Chapter Twelve: Sadie Gets Involved

"Sadie, can I have a word?"
Sadie glanced up, casting Aaron a surprised smile and nodding, moving up on the bench to make room for the group's road manager. The day was another warm one, and she had settled in the shade under the trees to smoke and to think about the big occasion that was on the horizon. Despite herself, she felt warm inside at the thought. Copper had always been good to her, since her arrival in America, and she was a romantic at heart.
"What's up, Aaron?" She asked now, flicking ash from her cigarette and casting him a questioning look. "Something about the wedding? I'm so thrilled to be one of Copper's bridesmaids, I seriously didn't expect her to ask me."
"It wasn't a surprise to me." Aaron smiled. "She thinks a lot of you, and so do I, which is why I want to talk to you right now. It's not to do with the wedding, it's something else entirely."
"Oh?" Sadie looked surprised. "Okay then. Spill."
"Sadie, how do you feel about Stefana?"
"Stefana? As in Diablo's Stefana?" As Aaron nodded. "Dunno. She doesn't like us much, but I can't for the life of me work out why. I don't think I've really come head to head with the girl though."
"Well, I want to ask you a favour." Aaron frowned. "What I'm about to say is entirely confidential, Sadie, and you mustn't even discuss it with the other Jewels. You're the only one I know who might be able to both understand and help. Do you promise not to tell anyone?"
"You have my word." Now Sadie's curiosity was piqued and she took a drag on her cigarette, making herself more comfortable on the bench. "What exactly is all this about, Aaron?"
Carefully Aaron explained events on the pier, and Stefana's halting confession. Sadie's expression became grave.
"The poor girl." She murmured. "I didn't have any idea she was messed up like that. It explains a lot."
"I feel bad that I've been a part of this, even though I didn't mean to be." Aaron spread his hands. "I don't think I'm even really angry at her, I just want to help her. It's obvious she needs help - if you'd seen her today, Sadie, you wouldn't have known her as brash, confident, or loud-mouthed Stefana."
"Drugs make you into someone completely different." Sadie observed quietly. She stubbed out her cigarette. "I know all about that."
She stretched out her arm, running her finger carefully along it.
"See?" She murmured. "Even now you can see them."
"What am I looking at?" Aaron was confused. Sadie pointed.
"Needle marks." She replied. "From years ago. They never totally go away, you know. I'm not the same girl I was when I left prison but I'll tell you, it's nice to have a little reminder of what I went through, so I don't ever think about going back."
"I see." Aaron looked solemn. "I knew of course you used drugs, but I guess I never thought about what it entailed. It was just something in your past that came out rather violently in the press and that was that."
"I never took amphetamines." Sadie admitted. "But I did meet people who were messed up with them, when I worked at the halfway house. If Stefana will come to me, Aaron, I'll happily try and help her, but I don't know...the rift between the groups might make her hold back. You can't counsel someone unless they trust you - I'm a little worried that Stefana won't trust in a Jewel. And the other thing, of course, is that you have to want to be helped."
"Steffi wants help." Aaron assured her. "She pretty much told me so. And she did agree to talking to you - once, at least. I was pretty sure you wouldn't bear any grudges - in all the time I've known you, I don't think you've ever had a bad word to say about anyone."
"Except Neal." Sadie said darkly. "But he's gone now, and my life is good." She shrugged. "The truth is though, Aaron, Stefana reminds me a little bit of myself, in a way. What you described to me at the pier - whether she would have jumped or not is pretty immaterial, at the end of the day. The emotions are the same and I know what that feels like. To be totally alone, and not know who to trust in. Even if you're not alone, Aaron - it's so easy to feel that you are."
She sighed, getting to her feet. "Tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it. Stefana deserves a chance to make herself right, just like I did and my sister did and every other recovering drug addict out there did. Besides, since I came to Los Angeles I've seen and done things I never dreamed possible. Hell, I'm even dating again! Who woulda seen that coming? But I love Alex and he loves me, and I'm finally secure in a relationship again. I would never have had all of that if it wasn't for Topaz and the rest taking me in when I was scared and standing by me through the bad stuff in the press and everything else. If they could be that kind to me...I can sure spare a bit of time to talk to Stefana." She grinned. "Besides, you never know. We might wind up getting along, once she realises how much we have in common."
"I knew you'd help." Aaron stood, hugging her. "You're a sweetheart. I'm going to go and call her now - I promised I would - and arrange sometime for you girls to meet. Where do you think would be best?"
"Let her choose." Sadie responded. "Somewhere she's comfortable, I'm not going to press my ideas on her."
"Okay." Aaron nodded. "And when?"
"Aaron, with you guys getting hitched, Jewel aren't doing a lot of work as such." Sadie smiled. "And a bridesmaid just has to know how to look good in her gown and walk down the aisle behind the bride right. I can handle that. I'm free whenever. Alex and I have no plans in the next couple of days. He's got a heavy caseload at the moment, anyway. I had him moaning on the phone about some three hour interview with a homicidal maniac just this morning."
"Sounds wonderful." Despite himself, Aaron grinned. "All right then. I'll call Steffi and ask her what she thinks. And thanks, Sadie. I won't forget it."
"You don't owe me anything, and nor will Stefana, if she lets me help her." Sadie assured him. "I want to help. I never realised it but I probably have more in common with Stefana than I do with the people I live with and work with and consider my best friends in the world, at least in some respects. It won't cost me anything to try and it might help."

Across Los Angeles, oblivious to the conversation that Aaron and his English friend were having at the Starlight Mansion, Stefana had secluded herself in a quiet part of Diablo's extensive garden, curling up under the shade of the big green-leafed tree with a cigarette as she thought over everything Aaron had said to her. Despite herself, she felt a small glow of warmth at how he had come to her rescue. Whatever happened now, she knew she could never ruin his big day. He was too important to her for that.
"And I can be strong. I'll get over it. I have to." She muttered. "I only hope he could deal with Rory as easily as he seemed to think. Maybe I was overtaken by insanity at the pier, but it all seemed so messed up."
"Here you are!"
Marissa's voice alerted her to the fact she was no longer alone, and she raised a hand in a languid wave as her friend came to join her, dropping down in the cool shade with a grin.
"I wondered where you'd got to." She scolded. "I couldn't find you anywhere after practice. I called Rory and he said you'd left after your meeting there - where did you go?"
"I went to the beach. I needed...needed to clear my head." Stefana faltered. "Why? Are you checking up on me now?"
"Yes." Marissa nodded. "It's the only way I can be sure you're all right."
"Well, I wish you wouldn't."
"Stef, I know you keep saying you're fine, but I can't help but worry about you."
Stefana sighed, taking a drag on her cigarette.
"I'm not okay, Mari." She admitted at length. "Rory...well, he got a hold of the whole drug thing somehow, and he tried to use it against me. I'm calmer now, but when he threatened me, it sent me into a spin. I'm starting to realise that everything too recent for me to expect to be fine, just like that."
"What do you mean, a spin?" Marissa looked anxious.
"I would have jumped off the pier." Stefana admitted. "But I...I guess I got cold feet. Then I think I scared myself by realising what I wanted to do, and I called Aaron. He...he came and, well, rescued me from the edge. We talked and...I told him everything."
"You promised you wouldn't play with your life again." Marissa looked grave. Stefana nodded.
"I know, but I did." She replied flatly. "It's okay, though, Mari. Like I said, I feel calmer now. Talking to Aaron helped."
"What did you mean by everything?"
"Just that." A slight blush touched Stefana's pale cheeks. "I told him that it was me who messed up Jewel, I told him about the drugs and...and I told him how I'd been feeling, where he was concerned. He was...pretty cool about it, considering. I didn't mean to tell him so much, but it kinda came out. And, well, it felt better once it had."
Marissa hugged her friend tightly.
"You could have just told me what was going through your head." She murmured. "You're not alone with this, Stef. We care about you, you know."
"I know." Stefana admitted.
"What did Rory intend to do about the drug thing?"
"He said I had to ruin Aaron's wedding, else he'd reveal it to the press. Maybe even fire me." Stefana shivered. "I'm still afraid of it, Mari. Diablo is everything and I couldn't bear the press knowing. But I...I can't hurt Aaron like that. I just...just can't. It's odd, because I've never felt like that about anyone outside my circle before, but, well, if marrying Copper makes him happy, I...I'm gonna let him do it. I want to keep his friendship."
"I'm glad about that." Marissa grinned.
"Aaron says he knows how to settle Rory." Stefana continued. " I hope he will. And if he can't, well..."
"If he can't, we'll stick by you and help you rise above whatever he does." Marissa promised. "We're Diablo, and we have each other - I think we've all realised that's a lot more important than we knew over the last month or so. Rory will lose all of us if he messes with you."
"I hope it won't come to that."
Stefana inhaled on her cigarette, a thoughtful look touching her tired green eyes.
"He wanted me to do something else, too. And I said I would."
"Who, Rory? Listen, Stef..."
"Hell, no! I meant Aaron." Stefana shook her head. "You think I'd bother more than I had to over Rory?"
"Oh, I'm sorry." Marissa looked sheepish. "Well, okay then, what did Aaron say?"
"He made me...promise I would get help for everything." Stefana said slowly. "Proper help, not just sitting in my room and fighting it out with myself. He has a...well, a friend who he thinks might be able to help me, and I agreed to talk to her once, and see if it helped."
"You did?" Marissa looked taken aback. "Wow, this is progress!"
"Yeah, well, don't tell anyone this, but I find it hard to refuse him." Stefana said darkly. "I need to get to grips with this love thing, Mari, but I figure it won't hurt to do this just once, right? And hell, I don't think I can get much more mixed up. Perhaps it'll give me perspective."
"Perhaps it will." Marissa nodded. "And to be honest, Stef, I'd rather know you had someone who knew about these things there. We want to help but we don't know much really. This friend of Aaron's might be just the thing you need to turn things around."
"I'm resigning myself to it being a longterm thing." Stefana sighed, leaning back against the tree trunk and stubbing out her cigarette. "Listen, Mari, you're not to tell any of this to Luca. If it works out with S...with Aaron's friend, well, then I'll tell him that part of it. But I don't want to scare him. I feel all right now - my head is straighter than it was this morning. I'm not in any danger."
"If you want." Marissa agreed. She got to her feet, pulling her friend up with her.
"It's been a long hard time for all of us." She reflected. "But I hope things are gonna be better now. Come on, let's head into the city and get ice cream, huh? My treat."
"Ice cream?" Stefana's eyes lit up with faint interest. "Should you be eating that?"
"No, but it won't hurt for once. I'll be careful about my sugar intake for the rest of the day, and I'll only have a tiny bit." Marissa responded. "And you deserve it, after the day you've had. Are you game?"
"I guess it wouldn't hurt." Stefana smiled. "Let's go."

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"You look blitzed. This wedding is really getting to you, huh?"
Logan cast his friend a look of amusement as Aaron pushed open the door of his apartment, dropping his coat down onto the rack and collapsing into the nearest empty seat with a sigh. "Are you sure you're gonna stand the strain?"
"It's not the wedding - far from it." Aaron sighed. "I can't really explain, Logan. I spent the last half an hour arguing with the moron who runs Rebel Records about his policy of treating his workers like crap, that's all. Stefana and he seem to have had a...disagreement and I promised I'd help her sort it out."
"Oh?" Logan raised an eyebrow. "Any luck?"
"I think so." Aaron grimaced. "He's slimy, so it's hard to know what exactly he will or won't do about what's been said. But I think I settled him. I remembered something he and some of his friends did to upset Copper a few years back, and I told him that he wasn't the only one who could meddle in negative publicity.  I think in the end I won."
"Sounds complicated, and I have no idea what you're talking about, so I'm not going to ask any questions." Logan said with a shrug. "You want coffee? I was just about to brew up some."
"Sure, I need it." Aaron nodded. "Trust me, the music business is messy, Logan. I don't like dipping to the level of some of the folk involved in it, but I gave him every reason to think that he might lose Diablo to Misfit Music if he continued to mistreat them. I think that turned the scale. He hates Mom and Aunt Phyl and he couldn't lose another act to them."
"And I want to come back to this city?" Logan looked amused, pouring the coffee and handing his friend a mug. Aaron shrugged.
"I know, it's mad." He admitted. "Any luck on that front, by the way?"
"Maybe." Logan nodded. "You know I mocked up my resume and sent it out a few places since I got here? Well I had a call back this morning on one of the things I applied for, so I'm headed down there to interview the day after you and Copper fly off into the sunset. With any luck I might even get it."
He looked rueful.
"At least I hope so - I called my boss in Wisconsin this morning to arrange an extra week's leave and he pretty much fired me for too many absences. I told you he was a pain."
"He ditched you just like that?" Aaron stared. Logan nodded.
"Guess the music industry isn't the only one with dodgy practices." He agreed. "But it's cool, Aaron. I'm gonna give this job interview my best shot."
"Well, you know you can have the apartment once Copper and I move into our place." Aaron assured him. "So long as you can meet the rent, the landlord is cool about it. I spoke to him about the idea yesterday."
"That's neat." Logan grinned. "Thanks, pal. I owe ya."
"Nah, it'll be cool to have you back in LA." Aaron assured him. "You know well as I do that you've been away far too long."
"For sure." Logan agreed. "And I'm beginning to think that LA has a lot more going for it than when I left, if you know what I mean."
"Sylva?" Aaron raised an eyebrow. Logan nodded.
"I like the chick, Aaron, I can't help it." He admitted. "I don't say I'm cuckoo over her like you are Copper, but I like hanging with her, and all that. Who knows? If I'm in LA a lot more, maybe something will come of it. And if not, I think we'll be pretty good friends."
"Well, I'm glad you're planning on moving back full time." Aaron admitted. "And that Nancy didn't scare you off!"
"She barely looked at me at the rehearsal. I guess you're right and that's way over in her head." Logan nodded. "And Cameron seems a cool kinda dude, so I'm looking forward to getting to know him better, too. Yep, California has missed me far too long, all in all."
"You better get this job, then." Aaron took a sip of coffee, then pulled a face. "Oh, and word of advice? Learn to make decent coffee!"

Chapter One: A Father Should Be

Chapter Two: Stefana and Aaron
Chapter Three: Sylva Intervenes
Chapter Four: Stefana's Battle
Chapter Five: Common Ground
Chapter Six: A Special Meeting
Chapter Seven: La Familia Santiago
Chapter Eight: Hen Party
Chapter Nine: Rory's Scheme
Chapter Ten: Stefana's Dilemma
Chapter Eleven: A Friend Indeed

Chapter Twelve: Sadie Gets Involved
Chapter Thirteen: The Night Before

Chapter Fourteen: Closure

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!