Disclaimer: I do not own Labyrinth, Jareth (as much as I want him), David Bowie (again, as much as I want him) or Skub. None of the books mentioned are mine, but are in the public domain. Kate, Rachel, Catherine, Edward, and Anna are mine.
"Turn that stupid film off, I'm trying to work!" Rachel Grant commanded, her green eyes glaring at her roommate across the room. "It's not as if you haven't seen it a million times already, you're reciting it for god's sake, so turn it off and give me some peace!"
Kate Spencer hit pause and looked up from the screen, the image frozen on Jareth the Goblin King lounging in his throne, one leg over the arm, tapping a cane against his boot. Rachel was sort of right, this was Kate's millionth time watching Labyrinth, but as much as she was enjoying it, it wasn't just for pleasure. "I'm sorry, it's for a project. I can turn it down though." She lowered the volume a bit and hit play, just in time for 'Magic Dance'.
As the song started the self-described 'fluffy' blonde smacked the desk. "I thought you were turning that down!" she said through gritted teeth, shooting an evil look at her roommate. "I wish the Goblin King would take you away so I could get some bloody peace!"
Kate looked up at her and smiled slightly. "From your mouth to his ears."
Rachel sneered at the redhead and rolled her eyes. "I forgot, you actually like that freak." She laughed, then went quiet as all the power in the room went out. "Bugger me, now I've lost my entire paper!" she yelled, pounding her fists on the desk and smacking the computer screen in frustrated rage. "This isn't fair!"
"Not fair? Dear me, you sound like the girl from my film." Both girls jumped at the sound of a smooth male voice.
Kate was the first to speak. "You're really here. You're real?" She looked down at herself, her blue eyes scanning from her fuzzy blue slippers up her faded pinstripe pyjama pants to her Thin White Duke tee shirt as one hand went to her messy red bun. The only decent thing she had on was the silver locket she never removed. "I can't believe it. You're real, you're here, and I'm dressed like this."
Rachel scoffed. "Like it matters, you don't own anything without his face on it anyway. Besides, he's not that great. And definitely stuck in the eighties."
"Rachel, shut up before he bogs you," Kate said, keeping her eyes on the Goblin King as she stood. "If you don't mind my asking, your Majesty, what brings you here?"
Jareth grinned. "Always a pleasure to meet a fan of my work, and such lovely manners." His eyes went to Rachel for a moment before returning to Kate. "I am here for you. Your dreadful friend over there made a wish, and I'm very eager to fulfil it." He turned to Rachel and conjured a crystal. "And what can I give you in exchange for your lovely roommate?"
"Nothing you freak. Why the hell would I want anything from you?!"
The smile fell from the Goblin King's lips as he narrowed his eyes. "In that case, I'll punish your insolence instead." He tossed the crystal toward Kate's side of the room, easily distinguished from Rachel's by a wall covered with David Bowie, and in a flash of glitter the orderly area became a mess of torn posters, ripped bedding, and strewn belongings. He held out a hand to Kate. "Shall we?"
"What the…?" Kate stared at the mess for a moment, then shook her head. "You mean I'm going with you?"
"Of course, your odious friend over there wished you away, but I'm certain you'll enjoy my kingdom." He conjured another crystal and threw it at the wall, chuckling as a message appeared on the wall in Rachel's handwriting and signature shade of lipstick. "One last touch. 'Die Spencer Die', simple but effective."
Rachel paled, realising what he was setting up. "I may hate her, but I wouldn't kill her!"
"Ah, but can you convince your authorities of that?" He laughed and reached out a hand toward Kate. "Are you ready Kate?"
Kate debated for a moment before taking his hand. "I'm ready your Majesty." She waved at Rachel. "Bye Rach. Have fun without me. Maybe your next roommate will work out better."
Jareth laughed and tossed a crystal into the air, and as it fell the room dissolved. Kate held onto his arm and squeezed her eyes shut, afraid for a moment until she heard his chuckle. She opened her eyes and found herself in a lavishly decorated bedroom. "Where are we?" she asked, looking around. There was a large wardrobe to the left, a closed, heavy looking door, then a massive four poster bed. On the wall opposite stood a pair of French doors she imagined must lead to a balcony. The walls and floor were white marble striated with grey and pink and the wood was ash. The closed doors were banded in silver and all the doors were hinged in the same metal.
"Your bedroom, I thought you might like to freshen up a bit before we eat." He smiled. "I'll send someone to fetch you in an hour."
"You mean you're not going to turn me into a goblin?"
"Precious Kate, why ever would I want to do that? You're much better company in your current form. But, if your heart is set…" He raised a hand and conjured a crystal.
She held up both hands in front of her. "No, no, my heart isn't set. I just thought that's what you do with wished away children."
"You're hardly a child Kate, you're twenty-six years old. And if you like, after we've eaten I can show you what happens to the children. But for now, you should prepare for lunch." He waved his hand and the door on the left wall opened. "You have one hour."
Kate watched him leave the room, then headed through the now open doorway into a lavish bathroom. The marble here was the same as the bedroom. The white porcelain tub was sunken into the marble floor and already full of steaming water. Kate stripped and folded her clothes, eyes wandering over the walls and silver hardware. An ash framed mirror hung above a matching vanity. She sank into the tub and reached for a bottle of what looked like shampoo. She washed her hair, pleasantly surprised at the smell of peaches, then twisted it back up into a bun before laying back to soak for a while. She opened a bottle of bath oil and sniffed, pouring some into the water once she knew it too was peach scented.
After a while she got out and wrapped a fluffy towel around herself. After towelling her hair dry she sat on the cushioned bench in front of the vanity and picked up the silver handled hairbrush.
She had no idea she'd spent so long primping until she heard a knock at the door. "Milady? The king wants to know if you're ready yet," called a voice from the other side of the door.
"I'll be right there." She clasped her locket around her neck and looked at her dirty clothes, then decided to try the wardrobe. It held a wide variety of dresses and she rifled through them, settling on a simple cream coloured gown and a matching pair of slippers. She managed to find clean underthings and dressed quickly. Kate opened the door, automatically looking down. Instead of the goblin she was expecting there was a dwarf about as tall as her hip, someone she recognised immediately. "Hello. I'm Kate."
"I'm Hoggle. I'm to take you to the king. Not that you belong with him anymore than she did, but since you're here you may as well come along," he said, and began leading the way.
Kate shut the door behind her and followed, more than a little confused. "What do you mean Hoggle, who's 'she'?"
"You mean you never heard the story? He said you had, and he's been watching your family for more than a century, so he'd know." He humphed, clearly not happy, then sighed. "I'll tell you after he's finished with you, unless he tells you first." He stopped at a set of large double doors and knocked. After a moment the doors swung open and he gestured for her to go in. "Enjoy your meal Lady Kate." He turned and walked away, muttering under his breath.
Kate took a deep breath and went in, not sure what to expect. The first thing she saw was the intimate table set for two, the Goblin King sitting in the far chair. He smiled and stood when she entered. "Much better precious. As much as I like that tee shirt, this is far more fitting for a lady."
"I-thank you your Majesty. I don't know that I'm a lady, but thank you." She let him seat her and fought back a blush when he kissed her hand before returning to his own chair. At a snap of his fingers a serving cart emerged from behind a curtain. When it reached the table and stopped moving Kate realised there was a short person pushing it. He looked like a child and his skin was grey-green. Jareth waved his hand dismissively. "Wine, Skub. Peach wine." The little goblin scuttled off with a bow and a 'Yes King.'
Kate watched him, then let her gaze move to the room. It was white stone, far cleaner than she'd expected. There were tapestries on the walls depicting mounted hunters in pursuit of a massive stag and the windows were leaded glass. "Please don't take this the wrong way your Majesty, but this isn't quite what I expected from your palace."
To her surprise, and immense relief, Jareth chuckled softly. "While my film was accurate on quite a few points - Hoggle and my fondness for peaches, to name two - there were several errors made as well. I do not turn children into goblins, there is no live poultry in the castle, and I prefer not to live in filth."
"Does that mean there's an Escher room and a Bog of Eternal Stench?" she asked, letting him put meat and roasted vegetables on her plate. "What about Ludo and Sir Dydimus?"
"I do indeed have both the Bog and the Escher room. As for the yeti and the knight, I'm afraid they are purely fictional. And you've seen Skub, so you know what the average goblin looks like."
She waited until he took a bite to start eating her own meal, trying to remember what she could about royalty and etiquette. "Well, Skub is definitely not as messy as the goblins in the film. But if Labyrinth got so much wrong, why didn't you stop it before it was made?"
"How better to protect oneself than by allowing others to believe you don't exist? Besides, I can't have humans knowing all my secrets now can I? I kept watch as the film progressed, gave the right inspiration where needed, I even let them have Hoggle. But some things could not be presented as they truly were. Sarah is a greatly fictionalised version of the real Champion, and nothing like her physically. She finished in nine hours and twenty-three minutes, not at the last minute." He ate, taking the bottle of wine when Skub returned and dismissing the little goblin. He poured two glasses and set one at her place. "There was no Toby and the Cleaners are fictional."
Kate took a sip of her wine, pieces starting to fit together. "Her name was Catherine Talbot. She was blonde, with blue eyes and pale skin and she was wished away by Anna Beckett in 1886. Instead of a baby Toby it was a man, Edward Joyce, someone both girls wanted but he wanted Catherine so Anna wished her away. Catherine asked to run the Labyrinth for her freedom and you let her. She beat it and you offered her a place as queen, but she refused and you sent her back. She married Edward and had a family. My family."
"You do remember the story then, I was worried you'd forgotten." He smiled as he ate, keeping his eyes on her.
"How could I forget? It's my family's own personal fairy tale. But I had no idea it was true, I thought it was just something Catherine or Edward made up that got passed down through the generations."
"It's true Kate, every word. Your great-great-grandmother was the Champion of the Labyrinth, the only mortal ever to best me. In light of her victory I offered her the opportunity to rule beside me, but as you know from both the tale and the film, I was refused."
"But if you were helping to inspire the film crew, why didn't you rewrite the ending and have Sarah accept? I may be a bit biased, but if it were me I'd have said yes in a heartbeat." She looked up and met his gaze, blushing when she realised she'd said the second bit aloud.
Jareth grinned. "Such a clever girl, aren't you? Yes, I did try to alter the ending, get the girl so to speak, and there was a draft of the script written where Sarah did accept my offer. However, there were quite a few on crew who felt the age difference was too great, one rather shrewish woman going so far as to call me an ephebophile."
"I guess there was a bit of an age gap. Bowie was what, thirty-nine at the time, while Jennifer Connelly was only fourteen."
"Ah, but Catherine was only sixteen when she ran the Labyrinth, and the character of Sarah was just fifteen." He smiled and sipped his wine.
"Does that mean you're older than sixty-five then?" She bit her lip, realising that might be taken the wrong way, and tried to clarify. "Not that you look anywhere near it, I imagine ageing well goes hand in hand with not being human."
"Not human? Whatever gave you that idea precious Kate?"
"The shapeshifting, the crystal conjuring, the fact that you look exactly the same as in the film and my twice great grandmother's story." She smiled slightly, already blushing. "You're too perfect to be human."
He laughed. "My my, you are a fan, aren't you? Though I should have known based on your tee shirt."
"What's so special about my shirt? I'm hardly the only person to wear Bowie merchandise."
"Ah, but the Thin White Duke was hardly the most popular of the alter egos, was he? He was greatly eclipsed by Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust, and ultimately by the man himself."
"How do you know so much about Bowie?" she asked, leaning forward slightly.
"After I was defeated I began to watch Catherine Talbot. As her line continued, I kept up my watch on your world, and in 1947 a child was born with immense potential. I knew he'd be someone great, so just before he was born I used a bit of my magic to ensure he would reach his full potential. I've spent his entire life watching over him."
"You magicked David Bowie so he'd succeed?"
"I am not responsible for his talent, if that's what you're asking. All I did was ensure he wouldn't rest on his laurels, that he would keep creating."
"Does that mean you've let up then, since he hadn't toured or recorded an album for years?" she asked, sitting back and taking a sip of wine.
"I have. I thought it time once he turned fifty. I understand that to be middle aged in your world, and sixty-five to be the age of retirement." He chuckled. "He is only human after all."
"But why does he look just like you? Is it the magic?"
"No, that was the result of my mixing a bit of my own blood with his. That is also the source of his more otherworldly qualities."
She nearly choked on her mouthful of wine. "So you're saying he's not one hundred percent human?"
"Yes, but the inhuman portion is less than five percent." He finished his meal, picking up his wine glass. "My own contribution was really very small."
Kate let everything sink in as she ate. "That explains a lot actually. Especially why he still looks so gorgeous at sixty-five."
"You're physically attracted to a man older than your father? Very interesting." He stood and walked around to the back of her chair, bending so his mouth was right next to her ear. "Does your appreciation for older men have a limit?" he whispered.
She suppressed a shudder at the words and the seductive tone, fighting back a blush. "It depends, but I don't think you mean this generally, do you?" she replied, voice soft. After a moment she turned to look at him, her face just inches from his. "In your case, no, there's no limit."
Jareth's grin widened. "I'm delighted to hear that precious." His closed the gap and his mouth captured hers, one hand twining in her long red hair.
Kate groaned, one arm going around his neck as she returned the kiss. Part of her demanded she resist and try to find a way home, but that idea was quickly rejected. She'd never admit it aloud, but she'd dreamt of this since she was old enough to have squiggly feelings. Sometimes it was Jareth or another character and sometimes it was Bowie himself or one of his alter egos. Some nights it was more than one at a time, but it all came down to Bowie in the end.
When he finally broke the kiss she opened her eyes, half expecting to be back in her room. When she saw it was real her smile grew. After a moment she realised how she must look and blushed.
The Goblin King sat in his chair and smiled. "So, how does the real thing measure up to the dream Kate?"
"That was fantastic. I just don't want you to get the wrong idea. I'm not the sort of girl to snog random men, let alone do anything else with them. I'm a good girl, even if my dreams are wicked."
Her rambling made him laugh softly. "Calm yourself Kate. You needn't worry about your reputation, I know you're pure."
She nodded, finishing her wine. "So, now that I'm here, since I'm not going to become a goblin, what are you going to do to me?" she asked, quickly correcting herself when she heard her slip of the tongue. "With me, I mean."
"Freudian slip precious? Relax, I'm sure you'll be just fine. I won't bed you unless I'm prepared to marry you. I thought we'd begin with a tour, if there are no objections."
"A tour sounds good. I'm sorry, I'm not usually this flustered."
"Think nothing of it, it's rather flattering actually." He stood, then held out a hand to help her up. "Shall we?"
Kate took his hand and stood, eager to see more of the palace. It was built mainly of white stone, with solid ash doors banded in gleaming silver. The first door he opened revealed a massive library, walls filled floor to ceiling with ash bookcases and leather bound books. A long ash table stood in the centre of the room and there were lounges and chairs, all ash wood upholstered in silvery-white fabric, spread out about the space. On each wall was a rolling ladder, made of ash, that reached from floor to ceiling. It took her breath away. "This is amazing," she gasped, eyes travelling over the walls. "There must be a million books in here."
"One and a half, actually, and every one of them available to you. Most are first editions, acquired when they were first published, and incredibly rare."
"They must be worth a fortune." She wandered over, running her fingers lightly over the spines as she read a few titles. "Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, by Currer Bell, Wuthering Heights by Ellis Bell, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Acton Bell. Sense and Sensibility: A Novel in Three Volumes by A Lady. Northanger Abbey, published with Persuasion." She turned to him, awe and excitement in her eyes.
"Those are especially rare. I also have the first editions of Les Infortunes de la Virtu and Les 120 Journées de Sodome," he said, a wicked grin on his lips.
Kate blushed a bit, but smiled back before turning back to the books. "These are incredible."
"I'm glad you like them, I'm rather fond of them myself." He held out his hand. "Shall we continue?"