A Christmas Story

Chapter One: Back In Los Angeles

 It was dark out.
The tall, willowy blond gazed idly out of the window of the aeroplane, secretly glad that the cabin was shrouded in thick winter mists, and that the late hour cloaked the ground from view. Even now, so many years on, she did not relish the idea of being so many metres above the earth.
"If men were meant to fly, kids would be born with wings." She murmured, pulling down the shutter and sending a thoughtful glance to the tray that had been served to her less than an hour before. Airline food was not the most appetising meal, but she had been hungry, and she heartily wished that there had been seconds.
"They're trying to starve us all." She decided, rolling her eyes skywards and pushing the plate aside, settling herself more comfortably in her seat to endure the rest of the flight.
  They were over the Californian border by now, she decided, and so it would not be very long before they touched down in Los Angeles. The seatbelt light above her seat had already begun to flash and, with a muttered curse, she carefully clipped herself in place.
"I wonder how things have changed." She mused. "Stormer was a damn wimp and a half in the making when I left the city last, and even though the concert we did helped to toughen her back up, no doubt she's still mooning about, wondering what to do with herself. Well, we're gonna have a heck of a Christmas break this time, that's for sure! Been too long since I was in Los Angeles for Christmas, and it's about time I dropped in on my family there, made sure Jetta hasn't driven Justin insane yet."
She stretched out a hand, eying with some amusement the raggedy edges to her nails. She had spent several hours putting her favourite motorcycle back into working order, much to the dismay of  the refined family who lived across the way. She chuckled as she remembered the horrified stares as, clad in her shabbiest jeans and an old teeshirt, she had carefully taken the whole of the bike's engine to pieces on the front lawn, covering herself and the ground around her liberally with oil and grease as she had done so. The entire picture had been capped off when the youngest of the family, always a scaramouche at just five years old, had hurried across the road to "help". He had slipped in the pools of the slick black liquid, covering himself with it, much to his own delight and his mother's dismay.
"That kid has hope yet, the rest of them are a waste of space." She decided. "That's something about Los Angeles. It ain't that crummy stuck up neighbourhood in Philadelphia, where everyone stares at you if your hair is out of place or something. I wanted a big house, so I guess that's the price you pay, but sheesh! I must've given half the street several fits already! I'm sorry, but just because I have money, it doesn't mean I'm going to give up my favourite hobbies! Besides, I put that bike back together good as new. It runs like a dream now."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to land at LAX airport." The pilot's voice came over the tannoy at that moment, startling her out of her thoughts. "Local time is eleven thirty pm, and we hope you've enjoyed flying with us today."
"Yeah, like I enjoy having a tooth pulled." The blond grimaced up at the small speaker above her seat, doublechecking her seatbelt was firmly fastened and gritting her teeth as she braced herself for the landing. She loathed flying, but in particular take off and landing, when she felt like she might fall through the floor of the craft at any moment. She gripped the armrests of her seat tightly, glad that there was noone in the next seat. Afraid she might be, but she had no mind to let anyone else see it.
At long last, after what seemed like an age in descent, the big jet plane touched down with the most gentle of bumps, and pulled to a gradual and perfect stop on the hard, reassuring concrete runway below. As the passengers began to leave their seats, the blond unfastened her belt, getting to her feet and flinging open the luggage rack door, pulling down the small napsack that had comprised her hand luggage. She made her way carefully between the rows of seats, glad to be able to properly stretch her legs as she followed the milling crowd of passengers down to the arrivals lounge. Finding her case was not difficult, and she glanced around her, wondering if she would be left to find a taxi cab.
"Would be damn typical. Just because it's late at night." She muttered, stifling a yawn. "Man, I'm beat, and I've only gone back three hours! Still, I suppose that makes some sense. It's almost 3am, Philly time...and spending hours on a plane ain't my favourite way to spend any day."
"Aunt Roxy!"
A cry from across the lounge made her turn and she eyed the speaker with some amusement, a grin touching her lips as she surveyed the girl who had come to meet her. Dressed in the latest Californian fashions, and with her curly hair in perfect place, it would be easy for a careless observer to decide that Sylvina Martescu was just another clothes obsessed adolescent, more concerned with her appearance than the world around her. To some extent it was true, for Sylva, as she was known, was very clothes conscious, but beneath the layers of foundation and designer denim there was a generous heart and a bubbly personality. The synth player for successful California based rock band Jewel, Sylva had long since proved that she was more than just a pretty face, and, as she crossed the airport lounge to greet her adoptive aunt properly, a number of people turned to stare, startled and excited to catch a glimpse of such a big celebrity.
Of course, in her day, Roxy too had been a star. There were still people all over the world who remembered with a dry smile the wild clothes and dynamic musical style of the Misfits, and Roxy was not one to hide behind her achievements. She had never made any bones about who she was, but nor had she adopted airs and graces, for it was not in her nature, and she was much still the same rough and ready Roxanne Pelligrini that had arrived in Los Angeles in the nineteen eighties from Philadelphia, penniless and searching for stardom.
To Sylva, however, she was someone more special than just a star. She was "Aunt" Roxy, her mother Mary's best friend and, on occasion, even surrogate sister, though Roxy would be the first to refute any such claims. Mary Martescu, once Stormer of the Misfits, was as sweet natured and gentle as Roxy was brash and physical, but the two girls had developed a close bond from their years playing music together, and Roxy, whatever her other faults, had always been fiercely loyal. It had been Roxy who had rescued Mary from the despair of her divorce from Sylva's father more than a year before, and had brought her back to Los Angeles, the city which she had always loved. Mary had been born in California, and in Los Angeles she had blossomed, putting her heart and soul back into her music and taking an active interest in Sylva's ever progressing career, whilst corresponding diligently with Sylva's twin sister Anna, a senior majoring in music at university in Washington DC.
In short, Roxy was as much an unspoken member of the Martescu family as she was a blood relation of the Pelligrini one, and Sylva loved her dearly.
"Aunt Roxy, Mom asked me if I'd come to get you." She spoke now, greeting the older woman with an impulsive hug. "Jewel weren't busy tonight, and Mom is wrapped up in some new song or other that she hopes to have down before long, so I said I would. I was worried that your plane might be late with all the fog and mist around, but you're down pretty much on time."
"Trust me, kid, I don't spend longer than I have to on a damn plane." Roxy detangled herself from the girl's embrace with a rueful smile. "And if you must do the fond greeting routine, could you wait till there aren't hosts of idiots gawking this way? I don't know about you, but some of us have a reputation to defend."
"I'm sorry." Sylva blushed, though her blue eyes danced with amusement at her companion's discomfiture. "I was just excited to see you. You haven't been to LA for ages, so when Mom said you were dropping in for Christmas I was stoked."
"Well, I've been busy. Travelling, tinkering, and basically having a blast." Roxy dismissed it with a careless gesture. "But hey, your Mom invited me, and I'm not gonna turn down a free Christmas dinner!"
"She was bummed that Anna was spending the winter break in DC." Sylva pursed her lips. "So was I, to be honest. We were both hoping she might come to us this year, but apparently Dad specifically asked her to stay, so she's staying."
"Your damn sister is googly eyed over some hopeless idiot, that's more likely why she's staying in DC." Roxy snorted.
"Excuse me?" Sylva stared. "Anna has a boyfriend? Since when?"
"That's what your Mom told me." Roxy shrugged. "Not that I really care either way. Her life, after all."
"I didn't know Anna had a boyfriend." Sylva looked startled. "Weird she hasn't told me about it."
"Hey, don't look at me. I don't understand how either of your minds work." Roxy shrugged. "Besides, who needs Anna? I'm here - and it's gonna be a blast this Christmas!"
Sylva pursed her lips, unlocking her car and slipping into the driver's seat. She leant over to flip open the passenger door, casting her aunt a grin.
"Well, Mom's got the spare room all ready for you, so we'd better step on it." She said playfully. "It's late here, you know."
"Sylvina, if a quarter to midnight is late for you at twenty one, what the hell are you gonna be like when you're my age?" Roxy demanded. "Live a little, girl!"
"Oh, trust me, when you've been up at half past three in the morning, getting ready for a live appearance on national television, followed by eight hours in studio and a magazine interview to cap it all off, then by midnight bed sounds good." Sylva rolled her eyes, checking her makeup in the wing mirror as she pulled out of the car park and onto the main road. "I'm running on adrenalin."
"Keeping busy is good for you. Keeps you young." Roxy wound down the window. "This your car, by the way?"
"Yep. Bought with the royalties from our last smash hit album, Exotic." Sylva dimpled. "You like it? I decided that I needed a change of wheels last month, so I donated my old car to some charity celeb auction they were doing. Might as well let someone else get use out of it, right? Topaz thought I should go with red, but hey, silver is my signature colour, and I could not resist this baby."
"Not a bad runner." Roxy looked approving. "Better than that clapped out old wreck your sister drives, anyhow."
"Anna's a broke student, and she won't accept financial aid beyond the necessities from Mom, Dad or from me." Sylva shrugged. "Besides, she likes that car. It has memories for her, or something. God knows what those memories are, though. Unless she means the time I drove it into a hedge while watching the soccer team tryouts in the rear view mirror..."
"Your sister's like your Mom. Too sentimental." Roxy snorted. She stifled a yawn. "Sheesh, can't you step on it a bit? I'm beat."
"You were the one telling me it wasn't late yet." Sylva teased. "And we're almost here. Mom will be glad to see you."
"So she should be." Roxy grinned. "And tomorrow I'll go drop in and say hi to my sister-in-law...nothing like giving Jetta a coronary first thing in the morning by showing up unannounced!"

 "My first Christmas in America."
Sadie Monahue sat back on her heels, examining her handiwork with a critical eye. "It feels weird that I'm here, decorating the tree and putting up tinsel and lights, but I don't have Shari or Meg running around my feet, or Andrew joking that one year he's going to put me on top of the Christmas tree as the angel. It feels strangely empty, somehow."
"Aw, Sadie, don't be like that."
Her companion, Elizabeth Santiago, or "Copper" as she was known, tossed a length of sparkling bronze tinsel in her friend's direction, a grin on her face. "It's the festive season, and you should be happy! This is your first Christmas in your new home, with your new job, where you're safe from your violent ex-boyfriend and his thugs. You should be celebrating! And you know that you'll speak to Alyssa and the girls on Christmas Day, because you promised them you'd phone...so it won't be like you're going to have a niece free Christmas."
"Yes, I know." Sadie caught the piece of tinsel, toying with it idly. "It just bugs me that I have a nephew I've never met, and well, Christmas is such a family time, you know? A time for kids. Santa Claus is the patron saint of kiddies, right? It's weird that we'll be having a Christmas without a kid jumping on beds at six o clock in the morning, wanting to open their stocking gifts."
"Ros and I used to be like that." Copper stepped gracefully down from the stepladder she had been using to pin up decorations, sitting on the bottom step to consider. "Luis too. We'd run into Mama and Papa's room en masse, demanding to open what Santa had brought right that instant. Usually it was barely dawn...but it was fun."
A shadow crossed her face.
"Thing is, when Papa died, everything was different." She remembered. "We still had fun, but it wasn't the same fun. Papa wasn't there to give piggy back rides around the lounge, or invent games to play with the remains of the christmas crackers and party hats."
"Same for me when we lost Mum." Sadie nodded. "Dad wasn't generally home at Christmas anyhow, because of his work...so it'd just be us kiddies. That's why Christmas with Alyssa, Andy and the girls was so much fun."
"I guess I can see that." Copper pursed her lips. "Most Christmasses, we'd spend with family - and I don't mean just Mama, Papa, Luis, Ros and I. We'd often have los abuelos to stay, and sometimes Mama's brothers would come, too."
"Abuelos?" Sadie looked blank. Copper blushed.
"My grandparents." She said sheepishly. "Mama's parents live in America, and speak good English, but Papa's Mama speaks almost no English at all, and they moved back to Spain a few years back. Because she doesn't speak such good English, we tended to use Spanish when we had them all to stay, and I got into the habit of calling her mi abuela."
"I wish I spoke another language." Sadie looked wistful, wrapping a length of silvery tinsel around one of the pictures on the mantlepiece. "I flunked French in school in a big way, and I never took any other."
"French is difficult." Copper nodded. "Though Topaz speaks it some, I think. And I've always spoken Spanish - I'll teach you a little, if you'd like." She grinned. "Besides, you do speak another language. You speak English, and believe me, sometimes that's a total other tongue to what the rest of us are used to!"
"I guess so." Sadie grinned. "Though I'm picking up American slang, and you'll be talking with beautiful briticisms before long, I almost guarantee it!" She set her decorations aside. "Okay, teach me a little Spanish. I warn you, I'm a lousy student, but I'm eager to learn a bit."
"Okay." Copper laughed. "Well, it seems logical to teach you la Navidad - that's Christmas."
"Navidad?" Sadie tried the word out on her tongue. "Okay, I can handle that. What else? How would you say 'my name is Sadie' in Spanish?"
"Me llamo Sadie." Copper responded. Her brown eyes twinkled with amusement. "Tu eres mi amiga Sadie, de Inglaterra."
"Huh?" Sadie stared.
"I said you're my friend Sadie, from England." Copper grinned. "Hey, how about I go make some coffee and we continue this away from the mess of Christmas decorations, huh? Sylva will be back soon from the airport, and Nancy and Topaz are already in bed. It's getting late, and we're probably done for tonight."
"Okay, coffee sounds good to me." Sadie nodded, getting to her feet. "I need a fag anyway. I haven't had one since lunch."
"You and your 'fags'." Copper rolled her eyes, leading the way into the kitchen.
"I know, I know, but everyone has bad habits." Sadie retorted. "So, did you ever spend Christmas in Mexico, then? I mean, that's where your family is from, right?"
"Mama's is, originally." Copper nodded. "Mama was a baby when mis abuelos emigrated to the United States, though. They live in Arizona now, though they used to live in California, when Mama was a girl. And yes, we did spend Christmas in Mexico occasionally. I remember once when I was about seven or eight, we flew out there for the whole of the holidays. Our flight was delayed at Detroit and it was about three in the morning local time when we arrived in Cancun. Mexico is an adventure in itself, Sadie...with all it's heritage and history and old buildings in amongst the new. Aztec Mexico and modern day Mexico are about as closely situated as they can be in places - we visited a lot, because Mama wanted us all to be familiar with that part of our heritage. It made me very proud to be a part of it, when I saw all the beautiful things that the Aztecs built and created."
"I bet." Sadie looked wistful. "You're so lucky, having such an exotic heritage."
"Well, your own isn't so bad. England has a long and varied history too, and your ancestors probably were Kings or Queens or something." Copper grinned. "Besides, my happiest Christmas memories are a lot less exotic and a lot more simple. Ones at home with Papa. Those were the most special ones we had..."

"My turn! My turn!"

Esteban Santiago glanced down at the eager face of his eldest daughter, casting her an amused grin as he scooped her up into his arms.
"Your turn?" He asked, his tone light and playful. "Aren't you a bit big for a piggyback ride now, Copper? Rosita's only small, but you're a little heffalump!"
"Please, Papa." Copper opened her brown eyes wide, clasping her hands together. "It's Christmas!"
"Well, okay then." Esteban relented, crouching down and helping the small eight year old to clamber carefully onto his shoulders. "But really, this is gonna be the last year, Copper. You're getting big!"
"You say that every year, Papa!" Luis, a small, dark boy of six protested from across the room, where he had been surrepticiously examining the pile of parcels beneath the Christmas tree. "Can I have a piggyback next, Papa? Please?"
"If you don't let your poor Papa alone, he'll collapse before the night is out!" Carmen Santiago scolded her son, a grin on her own face. "He's not a pack horse, you know! It's his holiday too!"
"Do you think Santa Claus will be able to find us here?"
Four year old Rosita cast her mother an anxious look. "We've a new house an' we didn't send him our new address."
"Don't worry, chica mia." Carmen hugged her youngest tightly. "He'll know. He always does."
"So long as you've all been good." Esteban reminded them. He dropped a giggling Copper down onto the sofa with a grunt, sinking down onto the seat himself. "Wow, someone's been eating too much Christmas food! I'm getting to old for this, Copper!"
"That was fun!" Copper exclaimed. She hugged her father tightly. "Papa, do you know Santa Claus?"
"I've met him once or twice, yes." Esteban's dark eyes twinkled as he met the amused gaze of his wife. "He's a very nice man."
"I asked Santa for a remote controlled car." Luis announced. "And lots of chocolate, and a new colouring book, because Rosita scribbled up my last one."
"I made pwetty pictures." Rosita protested hotly. "An' you said I could!"
"And what about you, chiquita mia? What have you asked Santa for?" Esteban turned his gaze on his eldest.
"I asked Santa for drums, like Mama has." Copper said importantly. "Mama said it'd be easier for me to play if I had drums that were just the right size, so I asked Santa if he'd find me some. He can find anything."
"Well, he certainly tries his best." Esteban laughed. "Did you do all of your Christmas shopping? Tomorrow I go to pick up your grandparents from the airport, and then the next day is Christmas, so you've not much time left."
"I've bought everything." Copper agreed. "I even bought something for Luis, even though he's a boy."
"Well, I'm a boy too." Esteban looked amused. "What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing." Copper shrugged. "C'ept boys are smelly and noisy and play rough - everyone knows that." She cuddled closer to her father. "But you're different, Papa. You're my Papa, so you're okay."
"Boys are better than girls. Girls can't play softball." Luis piped up. Carmen laughed.
"Oh, I think girls and boys can both do many things that the others do not realise." She said softly. "Luis, muchacho, stop trying to work out what's in the boxes under the tree! If you peek, then Santa will think you're a naughty boy, and he'll leave you nothing for Christmas except coal!"
Luis sprang back from the parcels as if he had been stung, eying his mother sheepishly.
"I just wanted to see if I could guess." He said, twisting his hands together. "I wasn't gonna open any."
"Well, if you look at them now, then you'll have no surprises come la Dia de Navidad." Carmen scolded.
"Sounds like a cue to play a game, then." Esteban suggested. "It's not often that your Mama and I have the whole of the Christmas weekend free, and we should take advantage of it, should we not?"
"Rosita's too babyish to play a game properly." Luis folded his arms.
"Am not!" Rosita pouted. "Mama, I wanna play!"
"We'll play something you can all play." Esteban promised. "We're going to play Christmas charades...and whoever guesses it right gets the next turn, okay? I'll begin...are you watching carefully?"
"If only the press could see you now." Carmen noted dryly, as her husband put his hands to his head and began cavorting around the room as a reindeer, much to his children's amusement. "The illustrious film director, driven mad by his naughty children."
"We're not naughty, Mama." Copper shook her head. "We're being good for Santa." She giggled. "And Papa's being a silly reindeer! My turn! My turn!"

"That's so sweet."
Sadie grinned, eying her companion with some amusement. "And you're getting all misty and teary eyed, so it's probably a good thing we stopped with the decorating. You might stick a pin in something important, if you're going to spend the evening daydreaming."
"Well, Christmas in LA is never quite like back home in Detroit, but it's a lot of fun anyway." Copper sent her companion a sheepish look, bringing herself out of her reverie. "After all, as you said, Christmas is a time for kids, and you can never bring that time back. We just have our fun as Jewel, and it will be a unique holiday season this year, with Topaz's baby due around New Year. If you ask me, you'll probably be so preoccupied with helping her get everything ready that you'll forget all about being homesick and lonely." She eyed Sadie thoughtfully. "You do feel like you're one of the family, don't you? I mean, you do feel like we want you here, right? I get worried that we leave you out...we've been together so long, and all of this is still so new to you."
"I'm getting used to it, and you've all been sweet to me." Sadie assured her. "I'm just an English girl at heart, and I like to be home for Christmas. That's all."
"Well, this is home now." Copper said with a smile. "And we'll have a special Christmas, I promise."
She glanced towards the door. "Did I just hear the front door close? Syl, is that you?"
"Yep, I'm back." Sylva pushed open the door of the kitchen, casting them a grin, then going to pour herself a mug of coffee from the pot. "Mm, coffee. Just what I need."
"Did you collect your Aunt okay?" Sadie asked. Sylva nodded her head.
"Yep, her flight made good time." She agreed. She pursed her lips. "And Roxy's not really my Aunt...just like Phyllis isn't really Nancy's. Actually, Aunt Roxy is technically Nancy's Aunt, because she and Nancy's Dad are half brother and sister. I think of her as my aunt, though - she's Mom's best friend and I know Mom thinks of her almost as a sister."
She took a sip of her drink. "It's nice to have her back in Los Angeles. She's not been here since the Misfits played the reunion concert, and that was forever ago now."
"Misfits, Holograms...all of you have such stunning backgrounds and family connections." Sadie looked wistful. "Mine are very drab in comparison."
"Don't be dumb." Copper said firmly. "Mama is just Mama to me, not Raya of the Holograms. She might be a famous actress, but she'd mean the same to me if she was the person who filled the vending machines at Misfit Music, or swept the streets in the city. She's just my Mama."
"Same goes for Mom." Sylva agreed, taking a seat. "Besides, Sadie, your sister sounds really sweet. I think I might have liked to have had more brothers and sisters. Anna and I are really close, but there's only ever really been us, and it would have been nice to have had a bigger family, I think."
"Big families aren't always wonderful, though." Sadie responded. "There were five of us, and Mum and Dad loved us all, so it didn't matter that there wasn't enough money really to go around. We managed. Then Mom died, and Dad never really recovered from it. He threw himself into his military business and we barely saw anything of him. That can cause a family to crumble, and Alyssa was left trying to hold us together. She was only fifteen at the time...and the youngest - my brother James - was still only a tiny kid. I guess it's no surprise really that I don't have any communication now with either of my younger siblings, and only scanty contact with my big brother Mark."
"That's sad." Copper said gently. "When Papa died, we just all got closer together. I'd have hated for things to go the other way."
"Well, life happens." Sadie shrugged. "We all chose our own paths and that was that."
"Anna was invited to come to LA this Christmas." Sylva looked pensive. "Mom invited her, but apparently she had business in DC. Dad asked her to stay - or so Mom told me...but Aunt Roxy seems to think there's a guy involved. If there is, it rather bugs me that Annie never mentioned him to me. We're twins - we've always discussed everything and shared all our secrets."
"If there is a guy, then I'm sure she'll share her gossip with you soon enough." Copper assured her. She yawned. "And it's gone late - I think we all ought to be heading to bed. Just because Christmas isn't far away, it doesn't mean we don't have work in the morning."
"Nope, I guess not." Sylva sighed, draining the last of her coffee. "Okay. I didn't expect to find anyone still up, actually."
"We were talking about christmasses past." Sadie explained. "But Copper's right, it is getting late, and bed sounds good. Night all!"
"Night Sadie. Sweet dreams." Copper winked. "And don't fret. We'll make sure you have a special Christmas in Los Angeles...don't you worry about that!"


Chapter One: Back In Los Angeles
Chapter Two: Christmas Plans
Chapter Three: Like Old Times
Chapter Four:  The Truth About Anna
Chapter Five: The Video Shoot
Chapter Six: Topaz's Sensation
Chapter Seven: Sadie's Tattoo
Chapter Eight: An Unlikely Team
Chapter Nine: Misfit vs Devil
Chapter Ten: An Old Flame
Chapter Eleven: Topaz Again

Chapter Twelve: A Christmas Present

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!