"First, no secrets. We’re not
starting this with anything other than the truth." Jareth
sat at the table in the practice room, Kimber opposite him, the
other Holograms, Jerrica, and Rio with them.
Kimber nodded. "Okay…"
He took a breath and plunged into what he had to say. "I’m the Goblin King. It was all real. And that is how I know Sarah Williams. She is the Sarah from the story, the girl who wished away her brother."
"Of course you are," Kimber reassured him. She cast Jerrica a disturbed sideways glance.
"How do you explain what Minx saw in Underground Music?" he asked.
"Drug use," Raya said promptly.
He turned around to face the drummer. "What?"
"Jareth," said Jerrica uneasily, "are you joking?"
He smiled a little. "I assure you I am not. Neither am I mad. Nor am I lying. I simply wish you to know the truth to me."
This was met with a long silence. It was Rio who spoke after it. "So prove it."
Rio huffed, folding his arms across his chest. "Of course you can’t."
"Yesterday, I would have been more than happy to oblige," Jareth responded, fighting the urge to clench his teeth. This Rio was something of a pest, really. But he supposed every group had to have a Doubting Thomas, questioning the science behind all illusions. "But something rather amazing has happened. I have lost what power I had."
"And just how did this supposed loss of your wonderful powers come about?"
"I’m not quite sure. I think it was a combination of things. Being out of my element," he mused. "Spreading so much of it over so wide a radius. I had never really used my power for anything like this. I’m afraid it was, in the end, ill-suited for it." He shook his head. "I have no testament to who I was. Am. Except Sarah and Danse. They know the truth."
"This is crazy," Rio said flatly. "I don’t know what kind of game you’re trying to play…"
Jareth sighed as Rio went on. Then he smiled wickedly. "Well, perhaps there is a little something left…" He rose from his chair and faced Rio, extending his hand, as if he had something in his palm. Jareth closed his eyes and sought the familiar tingling in his palm that would have been horrible pain if not for the protection of his gloves. In a moment it came. And when he opened his eyes, Rio was standing in silent awe at the crystal that had formed in Jareth’s hand.
Rio nodded dumbly.
"Good." It popped like a soap bubble and Jareth half-collapsed back into his chair.
"Why didn’t you tell us?" demanded Kimber. "And why did you come here? And if this is real, why didn’t you help us before? How does Danse know?"
Jerrica’s question was asked in a much softer voice, one filled with dismay and surety. "Why did you tell us now?"
Jareth looked at her. "Because I know your secret, Jerrica Benton."
Her blue eyes flitted up to his face, searching frantically for a way to stop him. In front of the Holograms it would be fine, the Holograms knew her secret, but Rio was here and Rio didn’t know, he didn’t—
"Or should I call you Jem?"
She gasped, reeled, searched for something to say. She only sat there, still as stone, not even managing to look surprised. *This is a dream* she decided finally. *And when I wake up, everything will be fine, just fine…*
"So tell me," Jareth went on, unmindful of the shock on the faces of the Holograms and not seeing the shock of a different sort on Rio’s face behind him. "What magic do you use, Jerrica?"
"You’re wrong," Kimber finally stammered. "She’s not Jem…"
"Why weren’t you upset with Jem for backing out on the party?" Jareth asked, his voice innocently curious, but there was a point underneath it.
Kimber’s face was empty as she struggled for a response. Aja rushed to the rescue, coming fully awake first out of all of them. "We were. We are. We’re very upset with her. But we realized it wouldn’t solve anything…we have to focus on getting this show together so we can keep Starlight House together."
They were nodding, clinging to that explanation like drowning men on a life preserver. Jareth had no choice but to ask the bigger question. "Then tell me why Jem isn’t here. Nothing in the world could keep her from doing this party. Not the Jem you all speak about. Unless…"
Rio was moving. He walked forward, toward Jerrica. They faced one another for a long time. He looked into her face, his eyes locked on her, tracing every line, meditating on every shape and color there. "Unless Jerrica couldn’t get away to be Jem."
"Rio, he doesn’t…Rio…" She was helpless. The secret was told. And Jareth realized too late that Rio had been standing in the dark, and the light of truth was painfully bright.
"You lied to me," Rio said. The words were calm and quiet and pained. "You tricked me. How could you do that to me? I loved you. Why didn’t you tell me?"
"I’m sorry…" It was her admission of guilt. The nail in her coffin.
"Sorry doesn’t even begin to cover what you are. It’s not even a start." He walked out, slamming the door behind him.
"My father built Synergy," Jerrica was saying. Her eyes were red-rimmed from crying, and she’d done her fair share of it since Rio had walked out. But she had fought back against the drama admirably, and here she was, the businesswoman getting it done. "He had a lot of gifts for us, instruments and things like that. And Synergy helped me to create Jem. With Jem, we were able to keep the Starlight Girls afloat." She and the Holograms led Jareth down a hall of Starlight Mansion, to a large, dim room. "We don’t use this part of the mansion much anyway, and it’s sort of the perfect place to keep her." Kimber flicked on the light switch, and Jareth looked around.
"So…where is it?"
"Here." Jerrica proceeded to walk through the wall. The Holograms followed, Raya leading Jareth last. He entered a small room taken up with a very large computer.
"Welcome, Jareth Trevale," said a soft, computerized voice. "I have been expecting you."
The room came alight with colored lights, and a figure appeared. "My name is Synergy," said the beautiful female apparition. "I am a hologram. And so is Jem. I am Jerrica’s magic."
"You see," Shana explained, "Jerrica wears the Jemstar earrings. They project Synergy’s hologram over her, and make her into Jem."
"Ah. I understand. Then the mystery woman is no more than an illusion."
"Her facade is an illusion," Synergy corrected. "The woman behind it is very real."
Jareth smiled. "Jerrica, it was really you all the time. You did it all yourself."
"Well, I was Jem…"
"No," he said. "Jem was you."
"He is very perceptive," Synergy said approvingly. "So, you intend to have him sing with you for that party?"
"Well, yes," said Kimber. "But he tells us we can’t duplicate his sound live. It was magic."
"You could perform with the recording," Synergy offered, but Jareth shook his head.
"The difference between the live Holograms performance and the recorded songs would be…very noticeable."
"He’s right," sighed Raya.
"But I was thinking," said Kimber, "that well, we could write some new songs…and premier them that night. We could even make a recording and those sales could go to the Starlight House and…"
"Kimber?" said Jerrica.
"You’re a genius."
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