Chapter Eight: A Call For Help

It was late by the time Stefana and Marissa returned to the Diablo hotel. Farah had left them in the centre of town with a cheery hug and a wave and a promise to see them soon, and the two musicians had entered their hotel suite in silence, both deep in thought.
"Hey, here are the missing strays!" Madeleine cast them a grin as they entered the sitting area, gesturing towards the table. "We've pizza, if you're hungry. You missed dinner - hell, so did we."
"Pizza sounds good, but we ate in town." Marissa dropped down onto the couch. "Luca, you'll never guess who we ran into today."
"In that case, you'd better tell me." Luca's eyes twinkled. "Santa Claus?"
"No, silly." Marissa grinned. "Farah."
"As in your sister Farah?" Clay raised an eyebrow. "Wasn't she in Yokohama or did I miss something?"
"Apparently not. She's stopping with Mom here in Hartford." Marissa shrugged. "I think she's on vacation - though it's the first time in five years she has been home, so God knows it's about time she had a vacation! But it was cool to see her. I didn't realise how much I'd missed her."
"How about you, Stef? How was your day?" Luca cast his sister a grin. "As I remember it, Farah was a pal of yours too, wasn't she?"
"Yeah, we were friends." Stefana nodded. "Still are, I guess." She shrugged. "I'm kinda tired, Luca. I'm going to bed."
Before anyone could stop her, she had crossed the lounge, heading into her room and shutting the door behind her with a firm click. Madeleine pursed her lips.
"I know she's going through a rough time, but she's been overly depressing since we got here." She said at length. "Do you suppose she's going to sulk the whole time we're in Hartford? It's not going to do her any good."
"Well, there's some excuse for it tonight." Marissa looked troubled. "Luca, Farah wasn't the only person we met in town. Stef had a run in with your mother, too."
"Mom?" Luca stared, then, "Dammit, what did she say to her?"
"A fair bit, and none of it good." Marissa outlined what Stefana had told her. "She got pretty wound up - understandably. I don't know, Luca. Hartford mightn't have been such a good idea after all. She's been so good since the wedding, but today she was talking about regressing and whatever else. Like she was seriously considering going out and getting wasted out of her head. I vote we lock the suite door tonight, and someone takes the key to bed with them. I don't want her roaming the city when we're all asleep, getting herself into a state."
"You think she would?" Clay asked. "After all she's been through?"
"Stef is hard to read at the moment." Marissa replied. "And I'd rather not take the risk. Remember, Aaron is tied up with Jewel here, and she hasn't got whoever it is she's seeing for counselling out here. It's up to us to keep tabs on her. God only knows what Rory would do to her if he discovered she was moonlighting with drugs again and anyhow, I don't want my best friend's life wrecked because her goddamn mother can't hold her tongue. There's no reason why Stef should listen to a word that woman says, yet she does and it gets to her more than she wants to admit."
"I guess she's never understood what she did to be hated so much." Luca said sadly. "And I don't know the answer, either. All I know is that Dad adored her and Mom hated her pretty much from the moment she was born. Dad spoiled the kid rotten, and Mom hated him doing it...then when he died Stef went wild with grief and there was pretty much noone at home to give her sympathy, other than me. She got kicked out of school and it took all Mom's pressure on the principal of the other to take her on. A lot of schools refused to have her, after reading her record. Her dropping out was the last straw where Mom was concerned...truth is, the kid gave up rather than fail her finals, and have another thing for Mom to lash into her about. I know Stef has always been difficult, but I guess I forgive her for it because I know who was responsible. Dad for spoiling her - god rest him -and Mom for being a damn bitch. I shouldn't say it about my own mother, but more than once I wanted to shake her after she'd had a go at Stef for something innocuous. That's another reason why I made sure she came to Cali with Diablo. Aside from her being a damn good guitarist, I wanted to make sure she was safe. I hoped that once she was away from Mom's diatribes she'd realise that not everyone was out to get her, and calm down. I guess Mom did more permanent damage than I thought."
"Poor kid." Madeleine looked pensive. "If you ask me, she's just wanting her mother to love her and be proud of her, and she's hitting a brick wall."
"She always had Mom for that." Marissa admitted. "Even before she moved in with us, she spent as much time as she could get away with with Farah and me, sleeping over at ours. That's how she and Farah became friends. Farah was at art college, so otherwise they wouldn't have met."
"Guess there is some excuse for Stef after all." Clay was grave. "I just hope it doesn't rebound on us all."
In her room, Stefana had locked her bedroom door, curling up on the bed and clutching the pillow to her chest as she ran over once again the conversation with her mother. Despite herself, she found the tears threatening to return and, impatiently, she dashed them away, tossing the pillow down and burying her face in it until the storm had passed.
"It wouldn't kill her just to give a damn once in her life, instead of doing everything in her power to cut me down." She muttered. "I don't damn well know why I even let her get to me! Farah and Marissa are right - that she's just my bitch Mom and her opinion doesn't matter. So why do I let it matter? Is it just because I'm screwed up right now? Or is it something else?"
She reached for her cellphone, flicking through numbers until she found Sadie's, and pressing call, waiting impatiently for the phone to be answered. Within a few rings Sadie's voice came down the line, and Stefana swallowed the remainder of her tears.
"Can you talk?" She asked quietly.
There was a pause, then. "Give me a second...I'll be right with you."
Stefana was aware of a rustle and the sound of soft voices in the background. Then there were footsteps and a door closing.
"Okay. Now I'm alone. Steffi, what's up? I didn't expect you to be calling me while we were out here."
"Well, nor did I." Stefana said flatly. "Only it was a choice between that or go mad. And I'd rather not go mad right now."
"Ook." Sadie paused again, then, "Did something happen today?"
"You could say that." Stefana outlined her encounter with her mother. "You're the goddamn counsellor, so tell me why the hell it bothers me so much when I hate her guts and wish she was dead!"
"She said all of those things to you? In public?" Sadie sounded startled, then, "Stef, you'd not be human if it didn't bother you! She's your mother, after all! You've a right to expect something better than that from your own mother!"
"Not my mother. My mother is a bitch. Where do you think I inherited the bitch gene from?" Stefana was bitter. "I hate her. But I hate more that she's got my whole head in a spin. Marissa told me to forget her and shopping was supposed to take my mind off her but it hasn't. Why does it damn well bother me? Why should it matter what she thinks of me?"
Sadie sighed.
"Sounds to me like part of you wants a little recognition for the things you have achieved, rather than being told you're useless at this, that or the other." She said finally.
"But she's always been that way. Always. When Dad was alive she kept it to herself until he wasn't around, but she was always on at me about something." Stefana responded. "Sometimes I don't even know why I bothered doing anything with my life, since she obviously just expects me to wind up in jail or dead or something. Actually I think she hopes for it, to tell you the truth."
"Then maybe you should disappoint her." Sadie said matter of factly. "There's no reason why you can't. It probably kills her to know that you've a huge fanbase and that people think you're wonderful, if she's really so negative towards you. If you let her comments dictate your actions, the only one who suffers is you. She doesn't. If you give up on things because of her, she wins. You have to go out there and prove her wrong."
"I guess I know that. Mari pretty much said the same." Stefana sighed, then, "It just bugs me that it bothers me."
"Maybe because you know deep down that you have done some things that you're not so proud of?" Sadie suggested lightly. Stefana snorted.
"Attack of conscience? Me?"
"Perhaps." Sadie agreed. "I don't know. You tell me."
"Are you trying to make me more confused than I already am, or are you trying to help me?"
"Stef, I always try to help you. Whether it works or not is down to you as much as it is me." Sadie said patiently. "Look, think it over. Sleep on it. If you're still feeling confused about it tomorrow, call me and we'll meet up someplace. Okay? Talk properly. Here isn't good - I'm in my room but I know I'm going to get the twenty questions as to who's on the phone when I come out. I'll have to lie and say it was Alex or something. And you shouldn't shut yourself away from your bandmates. Remember, they're on your side."
"I suppose so." Stefana sighed. "All right. All right, I'll do that."
"Feel better?"
"A little, if only for ranting to someone who hadn't heard the story yet." Stefana sounded rueful. "Bye, Sadie."
"Bye, Stef. Take care and think about what I said." Sadie switched off her phone, slipping it under her pillow with a sigh.
"First Topaz's mother and now Stefana's mother - what is it with mothers this trip?" She wondered aloud. "And what in hell kind of mother accosts their kid with that kind of diatribe, anyway? No wonder the girl has no self-confidence and lashes out at anyone who tries to be friendly to her. Hell, if I'd grown up with a mother like that I'd probably have been a homicidal maniac. God only knows how Luca turned out normal!"
She turned, seeing Copper standing in the doorway. "You okay in here? Who was on the phone?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just...Alex." Sadie crossed her fingers behind her back. "Don't tell me you don't like privacy when you and hubby get a chance to phone chat, huh?"
"Oh, I see." Copper dimpled. "Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. You just looked startled when the call came through, that's all."
"I wasn't expecting it." Sadie said truthfully. "But there's nothing wrong."
She eyed her companion keenly. "Has Syl told you at all about what happened this afternoon?"
"Yes, she mentioned it to Nancy and I while Topaz was in the shower." Copper looked grave. "And though I don't condone lying to Topaz, I also know what it's like to lose a parent that way. It was bad enough when I knew what was going on. To just find out, bam, that someone you were once close to had died..." She shook her head. "You guys had no choice but to agree to help. And Nance and I will help too, if we can."
"We might need you to." Sadie ran her fingers through her hair. "All of this and we haven't even gotten to play yet."
"I know. It's turning into a messy tour, with one thing and another." Copper agreed, coming to sit down on the bed. "Aaron and I aren't allowed to sleep in the same hotel - and believe me, I'm not sure I dare try it for fear of what Phyllis will do to us. Topaz's mother is sick and somehow we have to get the two of them talking without letting on to Topaz what we're doing. And to top it off Diablo are playing this show too. I want to believe Aaron about Stefana, but I get a bit nervous when I think about it. I know what she said to him, but..." She sighed. "Do you think it's crazy to feel that way?"
Sadie bit her lip.
"I think that I shouldn't be talking about Stefana, and neither should you." She said quietly. "You said that we should try and take Aaron's word, and so far we've had nothing to worry about. This is Diablo's home city, they're probably catching up with old contacts as it is. I say we don't fret until there's something to fret about."
Copper eyed Sadie keenly.
"I've noticed that you've spoken up for her a couple of times since Aaron and I got back from Spain." She remarked. "You must really believe she's turned over a new leaf now, huh?"
"I'd like to think she has." Sadie agreed. "I mean, look at me...I'm not a bit like I used to be. I want to believe anyone can change themselves if they're given a chance. And I don't think Stefana has an easy time of it, either."
"No, I know she hasn't." Copper hesitated, then, "Aaron told me that she tried to kill herself."
"Twice." Sadie agreed absently, then she cursed, biting her lip. Copper looked startled.
"Twice? Aaron only told me about the pier, when he talked her down. What do you know about it?"
"Nothing." Sadie cursed again. "Nothing, Copper, and you're to forget you ever heard me say anything. It's none of your business and leave it at that."
Copper's eyes narrowed.
"All right." She said at length. "But I'll tell you what I think, all the same. You don't have to tell me if I'm right or not, but I'll run it by you anyway. You keep comparing Stefana to you - saying how you changed, and how she can too. I think that means Stefana was - or is - messed up in the drug scene somehow. I think Aaron got you involved to help her out, because at the pier he asked me whether you were around, and since then you've been very strange where Stefana is concerned. And if I had any doubts that what I thought was the case, when I walked in here this evening and heard you say bye to someone who definitely was not Alex...that would have confirmed it."
Sadie stared at Copper, then cursed again.
"If she finds out you know, she'll stop trusting me." She whispered. "And dammit, Copper, the girl needs someone she can trust in. She needs my help."
"I have no intention of saying anything to anyone." Copper assured her. "It isn't my business." She grinned. "But I'm glad that my suspicions panned out. I feel more confident that Stefana will leave us alone if you're involved."
"Well, for now let's leave Steffi alone and discuss Topaz instead, huh?" Sadie suggested ruefully. "Do you have any idea how we're going to work this out?"
"No, not exactly, but I think it would be for the best if we could arrange for the meeting to happen here, where it's private and no press or fans can get a front row seat." Copper responded. "I don't know, Sadie. How fragile do you think she is? I mean, is she mobile?"
"Yes, but Stephen helped her into the coffee house, pretty much. She's thin and pale and she looks very tired." Sadie remembered. "It's fairly obvious she's been ill, though he didn't say what type of cancer it was, and we didn't like to ask. That's something between Topaz and her mother, if we can get it that far. See, it isn't just Topaz we have to think about. There's Hollie, too. She's back in LA at the moment, meeting her English grandmother and probably having a blast at the same time. But we have the chance to make sure that little kiddy meets her Canadian one too, whatever the outcome of Melissa's examination. Stakes are high."
"Very." Copper agreed. She shrugged. "Well, one of us will have to act as decoy, and take Topaz out while we arrange for Stephen to bring his wife here, won't we? Whenever we have a free moment to do it - don't forget tomorrow we're tied up with various press engagements."
"I had forgotten." Sadie admitted. "But there's always the evening. We don't have anything then."
"True." Copper nodded. She stifled a yawn. "Right now, though, I'm heading to bed." She grimaced. "I think tonight I'm tired enough not to mind that it's a single bed and that my husband is across a main road."
Sadie grinned.
"Night, Copper." She said warmly. "Sleep tight, huh?"
"Sure will. You too." Copper winked. "Goodnight."
Once she was alone, Sadie changed quickly into her nightdress, padding into the ensuite to wash and brush her teeth.
"I was careless giving Stef's secret away, but at least Copper keeps her word and no harm will come of it." She mused, as she brushed her long hair into two tails. "Whatever the rivalry, Stefana needs me - tonight proved that, because otherwise why did she phone me like she did? She's growing to trust me and believe I can help her - so whatever happens, I must help her. I mustn't let her down."
She rubbed her temples. "And then there's Topaz's mother. I hope we can work that one out too. The way things are going, I think playing the festival is going to be one of the quiet events of this trip!"


Chapter One: Jewel At Work
Chapter Two: Jetta's Visitor
Chapter Three: A Surprise For Topaz
Chapter Four: Farah
Chapter Five: Jewel's Rehearsal
Chapter Six: An Unwelcome Encounter
Chapter Seven: A Secret
Chapter Eight: A Call For Help
Chapter Nine: The Real Stefana
Chapter Ten: Machinations
Chapter Eleven: A Reunion

Chapter Twelve: After The Show

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!