"So how did things go in Los Angeles with your mother today?"
Harvey Gabor eyed his grand-daughter thoughtfully, noting the sparkle in her green eyes. "I trust it went well? You look better for the day out, too."
"Mom bought me an apartment." Sirena responded. "It was the last thing I expected her to do, but I feel kinda good about having somewhere in Los Angeles when the kid's here, and I cant stop with you forever."
"An apartment, huh?" Harvey looked startled. Then he smiled. "Well, well. I must say I'm not surprised that she's taken to you...only by the speed with which it's happened. I hope you're not going to abandon me just yet, mind you."
"I was thinking that maybe you could come to Los Angeles with me over the Christmas weekend." Sirena suggested. "I have to sort out furniture that we bought this afternoon and, well, let's face it, Grandpa, I only have three months to get a nursery set up before baby's here, so I thought I'd grab some stuff and drive back down there tomorrow morning when things are being delivered. Only I...I want to spend Christmas with you." She blushed slightly. "It's my first Christmas with a grandfather."
"And my first with a granddaughter." Harvey was touched. "I'd love to, my dear. It means I can see something of your mother too, with any luck." He smiled. "So what's this apartment like?"
"It's nice." Sirena replied, removing her coat and hanging it up. "It's big...has three bedrooms, a main lounge, a kitchen, a bathroom and a balcony. I'd never have afforded the rent on the money I have at the moment, but Mom just bought out the lease, just like that." She frowned. "I've never asked anyone for anything in my life...but I don't feel so awkward about Mom buying this for me." She said slowly. "I mean, she said it was to make up for all the missed Christmas presents and that's cool by me. I can accept it that way. I can't wait to move my stuff in, either. I want to have a real home in Los Angeles."
"Well, at twenty one with a baby to support, it's high time you had one." Harvey told her with a smile.
"Well, I'll come pick you up on Christmas Eve, if that's okay with you." Sirena suggested. "I'll make sure the spare room is furnished by that time."
"All right, child." Harvey nodded. "And thank you. It will be nice to spend Christmas near family."
"You have no idea." Sirena murmured. "This is going to be the best Christmas I ever had."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"The sky is beautiful tonight." Copper leant up against her companion,
closing her eyes as a contented smile crossed her face. "I never thought
I'd settle in California but now I can't imagine not living here."
"I'm glad you did." Aaron Pelligrini sent her a grin. "Man I owe that talent scout a Christmas card for picking you up in Detroit!"
"Am I only worth a Christmas card?" Copper teased him playfully. Aaron kissed her.
"I'm saving the rest for your present." he assured her.
"Hm, well then that's all right." Copper relented. "I've already got your present. It's going to be a bit strange not going home to Detroit, but you will call by on Christmas Day and see me, won't you?"
"I promise, if I'm not too hungover." Aaron laughed. "You remember my friend's coming down from Oregon? There's talk of a big party, with a lot of old school friends."
"A party, huh?" Copper looked interested.
"Yeah, on Christmas Eve." Aaron nodded. "If it comes off, will you be my date? Mack told me to invite anyone I wanted."
"I'll see whether the girls have anything planned, but provisionally I'd love to." Copper grinned. "Mack, did you say?"
"Yes, short for Mackenzie." Aaron agreed. "And as for the rest of Jewel, well, I'm sure they'd be welcome too. Nancy is my sister and Mack knows her, and Syl and Topaz are party animals of the first order, aren't they?"
"Pretty much." Copper laughed. "And don't forget Cynthia. Can't leave her out."
"Guess not." Aaron acknowledged. "Well, looks like I might be surrounded by pretty girls come Christmas Eve!"
"If your friend feels like putting on a party after the flight here." Copper reminded him.
"Well, from what I gather Mack's keen to get in touch with all old school friends, so I think it will come off." Aaron replied. "Speaking of which, I have to get to the airport. I'll call you tomorrow, huh, and let you know the details? Hey, maybe Jewel could even play."
"Sure, why not?" Copper nodded. "Night, Aaron. Have a safe drive, huh?"
"Will do." Aaron kissed her. "Night."
Copper watched him drive away, then headed slowly inside the Starlight Mansion. One of the things she loved most about dating Aaron was that there was never any pressure.
"We have our own lives and yet we spend so much time together." she mused as she dropped her bag by the door of the closet, hanging up her coat. "That's why we've lasted as long as we have."
"You're back early." Nancy observed as the redhead entered the living room. "You guys didn't fight, did you?"
"No." Copper shook her head. "Aaron has to drive to LAX to meet some friend or other. He's spending this Christmas in California with some relatives here...apparently he and Aaron are old school friends, but he and his family moved North after he graduated, so they haven't seen each other in a while. Aaron promised to meet him at the airport...his flight comes in tonight some time and his relatives are out of town till tomorrow morning."
"A friend? In North Cali?" Nancy frowned.
"I think Aaron said Oregon." Copper responded, sinking down onto the couch. "He said they knew you."
"Aaron has too many friends, I can't keep up with them all." Nancy admitted. "Did he say a name? I can't remember any of his buddies going out of state after graduation...I'm trying to think who I haven't seen around for a while."
"Um yes. Mackenzie something." Copper nodded her head. "Apparently there's going to be a big party on Christmas Eve and we're invited." She frowned. "Nance, what? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Mackenzie as in Mackenzie Davenport?" Nancy asked at length. Copper shrugged.
"I guess so. Why?"
Nancy bit her lip, hesitating a moment.
"C'mon Nance, spit it out." Copper demanded.
"Mackenzie Davenport is a girl." Nancy admitted.
"A girl?" Copper looked taken aback. "Oh! With the name I just assumed..." She grinned. "Okay, then she's throwing a party. So?"
"Well, Mack had a mad crush on Aaron all through their senior year." Nancy said quietly. "They were prom king and queen together and they even dated for a while. Aaron's not the kind of guy to break a girl's heart, but when they moved away they kinda broke up...at least, as far as he was concerned they did. I remember that much. As far as I knew she was always a lot keener on him than the other way around, so whether she knew they were broke up I don't know. Anyway, she was one of the popular crowd, had everything going for her, and she was quite a knockout. Most guys fancied her, like most girls wanted Aaron. They were s'posed to be the perfect high school couple."
"So?" Copper looked confused. "What's the problem? Aaron and me are an item and I'm not worried about this girl if they broke up when Aaron finished High School. Sheesh, that's more than two years ago now! I have friends who are guys, why can't he have friends who are girls?"
Nancy didn't answer for a moment. Then she took her friend by the arm, leading her upstairs.
"What're we doing?" Copper looked bewildered. "Nance..."
"I have some photos from Aaron's grad party." Nancy responded, fishing in the drawer of her cabinet and handing a photo album to her friend. "It has some pics of mine in too, Aaron let me take it when I moved out." She blushed slightly. "There was a guy in his grade I kinda liked once...but don't you dare ever tell anyone that, all right!"
"I promise." Copper took the album, opening it. "What am I looking at?"
"Lemme see." Nancy turned a couple of pages. Then, "There. That's Mackenzie."
"And that's Aaron." Copper pursed her lips. "She is pretty."
"Talented too." Nancy frowned. "The bitch had everything going for her."
"Is she a bitch?" Copper asked. Nancy sighed, shaking her head.
"She was the only one of Aaron's friends to be decent to me and not treat me like a moron." She admitted. "I liked her. But I like you better, and Aaron and you go together somehow."
"Well, that's just what I think too." Copper closed the book. "Mackenzie can be pretty and sweet. Aaron's my boyfriend and he asked me to be his date. I'm not worried." She smiled. "I appreciate the warning, though. I'll just have to be drop dead gorgeous at this party, won't I?"
"Guess you will." Nancy dimpled. "Though you're already prettier than her, you know."
"Shut up." Copper blushed. "Enough about me! Hey, you thought any more about Dean?"
"You told Syl to lay off me and now you're going after the gossip too!" she protested.
"Not if you don't wanna tell me." Copper replied. "I was just curious. I know you phoned him yesterday."
"I wish I knew what to do with him." she replied finally.
"What's the problem?" Copper eyed keenly. "I know I told her off, but Syl does have a point. If you procrastinate too much he might think you're not interested and give up. I don't want you sitting wondering 'what if' if you really like this guy and you let him get away."
"I'm not great with the whole dating steadily thing, though." Nancy objected with a sigh. "Hell, I'm not good at the dating idea period. It's taken me till this last year to make real friends I trust in you and Topaz...Dean is a whole other idea. As my friend it's fine...I don't feel any pressure with him. But I know he has feelings for me and it freaks me out."
"Because you have feelings for him too?" Copper suggested gently.
Nancy hesitated, then nodded slowly.
"I guess so. I'm not sure. This is where I'm kinda stumped." She admitted. "It gives me shivers but then...they're not always bad shivers, and Copper...sometimes I'd kinda like to know what it would feel like to kiss him."
She blushed, looking embarrassed. Copper, knowing that going deep into Nancy's emotions was something only a priveleged few achieved grinned, squeezing her friend's arm.
"I'm sure he's wondering the same thing." She murmured.
"That's why I'm afraid." Nancy admitted. "What if I do it all wrong?"
"How do you mean?" Copper frowned.
"I...I've never kissed a guy before." Nancy looked troubled. "Not a proper kiss, Copper, unless...well, unless you're counting that creep Blade, and believe me I don't! But I...I feel so embarrassed to admit it. I mean, next September I'll be twenty but...but..." She trailed off, a shadow touching her features. "No guy ever wanted me and I never wanted to know anyway. The guys in my grade bullied me and called me a freak - I decided then and there that I wasn't ever gonna get romantically involved."
"Oh Nance." Impulsively Copper hugged her. "Listen, okay? Not all guys are bullies. You and I both have decent brothers, don't we? And if we do, others must do too. Dean's a great guy, gentle and caring, and he wouldn't push you or tease you. He cares...can't you trust him a little and take a chance?"
"I..." Nancy bit her lip.
"Wouldn't it be nice to know you have a guy interested who'll pamper you and take you out and who you can have a good laugh with?"
"I don't know." Nancy confessed. "It's such a big risk."
"I can't see why."
"For me, I mean." Nancy sighed. "You're different - you're gregarious and everyone loves you soon as they meet you. I...I repel people. I'd screw it all up."
"Nonsense." Copper scolded. "You're too down on yourself. And you push people away far too much, too. Let them meet the real you, huh? Instead of the prickly front! You're a real nice person when you let people see it."
"I have to protect myself."
"Against Dean?" Copper raised an eyebrow. Nancy frowned.
"Maybe not." She conceded. "I dunno. Guess I'll see what happens. Not much else I can do."
"Well don't leave it too long, okay?" Copper told her. "I don't want you to lose out."
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.