Part Two: Heartstrong
Chapter Ten: Midnight Flight

"There's still no news of Copper."
Marissa cast her friend a troubled look, settling herself in the shade beneath one of the Diablo Estate's big old trees. "Steffi, do you promise me that you told me everything you know about this? Phoebe Asche has quit Los Angeles because I heard Rory say as much to Sophie when I was there this morning, collecting my scripts. Are you certain there's nothing else you know that you could tell me? Nothing at all to help Copper escape?"
"Marissa, I don't give a damn whether Copper escapes or not." Stefana said bluntly, taking a drag on her cigarette and blowing smoke in her friend's direction. "Okay? She's a Jewel. It's nothing to do with us. I don't know why you're so bothered, anyway."
"I'm bothered because the girl might get hurt, Stef!" Marissa exclaimed. "You know that I wouldn't betray you to anyone, but if there's something Phoebe said or did that made you at all suspicious..."
"I told you everything that I knew." Stefana cut across her friend's plea, sending her a glare. "You went and tattled it to Cynthia - you even told her that Phoebe and Rory were involved, after you said you weren't going to!"
"She...she kinda prised it out of me." Marissa glanced at her hands. "Though I told her that I knew you weren't involved."
Her eyes narrowed.
"Hey, how did you know what I said?"
"I spoke to Aaron." Stefana flicked ash onto the grass. "He seemed very keen to ask me questions about Rebel Records and whether I thought anything was amiss there."
"And what did you say to him?" Marissa was curious. Stefana grimaced.
"I told him what I told you, minus the bit about me breaking into Jewel's dressing room, and me writing the guy notes." She said darkly. "I don't know why, but he was pretty persuasive. I told him about Phoebe - the bitch deserved it, after bringing Rory in behind my back, and if she's out of Los Angeles now it hardly matters - and that I'd seen Jason. Even told him what he looked like. But I don't know where Copper is, or any more than you on that score. I've told you that once and if you don't believe me then it's tough luck. That's the truth."
Marissa eyed her friend thoughtfully for a moment.
"You told Aaron about all this?" She asked at length. Stefana shrugged.
"Didn't I just say so?" She snapped, her tone belligerent. "What's wrong with your ears?"
"Nothing. I just don't understand how you work these days, that's all." Marissa sighed. "One minute you're sabotaging Jewel and stealing from them and helping that Asche woman set up some kind of scheme to hurt Copper, and the next you're helping her fiance to try and find her! Those drugs of yours are making you act more and more strange every day - I wish you'd quit taking them! I don't know what to expect of you any more!"
"I wish you'd quit taking them!" Stefana mimicked her friend's voice, her expression unpleasant. "I thought we'd agreed you'd stop nagging me about this stuff, Mari."
"You might have. I haven't." Marissa shook her head. "I told you I was gonna keep worrying about you, no matter what."
"Well, it's a drag." Stefana snapped, tossing her cigarette onto the grass. "Are you done with the twenty questions? My head is buzzing and I've had enough sun for one day."
"Not quite." Marissa responded quietly. "We don't talk any more, Stef, and it bothers me. You used to at least talk to me when something was on your mind, however much you used to belittle doing so. I know something is bothering you, so tell me, okay? Please? You know that you can trust me."
"There is nothing to tell." Stefana said flatly. Not for worlds would she admit to the way Aaron's concern for Copper had made her feel. "If I need a nanny, I'll call you. Till then, let me alone."
Before Marissa could say anything else, the dark girl had got to her feet, heading purposefully across the grass and into the house. Marissa sighed, biting her lip.
"The only reason you would tell Aaron so much in order to help someone you hate so badly is because you're more in love with him than you'll let yourself admit." She murmured. "And the more that goes on, Stef, the more you're going to wind up getting hurt! I wish you'd at least confide in me sometimes. You do some of the craziest things these days and I'm afraid for you and what you'll get involved in next!"
"You look pensive."
Clay's soft Scottish tones startled her and she turned, casting him a guilty look.
"You were talking to yourself." The drummer met her expression with amusement, perching himself on the wall. "Is the conversation round here really so bad as all that?"
"No, I guess not." Marissa sighed. "I'm just worried about Stef, that's all. I don't know her any least, it feels that way."
"Stefana has always been a brat, Mari." Clay said quietly. "Maybe she was less of a brat when she was younger, but fame and fortune has gone to her head and her attitude is verging on the unbearable at times. I don't understand why you care about her so much. She doesn't deserve your concern."
"Because we've always been friends." Marissa cast a glance in the direction her friend had gone. "She stuck up for me in school when I was too shy to do it for myself, and she made me believe that I should follow my music regardless of what other people thought. It's because of her that I had the confidence to be a part of Diablo in the first place." She sighed. "But it's different now. She's always been wild, but it was a fun kind of wild before. Sometimes she'd do dangerous things and get into fights or brawls - like one time she got herself in the middle of some gang riot and got shot in the arm for her trouble - but generally it was just mischief. Dares, breaking curfew, sneaking out to an overage club, that kind of thing. Now..." She paused, shaking her head. "I shouldn't be talking to you about this. She's my friend and I shouldn't talk to you about her without talking to her about it first."
"I'm not going to tell Stefana anything. The girl and I never have a civil word for each other anyway." Clay shrugged his shoulders. "Now...what?"
"Now it's as you say." Marissa glanced down, unable to meet his piercing gaze. "She's let things go to her head and she's acting up more and more."
"People like Stef are never happy unless they're either causing someone trouble, or being the centre of attention." Clay said archly. "I'm sorry, Mari, but fame can and does change people. Perhaps Stef isn't the friend you thought she was."
"Or maybe I'm not the friend she so badly needs." Marissa murmured, her expression troubled.
"What's the why of that?" Clay eyed her keenly. Marissa blushed.
"Nothing. Just me being a worrier." She said, dismissing it with a careless gesture. "Perhaps she's right and I fuss over her too much. But I can't help it, Clay. I worry about her."
"Well, it's a lot more than she deserves." Clay said decidedly. "Come on. Let Steffi alone for a moment and come grab some ice cream, huh? We've about an hour before Rory wants us in studio and we ought to make the most of it."
"All right, though I don't think I can fit ice cream into my diet. I've already had too much of today's sugar quota." Marissa allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. "But I could use a mental break before we play, that's for sure."
Clay pursed his lips, then,
"This new song you've been writing - the one with the over the top lyric - is it about Steffi, by any chance?" He asked astutely.
"Not directly." Marissa blushed. "It's about people who get themselves in over their head. My fight with Stef a while ago sparked off the mood, I suppose, but...but it's not really about her. Not...not properly." She frowned. "And the lyrics aren't over the top. They're how I want them and how they're gonna stay."
"Well, it's your call. I won't fight you." Clay shrugged. "We'll see what the others think when we give it to them to lay down in a week or two."
"We came to LA to play music." Marissa looked wistful. "I wish that was all we were here for."
"Meaning that I don't trust Rory Llewelyn and I don't know how safe it is being a part of his company." Marissa admitted. "Do you ever feel like that?"
"All the time." Clay nodded. "I don't trust the jerk one bit, to be honest. But his was where the dotted line was, and I wanted a contract, so his had to do."
"I suppose so." Marissa bit her lip. "Okay, enough of that. I need to veg out if my head is gonna be clear to play this afternoon!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Copper started, casting her captor an apprehensive glance. They had travelled through the rain-soaked darkness for some time in silence, through which exhaustion had won out over fear for the young drummer, allowing her to slip into a restless doze, but now she struggled into a more upright position, noting the sparks of anger in Jason's eyes as she did so.
"What is it?" She whispered. "Is...something wrong? Has something happened?"
"We're running low on gas." Jason muttered, banging the dashboard with his fist in his frustration. Copper winced at the crack of hand on chrome finish, but Jason did not even seem to feel it, and he made no attempt to slow the car down, despite his revelations.
"Are we going to stop?" After a moment or two, Copper ventured the question. Jason cursed, then nodded.
"No choice." He admitted. "Dammit!"
He shot her a sidelong glance, his eyes narrowing to slits as he contemplated.
"You lied to me before. I wanted to trust you but I can't." He said slowly. "When we get to the gas station I'm going to tie your arms to the seat so that you can't run away from me. I'm sorry, but I have no choice. You let me down."
Copper bit back her tears, swallowing hard.
"I understand." She murmured. "Just...please don't hurt me."
"Hurt you? I love you." Jason said, startled. "Of course I'm not going to hurt you. I'm doing all of this for you!"
"Yes, I know." Copper gathered herself, then, "I promise to stay in the car, Jason. I won't try and run away. Do you have to tie me up?"
Jason hesitated for a moment, then his expression hardened and he nodded.
"Yes." He said quietly. "Because you might try and phone your friends again and that wouldn't be any good. I have no choice. We need gas and you're stopping right here out of trouble."
A neon sign loomed out of the rain and murky mist at that moment and Jason rammed his foot onto the brake, screeching his vehicle into the forecourt. He grabbed the coil of rope from his pocket, looping it around Copper's wrists and binding her tightly to the seat, causing tears to prick her eyes at how tight they were. Then, as if satisfied with his handywork, he grabbed a motheaten wallet from the dashboard, opening the driver's side door and disappearing out into the night.
Copper gazed out at the driving rain, her heart miserable.
"I shouldn't have tried to call home. God knows what will happen to me once he gets me inside that chapel." She murmured, shivering as she tried in vain to warm herself. Her clothes were damp from the heavy rain they had encountered leaving the motel, and the frantic drive had done little to dry them off. "Copper, you have to start thinking for yourself a little. You're the one in trouble here. Aaron and the others will get hurt if they try and help you, so you have to do something to help yourself." She grimaced. "But what? The last thing I did almost got me killed, and it's got me trussed up like a turkey here as it is! I just wish I could do something to make people know I was here, that's all! Some little clue to help the police to track me down! Sadie said they were looking...I wonder if I could?"
She stretched her foot across, lifting her knee awkwardly and hitting the glovebox several times until it popped open, spilling contents all over her legs. With a frantic glance across the rainsodden car park, she hooked her foot under the floral scarf he had used to make her hide her hair, gingerly lifting it towards her mouth. It was a stretch, but finally she got it between her teeth, and up into her bound hands.
"If I can get the window open..." She mused, moving her foot once more to kick the electronic controls. As the window rolled down she gathered her strength, tossing the cloth out onto the tarmac.
"God only knows if anyone will make the connection, but at least I tried." She told herself, kicking the glovebox shut and pushing the other spilled items under the seat out of sight. "I don't know if they know how he's been hiding me, but it's all I can do to tell people I was here." A shiver touched her spine. "After all, I don't know what kind of a madman he is, or what he will do after we're married. I saw tonight what happens when he's angry. There's no guarantee that, once he's fulfilled whatever his fantasy is with me, he'll not kill me."
She bit her lip, forcing back her fear.
"I can't panic." She muttered firmly. "He could have killed you already, Copper, but he hasn't. Papa taught you better than to be a wimp - you're made of stronger stuff than that, now prove it!"
Before she could finish her peptalk, the door of the car was flung open and Jason jumped into the front seat, roaring the engine almost before he had shut the door. Startled and a little alarmed, Copper stared at him.
"Aren't you gonna untie me?" She asked fearfully. "Is something wrong?"
"Shut up." Jason snapped, pushing his foot down on the accelerator. "Shut up! We gotta get outta here!"
"But why? What's happened?" Copper's eyes became big.
"Someone's not been listening to my instructions." Jason said darkly, his eyes flashing with hate. "Someone gave a picture of me to the local press and the guy in there recognised me. He went for his phone and I laid him out but we gotta get outta here before anyone finds out where we are!"
"You laid him out?" Copper's expression became horrified. "You said you wouldn't hurt anyone, so long as I did what you told me!"
"I didn't kill him." Jason said shortly. "He'll be okay. Just shut up, will you? I'm sorry, but it had to be done."
Copper bit her lip, glancing back over her shoulder, but the gas station was no longer visible, cloaked from view by the awfulness of the weather.
Had she been able to see what was going on behind her, she might have been comforted by the scene that would have greeted her. As their car had roared out of the parking lot, a couple had hurried into the store out of the wet, immediately coming to the dazed attendant's aid. As the woman helped him to his feet, he slowly described what he had seen.
"Are you sure that's who it was?" The young man looked startled. The gas station clerk nodded his head.
"Sure as hell, and that's why he clocked me." He agreed grimly, raising a hand to his head. "Come on! We gotta call the damn police before he does something awful to that girl!"


Chapter One: Where Is Copper?
Chapter Two: Nancy Finds A Clue
Chapter Three: Marissa
Chapter Four: A Faint Lead
Chapter Five: Undercover
Chapter Six: A Reluctant Witness
Chapter Seven: Cynthia Takes A Gamble
Chapter Eight: A Play For Freedom
Chapter Nine: Aaron Decides
Chapter Ten: Midnight Flight
Chapter Eleven: The Race Is On

Chapter Twelve: Nemesis
Chapter Thirteen: Aftermath

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!