Disclaimer: Labyrinth and all associated characters, places and situations belong to The Jim Henson Company. We do not claim to own the right fabulous David Bowie but do own many items which contain his image and voice and enjoy them very much (yes we are sad about the not owning Bowie bit but such is life - we deal with it). We do not claim to own anything but the original storyline and any original characters.
Authors: magialuna and faeriesmidwife, aka luna de faeries
Betas: faeriesmidwife and magialuna, aka luna de faeries
Summary: Sarah finds the Goblin King unconscious and completely vulnerable and realizes that well-meaning medical professionals are likely to kill him - if they don't discover he isn't human first. What will she do with him if she saves him? And what kind of danger and change will his presence mean for her and her best friends?
The neutral-toned halls of St. Bernardine's Medical Center were relatively quiet at nine in the evening. Sarah Williams was grateful that visiting hours were over and the number of personnel in the halls was at a minimum as she speed-walked toward her destination, scarcely glancing about in her haste. As she rounded the corner to the hallway, she was startled by the appearance of a kindly seventy-five year old nun who rapidly moved out of her way, an indulgent expression on her face.
"Sorry!" Sarah said breathlessly, placing a steadying hand on the older woman's elbow.
"Don't worry, sweetie. I'm fine... but please, Sarah dear, try to mind the clock better next week," she chided indulgently in response to Sarah's flustered apology.
"Oh, Sister Theresa, thank you... I will, I promise," Sarah replied as she turned and continued in careful haste toward her goal – the time clock for the laboratory department of St. Bernardine's. She managed to slide her hospital identification card into the mechanism right before the display changed to nine p.m. "Oh, thank the gods," she murmured to herself as she opened the laboratory door and made her way to the changing room to grab a set of scrubs. Dear Sister Theresa... Sarah knew she'd interceded on her behalf last week with Dr. Ludlow, the lab director, to keep her out of trouble for being late. This wasn't the first time she'd had trouble getting up to the lab after her visit to the children's ward. It was just so easy to lose track of time when she was reading to the kids down in Pediatric Oncology as she did every Friday, especially when she was with Sam.
Worried, she pondered how much worse Sam had looked this week when she had read to him. He'd been excited to see her as usual, especially when he saw she'd worn on of her mother's old theater costumes. She loved to see the kids' eyes light up and had recently started trying different tactics to entertain them in addition to just reading. But still, Sam was thinner and paler than he had been last week, and the dark circles under his eyes worried her. She thought absently how amusing it may have looked for a bystander to see a woman in period Victorian dress nearly mow down a nun in the hospital corridor, and smiled wryly. Quickly changing into scrubs, she went into the bathroom to wash up before starting her shift. Then she hurried out to the lab floor to see what workload was waiting for her and to get briefed by Brian before he went home.
Her coworker was standing with four other laboratory technicians clustered around the end counter of the chemistry area at the processor. She approached Brian and queried jokingly, "So, just how many lab techs does it take to run a chem panel?"
"Actually, Sar... the lab isn't going to be running any chem panels tonight from the look of things. The processor is down hard. I've never seen anything like this! We're going to have to send all our chemistry orders out to a contract lab tonight until we can get a tech in tomorrow and look at the machine," Brian replied, agitatedly running his fingers through sandy blond hair.
"You're kidding me!" she exclaimed. "That thing's brand new! What the hell happened to it?" Sarah queried, irritated. She knew that the machine had set the lab budget back quite a bit, but it was supposed to be the newest and fasted processor on the market. It had been working fantastic for her yesterday.
"I have no clue, Sar. I put in the samples just like usual, put in the control samples, set them to run and then… the lights went out in the lab, the machine sparked, the lights came back up and... nada. It won't even turn on now," he complained, slapping the machine lightly. "I'm going to have to send a phlebotomist down to redraw one patient - I used the last bit of that sample on the run that went bad. For everybody else, we have enough blood left to send out to Quest."
"Okay, well, let's get on it. A couple of these are stats. Did any get sent out yet?" Sarah queried, rapidly shifting gears.
"Not yet, but, I called for a courier, and they're on their way. Ludlow wants us to run anything we can manually and call Quest for everything else till we figure this out. There's a call out to the company to send in a tech, but you and I both know they aren't going to bother sending someone out tonight. I just hope we're lucky and get someone early tomorrow before we have to do the morning run. Sending all of that out would be a nightmare," he commented.
Sarah agreed. Morning was when all the daily inpatient labs were scheduled to be drawn, and the work load was huge. It would cost the hospital a small fortune to send all of that out. Not to mention how frustrated the physicians would be that their morning labs would be posted to the patients' charts late rather than prior to their morning rounds. At least she wouldn't be here in the morning to have to help field all their complaints. "Okay, so who's the patient that needs to be redrawn? I can go do it, if you want. I don't see any of the phlebotomists in here right now, and I can't run any chemistries, that's for sure," she volunteered.
Brian looked like he was about to turn down her offer, but then he seemed to reconsider. "Hell, why not? We've only got three on tonight, and they're all out on draws right now. All most of us are doing right now is standing here looking at a dead machine anyway, and Holly's got hematology covered, so... go ahead." He walked over to the center of the counter, pulling up a lab slip with labels printed to the side. One label had been removed previously. "This guy was admitted as a 'John Doe'; he's a stat in the Emergency Department. If you can get one red top we're good; we still have the hematology sample. Sherry tried and had a real hard time with him. I figured the little bit she got would be fine but..." His voice trailed off as he waved a hand, indicating the dead chemistry processor.
Sherry was one of the best they had on their blood drawing and accessioning staff. The John Doe must be a really hard stick. Sarah grabbed the labels and walked over to the front area of the laboratory near the accessioning department where they brought in all the new samples to be logged in before being taken back to the various departments for testing. She picked up one of the square plastic carrying trays set out for the use of blood drawing personnel, ensuring it had all the necessary supplies she would need down in the Emergency Department. Then she turned and headed down to do the draw.
Exiting the elevator at the first floor, she rapidly headed down the corridor to the Emergency Department. If she had to draw blood, she preferred to do it there, especially since Brian had made it clear that it was an adult, not a child, she would be drawing. She was generally very good at obtaining a sample when she needed to, having had several years practice as a phlebotomist before becoming a laboratory technician, but she still really didn't like to draw children. The Emergency Department staff was always so great about helping out by getting blood when they started IVs, unlike some of the nurses she'd worked with who were only concerned with getting their line in and not trying to save the patient that extra stick. She approached the nursing station and inquired as to the location of her John Doe. The nurse absently motioned toward bed four and returned to typing at the computer terminal. Sarah quietly pulled the curtain aside for bed four, stepped in, pulled it shut again, and turned to approach her patient.
Sarah awoke, confused and disoriented, to see one of the department paramedics looking her over on a stretcher, an irritatingly bright penlight shining in her eyes. "Hi there. I'm Joe Daniels, one of the paramedics that works down here in the E.D. Do you know what day it is? Do you know your name and where you are? Can you tell me who the President is?"
Dazedly she replied, "It's Friday, I'm Sarah Williams, I'm at St. B's, and the President is Bill Clinton. Can I get up now?"
"Miss Williams, you took a nasty bump on the head when you fell. Doc says you should be okay to go back to work as long as you were oriented times three. But get up slowly, and if you start feeling dizzy, come back down here right away and see us again, okay?" Joe replied kindly. "And, they're gonna want you to fill out an accident report with Miss Johnson in Safety on Monday when she comes in. The doc said he'll send up his report to her for you."
"Uh, sure... I feel fine now, I think," she said, slowly sitting up. Suddenly remembering the shock she'd had, which was obviously the reason she'd passed out, she said, "Hey, Joe... do you know anything about bed four? I got sent down to pull a chemistry specimen on him, and he looks familiar to me. Do you know how he came in, or when?"
"Oh, you mean the strange blond dude. Uh… Trauma case. He's been here about an hour. Someone found him unconscious, stashed in the bushes over at the cemetery across the street a few hours ago. It's like he was left for dead." He shook his head sadly that someone would just leave the guy laying there. "He was triaged and brought in on a stretcher last shift. They won't know really what to do for him until we get some diagnostic tests back. He hasn't come to yet. Took a hell of a beating though, I'd say," Joe answered.
"Geez." Sarah shivered, never quite used to the amount of hatred people could show to one another. "Thanks Joe. I'm gonna just go grab my sample and head back to the lab. If I feel weird or anything I'll come back down and let somebody know, okay?" Sarah said distractedly.
"Cool. I'll see ya later, Sarah Williams." Joe replied, smiling flirtatiously.
Sarah gave him a friendly smile but pretended not to notice his obvious hint of his interest in her. She had to get back over to bed four and see how 'John Doe' was. She had been so completely shocked that she had actually fainted... she must have been running around too much tonight. That was so completely unlike her. She rubbed her head lightly. Damn, she had hit the floor good and hard when she went down. She drew the curtain aside and walked across the department back to bed four.
When she pulled the curtain aside, the nurse was just finishing up doing vital signs and was preparing to leave. "How's he doing?" Sarah asked him casually. She had almost convinced herself that when she looked again, she would find a Goblin King look-alike instead of the real deal, but it was him, all right. He looked terrible, but there was no mistaking those perfect features.
"Either he has an incredibly low blood pressure or the blood pressure machine is broken..." The nurse shook his head. "This is nuts. His pulse and respirations are normal, but we can't get a blood pressure on him at all. I can't figure it out. His pulse isn't that thready; I should get something..." He shrugged resignedly. "I'm just gonna chart what I am getting. I can't keep doing this all night, and I can't figure it out for anything. It can't be the cuff; we just got new ones put in a couple months ago."
"I hope I'm able to get some blood, then. If his blood pressure is low, I may be out of luck," Sarah commented to the nurse as he walked past her to leave the room.
She walked over to the side of the bed and silently considered the situation she was now faced with. She had absolutely no clue what to do. The Goblin King lay on the gurney before her, obviously beaten badly and covered with blood. Though she knew it wasn't standard procedure for the ER staff to clean patients up, it somehow disturbed her this time. It felt oddly personal. 'How long would it be until somebody realized this patient isn't human at all?' Sarah thought, suddenly realizing the reason for the bizarre failure of the chemistry processor. His sample must have been in that batch.
Sarah pulled the utility table over, setting her tray down. She selected the items she would need to maintain a sample while mulling the seriousness of the situation in her mind. It wasn't the first time she'd drawn blood on someone she knew... but it certainly was her first non-human donor, she thought dryly. Pulling on her gloves, she put the tourniquet around his arm efficiently, all the while looking for some sign of response. She half expected him to wake up and demand to know what she was doing, but he was completely out of it. To say it was a surreal situation would be an understatement. Seeing him there, completely vulnerable in her world, was nothing short of bizarre.
What on earth could have happened to put him in such a defenseless position, and why would he have been so near the hospital she worked at, anyway? Could someone have wished away a child here? Or was he here bent on some twisted, belated revenge? She shook her head. His being here to wreak his revenge would necessitate that he remember her, and she sincerely doubted he did. Unless… she shivered. Unless she had done irreparable damage to his Kingdom. Or what if she had doomed him to live Aboveground for the rest of his days? But then why hadn't she seen him before now?
A wave of apprehension washed through her, and along with it a healthy dose of fear. If he was determined to get even with her, she would just have to deal with it. She simply couldn't sit back and leave him to the fates… or even the well-intentioned doctors of St. Bernardine's.
Pushing aside her concerns for the moment, she felt for a vein. It seemed highly invasive to touch him as she was, yet at the same time it gave her a bit of a thrill. The only physical contact she'd ever had with him was during that strange dance they'd shared, and she wasn't even sure if that had been real. Focusing on the task at hand, she cleansed the area with alcohol and drew a small sample with a syringe. Having been warned he was a hard stick and hearing he may have low blood pressure, she knew better than to attempt a regular Vacutainer stick and risk having the suction from the tube blow his vein.
Ha! Damn, she was good. She pulled away from the bed, inserting the syringe into the Vacutainer and putting the blood in the tube. She then labeled it, initialed and noted the time drawn, and placed the sample securely in her tray. Turning back to gaze at her one-time nemesis, she frowned in thought. He looked so pale… granted he was pale before... but now he just looked terribly pallid and completely helpless. Regardless of his previous status as villain, her heart went out to him. More than that, she felt a fierce protectiveness toward him... it was almost proprietary. This was so not good.
Her attention was drawn to his hands. She had never seen them before; he had alway worn gloves in the Labyrinth. They were elegant and pale but strong-looking, his fingers long and slender, with immaculately kept nails. Idly she reached out and held one between her own two hands, frowning at how chilled he felt. She had no way of knowing if his body temperature was simply lower than that of a human or if he might be cold and need another blanket.
Releasing his hand and tucking it under the blanket securely, she forced her mind to focus on her course of action. She felt guilty knowing that the sample she had taken would quite likely cause Quest's machine to malfunction as well, but she couldn't think of a viable alternative. If she gave them a specimen that wasn't his to test then they'd make decisions based upon its results, maybe even give him the wrong blood type in a transfusion. At least if she only sent a small sample, the machine that went down would use up the small sample, leaving no more to test, and by then she hoped to think of a way to fix this situation.
With one last long glance at the incapacitated Goblin King, Sarah grabbed her tray and headed out of the small area, drawing the curtain closed behind her, and stopped at the nurses' desk on her way out. "Hey, Nancy..."
Her red-headed co-worker's head popped up from pouring over patients' charts at hearing Sarah's voice. "Hey there, Sarah! What are you doing down here? Did we need a blood type or a bleeding time run?" she asked, knowing the technicians usually didn't perform blood draws.
Sarah smiled at her friend and shook her head. "No... Something went wonky in the lab and the chem processor is down. All the phlebotomists were out on draws, and we needed one more sample before the Quest courier got here, so I volunteered to come down and get it," she explained. "Um, Nancy... do you happen to know anything about the guy in bed four?"
"Why do you ask, Sarah? Think he's cute?" her friend teased. She knew Sarah rarely went out, preferring to spend her free time with her roommate, her family when they came to town, or volunteering with the kids she'd come to care for up in the Oncology unit. She'd always wondered if perhaps Sarah had suffered a severely broken heart in her past, but had never had the courage to ask. She held up a hand at Sarah's frustrated expression. "Okay, okay... I won't tease you any more. But he is awfully good–looking, even if he's banged up pretty bad at the moment," she commented somewhat sadly. "He's actually rather… beautiful. Anyway, all I know is they said at Report that some staff member found him on their way to work, near that bus stop over by the cemetery. Looked like maybe he got hit by a car and then beaten up. The police came by and were outside for a while looking at the location where he was found, but there's not much they can do in here with him unconscious." She looked up at Sarah's expression and her own face became curiously concerned. "Sarah, why do you want to know? You know this guy?"
"He looks kind of familiar, is all. I'm trying to remember where I've seen him before," Sarah prevaricated. "Nance, do you know if they're putting him in a room or keeping him in here for a while? In case I want to check back later..." Sarah tried desperately to keep her tone professionally concerned so as not to draw her friend's attention. If she did come up with some idea to get Jareth out of this hospital full of what must surely be toxic man made materials for him, her friend mustn't suspect she had anything to do with it.
"Yeah, they got him a bed just a few minutes ago, but it won't be ready for a little while. He's scheduled to be moved to three west," Nancy helpfully replied, still appearing concerned for Sarah. "Hey, I heard from Joe that you fainted and hit your head... You okay?"
"Yeah, it was nothing. I've just been pushing myself a little. You know how I am... and I've been really worried for Sam tonight," Sarah excused, mentioning her small friend in the Oncology ward. "He looked awful today, Nance. Anyway, I didn't realize till after I'd passed out... I haven't eaten anything today, on top of everything else. Low blood sugar, ya know?" She dearly hoped her excuses covered her interest in the Goblin King's health. She knew her friend was familiar with her tendency to get emotionally involved with various patients, so asking about him a little shouldn't hurt. Besides, Nancy would accept her anxiety for Sam as the main cause for the worry that must show on her face, slickly diverting attention away from the vulnerable stranger lying twenty feet away.
"Oh, baby, I know it's tough. You're awful great to visit those kids like you do."
"How can I not?" Sarah asked. Her heart just ached for the children in Oncology. Visiting and reading to them was the least she could do. "Well, Nance... I'd better head back to the lab. Maybe they found out what was wrong with the processor; if so, I'm sure I've got a backload by now. I'll give you a call later, maybe we can break for dinner together, if they end up needing me to stick around," Sarah commented to cover her hasty exit, smiling at her friend's cheerful wave goodbye before seeing her turn back to her charting.
She strode back to the elevator and headed up to the lab, her mind racing furiously. She knew there was absolutely no way she could even consider sneaking him out of the Emergency Department. There were far too many staff there who knew her well, and two security guards. She had to think of something, though.
Back in the lab, Sarah handed the specimen to Brian, who quickly entered it into the computer and packaged it up with the other samples being sent out to Quest. "'Kay, babe, these are ready... and I'm out-y. I got a date tonight with some lasagna at Mom's and she is waiting," he commented, grinning at Sarah.
She smiled in return and patted him on the back before he pulled off his lab coat. "Thanks for getting those ready, Bri. You have a good night – enjoy the lasagna. I'm jealous. Your mom makes the best lasagna in the world." She had dated Brian for a very short period when she first came to St. Bernardine's. She was deeply relieved that their relationship had remained a really good professional friendship despite the fact that they had broken up. It could have gone sour so easily.
He winked at her. "She'll be pleased to hear that you said that," he replied with a smile. "If there's any left over, I might be able to bring you some tomorrow."
"You're a doll," she told him, waving as he exited the room.
A few minutes later, Sarah poked her head into the director's office, noting the evening shift supervisor pouring through the Rolodex. "What's going on, Sharon? Anything I can help with since the processor is down?"
The blonde looked up quickly, a frustrated look on her face. "Ludlow is out for the evening. I can't reach him, and I've got two machines down. I'm trying to find the name of that company we used last year that came in to repair the machine in cytology that went down... do you remember them? They came really quick last time," she commented to Sarah, returning to her search.
Sarah frowned. "Two machines? I heard the chem processor was down, but..."
"Yeah, two. Can you believe it? In one night?" Sharon let out a frustrated sigh. "The CBC processor for hematology went down just a few minutes after you left the lab. Holly put the specimens in to do the blood counts and... boom! Out went the lights… and the machine."
Sarah could see from the tight lines in the other woman's face that she was really uncertain what to do. They both knew how much Dr. Ludlow was going to rave that they sent all their blood samples out to a contract lab at great expense. "Hey, Sharon... Um, since both machines are down and I'm kind of extra tonight..."
Sharon looked up and studied Sarah's face, her expression softening. "Sarah, I heard about your fall from the ED staff, they had to report it. It's okay if you go home, really," she said kindly. "In fact, it's probably for the best. Besides, if you go home sick, that's one less person I have to hear complaints about from Ludlow on Monday. I can hear him now, grumbling about me keeping a lab full of 'overpaid phlebotomists' on staff tonight..." she joked.
"Well, if you're sure. But call me if you need me, okay?" Sarah offered.
"Honey, if the tech mystically appears to fix the machines before graveyard, I'll give you a call. You and I both know how unlikely that is," she commented wryly.
Sarah walked out of the lab, headed into the staff locker room and threw on her street clothes, gently packing her Victorian gown into her satchel. She headed down the corridor to one of the many waiting areas that were set up for the various wards where family could sit while their loved one was being treated or having a test run. Walking over to the phone on the wall that was provided for local calls, she tapped in her home phone number, hoping her roommate Jennifer was there.
An hour later, Jennifer met her in the hospital parking lot at her car, got into the passenger seat and handed a bag from McDonald's and a soda over to Sarah. They companionably munched on Big Macs and fries as Sarah tried to explain what was going on to her friend.
"So spill, Sarah. I'm here... you have your fries. Now what's the incredible story you promised me?" Jennifer demanded in a mock-stern tone.
"Okay. This is tough. You and I have been friends a long time... and I swear to you this is true, even if it sounds totally insane..." Sarah's voice trailed off, her eyes entreating her friend to believe the totally unbelievable story she was getting ready to relate.
"Sarah, I know you don't lie. It's okay... what is it that has you so upset? Nothing ever ruffles your feathers. This is really unlike you," her friend replied, clearly concerned.
Sarah took a deep breath and plunged into the story. She related the incidents that had taken place over ten years ago when she had wished her baby brother away to the goblins and ultimately conquered the Labyrinth. Then she continued by relating her complete shock at seeing the Goblin King so badly injured and a patient in her own hospital, including the fact that she had fainted. She went on to explain how she suspected his blood was somehow causing the laboratory machines to malfunction and short out.
"So, you're worried about your villain?" Jen asked curiously, her copper-brown eyes widening.
Sarah sighed. How on earth could she explain all that Jareth had really been to her ten years ago – villain, teacher, object of unattainable desire – it was just a bit complicated. "Jen, he never hurt me. Almost everything that happened ended up being some kind of lesson, like it was required that I learn something to be able to get Toby back. In fact, I think maybe he kind of… liked me, in a manner of speaking. He teased me and played with me in kind of a cruel cat and mouse way, but the more I've read about the Fae and how they love games, it would just be his nature to..." Her voice trailed off, uncomfortable speculating on what the Goblin King's feelings about her might actually have been, or worse yet, figuring out hers for him.
Jen nodded encouragingly, remaining silent in invitation for Sarah to continue.
She took a deep breath. "Regardless of any of that, he's completely vulnerable in a hospital that's full of man-made metals and such that I'm fairly certain are toxic to him. There's no way he can recover in there – not to mention the fact that if he keeps causing machines to break down, somebody is going to notice it and realize he isn't human," Sarah explained. "Then what will happen to him? I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, Jen." She laughed, hearing the strain in her voice, at the irony of what she had just said. "They'll dissect him or something, like an alien. I can't stand by and let that happen. I just know he wouldn't let something like that happen to me." She wasn't sure why, but she knew it down to her bones - he would get her out of a similar situation.
"Okay, so he can't stay there. But what can we do about it?" Jen asked patiently, shaking her head as her blond curls swayed.
"'M'kay… I've been processing this madly for two hours now, so I have a few ideas..." Feeling Jen's eyes on her, she smirked. "Now, hmmm. Your boyfriend… Steve, right?" She feigned innocence, tapping her chin as if deep in thought. "He still works for American doesn't he?" Sarah asked, knowing full well that he did.
"You know he does, you doof, and you know his name. Stop this innocent act. You knew Steve before I did." Jen replied with a sigh. "What does that matter anyway? I mean we can't just walk in and kidnap the guy!" she protested, looking worried.
"Well, I can't, that's for sure. Everybody knows me. But you and Steve could. If you acted official and were in uniform with a gurney, you could probably get him out without notice," Sarah suggested, on a roll. "Maybe tomorrow morning at change of shift -- it would be daylight, and you could keep sunglasses on while you went into the hospital. Nobody would think anything of it."
"I don't know," Jen replied nervously, "there are too many variables..."
Sarah sat bolt upright, suddenly remembering how few personnel were available on the floor at change of shift. It was always frustrating to try to find a nurse for help then because they all had a turnover meeting. They briefed the oncoming shift of status of patients and assigned staff to those for whom they would be responsible for that day. They called it 'giving report' or 'Report'. That would be the time to strike. "Wait... I know! You could wear scrubs and go to his room during Report and wheel his bed down to X-Ray. Trauma victims are constantly getting X-rays. If anyone asks what you're doing, just tell them you got a call that they need him there. Then, throw on the ambulance uniform in the bathroom down there, meet up with Steve, switch Jareth over to the gurney and wheel him out of the hospital!"
Jennifer frowned at Sarah in disbelief. "Sar, you're insane. There is no way they would just let us walk out with a trauma patient and not try to stop us..." she protested.
"Yeah, normally... but at change of shift, on the weekend... almost everybody is at report!" Sarah replied, the plan sounding better and better to her ears. "All the nurses and docs are off the floor then, except for maybe one person. It would be much easier then. Come on, don't you remember when you were in the hospital three years ago? How we tried to get someone to come in and give you pain meds while they were on report right after shift change? The place was deserted."
"You do realize, Sarah, that Steve is going to completely freak when he hears your insane plot, right?" her friend replied.
"Yes, of course. That's why, as my very best friend in the whole entire world – nay, the universe, I need you, the loving girlfriend, to con him into it!" Sarah explained, as though it were completely obvious.