Chapter Thirteen: Decisions

"You're not happy, Kimber."
Raya put her hand on her friend's shoulder, a concerned look on her face. Kimber turned, offering the drummer a ghost of a smile.
"No, maybe not happy." She said finally. "But I'm coping."
"Are you sure?" Raya asked gently. "You haven't spoken to you think that you should shut him out so much without hearing his explanation?"
"Yes...I'm sure." Kimber nodded. "I love him too much to face him coherently at the moment, Raya, and I refuse to cry in front of him." She frowned. "I wish I could be angry but I'm still too deeply in shock. It's awful."
Raya hugged her companion tightly.
"It will work out somehow." She murmured quietly. Despite herself Kimber smiled again, more sincerely this time.
"You're always the romantic." She observed. "You want a happy ending."
"Don't you?"
"Yes, if only I knew what one was." Kimber looked tired. "I don't feel right, Raya. I don't feel...myself."
"We are all worried about you." Raya admitted.
"Well, at least I have you guys." Kimber replied. "I'm glad about that. And that Pizzazz seems to have backed off, too. I couldn't deal with her hassling me right now."
"No...I wonder why it is she has lost interest." Raya frowned, then shrugged. "Ah well. I suppose it is of little matter. What is important is that she has."
Kimber nodded.
"Now if only I could work out what to do about Shawn, Raya."
"I think for a large part that is up to him and not you." Raya said gravely. "What you have to decide is how much you can forgive him."

Across the parking lot, Danse and Eboni had made their return, Eboni whistling a carefree tune as she entered the studio. Glancing at her, she appeared the picture of calm, but Danse knew her friend too well and she knew that this was just a front. Eboni was as anxious about encountering both the Holograms and Shawn as Danse was herself about such a confrontation.
But she knew it had to happen.
"Danse, there you are!" Shana came across the set towards them, casting her friend a smile then eying Eboni thoughtfully. "Jem was wondering when you'd get back, she has a question about the routine."
"Okay, well, here I am." Danse smiled. "What's the problem?"
"Well..." Shana cast Eboni another look, then, "Jem wanted to speak to just you, I think."
"I guess I'll let you discuss business, Ellie." Eboni observed. "I can tell when I'm not welcome."
"Noone's saying you're not welcome, Eboni." Shana said carefully. "Only that..."
"Don't worry, I know. You're Kimber's friends and she comes first." Eboni smiled. "Really, Shana, it's fine."
"No, it isn't fine." Kimber came up behind Shana. "Eboni's here to do a job and she should be allowed to do it."
"Kimber?" Shana shot her companion a startled look. Kimber's expression was very grave and uncharacteristically lacking in humour, but she seemed determined in what she said.
"It's her job, just as it's mine to be here." She said quietly. "She's working with Danse and we can't stop her."
"Thank you, Kimber." Eboni said with a slight smile. "I...wanted to apologise to you, by the way. It was wrong of me to blurt things out at you how I did yesterday - I wasn't feeling quite straight with things and seeing him again shocked me. I kinda took it out on you some and it wasn't fair."
"It's all right." The ghost of a smile touched Kimber's pale face. "I thought things over last night in real depth and I guess it's not your fault that things are the way they are."
"It is my fault." Eboni corrected her. "I was stupid enough to accept him without knowing what he was really like."
"I...I'd appreciate it if you'd tell me what happened." Kimber responded softly. "I...I really don't know which way to turn and I hoped you might...might..." She trailed off at this, and Eboni put a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"If you want to know, then I'll tell you what I can." She agreed gravely. "But listen, Kimber. Ellie and I have talked about this, and I'm game to give Shawn his freedom should he ask me for it. I still loathe him as much as ever I did...but it isn't fair for me to put another girl through what I went through. You really love Shawn - I can tell you do, and...well, from what I've heard of him I'd like to believe he's turned over a new leaf. If you and he can work your relationship out then...well, I won't stand in your way."
Tears touched Kimber's eyes at this.
"I appreciate it." She said softly. "I needed to know, Eboni...I'm not glad you told me, but I needed to know it all the same...I guess I need some time to come to terms with it all and decide if I can trust him enough to carry on."
Shana's expression relaxed.
"If you girls wanna trot off and chat, Danse and I'll go see to whatever Jem's problems are." She suggested. Eboni glanced at Kimber, who nodded her head.
"I think that's best." She agreed, though there was hesitation in her blue eyes.
"I won't bite, I promise." Eboni assured her. "I...feel kinda rotten for making you so upset yesterday. Maybe I've gone soft in the head but I can't hate you like I've hated the other girls he's messed with."
Kimber frowned at this, leading her companion away to a secluded corner.
"Other girls?" She asked at length. "I knew he'd been with Pizzazz, but..."
"Oh, he did, did he?" Eboni seemed amused at this. "I had a feeling he had...she seemed so keen to spite you and him. Yeah, there have been quite a few other women, at least there were when I was still in direct contact with him. I can't say much for him over the last year or two...we've only encountered each other on brief and awkward occasions and to be honest I've drunk myself into forgetting those as best I can."
"Why did you marry him, then?"
"It was...a split second decision." Eboni admitted. "He was good looking and alluring and he was starting to make it big in showbusiness. I was young and stupid and...well, I wanted an escape, if I'm honest. I don't have a good family background, and I wanted to be sure that I was out of their grasp. We met each other once at a show and we wound up spending more and more time together. Between the time we met and the time we married it was only about six months. Three months into being Mrs Harrison the relationship went sour."
"Three months?" Kimber looked shocked. "But...what happened?"
"I caught him with another woman." Eboni responded. "We had the mother and father of all fights, Kimber. He has a nasty temper when it's roused, especially if he's been drinking, and mine's not too much better. I remember throwing something at him...and I remember him grabbing me and pinning me down. From then on our fights got nastier and nastier until I walked out on him."
"Oh." Kimber's expression was unreadable. "I see."
"I guess you never saw that side of him, huh?" Eboni looked rueful.
Kimber shook her head.
"No." She admitted. "I never did."
"Well, if I'm honest the guilt was probably both ways when we were rowing - I was as violent to him as he was to me, and I generally started it." Eboni replied. "But my memories of those few months aren't good ones."
"Why not divorce him when you left him?"
"He wouldn't let me. Our marriage was a secret - hell, I wasn't even allowed to tell Giselle, and she's the closest thing I have to a sister in this world." Eboni replied. "It wasn't till I met Michel Chabou that I even cared too much either way - I was hurting too much to worry about another relationship till I met him. Then things got messy...I couldn't get the divorce because Shawn was afraid of a public scandal. I guess I let it get to me too much...but then I really did love Michel."
A wistful note touched her voice at this moment, and Kimber, whose own emotions she would have been hard pressed to describe instinctively took her companion's hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
"You still love him, don't you." She murmured.
Eboni nodded.
"Yes." She acknowledged. "He was a lighting technician on one of the sets I worked on and it was literally love at first sight for us both. He's the first person who ever loved me as I was, and who I didn't feel pressured with. But I'm sure I love him no more than you do Shawn. So you see, I'll right the wrong and give him a divorce...but I want you to know that I'm doing it for my sake and for yours - not for his. And I hope...I hope that you think things through before you make any decisions. I...I kinda like you, which is a first for me in this situation."
Kimber let out a strange laugh.
"It's ironic." She observed. "At the moment I feel friendlier towards you than I do towards him."
Eboni grinned.
"I'm grateful for you not sending me away this afternoon. I wouldn't have blamed you if you had." She said.
"I think I needed to hear things from you properly, in order to figure out what I'm going to do." Kimber replied. "And this is your job. It's not your fault that I'm in love with your husband...or that he didn't tell me he was married. Now I just have to work out whether I love him enough to forgive him."
She stood. "I guess for now we ought to get back to work, and handle this later." She said with a sigh. "Are you coming?"
"Yes." Eboni nodded. "As you said, it's our job to be here...and for the record, I hope you do work out the best way to go about this all."
"Me too." Kimber replied. "Me too."

Chapter One: Meredith
Chapter Two: On Set
Chapter Three: The Misfits
Chapter Four: Old Rivals
Chapter Five: Kimber
Chapter Six: Saffron's Story
Chapter Seven: Enter The Dancers
Chapter Eight: Blast From The Past
Chapter Nine: Kimber and Eboni
Chapter Ten: Visit From The Backers
Chapter Eleven: Chimera's Secret
Chapter Twelve: Danse Takes A Hand
Chapter Thirteen: Decisions
Chapter Fourteen: Saffron's Advice
Chapter Fifteen: Closure

(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. Eboni, Saffron, Chimera, Sakura and all other characters who do not appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley (2001)