Disclaimer: I have lost my mind and gone and accepted another challenge from Danika. You are allowed to shoot me, mock me, or PM me (gasp!), but I don't honestly claim any of these characters, products, or people for my own, so please don't sue me.
The Bacon and Zucchini Casserole Incident
An Exercise in Insanity
By Marti Owlsten
Sarah Eadburga Williams – kind friend, devoted sister, loving daughter; words to describe the fair, graceful girl whom everyone loved, whose life had graced so many and been a shining beacon of inspiration everywhere she went. The most perfect words to go on her headstone.
That is, they would be, if she were dead.
So, that meant that Sarah had a lot to do before she died – most importantly, to get rich enough to ensure that her headstone was already made up with those perfect words etched into some beautiful piece of stone, so no one could say otherwise.
Sarah pondered her plan as she watched an entirely too perky cheerleader head her way. It was the squad-leader, if she was not mistaken. What was her name again? Deanne? Darla? Dotty? Dopey? Ah, the real question was, did it matter? The blonde thing had been wearing her pathetic uniform all week – spirit week. Sarah rolled her eyes. As if she even cared.
But, as idiotic as Dorcas, or whatever her name was, could be, she was Sarah's geometry instructor's aid and she graded all the papers. That was useful information that Sarah could use, specifically because Geometry was a useless subject and she detested it immensely. It was not that she could not do it, or did not understand it, she simply had better things to do.
Dorothy skipped on by and somehow managed to snag her foot on the strap of Sarah's bag that was sitting innocently on the floor. The poor thing surely would have bashed her face in, had Sarah not caught her arm at the very last minute.
"Oh!" Donna cried, as she got her feet back under her, "Oh, thank you! That fall would have hurt!"
Sarah cocked her head to the side and plastered a perky smile on her face, "No problem, glad I could help! I'm Sarah, by the way. What's your name?"
Several goblins huddled together in the corner, fearfully. Everything had gone so wrong since that girl had won. Everything! The castle had fallen apart, the Labyrinth had been left a mess, and someone had started a toga party in the King's linen closet!
Okay, so that last one had not been her fault, but it certainly had not done anything to help.
Now, of course, the castle had fallen apart before and, sure, the Labyrinth often got really messy, but it was the fixing that had gone so wrong.
When putting the castle back together, the King had asked that it be cleaned first. Cleaned! He had said it was a nice opportunity to redecorate, to make things more grown-up.
Grown-up? What did that even mean?
Then, the Labyrinth… oh, the goblins shuddered. Roads. Roads. He had wanted a path put in. It made more sense that way, the King said.
And… he had even instructed everyone that it was time they played fair, no more cheating.
The small goblins clung together. Perhaps he would not think to look for them, now. They had been hidden for a long, long time, after all. When they heard boots clicking on the stone floors outside in the corridor, they all drew closer together. He had found them.
"Where did you go?" Jareth asked, his face filled with concern as he rounded the corner, spotting the group of his subjects. With a slightly dramatic sigh, he made his way to them, kneeling down to address them on their level. "Now, now," he said, "I understand that you think you won't like it, but I do promise that it is quite enjoyable, once you learn."
One goblin with a sharp nose shook his head, "But… but… we don't wanna!"
"Oh, come-come, now," Jareth said, dismissively, gently urging them towards the door, "You will love to read! Then you can read books, and there is nothing better than a good book, believe me."
The goblins moaned and slowly began to plod towards their lessons. Why couldn't the King just dance around, make them scrub his boots and then kick them out the window?
Her mark was easy – mostly because he was male. How could she have overlooked it before? Sarah regarded a few giggling girls over in the corner – they disgusted her. Here they had such power in merely being female, and they were too stupid to use it.
But Sarah was not stupid – her inability in math excluding – and had no qualms in using her feminine charms to her advantage.
Not that she particularly cared about the star quarterback of the football team – Aaron McSomething-or-other – but he was just as useful as Dipsie. Dating the quarterback was the equivalent of gaining popularity, specifically because he was a senior and she, Sarah Williams, was most definitely not. The news would spread quickly, giving her a social edge that she was looking for. Popularity meant contacts, contacts meant connections, and connections meant power – even in the High School setting.
So, while she did not find Aaron particularly attractive, he was useful.
She frowned, momentarily, at the strand of hair that fell into her face and frantically brushed it aside. Her hair, of late, had become nigh to untamable, with a rather uncharacteristic volume and wispy quality that she could, so far, only attribute to the new shampoo her stepmother was purchasing. It was becoming quite bothersome, really. It flew everywhere catching in the strangest and most embarrassing places, including, but not limited to, her locker door, a tree branch, a random piece of gum on the wall, and the hinge on the door to the boys bathrooms.
But, in this instance, perhaps her wild hair would help her more than hinder. She fluffed it as best she could and swiped a few strands to fall across her eyes, hopefully giving her a mysterious look. Didn't most men fantasize about women with big, beautiful hair?
Aaron McWhatever was opening his locker and retrieving some books and binders when she approached. At first, he was too busy fussing over a lost paper of homework to notice the girl sauntering in his direction. Most girls who understand how to move thusly while walking down the hallways in the average American High School do not do so quite as openly as she, he was quick to spot her. He was barely able to shove his last book into his bag before she placed one hand on the locker beside his and leaned towards him – something that would be far more intimidating if Sarah were not the shorter of the two.
"Hello Aaron," she purred from behind the fluff that had become her hair, "Tell me, how are you enjoying your Physics class?"
The Princess threw the dagger deftly into the heart of the dragon, killing the monster, instantly. But, time was short, and she knew it. She quickly mounted her steed and rode across the bridge to the tower, where her sleeping prince awaited. She dashed up the stairway to the chamber he had been locked in, ready to wake him with True Love's first kiss…
Jareth blinked at his reflection in the mirror and frowned slightly. The princess rescuing the prince? No, no, that would never do. He rested his elbow on the vanity at which he was sitting, his chin in his hand. Absently, he reached his free hand out, summoned a crystal and used it to conjure a golden crown, which he placed atop his head of lusciously wavy hair that now thickly tumbled about his shoulders while he readjusted the fantasy.
The dashing prince slaughtered the beast and moved to rescue his princess, who was waiting for him in her tower. At the tower's base, he called up to her, "My love! Do as I say, and throw down your lovely locks!"
The fair princess, smiling down at her prince… no, make him a king… she threw over her long hair…
Jareth shook his head and frowned again. That had been quite weak – no, that would not do, either. He dabbed a finger into a jar of dark unguent and mindlessly began swiping it at the corners of his eyes,tweaking the fantasy once more…
The battle cry sounded up in the tower, and the King knew his princess was under attack there, as well. Dodging a blow from the monstrous beast, he saw her lean out the window, desperately, calling, "Weapons! I need a dagger, my King!"
The King promptly called a crystal to his hand and launched it to his beloved, who deftly caught it, where it became a weapon in her hand for her use. She disappeared from sight, just as the beast attacked him again – without a second thought, he thrust his broadsword deep into the creature's heart.
He turned just in time to see his dearest swinging down from the tower by her own hair, land, chop it to a more fetching length, then join him where they mounted his steed and rode away together, into the sunset…
Jareth smiled. Yes, that was much better. Now, to consider nail polish colors…
With Geometry and her social status secured, it was time that Sarah considered ways of obtaining money. If she wanted power, she needed money, and for the right kind of money, she would have to start working for it now. Unfortunately, flipping mixed-cow parts was beneath her, and there was not much else a High School Sophomore could do to earn money.
In other words, she was really going to have to think outside the box on this one, since she would rather lick the live cow than flip its frozen parts.
Bouncing Toby dutifully on her knee, she regarded him. "Think you would be up to a 'Most Adorable Baby' contest?" she asked, watching him gurgle and send a dribble of spit down his shirt. She frowned, "Perhaps I'll take up hand modeling, instead."
Karen entered the room, then, having heard Sarah's topic, "I think that would be fun, Sarah," she said.
"No," she laughed, scooping Toby up and moving to sit next to her stepdaughter, "A baby contest. Besides, it might give us a chance to earn Toby some money for college, for when he's older."
Sarah rolled her eyes, scooting to the far end of the couch, "I highly doubt it would be worth your time," Karen looked confused, Sarah dully continued, "Toby's cute, don't get me wrong, but I don't think he'd make it. He cries too much…" she lowered her voice, "…among other things."
Karen frowned at her. "Sarah… he's a baby! That's not very fair."
Laughing at her own inner joke, Sarah stood and made to go to her room, "You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is."
"I don't know what has gotten into you, Sarah," Karen said to Sarah's back as she headed for the stairs, "You've just become a royal snob!"
Sarah froze, slowly turning to face her stepmother. "What did you call me?"
Karen sighed, "A snob, Sarah. A royal snob. You act like you're better than everyone, you're only nice when it's convenient or beneficial to yourself, and I don't think I've ever seen you smirk so much before."
Something inside Sarah's head clicked. Oh, she hated to admit it, but Karen was right. Something was different, very different, and had been ever since…
Changing directions at the last minute, Sarah forgot all about the stairs and bolted for the front door.
Jareth sat, smiling, looking out across his realm. Things really had changed for the better, recently, and he was quite pleased with the results. Everything was clean and fresh, except for the bog, but really, there was not much he could do about that, and his subjects were now learning and…
With a swell of pride, Jareth felt that he was being a much better King for his people.
Why was there something inherently wrong with that statement? Ah, he ignored it for the time being.
He turned his attention to the plans for his latest project, which would instill a much needed niche for Arts and Entertainment in his Kingdom. Of course, given the nature of most of his subjects, it would have to start small – very small – but it would be a start, and it would not be long before culture would be flourishing among his goblins.
But, he wondered, how to teach them drama? And how could they be expected to memorize lines if they could barely remember to floss daily? Well, Jareth loved nothing better than a good challenge. Sure, it would be a rocky start and would take a long while before it solidified into anything remotely like a decent theatre troupe, but the thought of acting on a stage was just so appealing …
Jareth frowned. Since when had he liked acting? He had done nothing but detest and mock it, before. Oh, sure, a play was good fun to attend – but only if you had enough tomatoes and other rotting fruit to throw during curtain calls or particularly romantic scenes. As Goblin King, he had loved attention, mainly from women, but certainly never from reciting lines on stage. Was there even a purpose to such an act? Memorizing lines for the sole purpose of hearing the sound of people clapping was absurd – so, why was he now so interested in teaching such a thing to his goblins??
And, while he was on that particular thought, why had he decided to teach them anything? They were goblins! Goblins did not read books, they stuffed them with bacon and zucchini casserole and accidentally lit them on fire – and his copy of the Iliad was proof of that. And why had he put daisies in the castle? He hated daisies, they smelled. And why – oh, for the love of anything holy why?! – had he decided to paint his toenails cotton-candy pink?
He got to his feet and began pacing the room. When had this madness started? Certainly not before the castle's most recent falling-apart, so that meant…
With a scowl, he headed to his window and leapt from the edge, changing into his owl form and taking flight.
The run to the park was particularly distressing to Sarah, and took much longer than it should have. Most of her trouble came from the obviously conflicting inner characteristics of her ability to run. She only knew of one way of running, which was like a girl, but her body now did not want to do it. Instead of speeding along with her legs flying out behind her and her hips swaying while she tried to flip her hair to look like Pamela Anderson on Baywatch, her body wanted nothing more than to stomp to the park in a menacing and domineering fashion. It was very difficult to have either a domineering sway to her run or to stomp like Pamela Anderson, and so she ran into two street lamps, one parked car, and fell into the bushes at least four times.
Once she made it to the park, Sarah sat down obstinately on a bench. Her natural reaction was to slouch with her toes pointed towards each other, but something inside insisted she sit up straight and cross one leg over the other, because slouching was only something to do if you had an oversized chair with an arm which you could throw one leg over.
Once her posture had been fixed, Sarah cleared her throat and said, loudly, "Goblin King, I know that you can hear me! You've messed with my head and I demand you come and fix it!"
Flying had never been more difficult. Of course, Jareth had never had the urge to ruffle his feathers and preen so terribly before, either. Plus, he kept going wildly off course when he began to swish his tail feathers from side to side – something he knew was a foolish thing to do while flying, but simply could not seem to stop!
Oh, whatever that girl had done to him, she was most definitely going to suffer for it.
Never before had there been such a strange screech heard through the quiet park, as an owl came barreling out of the sky and landed in a most ungraceful manner in the oak tree near where Sarah sat. And it was a good thing that no one besides Sarah was nearby, else they would have witness the terribly disturbing sight of said owl flopping downward through the tree, changing into the form of a man in a poet shirt and tight pants, hitting a few more branches and then falling out of the tree completely to land in a heap at the trunk.
Jareth staggered to his feet, utterly furious. He spotted Sarah right away and began stomping her direction, trying to seem as intimidating and dangerous as he could. His plan, though, was foiled by the skips he had to throw in, about every third step or so.
Sarah stood, crossed her arms and smirked at him, "Couldn't resist my call, I see."
Jareth glared at her, turning his nose up in the air, defiantly, "If you think I came because of that pathetic excuse of a summons, you are quite mistaken."
"Enough," she said, sharply, setting her feet apart and holding her hands behind her back, "I don't want to play games, Goblin King. What have you done to me?"
Jareth pulled a face, "Oh, you are one to talk of games, Sarah. What have you done to me?"
"Come now, Goblin King," Sarah drawled, "How could I, a mortal teenage girl, have done anything to you, the King of the Goblins?"
"Well," he paused, considering her words. She had a point, but he really did not want to admit it, "I know I did not do this, and things have been highly screwy ever since you came along, so if I did not do whatever it is that has happened to you, and I know that I would certainly not have willingly subjected myself to this torture-fest, then you are the most likely suspect," he raised his nose defiantly in the air, "No one else would be dumb enough to mess with me."
Sarah sighed, "Well, indubitably, it seems we've come to an impasse, haven't we? I know I did nothing to you and you know that you did nothing to me – did it occur to you that perhaps this is some sort of accidental condition or something to that extent? That it just happened, and neither one of us is to blame?"
He raised an eyebrow and smiled at her, barely able to hold back the victory in his eyes, "I notice you have not denied my implication that you are dumb."
She inhaled slowly, "I've learned a lot – I pick my battles."
"And your nose," he retorted, his voice taking on a slight sing-song quality to it while grinning.
A steely look settled on her face, "Will you grow up?" she ground out, her jaw clenched in frustration.
Jareth, who had unconsciously begun bouncing on his toes, stopped and shook his head. Then he looked at Sarah, irritation plain on his regal face, "Do you not see, Sarah? I cannot! Do you think I have any control over this? I assure you, I do not!" his voice began to rise and he began to breathe rapidly, "Sarah, what if we cannot find a way to… to… fix this? What are we going to do? I cannot rule a kingdom with the mentality of a fifteen year old girl!"
Sarah raised a hand, "First things first, stay calm. Of all the things that might help, hyperventilating isn't one of them. Just stay calm – let's analyze the situation, to try and find a way out of this. Surely, if something can be done, it can be undone as well, right?"
They stared at each other in silence for a moment, until Jareth threw his head back.
"We're doomed!" he wailed, piteously.
"No," she snapped at him, grabbing his arm and shaking him, "Now, stop that! We are going to figure out what happened, alright? Alright?"
He nodded, biting his bottom lip, but said nothing.
Sarah sighed and began to pace, back and forth. "Now, let's look at this. You are acting like a sixteen year old – it is sixteen, almost seventeen, by the way, do not try to sell me short, here – and I am acting like a power-hungry, manipulative jerk-wad."
"Hey!" Jareth protested, pulling a face. Sarah ignored him and continued with her pacing.
"So, we've switched personalities, it would seem. But at what point did the trouble begin? At what point did we change? Hmm…"
She held up her hand and began ticking off events on her fingers, "In the Labyrinth, things were fine. I was me, you were you. We have not had any contact since the Labyrinth, so we have to assume that whatever caused this to happen had to have occurred at some point towards the end and before I was returned home…" she sighed and closed her eyes, "I feel… I feel like I have a ball-of-Jareth inside my chest, demanding that I speak properly, wear frilly shirts, and become top of my class at any and all costs…" she squinted, "And possibly Prom Queen, as well."
"A ball of Sarah, inside my chest," Jareth looked down, wrinkling his nose, "Ick."
Sarah snorted and glared at him, wordlessly. Jareth, though, did not see it, as he suddenly seemed very worried about the condition of his chest. After a moment, he looked up at Sarah, gasped, and crossed his arms, grabbing his shoulders. Confused, Sarah asked, "What now?"
"You have my hair. Or, at least, what used to be my hair."
She snapped her fingers, "Aha! No wonder mine has been so poofy! So… are you displeased with the sudden silky waves? Frankly, between the two of us, I would say that you are getting quite the bargain." She blew a wild strand out of her eyes.
He giggled, swishing his head from side to side, feeling his hair swish as he did so – but only for a moment before sobering and reclaiming the firm grip on his shoulders. "I do like it, but that's not it. If I got your hair…" he swallowed hard and pointedly looked at Sarah's chest, "What else of yours will I be getting?"
Her face went red and glowered, "Stop being a fairy princess, here! I need you to help me think!"
He rolled his eyes and slouched. "Fine, fine. How could we have gotten inside each other?"
Sarah paced for a while, trying to think. Jareth stood, one arm holding up the other while he chewed lightly on his nails.
"At the end, your offer? Could that have done it?" Sarah ventured.
Jareth shook his head, "Nah, my magic doesn't work like that. What about you – you didn't make any strange wishes in the Labyrinth, did you?"
Sarah shook her head, "No, I assure you I did not. One wish was good enough, or bad enough, as the case may be."
A few more minutes of nail biting and pacing, and Sarah stopped, a light going off in her head. "Wait! Jareth," she turned and faced him, "In the Escher room, with all the stairs, did you…"
Recognition dawned in his eyes as well, "I walked through you, didn't I?"
She nodded, "Yes, and that was the only time that we were that close! That has to be it!"
With a squeal of delight, Jareth jumped up and down. "Duh! Why didn't I think of that before?" he stopped, "So, how do we fix it?"
Sarah's eye twitched. Had she ever been so… so… annoyingly girly? He had walked through her – right through her! – and he wanted to know how to fix it? Just like a man… or, well, a girl… or some screwed-up cross between the two, as it were. "Gee, Jareth," she said, stepping in close to him, "I don't know – how about I consult my parents? Surely they might have an answer… since they live in a world where magic is not prevalent and know nothing of this sort of thing! Or, better yet, how about I do it? I'll just wave my hand and change us back, since I obviously know so much about magic, being that I was born and raised in the Aboveground! Use your head, Goblin King. I don't know the first thing about magic, and I'm not the one who went waltzing through someone else. You caused this, shouldn't you know something about it?"
Jareth stepped back, looking wounded. Sarah watched in shock as his eyes watered and he wrapped his arms around himself. "You don't have to be so mean, Sarah," he said, sniffing and turning away from her, "I wasn't, like, demanding that you fix it," he sniffed again and his shoulders shook, "For all you know," another sniff, "The question could have been rhetorical!"
Slowly, very slowly, Sarah's hand came up and covered her mouth. She had made the Goblin King cry. This wasn't good – it was almost like they were becoming increasingly like one another with every moment in each other's presence. And now, she'd lost her temper and blatantly hurt his feelings to the point of making him cry.
Cruel. She had become cruel, and Jareth was now very sensitive. She reached up a hand and pinched the bridge of her nose – this whole thing was going to give her a migraine, she just knew it.
She heaved a sigh and approached Jareth carefully, reaching up a hand to pat him on the shoulder. At the slightest touch, he jerked away, quickly, and the sniffling redoubled.
"Oh Jareth," Sarah began softly, using the same voice she (now) used to console Toby when he was crying, "I am sorry…"
"No, you're not!" he said in a watery voice.
She planted a firm hand on his right shoulder while patting him gently on the left. "No, I am sorry. I did not intend to hurt your feelings… I was feeling stressed, please understand. I did not mean to imply that you… that you…" she fumbled desperately for something that she had implied. It was quite difficult to think of an appropriate apology.
"To imply that I don't know what I'm doing?" Jareth supplied, peeking a red-rimmed eye over his shoulder at her.
"Yes, yes, that's it," she said, giving him her most gentle smile. "I know you did not intentionally mean to cause this situation, and I do believe that you can and often do use your head. I am very sorry for speaking so harshly to you."
Retrieving a ruffled monogrammed handkerchief that was trimmed with lace from a pocket Sarah could not see (well, she hoped it came from a pocket), he daintily dried his eyes and blew his nose before sighing and turning to face her again. "S' alright," he said as he folded the handkerchief and replaced it in his pocket.
"That's it," she said, encouragingly, patting him on the arms, "I think we both need to fight the other's tendencies. I need to watch how I say things to you, and you need to… be tough. Now, since, as I was saying, I don't know anyone who would know anything about magical problems, is there anyone you know who could help with this?"
"Um," he thought very hard for a few minutes, "Yes, I think so. The old dude who wanders around with the chicken-hat on his head!"
"The Wiseman?" Sarah asked, skeptically. He surely had not been very helpful to her when she had been running through the Labyrinth.
Jareth, seeming to catch on to the meaning of her tone, waved a hand at her dismissively, "Don't let his appearance fool you. Just because he's old doesn't mean he doesn't know stuff – it just means he gets sleepy a lot."
"I remember," she muttered.
Jareth grinned, "That's why I gave him that ultra hyper hat you know? It helps keep him active. But he is really smart, and if you give him some caffeine, he's jazzed and can talk for hours!"
Sarah nodded, "Okay, well that's a start. Let me go snag a Red Bull, and we can head on out of here and go see the Wiseman."
After some consideration on the part of energy drinks, Sarah with the Goblin King on her heels approached the old Wiseman, a Rockstar clutched in her hand for a contribution.
Initially, thanks to catchy media advertising, Sarah had thought to bring a Red Bull energy drink, but then decided against it, seeing as how sometimes things in the Labyrinth could be taken literally, and she did not want to risk giving the old man wings and watch him fly away. This line of thinking had also led Sarah to rule out Monsters No S, Full Throttle, Vault, Jolt, or Pimp Juice. And, for a lack of finding one that might be of literal use, such as Guru, well, Sarah decided that, should things go literally, Rockstar might not be too terrible. If the old man became David Bowie, at least they still would be able to talk to him.
They found the Wiseman, per usual, snoring, with his hat merrily singing The Song That Never Ends. One quick pop of the aluminum can, though, and he came right awake. In no time at all, he was alert enough to answer their questions.
"Right through ya, huh?" he chuckled once they had finished explaining the predicament. He pointed a bony finger at Jareth, "You should be more careful, boy, with how you use your magic. Magic at the molecular level is quite dangerous, and always unpredictable."
Jareth, looking like a scolded child, frowned, "Well, I know that now," and he followed that by a mumbled scoff under his breath.
Sarah, trying to keep her temper even, faced the old man properly and squared her shoulders, "Sir, we understand that this was a… mistake, but what we need to know is a way to correct this matter."
The old man nodded. His hat, which was chomping on some bubblegum that had been handily supplied by Jareth, mumbled something – everyone willingly ignored it.
"Well," the Wiseman sipped on the Rockstar thoughtfully, "Molecular magic is almost always different each time it is done – which is why," he glared at Jareth again, "It is a subject that is not taught, other than in theory, to children! It's fancy and flashy but it can have severe consequences…"
Sarah gave Jareth a sidelong glance. He was grinning to himself with a nostalgic look on his face. He noticed her gaze and whispered quietly, "Always made me look hot to the ladies." Sarah fumed, but said nothing.
"Did you simply attempt to walk through her again, Jareth?" the Wiseman asked at last.
"No," Sarah said.
"Yes," Jareth said.
Sarah turned to him, "Is that why you kept bumping into me in the checkout line? I thought you were getting fresh!"
His eyes went huge and he gave her a half-smile. He shrugged, "Kick two goblins with one boot?"
Sarah tried to look furious at him, but the urge to flash him a seductively victorious smile was so overwhelming that the most she could really do was go red in the face, bite her lip and look at the Wiseman, again.
The old Wiseman nodded to himself, "Well, then, it cannot be reversed the easy way, therefore we will have to go about this in a slightly more difficult manner."
Jareth eyed the man, "It won't hurt, will it? And no needles, right?"
The old man snorted, "No, Jareth, no needles. It will just take a bit longer than walking through her would have."
Suddenly, a thought occurred to Sarah, "Wait, I have a question."
"Yes?" the Wiseman's eyebrows rose upward.
She cocked her hips to the side, "We know how this happened, but obviously Jareth has done, erm, molecular magic before. So, how is it that he has not switched personalities with anyone else?"
The man chuckled, "Personalities? Oh, no, my dear, you do not understand. His personality alone," he motioned to Jareth, "Would not do that to your hair, and likewise I could say that no young girl's personality could cause the might Goblin King to go waltzing through his castle singing I Feel Pretty."
Sarah smirked and Jareth gasped, drawing himself back as if he had been terribly violated. "How did you know about that?!" he demanded, breathlessly.
The Wiseman tapped his nose, "I just know."
Sarah frowned, "What are you implying, then?"
The Wiseman leaned forward, "Was I not clear? It is not your personalities, young lady, but parts of your souls."
This, obviously, did not make any more sense to Sarah than Geometry did, and so she just stood there while the Wiseman began fumbling through his pockets for something. Once glance at Jareth, though, was enough to tell Sarah that what the old man had said had certainly meant something.
The Goblin King stood, suddenly unable to look Sarah in the face, his eyes large and his complexion had gone from its usually pasty look to a bright red. His hands had been clasped tightly behind his back and he appeared to be intently staring at a pebble on the ground, which he was poking half-heartedly with the tip of his boot.
"Jareth…?" Sarah asked, taking a step towards him, "What am I not understanding?"
"Um," he started breathing heavily, "Souls, Sarah. Souls!"
She shrugged, "And that has significance because…?"
Jareth started to answer, but the Wiseman, who had located whatever he was looking for, spoke up – much to Jareth's relief.
"My dear," the Wiseman began, taking another sip of his Rockstar, "In essence, your souls became attached to one another when the King passed through you."
"And that would mean what, exactly?"
The old man gave her a pointed look, "Young lady, souls do not simply attach to other souls without just cause. They are not barnacles on ships. If your souls connected to the point where you, at the end of the passing, ended up with pieces from the other, it would imply that your souls were quite compatible, indeed. Truly, if you both switched enough of your souls to cause such intense personality disorders, then I am inclined to say that you two are a perfect match for one another."
"No," Sarah breathed, "You cannot be telling me this."
He nodded, "I am, my dear."
She shook her head, "Are you- are you really saying that he," she motioned to Jareth, "And I," she jabbed a thumb at her own chest, "Are soul-mates?"
"I am not saying anything other than what your own inner essences have been trying to tell you both for some time now," he retorted, thoughtfully.
Sarah and Jareth exchanged highly awkward glances.
"This day has, without a doubt, become the bloody most complicated one of my entire life," Sarah moaned, her voice taking on a crisp accent.
Jareth gave a high-pitched scoff and stomped his boot, "Well, if you are going to be like that about it, then just what-EVER!" he spun quickly and turned his back on her, brushing his hair to the side as he did so.
The Wiseman shook his head and tutted, stepping forward to place a gnarled hand on each of their shoulders, "Now, now," he said, "Don't you two see what is happening? The more you two fight what destiny has in store, the more you resist what is in your hearts, the more your souls are going to cling to each other – in essence, by acting so stubborn, you both risk turning completely into the other!"
Sarah rounded on the Wiseman, her temper, (or, more precisely, Jareth's temper) flaring wildly. "You mean to say that for the rest of our lives, we shall have to remain on amiable terms with the other, be forced to smile and be close and… and… kind," she spat the word with utter distaste, "Or else I shall become and remain him?"
Jareth glared over his shoulder at the Wiseman, "Nuh-uh, I am SO not staying this moody forever. Like, this needs to get fixed, um, now."
The Wiseman slowly turned, sipped his Rockstar again, and gave them each a kind smile, "Of course it does, Jareth, and no, Sarah, you will not always be forced to be kind to one another," he coughed lightly, "Though such actions wouldn't hurt…" at her glare, he coughed again and straightened up to face them, "This will only be the case if we cannot get your souls un-stuck, and really, it is not impossible to do so. Once each soul is back in its proper place, you can fight and bicker to your heart's content."
Both Sarah and Jareth sighed with relief – whether that relief was at being themselves once more, or at the prospect of being free to fight and bicker, was unclear.
"So, what do we do?" Jareth prompted.
"Yes," Sarah chimed in, eagerly, "What must be done?"
The Wiseman held up the object he had searched his pockets for. It was a small tube of Chapstick.
"I'm not eating that." Jareth said, simply, wrinkling his nose.
Sarah rolled her eyes, but ignored him. She regarded the lip balm, "You must be joking. Seriously. How can that possibly be of any help? Ordinary lip balm??"
The Wiseman laughed merrily, "My dear, this is not any ordinary lip balm – not your sort, at least. This is Underground Chapstick. Here," he extended it to her, "See for yourself."
Sarah plucked it from his fingers and examined it. Sure enough, the tube read: Chapstick – now infused with moisture rich Magic! Perfect Peach flavored. "Hmm," she said, a strange look crossing her face, "Their marketing department sure is out to reach a new demographic, aren't they?"
Jareth lit up as he read the label over her shoulder, "Ooh, I love that flavor!"
Sarah looked up, "So, okay, this is Underground Chapstick – what are we to do with it?"
The Wiseman sighed, "The magic in that lip balm should serve as a conduit. If you two can connect, mentally and physically, then using that should get your spirits right and regular."
She sighed, "First Preparation H to get rid of circles under your eyes, and now Magic chapstick to get your soul back. What next? Nasal spray to improve regularity?" When both Jareth and the Wiseman looked at her blankly, she shook her head, "Never mind. Back to the subject at hand – how do we use it?"
The Wiseman coughed and looked down. Jareth, though, was suddenly very red and giggling, his head to the side and his hands clasped behind his back. "Well," he said, looking up at the sky, "How else do you use lip balm? You put it on your lips, Sarah."
"Oh no," she hung her head. Of course it would take one awkward mess to get her out of another.
"Well," the Wiseman said, finishing off his Rockstar, "Seeing as how you now have the means to right this situation, I shall leave you two to… eh… sort things out. Remember," he cautioned, "You need to see eye to eye, to connect mentally, for it to really work." They both nodded. The Wiseman quickly crunched the can and turned to walk away, "Now, I wonder where one might procure a guitar…"
Sarah and Jareth eyed one another in silence for a very long time.
Sarah coughed, "So, I am right in assuming that we have to agree on things and kiss one another to have everything put right again, correct?"
Jareth coughed, "I'm sure we can agree on things and a kiss isn't, you know, the end of the world, right?"
"Of course not."
Even more silence.
Sarah sighed in resignation. "Simply standing here is not helping," she opened the tube of chapstick, smeared some across her mouth, then handed it to Jareth, "Let's get this taken care of, soon, if you would."
Jareth looked at the tube somewhat sullenly, muttering something about girl cooties, but obediently took it, pursed his lips, and gently applied the balm. He smacked his lips in thought while pocketing the stick, and faced Sarah with a look of uncertainty upon his delicate features.
But, while Jareth may have been unsure and apprehensive, Sarah was truly coming to her breaking point, and wanted nothing more than to be done with the whole messy business. She stepped up to him boldly and cleared her throat.
"Today has been quite the mess," she declared, "Don't you agree?"
"Totally," he nodded with a roll of his eyes.
"Fabulous," Sarah said, reaching out and grabbing Jareth by the ruffles of his shirt, "We have agreed on something, now you can take your bloody soul bits back!" And with that she pulled him down where she could reach him, and kissed him hard.
To say this took Jareth by surprise would be quite the understatement. Even Sarah herself, the part of her that would never have acted so boldly, was shocked. But, surprised or no, and even with the personality traits of a sixteen-year-old girl, Jareth was still Jareth, King of the Goblin, and it was not very long at all before he warmed up to the idea of being kissed by a beautiful, if young, woman, and he promptly began to kiss her back.
The result of such a kiss was dramatic. Sarah, having never been kissed thusly, clung to Jareth, reveling in the feelings and emotions that began flowing through her; feelings and emotions that only a young, sixteen year-old girl would have in such a situation. Jareth, detecting the swoony-vibes Sarah was emitting, held onto her tighter, enjoying the distinctive feeling of power washing over him. It was something he had not felt in quite some time, and he delighted in it greatly. So, while they physically clung to the other's form, they mentally clung to that which was uniquely their own – Sarah to her girlishness and Jareth to his dominating tendencies.
A jolt shot through them, startling both. Sarah's hair flared out in a flash, but then quickly smoothed out, like a shampoo commercial, and flowed down around her in luscious dark waves. Jareth's hair also flared out, but, unlike Sarah's, his hair stayed that way.
They both pushed away from the other, breaking their embrace, and regarded each other curiously. Sarah was blushing terribly, and she found that she really wanted to hide her face from his view. Jareth was now examining his hair, a somewhat bemused expression on his face – a few minutes ago, he would have mourned the loss of the soft waves, but now he found that he did not quite care.
"What… uh…" Sarah began, stammering, "What happened? You look like… like…" a snarky comment wanted to come out, but died quite quickly, "Like you got your finger caught in an electrical socket. Um… I'm sorry." She fumbled, mentally, finding that she no longer had the heart for such cruel statements.
"Oh, yes," he drawled, "Because, obviously, I am so lacking in intelligence, I would willingly place my appendages into Aboveground electrical currents. And after kissing you, no less." He finished with a haughty snort – but then his eyes widened and he quickly looked at Sarah, who was grinning despite his scathing words.
"IT WORKED!" they shouted jubilantly in unison. Sarah squealed with delight and Jareth threw his fists in the air before grabbing Sarah and lifting her into the air, spinning her about –
And, then, of course, Jareth realized what he was doing and dropped her, most ungracefully. Coughing, he turned away from her as she plopped down on her feet and staggered a little, trying to keep her balance. Her face heated up again, and she glanced furtively at Jareth. He was determinedly looking elsewhere.
There was a long and highly awkward silence.
This time, summoning up some bold courage was more difficult, but Sarah scraped enough together to finally ask, "So… are we soul-mates, or what?" And, when Jareth looked at her, seeming to be slightly startled, she hastened to add, "Well, I just mean that, you know, sometimes caffeine can cause a loss of judgment…"
"Are you implying that you and I," he swallowed, "Are not… what the Wiseman said? That he was incorrect? Even though it clearly worked to correct the situation?"
Sarah coughed, "I'm just saying that… I don't know… it could still be debatable, couldn't it?"
"Of course," Jareth said, brightly, "Well, that makes it all clear. He may be a very wise man, but combine his romanticized ideas with one of those energetic drinks from the Aboveground?"
Sarah laughed, throwing her head back, a high-pitched and rather put on sort of sound, "Of course! And it was molecular magic, right? I mean, come on, molecular!"
"Exactly!" Jareth spread his hands wide, "It is highly unstable! How could he possibly be certain that the precise cause of our problem was that we were," he paused, laughing at the absurdity of it all, "Soul-mates?"
"I know!" Sarah laughed, clutching at her side, "You, and I? Soul-mates? That's just… just… insane! You're the Goblin King and I'm just me!"
Calming himself, he smoothed down the front of his shirt, "Well, Sarah, I believe we have reached a conclusion, then. It was just a mistake."
"Yes, yes," she agreed, coughing a little and straightening up, "Just a little bit of wonky-magic gone wrong."
Feeling very proper again, Jareth extended a hand to his former adversary, "Precisely, my dear. Thank you for your cooperation in working to solve this matter. I assume that you would like to return home, now?"
Sarah took his hand and shook it, firmly. "You are very welcome, Goblin King, and yes, I would like to go home."
Their fingers lingered a bit longer on each other's hand than what was necessary. Though it was plain that both noticed the action, neither made comment on it.
"Farewell, Sarah," Jareth said as he tossed her a crystal.
"Bye," she said, her voice touched with the faintest whiff of sadness. She caught the crystal and, with a small pop, she vanished, returning to the steps outside of her Aboveground home.
And, though neither knew it at the time, both Sarah Williams, Above, and Jareth the Goblin King, Underground, sighed. Both felt a little on the empty side, now that everything was back to normal. But that was what they had wanted, right? Normal?
Sarah entered her house and trudged up towards her room, snatching up a peach from the fruit bowl on the table and absently rolling it around her hands, as if she had been juggling for many years. Meanwhile, Jareth slowly began walking back to his castle, humming to himself and wondering how possible it would be to conjure himself a sparkling pink bubble bath.
… for now.
A/N: I am insane, I am insane, I am insane… If I hadn't been before, I certainly am now.
Now, I am well aware that this fic has little to nothing to do with bacon and zucchini casserole. If you had not noticed… well, I would slightly worry about you. But, as I was saying, the title was deliberate – a sort of tribute to a silly movie I am rather fond of. Virtual brownies to anyone who can correctly guess which movie, and the brownies will have frosting on them if you can also guess why I like that movie.
Ah, but that would mean you need to review.
C'mon, review. You know you want to. Mmm, just think of the deliciously imaginary brownies, with fudge frosting and sprinkles. Can't you just smell the sprinkles? I can. Mmmm.
And until next,