Chapter Six: Rose Helps
"So, this is what you wanted."
Oblivious to the chaos she had left behind in the Jewel camp, Copper had headed down to the local park, staring out across the lake with unseeing, tearful eyes. "This is what you wanted me to do, Papa...go home to Detroit and get my diploma? Go to college, get my qualifications, and make the Santiago name proud? Is that what you never got to tell me?"
She bit her lip, heading out onto the bridge which spanned one side of the lake to the other, and resting her arms on the side as she gazed down at the murky waters. Slowly, she remembered the last conversation she had had with Esteban, before things had gone so quickly and she had woken up one morning with the hollow realisation that she no longer had a father. He had been her childhood confidant and her playmate all in one, for he had adored and nurtured her from the moment she had taken her first breath in the world. Lost in her dreamworld, she remembered his voice, soft and gentle when she was crying, playful and teasing when she needed cheering up, serious and solemn when she had needed to learn something important.
He had been serious that last time they had spoken. Until then, Copper had not let herself face the truth, she'd pretended and hoped for a miracle cure, but Esteban had seen, and Esteban had been determined not to leave the world without settling his daughter's heart.
"Life has many challenges for us." He had murmured, his comforting arm around her shoulders. "Some are painful, and some are happy. Everything in life can be learnt from, Copper...never forget that. And never try and deny what's real, however much it hurts. I love you dearly, you know that only too well. But love can't perform miracles. We all have to accept that some day soon, I won't be here to help and guide you like I've tried to do these past fifteen years. All I want from you is for you to promise me to grow up strong, happy and healthy...to live long and make many people smile. I want you to achieve your dreams, Copper, and make me a proud father in Heaven as I can't be here on earth. Do you understand?"
She had wept then, and he had hugged her tightly, stroking her curly hair with his hand almost clumsily. For the first time, Copper had seen how weak he had become, how difficult it was for him to do the things he'd always done. Even walking, even holding her in his arms to comfort her tears were no longer easy tasks. She had told him through her tears that she loved him and that she would make him proud.
And the next time they had been alone together, it had been to say a final goodbye.
She dashed her tears away as they began to fall, rippling the water below.
"I have to stop crying and focus." She murmured. "Do as you wanted, make you proud of me. Jewel has been fun, but I have an obligation...not to waste my life. I promised you...I will keep my word."
A voice interrupted her reverie and she turned, startled to meet the gaze of Rose. The Teenangel was pale and fragile in her appearance, but she offered Copper a friendly smile, and despite herself, Copper found herself returning it.
"Rose...I didn't expect to see you out and about."
"I'm not supposed to be." Rose admitted. "But I wanted some time and some space to think, so I asked Aja to bring me down here for a while. She's gone to speak to Kimber and the others about the show, and I promised I'd not run away. What's wrong? Why are you crying?"
"It's okay, I've settled it." Copper dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "It's just me being emotional and silly over choices I should never have made, that's all."
"I've never seen you upset before." Rose admitted. "Won't you tell me what's wrong?"
"I was missing my father." Copper confessed, leading the way over to a bench and sitting down. Rose followed suit.
"Your father?" She repeated. Copper nodded.
"It's been a mixed up few days." She replied. "But I think I finally know what I have to do."
"I thought your Dad died five years or so back." Rose asked softly. Copper nodded.
"He did, which is why it's silly that I didn't settle this earlier." She responded. "I always get upset around the anniversary of his death, Rose, it brings back all the memories. I can't help it...it just does. I've never understood why properly...but now, I think I do. I think it's because so many things have happened and changed for me since he died, I just needed some guidance that I was doing the right thing."
"The right thing?" Rose frowned. "How do you mean, the right thing?"
"I never finished school, never graduated." Copper replied. "I was ill in my senior year, and I had to drop out. Then things happened with Jewel...I never got to finish. I was going to be a lawyer, you see...I'd intended it a long time, and Papa was so proud - he'd joke about hiring me to tackle any legal suits his films brought up."
"So?" Rose was confused. "You got sick...plans change, Copper."
"Papa wants me to finish school." Copper murmured.
"You don't know that." Rose said matter of factly.
"I do." Copper protested. "I really do, Rose! I met this woman - she's a medium, and she can communicate with the spirit world. She spoke to him...she told me what he said. He wants me to make the most I can of my life and achieve things...he doesn't want me wasting my time on a rock group."
"A medium?" Rose looked sceptical.
"She knew things, Rose...she knew that I dropped out of school because I was ill...I didn't tell her that." Copper glanced at her hands. "He must have told her...how else could she have known?"
"Well, she could've read the local press." Rose suggested. "The tabloids report anything if you read enough."
"No, Rose, it was for real!"
"Copper..." Rose paused, then she took her friend's hands loosely in hers. "Your father loved you. He wanted you to make the most of your life...well, haven't you done that? What did he say to you, before he died? Did he tell you what he wanted you to be?"
"He said I should achieve my dreams and make many people smile." Copper responded softly.
"Well, haven't you done that?" Rose pressed gently. Copper looked startled, for she had never seen the more thoughtful, pensive side of her friend's nature before.
"You've said before that Jewel was a dream job." Rose continued. "And you do make people smile - Jewel's fans! How are they going to feel if you quit the band? Heck, I was reading a local mag this morning who had you down as one of America's top ten rock babes...what are they going to think if you give it all up to chase something which...well, is it your dream now, Copper? Do you want to leave Jewel?"
Copper fell silent for a moment.
"No." She admitted. "But I want to make Papa proud."
"He is. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise."
"But Phoebe said..."
"Never mind what she said. If she told you different she's lying." Rose said decidedly. "And I've met your mother these last few weeks especially...what with the Holograms getting together like this, and I know that if she supports you in Jewel, well, so would your father. Do you think he'd have let you play drums if he disapproved of it? Did he disapprove of it?"
"No...he encouraged it." Copper admitted. "He'd always come to school things when I was playing...and he'd always say I was as good as Mama any day. He...liked my drumming."
"Well then." Rose said firmly. "He'd understand that circumstances changed and so have your ambitions. It happens, you know." She let out a hollow laugh. "Look at me. When I joined the Teenangels, if you'd have told me that this far down the line I'd be counting days like I am...I'd have laughed in your face. But I might as well face it...I'm never going to find my mother, and I'm never going to get better. Illness changes stuff...you got Jewel out of it."
Copper squeezed her friend's hand.
"You will get better." She murmured. "I promise you will, Rose."
"Well, we'll see if it happens or not." She said resignedly. "But either way, Copper, my Dad always says that so long as I'm happy, well, he's happy. He might not be the most clued in Dad on the planet, but he's always been supportive...and I know your Papa would feel the same way. In fact, I bet that if he were here right now he'd be first in line to get a ticket to see you play this show with your Mama."
"So you think Phoebe is messing me around too." She said quietly. "You don't believe in her, either."
"I don't believe in anyone who makes one of my friends cry by feeding them stories about their father." Rose said gently.
"I...have cried a lot lately." Copper admitted.
"Well, it's time to stop crying and make your Papa proud...by being the best percussionist Jewel could ever have." Rose grinned, and for an instant she looked like her old self. "And if that's not good enough, do it for me, huh? I want to be at this show so badly I could scream, but I don't see it happening."
Copper was silent for a moment, turning everything over in her head. Then she sighed.
"You're right." She admitted sadly. "I...I wanted so bad to believe that Phoebe was on the level, even though everyone kept telling me not to trust her. And all she's done is make me more and more upset the more this has gone on. She's been playing with me, hasn't she? She's friends with Rory and company from Rebel Records...they want Jewel out of the running and this is how they've done it, by making an idiot of me." She clenched her fists, a spark of anger lighting in her brown eyes. "How dare they use my father like that?"
"Don't waste your breath." Rose advised. "If I were you, I'd go down to wherever Jewel and my lot are practicing today and beg their forgiveness now. You're a Jewel, like I'm a Teenangel...we're special. More special than any dumb lawyer could ever be."
Despite herself, Copper smiled.
"I guess so." She acknowledged. "You know, it's funny. I didn't know you could give such good advice."
"I didn't know either." Rose looked surprised. Then she grinned. "Oh well. Guess I have to be good for something still, huh?"
"Well, we're gonna do this concert." Copper said, getting to her feet and pulling Rose up with her. "And then we're going to go find your mother and get you better. And next concert we do...we're all going to play. Right?"
"Would be nice." Rose nodded. "Okay, I'll go with that."
"Well, Mama's band had a saying." Copper replied. "That music is magic. And...well...we're gonna make it magic!"
Chapter One: One Jewel Down
Chapter Two: Fireworks
Chapter Three: Phyllis Steps In
Chapter Four: Esteban Speaks
Chapter Five: Consulting the Teenangels
Chapter Six: Rose Helps
Chapter Seven: Mending Ties
Chapter Eight: Misfit Reborn
Chapter Nine: Dean's Show
Chapter Ten: Sylva and Jack
Chapter Eleven: Sabotaged!
Chapter Twelve: Settling the Past
Chapter Thirteen: Revenge
Chapter Fourteen: Show Must Go On