marissa caught her friend's expression, frowning.
"My brother trying to play Dad again." Stefana replied. "I'm twenty one, can't he leave me alone yet? I don't need his fussing...or anyone's for that matter."
"Calm down. We got to do the best performance of our lives in a moment or two." Marissa replied gently. "Stef..."
"You are...you know...sober this morning?"
"What's it to you either way?"
"Please, Stef...I wanna know. If you're gonna take those things at least let me know when you do, in case you have a problem and need my help."
"I ain't never had a problem yet. I can handle my drugs." Stefana retorted in an undertone. "But no, I'm not on anything this morning and yes, that means I am sober. Unless, of course, you can trip on nicotine."
"Okay, you don't need the sarcasm." Marissa scolded. "Just because Rory upset you."
"What I said was true."
"Maybe, and I'm touched you think so, but then wasn't the time to say it."
"Sometimes you haveta have the guts to say what you think." Stefana shrugged. "Live a little, Mari."
"I'd rather live long than take the risks you do." Marissa returned. "You forget, Stef, I know what it's like to come close to dying...or have you forgotten my hypoglycaemic fit back in high school?"
"I ain't forgot." Stefana replied quietly. "And I know how to handle it if you have another, so chill. You ain't dyin'."
"Fat lot of good you'd be to me if you're stoned at the time." Marissa retorted acidly. There was no chance, however, for her friend to reply, for they had reached the big studio and it was time to play.
"Ah, so these are your new stars, Riot?" Sophie Devereux got up from where she had been sorting folders, casting them a warm smile. "Bienvenue, mes petits. I would very much like to 'ear you play."
"Sure, not a problem." Luca returned her smile. "That's why we're here." He scooped up the two guitars, handing one to his sister who took it without a word of thanks. "We're hoping too that you can give us an idea on a name...we can't...um...agree."
Rory's eyes fell on Stefana thoughtfully.
"You have eclectic opinions. Sometimes that is good." He observed. "Sophie, may I present to you Luca, Clayton, Marissa, Madeleine...and Stefana." He cast the obstinate guitarist a benevolent smile. "I believe that we might find young Stefana has quite a way with voicing her point of view."
"Self confidence is always good to see." Sophie's eyes twinkled, as if remembering something from her past that none of the others were privy to knowing. "Bon. Enough talking...I want to 'ear some music!"
Prologue: New Blood
Chapter One: A Comeback...And A Beginning
Chapter Two: Rumours
Chapter Three: Diablo
Chapter Four: Misfit Music
Chapter Five: Consulting Zoe
Chapter Six: Luca...and Sirena
Chapter Seven: Partners In Crime
Chapter Eight: Luca Makes A Discovery
Chapter Nine: Backstage At Connie's Corner
Chapter Ten: An Eventful Night
Chapter Eleven: Headline News
Chapter Twelve: Sirena's Show
Chapter Thirteen: Stefana's Resolve
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita Madeleine, Marissa, Luca, Stefana, Clay, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!
The concept of RayzaBlade is copyrighted to my sister Elena...^_^ (Yeah, blame her!)