Chapter Four: Marissa

It was three o' clock by the time the two Diablo musicians reached Baptist's Hospital, and it was not without a certain amount of trepidation that Stefana extinguished her cigarette, heading into the building. Madeleine was not far behind her, and, as she ran her gaze over her companion she realised how nervous Stefana really was. The night's events had temporarily stripped away the girl's usual hostile veneer, and for the first time the singer saw her companion as she really was - scared, vulnerable and lonely.
She squeezed the younger girl's hand reassuringly.
"It'll be fine." She assured her. "I'll take care of Clay for you, don't worry. You just focus on seeing Marissa and settling your disagreement, all right?"
"Okay, okay, I know." Stefana muttered, pulling her hand away. "You're not my mother, Maddy."
"That sounds more promising." Madeleine observed as they started up the two flights of stairs to Marissa's ward. "You're biting back at me - that's a lot more like the Stefana I know."
"Haha, very funny." Stefana rolled her eyes. "Look, just don't fuss me, okay? I don't like it and I don't know what to do with it. I'm here - you got your way. Just shut up and let me deal with this my way, all right?"
"All right." Madeleine agreed, biting back her impatience. "It's this way. She's at the end, in a side-ward. If you hang on outside for a moment, I'll go speak to Clay - you promise not to go anyplace?"
"I swear." Stefana drew her hand in an exaggerated cross over her chest. "Okay?"
"Good girl." Madeleine responded. "I won't be a sec."
With that, she was gone into the little sideward, and Stefana took a seat outside, inwardly uneasy. Hospitals gave her the creeps, because they reminded her all too easily of her father's ill health and badly timed death.
"But I have to settle this with Mari, because it's driving me crazy." She told herself. "If I ain't crazy already - it's becoming kinda hard to tell."
A moment later, Madeleine re-emerged from the sideward, Clay in tow. He cast Stefana a startled look, but he made no comment, and Madeleine grinned at her, indicating for her to go on in. Swallowing her nerves, Stefana obeyed, pushing open the door and heading inside.
The figure in the bed was pale and her head was bandaged, but she wore a smile, and Stefana was relieved to see the familiar sparkle in her friend's blue eyes. "I hoped you'd come. I've been asking for you - what took you so long?"
"So long?" Stefana looked surprised, coming to sit down beside the bed, a little hesitantly. "What do you mean?"
"I asked Clay for you this morning."
"I wasn't at home. Maddy and I were at Rebel Records." Stefana said quietly. "Why did you want to see me?"
"Because I was worried about you." Marissa responded simply.
"Do you remember?"
"Yes, Stef. I remember it all." Marissa nodded slightly. "I know we fought and I know you pushed me."
"Are you mad?"
"No." Marissa shook her head. "I know it was the drugs, Stef. Not you. I'm more worried about you and what they're doing to you." She reached out a fragile looking hand to take her companion's grip in hers. "I'm not well, but I'm getting better, and I will be fine. I'm not so sure about you - you don't look so well."
At this, Stefana's composure faltered and she swallowed hard, struggling to get back in control.
"I thought I'd killed you." She whispered.
"Well, you didn't." Marissa assured her. "Bruised and battered, and I needed a stitch or two, but I'm on the mend. But what about you, Stef? I'm serious. This is a bigger problem than you've admitted to me, isn't it? You're not as in control as you thought you were?"
"I don't know any more." Stefana admitted. "Most stuff is confused and blurred and I get angry a lot - I don't know why or what at, not specifically. It just kinda takes me like that." She glanced down. "I tried to kill myself last night, Mari."
"What?" Marissa's eyes opened wide. "On my account? Hell, Steffi, don't you realise how precious your life is?"
"It doesn't feel very precious." Stefana replied softly. "I feel wretched, and I don't like it. I hurt my best friend, and my brother is mad at me - I haven't even been home since the fight. I stopped at Aaron's one night and at Rebel Records last night with Maddy - she caught me trying to OD and she stopped me. She's been playing sentry to me ever since - I think she thinks I might try again if I'm alone for just one second."
"And would you?"
"I don't know." Stefana admitted at length. "At least you're okay. That's one thing that's less bleak than it seemed last night. I thought you were gonna die - Clay said you'd got worse."
"Wouldn't know. I only woke up this morning." Marissa said gently. "But I really am fine, so you're not to worry about me, okay? That's an order. And you're not to even think about silly things like suicide. You understand me? People care about you - me included - and the world would be a worse place without you. I mean that."
"I wasn't even gonna tell you. Maddy didn't want me to scare you." Stefana looked guilty. "But I couldn't keep it in."
"You realise that this has to stop? That we have to get you off these damn drugs and back thinking like a human being, don't you?"
"It's not so easy as that."
"I was afraid it might not be." Marissa looked troubled. "I should have broken my promise sooner and spoken out - I should never have let you take it this far. I'm sorry, Stef, that was bad judgement on my part."
"Don't damn well make me feel worse by apologising to me." Stefana rubbed her temples. "If it's any consolation, I've not taken anything since early yesterday - maybe that's why my head is buzzing so much at the moment. I dunno. But I'm not quite sure how I can fight this, to be honest."
"Will you try?"
"Stef, please try?" Marissa became beseeching. "You know as well as I do that it's gotten out of control now - don't you want to get out of this vicious circle of yours? Finding that article in your room scared me - I don't know what they're doing to you, but they're making you, well, dangerous and strange. I'm afraid of what you might do, or get involved in - I don't want you hurt."
"I don't understand why you even give a damn about me." Stefana said quietly. "I don't know where to go from here, either. I can't go home, I don't know if I even have a job, after all of this...and to top it all off, Aaron is marrying his goddamn bitch fiancee in a few weeks - life couldn't get any worse."
"I won't let them kick you out of Diablo." Marissa told her firmly. "There's no me in the band if there's no you, and I'll tell anyone who argues that that's just how it is. You and I, we've always stuck together and we're always gonna, no matter what, okay?" She smiled. "You told me that, back in High School, when some of the jerks were picking on me because of my special diet and because I couldn't do everything they did in gym. Do you remember, when we first met, how unsure I was of things? How difficult it was for me to speak up in class, or take a spontaneous decision to do something wild and carefree and fun? You taught me that. You taught me to be confident, and believe in myself. You taught me that my music was only worth following if I believed it was, and you always stuck up for me. You didn't treat me like an invalid, with a medical condition, not like a lot of the kids at my junior high. You don't know how important that was to me - to be like you, like everyone else, not worrying about my diabetes. I let you take the wild streak too far, that's all - and I've been a bad friend, letting it go this out of hand. But I want to try and help you go back, if I can. Will you let me help you?"
Stefana paused for a moment, digesting this. Then she nodded.
"I know I need help." She whispered. "I can't escape without it."
"Well, we'll think of something. I promise we will." Marissa assured her. "Do you think you can stay off those horrible things?"
"I'll try. I don't know if I can go it cold, but I'll try."
"And no more messing about with your life?"
"Okay, I promise." Stefana sighed. "I promise, all right?"
"Good." Marissa looked relieved. "I'd never have forgiven myself if you'd done it, you know."
"And I would never have forgiven myself if you'd died." Stefana replied simply.
"Look, Stef, I want you to go home. Whatever Luca said, I'm sure he was just worried about you."
"He knows everything. About the drugs - everything." Stefana shook her head. "I can't go back."
"I'm sure you can." Marissa coaxed. "Besides, you're safer there. Whether you like it or not, Stef, it's where you belong, and I won't be in here long. You're gonna need Diablo - all of us - if you're gonna pull yourself through this. You see that?"
"Guess so."
"So you'll go home?"
"I said maybe. I don't know yet." Stefana frowned.
"And about Aaron, Stef..."
"Don't." Stefana covered her hands with her ears. "I don't want to hear it. You were right, okay? I'm in love with the guy and I can't control that any more than I can the drugs, but it only really occured to me how bad it was when I saw him all over her at the Red Rock last night, with Aaron's best man, all excited about the wedding. She doesn't know how damn lucky she's so unfair."
"I believe that Copper knows precisely how lucky she is." Marissa said gently. "Aaron is your friend - don't mess up his big day for him, huh?"
"Who said I would?" Stefana removed her hands from her ears.
"Good. Keep it that way." Marissa told her. "Love isn't always easy, but it will get better, Stef. Trust me. It will."
"You've always been the optimist." Stefana rolled her eyes. "Well, we'll see. Okay? We'll see."

        *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Okay, I want some answers."
Topaz banged the door of the Starlight Mansion shut, heading into the main lounge and putting her daughter down in her playpen, casting a glare around at the room's occupants. Copper, who had been reviewing RSVPs and Sylva, who had been flicking through a fashion magazine both started at her uncharacteristically loud entrance, staring at their bandmate in surprise as she dropped down into an empty seat, her blue eyes full of indignation.
"Answers?" Sylva was first to regain her composure. "What do you mean, answers?"
"Surely slamming about the house isn't good for Hollie." Copper added her bit. "What's up, Topaz? What's eating you?"
"Were you ever going to tell me that Cameron was invited to this wedding?" Topaz demanded.
"What?" Sylva's eyes opened wide with shock. "Cameron's coming? Since when?"
"Copper?" Topaz glared at her friend, who lowered her gaze.
"I'm sorry." She admitted. "I knew Aaron had sent him an invite, but I wasn't quite sure how to tell you. Did he tell you?"
"Not exactly." Topaz said grimly. "Cameron told me himself. I just saw him, in town."
"He's here already?" Copper stared.
"You spoke to him?" Now Sylva looked anxious. "What did you say?"
"Not much." Topaz rubbed her temples. "Some warning would have been nice, Copper. You know the situation, even if Aaron didn't. Think of the implications for Hollie!"
"Well, it is Aaron's right to invite who he likes to his wedding." Copper reasoned.
"I know that, but you could at least have told me it was on the cards." Topaz returned. "As it was the first hint I got was when I saw him sitting in the coffee shop, like it was the most normal thing for him to be in LA. And you know what? I realised how damn much I still love the guy - you could at the very least have told me to expect him! I wasn't ready for that kind of a shock, especially not after having my damn tooth fixed!"
"Again, I apologise." Copper frowned. "I didn't think he'd be around so soon, and I was meaning to tell you, but I have been real busy lately. My bad, Topaz."
"So what did he say to you?" Sylva still seemed anxious, and Topaz sent her a confused look.
"Syl, is something eating you?"
"No." Sylva's response came too quickly, and Topaz's eyes narrowed.
"Why don't I believe you?" She asked.
"I don't know. You should trust your best friend." Sylva avoided the other girl's gaze.
"Not when she's obviously lying to me." Topaz put her hands on her hips. "Come on, Syl. What is it?"
" remember when we were in London, when Sadie got accused of that guy's murder?" Sylva twisted her hands together.
"Yes...what of it?" Topaz nodded.
"I...kinda met Cameron in a bar a few nights before all of that flared up." Sylva looked uncomfortable. "He...he asked me a lot of stuff."
"Stuff?" Topaz's eyes opened wide. "Like what, Syl? What in hell did you say to him?"
"You told me that on no account was he to know about Hollie and him being the father, but he already knew you were pregnant." Sylva said softly. "He'd found stuff on the net - and he'd come to the logical - and correct - assumption that it was his baby."
"So what happened? What did you tell him?"
"You really don't want to know." Sylva gazed at her hands. "I'm still mad at myself for saying it, and Nancy gave me short shrift over it, too, but I didn't see any other way out."
Topaz looked confused for a moment, then all colour drained from her cheeks.
"Luca." She breathed. "Oh Hell, Syl, that was it, wasn't it? You told him that she was Luca's baby?"
Sylva did not reply, and rage flashed into Topaz's pale blue eyes.
"How could you?" She demanded in low tones. "How could you suggest to him that I was some kind of slut like that? No wonder he told me to give his regards to Luca - no wonder he believes that I screwed him over with some other guy! Dammit, Syl, you're supposed to be my best friend - how could you?"
"I didn't know what else to do!" Sylva looked helpless. "You didn't exactly give much in the way of instructions for what to do if Cameron knew about the baby."
"So you thought it'd be okay if you just told him I'd slept with some other guy?"
"What do you suggest I should have said, then?" Sylva demanded. "Topaz, you had the damn baby, and it isn't my responsibility to cover your tracks for you. I did my best - on the spur of the moment that was all I could come up with. I'm sorry, okay? But you said that you had to break it off with him, and you wanted to protect the baby - it worked."
"But I still love him." Tears filled Topaz's blue eyes. "And if there was ever any hope for me to be able to tell him the truth, Syl, it's gone now. He doesn't want to be anywhere near me - he made that clear enough."
Disturbed by the raised voices in the room, and her mother's evident distress, Hollie burst into tears at that moment, and Copper scooped her up, soothing her gently. "Shut up, the pair of you." She scolded her bandmates. "What point is there in yelling about it now? It's done and it can't be undone."
"Did you know about this?" Topaz asked. Copper shook her head.
"First I've heard of it." She responded. "But Syl would never make something up like that unless the situation was desperate. Topaz, it isn't all her fault. You did ask the impossible of her, and if you hadn't slept with Luca the one time, he would never have become an issue anyway. You can't blame Syl for that."
Topaz opened her mouth to retaliate, but then she shut it again, shaking her head slowly.
"I guess that's true." She admitted finally. "I screwed up my own love life and I should accept it. I'm just jinxed where guys are concerned, and that's that. I'm gonna be like my Mom - it's gonna just be Hol and me till the kid is old enough to decide what she wants in life."
"I really am sorry, Topaz." Sylva looked guilty. "I felt bad about it then and I still do now. I know it was wrong, it just kinda...came out."
"I guess I'm not that mad." Topaz sighed. "I am a slut, let's face it."
She cast Hollie a glance. "And I've made my kid cry, too - great."
"She's okay, she just doesn't like the raised voices." Copper assured her. "Okay now, Hol? Noone's cross any more."
"I believe it is somewhat my fault that this occured, also." A fresh voice came from the doorway, and the girls turned to see Cynthia watching them, a troubled look on her face. "It was I who encouraged Aaron to include Cameron in his list of invites. I admit that my motives were somewhat to try and work things out between you two, Topaz - for Hollie's sake, as much as anything else. I did not know anything of the conversation in England, and it does complicate matters somewhat. Perhaps I miscalculated - but I realised you still loved him and I am becoming what Syl calls a sucker for a happy ending."
"Cameron has as much right to go to the wedding as I do." Topaz said quietly. "It's okay, Cyn. I can see there have been a lot of people involved in things I've had no clue about, but I don't suppose it makes any difference in the end. Hollie isn't likely to go to the wedding, and I can probably keep her out of his way till he leaves. Then it will be up to me to get my head straight and move on. I suppose I have been hanging on to the vague and utterly ridiculous hope that maybe - just maybe - one day everything would be all right between us, but life doesn't work that way and it's time I woke up and realised it." A bitter note entered her voice. "After all, what have I ever done to deserve a perfect relationship? God knows I've always messed up with guys - why should this one be any different?"
With that she got to her feet, leaving the room. Her companions exchanged apprehensive looks.
"I feel this big." Sylva sighed, indicating with her fingers. "I should have had my mouth stapled - I should never have told him that in London."
"No, you shouldn't have." Copper agreed slowly. "But it's done now, and you were in a tricky situation. Besides, we all have some guilt here. I knew he was invited and I didn't tell her, and Cyn..."
"I encouraged the act in the first place." Cynthia sighed, taking Topaz's vacated chair. "And now she is upset - so much so that she leaves Hollie behind to seclude herself in her room. I fear that I might have been right - Topaz does begin to resent the choice she had to make, only my actions have rather accentuated the problem, not solved it. I think I have made things worse."
"Well, maybe she just needs some time to come to terms with the finality of it." Copper suggested. "Don't take it to heart, Cyn. You tried."
"Yes, but it was not good enough." Cynthia looked troubled. "Maybe I do not understand the human heart as much as I thought. It will be a while before I meddle in romantic affairs again, that's for sure!"

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!