Christmas In California

Chapter Nine

"Hey, Nance. What's up?"
Aaron greeted his sister with a grin, opening the door of the flat to let her in. Nancy glanced around her.
"Are you alone?" She asked. Aaron nodded.
"Yes...why?" he asked.
"I want to talk to you."
"About what?"
"About Copper."
"Ah, good." Aaron looked relieved. "Maybe you can tell me why she's not answering my calls? I called your place earlier, spoke to Syl...and apparently Copper says that she doesnt want me to pick her up tomorrow night and she'll see me then, if she has time. I don't get it! I asked Syl to call her to the phone and Syl just said she didn't want to speak to me."
"Maybe it's got something to do with you spending so much time with Mack?" Nancy suggested dryly, leading the way into the lounge. Aaron's brow furrowed.
"I explained to Copper that Mack was coming." He said, confused. "And she was cool about it."
"Mm, before you started spending all your time with her."
"That's not true!" Aaron looked startled. "I had lunch with her once..."
"And invited her back here?"
"So? Nancy, she's my friend!"
"Copper's tried to call you three times this week." Nancy put her hands on her hips. "And you've not been there...nor have you called her back!"
"She didn't leave a message on the phone to! I didn't know she'd been calling me!"
"She got Mack." Nancy said quietly. "Twice."
Aaron cursed, then,
"I didn't think Copper was the kind of girl to get jealous for no reason." He said quietly.
"Look, I don't know what Copper is thinking exactly, but I know that if you were my boyfriend and you were spending all your time with another girl, I'd get suss too." Nancy replied acidly. "Especially if I knew the other girl fancied you."
"Mack is my friend, dammit!"
"Not to Mack." Nancy shook her head. "Listen, Aaron. The girl pretty much told me the other day that she's still in love with you and wants to get back together with you."
"What?" Aaron paled. "But...Nancy, I'm in love with Copper! Not Mack!"
"Well, Mack doesn't know that."
"Why didn't you tell her!"
"She wouldn't let me!" Nancy protested. "And I would've thought you'd mention a girlfriend when chatting with your supposed friend, anyway? Or is Copper nothing to you...out of sight, out of mind?"
"Dammit Nancy, you know how much I like that girl!" Aaron exclaimed. Nancy raised an eyebrow.
"Does she, though?" She asked. "I'll leave you to think about it, huh?"
With that, she turned on her heel, stalking out of the flat and leaving her brother staring after her. She only hoped that the message had gotten through, for she did not want her friend spending an unhappy Christmas and the party wasn't far away now. She sighed, pulling onto the forecourt of the Starlight Mansion. Well, she'd done all she could. Now she just had to wait and see what happened next...

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"Well, it's Christmas Eve. I just wish I damn well felt Christmassy about it."
Copper paused in front of the mirror, adjusting her hair slightly and then reaching for her makeup. She had chosen to leave her thick red hair, streaked as it was with blond highlights, in it's natural curly state for the evening, pulling it back from her face with a clasp. Pride had won through in the end, and she had decided to keep her promise to Sylva, even agreeing to play. As a result the four girls were primping their hair and makeup in the house's biggest bathroom.
"But don't ask me to like the girl." she had said finally. "Because I think it's beyond me."
"You look gorgeous, Copper." Topaz paused in applying her own lipstick to admire her friend's attire. "You really do. If Aaron doesn't come to his senses tonight with you looking like that I'll be very surprised."
"I'm not sure it has anything to do with sense." Nancy put in dryly. "Aaron's dense where women are concerned."
"I bet he doesn't know what kind of a sly cat Mackenzie's being." Sylva added her bit, carefully applying mascara and then eying the effect critically. "Is Cynthia coming to this thing tonight, by the way?"
"I am." A voice came from the doorway and the girls turned to greet their holographic friend with smiles. Synergy had researched the kind of outfit she needed for the party very thoroughly, and as a result Cynthia looked stunning.
"We're gonna be the babes of the ball." Topaz dimpled. Sylva nodded.
"When are we not?" She demanded. "Topaz, no getting drunk tonight, okay? We don't want hangovers on Christmas Day and it don't look good if we have to carry you home when you're only just twenty as it is."
"Hey, I promise." Topaz's blue eyes twinkled. "I do want to have a good time though. Is that allowed?"
"For sure." Sylva dimpled.
"I hope I'm not gonna regret coming tonight." Copper sighed, reaching for her purse. "Do I really look all right?"
"You look fabulous, Copper." Cynthia assured her.
"We all do." Sylva put in. "Heck, even Nancy...Nance, did you make a special effort or something? You look totally amazing tonight...and I've never seen you with curly hair! I thought you weren't letting anyone near your hair with curlers!"
"Copper did it earlier." Nancy blushed. "Her new hair straighteners have a curling function on them and we messed about with it a little. I...wanted to look nice."
"Dean's coming to the party, then?" Topaz asked. Nancy looked startled.
"Who told you that!"
"Noone. I guessed." Topaz replied. "He is, then."
"Yeah, later, when he gets let out from work." Nancy admitted.
"Did he invite himself or did you ask him?" Sylva asked. Nancy frowned.
"I asked him." She retorted. "All right? I am capable of such things, you know!"
"Don't fight, please! I can't take it." Copper begged. "Well, are we going? Because if we are, let's get on with it, huh? Before I lose my nerve."
"We're going." Sylva nodded. "Who's car are we taking? Or did someone call a taxi?"
"I'll drive." Copper volunteered. "We can always get a car back from the party if we need to."
The venue was already bustling by the time the girls arrived and Sylva led the way inside, pausing to examine the decor of the house as she did so.
"Tacky." she decided, wrinkling up her nose. "The wallpaper is so last year's colour."
"Shut up, trouble." Topaz hissed. "We're here for a party, not a design seminar. Come on! That way."
Sylva poked out her tongue, but did as she was told, making her way into the room where the party was in full swing. Mackenzie's aunt and uncle were people with money, and there was plenty of room for everyone. Cynthia commented that it might once have been a ballroom, an idea which sent Sylva giggling at the idea of past couples whirling around it to a far more sedate beat than the music pumping from the stereo system.
"Well, she might have designs on Aaron, but she knows how to throw a party." Topaz observed. "This is wild!"
"It's cool." Sylva nodded. "Come on...let's mingle! If this is anything to go by, there are gonna be plenty of cute guys to choose from by the end of the night!"
"I don't want plenty of cute guys." Copper sighed. "I want Aaron."
"Hey!" At that moment Mackenzie emerged from the crowd, coming to greet them with a big smile on her face. "You made it okay then? It's good to see you." She eyed Cynthia with interest. "Who's this?"
"This is Cynthia." Nancy replied. "She works with Aaron and she's a friend of ours. Cyn, this is Mackenzie Davenport."
"Oh, I see." Cynthia smiled. "I've heard about you, Mackenzie, it's interesting to meet you at last."
"Mack, please." Mackenzie dimpled. "Cynthia, you say? I think Aaron's mentioned you. You're good with lights and gadgets, right?"
"I do my best." Cynthia agreed pleasantly. "Working with Jewel allows me to test all my abilities to the full."
"Of course." Sylva nodded.
"Are you still willing to play for us?" Mackenzie asked eagerly.
"If you want us to." Nancy nodded gravely. "Jewel don't break an agreement, Mack, it's unprofessional. Even a freebie thing like this."
"Well, cool." Mackenzie dimpled. "As soon as Aaron's here, I'll talk to him about helping you guys set up. You do have your equipment?"
"In the car." Copper said quietly. "Except my kit, of course."
"My uncle has an old kit in the garage." Mackenzie shrugged. "Don't worry about it, that's cool. When you said you'd play I asked him about using it and he said it was fine."
"Aaron isnt here yet?" Nancy looked surprised. Mackenzie shook her head.
"No. Said he had something to do first." She said. She grinned. "Hey, while we're waiting, shall I introduce you to a few people? Some you'll know, Nance, if you remember them of course, but these guys won't."
"Sure." Topaz nodded. "That would be nice, Mack, thank you."
"Hey, Mack, who're your friends?"
An older guy stopped them, a can of beer in his hand and a smile on his face. "Gonna introduce me?"
"Clyde, ain't you heard of Jewel yet?" Mackenzie teased playfully.
"Jewel?" Clyde stared, then, "Man, I knew you were familiar. You gonna play for us?"
"We promised we would." Sylva nodded. She cast him a smile. "Give the party a special Christmas lift."
"Well, it's all good with me." Clyde grinned back. "Hey, Mack, how'd you pull a big name act here, huh?"
"It's Aaron's sister's band." Mackenzie replied. She pulled Nancy forward. "Clyde, you remember Nancy?"
Clyde's eyes looked like they might fall out of his head and he stared at Nancy, speechless.
"You're Nancy Pelligrini?" He demanded. Nancy flushed uncomfortably.
" what?" She responded, a defensive note coming into her voice.
"Man you're different!" Clyde did not seem able to properly comprehend the change. "You were such a mousy kid, and now...sheesh, you're a babe! Aaron never told me how hot his sister had gotten!"
Now there was no hiding either Nancy's blushes or her discomfort, and Copper, protective of her friend as ever came to the rescue.
"I don't suppose he's noticed." She remarked. "Being that she's his sister and all."
"Guess not." Clyde shrugged good naturedly. "Sorry, kid, didn't mean to make you squirm. I just never saw anyone so different."
"Well, everyone changes." Nancy managed to scramble her composure back into shape, a look of defiance in her brown eyes.
"Guess so." Clyde agreed. "Mack, I'll catch you people I wanna talk to."
With that he was gone, and Nancy breathed a sigh of relief.
"Jerk." She muttered.
"He was cute." Sylva reproached her.
"He never spoke to me nice when I was just Aaron's kid sister." Nancy returned. "When I was the 'mousy kid'."
"Hey, Nancy, chill." Mackenzie grinned at her. "I always knew you'd be a swan one day...don't mind Clyde. He's a dope."
"Actually, Mack, I've always been a swan." Nancy met the older girl's gaze with an odd smile. "It's just taken a while for people to figure it out, that's all."
"Here's Aaron." Topaz observed at this moment, noticing that Mackenzie seemed unsure as to how to take this last remark. Copper frowned.
"I'll be out by the car if you need me, seeing to equipment." She murmured. "Okay?"
"Copper, wait." Nancy begged, but it was too late, her friend had already gone.
Aaron joined them a moment later, a frown on his face.
"Where was Copper going in such a hurry?" He asked.
"To the car or something...I dunno, equipment?" Mackenzie shrugged. She grinned. "Now you're here, can you help Jewel set up to play?"
"Nothing easier...I do it almost every week." Aaron nodded. "Cyn, you'll help me out, won't you?"
"Of course, Aaron. My pleasure." Cynthia nodded.
"Hey, is something wrong?" Mackenzie sent Aaron a questioning look. Aaron nodded slowly.
"Maybe." he agreed. "Cyn, can you start setting up? I'm going out to the car to help Copper with the equipment."
"Good idea." Nancy murmured softly. Aaron nodded grimly, then headed across the hall to the main door.
"He's a real gentleman." Mackenzie looked amused. "Always was, mind you."
"Well, I'd be surprised if he didn't want to go and help Copper." Sylva put in bluntly. "After all, they've been dating for the past eight months."
Mackenzie paled.
"What?" She demanded.
"It's true." Sylva shrugged, smiling. "They make a cute couple, don't you think?"
Mackenzie was speechless for a moment. Then,
"I...didn't realise." She eyed Nancy in confusion. "You didn't tell me that."
"I tried to, but you wouldn't let me." Nancy responded quietly. "Mack, you and I have always got on pretty good but I'm not obliged to tell you everything that goes on in my brother's life. I assumed he'd tell you about Copper himself."
Mackenzie bit her lip, and an awkward silence lingered over the group.
Finally she sighed.
"I suppose I did know." She said resignedly. "He never said anything directly, but I guess I did know that he wasn't interested in me that way these days. He's treated me like an old friend...but that's it. And I guess that's what we are, isn't it? Old friends." She sighed again. "It's a pity."
"I'm sorry, Mack." Nancy looked uncomfortable. Mackenzie shrugged, a sad smile touching her face.
"Win some, lose some." She murmured. "I'll see you guys later."
"Nice work, Sylvina." Topaz muttered once the girl was out of earshot. Sylva shrugged.
"Someone needed to tell her." She retorted. "And don't pretend what I said was unkind! Something had to be done to sort things out and get that girl off Aaron's back - who's more important to you? Copper or some Mackenzie girl you only just met?"
"Point taken." Topaz acknowledged. "But Syl, there are ways and there are means."
"Well, to the point never failed before." Sylva responded, her manner unconcerned. "And it worked. Right?"
"For once I'm with Syl." Nancy admitted. "It had to be said, and I'm glad she said it, because it meant I didn't have to."
"I give up." Topaz rolled her eyes. "Let's hope Aaron can settle things with Copper. Seems only too clear to me where his interest lies."
Outside, Aaron had located his girlfriend's car and had carefully made his way over to it. Copper had her back to him, and the first she knew of his presence was when he laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. She let out a gasp, swinging round.
"Aaron!" She exclaimed.  "Don't do that, you scared me half to death!"
"I came to help you with the Jewel equipment." Aaron began, then he shook his head. "No I didn't. I came to talk to you, one on one. Seems we haven't done much of that this week, have we?"
He eyed her thoughtfully, noting the dampness of her lashes, and suddenly Nancy's words hit home once more. He sighed.
"Hell, I'm sorry, Copper."
Copper swallowed hard.
"What about Mackenzie?" She whispered. "Do you love her, Aaron?"
"Don't be daft." Aaron snorted. "She's an old friend, that's all, and I got carried away in helping her out with her party organisation. I had no idea she felt anything for me till Nancy dropped it on me yesterday, after you wouldn't return my call. That's the truth of it, Copper."
Copper frowned.
"I stayed in Cali this Christmas so we'd see something of each other." She reproached him gently.
"I know." Aaron frowned. "And I feel rotten about it, too. I really didn't have a clue how you were feeling till Nancy came and harangued me yesterday about it."
"Nancy came to see you?" Copper looked startled. Aaron nodded.
"Yeah. Didn't she tell you?"
"Nope." Copper shook her head. "I had no idea."
"Well, she did, and she was right, damn her." Aaron sighed. "Look, I know I've been dense, but are you really mad at me? Can I make it up to you somehow?"
"I...I don't know." Copper looked thoughtful. "I've missed you this week. It's not that im clingy or possessive, Aaron, least I dont think I am. I you."
"I love you too, and I never meant you to be crying on Christmas Eve." Gently Aaron wiped her tears away. "Look, how about we take off, go someplace just you and me, huh?"
"I have to play." Copper objected.
"After you've played, then." Aaron suggested. "What do you think?"
A small smile touched Copper's lips.
"All right." She agreed. "I'll see you then. But we have a set to perform!"

Christmas In California
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven

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.

The future world of Jetta, Raya, Stormer, Pizzazz, Roxy, Riot, Minx, Synergy, Eric, Clash and the death of Jem are concepts which are entirely my own. The future world of Aja, Jerrica, and Danse are concepts belonging to Gemma Dawn and the future world of Kimber, Rapture and Shana are concepts which belong to us both jointly, since they were discussed in some detail!