Someday, I'm gonna rise up... Not until I've paid my dues.

Lights flickered outside, as rain beat against the window of the Treble Café. Lauren looked up as lightning flashed through the city streets, illuminating her reflection in the glass. She'd been in New York City for nearly two months, and she hadn't seen whether like this. It was late, and all the customers had gone, so she and Julia were just cleaning up, listening to the storm rage outside. They'd auditioned to be the musical act at the café, in their band along with Jamie, who was also with them in New York, but had been beaten by a some group called "D-J-3," so stoically named because that's what the band members' initials Although they didn't get the performing gig, though, Julia and Lauren both got jobs as waitresses at the café, which they took, glad to just have any source of salary to afford their meager existence in the city of dreams.

Little did they know that taking care of the clean-up would also be on their list of jobs to do. It was almost midnight, and they knew that they had a long walk home if they couldn't get a cab. After all, cab fare was expensive, and they were only waitresses. But the walk was short, and they could make it if they had to.

"Crazy storm out there, Jules," Lauren said, looking at the rain coming down the window.

Julia looked up. "Perfect. Now we don't have to waste money on our water bill. Just shower on the fire escape."

"I'm sure the neighbors would love that," Lauren chided, as they both got back to wiping down tables. They were almost done, when they heard a knock on the locked door.

"It's Joe," Julia said.

Sure enough, there he stood, outside, smiling like he was on top of the world. It was at that time that Lauren considered ignoring him, and leaving the pretentious drummer outside in the rain. But she knew that it would piss off Mr. Holden, the manager, if she upset his precious headlining act. So she went over and unlocked the doors.

"What do you want?" she asked, already annoyed by Joe's presence.

He slid past her and inside the café. "Darren forgot his capo, so he sent me back to get it."

"Why didn't he come himself?" Julia asked.

"You know Darren. Always afraid of getting a cold in the rain. Singers, you know how they are." He smirked and sauntered up to the stage, feeling behind a speaker, finding the capo, and turned around to face the girls. "Why are you still here?"

"We clean up afterwards," Julia said. "We can't all be rock stars."

Joe shrugged, and moved towards the door. "Well, I'll see you 'round." With that, he strode out the door to a waiting taxi, letting the door slam shut behind him.

"He's certainly confident," Julia commented. Although, for Joe Walker, "confidence" often came across as "arrogance."

They locked up a minute later, turning off the lights, and getting ready to walk the few blocks back to their miniscule apartment. It just close enough to be a brief walk, but long enough for them both to feel waterlogged by the time they ducked into their building's lobby. Jamie, who was sitting at the desk, looked up as they entered.

"Another amazing Friday," Julia said dryly.

"Can't wait for tomorrow," Jamie replied from the desk, trying to be sympathetic.

Saturdays were always the busiest, because of the open mic karaoke that happened after DJ-3 performed. It would be tiring, but with the tips, it was always necessary in order for them to be able to manage their measly existence in New York. It had been Lauren's idea to move to New York, and Julia and Jamie had tried to talk her out of it, but they'd eventually come as well.

After not getting every gig they auditioned for, there had only been two jobs available at the café, so Jamie had opted to find work elsewhere. She managed to get a job in the very building they lived, which cut the costs of their shared apartment, but required her to stay indoors most of the day. This had annoyed her at first, but on days like that, when the weather was nothing short of apocalyptic, she was thankful to have no commute to worry about.

The three friends ascended the steps, several flights, into their miniscule apartment. They'd been lucky enough thus far in New York, after all. They all had some form of a paid employment, in such jobs that none of them had to take their clothes off in order to get money. That, at least, was a success.