The evening was drawing in and it was getting dark even though the winter months had thankfully been left behind. Lily rubbed at her eyes drearily and blinked in order to try and clear her version. The text on her computer screen seemed to blur and rearrange itself into an incomprehensible language so she sat back in her chair, sighing. Swivelling round she glanced at the clock on the wall of her office and noticed that it was well past 6 going on 7 and her shift had finished at half 5 because it was a Friday and everyone got to go home early. Groaning quietly she realised that she wasn't going to get any more work done today and so had best call it a night.
A few clicks of the mouse and her report was saved; she was just about to hit the shut down key when one of the office doors opened. A young woman, not much older than herself with long dark hair and grey/green eyes appeared carrying a folder under one arm and a coat in the other. The woman caught sight of Lily and smiled wearily.
"You still here?" she asked. "I thought you got off early today?"
"So did you but it looks like you're still here," Lily replied returning the smile.
"Hmmm," it was a noncommittal sound. "Well I now plan to go home and have a long hot bath before falling asleep into front of the TV." The woman paused, her imagination already way ahead of her. "Of course I'll then have to get up again and drag myself back here tomorrow morning. I swear this project is going to be the death of me!" She grimaced. "What kind of slave driver makes someone come into work on a Saturday?"
Lily chuckled and reached for her own coat. "A cruel one. Men can be cruel you know?"
The woman made a face. "Don't I know it." She sighed. "Ok well I'm going to get going, night Lily."
"Night Sarah," the secretary called after the disappearing figure. Suddenly a thought occurred to her and her gaze flickered towards the prop up calendar on her desk. She winced. "Er Sarah?"
"What?" Sarah's head popped back around the doorframe.
"I'm not sure if you already know but tomorrow's the Spring Equinox."
Sarah's face fell, her shoulders slumped and she raised a hand to cover her eyes. "Great, just great." She muttered. "Thanks Lily, I'll see you in the morning." She turned around and departed once more.
"Night," Lily said again, eyes still fixed on the calendar. She had better be getting home as well, she would need a lot of sleep tonight. Tomorrow was not going to be a good day.
Despite it being a Saturday the firm was still buzzing with activity. Men and women came and went drawing little attention from the receptionist sitting behind the desk in the lobby. The phones had stopped ringing for one blessed moment and the woman was idly distracting herself by doodling small figures on the piece of paper in front of her. Her pastime was interrupted however a short while later by the sound of someone politely clearing their throat. The woman glanced up. And blinked.
The man standing on the other side of the desk could have easily stepped off the cover of a romance novel. He was tall and slender with a finely chiselled figure and beautifully crafted features. His long hair fell about his shoulders and his eyes glinted at her in the bright light admitted by the open plan room. Realising that she was staring and that her mouth was hanging open ever so slightly the woman straightened and raised her chin.
"May I help you sir?" she asked sweetly.
The man cracked a smile and when he spoke his voice sounded like the cool ring of a wind chime. "I believe you may," he said, never taking his eyes away from her. "Might you please tell me where I can find a Miss Sarah Williams?"
The woman deflated slightly. She should have known. Without even checking the staff list she turned back to her doodles. "13th floor, 2nd door on your right. You can take either the lift or the stairs just round the corner. When you get there talk to her secretary Lily." Absently she began to scrawl a picture of her ex-husband wearing nothing but a bin liner and the handsome stranger was forgotten.
The man frowned marginally at being so easily dismissed by the woman but then reminded himself of his goal and set off in the direction she had indicted. He felt his confidence return when he noted the number of female stares he received on his way to the 13th floor so that by the time he reached his destination he was prepared.
Opening the second door on the right as instructed he found himself in a small office presumably belonging to the woman who was currently sifting through a filing cabinet with her back turned to him. Not wanting to startle her he knocked gently and flashed her his most winning smile when she turned around. He found himself surprised and somewhat disappointed when all she did was run her eyes over him before turning and settling herself behind her desk. She didn't stare or stammer or even blush. Instead she eyed him coolly, seeming almost bored and not in the least bit interested in who he was or what he was doing there. These people certainly were very rude to keep on dismissing him in such a manner. Didn't they know who he was? No, of course they didn't, that was the trouble with this realm.
Determinedly he walked up to her desk and coughed making her look up again. "Excuse me," he began. "Might you be Lily, Sarah Williams' secretary?"
"I am," the woman said shortly. "How can I help you?" She didn't sound like she wanted to help in the least but he still seized the opportunity.
"I have come to see Miss Williams. Might I be allowed admittance?" He turned to the door that he supposed led to Sarah's office but before he could take a single step the woman named Lily stopped him.
"Unfortunately Miss Williams has said she will see no one today. She is extremely busy at the moment just like the rest of us and will have no visitors."
The charming man frowned. "You don't understand. It is very important that I see her."
"I'm sorry but you can't go in," Lily said firmly.
"Please it is most urgent," he beseeched. Thinking perhaps to win her sympathy he tried to explain his reasons for being there. "I have come here today to declare to the lovely Miss Williams my most ardent feelings for her."
The secretary made no response.
"I wish to show her how much I love her," he continued. Still she gave no hint of being even faintly swayed by his impassioned words. "I have come to offer her everything she could possibly desire, her dreams!" he exclaimed, baffled by the blank look on the young woman's face.
Finally she sighed. "You're not going to leave are you?" she asked with a tired expression on her face.
"Not until I have seen Sarah and made my confession," he said stolidly. "Will you let me see her?"
No." He seemed about to protest but she held up her hand. "Sarah has said she will see no one but I will tell her you are here if you care to wait. Maybe you could catch her after work."
It wasn't ideal but it seemed that he had little choice in the matter unless he stormed the gates of her office which would doubtless leave the wrong impression. He could have always simply appeared inside the other room but mortals were touchy when it came to displays of magic so he had made a point of trying to appear as 'normal' as possible. He had even changed into their ridiculous garments, they were decidedly uncomfortable but he allowed himself to suffer. For Sarah he thought.
Lily stood and walked around the desk indicating that he follow her. He did so and she took him out into the corridor and down to the 3rd door on the right, the room next to her office.
"You can wait in here," Lily opened the door and stepped aside to allow him to enter. Pausing in the frame the man blinked, confused as he glanced around the room. There were men, a considerable number of them, both standing and sitting about the small quarter. When the door opened every one of them had turned to look, gazes hopeful and their eyes told him that not one amongst them was human.
The man, who was certainly a far cry from being human himself, turned to look at the secretary. She smiled blandly up at him. "If you'll give your name sir I'll tell Miss Williams that you're here."
He fumbled for a moment but then regained his composure and straightened himself to his full height. "Ralen. My name is Ralen."
Lily seemed completely unfazed by the lack of an offered last name and simply nodded. "And your title?" The man frowned. This mortal knew her stuff. Even though she had asked for his name she knew she could not use it without giving him power over her.
"Fae Prince of the Outer Realm." He declared, a not so small amount of pride in his voice.
Lily nodded again. "Feel free to make yourself comfortable." Then with that she turned on her heel and disappeared, letting the door swing closed behind her with a certain amount of fatality that he felt was wholly unnecessary. All of the other 'men' in the room eyed the new comer warily, apparently sizing him up before returning to whatever it was they had been doing before he entered. No one spoke and most avoided each other's glances. Uncomfortably Ralen settled himself on a nearby chair and picked up an age old magazine from a coffee table, beginning to flick through it in exactly the same manner as half of the other occupants of the room.
Shaking her head hopelessly Lily headed back to her office intent on telling Sarah that she had yet ANOTHER 'guest' waiting for her. She felt sympathy for the other woman. At first she had thought it was funny. Well no that was a lie at first she had been scared out of her wits, especially when the 'man' had conjured a gift for 'his Sarah' out of thin air. Lily had almost been hysterical but Sarah had ignored her suitor and taken the time to calm the girl down. When Sarah's 'situation' had been explained Lily had been intrigued and had taken a keen interest in every man that had come waltzing through the office door. She had asked Sarah why she didn't seem to even notice all of the gorgeous men who were throwing themselves at her feet, offering her the world. Sarah had told her that it got old quickly and once you had heard one heartfelt confession you had heard them all. At the time Lily hadn't believed her.
Now she did.
The first time it had happened she had been awestruck and drooling. The second time she was still a little nervous around so many model worthy men but by the third time the novelty had started to wear thin. Lily could only imagine what Sarah went through. No, she didn't envy her, far from it.
About to knock on Sarah's door but silently debating as to whether to actually bother her or not Lily was interrupted by an abrupt wind that tore through the office and sent her papers flying. Such an occurrence would not have been nearly so bizarre had the door not been closed and the windows firmly shut. Also considering what day it was Lily knew better than to try and pass it off as something ordinary. Spinning on her heel she wasn't disappointed.
Standing in the middle of the small box like room was a tall man with pale skin, fly away blonde hair and arched eyebrows. There was absolutely no mistaking him for human. An air of electricity hung around him and the feral expression in his mismatched eyes spoke of something old and powerful and most definitely not mortal. That and the fact that he had appeared in a gust of wind and hadn't even bothered to dress down like the others had.
Scanning his outfit Lily couldn't find words to even begin to describe it but the phrase 'OTT' came to mind. Glancing to his face she saw a smirk spread itself across his features and any doubt as to who this might be disappeared much in the same way he had entered.
She said nothing, wanting him to speak first.
"Greetings." He practically purred the word and Lily felt a shiver pass over her skin. Oh this guy was good.
"Hi," she replied, going back to her desk and seating herself comfortably. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yes. I'm here to see Sarah." Lily noted the way he prolonged Sarah's name. The others did the same thing but his was better. The word seemed to roll around on his tongue before reluctantly creeping out into the world.
"Can I ask your name?" she eyed him cautiously.
"Jareth." The smirk widened.
"And your title?" Sarah had never spoken his name but Lily knew the title well enough and always made a point of checking.
He raised an eyebrow smoothly before responding. " Goblin King and Master of the Labyrinth."
"Ah," Well that confirmed it then. "I thought as much. I'm sorry but Sarah has said she will see no one today and especially not you. In fact I have her permission to call security if you so much as set a foot in the building." She crossed her arms over her chest, daring him to try and call her bluff.
Jareth cocked his head to one side and then let out a bark of laughter. "Did she indeed? My my my Sarah you haven't changed." He turned to Sarah's door and grinned. "I suppose you had beter do your duty then and alert security for all the good it will do." Then he disappeared leaving nothing but a cloud of glitter that gently floated about the room, settling onto any available surface.
Lily growled in frustration, knowing exactly where he had 'disappeared' to and reached for the phone. She raised it to her ear and was half way through dialling when she heaved a sigh and placed it back in the cradle. The Goblin King was right. Security would be of little use and if they turned up she may have to explain the small gathering of otherworldly men that she had closeted away in the room next door. That was not a discussion she wanted to have. Besides, she was sure Sarah could handle herself.
Appearing inside Sarah's office Jareth was met by a slight that he had not expected. The office was large and decorated after a minimalistic style yet there was barely room enough to move. Taking up masses of floor space and most of the surfaces, including windowsills, were a horrific number of flowers . They were everywhere. In every possible size, style, colour and arrangement you could imagine. The office looked at if an uninspired artist had attacked it viciously with several large cans of paint and buried deep within the heaps of hay fever inducing foliage was Sarah, hunched over her desk with her head in her hands.
Jareth raised an eyebrow once more as he glanced around. It looked as if someone, or several someones, were trying to gain Sarah attention. "Well," he murmured, causing Sarah's head to jerk up. "It seems that you may have gained an admirer Sarah."
Taking a second to rake her gaze over him Sarah groaned and sank her head back into her upturned hands. "You might say that." She replied bitterly. There was a pause. "What do you want Goblin King?"
"Nothing," he said in a tone that sounded anything but innocent. "Just thought I'd visit."
Sarah scoffed and raised her eyes. "Bollocks," she spat sitting back in her seat and surveying him resignedly. "Come on Goblin King fess up. To what do I owe the pleasure of your 'visit'?"
"Sarah!" Jareth clutched at his chest, acting wounded while his ever present smirk widened. "Such language! And why so sceptical? Can't an old friend drop by for a chat?"
"Of course they can." Sarah countered easily. "The only problem being that you and I were never friends. What's it been 6 months, something like that since the last time you 'dropped by'? We didn't exactly end on particularly friendly terms if memory serves."
"When do we ever end on friendly terms?"
"True" she conceded.
"Do you know what day it is Sarah?" He asked, apparently changing the subject.
"Saturday." Sarah answered promptly. "Given the choice I wouldn't be working today. In fact given the choice I would have locked myself away in some dark room so as to not be found today."
"It is 13 years since you ran my Labyrinth," Jareth continued, walking closer and ignoring her.
"Awwww, someone must be really bored if they've been counting the days." Sarah mocked. "Did you really miss me that much Jar-" She caught herself just in time and quickly snapped her mouth shut before she said his name. She wouldn't make that mistake again.
Jareth however did not miss her near slip and grinned wickedly. "Careful Sarah, you wouldn't want me to have any power over you now would you?" They stared at each other for a long minute before Sarah finally looked away. "Anyway as I was saying," he continued. "Today it is exactly 13 years since your visit to the Labyrinth. Which makes today our anniversary." His eyes glinted and his teeth flashed in the afternoon light.
Sarah spluttered. "W-What? Anniversary? People celebrate the anniversary of their wedding Goblin King, not the anniversary of some traumatic childhood event involving a baby snatching fairy with bad hair and a poorly paid stylist."
"Such harsh words Sarah," Jareth replied letting her insults wash over him and not taking the slightest offense. "I come here with the very best of intentions and you immediately assume the worst. Shame on you!"
Sarah didn't reply. Instead she growled something inarticulate, reached for the nearest flower arrangement (a lovely combination of white lilies and some other flower that hadn't been seen in her world for over 600 hundred years) and lobbed it at the Goblin King's over sized head. Jareth ducked with an insulting amount of ease and started chuckling to himself.
"Really Sarah you must do something about that temper of yours."
"You know I would," she replied with mock sincerity," but ever since troupes of fairy tale bachelors started turning up on my doorstep 4 times a year my temper and I have become rather close.
"Yes well I can see that's working out quite well for you," Jareth commented, fingering the petals of a pale pink rose that was twice the size that it should have been.
"Oh yeah everything is just peachy thanks!" she snapped. "Ever since I turned eighteen I've had men telling me that they've crossed the border of every possible realm in order to reach me and declare their undying love. Men that I've never even heard of, let alone met before! Obviously this confused me slightly until a little bird told me that it had something to do with me having run YOUR Labyrinth. Something about the scent of lingering magic, I don't know." Sarah threw her head down on her desk again with a loud sound frustration.
"Yes I've been meaning to tell you how sorry I am about that by the way," the Goblin King said idly and not sounding the least bit sorry. "Unforeseen consequences and all that."
Sarah growled again and was about to reach for another floral hand grenade when Jareth stopped her. "Anyway to business." He walked over to her desk and smirked down at her. "I have a gift for you Sarah."
"You and half the bloody male population of your realm. What is it because if it's flowers as you can see I have more than enough to start up my own business, so no thank you." She waved a hand absently to take in the row upon row of ghastly arrangements.
Jareth only continued to smile as he twisted his wrist and produced a crystal out of thin air. Sarah sat up immediately and scowled at him, knowing before he opened his mouth exactly what he was going to say. "Let me guess, it's a crystal, nothing more?"
"But if I turn it what does this one do? Show me my dreams? Or perhaps plague me with nightmares? I can't imagine you would be so generous as to offer me the first one again."
"Quite true," Jareth agreed, the slightest marring expression flickering across his face. "No this is simply a crystal. Something decorative to commemorate the occasion." He placed it on the only available space on her desk and it sat there without even attempting to roll away.
Sarah eyed it curiously, not trusting him enough to touch it. Hell she trusted Jareth like she trusted a starving dog with her Sunday roast. "So it's just a crystal? It's not going to do anything strange if I pick it up or drop it?"
"Well it's possible it might break if you drop it but other than that no. It's just a crystal. Use it as you wish."
At the word 'wish' Sarah glowered at him.
He smiled, trying to look repentant but not even getting close. "Poor choice of words."
Still frowning Sarah leaned forward and cautiously picked the object up. Nothing happened. It sat cool and quiet in the palm of her hand and she breathed a sigh of relief. She weighed it enquiringly. "It's heavy," she commented. "It might make a nice paper weight."
It was Jareth's turn to frown this time but before he could comment there was a knock on the door and Lily entered before Sarah told her to. The two occupants of the room turned to look at the secretary who didn't seem to be in the least bit surprised to find a man wearing makeup and tights standing in her boss' office.
"Er Sarah sorry to interrupt but could I borrow you for a second? We seem to be having a bit of trouble."
Feeling a headache coming on Sarah groaned. "What's up Lily?"
Lily's eyes cast around in an agitated fashion. "Some of the guys next door are getting antsy and there's a bit of a dispute going on. Something about who loves you more, I'm not sure but things look like they could get ugly and the Dragon Lord is starting to lose his temper."
"Crap!" Sarah muttered replacing the crystal and walking round the side of the desk. "Thanks for the heads up Lily, I'll go and talk to them in a second."
Lily nodded. "Well you had better make it quick otherwise you know who is likely to set the fire alarms off –"
A sudden and horrendous shrieking noise erupted throughout the building cutting the secretary off before she could finish. "-again." she muttered although she couldn't be heard over the wailing of the alarms.
Sarah scrunched up her face and pinched at the bridge of her nose. "Oh for pity's sake. Come on," she indicated to Lily and both left the office with the Goblin King trailing as inconspicuously as possible behind them.
Out in the hall the two woman hurried to the next room down. "We have to get them out of there," Sarah yelled over the persistent wail. "especially before-"
But Sarah too found herself cut off and froze in her tracks when the door to which they were headed burst open letting out billows of thick black smoke. The women coughed and waved ineffectually to try and clear the air. Screwing up their eyes they tried to peer through the haze and what a sight met their eyes. Out of the smoke came pouring several male figures, each one of them scowling and each one of them drenched from head to toe.
"- before they set the sprinklers off." Sarah sighed, feeling that headache morph itself into a fully blown migraine. All of her suitors looked thoroughly unhappy and one, the Dragon Lord, was steaming slightly with small wisps of smoke still coming out of his nostrils.
Running a hand through her hair Sarah was about to ask Lily what she thought they should do with them when she noticed the expressions on their faces darken as they stared at something over her shoulder. Turning Sarah too felt her mood go black.
Jareth was behind her, having followed her to the scene of the incident. The other men were shooting malevolent glares at him and it wasn't hard to see why. Apparently the mighty Goblin King had taken one look at the soggy bunch of bedraggled Fae creatures and had doubled over in fits of laughter. He was clutching at his stomach with one hand and with the other he had to support himself against the wall. Tears were streaming down his face and it seemed as if he was having trouble breathing. Sarah hoped he choked on his own tongue.
"This is NOT funny Jareth!" she screamed above the alarms. In her rage she didn't notice her use of his name and in his current state neither did he. Furiously Sarah surveyed the scene once more, from the hysterical Goblin King to the dripping crowd of males and then threw her hands up in the air, storming off in the direction of the nearest fire exit. 'It's not fair!" she shrieked at the top of her lungs, which only caused Jareth to laugh harder
Lily glanced at the small gathering and then at Sarah's receding back. "Better luck next time guys," she yelled, clapping her hands over her ears and running off after her boss, leaving a group of pissed bachelors and a thoroughly amused Goblin King. With any luck maybe they'd kill each other off so by the time the Summer Solstice came around there wouldn't be anyone left.
One could only hope.
Ok so this is a random one shot that I came up with while I was supposed to be doing one of my assignments. It's my first one shot and I thought the idea at least was rather funny. Hope you enjoyed it – please leave comments if you did or didn't.
Quick note for any of you who are following my other Fic 'Make Your Move' don't worry guys I haven't died and the story is still going. Like I said Uni started up again after the hols and I've been a little busy. Term is basically over now though so I'll try and update a.s.a.p. In the mean time I hope you liked this one.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own either Sarah, Jareth or the Labyrinth. All else however is mine.