Part Two: Heartstrong

Chapter Four: A Faint Lead

It was dawn.
Copper opened her eyes, confused for a moment by her unfamiliar surroundings. Where was she? Why was she unable to move?
Slowly, it flooded back to her, and she bit her lip, struggling to sit upright. He was still asleep, she noted, curled up on the room's only chair, a slight smile on his face as he dreamed. The gun lay on the table beside him, but try as she might Copper was unable to reach it. Her mind flitted back to the night before, and she frowned.
Well, he had not tried to hurt her. She had been afraid when he had booked a room for two, and her fear had grown when the attendant had led them upstairs to a room with a simple double bed, but he had seemed hesitant to touch her. Instead he had tied careful bonds around her wrists and her ankles, to prevent her from escaping, and covered her gently with the duvet, whispering sweet goodnights before retreating to the uncomfortable chair.
"I suppose I should be thankful for that, at least." She murmured, making one last attempt to sit up and at last managing to haul herself partway upright. "He has me at his mercy and God only knows what he could have done to me last night. Maybe he really does love me. Maybe he won't hurt me after all." She sighed. "Somehow I have to convince him that all of this is wrong and to take me home. So far he's not proven threatening - but there's that gun, and I have this feeling he will use it. Oh, I wish I could reach the phone!"
She glared at the telephone, which stood on the table beside the door, well out of her reach. As if sensing her thoughts, Jason stirred, blinking and meeting her gaze with a strangely gentle smile.
"Good morning, my darling." He murmured. "Did you sleep well?"
"As well as you can sleep when you're tied up." Copper said quietly. Jason looked apologetic.
"I'm sorry." He said sadly. "But until we're married I have to do this. Don't you see? It's difficult otherwise. I have to take you to Las Vegas."
"Did someone tell you to take me there?" Copper asked. Jason shook his head.
"No. No, that was my idea." he assured her, sounding hurt. "You think I don't really love you? Is that it?"
"No, not at all. I was just curious." Copper said hurriedly, for Jason's gaze had flitted to the gun. "So what happens now?"
"Now, my dear, the journey continues." Jason replied with a wink. "Come on. I have a surprise for you."
"I can't go downstairs tied up like this. I can barely even sit!" Copper protested. Jason sat down on the bed, carefully unfastening the bonds.
"You promised not to leave me." He reminded her. "So you won't try and run away, will you?"
"No, I already told you I wouldn't." Copper agreed. "But must we travel on right away? I'm hungry and I'm still worn out from the long drive."
"Ah, well, I will drive this morning." Jason tapped his nose, grinning at her with a smile that bordered on insanity. "You see? That is part of your surprise."
"And the rest?" Copper got unsteadily to her feet. Jason sighed.
"On the radio last night they were talking about searches." He said apologetically. "That the LAPD have your car registration plate number and are trying to do a trace. I'm so sorry, my darling, I know you must be fond of your car, but we can't take it any further. Last night when you were sleeping, I slipped out and rented us another vehicle. That way noone will be able to stop us."
"I see." Copper felt her stomach lurch as she realised the significance of his words. The last tie she had with Los Angeles was gone if they left her car in the motel parking lot, and she bit her lip, fighting the urge to burst into frightened tears. She mustn't alarm him, that had already become clear. Until she knew better what to do, she was safest going along with him.
"But how will they find me if we leave in a rental car?" She fretted. "And why is noone here suspicious? Do they really not see who I am behind the scarf and the glasses? Do they not care? Doesn't anyone know that I'm frightened and I want to go home?"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Marissa stared up at the front of the Starlight Mansion, her heart in her throat as she composed herself.
"I don't know what I can tell them, but I have to tell them something." She decided, steeling herself to ring the doorbell. "But I must keep Steffi out of it...somehow. I wish I knew how to begin this! I want to help Copper - I don't want her coming back to LA in a box, whatever Phoebe thinks about it?"
She was about to ring the bell when the front door of the house swung open, making her jump.
"Good morning, Marissa." Cynthia stepped out beneath the porch, casting her a curious glance. "May I ask why you are here?"
"You startled me." Marissa admitted. "I was about to knock - how did you know I was here?"
"The Starlight Mansion has sophisticated technology guarding it's grounds. The sensors detected your arrival and I came to greet you." Cynthia said gravely. "If you are looking for any of Jewel, I am afraid you are out of luck. They are not home - it can be no secret to you what this morning's presses are reporting."
"No, and that's why I'm here." Marissa swallowed hard. "I want to help, Cynthia, though I'm honestly not sure how I can."
"Then perhaps you should come in." Cynthia made up her mind, offering the girl a slight smile, and standing back to allow her inside. "The more people willing to lend a hand the better, though I fear that searching Los Angeles for her will prove fruitless." She sighed. "I believe that Copper is no longer in the city. Possibly not even in the state."
Marissa looked troubled, allowing herself to be led into the main lounge, and taking a seat. She twisted her fingers together apprehensively, and for a moment there was silence as she debated how to begin. At length she sighed.
"I'm not just a wellwisher." She admitted. "I know something...or at least, I think I do...that might help you find her."
"You know something?" Cynthia eyed her sharply. "What do you mean? How does this business involve you?"
"It doesn't. Not at all." Marissa hastened to reassure her. "But this morning I overheard a...a conversation. There is a man who has a crush on Copper - he's sent her mail and things, yes?"
"Yes." Cynthia agreed slowly. "What of it?"
"Well, these people were talking. One of them...convinced him it would be a good idea if he intervened and met Copper face to face." Marissa said slowly. "I got the impression that she encouraged him to...well...take matters into his own hands. I think...she said he wanted to take her to Las Vegas, to marry him there."
Cynthia stared, then,
"Why do you tell this to me? Why not the police?" She asked. Marissa bit her lip.
"I can't." She whispered. Cynthia frowned.
"So Stefana is involved." She surmised darkly. Marissa shook her head.
"No. Well, not how you think." As Cynthia looked sceptical. "She's not involved in Copper being abducted, Cynthia. I swear she isn't."
"Well, all right." Cynthia relented. "So who are you protecting?"
"I can't tell you."
"Copper's life might depend on it." Cynthia chided. "Please, Marissa. This is vital information!"
Marissa sighed.
"Rory Llewelyn." She admitted at length. "And Phoebe Asche. It was them I heard talking. But I have no evidence - nothing except what I heard and nobody else heard it! They're both experienced liars and conartists and I can't...there isn't anything to tie them to any of this."
"I see." Cynthia looked grave. "And I appreciate what you are saying. Rory Llewelyn is a powerful man, and Phoebe Asche one of the most skilled liars I know. They are indeed a formidable enemy, and it makes me angry to think that they have some involvement in all of this. I knew Riot hated Jewel, but not enough for this."
"You called him Riot." Marissa looked startled. Cynthia's expression became grim.
"It is an apt name. It serves him well." She said quietly. "You must tell me everything that you heard them say - however insignificant. I agree that it would be foolish to make accusations, but that does not mean that I cannot do some digging of my own. I have good resources, and Copper's welfare is very important."
"I'll try and remember." Marissa sounded relieved. "Thank you for understanding my situation. I mean, well, Rory isn't someone you cross. This morning I realised it more than ever, when I heard them talking. And then, well..."
"Diablo are dependant on him, and nobody would like you to lose your jobs simply because you helped us." Cynthia finished. "Have no fear. What matters to me is getting Copper back. The chances of pinning anything on that slimy gentleman are concern is with my friend's safety."
"I wasn't sure whether you'd even believe me." Marissa admitted. "I mean, well, sometimes I think Jewel and Diablo are friends, and then, well, things happen and I don't know any more." She glanced at her hands. "I'd like us to be, but Rory seems convinced that we should keep our distance and Steffi..." She shook her head. "It's all so complicated. I came to Los Angeles for music, not for subterfuge and competition."
"The music business is quite often a pseudonym for competition and subterfuge, as you must have realised." Cynthia reflected. She offered Marissa a smile. "Have no fear, Marissa. You are not considered the enemy in this house - not by any of us. Whilst our relations with certain of your members might be less desirable - you have only ever acted towards Jewel and Jewel's team with friendliness, and therefore that is how we regard you."
"Stefana hates Jewel so much." Marissa said absently. "Especially Copper. I wish she didn't." Then she blushed, shaking her head. "No, I shouldn't have said that. You'll think I lied to you, and that Steffi knows something about the abduction, and she swore to me that she didn't."
Cynthia looked thoughtful for a moment, then,
"How well acquainted are you with Phoebe Asche?" She asked quietly. "You know, I presume, that she was once Rapture of the Stingers, a skilled mistress of deception? She operated particularly under the guise of a medium, and quite often conned individuals out of money and jewellery for her pretend services. Whilst Jem and the Holograms were still operating, Jerrica and the others did their best to limit the damage, but..." She shook her head. "Jerrica is not the same woman now as she was then...or...or so I have been led to believe. And since the Stingers split up, it has been very difficult to know precisely what Rapture might or might not be involved in. That she is willing to manipulate for money is well known, but I wonder - what is her motivation for hurting Copper? Is there anything you can tell me there?"
"No." Marissa shook her head, her expression confused by the manner of Cynthia's approach. "All I heard was them talking about it and how it wouldn't hurt Rebel Records if Copper stayed missing. Maybe that's why she did it. For Rory."
"Out of old loyalty? Perhaps." Cynthia sighed. "But it seems a great risk. Rapture is not someone who is unwilling to take a risk, true- but only if it is a calculated one. The man who abducted Copper must have seen her face. That makes me wonder why she would take such a risk for a company that pays her no salary and can offer her little protection."
"When you put it like that, it does sound strange." Marissa agreed. "Cynthia, have you met Phoebe yourself? You sound like you know her."
"A long time ago, I did." Cynthia nodded, dismissing it with a careless wave of her hand. "Before Jewel and before Diablo." She narrowed her eyes. "Though now I think of it, there was an encounter far more recent than even that one. Some years ago Jewel put on a reunion concert with the Stingers, the Misfits and the remainder of the Holograms. I recall that Rapture upset Copper quite badly whilst she was in Los Angeles, and that we banded together to give her a taste of her own medicine. Revenge might well be a strong enough motive." She cast Marissa a glance. "She said nothing of this in what you overheard?"
"No." Marissa shook her head. "But..." Then she faltered.
"But what?" Cynthia pressed. Marissa bit her lip.
"It's nothing." She said firmly. "And even if this is revenge on Copper, how can we use it to find her without going to the police?"
"I have my ways." Cynthia said darkly. "I am not without contacts or connections, and I have no love of a Stinger. Especially one so tangled up in the disappearance of my friend."
She sighed. "Thank you at least for your information." She said at length. "Promise me this - if you learn any more, please come to me. I will treat it in confidence as to where the information originated if it makes you more comfortable, but know we must. This could be Copper's life. We must do everything."
"Yes, I agree, and I will." Marissa stood. "I will try and find out more, Cynthia. But she didn't seem to know anything specific. Just that this guy planned on taking Copper to Las Vegas - though she said it so casually I don't know whether she meant it or whether she was just being sarcastic."
"And Stefana cannot help you find out?"
"Steffi wants nothing more to do with her." Marissa shook her head, then bit her lip as she realised what she had revealed. "That is..."
"Nothing more?" Cynthia was on her in a flash. "You said she was nothing to do with this! Was that a lie?"
"No, it wasn't a lie." Marissa shrank back at the indignant anger in her companion's violet eyes. "She swore to me that she had nothing to do with Copper's abduction - that it was as much a surprise to her as it was to everyone else and that was that."
"You believe her?"
"Yes." Marissa nodded. "Cynthia, Stef does do silly things - and she does lie, I admit it - but I know when she's telling me the truth. This time she was. I'd swear it in court if I had to."
"You may have to." Cynthia said grimly. Marissa paled.
"Please, Cynthia, I came to help!" She protested. Cynthia glared at her. Then she sighed.
"I know you did. My apologies." She said, sounding contrite. "I have great suspicion where your friend is concerned - it seems that where she goes, trouble also goes. But if you give me your word she does not know anything of Copper's disappearance, I shall believe you. She may not be honest, but I believe you are."
"Thank you. And you have my word." Marissa looked relieved. "I must go, before someone wonders where I am. Stef knows I'm coming to speak to someone here, but I don't want the others involved if I can help it. After all, Rory is our manager."
"It is understood." Cynthia nodded her head. She looked sheepish. "I hope you will get in contact should you discover anything more. I did not mean to scare you."
"You're worried for your friend - I understand. I'd be the same if Stef or one of the others were in trouble." Marissa shook her head. "It's fine. Really."
She flashed her companion a quick smile. "I hope I've been of some help."
Cynthia watched her go, a thoughtful look on her face.
"Stefana would not have let Marissa come here if she knew something about Copper's location." She decided. "So on that matter at least I feel sure she was telling the truth. But I wonder...Marissa is a good person, and her motives here are to help, but what of what she said? Nothing more to do with Rapture? I should investigate. Perhaps I should learn something."
She cast a glance at her reflection in the mirror, then, slowly, she altered her features, adopting Stefana's dark expression and thick raven hair. She grinned.
"Time to visit Rebel Records." She decided. "And hopefully, Phoebe Asche."


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!