This is my first Jem fic. I've been planning and writing the first chapter for about a year and a half, but writer's block creeped up on me so I hadn't been able to finish it until now. It is the first of six books in a series and there will be two prequels, though not all of the story lines are figured out yet. Thank you to Craig Phillips and my bestie Krystle for helping me brainstorm ideas and to Mizunosan83 for beta-ing and also helping with ideas.
Wishing you all a belated Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever it is you guys celebrate.
Summary: Book one in the series. Gabrielle Jordan, a little girl from a dysfunctional home, runs away and is found by the Misfits. Stormer forms a bond with her, despite the initial disapproval of her band mates and Gabrielle begins to discover the true meaning of 'family'. Meanwhile, the Holograms' family is about to grow when Kimber and Sean learn that they're expecting their first child, Danse continues her search for her mother while furthering her relationship with Stefan, and Minx's past catches up with her and turns her life upside down.
What Makes A Family?
-Gabor Mansion, May 1993-
It was a warm evening in Los Angeles. The Misfits had been at Stingers Sound all day, recording new songs for their upcoming album and were hanging out at Pizzazz's place as they often did after work. Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta were in the living room. A picture of their former boss Eric Raymond, who was currently serving twenty to twenty-five years in prison for embezzlement was taped to a dartboard hanging on one of the walls as Pizzazz and Roxy took turns throwing darts.
Roxy had been playing well tonight and was winning, but this time she accidentally flicked her wrist the wrong way and the dart went too high, hitting one of the outer circles of the hand drawn bulls eye target. Pizzazz's score wasn't too far behind and the missed shot gave her an opportunity to close in on her and tie.
"Hell yes!" Pizzazz exclaimed, pumping her fists victoriously.
"Damn it!" Roxy muttered under her breath.
"Nice shot, ducky!" Jetta said sarcastically as she sat in her seat, watching the game with amusement.
"Screw you, Jetta." Roxy retorted.
"What's the matter? You forget how to throw?
Roxy shot a glare at the Brit and flipped her the finger. "Shut up before I knock you upside the head."
Jetta got up and walked toward her band mate with a smirk on her lips, stopping a few feet away. "Ooh, I'm so scared. Is that all ya got, yank?"
"Is that a challenge? Come closer so I can wipe that grin off your ugly face!"
"Good one, Roxy." Pizzazz chuckled as she egged her hot tempered friend on.
"Try if you dare!" Jetta called out as she waved Roxy nearer.
Roxy didn't hesitate. She lunged towards Jetta and shoved her, sending her crashing into a CD-shelf behind her. Some of the CDs dropped out and fell on her head, but she rubbed the area where she was hit and quickly got back up on her feet.
"That's all you got, kid?" she said with a wide condescending smile and before Roxy was able to react, Jetta quickly lunged out with her right hand, scratching Roxy's left cheek.
Roxy's blood was boiling. She charged at Jetta and grabbed some of her jet black locks. "Take that, you lousy piece of trash!"
"Asshole!" Jetta shot back, pulling out a chunk of white hair from Roxy's head.
"Stupid freak!" This upset and infuriated Roxy to the core. She had always been sensitive about her illiteracy. Her classmates at school harassed and bullied her and her own parents would beat her and call her names, telling her that she was stupid, defective, or good for nothing. Her reading skills had improved dramatically since the Rock Out Illiteracy event that Jem and the Holograms held six years before in her home town of Philadelphia, but the memories still haunted her.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she threw a punch at Jetta, her right fist connecting with the other woman's mouth and busting her lip open. Jetta swept away the blood and returned the punch, hitting Roxy's jawbone.
"Knock it off!" Another voice finally called out. Roxy and Jetta broke apart and looked up to see Stormer watching in horror from the bottom of the stairs, dressed in an over-sized white night shirt that stopped a few inches above her knees and fuzzy light pink slippers. She towel dried her long blue hair as she let out a frustrated sigh. "Grow up already, will you? This animosity between you two has got to stop."
"Oh man, you're such a buzz kill, Stormer. Loosen up." Roxy told her.
"Yeah, yank! Roxy and I were just having a little fun." Jetta added and sent a wink in Roxy's direction.
"Why you little..." Roxy said and started to charge at her again.
Stormer dropped her towel. She went over to her friends, grabbing Roxy by her shoulders and pulled her away from Jetta, struggling to hold her back.
"That's enough!" Roxy elbowed Stormer in the chest in an effort to break free from her friend's grip, causing her to hiss in pain, but the youngest Misfit was no weakling and maintained her hold until Roxy calmed down a little.
"This isn't over yet!" Roxy threatened, but before Jetta could respond, she was interrupted by a loud barking noise.
"Pizzazz, the dogs are going nuts. I wonder what's going on out there." Stormer said.
Pizzazz got up, retrieved a flashlight from the side table drawer, and went toward the front door. "I don't know, but let's check it out."
"Yes." Stormer agreed, following her.
"Sure, why not." Jetta said.
"Fine with me. I was getting bored of this stupid game anyway." Roxy replied.
"Ha! You forfeit, you lose!" Pizzazz teased and Roxy simply stuck out her tongue.
They walked outside to investigate, trying to find where the barking was coming from. They discovered the guard dogs in the garden at the side of the house, growling and snarling wildly at a small figure. As the women stepped closer, they realized it was a child, a little girl dressed in a pink dress with yellow flowers, but no shoes. She was dirty and it was almost pitch black outside, but from what they could see, she had light brown loosely curled hair which went down to her waist and big green eyes filled with tears. In her hands were a gray stuffed rabbit doll with one of its ears half torn off and pieces of fruit, some with bites taken out of them. Beside her was a purple backpack with an embroidered butterfly sewn on the front with sky blue thread.
"Nero, Brutus, Augustus, that's enough, boys!" Pizzazz ordered. The three Dobermans whined, but they retreated. She turned to the child and yelled: "Hey you, what the hell are you doing on my property?"
"Yeah, get lost, you little brat!" Roxy added. The child trembled and tried to crawl away as Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta came toward her.
Stormer couldn't bear it. A twinge of pain in her heart told her she had to intervene. She walked past her friends and knelt down in front of the little girl. The girl whimpered and clutched her rabbit tighter as she covered her face.
"It's okay, sweetheart. I'm not going to hurt you." Stormer said in a gentle tone and stretched out a hand. "Here. Come with me."
"Are you nuts, Stormer? What are you doing?" Jetta looked at her kindhearted friend as if she had lost her mind, but Stormer simply mouthed a 'shut up' at her.
The girl hesitated. This lady seemed nice enough, but could she trust her? What if she turned out to be just like the others? Slowly, she reached up and took Stormer's hand. Stormer smiled warmly and picked up the child's backpack as she led her inside.
"Here, have a seat on the couch." Stormer invited and the girl accepted, setting her backpack on the floor.
"What's your name, sweetheart?" Stormer asked with a soft voice, but the girl only drew up her knees, burying her face in her rabbit's fur.
"Relax, nobody's gonna hurt you." Stormer tried to calm her, clearly recognizing the fear in her eyes. 'She must have gone through hell,' she thought.
"C'mon you brat, the lady asked your name." Jetta snarled at her.
"Answer, you little twerp!" Pizzazz added.
"Pizzazz, Jetta, can't you see she's scared to death?" Stormer chided them.
"Hey, this is my property after all and she's the one who set foot on it without permission! So I think I have the right to have some questions answered."
"Yeah, like how the fuck you got in and where you came from." Roxy chimed in on the interrogation.
"First you tell me your name and phone number. I ought to call your parents and tell them to give you a spanking." Pizzazz continued.
"Better call the police directly," Jetta remarked, "You wanted to check out the surrounding, right? To make sure you could enter here without any problems."
"Enough!" Stormer called out, observing the increasing terror and panic in the girl's eyes and the grip around her rabbit became tighter, her knuckles turning pale white. "All of you, get the hell outta here."
"First, I wanna know…" Pizzazz started again.
"Just shut up and go! Let me talk to her without you three scaring the living daylights out of her." Stormer scolded and finally, the three started to leave.
Only Roxy stopped for a moment, whispering in her friend's ear: "You're too soft for your own good, ya know." With that, Roxy left the room.
Stormer sighed and turned around to look at the little girl again. She smiled lightly.
"Much better, right?" she asked, without expecting any answer, "Don't worry. They're not as bad as they seem."
She suddenly heard a strange noise and realized that it was the girl's stomach growling.
"Are you hungry?" She asked. The girl nodded and Stormer took her into the kitchen, gesturing towards the breakfast bar and the girl climbed up on one of the chairs. Looking in the fridge, Stormer found packs of lunch meat and cheese, and set them on the counter. She wasn't sure what was in which package, so she opened them up and grabbed a loaf of bread from the bread box. "Go ahead. Pick whatever you'd like."
The child examined the lunch meat and cheese and thought for a moment before settling on the turkey and American cheese. Stormer made her choices of turkey and provolone, then she grabbed the mayonnaise and mustard because she was not sure what her young charge preferred, some lettuce, and a tomato. She made the sandwiches, with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato for the girl and mayonnaise and mustard on opposite sides, lettuce, and tomato for herself. After she put everything away, she put a plate in front of the girl and took the empty seat next to her.
As they ate, Stormer watched with her eyes wide, amazed at the speed at which the girl devoured her sandwich. It reminded her so much of Roxy. Finally, the girl broke her silence.
"T... thank you." She stuttered.
Stormer looked at her with surprise. "For what?"
"For being so nice." Came the girl's reply.
"That's my name. You asked me earlier."
"Nice to meet you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle smiled. "Nice to meet you too."
Stormer finished her sandwich and got up and pulled a couple half gallon cartons of ice cream, one strawberry and one chocolate, from the freezer. "Would you like some ice cream?"
Stormer scooped the ice cream into bowls and after they finished eating, she washed the dishes since the maid, Matilda and the rest of the staff had already gone to bed. Gabrielle picked up her bunny and hugged it as she let out a yawn.
"Tired?" Stormer asked.
"Okay, let's get you to bed then." Gabrielle followed Stormer as they went upstairs and she was in awe when she saw the guest room she'd be sleeping in.
"Wow!" She exclaimed. She had never seen a bedroom that big before. It had a king sized bed with pink pillows and a matching comforter, a dresser, two night tables, a vanity, an extra-large walk-in closet, and even its own bathroom.
Stormer searched the dresser drawers until she found something suitable and handed it over. Gabrielle went into the bathroom to wash herself up and change and came back out a few minutes later wearing the item she had been given, a white t-shirt with a picture of Snoopy from the Peanuts comics. It was clearly way too big for her, the sleeves reaching the middle of her forearms and the bottom went past her knees but it was comfortable. Stormer took the dirty dress so she could throw it in the washing machine before bed and made a mental note to buy her more clothes in the morning.
Gabrielle climbed into bed, snuggling into the blankets and Stormer smiled sweetly as she tucked the child in. "Goodnight, Gabrielle. Sweet dreams." Then she turned out the lights except for a night light and left the room as Gabrielle fell asleep.
Stormer went into the TV room and discovered Pizzazz, Jetta and Roxy slouching on the sofa, watching an old version of Godzilla.
"So, you put the brat to bed?" Roxy asked, but it didn't sound spiteful anymore.
"Yeah. " Stormer said with a yawn, suddenly feeling very tired.
"What are you planning to do with her now?" Jetta wanted to know and handed Stormer a can of soda as she took a seat in an armchair.
"I have no idea." She confessed, accepting the drink and pulling the tab open to take a sip.
"Whatever the reason she came, she can't stay here." Pizzazz clarified her position.
"Yeah, I know, but until we find a solution… It's only for a couple of days."
Pizzazz let out a shriek. "A couple of days? Do you think this is a day care center or what?" She said, appalled.
"Come on, Pizzazz, please! It's only temporary. She's just a kid and she's all alone and scared."
"I know you mean well," Pizzazz said, "but it isn't gonna work. If the press finds out that we're caring for an orphan child, or whatever she is, here…Can you imagine what that would do to our image? Jem's beanpoles would never let us live that down."
Everybody looked at Roxy in deep surprise.
"Jerrica?" they all chorused.
"Of course," Roxy continued, "I hate to admit it, but Starlight Mansion is the best place for the kid. Jerrica and Rio could look after her."
"That's not a bad idea at all." Jetta said to Roxy's surprise, "At least you said something brilliant for once, yank."
"Shut up." Roxy mumbled.
Stormer stayed quiet a moment. "I'll think about it," she said then, "but now I need to go to bed. I'm exhausted."
"I think we all need to rest now." Pizzazz suggested and the others agreed.
Stormer closed the door behind her and stood there, her back pressed against it for a while with a sigh. Then she walked to her bed slowly and sat down.
'What a day! Who would have thought that it'd end up like this?'
She had to think about Gabrielle who was sleeping only a few rooms away and the fear and terror in her eyes. She couldn't explain why, but somehow she reminded her of herself a little.
But now what? Sending her back to the streets tomorrow was definitely not an option. Bringing her to the Starlight Mansion, as Roxy proposed? That didn't seem like such a bad idea. She trusted Jerrica and the other Holograms and knew that Gabrielle would be safe and get the love and attention she needed.
She stretched out her hand to pick a small photo album from the night stand and started to flip through it slowly. There were a lot of pictures of her together with the other Misfits, mostly before and after their gigs. They were followed by various photographs of her and Kimber, taken just after their friendship had started.
She almost laughed out loud when she turned over to the next picture: Kimber and British former teen idol Sean Harrison's official wedding photo. She lifted her hand to caress the picture carefully with her fingertips. It felt so wonderful to Stormer that Kimber's and her friendship had remained close even though their respective bands, while much more civil to each other, still weren't exactly buddies. She would never forget her best friend's wedding day seven months earlier. Aja, Shana, Raya and she had been bridesmaids and Jerrica the matron of honor.
Then there were pictures of her and Craig, Craig and the Blue Bloods, and some of Aja and Craig's wedding which took place three years ago. Their wedding was low-key and intimate in style with only family and close friends in attendance, as the couple wanted, in contrast to Kimber and Sean's somewhat fancy one, though both were equally beautiful and elegant.
She flipped another page and there were pictures of Samuel, Aja's and Craig's new baby boy and her heart just melted. Sam was a year old now and it was really amazing how much he looked like her brother, the spitting image. He was a mellow and happy baby who always charmed everyone with his nearly toothless smile.
Stormer smiled again. She really missed all of them, since they were in England. The Blue Bloods had recently signed with Starlight Music and gotten their Visas approved. The couple volunteered to help them move and fortunately would be back in the States in a few more days.
She closed the album and went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and put her pajamas on. Then she sank back into bed and turned the light off. Staring up at the ceiling, she started to think about Gabrielle again.
Maybe the reason Stormer wanted to help her was because she felt she was all alone in the world with no one who cared about her. She knew for sure that the little girl wouldn't have run away without a solid reason. She must have been desperate.
Her lids became more and more heavy until she finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Stormer woke up and went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. She found Gabrielle at the breakfast bar, eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, some of the cereal and milk spilled out onto the counter.
"Good morning." Stormer greeted, her voice still a little sleepy.
"Morning." Gabrielle said with her mouth full. Stormer shot her a look, but said nothing as she stirred some sugar and milk into her coffee.
"How long have you been up?"
"It was still dark." Gabrielle replied. "Is this your house?"
Stormer shook her head. "It belongs to Pizzazz's father. I just slept over."
"You mean like a slumber party?"
"I guess you could say that." Stormer said with a chuckle. Her expression then turned serious. "So, why did you come here last night?"
"I ran away." The little girl confirmed Stormer's suspicions and her eyes started to tear up. "Uncle Frank and Aunt Gloria don't want me."
"I'm sure that's not true, dear. What makes you think they don't want you?"
"Because they're always too busy drinking. They act like I'm not there or tell me to go play or watch TV or something. Or sometimes they're so drunk that they can't do anything."
Now it was Stormer's turn to get teary eyed. She couldn't believe that families could be so uncaring. "What happened to your parents? Is there anyone else who takes care of you?"
"They died when I was little. I take care of myself most of the time, but the street people help me get a little money to buy things or sometimes I steal a few dollars from Uncle Frank's wallet." Gabrielle replied sadly. She exhaled quickly and continued her explanation. "My mom died when I was a baby. I don't remember her very much, but I have pictures of her. She was beautiful. Dad told me she got sick and couldn't get better. She had cancer. Dad needed help taking care of me so we moved in with Uncle Frank and Aunt Gloria. They didn't drink as much back then. He did the best he could and I was proud of him. He was a great daddy. Then when I was four, he got into a car accident on his way home from work."
"I'm so sorry," was all that Stormer could reply. No words could accurately describe how she truly felt.
"It's okay. They're with the angels now and they're watching over me."
'Brave kid,' Stormer thought, 'and she has so much maturity for such a little girl.'
"This is a really big house." Gabrielle remarked.
"You took a look around the whole place?" Stormer asked and Gabrielle bowed her head guiltily.
"Not all of them, only a few. I was curious."
"It's okay," Stormer calmed her, "But just don't be too curious. Otherwise Pizzazz is gonna freak out."
"Yeah, this is her house."
Gabrielle remained very quiet as she chewed her breakfast. She looked around the kitchen curiously, turning her gaze back to Stormer every once in a while. This woman looked familiar to her, but how? Her little six year old mind couldn't place it at first. Then her eyes suddenly widened in astonishment.
"You're Stormer from the Misfits!" she finally exclaimed.
Stormer smiled and nodded.
"And the other ones last night were…"
"…my band mates," Stormer finished Gabrielle's sentence.
"I… I didn't recognize you at first."
"Don't worry, sweetheart. I'm sorry I haven't told you. I hope you're not mad at me."
"Are you kidding?" Gabrielle flashed her a wide smile, then she bent down to grab her backpack.
Stormer felt another twinge of pain in her heart as she thought about the conversation the night before and she agonized over the decision she was having to make. It was quite a difficult one; if it weren't for her friends, she'd allow the girl to stay in a heartbeat, but she didn't have much of a choice right now.
A loud clattering noise snapped her out of her thoughts. Gabrielle had emptied the contents of her backpack on the counter and picked up some cassettes, showing them to Stormer who glanced at the covers.
"I'm a big fan of yours!" Gabrielle said excitedly, "Getting to know you is so cool. The others really scared me last night, but I'm not afraid of them anymore."
Stormer smiled as she glimpsed at the other cassettes that were still lying on the table. There were some of Jem and the Holograms and The Stingers too.
"I feel honored," she answered amused, "but the others wouldn't appreciate it much if they found out that a fan of ours listened to our rivals' music." She added with a wink.
Gabrielle smirked and put the cassettes and everything else back into her backpack. Stormer gave her a warm smile and caressed her cheek briefly.
"Have you finished, honey, or would you like something else?"
Gabrielle blushed a little and smiled back shyly as she shook her head. "I'm fine."
"Good, get yourself ready then. We have a lot of things to do."
"Where are we going?" she asked curiously.
Stormer laughed, then she shook her head, putting a finger on her lips.
"It's a surprise." She told her and went out of the room, returning a minute or so later with Gabrielle's newly cleaned dress and Gabrielle walked to the main bathroom to get dressed. When she came back, Stormer helped her wash the empty cereal bowl and pulled her keys from her pocket.
"C'mon, let's go." She took Gabrielle by her hand and they left the house, walking out to Stormer's red Porsche.
To be continued...
Hope you liked this chapter! Stormer is awesome, isn't she? I love her. lol
I'm working on the next chapter soon. I am still trying to figure out the ideas I have and whether they still work or not, but I don't think it will take another year and a half to write. XD I can't guarantee when it'll be finished so I won't mention a release date until I'm sure.
I'm also working on the first prequel which focuses on Minx's life before the Stingers became famous. I just gotta organize things and figure out how to start that one.