"A Child Shall Lead" (Chapter Six)

by Ennon

Disclaimer:"Degrassi:The Next Generation",its characters and dialogue are all the properties of Epitome Pictures and I'm making no profit from this whatsoever.

A/N- In this chapter, I'll be quoting some from episodes and the readers may think that one or more of the characters are OOC and the MO's presented here may be entirely different from what the original scriptwriters had in mind but I'm presenting something I think is a possibility. There's a major revelation coming up here that I've given small hints of throughout the story- the last one being in the last exchange in the previous chapter. Thanks again, Ava, for all your great reviews (and don't worry about questioning the date. It's good to see you were paying attention to detail). I look forward to reading more of them from you and anyone else who like to.

June,2003-Jeremiah Motors.

A tall,brunette woman with shoulder-length hair approached. She had on a knit, bust accentuating green blouse, a red miniskirt, strappy open-toed sandals and matching dark-red finger and toenail polish.

"Are you interested in a car, Miss?" Joey asked her- somewhat attracted to her.

"Call me Sydney! I have to admit I'm a bit reluctant to buy a used one from a non-chain dealer," Sydney pondered-after she shook Joey's hand.

"Oh, I can assure you that I've personally inspected and serviced every car on my lot! Can you tell me what you're in the market for?" Joey asked.

" A small car but with lots of extra horsepower under the hood, Mr. Jeremiah," Sydney exclaimed as she flashed her eyes.

"It's Joey," Joey laughed.

"Short for Joseph?" Sydney asked.

"No, Joey's what Ma named me and just about everyone calls me that," Joey explained.

"Everyone?" Sydney laughed.

"Well, Julia called me Joe!" Joey recalled.

"How about we negotiate the terms over lunch?" Sydney asked a bit later in Joey's trailer office.

"How does the Dot Grill sound?" Joey asked.

"I'd prefer somewhere more sedate and intimate,," Sydney beamed as she stretched out in the chair across from Joey's table.

"Uh. .." Joey replied uncomfortably.

"Are you intimidated by me? "Sydney laughed.

"No. ..it's just that. .. " Joey started to say.

"Are you married?" Sydney asked.

" Widowed four years,"Joey replied.

"Hmm, don't you think it might be time to. . .?" Sydney asked.

" Well, there's this old flame who I was thinking of rekindling things with. ." Joey sputtered.

"She's not here is she?" Sydney laughed.

"No, she's in LA but she popped in for my stepson's dad's funeral last month and I thought. ." Joey explained.

"Probably just wanted to do a friendly one-time gesture. If she were truly interested in pursuing anything more she'd have started making arrangements to move here, right?" Sydney purred.

"I guess so," Joey sputtered.

"Now, let's see about the negotiations,"Sydney beamed.

"So Ma. Tell me what you think about her?" Joey asked as he stopped by for coffee at Mrs. Doris Jeremiah's apartment-two months later.

"I sure hope she lives up to her billing," Mrs. Doris Jeremiah sighed quietly

"What's that supposed to mean?" Joey asked.

"It's . ." Mrs. Doris Jeremiah started to say.

"I know she's a strong woman but I thought you'd like that!" Joey said in astonishment.

"I do but are you sure it's just her sales clients she's pitching to?" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah asked.

"Ma, she's been wonderful to me, Angie-even Craig! "

"You never heard the old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah asked.

"Ma! She likes all my friends and they all like her. She was good as gold to you!" Joey sputtered.

"Nobody's perfect," Mrs. Doris Jeremiah sighed.

"Julia was- and you were wrong about her,too!" Joey boiled.

" Julia herself understood that no mother worth their salt would jump at the idea of their son getting engaged to someone still married to someone else and had a child the woman ," Mrs. Doris Jeremiah groaned.

"It's only been two months. We're not thinking of marriage," Joey shuddered.

"You wouldn't have brought her here with Angie and Craig for dinner last night if the thought hadn't crossed your mind," Mrs. Doris Jeremiah pondered.

"Are you saying you wouldn't support me marrying her?" Joey asked.

"You and she kept talking about how she gets along great with everyone in your life but why would she adore every single person and thing connected to you instantly without the slightest hesitation?" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah asked.

"Because she loves me!" Joey proclaimed.

"Or maybe she wants you to think that!" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah scoffed.

"Ma, Julia loved all my friends and family!" Joey recalled.

"Julia was a true lady. She gave everyone a fair chance and was perfectly polite and considerate but her friendships with your friends didn't instantly happen. Sincere friendships usually grow over time!" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah exclaimed.

"Ma, you're not being fair! All my friends think. ..!" Joey boiled.

" You'll have many friends but you'll only have one mother,"Mrs. Doris Jeremiah snapped.

"I know," Joey groaned as he patted her shoulder.

"How about everyone in her life?" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah asked.

"She gets along with her co-workers fine!" Joey insisted.

" Co-workers aren't necessarily friends . .and what about family?" Mrs. Doris Jeremiah asked.

"I told you, Ma, she had a brief marriage in college and has no close relatives left. She's been making her marketing career her life but wants to stop and smell the roses," Joey explained.

"Odd that she'd have never remarried until she found someone with two children he was responsible for,"Mrs. Doris Jeremiah pondered.

"Ma why do you have to be so cynical? Can't you at least give her half the chance you gave Julia? Is that too much to ask?" Joey pleaded while shaking his empty coffee cup.

"The first time you married. You only had yourself to consider risking everything for with no turning back. Now, you have two motherless children whose fates are also on the line here. Just make your decisions based on what's real instead of what want them to be!"Mrs. Doris Jeremiah pleaded as she took Joey's hand.

"I am and I have! I'm not a child!" Joey snapped as he clutched her hand, then abruptly let go then walked out of the apartment.

"You'll always be my child, though," Mrs. Doris Jeremiah sighed.

Degrassi Cafeteria- October, 2003

"Hey,Goldlilocks! What do you think you're doing putting contraband cooking in my cooler?" Sheila Alviera (the hairnetted Degrassi cafeteria supervisor) exclaimed early one weekday morning.

"Uhm, I was wondering if you'd serve this at lunch," the now-shaven-headed Snake groaned as he was caught taking a large aluminum dish out of its insulated carrier and into the cooler.

"Mr. Simpson, what is that?" the hairnet-clad, orange-uniformed Gavin'Spinner' Mason asked.

"It's seafood jambalaya. Joey's girlfriend Sydney says its good for the immune system with the extra Omega 3 fatty acids but. .. I can't eat it! It's totally greasy and it's got the blandest sauce and sausage I've ever tasted," Snake groaned.

"Can it be worse than Sheila's sauce?" Spinner laughed.

"Watch it, Princess!" Sheila snapped as she swatted the back of his hairnet.

"Is there a problem?" Ms. Sauvé asked as she came upon the scene.

"Nah! Just Goldlocks here trying to get Health Codes on my case by sneaking in unauthorized food into my food line,"Sheila sniffed.

"Yo, Mr. Simpson. I can eat it for you- look at all the beans!"Spinner beamed- as he opened the foil.

"You're not turning your intestines into a methane factory on MY time!" Sheila groaned.

"Did Christine make that?"Ms. Suavé asked.

"No, actually my friend Joey Jeremiah's girlfriend Sydney Brewster did! I don't want to hurt their feelings because she did it so I'd get better but I can't eat this and I was hoping to secretly donate it instead of sneaking it into the trash so it wouldn't be wasted,"Snake explained.

"Why can't you just tell her thanks for the effort but you can't eat it," Ms. Sauvé asked.

"Clothilde, Joey's been my best friend since way back and he's finally found a woman who'll take care of him and his family. I can't upset them anymore than Spike could when Sydney gave her inedible tofu salad when she was carrying Jack,"Snake groaned.

At a Toronto marketplace later that afternoon.

A/N- Be prepared for a revelation!

"So, you're going by Sydney Brewster now, Adéle?" Ms. Sauvé asked in French as she came across her childhood friend who henceforth will be referred to as Sydney (AKA Adéle) for the rest of the story (except when other characters are referring to her as Sydney or Adéle alone) to minimize reader confusion.

"I legally knocked out the two middle names and changed it to that five years ago!" Sydney(AKA Adéle) replied in French as they sat down at a table.

"But why?" Ms. Sauvé asked in French.

"Because folks in business decided that I had to go by my FIRST name instead of my middle one and few in Toronto could pronounce 'Sidonie' correctly. Someone garbled it to its English equivilent of 'Sydney' in official correspondence and I found it made things smoother to use it instead of constantly having to correct it, use my middle name or the initials," Sydney (AKA Adéle) explained in French.

"But why didn't you tell me?" asked Ms. Sauvé in French.

"Because you and Albert were virtually the last ones to call me by my old name and I wanted to keep at least one tie to my past,"Sydney (AKA Adéle) replied in French.

"So, have you found anyone new?"Ms. Sauvé asked- shifting to English.

"Why do you ask?" Sydney (AKA Adéle) asked.

" Maybe you have that inner glow that can't hide these things or maybe I happen to be a friend of your new 'friend's friend," Ms. Sauvé laughed after having made quotes with her fingers above her head.

"OK, I've found this wonderful man who adores my charms and wants to shout to the whole world about us! It's like a dream come true after all those years of being hidden and sneaking around!" Sydney (AKA Adéle) proclaimed.

"So why haven't you introduced him to me and Jean-Paul?" Ms. Sauvé asked.

"Oh, I guess I didn't want to jinx it,"Sydney (AKA Adéle) shrugged.

" So, have you told Joey Jeremiah about your years with Albert?" Ms, Sauvé asked (switching back to French).

"Of course. Why wouldn't I?" Sydney (AKA Adéle ) asked in French after taking in a short breath.

"Oh, perhaps, because you wouldn't want to chance him dumping you if he found out you stayed with someone for so long you knew to be so cruel to the woman Joey loved," Ms. Sauvé gravely intoned in French.

"I've.. ..told Joe about Albert. He understands that I was under Albert's power when I said and did those terrible things and was so unfair to poor Julia,"Sydney (AKA Adéle) proclaimed in French.

"Hello, Mr. Jeremiah. …?" Ms. Sauvé started to say (in English,natch) into her cellphone before Sydney( AKA Adéle) grabbed it from her hand and hung it up.

" Please, give me some time to do so! I've worked very hard at this and I don't want it to be derailed prematurely. Don't I deserve a chance for true love and happiness?" Sydney (AKA Adéle) asked.

"Of course. It's just that you had great animosity towards Julia for so long and. .." Ms. Sauvé recalled.

"You know Albert never understood how Julia could have left a surgeon for a used car salesman. I think I know! " Sydney (AKA Adéle) leeringly laughed.

"And what of poor Julia's memory?" Ms. Suavé asked.

"Poor Julia? She died at 31 more gorgeous than ever with her husband and children adoring her and her adoring them! I'm 33 and have nothing to show it but a career and the surname of a marriage that didn't last one college semester," Sydney (AKA Adéle) sighed.

"Her family's suffered terribly since her death," Ms. Suavé groaned.

"You'll have to forgive my former hostility towards Julia. I was under Albert's power at the time! Besides, Craig likes me along with little Angela. They so want a new mother and I'm more than happy to put those crafting and cooking skills your Mémé Bourgoyne taught me for Joe, them and their friends," Sydney (AKA Adéle) pleaded.

"All their friends?" Ms. Sauvé asked.

"Well, there's this annoying gnat named Caitlin Ryan who was Joe's old fiancée; but , I put her in her place by pretending to have never previously heard of her when we met so she'd feel too guilty to try anything and be angry at Joe. Now I'm civil to her and pour coals on her head by kissing Joe in front of her every chance I can," Sydney (AKA Adéle) shrugged.

"Adéle! I was hoping you were through with those kinds of games!" Ms. Suavé groaned in French.

"I just have to protect what's mine," Sydney (AKA Adéle) insisted.

"Like you think Albert's money should have been?"Ms. Suavé scoffed in French.

"I've long since let go that. .."Sydney (AKA Adéle) snorted in English

"Joey was declared Craig's permanent legal guardian after Albert's death and marrying Joey might give you. ."Ms. Suavé pondered.

"You don't trust me! You don't approve of this" Sydney (AKA Adéle ) boiled.

"I happen to like the Jeremiah and Simpson Families and don't want anyone to get hurt!" Ms. Sauvé pleaded.

"The only person who could get hurt would be you- if you stupidly keep meddling in things that aren't your business!"Sydney (AKA Adéle) seethed.

"Is that a threat?" Ms. Sauvé asked.

" You wrote e-mails about a student's father to an outsider! That's a Breach of Confidence -an Automatic Terminable Offense!" Sydney (AKA Adéle) boiled.

"What?! But I was trying to save you from and you never acknowledged. .." Ms. Sauvé sputtered.

"At the time, I deleted those annoyances before I read them but I know to NEVER empty out the Delete File-and after you caught up and told me in person about Craig's actual schooling locale, I retrieved them for a rainy day," Sydney (AKA Adéle ) seethed.

"But. .." Ms. Sauvé gasped.

"And right now it's monsooning! It's your fault that Albert had that accident anyway!" Sydney (AKA Adéle) sneered.

"What?!" Ms. Sauvé asked.

"If you hadn't been so insistant on 'saving' me from Albert, I'd have not confronted him. He'd have been with me in Singapore instead of being on a cellphone when speeding. I could have shown him how perfect and orderly things are in Singapore and we could have started a new life together. "Sydney (AKA Adéle ) boiled in French.

"I doubt he'd have held off beating you like he did Julia and Craig much longer and. ."Ms. Sauvé sighed.

"He hit me a few times and I hit him back but I'd waited too long and been through too much to let a few scuffles stand between what was due me," Sydney (AKA Adéle) shrugged.

"Oh, Adéle, I wish you had come to me, I could have gotten you . ." Ms. Sauvé pleaded as she took Sydney (AKA Adéle's ) hand.

" Help? I never needed that kind of help but you may need help starting a new career after I've put those pathetic e-mails in the School Board's hands," Sydney (AKA Adéle) boiled as she wrenched her hand free.

"Adéle!" Ms. Suavé gasped.

"Oh, I know you'd find some other way to help people. That's your downfall but think of all those snivelling teens with no other shoulder to blubber on at Degrassi! The School Board may refill your position with a total incompetent or not budget for a replacement at all,"Sydney (AKA Adéle) sighed.

"You wouldn't really do that. Think of all we went through as children and teens with only Mémé to save us from doom. Think of our friendship. ." Ms. Sauvé pleaded as she tried to grasp onto Sydney (AKA Adéle's ) hand again.

"A real friend wouldn't stand in the way of happiness after so much anguish- and you wouldn't want to chance all those teens being left helpless. So, you'd better do what's right for them, for you and for me and not say a word to Craig, the Jeremiah or Simpson Families or you'll find out what I'll really do!" Sydney (AKA Adéle) seethed as she exited the marketplace.

Late December at the Jeremiah House. .

"What are you doing up so late, Kid?"15-year-old Craig asked as he saw Angela wander into the kitchen upon his return from seeing Ashley. ..and Manny (separately) on the same night.

"I messed up Sydney's dress and she's mad at me an' Caitlin,"6-year-old Angela groaned as she sat down at the kitchen table.

"What makes you think that?" Craig asked as he sat down opposite her.

"Because she said she was mad at Caitlin and I know she's mad at me for messing up her dress. I don't think she really likes me,"Angela sighed as she shook her head.

"But she takes you places and makes you things. ." Craig pondered.

"Yeah, but she also does that for Caitlin and she doesn't like her! Sydney just wants Daddy to think she likes us!"Angela groaned.

"Oh, I'm sure she didn't really mean that and just because someone's mad at you for doing something they don't like you doing doesn't mean they don't like you," Craig explained.

"Craig, I know that when I mess up and you, Daddy, Uncle Archie, Aunt Christy, Emma or Caitlin tell me to behave that all of you still really love me but I can tell it's not like that with Sydney!"Angela sighed.

"Maybe you should talk to Joey about. ."Craig pondered.

" I can't do that! He'll be unhappy again and I don't want Daddy to be unhappy like he was when he missed Mommy so much," Angela groaned.

"None of us do," Craig groaned.

" I know. Craig, why do grownups pretend to like people they don't?"Angela asked as she put her arm around his neck.

"Good question," Craig gulped.

"You think Sydney can like me again?" Angela asked.

"Kid, maybe Sydney had a bad day or something but try to behave the best you can and let me know if anything else like what happened tonight happens," Craig groaned as he hugged her shoulders and led her up the stairs to her room.

"Clothilde, why can't you sleep, Amour?" the bearlike, red haired 30-ish Jean-Paul Sauvé asked in their large bed.

"It just burns me up about Adéle but she's right that she could have my job and so many poor souls at Degrassi would have no one in their corner," Ms. Clothilde Sauvé sighed as she hugged him.

"You don't have to work there to help- and we'd get by fine with just my plumbing in our pot," Jean-Paul Sauvé laughed.

"Maybe I'll wait until after Christmas. Why should I spoil it for the Jeremiahs?"Ms. Suavé asked.

"Were the Emperor's subjects happier when they saw him naked and free of living a sham?" Jean-Paul Sauvé asked.

"I've never really considered that part of the story. Oh, how I love you, my Big Red Bear!" Ms. Sauvé beamed as they embraced.

"I know you'll do what's right. How could you not being Mémé Bourgoyne's granddaughter?"Jean-Paul Sauvé asked.

"You know I've quite a few cousins who'd prove that theory wrong but thanks!" Ms. Sauvé laughed as they continued their embrace for quite sometime thereafter.

Craig came into the Jeremiah House late in the afternoon the next day and opened the door to find Sydney(AKA Adéle) in the living room standing with Caitlin. He stood there quietly while the scene unfolded.

"I told you. ." Caitlin pleaded.

"A lie!" Sydney(AKA Adéle) boiled as she gave Caitlin a hateful glare," I'm not stupid, okay? I know you still have feelings for Joe and I understand. He is amazing!"

"Sydney!"Caitlin gulped.

"But here's what I also know. Joe and his family need me. Not some charming, klutzy, fun and games blast-from-the-past. Me!" Sydney (AKA Adéle ) seethed as she gave Caitlin a far more intimidating glare than Caitlin could recall receiving..

"Sydney, I can't find it!" Joey called from upstairs.

"I'll be right there!" Sydney(AKA Adéle) replied without the slightest hint of having just been so deliberately cruel while Caitlin ran away quite shaken at not only the words themselves but even more so what she had seen in Sydney (AKA Adéle's) glare.

Craig ran after Caitlin and tried to put together what he'd just seen somewhat thankful that Sydney (AKA Adéle) hadn't once turned her head or glanced in his direction to have seen him be witness to this. He tried to catch up to Caitlin but she burst into tears as she wished him Merry Christmas and fled. He didn't know what to think but he was having his own dilemna with Ashley and Manny to give what he'd seen any real thought but did his best to avoid Sydney(AKA Adéle) the rest of the afternoon but wasn't sure how to approach Joey about this.

"Dude, I still think that the Drummer Boy and the Three Wise Men hip-hop act would have rocked!" Spinner laughed that next afternoon (in his suit) as they were getting ready for the Holiday Pageant.

"I guess," Craig said, dejectedly.

"Why are you so down? You're going to be duoing with Ash up there in a few minutes. Is it something with her?" Jimmy asked (dressed up in his costume of traditional Ethiopian royal robes).

"Yeah there is but there's something else,too," Craig sighed.

"Something with Joey?" Marco asked as he put on his feathered troubadour hat with his left hand and picked up his accordion with his right.

"It's Sydney. I think she's bad news," Craig groaned.

"What? Dude, she's hot and she makes that great seafood jambalaya that's kept my pipes clear!" Spinner laughed.

"What?! That's why you've farted more than ever these last two months! Gross!"Jimmy groaned.

"Hey, Mr. Simpson didn't want it and can't eat . .." Spinner shrugged.

"What? You mean he's not said anything all this time because he hasn't wanted to hurt her or Joey's feelings?" Craig groaned.

"It's typical for Mr. Simpson to want to consider others," Marco pondered.

"Great! Snake's fighting to stay alive with chemo but instead of just telling them he doesn't like and can't eat the jambalaya, he's sneaking around like a child because of her! Angie's getting confused as to what to believe, thanks to her. And I don't doubt that Joey hasn't seen Grandma except when dropping me and Ange off at her place thanks to Sydney,too!" Craig boiled.

"Why are you being so suspicious of Sydney all of a sudden?" Jimmy asked.

"Because I saw something yesterday I'd only seen from one other person in my life that I'd hoped to have never seen again but it looks like I have but I don't know how to warn Joey without him hating me," Craig explained.

"What are. ..?" Marco started to ask.

"Those eyes became my Dad's! She might as well have been his twin sister!" Craig shuddered.

"Ew, Joey's dating your aunt? " Spinner asked.

"No, Spinner. She's not Dr. Manning's. . ." Jimmy tried to explain.

"I guess it's okay except that would make Joey your new uncle and Angie would be your stepcousin and half-sister,"Spinner pondered.

"Spinner. . ." Marco groaned.

"But. …"Craig sputtered.

"I don't know why we bother," Jimmy groaned as he shook his head.

"Jimmy, you're next! " Liberty exclaimed as she ran back to fetch him.

"Only three more spots to my duet with Ashley. I'll try to think of the right time!"Craig pondered as Jimmy took his prop staff and ran off.

"Jimmy did amazing monologue about the Balthazar the Wise Man bringing myrrh from Ethiopia to the Baby Jesus to preserve good and how the Ethiopians later carved out churches from solid bedrock to symbolize faith and hope moving mountains in times of adversity,"Marco sighed.

"But it's nothing compared to my solo!" Spinner laughed flashing his troublemaking grin as he ran out.

"And now Gavin Mason will sing his rendition of that classic carol, 'Hark the Herald Angel Sing'!" J.T. Yorke in his Dickensian suit announced to the audience.

"[BELCH] the Herald Angel sing.

[BELCH] to the Newborn King!" Spinner sang to the resounding boos and groans of the audience before Mr. Raditch ran up to the stage and yanked him off.

Mr. and Mrs. Mason were furious and ran backstage to where Mr. Raditch was berating Spinner and Kendra wanted to crawl under the floor backstage but she hoped that her Chinese New Year's Dragon Dance in two more numbers would spare the Mason Family honour.

"Uhm. . .looks like Spinner got a little too much egg nog there! Heh! Heh! Now we present Toby Isaacs and the Sons of Abraham as he recites the Meaning of Hanukkah!" J.T. nervously announced.

After Toby and his friends finished, it was Craig and Ashley started their duet- before Ashley did the Slap Heard Around the World to Craig's face!

The outcome of Ashley's slap and Manny's rejection has been told many times before so nothing needs adding for the purposes of this story so we'll pick up the story to the hall outside Mr. Raditch's office where so many of Craig's worst moments had taken place. Ms. Sauvé had missed what had happened onstage due to filling out zillions of forms in her office so she'd have extra time to holiday with Jean-Paul but she left it to seek out Craig or Joey (knowing they'd be the Pageant) to level with them about Sydney (AKA Adéle) but she stopped when she observed them in the hallway together.

"Joey, why are you telling me this?" Craig asked in frustration.

"The point is life will go on and you'll get over this!" Joey declared.

"You and Caitlin never got over each other. Everyone knows. Sydney knows," Craig groaned.

"What does Sydney know?"Joey asked.

"Maybe a lot more than she's letting you think," Craig groaned.

"What do you mean? "Joey asked.

"I know if Mom were still alive, no one else would even be on your screen but you love Caitlin not Sydney," Craig sighed.

"And you think Sydney thinks this?" Joey pondered.

"Joey, I thought if I gave everyone everything they wanted, I'd have the best Christmas possible but Christmas isn't about getting the best gift but about being willing to sacrifice for those you love even if they hate you for it," Craig implored.

"What are you planning to sacrifice?" Joey asked.

"Joey, I know you've been trying to tell yourself that Sydney makes you happy and I want you to be happy but is that happiness real?" Craig asked.

"What do you mean?" Joey asked.

"I've been waiting for the right time to talk to you about this but there's no right time and things are getting worse. The other day Sydney got mad at Angie and Caitlin for Angie spilling stuff on her dress," Craig recalled.

"Sydney wasn't angry at Angie. She was a little miffed at Caitlin's decision but not her," Joey pondered.

"Joey, Angie told me she believed Sydney was mad at both of them," Craig groaned.

"Craig, Angie's just a kid. You know how sensitive kids can be. ." Joey rationalized.

" I tried to reason with Angie about Sydney not being angry at her but she knew. Kids can tell when adults are angry at them- and not just at what mess they've made!"Craig plantively intoned.

"I'll talk to Sydney and see if she can smooth things over with. ." Joey groaned.

"Angie kept referring to that dress as Sydney's not hers!" Craig sighed.

"Sydney made and gave it to. ." Joey replied.

"Yeah, just like Dad gave me that darkroom, camera and all that equipment. He never let me forget that he'd bought them and they were his to take away or destroy at will- not mine! Outsiders thought he spoiled me but it was just to impress them he bought all this stuff. By the time I left his home, I barely thought even the clothes on my back were mine- that's why I took only what I could carry in one trip,"Craig recalled with a shudder.

"Are . .. you saying what I think you're saying? That's a very big leap!" Joey gasped.

"It's not that big a leap from getting mad at someone for spilling something then saying you aren't mad to belting someone for not using a coaster then telling them you love them," Craig cried.

"Just from that you think. ..?"Joey gasped.

"Joey, she's gotten everyone to jump through her hoops these past six months. Even though it wasn't even her Christmas tree or house, she practically had us wreck the living room just to turn that tree to fit her idea of perfect!" Craig groaned.

"But Snake and Spike. .." Joey pondered.

"Snake should be using every bit of energy he can to fight that cancer but he's been wasting a lot of it sneaking Sydney's seafood jambalaya 'care packages' to Spinner because he can't stand the food but doesn't want to hurt Sydney's feelings and get you upset,"Craig groaned.

"Nobody's perfect and I know Sydney has some strict ideas but these little things. ." Joey groaned.

"Add up to a pattern but they're nothing compared to what Sydney said to Caitlin in the living room yesterday that chilled the blood in my veins," Craig recalled with a shudder.

"What did she say exactly?" Joey asked.

"It wasn't so much what she said but the cold,cruel, reptille glare that gave me the worst feeling. Sydney didn't just want Caitlin to walk away. She wanted to make Caitlin feel guilty for daring to still love you and even for being alive! She wanted her dead like Mom and would have gloated if Caitlin had jumped off the CN Tower,"Craig shuddered.

"Why do you think all this?"Joey asked on the verge of tears.

"Because I've only seen one other person do this- then perfectly fake to everyone else that they were being honestly friendly and helpful to the person whose soul they intended to destroy. My Dad,"Craig seethed.

"Craig!" Joey gasped.

"I spent my whole childhood and a good part of my teens wondering what I could do to make him love me as much as he claimed and I'm still trying to sort out the fact that he hated Mom and me for knowing the real him. He'd always say that he hurt us because he loved us," Craig groaned.

"And Sydney would have to know that Caitlin walking away permanently would hurt me. Caitlin's one of the strongest people I've ever met and if Sydney could cause her to melt down. What about Angie?" Joey gulped.

"And what about you?" Craig asked.

"I don't know," Joey shuddered.

"Just tell Sydney what I overheard and ask her why she did it. Her answer will tell all,"Craig pleaded.

"Okay, tell me exactly what Sydney said. .." Joey groaned- as the Holiday Pageant was about to break up.

"Ms. Sauvé, I didn't hear you come by, "Craig gulped as Joey left him behind having heard him repeat what Sydney (AKA Adéle) had said.

"It's okay! I 'm sorry to have eavesdropped but I just want to tell you that I can't help but think your mother Julia would be so proud of you for using what you've learned via a nightmare to protect your family. May I kiss your right cheek?"Ms.Sauvé asked.

"Sure, it may be the only kiss it gets," Craig half-laughed as Ms. Sauvé hugged him maternally and kissed his right cheek while he hugged her back as would a son.

"It's great that you wanted to prevent your baby sister from going through what you did. No matter what else use what you've done for her and your stepdad today as something to draw strength from!" Ms. Sauvé beamed as she walked away.

"Thanks!" Craig beamed, happy for the first time in some days.

"You've given me hope and inspiration to keep doing that right thing! Joyeux Noël!"Ms. Sauvé exclaimed.

"Did you say something to make Caitlin go away?" Joey asked- after seeing Sydney (AKA Adéle) catch her breath when he told her that Craig had seen the two together the day before.

"Yes," Sydney (AKA Adéle) groaned as she gave Joey an evil look.

"And why would you do that?" Joey asked.

"She's supposed to be your ex," Sydney (AKA Adéle ) protested.

"She is," Joey sighed.

"You sure? I put a lot into this, Joe! I want this to work. I need this to work. .because I love you!" Sydney (AKA Adéle) pleaded as she looked into Joey's eyes.

Joey looked down. He now knew she was desperate to take over his life and family- and knew that behind her eyes was pure evil. Evil that would misuse the term 'love' as a means to accomplish those goals.

"But you don't feel the same," Sydney (AKA Adéle ) seethed.

"Sydney,"Joey groaned.

"Tell me I'm your first choice! Tell me you love me more than Caitlin. Right. That's what I thought," Sydney (AKA Adéle) seethed as she walked away- hoping he'd call after her and beg her to come back.

"Sydney. ." Joey called to her through the crowd.

"Yes, Joe?" Sydney (AKA Adéle) beamed- as she was certain this trick which had always worked on Albert and every other man she'd been with had proven effective.

"Two things I need to tell you!" Joey shouted.

"What Joe?" Sydney (AKA Adéle ) asked with baited breath.

"One is that even if I live another century, I'll always consider Julia to be my first choice above everyone else," Joey exclaimed.

"So, I'm the 2nd?" Sydney (AKA Adéle ) asked in a deliberately pitiful tone.

"No, Caitlin is. After what I've found out you've put my family and friends through, you're not even in the top trillion!" Joey boiled.

"Joe," Sydney (AKA Adéle ) started to cry.

"And one more thing! I'm the one who decides who and what my family and I need- NOT you!" Joey exclaimed

"How can you be so cruel?" Sydney (AKA Adéle )asked while she burst into tears.

"Osmosis," Joey declared in a low voice as he looked directly into and behind her eyes and saw for the very first time the evil that lurked within as Sydney (AKA Adéle) pushed through the crowd and fled into the parking lot- furious that she'd been so publicly rejected.

Ms. Sauvé was about to get into her car when. ..

"Please, Clothilde! Take me to your place for coffee. I don't deserve to be alone at Christmastime," Sydney (AKA Adéle) sobbed.

"No! I don't have any coffee to spare for you," Ms. Sauvé snapped.

"But we're friends. Your Mémé would have wished that," Sydney (AKA Adéle) sobbed.

"We both were rescued from horrible situations as girls and I thought you were the same friend I'd grown up with but . ."Ms. Sauvé groaned.

"I can change!" Sydney (AKA Adéle) begged.

"You already have but not for the better. I suppose it was the sentimentality of our shared childhood along with not wanting to believe someone I had loved as a sister could be evil that kept me around. Then, too, psychiatry teaches to try to find the cause. Sometimes, some of us get explanations confused with justification," Ms. Sauvé groaned.

"But. ." Sydney (AKA Adéle) gasped.

"I'll always mourn that little girl named Adéle eaten from the inside by Sydney and whose skin Sydney has used for camouflage but I can never trust or believe you again," Ms. Sauvé seethed.

"But I can change back," Sydney (AKA Adéle) pleaded.

" I know you can change your surface again but not what's inside because you don't want to," Ms. Sauvé sighed.

"But your Mémé Bourgoyne. ." Sydney (AKA Adéle) begged.

"Lived the last seven years of her otherwise wonderful long life losing who she was. Do you know that four years before she died, I showed her pictures to try to help her hang onto what memories she had left as long as possible. She pointed to your picture and she said 'serpent bites tail'- one of the last coherent phrases she said," Ms. Sauvé groaned.

"But. .."Sydney (AKA Adéle ) asked in puzzlement.

"I thought she was totally out of it but now I see that God gave her one last chance to warn me about you- as had Julia. That's why you avoided Mémé and that's why you hated Julia so much- because they knew who you really are while I buried my head in the sand," Ms. Sauvé boiled.

"I didn't mean it about your job," Sydney(AKA Adéle) sniffed.

"I came here tonight to warn the Jeremiahs about you but I saw that Julia's children were able to reach Joey to get him to see what he needed to see to save them all from you," Ms. Sauvé beamed.

"But I was under Albert's power. You have to understand," Sydney (AKA Adéle) pleaded.

"Save it for a talk show! I'm angry that he hit you and no one deserves to be hit but you've always done what suited you and exploited everyone else's need for love," Ms. Sauvé boiled.

"Are you going to tell them. .. everything?" Sydney (AKA Adéle) sniffed.

"Not at this point! Unlike Albert and you, I don't believe in kicking folks when they're down!" Ms. Sauvé sighed.

"I'm sorry about the threats and. .." Sydney (AKA Adéle) sobbed.

" No, they showed your true colours and I was ready to risk being terminated. Thankfully, the Jeremiah Family managed to save themselves in spite of my hesitation. I'm deeply ashamed at not listening to Julia's warning about you and not warning the Jeremiahs when I first discovered your new ties- and I never want to see, hear from or hear of you ever again! Goodbye, Sidonie Adéle Duvallier Brewster!" Ms. Sauvé boiled as she slammed her car door in her childhood friend's face then speeded away.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier," Snake groaned as he chauffered the Jeremiah Family to the airport in his Jeep.

"Would you quit apologizing already? You're the best friend I could have ever had and nothing will ever change that!"Joey exclaimed.

"Thanks! I'll park the car! You three need to do this on your own!"Snake exclaimed.

"You think it's too late?" Joey asked Craig as they were making their way to the smaller private plane field at Toronto International Airport.

"I'm not sure but we're with you all the way!" Craig exclaimed.

"Thanks for everything! I'll never forget what you did for me and Angie!"Joey beamed.

"I hope you're not too late because I'd hate for you to be alone again," Craig sighed.

"Even if Caitlin is gone for good, I'm not alone. I've got your Mom's spirit with me forever- and we three will be a family no matter what!" Joey exclaimed as he hugged Craig and Angie.

"Craig was right about Mom watching us from Heaven!" Angie beamed.

"He sure was, Baby! Caitlin or no, we're all going to go to Grandma's after this. I think I owe her big!" Joey laughed as they made their way to Caitlin's plane- before Joey was able to successfully reach Caitlin and they were reunited.

At virtually the very same moment, Sydney Brewster(formerly known as Sidonie Adéle Duvallier Brewster) accepted a marketting offer in Singapore. They were quite impressed by her skills, qualifications and fluency in French, English and Chinese. Sydney was able to give her resignation, pay off her lease, sell her car, find a new apartment and bank account online in Singapore and even get her belongings packed for shipping. She'd leave Canada forever on New Year's Day from the International Terminal at Toronto International Airport to start her new life in Singapore. She never knew that it would be months before anyone outside her Toronto firm even bothered to check up on her from the time she left the Degrassi Community School Parking Lot.

-FIN-

A/N- I hope you liked it! Feel free to review and ask questions. Thanks for reading this!