A Jewel Whodunnit...
Chapter Seven: Dean Takes A Hand

The solemn figure turned from her solitary post at the window, meeting her boyfriend's soft gaze with a hopeless one of her own. She had been at her mother's bedside for some hours now, and it had only succeeded in making her even more depressed about the whole situation. Yes, Jetta was alive, but she didn't feel it - didn't seem it - and Nancy was beginning to wonder if she would ever have her mother back.
"Aaron cleared it with the nurses for me to come see you." Dean continued gently. "He thought you might need some moral support, and I thought it too, but if you want me to go away, I will."
"I...I don't suppose I care either way." Nancy admitted softly, her gaze flitting to the still form on the bed with a sigh. "Right now I don't know what I'm feeling, to be honest."
"You shouldn't be stuck here." Dean said softly. "I know she's your Mom." He continued, as she began to protest. "And that you love her dearly. But it's not doing you any good to stop here without a break." He glanced around him. "Where's your Dad? I thought he was here."
"He's talking to Dr Pope." Nancy said flatly. "About her chances. I don't know why he's bothering. Seems obvious to me that she hasn't any at all."
"Don't be like that." Dean hugged her gently. "Listen, Nancy, Jetta's more important than that, isn't she?"
"You're giving up on her." Dean continued. "She wouldn't give up on you so easily, now would she?"
"No." Nancy admitted, biting her lip. "When...when Uncle Jeremy took me hostage in London that time she didn't give up, even though she put herself at risk to get me back. It's just that it seems so hopeless, Dean. I don't want her to die, but I'm finding it hard to believe she is really alive in there." She sighed. "I don't know. It's so frightening I can't explain it."
"You don't have to." Dean murmured. "I understand completely."
Nancy gazed up at him.
"I guess you do." She acknowledged slowly. "It's just so horrible, not knowing."
"I know." Dean told her gently.
"Did you come here just for me?"
"Of course. I love you, and you shouldn't have to go through this alone."
"I feel very alone." Nancy admitted. "Even though I know I'm not. I've always seen myself as independant, but I never realised how much I rely on and look up to my mother's advice. I know I'm a grown woman now, Dean, but I'm not old enough for this. She...she's not old enough. It's cheating her to kill her now, before Copper and Aaron's m...marriage, before she's a g...grandma, before anything like that!"
She swallowed hard. "I'm sorry."
"It's all right. You can cry, noone minds." Dean assured her. "Look, how about I take you downstairs, buy you a coffee and something to eat, give you a break?"
"Not hungry."
"Maybe not, but you know as well as I do that you need to eat." Dean coaxed. "And it'd only be for a little while. Just to give you a break from in here. Jetta would understand."
"I...I guess it'd be okay. Let me just tell Dad where I'm going." Nancy agreed finally. "And Dean?"
"Thank you." A tiny smile touched her lips, though it was far from reaching her eyes. "I'm lucky I have you."
"Don't mention it." Dean assured her. "Let's go."


"You're kinda quiet today."
Sirena sent her boyfriend a curious glance, her curiosity growing as he let out a troubled sigh, nodding his head apologetically. They were at the local park with Michael, having just evaded a group of nosey reporters keen for Sirena's take on the fire business, and for a while the small boy had absorbed most of his mother's attention, but now he was clearly tiring, for he had settled on the picnic blanket to play with his trains quietly. It had been then that Sirena had observed Luca's troubled expression, and had decided to find out what lay behind it.
"I know, and I'm sorry." He admitted now. "I was thinking about this fire business."
"What does it have to do with you?" Sirena sounded surprised. "You guys are signed to Rebel Records. It doesn't even affect you."
"It does...it might." Luca sighed again. "I'm kinda worried, Em. Stef's been acting totally unlike herself for the last few days - the news seems to have stunned her into silence and when the Feds were at our place just asking routine questions she begged out of giving her point of view - just quietly assented with whatever was being said and kept to herself. I'm worried...it's not like her."
"You think she has something to do with this?" Sirena stared.
"I don't know." Luca frowned. "I love my sister, Em...I don't think she'd do anything to hurt someone, not intentionally, but I know she's been seeing that guy at Misfit Music and it just seems to add up rather conveniently. The guy in question has vanished off the face of the earth and to all intents and purposes he doesn't exist - I looked him up. She's not mentioned him either. I'm wondering if she knows more than she's telling, and is scared to fess up."
"If she had anything to do with this I'll skin her. Misfit Music is a damn important thing to me." Sirena pulled a face. "I'm serious, Luca. In any case, I spoke to Mom yesterday. Firstly, I don't like seeing my Mom upset, it's not really like her and it makes for an awkward moment between the two of us, but shes worried about Jetta and even though Jetta and I haven't ever seen eye to eye I guess I see where she's coming from on that. And secondly, I gleaned from her that the attack was aimed at her...so if your sister has anything to do with it, she's gonna be in a hell of a lot of trouble!"
"That's what I'm afraid of." Luca bit his lip. "Em, I know you're gonna take your Mom's side, and that's fair enough...but I'm telling you this in confidence, okay? I can't prove Steffi has anything to do with it. It's just that she's been behaving so weirdly...I don't know what's up with her and she isn't telling. Marissa said she's not even spoken to her about whatever's on her mind - and if she won't tell me something she usually confides in Mari. I'm not saying Mari would break her confidence and tell me Steffi's deep and meaningfuls, but I'd feel better if I knew at least that Marissa knew what it was and that it was on the level."
"It don't sound good." Sirena's eyes narrowed in contemplation. "I won't tell on her, Luca. Like you said, there's no proof. But dammit, your sister is trouble waiting to happen. It wouldn't surprise me if she was in this up to her pretty little neck."
There was a long silence, then,
"Me either." Luca admitted reluctantly. "I don't want it, but I am afraid she is."
"Not much you can do about it." Sirena pointed out, automatically reaching to take the handful of grass her son had been about to put in his mouth, returning it to where it had came. "No, Mike. We don't eat grass...only cows and horses and stuff do that, and you're neither one."
"Im hungry." Michael pouted.
"Mm, well, say please."
"Im hungry...please?"
Despite himself, Luca laughed. Sirena snorted.
"Oh, you're hopeless as me with manners." She told her son affectionately, reaching into the basket and producing two biscuits. "Here. Don't get chocolate everywhere...and don't drop them, because that's all there is, okay?"
"'Kay." Michael took the biscuits eagerly, "Thank oo ver' much."
"He's not so bad." Luca remarked. "For a two year old."
"Son of the devil two year old." Sirena rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"
"Michael was a welcome distraction." Luca assured her. "I'm not sure what to do about the Steffi situation. Wait till she talks, perhaps. If she talks. I dunno." He sighed. "What about Nancy? You guys are friends, aren't you? How's she dealing with this?"
"She isn't." Sirena said shortly. "Girl's in a state and Jewel are kinda up in the air. Can't blame the kid, either. Noone should have to see their mother go through this. In any case, Mom hasn't even tried to get the music company back on it's feet. I think she's a little lost without Jetta there - administration-wise, I mean. I'm not sure she thinks she can run the place on her own, and I know she'd not want to replace Jetta."
"She might have to." Luca pointed out. Sirena looked troubled.
"Yes, or close the company down completely."
"But there are so many people's jobs on the line. Yours among them."
"Then she'd sell. I dunno." Sirena shrugged. "She's hard to read at the best of times. Either way, I'm trying not to think about how things are at the moment. I'm hoping they'll settle. After all, Jetta isn't the only one of Mom's old bandmates in Los Angeles - Stormer works for Misfit Music too, and she's clever enough. Maybe she'd be able to fill the void somehow."
"Sounds kinda clinical to me, to replace one old friend with another." Luca observed.
"I don't know as Mom'll have a choice." Sirena said shortly. "Everyone's saying Jetta's going to die. Hell, even Nancy's said it. What else is there to do?"
"Guess you're right." Luca pursed his lips. "It's a horrible situation. Makes you appreciate a lot more the things and the time you have, doesn't it?"
"Yeah." Sirena nodded. "Though to be honest I think I quit taking that for granted when Blade got a bullet in his head. I mean, I was right there...if the guy had misfired I'd have been for it. Mike...Mike too." A faint blush touched her cheeks as she remembered. "Because he was there too, of course, though I didn't know it then. But I quit taking life as guaranteed when that happened. I'm determined that nothing is gonna happen to me, Luca, and prevent me from bringing up my son so he at least knows who I am and all that."
"It worries me that he calls me Daddy." Luca cast a glance at Michael, who, sticky and content had curled up against his mother on the mat and closed his eyes. "I feel like I'm playing out something which isn't true."
"He's not old enough to really understand yet." Sirena agreed. "When he is, I'll tell him the truth, of course - that his Daddy died before he was born. At least I can explain his absence as being involuntarily. That way Mike need never know how Blade really was. If he'd lived, well, it might've been different."
"He sounds like he was a total jerk, from all I've heard of him." Luca observed.
"Yeah, well, he was." Sirena shrugged. "Every girl makes mistakes and mine was in the name of publicity." She frowned. "The Daddy issue is a problem, though. Right now, with Nancy in such a state over her Mom and everything crazy it's made me think of it all the more, to be honest. He's gonna realise as he gets older that he doesn't look like you and he doesn't look a whole lot like me...he's gonna wonder what the deal is."
"You can tell he's your son. I can definitely see it." Luca remarked. Sirena shrugged.
"Syl said that." She admitted. "But it's Blade that he looks most strikingly like, and of course, his skin tone gives it away. It's not a big deal to him now, but it might be as he gets older."
"Well, if it's any consolation, I'd be more than happy if I was his father. I'm kinda fond of him, and I'm mad as heck over you." Luca said wryly, though his eyes were still preoccupied and Sirena knew he had not put the Stefana problem out of his mind.
"I s'pose that's the main thing." She replied. "That he has a father figure, even if it isn't his blood father." She shrugged. "He likes you too, anyhow. Who knows? Maybe it'll all make sense and work out in the end!"


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