Arc Three: When Life Goes On...
Part Two

Chapter Five: Dilemmas

"Damn her!"
Aaron paced across the floor of his apartment, his expression creased in a troubled frown. "Damn her! Why didn't I know about this? Why? We've been going out long enough! You'd think that, with the number of conversations we've had about family and the future, that she would have told me about this!"
He dropped down onto the couch, resting his head in his hands. He had been hardly able to believe Stefana's story, but, with a few minor modifications, she had outlined what she knew, and her sincerity was undoubted. He had looked for any sign that the guitarist might have gotten the facts confused or wrong entirely, but as she spoke, he knew that she spoke the truth. Her words explained everything that had changed in Copper's behaviour since the night of Sylva's party, when his world had come crashing down around him.
"She can't have children." He murmured numbly, shaking his head slowly. "Where does that leave me, then? Why didn't she tell me, damn her? Why didn't she? We could have talked about this! Instead of leading me on and making me - hell, everyone! - believe that she would marry me!"
His eyes narrowed.
"And Topaz maybe I'm the only one who didn't know this terrible secret of hers. Damn her, did she tell my kid sister too? Has Nancy really known this all along and made a moron out of me too?"
He got to his feet as the doorbell rang, stomping into the hall and flinging open the door. Aaron was not one to often lose his temper, but it was still there, bubbling beneath the surface, ready to rise up in defence of Pelligrini pride. He had used it to defend his sister in their schooldays more than once, when harsh words and actions had aroused his protective instinct. Now, however, he was hurting himself, and he glared at the unfortunate visitor as if she was a harbinger of yet more doom.
"What do you want, Nancy?" He demanded. "Come to gloat at me some more, have you?"
"What deranged idea is floating around your skull now?" Nancy regained her composure, pushing her brother aside and stepping into the apartment, pulling the door shut behind her. "I came to talk to you, can't I do that now?"
"That depends." Aaron snapped back. He grabbed his sister by the shoulders, meeting her brown eyes with angry grey ones.
"Did you know?"
"I beg your pardon?" Nancy stared back at him. "I thought this was my brother's apartment, but I think I found the lunatic next door instead. My mistake."
"Nancy, quit it with the sarcasm!" Aaron exclaimed. "I need to know, did you know already?"
"Know what?"
"About Copper!"
"Copper?" Nancy looked stricken, and Aaron's grip tightened.
"You did! You knew and yet you didn't tell me! You let your own brother get humiliated and..."
"Shut your face, idiot." Nancy cut across him, wrenching herself free of his grip. "I found out yesterday and I found out from Topaz, who also found out yesterday. None of us knew a thing about anything till then." She frowned. "Hey, how did you find out, anyway? Did you ask Copper, or something? Cyn said you were on the lookout for her, which is why I came here. I wanted to talk to you about this."
"Steffi told me."
"Stefana?" Nancy's eyes widened. "Why in hell would she know?"
"She said she overheard Copper and Topaz talking. She thought I should know." Aaron shrugged. "I asked her to keep the whole thing quiet, because I don't want to look even more of an idiot when - if - it hits the press and she swore she'd keep her mouth shut. I'm glad I at least had one friend with enough courage to tell me the truth. I only wish my so called girlfriend had done so." He shrugged. "Though as it stands I suppose she's my ex girlfriend, isn't she?"
Nancy sighed.
"Stefana is a troublemaker." She said bluntly. "And that's the only reason she told you about this, to upset things worse."
"But Copper can't have kids. That's true, isn't it?"
"It's probably true. It's not definitely." Nancy replied. "As far as I know from what Topaz told me, she's not sterile but her chances of conception under natural circumstances are very low, if not imaginary. I shouldn't be talking to you about this, but since you already know, I figure I might as well limit the damage that that Diablo bitch has done. Copper doesn't know that I know about this, Topaz only told me because she thought I might be able to work out a way of broaching this with you. Well, now I have."
"You're late." Aaron muttered.
"Better that than not at all." Nancy took her brother by the arm, dragging him into the lounge. "Sit, and start behaving like a human being, will you?"
"Nancy, you have no idea how I'm feeling at the moment." Aaron obediently sat down, his expression troubled. "She didn't tell me...something so important which could change our relationship so much, and I never knew. Why did she keep it from me? We've talked about kids and family and the future. Why didn't she say anything to me?"
"Those are questions I can't answer, only Copper can do that." Nancy, realising her brother was upset, dropped the chiding tone, sitting down opposite and curling up contemplatively on the sofa. "But from what I do know, Aaron, she's only known for sure recently. It's been something, at least in my mind, that she's denied to herself and tried to forget about. Your proposal just made her realise she had to be real about this." She shrugged.
"I don't understand, though. Is it an inherited thing? What gives? How could she know and yet, not know?"
"She had cancer, remember." Nancy told him. "Chemotherapy does things to people other than cure cancer. Sterility is one of those things. I had Cynthia pull up some pages on the net about it, before I left to come over here. It's horrible stuff."
"I forgot about her cancer." Aaron admitted. "She's so healthy and vibrant and full of don't think she could ever have not been."
"You're still in love with her, aren't you?" Nancy realised. Aaron snorted.
"It doesn't take someone of your intelligence to deduce that." He snapped. "We've been going together don't just get over that kind of a relationship."
"Well, then do something about it."
"What's to do? She made her choice."
"Yes, but now you know why."
"And I don't see how it changes things. Copper can't have kids and I want kids. In the end it'll only end in tears." He frowned. "I don't know, either, if I can forgive her for the way she handled this. She could have been honest and told me her fears. Instead she's left me feeling useless and stupid and that doesn't bode well for any kind of reconciliation."
He spread his hands.
"Maybe in the end it is best we split up. Right now we've never felt more like strangers. Who knows, maybe I was wrong. Maybe she isn't my perfect match."
"Really?" Nancy raised an eyebrow. "Well, fine, if that's how you feel. If you want a baby machine rather than a wife you love and respect, I'm sure there are plenty of airheads waiting to throw themselves at you."
She got to her feet, moving to leave, but pausing as she reached the doorway and turning to fix her brother with a pointed look.
"Think about it, huh?" She said quietly. "About what's really important to you. Dad's always said that a couple that means anything can overcome anything. It's up to you."
"No, I'm not gonna say or do anything more." Nancy shook her head. "You're a big boy now, you can handle your own problems." She raised a smile. "Besides, I have a hen night to get ready for, and we both have our cousin's wedding to think of, whatever you're feeling about this. So pull yourself together huh, and start acting like a Pelligrini, instead of a wimp. Taylor doesn't have much family to call on, and I'll be damned if the family he has at the wedding is moping into his champagne."
With that she was gone, Aaron staring after her as her words sank in. He got to his feet, pacing across to the window and glancing absently out, across the busy city to where he could faintly see the logo of Misfits Music on the horizon. As he stood there, he found himself remembering the first time he had met Copper, at LAX airport, when he had been sent to meet her after she had been called for audition. She hadn't been a star then, he remembered, just an excited hopeful, full of ambition to prove herself as the kind of drummer his mother and Phyllis had been looking for. He had never been one to easily fall in love, but he had been attracted to Copper's beauty and sweet nature right from the start, and when she had told him some months later that she, too, felt the same, it had seemed so perfect. They had maintained their relationship throughout many different situations, and he sighed. Whatever else he knew, he knew he would always love her.
"And that means I have a tough decision to make." He mused. "Can I forfeit the chance to be a father, for her sake? Do I love her enough to do that, without regretting it later and making us both more miserable than things are now? And can I risk the humiliation of being rejected a second time? Does she mean that much to me that I have to try? I wish I knew what to do. Taylor's wedding isn't far away and I want this resolved...but how?
How can I be sure if Copper is really the woman I'm meant to marry?"


Half past four.
The girl cast a glance at her mobile phone, a frown crossing her face as she drummed her fingers on the table of the small Los Angeles coffee house. They had arranged for four o' clock, and she was becoming impatient.
"Anyone would think," she muttered to herself. "That this wasn't important."
She glanced at her watch once more, as if to reassure herself that she had not misread the time, and that she really had been waiting for thirty five minutes. It wasn't as if, she mused, she didn't have plenty of other things to do.
"Dammit, if I get stood up again..." She clenched her fists. "It's hard enough keeping this a secret! I wish I had someone I could talk to about all of this! It's crazy enough, when I stop and think about what I'm doing, let alone talking to anyone else about it! If only you weren't so damn hung up on your image! I'm starting to wonder who you care about more - me or yourself!"
She turned her head to look out of the window, hoping for some sign of the person she had agreed to meet, but there was no sign of them. She grimaced.
"I should be at Rebel Records in ten minutes, to sort out this wretched Diablo video." She realised. "Dammit, I'm not gonna just sit around and wait! If you can't even call me to let me know..."
At that moment, as if on cue, the phone beeped, making her jump. She scooped it up hurriedly, eying the flashing 'text message' icon with a dark frown.
"Not even got the courage to call me now?" she muttered. "What am I, your dog?"
She hit accept, skimming over the two lines of text, her anger growing as she did so.
"Something came up, sorry. Speak to you soon."
Her eyes narrowed as she read over it again, then she hit the reply button, rather more savagely than she had intended.
"If you gave a damn you'd bother to keep your engagements." She typed back, hitting send and then switching her phone off. Getting to her feet, she slipped it into her bag, glancing once more at her watch and heading out of the coffee shop.
"If you think I'm gonna keep putting up with this, you got another think coming." She muttered under her breath as she unlocked her car, slipping into the front seat and revving the engine. "I have a life and a job too, and I'm not going to sit around like some floozie whilst you flirt with and probably sleep with every damn chick in the city. I'm not gonna be used. Either you make up your mind what you want from me, else I'll start making decisions of my own!"
A voice startled her, and she wound down the window of her car, meeting Sylva's curious look with a glower.
"What on earth's eating you? You look ready to kill." The synth player asked.
"Well, if I said it didn't matter I'd be lying, but I can't really talk about it." Zoe sighed, resting her hands on the steering wheel. "Someone bailed on me and now I'm running late for a meeting at Rebel Records. To be honest, I'm debating calling in and saying something else came up and I can't make it. I'm in no mood to mess around with Diablo and particularly that Stefana girl."
"Okay, who are you and what have you done with my friend Zoe?" Sylva demanded, putting her hands on her hips.
"I'm sorry, Syl." Zoe looked weary. "It's not been the easiest of weeks in some ways and I've way too much work on for the heat. On top of that, there's everything for Vi's wedding..." She shrugged. "You know?"
"Yes, I do, but I also know it's not like you to get wound up like this."
Sylva walked around to the passenger side of the car, opening the door and slipping inside before her friend realised what she was doing. "Come on, Zoe, talk to me. You don't usually act like this."
"I know." Zoe bit her lip. "It's complicated, though." She shrugged. "Just leave it, huh? It's evidently not as important as I thought it was."
Sylva frowned.
"There's something weird in the air at the moment." She mused. "Everyone is getting into fights and losing tempers and it's really not great considering Violet has her wedding soon."
"I know, which is why it's best left alone." Zoe shrugged again. "You wanting a lift someplace? Cos otherwise I suggest you get out."
"I think you need a break." Sylva decided. "Look, call Rebel Records and cancel on them, huh? Then lets grab swimsuits and stuff and go hang out at the beach. A good afternoon in the sun, without any work hanging over you, and you'll feel much better."
Zoe looked thoughtful for a moment, then she nodded.
"All right." She agreed, scooping up her phone and turning it on, dialling the number of the music company. "Sounds good to me."
Once she had called Rebel Records, she put the car in gear, pulling off the pavement and onto the road. After picking up Sylva's beach wear at the Starlight Mansion, they paused at Zoe's own apartment building and the video artist headed inside to grab her own belongings, leaving Sylva waiting for her outside.
Zoe had not been gone long, when a beep from her phone startled Sylva and, not thinking anything of it, she reached across to pick up her friend's phone, hitting the accept button. It was not uncommon, after all, for her to answer Zoe's phone when they'd been out shopping in the past, and she had often taken text messages for her friend too. This one, however, was from an undisclosed number, and it's message was cryptic enough to arouse Sylva's curiosity.
"Zoe, don't be like that. It wasn't on purpose. Call you later. Xx."
The synth player's brow creased as she set the phone back down on Zoe's seat, turning the message over in her head. It sounded very much to the experienced Sylva as if it had come from a boyfriend, and that Zoe's earlier bad temper had been caused by a lover's tiff.
"But she's not mentioned any boyfriend to me." She mused. "Though, come to think about it, she's very firm about making sure we know that she isn't looking for a date for the wedding. That's strange. If she has a guy on tap, why isn't he escorting her to the wedding and reception? Why has she asked Ryan?"
At that moment Zoe returned to the car, and, after a moment hesitation, Sylva told her about the text. The change in Zoe's composure was immediate, and she snatched up her phone, switching it off and shoving it into the glovebox.
"Noone asked you to answer it." She snapped. "It's my phone, not yours!"
"You've never stopped me before." Sylva looked bewildered. "What's all this about, Zoe? Who was the message from?"
"Some no good deadbeat who thinks that standing people up is fun." Zoe muttered, putting the car back in gear and screeching out of the parking lot at such speed that Sylva had to grip onto her seat to prevent being flung against the door.
"Woah, girl, you trying to get us both killed?" She demanded.
"Like anyone would really care."
"Zoe, snap out of it! What is this, Ms Hyde coming out? What gives here?"
Zoe's eyes narrowed, then she seemed to remember herself, and she sighed.
"God, Syl, I'm sorry. Like I said, it's been a hell of a week."
"Who was the text from?"
"Noone." Zoe shrugged. "Or at least, that's what I think of them right at the moment, anyway."
"Is that why Ryan is taking you to the wedding? I didn't realise you were seeing someone."
"Well, we're fighting rather than seeing each other right now." Zoe muttered. "Syl, forget about the text, okay? I can't tell anyone about this, they'd only yell at me and tell me that it was wrong. If people knew, then more people than just me could wind up getting hurt, and I might be angry but I'm not that much of a bitch. It's my own fault in a way, getting involved with someone who isn't entirely sure that they can commit to me how I want to commit to them. I should have seen it coming. I'm probably not the first person to be strung along in this way and I doubt I'll be the last. So leave it, huh? It's not important. I'll live."
Sylva pursed her lips, but seeing that Zoe did not want to enlarge on the subject any more, she obediently changed the subject, asking her companion about her outfit for the hen night. Inwardly, however, she was turning over her friend's words in her head. As she did so, a startling idea came to her, and she cast Zoe a surrepticious look, remembering her reaction when she'd returned to the car and realised the keyboardist had seen the text.
"Is she seeing a married man?" She wondered, her eyes becoming big. "Oh that why he won't take her to the wedding? Is that why she won't tell me about it?
Hell, is Zoe the other woman?"

Chapter One: The Truth About Copper
Chapter Two: Topaz Interferes
Chapter Three: Stefana Discovers
Chapter Four: A Devil At Work
Chapter Five: Dilemmas
Chapter Six: Hen Night
Chapter Seven: Cameron
Chapter Eight: A Firm Resolve
Chapter Nine: Aaron...and Copper
Chapter Ten: Schemes
Chapter Eleven: A Missing Groom

Chapter Twelve: Nancy's Hunt
Chapter Thirteen: Zoe's Revelation

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!