"When did you say they were due to arrive?"
The slim, chic young lady turned from the window, casting her companion a questioning look. "It's been forever since I saw Mari and the others - do you suppose they'll have time for casual visits now they're superstars?"
"Well, if they don't, I don't know Marissa." The older lady laughed. "Calm down, Farah. Marissa and the rest of Diablo are flying into Connecticut as we speak. Marissa asked specifically that I don't go to the airport, since Riot will be there and Rory Llewelyn and I prefer to keep our distance from each other if we can help it, but she promised that we'd meet up and anyhow, I'm booked to work on filming this spectacular."
"Yes, but that's you, Mom. Not me." Farah looked impatient. "Of course they want Chimera to film the shindig - you're a local video legend and you know it. But I'm just Farah Young who skipped continents and who noone this side of the Pacific have ever heard of. Marissa might be a superstar and you might have your contacts and stuff, but how am I going to get to see her? Security will be tight."
"You'll find a way." Chimera eyed her eldest daughter with some amusement. "You've always done pretty much as you've seen fit, Farah, your whole life. Besides, Mari will be thrilled to find you're in Connecticut. You girls haven't seen each other since you finished high school at eighteen and you took off with Sakura to Japan to try your luck out there. It's a long time for twins to be parted - you're twenty three now, and five years can make a difference."
She ran her gaze over her companion thoughtfully. Farah was not tall, though she had a presence about her which made her noticeable in a crowd. Farah was the beauty of Chimera's twins - for though Marissa was pretty in her own right, Farah possessed the perfect cheekbones, flawless complexion and beautiful vivid blue eyes bequeathed her by her mother. Artists blood also flowed through her veins, and her thick chestnut curls were highlighted with the reds and soft golds of autumn, a theme which she had adopted more than once in the past. Whilst Marissa had inherited her long-dead grandfather's musical gifts, Farah had all of her mother's skill with artistic mediums, and for the past five years had worked with Chimera's closest friend in Japan, Kaori Ito, designing graphics and animation for computer games and film. Now she was back in America, however, having turned up out of the blue five days earlier in typical Farah style, and Chimera knew she was dying to see her twin again.
"You're still as unalike to look at as ever." She observed now, coming to tuck a stray wisp of Farah's hair behind her ear. "Even more so since Marissa dyed her hair. What will you tell her, if she asks you why you're back here?"
"That I felt like a change." Farah shrugged. "It's true, after all. I couldn't stay in Japan, anyway. And Aunt Kaori understood - she said I should come home, and come to you." She paused, then, "You won't mention anything to Mari, will you? I mean, she might not take it the right way, and..."
"It's not my secret to tell." Chimera said softly. "And I won't say anything to her. But if you intend to stay in America, you need to start looking into the possibilities of work. You left a good job in Japan and you've nothing to come to here - I can try all my contacts for you, but you must do something to help yourself, too."
"I know, and I will." Farah looked pensive. "I have my resume and Aunt Kaori promised me a good reference. So did a couple of the execs out there that we did work for. I'm fine that way, so long as their meaning isn't lost in translation. Not all of them spoke English and the longer I'm here, the more rusty my Japanese will be. But right now I just want to rest, Mom. I've had a hell of a few weeks, and now I'm away from it, I just want a vacation with my Mom and my sister. Is that too much?"
"No, I suppose not." Chimera hugged her eldest tightly. "But if you think Marissa won't know something's up, you're mistaken. It might have been five years, honey, but she'll notice. Trust me."
"A lot can change in five years. You said so yourself." Farah replied. "Besides, I feel a whole lot better now for being here. I'm not going to sit and cry in corners like I did the first night I was back here - that was just because I was so glad to be home and so damn jetlagged. I'm impatient to see Marissa - and Steffi, for that matter - and see if we can't hit some old haunts while they're here. It's been way too long since I was in Hartford, after all. It's about time I did the city trawl again."
"Yes, that sounds more like my girl." Chimera nodded. "And I'm sure Mari will find time. If I know Stefana, she'll be keener still to skip out of Riot's care and hit the malls." She grinned. "It's probably exactly what you need, too, so I won't be telling any tales. Just don't forget about the job thing, okay? The money you made in Japan won't last you forever, and I can't support you here indefinitely!"
"I know, Mom. I won't forget." Farah promised. "It'll be fine. Trust me."
* * * * * * * * * *
"Oh yes. This is familar."
Clay glanced up at the grey, cloudy sky, a wry smile touching his lips. "This is definitely how I remember Connecticut. Rainy - just like home."
"Well, rain's something of a novelty to us now, I suppose." Marissa grinned, linking her arm in his. Theirs was a very fresh romance, but it had blossomed over the previous weeks and Marissa knew that beneath his shrewd, wry-tongued front there was a sensitive Clay deep down inside. "At least the flight was on time. Rory said there'd be a car waiting for us - where do you suppose it is?"
"Are you two going to dawdle here making insipid remarks about the weather all morning, or are you coming to the hotel with the rest of us?" At that moment a voice interrupted their conversation, and the two lovebirds turned, meeting the irritated gaze of their manager. "The car is over there, and even Stefana seems to have managed to find it unaided this time. Heaven forbid you spend the whole of this trip mooning! I was under the impression that this was your city. I'd like you to make a good impression on your return here!"
"That's how we feel too, Rory." Clay assured the executive coolly. "And we're with you all the way. It's just been a long flight, and it's nice to be back on familiar - and cooler - territory."
Rory pursed his lips, an unpleasant expression entering his blue eyes. He said nothing, however, merely ushering them into the waiting car, and climbing into the front seat beside the driver. Clay was quick to notice that the grille that seperated back from front was pulled all the way up, to soundproof manager from musicians, and a wry smile touched his lips.
"Seems our boss isn't keen on small talking with us now we're here." He remarked offhandedly. "I guess we're in disgrace."
"Well, it doesn't bother me if he feels that way. I've nothing to say to the smug jerk anyhow." Stefana folded her arms. "And the less he says to - or about - me, the better."
"Relations have been strained." Madeleine observed thoughtfully. "I have to admit that things were easier before...well, before the last few weeks."
"You mean before I decided to kill myself and before Luca gave him a fist in the mouth?" Stefana asked bluntly. "Well, I'm sorry, Maddy, but that's life. And if he wasn't such a greasy, slimy jerk, he wouldn't be trying to blackmail us into doing as he says, anyhow!"
"Stef is right. There's more to this than a simple falling out." Luca nodded his head. "We all know that Rory used Stef to take care of what he calls the Jewel problem, and now he hasn't anyone to bribe into doing his dirty work for him. And even his attempts at blackmail have scarcely been successful. If they had been, Stef would have wrecked the Pelligrini wedding - and she didn't."
"I chose not to." Stefana said flatly. "I could have done, if I'd wanted to, but I wasn't going to do anything just because Rory told me to do it, or else. Besides, if you hadn't smacked him in the mouth, Luca, he wouldn't have got all steamed and started digging for information on me."
"If he'd had half a brain he might have worked out for himself why you were so desperate for money." Luca retorted. Stefana snorted.
"Like you did, you mean?" She demanded. Luca sighed.
"Okay. Touche." He conceded. "But I didn't know he was paying you on the sly and I didn't know how big your money problems were. If I had, I would have worked out something big was going on. Give me some credit for caring, at least. I punched him out because I was sick of him abusing your situation, and damn sick of him badmouthing Emily and Michael. He deserved it and I stand by it with no regrets. If it makes things awkward for the next few weeks or months, so be it."
"I just wish I'd been there to see it." Clay looked regretful. "Rory's an ass, and I'd have paid good money to be a fly on the wall of that confrontation."
"What I don't understand is why Rory didn't make good on his threat to Stef over the wedding." Madeleine observed. "Stef, I'm glad you made the choice you did and put your friendship with Aaron first, but with his hold over you - why didn't he act on it?"
"Publicity." Stefana curled her lip in a derisive smirk. "I told Aaron everything, and Aaron threatened him with a publicity nightmare if he did anything to me. Aaron's Mom works for Misfit Music and that Gabor bitch would do anything to discredit Rory. He knew it, and he buckled. He agreed not to publicise the story about my drug business in the paper, so long as Aaron didn't publicise the fact that he'd tried to bribe me into wrecking the wedding." She sighed. "The thing is, Rory's no idiot. He might have promised that, but he'll find a way around it if we cause him too much bother. And I ain't gonna have that all over a tabloid. Not if I can help it. Nobody is going to find out. It's hard enough dealing with it in private, without the world's gawkers trying to get a scoop."
"Well, you know that we support you one hundred percent, whatever happens." Marissa, who had remained quiet up till then put in her bit, reaching over and squeezing her friend's hand reassuringly. "I know it's been hard for you, Stef, but you have been better since you stopped taking them. You don't fly into a rage so often, and you're sleeping better, too. If you keep it up, it'll be behind you before you know it, and nobody will believe Rory's claims as anything other than tabloid lies."
"Mari is right." Clay nodded. "The only people in the know are us, Aaron and Rory. And with the exception of Rory, none of those people are gonna betray you." His eyes glinted contemplatively. "In fact, if it meant making our manager look like a fool, I might be tempted to lie to the tabloids about it." He added. "If the need arose."
"They'll write what they like regardless. It probably doesn't even matter." Madeleine said matter-of-factly. "All of this business has done one positive thing, though. It has brought us all together as a group and we are all fighting for the same side - Diablo's. For the longest time we've fought among ourselves over things, but not now."
"True. But if you want to be blunt about it, Maddy, it doesn't help our business situation any." Clay shrugged. "We are Diablo...but without Rory Llewelyn we wouldn't be, and even more importantly, probably could not be. He - well, his damn company - hold the copyright on our name. We didn't decide that till we were here and it's tied up in licencing contracts at Rebel Records. Even if we did have someplace else to go, we couldn't be Diablo. I don't doubt that he knows he has that over us, if the threats to Steffi fail him. I don't like that man being at an advantage. I never trusted him to begin with, and it hasn't changed now that I know him."
"All we can do is stick together, make the best of it and hope things settle down." Luca said finally. "And speaking of which, we're at the hotel, so we'd better drop this topic. If nothing else, we're here to give the people of Hartford a damn good musical showing...that's the most important thing. Whatever else we do, let's not let our home crowd down!"
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
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!