"Well," said Danse quietly, "we did try."

The Starlight Girls seemed completely disinterested in the news that Sarah and Danse’s mission had failed. They had thought that the girls would be the most down-hearted about it, so they had gone to them first…but they were acting as if nothing had dampened their spirits. Sarah frowned in confusion. "Didn’t you hear us?"

Krissie didn’t look up from the sketch she was doing of Cindy reading the Labyrinth book. "Yep."

"So…you’re not upset?"

Ashley finally rolled her eyes. "Of course not."

"Sarah," said Laura, who was tuning her guitar in one corner of the room, "I’m surprised at you. Don’t you know, there’s more than one way to de-fur a feline?"

She and Danse both smiled, curious. "Just what have you girls got up your collective sleeve this time?"

Marcy shrugged. And then she reached out and flipped on the radio.

*****

"Um…yer majesty, I think you better listen to this…"

Jareth gazed at the underling standing nervously outside his office. The paint was peeling on the walls of the building, the smell was stronger, the lighting was flickering, every machine had shorted. He had sent all but a skeleton crew of goblins back to the castle. The doors of Underground Music had mysteriously closed immediately after Danse and Sarah had left. People would be asking questions, but by the time they got them out, Jareth Trevale would be long gone.

"Listen to what?"

The goblin, still in the human guise of a young man, pointed to the radio in his office. It was one of the few things still working; it was one of the few things that was real. Jareth, puzzled and irritated, but too tired to fight anything, walked over and turned it on, then fell back in his chair.

"You’re listening to WKSS, Kiss FM," the DJ said. "I’m Jeff James, and I’m playing one of the strangest request blocks ever. That was Luna Dark with her new single, ‘I Need You,’ and before that the Ron Cox classic ‘Come On Back.’ Those were going out to one of our new favorites, Jareth Trevale, from a bunch calling themselves the Starlight Girls."

Jareth was sitting straight up in his chair. "Good lord…those women stop at nothing."

"So, Mr. Trevale, it looks like those girls really do ‘need you’, especially if they’re asking to ‘come on back’ on the biggest station in the city." The DJ laughed at his own limited cleverness, but Jareth could be forgiving—it was, after all, live. "Our next tune is another one for Jareth, and it sounds like the girls have another message for him…Here’s the Stingers with ‘Are You Feelin’ Alright?’"

Riot began singing, Rapture and Minx on back up vocals.

"I don’t get it, something’s wrong
You’ve been acting strange
Why the sudden change, baby?
Why the sudden change?

Are you feelin’ alright?
You seem uptight
What’s makin’ you act this way?
You’re so out of sync
I don’t know what to think
Are you feelin’ alright?
"

Jareth looked at the radio for a very long time. Then he glanced at the goblin. "Get my car.

*****

"Girls," Rio was saying, in his this-is-for-your-own-good voice, "I know you all want to help Starlight House, but this isn’t going to do any good. All he has to do is turn off the radio."

"He’ll listen," Sarah retorted. "Trust me."

"I hope so," Rio said. "Honestly, I do. But I don’t want you to be too disappointed if it doesn’t work out. I know there’s a lot riding on this for everyone."

"You know it’ll work," Cindy said. "Come on, Rio. It’s got to. You have to believe it, too."

"I’m trying, Cindy." He sighed. He had to get back to the real reason he’d come over to Starlight. "Jerrica, can we talk for a minute?"

The beautiful, blue-eyed blonde glanced up at him from Krissie’s sketch and smiled. She looked so tired and sad, but she was still breath-taking in Rio’s eyes. She didn’t have Jem’s sparkle and mystery, but she had a soft, comforting feel to her that made her more special than the star. "Sure, Rio," she replied, and walked out into the foyer of the house with him.

"Jerrica, I have to say something to you first. I’m sorry. I was jealous about Jareth, and I know why. I’ve just been feeling so left out…"

Jerrica touched his face. God, she really did love Rio. She was all tangled up over everything inside, but at least there was that one thing that was true. She wanted someone to understand her secrets, and she had been drawn to Jareth…but he couldn’t hold a candle to Rio in her heart. "Left out of what?"

"You. Your head and your heart. It’s like you’ve been locked up inside yourself and won’t let anyone in with you. Whatever it is you’re going through, I’ll be there. Always have been, always will be. This thing with Jem is driving you crazy, I’m sure, but she’ll turn up. And we’ll figure out some way to make ends meet for Starlight without the show. Let me in."

Rio wanted in. Rio, who hated liars and deceivers, Rio who could never understand why she kept Jem from him, or why she pursued him as Jem, Rio who would think she’d just been playing a game with his heart… But he said he’d be there. Did he mean through everything? Even having a double life? She looked at him, the urge to tell him everything almost overwhelming her.

Kimber began shouting somewhere in the house. "It worked! He’s here!"

"I don’t believe it!" Raya chorused. "But they did it, the girls really did it!"

Jerrica and Rio turned around to see Kimber and Raya bouncing down the stairs. The Starlight Girls and Sarah and Danse rushed into the foyer. Aja and Shana appeared on the railing.

The doorbell rang. They turned toward the sound. It rang again.

"Well, someone answer it!" Aja hissed.

Jerrica took a deep breath, and walked across the tile. She opened the door.

Jareth stood in the doorway, his hands on his hips, that lovely cane in one hand.

"Well. Don’t just stand there. So little time…so much work to do."

"Then…you’ll help us?" asked Jerrica.

He bowed. "At your service, milady. At your service."

 

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