As the World Falls Down by angelskuuipo
Set fifteen years after the end of the movie. It's pretty melancholy, but ends on a hopeful note. I have no idea where this came from. Okay, thatís not exactly true. Christian Kaneís new song, Thinking of You, might have had something to do with it, but I never expected it to prompt a Labyrinth fic. This is my first foray into this world. Be kind? Thanks be to Elisabeth for the beta.
Written: 27 July, 2010
She was cursed.
That was the thought running through Sarah’s mind as she watched her date storm out of the restaurant. She wished she could say that she didn’t know why Steve had gotten fed up and left, but the sad truth was she did.
Tonight it was the combination of music softly playing in the background and the sight of an owl winging through the night sky that sent her spiraling into the past. It didn’t take much these days to distract her. She’d noticed it happening with depressing frequency, actually, since Toby died. She hadn’t realized how much of an anchor her brother had been for her. The most seemingly inconsequential things would send her long ago and far away. Apparently it had happened one too many times for Steve.
She snorted in irritation as the server approached her table. Steve, the bastard, had stuck her with the check. She had the partially eaten meals boxed up and paid the bill. Stepping out of the restaurant, Sarah took a calming breath and decided to take a walk in the park across the street. Old Tom was in his usual spot near the entrance and she handed him the leftovers with a tired smile.
“Here you go, Tom. I hope you enjoy.”
He took the bag with a gruff nod. “Thank you, Miss Sarah. You be careful tonight. Something strange is in the air. The spirits are restless.”
Sarah nodded seriously. “I will, Tom. You take care.” Most thought Old Tom was loony tunes, but Sarah knew he saw more than most, just like she did on occasion. She’d given up trying to get him to leave the park. He was happy there and could take care of himself.
The old man watched her walk away. He could tell that she was sad tonight, more so than usual. She’d been sad for a while now, ever since her brother died; drifting through life, but not really a part of it. It was like her ties to the world had been cut. Maybe whatever was stirring tonight would make her happy again and give her something to hold on to. He hoped so anyway. Miss Sarah was one of the good ones. Tom said a prayer for her safety and turned his attention to the meal she’d given him.
Sarah made her way towards the center of the park, crossing the bridge, and ending her walk at the old tree she’s spent so much time at after her mother died. It was her favourite spot in the world. She and Toby had buried Merlin at the base of the tree. He’d died when Toby was five. They’d snuck out of the house at midnight and made a place for his ashes. Toby hadn’t really understood why they were doing it, but he hadn’t wanted her to cry anymore and he’d believed her when she told him it would help. And it had. She liked knowing that Merlin was a part of a place that held such peace for her. She wished she could have done the same for Toby, but it wasn’t possible.
Sarah sat down in the cradle of some of the tree roots and leaned against the trunk. She tilted her head back and looked up at the starry sky through the canopy of leaves. She saw the owl again and was hit with such a sense of loss that it took her breath away.
God, she missed her brother.
Sarah had tried calling for Hoggle, Ludo, and Didymus after Toby had lost his fight with leukemia, but they hadn’t answered. She hadn’t known what to make of that. Had she grown up too much, or had timed marched on for them as well and they had forgotten her? Their absence had made Toby’s death that much worse for her. She felt alone in a way she hadn’t since before their adventure in the Labyrinth.
The memories came then; more vivid than they had been in years. She didn’t dare say his name, even in her thoughts, but she remembered him. She remembered his games and his cruelty. The way he had forced her to grow up and accept some responsibility for her actions. She remembered they way he’d looked at her; like he could see what she could be and was so disappointed that she wasn’t that person yet. And Sarah remembered their dance; that single perfect dance she had shared with a king.
At fifteen she had been too young to truly understand what he’d been offering her. She really had been a child playing dress up when she’d wished Toby away. The timing was all wrong. Her heart, though, had been captured that day and she’d unknowingly spent the last fifteen years looking for him in the mundane world.
With a sigh, Sarah closed her eyes and whispered the name she’d never actually spoken aloud, “Jareth.”
Her eyes snapped open at the sound of furiously beating wings and she could only stare at the figure that had materialized before her. He looked the same; as though he hadn’t aged a day. His hair was just as wild and his clothes were still that over the top combination of goth and steampunk. That irritating smirk of his was thankfully absent, replaced with an expression she couldn’t quite decipher in the moonlight. His eyes, though, his eyes held such a look of hunger that Sarah knew she wouldn’t get away from him a second time. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.
“It certainly took you long enough, my dear,” Jareth said softly. “Fifteen years. I honestly didn’t think you would stay away for so long.”
Sarah slowly pushed herself to stand, using the tree trunk for support. She started to speak, but her voice cracked and she had to start again. “I had things to do. A life to live. I wasn’t ready yet.”
Jareth cocked his head to the side and studied her. “And did you, Sarah? Did you live?”
She thought about it, maybe for the first time ever. Had she lived? After the adventure she had put away most of her toys and had made an effort to join the world. She’d continued acting and had taken an interest in journalism, eventually getting a job as the theatre columnist for the local paper. She’d spent time with Toby and volunteered at the children’s theatre. She’d grown up, but had tried not to lose her childhood sense of wonder. She’d dated, but had never found the right person that she could see forever with. It hadn’t been a bad life. In the end, she shrugged. “Yes, I suppose I did.”
Jareth held out a hand and Sarah cautiously placed hers in his. He brought it to his lips and placed a reverent kiss on the back of it. She let out a shaky breath and slowly moved closer to him. He gazed at her with that piercing stare that had almost proved her undoing the last time they’d met and she met it without fear.
“Are you ready now, Sarah,” he asked intently.
Was she? Was she ready to give herself over to this man, this being? Was there anything in her life here that she would miss? Not really, no. Her relationship with her parents was strained at best. Toby had been her world and he was gone. She could talk to his spirit in the Underground as easily as she could here. This world had nothing for her.
“Toby’s dead,” she blurted out.
Jareth blinked and sucked in a breath. His grip on her hand tightened almost painfully before he relaxed. “I’m sorry, Sarah. I didn’t know. What happened?”
He nodded. “Is that why you called me? I can’t bring him back.”
Sarah shook her head. “No. No, that’s not it at all. The last few months…I’ve just felt so…I’ve tried…” she trailed off and gestured with her free hand, flailing for the right word, but came up empty. She looked up at Jareth. “I’ve been remembering. I don’t think I belong here anymore.”
He stared at her for a long time and she did her best to let him see all that she was. He must have found what he was looking for because he gave her a slow smile and murmured, “Say the words, Sarah.”
She took a breath and returned his smile, “Take me home, Goblin King.”
He gave her a courtly bow over the hand he still held. “As you wish, my queen.”
Old Tom looked up from the wooden figurine he was carving at the sound of flapping wings. A brilliant white snowy owl was hovering above him, its mate a few feet behind it. He looked into familiar gray eyes and smiled faintly. “Safe journey, Miss Sarah. I’m glad you found what you were looking for.” He looked at the other owl and said, “Take care of her, your majesty. Old Tom knows his way around.”
The owls both hooted in what he took for agreement before wheeling around and flying off into the night. He looked down at the partially carved owl in his hand and continued with his work, whistling softly.