A Jewel Whodunnit...
Chapter Four: A Call of Conscience

"You're very quiet."
Marissa Young, keyboardist for Diablo cast her companion a concerned look. Since the dramatic events at Misfit Music had hit the evening news, her friend had been decidedly withdrawn and unlike herself, and Marissa was worried. Secretly it had crossed her mind that Stefana might be involved somehow, and though she had dismissed the idea very firmly, it kept nagging away at her inside.
The young guitarist was sprawled on her bed, lit cigarette between her fingers and a preoccupied look on her face. She had been edgy and irritable over the previous few days and Marissa knew that her friend had been seeing a young man on Misfit Music's staff...somehow the coincidences fit just too nicely together.
Stefana did not answer her now, and Marissa felt her fears grow. She sat down on her friend's bed, putting a hand on the girl's shoulder and making her jump, almost taking a bite out of her cigarette in the process.
"What?" She demanded, hurriedly putting the cigarette out. "What do you want now, Mari? I said I wanted some space to myself, is that too much to ask?"
"You're acting odd." Marissa told her bluntly. "And I know that acting up and you tend to go hand in hand, but you've been very quiet since the news aired about Misfit Music."
"It's a horrible thing." Stefana said flatly. "What about it?"
"It is a horrible thing." Marissa agreed levelly. "And it's natural to be shocked about it, Steffi...but you seem just a little too upset about it, somehow. A little too bothered. Anything you want to get off your chest?"
"What are you trying to suggest?" Stefana flared up. "Butt out of my life, Marissa, you don't know a thing."
Marissa looked troubled.
"I'm scared for you." She murmured.
"Scared for me? Whyever?" Stefana looked startled. "There's no reason to be! I'm fine!"
"I'm more worried about what you might have gotten involved in." Marissa admitted. "Steffi, listen to me for a moment, will you? If there's something on your mind, you need to tell me about it, I mean it. And however innocently you might have gotten involved in things..."
"Oh, shut up." Stefana interrupted. "I have nothing to tell you. There is nothing to tell you." She frowned. "And even if there were, it's no business of yours."
Marissa's troubled frown deepened, for Stefana's indignant denials did not ring entirely true, and her green eyes were somewhat clouded. She sighed.
"I hope you're telling me the truth." She said softly. "I don't want you in trouble, Stef."
"Well, there won't be any trouble." Stefana told her curtly. "Okay? I...I was just thinking about stuff, that's all."
A thought occured to Marissa, and she pursed her lips.
"This wouldn't be to do with Aaron, would it?" She asked. Stefana's change in expression was immediate. Confusion and surprise mirrored in her green eyes, she stared at her friend, and Marissa began to hope she had found the true cause of her friend's quietness.
"Aaron? What in hell has anything to do with Jewel's road manager?"
"It's his mother in ICU." Marissa reminded her gently. "I know you and he are friends...I thought you might be worried about him."
Stefana was silent for a moment, then, remembering a conversation with Aaron a few days earlier, she shrugged.
"What kind of a friend would I be if I didn't care or worry?" She paraphrased, a slightly sarcastic smile touching her lips. "Oh, what do you take me for, Mari? Sure, its sad and all, but I'm not gonna break my heart over it. I barely know Jetta and like her less."
"But you do like Aaron."
"Who says?" Stefana reacted at once to this.
"You must. You're friends." Marissa replied innocently. Stefana scowled.
"That's not what you meant." she muttered. "Listen up, Marissa. Aaron isn't my type - he's too nice and too friendly and too, well, hooked on that drummer chick. He has seriously bad taste...so don't even go there. So what if he's my friend? Ain't the end of the world, losing a parent. Been there."
Her tone was flippant, but her eyes belied her, and Marissa frowned.
"Whatever you say." She murmured, getting to her feet. "I can see I won't get any more sense out of you tonight, anyway."
She paused in the doorway. "I really hope you are being straight with me though, Stef...I dread to think what would happen if you are involved in this mess."
With that, she was gone. Stefana frowned, cursing.
"I wish she'd take her nose out, she's not making things any easier." She muttered, reaching for her purse and rooting inside for the small sleeping draught she had purchased just that afternoon. These days sleep seldom came her way without it, and the last thing she wanted to do now was dream. Flippant as she'd been, her love for Aaron and her own experience of loss had made her feel wretched and unhappy inside about it all, and a part of her had wanted to tell Marissa everything. Her pride had kept it quelled, however, and she downed the draught in one, getting rid of the wrapper and settling down to sleep. Soon it overcame her, and she allowed herself to sink into blissful oblivion.
There would be time enough to handle anything else when she woke.


From the dim light of the bedroom lamp, the music executive raised her gaze to her partner's, inwardly hating his intrusion into her solitude. She had not felt much like making small talk downstairs, somewhat taken aback by how strongly this had affected her, and she was not yet aware of the fact that the doctor knew all there was to know about events. Word travelled fast within medical circles, and he was well aware that his wilful lover's business partner was barely clinging onto life.
"What do you want?" She snapped at him now, folding her arms defensively across her chest, and glaring at him. "I thought I said I didn't want disturbing. It's been a long day and I don't need your fussing."
"You're upset." Alan observed softly. "It's only natural to be that way, you know. Jetta is your closest friend...I'd be surprised if you didn't feel distressed."
"You don't know what I feel." Phyllis muttered. "How the hell can you? I don't even know. All I know is that my music company is crashing down round my ears and the best damn music executive in America is struggling to draw breath because someone sick thought it'd be fun to meddle!"
"Mmm." Alan looked thoughtful, putting on the main light and coming to sit beside her, putting a gentle arm around her shoulders, which she flinched away from. "It's been a nightmare of a day for you, hasn't it?"
"Understatement of the year, smart alec." Phyllis glowered. Alan sighed.
"Well, then you tell me." He said gently. "What has it been like?"
"Like...oh God knows." Phyllis was frustrated. "Alan, I'm not some wimpy chick who gets all put out and weepy over things that happen, okay? I get mad and I get even. Right? I'm not gonna sit here and have an emotional heart to heart with you. Just because you seem to think we're having a relationship, it doesn't mean we are, and it doesn't mean you have a right to know anything that goes on in my head."
"I spoke to my friend at Baptist - Josh Pope. He's treating Jetta." Alan eyed her, waiting for a reaction. He got one.
"Why didn't you say so?" She demanded. "Well, what did he say? What's the deal?"
Alan frowned.
"Phyl, it's not good news, you have to be prepared for the worst." He said gently. "Till she's off the ventilator - if she ever gets that strong - they can't do a brain scan and see for themselves, but the lack of oxygen...they're very afraid that she has permanent damage. At the moment there's only a slither of a chance she might wake up...even if she does, she might not be Jetta any more. You have to be aware...they're doing all they can, but it's not good."
Phyllis closed her eyes briefly, biting her lip, and instinctively Alan took her hand in his, squeezing it.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. "I know it hurts."
"You have no idea." Phyllis said in low tones, her voice controlled. "I don't do friends, Alan. I don't like people. People suck. But Jetta...Hell, we've known each other longer than I've known you...even longer than I've had Emily! We've worked together practically forever...without her there IS no Misfit Music!"
"I'm sure she wouldn't want that." Alan chided. Phyllis glared at him.
"How do you know? You been and asked her?" She demanded bitterly, though her green eyes were wet with unshed tears. "Dammit, Alan, I'm not going to let her die! She's not gonna leave me, or Misfit Music yet, you hear me? That damn friend of yours had better save her, or...or..." She trailed off, swallowing hard, and Alan hugged her tightly as the tears began to fall. He knew better than most the mix of violent emotions and foolhardly strength of character that made up his companion, and that she did not give trust easily. Losing a friend whom she had grown to trust implicitly would be a cruel blow, and one he inwardly prayed for a miracle to avert.
"It's bad for the Pelligrini family and it's bad for Phyl." He told himself, gently stroking her wavy hair as he tried to soothe her grief. "I only hope that Josh is a better doctor than he believes he is...and that there's hope in here somewhere."


Chapter One: Stormer Tries
Chapter Two: Phyllis Returns
Chapter Three: Justin's Vigil
Chapter Four: A Call Of Conscience
Chapter Five: Investigations
Chapter Six: A Fright For Zoe
Chapter Seven: Dean Takes A Hand
Chapter Eight: Questions
Chapter Nine: A Dead End
Chapter Ten: Flame
Chapter Eleven: A Ray Of Light