Chapter Four: Cynthia and Ben

"So, how's this whole Jewel project going, then?"
Dean Stacey eyed his friend with a curious look, noting the slightly bemused expression on the other man's face. It was early the next morning, and, with Jewel in makeup and under the careful camera eye of a professional film crew, Dean had taken the time to talk to Benjamin one on one. Inwardly he was a little concerned about how Nancy might take the intrusive filming, though so far that morning he had not had a chance to ask her about it.
Benjamin shrugged.
"I dunno." He admitted. "So far, they're proving to be the best possible camera subjects. I mean, I know when you film a fly on the wall doc like this one you tell them 'pretend you don't see the camera', but this lot really do forget sometimes that I'm there. I mean, Sylva likes to play up to the audience a little when she knows I'm focusing in on her, but even so I'm getting a lot of 'real' footage. Jewel first thing in the morning, dressing gowns and slippers ahoy...Jewel at the studio, practicing and squabbling amicably over pieces, Jewel at four o' clock this morning dragging themselves up to be be honest it'll be a shame to leave any of it on the cutting room floor."
"So why the 'dunno'?" Dean enquired. Benjamin frowned. He nodded his head towards the television set, where Aaron, Cynthia and various of Jewel's other stage hands were busy setting up the stage for the performance.
"Something weird happened yesterday afternoon." He admitted. "Dean, how well do you know this Cynthia chick? I mean, you're dating a Jewel, I figured maybe you'd met her a couple of times out of work hours when picking up Nancy."
"I never see Cynthia there when I collect Nancy." Dean looked thoughtful. "Except once, I think, when Syl and Topaz were having a girl's night in and painting nails and things. I wasn't aware she lived there at all."
"Well, me neither. Topaz was vague on the subject." Benjamin replied.
"Why the sudden interest in Cynthia?" Dean cast his gaze across to the set. "Something you want to tell me?"
"Like I said, something weird." Slowly Benjamin outlined all that he had seen in the basement. "It was weird as hell. I mean, you know I'm not the kind of guy who hallucinates for no apparent reason, and I'm not given to weird imaginings...but I swear, Dean. As true as I'm standing here, she went down those steps and just vanished. Poof! Just like that."
"People don't just vanish." Dean looked sceptical. Benjamin rolled his eyes.
"I know that." He retorted. "But I'm serious. I know what I saw."
"So what are you telling me? That Cynthia's some kind of, well, ghost?" Dean raised an eyebrow, looking amused, and Benjamin groaned.
"Okay, I knew telling you was a bad idea. Laugh all you want." He said resignedly. "I know what happened down there wasn't imagination or a trick of the light, but I can tell you don't believe me."
"Look, Ben, I've been down in the basement of that place only once, it's usually locked up." Dean said quietly. "They keep a lot of technical stuff in there for Jewel's shows, that's what Nancy told me, it's full of boxes and the like. I've seen it for myself. You could lose an elephant among all that junk. Most likely she was just behind a pile of boxes someplace and was so intent on what she was doing you didn't see her. Or, if you upset her in some way, she just chose not to respond when you called."
Benjamin sighed.
"I guess you're probably right." He said at length, but he still looked a little doubtful. "In any case, you're right about one thing. The only explanation for what I believe happened yesterday is that Cynthia is some kind of ghost, and, well, I've never seen a ghost set up light cables and fix broken bulbs like this girl."
"Cynthia is no ghost." Dean told him firmly. "Ghosts don't touch and feel, and Cynthia is one of the most touchy feely people in Jewel's production team. Whatever you thought you saw, Ben, you must have made a mistake."
"Perhaps I did." Benjamin spread his hands. "Guess I'll never know." He indicated across the set to the door leading to backstage. "Looks like your guests are ready to rock."
"Guess so." Dean grinned. "We'll talk later, huh? Just don't mention all this crazy stuff to Jewel, okay? They might just kick you out!"
"Okay, okay!" Benjamin laughed. "I'll get back to my project and forget about weird basements and lighting directors, okay?"
Dean crossed the set to greet the musicians with his usual warm smile.
"Well, holding up under the pressure of the Public Eye?" He teased. Copper nodded.
"It's kinda fun." She said slowly.
"Ben's been really nice, it's not like living with a reporter." Topaz agreed.
"I love it." Sylva dimpled. "The whole idea is just such a blast!"
"Nancy?" Dean put his hands gently on his girlfriend's shoulders, meeting her gaze with a questioning one of his own.
Nancy frowned.
"It's okay." She said slowly. "It's kinda weird with the camera in your face all the time, but I'm all right. I'm dealing with it, anyhow."
"Good girl." Gently Dean kissed her. "Well, ready for your interview? I heard the new song last night, by the way, it sounds great. It's sure to be a hit."
"I hope so." Topaz smiled. "It's been kinda tricky, some of the harmonies were really difficult to get right."
"Hey, save it for on air, Topaz, or we'll have nothing new to say!" Sylva exclaimed. "Looks like Aaron and Cynthia are set up, anyhow."
"Yes, we're all ready for you." Cynthia herself put in, joining them at that moment as if from nowhere. "Dean, how long till you go on air?"
"Ten minutes." Dean checked his watch. "Efficient as ever, Cynthia!"
"That's my job." Cynthia smiled. "And Aaron's, too."
"Misfit Music hires the best." Sylva winked.
"Cynthia, can I have a brief word?" Dean cast the hologram a smile. "Before we go on, it won't take a sec."
"Oh! Well, I suppose so." Cynthia looked startled.
"We'll go tune up." Copper suggested. "Since we'll be playing soon."
"So what's this about?" Cynthia asked curiously, once the band had gone to tune up their instruments. "I must confess I'm surprised you wish to speak to me...we're barely more than friendly acquaintances."
"I know, and I hope you'll forgive my intruding." Dean said slowly. "But I wondered if Ben's staying with Jewel had offended you in some way?"
"I don't see that it's your concern." Cynthia looked totally bewildered.
"Well, it kinda is, since I suggested Jewel for the project in the first place." Dean admitted. "I know it's a bit impersonal, but the girls don't seem to mind, and I didnt want to think I'd helped put anyone's nose out of joint."
"Oh, don't worry. I don't believe you have." Cynthia smiled wryly. "My nose is quite firmly in joint, thankyou."
Dean laughed.
"I'm glad to hear it." He said. "Look, Ben can be a bit full on and in your face, wanting to know everything that's going on, and he seems to think he's upset you somehow. Between you and me, I think it's bothering him a little more than his professionalism should you follow me?"
"Oh." Cynthia frowned. "Yes, Dean. I believe I comprehend you perfectly, and I thank you for the warning. I shall speak to him, and see if we cannot settle this up somehow. I believe this is for Jewel's benefit, this show, and nothing else should get in the way."
"Good. I'm glad you understand." Dean looked relieved. "And now I have a show to present, so I have to run. Thanks for hearing me out."
"It's never a bother." Cynthia assured him. "I always have time for a friend of Jewel's."
As the opening strains of the theme music began to fill the studio, the hologram took her chance to slip backstage, looking for Ben as she did so. She knew that there was a camera crew filming the performance for the benefit of The Public Eye, and that his voice would be dubbed over these sections later, for she had spent a progressive night replaying the entire first series of the show through her internet data transfer cables. It had been this she had begun when he had seen her, and her memory banks had been too engrossed in what she was doing to respond to his call.
"But it also means that I am greatly at risk should he stumble upon me unawares." She mused to herself with a frown as she made her way through the corridors. "Copper and the others may have been imprudent in allowing this to begin, but it's happened now, and I have to ensure that I know what I am up against."
"Were you looking for me?"
A friendly voice made her start and she turned, meeting his gaze with a smile.
"Yes." She acknowledged. "I'm rather afraid I left you with a poor impression of my hospitality yesterday. I wished to apologise and set the record straight."
"It's okay. I guess I kinda barged into your home without realising it." Benjamin returned the smile, a look of relief in his eyes. "I didn't know Jewel's home was also yours."
"Well, I'm a very backstage person." Cynthia responded quietly. "I shall endeavour to interfere little in your filming this week, I promise. The nation does not want to see me, after all."
"If you're part of Jewel's world, then I'm sure they wouldn't mind." Benjamin assured her, then, "Listen, this is going to sound odd, but yesterday I saw you go down into the basement. I wanted to apologise for putting you out, but when I went down there, you were nowhere around."
"You were down there?" Cynthia's violet eyes registered mild surprise as she neatly formulated her cover story. "I'm afraid I must not have heard you. I seclude myself away to work on the wiring for Jewel's act - this morning's show being so imminent I decided to go over things once more. I suppose I was so engrossed...but as I'm sure you have seen, the basement is rather a labyrinth."
"Oh, I see." Benjamin looked a little sheepish. "This will sound even madder, but I actually thought you vanished into thin air."
Cynthia laughed.
"Like a phantom?" She demanded. Benjamin glanced at his hands.
"Well, yeah." He admitted. "Seems kinda dumb now."
"Well, if I was such a spectre, I would not be able to do this, now would I?" Cynthia said lightly, linking her arm in his and leading him back towards Jewel's dressing room.
"Guess not." Benjamin acknowledged. He paused, then, "Look, after this morning's show, Jewel have a photoshoot in the centre of the city and there's a camera crew scheduled to cover that, so I'm not needed there till later. I don't suppose you're working there either, since there's no music?"
"No...I'm not." Cynthia agreed slowly, trying to work out where the conversation was heading.
"Then would you allow me to take you to breakfast to kinda make up for the whole misunderstanding and thinking you were a ghost deal?"
"Breakfast?" Cynthia looked startled. "I...I don't know what to say!"
"There's nothing funny in it, I promise, and I'm not going to pump you for dirt on Jewel." Benjamin wheedled. "I just want to say sorry properly for thinking you were, well, weird."
Cynthia looked troubled, then,
"I don't usually eat breakfast." She admitted truthfully. "But I cannot refuse such a gesture. I'll accompany you willingly, but will you forgive me if I do not eat? I am a creature of habit."
"Okay, it's a deal." Benjamin eyed her keenly and despite her normal composure Cynthia felt uncomfortable. Could he see through her act? Did he know more than he was telling? What exactly had he seen in the basement the afternoon before?
On Benjamin's part, however, his motives were driven by nothing more than a curious attraction for the lighting engineer. Cynthia was both beautiful and seemingly unattainable...a deadly combination he had come up against several times in the past.
"You have a neat way of speaking." He commented now. "I never heard anyone talk like you before. Can I ask where you're from?"
"Here in Los Angeles." Cynthia responded. "I was...born here, in the summer of 1985."
"You don't look twenty seven." Benjamin objected. Cynthia laughed.
"I don't look a lot of things." She acknowledged. "But what you see is only a proportion of what you get in this world, I find."
"So why the unusual twists of speech?"
"I...I've always talked this way." Cynthia looked bemused. "I was...taught this manner of speech from my father."
"Well, I think it makes you sound extremely well educated." Benjamin grinned. "Better than a tv bum like me. And it sounds like Jewel are more or less finished. Once you've done with their equipment, shall we go?"

Chapter One: The Idea
Chapter Two: Benjamin
Chapter Three: Chez Diablo
Chapter Four: Cynthia and Ben
Chapter Five: A Motive
Chapter Six: One On One
Chapter Seven: A Cryptic Note
Chapter Eight: The Intruder
Chapter Nine: Cynthia Explains
Chapter Ten: Stefana's Plot

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, 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. 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 future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!
The concept of RayzaBlade is copyrighted to my sister Elena...^_^ (Yeah, blame her!)

Sirena's music is based mainly on the music of Republica's album 'Republica' and Garbage's albums 'Garbage' and 'Version 2.0'.