Farewell to Life the Way We Knew It
By Stormkeeper )
All characters © Hasbro Inc. and Sunbow Entertainment. Please don't sue me – I'm not making any money of this fanfic and it is done solely for the enjoyment of those who have been faithful fans (not to mention, faithful purchasers of DVDs and dolls) of Jem for years.
I'm using a format that alternates between scenes written from Stormer's point of view and others told from the standpoint of an omniscient narrator.
Also, this fic is rated PG-13 due to some profanity and adult subject matter. This is intended for a mature audience, as later chapters might go to an "R" rating.
I wish to extend a big thank you to my wonderful beta-testers. You know who you are, and I couldn't have done it without you.
Enjoy the story, and please give feedback!
Farewell to Life the Way We Knew It
I never thought the world could change so much in such a small amount of time. When I look back to recent events, sometimes I'm stunned. The other day I found a magazine article from several years ago – right around the time we released the single "How Does It Feel" – and it's like that all happened in another life. Who are those carefree girls in the picture? Everything is so different now.
I'm not just talking about what happened within the Misfits, either. I mean what's going on in the outside world as well. Not that I was ever all that interested in life outside of the music industry –music is what it's all about for me, always – but recent world events have given me no choice.
It's been over a year since the Stingers arrived and took over our record company. Thank God we were able to get Pizzazz out of Riot's clutches. Oh, she still has a crush on him but the obsession began to fade once we lured her away. And the four of us are closer than ever. Don't get me wrong….we still fight….a lot. Roxy and Jetta both squirmed at some of those scenes in the "Now" video. But I rifle through my old diary entries and I can see how we got to where we are now, step by step. The Misfits are doing better than we ever had as a unit. They are my true friends, my dear family.
At my urging, the band called a truce with Jem and the Holograms. I didn't know which I was happier about – the fact that I wouldn't need to fidget every time I saw Kimber and her bandmates or the fact that I had enough influence over Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta to get them to agree to a truce. Once the truce was in place, we got to work on our next album and found more success than ever.
Then all this crap started happening with the new faction that took over the government. Restrictions on what can be shown on television, all sorts of stupid restrictions on single women. Even restrictions on things like alcohol and music. The stock market crashed. The economy tanked and people started looking for scapegoats. Frequent blackouts kept happening, not just in California but all over the place. Gasoline prices surged to sky-high levels. Lots of hatred and fear, and lots of angry people. Half of our promoters backed out, and Riot and Eric cancelled our world tour. Pizzazz was unable to get her father to provide any financial backing. "He's lost billions already," she said once.
We ended up playing in some of the smallest venues we've played since Jetta joined. But I still smiled because I was on stage making music, watching Pizzazz's charisma enthrall the audience (and me), listening to Jetta's amazing sax, and winking at Roxy in the middle of I Like Your Style. There were still some good memories, despite the dark times. I remember sharing a drink with the girls backstage after one show, in the smallest dressing room we'd had in a long while, and we laughed and joked around together. Jetta had raided Pizzazz's father's dwindling booze supply and snuck in the bottle. We weren't given any glasses and all ended up drinking out of the same bottle.
(Okay, the next night we did have another fight and partially trashed the room, Pizzazz said something to me that made me cry, but it didn't matter. We knew our bond was there and wasn't going away).
But back to all the stuff that's going on in society, I'm not a Political Science professor or a Sociologist. I don't know why it's all happening but I do know that some of what's going on is terrifying.
The Misfits really began to understand that things had changed several months ago. They were having dinner at a restaurant. Due to a late night recording session, the famished group was unable to eat at one of their usual, five-star restaurants; those had hadn't been forced to shut down were simply closed for the night. Pizzazz drove them to a much less ritzy place. It wasn't much, but at least it had sit-down service and a tempting dessert menu.
As usual, the band members were eating with gusto. Roxy had finished her entrée quickly, so she reached over and helped herself to bites from Stormer's plate of chicken teriyaki. Stormer smiled and truly didn't mind. She felt slightly jealous that Roxy could eat all she wanted and never gain a pound while she herself had to watch every bite she ate.
The third time Roxy swiped some food off Stormer's plate, she scooped up too much with the fork and ended up spilling some of the food onto Stormer's arm. Stormer made a face.
"Bad enough you take my food without asking, now you dump it on me too," she said with a laugh, feigning outrage. The group laughed.
"Where's that server?" Pizzazz soon asked, as she slammed her fork on the table. "I want dessert and I want it now. Look at this list!" she exclaimed, holding a dessert menu.
"Oooh, that brownie a la mode looks fine," Jetta said. Her hearty appetite had been one of the reasons she'd fit right in with the Misfits.
"I'm gonna have a banana split," Pizzazz said.
"Lemme see," Roxy said, as she reached for a dessert menu. She could read now, though it was not an activity she either enjoyed or excelled in. Stormer had spent some time helping her learn. Fortunately, the menu had lots of tantalizing pictures as well so it didn't require much literary effort on Roxy's part. "Humph. This apple pie looks good but it's way too healthy," Roxy remarked. Stormer giggled.
The server appeared, and he was made to wait a while as Roxy and Stormer made up their minds. When he finally had their orders, Pizzazz told him to, "Hurry up!"
While eating their dessert, Pizzazz told the group about a date she'd had a few days ago with some guy. Her story had several moments that were rated "R".
A uniformed man soon appeared at the band's table. "Excuse me, ladies," he said. "I must ask you to leave this establishment."
"What?!" Pizzazz asked, her mouth full of whipped cream and chocolate.
"I'm with the Office of American Morality. The manager called me when customers complained about your behavior and your comments. I must ask you to leave."
"Sod off," Jetta said, laughing. She took another bite of her brownie.
"Yeah, take a hike!" Roxy added. "You can't make us leave."
Shortly afterwards, the Misfits found themselves handcuffed and taken to the police station. It was crawling with officers from the American Morality office. After a frantic call to Eric Raymond, the band's manager said there was nothing he could do. Harvey Gabor bailed them out after a few hours, but he sternly told his daughter that this would be the last time he'd come to her rescue. Pizzazz, suddenly much more sober, believed him.
Of course The Misfits aren't my only family. Craig is my only living relative. I was looking through old diary entries and I saw what I wrote a while ago, when I visited him in London. The other Misfits had been elsewhere, finding out that Jetta's origins weren't as blue blooded as she'd claimed.
Craig and I scarcely had five minutes alone together. But the day I was to leave, he and I sat down to breakfast together….at long last getting some uninterrupted time one-on-one.
"Aja told me something yesterday," he said to me. That tone was in his voice, and I instantly knew what this was going to be about.
"What was that?" I asked, trying to sound casual.
"She said that you were offered the chance to join the Holograms."
"Yeah. I was, right after Kimber and I finished our record a while back."
"And you turned them down? To go back to the Misfits??" his voice was incredulous. "Mary," he scoffed, shaking his head.
"I like the Holograms. But I don't have any desire to join the band."
"Yeah, much better to go back to the Misfits so the others can put you down and boss you around. Mary, I told you…..you are too good for that band. They don't deserve you!"
"Craig, you don't understand. I….it's hard to explain, but you don't understand."
"Well, maybe you can enlighten me. Why the hell did you go back?"
I took a deep breath and searched for the right words. I love my brother but sometimes he can intimidate me. (But then again, what was it that Jetta once told me? That I can be intimidated by an ant.)
"Lots of reasons. Look, Craig, you don't realize what the Misfits went through to get me back. They walked into Starlight Music and they…they humbled themselves in front of Jem and the Holograms – a band they hate – to ask for me back. I think that was one of the hardest things that Pizzazz ever did."
"Yeah, well your pals are all a fine bunch of actresses. How do you know they were sincere?"
"Because they wouldn't have gone through that if they didn't need me! And I mean, me, not just my songwriting skills. There are thousands of songwriters in LA and even more musicians. They could've replaced me in two seconds flat if they just wanted me for my music. But they wanted me back.
"And besides," I continued, seeing that Craig was listening, "I've always thought that I can make them better. They….they – okay, I can't explain it but they're not evil people. I see goodness in each and every one of them and I think I can make a difference and make them a little better."
"So far you've done a bang-up job."
"Give me time. The more I learn about Pizzazz and Roxy's backgrounds, the more I know they went through hell." I added, "I don't know Jetta well enough but I can see some of that inside her too."
Craig was looking down and shaking his head. "I won't argue with you anymore on this, Mary. If being a Misfit makes you happy, then fine. I still don't agree with you, but it's your life and not mine. If you ever need me though…."
"I know, I know," I said.
Of course there were other reasons I went back to the Misfits, too. Reasons I haven't shared with Craig, reasons I keep very secret.
"So where the hell is he?" Roxy asked.
Pizzazz shook her head as she paced the floor. Jetta watched her friend, thinking that Pizzazz looked somewhere between frustrated and bemused.
"Riot wouldn't tell me. But I think the fact is that Riot doesn't know. My best guess is that he took whatever money he had left and fled for some Caribbean island."
"So who the 'ell cares?" Jetta asked, shrugging. "We're better off without Eric, if you asked me."
"Damn right," Roxy said. "He hasn't done jack shit for us the last year." As she spoke, she ran her fingers over a bookcase, picking up a layer of dust. She rubbed the dust between her fingertips. The Gabor mansion had cut back on its servants. Harvey Gabor would go for days without being seen by anyone, still toiling away in his office though most of his staff was gone.
"Yeah. We can manage ourselves better than he could anyway," Stormer said. She knew that Eric hadn't been handling the societal changes well either.
"We still have those East coast and Midwest dates coming up," Jetta said. "I think we should keep them. We can get out east and play there."
"No way," Roxy said, her voice pugnacious again. "It's the middle of the f---in' winter. I ain't gonna drive out to some of the coldest cities in the country and get stuck in some godforsaken hotel room when the power shuts down again. I say we stay right here! We're safer in the mansion than anywhere else."
"What's up, Rox?" Jetta asked, an edge creeping into her voice that caused Stormer's skin to prickle. "Gettin' a bit claustrophobic, are we?"
"You're one to talk!" The fire was flashing in Roxy's eyes and she looked ready to pounce.
As did Jetta. Acid was in her voice as she asked, "Afraid to get out into the real world, then, luv?"
Stormer silently took a breath and stood up from the decrepit chair. She silently reminded herself of her new role and power within the group. "Hey guys," she said, stepping between Roxy and Jetta. Her hands were up and open. "Is this really worth a fight? We were talking about what we're going to do as a band now that our manager has run out on us. I'm kinda uneasy about everything that's going on, but I do know that wherever we go, we're safer and better off together. Together," she repeated.
Pizzazz smiled condescendingly. "Dear Stormer, always the peacemaker."
Stormer felt a disappointing jab at her heart. She knew that Pizzazz recognized how much Stormer – and her peacemaking skills – were needed in the group. Why does she always have to dig me in the ribs like that though?' she asked herself, though Stormer knew the answer. Pizzazz's insecurity was overwhelming at times.
"But she's got a point," Pizzazz continued, and this time her voice conveyed sincerity. Stormer inwardly smiled again though she chided herself for always being so hung up on what the others thought of her. "We're not gonna beat each other up over this, okay? We gotta figure out what we're doing. We got dates coming up. I don't want to leave LA either, but I think we need those dates," Pizzazz insisted.
Jetta looked through a stack of papers 'liberated' from Eric's office. "Ticket sales are looking good," she said, reviewing some numbers. Although the venues were small clubs, sales were about as strong as could be expected. "Pretty amazing actually, when you consider what the economy's like."
"These numbers are really good," Stormer enthused. "We still have so many fans who want to see us!"
"So they want to see us even though we're a band comprised of single woman, and single women are….what did that crazy Secretary of American Morality say?" Pizzazz groused, remembering seeing one of the leading government officials on television the other day.
"I believe the exact quote was that any woman over the age of twenty-one who does not have a husband and a baby – in that order -- is irresponsible and contributing to moral decline of society!" Jetta said. Roxy scoffed at the words, as Jetta added, "I would suggest we move to my homeland if things weren't just as bad there."
"And everywhere else," Roxy mumbled.
Though terrified at all the changes happening, Stormer's love of the music won out. "I think we should risk it. Let's play the shows. Who knows? Maybe things will turn around. If they do, and we keep our fan base…." She let her voice trail off.
"Then maybe someday we'll look back on all these shitty times and laugh," Pizzazz finished. She went up to Roxy and put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "C'mon, Roxy. It won't be so bad."
"Alright," Roxy said. "Though if Eric ever returns, I'm popping him one for scheduling us in places like New York and Chicago in the middle of January."
"Man, they sure don't like homo's here, do they?" Roxy commented, watching TV.
The Misfits were watching TV in the motel room. Between gigs, there wasn't much to do. The nearest shopping mall had just closed down. The band had ample time before they needed to leave for the next city. Pizzazz sat on the hard mattress, vaguely remembering days of hotel suites larger than apartments, days of gourmet room service at her beck and call.
"What are you on about now?" Jetta asked, as she emerged from the bathroom. She was clad in a robe, with a towel around her wet hair. The dingy motel made her feel in constant need of bathing.
"Some guy from….I dunno, that Department of Morality or whatever it's called. He was announcing that they got some way to tell if someone's a homo from taking a blood test or something. I guess a lot of cities are sayin' they're gonna make people take this test if they wanna get in."
Jetta rolled her eyes. "What a useful way to spend all that bloody tax money."
Pizzazz smiled, as she pulled her jacket more closely around her, "You oughtta run for office Jetta."
"Not bloody likely." She looked at Stormer. "How's that heater coming on?"
Stormer's hands shook slightly as she made no progress on her attempted repairs of the room's heating unit.
"I can't figure it out. Roxy, would you take a look at this? You're the best at this kind of stuff."
Piqued at the compliment, Roxy turned her attention away from the TV and sauntered over to Stormer. After tinkering with it for a few minutes, she pronounced it broken beyond repair.
"The manager better get us another room, then," Pizzazz said. "It's bad enough we have to double up, but we're not sleeping in rooms where the heat doesn't work!"
Jetta looked at Pizzazz and saw that a lot of the old mischievousness was on the wane. Pizzazz wasn't vaulting out of the room and hunting the manager down….partially because she knew that there probably wasn't much that could be done about their situation right now. She seemed content to sit on the bed and observe. The Pizzazz of old would've used some of that fire to get the band started in making trouble, running around the halls, and finding people to mess with. Pizzazz just seemed defeated now. Jetta didn't know whether this was because her friend was getting older, because they all had mellowed a bit lately, or whether she was simply shell-shocked at all the changes going on. She knew that money was not Pizzazz's motivation in life – not at all -- but she also knew that the Gabor's dwindling finances couldn't be helping Pizzazz's spirits either.
Jetta looked over at Roxy and guessed that, as different as they were, they both wanted desperately to see the Pizzazz of old --- at least sometimes.
"Hey Pizzazz," Jetta began, an undertone in her voice, "I saw a few blokes in the lobby on our way up." She had pulled on a dress and looked as fetching as normal, as she towel-dried her hair.
Roxy perked up. "I noticed 'em too! They were young."
"And they looked dishy," Jetta said, almost purring.
The prospect of a conquest brought some cheer to Pizzazz. "Let's go!"
As Roxy, Jetta, and Pizzazz headed for the door, Stormer crawled under the covers. "I'll stay here. I'm in the middle of this book."
I was a late bloomer. Didn't have a date in high school, graduated without having ever been kissed. I spent my free time on the piano, and later on the synthesizer. I had two or three close friends, all girls. Later, when I joined the Misfits, I'd often hear Pizzazz and Roxy cooing over some guy and I listened, but I didn't quite get it.
Then the clues started creeping in. Once early on, the three of us went swimming, and I glimpsed Roxy in that teeny-tiny bikini and my heart jumped three notches. Once Pizzazz walked by me, and I noticed she had this heady perfume on and I blushed. She's made me brush her hair several times and that caused me to get these strange sensations. But the big kicker came when we were staying at this amazing hotel that included a spa. Jetta and I had massages scheduled at the same time, and we were changing in the locker room together. Of course I had my back to Jetta but a loud noise made me turn my head, and I glimpsed a graceful back with this beautiful hair cascading down, and I caught a sideways look at a curvaceous breast.
If it was just the three of them that I got these occasional feelings for, I could write it off and say maybe my insides were going haywire because I had no other female friends or I missed my mom or I didn't know better or I idolized them or something. But I started to notice how beautiful all women were and my thoughts would turn deeper and more personal than just noticing beauty. So I don't just feel it for my bandmates though I feel it a bit stronger for them, if that makes any sense.
And then there was the time that the four of us went to see this show. Male strippers, strippers who went "the full monty", as Jetta had put it. They did nothing for me, just made me want to giggle at the sausages hanging down between their legs. I couldn't see why all the other girls in the audience thought they were so hot. I went out with guys a few times – I wanted to give it a try and didn't want the other Misfits to get suspicious – but none of the guys sparked anything in me. I even spent the night with a few different guys and, well, nothing.
So, gradually, my ears would perk up when someone would mention something that involved homosexuality. I dejectedly started to realize that it applied to me. I already fought a constant battle with confidence, and now I had to fight a battle to keep from hating myself. Maybe 'hate' is too strong a word, but I sure didn't like this about me.
I didn't tell my bandmates. For one, they aren't the most open-minded people. I couldn't recall any of them ever saying anything really nasty about gay people, but I didn't think any of them would receive the news well either. In fact, I was pretty sure that if they knew, they would either make me leave or make things so awkward for me that I'd have to leave. And I can't leave them because no matter how rough things sometimes are among us, this band is my family and I love them.
I should mention that I did tell Kimber Benton. We were so close, so briefly during that time that we made our album together. She somehow knew I was hiding something, and she wouldn't let it drop until I told her. So I did. The earth didn't shatter, we stayed friends, but I could tell that she wasn't totally comfortable. She promised not to reveal it to anyone else, but the experience of telling her sure didn't make me want to discuss it with others.
So I keep my secret buried and hope that maybe someday I'll outgrow this (not too likely but you never know) or that I can continue to hide it. Sometimes I dream that the rest of the Misfits find out and are cool with it. But mostly when my thoughts go there I see them laughing with disgust and derision at me, and me breaking down and crying.
Pizzazz soaked up the applause. They may have been playing in a tiny club somewhere in the Midwest – a club that, a year or two ago she would've been horrified at the prospect of performing in – still, adulation was adulation. During "Abracadabra" she saw the eyes follow her with rapt attention. There were advantages to these crappy little venues, she thought. She could easily see the audience, could more easily absorb their admiration. Her eye contact held incredible power.
"Take a lesson from us," Pizzazz told the audience in between songs. "You can't be soft and survive!"
That was the cue for the group to launch into "It Takes A Lot". A cheer rose up from the audience when they heard the first notes of this classic Misfits tune.
Roxy admired Pizzazz's performing. Despite the fact that her lead singer was not happy playing to such a small crowd, she gave it her all. She sang with the same panache as if she were playing a live concert being broadcast around the world or to an arena of 9,000. Being admired by thousands of people had to be better than being admired by this small audience, but this was also a lot better than nothing and Roxy realized that Pizzazz knew this. Roxy tried to motivate herself to bring the same fire to her guitar playing.
After the show, the group packed up their instruments in preparation for the walk back to the motel. There was no point in complaining about the lack of roadies or the fact that they were reduced to walking rather than taking a limo. When the economy started its sharp decline and when both their record company and Mr. Gabor started to bail on them, there had been plenty of fits of rage and lots of instrument smashing. But by now the group knew it didn't do them any good and that things weren't about to change anytime soon. Besides, they couldn't afford to break any more instruments.
Despite being bundled in a toasty jacket, Roxy was cold. The brutal winter air nipped at her ears and she wished that she hadn't eschewed wearing a hat. The cold ripped right through her gloves and her fingers were starting to turn numb. In the distance, Roxy heard a car crashing and the blaring of sirens. A block away she could hear shouting and signs of an altercation.
The area of Philadelphia she'd grown up in was not unlike this, except here there seemed to be even more boarded-up shops and more garbage lining the streets now. There were more people wearing raggedly clothing huddled in doorways, and more of them were children.
"Pick it up, Stormer!" Pizzazz called, noticing that the group's keyboardist was now several paces behind the rest.
Roxy turned around and saw Stormer lagging. Carrying her instrument case was clearly a struggle for her. "What is it?" she asked, dropping back a few paces. "Is your wrist still bothering you?"
Stormer nodded. "Here," Roxy said. "Let's switch." Her guitar was lighter than Stormer's keyboards.
"Thanks, Roxy," Stormer said quietly.
"You alright, luv?" Jetta asked, her voice conveying a note or two of empathy. Stormer nodded.
Suddenly, a group of men ran from an alley and nearly collided with the Misfits. One of them reached for Pizzazz, as he brandished a knife.
"Don't move a muscle, bitch!" he commanded.
Roxy instantly grabbed the man who'd come up to her, and she kicked first his shin and then his groin. As he doubled over in pain, she lunged at the surprised man who'd turned his knife on Pizzazz. She grabbed his wrist, keeping it out of the way, and kicked him hard until he was forced to drop the knife. In her element, Roxy turned to the next gang member and noticed a few of the guys beginning to run. Jetta took her cue and hit a would-be attacker over the head with her saxophone case. The man crumpled to the ground as Jetta brandished her saxophone case at the next attacker. Pizzazz and Stormer joined in, though Roxy and Jetta had already decked most of the gang.
The Misfits ran the rest of the way back to the motel.
"Nice work Roxy," Pizzazz said, as they walked towards their rooms.
"You were awesome!" Stormer added. She turned to Jetta and added, "And you, too!"
Much later, when she was trying fall asleep shivering under the blankets in her room, Roxy mused that she had just about come full circle in life. She was a little too puffed up with pride to fall asleep just yet, though. The rest of the band had seen her bravery, seen how she'd led the counter-attack. Her background and street smarts, which had been the subject of several derisive remarks from Pizzazz over the years, had come in handy. Pizzazz was always short on praise but she knew what she'd done had been appreciated.
Gradually, Roxy drifted off into sleep. She had a cut on one arm and several scrapes. Just like when she was growing up. She woke up several times during the night, plagued by horrific memories of beatings by her mother and her mother's various boyfriends over the years.
To be continued…..
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