Arc Three: When Life Goes On...
Shadow Of The Girl

Chapter Eight: Eric Strikes

"Mom, I want to speak to you."
Sirena pushed open the door of the office firmly, putting her hands on her hips and meeting her mother's questioning look with a determined one of her own. "I want to know once and for all exactly what family I do or don't have in this wretched country - or anywhere else, for that matter! It seems that everywhere I turn new people are springing up with my blood in their veins and I never knew about any of them!"
"Emily, if you're going to have a fit about a silly thing like family, you aint the kid I thought you were." Phyllis pushed her books aside, looking annoyed. "For the last time, this is a music company, you are it's employee and I'm not going to tolerate you jumping in here bleating about your long lost relatives during work time any more, okay?" She narrowed her gaze. "If I didn't know better I'd say this little outburst is partly down to Chimera - didn't I tell you not to go see her?"
"Yeah, and I told you I'm an adult." Sirena shot back. "I can see who I want. Hell, I'm a mom in my own right - and you've never been the kind of mother to me that can tell me what to do, anyway!"
Phyllis looked taken aback, and for a moment a flash of hurt entered the green eyes, but it was quickly concealed by anger.
"Perhaps not." She snapped back. "But I am your boss and I do hold your contract in my drawer. Final decision as to who makes your music video lies with me, not with you. If I want to ask my sister to work for us, then I will, but she's busy and ideally, I don't. Your single can wait, it's not the end of the world if it's not out this week or even next."
"You were the one hurrying me!" Sirena banged her hand down on the desk, irate now, and proving that her temper was as fiery as her mother's when aroused. "I sent Mike off to Grandpa weeks before the kid turns one and have been in the damn studio working with the musicians trying to get this track straight - now it's not even a priority of this company to produce a video?" Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What about Jewel? Have they had their video filmed?"
"Jewel haven't a new single projected for a week or two, and unlike you, they don't demand things." Phyllis retorted cuttingly. "Listen, Emily, I have a lot of work to do and I don't need additional hassle from my own daughter about how to run my company. You chose to put pen to paper and I'm holding you to that contract. You play where and when we sanction you to do so,  and you release records where and when we sanction you to do so. Zoe's illness was unforseen and unfortunate but once she is fit she will work with you and a video will be produced. Now, end of discussion!"
"I'm not leaving here until you tell me what I want to know about my family." Sirena folded her arms, dropping down into a chair.
"There's nothing to damn well say." Phyllis snapped back. "During office hours you're my employee and I don't want to hear this nonsense. If you must bleat about family then do it out of working hours, but I have far more important things to worry about now."
Sirena's expression darkened.
"So basically I've been good for you so long as you can turn a quick profit out of me but once I start asking questions you don't want to know?" She demanded. "I'm not some pawn in a big money game, you know. I have a son who's almost one and I have to feed him as well as me, or I would damn well quit right here and now."
"Since we both know that you can't, and since I'm sure neither of us want to descend into a legal wrangle over this, I suggest you go cool down." Phyllis' tone was cold and her gaze steely. "You might be my daughter, Emily. That doesn't mean you can control me."
"Likewise with you controlling me." Sirena spat back. "Fine. If you can't be bothered with my video and you don't care about answering what I want to know, I'll go elsewhere. I'll go...I'll go to Chimera again, she was nice to me." She glared at her mother. "And just you watch it too, Mom, because i'll go to Grandpa too if I have to and he'll help me even if you won't."
"Oh, get out." Phyllis returned wearily. "I've enough business already."
Tossing her head, Sirena stalked out of the office, banging the door hard behind her to emphasise her displeasure. Phyllis groaned.
"Damn kid." She muttered. "I knew I should never have had her!"
Sirena, meanwhile, was feeling equally disillusioned and, upset by her mother's attitude she had resolved to do no more work that day, instead seeking out her aunt with the intention of finding out what she wanted to know. Phyllis' reticence had struck at her insecurities and made her wonder if her mother was hiding something.
"Which would just be typical." She muttered darkly as she hurried down the flights of stairs, too impatient to wait for the lift. "Damn her!"
"Emily?" A voice startled her from her reverie and she stopped dead, meeting Nancy's gaze with a glower of her own.
"Em, is something up? You look ready to eat me." Nancy observed. Sirena's glower deepened.
"Just get out of my way, then." She muttered. "It's nothing to do with you, just leave me alone, all right? We'll both regret it if you don't."
Nancy raised an eyebrow, but, recognising sparks of rage in her friend's eyes she wisely stood aside to let the girl through. After all, she mused to herself afterwards, in this Sirena was just like her mother.
"And you don't mess with either of them when they have that look in their eyes." She acknowledged wryly, continuing on her way to the studio and quickly forgetting the encounter as she immersed herself in her composition.

Out in the parking lot, Sirena was getting her second unexpected surprise of the day. Having stalked past the security guard, totally ignoring his friendly greeting, she shoved the doors of the building open, stomping out onto the tarmac...and stopping dead.
Stood by her car was a man she had only met once before in her life...and yet his face was imprinted so entirely in her memory she knew at once who he was.
"What in hell do you want?" She demanded, marching up to her vehicle and pushing him away from the door. "This isn't Hallowe-en, you know."
"I came to see you, my dear." Eric seemed unperturbed by her hostility, casting her a smile. "It's been some time since we last met."
"Last time we met was enough for me." Sirena unlocked the car, pulling open the driver's seat and slipping into the front, going to pull the door shut behind her, but he stopped her. "Hey, let go of that! I just had it polished last week!"
"It's a nice motor." Eric looked approving, leaning up against the bodywork of the vehicle as he eyed her thoughtfully. "You know, I'm starting to think that you're not happy to see me, Emily."
"Gee, what gave you that idea?" Sirena snorted. "It's been a goddamn day of it, and if you want my opinion, I can do without the pair of you messing up my life!"
"Excuse me?" Now Eric was confused. "The pair of who?"
"You and that mother of mine." Sirena snapped back. "Will you get off my car so I can go home? I do have other things to worry about, you know."
"Like Michael, perhaps?" Eric asked softly. Sirena stared.
"Now what are you playing at?" She demanded, pausing in her attempts to slam the door of the vehicle. "Who told you about Michael? Don't tell me you cared enough to read the papers."
"He's a year old soon, I believe." Eric ignored her incredulity. "It's not easy to be a parent, is it?"
"Like you'd know." Sirena snapped. "You were never there for me."
"I was never told you existed." Eric folded his arms. "Listen, Emily, I came to Los Angeles for a reason, so hear me out, will you? Then if you want you can slam your door in my face, but at least listen to what I have to say."
"Okay, I'll listen, and then I'll slam my door in your face." Sirena told him tersely. "Well? What? I haven't got all day."
"We got off to a bad footing in Canada." Eric told her slowly. "I was under a lot of pressure from your mother and, well, it was a big shock to me, having the news that I was a father dropped on my desk like that. I had no idea about you till that day and I...I reacted badly to the suddenness of it all."
"Join the club." Sirena muttered. "Go on. Get to the point."
"Well, I did some thinking." Eric indicated Misfit Music. "I heard that you'd signed for this place instead of Rebel Records - which in light of the way Riot treated you I'm not surprised - and that you'd had a baby son, Michael. It got me to thinking - after all, this baby is my grandson. I thought that maybe it was time I took some responsibility for what happened between your Mom and I all those years back."
"Why don't I believe you?" Sirena's expression was wary.
"I don't know." Eric shrugged. "Maybe because your mother has been filling your head with ideas about the sort of guy I am, hmm?"
"Don't even get me started on the subject of my mother." Sirena glowered. Eric eyed her keenly, absorbing her demeanour and deciding that he had chosen precisely the right moment. Sirena and Phyllis had clearly come to blows recently, and now was the time to play on his daughter's grievances.
"Well, she was the one who abandoned you." He said softly. "Not me. I didn't know you existed and even when I did, she threatened me with all kinds of things should I ever interfere. She told me that she'd finish me - ruin me in Canada like she did in America. I was afraid of what she'd do."
"Mom ain't to be messed with sometimes." Sirena acknowledged grudgingly. "But still, you could've written, you know. You expect me to believe that you suddenly had a fit of conscience and came haring down here to try and play father with me? Do you really think I'll buy that?"
"Why not?" Eric asked simply. "It's true. Your mother chased me out of the country, ruined my name here and abandoned you to the mercy of the Starlight Foundation. She built up this group - this Jewel phenomenon - to make you feel second best. She fawned and fussed over Jetta's brat of a daughter whilst ignoring you and your needs growing up. She let you grow up not even knowing who you were...why should you believe her and not me? I have nothing to hide."
"Why are you really here, Dad?" The word slipped off her tongue almost before she had realised it and Eric started, as if surprised to hear it.
"I wanted to make amends." He responded finally. "With you and for Michael's sake. Poor kid hasn't much going for him in this world with a grandma who hasn't a clue and a father who's six feet under. I wanted to help you."
"Hmm." Sirena's eyes narrowed again. "And what's in it for you?"
Eric's expression became sombre.
"I'm not getting any younger." He said quietly. "And I have no other family, Emily. I wanted to find what family I do have - before it's too late. Noone wants to die alone."
Eric's sincerity was false, but Sirena, inexperienced where her father's wiles were concerned and still sore over her mother's words took it for genuine. She stared at him for a moment, then offered him a small smile.
"I guess I'm sorry." She said at length. "I should quit expecting everyone to have an ulterior motive."
"It's only natural, the way you've grown up." Eric told her with a shrug. "I wouldn't have left you in the Foundation, if I'd known about you back then. But can't change what's been, can we?"
"No." Sirena shook her head. "Worse luck."
She hesitated, then, "Look, here isn't a good place to talk. Mom will probably come out and throw a fit at me - or her new computer, that's perhaps more likely - you want to come back to my apartment? You know...for coffee or something?"
"Sounds good to me." Eric nodded his head, inwardly high fiving at his victory. Riot said this would be hard, he mused, but Riot didn't have a clue. Even after all these years, he still had the knack of persuasion.
Sirena leant over to release the lock on the passenger door, watching her father climb in with surprising nimbleness for his age, and despite herself she felt a spark of hope, followed by a surreal feeling.
"My father." She murmured to herself. "In my car...can this really work out? After all Mom's said...oh, but what if Mom's lying? Grandpa would believe his daughter, of course, but Mom hasn't exactly been telling me everything, because otherwise she'd have told me about Chimera."
She put the car in gear, closing her door and casting her companion a slightly awkward look.
"Did you know that Mom had a sister?" She asked.
"Chimera." Eric nodded his head. "Yes, I remember her well." He smiled slightly. "I don't think it's unfair to say that they weren't much like sisters. Mind you, Chimera was the best video artist I ever worked with in my time at Misfit Music."
"Why did you leave?" Sirena asked softly.
"Your mother made it impossible for me to stay." Eric said quietly. "She must have had someone mess up the finances - after all I'd done for the company, keeping it going whilst she went off on her reckless rampages and trashed stages or hotel rooms or whatever else the Misfits got into. It wasn't easy, you know, keeping books balanced under those circumstances. Your mother might have owned the company, but she never ran it. She paid me to do that."
"She gets Jetta doing her dirty work now." Sirena remembered. "Go on, what happened?"
"I suspect that you did." Eric said carefully. "Because the violence of her hostility towards me was very sudden and entirely unexpected. Before I knew what was happening I'd lost my job, my livelihood and my security in the United States. Pizzazz ruined me and made it near impossible for me to ever hold a high position in America again. That's why I went to Canada. I needed a new beginning."
Sirena fell silent, turning these thoughts over in her head. She was well used to her mother's side of the story - the embezzlements and the claims that Misfit Music had been on the brink of financial collapse. Nancy had told her the story too, but, as Sirena reasoned, Nancy would believe what Jetta told her and Jetta was loyal to Pizzazz.
"There are always two sides to every story." She told herself at length. "And just because my Mom and Dad hate each other doesn't mean I should let them prejudice me about the other. I'm a grown woman, I can decide for myself what's what. And hey, with Mike turning one this month..." She paused, surrepticiously biting her lip. "It would be nice for him to have a birthday with family." She admitted to herself finally, as she pulled off the main road and into the parking lot of the apartment complex. "I never had one as a child, and he doesn't have a Dad around as it is. Maybe this is my chance to find Mike a male role model. After all, Grandpa won't be around forever, bless him, and he's in San Diego anyhow. After all, it's not like I'm looking for a guy to shack up with. This could be the answer."
She cast her father a sidelong glance, but Eric's attention was elsewhere, and he didn't notice.
"Maybe this isn't so crazy." Sirena decided. "Perhaps Mom was lying all along...maybe I do have a father who cares, after all!"

Prologue: February 1997  
Chapter One: Sirena's Show

Chapter Two: A Plot
Chapter Three: In California
Chapter Four: About Chimera
Chapter Five: Sirena's Aunt
Chapter Six: A Special Quest
Chapter Seven: The Plot Hatches
Chapter Eight: Eric Strikes
Chapter Nine: Webchat
Chapter Ten: Complications
Chapter Eleven: Handling Emily
Chapter Twelve: A Discovery
Chapter Thirteen: A Birthday Surprise

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!