Well, so it was almost Christmas Day.
Sirena paused in front of a shop window display, idly humming an upbeat Christmas song under her breath. It had been a long time since the magic of Christmas had had any effect on her, but this year she had found herself getting into the swing of the seasonal festivities, even to the point of heading out to buy Christmas gifts for her mother and her grandfather.
"Next Christmas I'll have someone else to buy for, too." She murmured, a tiny smile on her face. "I don't get it, why am I in such a festive mood? Christmas has never affected me like this before...it must be hormones."
She pushed open the door of the shop, heading inside. She had had little idea of the kind of gift to get her mother, and, knowing that Jetta, who knew the woman best, was not her biggest fan, she had had noone's opinion to ask.
"What do you buy a woman who has enough money to buy the whole shopping arcade?" She asked herself with a sigh. "I want to get her something, though. Not that I'm going soft, but, well, it is our first Christmas on speaking terms, and that's something. I wish I had some idea of the kind of thing to get her. I'm beginning to realise that I really don't know my mother at all well."
She paused in front of a display, a thoughtful expression on her face as she considered events over the last three months. She had never expected to bond so quickly with her long absent mother, but she was glad of the security all the same. Harvey had told her that once the initial barriers were broken, things would work out fine, and Sirena had come to trust his wisdom implicitly. Her relationship with Phyllis was one of friendship rather than mother and daughter, it was true, but her bond with Harvey was, she felt, becoming that of grandfather and grandchild.
As she turned down another aisle, her mind still miles away from the matter at hand, she collided with another shopper, almost falling headlong. Hurriedly she steadied herself, turning to glare at the other girl.
Then her glare became surprise.
"Nancy!" She exclaimed.
"Sirena." Nancy looked equally uncomfortable. "Are..you okay? You weren't looking and..." She trailed off, feeling awkward. Somehow, she mused, it had seemed easier when they had been rival musicians at rival companies, always at each other's throats over things.
"I'm fine." Sirena seemed to be thinking the same thing. She paused, then, "We gotta stop walking into each other, y'know."
Nancy smiled slightly, remembering the last time such a thing had happened, backstage at a television studio. It had been not long after Blade's death, before Sirena had been aware of her pregnancy or how life was about to change. It had also been the first glimpse Nancy had had into Sirena's thoughts, and she had not forgotten it.
"You Christmas shopping?" She asked now. Sirena nodded, looking self-conscious.
"Yes." Nancy agreed. "For Mom and Dad, Gran, Aaron and Aunt Phyl. I've bought Jewel's stuff already."
"You have so many people to buy for." Sirena sounded a little wistful. Then she got a grip on herself. "You're buying something for Mom?"
"I always do." Nancy nodded. "We...well, we've always been close."
"I know." A shadow crossed Sirena's face. "Sometimes I think she would rather you were her daughter than me, you know."
"Don't be daft. Aunt Phyl likes me because I'm not her daughter or her responsibility." Nancy said firmly. "She's told me so. We just get along, that's all." She paused, eying her companion shrewdly. "Are you getting her a present?"
"I...want to." Sirena blushed. "But I don't know where to begin."
Nancy hesitated a moment. Then, mindful of her own resolve when she had accepted the offer of peace three months earlier, she smiled.
"Do you want some help?" She offered softly.
Sirena was silent, debating. Then she shrugged.
"You know Mom pretty good." She acknowledged. "Thanks."
An hour and a half later, with the important shopping done, the girls found themselves sitting in a booth at a local ice cream parlour, drinking thick vanilla milkshakes. Sirena took a sip of her drink, sending Nancy a confused glance.
"You know...this morning has been fun." She said, sounding surprised. Nancy nodded.
"It has." She agreed. "I didn't expect it to be, I have to admit."
"Me either." Sirena glanced at her hands. "I didn't think we could possibly have anything in common, you know."
"Likewise." Nancy confessed. Then she laughed. "Listen to us. We set out shopping determined we don't like each other and we're just upholding the truce...and we actually both had a good time doing it. Doesn't that seem a bit ridiculous to you?"
Sirena stared at her, then she grinned.
"Yeah, it does." She admitted. "Very ironic."
She glanced down at her bags. "I appreciate the help with Mom's gift. I just hope she likes it, that's all."
"You're real keen to make a good impression on her, aren't you?" Nancy observed. Sirena looked startled. Then she blushed.
"I hadn't thought about it." She admitted. "But, well, she's my mother. I don't want to lose her again now I've found her."
"Guess I understand that." Nancy looked thoughtful. "Mom and I have always been real close."
"See, that's just it. Mom and I haven't." Sirena responded. "I just want everything settled and nice for when the baby comes, that's all. I've spent my whole life trying to work out what my mother might be like, and then hating her. Now I want us to be friends...always." She reddened again. "I feel like a dope talking like this. I'll shut up now before you think I'm soft in the head."
"No, it's cool." Nancy smiled. "I kinda like that we're getting along. I don't find it easy usually to socialise with people." She looked sheepish. "Especially people who were my archenemy."
"Oh brother, yes." Sirena smirked. "I caused your group some hell, didn't I?"
"Well, I give you credit for originality." Nancy laughed. "Just drop it now you're signed to Misfit Music, huh?"
"I don't wanna sabotage you guys now." Sirena shrugged. "I have other things on my mind." A wicked grin crossed her face. "Though I might target Rory and whatever loser becomes his next big deal project when I'm back in the music circuit." She admitted.
"You're definitely gonna make a comeback, then?" Nancy asked. Sirena nodded.
"For sure. My whole life I dreamt about being a star." She agreed. "I'm not gonna let single motherhood stop that." She frowned.
"I hope Jetta ain't gonna cause trouble for me once I am back recording." She observed darkly. Nancy looked startled.
"Mom? Why would she?"
"God knows. She can't stand the sight of me." Sirena groaned. "She'd probably kill you for even speaking to me. I just have this feeling that she's gonna make things difficult as possible for me, that's all."
"Mom isn't like that." Nancy protested.
"Isn't she?" Sirena raised an eyebrow. "She was a Misfit, don't forget. Noone in the music world ever caused trouble as professionally as those girls. I'd say she was more than capable of it. Especially..."
She paused, eying Nancy thoughtfully.
"Especially what?" Nancy demanded.
"Especially if she thinks your career is gonna suffer."
"Why would it?" Nancy looked surprised. Sirena shrugged.
"Beats me." She said. "But...I know she and Mom have been fighting about things lately, because Mom told me so. Jetta doesn't like me pushing into Mom's life."
"I'll talk to her." She decided. "See what the deal is. It would totally suck if Mom and Aunt Phyl fell out just when you and I were kinda making peace."
"Bad for the music company, too." Sirena nodded. "And I've been signed to one hole of a company, I don't want to lose my contract with a decent one."
"Me either." Nancy agreed. "Okay. Thanks, Sirena. I'll talk to her."
"Don't call me that." Sirena chided. Nancy looked startled.
"Well, I call you Nancy. You should call me Emily...that is, if we're...well, gonna be..." She trailed off, embarrassed.
"Friends?" Nancy suggested softly. Sirena nodded.
"All right." She agreed. "I'll call you Emily. And sure, we'll be friends, set an example to both our mothers, huh?"
"Yeah, too right." Sirena agreed dryly, finishing the last of her milkshake. "Mm that was good. I haven't been here in a while."
"You've not been anywhere for a while. Where have you been hiding?" Nancy asked.
"San Diego, but I have an apartment here now, so I'm stopping here over Christmas to see to the decor and everything." Sirena replied. "Grandpa's coming down for Christmas weekend, too...I'm kinda excited. Christmas in my own place with family...that's a first for me in every respect."
"Next Christmas you'll be a mother." Nancy murmured. Sirena nodded.
"Yeah, I know. Scary, ain't it?" She replied. "Hopefully everything will work out good, though, and I'll handle it. I mean to give it a shot, anyway."
"Guess I better be going, I've got furniture being delivered this afternoon." She said. "It was nice hanging out, though. Really, it was. I...hope maybe we can do it again?"
"Yeah, count on it." Nancy grinned. "I had a good time."
"Well, I got time on my hands till March, then I'm gonna be tied down with diapers." She said dryly. "Hey, you have a mobile phone number?"
"Sure." Nancy fished her phone out of her bag, looking up the number then handing it to her companion. "That's it."
"Right." Sirena scribbled it down. "I don't have my mobile on me but I'll text you the number later. If that's okay, of course."
"Sure, go for it." Nancy nodded. "It...might be kinda nice to be friends, after all."
"Well, I hope so." Sirena grinned. "And now I do have to scoot. But I'll speak to you soon, alright? Thanks again for your help."
"You're welcome." Nancy assured her, watching her new ally head across the mall to the car park, and shaking her head slowly as she considered the morning's events.
"Who woulda thought I'd spend the morning in Sirena's company and wind up enjoying myself?" She murmured. "But it will be cool to be friends, especially since I've always been so close to Aunt Phyl and all." she frowned. "I wonder what this deal is with Mom. Guess I better settle that, too, if I can. I'll head over there now, see if she's at the office. Least I can do is try, anyhow."
With that thought in mind, she sauntered out to her own car, slipping into the driver's seat and putting the key into the ignition. If she could sort things out at Misfit Music, then she would. The last thing she wanted was for the company to collapse at Christmas time.
"And if Sirena...no, Emily's right, it's looking rocky." She mused, frowning as she flicked the radio onto a local channel she liked. "Well, let's see if I can't do something about that. I want it to be a merry Christmas for everybody!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Phyllis glanced up from where she was sorting a stack of files, sending Nancy a confused look. "Why you asking me? She's not working today...I thought you'd know that, being her daughter."
"I didn't know. I haven't spoken to her since Gran came back from New York with Dad." Nancy admitted. "Why isn't she? It's not her day off, is it?"
"No...she called in sick." Phyllis pulled a face. "Said she had a headache and didn't fancy facing stupid admin meetings. Basically translated as she's getting her own back for me missing the last admin meeting, no doubt."
Nancy frowned at the sarcasm in her adoptive aunt's tone.
"Did you guys fight?"
"What gave you that idea?" Phyllis raised an eyebrow.
"But you guys never fight!"
"We do sometimes." Phyllis replied. "Not usually big deal fights, mind. Jetta knows where her paycheque comes from. But this week she's been a pain and a half."
"Is it about Emily?"
"Why the sudden interest in things?" Phyllis demanded. "It's not your problem, kid, so I'd keep well away from it if I were you."
"If you and Mom are fighting it's not good for the company." Nancy stood her ground.
"Well, you don't need to tell me that." Phyllis retorted. "Your mother needs to remember who owns the damn company, then we'd all be happy. She can't tell me when to turn up to the office and when not to - she's employed to take care of things when I'm not able to, anyway. That's what business partners are all about."
"Emily said that Mom has taken a hate to her." She said slowly. "Do you know why?"
"You've been talking to Emily?" Phyllis looked stunned. Nancy blushed, nodding.
"Yeah. We were shopping together this morning."
"You guys friends now? Man your Mom would love that." Phyllis chuckled.
"Don't tell her, please." Nancy begged. "Not till I know what the situation is at least. I don't need Mom mad at me over Christmas!"
"Okay, okay." Phyllis relented. "And as for Jetta hating Emily, well, it's true. It was your mother's idea, if you didn't know, that I give Emily to the Starlight Foundation in the first place. She hated me being pregnant. Not that I didn't hate it myself, and not that Jetta's idea wasn't the perfect solution, but I think your mother would rather Emily had stayed buried, if you want the truth."
"But you don't want that, do you?" Nancy said softly. Phyllis paused, then shook her head.
"My daughter is my business and I can deal with it however I want to." She said finally. "I did a lot of thinking, Nancy, and I'm doing my duty by her. A proper Gabor doesn't abandon her responsibilities and I know that only too well...so I'm making things right. That's all." She frowned. "And that's all you're getting from me on the subject, so don't ask for more."
"It's okay." Nancy nodded. "Thanks, Aunt Phyl. I'll go talk to Mom, see if I can get her to come round. You guys shouldn't be fighting at Christmas, of all times, and I know you're really best of friends, so I know you can settle it." She stood. "Thanks again, and bye. I'll let you get on with your filing."
Phyllis watched the girl leave, a frown on her own face. The remark about best friends had hit home, and she paused, considering for a moment.
"Jetta's being a pain." She decided finally with a sigh. "When she decides to act grown up again, well, then we'll settle things. Till then, well, I can manage here. The ball's in her court."
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.