Chapter Eleven: Demons...and Angels
The next day dawned bright and sunny in Los Angeles, and it was with some
amount of relief that Marissa found herself finally discharged from Baptist
Hospital's tender care. It had been, she mused, two or three days since
she had seen Stefana last, and although Clay and Maddy had both assured
her that her friend was 'all right', she was anxious to see the girl for
Clay had come to collect her - a new, strangely more forthcoming Clay, who had greeted her with a smile and a hug and who had threatened to carry her out to his car, rather than wait for a wheelchair. Marissa had rebelled against both of these, for she felt much better in herself and had been perfectly able to walk the short distance to the hospital parking lot, but Clay's playful affection both startled and warmed her.
Things would be different between them now, she reflected. And maybe, in an odd sort of way, she had Stefana's temper to thank for it.
The driver's voice broke through her thoughts at that moment, and Marissa shot him a wry smile, nodding her head.
"Very much so." She admitted. "There's a lot to think about, Clay. Don't you reckon?"
"Well, depends how you look at it." Clay shrugged. "Stef is getting more...well, she's pulled herself away from Maddy's comforting and Luca's fussing, so she seems to be on the mend. She's very quiet, but more like herself now."
"I'm looking forward to talking to her." Marissa admitted. "I know you say she's okay, but I want to know for myself. I've been away for too long, after all."
She shot him a sidelong glance, then,
"And then there's the other thing, isn't there?"
"Well, since you rejected my help leaving the hospital..." Clay pretended to be hurt, and Marissa laughed.
"I didn't need you to carry me, and I'm probably heavier than you imagine I am." She scolded him. Clay grinned.
"Maybe, but still." He remarked. "How do you reckon things are gonna be now, Mari? Different, of course. But how different?"
"How much have you said to the others?"
"In truth, nothing." Clay pursed his lips. "I wasn't sure how it would be received, with Stef still so...rocky, really. She's so jealously possessive of you and of Luca, that I was half afraid she might go for me in my sleep if I told her."
"You said she was better." Marissa reproached him. "And that she wasn't lashing out at people."
"No, but in all truth she creeps me out." Clay shrugged, flicking the indicator on and turning left onto the road where the Diablo estate was situated. "She barely speaks, just...stares into space, or at you, without even registering you. I can't explain it, but I'd almost rather she was spitting fire than just sitting there, like some wasted zombie."
"Things have been hard on her." Marissa sighed. "But she's going to have to get used to the idea that you and I are gonna be more than friends now, isn't she?"
"Yes." Clay nodded. "Because now we've talked about it, I'm not letting things go back to how they were before. Too much caution for too long, Mari...it's about bloody time we got it together."
"Then you can start by taking my case, since I'm not supposed to do anything too strenuous for a day or two yet." Marissa's blue eyes danced impishly, as Clay pulled the car to a stop. He eyed her thoughtfully, then, without warning, he kissed her, taking her off guard.
"There's more where that came from if you don't quit being cheeky." He warned her playfully. "But this once I'll get your case. Just don't think I'm making a habit of it, all right?"
"Okay." Marissa's eyes shone as she watched him pull the case from the boot of the car, then came around to open the passenger door in a mock chauffeur fashion. Marissa giggled, stepping out onto the tarmac and gazing up at the estate.
"It's good to be back." She murmured.
"Mari!" One of the front windows opened, and Madeleine stuck her head out. "You made good time - the door's open, okay?"
"Hi, Maddy." Marissa grinned. "Okay. Is Stef home?"
"Yeah - she was upstairs, sleeping." Madeleine agreed. "I looked in on her ten minutes ago to tell her you were on your way home, but she was lost to the world so I let her rest. If you want to go up there, though, I'm sure she'd be happy to see you."
"How is she?" Marissa paused. Madeleine pursed her lips.
"Quiet." She admitted. "She isn't eating much, and she isn't talking much. She says she's okay, though, and she hasn't done anything over the last few days to suggest she's still thinking about hurting herself. I've even been allowed in her room and her cabinets to clear them out of drugs - she let me do it, said she couldn't do it herself. I think she's just finding it a struggle to fight back right at the moment."
"Well, I'll go up and see her." Marissa decided. She turned.
"Clay? I'm heading up to see Stef, so if you could ditch my case in the hall, that'd be fine." She called. Clay shook his head.
"So you can lift it upstairs later? No way. I know what the doctor said, and I'm taking this to your room. You run along and see Stef...I'll see to this thing."
"Okay, if you insist." Marissa dimpled, hurrying into the house and up the stairs. At the top she paused, remembering the events of the fall.
"Everything's changed since then, in some way or another." She mused. "I hope Steffi's able to change, too. I want my best friend back."
Gently she knocked on the door.
"Stef? It's Mari."
There was a thud, and then the door swung open. Marissa found herself face to face with her best friend, and instinctively she hugged her.
"Maddy said you were asleep." She murmured. "Did I wake you?"
"No. I was pretending, because I didn't want to talk to her." Stefana shrugged. "I didn't realise you were home. When did you get back?"
"Clay just collected me. I was discharged this morning." Marissa responded. She indicated her head. "See? No bandage."
"Just a scar." Stefana bit her lip, then, "I'm glad you're home."
"Did you miss me?"
"Yes, though if you ask me that in public I'll deny it."
"I'm glad to see you too." Marissa responded, coming into the bedroom and sitting down on the end of her friend's bed. "How are things, Stef? You know I'm going to ask you, so you might as well get it over with."
"I'm okay." She murmured. "I'm better still when people leave me alone and don't ask silly questions. Right at the moment I can't exactly say I'm fine, can I? But I can handle it. I'm strong, remember?" A ghost of a smile touched her lips. "I'm clean."
"I know. Maddy said so, and so did Clay." Marissa nodded. "I'm proud of you, Stef."
"I'm too tired to be proud. I'm not even sure how I'm doing it." Stefana admitted. "The less I think about it, the easier it is, so can we stop talking about this now?"
"Okay, if that's how you feel." Marissa settled herself more comfortably on the bedcovers. "You and Luca are friends again, I gather?"
"Yeah, I suppose so." Stefana nodded. "He's off someplace with Emily this morning."
Another ghostly smile touched her lips. "You know, he punched Rory out."
"What?" Marissa stared. "You're kidding, he never!"
"I swear." Stefana nodded. "He told me himself. I didn't believe him, except his knuckles were all bruised. Apparently he got real mad over Rory's attitude towards me and towards that Sirena bitch of his. Took offence and whacked him one. Just wish I could have seen it."
"He probably deserved it." Marissa reflected. "But where does that leave Diablo?"
"Power shift." She said with a careless shrug of her shoulders. "Rory hasn't done a thing about it, not even fined Luca or anything like that. It's like it never happened. If you ask me Rory realises he can't afford to not have Diablo on his books, so until he finds something better, Luca can pretty much do as he likes."
"Wow." Marissa pursed her lips. "I doubt Rory will forget in a hurry."
"Me either." Stefana admitted. "But it made me smile, anyway. Made my week, in truth. I hate Rory."
"What brought it on? What did Rory say to make Luca so upset?"
"I don't know." Stefana shrugged. "Not exactly. Just Luca didn't like it, and that was that. Guess we're more alike than you realised, huh?"
"Perhaps." Marissa nodded. "Well, Rebel Records paid for my medical cover, so I guess Rory can't be too mad at Diablo."
"Like I said, he needs us." Stefana responded. "If there even is an 'us'. Clay and I aren't speaking at present."
"Clay has said that he regrets yelling at you how he did." Marissa said softly. "And that it would be a shame to have to try and find a new guitarist. I told him what I said to you, about it being both of us or neither of us, and I think he accepted it. We are still Diablo, Stef. As soon as you're better, we'll..."
"I'm better enough now." Stefana shook her head. "I can play, Mari, and it sure beats sitting around in my room doing nothing but think about this damn thing."
She pulled a piece of paper down off her shelf, tossing it at her friend, who scooped it up.
"A wedding invite?"
"Aaron and Copper's wedding, to be exact." Stefana muttered. "Just where I want to be going right now."
"So don't go. Aaron would understand." Marissa handed it back.
"Would he?" Stefana shook her head. "I haven't a single good excuse to give him. I don't want to see him marry Copper - but I can't damn well tell him the truth, can I? If you wanna know, Mari, this damn invite is causing me more hassle at the moment than anything else going on! I'm running out of time to do something about it!"
"Something? Like what?" Marissa looked suspicious.
"Like stop it, that would be good."
"Stef, you can't!" Marissa protested. Stefana raised an eyebrow.
"Can't I?" She demanded. "Mari, I have never been like this over a guy before. Not ever, okay? It can't be right that I feel all of this crazy nonsense and yet he's off there marrying some other woman! It's got to be wrong somehow, hasn't it? I can't have done that damn much evil in my life to deserve to just sit here and let it happen, like some godawful torture device! I don't want Aaron to marry Copper, and that's that! She can't love him as much as I do...noone could."
Tears touched the green eyes at this, and Marissa hugged her friend tightly.
"Let him go." She begged. "You've got too much to handle already, Stef - let him go. Aaron cares about you very much, else he would not have invited you - but he loves Copper. There's nothing you could do to change that. Even if Copper were not in the picture any more for some reason, it wouldn't mean that he'd stop loving her. Remember when they broke up? No matter how much time you spent with him, he still kept thinking about her, and did everything he could to get back with her. If you really love Aaron, you have to let him go. Let him be happy."
"But what about me?" Stefana whispered. "Don't I deserve to be happy?"
"Of course you do." Marissa held her friend at arm's length, compassion in her blue eyes. "But you wouldn't be this way, Stef. You've done enough silly things, you know that as well as I do. Aaron is your friend and if you broke up his wedding he'd never forgive you. You can't hurt those you care about - else you're more likely to lose them altogether."
"I thought I'd lost you." Stefana conceded. "But this is different, Mari. It makes me helpless...I don't like being in love." She grimaced. "And if I tell the truth, it's only been since I quit taking the damn pills that my head's straightened up enough to see exactly where I've been going. If I hadn't been so messed up with chemicals I would've stopped it before it began, but I didn't see what was happening till now, and now it's too late. I don't want to feel this way - I hate it more than anything. But I've never had a guy who cared about me, and Aaron does."
"Yes, he does." Marissa agreed. "But that doesn't mean you can meddle in his happiness."
"We'll see." Stefana murmured. "I haven't decided yet, anyway."
Marissa frowned, but let the topic go, not willing to fight with her friend further. Stefana's emotions were still fragile, she realised, and it would not do any good to push them to their limits.
"Clay's spent a lot of time at the hospital." It was Stefana who changed the subject, and despite herself, a faint blush touched Marissa's cheeks.
"He's been sweet to come so often." She said quietly. "Hospitals get lonely."
"I woulda come, only he was there and he hates me right now." Stefana said flatly. "And to be honest I didn't feel like going out all that much."
"It's all right. I'm home now, and I know you hate hospitals." Marissa assured her. "I know they make you think of your Dad."
"We don't talk about Dad." Stefana held up her hand. "So what exactly did these little visits of Clay's mean, huh?"
"Mean?" Marissa stared at her friend, who laughed hollowly.
"I thought so." She muttered. "Maddy said she thought he had feelings for you, and I damn well knew you've been mooning over him for long enough. I thought that he might have asked you out...did he?"
"Yes." Marissa met her friend's gaze steadily. "We talked for a while, and settled a lot of things, Stef. I like Clay a lot - you've always known that - and he likes me too."
"I knew it." Stefana frowned. "So who's side does that make you on, now?"
"There are no sides. Diablo's side." Marissa said simply. "But I'm always your best friend, Stef. I've stuck up for you with Clay this last week and I'll keep doing so. That won't change, just like Luca seeing Emily hasn't changed how much he cares about you."
"It's so damn unfair." Stefana raised her eyes heavenwards. "Everyone else gets things so damn easily. What's wrong with me that I can't, huh?"
"Maybe you're looking in the wrong places." Marissa said gently. "You need to get yourself better first, before you can worry about finding someone else. Don't fret, huh? Look, I have to take it easy for a couple of days, but noone said I couldn't go spend some convalescence time at the beach, so you fancy getting out of these four walls for a bit? You'd have to drive - I'm not allowed to yet - but at least you'd get some space, and the beach is always fun."
"I suppose so." Stefana nodded grudgingly, reaching for her car keys. "Okay, come on. Gotta be better than moping around here, after all."
"That's the spirit...I think." Marissa smiled. "Quick, before Clay realises I'm breaking bounds." She winked. "I'm supposed to stay home, but I feel like sneaking out a little."
"Like old times, huh?" Stefana raised an eyebrow. Marissa nodded.
"Definitely." She responded. "Let's go."
SACRED VOWS: PART TWO
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
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!