Just A Dream...
Chapter Two: Cynthia
"Some use you are."
Emily-Jayne Raymond stormed into the head office of Rebel Records, glaring at her colleague as she tossed the magazine down on the table. "Great move, Blade. Get a load of this! Twelve page Jewel pullout to celebrate their new member...I thought your business with Nancy was s'posed to undermine them, not give them free publicity!"
"Hey, chill." Carl Arca, or 'Blade' observed, picking up the magazine and idly leafing through it. "She was a drag. I can't be seen with women like that...she's no more than a child."
"So you dump on her and send her running for home." His companion spat out. "Blade, the whole point of going to Canada was to upstage those brats and put my mother back in her place...you're hopeless!"
Emily-Jayne, better known to her fans as rock singer 'Sirena' had been signed to Rebel Records longer than Blade, and in almost every way considered herself his superior. The estranged daughter of Phyllis Gabor, she nursed a deep-rooted resentment against her mother which had inspired her bitterness against Misfit Music's latest hopefuls. Jewel's contract with Phyllis' company had begun almost at the same time as Sirena's at Rebel Records, and it had been little surprise that they had battled it out in the publicity stakes of their early campaigns. So far they were pretty even - both had had number one hits, though Sirena was one step ahead with her album, for it was due to be released in a short few weeks time. Quietly confident that Jewel's problems in Canada would have delayed their own release significantly, Sirena had been put out to discover the publicity blitz that had welcomed the teenagers home.
"Well, I thought you were gonna take care of business with that Topaz girl's old employer." Blade glanced up at her over the rim of his dark glasses, fixing her with a meaningful look. "If you hadn't screwed that up, then Jewel would never have been able to add a new member. Face it, Em. This is as much down to you as anything."
"Shut your face, Carl Arca!" Incensed, Sirena snatched the magazine from his grip, tearing it in two and tossing it on the floor. "You try manipulating a money-crazed old fool like my father! If Rory had given me more capital to work with I'd have got him for sure."
"Things are never your fault, are they?" Blade looked amused.
"Oh, quit it. You're not funny." Sirena scowled, dropping down into a vacant chair with a dark look. "Where the hell's Rory, anyhow?"
Rory Llewelyn, once Riot of the Stingers was chief executive at Rebel Records, along with his partner Sophie Devereux.
"Beats me." Blade shrugged. "Some meeting I think. Don't know and really don't care. So long as he ain't about, I don't have any work to do."
"You are never gonna sell any albums without improving your P.R skills." Sirena was scathing.
"Hey, I'm a ladies man." Blade grinned at her. "Read the magazine? Every girl's dream - that's what the gossip columns say. I got it made, Em. I don't haveta stress over getting things done like you...I'm a natural."
"A natural freak." Sirena snapped back. "And will you quit calling me Em? My name is Sirena to you!"
"Sure, Em. Whatever you say." Blade smirked. Sirena rolled her eyes.
"I don't know what girls see in you." She snapped. "You certainly ain't my dream guy."
"No...I s'pect you'd prefer some meek and mild guy who'll do as you tell him, no questions asked." Blade laughed. Sirena bristled.
"No...but you are way outta my league." She told him derisively. "I'm a real star...you are just a wannabe."
"Yeah, yeah." Blade retrieved the remains of the magazine, examining it. "So, what's the plan of action, then? How are you gonna get your revenge on Jewel this time?"
There was a mocking tone to his voice, and Sirena scowled.
"You don't understand a damn thing about me, so don't try." She retorted. "And as for Jewel..." She paused, eying the photograph on the front cover thoughtfully. "Well...let me see. There must be some dirt somewhere I can dig up. We all know that Nancy's so dull she's clean as a whistle and there's not much goin' on that Santiago brat either. The pair of them are sickening. Sylva...well, she drives me up the wall, but she ain't got the brains to tangle with me or to provide us with any good gossip. The press have delved beneath the surface of them all more than once. But...Topaz...Gimme that." She grabbed back the magazine. "Working in a rundown diner in Toronto, under contract to my sleaze of a father...there's gotta be some dirt there someplace. The world really doesn't know much about Miss Aurora Stapleton yet, do they? Maybe it's time they did..."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Well, here we are, Topaz. Home sweet home." Sylva stepped gracefully
out of the limousine. "Welcome to Starlight Mansion."
"Woo, nice place." Topaz looked approving. "It's been a while since I lived the life of luxury, you know. I'll enjoy getting used to this."
"When did you live the life of luxury before?" Copper was curious.
"Oh, back home." Topaz grimaced. "Dad had a fair lot of money and he left it all to Mom, with a proportion in trust for me, the unborn child, which supposedly is mine when I'm twenty one. But that was before I left home like I did. Mom has control of the money and chances are I won't see any of it now."
"Your Mom sounds...well..." Nancy trailed off.
"For sixteen years she was my best friend." Topaz replied. "It's Steven...he made her think differently about everything." She shrugged. "Not that I'm a kid now, of course, and really, Dad's money doesn't mean much to me, I mean, I never met him. I'm much more stoked at the idea of fulfilling my number one ambition with you guys...this is where I belong now."
"Are you gonna miss Canada, do you think?" Copper asked.
"Some." Topaz agreed. "But it's not like I can't visit...right? And we're bound to go back and tour there...so I'm not all that homesick yet. I think my time in the rough part of Toronto saw to that."
"America rocks." Sylva nodded. "You name it and we pretty much have it. And I gotta admit that there's no place quite like California."
"She has that right." Copper agreed. "I thought that when I came here it would feel weird, but I settled so easily. It's not like Detroit, but I don't want it to be. It's home from home for me now."
"Gah." Nancy pulled a face at these reminiscences. "Do you have to?"
She headed up the front path, pulling her key from her pocket and going to put it in the lock, but the door was opened before she could touch it.
"Aaron!" She exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Routine maintenance, ma'am." Aaron grinned at her, pushing the door open fully to allow the girls inside. "I guess you must be the new Jewel, huh?" He smiled at Topaz. "Someone gonna introduce me?"
"Aaron, this is Aurora Stapleton. Topaz." Copper obliged with a grin. "Topaz, this is Nancy's brother, Aaron Pelligrini."
"Pleased to meet you." Topaz smiled.
"Welcome to California...I guess to America too." Aaron told her. "I was just gonna make coffee...you girls thirsty?"
"Aaron, when are you gonna start spending time at your place and not at ours?" Nancy demanded, removing her jacket and dumping it on the coatrack. Aaron laughed.
"Yeah, I'm glad to see you too, Nance." he said, his eyes twinkling. "Was half afraid at one point I might have to go and beat up this Blade guy to defend your honour...Mom was raging so bad over it."
"Please." Nancy snorted, though the look in her brown eyes betrayed her indifference. "You don't think I can handle myself? I'm not a baby, you know. It was always under control."
Sylva and Copper exchanged looks, but for once even the outspoken Sylva refrained from commenting, and Aaron looked amused.
"I see." He said, not at all phased by his sister's bravado. "Well, it's good to have you back anyway, kid." He pushed open the door to the lounge. "There's someone I'd like you all to meet, by the way."
The girls followed him into the room, stopping dead at the sight of the unfamiliar figure that sat on the couch, idly flicking through television channels, as if changing the channel was a far greater thing than actually pausing to watch any of them.
"Girls, I want you to meet Cynthia." Aaron said, grinning at the stranger and winking. "Cyn, Jewel are home."
The girl glanced up, smiling prettily and getting to her feet, flicking the television set off.
"Pleased to meet you." She said amiably.
"Who are you?" Sylva asked bluntly. "I mean, no offence, but why are you in our house?"
"Cynthia and I have been working on a project together. I hope very much that you and she will get along, because she's volunteered to help me out with your stage effects, and she probably knows a lot more about mechanics than I ever will." Aaron explained. "I'll go see to coffee, let you get acquainted."
After a moment of awkward silence, the girls settled down, each equally curious about this stranger. She was extremely pretty and very striking, with her long curly hair and her deep violet eyes.
"How old are you, Cynthia?" Topaz was the first to venture a question.
"Twenty-five." Cynthia dimpled. "Though I can't be said to always act my age, I'm afraid."
"How long have you known Aaron?" Nancy asked.
"Less than a year, but already he is a dear friend to me." Cynthia replied. "I have...not been so well, and he has been very supportive of me."
"He's never mentioned you to us." Sylva frowned. "This is the first we ever heard of you, Cynthia."
Cynthia let out a peal of laughter, evidently much amused by this.
"Oh, I think you would be surprised." she said, as Aaron returned with coffee, handing a mug to each of Jewel and taking one himself. Cynthia, Nancy noticed, did not take one.
"Not drinking?" She asked.
"I don't drink coffee." Cynthia shook her head. "It's bad for my...um...metabolism."
"Well, sure, but sometimes it's good to be bad." Topaz grinned. "Cheers, Aaron."
Nancy shot Copper a sidelong glance. The redhead had gone very quiet, and although she seemed outwardly relaxed and unconcerned, Nancy was perceptive enough when it came to those who she cared about to know when something was wrong. The usual light was gone from the drummer's pretty brown eyes, and Nancy knew her friend was upset.
"Damn my brother." She muttered to herself, taking a sip of hot coffee. "If he's having a fling with this girl...but she's twenty five, for heaven's sake! Aaron isn't twenty himself yet...what on earth is he playing at?"
Out loud she said,
"So how did you two meet?"
"You could say we found each other." Aaron looked amused. Cynthia laughed.
"Indeed." She agreed. "Fate, perhaps."
Copper frowned, then got to her feet.
"Would you all excuse me?" She said quietly. "I think I need some air - being cooped up in that car wasn't so good for me. It was nice to meet you, Cynthia."
Aaron frowned, watching her leave.
"What's wrong with Copper?" he asked. Cynthia's violet eyes adopted a look of comprehension.
"I expect she's tired. Jewel have had a long and busy tour." She said wisely. "If you don't mind, Aaron, I think I'll go take a walk myself. The weather is beautiful, and I want to enjoy it."
"Sure, go ahead." Aaron nodded. Cynthia dimpled, checking her watch, then disappearing the way Copper had gone.
As soon as she had left, Nancy put her hands on her hips.
"Okay, what's the deal with that girl?" she demanded. "Are you seeing her on the sly, or what?"
"Cynthia? God, no!" Aaron looked startled., "She's, just, well, my friend, Nance. Not that it would be your business if I was interested in her. But that's not it at all, we just have things in common and I hoped she could be of use to you guys too."
"Well, it is our business." Sylva frowned. "At least, it is now we know about Copper..."
"Syl!" Nancy interrupted, glaring at her companion. "Did noone ever teach you tact or discretion in school?"
"What about Copper?" Aaron looked nonplussed. Then a shadow touched his face.
"Oh. I see."
"You do?" Nancy stared at her brother.
"Dad warned me this might happen." Aaron gazed at his hands.
"He did?" Sylva looked confused.
"Yeah. He said I tended to wear my heart on my sleeve, like him." Aaron looked rueful. "But I really didn't think it was that obvious."
"Wait a minute, I'm lost." Sylva held up her hands.
"What's new?" Nancy demanded.
"I'm afraid I'm with Syl." Topaz admitted. "You lost me right back at the start...what's the deal?"
"Hang on, let me see if I can get this straight." Nancy frowned. "Aaron, are you saying you like Copper?"
"Yes...isn't that what you guys were saying too?" Now Aaron looked confused.
"Why, of course it is." Shooting Sylva a warning look, Nancy nodded. "I just wanted to make sure we were all straight about it, that's all."
"Can I claim ignorance of the whole thing?" Topaz raised a hand. "I haven't known either of you long enough for any of this to make sense."
"Are you really in love with her?" Sylva demanded.
"Guess so." Aaron looked uncomfortable. "Look, I don't want twenty questions over it. I like her, okay? I like her a lot. BUt why would she even think about going out with a guy like me, huh? Even more now she's a star."
"Copper isn't like that." Nancy scolded him.
"And you're the brother of a star." Sylva added. "You'd make such a cute couple, you know."
"How long have you liked her?" Nancy asked.
"Since maybe ten seconds after I met her." Aaron looked rueful. "I can't explain it. All I know is that I saw her and wham...there it was. And we have so much in common - I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't like her. She's fun and clever and...I dunno. I'm gonna stop before I totally embarrass myself, but you see my point."
"You're lost over her." Nancy decided, a grin touching her face. "Aww, Aaron...how sweet."
"Shut up, you." Aaron cast her a look. "I can't help it, it's just the way it is. The more time I spend with her, the more I know I wanna ask her out, but I can't get up my nerve to try it."
"You never know anything unless you try it." Topaz pointed out. "What do you have to lose?"
"Her friendship, her respect, my dignity." Aaron counted them off on his fingers, rolling his eyes. "I could probably face parting with a little dignity, to be honest, but the other two I daren't risk." He sighed. "You guys won't tell her any of this, will you?"
"We promise." Nancy agreed. "But I think Topaz is right and it's worth the effort. Don't you?"
Out in the gardens, oblivious to the fact she was being followed, Copper had dropped down onto the grass, her eyes filling up with unwelcome tears. Stupid as she knew it was, for she and Aaron were, after all, 'just friends', the introduction of Cynthia had sent shockwaves through her system. The tour and the long absence from him had made her all the more aware of her own feelings and somewhere deep down she had nurtured a faint hope that he had missed her too. Too shy to broach the subject of her feelings, the romantic side of her nature had taken hold of her imagination, and the idea that he could have another girl had hurt her more than she liked to admit.
"It's okay if there's a girl he likes." She told herself for the umpteenth time, trying her best to believe it. "I'm acting all adolescent and it's only a stupid crush. I've had them before and lived...it's not important. I should be happy for him...he's my friend, after all."
A voice came from across the grass, and the redhead glanced up, her heart sinking when she saw who it was.
"I'd kinda like to be alone, Cynthia." She said quietly. "I have things to think through."
"I don't think that bottling up how you feel is going to help you." Cynthia shook her head, ignoring the hint to leave. "You like Aaron a great deal, I think." She reached down, taking the unwilling drummer by the hand and gently pulling her to her feet. "Are you in love with him?"
"He's my friend."
"As am I."
"I barely know you!" Copper protested. "I come home and find Aaron here with a strange girl - I'm sorry, but what am I supposed to think about it?"
"Yes, I see that your misunderstanding is a logical one." Cynthia's violet eyes twinkled with amusement. "But don't you recognise me, Copper? Am I not familiar to you at all? You know me as well as Aaron does, I'm sure."
"Perhaps my appearance confuses you? Here, allow me to assist."
Before Copper could respond, Cynthia had bathed herself in a pink glow, and then, right there in the grounds of Starlight Mansion, her features changed into those yet more striking and more familiar."
"Synergy?" Copper breathed.
"Well, who else did you expect?" Synergy demanded.
"But...you can touch!"
"Aaron successfully converted my projectors so that I can project either multiple ordinary holograms or one single solid hologram." Synergy explained. "The watch which I wear on my wrist is my remote projector and I can regulate my own actions accordingly." Slowly she readjusted her features back into those of Cynthia. "In this disguise I am truly as free as anyone. I made Aaron promise not to reveal my true identity to Nancy and Sylvina, after all they are sketchy of my workings as it is, and probably believe I am still shut down after what happened at the Memorial. Plus, the newcomer knows nothing at all of me as yet, and I would prefer it to stay that way. But I could not let you think I was like any other girl, Copper. I know Aaron is dear to you, and you are a good friend to me."
"I'm relieved." She admitted. "I didn't realise how much I liked him till we were away on tour so long without seeing him. Synergy, is there any chance, do you think, that he likes me as much as I do him?"
"I think there is a very great chance." Her companion winked. "And nothing would make me happier than to see my two dearest friends happy together. Copper, I must ask you not to call me Synergy in public. Aaron and I settled on Cynthia, because you and he are both in the habit of abbreviating my name to 'Syn' or 'Synnie', and it appeared to be a logical substitute."
"I'll be careful, I promise." Copper nodded. She grinned. "Now it all makes sense to me, I feel a little bit silly."
"Well, I am the only one who knows of our exchange and I have no reason to tell anyone." The hologram responded with a smile. "And now that is settled, shall we rejoin the others? I wish to hear about your tour too, you know."
"Sure." Copper linked arms rather hesitantly with her newfound ally. "This is gonna take a bit of getting used to, you know. You gave me a real jolt, Synnie...you're so pretty, I was jealous."
"But I can look like anything or anyone." Synergy shrugged. "You have natural beauty, Copper, both inside and out. Aaron would be a fool indeed if he didn't see it."
Copper looked embarrassed.
"You really think so?" She asked. Synergy laughed.
"Well, if you don't believe in yourself, it hardly matters." She chided. "Now come on! I love this new freedom and I intend to enjoy every moment I have of it!"
PART FOUR: HARDLIGHT
Chapter One: Aaron's Experiment
Chapter Two: Cynthia
Chapter Three: Back To Work
Chapter Four: On Set
Chapter Five: Mind Games
Chapter Six: Sirena's Scandal
Chapter Seven: Zach
Chapter Eight: A Happy Ending
Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, 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.