Title: Something Has to Give
Author: AKA Jay
E-Mail: aka_jay66@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They belong to Jim
Henson Productions. For the most part, this is a good thing.
Feedback: Would be appreciated.
Summary: Wouldn't that involve some forethought on my part?

Dedication: To Tellergirl, for reminding me about this fandom. Lots of new fic to read, bless you people for keeping the stories going. *g*

Part One

Sarah threw herself onto her bed, exhausted from the victory party. As nice as it had been to see her friends one last time it was a relief to be going back to her normal life. Hah, she thought. Never thought I'd be happy with my life.

She smiled to herself and burrowed deeply into the covers. What a perfect way to end this stage of her life. "It'll be just like before..." she murmured softly. Toby was back, the book was... Well, sitting on my dresser, actually. I'll get rid of it tomorrow. Most importantly, she had learned an Important Lesson about yearning after illusions instead of doing the Sensible Thing and being content with your life the way it was. The reality behind her fantasies was just a little more than she wanted to deal with. As she settled into a dreamless sleep, she wanted nothing more than to live her life as normally as possible.

There are some things that can't be taken back.

You can't leave the mob for a more rewarding career as a federal prosecutor, you can't make your friend forget what you really think of her boyfriend (now her husband), and once you've been to the Labyrinth, you can't suddenly decide to expunge all unreality from your life. (Even if you go to the extreme of becoming a Certified Public Accountant.)

Magic leaves traces on you, tiny shimmering beacons that call to the source, nagging it to come take back its missing fragments. Sarah was now bearing the occult equivalent of "If found, please return to..." tags.

Of course, at this point she was trying earnestly to forget the name that was written on the flyleaf of her soul.

*****

He, on the other hand, was in no danger of forgetting about her.

His eyes were on her even as she spoke her heartfelt pledge of mediocrity. Lips curved in a smile of amusement, he watched her until she'd drifted off to sleep.

Shaking his head, Jareth absently let the crystal dissolve. He leaned back in his throne and basked in the uncharacteristic quiet. Most of the goblins were still hiding down in the village and for a moment he considered leaving them there. He dismissed the idea with a regretful sigh. After all, they were his loyal subjects. He'd tell them it was safe to come out. Eventually.

He closed his eyes and let his consciousness range out over the Labyrinth like a winged bird. With pleasure he noted the shifts and changes that were so much a part of his creation. Within an hour, it would have completely reformed itself. Within two hours, every one of his subjects would be hopelessly lost and cursing his name. He smiled.

His smile quickly faded as he felt the emptiness left by Sarah's departure twinge at him like a missing tooth. It was beginning to occur to him that he probably shouldn't have forced her to absorb so much of his magic. It had seemed safe enough at the time, since she was going to lose; the possibility that she might win had never occurred to him. Jareth won or... he won. It was what he did best. He was a gracious winner - he'd had a lot of practice at it.

He'd had no practice at losing. He was a very, very bad loser.

The ballroom dream had been an indulgence, he could see that now. He'd should have taken the quick and easy route and stripped her memory away and left her in the farthest corner of his kingdom until the time ran out. But he had been so confident, so sure that he could fog her mind with sparkling dreams.... He'd hoped- But no. She'd broken away. She'd run from him. She'd shattered the dream - his dream, her dream, it didn't matter - and then he'd been forced to improvise.

And then she'd won.

They never won!

Jareth's ego, bolstered by fairly easy victories over countless hapless souls, had sustained a major blow. Over the centuries many people had come to him and he had judged each in turn and in turn found them all wanting. He'd taken their minds and twisted their bodies and shaped them into his creatures, and never doubted that that was what they deserved. He was too clever to be outwitted and too powerful to be denied. He was invincible. So it had always been and so it always would be.

Of course, there are other possibilities, other theories as to why he had never lost before. Something about the calibre of his opponents, perhaps? Something about them being people who dealt with helpless infants by wishing them away to a semi-mythical king?

In general, these were not bright people. These were people who got lost on the way to the corner store. Putting them in the Labyrinth and telling them to find their way to the center was akin to putting a fish in an elevator and telling it to get off at the top floor: fun to watch, but not really a fair challenge.

Nobody ever tried to point that out to Jareth. Not twice, at any rate.

What both logic and Jareth agreed on was that Sarah was different from the others. Her delicate, touch-me-not, Alice in Fairyland personality disguised an incredibly practical core and a degree of stubbornness that rivalled Jareth's own. Instead of giving up or giving in, she'd recruited an army from among Jareth's own creatures. Instead of hiding in a corner, she'd beaten down the gates.

And because of her differences, she was able to do two things.

She solved the Labyrinth, beat the Goblin King and won freedom for herself and her brother.

She attracted the personal attention of Jareth, and in some ways Jareth was a one-trick pony. Magic was his whip, his knife and his semi-automatic rifle with targeting scope and heat vision, but he also used magic as his winning charm, his first date conversation and his "you come here often?".

In short, whether he was seducing her or trying to maim her, Sarah was constantly being exposed to high levels of magic. Add this to the fact that the entire Labyrinth was magical in and of itself and you get a situation that has warning signs all over it.

Sarah was free. Sarah was his.

The two do not mesh well.

In fact, they can't mesh at all.

Something has to give.

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Tell me what you think?
Many more chapters to come as I edit them and get them up here... I'd forgotten how much I liked this one. *g*