"A Christmas party?"
Dean eyed Nancy in some confusion. "Let me get this straight...some friend of your brother's is having a party and you're asking me to go with you? As your friend or as your date, Nancy?"
"I...guess date." She murmured, lowering her gaze and wishing for the umpteenth time she'd decided to do this by phone and not in person at his flat. "If...if you're free and if...if you want to."
Dean was silent for a moment.
"Nance, I wish I could." he said finally. "But I'm broadcasting live tomorrow night...don't you remember?" He bit his lip, eying her expression. "I'm really sorry...if it were anything but work I'd cancel it right away, but I can't get out of work so easy."
"I forgot." Nancy admitted slowly, her heart sinking. Tears pricked at her eyes and, seeing them, Dean put an arm around her shoulders.
"I feel like I'm letting you down big style." He murmured. "Listen, what time does this party kick off?"
"Eight thirty." Nancy murmured.
"I'm broadcasting till nine." Dean replied. "If you don't mind me being a late gatecrasher, I'll come after I'm done on air."
"You...don't have to."
"But I want to." Gently Dean brushed her hair out of her face. "I want to spend time with you, and I don't want to let you down when I know it must've taken some for you to ask me to this thing." He smiled. "Well?"
"Okay." Nancy raised her gaze to his. "I guess that'd be okay...if you came later."
"I won't stand you up, Nance." Dean seemed to see where his companion's thoughts were going. "I promise. Soon as I'm off camera I'll come. Where is this thing, anyhow?"
Nancy told him the address, a tiny spark of relief mingled with apprehension lighting inside of her. What had she done now? A proper date...where would it lead? And what if he couldn't get away after all? What if...
But she knew he would keep his word and try. Whatever else she might fear, she knew Dean was not a liar.
She offered him a tentative smile.
"Okay, well I guess I'll see you then." She said finally. "I...I have things to settle, so I guess I...I'll see you...right?"
"Sure." Dean grinned. "Tomorrow night then, Nance."
Nancy flashed him another quick smile, then left the apartment before the conversation could go any further. She had felt vulnerable, asking him out, and she still wasn't sure she'd done the right thing. But she had risen to Sirena's challenge and taken the initiative.
"And if it don't work out, then I'll blame her." She decided, slipping behind the wheel of the car. "Now, with that settled, I'm gonna track down my mother and my brother and find out what in hell is going on with both of them. I don't like to see Copper cry any day of the week, and especially not the day before Christmas eve! But Mom first. This is her career, after all, and ours too...and I don't think Copper would thank me if she knew I was plotting to interfere anyway."
She put the vehicle in gear, pulling onto the main road and heading for Misfits Music.
"I might as well try the office, see if she's there." She mused. "If not, well, I'll go home and find her, I s'pose. I don't know what the problem is, but it needs to be settled, and pronto! Tomorrow's Christmas Eve and that's practically Christmas!"
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"Copper? Aaron's on the phone."
Sylva poked her head around the door of her friend's bedroom, eying the girl's despondant expression. "He wants to talk to you about tomorrow night, says it's important."
"I'm not going tomorrow night." Copper said quietly. "I've tried calling his place three times - twice I've got Miss Prom Queen and the third time I got the machine. If he wants to talk to me so bad he knows where I live...but I'm not going to that girl's party and you can tell him so."
"Copper, you can't bail!" Shock filled Sylva's blue eyes. "We promised we'd play! You want Jewel to get a reputation for being unreliable?"
"Right now I don't care." Copper replied, hugging her faithful old stuffed elephant to her chest.
Sylva came to the bed, sitting beside her friend.
"Listen, I know this whole thing sucks." She began. "And I know that it doesn't look good. But Aaron's not the sleazy type. And if he called you up, he obviously still wants you as his party date. Why else would he want to speak about tomorrow?"
"To tell me he'd found someone else to go with?" Copper sounded bitter. "I don't want to talk to him, Syl. Tell him that."
Sylva bit her lip.
"Copper...please come." She begged. "If not with Aaron, come with the rest of us and play and have a good time. It's a party, and sitting home moping tomorrow night is not what we want for you on Christmas Eve. Remember, the point of you staying in Cali this year was so we'd all be together...so we should stick together."
"I wish I'd gone home." Copper murmured.
"Don't be like that." Sylva scolded. "We need you!"
"Only cos none of the rest of you play kit." Copper responded.
"No, we need you cos you're one of the gang." Sylva replied. "I mean if you really don't wanna play we can cancel our performing tomorrow night, I guess, but I refuse to leave you moping at home, so you'd better damn well come with us and show the guy what he's missing. Mackenzie might be pretty but she's an airhead, and anyhow, you're way prettier than she is."
A slight smile crossed Copper's face.
"Nancy said that." She admitted. "All right, Syl, I'll come. And...and I'll play. But only for you guys, not because Aaron or Mack wanted me to. And you can go tell him I'll see him at the party tomorrow night, if I have time...but not to bother calling by here to pick me up..I can find my own way."
"Okay, will do." Sylva nodded, getting to her feet. "I'm glad you're coming, Copper. Jewel are gonna rock this party, make no mistake about that!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Oh, so you decided to actually turn up for work this morning?"
Phyllis pushed open the door of Jetta's office, observing her colleague with her hands on her hips. "What in hell do you think you've been playing at? Christmas is a busy time of year for this company, and..."
"Pizzazz, shut up, I'm trying to get this done before closing tonight." Jetta interrupted, not looking up from her paperwork. "And in answer to your question, I didn't feel up to it. Okay? Quit gripin', I'm 'ere now an' I'm workin', which is more than can be said for you!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Phyllis' green eyes narrowed and she put her hands on the desk, eying her companion suspiciously. Jetta raised calm grey eyes to her friend's angry ones, and shrugged.
"Whatever you want it to, ducks." She replied levelly.
Phyllis growled, snatching the paperwork out of her companion's grasp and tossing it into a tray.
"Hey! I told you I need to finish those!" Jetta was indignant.
"Well, you shouldn't have skived off work, should you." Phyllis retorted. "Now listen, you, and listen good, dammit! I own this company and you're my employee, not the other way around!"
"If it weren't for me an' the work I do 'ere your precious company would be in the dumper!" Jetta retorted.
"You think so?" Anger sparked into Phyllis' face. Jetta nodded.
"Yeah. I do. Especially recently, since you started 'arin' off after your brat of a daughter an' leavin' me to do everything! It's not my damn responsibility to sit in on admin meetin's, it's yours! As you just said, you're the owner...well, why can't you get a sense of duty about it, huh?"
"Watch your mouth." Phyllis snapped. "I can fire you, you know."
"Well, then fire me." Jetta folded her arms. "Or even better, maybe I'll quit, an' find a job where I ain't gonna be treated like someone's dogsbody. Do you know 'ow much damn overtime I've done this month? An' i ain't been paid for it either, yet."
"You wouldn't dare walk out on me!" Phyllis exclaimed.
"Watch me." Jetta retorted. "You may own the company, Pizzazz, but you don't own me. Go spend Christmas with your daughter...you'll 'ave a fine bunch of paperwork to do when you get back, because I'm outta 'ere!"
A fresh voice from the doorway interrupted the conflict and both combatants turned, eying the intruder with some surprise.
"Nancy, whatever it is, this ain't the time." Jetta was the first to regain some composure. Nancy bit her lip, but she stood her ground.
"No, it is the time." She said firmly. "Time you both stopped this silly fighting! Don't you realise that you need each other to make this company work properly? And where do you think it leaves people like Sylva and Copper and Topaz and I if you break it up? Mom..." She turned her attention to Jetta, "Don't you see what you're gonna do to my career if you walk out? Jewel need you...both of you. Is it really worth throwing your partnership away just to win a stupid argument and keep a little pride?"
Jetta stared at her daughter, speechless, but Nancy wasn't done yet. She turned her attention to Phyllis.
"Aunt Phyl, you know you need Mom to help you run this place. Heck I've heard you say so before." She continued. "Do you really want to risk letting her go?"
"If it weren't for 'er stupid brat of a kid wreckin' things there wouldn't be a problem." Jetta muttered. "Nancy, this really ain't your business..."
"It is my business." Nancy insisted. "And you're wrong, Mom. Emily was the first person to tell me something bad was going down between you two. She wants things settled down as much as anyone - you can ask her if you like!"
"You've been spendin' time with Emily?" Jetta's grey eyes became furious and despite herself Nancy took a step backwards.
"Why shouldn't she? Nancy's not a kid any more." Phyllis put in. "She can spend time with who she wants, and you can't control her any more than you can me!"
"Stop it, for heaven's sake!" Nancy begged. "Please! You both mean a lot to me, I hate seeing you row like this!"
There was a helpless note in the girl's voice, and, glancing at her, both executives could see the young guitarist was close to tears. An awkward silence fell.
"Mom, I admit I've spoken to Emily." Nancy continued softly. "But I don't see what's wrong with that. I...I like her. And now she's signed to this company, she's more or less Jewel's ally."
"Mom, it's true." Nancy responded. "Listen. I know you think Emily wants to cause trouble here, and I can understand why you'd think that, but it's not true. All Emily wants is her mother in her life...and I can understand that too, because I wouldn't want to live my life without you."
Despite herself, Jetta looked uncomfortable, and spying her advantage, Nancy pressed home.
"Dad said you'd done a lot of overtime lately and it was getting you wound up." She continued. "And Aunt Phyl, I don't think you realise how much Mom's been doing recently. Perhaps she feels that you're dumping everything on her and chasing off after Emily."
Phyllis opened her mouth to retort, then stopped.
"I guess I have." She admitted grudgingly. "I didn't see it that way though. I mean, Emily's my daughter...why shouldn't I spend time with her? Not like I've ever been able to before."
"When Emily comes back to music, she wants to have a music company to come back to." Nancy said. "And when we come back after Christmas, Aunt Phyl, so do we. Misfit Music has been through so much...are you both gonna throw it away now?"
Phyllis cast Jetta a look, and Jetta sighed, shrugging.
"I don't wanna quit." She said finally. "But Nancy, me 'ead's killin' me, and I ain't slept pretty much all week. I need a day off now and again an' all my free time this last month 'as been filled up because of 'er jettin' off someplace, usually to do with Emily!"
Phyllis frowned as she realised the truth of her friend's statements. She sighed.
"You have Nancy." She murmured. "I...just wanted to have Emily, I guess."
"You do, Aunt Phyl." Nancy assured her. "I don't think Emily bears a grudge about things now. She said she wanted her mother in her life to stay."
"She did?" Phyllis looked startled. Nancy nodded.
"Yes." She agreed. She frowned. "Please, can't you settle this and make up? The company is so successful because both of you are so good at your jobs...can't you keep it that way?"
"I...guess." Jetta eyed Phyllis sheepishly, who shrugged.
"Whatever." She agreed. She glanced at the paperwork in the tray, then, "I'm closing the company early for Christmas...as of now. We all need a break after all."
A slight smile touched Jetta's face.
"I'll second that." She agreed. "I need to go 'ome an' get some kip else I'll be a zombie all Christmas weekend."
"Then it's all okay now?" Nancy asked hopefully. Phyllis smirked.
"You're a cheeky brat, you know that?" She responded, but there was a note of affection in her voice. "But yeah, I guess so." She grinned. "I wouldn't've fired your Mom anyhow."
"Guess I wouldn't really 'ave quit." Jetta admitted.
"Good." Nancy dimpled. "Because I'd hate to think at the end of the day Rory Llewelyn and his company win the battle for music supremacy by default! Especially after the way he's acted."
"No way am I ever gonna let that happen." Phyllis said fervently. "But for now, it's Christmas break and I don't want to see or hear of another document till Monday morning. I'm gonna go home, and make Alan take me out for a meal or something, and just forget stupid tax documents for now."
"Hear hear." Jetta logged off her pc, filing the remaining sheets of paper haphazardly into their folder. "Okay, I'm done. Merry Christmas all, I'm outta 'ere!"
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.