Author's Notes: Allo everyone! *wavles* Well, finally got around to signing up for an account here, just like I finally got around to writing a Laby fic. ^_^ I haven't really seen this idea explored in much detail before, so I thought I'd give it a shot, just to be different. n.- Read, review, and go easy on me, it's my first time, ne? Oh, anything in single ( ' ) quotation marks is just the character's thoughts. Asterisks ( * ) indicate memories/flashback-type stuff.

Disclaimer: I don't own a thing. There. Happy? *snif*


I've put my trust in you

Pushed as far as I can go

And for all this

There's only one thing you should know

I tried so hard

And got so far

But in the end

It doesn't even matter

I had to fall

And lose it all

But in the end

It doesn't even matter

~Linkin Park, 'In the End'


Jareth sat in a tree branch outside Sarah's window, in owl form, watching as the girl spoke to her friend through her mirror.

"I need you, Hoggle," she was telling the surprised dwarf.

"Yuh... you do?" He asked her, astonished.

Outside, Jareth seethed. Even that spineless Hoghead had a better standing with Sarah than he did. The dwarf hadn't even done half as much as he had.

"I don't know why, but..." Sarah was saying, "every now and again in my life, for no reason at all, I need you. All of you."

"Weeeelll... why didn't ya say so!" And suddenly the girl's room was filled with those whom she had met on her journey. His subjects. All laughing and having a good time, while Sarah enthusiastically hugged her friends. Even those who had tried to stop her were there. She had meant it when she had said 'all of you'.

Evidently, 'all of you' did not include him.

Jareth turned and took flight, unwilling to stomach any more of watching his 'faithful' subjects join the girl in celebrating her victory. His defeat at her hands. Of all the ungrateful, disloyal swine.

And she'd welcomed them in so easily. She had invited them to take part in the fun and games, even overlooked the fact that half of them had been her enemies. In spite of that, she had forgiven them. And why shouldn't she? They had all been following his orders, so it was only necessary to hate him, after all.

Jareth knew he was bitter. And why shouldn't he be? He had done everything for her.

He alighted on a fence post and scanned the field in front of him for a quick snack. Almost instantly, his sharp owl hearing caught the sounds of movement in the wet grass, and he flew down on silent wings to snatch the hapless vole with deathly sharp talons. The animal gave a squeal of alarm as it was pulled from hiding, another decrease to the local farmers' rodent control problem. Jareth ate quickly, then took flight again. It was safest not to linger. He needed a place to hide until dawn, lest he himself fall victim to other predators of the night. Great Horned owls tended to hunt now, and were well known to prey upon the unwary barn owl caught out too late at night.

He took to the skies, avoiding street lamps in order to reduce his chances of being seen. Technology was his enemy, in more ways than one. It had been so simple in days past, before machinery and advanced science had taken over. Places of fantasy such as his kingdom relied on the beliefs of people living in the mortal realm. It was their powers of imagination which fueled the magic which his realm and so many others depended on to continue their existence. Everyone had believed back then, and his kingdom had flourished. Babies were laughably easy to come by; almost everyone was so ridiculously superstitious that they would wish away everything from twins to unwanted pregnancies to premature children (the last was better for the child, really, since mortals in that time lacked the knowledge and skills to ensure it's survival). Children were told bedtime stories about a Goblin King and monsters and a labyrinth where one could get lost and wander forever. Adults would cross themselves at the sight of a barn owl before hurrying home to their loved ones. Truly it had been the Golden Age of the Underground, Jareth mused as he crawled into a likely-looking hollow in the branches of a tree. He relaxed slightly when it didn't appear to be inhabited, but steeled himself for a long vigil nonetheless. It wouldn't do to have lived this long, only to be caught off guard by some mundane predator or another. He settled down comfortably for a long night and went back to his brooding.

There had been the one notable instance where a young boy had bested his Labyrinth; a quick, resourceful lad who had bribed one of his goblins into leading him to the castle, and had thus won back his little sister (charming girl of six or so, if memory served). The king himself had been livid over the apparent corruptibility of his subjects, and the goblin responsible had been tossed straight into His Highness' brand new Bog of Eternal Stench, created especially for turncoats like it's first unfortunate (and very smelly) victim.

The boy had later written a book about his defeat of the infamous Goblin King, with his beloved little sister as the heroine. Jareth had been somewhat relieved when the publishers had insisted upon a few changes which had almost prevented the book from being printed at all. With the way they had re-worded it, no one would ever be able to wish a child away. It was for dramatic purposes, they had told the irate young man. It had been rather disappointing when the boy thought it over, and realized that it was probably better if no one wished anyone away by accident. A shame, that. Still, whether or not the lines in the book had any power didn't concern him. The Goblin King would not have it known to the world how he had been so embarrassingly defeated (not that it didn't happen once in a while, but no one had ever written it down for others to read before; besides, it happened so rarely that he usually chose to let it be). Soon afterwards, all the copies of the first printing were destroyed by a fire before they had even left the warehouse, and the original manuscripts went missing, never to be seen again. There was nothing the publishers could do, and the boy was out of money for a second attempt.

What a pity.

Really though, it turned out that Jareth needn't have bothered and, in fact, may have sealed his own fate by interfering. No sooner had he halted the story from being spread to the public did the sudden rush of new developments come roaring in. Looking back, it started out rather gradually, although it had certainly seemed fast in that age. Unfortunately for Jareth, it was only the beginning, and it got steadily worse from there. New developments flooded the nations he had previously been known throughout. Adults became more concerned with newfound oppourtunities for wealth. Children, although still as imaginative as ever, began to prefer cowboys and indians to a maze full of goblins. They would glue themselves to their television screens for hours, and didn't bother with fantasy realms of fairy tales anymore. And Jareth's kingdom began to die.

That, too, was gradual, even after there was no one left who believed. The magic took time to leech out of the land, and Jareth had plenty of time to ponder his folly. Embarrassment or not, he should have left well enough alone. At least then, there would still be something, some evidence to show that he had existed in the minds of mortals, something for someone, anyone, to pick up and read, although reading was no longer as widespread or beloved a pastime as it once had been. Now there was nothing. And Jareth cursed his mistake as he grew weaker by the day and his realm slowly fell into ruin.

Really, if it hadn't been for Sarah, the Underground would probably have been gone by now.

Jareth winced at the thought, for that particular wound was still fresh. Oh, how he had revered her from afar. He still remembered that fateful day when a young girl picked up an old, dusty, forgotten book from the back shelf of an old used bookstore. He wasn't entirely sure how he had managed to overlook it, yet there it lay, unread by anyone. The spine was still new, the pages still crisp, although yellowed on the edges from age, the cover appearing new still, despite being more ancient than any of the other books in th store. He remembered how she had taken it home and read it for the first time, her fertile young imagination grasping ahold of the story and falling in love with it almost instantly. Sarah was a dreamer of an ilk Jareth hadn't seen for a long, long time; her love for fantasy and reading stood out like an orchid thriving in a wasteland of unoriginality. The Underground began to revive almost immediately as the girl latched onto the story and held it close to her heart, and it's king along with it. Her fire and passion for all he held dear drew him to her like a thirsty man to water, after so many endless years of drought.

Jareth felt an almost overwhelming frustration creep over him. He had placed such high hopes in her, had even come to her one night as soon as he had recovered enough of his powers, and given her magic as she slept. In the hopes that she would make his kingdom flourish once more. It had already improved considerably, and although it was still far from it's former glory, it was no longer the uninhabitable ruin it had been. Perhaps one day, her desire to become an actress would lead her to turn the story into a production, so others might remember it as well. He had been so certain that she would be their salvation. And he had decided that he would grant her any wish she wanted.

'"But what no one knew was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers."' How he wished he could take it all back.

Ungrateful whelp.

Oh, she'd known about his gift to her. She must have. She, herself, had been the one to utter those words aloud when she had tried to get her brother to be quiet. He'd told her himself, had planted the knowledge in her fondest daydreams. And she had said the words, thinking she was merely acting out a much-loved fantasy. Was it his fault she hadn't taken them seriously?

She had certainly decided that it was. She had looked so surprised when he'd taken her brother and confronted her in her parents' bedroom. And she had begged and cried, which certainly hadn't been what his expectations had been for his Sarah, although her stubbornness was there, in the form of childish desperation. Oh, how it had irritated him so, to see the pleading and distrust in her eyes. Although given the circumstances, he supposed he didn't really blame her. After all, she had been stunned, to be sure, and she had certainly regained her spunk when he had seen her next.

*"And you, Sarah... how are you enjoying my Labyrinth?"*

*"...It's a piece of cake!"*

*"Really? Then how about upping the stakes, hmm?"*

*"That's not FAIR!"*

*"You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is."*

Bitter, even then. The girl had entirely too much power over him. It had only been their second meeting, and he had already felt resentment towards her. He'd hated it when she'd said those infuriating words. 'It's a piece of cake.' That and 'It's not fair.' Like she had the right to speak of being fair. 'Fair' would have been for her to have wished for something else, wished for anything but for him to take her brother.

'You forced us to be enemies, Sarah, and blamed me for it.'

Had it really only been 13 hours ago? It felt like years.

A sharp noise startled him out of his thoughts, and he froze, listening intently for the cause of the disturbance. A few moments of silence revealed nothing, and he would have given a bitter laugh, if he could in this form. Him, the mighty Goblin King, cowering in the dead of night over a noise in the forest. Had he still been in possession of his magic, he certainly wouldn't be holed up in the freezing cold, nearly giving himself heart failure over a few snapping twigs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen...

'Look at me now, Sarah. See what I've been reduced to?' Heartless child. He'd begged her, actually _begged_ her to not say those final words which he knew would ruin him. And she had said them. He had no power over her. He never really had.

And now he had no power over anything. He was trapped in her world, in so vulnerable a form, with no kingdom to go home to. It would only be a matter of time before he went mad, in this new existence which he didn't belong in.

Selfish Sarah. Selfish, thoughtless girl.

Only a matter of time.


Whew! Kudos for reading that lovely chunk of angst all the way through. That wasn't so bad, was it? Well, if it was, for heaven's sakes, tell me! Flames will be used for roasting 'mallows and heating my perma-chilled room. ^_~