Disclaimer: Jem and all related elements, characters and indicia © Hasbro Inc., Sunbow Entertainment, Marvel Productions Ltd. 1985-2004. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Hasbro Inc., Marvel Productions Ltd., Sunbow Entertainment©1985-2004.
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Author's Note: Set during "The Bands Break Up". Written for Skogkatt for the Yuletide 2008 Challenge.
Best Laid Plans
by Tara O'Shea
All Roxy could think, as the door of the practice room vibrated in its frame and Stormer's angry footsteps echoed down the hall, was that it had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Pizzazz wiped a tear of laugher from the corner of her eye, smearing her make-up. "That was fun."
"Has she always been that uptight?" Jetta asked, rolling across the floor.
"She never used to be such a kill-joy. God, the look on her face."
Roxy chewed on her bottom lip, suddenly not so sure their teasing hadn't crossed a line. "I dunno... she seemed really mad. Maybe one of us should go after her?"
"What?" Pizzazz flipped her lime-green hair. "No. Let her throw her tantrum. She'll be back. Probably before lunch, even. Jeez, she was here already when I got here. I think she actually got here early, for pete's sake. Like she's really gonna blow off the whole day."
"The words 'I hate you all' kinda make me think she might not be back today," Roxy pointed out, staring at the door.
"Oh, please. It's Stormer. Where the hell is she gonna go?" Pizzazz set her guitar back in its case and snapped it shut. "Screw this, I'm going to go to the spa, and get my nails done. I totally trashed my manicure breaking that guy's camera at the club last night. Do you think he'll really sue me?"
Jetta shrugged. "He might. He wasn't paparazzi—he was a Japanese tourist, remember?"
"I was so trashed."
"What are we gonna do about Stormer?" Roxy asked, and Pizzazz shrugged.
"We are not going to do anything. I am going to go tell Eric's bimbo to book me at Le Façade. You can do... I don't know, whatever you want. Today's a total waste."
Roxy watched her go, and with a sigh began packing up her own gear.
"I don't know why you're so fussed," Jetta said as she snapped her saxophone case shut. "Pizzazz's right. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, she'll be right back where she belongs, probably with a whole new crappy tune she wants us to listen to."
"Look, just 'cause you've been here like, what? A month? Don't assume you know us," Roxy growled, and stalked out of the practice room.
However, just as she was entering the underground parking garage, she heard the staccato burst of high-heels on pavement warning her this conversation wasn't over. Jetta fell in beside her, spiky crest of black hair slightly wilted from her mad dash.
"All right, Yank. You're right. I don't know she'll be back in the morning."
"So what do we do if she isn't? I mean it, Jetta. Stormer's never lost it like this. Me? Pizzazz? We've trashed more hotel rooms between us than the Ramones, Pistols, and the Clash combined. But Stormer doesn't get mad. She gets all weepy and crap, but she doesn't flip out and slam doors."
"So, what's your plan?"
"Whoa. Since when am I the one with the plan?"
"Since Pizzazz could care less, and you're the one who knows our girl best. So, my girl, your plan."
The Scene was packed. Roxy scowled at her cherry coke, and adjusted the scarf hiding her bleached blonde hair. Beside her, Jetta peered at the crowd over the top of her mirrored sunglasses.
"Blimey. This is unbelievable."
Roxy hadn't believed it, when she'd heard Stormer was playing at some teeny-bopper juice bar. The house band was the Limp Lizards, for one thing. That was a sure sign it was the bottom of the barrel, where venues were concerned. But what she couldn't understand how the Benton brat fit into the situation.
Pizzazz was still convinced that Stormer would come crawling back on her hands and knees. Despite sucky lyrics, and crap-on-a-cracker arrangements, and a looming deadline for the new album, she still refused to lift a finger to do anything.
As Stormer and Kimber took the stage, and the crowd cheered, Roxy pushed her coke away from her so violently sticky-sweet soda sloshed over the side of the glass, leaving a trail across the Formica tabletop.
"Let's get out of here," she said as she dropped two crumpled bills on the table right in the centre of the spilled drink.
"Don't you want to—"
"No. Let's just go."
"You have to make Stormer come back."
Eric looked up from the copy of Rolling Stone he was reading, his expression completely blank. "Excuse me?"
Roxy stood in front of his glass-topped desk, arms crossed, pouting.
"Mr. Raymond, I told her she couldn't just barge in here—" Eric's secretary ran in, permed hair flying behind her, but Eric just waved her away.
"What is it, Roxy?" he asked, returning his eyes to the magazine.
"Stormer took off."
"I don't understand what you expect me to do. She'll be back. Where else is she going to go?"
Roxy slapped down the flyer she'd ripped off the wall at The Scene on Eric's desk. Even if she couldn't read the entire thing, the photo spoke for itself.
"Kimber Benton." Eric didn't looked bored now. He sat up straighter in his leather chair, and the magazine was dropped forgotten to the floor. "Stormer's playing club dates with Jerrica's sister?"
"Three nights a week. And the club is packed. Me and Jetta went, to see for ourselves. Isn't there, I dunno—some kinda rule about playing gigs with our worst enemy or something?"
"Is the venue charging a cover?"
"What? No. Eric, it's a freaking ice-cream parlour."
"What about compensation? Do they have a contract?"
"How the hell should I know?"
"Then you're wasting my time. How long has she been gone?"
"A couple of weeks."
"Did she at least finish the arrangements for the new album? We're scheduled to go into the studio—"
"The album? That's all you care about?"
"Yes, Roxy. As a matter of fact, that is all I care about. Because I am a businessman. And right now, the only thing that matters to me is we deliver the singles and album we promised, when we promised them. I've already bribed half the DJs in the state to get airplay! And now you're telling me Stormer skipped out without delivering?"
"I don't want you to sue her, Eric. The Misfits need her back."
"Are you telling me how to do my job?"
"Maybe somebody outta!" Roxy growled, and slammed Eric's door so hard his nameplate popped out of its holder.
"Rochelle!" Eric boomed.
"Yes, Mr. Raymond?"
"Get me my Rolodex. And cancel my 1:30. And Rochelle?"
"Yes, Mr. Raymond?"
Eric smiled sweetly. "The next time one of those girls gets past your desk and into my office, you won't be able to so much as answer phones in this town. Now even at Jerry Lewis's telethon. You got me?"
"Yes, Mr. Raymond."
"She's ours again. Lock, stock and music," Pizzazz crowed as Stormer drove away in the flashy red Porsche.
Roxy high-fived Jetta, relieved that everything was back to normal.
But when Stormer showed up at Misfits Music the next day, it was clear she was still bothered. They worked on the arrangements for the new album, until Pizzazz got bored and took off to go shopping. Roxy waited for Stormer to say something about how happy she was to be back. But she didn't seem happy. She was just quiet.
"All I ever wanted was to be appreciated," she'd said when Roxy had handed her the keys. Her voice had been thick with tears, and Roxy had forced herself to smile.
Roxy kept stealing glances at Stormer, who was all dolled up in a new outfit, hundred dollar snakeskin boots on her feet and a new Rolex on her wrist, and couldn't shake the feeling normal was as far from where they were as it was possible to get.
When Stormer didn't show up that afternoon to lay down the new voice tracks, Roxy had a hunch they wouldn't be seeing her around anymore.
Pizzazz raged. Jetta scowled. But Roxy just felt sick.
"My plan," she muttered beneath her breath as she packed up her gear for the day. "My plan sucks."
When the first print ads for Back 2 Back hit the trades, Pizzazz was so furious she threw her 24" television set out the window. It hit Harvey Gabor's manicured lawn like a bomb, and he tried to chew her out but even Mr. Gabor got out of her way when that light came into her green eyes. Like she wanted to destroy something. Like it would be you, if you didn't get out of her way fast enough.
But the worst was yet to come. Within a matter of weeks, the singles kept climbing the charts. The album went gold, and then went platinum.
Roxy finally decided enough was enough.
Pizzazz hadn't come into the studio for a week. Jetta was crashing at the mansion, and let Roxy in when she rang the bell.
"You don't want to go in there," Jetta warned her when Roxy climbed the marble staircase, heading for the second floor. "Trust me."
"I'm gonna anyway," Roxy replied as she knocked on Pizzazz's bed room door. The sound of breaking glass met her knock.
"What?" Pizzazz shrieked as Roxy flinched, and then pushed the door open.
"Oh. It's you."
"Yeah, it's me." She stepped around the remains of a vase of flowers that littered the carpet, water and petals sliding down the wooden doorframe. "We gotta talk."
Pizzazz growled. She was lying on her bed in an embroidered Chinese robe, an empty bottle of champagne on the nightstand. "I don't even want to hear that little traitor's name."
"Tough," Roxy said squaring her shoulders. Jetta gasped behind her, poised to flee. Roxy didn't spare her a backward glance, but walked right up to the bed, finger pointed accusingly.
"Look, the Misfits don't work without Stormer. The songs don't work, our live performances suck, and the album is already six weeks overdue. You wanna bury the band completely?"
"I'm not the one who abandoned us. And after I spent a fortune on her little presents and toys!"
"Presents and toys aren't gonna make us a band again. And I am sick of you acting like this is all gonna blow over. It's not. We don't do something now, and we're finished. Washed up. Over."
"And what do you expect me to do about it, huh? What else am I supposed to do?" Pizzazz's voice rose to a shriek on the last word, and Jetta put a cautioning hand on Roxy's arm. Roxy shook her off.
"What we're gonna do is what we shoulda done in the first place. We're gonna ask her back."
"You want me to crawl? Forget it, sister. No way. I'd rather swallow glass—"
"We need Stormer," Roxy shouted, getting right up in Pizzazz's face. "Deep down, you know you want her back as much as I do. And we're gonna go down there and tell her. And fine—if she blows us off, that's it. No more Misfits. We're done. But I'm not gonna sit here and bitch and moan about it. It's time we did something. Bribes didn't work, Eric waving her contract in her face didn't work. This is all we got left. So either you get dressed and call the damn chauffeur, or I'll go on my own without you."
"You wouldn't dare."
"And Jetta would go with me," Roxy said, grabbing the saxophonist's hand before she could get away. Her fingers dug into Jetta's forearm, hard enough that there might be bruises there tomorrow. "Right?" Roxy growled, and Jetta swallowed.
"Rox's right, Pizzazz," she finally said. Pizzazz just looked back and forth between the two of them, and scowled.
"Now you're both ganging up on me?"
"If that's what it takes," Roxy said, crossing her arms and glaring down at her.
"Sometimes I wish Eric had never started this band," Pizzazz muttered as she got to her feet and stomped her way to the bathroom.
As she slammed the door shut, Roxy let out a shaky breath. "Man, I can't believe that worked."
"You've got stones, Yank. I'll give you that," Jetta said weekly from behind her, and massaged her wrist.
"You could be a part of our company, Stormer," Roxy could hear Jerrica saying as they rounded the corner. "How about joining the Holograms?"
"Stormer!" Pizzazz called out as Roxy poked her. The tableau froze as the Misfits walked in, Jerrica looking like she wanted to call security right that minute to throw them out.
"They don't really need you," Pizzazz said, voice dropping with sincerity. Roxy was impressed. If she'd acted this well when they were on the set of The Misfits Movie, maybe they wouldn't have become a perennial punchline on Saturday Night Live. "Please, Stormer. Come back to the Misfits. We need you."
"Yeah, it's true!" Roxy said quickly, before Pizzazz could drop the act and ruin the moment, and Jetta chimed in from beside her.
"Come back, Yank."
Stormer blinked at them, mouth open in surprise, and Roxy held her breath as she turned back to Jerrica.
"It's true, Jerrica. You don't need me," Stormer said, and Roxy watched Jerrica's face closely, praying she didn't open her mouth and say something sincere and kind and selfless and ruin the whole moment. But she kept her mouth shut, though Kimber's face fell when she realised Stormer meant it. "But they do."
"You mean it? You'll come back?" Pizzazz repeated, clearly shocked something so simple as asking nicely had actually got her what she wanted.
"I will," Stormer said, as Roxy and Jetta cheered and whooped, "but you're gonna have to listen to me also, from now on. I'm an equal partner." Roxy was shocked at how strong and confident she sounded.
"Right?" Stormer prompted, and there was a crack in her shiny new armour that Roxy recognised as hope and fear.
Roxy and Jetta nodded enthusiastically, and Pizzazz, clearly shaken at the New and Improved Stormer, nodded along with them. "Oh, right. Right!"
"Well, come on, partners. Move it!" Pizzazz couldn't keep the giddiness out of her voice as she pushed Stormer towards the door. Roxy glanced back as Stormer ran over to give the kid hologram a hug. But all that mattered to her was Stormer came back with them, linking her arm through Roxy's with a smile as they got the hell outta Dodge.
Stormer had been back with the Misfits for a week, before Roxy showed up on her doorstep. She heard the Indian roar up, and already had the screen door open before Roxy had even got her helmet off.
There was an awkward moment as she tugged off her finger-less gloves, and stuffed them in the back pocket of her jeans.
"So what happened to the Porsche?" Roxy asked, jerking her head toward the orange Volvo parked on the street in front of the bungalow.
"I left it parked in Pizzazz's garage," Stormer said with a shrug. "I couldn't keep it, you know?"
Roxy's jaw dropped open. "No way. Why not? It's a Porsche."
Stormer just laughed, and shrugged. "It'd cost a fortune to fix if it broke down, and I don't even have a garage. And anyway, I felt weird about keeping it... I know it was a bribe."
"It wasn't—" Roxy began, and then her shoulders slumped in defeat. "Yeah, it totally was."
"And anyway, I'm keeping the boots." Stormer pointed down at her feet, and Roxy laughed. "So what's up?"
Roxy stepped inside, and flopped down on the sofa.
"Look, I screwed up."
Stormer frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Me and Jetta went to the club. Before you guys were on Lindsay's show—before we showed up and there was that whole scene. Word got out, and I wanted to see—we wanted to see what you were doing."
"You came to the club?" Stormer repeated, sounded pleased and confused at the same time. "Why didn't you tell me—"
"Cause I was pissed off, okay?" Roxy said quickly, and wrapped her arms around her knees, resting her chin on her forearm. "I saw you up there with the Benton brat, and... It was like I dunno, a bolt of lightning or whatever, okay? You really didn't need us. You were playing for, like, free ice-cream, and you were happy. Without us. Without me. So... I went to Eric."
Stormer just stared at her. "You what?"
Roxy exploded off the couch, feeling guilty and crappy, but determined to get it off her chest. "It was me, okay? Eric found out you two were playing The Teen Scene gig 'cause I told him. Me. So the Dave Daniels thing, that was kinda my fault, okay?"
"Why are you telling me this?"
"I know. It's insane. Jetta was all 'Why cop to something if you're not gonna get caught?' and that's actually what made me want to tell you. Cause I don't want you to find out, and hate me. So I either could, you know, spend like the rest of my life waiting for you to find out and be pissed at me... Or I could just tell you myself. And if you don't ever want to talk to me again, then, you know... Whatever. But at least I'd know."
"So you told him to use me to try and steal Kimber's company?"
"What?" Roxy's mouth dropped open in shock. "No! God, no. I wanted him to go get you and make you come back."
Stormer's blue eyes narrowed. "Make me come back."
"Well, it's not like you were gonna come on your own, and I thought once you were back it wouldn't matter. Like it would just go back to normal. Everything would be normal again."
Roxy chewed on her bottom lip, waiting for some kind of reaction to her confession. She expected Stormer to get pissed, maybe throw things. That's what she did, when she was mad. God knows that's what Pizzazz would do.
Instead, Stormer sank down onto the arm of the easy chair, and dragged a hand over her face.
"Roxy, it doesn't work that way," she finally said. "Everything isn't 'back to normal.' That's the point. 'Normal' was lousy. That's why I left, remember?"
"But you came back."
"Because you asked me. And you meant it. I thought you guys were my friends, and you laughed at me. You made me feel like nothing." Her voice had got small, and she reminded Roxy of the kid they'd first met, two years before, playing covers in a crappy bar band in a hick town.
"C'mon, we were just... we were just being us. Blowing off steam, and you took it so seriously. I didn't think you'd take it so seriously." Roxy frowned, feeling all the guilt come right back over her again. "But then I got it, okay? I get it. And we're not gonna do that anymore," she said quickly, reaching out to touch Stormer's shoulder.
"You'd better not." Stormer wiped at her eyes again, and on impulse, Roxy hugged her.
"God, you're so sappy sometimes," she said, getting a mouthful of blue hair for her trouble.
Stormer gave a watery laugh as she scooted over so Roxy could join her on the couch. "I did miss you."
"Yeah. Kimber's fun and all, but it wasn't the same as you and me. Sometimes... sometimes, I just miss the way things used to be."
"Yeah." Roxy swallowed past the lump in her throat. "Yeah, me too."