"You know, staring out of the window isn't going to write
your haematology report."
Startled out of his reverie, the red-haired student glanced up in surprise,
meeting the playful gaze of his classmate with a sheepish smile.
"I know." He admitted. "But blood is the last thing on me brain at
the moment, Gary."
"Well, then what is?" Gary dropped himself down into an empty seat
with some agility, casting his friend an expectant look. "You're not bummed
about Spurs getting beat at home, are you?"
"To be honest, I 'adn't even noticed much of the football." The redhead
responded. "Did they lose?"
"Five-three to the Arsenal." Gary looked amused. "Cameron, snap out
of it! Where do you think we were last night, bloody Downing street? Don't
you remember getting rained on whilst that Arsenal striker netted three
goals in ten minutes?"
Cameron bit his lip.
"Yeah, I remember getting drenched." He admitted at length. "To be
truthful, though, Gary, I couldn't care less if Spurs did lose to the
Arsenal. There are other games, anyway and it's only the start of the
season. It ain't important."
"Well, something's definitely up with you." Gary leant back in his
seat, pursing his lips. "Last time Spurs lost at home you gave us a three
hour diatribe on the referee's decisions and why that git with the flag
shouldn't have flagged them offside. This time you're shrugging it off
as if it didn't matter? Hell, Cam, they got beat by the Gunners! Does this
"Oh, give it a rest, will you?" Cameron sighed, pushing his pen and
paper aside and knocking two of his textbooks to the floor. "I don't care,
all right? Me mind's on something else and football is the least of my problems."
Gary frowned, as his gaze fell on a discarded magazine. Reaching down
to pick it up, he glanced at the front page, then,
"Yeah. Bloody Aurora." Cameron muttered. "Avril brought that over this
mornin' - till then I'd happily avoided thinkin' of the fact she was in
England, but you know my sister. She wants to 'elp out - she 'thought I
should know', in case I wanted to talk to 'er about what we fought over.
I think she wants to play peacemaker, but she don't understand that it
ain't as easy as all that. I don't want anything to damn well do with the
"Your sister or Aurora?" Gary quipped, flipping the magazine open.
"If you want your 'ead rearranged, mate, you're going the right way
about it." Cameron snapped. "It's not a jokin' matter! You were in California
that Christmas. You know what 'appened between 'er and that hairy gorilla
that sings for Diablo."
"Yeah, but I was under the impression you made up." Gary glanced up.
"And suddenly then you're all hate again. Listen, I told you before you
went out there that April that you should never take back a cheater. They
only do you over a second time. You should've listened - she's too far away
for you to keep tabs on. If she's that kind of girl - and you never know
with those showbiz birds - you ain't gonna keep her out of someone else's
bed stuck here in London. She's probably done half of Los Angeles by now.
I wouldn't be surprised."
"You're really helping." Cameron's tone was bitter. "Don't you 'ave
something better to do than make me feel worse about a relationship that's
been over for almost a year?"
"Well, you shouldn't still be mooning on it. If it's over, it's over."
Gary shrugged, dropping the magazine onto the arm of his chair. "What
happened to getting over her? I thought you got a date with that Kelsey
girl who works in the guild bar. She's hot as hell, mate - are you telling
me you chickened out?"
"No, I went out with her." Cameron shook his head. "She's okay, I suppose.
Not my type."
"Not your type? Hell, you'd have to be blind!" Gary opened his eyes
wide in disbelief. "She's one of the hottest girls on campus, and she's
not your type? Sheesh, there is something wrong with you! This is way more
serious than I thought!"
"She just wasn't my type. That's all." Cameron shrugged. "If you like
her so much, you ask her out."
"I would've, only your need was greater!" Gary retorted. "If you ask
me, it's been so long since you had any that your brain's gotten addled.
Tell me one thing that's wrong with Kelsey Piper!"
"She's not Aurora!" Cameron exclaimed, banging his fist down on the
table. "All right? She's not bloody Aurora! And that's the thing I hate
most of all about this whole goddamn mess - I hate the bitch but I can't
forget about her!"
Gary raised an eyebrow. He had experienced Cameron's fiery temper once
or twice before, but it only ever flared up on the rare occasion, and
he knew his friend was upset.
"Well, then maybe Avril has a point." He suggested instead. "Talk to
the girl. Tell her what you think of her, if it helps. She's got it coming
to her. Embarrass her publically. Hey, I bet you could make a mint out
of selling your story to some rag. They'd snap it up. That'd get back at
her, and you'd have enough money to come to the Uefa Cup game in Italy
next month, too! Hell, you could pay for all of us!"
"I don't want to go to the press." Cameron said quietly. "I'm not that
kind of guy, Gary. I don't kiss and tell, whatever the hell she's done
"Well, at least have it out with her and get it out of your system.
You're becoming a drag." Gary responded. "You used to come out for a drink
with the guys from time to time - now you just hide up here and yell at us,
and decide girls like Kelsey Piper are just 'okay'. You need to get a grip."
He indicated the pile of papers on Cameron's table. "And if you don't
get your head straight with that, you won't be getting a medical degree
come the summer, because you'll flunk out."
Cameron opened his mouth to retort, then realised the truth in his
friend's statement. He sighed, resting his head in his hands.
"I know." He admitted. "Dad laid into me on the same subject when I
went 'ome at Easter, too...when I went back to help him move the shed. Mum
was a bit more understandin' - but the last thing you want is your Ma fussin'
over you when your girlfriend's screwed you over with some jerk. That's
why I decided to spend the summer 'ere. I 'ain't got any idea of bein' mollycoddled
by one parent an' nagged by the other. Bad enough my exam grades last June
weren't as good as they could've been."
"You gonna let one chick ruin everything?" Gary had dropped his teasing
tone now. "Listen, will you? I've known you since we were nine. You remember?
We wanted to be doctors then, and everyone told us we'd never do it. Never
find the money or drive to get there. But here we are. Final year. We've
damn worked hard enough scraping money together for this...next summer
we graduate. Become junior doctors. Go out into the world and actually
practice medicine! Are you really going to let Aurora stand between you
Cameron raised his gaze to his friend's.
"We were the only kids in our class to even go to university." He remembered
softly. "I remember Mum's reaction when I told her me A level grades -
she broke down an' cried, she were that proud. An' she's done so much -
she an' Dad 'ave both done so much for me since then. Paid me tuition fees.
Helped me find accomodation. Read over reports an' essays. Basically jus'
"Well?" Gary demanded.
"I guess I got to get the girl out of me 'ead." Cameron said finally.
He glanced at his report, then, "I need to clear my thoughts. Want
to grab a coffee at the guild? Then I'm coming back to do some work."
"All right, if you're paying." Gary nodded. "Look, mate, snap out of
it. No chick is worth this much aggro, and especially not one like this.
Forget it, huh? It'll blow over."
"I hope you're right. I ain't 'avin' much luck with it as it stands."
Cameron said dryly, getting to his feet and grabbing his wallet, slipping
his jacket on over his shoulders. "All right, lets go. I need a caffeine
'it if I'm goin' to finish this haematology report by the deadline."
* * *
* * * *
"I never thought so many people could fit into such a small place."
Sadie settled herself more comfortably in her seat, casting her gaze
over the milling crowd of excited people, kept at bay only by stern security
guards in yellow jackets. "Honestly, it's wild. I know we face this kind
of stuff all the time back in Los Angeles, but after the last time I was
here, this is much more like it!"
"Positive publicity." Nancy nodded her head. "I wish they'd let us begin
and get it over with, though. Like Syl, I hate this part of the job. It
gives you cramp and by the time you're done smiling your head off your jaw
"You're really not a people person, are you?" Sadie giggled. Nancy shook
"Nope. But even Syl doesn't like this rigmarole." She replied with a
"I don't mind so much myself. I guess in a lot of ways I'm still too
new to it to mind overly." Sadie reflected. "And here we go...pens at the
"Yeah, yeah." Nancy rolled her eyes, but did as she was bidden, schooling
her features into a more receptive expression as she did so.
"So who is this one to?" At the far end of the line, Topaz was also having
a job keeping up her positive attitude, her eyes always flitting back to
the queue in fear that a familar face would appear somewhere in the crowd,
angry and accusing.
"My name is Avril." The girl responded quietly, then, as Topaz raised
her pen to write, she continued. "Avril Milligan."
Topaz's pen froze, and she raised pale blue eyes in consternation, taking
in the speaker's features. The girl was not tall, with thick soft waves
of auburn hair that fell neatly down her back in a ponytail, and clever
green eyes. There was something soft and unchallenging in her expression,
and despite her trepidation, Topaz found herself relaxing. She offered a
"Milligan, huh?" She remarked quietly. "That's no coincidence, is it?"
"No, it isn't." Avril shook her head. "I know we haven't met before,
Aurora, and so you've no reason to believe I am who I say I am, but...but
I'm 'ere for a very good reason. See, I know I shouldn't meddle in these
things, but, well, I know that you and me brother were serious about each
other and he's not been the same since you broke up. It ain't any of my
business, but I worry about 'im and 'e's a bloke - I don't think 'e always
knows 'ow to get across what 'e is really thinking. I wanted to speak to
you...just on the off chance you could do something about it."
Topaz's eyes softened at this heartfelt plea. She paused, then shook
"I wish I could." She said regretfully. "I'm afraid the fault is mine,
but...but your brother has no reason to forgive me. The relationship is...is
over, Avril, and it's better for both of us if we get used to it. Trust
me, he deserves far better than me...and I'm sure he knows it."
Avril looked thoughtful.
"He hasn't told me everything - he never does." She said finally. "But
I know that he still loves you. I'm sure if you spoke to 'im - Ma and Pa
are worried that he will let it affect his studies, and...well...we all
want him to graduate. Besides...besides, 'e's my big brother and I don't
like seeing 'im messed up like this. Please, Aurora, is there nothing you
Tears touched Topaz's expression at this.
"I'm sorry, Avril." She murmured. "Really, you don't know how sorry.
But...but a line has been crossed and it can't be crossed back." She smiled
sadly. "I always knew Cameron had a great family behind him and I'm sorry
we didn't get to meet on better terms, because he's lucky to have a sister
who cares so much about him. But he's a smart guy and he will get over
me. I'm not as important as all that and it's really better that we're apart
now. We come from such different worlds - different sides of an ocean, even.
It's better for him to find someone closer to home - someone that he can
"I 'ad to try." She admitted. "He says some things but...I don't know.
I don't believe you did anything so very bad."
"Do you still want me to sign your disk?" Topaz asked gently. Avril nodded.
"Yes." She replied. "You could 'ave told me to get lost, seeing as I
was bein' an interferin' busybody, but you didn't." She smiled. "I think
me brother is bein' dense, though, givin' up on you. I tried to convince
'im 'e should come 'ere and talk to you, but he refused point blank to come
near it. He's so stubborn sometimes."
"Well, there isn't much point in chasing something that's over." Topaz
said matter of factly, signing the disk with a flourish, then handing it
back. "Here you go. But should you be consorting with the enemy like this?"
"Well, I'm not a child. I can make my own decisions about these things."
Avril's green eyes twinkled. "Besides, whether Cameron is speakin' to you
or not, I'm a big Jewel fan and I always will be!"
"Thank you for your faith in us." Topaz grinned. "And I hope we meet
again, Avril, under better circumstances. Thanks for coming."
"I 'ope we do too." Avril dimpled. "Thanks at least for listenin' to
me bleat, anyway. I better move meself before the queue stampedes me, though."
She grinned. "Ma was right. You are a nice girl."
Before Topaz could respond, she was gone into the crowd.
"What was that, you telling someone your life story?" Sylva demanded.
Topaz shook her head.
"No - that was Cameron's sister. Avril." She said quietly. Sylva's eyebrows
"What? Here? What did she want?"
"Her disk signed." Topaz shrugged. "Come on. People are waiting, we can't
From the other side of the venue, Jetta too had spotted the visitor,
frowning as she recognised the familar features. "It is Avril, isn't it?
Laura's daughter Avril?"
"That's me." Avril paused, casting the executive a confused smile. "I...Oh!
Auntie Sheila! Oh, I should have realised it, with Jewel 'ere an' all -
Ma said you might be around! Oh, she'll be so 'appy to know that you are
- she'll want to see you!"
"I'm too busy to be payin' calls on your Ma this time, kid, much as I'd
like to." Jetta looked rueful. "Me 'ands are literally full with this tour.
But I thought I recognised those features - Laura always says you look the
spit of 'er an' from photos I've seen what she meant. What brings you 'ere?"
"Simple fandom." Avril raised the CD she held as proof. "And I wanted
to speak to Jewel. You...I suppose you know that my brother 'as a personal
interest in the group?"
"I'd 'ave to be blind, deaf an' dumb not to." Jetta groaned. "Yes, Avril,
I know. But listen to me. That business is finished with an' you're not
to go gettin' yourself involved in it, all right? I wish I wasn't as involved
as I was, but bein' friends with your Ma and Topaz's business manager means
I can't really avoid it."
"I suppose not." Avril sighed. "And you're right, I did speak to Topaz
about Cameron, but she told me that there was no going back. It's just
that he's so unhappy. I thought if I could speak to her...and Ma agreed.
Cam's last exam grades weren't so good an' we're all worried about 'im.
This is 'is final year, after all."
Jetta's clever features became grave.
"You tell your brother not to worry 'is 'ead about one of my silly musicians."
She said quietly. "She made 'er own decisions an' 'e should accept that
an' live with it. He'll be damn ungrateful if 'e lets your Ma and Pa down
after all the support they've given 'im, so mind you tell him so."
"Dad already has." Avril sighed. "But Cameron's stubborn. Aunt Sheila,
do you really think it is a lost cause?"
"I think Cameron would do better keepin' 'is nose clean an' out of it."
Jetta said grimly. "He'll only wind up in trouble if 'e keeps thinkin' of
Topaz an' Los Angeles. That's a fact. She doesn't want 'im as part of 'er
life an' 'e should forget about it. He's a grown man, 'e'll get over it."
She glanced over at the band. "An' I ought to go make sure all is well
with them. Tell your mother I said hello, an' that next time I'm in England
I'll drop by an' visit, but this time I'm swamped." She added.
"I'll do that." Avril nodded. "Thanks, Aunt Sheila. I'll pass the message
Jetta watched her leave, sighing heavily.
"Lyin' to Laura's daughter is only a step away from lyin' to Laura 'erself."
She mused. "There's plenty of trouble for Cameron in Los Angeles, but there's
also a baby girl that, dammit, it's 'is -and Laura's - right to know about.
Oh, I wish I didn't 'ave Misfit Music's interests tied up in this! If it
weren't for that I'd 'ave blown the whistle long ago - but I can't!
Lord knows I'll be glad to leave London!"