The Labyrinth of London: Falling Down
A Sherlock/Labyrinth Crossover
"The Thin White Sleuth…"
The Almighty Disclaimer
Oh Moffat and Gatiss,
Henson and Doyle,
To you belongs all the characters
And none so for me!
A/N: This story was inspired by "The Thin White Sleuth..." by Pika-la-Cynique of Girls Next Door fame.
Jareth's day had been made. Dante had just tripped over a chicken and fallen face first into a pit of goblins. The Goblin King laughed just as hard as the goblins that had not been squashed.
Dante spit out a mouth full of feathers. "It's not that funny."
"It is," Jareth wheezed.
Dante crawled out of the pit (much to the poor smushed goblins relief) and stood before the Goblin King's throne. "Come on. I need to clean up and then we can have dinner." With a snap of his fingers, Jareth's nephew was clean and the two went to the Goblin King's sitting room.
As they waited for supper in front of the blazing fire and the comfortable armchairs, the uncle and nephew discussed various happenings throughout the Underground. Nothing extraordinary. A few spats. A few taunts. Nothing worrisome.
"How are your wished-aways and favorites?" Dante asked.
Jareth spun a crystal into existence. He lightly blew against it so that it grew and floated between the two as images flicked to life and faded into another. "Let's see. Asleep. Asleep. Tending his newborn grandson. Asleep. Asleep. Taunting his older brother, Mycroft. School. Napping. With her…" Jareth froze.
"I'm going to assume that whoever that is doesn't normally cry," Dante said.
"I have to make sure she has not been harmed. If those goblins failed me…" Jareth growled something unintelligible before jumping off the balcony and into his owl form.
Jareth settled on the branch above the crying girl. Sarah was twelve years old and he had never seen her cry that much since she was a very small child. Her sobs were so strong she could barely breathe. Sarah wrapped her arms around her knees. Her arms were scratched from what he assumed to be bushes and tree branches judging by the leaves on her clothes and in her hair.
Silently, he swooped down and transformed into his usual goblin self. Sarah could not see him, but Jareth felt better knowing he could physically defend Sarah if someone tried to harm her.
Besides the scratches from the plant life, Sarah appeared to be unharmed. She was sobbing so hard that Jareth was concerned she might break one of her ribs.
"Sarah! Princess!" Mr. Williams shouted from somewhere nearby.
The girl hugged her knees even more and tried to quiet her sobs. Jareth's hands tightened into a fist. If he's hurt her…
Mr. Williams came through the bushes surrounding the tree Sarah was sitting under and let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, princess, I am so glad you're alright. I was worried that when… when you ran out…" Mr. Williams rubbed tears away from his eyes, "Do you want to go home?"
Sarah shook her head.
"Do you want me to stay? Sit next to you?"
Sarah nodded as her sobbing began to subside. Robert sat next to his daughter. She would not let him touch her, but it did not seem she was afraid of him, so Jareth relaxed slightly and kept an eye out for any possible intruders.
"What did I do wrong?" Sarah asked quietly.
"What are you talking about? Princess, you didn't do anything wrong. This isn't anything to do with you," Robert said.
"Is it my room?"
"My grades? I'm sorry for that B in gym. I can't lift weights very well. I'll practice." Sarah began to cry again. "I'll be prettier. I'll dress better. I'll get the lead in the play. Is that it? Is that why Mommy left? I'm sorry. I tried. I really tried. I'm so sorry. It's all my fault."
Robert held his daughter as she cried. He whispered to her that it was not her fault, that he loved her very much, and that nothing was going to change that.
Jareth flew away to the Williams' apartment in the downtown area of the small town. He landed on a tree branch outside the flat and glared at the window until it was opened by the goblins. They were visibly upset as they told the story.
Robert and Linda had had a fight in the living room while Sarah had been there waitin to go to school. Linda had packed her bags and left. Sarah ran after her, but could not keep up. The girl ran away to the park after that.
Jareth told the goblins to keep watch over Sarah while he investigated.
"Why am I looking through newspapers? I thought this evening was going to be fun," Dante said before stabbing a piece of broccoli with vengeance.
"One of my favorites has a problem," Jareth said, "She has been hurt and I want to know why."
"You should eat something," Dante said as he motioned to Jareth's untouched food.
"I'm fine," Jareth mumbled. His slanted eyebrows shot up at something he read. "Oh."
"What?" Dante said.
"I believe the mother is having an affair with a co-star. They have been good friends for years and apparently there has been… some interesting kissing pictures off stage that has been claimed to be for rehearsal," Jareth said.
"You are really going to the newspapers for information? They are the most unreliable things," Dante said.
"Better than goblins who don't really understand what the word 'divorce' means," Jareth said.
Jareth had ordered an increase in Sarah's goblin guards that evening. He had seen how hurt some children had become from the loss of a parent (by choice or not) to know that they sometimes became hurt by others or themselves. Sarah did not seem to be at true risk, but he had thought that once of another child and he attended the child's funeral a few days later.
He would not risk it.
"I have seen train wrecks go better," Christiana said to Jareth as they sat unseen in a courtroom.
"By all the… I think Linda's… person is here," Jareth said.
"Didn't we meet him at…" Christiana snapped her fingers as she tried to remember. "…the thing? The musical all those years ago?"
"Yes," Jareth said.
Christiana shivered. "Gross. Why are we here?"
"I want to make sure Sarah will be treated well in these proceedings. I do not want her forced to live with that detestable woman," Jareth said.
"Here she is," Christiana said, "She's grown up to be a lovely woman. Poor dear. She shouldn't be going through this."
Jareth crossed his arms over his chest. "No, she shouldn't."
Sarah was wearing a navy skirt and blouse. She wore a plastic pearl necklace with matching earrings and a bracelet. Her make-up was a bit too heavy for that time of day and had obviously been put on by someone who was not experienced at it.
Sarah's lawyer talked with her first. The lawyer was thorough in her questioning, but not cruel. Then her parents' lawyers talked with her.
All throughout the questioning, Sarah kept looking at her Mother with such wide-eyed hope that it would have broken Jareth's non-existent heart. (He had been reliably informed that he did not have one, after all.) So, despite Jareth's extreme hatred of what Sarah asked, Linda was allowed partial custody of her daughter. Robert slumped down in his seat.
The court was adjourned. Sarah ran to her Mother. Jareth and Christiana were already close enough to hear the conversation.
"Mom, I get to see you more," Sarah said.
"Yes. Just for some holidays," Linda said.
"I know, but at least we get to see each other. Can I see your plays or your rehearsals?" Sarah asked.
Linda shrugged. "You need to work on your make-up. It just crosses over into hooker territory. Don't want to be giving boys the wrong idea."
Sarah stilled for a moment before putting on a false smile. "Of course, Mommy."
"Well, she does not get better with age," Christiana said as she downed a glass of wine in Jareth's study.
Jareth did the same. "Ugh. I feel the need to clean out my insides. I hate divorces."
"So, what do you think is going to happen to the girl?" Christiana said.
Jareth shrugged. "I don't know. I'll keep an eye out for her."
Over the next few months, there was a change in Sarah's behavior. She was obsessive about her grades to the point of becoming ill on test days. Her circle of friends was becoming smaller, in part due to Sarah being hounded by paparazzi during and shortly after the divorce of the illustrious Linda Williams. Instead of her usual defiance when it came to her Mother ordering her about, Sarah meekly obeyed. Robert was heart-broken and tried to talk to his daughter, but he was not quite able to reach her.
The only thing that seemed to bring Sarah any pleasure was fantasy. She would dress-up in her homemade costumes and pin-up her hair as best as she could before running to a secluded part of the park near her home. Sarah would take out her books or play scripts and then memorize them. She would practice and practice the parts until the words were a part of her as the seasons passed.
"Whatever comes cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it."
"If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."
"And he will tell me that he loves me. And he will cry! Oh, those tears, Raoul, those tears in the two black eye-sockets of the death's head! I cannot see those tears fall again!"
"But then, shall I NEVER get any older than I am now? That'll be a comfort, one way—never to be an old woman—but then—always to have lessons to learn! Oh, I shouldn't like THAT!"
"Oh, Aslan. You don't mean it was? How could I - I couldn't have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don't look at me like that… oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn't have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?"
"Might I… might I have a bit of earth?"
"Like and equal are not the same thing at all."
"Oh dear, I don't mean a kiss, I mean a thimble."
Something stirred in Jareth when Sarah said that line.
It was just after Sarah's 14th birthday and she had been sent to stay with her Williams' grandparents while her Father was on a business trip. Jareth had taken to watching Sarah practice her stories whenever he was not busy (which, unless there was a wished-away, he was never busy). She was not particularly brilliant, but he had grown fond of her and was interested to see that she might have a bit of magic in her.
The line from Peter Pan sat with him odd. He had no problems imagining players for Sarah when she had practiced before, but for that scene, it made Jareth uneasy to think of someone kissing her… except possibly him.
Jareth shoved that thought deep into an oubliette and then cut it up into little pieces so it could not come back to life. Me? Kiss her? HA!
Sarah's Father had come to fetch her. She ran back to the house, her skirt pulled up to show her jeans and moccasins which always made Jareth chuckle. Always a practical adventurer, aren't you Sarah?
Jareth was about to fly away back to the Underground when Sarah came running out of the house, her Father slowly following her.
"Sarah, I'm sorry I didn't tell you I was seeing Karen until…"
"No! You lied to me! You told me you loved Mom! Now you're marrying someone else! You never loved Mom! You're a liar! GET AWAY FROM ME!"
Sarah began climbing up the tree Jareth was perched in. He silently guided her steps so she could go as high as the tree could bear her weight.
"Sarah, you have to come down so you can go home."
"It's not home! You're moving us away!"
"It's a bigger house," Robert said.
"ALL FOR THAT WITCH!"
"You have never disliked…"
"I DIDN'T KNOW SHE WAS STEALING MY DAD FROM MY MOM!"
"Sarah, I didn't see Karen as anything but a friend until the Halloween party which was after the divorce. Princess…"
"I don't want to talk! I want to be alone!"
Robert was about to say something else but simply shrugged. "Talk to me when you stop acting like a child."
"Don't call me that!"
Robert shrugged again and walked back to the house. Sarah huffed and rubbed her eyes. "I'm not a child. I won't cry. I won't."
But she did, and it tore at Jareth. He flapped his wings loudly to get her attention. He began to talk to her, though she did not understand what he was saying. "Hoooooooo." Over here.
Sarah looked over to Jareth. "Oh, hello."
"Hoooooooooo." Hello, Sarah.
"Are you a barn owl?"
"You have very pretty wings. It's like they're sparkling."
Jareth stretched his wings so Sarah could get a better look at them. "Hoooooooo." Thank you.
"Very lovely." Sarah bit her lip and looked at the ground.
Jareth watched her as she thought. He tilted his head side to side as he tried to think of a way to cheer her.
"I want someone to save me," Sarah said quietly, "Take me away from this place. I just… don't like how I feel anymore. I'm trapped and… no one is going to help me."
"Hooooooooo." Just wish it and I will do it.
Sarah rubbed her eyes. "But that's stupid. No one is going to save me. I'm not a princess. I'm not important. No one cares."
"HOOOOOOO!" That's not true! I care!
Sarah's stomach growled. "I am hungry… ugh. I guess I have to go in and face the fact that I am going to have a wicked stepmother."
That November, Robert Williams married his second wife. By December, Karen Williams was pregnant with her first child. Sarah was fuming and tried to spend as much time with Linda and her boyfriend as she could. They were "sophisticated" as Sarah would say.
Jareth was rather concerned by how less observant Robert was since his second wife's pregnancy. He obviously still loved Sarah, but she needed more than she was receiving.
That Christmas, Sarah received a red book which the goblins had no idea how it had gotten under the tree.
"Joanna, what do you think you're doing?" Jareth said as he stormed into his sister's sitting room in the Seelie Court.
"Happy Christmas?" Joanna said.
"You gave Sarah that book, didn't you?" Jareth said. He loomed over where Joanna was sitting. "Why?"
"Jareth, this is neither the first nor the last time I gave a harmless gift to…"
"No. A book is never a harmless gift. Don't lie to me," Jareth said.
Joanna sighed and leaned back on her elbow. "You just seem very fond of her."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Jareth said.
"Well, if she is going to be my sister-in-law…"
Jareth stood back. "What. The. Hell."
"Language, brother," Joanna said.
"What do you mean by that? Are you seriously saying that I have… interest in Sarah?"
"Well, you seem to spend much of your free time checking on her," Joanna said.
"I have done the same with many of those I watch over," Jareth said as he crossed his arms over his chest. "For example, when Mycroft left for university, I kept a close eye on Sherlock."
"But not as often as you do with this girl," Joanna said.
"She is not in the best place. I merely worry for her," Jareth said.
Joanna said in a sing-song voice, "You like her."
"Come now, Jay. There is nothing wrong with a little crush. It is not as if you could ever meet her unless she wished away one of her children, which would certainly be when your youth and beauty is gone, obviously the only thing you care about in her. That is the problem with only children: no siblings to wish away."
Jareth looked away for a moment.
"She is an only child, is she not?" Joanna said.
"Her stepmother is pregnant," Jareth said quietly.
Joanna clapped her hands together. "Oh, so my gift is quite appropriate then."
Jareth carefully tilted his sister's head up so that she was forced to have eye contact with him. "I am not Rumpelstiltskin. I will never endanger the Labyrinth for selfish motives. I will never trick her into calling me. I move the stars for no one, especially not for some ordinary girl."
"I am glad to hear it. Besides, the likelihood of her calling you is almost none. Even with Christiana's little red book, so many less people believe in the Goblin King." Joanna smiled. "You are a good man, Jareth."
Jareth laughed as he left the room. He stopped outside the almost closed doors to catch his breath. Jo is truly ridiculous if she thinks that I am in anyway good. I am merely sane.
"So, how is your brother?" Rumpelstiltskin asked his wife as he appeared in his room.
"Thoroughly put off by the girl, I should think," Joanna said.
Jareth tilted his head as he tried to hear the conversation.
"It is wise of you to make him think you approve the match. He will not want her now," Rumpelstiltskin said.
"I should hope so. From what I have been told, she is truly a selfish creature," Joanna said.
No she's not! She is just defensive from the divorce! Why can't you see that?
"Well, at least that has been dealt with," Rumpelstiltskin said.
Jareth went back to his kingdom with anger burning him from the inside out. Sarah is not to be treated in such a manner. She has done nothing to them. She is hurt. Why can't they see that she needs protectors and not critics?
The Goblin King began checking up on the girl every few hours instead of once a day. If Joanna did not see Sarah's need for protection, surely no one but he would.
Sarah became more solitary. She spoke clearer and thought faster than ever before. Her styles were more whimsical than usual and had taken some influences from the English Princess who had recently died. Linda ignored her unless it was to criticize. Jareth eventually realized that part of this attack on Sarah was due to Linda's jealousy of Sarah's youth. From a completely unbiased standpoint, Jareth knew that Sarah was far lovelier than Linda had ever been, but Linda was still a beautiful woman. The jealousy was unfounded in reality.
Something Jareth had not expected was for Sarah to take so strongly to the story of The Labyrinth. She began searching out for trinkets and toys that reminded her of the story, eventually making some of her own. Her eyes lit up whenever one of her few remaining friends would talk about myths or fairy tales. Somehow, Sarah always brought the conversation back to the Labyrinth and its wonderful, dangerous, and handsome Goblin King. (Jareth was only quoting, of course.)
Early that September, Karen gave birth early to a son that she named Toby. For some reason, the name resonated with Jareth. It would be years before he remembered that one of his siblings had been named Tobias.
Then Sarah's nightmares started.
"King, the girl isn't sleeping," one of Sarah's guards said when he came before Jareth's throne.
"Yes?" Jareth said as he tried to get more information out of the little goblin.
"It's not from the baby, though he cries a lot. I think he has the colic," the little guard said.
"Most likely. It is not uncommon," Jareth said.
"She… she screams sometimes and then she cries," the goblin said.
"Nightmares then," Jareth said. He tapped his riding crop against his leg. "Anything else?"
"No, sir," the goblin said.
It was a cool afternoon two weeks before Sarah's birthday. She was once again practicing her lines from The Labyrinth.
"These are the most valuable things from my poor family. They both belonged to my dear, dead mother. The rosary is made of olive wood from the Holy Land and was blessed by His Holiness, Pope Urban VIII. This sparkling ring was given to my ancestor, Mary Boleyn, by King Henry VIII, when she was mistress to him. This should ransom back the orphaned son of a miller, is it not so, oh great and powerful Goblin King?"
Jareth bristled at the lines. Really. Far more elegant than Joanna ever would have said it. Christiana, you are putting words into your Mother's mouth. Tsk, tsk. He refused to acknowledge that it disturbed him to hear about his deceased mother so casually.
Sarah bit her lip as she rubbed her forehead. She went to one of the large trees and sat against it. "So tired…" she mumbled as she tried to keep her eyes open.
Jareth flew down and changed into his goblin form, still invisible to Sarah. He sat next to her, leaning against the tree in such a way that he could see her while at the same time not touch her.
"Sarah," he said softly, "Go to sleep. No darkness will follow you into your dreams. No harm will come to you from this world. I promise you. Just go to sleep."
He created a crystal and let it float against Sarah's forehead where it popped once it touched Sarah's skin. Her eyes closed completely and she began drifting into pleasant dreams.
"There we go, precious." Jareth watched her steady breathing and the small twitches of sleep that she had. "I won't let any harm come to you."
Jareth hummed a melody that he could no place. He continued this way for a half hour, unaware of time passing, simply pleased to see that his music made Sarah smile sweetly in her dreams.
Her arm moved a little and the fabric of her billowing sleeves brushed against Jareth's hand. It sent a jolt of excitement through him.
And then a feeling of dread.
He realized that the song was not a tune he had forgotten, but something new. Something entirely, breathtakingly, terrifyingly new.
"Please, no," Jareth whispered, "I just want you safe. I just wanted you safe. I didn't… I didn't think… Please, forgive me Sarah." He traced the outline of her face without touching her. "Oh, Sarah. Please, forgive me."
He left her to finish her dreams.
Christiana marched into Jareth's darkened bedroom. She parted the curtains and let in the light. "Kinsman! I have no idea what your problem is, but the goblins are absolutely terrified. They say you haven't been out of your room for a week!"
Jareth was sprawled on his bed, an empty bottle of goblin ale at his side. He wearily placed an arm over his eyes. "Just leave me here to die."
Rossetti took away the empty bottle before shoving Jareth off the bed. "And put on some pants!"
Jareth squinted his eyes and rubbed his forehead as a headache smashed what little brains he had left. Christiana making him sit out in the annoyingly charming sunshine, which just made his pains worse. The troublesome kinsman was drinking her tea with quiet enthusiasm.
"Now, kinsman, what is troubling you so?" Christiana said.
"I…" Jareth covered his face. "I… I am too ashamed to say it."
"Oh, by all the creatures of the Labyrinth, I doubt you can do anything that can be embarrassing at this point," Christiana said.
Jareth shook his head. "No. I have done something truly dishonorable."
"You? Honor?" Christiana said.
Jareth glared at his niece. "Despite popular belief, there are a few things I hold myself accountable to. A few very, very simple rules."
"And those are?"
Jareth held up a finger for each rule. "1. Always make an entrance. 2. The needs of the Goblin Kingdom and the Labyrinth are above my own. 3. Protect those who are under my care. 4. Never harm a child or goblin. 5. Do not interfere directly with a person's free will. And kinsman, I have broken the first three."
"What happened?" Christiana patted her uncle's shoulder as he leaned forward and rested his head against the garden table.
"I have to stop it. I have done such a wrong against her."
"Her? What did you do?"
"I… I… fell in love, Christiana. I have fallen irrevocably in love with a woman who is under my protection."
Jareth looked up. "That is all you can say? I have done the most despicable act I have ever committed and all you can say is 'oh'?"
"It could be worse," Christiana said.
"Sure, I could have stuck a baby on a stake!" Jareth said.
"There is no need to shout."
"How are you not… ashamed of me?"
"Well, you haven't told me who she is and what you have done, now have you?"
So, Jareth did. Christiana listened intently and never interrupted. She was silent for a long time afterwards.
Then she said the worst thing possible, though she would not realize it until events had unfolded which eventually made Christiana the Goblin King.
"Well, I don't see what the problem is. You're the Goblin King. She should be pleased that you want her. As long as you keep a respect of her privacy and do not break the laws of the Labyrinth or the Underground, I don't see why this is such an issue."
"Really? Do you think so?"
"I do," Christiana said, "You are the Goblin King. If she is willing, then I see no reason why you should not love her."
Jareth smiled. "I am the Goblin King. Why should I not have her? I am sure when the time comes, she will be more than willing."
She'll be so happy. She'll be a Goblin Queen. She'll be taken away from that awful place. She'll love me and will do as I say. She will have no complaints. She will be happy. My Sarah will be happy. I can protect her. I can keep her safe. She will never question my power over her. Never demand her own. She will just be so blissfully happy. She will never ask for something I cannot give. So grateful… Yes, I can love her.
Sarah received a present on her 15th birthday from an unknown source. She did not question it as both of her parents had been trying to compete with each other over who gave Sarah more gifts and neither of them remembered what they gave her.
It was a music box that played an unfamiliar tune. A girl who looked like Sarah spun in a circle on top of the box and beneath a pavilion. The girl wore a beautiful, white dress reminiscent of Princess Diana's wedding dress with just a bit more of Sarah's taste for sparkling things. The music box would go well in her room.
And what nobody knew (except for a pesky niece) was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl and had given her certain powers. If she wished for a part in a play, she had it. If she needed protection from the elements, she found it. And as long as she played the music box, her dreams were sweet.
Not that the girl realized what was going on. She just thought that finally something nice was happening to her in light of having a wicked stepmother and the worst baby brother in the history of the world.
It was a stormy September evening sometime after Toby's first birthday. Sarah began telling a story to her screaming baby brother while her parents were out. "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl whose stepmother always made her stay home with the baby…"
The Goblin King heard her. Finally. Finally, she will be mine.
A/N: A crystal for anyone who can guess what the first part of the summary references. Also, crystals for naming the books Sarah quotes.