Chapter Three: A Shock For Topaz

"Well, good morning."
Stefana stirred in her makeshift bed, struggling into an upright position and blinking to bring the speaker into clear focus. Madeleine sat in the chair across the room, watching her, and in a flash the previous night's events flooded through her brain. She grimaced.
"Morning." She muttered, raising a hand to her head. "What time is it?"
"Afternoon, actually." Madeleine admitted. "It's almost two, but I didn't like to wake you. You were so tired last night."
"My mind's kinda hazy." Stefana admitted. "Didn't the others wonder where you are?"
"I phoned them earlier and told them I had something urgent to work on." Madeleine told her gently. "How are you feeling?"
"I don't know. Odd." Stefana stifled a yawn. "And stiff. Last night seems like a dream."
"Aaron dropped a few of your things off here." Madeleine told her, indicating a pile on the table. "Your jacket, cigarettes and stuff, basically. I told him you were back where you belonged now - he knows nothing about what happened last night. I..." She paused, then, "I kinda hoped maybe it was temporary insanity on your part, brought on by worrying about Mari and lack of sleep."
"Aaron." Stefana's green eyes clouded, then, "I don't know, Maddy. I don't see what you're achieving by standing sentry over me. You admitted yourself that my life was one big mess. You tell me how I'm gonna get out of it, huh?"
She pushed back the blanket, scrambling to her feet and moving over to the window as she heard the sound of a car.
"Luca's here." She observed, a note of fear in her voice. "He'll come looking for you."
"Maybe." Madeleine seemed unconcerned. "Perhaps it wouldn't hurt for you to speak to him, either."
"I don't want to." Stefana shook her head. "I can't talk to him."
"Well, it's your call." Madeleine sighed. "But you can't hide out up here forever. You know that and so do I."
"It wasn't my idea."
"No, your idea was far worse." Madeleine frowned. "What am I gonna do with you, Stef? I want to help you but I need to know how I can."
"If I knew the answer to that, Maddy, last night would never have happened." Stefana muttered. "I'm not the kind of person who goes looking for 'help' - if I'd have known any other way last night I would've done that instead."
"Well, I have one idea." Madeleine said gently. "Your drug habit is out of control and it needs to be stopped. You need an incentive to stop it, something to help you believe it's worth the effort to fight this thing and not give up."
"Go on." Stefana looked wary. "What kind of incentive?"
"Clay called from the hospital an hour ago." Madeleine spread her hands. "Marissa has regained consciousness. She's a little blurry still, but she's been asking for you, fairly insistantly. I think she wants to make up your fight - and I think it'd be as well for you if you did so."
"Mari's awake?" For the first time since the previous evening a spark of hope flickered in the green eyes. "Really?"
"Yes. She had a good night and she woke up this morning - they think she's likely out of danger now." Madeleine agreed. "Will you come with me to see her, Stef? She wants you."
"She might just want to yell."
"I don't think so." Madeleine shook her head. "She's known more about you and your problems than the rest of us - I don't think it's all come as as much of a shock to her as it has done to us. Besides, she's a peaceful soul - I really think it's on her mind to make up the fight. I reckon it's worth you going to find out, anyway."
"All right." Stefana sighed. "If you can get me out of here without bumping into Luca, I'll come."
"Good girl." Madeleine smiled. "Brush your hair and fix your make-up and we'll get moving."
"My hair?"
"If she sees you the way you look right now, Stef, she'll be scared out of her wits." Madeleine said wisely. "Your hair's all over the place and your cheeks are all streaked with mascara from last night. Clean yourself up a little, huh? That way noone who sees us en route will think it odd."
"Oh. Okay." Stefana took her bandmate's proffered brush, running it absently through her thick hair. "Is Clay still at the hospital?"
"Probably, but I won't let him yell at you again." Madeleine told her. "He was out of line last night, whatever the circumstances - I think he realises it to, to be honest, now Mari's awake. On the phone he said that he wished he hadn't scared you to God knows where, since Mari clearly wants to see you pretty badly. I told him I'd see what I could do."
"Why are you sticking up for me?" Carefully Stefana fixed her make-up, casting her companion a confused look.
"I don't know." Madeleine admitted. "And that's the honest truth in this, Stef. I guess last night was a shock to me as much as it was to you. I don't want you to kill yourself, and you're not as hard hearted as I thought. I don't know why it is, but I do want to help you."
"Well, you got a big job on your plate." Stefana said darkly, grabbing up her cigarettes and lighter and pushing them into her pocket. "I'm done. Let's go."

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"Well, here we are. Los Angeles."
Taylor Conway lifted his wife's suitcase off the conveyor, turning to scan the black caterpillar of luggage for his own. "Cameron, are you going to mope the whole time? Vi and I wouldn't have flown with you if we'd known what a drag you were going to be."
"Don't be so harsh on the poor lad, Taylor." Violet, Taylor's soft-spoken wife and keyboardist for English group the Teenangel Outsiders reproached him gently, casting their third a concerned look. "It isn't easy when places bring back memories."
"How true that is." Cameron pursed his lips, glancing around LAX. "Last time I was 'ere it was sayin' goodbye to her after your weddin'. We were even jokin' about rings and whatever - I thought we 'ad a future. Comin' 'ere brings it all back - maybe it was a mistake to come."
"I think you needed to come, Cameron." Violet linked her arm in his, leading him away from the conveyor as Taylor claimed the last of their baggage, tossing it onto the trolley. "That's why Taylor and I flew out here with you like this. Taylor wants to see Aaron, of course, and we wanted to make sure you were okay. You know Taylor considers you almost a brother, so that makes you my brother in law, near enough, and I don't want you to be unhappy. Weddings are happy times, after all, and maybe it isn't what you think."
"Sylva is Rora's best friend." Cameron said flatly. "What she doesn't know about Rora's life probably ain't worth knowin'. Thanks for tryin', Vi, but I can't see 'ow it could be different. Just you better 'ope I don't meet face to face with Luca bloody Ranieri whilst I'm 'ere, that's all. I gave 'im a punch in the gob once an' I'd damn well do it again, just to make myself feel better."
"Maybe we shouldn't have brought you at all." Violet looked doubtful. "Not if you're gonna be violent."
"It's okay, Vi. We're gonna pick up the keys to the hire car and we're going to head out to the Teenangel place here." Taylor told her with a reassuring grin. "Cameron can shower, sleep off his jetlag and control his homicidal thoughts. And I'll go catch up with Aaron, if you don't mind playing babysitter to this fool for a while."
"I don't mind." Violet laughed. "The girls were a little surprised we didn't fly with them, but I explained that there were special circumstances. Do you have the paperwork for the car and everything?"
"Of course. Right here." Taylor nodded. "Odd it might seem, Vi, but I have been to LA before."
He bent to kiss her on the forehead.
"Right, let's go. Cameron? Make yourself useful and take one of these cases, huh?"
"Whatever." Cameron obediently took the top case, which was wobbling precariously at the top of the piled trolley. "I'm sorry, you guys, an' I appreciate you comin' over with me. I'll try an' be better company, I promise."
"Well, if you're not too tired, maybe you could go with Taylor to Misfit Music, to see Aaron?" Violet suggested.
"Bad idea." Cameron shook her head. "That's where she works, Vi. I might run into 'er, knowin' my luck."
"True, but I thought Jewel weren't working at the moment, because of the wedding?" Violet reasoned. "I'm pretty sure Copper said something about it in the letter she wrote to us Teenangels inviting us all to the wedding. Surely it's worth the risk?"
"I'm not sure I'm ready to go that far into the lion's den yet." Cameron shook his head. "I'll 'ead into the city instead, I think - get some 'eadspace. I'm not really tired, just confused an' morose - I need to snap out of it, an' there's plenty to do in LA. I'll be fine, Vi - jus' need to get my 'ead straight."
"Well, if you think that's best." Violet nodded. "I'm probably going to unpack and then take a nap myself." She stifled a yawn. "Didn't sleep much last night for worrying if I'd remembered everything we were going to need." Her dark eyes sparkled. "Oh, but weddings are so lovely, and I'm glad Copper and Aaron got their situation worked out. The Starlight is a wonderful venue."
"It sure does hold some memories." Taylor looked rueful. "I trust Aaron has a more responsible best man than I did."
"I don't know what you mean." Despite himself, a smile played around Cameron's lips, as Violet looked confused. "I did a damn good job of your speech an' I didn't lose the ring or anythin'. Perfect best man, I was!"
"Did I miss something?" Violet was nonplussed.
Taylor shook his head.
"Bachelor party shenanigins." He assured her. "Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Well, I s'pose Aaron will have one of them." Violet's face cleared and she smiled. "Copper's certainly having a hen party, because we girls were all invited along with the wedding invites."
It did not take long for Taylor to collect the car keys and paperwork for the hire vehicle and before long they were headed out towards the Teenangels' American base, pausing en-route to drop Cameron in the centre of Los Angeles. As he watched them drive away, the medical student found himself glad to be alone. Taylor was his best friend and Violet was one of the sweetest people he knew, but the last thing he needed around him right now was an affectionate happy couple.
"They mean well, but I'm more confused than I thought I'd be comin' back 'ere." He mused as he headed up the high street towards a local coffee hangout. He had visited there once or twice before with Topaz, but they served the best coffee in Los Angeles and, despite the memories, he ordered his drink, sitting down at a table by the window.
The city didn't seem any different, he mused. Somehow it seemed wrong that it was that way, when so much was different in his mind. Last time he had been there, it had seemed like the land of promise and dreams. Now he wasn't even sure where his future lay - and it was all because of one woman.
"How can she screw me up so damn much?" He wondered, taking a sip of his drink. "I've got to get out to San Diego but I'm all over the place at the moment! I'm dreadin' Aaron's weddin', because I know she will be there - I'm wondering if Taylor was wrong to talk me into coming out here, after all. Maybe I would have been better to just let it lie."
He lifted his cup to his lips once more, then froze, almost choking on the hot liquid as an all too familiar figure entered the coffee house. She had not seen him, and, as she went up to the counter to order, he found himself helpless to do anything but watch her cheerfully greet the staff, collecting and paying for her drink.
As she turned to find herself a seat, she met his eyes across the room and her pale blue eyes widened with consternation, her grip on her cup tightening as if she thought she might drop it. For a moment she just stood there, staring at him as if she could not believe what she was seeing.
"Hello, Rora."
From somewhere, Cameron found his vocal chords, and he was surprised at how normal he sounded. She started at the sound of the affectionate short he had always used for her, and the pain in her eyes deepened. Cameron almost thought he could see tears there, mingled with the anxiety, and slowly she shook her head.
"What are you doing here?" She whispered, approaching his table almost without thinking about it and taking the seat opposite him. She was so close now, he realised, and just as beautiful as ever. Inwardly Cameron berated himself for letting his thoughts run that way. She had betrayed him twice, he remembered. It would not do to be the victim of a third time.
"I'm 'ere for Aaron's wedding." He kept his tones level. "Why else?"
"Oh!" Topaz's eyes widened with surprise, then, "I didn't know."
"Aaron didn't tell you I was invited, huh?"
"No...noone did." Topaz shook her head. There was a long silence, then, " have a good flight?"
"It was all right." Cameron was struggling to keep a grip on his composure. There was fear in her blue eyes, and he could not help wondering what it was that had caused it. " are you?"
"Oh, not bad, I suppose." Topaz bit her lip. "Busy, mostly."
"Likewise." Cameron nodded. "Sorting out my residency - plenty to do."
"I see." Topaz swallowed hard, then, "I'm so, so, sorry, Cameron. I have to go - I can't stay here, I have to pick up my...someone, but I wanted you to know that."
"Your daughter."
"Yes." Topaz blushed. "Hollie. Cam...I'm sorry. I know I hurt you and there's no excuse or explanation - but Copper and Aaron are getting married, and I don't want it to spill over between us. I had to make the decisions that I did, and I don't expect you to understand, but I am sorry. It just had to be this way."
"Understand?" Cameron stared at her hollowly. "Once I could forgive, Rora. Twice is takin' me for a fool. What is there to understand?"
"Huh?" Topaz stared at him, and Cameron managed a humourless smile.
"Give my regards to Luca." He murmured. "I'll see you at the wedding."
"Luca?" Shock registered across the singer's pretty face. "What has he to do with anything?"
"Oh it gets better. How many were there, huh?" There was an edge to Cameron's tone, and, hurt in her expression, Topaz got to her feet.
"I know you won't believe me, whatever I say to you." She murmured. "So I'm going to leave it there. I don't suppose I deserve anything more, considering how I treated you, but things got kinda crazy and it was better this way. Goodbye, Cameron. I have to go get my daughter."
With that she was gone, leaving him staring after her. Part of him wondered at the hurt and surprise in her tone when he had raised the subject of Luca, but the other part of him ached for the happy, carefree relationship the two had once shared. She had never seemed afraid of him before, he mused absently, realising as he did so that she had not touched her drink at all.
"Everything has changed, though." He said sadly. "And Taylor was wrong, it isn't closure. I'm still in love with the girl - more than ever. Why does it have to be this damn 'ard to get over Rora? What gives 'ere? What's wrong with me!"

Outside the coffee shop, Topaz had slipped into the driver's seat of her car, roaring away from the location as quickly as she could, her mind in a whirl.
"Why did noone tell me that Cameron was coming to Aaron's wedding?" She exclaimed, as she put her foot down on the gas, heading in the direction of the Foundation. "Fur is gonna fly tonight, I swear it! I appreciate the logic of inviting him, he is Aaron's friend, but you'd damn well think someone would have warned me he would be here! What about Hollie? Oh God, what if he sees her? He mustn't. He'll know I lied - what if he takes her away from me? I couldn't bear it. We've never been so cold to each other before - and yet how could I tell him how much it hurt me to walk out of there? To let him think whatever it is he thinks of me, and not correct his assumptions? I wish I could just tell him the truth - that I love him more than I ever did and I miss him every day. But I can't - I can't, dammit! I have to just walk away, and hope for the best."
She screeched into the front driveway of the Jacqui Benton House, heading inside to collect her daughter. Despite her agitation, the shriek of "Mama!" As she entered the front lounge touched her heart and she sent the little girl a grin, scooping her up.
"Hi there, trouble. You been good this afternoon?" She asked playfully.
"Paintin'." Hollie held up paint-flecked fingers for her mother's inspection. "Finger paintin'."
"Thanks for watching her, April." Topaz cast the Foundation's young assistant carer a smile. "I know it was at short notice, but it was something of a dental emergency." She touched her cheek gingerly. "My tooth broke and I couldn't get anyone else to sit for her."
"She wasn't a problem." April assured her. "Say, you quite all right? You look like something's on your mind?"
"Well, I'd be lying if I said no, but I'll work it out somehow." Topaz sighed. "I'd better get Hol home - feed her, and de-paint her. Come on, squirt. We're outta here. I have some answers to get, and I won't be happy until I've got them!"

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!