Wasabi Snake

This fic was written as a gift for Tara, as part of the Misfits Secret Santa ficathon. Thank you to Denisia for beta-testing.

Warning – contains some profanity.

The wait for a table – or even a seat at the bar -- in LA's swankiest sushi house is one hour, minimum, even on this Thursday evening. But Pizzazz and Roxy have learned a lesson or two in the past few years. They are hungry and just want a meal; despite the temptation to raise a ruckus, they really don't want a public tantrum or fight with a manager. So they do some shopping until their table is finally ready and Pizzazz gladly slides her $400 stilettos off as she settles down before the table.

Roxy looks at the menu. She reads well now; her lips turn upwards into a slight smile of pride at her own ability. She looks at Pizzazz and sees that the singer is impatiently craning her head around for the waiter. She wants her sake now.

Jetta and Stormer are not joining them for dinner. Jetta doesn't care for Asian food – be it Japanese, Chinese, Thai, or any other – and Stormer has never liked sushi. In the early days when the band was a trio, Stormer would accompany the others and timidly pick at the balls of rice that contained seafood, avocado, cucumber, and sundry else, without protest. But the Stormer they know now declines to join the others when they want to do something that she has no interest in. Pizzazz has a craving for the sting of wasabi on the tongue and the saltiness of the soy sauce, so it's just her and her guitarist tonight.

Pizzazz smiles contentedly as she looks around at the delicate artwork on the walls and the steaming tempura brought to the couple sitting at the next table. She giggles as she shares a memory. "Remember the first time we went out for sushi, Stormer looks at the menu and goes, Do they really serve snake at these places?'"

"Snake? She really ask that?" Roxy asks. She doesn't remember the band's first outing to a Japanese restaurant, but she could see Stormer making the comment. She's a more traditional eater. Roxy, on the other hand, will eat pretty much anything.

"Snake," Pizzazz laughs, shaking her head but there's minimal – if any -- malice in her enjoyment of Stormer's old naïveté.

As the server brings hot towels, Pizzazz infuses her hands with their warmth. The word "snake" is coiling itself around inside her head now.

She has been called a snake before, with her glittery green eyes and forked tongue capable of spewing such verbal venom. She's slithered out of so many predicaments. She's shed her skin a few times too, or at least has attempted to.

"You look stoned or somethin'," Roxy says. "What is it?"

"Nothing," Pizzazz answers as she reaches for the sushi list. She denotes which ones she wants, doubling the quantity of each before she realizes things have changed. In the past, Roxy would often shrug and say she'd eat whatever Pizzazz was having, so Pizzazz would order double quantities of sushi. There's no need for such pretense here as Roxy can now read the list and select for herself.

"Here," Pizzazz hands Roxy the list, but habits die hard and Roxy again shrugs and says she trusts that Pizzazz will order the good stuff. "And once they bring my booze, I'll be just fine," Roxy adds, and the singer empathically agrees.

But once the sake is served, all is not well. Los Angeles' premier sushi bar has just been blessed by the presence of the renowned lead singer of the Stingers, Riot. With a date holding onto his arm, Riot is soon surrounded by fans and onlookers.

Roxy groans. She and Pizzazz had also been recognized as they waited for their table, and Misfit autographs had been signed. The reaction they had caused, however, was not nearly as significant as the one caused by Riot. Somehow the manager locates a table for him right away. Comparing the two bands, however, is not what's causing Roxy angst right now.

Pizzazz's face has flushed. She's not even trying to hide that she's staring at Riot and his blonde, leggy date. Roxy looks at Pizzazz and sees that she's like a caged animal. She wants to pounce, wants to cause a scene and demand that Riot acknowledge her, love her, give her attention, tell her the world centers around her. But Pizzazz has chilled and Misfits don't usually cause the same scenes they used to. Roxy is actually pleased. Pizzazz is fighting her desire to prostrate herself in front of the man who has used and spurned her.

It's a tough battle, though and Roxy wants to help. Not the most articulate person to begin with, she doesn't know what to say that won't feel or look vulnerable and thin-skinned. She decides that an action may speak louder, so she reaches under the table and grabs Pizzazz's right hand.

Pizzazz turns and looks at her, the dazed look retreats from her face. She manages a wry smile and holds the strong hand until their miso soup arrives.

"You're doin' alright," Roxy says. It comes out sounding somewhere between a question and a statement.

"Yeah. Fantastic." No matter how much you love a friend, Pizzazz thinks, the friend can't replace the guy you yearn for. No matter how scummy he is to you, the way he won't give you the time of day, you still think you'd ditch your friend in an instant for a smile from him. Pizzazz's stomach lurches at these thoughts, these realizations. "You know, screw him," she says passionately. The thoughts are only true if you let them be, she tells herself.

"So, we're rehearsing tomorrow, right?" Roxy asks. Work isn't her favorite subject, but anything to veer away from the topic of Riot. Besides, this rehearsal session is pretty important and Roxy looks forward to the ultimate goal here. The Misfits have their first-ever world tour coming up. It will take them away from the LA scene for a while, but it will give them incredible exposure. They need it, if they are to compete with two super-groups now.

"Yeah," Pizzazz says, sounding a lot more focused. "Stormer said she's got two new songs for us to start playing. The demo versions of them are pretty incredible."

"I know. I worked with her on one of 'em, remember? But I still think it's kinda risky. Playing a song during a concert that's never been on one of our albums? May as well drop a lead balloon on the excitement of the crowd. It messes with the mood when you toss in a song they've never heard before."

"These songs will be really good though. We can build some buzz for them and for the next album."

Roxy shakes her head. "I still think – "

But she breaks off when the server brings them their first set of sushi rolls. The group will rehash the argument at their session tomorrow, she figures.

Pizzazz dives into the sushi, glad that it is giving her something to look at other than Riot and his pseudo-supermodel date. A voice rattles around inside her head, calming her desire to pounce on him and asking her what would be the point of another rejection? She takes too much wasabi on her tuna roll and feels the rush, the fear that it will be too hot and too sharp as her eyes begin to water and nasal passages burn as they are cleared out from the pungency. But as quickly as the wasabi rush comes on, it's over and she feels better again.

"There you are, luv. I had to ask the butler if he knew where you were," Jetta says to Stormer as she stands in the doorway to Pizzazz's closet. Stormer is busily rummaging around, pushing and pulling hangers towards her and then away, occasionally grabbing a garment and then tossing it into one of four large shopping bags that stand on the floor with mouths gaping.

"It's pretty easy to get lost in this mansion," Stormer laughs, stopping for a moment to look at Jetta. "Heck, I could get lost in Pizzazz's closet! It's a lot bigger than the bedroom I had growing up."

Jetta doesn't respond to the comment. The closet is nearly as big as the entire flat she grew up in, but better to leave those memories discarded in the past. "So then," she begins again after a few beats, "I suppose I need to ask why you're rummaging around Pizzazz's closet?"

"Oh, I'm pulling out stuff that Pizzazz doesn't wear anymore. I'm going to take it to Goodwill," Stormer responds, as she takes a hideous – even by eighties' standards – sequined red and purple V-neck sweater and tosses it inside one of the bags. "Someone can use this stuff. Though they would have to be pretty desperate," she giggles.

"Does Pizzazz know you're doing this?" Jetta asks, a bemused eyebrow raised.

"Oh yeah. She caught me in here a few weeks ago. I shook some sense into her; I reminded her that she's been known to throw perfectly good clothes in the garbage just 'cause she doesn't want them anymore. I mean sheesh, how wasteful!"

Stormer picks up a snakeskin jacket, hung next to a matching purse, and runs her fingers over the textured material as she says, "I know she's a richer-than-rich rock star but even she doesn't need all of this. So anyway, we talked and she gave me her blessing to knock myself out with this. As long as I don't take any stuff she actually wears." She pitches the jacket and purse towards one of the bags.

"I guess it makes sense," Jetta says. "She doesn't care whether the stuff hangs in her closet or goes away. She tends to fancy the same few outfits anyway."

Stormer now locates a conservative black evening gown. She shakes her head, wondering how the tasteful dress even got into Pizzazz's closet. It must have belonged to a relative Stormer decides, noting that it's a size or two above Pizzazz's.

"Exactly. I'll leave her a note," Stormer continues, "telling her that if she wants to see any of what I'm donating, she has the next few days. But if no word from her by Monday, off the clothes go!"

"What a dote you are, donating clothing for the poor. You're a regular Girl Guide."

Stormer pauses, wanting to believe that Jetta's not mocking her but knowing better.

Jetta sees her hesitation. "No, seriously," Jetta adds, "I am kinda taking the mickey outta you but I also think it's nice of you to do this. We could stand to do more charity gigs."

Stormer smiles and resumes her work. She still suspects that Jetta's smirking, but so what if she is? Stormer likes what she's doing.

Next time Stormer turns around, she takes note of Jetta's hair and clothing. "You look very nice," she comments. "You goin' out?"

"Got a date. Some bloke I met at that party after the awards ceremony," Jetta waves a hand dismissively. "He was quite dishy. He owns a restaurant and wants to take me there."

Jetta shares a conspiratorial laugh with Stormer as she adds, "As long as it's not any of that Japanese sushi crap that Pizzazz and Roxy are eating tonight, I'm all for giving his place a try."

The rehearsal session the next afternoon progresses well, without any of the band's trademark mischief. They do a few perfunctory run-throughs of the set list, playing the old favorites once or twice before hashing out the new songs. The new ones start to coalesce and sound promising, and the group realizes that there may be another future hit here. There's an air of hopefulness too. The Stingers and Jem and the Holograms may have them beaten in terms of airplay and record sales, but the Misfits are still very competitive and their next album may yet give the other two bands a run for their money. This world tour should help a lot too.

Pizzazz admits quietly to herself that she feels shaky during "Love Sick". A few bad memories still accompany that song, but it was a hit and they should perform it. She wonders if the others noticed her unease and nearly-quivering voice but isn't anywhere near the point where she'll ask for feedback. She's had enough unsteady moments over the last two or three years, moments she wishes she could just shed forever. She's been humiliated – by Riot, by Jem and the Holograms, by having to beg Stormer to return in front of the Holograms. She's been walked out on or lied to by all of her bandmates. She's been bested by that wimp Clash in the one area she can't have, and all but disowned by her father (emotionally, if not financially). It should make some of this easier but she still can't even ask her bandmates what they thought of her voice.

"That was incredible!" Stormer enthuses, but she's referring to one of the new songs, not to Pizzazz's voice. "C'mon, guys…I think we have to perform this one on this tour. It's so good. And it'll give the fans a preview of the next album."

"I dunno Stormer," Jetta begins, "I never want to play a song in concert that the audience has never heard before. It puts them to sleep."

"It confuses 'em," Roxy adds. "Gets rid of all the good momentum you get when you're playin' their favorites and all of a sudden you throw in somethin' they ain't never heard before."

Stormer shakes her head. "I think of any of the bands that Craig took me to see when we were kids and I would've loved it if they'd have played new songs in their sets! You thrill to getting to hear something that's not been recorded," she says ardently. "And it will be good for us too. That's how you get to know a song – you play with it, experiment with it, gauge the audience's reaction and find out where it needs to be better. Then you put it on record – or CD. Once you do that," she shakes her head, "it's over -- it's on there forever and everyone expects it to sound that way all the time." She pauses and then adds, "If I had things my way, I'd re-do half the songs on the first album. We rushed it out too fast."

Jetta giggles. Seeing Stormer this passionate is a bit unnerving. "You sure feel strongly about this."

Pizzazz pipes up and adds, "Her instincts have never failed us before. I say we go with it and add them in the set." She looks at Roxy and Jetta and asks, "Can you live with that?"

The guitarist and saxophonist agree. It's still a surprise to be asked for their opinions by Pizzazz, but a pleasant one.

Once the session is concluded, the Misfits decide that a game of pool would hit the spot. Pizzazz declares that she needs to change clothes and will see them downstairs in twenty. Stormer heads out after the singer.

"Kinda weird, isn't it?" Jetta leans against the wall, watching Pizzazz and Stormer filter out of the room.

"What is?" Roxy asks, carefully setting her guitar back inside its case. She's broken enough guitars over the years and the desire to break more is still there, but she'll save it for the tour. She's kind of taken a liking to this one.

"The two of them. They flip-flopped a bit, but in a good way. Stormer's got more confidence, Pizzazz a bit less arrogance – she's been taken down a notch or two."

Roxy makes a face. "Maybe. She's still a snooty bitch though." At Jetta's look, she adds, "I mean I love her, but she's still a bitch."

The two women giggle as they leave the rehearsal room.

Pizzazz and Stormer, meanwhile, walk towards their rooms. On the staircase, Pizzazz suddenly stops. "I been meaning to tell you!" she begins. "You took my snakeskin jacket, didn't you?" she accuses.

"You never wear it," Stormer explains, unperturbed by Pizzazz's aggressive tone. She's taken aback by the fact that Pizzazz even remembers the jacket; her closet is so full of apparel worn only once. She recovers quickly and adds, "And it's the butt-ugliest thing I've ever seen!"

"So what? I want to keep it. You got enough other clothes to give to the slackers."

"Pizzazz!" Stormer chastises.

"Oh sorry," she says, her voice oozing fake piety. "I mean for the bums." Stormer rolls her eyes and Pizzazz concludes, "I'm keeping my damn snakeskin jacket. And the purse that goes with it!"

"Fine, fine," Stormer mutters, shaking her head.


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