The Story So Far...
Copper and Aaron are preparing for their wedding, which promises to be one of the biggest events in California that spring. Thanks to Cynthia's covert meddling, Aaron has, unbeknownst to Topaz, invited Cameron Milligan, the father of her baby daughter Hollie. Amid the preparations, Copper finds her dress has been slashed but, thanks to the kindness of designer Gaynor Fitzpatrick, a replacement is already well under way. Aaron's best man, Logan Matthews, has flown in from Milwaukee and has already shown a definite interest in Sylva.
Meanwhile, after a violent argument with Marissa, Stefana has fled Diablo, frightened by what she has done. With Marissa in intensive care, with the outcome uncertain, the guitarist is confronted by Clay who tells her that she is no longer welcome with them. Feeling hopeless and abandoned, Stefana makes up her mind to take her own life...

Chapter One: Madeleine

A voice from the doorway startled the guitarist and she dropped her handful of pills onto the floor, swinging around like a cornered animal. Madeleine stood there, her expression one of growing disbelief as she registered the scene she had walked in on. In a moment she was at her companion's side, sweeping the remainder of the sleeping pills off the unit and into the bin. Then, grabbing Stefana firmly around the wrists, she made her sit down on the windowseat, taking a seat next to her.
"What in hell were you trying to do?" She demanded.
Stefana met the singer's dark eyes with mutinous silence, struggling against her companion's grip, but Madeleine held firm.
"No, you silly girl. I'm not going to let you hurt yourself." She said quietly. "What are you playing at? Isn't it bad enough that Marissa's in hospital, without this?"
"Leave me alone, Maddy." Stefana muttered. "You don't really care if I'm alive or dead - noone does. You might as well just walk out that damn door and leave me to get on with it."
"No way." Madeleine shook her head. "I want to know what's behind this. I didn't even know you were here till Clay said he saw you in the hall, and I...Stef?"
For at the mention of Clay's name Stefana's cold calm had broken down into tears, and, much to the singer's surprise and bemusement, the troubled young guitarist buried her head in her companion's shoulder, unable to control her emotions. Despite herself, Madeleine hugged the younger girl tightly, stroking the dark curls.
"What?" She whispered. "Stef, talk to me. What's got you so upset that you want to hurt yourself? Because that's what you were planning, isn't it?"
"You should have let me." Stefana raised tearful eyes to her bandmate. "There's nothing left, Maddy - can't you see that? Mari might die, and you don't want me. I'll end up going to jail and even if I don't, well, I've nowhere to go. It's the best thing - don't you understand? You'd all be better off rid of me, especially...especially Luca."
"That's not true." Madeleine reproached her gently. Stefana nodded.
"It is." She replied darkly. "Clay told me that I wasn't welcome here any more. That Diablo didn't want me and I was a failure as a human being. He said that Mari might die because of me and..." she swallowed hard, "And he's right. There's nothing left to for."
"There's plenty to live for." Madeleine held her companion at arm's length, taking in the hopeless green eyes and the pale, shadowed features. "You just can't see it, that's all. Clay was angry - you know he cares a great deal more about Marissa than he's ever let on to us. He was letting off steam, that's all."
"But Mari was hurt because of me. If she dies, I killed her."
"You do care about her, don't you?" Madeleine looked surprised. Stefana nodded.
"What do you think I am, cold?" She snapped. "Marissa's my friend! She's the only damn person who ever cared about me!"
"That's not true. Luca cares about you very much." Madeleine told her. "And I care about you too, you know."
"Don't lie. You hate me." Stefana spat out. "And Luca? No. He only ever looked out for me cos he promised Dad, that's all. I'm duty, nothing else. He doesn't really give a damn."
"Stop this now, Stef." Madeleine begged her. "I've never seen you like this before - you're frightening me."
"Why? With the truth?" Stefana demanded bitterly. "Just leave me alone, Maddy. It's for the best this way. Let me go."
"Did you take any of those pills?" Madeleine asked softly. Stefana shook her head.
"No, thanks to your lousy timing. I didn't. You made me jump and I dropped any I had in my hand." She jerked her foot towards the scattered pills littering the floor. "See? And you binned the rest."
"Do you promise me you didn't?" Madeleine eyed her companion thoughtfully. "Maybe I'll take you to the hospital, just in case..."
"Dammit, Maddy, I promise you!" Stefana exclaimed. "You turned up at the wrong goddamn moment, and that's the truth. All right? You want it in blood?"
Madeleine looked at the guitarist long and hard for a moment. Then she sighed.
"All right. I believe you." She said at length. "And, that being the case, I'm glad I walked in on you when I did. None of us knew you were feeling as bad over Mari as all this, Stef. To be honest, I don't think any of us really realised you were feeling bad about it at all." She looked uncomfortable. "I suppose we did kinda think you were cold - Clay and I, anyway."
"Well, I wish I was." Stefana muttered. "But I'm not."
"I'm sorry for misjudging you, then." Madeleine told her gently. Carefully she settled herself on the windowseat, putting an arm around her companion's tense shoulders. "But I'm serious about something, Steffi. Noone - not even Clay at his most angry - wants you to kill yourself. You have to realise that. Okay, sometimes we fight, and sometimes it's a nasty fight and bad things come of it, like yours with Marissa. But we are Diablo - and we have to pull together. All of us."
"What if she dies?" Stefana whispered.
"Well, I don't honestly believe that she will." Madeleine said at length.
"Clay said she'd gotten worse."
"She had a bad turn earlier, but Luca called about ten minutes ago to tell me they'd got her stable again." Madeleine told her. "I was looking for Clay to tell him the news when I found you here...he wouldn't go home till Luca had called back. Otherwise neither of us would be here so late - I wanted to keep an eye on him. He's taken the whole thing pretty bad, and that's why he lashed out at you."
"I deserved it."
"Maybe, but that's beside the point." Madeleine shrugged. "It was an accident, Stef. It should not have happened, but it was an accident nonetheless, and you can't take it back. All you can do is learn from it and move on. I always thought you were strong inside - strong enough to meet any challenge. Am I wrong?"
"I don't know." Stefana admitted. She rubbed her temples. "I'm confused a lot these days. Can't think right - can't control my temper. I'm so tired and dizzy..." She closed her eyes briefly. "But I can't sleep so good, either."
"That what those things are?" Madeleine asked. "Sleeping pills?"
"Yes." Stefana agreed. "What in hell else would they be?"
"At the moment, Stef, I don't know with you." Madeleine said sombrely. "Luca told us about your fight, and Clay told me what he'd overheard between you and Mari. You do know you have a problem, don't you?"
"I...I don't know." Stefana admitted. "I could always handle it."
"If you're feeling as bad as this, though, surely you can't handle it?" Madeleine pointed out. Stefana groaned.
"Maybe." She conceded at length. "But see, Maddy, you don't understand. None of you do. Luca told me I had to stop it - just like that, change, drop them, whatever. But I can't do that. It's not so easy."
"You're addicted to them, aren't you?" Madeleine said gently. Stefana shrugged.
"Probably." She replied. "I haven't thought about it much. When I need them, I take them...and that's more and more these days. I get so tired otherwise - tired and crazy whatever I do. Everything kinda blurs together in my mind - it's hard to know what is what."
"You were stoned when you pushed Mari, weren't you?"
"Yeah." Stefana agreed. "I told you. I wasn't in control."
"Then you have to get back in control." Madeleine decided. "Not just of your drug habit, Stef, but your life, too. This is no way out - not for anyone. You have too much ability and too much life left to live to just throw it away like this. I'm serious - this isn't the answer."
"Then what is?" Stefana demanded flatly, her green eyes devoid of emotion.
"I don't know, yet." Madeleine admitted. "But whatever it is, Stef, it won't be easy. You've gone a long way - it's going to be a hard road back."
"That's supposed to make me wanna give it a go?" Stefana rolled her eyes. "Give me strength."
"No, but it's the honest truth." Madeleine responded. "Yes, it will be hard. But worth it. Think, Stef, if Mari came round tomorrow and we'd have had to have broken to her the truth about what you'd done tonight. Think what that would have done to her recovery, huh? You know that she cares about you, and her health is never as strong as the rest of us. Luca, too. He'd be devastated, whatever you think. He's stuck with you because he loves you, no matter how possessive you've been and no matter what you've done. I know he was angry, but only because you frightened him with how much you're playing with fire. He wants you safe, that's all. Maybe he goes over the top sometimes, but he does love you. I know that." She paused, then, "That's why he broke up with me in college, you know. Because you didn't like me spending too much time with him, and he knew you were going through a rough patch with your Mom at the time - being kicked out of home and all."
"I never knew that." Stefana looked startled. "Is that true or did you just make it up?"
"It's true." Madeleine nodded her head. "He put you first, just as he's always done. You mean more to him than just a promise to your poor Dad, you know."
Stefana was silent for a moment, digesting this. Then,
"Is that why you hated me so bad?"
"Well, it didn't endear me to you, but Luca is my friend and I understood." Madeleine looked rueful. "I got over it, and things are fine now. I daresay it didn't help matters, but life is like that. Family comes first."
"Tell that to my bitch mother."
"Well, there always has to be someone who misses the point." Madeleine conceded. "But Stef, who do you want to be like? Luca? Or your Mom?"
"Neither. I want to be me, and I want people to damn well leave me alone."
"Right now that isn't an option. I don't know what you might do." Madeleine shook her head. "Look, I have to find Clay, then we'll go home, huh? Talk about things properly and see if we can't..."
"No." Stefana shook her head. "I'm not going there - I can't."
"No, Maddy." Stefana repeated. "I can't face Luca tonight. I don't want to see Clay again. I don't. I can't."
Madeleine sighed, but in an instant she made up her mind.
"Then I'll stay here with you." She said quietly. "We'll go to the little room I practice my vocals in...noone goes there in the evening and Rory never goes in there, period. Noone will disturb us."
"Stay here?" Stefana looked startled. "You want to stay with me? Why?"
"So you don't do something that we'll all regret, even if you don't have a chance to." Madeleine told her gently. "Stef, whatever you think, your safety does matter to me, and I won't let you hurt yourself. This is the most you've ever let me see into you and what's going on inside - I wish I'd seen that before. You're more mixed up than I thought - and I want to help you."
"Really?" Stefana stared. Madeleine smiled.
"Really." She agreed. She got to her feet, holding out her hand to her bandmate. "Come on. I have a blanket in the trunk of my car, and if I hunt about I'm sure I can find some other stuff."
"What about Clay?"
"I'll call him on the way down." Madeleine told her.
"Will you tell him I'm still here?"
"Not if you don't want me to." Madeleine promised. "We can deal with all of that tomorrow, but tonight we're gonna see if we can't work out what to do to help you get through this, okay?"
"I guess it's the best option I have at the moment." Stefana conceded, taking Madeleine's proffered hand and getting to her feet. The world swirled and she almost fell, but Madeleine had seen her companion's unsteadiness and caught her deftly, helping her upright.
"Are you sure you didn't take any of them?" She asked, suspicious. Stefana sighed.
"I swear." She said, all fight gone from her voice. "I'm just beat, Maddy. I haven't slept right since Mari's fall, 'cept with those things." She indicated the sleeping pills. "And they ain't real great. Give me nightmares - god only knows what the jerk I got them from cut them with."
"Then the sooner we get you settled upstairs, the sooner you can get some proper sleep." Madeleine said sensibly. "Come on."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Well, I have to say I like your fiancee, Aaron."
Logan stepped out of the lift, waiting as his companion slipped his key into the front door lock. "She's damn pretty, make no mistake about it, and she's a good laugh. Guess you do know something about chicks after all."
"Who would've thought? Maybe you and the guys taught me a thing or two after all." Aaron grinned, pushing open the door. "But Copper's awesome. There's something in that old cliche about just knowing when it's right."
"Never thought I'd see a Pelligrini subscribing to cliches!" Logan laughed. "Hey, but it was a good evening, though. Nothing like Cali cuisine with good company!"
"So move back here." Aaron told him, flicking on the main light and tossing his jacket down on the back of the chair. "It's not like there's anything to keep you in Milwaukee."
"Except my job." Logan grimaced. "It took me forever to convince my boss that he did owe me this time off, I'll tell ya. I'd like to get back here, but you know. Logistics and all that crap."
He glanced around him. "Where's your friend?"
"Stefana?" Aaron raised his voice, a frown crossing his face. "Stef, you here?"
There was no answer, and he shrugged, dropping down onto a seat.
"Maybe she went out." He decided. "Tisn't like she's a prisoner here or anything like that, after all."
"She seems kinda weirded out to me." Logan mused, following his friend's example and sitting down. "I mean, all respect to her and all that, she's your friend, but she seemed one hell of a space cadet when I got here."
"She'd just woken up." Aaron pointed out. "And it's been a rough couple of days for her."
He pursed his lips. "Maybe I'll call her phone, see what time she'll be back here. I'm not sure she has a key."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Logan agreed. He stifled a yawn. "As for me, I think I'm gonna be hitting the sack, if it's all the same to you. Been a long day, and all that." He winked at his companion. "And I still got me that speech to write, too. That'll take some careful thinking!"
"You better watch what you're putting in that." Aaron threatened, though his eyes sparkled with amusement. "Don't need to recap every dumb thing I did in high school, you know!"
"Oh, but that's the best part!" Logan protested. "And hell, you know you'd do the same for me!"
"True." Aaron admitted. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, dialling Stefana's number. "Okay, go write your speech or sleep or whatever it is you're plotting to do. I'm gonna call Stef then hit the shower...some of us had a full day of work today, and have another one tomorrow!"
"Yeah, yeah." Logan lazily tossed a cushion in his friend's direction. Then he was gone into his bedroom, and Aaron shook his head in amusement, waiting for Stefana to pick up her phone.
He was just about to give up when an unfamiliar voice answered. His brow creased in confusion.
"Hi...this is Stefana's number, right?" He asked.
"Yes, it's Steffi's phone." The voice agreed. "This is Madeleine Dacourt - who's speaking?"
"Aaron. Aaron Stef there?"
"She is...but she's sleeping." Madeleine replied. "I'll tell her you called, though."
"Oh, it's okay. Is she back with you guys then? I heard there had been a fight."
"Well, there has, but she's safe with me at the moment." Madeleine said carefully. "Don't worry, Aaron. She's back where she belongs now, and we'll take good care of her."
"I'm glad you worked things out. I told Steffi it'd resolve itself." Aaron sounded relieved. "I'll bring her bag by your place tomorrow, on my way to work, all right?"
"Okay. Or no, wait...better to bring it to Rebel Records, if you can." Madeleine seemed to reconsider in mid-speech. "Early start and everything."
"Even easier. Will do." Aaron agreed.
"Thanks, Aaron."
"How's Marissa? I understood she was unwell."
"Doing better now, I think." Madeleine was vague. "I'd better go, I don't want to wake Stef. It's been a long day and she's exhausted."
"No problem. Just let her know I called and I'll bring her stuff by the music company in the am." Aaron assured her. "Bye, Madeleine. Thanks for letting me know."
Madeleine terminated the call, switching off her bandmate's phone and setting it gently down on the windowsill. She turned to look at the fragile form curled up on the floor beside her, and despite herself she felt a pang of sympathy for her messed up companion. Stefana did not look hostile or angry in her sleep, just tired, pale and drawn, with her thick black locks every which way. Madeleine had managed to find three old blankets and she had taken some cushions from chairs in storage, in order to form pillows and pseudo-matresses, mindful of the discomfort of sleeping on a cold hard floor. Stefana had succumbed to her exhaustion almost as soon as she had lain down, and Madeleine had covered her over carefully, taking note of the tearstains on her cheeks as she did so.
"I hope I can help you, Stef." She murmured. "I'm not sure if I can alone. I don't know the first thing about drugs or addiction or any of that. I feel like we should have seen earlier what was going on with you, before it got this far. I just hope it's not too late, and that something can be done to help pull you out of this. I hate to think what will happen if it can't."

Chapter One: Madeleine

Chapter Two: Remeniscences
Chapter Three: A Shock For Topaz
Chapter Four: Marissa
Chapter Five: Dilemmas
Chapter Six: Ranieri vs Ranieri
Chapter Seven: Home Truths
Chapter Eight: The Bridesmaids
Chapter Nine: An Olive Branch
Chapter Ten: Stag Night
Chapter Eleven: Demons...and Angels

Chapter Twelve: A Broken Secret

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!