Between The Stars

Chapter Six

October – Halloween Ball – Location Unknown

The gleaming, black, stretch limo slowly came to a stop at the VIP entrance to the theatre. The chauffeur got out, walked around the front to the appropriate door near the back of the vehicle, and opened it to allow the occupant to exit. Everyone in the line craned their necks to get a glimpse of who it could be pulling up in style, wondering if it was someone famous, or perhaps a social elite to be recognized. Even the doorman paused in receiving the tickets from guests to lend an eye for the unexpected royale.

The woman placed her foot delicately on the curb, accepting the chauffeur's assistance with a gloved hand as she unfolded from inside. With both feet firmly in place, she straightened her back to glance at her surroundings with emerald eyes, her long dark hair hung over her shoulders and down her back in thick waves and curls. She smoothed the layered folds of her elaborate gown, caressed the velvet material of her bodice so that it covered her bosom perfectly, then straightened the lace at the end of her sleeves.

"I'm nervous, Frank," she whispered in a small, unsteady voice, looking up at her ex boyfriend who had, ironically, been her date the first time she'd bumped into Jareth. "What if he's not here?"

"He better be here," Frank stated in a mildly disgruntled tone, moving to stand in front of Sarah to block her from the onlookers in line. "He got what I wanted."

"I'm sorry," she offered lamely, giving Frank an apologetic smile.

"Hey," Frank remarked with a light chuckle, touching his fingertips under her chin. "I knew he was my replacement the minute I saw the guy." He shrugged carelessly with a small grin. "I really did love you, you know?" he paused, then added, "Still do a little bit."

"Frank, I…"

"Don't make excuses, Sarah. This guy had your heart at hello, and it might sound corny as shit, but it's the truth." Frank stepped back one pace, and bowed properly before her with a big grin on his face. "Let's make everyone really wonder who you are, heh?" he chuckled, reaching out to fix Sarah's shawl over her shoulders.

Sarah laughed despite everything, and stepped up to give him a hug. "Thanks, Frank."

"Hey, if he's not here, I'll be parked right over there," he stated, nodding his head towards the VIP parking lot. "I'll wait for you, just in case."

She bestowed him a kind smile, fixed her skirts once more, repositioned her drawstring purse at her wrist, then lifted her chin with regal airs. Stepping away from the limo, she approached the doorman with shoulders squared, and steady strides. Smiling internally at hearing the curious whisperings of 'who is she' coming from the long line waiting to get inside.

"I must say," Colin, the vampire doorman dressed as a vampire greeted in a smooth voice. "That, it is a most welcoming sight to see you again, my Lady," he finished, inclining his head respectfully, extending his hand to take Sarah's admittance ticket. "Will the lady's companion be joining her once more this evening?"

"Oh, wow," Sarah replied, flustered. "I can't believe you remembered us from last year." She chuckled lightly at his polite smile. "No, sir," she replied, getting into character once more. "I hope to be joined by another this evening."

"Then, I shall delay you no longer, my Lady," he replied in a silken voice, handing her the stub. "Perhaps, you shall be favored once more by a royal guest, as you've been previously?"

Sarah met the man's eyes with purposeful intent, noticing for the first time how they seemed different than an average mortal's. "Perhaps I shall," she answered slowly in a bewildered voice, stepping away from him to enter the theatre. The strange man at the door was soon forgotten as she stepped into the receiving hall of the theatre.

She breathed in the plush atmosphere of the old theatre, glancing appreciatively at the gold and red décor of the walls, the plush carpet that led into the ball room, and the dazzling chandelier's that gave off a soft illumination.

Fixing her shawl over her shoulders, Sarah entered the main ballroom with only one thing on her mind. 'Please, Jareth, be here tonight.'

XxXxX

Sarah stood in the midst of the crowd, intently watching the dancers on the dance floor for any sign of Jareth. But, they were playing the last score for the ballroom theme, and so far she hadn't seen so much as had a glimpse of him. She pursed her lips to fight the disappointment that threatened to overwhelm her. She thought for sure that he would attend the Halloween Ball, as he had done the previous year, only to find herself feeling like a fool. 'He never said 'when' they would meet again.'

With a steadying breath, she raised her chin, settling her eyes upon a woman with long black hair who happened past Sarah more than once during the evening. Shrugging it off as coincidence, she continued her perusal of the crowd with hope still in her heart.

After the ballroom dancing ended, and the music changed with more variety, she pushed from her standing spot, and made her way through an unyielding crowd, not even caring that her shawl had fallen from her shoulders to be swallowed by the throng of people as she squeezed her way towards the exit.

She felt numb with disappointment as she reached the lobby of the theatre, an emotion that had been a constant companion for so long that Sarah wasn't sure what to do anymore. She thought for sure he would be there that night, had counted on him for the first time since knowing him, and he let her down. Blindly, she pushed forward, knowing that she wouldn't be able to hold back the tears for much longer, knowing that, somehow, it was her own fault that she felt this way. She accidentally bumped into someone, never glancing up to so much as say excuse me as she rushed for the exit.

Salina frowned thoughtfully as she watched Sarah head for the doors to leave. Bumping into her had been extremely easy, though what Salina had felt from the mortal upon the brief contact was highly disturbing, and she knew exactly what had happened to the poor mortal. 'He touched her heart.'

"Madam," Salina called after Sarah, magically having Sarah's dropped shawl in her hands. "Madam," she called out again, frowning as Sarah was quickly reaching the doors. "Colin, stop her!" Salina whispered with urgency, knowing the vampire would hear her. "The woman dressed as royalty."

"My Lady," Colin gasped in an urgent tone, rushing to meet the woman as she drew closer to the exit. "Is all well with thee?"

Sarah stopped short to stare blankly at the strange eyed doorman as he blocked her way. Forcing coherent thought to return to her brain she shook her head, meaning to side step past him, and continue out. "I have to leave. It was a mistake coming here."

"But, my Lady," Colin insisted, lurching to her side in a graceful, fluid motion to touch her elbow. "Please, wait," he cajoled, using his vampiric prowess to detain the woman.

Sarah paused, turned her face around to stare at the man once more, and spoke the first thing that came to her mind. "You have no power over me."

Colin backed away from her as though burned, brushing his fingers against his trousers as he stared wide eyed at the mortal female. She'd spoken her phrase in a whispered voice that most mortals would have never even heard, but the effect was the same as though she had shouted them clearly. "I beg your pardon," Colin apologized, inclining his head reverently. "I meant no offense, my Lady."

Sarah continued to stare at him, having no idea what had prompted her to say those words, and was even more confused at his reaction to them. "You're not what you seem, are you?" Sarah asked in a low spoken voice.

"Alas, I am not," he answered, raising his gaze to her face, though avoided meeting her eyes directly. "And, apparently, neither are you."

Sarah frowned in response, shaking her head slightly in her confusion. "What do you mean? Why would you say that?" she asked, just as a woman approached her from behind.

"My Lady," Salina addressed, lightly tapping Sarah on the shoulder for her attention. "You seemed to have dropped this," she added, pretending to be out of breath as though she had chased after her to return her shawl.

"Oh," Sarah voiced with surprise, seeing her shawl in the woman's hand. "You didn't have to do that," she voiced, completely flustered at the woman's kindness. "But, thank you." Sarah looked up at the woman for the first time, and recognized her as the black haired woman who had been passing by her all night. Sarah looked at her with sharper scrutiny, and gasped slightly at noticing the similar character traits as Jareth's. The aristocratic profile with high cheek bones, slender chin, straight nose, and elegantly swept eyebrows. All of which could be mimicked with makeup and plucking, except for the ethereal glow of her amber eyes that told of something magical within. "Oh," Sarah sounded in surprise, completely thrown at the concept of Jareth not being the only one of his kind, though she had no idea why.

"Are you alright?" Salina asked, watching how the woman paled before her eyes.

Sarah took a step back, dividing her line of sight from the woman to the doorman, then back again. "I'm sorry, I… I have nothing to offer in payment for your generosity. I was leaving, actually. I… I have to leave, now."

Salina knew by her reaction that Sarah had recognized her true nature, and only had Jareth as a basis for comparison. The poor woman thought she had to pay her for her kindness! This was laughable to Salina, and she would have laughed if the woman hadn't been so distraught over things she didn't understand.

"Why would you wish to leave?" Salina asked sweetly, causing Sarah to look at her with uncertainty. "There is still time for what you…" Salina broke off her sentence as soon as she felt the magical presence of a fae king, and watched as Sarah's eyes shifted to the very spot that Salina knew him to be standing in.

Color rose high in Sarah's cheeks at the sight of Jareth in his Goblin King gala, her breath caught in her throat while flashes of heat consumed her entire being. The pulse at her neck throbbed boldly against her skin, causing Colin to unconsciously lick at his lips. "Excuse me," she stated in a trance like voice, shoving the shawl into Salina's hands as she moved past her.

Sarah met Jareth within a few paces, holding his eye contact intently. "I couldn't find you," she told him lamely, feeling as though everything had been worth while as she stared up at him.

"I was detained with business," he replied, openly observing her dress with an appreciative eye. "You were expecting to dance with a king, perhaps?" he asked in a light tone, seeming relaxed and casual as always, though, he knew by Salina's frantic summons, and the reaction Sarah herself was having to his presence, that the events of this night would determine both their fates.

"Something's happening to me, Jareth," she confided in him in a whispered voice. "I've never felt so…."

"Sarah," he interrupted, stepping forward with a regretful expression before she could say any more. "I must return right away. I only came here so you wouldn't think that I've forgotten you."

"Oh," she voiced, diverting her eyes to the plush carpet as disappointment once again flooded her entire being. She felt more foolish now than she had before seeing him. She raised her gaze by pure will, meeting his eyes with a forced casual expression. "We can talk some other time, then," she stated, plastering a fake smile of reassurance on her face.

Jareth easily saw through her façade as she tried to fool him into thinking that his rejection didn't matter. But, he was fully aware of what had happened to her, and felt just as anxious at how this night may end. "Sarah." He raised a hand between them, a crystal suddenly appeared at his fingertips. "This, is no ordinary crystal," he stated sincerely, meeting her gaze intently. "This one is very personal." He handed it out for her to take. "I've never given a crystal such as this to anyone before, ever."

Her face was fully flushed as her eyes drifted to the fog filled orb he offered. Her hand slowly reached out to take it from him, feeling a bead of sweat form on her brow as she did so. "What am I supposed to do with it?"

"Hold it for me," he answered, his voice far from light and carefree. "I'll return in a short while to collect it from you. Consider it a guarantee of my return."

She let her gaze drop to stare at the enchanted orb in her hands, and felt a rush of air flutter across her face. Lifting her gaze, he was gone.

"I would be most careful of what you wish for while holding that," Salina warned in a pleasant voice, coming up behind Sarah to peer over her shoulder at the object in her hands. "It contains Jareth's magic in its purest form."

Sarah glanced peripherally at the fae woman, then back at the orb in her hands, becoming fascinated by the wisps of swirling mists within it. Salina reached around Sarah to place a delicate, gloved hand over it to block Sarah's vision. "I wouldn't gaze into it either, it can absorb your thoughts." She removed her hand when Sarah raised her gaze to eye level, and slowly walked to Sarah's front. "I'm shocked that he didn't give you any instruction," she admitted openly, then her eyes gleamed mischievously. "In fact, it's almost as if he 'wants' you to make a wish."

"I wish I knew what he wanted," Sarah stated daringly, meeting Salina's mystical gaze with her own steady one.

"Oh, you are a daring little minx, aren't you," Salina purred with appreciation. "I hope you're prepared for the answer you will get." She briefly directed her gaze at the crystal, urging Sarah to look upon it once more.

Sarah drew in a sharp intake of breath at seeing herself during the more personal times she had shared with Jareth during the past year; them dancing at the previous year's Halloween Ball with her smiling up at him with the lights reflecting in her eyes, making them seem as mystical as his could be. It showed the silhouetted image of when he held her in the moonlight the night she'd cried in his arms. Then, showed them laying together on a blanket at Beltane, his arms wrapped around her back with her head upon his chest. Her standing within his embrace with her head back against his shoulder while they watched the fireworks in Philadelphia, and lastly, the kiss he had given her on the beach after they had seen a shooting star.

"Why would he give me a crystal with my own memories in it?"

"They aren't just your memories, now are they?" Salina prompted suggestively. "You wanted to know what he wants, and you have been given an answer, my mortal friend." Salina paced around to Sarah's back to whisper in her ear from behind. "Do you want to know why you were never an ordinary girl, Sarah Williams?" Sarah tilted her face just enough to see the fae woman peripherally. "Because, you have stolen the heart of a king, a very powerful king, who holds magic at his fingertips." Salina reached around Sarah and placed her hand over the crystal once more. "It was never about you saving the baby, my dear Lady. It was about Jareth keeping what he couldn't have." Salina pressed her lips very close to Sarah's ear. "You were the prize that Jareth wanted to keep for himself."

"Why would you say such a thing?" Sarah whispered warily, though something deep within her knew it to be true. "If he wanted me as much as you claim, then he wouldn't have let me go home."

"Wouldn't he?" Salina countered objectively, tilting her face slightly to look at Sarah's profile. "Are you certain?"

"Why should I believe anything you say?" Sarah asked, still not believing that Jareth had been in love with her all this time.

"Because he's miserable," Salina replied bluntly with irritation, stepping back from Sarah to walk around her shoulder and face her directly. "He is my friend, my relation, and my king. He deserves to have but one wish granted, wouldn't you agree?"

"His wish…" Sarah uttered almost inaudibly, staring again at the crystal in her hands.

"You know of his wish?" Salina asked carefully, trying her best to not jump to any conclusions as of yet.

"He…" She raised her eyes to meet Salina's amber gaze. "… told me he wished for something he couldn't have."

"And, not once did you think it was you," Salina stated almost accusingly before she laughed in a light titillating manner. "So, now what will you do?" Salina questioned, her tone hinting that she knew more but wouldn't say. "You hold within your hands the raw magic of a fae king who has been more than generous on your behalf. He is the one you owe tribute to, not one such as myself for returning a wayward shawl."

"I'll do nothing," Sarah stated decisively, meeting Salina's gaze directly. "He asked me to hold this, not use it for myself. I'll wait for his return."

"Very well," Salina breathed with boredom, stepping away from Sarah altogether. "Though, it would be a much grander gesture on your part if you returned to him instead," she voiced suggestively over her shoulder as she strode to rejoin Colin near the doors. "After all, he can't grant his own wishes, now can he?"

Sarah stared at the crystal for a few long minutes as people mulled around her, ignoring her as much as she ignored them. She had wanted to know what Jareth wished for, and all the crystal was showing her were images of herself at random times and places. 'It's me,' she thought with astonishment, though her heart beat in double time at the realization. 'His wish is for me to be with him.'

With determination she held the crystal level with her eyes. "I wish to fulfill Jareth's wish."

"Well," Salina huffed after Sarah disappeared from the lobby, leaving only a few people to gasp in surprise. "That was much easier than I had expected."

"You sound disappointed," Colin stated in a smooth tone.

"I am," she admitted freely with a pretty pout. "The night is still young, and I have nothing to entertain myself with now that the mortal has gone to join Jareth."

"Her companion still awaits her return," Colin stated whimsically.

"You jest," Salina replied, her eyes alit with interest. "The one she was with before?"

"The very same. He waits in a sleek carriage of luxury outside in the VIP section."

"Oh," she chimed with interest. "I must find him. He was most entertaining last year."

Colin chuckled with mirth as he watch Salina head for the VIP parking lot. 'Poor bastard won't remember a thing,' Colin thought dryly. 'If he's lucky that is.'

XxXxX

"Why didn't you tell me that I was your wish?" Sarah accused as soon as she realized she was no longer in the theatre, and stepped forward to approach Jareth from behind.

He spun around to face her, his expression that of shocked astonishment. "Sarah."

"How could you keep coming back, just to leave me again, and again?"

"I want my brother back, right now!" a young feminine voice yelled indignantly from behind Jareth.

Sarah sidestepped to the left with raised brows, craning her neck around Jareth to see a young girl of about twelve with red hair and freckles as Jareth pinched the bridge of his nose. "I did say I was detained by business," he quipped sardonically.

"You have no power over me!" the girl declared angrily with her hands on her hips, and a stomp of her foot. "Now give me back my brother!"

"That only works 'after' you reach the castle!" Sarah told the little girl shortly, fully stepping around Jareth to grab the girl by her arm. "Now run down this path, and take the door on the right!" she added, shoving the girl in the right direction. The little girl staggered forward, caught herself, then turned around to glare at Sarah angrily. "Don't even think it, missy," Sarah warned in a stern tone, placing her hands on her hips. The girl took a tentative step backwards, then turned, and followed the path like Sarah told her to do.

"You just sent her to the oubliette, you realize," Jareth quipped after the girl ran off.

"All the paths lead to the oubliette, Jareth," Sarah replied a little shortly. "What difference does it make?"

"Were you aware of that while you were here before?" he asked with obvious curiosity.

Sarah realized what she had just said, and raised her hand to look quizzically at the crystal she still held in her palm. "No, I didn't know that until just now."

"I'll take that, if you don't mind," he stated uneasily, eyeing the delicate crystal in her grasp with bated breath. She placed it lightly into his palm with a slightly confused expression, while Jareth sighed with relief once it was in his own hand once more.

"How did it do that? I didn't even make a wish."

Jareth stared intently at the orb with a frown, not fully hearing her question. He moved his hand under it, making it glide over the back of his knuckles, then, from one hand to the other, the whole while frowning at it. "What did you wish for while holding this?" he asked, peering perplexed into the clear orb perched at his fingertips. The magic inside had been altered somehow, but, it wouldn't show him what she had done.

"I… uhm…" He lowered the crystal to meet her uncertain eyes patiently as she took a hesitant step away from him. "I wished to know what you wished for," she admitted cautiously, suddenly unsure of whether that had been a good idea.

"Did you now?" he quipped with curiosity, letting the crystal dissipate into thin air at having his answer. "And, what did you see?"

"I saw images of myself at various times and places," she answered, her heart suddenly feeling like a lump in her throat. "Though, most of them were moments I shared with you."

"That's not the wish that brought you to me, Sarah," he informed her knowledgably, stepping forward. "That's the wish that stirred something within you, something that you've been searching for far too long."

He cupped the sides of her face as she stared up at him in bewilderment, everything around them becoming blurred and distorted. Sarah tore her eyes from his to gaze frantically at their surroundings, noticing how it grew dark as the walls of the labyrinth faded away into a void.

She lurched forward, throwing her arms around him fearfully. "Jareth, what's happening?"

"You once promised to dance with me every day if I so desired it of you," he answered, the darkness around them slowly becoming alit with specks of light. "I've dreamed so many times of a moment such as this." Soft music could be heard playing in the distance, melodic and alluring.

She loosened her arms from around his neck to step back enough to look up at him, placing one hand upon his shoulder, the other gently clasping with his to begin a dance. "Is this a dream?" she asked, falling into step with him as he led her around and around, making her forget her fears.

"Not this time," he answered, gracefully maneuvering her to the flow of music.

Dancing with him was so easy, as it had always been easy. His eyes shone with their natural luster of magic and mysticism as she smiled up at him. Only he existed, and she wondered how she never noticed what was so plain to see. That she loved him as much as he loved her. Her heart soared as he twirled her in his arms, making her dizzy when the world around them seemed to fall away completely, until she realized that they were dancing in empty space.

"Jareth," she addressed in a slightly fearful tone, not missing one step as he led her through the dance. "Where are we?"

"Between the stars," he answered in a silken voice that caressed all her fears away.

"Is this forever?"

He smiled down upon her, and pulled her closer within his embrace. "No," he whispered softly as he dipped his head to hers. "This, is forever." And placed his lips over hers as a shooting star swept the darkness overhead.

The End