"And that's all you can tell me?"
Alex Bray pursed his lips, eying his fiancee keenly. "Sadie, I appreciate what you're trying to do, but a button in an old movie theatre isn't enough to pursue. Plus, since you and Cynthia have been all over that place, any crime scene that might have been there has been contaminated. It'd be a waste of time for me to organise any kind of investigation there - and I don't want to get Ray interested in this deal again. Bad enough the componants are still missing. At the moment he's taking the opinion that whoever took them was a fan of Jem's gone a bit over the edge. All of this stuff you're telling me about holographic ghosts and the like are just, well..."
"The kind of thing I don't want anywhere near Ray's ears." He admitted. "He's finally buried Synergy, thanks to the Tribune's scoop. I want to keep it that way."
"So do we all." Sadie settled herself more comfortably in the arm chair, casting a glance around Alex's front room. "And in some respects I hate that every time we speak lately this has been part of it. I don't want it to encompass us into some weird crime investigation. But on the other hand, Al, there's something here. Something bigger than a crazed fan looking for a memento."
"Maybe there is, but without the hard evidence to suggest what, I'm as clueless as you are." Alex sighed. "You said that some girl came up to you at le Klub Kool and spouted stuff about the Misfits, right? And we know it was a blond on the surveillance at the music company, though I have no way of interfering in that particular event. Phyllis Gabor hasn't involved law enforcement in her little vandalism problem and I have no jurisdiction where a crime isn't committed. It has to be referred to the FBI anyhow - and it's well out of our territory. If she hasn't even filed with the LAPD, I only have your word for it that it happened the way you say."
He leant over to kiss his girlfriend gently.
"And while I believe you one hundred percent, you have to see why it's not much ground for investigation."
"Yeah, I do." Sadie sighed. "I'm sorry. I'm getting personally involved and getting you personally involved too. You just haven't seen Cynnie lately. All this extra work is driving her to distraction and she's been through enough recently. I've never seen her so frazzled - I'm worried about her. I figured if we could find out who was behind the vandalism attacks, we could put a stop to it and she'd finally be able to get some rest."
"Cynthia is an incredible computer, Sadie." Alex said softly. "I agree that she's had a bad few months, with Jerrica dying and then with our investigations and all of that. But she's strong and she's intelligent. She'll come through this."
"I hope you're right." Sadie admitted. "I know at the bottom of it all, she's wires and bolts, but it's hard not to think of her as human."
"Well, I will try and do anything that I can do to help out, so long as it doesn't interfere in my caseload." Alex said at length. "Obviously if Ray found out what I was up to, he'd get suspicious of me again and we've pretty much just put that whole deal behind us. But I don't want to let you down. Tell me again what this girl in the club looked like. If nothing else I can pass it on to the reconstructive artists and say that she was a witness in something or other."
"I can do better than that." Sadie said. "Do you have some scrap paper and a pencil? I'll draw her for you...as well as I can remember."
"Well, okay." Alex looked doubtful, but he got to his feet, rummaging in his desk for some spare paper and a pencil. "But if we were going to find this person, Sade, we'd need a pretty good likeness. Maybe it would be better if we gave it to the recon people. They're trained to do that."
"They didn't see her." Sadie shrugged. "So any picture they drew would be from second hand information anyway."
She took the paper, grabbing a magazine to rest it on as she drew. "Besides, I can remember her quite well. You remember people who are openly hostile to you for no apparent reason, and Syl and I discussed it anyhow, because I was going to do a sketch then. Things happened with work and I didn't get a chance to do it - but the idea was to show it to Cyn and to you and see if you made a match."
She frowned, chewing absently on the end of the pencil, then returning to her sketch.
"With Cyn so on edge, I didn't want to bother her with it, and I haven't had a chance till now to really discuss it with you." She added. "But it might just be this girl is connected to stealing Synergy's parts from your lab. She's obviously got some bug in her brain, from the way she spoke to Syl at the club. Solving one case might solve another."
"True." Alex came to lean over her shoulder. "I...hey! You never told me you could draw like that!"
"I'm full of surprises." Sadie shot him a mischievous look. "But I did the cover for the Exotic album, remember?"
"I'd forgotten." Alex admitted. "I'm sorry, Sadie, I didn't mean to undermine you. I knew you liked to scribble but I'd never seen you draw anything, so I just assumed..."
"That I'd be into cartoons and caricatures?" Sadie asked. She shrugged. "Not really. I mean, once or twice in school I used to draw unflattering pictures of the teachers on the board before class, and get sent to the head's office. But honestly, I just like to draw."
She looked self-conscious.
"Back at the Starlight, I have a sketch book with pictures in of everyone I care about." She admitted. "Starting with Aly, George and my family back home."
"Am I in there?" Alex asked playfully. Sadie grinned.
"That's for me to know and you to find out when you marry me." She returned teasingly. Then she relented. "Oh, of course you are, you silly. Lots of times."
She looked embarrassed.
"Just don't ask me to show it to you." She added. "It's kinda personal."
"I guess some people keep a diary...you keep a sketchbook." Alex sat back down beside her. "I keep learning new things about you all the time, don't I?"
"You know I'm a sentimental idiot, and that's probably as much as you need to." Sadie said ruefully. "I have a diary too. And a scrapbook, with all the news cuttings for Jewel since I joined the band. I'm hopeless."
"I think it's cute." Alex kissed her gently on the forehead. He glanced at the sketch. "She doesn't look familiar to me, by the way."
"None of us have ever seen her before, either." Sadie shrugged. "But this is a big city."
She shaded in the hat. "The only clue we could come up with was the hat - the monogram. We figured they might be her initials. Syl said it isn't a designer logo."
She held the sketch out.
"J.B." Alex looked thoughtful. "You could well be right. Can I take this to the office?"
"With pleasure." Sadie nodded. She grinned. "I won't sign it, so you can tell your colleagues that you had it anonymously dropped on your desk or whatever."
"I'll think of something." Alex told her, folding the piece of paper in half and slipping into the pocket of his jacket. "But I will run it through our databases, see if we get an identity match. It's a long shot, but at least it's somewhere to start. And it's possible that she's not a L.A local but from further afield."
"Well, anything you find out, we'd be grateful." Sadie said with a sigh. "And now, enough of this for one day. My brain's had enough and it's your afternoon free. I shouldn't be clogging it up with FBI business."
"Working this job, you get used to the idea that free time is a myth." Alex's eyes twinkled with amusement. "But there is something else I wanted to talk to you about." "Something not related to Jewel or this wretched business?"
"Something entirely unrelated." Alex assured her. "Something to do with you and me and our future together."
"Future?" Sadie looked startled, then, "Oh! Did you get the paperwork?"
"I got a letter from my friend at the DA's office." Alex responded. "She's looking into it all for me and she's going to forward me the relevant bits and pieces. She said that, if we really want to do the whole thing properly, it might mean you going back to the UK to file forms there...but with any luck, she thinks we might be able to work out everything from the US. You have a work permit, after all, so it's not like you need to marry me to stay in the US. She reckons that, that being the case, there shouldn't be too many complications."
"Good." Sadie nestled up against her fiance. "The worst thing in the world would be if they decided we couldn't get married and be a proper couple here, just because I wasn't born here. I was worried that my track record might go against me - but I suppose we'll just have to wait and see how it pans out. Like you said, I'm working here independantly of our relationship and was when we first met."
"It's kinda funny and exciting to think that I'm going to be Mrs Bray and an American citizen." she admitted. "I didn't really think that I was coming to America for good when I skipped the Atlantic and turned up on Topaz's doorstep. But I'm okay with the idea now. I love this city and even though I miss my family so badly, I have so many bad memories associated with staying in England. I don't have so many here, and I have you."
"I'm glad you're so flexible about it." Alex kissed her. "Because I'd be hard pressed to give up my work at the FBI."
"I'd be giving up mine too, if we went to England permanently." Sadie reasoned. "It makes no sense for either one of us to leave."
"When we get down to it, I'll speak to Jetta and get her to write my reference." She said thoughtfully. "She's always given me more leeway than Phyllis, and I'd rather have her speak for me in this. After all, she's been there. She's been married out here for more than twenty years."
"It's going to take time." Alex agreed. "But I'd rather we took that time and did all the relevant paperwork and stuff, before we worried about the actual ceremony. I don't want to find we're on our honeymoon and someone's trying to exploit a legal loophole."
"Shades of the law enforcement officer there." Sadie giggled. "But I agree. Right now we haven't even discussed where we're going to live."
She glanced once again around Alex's front room, then pulled a face.
"And if you think I'm living here, you can forget it." She added. "You know how much I hate the decor in this room."
"I wasn't going to ask you to." Alex sounded amused. "Besides, it isn't big enough. Especially if we start a family."
"Start a family?" Sadie's eyes became big. Then she grinned.
"Wow, that sounds so grown up, doesn't it?" She observed. "But yes, I'd like us to do that...once it's all settled and final."
She pursed her lips.
"The one thing that I worry about is that we'll never see each other." She admitted. "With your job and mine being the way they are."
"True, but if we live together we stand a better chance." Alex told her. "And it's quality time that matters, right?"
"I guess it is." Sadie nodded. "I..."
She broke off, as an insistant bleeping came from Alex's jacket pocket, and sighed.
"Speaking of which, I think you're wanted." She said resignedly. Alex got to his feet, scooping up his pager and muttering a curse.
"That's Ray." He said darkly. "He knew I was seeing you this afternoon and he told me he'd only page me if something big happened. I better go. Sade, I'm sorry...but whatever it is must be important."
"You go." Sadie kissed him gently. "I'm used to sharing you with Los Angeles' criminal element, don't worry. Go put the world to rights and I'll call you later, okay?"
"Okay." Alex agreed. "And I'll make sure we do dinner some time this week, to make up for it."
"It's a deal." Sadie nodded her head. "I'll grab my stuff and let myself out, don't worry - you go see what Ray wants."
Alex nodded, grabbing up his jacket and bag and leaving the room. A moment later there was the sound of the front door being opened and closed, and Sadie sighed, shaking her head slowly.
"Mrs Law Enforcement isn't going to be an easy job." She acknowledged out loud. "But I'm getting used to the idea. And, since his day off has been cut short, I guess mine has been too. I should head back and see if anything new has come to light. If Alex's office can't do much to help us, then we're going to have to do a lot more legwork ourselves to find out just who's behind all these things!"
She got to her feet, picking up her own jacket and slipping it over her shoulders, scooping up her car keys from the coffee table and heading out of the apartment and down to the car park below. Humming an old song under her breath, she unlocked her vehicle, pulling open the driver's side door.
A familiar voice made her pause and she swung around, a confused smile crossing her face as she recognised Stefana.
"Stef!" She called. "What brings you here?"
"I was looking for you." Stefana crossed the parking lot quickly, returning the smile with a troubled one of her own. "I wanted to talk to you about...the things I said the other night."
"The other night?" Sadie's brow furrowed, then, "You mean after we left Flash Studio?"
"Yes." Stefana nodded her head. "I overreacted and wasn't thinking right. I don't want you to bother about it. It's probably crazy."
"Stef, if you're scared by it, it isn't crazy." Sadie said gently. "But I'm sure that there's another explanation. In fact, I just spoke to Alex about it. He's going to do what he can to find out what's behind all of this - so you don't need to worry. It'll be all right."
"I spoke to Cynthia." Stefana's voice seemed unnaturally tight and a strange look crossed her face, quickly masked by a smile. "She told me you went to the Drive Through. Why would you go to that old dump?"
"I'd have thought she'd have told you that, too." Sadie looked confused. "She thought maybe it was connected with everything that's going on."
"Listen, I was lying." Stefana gripped Sadie by the wrist, an unreadable look in her green eyes. "I was stoned that night. I hallucinated. I didn't tell you because you'd go mad about me using again. But hell, I don't care right now. I made it up, so drop it, okay?"
"You know that I never tell the truth unless it suits me, after all."
"Stef..." Confusion flooded Sadie's expression, quickly replaced by alarm as she registered the bracelet on the girl's wrist. It was silver, and unlike anything that Stefana would normally wear. Intertwined in the centre of the bracelet's design were two letters - J.B.
"What?" Stefana caught her glance, frowning. "It's a bracelet - what about it?"
"I hadn't seen it before." Sadie recovered herself, meeting the green eyes and seeing with growing horror their almost pixellated depth. "It's very pretty."
"Yes, it is." Stefana agreed. Sadie took a deep breath, then,
"Listen, Stef, you shouldn't have lied to me." She said softly, crossing and uncrossing her fingers behind her back. "But if you're feeling that desperate that you're resorting to...other things, then we should talk about it. I have to get home now, but give me a call, okay? You know you're not alone."
Surprise flickered into the other girl's green eyes, then she nodded, releasing her grip.
"Of course." She said with a shrug. "But I can handle it. I just wanted to tell you what happened."
"And I appreciate it." Sadie assured her. "Thank you for clearing it up for me."
She forced a smile, then a shrug.
"I'll see you later, then?"
"Undoubtedly." Stefana nodded, returning the smile with a strange one of her own. Then she was gone across the parking lot, and, chilled, Sadie clambered into her car, putting it into gear. She muttered a curse under her breath, reaching into her glovebox for her cigarettes and her lighter.
"What in hell is going on?" She wondered, reversing out onto the main road and screeching away in the direction of the Starlight Mansion before the strange illusion could accost her again. "Stefana wasn't kidding when she said there was a hologram walking around Los Angeles impersonating people. I can see why she was freaked out. And that J.B again! A bracelet, this time. Have we been missing the point all along? The blond girl in the club - she had J.B on her hat. Is she even real, or is the reason none of us recognise her because she's only a hologram? I wonder if the Sylva Stef encountered in the restaurant was wearing anything strange with those initials on. Obviously it means something - obviously whatever is projecting it is tied in some way to these two letters. A creator, maybe? Has someone duplicated Synergy? Or is this more simple than that? I wish I knew."
She took a drag on her cigarette, flicking her indicator for the turning onto the gravel road to the Starlight. "But no wonder she was afraid. I wish I'd been more sympathetic the other night...or taken her more seriously. Now whatever it is thinks she's getting too close and is impersonating her, too. I just hope that it - whatever it is - believed me when I backed off. If it doesn't suspect that I know it wasn't really Stefana, perhaps it will leave her alone. We're obviously getting close to something. I just wish I could see what it was! I need to speak to Cynthia. She understands how the technology works and I really don't!"
She drew her car onto the arc-shaped drive of the mansion. There were no other cars there, and Sadie assumed that her housemates must have gone out. She frowned, stepping out of the car and banging the door shut behind her as she hurried into the building.
"Cynthia?" She called. "Cyn, are you home?"
There was no response, and Sadie bit her lip, making a bee-line for the basement.
"If Cynthia isn't, I'll have to tackle Synergy direct." She muttered, pulling open the door and making her way slowly down into the darkness. "And hope that she can tell me what I want to know."
At that moment she reached the bottom of the cold stone steps, stopping dead as she registered the big lavender mainframe that stood against the far wall. A cold chill touched her heart.
"J.B." She whispered, moving slowly towards the computer, almost mesmerised by the initials that danced across the monitor. In the middle of the screen was a photograph of a blond woman, a small girl at her feet, and though the woman looked familiar, try as she might Sadie was unable to put a name to either of them.
Apprehensively she touched the computer's keyboard, but there was no response. Glancing around her, she realised that the watch was also missing, and Stefana's warning echoed in her head.
"Oh God. Stef was right." She whispered. "Cynthia is doing this...but why?"
JACQUI'S LEGACY: PART
The copyright for the original Jem characters featured in this and other stories by me belongs entirely to Hasbro and their interpretations to Christy Marx and the other writers of the Sunbow Jem series. Their future selves are based on concepts that are entirely my own and are not to be repeated elsewhere without due permission.
All other characters, including their likenesses, are copyrighted to myself as webmistress of Jewel's World from 2001 to the present day and are not to be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
The Teenangel Outsiders, Jesta, Flame, Ryan Montgomery and the future interpretations of Aja, Danse and certain of the other original characters are all or in part the concept of Gemma Dawn whose teenangel outsider fiction world is twinned with Jewel's World. You can visit her site at www.teenangeloutsiders.com!
All events in the stories on this site are based on original ideas and are not rooted in any existing Jem fiction nor in any real life event or person.