Chapter Two: A Little Piece of Hell
"Fifteen minutes, Diablo."
The backstage hand poked his head around the door of the Diablo dressing room, casting the inhabitants a smile, then disappearing back out the way he'd come. It was a buzzing Friday night, and Diablo were playing the final date of a recent Californian tour, back in Los Angeles itself. Though from Connecticut originally, the five piece band had settled well into the west coast state, and Los Angeles marked their strongest fanbase. Consequently the venue was sold out, and the warm up act, Ghost, had already got the crowd whipped up and excited.
"I wish they wouldn't do that."
Singer Madeleine Dacourt grimaced, taking a sip of mineral water and setting her bottle down. "It makes me nervous when we get those kind of stage calls."
"I suppose it's to ensure none of us are having a call of nature when a call of backstage comes through." Clayton Blake, the group's British born drummer observed in amused, scots tinted tones. "Besides, Maddy, it helps to know how much longer we're stuck back here. Don't you want to get out there and perform?"
"Yes, that's just the thing." Madeleine responded. "I hate sitting around and waiting."
"I think we all do." Luca Ranieri, Diablo's other singer and bass guitarist remarked. "Maddy, mind if I swipe your evian?"
"Be my guest." Madeleine handed the bottle over. "It's gonna be hot as heck out there under the lights."
"Oh, will you shut the hell up?"
Stefana glanced up from where she was filing her nails, fixing the singer with a poisonous glare. "We have to sit and put up with your whining, and it's giving me a headache, if you really wanna know. If you hate hanging around backstage so much, noone made you stick with the band. It's not like you're indispensable."
"And Steffi's feeling the tension, too." Clay looked amused. "Cool it, little girl. We're all wound up and ready to go, so save your wildcat act for the guitar, okay?"
"You can shut your mouth too, Clay Blake." Stefana snapped back, tossing her nailfile in his direction. "Quit treating me like a kid! I'm twenty four this year, unless you'd damn well forgotten!"
"Stef, cool it." The final member of the group, keyboardist Marissa Young put a gentle arm on her friend's, casting her a smile. "He just does it to wind you up."
"Well, he shouldn't, unless he wants to find my fist in his face." Stefana muttered. "He treats me like I'm his kid sister and I'm so not!"
"Nope, you're mine - does that mean I can wind you up instead?" Luca asked her good-naturedly. Stefana swore, rolling her eyes.
"No, you treat me like you're my goddamn father." She retorted. "I'm sick of the lot of you - I'm gonna go hang backstage till we're on, okay? You all suck, anyway."
With that she pushed her way past her brother, leaving the dressing room. Madeleine rolled her eyes.
"Brat." She murmured. "I don't know how you just stick her attitude, Luca."
"Well, she's my sister, and I promised Dad before he died that I'd watch out for her." Luca shrugged. "Besides, she always gets angry and snappish before we perform. I think it's her way of dealing with her nerves."
"Stef is always angry and snappish." Clay said dryly. "So that kinda doesn't wash, Luca. Maddy's right, she is a brat...she still acts the little girl, and so long as she does that, I'm gonna treat her like it."
"I wish you wouldn't." Marissa looked troubled. "It just causes more tension, and makes the atmosphere difficult, Clay. Stef's hot tempered and volatile, true, but she's also a talented musician and we need her. Besides, I think that your teasing doesn't help anything. She's very proud and she doesn't like being treated like a kid." "Then she shouldn't throw temper tantrums." Clay shrugged, unrepentant. "I don't care if she hasn't had a cigarette since whenever, or she's nervous about this or that. You always make excuses for the kid, Mari, and I'm sorry, you can't excuse everything she does. She's a spoiled brat, pure and simple." He cast Luca a glance. "No offence to your family."
"No, you're right." Luca looked pensive. "Dad spoiled her rotten, then he died and Mom and Stef were daggers drawn all the way. I know it doesn't excuse her actions sometimes, guys, but she has had a rough time of it. After she kicked Stef out, Mom pretty much pretended she never had a daughter at all. It's the kind of thing that messes up a kid bad, stuff like that."
"Noone's contesting the fact she had a difficult childhood, Luca." Madeleine said gently. "But you had the same childhood and turned out fine, so it really doesn't excuse her behaviour."
"Mom never denied that I existed. She was proud of what I did at college, and I think Stef resented it." Luca responded. "I'm sorry she lets off steam like she does, but she's my sister and I'm gonna stick by her. Mari's right that Diablo do need her, and I know she's trouble sometimes, but well, that's just how she is."
"It would do Steffi a lot of good if she was less well informed about her own ability on the guitar." Clay observed shrewdly. "But far be it from me to dictate how she lives her life." He glanced at his watch. "We might as well head backstage and make sure the kid hasn't wrecked things or thrown another tantrum, I suppose. Anyone with me?"
"Sure. It's hot and stuffy in here anyhow." Madeleine slipped off the unit she had been perched on, nodding her head. "Mari, Luca?"
"Okay." Marissa agreed. "The sooner we get out there, the better, in truth. The place is really packed, if everyone's to be believed, and I love playing sellout shows. We've had one hell of a tour, and this is gonna be the perfect final show."
"The last two nights in LA have been pretty good." Luca reflected, as the quartette made their way backstage. "But I suppose that, since this is the last one and a Friday night to boot, it's gonna be the wild one." He grinned. "Bring it on, that's what I say. I never dreamed Diablo could get to these heights, but it sure beats playing in the garage!"
"Oh, does it ever." Madeleine giggled. "Hell, I'll take Stef and her tantrums over going back to that!"
"I think we all would. This way, we have a vehicle that works, instead of Luca's junkheap van." Clay looked amused. "That thing failed more tests than it passed, and I swear he used to patch it up with anything he found lying about the house."
"Ohh, so that's where my old keyboard went." Marissa pursed her lips, blue eyes dancing. "I wondered."
"Well, erm, actually..." Luca grinned. "I didn't touch the keyboard, Mari, but the stand came in useful to prop up the front seat."
"I knew it!" Marissa laughed.
"Klepto Luca strikes again." Clay remarked. Luca shrugged.
"Well, she was gonna send it to the dump. Why should I waste it?" He asked good-naturedly. "It gave that front seat great support."
Stefana was waiting in the wings when the other four musicians arrived, and she observed their merry chatter with a dark glower. She had little time for either Clay or Maddy, and it did not help that she knew they both held her in low esteem. She was a gifted guitarist, but her reckless and unpredictable behaviour often meant that her performances could go from average to exceptional. As Clay had once remarked, you never knew till you hit the stage which Stefana you were going to get.
It was not long before the band were ushered onstage to cheers and screams, and Luca called out a greeting as the band launched into their most recent top ten hit. He was the group's frontman, as amiable as his sister was hostile, and his charismatic, generous nature had attracted a large number of adoring local fans.
Stefana herself had long since been labelled Diablo's "little piece of hell" by the Los Angeles press, and that night it was easy to see how she got her nickname. Her expression black as thunder, she attacked her solos with angry vehemence, and, despite her obvious fit of temper, she was determined to show everyone - Clay and Maddy in particular - exactly how badly the group needed her riffs and melody lines.
"Stef's rocking the stage tonight." Marissa murmured to Clay, as they took a break in their set, and Luca once more addressed the crowd. "She looks like she might kill someone, but her playing is on fire."
"That's how it usually is, but I'll take her temper if she can give us this kind of a show for it." Clay responded, twirling his sticks and casting her a grin. "See? My winding her up does have a good effect, after all. She never plays as fiesty as this when she's in a reasonable temper."
"Lately she's rarely in that." Marissa frowned, but before the conversation could go further, Luca had signalled to the drummer to begin the intro for the next song, and the group's attention returned to the task at hand.
Stefana, for her part, was barely aware of where she was. Still angry and resentful over the attitude of her group and - as she saw it - their deliberate attempt to freeze her out, she was more focused on getting her own back than she was on the crowds of fans or the banners bearing her name. Stefana's wild and dangerous image had attracted almost as many fans as Luca's good-natured one, and usually she revelled in the attention, but that night she was feeling particularly ill-used.
"Aaron's getting married, Clay's treating me like I'm four, Maddy's being a stuck up snooty bitch, pretending she's so much cleverer than me." She muttered, fingering chords at furious speed as she did so, for she knew each song so well she could play them in her sleep. "Luca's sleeping with that Gabor bitch Emily and Mari's all sweet and sickly and 'oh, congratulations, Copper, when's the big day?' about things at the moment. Rory Llewelyn is a smug jerk, and how in hell am I going to pay that creepazoid dealer when I don't even have enough money in the bank to pay my week's worth of cigarettes?"
Casting her a sidelong glance, Luca knew they would likely be in for a rough night of it, after the show. He sighed inwardly.
He loved his sister dearly, but he worried about her, too. Though he did not know about her ever more encroaching drug habit, he often feared what Stefana might get herself involved in. Six months earlier, she had narrowly escaped being charged by the FBI for her involvement in a vandalism attack on rival music company Misfit Music, the company for which local darlings Jewel played, and since then he had hoped for her to tame down her wild behaviour. He had been somewhat disappointed, however, for if anything her temper fits had become more frequent and her general attitude more hostile since then. Though the FBI interrogation had knocked her for six for a few days, she had not let it bother her for long, and Luca genuinely feared one day that he would get a call from authorities telling him his sister was dead as a result of some brawl or other.
"I promised Dad I'd take care of her, but I didn't know how big a job that was gonna be." He mused, as he watched her play a complicated guitar solo without missing a note. "I wish I understood better what goes on inside that head of hers, but she's been more distant with me since Emily and I got it together seriously, and I don't know if she even talks to Marissa these days. Something surely has to give, and I'm not sure Maddy and Clay will take too much more of her prima-donna behaviour."
The show was a big success and, after three encores, the band headed backstage
to the dressing room, each one of them drained.
"That was hot, wild, and just plain crazy." Madeleine took a long sip of Evian, dropping down onto the unit. "I love it when it's like that, but it takes so much out of you!"
"We were sure rocking tonight." Luca agreed. "Stef, you were fab...you even pulled off that new riff we added into Heartbreaker last time we played it live - I didn't know you were gonna go for that."
"I was proving a point." Stefana said darkly. "You guys think you can do without me and freeze me out, and you can't...so remember it, okay?"
"Noone said that we either wanted to or could be without you, Stef." Marissa said gently. "We all know you're important to the band, so you don't need to prove yourself to anyone."
"Tell that to Miss Know It All over there." Stefana jerked her head violently in Madeleine's direction. "She seems to think so."
"Actually, Stef, I think you'll find it was you who said the band didn't need me." Madeleine said coolly. "And to be quite honest with you, I don't feel the need to prove myself. I know what I can do, and I don't need to fish for praise."
"Bitch." Stefana spat out. "You think you're so clever. Well, you might be able to sing, Madeleine Dacourt, but you sure as hell ain't a musician, so don't you forget it! Any sucker can sing - when you can play guitar riffs and read music, then you can act all superior."
She fished her cigarettes out of her bag. "I'll meet you all by the car. I want a smoke and the company here stinks."
"That's the second time she's walked out on us tonight." Clay remarked dryly, as the door banged shut behind her. "I wonder if she's trying to make another point."
"Yeah, that she's psycho." Madeleine grimaced. "Luca, can't you do something? I mean, did I do anything to deserve that little onslaught?"
"No, you didn't, and I will talk to her, but I don't guarantee she'll listen." Luca sighed. "She never does."
"I'll talk to her." Marissa offered. "Maybe I can calm her down."
Stefana was indeed out the back of the building, having lit up a cigarette as she paced moodily up and down the concrete. The car had not yet arrived to collect them and take them home, and, in her current unreasonable frame of mind, she felt it yet another slight. She leant up against the wall, taking a drag on the cigarette and putting her hand to her buzzing head. The volume of the music had made it ache and spin and she fervently wished that she'd been able to bring her stimulants backstage, but she knew only too well how stringent the venue was, and she was too cautious to risk getting caught, for she knew exactly what Luca's reaction would be if he knew she was mixed up in drugs.
"He might even throw me out of the band." She mused, rubbing her temples. "God I feel awful. Goddamn Maddy and her screeching voice - she's giving me one hell of a headache, the stupid bitch."
The voice from the darkness startled her and she swung around, casting Marissa a hostile look.
"What do you want?" She demanded.
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay." Marissa said softly. "You've been kinda off tonight, and you're pale as anything. Are you feeling all right?"
"No, I feel like crap, if you wanna know." Stefana snapped. "My head's aching, I'm exhausted, and I'm sick to death of Maddy and the way she treats me. I was damn good out there tonight."
"You were." Marissa agreed. "But Maddy didn't do anything, not really. You're just tired - you should probably take it easy. It's been a hell of a tour, and we've been playing like mad every night. Plus Luca said you were late back last night - you probably need a good night's sleep."
"Well, if I needed your advice, I'd ask for it." Stefana's expression became stubborn. "I'm all right, Mari. I'm just sick of being treated like I'm a baby. I know plenty about life, and just because I didn't go to college, it doesn't mean Maddy knows more than I do. I'm not a child!"
"I'll talk to her." Marissa offered. "But please don't fight with her, Stef. We are a band, after all, and we need each other."
"The day I need any of you is the day I curl up in my coffin." Stefana snapped. "I play in Diablo because you need me, not because I need you, Mari. Remember that, okay?"
"I thought we were friends." Marissa looked hurt. Stefana opened her mouth to retort, but the sarcastic response died on her lips, and she sighed.
"We are." She said shortly. "But I don't need your nannying any more than I need Maddy's attitude or Clay's teasing. I've just had enough, Mari. Enough of everything."
"We could use a vacation. All of us." Marissa admitted. Stefana shook her head.
"No." She murmured. "That's not what I mean."
"Then what?" Marissa looked surprised.
"It doesn't matter." Stefana shook her head. "And here's the car. Come on...sooner we get home, sooner I can hit the shower and bed. I don't know about you, but I've had it with music for one night!"
Prologue: Steffi's Vice
Chapter One: The Bride To Be
Chapter Two: A Little Piece Of Hell
Chapter Three: Jewel
Chapter Four: Shopping Trip
Chapter Five: Copper's Dress
Chapter Six: A Devil Strikes
Chapter Seven: Gaynor To The Rescue
Chapter Eight: A Shock For Marissa
Chapter Nine: Wedding Plans
Chapter Ten: A Blow For Steffi
Chapter Eleven: Logan
Chapter Twelve: The Final Straw
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
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!