"I can't believe how disorganised I am this year."
Topaz groaned, glancing in her wallet for her credit card. "Really, it sucks. For year after year I've been well on time with Christmas cards and gifts...but this year? Haven't bought a damn thing."
"I'm always a last minute shopper." Sylva confessed, grinning. "I drive Annie mad, usually by insisting on hurrying round the stores on December 23rd looking for good gifts for Mom and Dad. And I want to find a hot, slinky outfit for this party. I mean if Aaron's friends are there then there's gotta be a cute guy about I can flirt with for a Christmas kiss, right?"
Topaz laughed. It was two days before Mackenzie's Christmas Eve party and Jewel were utilising their free time, hanging out at the mall so Topaz and Sylva could do some last minute shopping and Nancy and Copper could find outfits.
Not that Nancy was all that keen on going.
"It's a stupid waste of a Christmas Eve." She complained now. "Topaz will just get drunk and wind up hungover on Christmas Day and Syl will probably wind up waking in someone else's bed...it's a bad idea from start to finish!"
"Hey!" Sylva protested. "I'm not that kinda girl, Nancy! I don't sleep around!"
"And we said we'd play a few songs, too." Copper reminded her. "Think of it as a business engagement, if you like." She paused. "Did you ask Dean to go with you?"
"Why would I?" Nancy's cheeks pinkened and she immediately went defensive. "We're not going out, Copper! And it's not like a stupid high school dance where you have to have a date or die!"
"Whoo!" Copper laughed. "I'm sorry! I was just asking."
Nancy's blush deepened.
"Sorry." She murmured. "I...havent really thought about it."
"From the colour of your cheeks I'd say you have." Sylva told her with a smile. "Well? Did you ask him?"
"No, I didn't." Nancy bristled. "Okay?"
"Well, personally I'd rather not go with a date, since the one guy I want to go with is kinda inconveniently in England." Topaz dimpled. "I did send him a Christmas card though."
"You're still hung up on Cameron?" Sylva demanded. Topaz nodded.
"I know, it's sad, and it's not like me, but what can you do?" She asked. "He's drop dead gorgeous and he's crazy about me."
"That sounds like something Syl would say." Copper laughed. Topaz grinned.
"I know. She's corrupted my sweet innocent young soul." She teased. Sylva swiped her playfully.
"You, innocent?" She countered. "I hardly think so!"
"Hey, so, are we going to look at party clothes or not?" Nancy demanded. "Shopping with two class A flirts is not my idea of fun, thanks a lot!"
"What's eating you?" Topaz eyed her friend, surprised.
"Nothing." She muttered.
"Really?" Copper raised an eyebrow.
"Okay. Everything." She amended. "Mom and Aunt Phyllis are rowing, I can't get hold of Mom to ask her why, I don't know what to do with Dean and I gave my brother's ex-girlfriend hope of rekindling their relationship. Life stinks at the moment, considering it's Christmas."
"Aw." Copper grinned. "Listen. I'm not mad at you about the Mackenzie thing, it's not your fault and Aaron will set her straight. They're just friends after all. And you'll work out what to do with Dean, I know you will."
"What about Mom and Aunt Phyl?" Nancy asked. "According to Emily they're at loggerheads and if the conversation I had with Aunt Phyl yesterday is anything to go by, it's a big deal row."
"Emily?" Sylva put her hands on her hips. "You..spoke to that witch Sirena?"
"We met in town yesterday morning and I helped her find a christmas present for her mother." Nancy shrugged. "No big deal."
"Ugh, you're sweet on her now?" Sylva pulled a face. "Talk about fraternising with the enemy! Nancy Pelligrini, you are the most awful little turncoat sometimes! First Blade, now Sirena?"
"You guys have a truce." Topaz said firmly before Nancy could respond. "As do we and Sirena. Let it go, Syl."
"Bah." Sylva folded her arms. "I still say she has issues with loyalty."
Nancy just rolled her eyes, heading off across the store to look at a different display.
As she did so, something caught her eye.
But he wasn't alone. With her heart in her throat she realised that he was with Mackenzie.
"Oh my God." She murmured. "Aaron, what are you doing? And when Copper's right here, too..."
"Nance, don't get put out by Syl." At that moment Copper herself joined her friend. "You know she's only..." She trailed off, catching sight of Aaron and Mackenzie leaving the store. Nancy bit her lip.
"Just friends." She murmured. "Aaron wouldn't, he loves you."
"I know that." Somehow the tone didn't seem as relaxed and carefree as it had before. "Just friends. They haven't seen each other in ages, it's natural they want to catch up."
"Copper?" Nancy eyed her friend anxiously.
Copper swallowed hard.
"She was all over him." She whispered. "Grabbing at his hand and flirting. Oh Nance, I know Aaron wouldn't cheat on me, but what if it's the same for him as it is for Mackenzie? Maybe he's realised how much he's missed her, too!"
"Don't be daft. You're his date for the party." Nancy responded. "Not her."
"Yeah, I guess." Copper frowned. "Look, I...I'm gonna head home, okay? I have some thinking to do and I'm not...not really in the mood for shopping any more."
"Please, Nance. Don't mention this to the others. Just tell them I have a headache or something." Copper begged.
"Are you going to cry?" Nancy asked softly. Copper paused for a moment. Then,
"Only when noone's there to see it." She replied unsteadily. "I'll see you later."
Okay." Nancy frowned, then, "It'll be fine though, Copper. You'll see. Aaron's a dope but he loves you and that's for real. Whatever Mackenzie thinks."
Copper didn't reply, merely heading off across the store for the exit.
"Where's she going? Scared her off?" Sylva demanded as Nancy rejoined the other two band members. Nancy shook her head.
"She told me to tell you she had a headache and was going home." She said honestly.
"Sudden headache?" Topaz looked suspicious. "Not like Copper."
"That's what she told me." Nancy replied.
"Wouldn't have anything to do with the fact Miss Bimbo 2011 and your big brother are in town together, would it?" Sylva asked.
"You saw them?" The words were out before Nancy could stop it. Sylva nodded.
"I wasn't gonna mention it in front of Copper, but yeah, I saw them, grabbing lunch at the diner." she agreed. "I dunno what Aaron thinks the situation is, Nance, but Mackenzie thinks she's in with a real chance. You can tell."
"Aaron probably has no idea." Nancy frowned. "He can be dense to a girl being in love with him."
"Is that what upset Copper?"
"Yes...but she doesn't want you to know." Nancy replied. "So don't mention it when we go back, huh?" She bit her lip. "I just hope my dope brother knows what he's doing...that's all."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Copper, what on earth is the matter?"
In the dimly lit bedroom, behind the closed curtains, a figure materialised at the end of the bed, concern marring her pretty features. This was Synergy, the holographic computer Aaron and Copper had ressurected, and one with a personality and mind of her own. Synergy's projectors were now capable of solid projection and often she assumed the guise of 'Cynthia' when in public.
"Why are you crying?" Getting no answer to her first question, the hologram sat down on the bed, putting a hand on her companion's shoulder. "Copper, talk to me. What is wrong?"
"Aaron." Copper turned tearful eyes on her friend, for Synergy had become less like a computer and more like a sister and a friend since she had been rebuilt. "I'm afraid I'm gonna lose him, Synnie."
"Why would you think that?" Synergy looked startled. "Aaron loves you. He's said so many times."
Slowly Copper explained about Mackenzie.
"It didn't bother me at first." She admitted. "Then she came here, and, well, she is pretty, Synergy. Really pretty. And it did bother me a little when she asked Nancy if she thought she stood a chance with him, then never waited for a full answer. I mean I didnt let it get to me, I trust in Aaron, and thought he'd set her straight...but it did bug me a little. And then today..."
"They were at the mall together and she was all over him." Copper whispered.
"Copper, some friends are touchy feely with each other. This rapport I have observed between Sylvina and Aaron...I must admit I do it myself sometimes." Synergy said gently. "You don't fear either of us stealing him away, do you?"
"No." Copper admitted. "But Syl treats him like a brother and anyway, I know neither you or she think of him that way. This Mackenzie girl is different, they have a past. Syn, am I being hopelessly childish and jealous over this?"
"You are hurt." Synergy said carefully. "But perhaps you need to consider if Aaron has done anything to hurt you."
"I...I guess he hasn't." Copper conceded. "I guess I'm being silly. It's just...well, it's our first Christmas together and I wanted everything to be perfect, especially since I'm not going home."
"That's understandable." Synergy nodded. "Perhaps you should phone him, then, and ask to meet and talk things through? I am sure once Aaron understands how you are feeling he'll set the record straight."
"You're right." Copper wiped away her tears, smiling. "Thanks. As usual you give great advice. I don't know how other lovesick girls out on their own in the world manage without you to help them out."
"My pleasure." She said softly. She reached for Copper's phone, handing it to her.
"Well? Before you lose your nerve."
"Okay." Copper took it, hesitating, then beginning to dial. "I'll call his flat first, then his mobile if I get no answer. You're right, I can't sit and let this get hold of me."
"Very sensible." Synergy nodded. "Would you like me to leave you?"
"No...stay. Please." Copper begged. "I need some moral support."
"Very well." Synergy resumed her seat at the foot of the bed. "I'm here."
At that moment the phone at the other end of the line was picked up, and a voice said a friendly hello. The phone slid out of Copper's hand, and she met Synergy's eyes with stricken ones of her own.
"She's there!" She exclaimed, hitting the call cancel button. "At his apartment! Answering his phone like she lives there! She's there!"
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.