Chapter Two: A Budding Genius
Through the bustling chaos of the school cafeteria, Nancy Pelligrini turned, trying to place the caller. School was a trial for her, but it would, she comforted herself, soon be over. Graduation was official bar the diplomas, the grade had had various parties already, none of which she had been invited to or had wished to attend, and now they had all been called into the school to discuss the ceremony itself. Fair skinned, with sleek waves of black hair that gave away in an instant her kinship to the former Misfit Jetta, Nancy was pretty enough, but there was a wariness in her dark eyes as she surveyed her surroundings, as if warning people to keep their distance.
As far as she was concerned, they could give her her diploma now and that would be it. She had been counting down the days to the end of school ever since High School had begun four years earlier. Intelligent she clearly was, but getting behind her fierce defences was almost impossible. She laid claim to no friends at the school and had often been the subject of persecution because of it. She was different - a 'freak', the other kids called her, and when her older brother Aaron was not there to defend her she was often on her own. She had perfected the art of self-defence, her sarcasm was razor sharp and she made a formidable adversary, but deep down even she sometimes felt lonely. Much as she resented Aaron's attention, she also looked to him for comfort. Young and confused, she did not yet fully comprehend the talent she had been gifted and lacked the knowledge of how to interact with her peers. It had caused her no end of problems through her short life.
"Nancy, there you are!"
Through the gaggle of chattering, laughing students Aaron's face appeared, grinning at her. He had offered to collect her from school and she had, in a moment of weakness, accepted his offer, since it would save her driving herself and he was going that way anyway.
Very much on her dignity, and ignoring the stares and whispers she headed to join her brother, snapping at him to hurry up as she did so. Aaron, too used to his sister's manner by now to take offence at her merely grinned, following her out to the parking lot and unlocking the car door.
"So shall I assume it wasn't a good day?" He asked.
"That's an understatement." Nancy was bitter. "No day involving school is a good one."
"Well, you're practically done with it." Aaron told her. "Your ceremony, and that's it...you're finished with school. You know Aunt Phyllis is dying to get you signed to Misfit Music the second you're outta here...so smile!"
"I know. That's all that's keeping me going." Nancy admitted. "I'm so desperate for that contract, Aaron, I could scream. And I know that signing for Misfit Music, well, there's no way it'd be a mistake. I mean, Mom and Aunt Phyllis...I can't lose with them, can I?"
"Well, considering they belong to the select circle of people you don't believe are out to get you, I'd say not." Aaron looks amused. Nancy scowled at him.
"People suck. You suck. Now drive." She snapped. Aaron shrugged.
"Yes, ma'am." he agreed, putting the car in gear. "Straight home, or can I buy you a coffee to celebrate your imminent graduation?"
Despite herself a tiny smile touched Nancy's pretty face.
"You're lucky." She said off-handedly. "If you weren't my brother I'd tell you where to get off asking me out like that, but sure, why not? I deserve it after the day I've had."
"People hassling you?"
"I can handle them." Nancy frowned. "I'll show them all anyway, when I'm a star."
"And we all know you will be, if Aunt Phyllis thinks you're so great." Aaron observed. "She knows stuff like that. I don't know how, she just does."
"Experience." Nancy shrugged. "And I'm good, too."
"Not modest though." Aaron laughed. Nancy shrugged.
"Why should I be? I know what I can do. I'd be lying if I said I didn't." She frowned. "I didn't think Mom would take so long to come round to this, though. She knows music is my life, I can't understand why she only gave in to it a year ago. It's been planned since I was twelve."
"Whatever the reason, I'm sure it was a good one. Mom's no idiot." Aaron replied. "But I agree. Music is made to be your career. Just don't bite people's heads off in showbiz, okay? You'll get a reputation for being snarky."
"All right, I know what to do." Nancy snapped. "You may be a year older than I am, but you're no cleverer, got it? I can handle this career idea. I'm going to be a star, so get used to it."
Aaron made no further remark, but it was clear his sister's prickliness amused him all the more. They drove on in silence, and Nancy let her attention wander to the world outside the window. She had grown up in California but she had never felt that she belonged there. While Aaron was an all-round American teenager, Nancy felt very keenly her mother's side of her heritage, and had not committed herself to which nationality she preferred to be called. Her accent, though predominately American in the eyes of her London born mother held decided hints of british-ness which her peers had always picked up on, and the unhappiness of her childhood outside her familial home had also made her wish to disassociate herself from Los Angeles as much as possible. To be a star and to travel, that was her solution. That would make her happy.
At least, that was her idea.
In her own way, though, despite her shrewdness and quick brain, Nancy was as naive as Sylvina to the ways of the world...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Well, so what do you think?"
Phyllis Gabor tossed the file down on her colleague's desk, an expectant look on her face. "Done and dusted in a matter of hours - am I good or what?"
"You know you are." Jetta scooped up the file, skimming it over and noting with a smile the signature at the bottom. "How did you change 'is mind? Seduce 'im over lunch?"
"Oh, you'd be surprised." Phyllis' green eyes twinkled. "But he wasn't that hard to persuade. It's a big contract, and I really left him no other option." She grinned, dropping down into a vacant chair. "So that's that business off our back for now. I'll hand it over to Jemima when she's back from New York and she can take him on. About time she did some work!"
Jemima was one of the executives working underneath the main duo, for the company was so big now that it had offshoots everywhere and played host to many managing representatives. With the generosity of the wages Phyllis could and did pay, she always got the best employees on her payroll, so naturally attracted the biggest stars.
Jetta eyed her companion with a look of amusement. It had taken a long time before Phyllis had begun to knuckle down and really work at making her company a success, and even now she had bouts of her old spoiled brat behaviour, when she wanted everything done the day before and threw a tantrum when asked to do anything herself.
But despite it all, Jetta was fond of her, and would not have chosen to work with anyone else.
"So now we can talk about Nancy." Phyllis cast Jetta a hopeful look. The Briton frowned.
"About the contract, of course!" Phyllis was impatient. "What else?"
"Oh, that." Jetta paused, then, "I don't know."
"You what?" Phyllis' eyes opened wide. "You gonna bail on me? I want that kid signed to us, Jetta, not to some hick company noone ever heard of! You want her to go to Jerrica at Starlight? Or, even worse, to that jerk Riot? I want Nancy signed to Misfit Music!"
Recognising the petulant tone in her friend's voice, Jetta sighed.
"I know." She admitted. "And in some ways I want it too, you know that. But..."
"What's the but? She got talent!"
"That's the but. She 'as too much talent." Jetta sighed. "Music is the only thing in her life."
"So she won't cause any trouble with getting wound up in outside junk." Pizzazz shrugged. "She's perfect for this company, Jetta! You're jus' being dumb."
"She's not just another kid, Pizzazz. She's my kid." Jetta retorted. "And I don't want 'er exploited."
"You think I'd do that?" Phyllis opened her eyes wide, her expression one of deceptive innocence.
"You 'ave done before."
"Well, sure. We both have." Phyllis shrugged. "But c'mon, Jetta, this is Nancy! You know I won't screw her - or you - over. It's what the kid wants - you gonna be a spoilsport now and say no?"
"No, I'm not." Jetta shook her head. "Because it's what she wants to do. But she's strange sometimes, Pizzazz. She scares me."
"I hate it when you get all mothery." Phyllis snapped. "It ain't like you and it's a major drag!"
"Well, tough. I'm not gonna argue with ya." Jetta folded her arms. "Just don't forget that Nancy is me kid, all right? I don't want her gettin' screwed about."
"I know. I know! Geez!" Phyllis exclaimed. "You should never have married, Jetta. You gone soft in the head!"
"If I hadn't, you wouldn't have Nancy." Jetta replied adroitly. "She can sign, I said she could. Quit moaning."
"Don't tell me what to do." Phyllis bristled. "My company, remember? Nancy's eighteen, practically. She can choose if she wants to sign or not. You can't run her life for her you know."
"I've never tried to." Jetta shrugged. "I ain't a natural mother, you know that. But Nancy's mine an' that's that. I won't let 'er be messed about. Not sayin' you will, like, but there are people out there who will an' she's much younger than either of us were when we were Misfits."
"Bah, kids." Phyllis rolled her eyes heavenwards. "Sometimes you sound so middle aged!"
Jetta fixed Phyllis with an unreadable look.
"I did my duty by my daughter." She said softly. "All I want is you to do the same."
Phyllis looked stricken.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She demanded. "You think I can't? You think I don't give a damn about Nancy? You know that kid means something to me too! Just because she ain't my daughter...I ain't a mother, Jetta, and I don't plan to be one. It makes you behave like a wimp sometimes. But I like Nancy...you know that I do. I'm gonna make her the biggest star this country has ever seen, and that's a promise! I won't let her get messed about by anyone! In fact, that's why I intend to take her on myself...or rather, you and I. We're gonna manage Nancy's career personally, I'm not handing her out to one of those wannabes. There, you satisfied? But don't you ever insinuate that I can't put the kid's best interests first again, just because I haven't raised a damn kid of my own!"
Jetta looked startled, then comprehension flitted across her face.
"I'd forgotten." She said quietly. "I didn't realise you ever still thought about her."
"Her?" Phyllis demanded, but her expression belied the confused tone in her voice. She knew exactly who Jetta was talking about, and Jetta knew it.
"You know who." she said softly. "I mean Emily."
"We don't talk about Emily." Phyllis bristled once more. "You got that? Not ever. It happened, it's over. End of story!"
"Well, if you say so." Jetta responded. "But if you ask me it bothers you more than you ever admit it does. Don't you ever wonder where she is now?"
"Nope." Phyllis said abruptly. "She's nothing to me. Just a mistake, that's all, and I rectified it. Now, shut up about her before someone else hears us, okay? I don't want or need a scandal, and if the press find out I know who's talked."
Jetta held up her hands.
"I wouldn't say a word." she said. "And you should know me better than that by now, Pizzazz. I ain't ever said a word an' it's been near enough twenty years, if not more. I've never said a word to a livin' soul, not even to Justin. I did think you trusted me more than that."
"I do." she said slowly. "You know that I do. But I don't like talkin' about her. It reminds me of how he messed me over."
"Eric always was a jerk. Sackin' 'im from this place gave me all the pleasure in the world, since you gave the word for it." Jetta said with a dry smile. "I never liked 'im, or knew why you kept faith in 'im. Good riddance to bad rubbish."
"Can say that again. Creep." Phyllis shivered. "After what he put me through, it's a good thing he ain't dared show his face here!"
"Story is he quit the US. He's afraid of you." Jetta replied. Phyllis looked satisfied.
"So he should be." She agreed. "If he ever comes near me again..." She clenched her fists. "Jerk!"
"Then forget him an' get back to business 'ere." Jetta suggested. "We got a lot to do before the dinner tonight, you know...or ain't you gonna go to that?"
"Me, miss a social event? You kidding?" Phyllis demanded, putting her hands on her hips. "Jerrica will be there, so will Riot, most likely. It's a big deal and I won't have Misfit Music talked about for not attending!"
"That's what I thought." Jetta grinned.
"Are you gonna come?"
"I don't know. Do you need me to?"
"You don't want to?"
"I don't like the dumb formal dos that this stupid city puts on every so often, so all us music people can pretend around each other for a few hours that we actually like each other an' want each other to succeed, when in real life we want 'em out of business faster than you can say...well, Misfit Music." Jetta sighed. "It's a drag, Pizzazz, I can 'ardly keep me eyes open."
"Well, if you're gonna be a social reject then I'll go alone." Phyllis retorted. "You can tell who has breeding in this partnership!"
"Yeah. The one who don't make comments on the other's." Jetta's tone turned ice cold. "I'm done for now, an' I got a meetin' at two with some executive from Flash Recordin' Studio about renewin' our contract with them. I'll see you later."
With that she scooped up her work folder and was gone, much on her dignity, leaving Phyllis staring after her.
Jetta's working class background was a sore point to her even these days.
As she headed down the front steps, and out to her car she muttered a curse under her breath. As fond as she was of Phyllis and her job at Misfit Music, sometimes the girl infuriated her beyond belief.
"If we 'adn't been partners so long I'd kill her. I swear I would." she muttered under her breath. "Who does she think she is, Queen blinkin' Victoria? Breedin'? Hah. She has money, an' that's all. Breedin' indeed."
Unlocking her car, and flinging the door open she tossed her folder onto the passenger seat, slipping into the driving seat and belting herself in. "She can go to this thing 'erself tonight. We all know what it's about anyway, however they dress it up."
Her mind went over the recent press hype. Journalists, she had learnt, were fond of anniversaries and statistics, especially when the anniversary was something tragic or out of the ordinary. This one had been perfect...and the press had been full of it. As a result, when this banquet had been announced, Jetta had feared the worst, and her fears had come true.
It was in memory of a singer...someone whom, many years before, had been a rival of theirs. A singer, mysterious and glamorous who had gone by the name of 'Jem' and whose true identity had never been revealed. Twenty years earlier, almost a year to the day that she and her band the Holograms had parted company, Jem had driven her car off the edge of a derelict bridge into a racing river. Neither she or the car had ever been found, and the music world had been in mourning.
Even the Misfits, though fierce rivals of Jem had been shocked. All but Stormer...Jetta thought back to the day the news had filtered through.
'It's for the best' was all the synth player had said, and had left it at that. It had been a curious choice of words in the circumstances, for Stormer had known Jem best out of all of them, and had had more sympathies with her. Her complete lack of emotion had taken Jetta aback, and, shrewd as she was, she had begun to think things through.
Perhaps...perhaps Jem wasn't dead? Perhaps the whole thing had been a publicity stunt, something to generate more press attention for the Holograms, whose careers had needed a kickstart anyway. But if that was the case, how had it been done? And where was Jem?
And then, one day it had hit her. Out of the blue it had come to her, falling into place with amazing ease.
Jem hadn't been a real person at all. No past, no future, no real identity. She had been someone's make-believe, and the game was over now. The suicide, well, it was all very clever, but Jetta sincerely doubted any of it was real. Though she had never pinned the mantle on anyone specific, she had definite suspicions, and though she hadn't a clue how the illusions were created, she was more and more certain that the Holograms' manager, then Jerrica Benton, had been the voice behind Jem.
She had asked Stormer outright and Stormer had refused to answer, but it had just made her more sure.
And more bitter that there would be a memorial concert for a star who had never even been alive, and was certainly not dead.
They wanted the big music companies to contribute bands to the benefit, in aid of various charity foundations. And there was no way Misfit Music could say no...not in the current musical climate.
But it sickened her all the same.
She glanced up, the key half way into the ignition, spotting her husband striding across the parking lot towards her. "You going to lunch?"
"I'm goin' to lynch Pizzazz, actually." Jetta responded dryly as he reached the car door.
"You had a fight?"
"No. Nothing major. Just usual stuff." Jetta shrugged. "I guess yeah, lunch would be a good idea. Got a meetin' at two."
"Can I join you? I'm kinda at a loose end this afternoon."
"Sure, if you don't mind bein' griped to." Jetta rolled her eyes, leaning over to open the passenger door. "Jus' toss the folder down someplace. I need a break, I swear I do." She frowned. "Got onto the subject of Nancy again, too."
"You still having doubts?" Justin looked concerned.
"Yeah. Actually, I'm surprised at how protective I feel of 'er." Jetta admitted. "She's a kid, an' I always hated kids. We only 'ad 'em cos you were so keen an' I 'ad trouble sayin' no to you."
"But she's your kid...and whatever you say you love her." Justin's eyes twinkled. "Just like she does you. You two are very alike somehow."
"I ain't as shut up in me music as she is." Jetta protested.
"No. But you don't even go by your real name, even though the band ended years ago. You don't always like the real world."
"Who does?" Jetta groaned. "Not me, an' that's for sure. The whole thing sucks...needs re-shufflin'."
"Life in general or yours in particular?"
"I don't know." Jetta admitted. "I mean, I'm 'appy at Misfit Music, I'm 'appy with you...I guess maybe this Nancy thing is buggin' me still. She's too young to be out there on 'er own. At least, bein' the girl she is. She ain't got a clue about the real world."
"She is a genius at what she does, though." Justin pointed out. "Where are we going for lunch?"
"Wherever." Jetta shrugged. "You're payin', I deserve it. Been workin' hard."
"Yes, boss." Justin laughed. "Listen, I think you gotta let Nancy have her go. If it doesn't work then it doesn't, but at least if you're supporting her you can keep an eye on her. You don't want her signing with a stranger...or worse, that creepy Llewelyn guy."
"That's what Pizzazz said." Jetta admitted.
"So go with it." Justin suggested. "Give her a go. You know she's good enough."
"Yeah. I jus' don't like turnin' a profit off me own daughter if it ain't workin' for her." Jetta sighed. "Guess you're right. Guess there is a maternal instinct in me someplace. Don't see it much, mind you."
"You're a good mother, much as you hate to admit to it." Justin grinned. "Your kids will tell you that, anyway. Come on, I fancy Italian. Good for you?"
"Sure. Why not?" Jetta shrugged. "Let's go."
PART ONE: STARSTRUCK
Chapter One: Sylvina
Chapter Two: A Budding Genius
Chapter Three: A Well Kept Secret
Chapter Four: Making Waves
Chapter Five: Copper...and Sirena
Chapter Six: City of Angels
Chapter Seven: At Misfit Music
Chapter Eight: Jewel
Chapter Nine: I Want Everything
Chapter Ten: Sirena Strikes
Chapter Eleven: Stagefright
Chapter Twelve: Team Spirit
JEWELFIC MAIN PAGE:
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.