Chapter Four: Stefana's Battle

"Steffi, are you going to come out of there at all tonight?"
Madeleine knocked gently on her bandmate's bedroom door. "Luca's brought in takeout and it's going cold."
"I'm not hungry, Maddy. Leave me alone." Stefana called back through the door. "Go away and quit fussing, will you?"
"Stef, you have to eat." Madeleine frowned.
"Maybe, but I'm not hungry right now." Stefana shot back. "So leave me alone!"
"Very well." Madeleine sighed. "Though if you're hungry later you'll have to cook your own."
There was no response, and Madeleine shrugged, making her way downstairs to the dining room.
"No Stef?" Luca shot her a questioning glance. Madeleine shook her head.
"Not hungry, again. Third night in a row." She agreed with a frown. "I can't exactly forcibly drag her down here, but it can't be good for her."
"She came home the day before yesterday near tears." Marissa said softly. "Aaron dropped her home - I don't know where they went, but it seems to have upset her again. She snuck out this morning, and I'm half afraid she brought drugs back with her."
"I thought she was getting past that!" Luca stared. Marissa shook her head.
"Unless Steffi gets help and learns how to deal with problems without drugs, Luca, she never will." She admitted. "I tried talking to her yesterday afternoon, but she just told me that she didn't want to talk. Like Maddy, I don't want to push things with her. I just don't think she's as okay as she's trying to make out she is."
"If she's got drugs in her room, we should remove them." Clay said darkly. "Before she has another psycho fit and hurts someone else."
"And you're not the right person to do it." Marissa squeezed Clay's hand. "I'll talk to her after dinner. Don't worry," as Clay raised an eyebrow. "I'll be careful. I promised her I'd be here for her, and I will. As soon as I'm done eating, I'll go."
"I wish I could've talked her down to eat with us. She's not eating much at all." Madeleine grimaced. "I'm finding that her wellbeing means a lot more to me than I thought it did, to be quite honest."
"Well, I'll take her up something when I go." Marissa suggested. "Put some rice and chow mein under the grill to keep it warm, Luca, and I'll see if she's found any appetite."
"No problem." Luca did as he was bidden. "Pity we don't have any ice cream. That usually tempts her to eat."
"It's not good for her, though." Madeleine reflected. "Living on coffee, cigarettes and ice cream never did anyone any good...not to mention we don't know what else she might be adding to that mix."
"Try methamphetamine."
Stefana's voice came from the doorway, and her bandmates turned to stare at her.
"Well, it's true." Stefana shrugged, her tone bitter. "I thought you might be talking about me. I was right."
"We're worried about you." Marissa told her. "Stef, did you bring drugs home yesterday?"
"Yes." Stefana met her friend's gaze with a flat one of her own. "I was unhappy. I needed a lift."
"Oh, Steffi." Luca sighed. "Why? I thought you were doing so well..."
"Look, this is my problem, not yours. Let me handle it my way." Stefana interrupted. "Besides, I only took one or two."
She reached into her pocket, producing a polythene bag which held a handful of pills. "This what you want?"
She tossed it onto the centre of the table. "There, you can have it."
"Stef, what is all this about?" Madeleine asked. Stefana dropped down onto her empty chair, and for a moment she didn't speak. Then,
"If you don't take them away from me, I won't be able to keep from taking them." She whispered. "And if I take them then I go crazy, like I did at Mari. I don't want to hurt anyone again."
Clay eyed his bandmate keenly, then he scooped up the pills, tossing them into the bin.
"Good call, kid." He said quietly.
"Will you promise me not to go buy any more, Stef?" Marissa begged. "Even when you're unhappy? You're only getting yourself more in debt, and it's going to mess with your mind and make you more miserable than before."
"Where did you get the money for them, anyway?" Madeleine wondered. "Aaron?"
"Don't be dumb." Stefana was scornful. "I earnt it."
"You earnt it?" Luca looked anxious. "What did Rory ask you to do?"
"He didn't." Stefana shrugged. "I went to see him. I told him that if he didn't play his cards right, I was going to sell certain information to the papers. He paid up."
"You blackmailed our boss?" Madeleine's eyes almost dropped out of her head.
Clay chuckled.
"Nice touch." He said appreciatively. "Though you shouldn't be spending the money on drugs, Steffi. I think we've all seen how much trouble they can cause in recent weeks."
"I know that, so don't talk down to me like I'm a child." Stefana snapped. "It's not as easy as you might think to just stop like that, you know. I'm trying, but I have to do it bit by bit. Okay? I'm fine - I'm handling it. Just let me, will you?"
"She did the right thing by bringing them to us now." Marissa admitted. "Okay, Stef. We'll trust you."
"There's some food under the grill if you're hungry." Luca added. Stefana shook her head.
"Not really." She replied.
"What did you threaten Rory with?" Clay was curious. Stefana shrugged.
"I know plenty about that jerk." She said airily. "Since Luca showed him who was boss, I figured that Diablo call the shots at Rebel Records now. So I thought I might as well cash in. Besides," she bit her lip, then, "I didn't want to take it from any of you. You've been, well, strangely nice lately."
"We do care about you, Stef." Madeleine told her gently. "Do you believe us now?"
"Yeah, I guess so." Stefana grimaced.
"By the way, Stef, I found this on the unit downstairs."
Clay pulled something from his pocket, pushing it across the table. "It yours?"
Stefana took the crumpled bit of paper, unfolding it and pulling a face.
"Yes. It has my name on, dumbass."
"Well, that was a giveaway." Clay admitted with a twinkle in his eye. "You going to go?"
"Don't know." Stefana shrugged, folding it and slipping it back into her pocket. "Jewel weddings are beneath me."
"Aaron invited you to his wedding?" Luca looked anxious. "I didn't know that."
"For a good reason, too." Stefana snapped. "I haven't decided what I'm doing yet, so lay off. It's no big deal, anyway. Aaron is my friend and friends invite each other to things. What's so odd about that?"
"Nothing, except the fact you're in love with the groom." Luca frowned. Stefana bristled.
"Thank you for pointing that out." She said bitterly. "I'm sure I hadn't realised it already."
She got to her feet, dropping the invite onto the table.
"I'm going back to my room." She muttered. "Company down here stinks."
"Nice going, Luca." Marissa rolled her eyes once Stefana was gone. "Very tactfully done."
"Sorry." Luca looked sheepish. "She's still touchy about him, huh?"
"Yeah, that'd be an understatement." Marissa looked troubled. "She's very much in love with him, Luca. I think it might be as well to see if we can't keep her away from Aaron's wedding - otherwise we've no way of knowing what might happen!"

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 "Well, there we are."
Gaynor set down her pincushion, pausing to send the bride to be a warm smile. "You're pretty much done, Copper - how do you like it? Is it what you expected? Or are you going to make me change it all in a week or so?"
"A week? Is it that close?" Copper looked startled. Then she grinned. "Gaynor, the dress is fab. Wow. I can't believe that in a week or so I'll be walking down the seems so unreal!"
"I'm glad you like it." Gaynor got to her feet. "You want to take it to show the others? Or are you happy with it stopping here?"
"It stops here till the night before the wedding." Copper decided. "Just for it's own safety. But it really is gorgeous, Gaynor, and I have my shoes all sorted and everything. It's so close!"
"Yeah, time flies when you're busy." Gaynor nodded. "I'll bring it round your way, then, the night before. Okay?"
"Sounds good to me." Copper agreed. "Oh! Gaynor, you are going to come to my party, aren't you? All the girls are coming, and well, I'd like you to be there. You've pretty much saved my wedding anyway."
"I don't know about saving it, but I'd love to come." Gaynor dimpled. "There's nothing quite like showbiz LA parties, I've learnt that!"
"Well, it won't be all that showbiz, but it will be a lot of fun. Nancy and Ros have both promised me, though they won't tell me where we're going yet." Copper dimpled. "Ros has been out so much this week, though - I'm sure that's what she's been setting up."
"I hope someone's going to know, else we'll all be stranded." Gaynor joked. "It's Thursday night, right?"
"Yes." Copper nodded. "And we're all meeting at the Starlight first, so it'll be okay. I'm glad you're coming, Gaynor."
"Well, thanks for inviting me." Gaynor responded. "You guys have really helped me feel at home in LA, you know. I was so nervous about coming out here at first - aside from visiting with Anna, I'd never been to California, let alone L.A."
"A little bird told me you have family here." Copper carefully slipped out of the beautiful ivory gown, handing it to her companion as she changed. "Or am I wrong?"
"Depends on what you mean by family." Gaynor grinned. "You know I'm adopted, right? None of the Fitzpatrick clan come from this part of the US, but I'm told that some of my birth family spent time in California. I don't know how true it is - part of me wants to know, the rest of me doesn't care, because I've always felt like a Fitzpatrick."
"I'd forgotten you were adopted." Copper admitted, sitting down on the arm of the chair. "But I suppose if they're the family you've always known..."
"Right." Gaynor nodded her head. "And they pretty much are. I have a very vague memory of a guy I know was my birth father - he died in an air crash, you know, when I was two, but I've seen pictures and I know I look a lot like him. He's where the Chinese in me comes from - and that's the real reason I have interest in my birth family. I'm fascinated by the whole Chinese culture thing, and obviously that's something that the Fitzpatricks have never really been able to give me. Just to understand that part of myself - I'd like to find what blood family I have left."
"That makes sense." Copper reflected. "I mean I'm American, and I wouldn't think of myself as anything else, but the Mexican part of my heritage is still important inside me. It's part of what makes me, 'me' - speaking Spanish and everything. If I were you I would be curious too."
"You at least can speak Spanish." Gaynor grimaced. "I don't speak much Chinese, though I took a few courses when I was in college. I'm not sure if languages are my thing, but I'd love to learn more of it."
"So what family do you have, then, if you don't mind me asking?" Copper looked curious.
"Two aunts. That's all I know." Gaynor spread her hands. "I'm not even certain of their names, to be honest, though it's all in a box with Dad's stuff somewhere. Back home in Boston, I guess, with my adopted folks. Not here in Cali, anyway. I didn't bring everything - apartment's too small, and all that."
"It's good your folks understand that you want to know about your real family." Copper observed. Gaynor dimpled, nodding.
"They've always been everything I could ever want in a family." She agreed. "They're great that way, Copper. I suppose deep down I know that that's important - but it makes a difference to me, knowing that my father didn't choose to lose me, as such. I mean, you don't ask to die in a plane crash, right? So I am curious. Maybe I'll find some family who'll welcome me."
"Dean's mother was lost in an air crash." Copper looked thoughtful. "Nancy says he rarely talks about her, but I know it had an impact on him. It must have done."
She slipped on her jacket, getting to her feet.
"I should move. I'm meeting Nancy in town. She wants my advice on something - I sent her to finish up with the caterers for me, and apparently it's all beyond her."
Gaynor laughed.
"Sounds like Nancy." She said, amused. "Well, tell her hi, won't you? Meantime I'l get back to work. Your dress might be practically perfect, but I still have work to do on your veil and time is running out. Plus I cut patterns last night for Hollie's dress. With any luck I'll be able to sew that this evening. Kids clothes don't take me very long, and I'd like her to have it before the wedding."
Her eyes sparkled.
"Just in case we convince Topaz to change her mind and bring the kid along."
"I don't see that happening." Copper admitted. "But it's sweet of you to do it, Gaynor, and I know Topaz appreciates it."
"It's no bother." Gaynor assured her. "I've already told Anna to have plenty of kids, so I've a market to make for. Part of my final year project for my degree was to do with childrens clothing and I loved it - kids clothes are so cute."
She patted Copper's dress.
"I like making clothes for adults too, of course, but there's something special about making something for a kid."
"Well, if you feel like that, maybe it's time you started a family of your own!" Copper winked. Gaynor laughed.
"For the time being, my career is coming first." She replied. "But believe me, I'm not against the idea. I just need to find the right guy...I seem to be the one that all the guys are friends with and yet the one none of them date."
She shrugged. "I suppose it'll figure itself out eventually. Good luck with Nancy and the caterers, huh? Sounds like you'll need it."
"Yeah, I probably will." Copper agreed. "But I like the fact she's willing to help me out, at least. Weddings aren't her thing, so it means a lot."
She flashed her friend a smile.
"I'll catch you later. Duty awaits."
With that she was gone, and moving to the window, Gaynor watched as the bride to be slipped into the front seat of her car, putting the vehicle into gear. 
A smile touched her lips.
"Well, you'll be a beautiful bride, and I'm glad I was able to help you out." She murmured. "And who knows? Maybe one day it will be my wedding dress I'm making, not someone else's."
She shrugged, turning back to her work.
"For the time being, I'm not going to fuss about it." She decided. "Let fate do what fate wants to do. Right now I have a baby dress to make!"

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!