"What took you so long?" Chad demanded, as Roger and Mimi scrambled inside CBGB's.

"Sorry, Chad," Roger said, breathlessly. Mimi panted behind him.

Chad sighed. "Whatever, it's fine. Get on stage, we're gonna do a run- through once more before everyone starts to arrive."

Roger gave Mimi a boost onstage, and climbed up after her, grabbing his guitar. He saw Mark sitting at a table beside the stage, and waved weakly. Mark ignored him. Roger sighed.

Chad turned to the others. "You guys ready?" His reply was a bunch of sullen head-nods."

"Right, then. One, two, three . . ."

They quickly ran through the song, and a few minutes after they'd finished, Maureen and Joanne arrived.

"Aw, did we miss the sneak preview?" Maureen complained, as she draped her coat over a chair.

"Yup. Tough luck, Mo," Roger teased.

Maureen sighed. "Oh well. At least we get front row seats!"

"Don't remind me," Mimi mumbled, as she struggled to pull the microphone level to her height.

"What's wrong, Meems? You still nervous?" asked Maureen, concerned.

Mimi shrugged. "I don't know. I've just got butterflies, you know what I mean?"

"Do I." Maureen smiled. "I remember that one time when I performed for that Animal Rights group in Faux Fur in Times Square . . ."

"Let's NOT remember that," Joanne said quickly, seating herself beside Maureen.

"Alright," Maureen shrugged. "Your loss." While she and Joanne ordered something to drink, Chad pulled Roger aside.

"Listen, you sure she's gonna do this?" Chad whispered, motioning his hand towards Mimi.

"What are you worried about, Chad? She's going to do it!" Roger insisted.

"Yeah, she says that now, but every other minute she's getting stage fright."

"She'll be fine, Chad," Roger said, firmly. "Besides, who else would you get to sing?"

"You could get me."

Roger and Chad turned to find Candace leaning against the stage, dangling a cigarette between her thumb and index finger.

"Candace, what the hell are you doing here? I thought we had a deal," Chad exclaimed.

"Yeah, well," she motioned her head towards Mark, "I didn't really like what was on the menu, if you know what I mean."

"But we had a DEAL," Chad said through gritted teeth, his face turning red.

"Is that all I am to you? A deal?" Mark snapped, from behind them.

"Stay out of this, Mark," Chad snapped, "This doesn't concern you."

"Doesn't CONCERN me?!" Mark almost laughed. "You set me up with this goddamn psycho without telling me what to expect- I think that that makes me part of this conversation!" he yelled.

"Who're you calling psycho?" Candace demanded, stamping her cigarette into the floor with the heel of her boot.

"You were the one dancing like a fucking lunatic on the dance floor, and then tried to order SELTZER once we were at the bar," she said, smirking.

"I wasn't fucking prepared to go with you to some strip joint! I thought we were going to the Life Café!"

"Why would I go to that dump?" she exclaimed.

"Would you both just shut up," Chad said, in a tired voice.

"Hush, Chad. This doesn't concern you," Mark said, in a mimicking tone.

"You little . . ." Chad stepped toward Mark angrily.

"Would you BOTH fucking SHUT UP?!" Mimi shouted, once again breaking up the fight. She turned to Roger and Chad. "Let's just admit this- we tried to take advantage of Mark, and we were selfish and cruel for doing that. I'm sorry, Mark," she said, glancing up at him.

"I'm sorry too," Roger admitted.

"I've got nothing to say to him," Chad declared when Mimi glared at him.

"What about ME?" Candace demanded, "I think I deserve an apology. You tricked me out of singing so that I could go out with Mr. Seltzer, here . . ."

"Candace, just be quiet," Roger snapped.

"And now you replace me with this slutty Latina girl . . ." Before another word came out of her mouth, Mimi threw herself onto Candace, clubbing her in the face with her first. Roger, Chad, and Mark stared, mesmerized as the two fought on the floor, an occasional 'You BITCH!' and 'FUCK YOU!' in between fists and kicks.

"Shit! My earring!" Candace screamed, and struck out at Mimi, who had her fingers grasped around her hoop earring. They both grunted and scratched and hissed. Like cats, Mark thought, shaking his head.

Finally, Roger snapped out of his reverie. "Candace, get OFF her!" he shouted at Candace, who was sitting on top of Mimi and screeching like a ten-year-old. He seized Candace by the shoulder and yanked her off Mimi.

"Let go," she snapped, trying to pull away from him.

"Chad, hold her for a sec," he said, shoving her towards him. He reached out a hand to help Mimi to her feet. "You okay?" he asked still shocked by what had just happened.

Mimi's clothes were disheveled, but other than a small scratch by the corner of her eye, she was fine.

"I'm fine," she told him. "I think I got more hits than she did," she said, grinning triumphantly. Roger shook his head in amazement.

"Maybe, but still," Candace snapped from behind Chad's shoulder, "You're gonna need me to sing. She can't do it."

"Candace, shut UP," Chad sighed, and at the same time, Roger and Mark declared; "She CAN do it!"

"What's going on?" Maureen asked, as she and Joanne returned with their drinks. "What'd I miss?"

"Mimi and Candace just had a catfight," Mark told her.

"Oh?" she seemed puzzled. "Who won?"

"She'll sing," Roger said to Candace, ignoring Maureen, "And she'll be a hell of a lot better than you."

"Right," Candace smirked. "I'd need to see it to believe it."

"Does that mean you're staying, then?" Mark groaned.

"I think I'll hang around for a while," she replied, coolly. She hopped offstage and settled at a table in the corner of the room, leaning back in her chair.

At that same moment, Collins arrived, with Benny close behind him.

"Look what I found outside," Collins called. Benny punched him lightly in the arm.

"Oh, GREAT," Mimi groaned. "Now I have another person hoping I'll fail."

"He doesn't think that, Meems. He may be an Asshole at times, but he's good at heart."

Mimi still looked unconvinced.

"Hey, strangers," Benny said, in a mocking tone as he approached him. "You thought you could keep this a secret, huh? Thought you'd keep your lips zipped when I saw you at the Life Café?"

"We only found out that we needed a new singer when we got home," Roger told him.

"Oh," Benny shrugged his shoulders carelessly. He patted Mimi on the shoulder. "Good luck," he said.

Mimi raised her eyebrows. "Thanks," she said, as Benny went to get himself a table.

"So," Collins said, as he walked towards them, "How's it going?"

"Fine. Have you heard from Frankie?" Roger asked him.

A sad look came upon Collins's face, but he shook it off quickly. "I'm fine, I've already gotten over her," he lied. He forced a fake smile. "So, who wants something to drink?"

***

"We're starting in five," Chad whispered to Roger and the others from backstage. Roger squeezed Mimi's hand reassuringly. "You'll be fine," he whispered, nuzzling his nose into her cheek.

"Okay," she giggled, turning her head so her lips met his.

"Besides," he added, as they parted, "If Candace tries to do anything, you'll kick her ass like you did before."

Mimi laughed, as her cheeks turned red. "Sorry you had to see that."

"Nah, that's alright. It was sort of a turn on," he joked.

"Come on, guys!" Chad called, and they all followed him onstage. Quickly, everyone rushed to their positions, and Mimi stood to the side so that Chad could use the microphone.

"How are you all doing out there?" he yelled. He was answered by howls and cheers, the loudest made by Maureen.

"Great, great. The boys and I have been marking off the days on our calendars for this gig, we've been real excited," he grinned. "Oh, and hey, our usual lead singer couldn't make it today, so instead we have for you a newfound talent- Miss Mimi Marquez!"

Maureen, Joanne, Mark and Collins went wild, along with the rest of the crowd.

Mimi beamed, and looked back at Roger, who winked at her.

"Okay, we'll start off with one that I wrote with our guitar player, Roger Davis. I think you've all heard it before. It's called 'Hold Me, I'm Heartsick." He turned his head towards Andy, and pointed with his finger, and the Well Hungarians began to play, with Chad and Roger singing lead vocals. Mimi watched from the side, mesmerized.

The group did about four or five more songs, Mimi had lost count.

"Alright. Now we're going to show you some REAL talent," Chad joked. "This song's a new one. My girlfriend, Karmine wrote it for the band." A couple of 'Awwws' rang out from the audience.

Chad chuckled. "Yeah, she's great. Hey there, Kar!" he waved to her in the audience. "Anyway, we're gonna have Mimi sing the lead on this one. You ready, Meems?"

Mimi blushed, and nodded slowly. Maureen, Collins and Joanne held their breath.

"Whenever you're ready, Andy," Chad declared, and Andy grabbed the drumsticks and hammered away. Stu clammered on the keyboard, and Matt picked away at his guitar, looking like he was concentrating really hard. Chad and Roger watched Mimi as they played, the suspense of what might happen was killing them.

Nervously, Mimi placed a hand on the mike, and opened her mouth to sing the first part of the song. To her surprise, as soon as she began to sing, all of her fear seemed to dissolve inside her. She tried to keep herself from smiling as she sang:

"What's the time? Well, it's gotta be close to midnight! My body's talking to me- It says 'Time for danger.' It says I wanna commit a crime- wanna be the cause of a fight. I wanna put on a tight skirt, and flirt with a stranger."

Mimi pivoted on her heels, and threw her hips to the side, much to the crowd's delight.

"I've had a knack from way back, I'm breaking the rules once I learn the games,"

She made a fist and threw it up into the air.

"So get up, life's to quick, I know someplace SICK, Where this chick'll dance in the flames. We don't need any money- I always get in for free. You can get in too, if you get in with me . . ."

Mimi threw her head back and quickly smiled at Roger, and then threw out her arms in front of her.

"Let's go out tonight I have to go out tonight You wanna play? Let's run away- we won't be back before it's Christmas Day, Take me out tonight."

She held her hand out in front of her and made a claw-like motion. "Meow- HA!"

Roger couldn't keep himself from grinning widely as he played alongside Mimi.

Finally, the song ended, and Mimi triumphantly kicked her high-heeled foot out in front of her, as the audience roared and applauded, loudest of all Maureen and the others. Even Benny was on his feet and cheering.

"That's it for tonight, folks- We'll let you know when the next date is!" Chad shouted over the applause and cheers.

Roger carefully set down his fender guitar, and scooped Mimi into his arms, kissing her face and neck. "You did it," he whispered, burying his face against her cheek.

"I did," she giggled.

"I think they liked it too," he laughed, pointing at the audience.

"I'm just glad I made you proud," she said, smiling.

As everyone began to empty outside, Roger and Mimi hopped offstage, and Maureen rushed up to hug her tightly. "That was GREAT, sweetie!" she exclaimed.

"Not too bad, Marquez," Chad called from up onstage.

Mark watched Candace stalk haughtily out of the building. Serves her right, Mark thought. "Great job, Mimi," he said, patting her on the shoulder, smiling.

"Thanks, Mark," she smiled back at him. She then turned to talk to Maureen, who could hardly contain herself.

"I didn't know she could sing like that," Mark said, as he walked over to Roger.

Roger raised his eyebrows. "I guess this means you're talking to me, then?"

"Yup," Mark smiled sheepishly. "I can't stay mad at you for long, can I? You're my best friend."

Roger nodded, chuckling. "So she really surprised you, huh?"

Mark nodded his head and lifted up his camera for Roger to see. "I got it all on tape."

Roger laughed and punched Mark playfully in the shoulder.

Collins stood to the side, smiling lightly. Suddenly, someone called out his name.

"Collins?"

He turned. It was Frankie.

"Oh, um, hi . . ." he stuttered. "Were you here the whole time?"

"I was in the back," she said, shyly. She nodded her head towards Mimi. "She's really good, isn't she?"

"She is," Collins agreed.

Frankie smiled and shuffled her feet on the floor, nervously. "Listen, I'm sorry about what I said before. Mimi said that all relationships have their bumps in the road. I like you a lot, Collins. I like you and accept you for who you are. And I was wondering, if you'd forgive me . . .and then maybe we could try again?"

"Yes," Collins said, nodding his head. He smiled at Frankie. "I think I'd like that." Their hands met, and clasped through each other, gently.

"So, you guys ready to go home?" Mark asked the others, now that they were the only ones left in the building.

"Yeah, I'm ready," Roger said, his arm wrapped around Mimi. "You ready, Babe?"

"Yup." She buried her face against the material of his jacket. "Let's go home."

They all left in pairs. First Roger and Mimi went out, unable to keep their hand off each other, then Maureen and Joanne, then Collins and Frankie. Mark trailed behind them slowly. He let out a content sigh. He switched off his camera and ran up to catch with the others.

The End!

a/n: Em0, this is a wake up call for CATS- you're going DOWN!!!!!!!!!