Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. No profit being made.
A/N: This story was written as part of a fall/winter gift exchange on the Labyfic community on Live Journal. Sincerest thanks to Danse Macabre for coordinating and modding the exchange. Additional thanks to my long-suffering and brilliant beta, Scatteredlogic.
The Tower of Beyond
Assumptions to the contrary, the throne room was not Jareth's favorite place in the Labyrinth. Surrounded by debris and filth left by his gibbering subjects, it resembled nothing more than an open-air oubliette with a fancy chair and a court of heckling fellow prisoners.
The living hedge of the Labyrinth itself offered no solace either. Its murmurs fed his discontent, mocked him with the constant reminder of his place in the Underground, his responsibilities—the ties that bound him in exchange for the privilege of kingship.
No, his favorite place was here, far above the world, in a place the goblins reverently called the Tower of Beyond. None dared venture here. This was the king's sanctuary and not to be shared or violated.
Jareth doubted the more cowardly little snots would dare cross this threshold, even if he didn't care. The tower was a roofless ruin with nothing more than a cracked stone floor and an arched window held in place by a fractured half wall. Broken stairs wound upward without railing. One could fall for several seconds before shattering bone against the ground so far below.
He paid no heed to the danger and took the steps with a graceful ease each day. The height didn't scare him, nor did the instability of the structure itself. He was king here. No stone dared crumble beneath his feet.
The window always beckoned, for it looked out onto an impenetrable darkness, a sky with no horizon and the shades of stars that had died long ago or never existed at all. The ignorant called it Beyond, but Jareth knew its nature. The place where the master of dreams, who did not sleep, could dream.
"My escape route," he said and laughed. The mocking sound ricocheted in the blackness before him, bouncing back into the open window where he stood.
The chorus of a thousand sibilant whispers answered from behind and far below him in a single voice. "Nothing more than a circle, King of the Underground."
"You cannot bind me in all ways, Labyrinth."
"Just those that count."
Jareth glanced over his shoulder and down, down to the endless stretch of a twisting maze bathed in a sunless light. All manner of creatures resided amongst the sentient puzzle, their purpose to serve him—or die for their rebellion. They held little interest for him. The only being he wanted subjected to his will—one he'd willingly serve in return in exchange for unquestioning loyalty, undying faith, love which bordered on obsession—was not here. She'd stared at him from eyes that hinted of the woman she'd become and spoke the words that had set her free.
"You have no power over me."
Jareth laughed again, and this time his humor was bitter. She spoke truly, for he was imprisoned by the kingdom he both ruled and served. Only through glass and dreams could he escape his confinement and then only at the whim and utterances of a girl grown who had consigned him to childish fantasies.
Sarah had not dreamed of the Labyrinth in years, but Jareth could dream of her.
He stepped onto the window's broken ledge, balancing effortlessly on the knife's edge of Underground and Beyond. The darkness called to him, the seductive temptation of a reality he would create for a short time—one that didn't include the Labyrinth, only him and a woman who no longer remembered his name.
The flutter of his cloak transformed to a whistling flap as he stepped blithely off the ledge and fell. The blackness surrounded him as his body instinctively tried to reshape itself in the familiar form made of silent wings and owl's eyes. Jareth willed it otherwise and closed his eyes in free-fall.
He dreamed then, of birch trees and snow, of Sarah adorned in black and silver with diamonds threaded in her dark hair and a crown made of horn and black veiling. Goblin Queen.
The dream changed, and he spun her in an age-old dance amidst stands of ash, and oak, and gnarled yew. She smiled in firelight and bent her body to the sway of his, beckoning, tempting. He took her among the autumnal colors of the forest, in a mound of soft leaves gilded by the dying sun above them.
The chains binding him to the Labyrinth were gossamer now and shared by the woman at his side, their weight lightened by her presence.
He sank deeper into his dreams, into Beyond, forgetting a bleak existence marked by the hands of a thirteen hour clock.
"You cannot fall forever." The sly whisper unfurled in his mind, discordant even in its softness.
Jareth's eyes snapped open, and he snarled his disappointment. The fall slowed to a hover, and soon he landed gently on the ledge once more, looking out to Beyond and trying to ignore the ghost of the Labyrinth behind him.
"You would have my dreams as well?"
"We would have your attention and your regard. Remember who you are, Goblin King."
Jareth's upper lip curled into a sneer though he said nothing and continued to stare longingly into the abyss of Beyond. He sensed the Labyrinth's presence withdraw, leaving him to his isolation. Good. Conversations with his enigmatic jailer left him frustrated and enraged most times.
He wanted the dreams back. Not tomorrow, not in a month, but now. He peered into the silent dark, stilled and blinked. A sliver of luminescence cut the blanket of starless ether, a wound in Beyond. His breath stuttered in his lungs. Surely, the Labyrinth wouldn't destroy his dreams? This tower with its broken window and the brief sanctuary it offered?
A voice, neither his nor the Labyrinth's, whispered from the blackness. Female, deep with maturity and sleep. Familiar.
"I remember you. Jareth."