Little Girls

The owl tapped on her window furiously. It was a cracking sound; hard beak struck against double paned glass again and again and again. Tap tap tap. His wings beat rapidly to maintain the altitude of her second storey bedroom. He screeched defiance at the window, knowing she was inside. He would not be refused again. Tap tap tap. This time, he would force her to understand. The window was only one of his barriers.

He must be admitted, he must speak with her once more. To speak he must be let into the house. Tap tap tap. This place...to her mind it had been an unjust and stifling cage. And she had wanted nothing more than to be taken away from it. But once he had done so, she cared not at all, only yearning for what she had left behind.

She said she hated the child, but had gone through hell to get him back. She said she hated this place, but had only wanted to return. He screeched again, calling her with impatience and compounded frustration. Tap tap tap... knowing he was in a cage of his own and Sarah was his key.

Jareth had only ever done as she asked. She had wanted an adversary, upon which to take out her anger and frustration, as much as she had wanted any of the rest of it. Tap tap tap tap. It was his anger with which she now had to deal and his frustration at the girl and her damn words.

Oh, he'd heard them. He knew them in his mind and in his heart, in every fiber of his body, "But what no one knew, was that the Goblin King fell in love with her and gave her certain powers..." Words from the right lips had the power to create worlds. Those words had made him what he was. Sarah had not understood when she spoke them. He knew she still did not.

Her words made truth because she believed them, even for a moment. She had wanted those words to come true and so they were. And he had come to make her secret desires reality, thinking to please her. He was wiser now.

Little girls did not want reality.

He was what she wanted, yet denied herself. He was what she had made him, yet refused to accept. He was a toy for a child who had wished she were a woman. And yet, she was barely aware of any of it.

He would make sure that she would not be so quick to make up such stories again. To speak words such as those... She had given him feelings and motivation. But she had created him to fail, and failure was the only thing he could not abide. Tap tap tap. Foolish child. Cruel child.

She had unknowingly created him to be refused, to be rejected. She had wanted something to throw away, just as she felt she had been. But he could not bear it, her words had made this so. Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap tap. He must be let in, he must tell her.

The window opened and in a whirl and a moment he was inside, striding across the room, backing her into the wall. "You must make me what you desire, Sarah, I am yours."

She wore a nightgown, a white frilly thing she had visibly outgrown, and an expression of shocked outrage. But he cared very little for her anger now. He stopped himself before he laid hands on her, seeing the fear in her eyes. He realized he couldn't afford to scare her. She had never wanted to be frightened of him.

And she had to fix it.

"What are you doing here? What do you want?" Her voice was strong and her eyes now fierce. He almost allowed himself to smile. Her stubborn ferocity was business as usual; he knew how to act, what to say, to get the proper reaction from her. He now had his chance. He could tell her what he needed her to know...what she needed to understand.

"Do you know what a true-speaker is, Sarah?" Her open mouth and wide eyes told him she did not. "True-speakers make truth with words; any words, words of love, words of anger, fanciful words, idle words. Do you remember what words you spoke?"

From the expression on her face, an only slightly disbelieving frown of bewilderment, and growing regret, or perhaps guilt, she knew what he meant. Deep within her, as if by instinct alone, as soon as he had brought voice and name to her nature, she knew the truth of it. But did she know all of the implications, the consequences of those words?

...the Goblin King fell in love with her and gave her certain powers...

Her voice wavered now, where it had not before, "H-how can...I didn't know...I never meant..." she trailed off. These were the words of a child. They both knew it. In her mind she was not a child. In reality...

Little girls did not want reality.

They wanted Goblin Kings to love them and grant them power, to make them special. The power he gave her had only ever been over himself. Love and power, power and love, and all he had ever been given as reward was cruelty, unadulterated, unknowing. As only a child can be cruel.

His mind and voice were turning bitter; there was only so much he could stomach. Let her taste it, he thought, she who made me this way. He remembered his last song to her. That too had been filled with bitterness, "It is not only your eyes that are cruel, child. You create something only to torture it. You dream up paradox and expect a happy ending. I wish it were in me to despise you."

He did not let her speak, though by her piteous expression and open mouth, he thought that she desired to. He continued on, trying to convey to her...what it was that she had wrought.

"I am what you make of me, child. Shall I sing for you, dear Sarah? Shall I trap you in a dance? In a fairy tale? Wasn't that what you wanted?"

Now he let her answer. She shook her head again, "No, that's...that was just...silly stuff. A little girl's dream." At least she understood herself that much.

"Dreams can come true, Sarah." He leaned towards her, but did not touch. He did not feel it was his right and he knew that she didn't want him to. "What is it you want now, my dear...my creator? Make me your desire, Sarah. Remake me."

She pressed herself further against the wall. "How can I do that?" Her words were plaintive, she looked to him for advice, but he did not have any to give. "I never...I didn't want any power over you..." Her head swayed back and forth, but her eyes were stuck fast to his face. He did not know what expression she read, but it seemed to frighten her even more.

Jareth saw his future dashed in the face of her anxiety and immaturity. Maybe the wishes of dreams could never be granted, but he could at least tell her, make her understand that she could never let anything like this happen again.

That she had to fix it.

"You have that power, child. I don't know where it comes from or who gave it to you. But you have to understand...my existence depends on you...and on the choice that you make here. I cannot bear another rejection."

"Existence?" she cried, her eyes widening. He knew that she was not yet ready for such responsibility, but she had brought it on herself. He could not feel the guilt of ending her innocence. It happens to everyone, and she was the reason it happened to him.

Because little girls never want reality.

"You refused me once, Sarah, and I have come again. Refuse me twice and you will destroy me."

She shook her head violently, as if denying it to herself would make the refusal less real. She could not accept him. She truly was not ready. "I don't want to destroy you. Y-you shouldn't...be subject to only my whims. It's not..." She did not say the word. But it hung between them.

I wonder what your basis for comparison is.

He couldn't ask any more of her. She was making the decision as he stood before her. Had it already been made? His hands did not shake, but he imagined they would, if she had allowed them to. It was his life, his future she was pondering. And her next words would define its shape.

"I want you," again her voice was strong; she had somehow rallied herself at the prospect of his destruction. Some power had come into her eyes, and an assurance, a purpose was evident in her face. She surprised him and he thought she was beautiful.

She reached for him, a hand pressed against his chest, "I want you to leave. For now. The Labyrinth is still there isn't it?"

He could barely nod, not trusting himself to form words. Her words...she had created a world with them. It would still be there until she spoke words to destroy or erase it. Her hand...she had only ever touched him in a dream. But she was sending him away.

"I want you to go then," she repeated, "and come back...come back to me when I call you."

"When..." he echoed, needing to make sure.

"When I call you. I will make you...re-make you when I know what I desire." Her hand, pressing against his heart, against the motion of his breath; that which she had made, it was a promise. "Until then," her voice grew softer, but no less fierce. "Be content, Jareth."

And he was.


A/N: This fic was written last Christmas for the Labyfic LJ community's Holiday fic exchange. I've only just now gotten around to posting it. The recipient was gardencelandine and she gave me some great prompts, two of which i used: "Base the drabble around this phrase, "Refuse me once, refuse me twice..."" and "Write about a Labyrinth character's worst fear."

Thanks to the lovely mod, and celebreated authoress, Danse for running the fic exchanges over there and doing such a good job at it! And thanks to the com members for being so awesome and contributing to the fic exchange as well. :D