Chapter Seven: At Misfit Music
"What are you taking to L.A?"
Rosita settled herself on her sister's bed, her eyes bright with excitement. "Isn't it cool, staying in a posh hotel and seeing all these important people? You must be so thrilled!"
"I am. Nervous too, though." Copper paused in her appraisal of her wardrobe, a frown on her face. "It's occured to me now that if I'm successful it means I probably won't be coming back to Detroit, at least for a while. It's a big step."
"Worth it, though." Rosita assured her. "And it's not like you can't come see us or phone or email us. I'll miss you like heck but there's always the videophone and online chat!"
"True." Copper dimpled. "There is that."
True to his word, the executive had passed on to her details and times for her audition, and the plane tickets and hotel reservation paperwork had arrived that very morning. Now she just had to pack a couple of outfits and her lucky drumsticks, for she would be leaving Michigan in a couple of days time and flying into LAX, where she would be met by someone affiliated with the music company. It all seemed very professional, and a little bit intimidating.
She sat down on her bed.
"What do you wear to audition at this kind of place?" she asked at length. "Do I dress up or go casual? Ros, what do you think?"
"I think you gotta be you." Rosita told her. "You're beautiful, Copper, you were made to be a star. And after all you've been through you deserve it, too. How can you lose?"
Copper laughed, a faint blush touching her cheeks.
"Don't embarrass me!" she exclaimed. "It's nice to have someone on my side, at least! I wish you were coming to LA with me, you know. You're great encouragement!"
"You won't need me there." Rosita replied with a grin. "But you gotta call me and tell me everything, okay?"
"I promise." Copper agreed. "I'm not gonna sleep between now and then for thinking about it. I never imagined I could get so excited about something like this, Ros, but it's all I've been able to think about since the moment that guy left!"
"I suppose it was meant to be, that one of us would follow Mama into showbusiness." Rosita decided. Copper shrugged.
"I dunno. Maybe." She sighed. "I just wish Papa were here to see it, you know? He'd be so proud of me!"
"I bet he is anyway. Wherever he's gone to." Rosita said comfortingly. "Listen, you want me to help you pack? I'm going to the movies with some friends at four, but I'm free till then."
"Sure. Thanks." Copper dimpled. "I just can't wait to get there! I can't believe I could really be a star!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"So this is what Misfit Music looks like from the inside." Sylvina gazed
around the lobby, taking in the atmosphere. "It's nice. Very nice."
"Don't make yourself too much at home. This is a brief visit, and with any luck you ain't coming back." Nancy told her shortly. "And what do you mean, from the inside? I thought you came from D.C - how do you know what the outside looks like?"
"Oh, shut up. I was just making an observation." Sylvina retorted, though her cheeks flushed pink. Not for worlds would she let the sarcastic Nancy know what lengths she had gone to to get to LA in the first place. She decided to turn the tables.
"Did anyone ever tell you that you talk funny?" She asked. Nancy paused at the lift door, shooting her companion a confused look.
"Talk funny? What do you mean, I talk funny?"
"Well, you do. You don't sound Californian...I'm not even sure you sound American. Your brother doesn't talk weird, how come you do?"
"Noone said I was either Californian or American." Nancy snapped.
"Aunt Roxy said you were born in L.A, like me." Sylvina looked sceptical. "That makes you both American and Californian in my book."
"Well, your book's screwed." Nancy retorted. "I talk how I wanna talk, so deal with it. Your own voice ain't that attractive, anyway."
She jabbed the lift buttons fiercely, waiting impatiently for the car to reach the ground floor and the doors to slide open. "In any case, for your information, I haven't decided yet which nationality I'd prefer to be." she added.
"Like you have a choice!"
"I do too!" Nancy exclaimed. "My father's Italian American and my mother was born in London, so of course I have a choice!"
"No, idiot! London, England! Don't you know anything?" Nancy was scornful. "Don't say Aunt Roxy...and she's my aunt, not yours...never told you my mother was English? Hah, so like her!"
"I never asked." Sylvina snapped. "I didn't think it was important, where any of the group came from. They made good music, and my mother played synth for them. That's all that matters to me."
"Well here we are. Top floor." Grabbing her foe roughly by the wrist, Nancy pulled Sylvina down a long corridor and into a spacious sitting area. A woman at a desk glanced up as they entered, casting Nancy a smile.
"Miss Pelligrini! Your mother is expecting you both - go right on in."
"Right." Nancy set her features into a determined scowl. "Come on. Let's get this over with."
Jetta was at her desk when the two girls entered, sifting through a folder, and Phyllis too was in her friend's office, hunting through the big filing cabinet for a particular record and making a mess on the floor of discarded files in the process. Both glanced up at the sound of the door, and Phyllis cast Sylvina a thoughtful look.
"So you are Sylvina Martescu." She observed slowly. "Stormer's daughter. I can see the likeness. What remains to be seen, of course, is if you also have her ability - which of course is why you're here. I hope you're not going to waste our time. By the way, I'm Phyllis Gabor, and this is my business partner, Jetta Pelligrini. Has Nancy explained our plan to you in any depth?"
"Not really." For the first time in a long while Sylvina felt overawed. Phyllis was a foreboding figure, with a high powered reputation and she dared not put a foot wrong. She remembered well enough her mother's tales of her Misfit days, and what a strong character Phyllis Gabor really was.
Jetta cast her daughter a searching look, and Nancy looked slightly uncomfortable.
"She just got here. There wasn't time to tell her everything." she mumbled.
"Well, then let's put that to rights." Phyllis perched on the desk. "The plan is, kid, that we're working on setting up a band, something new and exciting to capture the country's attention and take the Jem Memorial Concert by storm. We already know what Nancy is capable of, and we have on good authority that we'll soon have a drummer to work with too. All that remains is to screen you." She paused. "Apparently you sing."
"I sing and play keys." Sylvina nodded.
"Piano, keyboard or synth?"
"All three." Sylvina blushed. "Mother taught me."
"Makes sense." Now Jetta spoke and Sylvina realised exactly what Nancy had been talking about, and why her accent had come across as so unusual. "Stormer's no fool, an' from what I gather you an' your sister are both fairly musical, in one way or another. We want to 'ear you sing...think you can oblige us?"
"Of course I can!" A spark of her self-confidence flared up inside the young teenager. "I'd love to sing for you!"
"Get on with it, then." Phyllis snapped. "We don't have all day!"
Slightly bristling at the executive's rough and ready manner, Sylvina did as she was bidden, and even Nancy was forced to admit that the girl could sing.
"If you play keys as well as you do sing, you got yourself a contract." Phyllis observed. Sylvina's blue eyes lit up with pleasure.
"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Do you want to hear me play? I can, you know!"
"Jetta has a piano, she can be the judge of that later tonight." Phyllis said dismissively. "We'll see you here tomorrow morning, if all is well. Nancy, you too."
"It's my piano." Nancy pouted. "I don't want her wrecking it!"
"I'm not gonna wreck it!" Sylvina exclaimed. "I told you, I can play, all right? Sheesh!"
"Enough!" Phyllis exclaimed. Jetta looked amused.
"I suggest you girls go 'ome an' try an' get along a bit better." She said quietly. "In this business it's records that sell, not personalities, but you gotta learn to work together else you'll look like morons when you get up on stage an' are bickerin' over who plays what."
Phyllis shot Jetta an amused look, remembering the many backstage spats between her and Roxy years before, but for once she said nothing, merely indicating for the two girls to leave them. Once they were alone, she pursed her lips, looking thoughtful.
"I think," she said slowly, "That we might have hit on something big here."
"I think so too." Jetta nodded, "We knew Nancy's capabilities, well, it seems Sylvina 'as 'er mother's talent after all, at least in singin'. I'll 'ear her play later but in all truth it don't matter much. The voice is good enough to make me believe she's tellin' the truth about playin'. Stormer's done good."
"Yeah." Phyllis agreed. "Listen, Jetta, I don't want them wrecking everything by fighting all the time, you got it? Drum some sense into them, will ya?"
"Me? Why me?" Jetta demanded.
"Because they're staying at your house." Phyllis responded simply. Jetta grimaced.
"You 'ad to remind me." she groaned. "Like Nancy ain't enough for one 'ouse!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Well, this is nice."
Justin put his coat up on the coat stand, striding into the living room and casting a grin at his sister. "Hey, Rox. Safe journey?"
"No problem." Roxy agreed. "Plane was on time for once!"
"That's something!" Justin laughed. "Where's everyone else?"
Roxy rolled her eyes heavenwards.
"Believe me, you'd rather not know." she said ruefully. "I swear it's worse stayin' here than stayin' in DC with Stormer an' that pain in the butt husband of hers."
"Oh?" Justin sat down, raising an eyebrow. "What's up?"
"That brat of yours came over to Sylvie as if she had no business even being here, and they've been fighting ever since they met." Roxy spread her hands helplessly. "Aaron escaped to a friend's house, and Jetta sent the girls out to get food someplace else, give us all some peace. She's somewhere around, dunno where." She grinned impishly. "Probably having a nap. If I'd spent all day in an office with Pizzazz, and then came home to those two I'd lock myself in my room and toss the key outta the window!"
"Eventful day, then." he observed. "I was apprehensive of what Nancy would make of Sylvina."
"Mincemeat, if she'd had a chance." Roxy rolled her eyes again. "Haven't you tamed that kid yet? Give her to me, I'll sort her out!"
"I don't think that's a good idea." Justin looked amused. "I know you guys don't get along...I don't want to be picking up the pieces of Nancy when you're done. She's not a brat, Roxy, she's just..."
"A brat." Roxy finished. "Takes after her mother."
"Well, ta for that, Roxy." Jetta's voice came from the doorway. "I'm real fond of you, too."
"You two are impossible." Justin laughed. "Twenty years and more you've known each other and even now neither of you can resist taking a dig."
"It's more or less amicable these days." Jetta shrugged, dropping down on the sofa. "Kids not back yet?"
"Nope." Roxy shook her head.
"Good!" Jetta exclaimed. "God, they're awful, and Pizzazz wants me to stop 'em rowing! 'Ow do you suppose I'm gonna do that? I kicked 'em out for the night in the hope that they might find some common ground an' to get 'em out of my hair. Told Nancy to show Sylvie some of the city, which should keep 'em busy a while. So long as they don't get picked up by the cops for brawlin' in the process..." she groaned. "Who'd be a mother?"
"Well, your bad call." Roxy shrugged. Jetta snorted.
"I didn't ask to 'ave Sylvina wished on me, that was this git's big mouth an' your bright idea." She cast her husband a meaningful glare. "Come to think of it, Justin, Nancy an' Aaron were your ideas, an' all."
"I don't remember you arguing particularly at the time." Justin raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I didn't know where it was gonna lead, did I?" Jetta protested.
Justin held up his hands in mock surrender.
"Bit late to argue about it now." Roxy snorted. "You're starting to sound like Elliot and Stormer!"
"Elliot an' Stormer?" Jetta looked confused.
"Yeah." Roxy grimaced. "I never liked him. She shoulda listened to me. He's always trying to tell her what to do and they always fight. I came here for some peace and quiet."
"You could've gone home. Don't let us keep you." Jetta said dryly. Roxy pulled a face.
"Almost wish I had." she admitted ruefully. "But I promised Stormer I'd come with Sylvie to LA, so here I am. And I kinda miss the place, too. LA is somethin' else."
"So are you." Jetta grinned wryly. "Oh, 'eck, what have we let ourselves in for? I 'ave this feelin' that things are gonna get worse before they get better!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Do you have to take so long?" Nancy put her hands on her hips, glaring
at her foe as she waited for her to finish doing her makeup. They had stopped
at a local pizza parlour for dinner and Sylvina had insisted on touching up
her lipstick and eyeshadow before leaving the place, something which was
driving Nancy to the limits of her patience. She had no time for the other
girl's fussy primping.
Sylvina paused to send her companion a dark look.
"Do you mind?" she asked. "Just because you're happy to go about looking like a troll doesn't mean I am."
"Believe me, no amount of makeup could make you look any better." Nancy snapped back. "It's bad enough being stuck out here with you like this!"
"I don't like it either, but your mother said we had to." Sylvina shut her purse with a snap. "And right now I'm not yet signed to the company, so I'm not gonna upset her." she paused. "At least Jetta is a professional." she observed. "You should take some tips from her on dealing with the human race."
"I can deal with the human race." Nancy muttered. "If they leave me alone, I leave them alone. That's how it works. I don't want friends, I don't want to date, I don't care about any of that. I just want to sing and play my music. That's all."
"I haven't heard you play yet." Sylvina observed. "I'm kinda sick of hearing what a hotshot you are, to be honest, when you haven't even put fingers to keys or whatever instrument you actually play."
"Piano, synth, keyboard, clarinet, sax, guitar, flute, even violin sometimes. Take your pick." Nancy shrugged offhandedly. Sylvina snorted.
"Oh yeah, of course, you play an orchestra. Come on, Nancy, get real. You don't have to exaggerate, you got your contract in the bag."
"Fine then." she snapped. "Believe what you want. Come on, we're getting outta here. There's somewhere I gotta take you. Then I'll prove once and for all that I'm not playing on Mom's position in Misfit Music."
"Where are we going?" Sylvina demanded.
"You'll see." Was all the answer she got, however. "Just follow me, will you?"
"This place is creepy in the dark." Sylvina shivered as they walked down the main street. "I dunno why, can't explain it, but LA is a whole other place than DC."
"Wow, really? You think so?" Nancy's tone was rich with sarcasm and she rolled her eyes heavenwards. "Wonder why that is. Gee, could it be something to do with the fact they're in different states?"
"Oh, shut up!" Sylvina retorted. "You're not all that clever, you know."
Nancy chose not to respond, for at that moment they arrived at their destination. She paused, rooting in her pocket and unlocking the door. She pushed it open, slipping inside. It was an old, abandoned nightclub and Sylvina eyed it doubtfully.
"What do you want with this dump?" she asked.
"In the eighties this was one of the biggest venues in town but it went into liquidations and the owners cleared out." Nancy ignored the scepticism. "The building is old and noone uses it these days. Aunt Phyllis bought it ten years or so ago with the idea of demolishing it and building her own venue here but other things got in her way and she never did. She said I could use it if I wanted to, to write or play in peace and quiet. I spend a lot of time here. It's pretty basic, but it has instrumental capabilities."
"And you brought me here why?" Sylvina asked.
"I told you. To show you once and for all who can play music." Nancy responded. "Come on, you wimp. The place is quite safe."
Riled, Sylvina set her teeth, following her foe inside.
Despite its raggedy outward appearance, the interior was far more reassuring and Sylvina gazed around the little studio Nancy had constructed, reluctantly impressed by what she saw. It was indeed basic and amateurish, but it had enough in the way of equipment to furnish Nancy's needs.
"Right. You played for Mom this evening, so prove it wasn't a fluke." Nancy fished in a box for a sheet of manuscript, handing it to her foe. "Can you play that?"
"Easily." Sylvina cast her gaze over it.
"Okay, good." Nancy extracted another sheet or two of manuscript. "Take the synth over there and for God's sake be careful with it, because it's mine and I don't want it broken. Set a beat on it, will you? The tempo's in the corner of the music."
"Okay, Ms Bossy. What are you gonna do while I'm doing all that?"
"I'm going to play the guitar part." Nancy replied. "Quit fussing and just play, will you?"
Sylvina shrugged, doing as she was bidden. Nancy lifted a golden lead guitar from it's case, plugging it carefully into the amplifier and sitting down on a vacant stool, beginning to play along.
"What in Hell are we playing, by the way?" Sylvina demanded after a while.
"Something I wrote a year or two back." Nancy shrugged. Sylvina stopped playing.
"You wrote this? No way!"
"What's so strange about that?" Nancy demanded. "You telling me you never wrote a song, Miss Hotshot Singer?"
"Hardly a song without any words." Sylvina pointed out. "And no, I haven't. My sister writes music, so I don't have to." She paused. "You seriously wrote this?"
"Of course I did." Nancy nodded. "Every last note of it. Harmonies and all. It's not that brilliant, pretty basic, but I wanted to be sure you could cope with it. I've written better stuff since."
"Hm. Okay." Sylvina relented. "You proved your point. You're as good a writer as Anna, anyway. Can you sing?"
"What do you think?" Nancy demanded. "Of course I can. And the song does have lyrics, I just wanted to be sure that you weren't gonna screw it up first. Here, go again and I'll show you."
"All right." Curious now, Sylvina obeyed, playing the opening sequence again. Nancy adjusted her guitar strap, playing the initial chords and then she opened her mouth to sing.
And it was clear from the start that she could sing. Reluctantly Sylvina admitted to herself that there was some reason for Misfit Music's interest in the girl, and it had little to do with her heritage.
"Well, you might talk weird, but you sing okay." She acknowledged once the song was finished.
"I do not talk weird!" Nancy protested. "I just don't have your average LA accent, that's all! Who wants to be like everyone else, anyway?"
"Clearly not you." Sylvina laughed. She glanced at her watch, letting out an exclamation and slipping the synth off her shoulder. "Nancy, it's half eleven! We were meant to be back by ten!"
"So? We'll get a taxi back. It's no biggie." Nancy shrugged, disconnecting her guitar from the amplifier and idly toying with its strings. "Mom will work out where we are, anyway. Hm, this one's kinda worn, guess I oughta replace it."
"Some of us haven't put pen to paper yet. I don't want anyone to change their mind about me, and I'm not gonna let you sabotage my contract chances." Sylvina snapped, taking the guitar out of her companion's hands and putting it into the case, shutting it with a snap. "Come on, Nancy, we're going, and we're going now!"
"Oh, all right." Nancy rolled her eyes. "Sheesh, you really are a pain!"
"I'm a pain?" Sylvina demanded. "You're the one acting like I personally stepped on your toes...which I didn't, incidentally. Mom and Dad and Aunt Roxy fixed for me to come, I had nothing to do with the final decision. Believe me, if it had been any part my choice I wouldn't have chosen to work with you."
"Likewise." Nancy bristled. "I'm glad that's clear. We might have to play together, but that doesn't mean I like you, you got it? And now, if you're so fussed about it, we'll go!"
PART ONE: STARSTRUCK
Chapter One: Sylvina
Chapter Two: A Budding Genius
Chapter Three: A Well Kept Secret
Chapter Four: Making Waves
Chapter Five: Copper...and Sirena
Chapter Six: City of Angels
Chapter Seven: At Misfit Music
Chapter Eight: Jewel
Chapter Nine: I Want Everything
Chapter Ten: Sirena Strikes
Chapter Eleven: Stagefright
Chapter Twelve: Team Spirit
JEWELFIC MAIN PAGE:
Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, 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.