"Are you going to spend another day avoiding going into the office?"
Justin eyed his wife keenly, offering her a mug of coffee. "It's half past nine and you're not up."
"No, I'm goin' in. Got paperwork to settle before the Christmas weekend...I'm not workin' then." Jetta sighed. "I'll get up in a minute. I can't say I'm lookin' forward to it, mind you. I didn't sleep last night."
"I know. Neither did I." Justin told her wryly.
Jetta looked sheepish.
"Sorry." She muttered. "You shouldn't be such a damn light sleeper."
She rubbed her temples. "No coffee, ta. I'm goin' to go shower an' get up...get this over with. Work's becomin' a pain these last few days."
"Maybe if you just let the matter drop it wouldn't be a problem any more." Justin suggested.
"Pah." Jetta snorted. "I'm not doin' overtime an' bein' taken for granted while she runs off after some brat she never wanted anyway!"
"All right, all right." Justin held up his hands in mock surrender. "Can I give you a lift to work then?"
"Sure." Jetta nodded. "Gimme 'alf an hour or so an' I'll be ready."
"Okay." Justin nodded. "See you then."
He watched her head upstairs, a frown touching his own face. This was a side to his wife's character he hadn't seen before. Sure, she had been tense, irritable and snappy at times over the previous twenty or more years they'd known each other, but never like this.
"She's jealous." he realised, as he sat down at the table, drinking his coffee and scanning the newspaper for anything of interest. "She wouldnt admit it or take kindly to me pointing it out, but that's what it is. An odd kind of jealousy, true...but she doesn't like Emily being in the picture. Hm, perhaps she's afraid she'll wind up being replaced at the company. That might explain it. She's always been kinda territorial. I wonder if Pizzazz realises what's going through Jetta's head? I bet she doesn't and that's why they're fighting, because I'm sure as hell Jetta understands what Pizzazz is doing, and why. She just doesn't want to face it."
He sighed. He loved Jetta dearly, but sometimes she frustrated him. She had never been one to openly confess her feelings without due prodding and persuasion, and even then she tended to do it awkwardly and as quickly as possible. Over the previous twenty years, even admitting she loved him was something which caused her to fidget uncomfortably and blush red to the roots of her dark hair.
Justin usually found this reticence endearing, but right now he could cheerfully strangle her for it.
"She'll bottle it up and make herself ill." He muttered. "She's already getting headaches. Maybe I'll have a word with Pizzazz myself if it goes on much longer. I've had enough of sleepless nights and I'm sure Jetta has too! It's Christmas...something has to be done!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sirena swung open the door of the apartment, sending her visitor a sheepish smile. "It's a mess in here...sure you wanna come in?"
"Yeah, I do." Nancy nodded, obediently stepping inside the flat as Sirena swung the door shut. "Everything's chaos at the moment, I needed some sanctuary."
"What gives?" Sirena shot her new friend a curious look. "Coffee, by the way?"
"Yeah, and don't spare the caffeine." Nancy groaned. "I'm not sure I can tell you much. All I know is that Copper's down in the dumps over my dumb ass brother, Mom isn't answering my - or anyone's - calls, unless they're business calls at the office, which apparently she hasn't been showing up at till this morning, if Dad and Aunt Phyl to be believed...on top of that I've a stupid party tomorrow night hosted by the sly bitch who's trying to seduce my brother and I don't want to go."
"Fun." Sirena observed.
"Thanks for the moral support." Nancy rolled her eyes. Sirena laughed.
"Look, it's simple. If you don't wanna go to the party, don't go." She said. "Though it's a party...why not just forget who's hosting it and have a blast? I know I would."
"Well, I'm not you." Nancy snapped. Then she frowned. "Ugh, sorry. Didn't mean that."
"Feel free, I'm used to it and I can take worse." Sirena assured her, pouring out the coffee and handing Nancy a mug. "You don't like parties, then? Sheesh, girl, why not?"
Nancy looked uncomfortable.
"Just don't." She muttered.
"What, you scared of them or something?" Sirena looked confused. "I don't get you. What's the problem?"
"It's the principle. Copper's my best friend."
"Well, if you say so." Sirena shrugged, sitting down. "I'd be there in a flash, you know. You shouldn't take your social life for granted."
"Life was easier when I didn't have one." Nancy retorted.
Sirena raised an eyebrow.
"And here I was thinking you were little miss perfect." She admitted. "Good home, everyone raving about your musical talent, even Mom...have I got you all wrong, then?"
"I was bullied through every inch of high school." Nancy replied quietly. "I never made friends easy, or wanted to, to be honest. They were morons and I hated them. Music was all I ever wanted from my life, if you really wanna know."
"You were bullied too?" Sirena looked surprised.
"Yes...though I can't imagine anyone daring to pick on you." Nancy replied.
"Ooh, I grew up quick and I grew up tough." She said dryly. "I beat the living hell out of anyone who called me a foundling baby or a charity kid, don't you worry. They soon dropped that habit. Didn't make me many friends, mind you."
"Likewise, only I fought mine with sarcasm." Nancy responded, sipping her coffee. "Wow. We've something else in common. Who'd have thought it?"
"Not me." Sirena responded.
"You've had boyfriends, right?"
"Sort of, yes." Sirena nodded.
"Well, of course you've been with guys." Nancy blushed. "I mean, you're pregnant, after all."
"Sure." Sirena agreed. "Blade and I slept together."
"Have you ever had a situation when you think you really like a guy, only you don't know if you do, and you don't wanna wreck everything by finding out?"
"Nope." Sirena said simply. "I don't tend to bother with the sensitive mush. I keep it simple. If they suit me, then I'm with it, if they don't, I'm outta there."
"Publicity." Sirena grimaced. "No way in hell would he have gotten me to sleep with him otherwise, believe me. The great lover wasn't all he was cracked up to be."
Despite herself, Nancy giggled.
"He was a jerk." She acknowledged. "I know it's bad to speak ill of the dead, but he was."
"Sure he was, but not in front of his son." Sirena dimpled. "One day I gotta explain to this kid what Daddy was like and I don't need you sabotaging me before I begin!"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry." Nancy relented.
"Why the question anyway?" Sirena asked. "Some guy you like?"
"Kinda." Nancy blushed. "I'm not sure where it's going though."
Carefully she described her feelings for Dean, not knowing exactly why she was doing so to someone who, till very recently had been her foe.
Sirena, for her part, found herself listening and thinking it over. Nancy had not given any names, and the singer was able to focus on the matter without being distracted by the object of her companion's confused affections.
"Wow." She said finally. "You say all that and you ain't sure?"
"What do you mean?" Nancy looked confused.
"That's the kind of emotional deep I never get to with a guy, thank God." Sirena replied. "Girl, you're mad in love with him and unless you want your heart broke, do something about it!"
"You...think so?" Nancy was startled. "Mad...in love?"
"Definitely." Sirena nodded. "You're bitten."
She sent the other girl a sidelong glance.
"Can I ask if he feels the same?"
"He told me he loved me." Nancy said self-consciously. "But that he didn't want to force me into something I wasn't sure about."
"A gentleman, huh? Wow." Sirena seemed impressed. "Who is this Romeo anyhow?"
Nancy blushed a deep scarlet.
"Dean Stacey." She admitted.
Sirena almost dropped her mug in surprise.
"Dean Stacey?" She demanded. "As in drop dead gorgeous on television Dean Stacey? That Dean Stacey?"
"Hell, you gotta tell me how you do that!" She exclaimed. "Dean Stacey is in love with you? You putting me on? Half the female population of America would love to be in your shoes and you're not sure? What planet are you from? You got any idea what most girls would give for a night out pleasure seeking with Dean Stacey?"
Nancy looked uncomfortable and a look of comprehension crossed Sirena's face.
"Ooh, I see." She murmured. "You haven't ever..."
"Don't." Nancy interrupted, embarrassed. "It...it doesn't matter."
"It hadn't occured to me." Sirena admitted. "Hey, how old are you anyway?"
"Nineteen." Nancy replied softly.
"Nineteen? Man, what did you do after graduation?" Sirena demanded.
"I signed with Misfit Music." Nancy replied. "And since then I've been with Jewel."
"Don't Jewel ever have fun?"
Something inside Nancy snapped at this.
"Look, if you're just going to be like that then I'll go. I wish I'd never asked you, you don't understand!" She exclaimed. "You're bad as Sylva, you know, making snide comments about Jewel the way she does about you. So what if I'm nineteen? So damn what? So what if I didn't spend my graduation in the back of a car drunk with some loser who couldn't make the football squad! This is how I am, all right! Deal with it!"
She turned on her heel, ready to flounce out of the apartment, slamming the door, when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned back, meeting Sirena's gaze defiantly.
"Well?" She demanded.
"Chill." Sirena said quietly. "Okay? I don't care how old you are or what you did or didn't do yet, I was just asking. Sounds to me like you have a few issues with it yourself that need addressing if you ask me."
"I do not!"
"Suit yourself." Sirena shrugged. "But if you're gonna hang out with me you have to expect me to talk straight. I don't dumb things down for anyone, so if I've offended you already maybe it ain't worth your time being here."
"I'm not a kid." Nancy took a deep breath. "You were starting to treat me like one. If we're gonna be friends then we're friends, not boss guy fall guy. Right?"
"Whatever." Sirena nodded. "You feeling saner now?"
"Yeah." Slowly Nancy sat back down. "Man, I don't know where all that came from. I guess...I guess this thing with Dean really is preying on me."
"So settle it." Sirena said simply. "Talk to him, ask him out, and get it out of your system."
"You mean sleep with him?" Nancy's eyes almost fell out of her head.
"No, dumbo. Not if you don't know what you're getting into." Sirena grinned. "But you wanna settle it, don't you?"
"Then do it. Life's too short." Sirena replied. "Ask him to that party of yours tomorrow night...see what happens. Worst he could say is no."
"I guess you're right." Nancy conceded. "Okay, maybe I will. And let's hope that it isn't a total disaster!"
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.