"Wow, this place is ace."
Emily Gabor paused in the doorway, gazing around the living room of the spacious Los Angeles apartment with approval. "It's big...it's bright...it rocks."
"Good. Saves me time." Her mother observed idly, watching her daughter's delight with a mix of relief and pleasure. Being a mother had never come naturally to Phyllis Gabor, in fact her first action once she had been able to think clearly about her new responsibilities had been to offload them on a local children's foundation, an action which had led to much bad blood between mother and daughter. However, this had all begun to change over the last few months. Emily, or Sirena as she was known in the musical world was six months pregnant herself, and her dilemma had helped her to understand her mother's own panic twenty one years before. Though they would never be as mother and daughter, these days they were at least on fairly friendly terms, and Emily had signed to Phyllis' music label, Misfit Music, after a dispute with her former boss at a rival company. Deep down Phyllis felt protective towards the girl now, and she was determined to settle her own conscience, righting the wrong done at Emily's birth by making sure all went smoothly for her unborn grandchild.
Sirena, for her part, had begun to truly comprehend her mother's actions all those years before, for there were great similarities in temperament between the two, and her own reaction to the news of her condition had been equally panicked. However, through the mediation of Phyllis' father Harvey the family had been carefully and tentatively put back together, and Sirena was determined not to abandon her child the way she had been abandoned.
"Saves you time?" She sent her mother a confused glance now, not understanding. "What do you mean?"
Phyllis looked uncomfortable.
"I wanted to make sure you were settled in LA." She said awkwardly. "For the music company, of course." She added hurriedly.
"So you dragged me up from Grandpa's in San Diego to apartment hunt?" Sirena asked. Phyllis shrugged.
"Not like you were doin' anything." she replied shortly. Sirena groaned.
"I'm bored out of my skull with my life." She admitted. "I was glad to get your call, I'm getting in a rut."
"Well then. Quit moaning."
"Who's moaning?" Sirena put her hands on her hips.
"So you like this place, huh?" Phyllis turned the subject back to the matter at hand. Sirena nodded, moving over to the window.
"Sure, but how in hell am I gonna pay to buy out the lease? I don't have a steady income at the moment and so I'm in no position to rent, even if I could afford the starting rent amount. Most all of the money I got from Rory when I left Rebel Records has either gone into paying gas for my car or damn medical bills! I didn't know how damn expensive having a baby could be! It ain't even born yet an' I'm layin' out thousands already! It'd be all I could do to pay the bills."
Phyllis eyed her thoughtfully for a moment. Then, without a word she headed into the hallway to speak to the agent.
Sirena moved over to the window, deep in thought. Street smart and independant minded, she had never asked anyone for help before her high profile affair with r&b star Blade had thrown her world upsidedown. Even now she wasn't quite sure where she was coming from.
"But it would be good to find a place here so I was settled in LA by the time the baby's born." She mused. "I can't squat at Grandpa's forever, and when I go back to singing I'll need to be here, not in San Diego. In any case, I've always looked out for myself. I don't like being dependant on Grandpa's hospitality. It ain't fair on him and it ain't me. I need my own place."
She turned, seeing her mother and the agent watching her. She raised an eyebrow.
Phyllis hesitated, and then she came to join her daughter. A self-conscious expression on her face, she held out a key.
"Merry Christmas." She murmured.
For a moment Sirena just stared at her companion, and despite herself Phyllis laughed, more to dispel her own awkwardness than anything.
"Quit lookin' at me like that." She ordered. "I figured I kinda owed you a few years worth of Christmas presents anyway and well...here." She took her daughter's hand, pressing the key into it. "It's yours."
"Mine?" Sirena still looked uncomprehending. "Really?"
"Congratulations. I hope you'll be happy here." The agent said with a smile. "It's been a pleasure doing business - I'll see myself out."
"Well, it's not far from Misfit Music." Phyllis observed offhandedly once they were alone, clearly feeling somewhat uncomfortable with the situation. "Needs furnishing, of course, but that can be seen to. Don't stare at me, Emily! You're makin' me feel weird!"
Sirena bit her lip.
"Noone ever bought me an apartment before." She said, rather uneccesarily. "I guess I don't know quite how to react." She smiled. "Thanks I..I guess. I totally didn't expect it. I mean, we've only been on good terms a while, and..."
She trailed off. Phyllis' expression became grave.
"I'm a Gabor. We don't run away from our responsibilities." She said quietly. "I owed it you...now don't mention it again, all right? It's yours by right as my daughter and that's that. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
Sirena was silent a moment. Then,
"I appreciate it." She murmured. "More than I know how to put in words, Mom. But I do love this place and now...well, now I have someplace to get ready for when he's born."
"He?" Phyllis looked startled. "You know what sex it is?"
"Doctor told me at my scan last week that he was eighty percent sure it's a boy." Sirena nodded. She smiled slightly. "I guess...guess thankyou from him too."
"Don't. We're getting mushy and I can't deal with mushy." Phyllis warned. Sirena laughed ruefully.
"Well, looking at the pair of us I'd say we were both going soft in the head." She observed. "It's kinda cool, though, not to be hating you any more. I didn't realise how much energy hate consumes."
"Some people deserve to be hated." Phyllis pointed out.
"Mm, like Rory Llewelyn." Sirena smirked. "Jerk."
"He always was." Phyllis snorted. "You're signed to the better company now, kid."
"I ain't a kid. I'm a mother to be." Sirena corrected her. Phyllis shivered.
"Don't. I ain't thinking about bein' a grandma." she replied. "Look, how about we go grab lunch? I gotta be back at the office at two for some dozy admin meeting but we've a while yet."
"Sure." Sirena dimpled. "Food's good with me...let's go!"
* * * * * * * ** * * * * * *
"An' what time do you call this?"
Jetta Pelligrini, Phyllis's business partner and fellow former Misfit glared at her friend from behind her desk, casting a meaningful look at the clock. "It's almost four o clock..did you forget about admin? Spendin' all afternoon with a bunch of creeps in suits wasn't my idea of fun and it was meant to be my afternoon off work!"
"Something came up." Phyllis replied shortly, in a voice which did not invite further enquiry. "Nothing's ever settled at those dumb meetings, anyway. You might as well have cancelled it."
"Well, some committee had some borin' as dirt proposal for you to look at." Jetta indicated a pile of papers on her desk. "I said I'd make sure you got 'em. But I aint amused. You know I wanted this afternoon free cos I 'ave to go Christmas shoppin'! Justin's back from New York tomorrow with me damn mother in law an' all, an' I won't 'ave a moment to do that kinda shoppin' then!"
"Oh, relax, will you? I was doing some Christmas shopping of my own." Phyllis retorted. "I have family too, you know."
Jetta's brows knitted in a dark scowl and her grey eyes narrowed.
"You were with that brat of a daughter of yours, weren't you?" She demanded.
"So what if I was?" Phyllis became defensive. "I don't stop you spending time with your daughter, do I?"
"Since when have you cared two hoots what happened to Emily?" Jetta snapped.
"You were the one who told me to resolve things one way or another!" Phyllis exclaimed, banging her fist down on the desk "And listen, this is my company! If I don't turn up for one stupid little admin meeting, well, who cares? I pay you to fill in those kind of gaps. If you have to work overtime, well, I'm sorry, but it won't kill you and you can go shopping now. The stores are open till late."
"Thank you, your 'ighness." Jetta's voice was ice cold. "I'll 'ave me mobile if you need me." She scooped her jacket off the chair, slipping her purse onto her shoulder. "Unless you think Emily would do a better job, of course."
With that she swept out of the room, banging the door behind her.
Despite herself, Phyllis winced. She didn't like it when Jetta was angry with her, because she knew that the chances of winning a battle of words with the astute Briton were fairly low. She could threaten to fire her, of course, but if she was honest, Jetta was her closest friend in the world and she didn't know anyone who would fill the role of executive so ably.
"Stupid girl." She muttered, picking the pile of paperwork up off the desk and leafing through it. "What's her deal anyway? She told me to sort out things with Emily...well, I did. And now she's still moaning? I don't get it!"
She groaned, dropping the sheaf into the filing cabinet. "I'll tackle that later. Stupid Jetta, why can't she get a damn grip!"
Jetta, for her part, was equally frustrated. Inwardly bemoaning the fact that she could not go home and unleash her frustration on her understanding husband, she put the car in gear, heading for the local mall. She was fond of Phyllis, but she had no time for the baby that, in her view, should never have been born.
"She's a sly brat an' she's after Pizzazz's money, I bet." She muttered, turning off onto the main road and honking her horn bad-temperedly at pedestrians. "The company is gonna fall apart if this goes on an' then where does that leave my daughter's career? I've 'ad it up to 'ere recently with Emily. I wish the girl 'ad never been born!"
She pulled into the parking lot with a screech of brakes, slamming the car door shut behind her and stalking inside in a decidedly unchristmas-like mood. Something had to give, she decided...and it had to give soon. She wasn't going to be messed about like this any more, especially not on her day off.
Something had to be done, and soon.
"Else I'm finding meself another job." She murmured, only half-sincerely. "I'm not going to sit back and watch this company fall apart just because of little miss Emily Gabor!"
Christmas In California
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Topaz, Anna, Blade, Sirena, Aaron, Cameron,
Taylor, Gaynor, Sadie, Cynthia, Alan, Stefana, Luca, Maddie, Marissa, Clay,
Sophie, Justin, Zoe, 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. Sammi, Rose and
any of the other Teenangel Outsiders characters are copyrighted to Gemma
Dawn and appear here only with her permission. 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 names of the bands, the characters and the concepts in the stories are entirely fictional and any similarity to any genuine musical act, situation, person or concept is entirely coincidental. Jewel, Diablo, Sirena and the other characters are NOT based on real individuals, either in the press or in everyday life.