Author's Note: I originally wrote this fic for the 2011 Livejournal Labyrinth Fanfiction Exchange. It's taken me until now to revise it and upload it here. I will be putting chapters up as I go through the notes from my beta-reader and make amendments accordingly. I'm aiming for weekly updates.
I had no idea that the fic was going to take the direction it did. It jumps around a bit, I hope you can stick with it right till the end. I decided to try writing a fic from the "Sarah and Jareth are real, but were played by actors in the movie" angle, which meant constructing a timeline that actually saw Sarah run the Labyrinth in 1974, twelve years before the 1986 film.
I make no apologies for taking liberties with 1990s recording artists, nor for the fact that my writing may show influences from certain books I was reading when I wrote this. :D
Many thanks to jamethiel_bane, who is a far better writer than I will ever be and agreed to take on the MASSIVE task of beta-reading this fic because she is a kind-hearted soul (and also because I begged her).
Rated M for lime, references to mental health and adult themes in future chapters.
With a sigh and a satisfied smile, Sarah set her guitar down beside her and hit the 'stop' button on the Talkboy tape recorder. It was 1 o'clock. Time to stop and have lunch. She promised Toby she would eat the sandwich he had made for her today. Peanut butter and jelly with the crusts cut off, her favourite. He did tend to spoil her when it came to food.
"Rough. But it'll have to do," she muttered to herself, picking up a piece of paper lying on the desk in front of her and scanning the handwritten lyrics on it. She didn't have Toby's talent with the strings, but her song writing abilities were pretty stellar, if she did say so herself.
Sarah prayed that the lyrics were to her client's liking. She'd requested an upbeat kind of song, centred around wishing for a 'dream lover' to rescue her from her previous bad relationships.
The lyrics weren't as dark as what Sarah ordinarily preferred to write, but her newest client was tipped to emerge as the next big pop super-power, now that she'd just landed - er -married the head of Columbia Records. Sarah certainly didn't want to alienate a potentially long-term, successful customer just because of her own creative preferences.
She pulled the little tape out of the recorder, labelled it 'Dream Lover' and dropped it into a large brown envelope stuffed with papers. The courier was due in half an hour.
Beside her the phone rang, loud in the silent studio, making her jump. Shoving her hair behind her ears, Sarah snatched it up.
"Sarah! Robyn Crawford."
Sarah smiled, she liked Robyn. "How are you?"
"I'm well," Robyn answered. "Have you had a chance to tweak those lyrics I sent back to you?"
"Ye-e-es," Sarah replied, drawing out the word into three syllables as she scrabbled among the papers and folders on the desk in front of her, looking for the Houston portfolio. "Just give me two seconds, I have it right here."
"Busy day?" Robyn sounded amused. She could obviously hear the shuffling papers.
"Busy month," Sarah corrected her. "Tobe and I barely see each other anymore – he does so much session work, ships passing in the night and all that. Then there's the kids… aha! Here it is!"
Sarah pulled the slim manila folder out from under a pile of papers and flicked it open on her lap, shouldering the chunky olive green receiver as she thumbed through the contents.
"I added an element of longing and imagining, I tried to make it angsty while still keeping a hopeful tone," Sarah went on after a short pause. "Did you want me to read out the new chorus?"
"It's ok Sarah, I know you're flat out," Robyn answered. "Just send it over to me and we'll go from there."
"All right." Sarah was somewhat relieved she didn't have to do any extra work. Her wrists and elbows were aching already and she was sure she had another tension knot in her shoulder. She slouched in her chair, letting her head hang over the cushioned back. Her attention was beginning to wander, a sure sign that she needed a break.
She'd just get through this phone call and then she was definitely stopping for that sandwich.
"-all right? I'll let Whitney know where we're at and we'll contact you when the courier brings the package over," Robyn was saying.
"No problem." I hope I didn't miss anything important...
They rang off and Sarah struggled upright, dropping the receiver back into the cradle and turning her answering machine on. She paused to take a breath, then spun around in her chair as she heard a noise at the studio door. It wasn't the courier, as she'd expected, but the ordinary post. A large bundle of letters held together by elastic bands appeared through the brass mail slot and fell onto the inside doormat with a papery thwump. Sarah heaved herself out of her chair with a groan and shuffled across the room to retrieve them.
Opening the mail was high on Sarah's list of Least Favourite Things To Do, but the thought of missing a bill was, frankly, terrifying. Sometimes the knowledge that she was supposed to be a responsible adult was a bit much to handle.
Grimacing as her stomach rumbled loudly, Sarah turned and headed towards the studio's tiny kitchen, sorting through the stack of envelopes. Bill, bill, library reminder... A sudden smile lit her features when she saw an Ottawa postmark. The heavy blue envelope was addressed to her and Toby. Real mail, hopefully! Ripping it open, she saw that it was a nice long letter from her friend, Alanis. She dropped the rest of the post onto the kitchen bench and unwrapped her sandwich one-handed. Taking a massive, satisfying bite, she began to read as she walked back to her desk.
Sarah and Toby had met Alanis in Ottawa a couple of years ago, where they'd been taking some time out after a massive production project. Their quiet, uneventful winter retreat had suddenly become loud and interesting when Alanis accidentally spilled her coffee in Toby's lap at a local diner.
They'd got to talking while everybody in the immediate vicinity tried to help mop up a beet-red and mortified Toby (ah, seventeen year old boys and their pathological fear of being the centre of attention...) and Alanis had reacted with guileless delight when she found out that the two of them did song-writing and session work. She'd then proceeded to regale them with stories about her current foray into the music world, talking a mile a minute. Looking back, Sarah knew it had come from Alanis' hatred of awkward silences, rather than a need to boast.
At that moment in time, Alanis was four months into a two-record deal with the Canadian branch of MCA Records and was just about to release her first album. Sarah, for her part, found her friend's enthusiasm refreshing, since the industry had turned her jaded years ago. Once his pants were as clean and dry as they could be, Toby, predictably, wanted to know all about what kind of instrumentals were going to be featured on the album and who'd been called in to record.
Two years later, the three of them still kept in touch and caught up in person whenever they could. Toby, of course, was far too dense to notice the rather obvious torch Alanis carried for him. Despite the two of them being the same age, Toby acted more like a man twenty years older and was totally immersed in his work. So naturally, a nineteen year old girl's affections didn't even register on Toby's great and lordly consciousness, much to Sarah's amusement.
She supposed her obliviousness to anything emotional had rubbed off on him.
Hi Sarah, hi Toby,
Guess what! I'm moving to Toronto! Can you believe it? I barely can.
My deal with MCA ended – seemed they didn't want to keep me after the second album didn't do so well. I don't care though, because they introduced me to this guy Scott Welch. He's my manager now. He thought it might be a good idea to move to Toronto, to get my career going. And I thought, why not? What have I got to lose?
Once we get there, we're going to start approaching producers and get to work on my next album. I'm sure this is going to be the big one – the songs are already pretty much sketched out and I really love them! I'll send you a demo when we get done in the studio of course, but I'm not sure when that will be at this stage.
Anyway, I got this fragment in my head the other night and couldn't sleep till I'd scribbled it down. I thought I'd share it with you guys, see what you think. I don't know where it'll fit on the new album – maybe I'll save it for when I'm an international star! Haha!
Love you guys (and pick up a pen sometime, all right?),
A few lines of lyrics were scribbled at the bottom of the letter.
these precious illusions in my head
did not let me down when I was a kid
and parting with them is like parting with a childhood best friend
Sarah stared through the window above her desk with a lopsided grin, the letter dangling at her side in relaxed fingers. She could see her childhood best friends, a grumpy dwarf, a gentle giant and a bossy knight. And of course…
Images of thunder, lightning and glitter danced across her mind. As well as a devastating, crooked smile with too-sharp teeth. Dropping the letter and her sandwich, Sarah snagged her notebook and a pen and began to write, caught in a rush of creative energy.
As the page began to fill with her rapid scrawl, a graceful, gloved hand smoothed down Sarah's hair and began to rub her shoulder. "You are working too hard again, precious," a soft male voice murmured. "We are missing you dreadfully."
Sarah looked up towards the owner of the hand with an affectionate smile. His magic hands always knew exactly where her tension knots were. "Time is money, money is power. You know that."
"Ah, because we are in desperate need of both money and power." The hand massaged for a while longer, then began to creep down the front of Sarah's shirt. She swatted it away playfully.
"The courier will be here any minute, and you are disrupting my artistic flow."
One dark, sexy chuckle later, Sarah found herself sitting on the edge of her desk, with her legs wrapped around a slim, masculine waist.
"That's cheating," she admonished him half-heartedly, her hands already moving. She deftly unlaced the white poet's shirt in front of her, pulling it out of the tight grey breeches below and splaying her fingers on the smooth, pale uncovered skin. "Using your other-worldly wiles to win an argument is hardly fair."
"Playing fair is so very boring beloved, don't you think?" was his response. Sarah lifted her arms obediently as her shirt was tugged off over her head. "We wouldn't have nearly as much sex, for one thing. The courier shall arrive when I say so. In the meantime..."
On the end of Sarah's desk, the half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich lay forgotten.
Reviews are love!
Chapter 2: At the beginning of Sarah's final year of high school in the fall of 1976, there had been a creative writing contest at her high school. 'What the hell,' Sarah thought. 'I'll enter. What harm could it do?'
OH YES, BACK-STORY IS COMING.