Summary: Something happened in the "little place of forgetting" that Sarah- well, forgot.
Somewhat Slightly Dazed
She was staring down at her unbuttoned jeans in a quiet sort of despair. There were no tears, no expression of anguished misery on her pretty face, no mumbling about the world's injustice, no clenched fist promising restitution. Nothing betrayed her emotion, and yet it was there, overpowering and grim. The atmosphere of the room was hushed and oppressive and she sat at the centre of it with the grudging acceptance that there was nothing she could do. The pain of a determined, independent, fiery spirit admitting that for once in her life, it was beyond her control.
A very slight whiff of summer breeze, smelling of rain and forest and night-time, disturbed the stale, stuffy air of the room. No windows were open and even if they were, outside it was the crisp, stale dead of winter. Out of the haze of her sombre misery and confusion, a murky thought surfaced; an old, denied knowledge. She wasn't surprised in the least- she couldn't be- she had waited for this moment, practically hoped for it against her better judgement, just so she could know something for certain. She wasn't one to avoid confrontation, especially not when she felt she was being abused. She had lain in wait for this eventuality, knowing that- if her anger was justified- it would come.
Out of the very corner of her eye she could just make out the shadow of his figure, could feel the weight of him beside her on the bed slowly pulling the covers out of place as if he were gathering substance as the seconds slipped past. Of course. Of course, she had known that, expected that, had even wanted that- he was on her turf now and he had some blame in this, he wouldn't be there if he didn't. She turned her head a fraction every minute, agonizingly slowly, lifting her downcast eyes to observe the Visitor; stalling for time to rally her defences and prepare for battle. He wouldn't make it easier on her to have this conversation no matter what he had or hadn't done, whether or not he felt any guilt; it wasn't in his nature.
She looked at him blankly. Well, that was unexpected.
His long, slender body was folded on the bed, one leg pulled up to his narrow chest and the other folded around the first. His feet were bare, the soles as immaculate as if he had never walked on them. He wore a thin, draping fabric of obvious high quality, the weave so fine the cloth was almost translucent black. His trousers were held at the waist by a leather draw-string and his tunic was left open down his chest to the hollow just beneath his ribcage, leaving an expanse of flawless alabaster flesh exposed. The formally ever-present pendant was nowhere on his person, she noted, wondering what that meant. Slim, elegant, long-fingered hands were folded over his knee, perfect and almost painful to watch in their perfection.
His head was tilted slightly as he watched her inspection of him, keen, pale blue eyes studying her as fiercely as she was studying him, but without the anger or suspicion that was obvious in her gaze. His jaw stood out harshly from the smoothness of his throat, like the hard lines of his impossibly high cheekbones and the slightly aquiline sweep of his nose. He was all sharp angles and crisp lines, apart from a soft, generous mouth; he looked oddly like he'd been carved from stone. He was singularly aristocratic, a certain nobility inherent to his bearing no matter what he was wearing or where he made berth: he defied even belief, much less description. His hair was now short, hanging in his eyes and brushing the tops of those magnificent cheekbones; flaming red and softer than it had been when it was frost blond.
No change could have hidden him, though. No change could have concealed the strangeness and the ethereal quality of his beauty. He was clearly not of the mundane world. To the uninitiated it would be difficult to imagine where he came from, but observing him one couldn't help but know it was Elsewhere; that beneath the elegant exterior was something half-wild, something coiled to strike. He hadn't bothered to hide his eyes this time, nor distract from them, allowing her to see their true nature. Not of different colours as she had first thought- they were both pale, frosty blue- but one pupil remained fixedly wide while they other behaved as normally as any man's. She wondered absently if this revealed anything about his own nature and quickly decided she did not want to know.
"You look different." She murmured quietly, her voice raspy with disuse.
He smiled suddenly; it appeared instantly, encompassing his whole expression without warning, as his smiles always had. "Does that make you unhappy?"
"It doesn't make me anything." Her face sank deeper into her knees as she drew them closer to her body. Her voice was deliberately and stubbornly colourless and her eyes stared dully at an indeterminate spot over his shoulder. This wasn't going like she'd hoped- but then, it was only a matter of time before he'd say something to raise her ire and she could fall back on the welcome strength of anger.
His lips twitched downward thoughtfully and he seemed to shrug. He extended his long legs over the edge of the bed and leaned backward in a stretch, his head resting against the wall as he continued to look at her. "I'm very sorry to hear that, Sarah, I rather thought there might be something you wanted to see me about with the way you've been carrying on. I was only trying to be accommodating," he gestured indifferently to his appearance, "am I not more human this way?"
She looked at him wearily and sighed, blowing her hair out of her eyes. Faced with him, Sarah gathered her long dormant courage and tenacity, pulling her legs underneath her and facing him square on, green eyes flashing to life. "Sure you are and about as inconspicuous as Hoggle is in a room full of fairies!" her tone was studiously acidic. "Don't think I'm going to take the bait and fight with you, this is about something more important than semantics and who can make who crazier. I don't know why I'm giving you the common courtesy of actually listening to you at all! You did this to me and don't think I don't know it! You wouldn't be here if you didn't!"
He seemed very much entertained by this and his mismatched eyes glittered, "Sarah, I cannot believe what you're implying!" He was mockingly incredulous.
She narrowed her eyes at him in irritation, "I didn't tell you what it was I- "
Jareth looked disappointed in her, yet managing at the same time to look amused, "Sarah, surely you can do better than that. Am I not a magical being who knows everything you do and everything you want before you do? You can't think something like this would go unnoticed." He tilted his head inquiringly, smirking in that damnable way of his. "Besides which, I'd have to know if I'd done it- wouldn't I?"
She sniffed in reply to his smug question, "If you can have it both ways, why shouldn't I? And I thought you'd at least take a pass at playing innocent, though I didn't know why you'd bother." She had valiantly resisted thinking about how lovely his accent was, giving everything he said an irresistible panache. She had almost forgotten how distracting everything about him was and how difficult it made it to be properly outraged with him.
His musical laugh rang through the stonily silence, a silence he didn't seem the least bit intimidated by, "Very well, Sarah, you believe what you like, but I honestly doubt that you completely understand the problem yourself."
She glared at him, but silently admitted he was probably right…..
….When the party had finally ended, Sarah had never been so satisfied with her life. She was the heroine, conqueror of the Underground and a thousand steps closer to that elusive, much discussed but seldom seen experience of growing up. She had loved and laughed and carried on, but when it was all over she had decided, resolutely, that the time had come for change. The Labyrinth wasn't real, the Goblins weren't real, and as much as it pained her to admit, Hoggle, Ludo, and Didymus weren't either. All of it held a special place in her heart and would always be her solace when she just couldn't take reality any more, but she had finally realized that it just wasn't tangible. None of it meant anything: the bogeyman couldn't hurt her, and the fairies couldn't charm her, not even the Goblin King could affect her life.
It had been quite rightly said, they really had no power over her. How could they? They were all residents of the most enigmatic of realms, her imagination. They lived only as long as she willed them into existence.
She had known it would hurt to let go- and for some reason letting go of her villain the King had hurt the most- but she had felt a powerful new sense of freedom, of self-awareness, of strength. She wasn't a damsel in distress and she may never save anyone from the clutches of a Goblin hoard, but she could do small things, she could accept her responsibilities and baby-sit Toby with a smile, finish her homework, all those plain, ordinary chores she'd thought herself so high above. The way she saw it she hadn't lost anything, the Underground and all its inhabitants would always be with her, they were part of her, they just weren't as important as she had always thought they were. No, it was her real family that was important.
Well, that resolution had lasted about a week and a half.
A good week and a half, mind you. Everyone noticed how very pleasant and mature Sarah was suddenly acting; Karen had complimented her, her father took her out to dinner for a nice long talk, Toby showed his appreciation by bawling at a slightly lower pitch. Everything seemed hunky-dory until she couldn't stop throwing up for about an hour a day.
At dawn as soon as first light hit her window, she was up and retching, at dusk as soon as the sky even considered tinting itself red, she was singing in Technicolor at the porcelain microphone. The prospect of anything fried made her ill and being taken to the city- or indeed, anywhere involving the car- made her an interesting shade of lime. The Labyrinth, strangely enough, was suddenly first and foremost on her mind again; she wasn't sure what she felt, if she really suspected even then that her illness was somehow connected to her adventure or if it was just there in her thoughts again.
If she were honest with herself, the Goblin King was her first thought when she got the second shock….
… "Can't you just tell me what happened to me if you're so omnipotent, Goblin King?" She looked at him sidelong.
His brilliant red hair was slipping into those fascinating eyes as he rested his cheek on his palm. A smile tugged at his mouth again and she wondered if there were anything he didn't think was terribly amusing. "I thought you didn't need me any more, Sarah, so mature and grown up. I thought you had outsmarted me, if I can draw a conclusion, shouldn't you?"
She gritted her teeth, still not liking the way this was going and getting frustrated with his laid back attitude, "I didn't outsmart you, I was nice to people and they helped me. Funny how that works. Besides, I don't have magic powers!"
He laughed- that intoxicating, melodic laugh- tossing back his head and fully enjoying himself. "Sarah, do you forget so quickly? I have no power over you!"
Sarah couldn't have explained it, if you could have asked her to, but she felt a stab of pain in her chest at that reminder of her own words and the context in which they had been said. She let out a long, shuddering breath, "Please, if you've got any heart at all, just… don't talk about that." She was suddenly very tired.
His lip curled back over his strangely pronounced, sharp-looking incisors in a dangerous sneer, "Dreadfully sorry to make you uncomfortable, Sarah, I'd forgotten how much pain you have in connection to that saying, I'd forgotten how much you had to endure because of it." He looked so disgusted he'd rather like to spit.
She almost winced at her slip of the tongue, not wanting to cause him pain, in spite of everything, "I- "
He waved his hand dismissively, "Don't bother, I think I've had enough of you for one night." He rose and even wearing such disarmingly relaxed clothing he was imposing, practically frightening, and ever so tall compared to her. A crystal appeared on his palm without the slightest movement on his part, no flourish, not even a twitch of the wrist. He wasn't trying to impress her any more- why did that worry her?
"No," she whispered, catching his shirt-tail in her thin fingers, "Don't leave…"
He turned to look at her again, "Why should I stay?"
Sarah didn't know, she'd asked herself the same question.
He grinned, seeing something in her face that pleased him, "You are quite a puzzling creature, you know that, my dear? I wonder if you can see how very contrary you are being almost every time you open your mouth to speak to me…. You don't believe in me, do you?"
She stared, "If I didn't, you couldn't be here." It was a stubborn slogan meant to keep her safe at some undisclosed later date. A mental mantra she had prepared to keep him away.
Jareth was laughing again, "Oh, I couldn't? Well Sarah, I must thank you for telling me, I've been very much deceived for quite a long time. Whatever was I thinking?" He leaned over her, his otherworldly face inches from her own, whispering in a conspiratorial tone, "I'll tell you a secret…"
He turned his head so the warmth of his breath brushed against her ear and made her shiver, "I can do whatever I please and go wherever I please, with or without your belief." He smirked again, having spoken so softly she had barely understood, his mouth so close to her ear she was left somewhat dazed.
She resolutely hated how he always managed to have such an effect on her, "But- "
"You know, Sarah," his grin was devilish, "You just can't believe everything you read."
She pressed her lips together and mentally reviewed her options. "So what do you want?"
"You chose to keep me here, Sarah, and I don't intend to rudely brush off an invitation, we are not all ill mannered in that respect." He smiled mysteriously to himself then flopped back languidly onto the bed, crossing his legs at the ankles. "As for what I want… I want you to keep thinking about that little problem of yours, I want you to keep thinking about it until you- well, you'll know ….
…..The first visit to the family doctor had her quivering in her shoes for days, afraid as only things like this could make her. As soon as Karen came up to tell her she had an appointment she'd been terrified half out of her mind that they would find out about… the other part of the problem. She'd had a dozen showers, wondering why she felt so dirty and telling herself not to think she already knew. That was something else, it had to be something else.
Of course, it was best not to mention it. It would have to go away on its on eventually- wouldn't it?
Her family doctor, the friendly, grey-haired gentleman with thousands of tiny little lines around his eyes that told of millions of brilliant smiles. His kind features knotted in confusion as he listened to her long list of ailments and he nodded and ho-hummed and puttered about the small exam room- then he wanted to do tests. When the tests were finally finished with, he bungled back into the room looking down, perplexed, at a piece of paper.
"Ah!" he stared up at her, startled out of his thoughts, "Sarah… it seems you have developed a rather, uh, violent allergy to iron… uh…" he studied her, his brow furrowing again.
Sarah stared back at him, bright green eyes wide with surprise. Iron? But iron was…. What the hell did that mean anyway? What could it possibly mean? So she spent thirteen hours in the Labyrinth and suddenly she'd developed a magical being's intolerance for iron? He hadn't turned her into… something, had he? She hadn't done something to herself while she was there that…? Ah, didn't life just keep getting better and better, something was seriously wrong with her body that she didn't even want to contemplate and now she had a strangely Fae-like allergy. Peachy. God, there she went again with the damn peaches. She wished she had one now, wished she had a dream to slip into to escape this situation.
Her head snapped up.
"Is there something else the matter, Sarah? I called four times before you looked up." Soft blues eyes bore down into her, the doctor sizing her up as if he could see her thoughts written across her features and challenge her with the real reasons for her sickness.
She blinked back tears that came suddenly and for no reason. She gasped slightly as she wiped them away and realized what had sparked them. Blue eyes. She couldn't abide blues eyes any more, she had always thought blue was the prettiest eye colour, had always secretly coveted it, but now she couldn't stand it. Tears and this mixed up swell of emotion in her chest, why didn't anything make any sense any more?
"No, no," she hated it when her voice shook; it made her feel so weak and childish, "Nothing at all."
Doctor Ramirez regarded her silently for a moment, "I don't like it when patients hold things back, it makes me worry about them and it makes diagnosis significantly harder." He smiled gently, "Talk to me, Sarah, I'm here to help you."
She shook her head, standing to leave the office, satisfied that her stepmother would accept the allergy explanation for all of her calamity the past few weeks. Or was it months? She was starting to seriously lose track of how much time had passed while she had her head jammed into the toilet with her guts churning. The iron was suspicious, suspicious enough to set her thinking about magic and creatures and… him all over again when she had thought she was done with it all, thought she had finally grown up enough to know those things weren't real. Well something was real! Allergies weren't spontaneous. Why was she giving this serious thought?
Because she was sick all the time, allergic to iron and her… feminine visitor was at least a month late…
…"You know, I've no idea what to call you," she remarked somewhat conversationally, fiddling with her sock to avoid looking at him at any cost. She still couldn't believe she was having a conversation with him at all- not just because he was the Goblin King, but because she had been quite firmly settled in her delusion that he didn't exist.
Now that she was being honest with herself, she was starting to doubt her own conviction that she had ever managed to buy into the Labyrinth being a very realistic, very educational dream. She was almost positive that at least he had always been real to her, his image a little too crisp, too wonderful and terrible to be dismissed as nothing more than a shade of her own imagination. It would be giving herself airs to think she could have created him in all his complexities and cruelties.
"I think my name may be as safe a bet as any." Jareth sniffed, titling his head to look at her through his hair, "I do have a name, Sarah."
She sighed and returned his gaze finally. Blue eyes. Why had distant recollections of those eyes brought her such pain when she hadn't even realised what she was remembering? They were beautiful, his eyes, the colour pale and pure and too intense to be looked at for long. "We were never really on that sort of friendly basis and, if I remember correctly, we didn't part on the best of terms either, Goblin King. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for me to call you 'Your Majesty', instead." That had come out harsher than she had really intended it to be.
His lips curled back from his teeth in a sort of sneer that was not a sneer, but gave a distinct impression of sadness, "I never expected you to." his voice was steady, as always, but there was a very small vulnerability about it now. "I know you've always known my name- Hoggle told you, rather indirectly, but he told you- and I have always wondered why you never once spoke it aloud."
Sarah chose to ignore the fact that he had gotten Hoggle's name right on the first try, "I never addressed you."
Jareth sighed. "Indulge me. Say it, once," silky, smooth, very English-sounding, liquid voice. He could seduce a nun over the phone if the fancy took him.
"Why?" she stared at him, trying to read what sort of horrific scheme this would set rolling. She couldn't see anything there the slightest bit malicious, but she couldn't read him very well at all, truth be told she doubted anyone could.
"It may help you to…" he stopped and looked over at her, seeming to remember himself as his eyes became soft pools instead of icy daggers; he looked tired in that small moment and so very human Sarah wondered absently if he was a man after all. "Never mind about that, Sarah, keep thinking."
"I don't want to think, I've thought myself a hole in the ground," she exhaled a long, slow breath, trying desperately to reign in foreign emotions she didn't know how to control. "I'm not sure I even want answers any more, but I do want one: tell me why you want me to say your name. I'm not stupid, I know there's a reason."
He shrugged, thin shoulders jerking with a liquid grace that defied all laws of motion. "Some things should be taken at face value. And I might have to insist- if you continue to refuse invited informal address- that you afford me the respect my title deserves." There was a jarringly familiar arrogance about his possessives now and she scowled, knowing it had been too good to be true that he allowed her to get away with so much.
"You sound like you own the world," she scoffed, hugging her knees closer to her body and turning away from him in disdain. "I don't know how one man can be so conceited."
Soft, soft, long fingers seized her chin, the barely controlled strength in them frighteningly apparent. His angular face was centimetres away; blue eyes blazing and red hair seeming suddenly even brighter as it hung over them. "I am not a man, nor am I held to the standards of mankind; it is not your place to judge me! There is a vastness of difference between conceit and pride, and I have every right to be proud. You forget, Sarah, you forget too easily that I am a king. I may not be a kind king, I may not be your king, but I am King." His whisper was harsh and rasping, unlovely and terrible, grating in her ears as he drove his point home with his sharp-as-steel voice.
She hated herself for almost sobbing under the heat of his gaze, she would have rather died than show such weakness less than a year ago, but she couldn't help it. She had reached a point of breaking at last, facing too much, too alone, with no one to save but herself and no obvious enemy to fight. And he had never been this close to her before, she would swear to that despite the eerie feeling of familiarity, of déja-vu, that the situation was evoking in her. "Please," her voice wobbled with restrained tears, "please, Jareth…"
His eyes suddenly softened and his hand fell away, his sigh was quiet and strangely peaceful, "Misery, scorn, anguish, ecstasy and rapture; thy name is woman." He'd spoken so softly, his lilting accent much heavier than usual, that she was certain she was not meant to have heard these words- until she realized that if she was not meant to hear them, then she wouldn't have…..
…When her ever-pale complexion brightened to the ruddy glow of spun gold and yet somehow paled even further beneath its new radiance, it had made her beauty almost painful. Looking into the mirror on her well-loved vanity, she had tried desperately to quiet the insistent thought that she reminded herself of someone, someone else whose beauty was terrible in its intensity, jarring in its rawness. She didn't- couldn't look like him, not even in the tiniest, most insignificant detail. It Was. Not. Possible.
When she had gained a modest number of pounds that thickened and enhanced all of the curves that made her look physically mature beyond her years, it had nothing but pleased her stepmother. She had always told Sarah she was too beautiful a girl to spend all her Friday evenings alone in the park, that she was ahead of the game- said with a wink and a laughing smile. Karen really wasn't that bad, in fact, she was a lot better than Sarah would have liked to admit- evil stepmother's were far more common in her favourite stories than good ones.
It wasn't until that accepted- welcomed- weight had turned into a small pouch of flub on her belly that her blonde-haired guardian had started asking her about what she had for lunch at school and wondering aloud if 'Sarah was starting to spend more time just hanging around the house'. It wasn't until that pouch- not to mention her once-perfect hips- swelled enough to warrant a new wardrobe she had really broached the subject. Boy, that wasn't pretty. Karen knew her stepdaughter, knew she walked everywhere and spent countless hours outside, knew she ate healthfully, and that she rid herself of most of her evening meal anyway because of her unusual malady.
So when Karen insisted they go to a doctor- a doctor who was not the trusted, reassuring Dr. Remirez- Sarah been willing to hazard a guess it wouldn't be about a new diet and exercise program. What she herself suspected, almost totally acknowledged in the very deepest recesses of her mind, was about to be thrown into her face. With questions, questions she couldn't answer. She wasn't ready to face the accusation much less create an explanation; she hadn't even confronted herself, how could she confront her parents? Sometimes she wished… no. Wishing was just a bad idea.
The doctor had fixed her with a disappointed frown the moment she'd walked into the examination room, then she whirled out a clip board and clicked her pen- held poised and ready to write- with such exuberance and lightening speed that Sarah felt like if she'd blinked, she'd have missed it all.
"Name," the doctor's business-like voice demanded.
"Sarah Williams." She had to know that already, she'd been talking to Karen four almost half an hour. Why…?
She couldn't even finish the thought before the barrage returned after a brief cacophony of pen scraping paper, "Age, Medication, Complaints, Reason for Visit." Bam, bam, bam- like gunshots that left her momentarily speechless.
"Sixteen, none, nausea in the early mornings and the evenings, because…" Sarah trailed off. Karen had told her to come, told her it wasn't up for discussion and that her sudden weight gain without any change in routine was strange and could be a sign of something much more serious than a few extra pounds. That was a load of malarkey and they both knew it. Sarah snapped her mouth shut, though, she wouldn't say the real reason out loud- especially not when the doctor's face announced loud and clear that she already knew.
The doctor nodded, her cropped black hair scattering in dark brown eyes as she leaned over to scribble on her clip board some more. She wasn't going to make Sarah say it. Thank God for small mercies.
Sarah blanched, modest even though she should have expected this, "I… I'm a virgin, doctor." She wished she knew herself if that were true or not. Her head told it had to be, surely she would have noticed if something had happened to alter that fact. Then again, something else screamed inside her that she was lying- how dare she lie about something so important, so sacred… What was that feeling of guilt nagging in her heart? Nope. The conviction stood, "I've never had a boyfriend." Truth. Gospel.
The doctor's eyebrow arched, but she didn't say anything else. She snapped the pen through the clip on her board and put it down on the counter behind her, leaning over to wash her hands and pull on her transparent medical gloves. By the time she had turned around again, prepared to get this mess started, Sarah had resigned herself to her fate of total humiliation. She didn't know what would come of it, but either way, she didn't think she was going to like it.
An hour and a half later the pretty, young doctor stepped out into the waiting room where Karen was seconds away from succumbing to the temptation of biting her perfectly manicured nails down to the nub.
The doctor's usually bright face was expressionless and her hands held that irritatingly ominous clipboard as if it were the crown jewels. "Mrs. Williams?"
Karen shot up and across the room like a tripped spring, "Well-!" her voice was a small shriek and she cleared her throat several times before trying again, more politely. "I mean, w-what are the results, doctor?"
The doctor swallowed an inappropriate smile and looked grave again, "I'm afraid all my tests were positive. Our suspicions are confirmed. I don't really know what to say, but would you like me to come in and help you talk some straight sense to your daughter?"
Karen glanced from the door to the doctor's open face and intense, serious gaze. She swallowed and nodded slowly, not bothering to correct the technicality that Sarah wasn't really her daughter. Stepping into the room to where Sarah sat, chin perched on her palm, looking rather calm and collected just made her more antsy than ever. She glanced behind her to see the doctor shutting the door and took a deep breath.
"Sarah," she watched the dark head snap up and evergreen eyes meet hers levelly, "Dr. Meekings did some tests and…" this was going to hurt no matter what she did. It was going to hurt and confuse and ruin and… She sighed and took another deep breath for strength before blurting it out in one quick sound, "You're pregnant."
All colour that was left to the already pale teen drained from her skin. She stared, eyes enormous, at her stepmother's familiar frame and the strange, yet reassuring shape of the doctor standing behind her in scrubs. She had known, it would have been ridiculous not to know- but to be told once and for all by a medical doctor…!
"Am not!" her voice was an unrecognisable squeak, "It's impossible! I've never had…!"
Lydia Meekings took the step foreword necessary to involve herself directly and become more than back-up for Karen, "Yes you have, Sarah, I checked that first after I confirmed your condition. You remember… Anyway, I checked and it doesn't matter what you say, Sarah- it's very clear you have done it. It's best to start telling the truth now, while you have your chance."
Fiery green eyes hardened stubbornly, "I'm telling the truth," her arms crossed over her chest, "I've never had a boyfriend. I've never kissed a boy. I've never had sex! I cannot be pregnant!"
Brown eyes softened while Karen remained speechless in the background, "Have you ever been to a bar or a rave, Sarah- ever had a lot to drink…?" Delicate, probing, harmless questions.
"No! I don't go to those kinds of places, I don't know those kinds of people- I don't know anyone! I'm always alone, ask Karen, she's always the first person to point it out. I haven't got any friends to take me to those places or get me to do those things!" She did have some friends, but it was hardly their fault and it wasn't as if she could tell anyone about them. Especially not when she was pretty sure she was still telling herself they weren't real… wasn't she?
"Sarah, you are carrying a child, your hymen has been completely ruptured, you-"
"Let me go home, now. I want to go home. Karen, take me home." Sarah demanded desperately, defiantly, and commandingly all at the same time through some paradox of tone. And there was no denying her.
The following week spent in seclusion in her room had not loosened her tongue to her parents, it hardly could have when she didn't have any answers to give them; though the more time she spent locked up, the closer she came to a very good idea. She was six months pregnant with an impossible child, showing considerably, and very, very unamused. The more she thought about it, the less amused she became. Mercifully, however, the day after the doctor visit her sickness disappeared as mysteriously as it came… unfortunately this also precipitated her return to the local institute of higher learning.
High school is meant to be fun, but for most of us the reality just isn't quite what we were hoping. Sarah's life at school had never been good, but considering she was a dreamer, an avid reader, and someone who got passionate in English class, it was surprising she wasn't worse off than she was. When she walked in wearing a bulky sweater that failed to conceal her condition, the spontaneous whir of every gossip's brain coming to life was practically audible, the frown on the face of every teacher was flagrantly visible, the electric current of new disdain and shock and curiosity was palpable. Oh, this was fabulous.
A month later she had permission to use the elevator instead of climbing the stairs between her classes, she had free reign over her own bathroom breaks and she had a special chair in every class. And she was getting to be enormous. Her classmates stared every single day, never tiring of wondering at the mystery of Sarah Williams- someone totally shunned that had managed to get laid younger than some of the popular girls. Her teachers seemed more disgusted the more obvious her state became and eventually the principal decided it was 'best for her' to stay out of school until after. After what she hadn't specified- just after.
She was starting to hate her room after sitting in it almost three weeks solid…..
…"Jareth, couldn't you please just tell me what the hell is going on?" Her voice was quiet and overpowering, tired, but anything but resigned.
He was looking down at his hands, fiddling with his own long, deft fingers, as if even he were fascinated by their slender perfection. He glanced at her, then down again, fiddling restlessly- then he locked eyes with her and his fidgeting hands stilled. One unfurling as he slowly- slowly reached towards her.
Her eyes fluttered briefly and she shivered as she anticipated his fingers against her cheek- but his hand drifted through the air in front of her, an artistic line swooping elegantly downward through the air, away from her face and towards her swollen stomach. She'd barely had time to wonder if she was relieved or disappointed with the change of direction before his cool touch rested against heated skin. Her swollen belly was exposed by too-small clothing and left bare and defenceless before him. Something inside her leapt at the contact and the pain was somewhat soothed… physically and emotionally.
Mismatched blues eyes regarded her sadly, his free hand coming up and twirling through her rich dark hair, his face suddenly close to hers. "You have all the answers you would seek, Sarah…" his voice was gentler than she could ever remember hearing it before, "Remember… remember, I will it so."
She shook her head without breaking his gaze, "I-I can't remember anything… I don't…"
Hawkish features were just too close and closing, he tilted his head as he had done so many times before, though not in question or mockery or arrogance this time. In a pique of sad, sad beauty he made her gasp with his sheer presence- with this vision which was simply the reality of him. She had only the tiniest fraction of a moment to savour it before soft, perfect lips brushed against hers for an even shorter time- the embrace was so brief she would never have been sure if it had happened or not if not for its rapid and enormous effect.
'Remember…' the most sublime voice she would ever hear had commanded her. And so she did.
Blackness, all blackness and damp and danger, musk and thinly veiled threat. How childish of him to think he could frighten her with this. This was nothing, darkness she had conquered a long time ago when her night-light had failed her at age six. Darkness was a old friend she'd made peace with and solitude was practically family. Not that she was thinking that at the time; all she was thinking at the time was that she had to get out, out- further in, to the center, to the bitter end and all that. She had to find him and defeat him at his own game. She'd enjoy it, too, because he deserved it- the arrogant bastard.
Keep your eyes on the prize, that was the only line of defence she had against the temptations he threw at her. Temptations no human being should be asked to resist; the temptation of her dreams, to be selfish, to give in, to be a coward, to have everything she ever wanted. And him. She wasn't sure what that one was about. He seemed intent on distracting her personally and was far too good at it for her tastes, especially the little things she was only half sure she'd actually seen.
Light flared up in (what was revealed to be) the small cavern and he was sitting there- lounging there, languishing- he was seeped in devil-may-care and relaxation, all curves and elegance. His unnerving eyes peered at her through the gloom and his unnatural frost blond hair seemed to fall just right to properly accentuate the sharpness of his features and the danger inherent to him. Nothing else mattered and nothing else was visible to her for long uncounted minutes as she stared into his face.
"Do you know, Sarah," he said playfully, his voice somehow managing not to startle her even though it came suddenly and broke her reverie. "You've made it rather far… the Oubliette isn't often reached, even less often required."
She held her ground and her face remained almost expressionless, "Fascinating." Her answer was sharp and sarcastic- though it was the truth, in a way. Not that she could let him know that.
His laugh rang in the small space, echoing in a harmony of melodious mirth that made her grit her teeth in irritation. "Sarah, Sarah, you do love to pretend nothing takes you unawares, don't you? You haven't the first idea what I'm talking about. Don't deny it on my account, whether you do or not, we both know the truth of it." He laughed again, chuckling to himself, "'Oubliette' is a French word, my dear, borrowed from that unspeakable language by the faeries before the French knew it themselves- it means 'little place of forgetting'."
She still held his eyes as she tried to puzzle out this latest twist and why the 'little place of forgetting' was so significant- she didn't need him to say anything to know that much, at least. Her mind slowly rewound all the information Jareth had given her, picking over it for the clues and hints he was wont to drop for her. "Required?"
He smiled, dangerous looking incisors peeking out over his lip, a little more pronounced than they had been before- at least it seemed that way. "Clever little Sarah, I always said you were clever…" his voice had changed somehow and she could not begin to figure out what the change was before he was speaking again. "I wonder if you know, dear, dear Sarah, just how much of your ripe, innocent young heart is blatantly upon your sleeve?"
She reared in confusion, dark green eyes narrowing slightly- though hostility was a distant memory and she could barely rouse any anger or even indignation at anything he said. Something about the air in this place sucked away her dark emotional energy. "What do you mean?"
Feral grin and hungry, terrible eyes glittering in the darkness that seemed to drape over him like a fond lover while somehow leaving his entirety illuminated for her to see. "I mean you display yourself- no, no not your body, you silly little girl, you needn't look so offended." He made an elegant gesture that defied interpretation, "You display your mind, your soul, your heart- all bared for the world to see, to criticise, to hurt… Why, your courage is exhausting."
"I…" her mouth hardened into a thin line and a look of determination overcame her, "I am who I am and I don't care what anyone thinks of me! I won't let anybody tell me who to be or how to dress or what to believe in or…." She trailed off as if remembering to whom she was speaking. "I won't let you take that away from me, either; I won't let you manipulate me. I'm going to win."
Jareth was leaning foreword in the gloom, hanging upon her every word, giving her the unpleasant sensation that she was being measured, her worthiness decided. "Audacity, courage, spirit and determination- treasure your freedom of self, Sarah, the rest of your race has learned too well that the world crushes it as quickly as possible. No one can take it from you if your freedom is a state of mind- the power of one is the personal conviction that you can achieve anything you set out to do." He grasped at air and made a tight fist as if he'd caught something.
Sarah stared at him in wonder- what on earth possessed him to say such things to her? In the middle of a game like this? A game where they were most inescapably on opposing sides- hell, he was the opposing side. What… Then a strange thought came into her head, followed by a rush of others, thoughts and memories and a thousand play-acted lines and stories spoken aloud to empty parks and teddy bears…. Freedom… Wasn't that the point! She recognized this… knew it… Those words were the outcome and the moral of every story she'd ever created or loved… Beneath the fantasy there was something else.
"You!" She sputtered, pointing at him mindlessly, "You've always been there!"
He looked mildly shocked for a half second before recovering his composure and smiling slightly, "I have. Don't you know me, Sarah? I know you."
Her mind spun, "I… I..." she sank to her knees and he followed her to the ground, keeping level with her at all times and waiting for her to meet his eyes. "I..."
"Think! Why do you suppose I have the power to offer you your dreams, Sarah? Why do you think I came to you when I am called upon- one way or another- by countless others and never heed them? Why do you think you knew me without any idea what I looked like? In the story the king doesn't answer the wish himself… Think!" He was close to her now. His voice was a low and insistent whisper, harsh and yet gentle, as impossible as suited him.
She had thought and she knew. "I know you…" You haunt my dreams and the corners of my eyes; you burn my heart when I try to reach you. "Why didn't you show yourself to me? I don't understand… I want to see you…" She grabbed at him suddenly, catching the soft fabric of his shirt in her hands, pulling at him as if she could peel away his disguises.
His fingers curled over hers and she stilled, "You see me now as I truly am. I couldn't have been myself in your world, in your mind all this time; it would have overwhelmed you. I haven't lied to you, I wear no mask, but you never asked me who I was. It wasn't meant to be like this, Sarah, you weren't meant to do something so irresponsible- so stupid! I didn't want to have to teach you this lesson... preposterous little girl- must we do everything the hard way?" His tone had become vaguely affectionate and annoyed at the same time, but Sarah had long since stopped really listening.
As his hands fell away, hers moved from his chest and trailed up to rest against his cheeks, feeling the warmth of his skin beneath her palms she was struck suddenly by his reality. "You've always been there… you were always real and I never…" Her fingers curled to find purchase in his soft flesh- something to prove to herself that he was there, that he was flesh. "Jareth...!" Inexplicable tears strayed down her cheeks and her hands wound into his hair as she buried her face in his chest, pressing into his skin. "I wanted you to be real so badly, I didn't know what you were or that you were a person- you were just… everything, you were magic and dreams…"
She let out a heart-wrenching sob, more than half out of sheer disbelief and happiness, and wrapped her arms around his thin waist, hands roving over his back and her cheek still pressed against him. She tried to memorize his every nuance, throw the evidence of her own senses into the face of logic- he had to be real! He was warm and soft and safe and strong! It wasn't enough and she wrenched her head up to look at him, stare into his ethereal face. "I never thought that everything I ever wanted and couldn't have…" her voice was thick and a little broken, "could be my only enemy."
Her hand curved against the back of his neck as they regarded each other endlessly. Glittering, magical blue and deep, dark, impenetrable evergreen locked, recklessly longing and coming to terms with the object of that longing being right in front of them and yet unreachable. Neither stretched a hand across the abyss between them, the abyss that they themselves had constructed for the sake of their petty little roles. She hadn't known and he'd been helpless to do anything else. After all, it would likely be his only chance to meet her face to face. He couldn't have refused her summons; not this child, who he had watched grow in so many ways and who in so many ways always remained the same. She was a strange soul, old like a faery and young like a mortal child, different than any other human who had believed in him, and they were getting to be few these days, especially in that she never "grew up" and ceased to believe.
Sarah couldn't take it any more, she had spent her whole life chasing down the elusive feeling in the depths of her heart that there was something more out there destined for her, the feeling that something was with her, on her side, something magical and unknown. She had done everything to suspend her own world and pursue the feeling, she'd spent hours hoping for one tiny sign that it was real, that she was right, that there was a Something bound to happen to her. Now He was kneeling in front of her, inches away, one of her hands rested on his chest and the other curled possessively around his neck. He was real, she knew it, but she hadn't proved it to herself.
He was hers, damn it!
Her need to touch him rose to bursting inside of her and she pushed herself up while yanking him down, meeting him halfway with a desperate, passionate, but inexperienced mouth laying claim over his. The kiss was feverish and her hands worked themselves into his hair again as she tried to pull him closer and closer- needing him and unwilling to ever let him go again; terrified that he might evaporate into the dreams he personified. They were pressed together so tightly, the entire length of their bodies melded into one form, that it was impossible to discern where one ended and the other began.
She wouldn't let go.
The kiss was progressing from a desperate, clumsy need for contact into a real, loving kiss. Sarah's head was spinning and her whole world was crashing down around her as the Goblin King finally chose to take control of the embrace and massaged her mouth with his. His arms were wrapped around her and his long legs had somehow come out from beneath him to stretch either side of Sarah, her own denim-encased limbs folded over his and either side of him. She'd never know exactly how it happened, but in an instant their lips had parted and they were further sealed together, intruders in each other's mouths as Sarah's hands trailed down the buttons of her shirt.
She wasn't close enough!
When skin touched skin she shivered violently, shifting the kiss as she wriggled out of her billowing collar shirt and then reached foreword to shove Jareth's down off his slender shoulders. It was wonderful and terrible and awesome and unfathomable and she just couldn't take it all in. And she still wasn't close enough! His naked flesh burned her as her hands chased each other all over his exposed torso- she didn't know what she was doing and she wasn't thinking about it the way should would have thought about it in a more orthodox situation. In a normal place, in her own world; in another lifetime. It wasn't stripping, it wasn't sexual- it was sensual, but it was the pursuit of something other than sex, it was a deep-seeded need to be close to what she had longed for, for as long as she could remember, and had never quite fully believed could be real.
It was the desire to preserve and grasp this supernatural creature that she somehow, just now, loved with her whole being.
Her hands trailed down thin, lightly muscled arms to the base of Jareth's black leather gloves, and she knew that was the very last barrier between her and everything she wanted. She yanked, both gloves at the same time, leaning back and breaking the kiss long enough to stare him in the eyes and hold his hands up in front of him before baring them.
They were perfect and slender and elegant and so much more sublime without a layer of clumsy leather between them and the world. When bare hands touched Sarah's neck, her collar bone, her own hand, her naval; when his fingers trailed all over her body for the very first time Jareth lost himself completely. A faery's heart is given once, and his was given as he cried a single tear that shattered on Sarah's stomach.
"I'll need you, now, Sarah…" he whispered, as the tiny slivers disappeared into her skin, "All my life."
"It's only forever." Her own voice echoed strangely in her ears and she stared up at him as if he were the cause. What was this thing she had allowed to happen? What were these alien feelings swelling in her chest that told her she must never, ever let him leave her alone again, never allow herself to believe that Aboveground- the land on top of the Hills- was all there was. She had known him somehow, all her life, and had yet to really learn the first thing about him.
She was crying again, "Who are you…?" Sarah hated crying!
Bare hands threaded through her hair and cupped her cheeks, mismatched blue eyes glittering and intense and almost frightening, "I could be anything you want me to be- do you understand that?"
She shook her head violently against the restraining pressure of his hands, "I don't want you to be anything, I want you to be you…" Her own hands trailed up his arms to cover his, her fingertips caressing and flinching back as though burned, "I want… I don't know why, but I think I've always loved you…."
He sighed deeply, letting out a long and shaky breath, before locking eyes with her. "I never allowed myself to imagine you would say that."
And then he was kissing her with the same desperate longing with which she had kissed him- and she didn't know why, but there were no more questions in the moment, there was no more 'why'; there was only simple understanding of what didn't and never would make sense. They fell back, entwined, on the floor of the Oubliette, the meaning of which Sarah had already forgotten...
Sarah shook herself as the memory released her- a spell of some kind, she imagined- her brain seemingly permanently disconnected from her body. Then thoughts came in a rush, thoughts and feelings and questions- and outrage and anger- and…
She whipped her head around to look at Jareth, who was sitting against the wall, his head back and his eyes staring sightlessly into space, glazed over as his pointed teeth chewed his lip raw. He did look more human in the glamour he had affected for her benefit, slightly less dangerous and terrifying in his beauty, his skin a more passable shade of flesh rather than the almost bloodless alabaster it had been before. As she studied him she felt her own face flush crimson red. There he was, sitting so casually on her bed; the King of the Goblins, the father of her child… she slept with the Goblin King.
She tried to squash the desperate plea inside her to cross the distance between them and fall into his arms- and the far more embarrassing desire that wanted more than that- she knew she couldn't just pretend everything was all right. In the Oubliette something had suspended reason and common sense and dignity and… scruples! There had to be more to it than she remembered, there just had to be, she couldn't accept that she had had a small interlude of love-making with her nemesis right in the middle of her war against him. He was the villain, it didn't matter that he had always been present, he was still the villain! She wasn't allowed to be in love with him!
"Jareth!" she squeaked, the power leaving her voice as he responded and turned to look at her. Her vision clouded with unwanted images of the newly recalled first time she had yelled that name. Sensory overload and shock warred in her and blocked out rational thought and even emotion. She just couldn't grasp this!
He seemed reluctant to speak and raised his hand in an unfurling gesture that asked for her to say her piece. Sarah noticed- really noticed- for the first time that his hands were bare. He had always worn gloves before, at all times in the Labyrinth except that once when she had pulled them off. What was so important about keeping his hands covered- and what had happened that it didn't matter now?
"I…" now that she had his attention she didn't have the first idea what to say to him. "I… I don't believe it!"
His gaze was sad and he looked suddenly very tired, as he had looked when they had had their final confrontation what felt like so long ago. He rested back against the wall, his gaze hooded and his breathing shallow. When he finally spoke, his voice had lost all of its alluring command and mystery; it was tired and burdened, like the depths of his eyes. "I never really had any aspirations that you would…."
Something strange happened then and Jareth seemed to fade, not enough to appear transparent or even ghostly, but faded- worn like the pages of a book that has been read too many times. He seemed less imposing, less… real.
Sarah was lost, the need to help him, to make that horrible anguished, haunted look disappear and never return was overpowering- the need to protect the Goblin King, ironic, but enormous. She wanted so badly to succumb, but had- tragic irony- lost the power. "How did this happen, Jareth? I don't understand, I don't know what to think! How could you go from being everything I was fighting against to being everything I'd ever wanted- it doesn't make sense!"
"You have a better explanation, I suppose!" he exploded with every ounce of royal indignity. "Wholesome, perfect, beautiful, precious Sarah could never, never love the wrong prince. Never fall for the temptations of the dark side, never be corrupted by falling under the spell of her enemy!" his voice was rising with every word and had travelled up several decibels- and octaves- before he'd finished, spitting out the last word as if it poisoned his tongue.
"How could I love you- I don't know anything about you!" She wrapped her arms around her huge belly, not certain why and far from wanting to understand her own actions. He couldn't have just lied; he'd never outright lied to her, never.
"My name is Jareth le Fay, I have never loved anyone before in all my uncounted years, I hate the mundane, I hate avarice, stupidity and empty affairs, I love music and games… and I love you, Sarah. What else do you need to know? The essence of who I am, that you do not need to learn- you remember, you have known me your whole life, as I have known you." He refused to look at her and instead stared at her ceiling as if it were the most fascinating piece of architecture he had ever seen.
"But-" this conviction, this righteous anger wouldn't go away, she'd been clinging to it for far too long. What he was saying couldn't make sense!
"You destroyed me once, Sarah, it would be most insensitive of you to do it again." He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw harshly, tiny muscles twitching with the effort of total control; Sarah realized with a start that he was fighting back tears. And he was a little more faded than he had been moments before. "Chose your words with care…"
"I can't…" her voice was breaking.
Jareth leaned forewords, "Be a dear and… summon me when you 'can'." His tone was light and expressionless and a few seconds more and he was very briefly his own true self, frost blond hair spilling over his shoulders, before his form was overtaken by that of an owl. A magnificent creature, pure white as the driven snow with auburn wing-tips. He lingered for a moment, massive wingspan stretching- then he was gone.
Sarah hauled a pillow over her pregnant belly and wept into it, knowing the instant that he was gone that he had given her nothing but the truth. She'd loved him in the Labyrinth, had always loved him, and loved him still. It just didn't make sense, she'd feared him, had very nearly hated him at moments- how could it change? He gave her absolutely no reason to love him… Then again, she gave him no reason to love her. Her child would be born fae- then what? What if she called him back? Where would any of it go from here….
TO BE CONTINUED…
...AN: Subject to much editing. This is my first Labyrinth fic and I'd appreciate constructive criticism, especially on whether or not I got them into character. I'm concerned about Sarah because I spent so much energy most of the time trying to get Jareth. Then I got involved and forgot to concentrate on either. sweatdrop Lemme know what you thought, please- and be gentle.