The Stuff of Legends
Disclaimer: I own neither the Labyrinth, it's characters, or any other recognizable characters (and there are some) found within this story. Not mine. I'm just abusing them for the moment.
Rating: PG...Swearing... gosh!
Summary: Their story has been told over and over. It's the ending that always changes. JS oneshot
She avoided him skillfully as she went through university. He'd been a mild annoyance in high school, but she could tell that he'd been mostly content to wait on the sidelines, content to wait for her.
Sarah Williams shook out her umbrella as she ducked under the overhang of the stairwell leading down into the halls of her University. She glared at the rain half-heartedly and then brushed dripping strands out of her face. Umbrellas were useful but when the wind made the rain fall at a sharp diagonal it became less so.
Tucking her umbrella under her arm she pulled open the door to the stairwell and stepped in. She looked around warily and with a self satisfied nod began her quick descent. She hit the landing before the lights flickered and died. She was jumping down the last four steps by the time the scritching and scratching of goblins registered in her brain.
She threw herself out of the stairwell, avoiding the odd glances of other students and turned a glare back at the now well lit stairwell. Sarah brushed trembling hands down her trench coat and then made her way to her class.
She was a teaching assistant for the second year English class. Sarah had always felt an affinity for those stories that survived from ages ago. They resonated in a way that was almost peculiar.
The dark haired woman made her way into the almost full lecture hall with several of her students, answering their questions before making her way to her seat in the front.
Once there an unconscious frown settled on her lips. Why was he doing this? She'd been good. She'd stopped calling her friends when it had become problematic. She'd been nice to Toby. She'd never wished anyone (else) away. She'd never even breathed his name since that day long ago when she'd defeated him! And now, two semesters into her program and the goblin tricks were escalating.
Sarah kept ignoring them and still they followed her, trying to get her attention.
First it was the messy closet and the muddy goblin footprints that covered everything. Next it was a hole in her backpack, suspicious teethmarks included, that made her papers fall. And when she'd rolled her eyes, ignored these petty tricks they'd simply gotten worse. Now her car wouldn't start. Then her bills didn't make it through to her mailbox. And then, when even with that harassment she'd maintained a sort of cool, it had gotten downright creepy.
The radio only played songs that all sounded like him. Her television only showed horror movies. Her lights flickered erratically. Goblins pinched her toes as she stepped into her bed.
Water ran cold all the time, and shadows moved in her bathroom.
If she walked somewhere, street lamps blew out as she walked underneath them.
She was getting positively jumpy and skittish. Her eyes were developing dark smudges underneath them as sleep continued to evade her. He wanted something from her, and she didn't know what. But Sarah was firm in her decision to resist him.
It wasn't until Toby called that Sarah changed her mind to DO something about a certain Goblin King and his odd vendetta.
"What's up kid?"
"Not much…" Sarah could hear her little brother stifle a yawn. "I'm getting sleepy though."
Sarah grinned but didn't treat it seriously. "It's only eight o'clock where you are! Getting old are you!"
Toby huffed. "Ha! No… it's just getting hard for me to sleep lately. I keep thinking I'm hearing things. And sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night because I think the cat is in my room…"
"When did you guys get a cat?" Sarah questioned absently.
Toby paused a little ominously before answering. "That's just it! We don't have one! Mum won't let me! I'm just not sleeping well. And the more tired I get, the less I can sleep…"
Sarah's green eyes flashed. That was it. The minute he brought Toby into this he started a whole new game. "Don't' worry Toby… I'm sure it will all work out…"
And it would, because as soon as this phone conversation was over she was going to get some answers from a Goblin King.
Sarah sat in front of her mirror and gazed steadily at it. She liked what she saw; a strong woman, capable of defending her own and standing up to a mythical king. Her hair was braided, wisps curling out in front, but her eyes were hard and flashing. Her mouth was a straight line under a straight nose.
And then Sarah Williams said the words that would bring the Goblin King back into her life. He obliged her by showing up right away.
"Yes? What would you like?"
She grinned. He'd thought to startle her with his sudden appearance behind her. Intimidate her maybe. She'd been expecting those tactics. Sarah turned smoothly, well into her role now. "I would like you to leave my brother alone."
The wild looking Goblin King grinned wolfishly. "Done."
Sarah blinked quickly. Well, she hadn't been expecting that. She'd expected a flat out refusal, maybe followed by some hard bargaining. Not this sudden yielding to her demand. Something was up.
Sarah narrowed dark eyes at him. "Why are you giving in so easily?"
Jareth grinned wryly. "A trifle Sarah, nothing more."
She shifted impatiently and looked at him expectantly but the Goblin King only smiled humourously in return. He was unaffected by her irritation. Truth be told, he rather liked it. So he waited silently.
The waiting could go on interminably, Sarah realized. It was childish and silly, and apparently representative of their extremely stubborn natures. A commonality then. But it was childish. With an angry huff, she decided. Fine, she'd let him win this round. But oh it galled her to break the silence first!
"Well? What do you want?" She demanded quickly.
He raised winged brows. "Me? You seem to be forgetting who called whom to initiate this… tête-à-tête, if you will, Sarah."
"Oh don't give me that excuse. You've been… teasing me and you knew that it would provoke me into action." Her arms were crossed defensively as she unconsciously mimicked his pose.
"You didn't have to give in." He grinned bitterly. "In fact you've already proven that you're quite resistant to persuasion when it suits you."
Sarah flinched. "… is that what this about?" She whispered harshly. "Me turning you down when I was fifteen?"
Jareth turned away from her to look out the window at the drizzling rain in the afternoon light. He'd been decided about this day for a long time. He knew how it would end but it took courage to begin. "Of course it is Sarah. The story didn't revolve around a baby brother, it revolved and always has, revolved around you. Forever."
Sarah relaxed at his suddenly less confrontational tone. "What do you mean, 'always has'?"
Jareth could see her standing in confusion behind him, reflected in the glass. He smiled grimly. "This isn't the first time we've played this game. You run, I chase. I run, you chase. Every story that has lasted through the ages, it was you and I."
Sarah fidgeted in confusion; she wished he would look at her. She wished she could regain control of this situation. And dammit if she couldn't hear goblins rummaging in her kitchen!
But she paid attention as he started speaking again in a tone she'd never heard before. Gone were his blithe, teasing tones. Gone was the dark innuendo that normally flavoured his speech. Gone were the enticing cryptic statements. His voice was bare and naked, infused with depth.
Sarah felt as if they were on the verge of something; perhaps it was the climax and he was about to reveal his nefarious ending!
"I tire of the game. The perpetual story." He spat it out bitterly. "I promised you forever in a dream, but we've been trapped in forever for much longer than you realize."
He closed his eyes and remembered for her. Jareth could remember what she'd so easily forgotten from lives lived long ago.
"Once I was Apollo and you were the lovely Daphne, fleeing from my attentions. I chased and chased and yet you ran and ran. Free and wild, graceful and unobtainable. I wanted you for mine. And you still refused. Then I caught you. Unrelenting, you cried out and in my arms was a tree instead. Lovely and graceful, but not mine. Never mine.
"Long ago I was Erik, you were Christine. And I chased and seduced and you were mine in body but your soul fled from me in the arching halls of an opera house. I charmed and pursued and loved from the core of my being and still it wasn't enough. I offered you the world in my love, but the darkness of it was too much for you. You fled. I let you go.
"Then, long ago, I won you for mine through trickery and deceit. I was Hades and you my dark queen. I possessed you for a while. Eternity was ours, glory and riches and long nights together. But still your eyes were distant and cool. I was not enough for you.
"The last time around I was Romeo and you young Juliet. It was our closest attempt yet."
He broke off his narrative suddenly and whirled to look at her, eyes distant and growing harder. "In that story we were fated to be together, and yet foiled at every turn. But still I felt your love. I felt your love in return for the first time."
Sarah closed her eyes at his pain. As he'd spoken, she'd felt a thrumming inside of her, a homesickness for something… for someone…
A small tear slipped out from her dark lashes but he didn't see it.
Jareth continued, his words inexorable and damning in their intensity now. "And here we are. The stuff of legends, you and I. we're trapped in another story. And in this story of Jareth and Sarah will you be Daphne and run away? Or will you sacrifice your world to appease me but withhold what I truly desire? Or will I catch you through lies and hold you captive?"
Sarah began in a small voice, "I…" The Goblin King didn't let her finish.
"I started to 'tease' you, as you phrased it, for the story. It's about you and me. Me chasing you, and you running it always has been. We've been in this story for eternity already. But I find… after repeat after repeat of a familiar story, I'm tired Sarah." He was pacing now, eyes flashing. "I'm not going to play anymore. This time, I'm not running after you. Our game ends now. This chapter ends with me leaving and you staying."
But with his angry statement he still sighed bitterly, and Sarah tried to break in once more. "But I –"
With a flash he was the Goblin King once more. The lover of legend had faded, beautiful words of longing replaced by his kingly façade. "Goodbye Sarah. I won't be seeing you. And don't worry, you wont' be bothered by goblins anymore." And he was gone,
Sarah fell to the ground and remembered the intensity of Apollo and her fear. She remembered the dark allure of Erik, the consuming love of Hades and she remembered the glory and euphoria of loving her Romeo.
Sarah lay in a boneless heap and cried as if she'd never stop. Only as haunting whisper lingered in the air,
Perhaps next time
around we'll get the story right.
AN: Well, hope you enjoyed. I make no excuses for my work since I write to please myself. If you hated it, that's fine. If you think there should be more... Well I do to. I may get aorund to writing a sequel. I'm a sucker for happy endings is all... and if you had problems with my little summaries of the four stories I chose to use... well, I'm very sorry and you should Review please and tell me what you think!