Disclaimer: Jem and the Holograms are property of Hasbro; this is their sandbox, I'm simply destroying their sand castles
Title: Deception Unveiled
Timeframe: Jem Season 1, Episode 26 (Glitter and Gold)
Summary: Jealous of Rio's attraction to her alter ego-Jem, Jerrica's made the decision to tell Rio the truth about herself and Jem…
Kimber, Jerrica's sister, has left with her boyfriend Jeff Wright for a night on the town - never having made the second and unintentional date with Max Connolly for the same timeframe - and Jerrica has resolved to spend the evening with Rio. After Synergy's disaster of a confrontation with hologram Rio, she knows that waiting any longer will just make things worse between them - not better. Her jealousy over Rio's attachment to her alter ego won't fade and the rift between them will only increase the longer she waits.
Determined to set the record straight, she sets the stage. The garden is the most peaceful place in the Starlight Mansion, but the most likely place they'll be left in peace is in Synergy's chamber - none of the foster girls are likely to step in at an inopportune moment and the Holograms will be otherwise occupied. Using Synergy's talents, Jerrica disguises the computer, knowing eventually she'll have to reveal her to Rio, but not until the proper time in their conversation.
Rio, unsuspecting of the upcoming revelation, arrives to find Jerrica waiting for him and is a little shocked when she invites him into the house and upstairs towards her bedroom...
"Jerrica, what's this all about?"
Smiling, Jerrica squeezed his hand and stopped, turning her back to the hologram wall hiding Synergy's room from view. "I have something really important to tell you, Rio, and it's something... something I know you're not going to like."
His eyebrows lifted in surprise. "I highly doubt that."
"It doesn't matter, you need to know anyway."
Jerrica cast a look up and down the hall and then stepped backwards towards the wall, never breaking eye contact with Rio. "Do you trust me, Rio?"
"Then close your eyes."
Promptly obeying her command, he waited. Jerrica turned him around in a full circle once and then led him through the wall. The room was half the size it normally was, with another hologram wall shielding Synergy from view. A couch and small table had been set up since Jerrica knew she'd need their support by the end of it. Glasses and a pitcher of water along with a single rose in a vase sat on the table.
"You can open your eyes now."
Rio did - and blinked in surprise. "I don't recognize this room."
"You haven't been everywhere in the Starlight Mansion," she teased lightly. "Besides, this is private and what I have to tell you even more so."
"So tell me."
"I want you to promise something first - that no matter what I have to say you'll at least hear me out, that you won't go storming off or condemn me for it; that you'll let me explain."
"Sweetheart, you're starting to worry me."
"Just promise me."
Jerrica took a deep breath and let it out. "Rio... do you... remember when we were in New York and Eric offered the reward for finding out who Jem was?"
He looked at her strangely. "What does Jem have to do with this?"
A faint smile crossed Jerrica's face. "More than you know. Do you remember?"
"How could I forget?" He paced across the room and then turned back. "You were pretty mad at me for trying to find out Jem's identity - I thought you'd never want to speak to me again."
"There's a reason I took it so personally. You were right, Rio."
Straightening her shoulders, Jerrica braced herself for his reaction. "I am Jem."
Silence descended in the room as Rio stared at her and then chuckled.
"I'm not joking." Lifting one hand to the jemstar earrings, she looked him squarely in the eye and spoke loud enough for him to hear. "Showtime Synergy."
There was a brief flicker in her appearance before the hologram covered her completely, shifting her from Jerrica - into Jem. Letting her hand drop, she waited silently for Rio's reaction, her heart racing as it leapt into her throat. He was staring at her, an unreadable look on his face. Something flickered to life in his eyes and it was then she noted the clenching of his jaw.
"This is your big secret?"
Jem took a step back. His words were low, and stung like a whip, lashing out viciously.
"That my Jerrica is Jem? That my dependable, hardworking, honest girlfriend, has been lying to me as two different women for almost a year?"
"It's not like that, I-"
"Not like what?" He cut in before she could explain. "You used me, Jem - Jerrica... whoever you are! You used me! You've made a fool of me, played me like an old instrument."
"That's not fair!"
"I hate deception and can't abide liars - and you know it!"
"Then you must hate yourself, Rio Pacheco!" She tossed back at him angrily, incensed by his insensitivity. "You've been lying to me - both of me - since Jem kissed you on the Countess' barge!"
"She - you kissed me!"
"And I tried to tell you why but we got interrupted! Not that it's stopped you; you've taken every opportunity to kiss Jem since!"
"As if you tried to stop me!"
"You sure didn't try very hard."
"What are you talking about? I tried to resign and you - Jerrica - insisted I stay!"
"What was I going to say? That you can't leave when both of us love you?"
"You played me for a fool, Jem - Jerrica... Who are you anyway?"
"Show's over, Synergy." Jem's hologram facade faded away leaving Jerrica in her place. "I'm the same person I've been, Rio. I'm Jerrica Benton. I'm the manager and producer of Starlight Music; I'm the girl you grew up with and I'm responsible for a dozen girls who depend on me to ensure they have what they need. I'm also Jem, singer and performer, who does what she can to make this world a better place."
"Through deception and lies!"
"Through music and magic!"
"You've deceived me deliberately, Jerrica!"
"Would you have believed me, Rio? Would you that day at the zoo if I'd told you the truth and Jem had appeared on the pathway? Or when we were rescued from the desert island and both of us had to make an appearance? Or when we were filming and I had to be Eric Raymond's call girl? Would you have believed me then?"
"You were both there-"
"Exactly. We were both there! Synergy, if you please."
"Of course Jerrica."
A hologram of Jem appeared next to Jerrica and Jerrica tilted her head towards it. "Look familiar?"
Jem was dressed in the same ruined dress Jem had been wearing during the rescue off the deserted island. "Hello Rio."
"What nonsense is this?"
"I am Jem, Rio." Jerrica reiterated. Reaching out one hand she made to slap Jem - and her hand passed right through the hologram. "She's nothing but light and color - a hologram."
"She's the deception, Rio. Jem is a hologram, just like the one I wear when I perform."
"I've had enough of this."
"You promised me you'd listen!" The hologram of Jem faded away as Rio turned away and Jerrica lunged for him. "You promised Rio!"
"I made a promise to someone I believed was as honest and up front as I was. You're neither of those, Jerrica - you're not the person I thought you were."
"Well neither are you, Rio Pacheco, you've been cheating on me with Jem!"
"I haven't done anything!"
"You kiss her, you hold her and you dance with her - all in front of television camera!" Tears welled in Jerrica's eyes. "Why don't you think Jem's been around, huh? I am Jem! You like her better, you like the deception better than you like me - me! - your girlfriend! I was sick of hearing about Jem!"
"Then you deserved it." Rio's tone was angry. "You created this deception, however you do it, and now you'll have to live with the consequences. I quit and I never want to see you - either of you - again!"
"We're through, Jerrica."
"No!" She lunged for him, wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed into his back as tears slid down her cheeks. "Rio, please, try to understand. I didn't want to lie to you; I never meant to, I tried to tell you who I was!"
His hands folded around hers and pulled - but Jerrica had laced her fingers together and wouldn't budge.
"You had every opportunity after the party with the Countess, Jerrica. Before New York you had ample time."
"When? When we were recording so the Holograms could watch you break my heart? Or maybe during the video shoot? Or maybe while we were on that cruise and we got thrown overboard? When, Rio?"
"There's been time in-between all of that and you know it."
"And you know Jem's disappeared in those times and all you've done is ask about her." Jerrica let him go abruptly and stepped back, wrapping her arms around her own waist. "You can't possibly hate me more than I hate myself right now, Rio."
Silence descended in the room - but Rio didn't storm off as he'd been about to. He didn't move, didn't budge, but his hands remained clenched at his sides and his back remained to her.
Jerrica closed her eyes and ducked her head; letting her hair fall forward to hide her face from Rio should he choose to turn. In a low voice, so he wouldn't hear, she spoke to Synergy. "Show him the door, Synergy."
"I do not think your discussion is finished, Jerrica."
"He won't listen; I can't make him." She caught her breath on a sob, strangling the sound with one hand as she fought to keep her composure. Breaking, her whispered words barely passed her lips. "Let him go."
"What is that?"
Her head came up and her eyes opened - to find Synergy had been revealed and Rio had been looking at her, but was now distracted. Synergy's image appeared on the screen before Jerrica could protest and began to speak.
"I am Synergy, Rio. A highly advanced computer capable of generating realistic appearing holograms - as you have seen. I was built by Jerrica's father and left to her separate from Starlight Music. Mr. Benton believed Eric Raymond would attempt to control Starlight Music and his rightful heir. I was created to ensure that did not happen."
"But... why the Jem deception?"
"Why not?" Synergy countered levelly. "Who better to save her father's Music Company than Jerrica herself? She and the Holograms had musical talent before becoming a band; Mr. Benton ensured it. You heard them play before, surely it is not news that Jerrica can sing."
"Then did she deceive you because you were too blind to see the truth or because you wished to be deceived? You identified her correctly as Jem once before and she did not lie to you; I did."
"She didn't admit to it either."
"I had strictly told her not to tell anyone. At the time, it was the correct decision."
"That still doesn't forgive her."
"No, but it explains her actions."
"Jem was my idea, my plan; I did what I did knowingly. That doesn't make it your fault; that makes it mine."
"Your intentions were never to deceive, Rio, Jerrica." Synergy replied calmly. "They were simply to save Starlight House."
"Only because I didn't think about Rio's reaction," returned Jerrica hotly. "I had plenty of time after he kissed Jem for the first time!"
"Jem kissed Rio - and he tried to stop her for fear of hurting you. You are the one who continued to pursue him in both identities."
Jerrica blushed, her anger draining away at the computer's observation. "I did, didn't I?"
"You did." Rio's dry response was accompanied by Synergy's image disappearing and the computer returning to its dormant state. "Is what she said true?"
"It is. I'm sorry Rio, I really did try to tell you. By the time I could, Eric put out that bounty and then you tried to find out on your own..." shaking her head she sighed miserably. "That doesn't excuse what I did despite my intentions; I never wanted to hurt you."
"Then why didn't you tell me?"
"I tried, at first, and then everything kept interfering and there was never a moment - some moments I didn't want to spoil because they were for just you and me, no Jem." She dropped to the couch dejectedly. "After that, you tried to find out Jem's secret and I didn't know what you meant to do with it and Synergy was afraid if anyone found out about her and her capabilities they'd be put to an evil use. Then, when Starlight started taking off, I figured Jem could disappear into the background and you'd forget about her."
Jerrica sighed, folding her hands in her lap and stared at them, unable to look Rio's way. "All anyone ever talked about was Jem this, and Jem that. I thought about telling you then, but what was the point? Jem could fade away and you would never need to know who she was or where she came from. It wasn't until today that I realized you weren't going to forget her and I… I was scared I'd lose you."
"It would serve you right if I never spoke with you again, Jerrica."
"I know." She closed her eyes against the sting of tears. "I never meant to lie to you, Rio. You were supposed to know from the start - but you never would have approved."
"You've got that right. Lying to the world wasn't the way to save your inheritance."
"Wasn't it?" The words were whispered as her eyes opened and a tear slipped down her cheek. "That lie not only saved the company, it saved Starlight house. Synergy gave me hope; she gave me the means to save everything that was important to me. If one lie, a lie that brings so much hope and joy to people and saves the lives of a dozen girls is a horrible thing, then I guess I'm a horrible person. It's just something I had to do."
Rio was silent.
Jerrica covered her face with one hand and waved Rio towards the holographic wall that held the exit. "Just go, Rio."
Soundlessness swept through the room with such abruptness that Jerrica wasn't certain if Rio was still in the room until the echo his footsteps sounded on the floor. She slid both hands over her face, waiting for the sound to die away. They faded, dwindling to nothing as he disappeared and the sob that finally broke through her composure was heart wrenching.
Rio was gone and he hadn't understood.
It was over.