A Jewel Whodunnit...

Chapter Three: Questions

"It's like a circus out there."
Nancy turned away from the window with a grimace, dropping down into a chair. "Anyone would think it were the middle ages and they were waiting for a public execution. Everyone wants a piece of us at the moment."
"I've taken the phone off the hook." Copper glanced up from her book with a sigh. "I know we're here on a publicity blitz, but this wasn't what any of us anticipated."
"The worst part is being holed up in the hotel like we are." Sylva decided from where she was lounging on the rug. "It stinks. We can't even go out because those morons think it's a game to lay in wait. The only people who've been through the mob safely are the police."
"Can't imagine them stopping Mom, if she wanted to." Nancy observed. "I think she's in her room, though. I wonder if news has filtered through back home? Aunt Phyl will go mad."
"Well, I spoke to Topaz late last night." Sylva admitted. "Called her up to moan, basically, about the fact everything's going screwballed on this tour. I didn't exactly mention what we were involved in, but I don't reckon it'll be long before the whole of America does know. That's the problem with being such big business...and of course, Rory Llewelyn will be loving it."
"I'm sorry."
A soft voice came from the doorway of the lounge and the trio turned to face their fourth. Sadie was pale faced, with bags under her eyes and it was clear she had been crying. She was still in her nightclothes, dressing gown clutched protectively to her chest, and all in all she appeared very folorn. "This...is all my fault. I should never have agreed to be a Jewel. I should have known I'd only screw it up."
"Oh, Sadie..." Copper set her book aside, coming to hug her bandmate. "I'm sorry too, if you thought I got you into trouble last night. I never meant to."
"No...no. Jetta was...was right. And you could have said worse." Sadie sighed. She rubbed her temples. "I feel awful. Is...is it very bad out there?"
"We couldn't get out if we tried." Nancy responded. "Press and fans and nosey idiots who have nothing better to do with their lives."
Sadie bit her lip.
"I'm sorry." She said again.
"Sadie..." Sylva hesitated, then, "You went pretty mad at us last night."
"The...police scared me." Sadie looked ashamed. "I should never have reacted that way, but I felt like I was going back to what had happened when I was younger...I hated prison so much, Syl. I don't...I don't want to go back." She sat down, burying her head in her hands. "All I can think about is that at the moment. Everything else is kinda...someplace else."
"The police are convinced you did it." Nancy observed. Sadie's head came up at this, as if to retort, then she sighed. She shrugged.
"I know." She admitted. "Why should they think otherwise? Evidence is all in front of them. I was there. I had the motive...I was seen. What else will they think?"
"Did you do it?" Nancy was nothing if not direct, and for a moment Sadie just stared at her.
"Sadie, you don't have to tell us anything if you don't want to." Copper intervened, but Sadie shook her head.
"I'm not a murderer, Nancy." She said flatly. "I would have thought that of all people you girls would believe in me."
"We're on your side." Nancy said slowly. "But Sadie, we're as much in the dark about all of this as the police are. First we have this huge bombshell dropped on us about your past and now...well, we're still reeling."
"I think what Nance means, Sadie, is that you kept a lot of stuff from us and, well, we..." Sylva trailed off, pursing her lips.
"We don't know what to believe any more." Nancy finished succinctly. "None of us want to think you're a murderer, Sadie. It doesn't fit with the girl we know at all. But then, neither does the other stuff."
"Guys, let her alone." Copper begged. "This isn't our business...it's between her and the police."
"No, Nancy's right." Sadie sighed again. "I lied to you once, there's no reason why you should believe me now." She groaned. "I think I've a migraine coming on."
"I'll get you an aspirin." Copper got to her feet and Sadie flashed her a grateful smile, though it did not reach her blue eyes.
"I think it would be a very good idea if you told us exactly what did happen the night Neal died." Nancy suggested softly. "We need to know where we stand, Sadie. None of us are going to go out there and spill your secrets, but we need to know."
"I can't talk about it." Sadie shook her head. "You don't understand...I can't explain." She bit her lip. "I can't give the police an alibi, either. I'm done for."
"Why can't you talk about it?" Sylva asked. "Did you see something?"
"Syl, don't." Sadie shook her head. "I'm not saying anything, so drop it, okay?"
"Well, okay." Sylva shrugged. "It's just that, well, we're trying to figure things out in our own mind. We...we're beginning to wonder how well we know you."
"Meaning what?" Sadie demanded.
"Nothing exactly." Sylva responded. "But all this stuff coming out like this...no wonder you didn't want to come back to England."
"Amber said I should be honest with you. She was right...if I had been, maybe you'd trust me now." Sadie bit back tears. "Oh, but you don't know how awful it feels, Syl, when you get to Los Angeles and you're standing staring up at the Starlight Mansion...this whole world that I don't understand or belong to. I wanted...I wanted you to like me, and I wanted you to want me to stay. And...and noone would have given me a chance if they'd known what I was. A common thief...and a drug addict to boot. I just...wanted to fit in." She swallowed hard. "You don't know how hard it is when you're a mile out of your league and you're scared to put a foot wrong for fear of losing everything you've managed to grasp hold of. You all grew up with secure family backgrounds and in good neighbourhoods. You could have been anything you wanted to be. Me...I feel like I'll never match up to you guys, no matter how hard I try or how many lies I tell about my past. I've done too much wrong to take it back and start afresh."
"I don't think you lied to us." Copper said softly, returning at that moment with aspirin and a glass of water, and handing them to the English girl. "You didn't tell us things which perhaps you should have done, but it wasn't a lie, exactly."
"Good as."
"You shouldn't think that about us and you." Sylva said decidedly. "It's nonsense...like reverse snobbery, if you like. Noone is perfect. Yeah some are richer than others but we wanted you in the band because we liked you and we would have liked you whatever. It's kinda how we are."
Sadie took the tablet with a sip of water, then set her glass down on the table. She spread her hands, her tone bitter.
 "And now you can't trust my word and who can blame you? I wouldn't trust me either!"
"Why did you go to see Neal?" Nancy asked quietly. "Can you tell us that?"
"I wanted to put him straight, tell him he didn't have a hold over me any more." Sadie replied. She snorted. "Funny, huh? Not the brightest idea I ever had. But that article...I was so angry, I was mad enough to wring his bloody neck at the time, so I kinda..." She trailed off, paling as she realised what she'd said. She shook her head.
"I didn't mean...well...I meant metaphorically." She said hurriedly.
"Well, don't use that particular metaphor when the police are here." Sylva suggested. "They'll totally think you're confessing."
"Do...do you believe me?" Sadie asked hesitantly. "Do you think I...well...killed him?"
"None of us know what happened." Nancy admitted. "It's not that we think you did do it, Sadie, only that we're confused that if you didn't do it, or aren't involved, why won't you talk to us? You could have gotten rid of the police last night if you'd told them...why not do so?"
Sadie shook her head again.
"No." She murmured. "In any case, it probably isn't relevant to Neal's death anyhow." She sighed. "I can't pretend I'm not glad that he's dead. I am. I've wished he'd drop dead and leave me alone for so long, but I...Oh this is hopeless." She groaned, burying her head in her hands. "I'm starting to talk myself into believing I did it."
"What did Mom say to you last night? She looked pretty grim when she left here." Nancy remembered.
"She was...angry." Sadie admitted. "And I know she has every right to be. I've let everyone down. It hardly matters if people think Im guilty or not, the police will nail me for it. Dammit I wish I'd never gone out that night! I wish I'd stayed in and gone to bed like the rest of you but I couldn't sleep and I thought..." She sighed. "Oh, what does it matter what I thought? It's immaterial now."
She fished in her dressing gown pocket for her cigarettes and lighter, lighting one and exhaling a pensive cloud of smoke. For once, even Sylva did not complain, so engrossed were they all in the discussion at hand.
"The police will be back." Copper said at length. "I don't think we can doubt that. They'll probably have a warrant to search your room and maybe even to search you, Sadie."
"They can do what they like." Sadie murmured. "They're not going to find anything incriminating here."
"Your arms are bruised like hell." Copper reminded her.
"I know, but there are lots of ways arms can get bruised." Sadie shrugged. "They won't be able to pin anything on me for that." She smiled slightly. "I've been searched before, and had my room raided by police. I know the procedure."
"This isn't theft though, Sadie. This is murder." Nancy looked grave. "They're not going to take any chances. If it weren't for Mom they'd happily have taken you into custody last night, you know that."
"Yes, I do." Sadie nodded. "And I'm glad that she was here. I think I'd have lost it completely if I'd spent a night in a cell again. It was bad enough when I was sent down the last couple of times." She sighed. "Juvenile detention was one thing, I could more or less handle that, though I hated it with a vengeance. Prison though..." She shuddered, closing her eyes briefly and taking another drag on her cigarette. Her hand shook, and her companions knew she was remembering times worse than any of them knew.
"So what happens next?" Sylva wondered. Copper shrugged, looking troubled.
"I guess we wait and see." She replied. "I wish Topaz was with us. I'm really beginning to miss her down to earth reaction to everything right now."
"Me too." Sadie admitted. "I almost called her but I...I don't think I can face it. She's been such a good friend to me, I..." She bit her lip, as tears threatened. "I feel like I let her down more than any of you."
"Topaz will understand about the article. She's not the type to bother about that." Sylva told her with a shrug. "Besides, I spoke to her last night, kinda, and I mentioned that there had been a scandal about you in the press. I didn't give her any details or tell her about this latest thing, but she told me to tell you to keep your chin up and be proud of yourself regardless of what they say."
"I guess I'll try." Sadie smiled slightly. "Thanks, Syl."
"I reckon we have to do what I told Jetta last night and, well, stick together as Jewels." Sylva continued. "I mean, whatever the truth is, the police will find it out. And...well, you told us that you're not a murderer. So...well, unless they prove otherwise, that's good enough for me." She dimpled. "We have to stick together, and then it'll all be fine."
"Syl's right." Copper looked relieved. "I guess we take you on your word, Sadie. After all, innocent until proven guilty...isn't that right?"
"Yes." Sadie nodded. She glanced at Nancy anxiously. "Nance? Are you with this?"
"We're a team." Nancy said slowly. "Like Copper said, innocent till proven guilty. I don't know what the truth is and I'm not going to dwell on it - fact is that there isn't any solid proof linking you to this, and the cops know it, cos if there was you'd have been whipped off to jail last night whatever Mom said. I reckon we just try and handle this as sanely as we can and wait for the police to make the next move. Could be they'll find a more promising trail and that'll be that. After all, Neal mustve upset a whole bunch of other people besides you in his time on this planet."
"He had a lot of girls he'd knock about, even when I was with him." Sadie remembered.
"What about that guy who was with your sister...didn't you say he hated Neal?" Copper asked.
"Grey?" Sadie looked startled. "Well, yes, he did hate Neal...but I don't know...I can't think of a motive why he'd just suddenly turn on him like that." She frowned.
"You also mentioned Amber." Nancy realised. "Is she tied up in this too?"
"She and her boyfriend used to run with the gang." Sadie nodded. "But it was a long time ago and Amber was never into the worst of it like me. Shock neither. They both got out of things and I can't see either of them taking matters into their own hands. Neal was scared of Amber...and she thought of him as a lower form of life. I can't see it at all."
"Okay, so back to this Grey?" Sylva suggested.
"Mmm...Grey reminds me in some ways of Shock." Sadie looked thoughtful. "I mean, when I knew him, he and I didn't really get along. He thought Neal was a moron though, and to be honest I don't think he thought a lot better of me. Would take him some, mind you, to actually launch an attack on this guy."
"But if there was a motive, would he?"
"I don't know." Sadie admitted. "I guess if he felt there was a good reason to do it...maybe. He didn't like how Neal knocked some of the girls around, that I do remember, because he used to have a go at me about it when I'd be crying after a fight with Neal. He'd tell me I was soft and stupid, letting this guy rule my life and beat me up. Neal heard him one time and gave him a black eye...I'd forgotten that till now. But that was all a long time ago."
"Could he have done it?"
"Anyone could have done it." Sadie shrugged. "What do you want me to say? I didn't see Grey attack Neal. I didn't see Amber or Shock attack him either. There are a lot of people in this county - remember Neal did drug deals, too. What's to stop it being one of those people who got tired waiting for their money, or wanted a bigger cut in on the deal? I don't know. I don't live round there any more...I didn't see anyone attack Neal."
There was a slightly strange note to her voice, almost defensive as she recounted this, and Nancy pursed her lips, considering. Perhaps Sadie spoke the truth, but the songwriter had not failed to pick up on the careful use of language.
"She didn't see anyone attack Neal, but she didn't say she didn't see Neal herself." She mused. "And she said she wasn't a murderer...but she didn't mention who she got into a fight with, or why. I wish I could think of a reason why she wouldn't tell us what did happen that night. Maybe Syl's theory about self defence has something in it. I know if I was Sadie and it was me I'd be scared as she is of going down for murder. But...would I tell anyone? I...I guess not. Not in Sadie's position, after the press scandal and everything else." She bit her lip. "Well, I guess we'll just see what comes of this, and what the police say next. I don't want to believe Sadie's involved in this, but I'm beginning to wonder how she could not be!"

Chapter One: An Uncertain Reputation
Chapter Two: Reaction
Chapter Three: Questions
Chapter Four:  Back Home
Chapter Five: Complications
Chapter Six: The Net Closes
Chapter Seven: Jetta Demands
Chapter Eight: Startling News
Chapter Nine: An Unlikely Suspect
Chapter Ten: The Truth
Chapter Eleven: Amber

Chapter Twelve: Final Verdict
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!