Disclaimer: I do not own any characters from "Labyrinth". Not even their tights.

The applause hit her like a tsunami wave. A thundering of stamping, hoots and whistles rocked the theater as Sarah stepped out and bowed to the crowd. From her vantage point on stage, all she could see was a wash of white light, but she smiled broadly and blinked back her joyful tears as she, the director, and her cast of actors basked in the fruits of eight weeks of work.

After the applause died down, she slipped backstage with the cast, congratulating them and joining in their usual irreverent humor as they cleaned off their makeup and got ready to go home for the night.

"Joining us for drinks? We thought we'd head over to The Warty Toad after. Supposed to be a decent band tonight."

Sarah looked up into the hopeful eyes of Peter Hopkins, one of technical assistants for the show and smiled regretfully.

"Thanks, Peter, but I'm a little too tired for a crowd tonight. I'd kill the party spirit by falling asleep in my beer."

"But then your snoring would make such lovely bubbles," he grinned. "Well.how about a quiet drink around the corner at Andy's - just the two of us? I'll buy."

Sarah sighed inwardly and smiled. Peter was one of the many who pursued her. He was your typical decent guy - cute, kind, even emotionally stable, but Sarah knew herself well and by now had learned that any efforts she made to date would be hopeless.

"You're the best, Peter, really, but I just don't think I'm up to it tonight."

"Can I see you home then?" he asked not quite giving up hope, even though he knew her answer.

"No need. I'm actually planning to take a cab and hit the sack as soon as I get home. Don't miss the fun! Anyway," she whispered, leaning in toward him with an air of conspiracy, "I think 'someone' would be very disappointed indeed if you missed out on tonight." Her eyes slid for a split second toward a pretty redhead with pert freckles who had been watching them with ill-concealed envy. Sarah knew that Wendy had been smitten with Peter ever since she had spotted his muscular form on top of a ladder working with the lights. Sarah thought they would make a great couple if Peter would just get a clue.

"Okay," Peter sighed, "but we'll miss you. You can NOT run out on us this way next time. We NEED you to celebrate with us at the cast party!" he said in mock exasperation.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world!" she laughed as she picked up her bags and headed for the door.

Outside, the snow was swirling, but Sarah was able to hale a taxi quickly enough. Cabs were plentiful in the small theater districts after show time. When the cab stopped at her apartment building, Sarah paid the driver and bounded up the six flights to her tiny studio. Inside, things were pretty cramped, but she had managed to make the place home-y with a few plants, some artwork she'd bought off the street and several bookcases full of her favorite plays.

Sarah had moved to New York when she was only nineteen and had since worked tirelessly to break into the acting scene. As an actress, she'd met with enormous success in small theaters and even in independent films; but her skills as a leader had become so apparent in rehearsals that she had decided to drop her acting career to pursue directing. Her first efforts had been small - a one-act here, a pub performance there - but they had received solid reviews in the local free weeklies. She was well on her way to a successful career as a director and felt, for the most part, that life couldn't be better.

She peeled off her coat and turned up the thermostat, still thinking regretfully about Peter's invitation. Sarah was twenty-eight years old and had not had a date since she was twenty-four. She had tried - really tried - to be interested in the boys that had seemed to surround her ever since she had turned sixteen. When she was younger, she had endured their sloppy kisses thinking that she was just too inexperienced to appreciate their attention. As she had gotten older and the kisses had ceased to be sloppy, she'd realized to her horror that she couldn't bring even a spark of interest to light within herself for anyone. In college, she had spent a year or two dating constantly, thinking she just hadn't met "the one", but her reaction to the young men around her remained exactly nil. She'd even thought that maybe (just maybe) there was hope if she turned out to be a lesbian, except that while she knew many beautiful women, she had certainly never been sexually attracted to any of them.

The year of her twenty-fourth birthday, she had finally given up. She would have assumed she was frigid except that she knew better. The mere thought of him was enough to turn her knees to jelly and make her cheeks flush crimson. In fact, when she had still been working as an actor, she had even tried to think of him whenever she was performing a love scene so that the scene would be believable. She was now famous with audiences for making the most intimate of scenes completely real. Among those in the know, she was also famous behind the curtain for never once having gotten involved with her leading man to achieve that effect.

Thirteen years ago, she had lived the impossible. Sarah had wished for the goblins to take her brother Toby away and her wish had actually been granted! She had allowed herself to be thrown into another world to save him - and straight into the path of the most intriguing and seductive man she had ever known. Grappling with her own sanity, she had fought her way through the Labyrinth to the Goblin City beyond and defeated the Goblin King Jareth with the words that now haunted her daily: 'You have no power over me'.

If her dating life was any indication, then she couldn't have been more wrong.

Sarah was a strong person. When she had realized that she would never be satisfied with any man she met, she had sucked it up and made the best of things. Throwing herself into her work and her relationship with her family had been easier than facing the reasons she had chosen to remain single. She was very close with Toby, her father and her stepmother Karen, but when they pressed her about her love life, she told them (and quite believably) that besides them, her work was all that she cared about.

Well.that wasn't quite true. She had kept in close touch with all of her friends from the Underground. She would call for them and they would appear in her mirror to chat or sometimes they would stop by for a real visit if time allowed.

She kept those friendships a secret. Toby didn't remember the labyrinth as anything more than a dream and she had decided not to talk to him about it. While Sarah had been thrilled to discover a world outside her own, she figured that the rest of her family and friends would probably think she was nuts and so wisely kept her own counsel about her adventures.

Although her Underground friends visited often, never once had she mentioned Jareth to any of them or ever asked after his welfare. That she hung on their every word for even the slightest mention of his name and made it a point to tell them that she wasn't interested in any of the men who had pursued her over the years made her feel incredibly stupid. She just couldn't help it.

What she had hoped was only an adolescent crush had only seemed to deepen with time instead of tapering off like it should. Jareth was never far from her thoughts. No matter how hard she tried to focus on other things, her mind would keep straying to his penetrating mis-matched eyes, his golden hair and aquiline features, the way he moved with a lean, muscular grace. Dammit. She was doing it again.

Jareth was EVIL for heavens sake! He had twisted her wishes, kidnapped her brother, and forced her run through his ungodly maze to save him - an adventure that had nearly cost her life several times along the way! He had even stooped so low as to play with her feelings - all in a desperate attempt to make her give up her quest so that he could keep her brother for himself.

Sarah groaned inwardly at the thought. The quest alone wouldn't have been so bad. On some level she had enjoyed the labyrinth and their contest. She had risen to the challenge of Jareth's puzzles and had even secretly looked forward to his little "visits" in between just for the fun of sparring with him. But to think of herself helpless in his arms, whirling around the ballroom, almost ready to forget everything.and realizing that the whole fantasy existed only to make her forget.that he had only been laughing at her ridiculously girlish ideas of love the whole time..

Even thirteen years later she wanted to die with humiliation at the thought of ever seeing him again. Jareth had touched a part of her that she had never shared with anyone so intimately and then ruthlessly used it against her. The bastard had even had the gall to try the same thing TWICE. He'd offered her "her dreams" yet again, just as she was poised to defeat him. It surprised her that it hadn't been any easier to turn him down that time, even knowing that the dreams he offered her were dreams he would mock her for having.

But she had had a responsibility to Toby. He had been helpless and looked to her for protection. She would never, never have left him no matter what she might have wanted for herself.

For Chrissakes, Sarah! Get a grip already. Stop mooning over your pathetic adolescent 'experience' with a puffed-up-baby-kidnapping-self-important- completely-insufferable-Goblin-King!! Arrrgh!!

Why was this haunting her tonight? She punched the pillow on her pullout sofa bed, irritated when she realized that she wasn't going to get any sleep because of HIM again. Sarah turned on a lamp and slipped over to her mirror, hoping one of her friends from the Labyrinth would have time to pop over and keep her company.

"Sir Didymus." she called softly. His courtly manners always made her feel every inch the fine "lady" and she loved the unbridled affection of Ambrosius. Perhaps a good romp with Ambrosius would be just the thing to set her mood to rights and exhaust her enough for sleep.

"My lady!"

Sarah only had time to hear the joyful bark before a bundle of fur ran into her at about a million miles an hour and started frantically licking her face.

"Ambrosius!! AMBROSIUS!! You stop that ridiculous display right now or I'll.I'll."

Sarah's laughter drowned out Sir Didymus's indignation. She cuddled and cooed over an extremely excited Ambrosius and turned to give her friend a warm hug.

"Oh I missed you so much!"

"Is aught amiss, my lady?" He reached up to touch her cheek and Sarah was surprised when his hand brushed tears.

"Oh, no, no, no! I'm just so glad to see both of you!"

Sir Didymus gave her a sharp look at that because she had cooked dinner for him and several of her other Underground friends only last week. They had stayed up all night watching old movies - an activity the Underground folks found fascinating. Actors and plays were a foreign thing to their world.

"My lady.I would never suggest that you.ah...were not telling the truth. But.perhaps there is something bothering you that you haven't.um.thought about yet?"

"Oh god, Didymus. I don't even know." At this point Sarah broke down sobbing while Sir Didymus helplessly tried to comfort her.

"My lady! My lady! Say anything that I and my noble steed can'st do to ease your sorrows and it shall be done!" he vowed, tenderly stroking Sarah's long, sable tresses.

Her green eyes flicked up to his warm brown ones. "Just.just tell me about everything happening in the Underground. I want to know about everyone."

Sir Didymus looked deep into her eyes and a light clicked on in his mind. Impossible! She couldn't possibly! But then.well...they've both been so sad.

He started out innocuously enough, filling her in on Hoggle's latest failed efforts to keep the fairy population under control and Ludo's experiments in using his abilities with the rocks to improve some of the walls of the labyrinth.

Then he decided to drop the bomb.

"My lady.and His Majesty asks after you often. He always wishes you well. He hasn't been the same man since you defeated him and left."

Sarah gave a start and went utterly still. She didn't speak for a long moment and when she did, her words came through lips that had gone white.

"What?" she whispered.

Seeing her distress, Sir Didymus tried to back peddle. "My lady, I see that I've upset you. Forgive me for having mentioned His Majesty to you. I understand why any news of him might be less than welcome." Didymus kicked himself, wishing he'd kept his trap shut. He had thought that maybe she wanted news of the King. She had emphasized the word 'everyone' when she had asked him for news.

"Oh," she said very softly.

Sarah had been struck speechless by Didymus's comment and really couldn't think of anything to say.

"Would you like me to stay here tonight and guard your hearth and home? I solemnly vow that no harm whatsoever will come to you as long as I stand watch." Didymus's gentle offer snapped Sarah out of her reverie and he saw a little color return to her face. Good.

"Oh.no, no! What harm could possibly come to me here? I'm quite safe, Sir Didymus, though, as always, I know you are the most loyal and valiant of protectors!"

He did hope he hadn't done the wrong thing by mentioning the Goblin King to her. His majesty had actually been quite kind to Sir Didymus. The Bog of Eternal Stench was as much like his native land as could be created in the labyrinth and Jareth had given him license to live there and oversee the Bog as he chose. Although he knew Jareth could at times be cruel and unreasonable, for the most part, Didymus actually found him to be a considerate ruler.

The baby-snatching part of the King's job was less than savory, but it was also part of Jareth's duties to maintain an adequate goblin population. The goblins lived and died like any creatures, but could not reproduce on their own. Jareth had compromised and made a practice of snatching only abused and unwanted children. It's true that their lives as goblins left them dimmer-witted than they might have been as humans; but while Jareth was not the most patient of men with his minions, he did not abuse his goblins. As long as they lived under his rule, they lacked for nothing and enjoyed his protection.

The only reason Sarah's brother had been snatched at all was because she had specifically asked the King to do so. Once Jareth had been called, he couldn't back down. Didymus would not generally have defied Jareth, but once he knew that the baby Sarah sought was actually wanted Aboveground, he was forced to take her side. After all, he was duty-sworn to protect any fair maiden in distress.

At the time, Didymus thought that Jareth had been cruel to Sarah, but now he wondered if perhaps Jareth had been trying to protect himself? If Jareth really did have feelings for the fair lady, Didymus could see him being very cruel indeed. He suspected that Jareth was a king who knew more of lust and the kind of women that one shared no more than a night with than of deep love and a fair maiden who could rule by his side.

It was also true that since Sarah had left the Underground, Jareth had been more miserable than Sir Didymus could remember in the 670 years he'd lived in the labyrinth. But after seeing Sarah's reaction to his previous comment, Sir Didymus decided not to upset her further.

Sarah and Sir Didymus said their goodbyes. As soon as he disappeared into her mirror, she burst into tears for a second time. She wasn't exactly certain why she was crying, but she couldn't make herself stop. Finally her sobs tapered off. As she fell into an exhausted slumber she murmured his name for the first time in thirteen years, at last overcome by her loneliness.

"Oh, Jareth, I wish you would come for me." she sighed as she drifted off to sleep. Sarah was so close to dreaming that she never knew she had spoken her wish aloud.