Chapter Ten: Copper
Topaz moved across her room to open the curtains, smiling at the bright weather she saw outside. "Couldn't be better. Especially if we're doing those promo shots on the beach today."
"Jetta said we are, she called about half an hour ago." Sylva's voice came from the doorway and Topaz turned, grinning at her. "Nancy's eating breakfast...haven't seen Copper though."
"It's not like her to be up late." Topaz frowned. Sylva shrugged.
"Well, she might've gone to see her mother at the Foundation." She suggested. She grinned. "You know, I'm kinda hoping we run into that guy at the beach today. It's a nice day and kids love sand and sea, right?"
"What's so special about this guy?" Carefully Topaz applied her makeup, checking and doublechecking it in the mirror. "There are lots of cute guys who're dying to get a date with you. Didn't you say you wanted to be the femme fatale or something? That's what Copper told me."
"Yeah, of course." Sylva shrugged. "And I am. But that doesn't mean I can't have any fun if I meet a guy I like, right?"
"I thought you said this guy was off limits." Topaz looked amused.
"Sure, he probably is, but I can look, can't I?" Sylva demanded. Topaz laughed.
"Yeah, you can." She acknowledged. "But I'm not sure sometimes what the point is with window shopping for men. It only makes me depressed...actually, it makes me think of Cameron."
"You like him a whole lot, don't you?" Sylva asked as they headed downstairs. Topaz nodded.
"Syl, since I turned sixteen or seventeen and, um, shall we say became an adult I've never been as serious about a guy as I am about Cameron. And it's crazy, because we never see each other. But I've been celibate for ages now...It's not even like he and I are totally going out, but I can't bear the idea of making a mistake and putting him off me. I mean, who knows what the future might hold for us, right?"
"Guess so." Sylva nodded. "Personally, though, I'm not hanging around on some guy across the atlantic. A California man will do me just fine...for a while, anyway. And either way it'd be good publicity, something for columnists to write about. Jewel are way to dull sometimes for my liking in terms of hot gossip."
"Well, some of us prefer it that way." Topaz said dryly.
She pushed open the door of the kitchen, heading over to pour herself a mug of coffee.
"Morning." Nancy glanced up from her paper. "Hey, Copper up yet?"
"Not seen her. Syl thinks she went over to see her mother." Topaz replied. Nancy shook her head.
"No, she's in her room. I spoke to her through the door about half an hour ago, to tell her about Jetta's call. She said she'd be down soon, she was just phoning her mother about something."
"Long call, then." Sylva observed. Nancy frowned.
"Yeah. Guess so." She replied.
She drained her cup, getting to her feet. "Well, car will be here soon. Im gonna go see if she's ready."
Without waiting for either of her bandmates to respond she had left the room, heading up the stairs to the top of the house and knocking on the door of the room Copper had adopted. It had been her mother's room too, years ago, and Copper loved the sentimental nostalgia of it being hers.
"Copper? Car's gonna be here soon."
There was no immediate reply, and Nancy frowned.
"I heard you." The voice was strangely unwelcoming, and Nancy's frown deepened.
"Are you okay?"
"Sure, I'm fine."
The door swung open and Copper herself emerged, long hair in two braids. "What time's the car coming?"
"Um, fifteen minutes or so. You'll have to eat and run." Nancy looked confused. Copper shrugged.
"Not hungry." She said quietly.
"Did you speak to your mother?"
"No." Copper said curtly, in a tone that meant 'don't ask'.
Giving up, Nancy fell silent, following her friend downstairs to the living room, where Topaz and Sylva were now settled, Topaz eating an apple and Sylva filing her nails. Both glanced up at their entry.
"Well, you're cutting it close." Topaz grinned at the drummer, who shrugged.
"I made it." She said shortly. Topaz looked taken aback, and she met Nancy's gaze. Nancy rolled her eyes, shrugging her shoulders. It was as well for them both that Copper was too immersed in her own thoughts to see, for the redhead's temper was only an inch from sparking that day, and with the hot weather too the last thing Jewel wanted was all out war.
The sound of the car horn alerted them to the fact that their ride had arrived, and before long they were well on their way to the beach.
"How many shots are we doing, Mom?" Nancy asked, once they had arrived. Jetta shrugged.
"Beats me. Many as it takes." She said with a wry smile. "Pizzazz said she'd be 'ere in about an hour...she's callin' Roxy an' Stormer down an' all, so we can do some Jewel/Misfit shots. I ain't got a clue if we're gonna schedule with the 'Olograms or Stingers for photos...'opefully not Riot's bunch. More trouble than they're worth."
"The Holograms are busy." Copper murmured quietly. "They're rehearsing music."
"Oh!" Jetta looked surprised, then, "Well, I suppose it won't be with them, then." She shrugged. "No matter. We 'ave plenty to do anyhow."
"Copper, are you feeling all right?" Sylva, never one for tact, sent her friend an odd glance. "You seem kinda out of it."
"Well, it's not really your business, is it." Copper returned neatly.
"I was just asking!"
"Well don't. Go find some guy to chat up and let me alone." Copper snapped. Nancy glanced between the two girls, confused.
"Hey, I'm the one who fights with Syl here, not you!" She exclaimed.
"Oh, grow up, the pair of you." Copper retorted. "Jetta, where do you want us?"
"Over there, by the dune." Jetta told her. "The photographer should be 'ere soon...actually, I can see 'is car. Damn Justin an' 'is stupid prior engagements...it would've been so much damn easier if 'e'd been doin' this morning's shoot."
"Dad's the best you'll get." Nancy agreed. She sighed. "Ah well. We can make do."
"Not that you're biased, Nance." She teased. Nancy shrugged.
"Nope, not at all." She agreed with a smile.
Once the first round of shots had been taken, the photographer asked them to take a break while he set up his other equipment, and the girls dropped gratefully down on the big towel spread out on the warm sand, for the day was indeed very hot.
"I'm parched." Nancy sighed, reaching for her bottle of mineral water. "Why is it when we do a photo shoot it always either rains or it's so hot I feel like melting?"
"Fate." Topaz shrugged.
"It's great for a tan, though." Sylva stretched out on her stomach, resting her chin in her hands.
Copper remained silent, her thoughts miles away. Nancy frowned, nudging her friend.
"Copper, you want a drink?" she asked.
"I said I was fine!"
"Okay, okay, no need to bite my head off!" Nancy protested. "I was just asking!"
Copper bit her lip.
"I...Im sorry, I guess. I'm not...really feeling myself this morning." She murmured.
"You sure you're okay to be out here? I mean if you're sick..." Topaz sounded concerned.
"I'm not sick." Copper replied. "I'm fine. Just leave it, okay? I'm all right."
"Hey, I see Jack!" Sylva exclaimed at that moment. "See, look, over there with Courtenay! Anyone wanna join me if I go say hi?"
"Who's Jack?" Copper looked curious.
"Oh, some guy she met at the mall." Nancy rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me she hasn't told you about him yet...you must've been real lucky to escape it, that's all I can say."
"He's not just some guy. He's a cute guy." Sylva defended herself.
"A cute guy who's probably married." Topaz reminded her. Sylva shrugged.
"Yeah, yeah, I know." She said with a grin. "But I can be friends with him, right?"
"Hey, looks like someone recognised you, too." Nancy observed, as, with a flurry of sand a small girl tumbled onto the towel, casting Sylva a grin.
"Hi." She said, beaming. "You came to play on the beach too!"
"Well, actually, we came to work." Sylva grinned at her. "You know, Courtenay, you can't just make a habit of running off from your Dad...he'll worry."
"I told him I was comin' to see Sylvina." Courtenay told her importantly. "An' I did."
"I'm sorry." Jack joined them at that moment, scooping his wriggling daughter up. "She was off before I could stop her...Im afraid she kinda likes to make friends."
"It's okay. I like her." Sylva dimpled.
"You mean, you like her father." Nancy muttered. Sylva glared at her bandmate.
"It's a surprise running into you here." She continued.
"Likewise." Jack grinned. "I got lucky, had the day off work, so I brought the kid down to play. It makes a change for her."
"Friday I go day care." Courtenay agreed.
"Day care?" Topaz looked surprised.
"I don't like it, but I can't work and look after her." Jack sighed. "But we do okay, don't we, Court?"
Courtenay nodded her head.
"Oh! You're a single father?" Sylva looked stunned. "Wow, I thought..."
"Well, it worked out this way." Jack shrugged.
"Momma left." Courtenay added.
"Yep, she did." Jack agreed. "But it's fine. We do all right, just Court and me."
"Want Sylvina to play with us." Courtenay put in at that moment. "Sylvina, come swimmin!"
"I can't." Sylva frowned. "I'd like to, Courtenay, but I can't...Im working."
"Working?" Now it was Jack's turn to look surprised. "What do you mean?"
"We're taking a break at the moment." Nancy put in.
"We're doing a photoshoot." Topaz added.
"I didn't tell you in the mall, but we're kind of in a band." She said, pride in her tone. "This is Copper, the drummer...now you know us all. I sing and play keys, Topaz and Nancy both sing and play guitar. We're Jewel."
"I'm afraid Im no big expert on music." Jack admitted. "I like listening to the radio, but I'm hopeless with names of groups." He smiled. "I hope you're not offended."
"No, of course not." Topaz grinned. "Sometimes it's nice to be incognito. Doesn't happen much in LA."
"No, you're telling me." Nancy groaned. "Life is not our own sometimes!"
"Well, if you've time when you've done working to come humour a little girl, we'll be here somewhere." Jack grinned. "It was nice to see you again." He hoisted his daughter onto his shoulders. "Come on, Courtenay, time to go swimming!"
The little girl waved, and Sylva waved back, watching them head down the beach.
"Gets better." She mused. "Cute and single."
"He has a kid, Syl." Nancy reminded her. "What you gonna do, play Mom?"
"Ha ha. Very funny." Sylva rolled her eyes. "What are you, my guidance counsellor now?"
"It can't be easy being a single Dad." Topaz observed.
"Yeah, last thing he needs is Syl dropping into his life and making it harder." Nancy said dryly.
"He's a good Dad, though. Courtenay adores him." Sylva retorted. "And she likes me, too...and I like her."
"You mean you're dying to kiss her father." Topaz giggled.
"No, I mean it, I like the kid!" Sylva protested. Then she laughed. "And okay, I wouldn't mind a kiss with Jack, either...but hey, no sense in rushing anything."
"Copper, are you all right?" Nancy frowned, for her friend was very silent. "You didn't say much...not even hello to Jack."
"I...I..." Copper bit her lip, but it was no good. Tears began to roll down her cheeks and she turned away from her friends, brushing them away and not wanting to meet Nancy's horrified gaze.
"Hell, Copper, what is it? What's wrong?"
"It doesn't matter." Copper choked out. "None of you care anyway. Even Mom's too busy...and Syl's flirting with some guy and you're giggling over it...none of you care so don't worry about it. I'm fine."
"Copper, come on, chill!" Topaz sounded concerned. "This isn't like you!"
"Tell us what's wrong." Nancy begged her.
"We do care." Sylva nodded. "What's up?"
Copper swallowed hard.
"T..today is the ann...iversary of my P...P..Papa's death." She said shakily. "I d...dreamed about it last night, when he died...I d..do every year, it's awful. But usually I call Mom or talk to her and it...it's better. Only this morning she was t..too busy to talk to me, and then you guys wanted to rush off here and..." She trailed off, and, after a moment of hesitation, Nancy hugged her, rather awkwardly.
"You should've said." She reproached her friend. "I didn't realise...I didn't even think of what today was."
"It's silly." Copper replied. "I mean, he d...died ages ago now and I shouldn't get all upset...but when I dream about him, it all comes back, how it was when he was first gone. I...didn't want you to tell me I was being silly. And seeing J...Jack with Courtenay...I know, it's dumb, but I c...can't help it."
"You're not dumb. You loved him." Topaz said gently. "It's never dumb to miss someone you loved."
"Guess not." Copper admitted.
"Better now?" Nancy asked. Copper sighed.
"Oh, I dunno." She replied. "I...I don't feel much like photos. I...really just want to go and be by myself a bit, think things over."
"Well, go take a break, then." Sylva suggested.
"I'm working." Copper protested.
"Well, we'll tell Mom you caught the sun a little and went to sit in the shade to cool off." Nancy shrugged. "She'll gripe a bit but it is hot today, even for me and I've lived here my whole life. She won't be able to dispute it."
Copper smiled slightly.
"Okay." She agreed. "I guess...I guess thanks."
She got slowly to her feet, picking up her hat and putting it on her head, then heading over to find a shady patch on her own. Nancy watched her go, sighing.
"I should've remembered." She murmured. "What kind of damn friend does that make me?"
"None of us did." Sylva's expression was uncharacteristically sombre.
"When did Copper's Dad die?" Topaz asked. "I mean, I knew he had, but..."
"She was fifteen, I think. It must've been five years ago now." Nancy replied. Topaz frowned.
"That's a long time to still be getting upset."
"Well, Copper and her Dad were real close." Sylva tucked a loose curl of hair behind her ear. "Like Mom and I are. And I know if I lost Mom I'd never get over it."
"Guess I'm insensitive then." Topaz sighed. "I've never had a Dad, so I guess I can't imagine."
"Copper feels stuff pretty deep." Nancy observed. She sighed again. "I should've known, dammit."
"Morning, girls." At that moment, Mary's voice interrupted the discussion, and the girls glanced up.
"Hey, Mom." Sylva grinned. "You guys come down to do pictures, huh?"
"Yep." Mary sat down on the edge of the towel. "Your Aunt Roxy is just getting an ice...is Jetta about?"
"She's somewhere." Nancy said unhelpfully. Topaz grinned.
"I think she and the photographer went to discuss something." She offered. "It's gonna be neat to do a photo session with the Misfits, you know."
"Isn't Aunt Phyl coming?" Nancy wondered.
"Right behind you, kid." A familiar voice responded, and Nancy turned, her eyes widening as she surveyed her adoptive aunt.
"Oh my." She managed eventually. "Aunt Phyl, you look so cool!"
"Well, I figured if I was gonna be a Misfit, I might as well practice looking like one." Phyllis shrugged nonchalantly, dropping down onto the sand with an almost unconscious grace. "It's been a while since I did, I'll tell you."
"Mom, aren't you gonna do your makeup?" Sylva demanded. Mary laughed, indicating her bag.
"I've come ready to change. I had a meeting with my solicitor this morning." She responded. "I didn't think he'd take me seriously if I came in dressed like a rock and roll floozie."
"Less of the floozie." Phyllis scolded her sharply. "We're stars, not wimps."
"Solicitor?" Sylva asked.
"Yes...about the divorce." Mary nodded. Sylva frowned.
"Oh right." She said softly. Mary cast her a keen glance.
"You handling this better now?" She asked. Sylva nodded.
"I'm getting used to it, even if I don't like it." She agreed. "And I can't wait to see you all dolled up like a rock star."
"Aunt Phyl looks practically like she never stopped." Nancy added, still awed by the executive's change in appearance. "I've seen pictures...this is so surreal! You don't look old enough to be Emily's mother!"
"Good." Phyllis looked well satisfied with the praise. "You're never too old to look good, kid...remember that."
"If you were dressed more eighties, I'd think we were in a time warp." Mary laughed. "Not that you don't look good, Pizzazz, you know you do...but, well, when we're on stage..."
"I know. We're gonna be real Misfits." Pizzazz's green eyes twinkled and in that instant she looked little older than the day the Misfits had first signed their contracts. "I went through my closet last night...I found so much old stuff...we used to wear some wild clothes!"
"We sure did." A third voice joined the throng at that moment, and Roxy descended upon them, compact mirror in one hand and ice cream in the other as she checked her makeup. "Man it took an age to get that right...how out of practice am I?"
"Wow. Neat makeup." Topaz laughed. "This really rocks...there's a real eighties revival beginning right here!"
"I'm gonna go freshen myself up." Mary decided. "If Jetta appears, someone tell her I am around, okay?" She got to her feet. "See you in a few."
"Where's Copper vanished to?" Phyllis demanded, grabbing up Roxy's compact mirror and doublechecking her eyeliner was straight. "Ain't you all here? I thought you were."
"She caught the sun a little." Nancy said soberly. "She'll be back, Aunt Phyl...she just needed a break, it's so hot."
"That's what comes of being a wussy Hologram's daughter." She muttered. "Okay. She just better not be too long."
"Copper won't flake on us." Sylva assured her. "She's most conscientious of us all about keeping obligations."
Across the sand, Copper had found a nice quiet patch of sand in the shade, and carefully she curled up against the stone wall that cast the shadow, sighing heavily.
It had been a difficult morning. She had always been Daddy's girl, rather than her mother's, and it had come as a bad shock when the family had had to face the fact that Esteban was dying. Her father had always been strong, he had taken the news as much in his stride as possible, using his last six months of life to settle his affairs as much as he could, so as not to leave his widow with too much additional hassle. For the young, impressionable Copper, who had forsaken a close bond with her mother growing up in order to devote herself to her father, it had been more than a nightmare to watch him weaken and fail day by day. The only small positive she had found in losing him had been the rapport she had formed with Carmen. Now her mother and she were inseparable in terms of their affection, but that did not mean Esteban had been forgotten. Determined beneath her gentle exterior, Copper had fought against the grief to make the best of things, but she could not stay strong all year round, and once each twelve months her mind was drawn into brooding once more.
"Papa..." She murmured, running her fingers in the sand and lapsing as she often did into her father's family's native tongue. "What would you think of the choices I've made? Would you be proud? Or would you be disappointed that I haven't finished school properly...haven't gone on to be a lawyer like I always said I was going to? I hope you'd be proud...I know you always encouraged my drumming."
"Well, this is a surprise."
A voice startled her out of her reverie and she glanced up in surprise, meeting the deep blue eyes of a stranger.
"Spanish, I think?" The stranger commented. Copper blushed.
"Yes." She murmured. "Can...can I help you?"
"You're Copper, aren't you?" The lady eyed her keenly. "From this band I've been hearing so much about. Jewel?"
"Yes. May I ask...who are you? I feel like I should know you."
"My name's Phoebe Asche." The stranger sat down beside her. "Though perhaps you know me better as Rapture. Your mother was a Hologram...I have no doubt she mentioned me to you."
"Oh!" Copper's brown eyes lit up with recognition, momentarily distracted from her reverie. "Yes, she has. I thought you were familiar."
Phoebe smiled, taking in the young percussionist's features and approving of what she saw. Copper was by far the prettiest member of the band, with her sleek long hair and soft dark eyes, and there was something gentle in her countenance which confirmed all Sophie had told her.
"You don't look a whole lot like your mother." She observed now. Copper smiled slightly.
"No...no. I look like Papa." She murmured.
"He must be a handsome man, then. You're a very pretty young lady."
"Thank you." Copper blushed. "And yes...people used to say he was."
"Used to?" Phoebe latched on to this immediately. Copper frowned.
"Well, he's no longer with us." She murmured.
"Oh, I see." Phoebe's clever blue eyes took on a look of comprehension. She smiled slightly, as an idea slipped into her head. "Gone but not forgotten."
"Yes...yes." Copper nodded, lowering her gaze. Phoebe observed her companion's body language carefully, as if judging her next move. Then, adopting a deceptively gentle tone, she murmured,
"You must miss him very much."
"Oh! Yes. I do." Copper looked up, meeting Phoebe's eyes and nodded. "But that's natural, right?"
"Yes, of course." Phoebe assured her. She paused, then, "You know, perhaps I can be of help."
"Help? How?" Despite herself, Copper was curious.
"Since I left the Stingers, I've been indulging my other talents rather." Phoebe smiled. "I'm something of a medium, you see. I've helped many many people to communicate with relatives that have moved on, shall we say? It's brought a good number of them closure...helped them to understand that their loved ones are safe and sound, and answered unanswered questions. Perhaps I could help you get in touch with your father...if you want to."
"In touch with Papa?" Copper's coffee brown eyes widened. "But...is it possible? Really truly possible?"
"Well, I've made a career from it, my dear." Phoebe laughed at her expression. She reached into her pocket, pulling out a card. "See? My business card. I'm on the level. Why would I deceive you? It would only be cruel."
"Wow." Copper took the card, turning it over. "I never thought about this...you see, Ms Asche, my father died before I decided to take up music as my career...I want so much to know he's proud of what I'm doing."
"Please, call me Phoebe." Phoebe said smoothly. "And that's natural. I'm sure...very sure, in fact...that I can help you find out the answer to that. Tell me, my dear, what was his name?"
"Esteban." Copper murmured. "Esteban Santiago."
"I know the name." Phoebe observed.
"He was a film director...a very good one."
"Ah, that would be why. I understand your mother acts these days, too."
Phoebe paused a moment, then,
"Since the Stingers are playing in this show Misfit Music are putting on, I'm going to be in Los Angeles a while." She said slowly. "If you want to come to speak to me about your father, and see if I can help you reach him, then you're welcome...the number on the card is for my cellphone and I can be reached anywhere. I'd really like to help you...it's largely thanks to you that Ive been reunited with my bandmates like this."
"Well..." Copper looked a little hesitant, and Phoebe smiled, gauging her companion's emotion perfectly.
"You don't have to come." She said softly. "I know not everyone believes in these things, and your mother might not approve. You might prefer to talk to her than to me."
"Mama's very busy." Copper sighed. "With the show and all."
"Oh, I see." Phoebe replied. "Well, it's up to you. You know where to reach me." She grinned, standing. "I hope we'll talk again."
Copper offered a smile of her own.
"Thank you." She said softly. "I appreciate you trying to help me."
"Never a problem." Phoebe winked. "It's my job to help people."
And with that she was gone across the sand, inwardly thanking Sophie for her inside information on the Jewel members, their schedules and their personalities.
"She was as good as bitten." She murmured, laughing to herself as she reached her car. "I didn't know her father was dead, but it just makes things all the more beautiful. The kid evidently misses him...well, so much to the good. Maybe Sophie's idea of the Stingers rocking this show solo is not so far fetched after all. Either way, I owe her one. We're as good a team as ever we were."
Back on the beach, Copper had pocketed the card slowly, getting to her feet. Deep in thought, she made her way back across the sand to where her bandmates were waiting for her. They greeted her with smiles, and for the time being she put Phoebe's words out of her head. For now she had to work.
REUNITED: PART ONE
Chapter One: Copper's Idea
Chapter Two: Tackling Sylvina
Chapter Three: I'm Okay
Chapter Four: Preparations
Chapter Five: The Stingers
Chapter Six: Cynthia to the Rescue
Chapter Seven: The Holograms
Chapter Eight: Jack and Courtenay
Chapter Nine: Phoebe Asche
Chapter Ten: Copper
Chapter Eleven: Unrest
JEWELFIC MAIN PAGE: