Just A Dream...
Chapter Three: Back To Work
"What you writing?"
Blade paused in the doorway of the office, casting Sirena a confused look. "Your damn autobiography? Come on, Em, Rory has a photoshoot booked for us this afternoon, and even if you don't wanna go, I do. I have a new single out this Monday and I'm determined it's gonna sell!"
"Of course it'll sell." Sirena snapped at him, glancing up from the computer screen. "I'm guesting vocals on it. God knows why I had to...why write in a female voice part if you ain't got a girl to sing it? It wasn't the best fun I've ever had."
"You shut your mouth." Blade's eyes narrowed. "The part was written for a singer way better than you'll ever be."
"Oh? Got some girlfriend the world don't know about?" Sirena raised an eyebrow. Blade scowled.
"No, and it's not your business."
"She jilt you, Blade?"
"No, she died." Blade snapped back. "She was my sister, if you gotta be so nosy. Now butt out and shut that thing down, will you? The car's waiting outside and I heard the woman doing wardrobe is a babe. Maybe you wanna spend your social life drinking alone in your room but I want a date tonight!"
"Your sister, huh?" Sirena looked thoughtful, obediently closing down the program and shutting off the computer. "Hmm. Interesting."
"Oh, shut up. Raesha's none of your business. She had class and you're trash. You couldn't even begin to compare to her in terms of ability." Blade told her scathingly.
"Sure I can." Sirena was roused by this. "I can still record. Being dead must really hamper all that Arca talent, huh?"
"You...!" Blade lunged to grab her but found himself restrained by his manager, who had materialised in the doorway behind him without either musician noticing.
"That will do. I pay you to perform, not scrap." Rory's tone was one of irritation. "The car is waiting...what's the hold up?"
"I was writing quite an important email." Sirena explained demurely, lifting her jacket from the back of the chair and slipping it on. "I'm doing some research on Jewel's latest member...seeing what I can find out about the girl. There's gotta be something lurking there. I mean, the kid was working for my father - at the very least there had to be some sordid affair going on there."
"What charming ideas your mind produces." Rory's tone was laced with sarcasm. "Fine, but for now your career is more important than hers, and you can deal with it later. Who is the email to?"
"Oh, a guy I met when we were in Toronto." Sirena smiled. "I flirted with him some and he bought me a couple of drinks. Silly fool's mad in love with me and will do anything I ask him. So I've told him that I'm trying to trace the family of a friend of mine in the business - Miss Stapleton herself - and anything I can find...for her benefit, of course. The guy works in some big bureau someplace and I've no doubt he can find something for me if he looks hard enough. So I thought I'd give it a go."
"Sometimes I wonder how it is the world doesn't see the likeness between you and your mother. You have the same conniving gene." Rory observed, hustling the two stars out of the office and down the stairs.
"I'm the improved model, that's why." Sirena said darkly. "I'll get some info on that Topaz creature if it's the last thing I do - and if we're dragging Jewel's reputation through the mud their new album will be a flop."
"And perhaps it'll make yours a bigger success?" Blade suggested sarcastically, "If the main competition are eradicated?"
"Blade, honey, I don't need Jewel to fail to make myself look good. I've had a number one hit in my own right - one day you'll know what that feels like, I dare say." Sirena was equal to her companion in terms of sarcasm. "I want Jewel to fail to spite my mother...but they're not real competition. My album will be a hit whether or not they issue their stupid anthology of what they call music. Got it?"
"Just get in the car, the pair of you." Rory had clearly come to the end of his patience. "And enough of the arguments! There will be people at the photoshoot who can destroy your images too, if they find you bickering. Be professional!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jetta, former Misfit and co-executive at Misfit Music eyed the four musicians thoughtfully. "First thing I suppose is to say welcome to Misfit Music proper, Topaz. Pizzazz 'as your paperwork in 'er office, if you want to see 'er later - I understand you've settled contract already."
"Yes, I did." Topaz nodded her head, dimpling. "And thanks."
"Nancy..." Jetta fixed her daughter with a searching look. She had not been present on the tour which had taken the girls into Canada and the Northern States, and had not yet had a chance to speak to her daughter since their return to California.
Nancy bit her lip, lowering her gaze. She had always been close to her mother, though open affection was not part of either's makeup, and Jetta had protected and defended her difficult daughter against the frustrated criticisms of her school-teachers. However, she also knew that the saxophonist had very decided views against certain things and her exploits in Canada were not likely to be smiled upon.
Copper glanced between her friend and her manager, frowning.
"Please don't be mad, Jetta." She begged. "We're all glad to have Nancy back, and we did get Topaz out of the whole mess."
Jetta looked thoughtful for a moment.
"You're damn lucky, kid, that you 'ave your friends on your side." She said finally. "We'll talk later, Nancy, mother to daughter about honourin' contracts, but otherwise we'll say no more about it. You girls 'ave more important things to think of, anyhow. Do you realise that you ain't 'ad a new single out since before your tour? An' we still 'aven't finished cutting your album - there is work to be done!"
"Wow, cutting our first album." Sylva's eyes sparkled. "I can't wait! I just know it's gonna be a huge hit!"
"What on earth will we call it, though?" Copper asked.
"I vote Bijoux." Topaz dimpled. "It's french for Jewels...which is what we are, and it sounds...well, chic."
"I like it!" Sylva exclaimed. "Can we call it that, Jetta?"
Despite herself, Jetta smiled slightly at the enthusiasm in the girl's tone.
"It's up to you what you call it." She said. "What matters to us is that the album gets produced. I understand you four 'ave decided among yourselves which song you want to release as your third single." She perched on the corner of her desk. "Topaz, 'ow familiar are you with it? From what I gather from Pizzazz, it's one of Nancy's, an' you two barely know each other as yet."
"Nancy's been teaching me to play the bassline for it, and I like it a lot." Topaz grinned. "I don't wanna cause extra trouble for anyone here...and I think I have it down, more or less."
"She's better than she thinks." Nancy added.
"Mm, that's good." Jetta allowed herself another glimmer of a smile. "Since you've been...otherwise engaged, Sirena 'as 'ad two big 'its an' 'er album is due out in a few weeks from now. We can't afford to lose any more time. Music is a fickle business. Pizzazz an' I 'ave talked an' we want you in the studio from tomorrow layin' down the single. Then we've arranged several television appearances an' magazine interviews, with a photoshoot on Friday afternoon."
"What about our video?" Sylva asked. "When are we gonna do that?"
"Considerin' 'ow tight the schedule is, we've 'anded over production of the video to animators an' you four won't actually need to be filmed." Jetta replied. "We 'ave enough live footage from your tour to splice in if we need to. Zoe is workin' on another project at present, anyway, an' Pizzazz doesn't want to 'ire anyone else to work with you." She smiled. "So, with that said, I guess you 'ad better get down to the studio an' start practicin'...what's the single called?"
"Any Other Way." Nancy said quietly.
"Right. That." Jetta nodded. "Your 'oliday's over...it's time to do some work."
"She has such a neat accent." Topaz observed as they made their way across the big building to the main studio. "And this place is really impressive, you guys! I never imagined it'd be as big or glam as this!"
"Mom was born in England, didn't I tell you that?" Nancy asked. Topaz shook her head.
"I don't think so." She replied.
"Nancy's proud as a peacock about having two nationalities." Sylva observed dryly. "Pity is, neither one of them wants her!"
"Oh, shut your face, airhead." Nancy responded. Topaz laughed.
"You two are impossible." She teased. She glanced about her. "Wow. I guess I knew Phyllis was loaded, but...wow."
"It's the best in Los Angeles...hell, probably the best in the world!" Sylva exclaimed. "Isn't it cool? I love this place."
"Well, I suppose it really is the big time." Topaz nodded.
"We're kinda new in things to say we're the big time." Copper replied. "We've had two hit singles and a great tour, but Jetta's right, it is fickle and we can't sit back."
"Especially if Sirena's about." Sylva added. "Our second single charted pretty well, but it was way back before we left for Canada, and half the networks have quit playing the video now. Besides, it didn't hit the top spot like Beauty Queen did...We gotta try for a bigger hit with this one!"
"Sirena hasn't had a second number one yet either, has she?" Copper objected.
"No, but she's had one at number two and one at number five, and that's one more hit than we have." Nancy replied.
"I still think it's bizarre what a big rivalry you guys have." Topaz observed. "When I was listening on the radio to both your records I liked you both. I had no idea that there was such bad feeling, the press sure have missed the boat on that one."
"Sirena's sneaky. She's sweet to the press and bitchy behind the scenes." Sylva said darkly. "You gotta be on our side now, Topaz. You're a Jewel now."
"Hey, I know which side my bread's buttered." Topaz laughed. "Don't worry, Syl, I'm on your side."
"Me too." Nancy nodded firmly. "Blade's history."
"Good." Copper squeezed her friend's hand. "Because Jewel wouldn't be Jewel without you."
"Hey, Copper, what's the deal with you and Aaron and this Cynthia chick?" Sylva asked, as they entered the studio. "One minute you couldn't get out of her way fast enough, and the next you're linking arms and chatting like old friends."
"We talked. She's not interested in Aaron and he isn't interested in her." she replied. "I was silly to feel jealous, anyway. Cynthia's a lot of fun. It'll be cool to have her on board - she knows so much stuff."
"Well, I liked her." Topaz grinned. "I love her hair. I wish mine was curly sometimes."
"Blond hair, blue eyes, golden curls...Topaz, you'd look like an angel!" Sylva giggled. Topaz snorted.
"How ironic." She replied. "Okay, maybe I'll forget the perm for a little while, then."
"Aww, come on, you're hardly demonic!" Copper laughed. "And we have a song to rehearse." She scooped up her lucky drumsticks. "Have you three argued out who's doing the lyrics, by the way? With, well, events on tour we never decided for sure."
Nancy and Sylva exchanged looks.
"I think Topaz should sing it." Nancy said at length.
"Me?" Topaz looked startled. "Hey, I'm the newbie here...are you sure? I can't play bass and sing at the same time...you overestimate my ability on this thing!" She indicated her very new bass guitar.
"For once, I'm with Nancy." Sylva added her bit. "Think about it, Topaz. You're being the new girl adds a sense of spice to it all...people will be curious to know what it is that made you good enough to be a Jewel anyway. And you sing real well...so your first song with us should have you on vocals. It's only logical."
"Besides, if you really spaz over the bass part, we'll work something out and you won't look an idiot in public, I promise." Nancy added.
"Well, okay." Topaz shrugged. "I'd prefer to sing, in truth. I feel more natural doing that than twanging on the guitar, though I'm enjoying learning to play more than the three chords I learnt as a kid."
"Cool." Copper dimpled. "Let's give it a runthrough then, shall we?"
"Sure." Nancy checked the tuning on her guitar. "You know, it won't be long, Topaz, before you're playing and singing without a second thought. You're picking up bass real quick, and you'll be fine."
"Thanks, Nance. I appreciate the vote of confidence." Topaz dimpled. "Means a lot coming from you...these two weren't kidding when they said you were some kind of musical genius."
"Hardly." She replied. "Okay, Copper, ready when you are!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"So, what's the latest then?"
Zoe Montgomery, video producer extraordinaire and also one of Jewel's closest allies asked, settling herself down in one of the dressing room's big comfy chairs and casting Sylva an expectant look. It was the next day and it would be a busy one, for a television appearance would be followed by time in the studio, laying down the new single. The group were backstage at the television studios at that moment, where they'd encountered Zoe taking a break between jobs and she had been delighted to stop and exchange gossip with her favourite colleagues. At present there was only Sylva there, for Topaz had gone in search of a drink and Copper and Nancy were supervising the setting up of the stage for their performance.
Sylva looked surprised.
"Latest?" She asked. "Latest what?"
"Well, all kinds of things are flying." Zoe dimpled. "Is Nancy really returned to you all full time now?"
"Yeah. She'd never have made it on her own." Sylva replied with a grin. "Though Copper will tell you that we couldn't have done without Nance either. Maybe she's right...I dunno. I guess it's kinda nice to be a team again, Zoe."
"I'm glad." Zoe returned the grin. "I was worried when Dean told me what was going on. I hate when groups split, even temporarily. It's so awful when people fight."
Sylva blushed slightly, remembering an altercation between her and her cousin Samantha in a nightclub a few weeks before. Zoe had been witness to the scuffle, but bearing malice was not within her nature, so she quickly changed the subject.
"What do you make of Blade?"
"He's a jerk." Sylva grimaced. "I don't know what any girl could see in him. He's not even that good looking."
"He's real popular with the ladies, though. Has quite a reputation, apparently." Zoe observed. "Womaniser extraordinaire, that's what Dean called him."
Dean Stacey was a young television presenter, in the same business as Zoe's mother Constance and the two had grown up as close friends.
"Well, Dean's not like that." Sylva remarked. "And girls like him, too. But he's better looking. And he's so damn secretive and shy about his private life, too. Zoe, you know him pretty good...is there a secret girlfriend there or something?"
"Not to my knowledge." Zoe shook her head. "He's never been a womaniser, Syl. In any case, well, I have my theories about him."
"Oh?" Sylva's blue eyes lit up with curiosity. Zoe nodded.
"Do you swear not to tell anyone?" She asked. "I mean, it's just my theory and I don't want a scandal...the last thing I want to do is hurt Dean's feeling or anything like that, he's like my brother in a lot of ways. But it would be real neat if it did happen."
"I promise." Sylva agreed. "Now tell me! You think he likes someone?"
"I think..." Zoe said slowly. "That he likes Nancy."
"Nancy?" Sylva's eyes opened wide with shock. "Why in hell would you think that?"
"Well, I know it was Dean who comforted Nancy after Blade hurt her, and he played a large part in convincing her to come back to you guys." Zoe said. "Since he got back from Canada, he's been openly disapproving of Blade and he talks about her a lot, too. He even refused at first to have Blade on his show last week - his producer had to intervene and the interview was lacking his usual spark."
"Well, he'll be disappointed then, if that's it." Sylva snorted. "Nancy's as repressed as they come, and at the moment she's hating men particularly viciously. He has about as much chance of getting a date with her as I do with Elvis Presley."
"That's cruel." She chided. "So, what's new your end?"
"I have to tell you about the Aaron and Copper saga." Sylva grinned. "It's so funny really."
"Aaron and Copper? Really?" Zoe looked interested.
"He likes her, she likes him, but neither one is brave enough to admit it to the other." Sylva laughed. "It's hopeless, really."
"Sweet, though." Zoe, ever the romantic dimpled. "Oh, I hope they get it together!"
"Well, there's some other girl, Cynthia someone, who seems to be trying to hook Aaron, if you ask me." Sylva frowned. "Copper doesn't think so and Aaron's blatantly not interested, but I dunno. She's kinda a flirt and I don't like her much. She's always putting her arms round him and stuff."
"I haven't met her yet." Zoe admitted. "But I think Copper mentioned her to me earlier. You think she's a real threat? It'd be so sad if Copper and Aaron didn't click. They'd be the cutest couple!"
"I agree." Sylva agreed. "Aaron's like a surrogate big brother to me and Copper's practically my sister these days so I'd love for them to make it as a couple. Nancy wants it too - it's one of the few things we agree on." She grinned. "I think the odds are bigger on them than it is on Dean and Nance getting it on."
On set, Nancy and Copper had decided themselves satisfied with the layout and had settled down to chat to the programme's presenter, Dean himself, before the cameras began rolling. One of the state's hottest eligible bachelors, Dean had not let his popularity go to his head, and it was not uncommon to find him in a corner chatting with his guests 'off the record' before the show began. For Nancy's part, he was the only guy outside of her own secure family circle that she had any faith in, for in many ways Dean had acted the part of a big brother to her in Canada, and she knew he was on her side.
"It's good to be home." Nancy observed. "Playing venues we know."
"Last place we played before we left Canada was like a rabbit warren." She remembered. "We almost got lost between the dressing room and the stage. If Syl hadn't pounced on a security guard, I think we'd be there still."
"I'm glad you're back too." He replied. "You know I like having you girls playing my show."
"Only because we put your ratings up." Nancy remarked. Dean grinned.
"If you say so." he returned, winking at her. "I had Sirena on set yesterday, talking about her new album, which was kinda interesting. She's always fun to interview."
"Fun?" Copper asked. Dean nodded.
"Yeah." He agreed. "You never know what she might say. And she's sweet as pie on camera...The first time I interviewed her I was afraid she might be trouble, but the camera loves her."
"Blah." Nancy snorted. "You mean she's a show off."
"Yep." Dean agreed cheerfully. "But it's good for business. Anyway, you guys know you're my favourite guests."
"Well, naturally." Nancy agreed with a grin.
"How are you shaking down as a four piece band?"
"It's fun, actually." Copper observed. "Topaz is the kind of person who isn't easily phased...doesn't get stage fright or lose her temper easily. So there's been no problem with her becoming one of us almost instantly."
"Shouldn't you hold those kinda questions till we're on air?" Nancy demanded. Dean laughed.
"Possibly." He demanded. "But when the camera's rolling, I'll ask it of Syl instead. Then the answer will be fresh."
"That's cheating!" Nancy exclaimed. Dean shrugged.
"That's show business." He corrected her. "And you better go round up your missing bandmates. We're on air on ten minutes and you're on first."
"All right, we can take a hint." Copper grinned. "See you in a few, Dean. C'mon, Nance. Let's go grab the others and make sure we're all tuned up. We're gonna let the whole of California know that we're back in town!"
PART FOUR: HARDLIGHT
Chapter One: Aaron's Experiment
Chapter Two: Cynthia
Chapter Three: Back To Work
Chapter Four: On Set
Chapter Five: Mind Games
Chapter Six: Sirena's Scandal
Chapter Seven: Zach
Chapter Eight: A Happy Ending
Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, 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.