Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > 3,564 Clappers Later

Reality on Both Sides of the Mirror

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

dinner, art galleries, near disastrous fiasco - you know, the regular.

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2017-07-20 - 9924 words - Complete

Chapter 5 - ReAlItY oN bOtH sIdEs Of ThE mIrRoR

Well, that could’ve gone better but it certainly could’ve been far worse, Sarah reflected as she slammed her apartment door shut behind them with her body and heaved a sigh of relief, closing her eyes. He has got to learn about modern human society and fast. Thank God it was only Whole Paycheck.

Jareth had displayed open curiosity about the craziest things, asking employees questions she would never dream of putting to anyone! She’d never been asked so many questions in her entire life as she had this one afternoon. And he wanted to know how everything worked, too, from the neon welcome sign to the checkout scanners. Being a science major, Sarah had explained what of it she knew to the best of her ability but he was quickly outstripping her technical knowledge; he’d have to learn how to look it up himself. It wasn’t so much his curiosity that bothered her (that and perpetually wincing since he had to physically avoid contact with all the metal in the world - the shelves, the cart, the doors, the cans - everything) - it was how he seemed to be at a total loss as to how to relate to the people around him. He was either too candid and too honest or he was a complete snob, acting like the world was there to do his bidding.

His world probably is there to do his bidding, sheesh. Figures I get stuck with a drama queen. Oh well, too late to be thinking about that now. Jareth had walked into the kitchen and set down the bags on the dining room table before turning around to see if she was coming, only to see her still leaning against the door before marching into the kitchen herself with a look of annoyed resignation written on her face.

“Is everything alright, Sarah?”

“Yeah…I was just thinking about you, Mr. Socially Inept.”

Jareth was surprised. “I take great offense at that! I’m quite the socialite at home when I get the chance, thank you very much!”

“And therein lies the problem. You are currently residing in a democracy; rich snobs exist here but royalty and titles don’t. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to get used to it. And as for your manners - which are impeccable by-the-way - they’re far too genteel for this particular society. I know all this stuff goes against your grooming and everything but please try to remember for your own sake that you’re trying to blend in here, not stand out. Case in point: if you were introduced to someone here, what would you do?”

“Man or woman?”

“It shouldn’t matter.”

“Bowing and kissing a hand are out of the question then, I take it?”

“…unless you’re intentionally trying to come off as Prince Charming, yeah,” Sarah laughed. “You have to be able to shake hands. Here, I’ll show you, it’s pretty easy.” She extended her right hand and motioned for him to do likewise. He mimked her, not knowing what was going to happen, but when she took his hand in hers it remained stiff. “Relax, it’s more of a moving clasp really…there you go,” she laughed, “don’t look at your hand, look at me….that’s right.”

He smiled back at her automatically - a cocky smile, but a smile nonetheless.

At least that’s one reluctant step in the right direction. She withdrew her hand and he clasped his shut tight, discreetly enjoying the last of her warmth, the feel of her soft skin on his palm.

“Is there anything I can do to help you change out these knobs?”

“I’m afraid not,” Sarah said, cutting open a package of them with the screws already in the set. “All it would take is one of these bouncing off the floor in the wrong direction…” she pulled a screw out and showed it to him, right in front of his face. He sucked breath through his teeth in a snarl, pulling away.

“Damn, small but deadly.”

“I thought so. I’m actually going to request that you stay back a bit while I do this, just in case.”

“While I appreciate your concern, it still makes me feel incompetent. I’ll have to find ways I can help you,” he said, taking a few steps back to the far side of the kitchen table. She sat on the floor next to the sink, opened the cupboard and started unscrewing the inside of the knob with a Philips.

“At the rate we seem to be going, I get the feeling you’re going to have plenty of time to figure something out. Any better idea of what we’re going to have to do now that you’ve spent a little time here?”

“From what happened last night, I’m beginning to think that it will revolve exclusively around compromising your person, something I am not pleased about. I shall take this as slowly and delicately as I can but you must understand that I’m acting for me here. Deliberately stripping someone of power is far from respectful no matter how it is gone about. Personal trust seemed like a safe enough place to start.”

Sarah let out a breath and nodded. At least he’s being honest about it. Well, let’s see, this doesn’t have to be morbid or unpleasant, what builds trust?

“Would you mind telling me a bit about yourself?”

She’s trying! “What would you like to know?”

From the excited glow in his eyes she knew that his entire world was at her disposal. Sarah thought a moment as she lined up the first wooden knob with the screw in the back and made the first prerequisite turns before picking up the screwdriver again.

“How did you end up in the Labyrinth?”

He surrendered a smile. “Why did you pick that one?”

“I don’t know; a lot of things about you sort of make sense but that place just doesn’t seem to fit you at all, you know what I mean?”

He nodded. “Well,” he said, taking a seat at the small, round kitchen table, “it wasn’t supposed to be mine - by tradition at least. That sort of inheritance is supposed to go to ‘the youngest son with no gold or jewels or property,’ or so the stories go. Thing is my father died unexpectedly during a siege while I was still going through the nymph-developmental stage of my kind - I believe you would call it juvenile - and…I am not the youngest son. There was quite the scandal when they read the will, with rumors and slander about me spreading fast as fire. Years later I finally began to form my own theories on the matter, though: I remember my father was always so worried about my personal tastes, afraid that I was going to grow up too soft and squeamish.” He looked away with a wry, nostalgic smile and quietly sighed, shaking his head. Then suddenly laughed. “That, and the logic, of course, that if I was put in charge of the prison, perhaps I would spend a little less time in it.” At that she stopped dead at what she was doing and looked up at him - there was still a playfully guilty lip smile on his face. He put one finger to the side of his nose and brushed it across. “Not to worry, love, nothing serious, just a bit of repeated mischief and mayhem at the expense of some fairly high-ranking individuals…in public.” He raised one elegant eyebrow at that last statement, a lazy smile spilling across his features.

“Juvenile delinquent, now why isn’t that one surprising; I think I get the picture. You’re the black sheep of the family, aren’t you?” He rolled his eyes and nodded, looking away. She resumed her work.

“You said you had siblings?”

“Two brothers more and one sister. I’m second.”

And you’ve spent your whole life trying to be first, haven’t you? I’ll bet you got ignored a lot - but not right away. Got a taste for being the spoiled brat and then the real brats came along. It was strange how earthly the situation sounded. She was reminded of her own jealously of Toby after all those years of being the only one. I’d bet money he was a bully growing up.

“And what about you?”

“What about me?”

“I can piece your past together with relative ease, with the separation of your parents and all, but your present…” he shook his head slowly staring off into space in the direction of the far wall, looking thoughtful and genuinely baffled at the same time. “Why did you give up acting? You have a talent.”

Sarah blushed at the unexpected compliment and embarrassedly smiled.

“I liked it but there’s no way to make a decent living doing it unless you get insanely lucky and hit the big time. They didn’t coin the term ‘starving artist’ for nothing.”

No patronage system for the arts, apparently; what a pity.

“Besides, you have more to do with my current choice of career and sorry it isn’t a compliment.”


“The epic-sized garbage heap outside of Goblin City.”

“Yes, it is a bit of an eyesore, isn’t it? But I’m afraid I don’t follow…”

“Non-toxic fuels and environmental clean-up procedures?”

Jareth nodded, resting his face in his hand, massaging the bridge of his nose. “Say no more,” he said wearily.

Well that’s two down, fourteen to go in here, plus two doorknobs…what can he be doing? “Is there anything you particular you’d like to do while you’re here?”

Jareth sat up straight, looking surprised at the offer. “Besides what’s necessary to get me home? I hadn’t given the matter much thought.”

“Because if we’re going to be stuck together for a while it might not be a bad idea for you to let me in on the kind of things you like if for no other reason than you’re going to run out of reading material in a hurry.”

“Well, let me see, what do you have in your world that I have in mine?” he wondered out loud quietly more to himself than to her, crossing his arms and looking up before deciding on what to ask. “I like music, dancing, literature, art, games - all sorts. Is that enough of a start?” He smiled roguishly, knowing he’d just asked for the world.

“It’s a tall order, but it’s doable,” she teased him back. At least he didn’t ask for anything crazy like gladiators or a joust! “In fact,” she moved on to the fourth knob, “tonight is open-house for all the art galleries in Denver - every first Friday of the month everybody has their openings with their new artists and the event is free to the public. Would you be interested in going?”

“I think I’d like that.”

“Fine; we’ll go after dinner.” Ten more plus the doors… “About all those things you wanted to know in the store…”


“If you feel up to some research get back on the computer like you were before, only this time type W-i-k-i-p-e-d-i-a in the search box.”


Fourteen wooden knobs and two glass door handles later, Jareth was enthusiastically rattling on and on and on about inventors Sarah had never even heard of.

As if he didn’t know almost everything already, she thought wryly, finishing the last snap-peas on her plate - she’d made chicken stir fry and it had gotten a thumbs up. At least he isn’t a picky eater.

“My dear, I can’t afford to be a picky eater. What you saw of the castle - well…” he rolled his eyes, “add goblins, of course - is unfortunately pretty accurate. This really is a one-man operation,” he said, lifting his water glass to indicate himself. “I prepare most of my own food. Would you trust one of those creatures to cook for you?” he quirked an eyebrow. “They think poisoning people is funny.” He took a sip and put it back down. It was a weird thought: Jareth, the ages-old, near-almighty fae king and official wrangler of the worst rabble on earth - fixing his own meals just like Joe Blow living on his own.

“Magic doesn’t do everything.”

“You’re doing it again.” Sarah didn’t have to mention what.

“Ah, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering you as much as it did before,” he pointed at her with a small, teasing smile, knowing that she was ever-so-slowly starting to get used to him. Don’t push it. Just add a little more to the mix everyday and she’ll be in the palm of your hand before you know it. The coldly technical side of Jareth’s personality was telling him to play the game as well as he could like always but something more powerful was at work in him and he knew that for the first time in his near-eternal life he couldn’t. One day at a time, then, he thought resignedly. It was almost bittersweet, having to become this vulnerable in order to truly win. You won’t be the only vulnerable one in the end, he reminded himself. He was going to have to curb his impatience and his temper and play the part of the perfect knight-errant if this was actually going to work. So far so good apart from the onset when he nearly lost it right up front. She certainly knew how to push his buttons but fortunately there had been no real cause for her to be angry at him of late. He hoped the pattern was a holding trend.

He’s being awfully quiet all-of-a-sudden. What’s going through that crazy head of his? No sooner had the devilish thought presented itself than Sarah gave into curiosity. I wish I knew what Jareth’s been thinking about right now. Her mind was suddenly flooded with his voice, softer than if he had actually been speaking out loud but perfectly clear nonetheless. She’d pretty well caught the gist of his train-of-thought when it suddenly stopped dead: she looked up and he was openly gaping at her in shock - he had noticed!
“What? You do it to me all the time!”

There wasn’t much of a comeback for that kind of logic. Jareth’s mind was reeling at the implications of what she had, in all probability, just heard, and, from the uncomfortable, worried look on her face as she stared at the wall with her hands in her lap, his fears seemed to be justified.

Well, so much for that, he thought dejectedly. Damn, now what am I supposed to do?

Sarah started again, sounding unsure of herself, still looking away. “…Jareth, would you promise me something?”

“What?” Anything, please just end this travesty!

“…don’t play-act with me. I want you to be totally honest.” She looked right at him. There was a false determination in her eyes that was vainly trying to mask the insecurity right behind it, turning the look almost pleading instead.

Oh Sarah, do you really believe that I’d toy with your emotions just to get you to like me? he sighed aloud, even I can understand that fear. What do I have to do to make you understand?

To her utter surprise he suddenly sat up as straight as possible, looking every inch the royal that he was, and he raised his right hand. “I, Jareth Ravensong, child of the House of Anwnn, present King of the Goblins and Lord of the Labyrinth, do solemnly swear by the Underground and all the powers therein that I will never knowingly lie to you, Sarah Angela Williams, nor will I act toward you in any way contrary to my true feelings to the best of my abilities for all eternity, provided that you come to no harm because of it. Is that satisfactory?” Sarah blinked a few times, her breathing quietly quickened, stunned. “You weren’t expecting that, were you?” he cocked his head slightly aside, eying her reaction. That edge of mischief had crept back into his voice. Sarah was still struggling to make a meaningful sentence.

“…admittedly no, but y-yeah, that’s good,” she managed to blurt out, quickly nodding, amazed that he had just taken so serious an oath just to please her.

“It also benefits me that you know I must be unswervingly truthful in dealing with you.”

“Oh right, the whole ‘trust’ thing.”

He quietly looked down and away.

“…that was a very smart move, by-the-way.”

“…thank you.” Okay, that was awkward, he was openly admitting that she played the game well. He met her eyes.

“That was one thing I always liked about you: you have spirit and nerve. A sharp mind and a strong heart and you aren’t afraid to use them.”

“Don’t you think you’re laying it on a little thick?” she quietly laughed, not entirely sure how to react.

“It isn’t flattery if it’s true, Sarah.”

It was almost unnerving how his eyes could just completely hold her with that penetrating, mesmeric gaze, as if he could see right through to her core and understand her without judging…so easy to get lost, so beautiful…………damn it…………must look away………

“Sarah…” He still hadn’t broken its spell, knowing that she was at present hopelessly in thrall. It would be so easy to enrapture her with his voice at this point…no, there will be a time for that. I hope… “Shouldn’t you be getting ready?” She was suddenly shocked back to reality and blushed furiously. He had started it but she’d just kept right on staring like a teenager!

“I’ve got to clean up first,” she covered for herself, abruptly standing and making a move toward the plates. He made a slight gesture for her to stop.

“No need.” Before she could even blink everything was sitting in the dish rack, perfectly clean! She gaped in surprise, floored. “Kudos to the chef,” he pointedly looked at her and the meaning was not lost on her - she’d just done it again! She’d given him power without even meaning to!

Good gravy, at the rate he’s going he won’t ever need to lie - he knows every trick in the book! Jareth regarded her wearily and gave a theatrically affected sigh before raising his right hand and sitting up straight again. “No! Wait!”

“Are you absolutely sure this is alright?” he asked, looking playfully devious.

“Don’t take any more oaths on account of me; that sort of thing’s way too serious!”

It was too much fun goading her on. “I swear-”

“STOP IT!” she laughed.

“…very well,” he drawled, lowering his hand back to the table and sitting back with a triumphant, seductive little smirk. She just stood there looking at him, shaking her head.

“For someone who’s centuries old, you sure don’t act like it.”

“I take that as a compliment. And besides, who in their right mind would want to spend all of eternity being dour?”

“You have a point,” she conceded, nodding, as she walked away to her room. He got up shortly thereafter and went into the living room, making himself at home on the recliner as if it were his own throne, one leg draped carelessly over the side. Sarah called back from her room. “There’s still one thing I don’t totally follow, though.”

“What’s that?”

“If you’re immortal, how come you talk about people of your kind dying?”

It was a logical, if somewhat uncouth, question, but he conceded it deserved a decent answer.

“Immortal by your standards, assuredly, but it is only half-truth. We cannot grow ill - at least it’s very nearly impossible - and after achieving a sort of personal maturity we don’t age at all for about four millennia. It is almost unheard of for us to die of internal natural causes: there simply are none. I continue to be amazed at how much my kind can live through, though - no one said we can’t experience pain. There are ways to kill a Sidhe, but the feat is never undertaken lightly - fail and your adversary will almost assuredly make the rest of your life a living hell. It is an extremely serious offense to endanger the person of one of my rank but these things do happen. The ages weigh more heavily on some minds than others. My world has been literally riddled with petty wars over this and that for nearly as long as I can remember since the division of the kingdom in my extreme youth; the land finally proved too hard for the control of one. That’s part of why the Labyrinth was built - it doubles as an almost impenetrable fortress when the region is under attack. I fear there is never an if about the situation: it is merely a part of existence. Even I utilize armor in my regular wardrobe when I am forced to traverse my domain. That’s why I had the Bog installed - streamlines punishment nicely, isn’t a bad standing threat to the outside world, either; its presence alone - and the common knowledge of my control over it - has cut down the number of annual minor disturbances impressively. Really, Sarah, I am going to have to educate you in proper topics of conversation, you get me started off on the strangest subject matters,” he teased.

“You’ve been asking a lot of bizarre questions yourself.”

“Bizarre? Me?”

She was so glad he was in the other room so she could fight back her laughter privately without him knowing. Well, without as much of a chance of him knowing, really, oh forget it. “You don’t pick up a box of tampons and just ask some clerk what they’re for! It looks insane coming from someone your age!”

“Well, you can’t take for granted that I’m going to automatically know everything there is to know around here. I haven’t been coming to this world much recently since calls on me have all but ceased. At any rate, there are distinct physical differences between human and fae women but that’s definitely a topic of conversation for a much later date.”

Then again there were certain similarities that never failed to take his breath away. A fae woman could always cheat her true appearance, often radically. Using glamour to look more beautiful and enticing was a common-enough trick (he had experimented with it himself in his earlier days when he was the sole cause of his parents’ increasing worry; he was never truly pleased with the results, however, and quickly abandoned the practice). A human woman, on the other hand, with a few drastic exceptions, could only slightly alter her appearance with cosmetics and clothing: what she had, she had. And Sarah definitely had it. She had finally reemerged from her room in a small, lilac dress with a floral print and gauzy sleeves that only tied together in a couple of places, giving it an extremely old-world look, Roman almost. Jareth considered it small because the light fabric only hid one knee in an asymmetrical cut and there was only one layer of it. She wore a small necklace that had as the centerpiece a clear oval of some substance in which was encased real wildflowers, trapped as if in ice or amber. With her long, dark brown hair down and cream-colored long-ribboned sandals racing up her legs, the effect of the cut and color of the dress was nothing short of stunning. Jareth openly appraised her, looking her up and down, and liked what he saw, a small knowing smile growing in one corner of his mouth.

It’s like he’s never seen a woman before, Sarah mentally rolled her eyes. I hope for his sake he can keep his eyes to himself once we get there.

He suddenly looked down at his burgundy dress shirt and quickly back up to her, drastic concern overtaking his features.

“We don’t match!”

Sarah was caught off guard and doubled over laughing for a moment, suddenly realizing the kind of thing he considered a crisis. Cautious confusion had replaced his concern when she looked at him again.

“Figures you’d worry about that,” she said, still giggling a little bit, shaking her head.

“Are the males here really this colorblind?”

“Only the heterosexual ones,” she surrendered a sad smile.

Unperturbed, Jareth stood up and spread his arms out a bit, almost as if at the tailor’s, eyebrows raised. “Well?”

Sarah thought for a moment with her arms crossed, a smirk left of her smile. “Make it black.”

He shook his finger at her with a growing, rakish grin. “I like the way you think.” He snapped his fingers with his arms down almost straight, head angled away to the side and down, eyes closed in a model’s pose. The shirt turned black. And silk. The top couple of buttons were undone, showing just a little bit of the chain of his pendant. She had to admit the effect was sexy but he was still showing off.

“It was just killing you being that plain, wasn’t it,” she teased him.

“I do have a natural flair for this sort of thing.” He took an unexpected step forward and caught her right hand, bringing it to his lips. “And especially when my escort insists on being so ravishing.” She unceremoniously wriggled her hand free of his grasp, whipping the arm away and almost accidentally whacking him in the nose.

“Escort? Try ‘acquaintance,’ possibly ‘friend’ if you can manage to be decent for that long.”

He sighed, slightly crest-fallen. “A little chivalry never hurt anyone…” his brow suddenly knit as if he were remembering something, “no wait…I take that back…”


“The hour grows late! Shall we?” He proffered his arm. Sarah gave an exasperated look at his attempts and his patient, teasing smile and finally relented, taking it.


It seemed to Jareth that realism, with few exceptions, had been scrapped in favor of emotional and psychological expression.

Or whatever-the-hell one would call this, he thought with a mental grimace. The piece he was currently viewing struck him as if the artist had swallowed a considerable amount of paint, put the canvas on the ground, and then proceeded to be ill. All over the canvas. The piece was entitled ‘Subway.’ He leaned in slightly to quietly talk to Sarah to his right. “Tell me, Sarah, is all modern art like this?”

“If you hate it so much we can just leave.”

“Oh no,” he protested, shaking his head, “I am going to continue ‘broadening my horizons.’” I may need this to do it, however, he thought a bit wryly as he walked past the other patrons to the tray in the far corner of the room for another flute of champagne.

Sarah hadn’t been kidding when she said iron was everywhere; it was even in the jewelry and other things such as watches and belt buckles that the public at large wore - even studs of steel in the clothing itself - and he found himself having to be excessively careful about not coming into contact with the crowd, which was far often easier said than done. All the art galleries they had attended that night had been literally packed with people; it was a gorgeous night and the whole city seemed to be out enjoying it.

Denver really wasn’t that large of a metropolis relatively speaking, but the downtown proper seemed enormous to Jareth. One imposing castle with a decent expanse of land and surrounding villages was one thing, but row after row after row of steel buildings that seemed to shoot straight out of the ground and topped out anywhere from fifty to a hundred stories high was a staggering sight to behold. Sarah had caught him on more than one occasion staring up at the tops of them with this expression of wonder and astonishment as they walked down the street, making the odd impression of a child seeing the big city for the first time. Sarah had once done exact same thing when she was little, growing up in upstate New York, on the rare occasions when she was allowed to go downtown to watch her mother perform. It was genuinely bizarre how extreme his extremes were; on the one hand he could be as cold and unrelenting as any of the steel buildings he was admiring and on the other he could be playful and silly and strangely gentle.

It’s like living with a lion, she thought, currently watching him walk back with another drink. He even has the mane…wait, that glass makes five. “I don’t want to come off sounding like the party-pooper here but don’t you think you ought to be easing off a bit on the alcohol there? Those little glasses are a full serving apiece and you’ve already had four.”

“I’m well-aware of what I’m doing, Sarah. You couldn’t get me drunk if you tried.” He got close and whispered in her ear so no one else could hear him. “That stopped working three-hundred years ago, love. I can still voluntarily intoxicate myself but it takes a bit more work and a stronger substance. Another time perhaps; this isn’t exactly the ideal situation.” He came away with a look of taunting hauteur. Sarah wore her surprise openly as she scrutinized his face. With the exception of his enigmatic eyes - they were either ancient or ageless, she could never quite decide - the rest of him appeared as a good, solid 35 years with no premature aging.

He looks younger than I do, it’s disgusting! Just how old is he?

Jareth noted the question flicker behind her eyes, trying to tease out his secrets and unable to do so upon examination. He flashed her a full, peevish smile - rubbing it in - before the mask of aristocratic indifference fell comfortably back into place as he stalked over to the next wall-mounted piece.

“Now, this one isn’t too bad,” he gestured with his champagne flute. It actually looks as if conscious effort went into making it. “It’s so intricately rendered - look at the level of detail! What media did he use for this one?” he asked before taking a sip. Sarah looked at the number and checked the pricing pamphlet.

“Color pencil and oil pastel with some airbrush paint.”

It was a formless blob but it had an odd amount of continuity and effectively drew the eye around itself. Jareth was studying it, eyebrows furrowed, trying to make sense of it.

“And this one’s…a race track.”

“It’s an amoeba.”

“I was so close that time!”

At which point Sarah started quietly having a cow - it was just too ridiculous! Jareth watched her as she bit her lip and shook with silent laughter, desperately trying not to do it aloud - the artist was mere yards away, chatting with fellow artists and admirers alike. Jareth had to suppress a small chuckle himself (her laughter was infectious) and placed one hand on her shoulder, trying to make his smile behave, the mirth trickling through his voice anyway. “It is going to be alright, Sarah.” She managed to compose herself enough to stand back up straight, forcing herself to take a deep breath as she discreetly dried her eyes with her finger.

“Okay, I think I’ve had all the fun I can stand here. Ready to go to the next one?”

“If you are.” He looked at his glass for a moment and put it to his lips as if he were about to toss the whole thing back in one swig. Sarah caught him by the arm.

“If for no other reason than there are other people watching us…”

He side-glanced at her and then put it down on the floor by the wall with a look of quiet resignation.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” To more than you realize, my dear…

They walked to the door, her following him very closely since there wasn’t enough room to walk side-by-side, but when they got there he stepped aside and let her open it for him. It was driving him crazy that she was opening all the doors when grooming and tradition told him they were doing it all backwards, but all the handles had iron, too!

If she ever comes back to the Underground I’m going to make sure that she never gets to open another door again, not even when she’s alone! He accidentally let the grimace surface since he had been thinking of other things than the present moment and Sarah caught it.

“I appreciate that you must be fighting that chivalrous impulse to open all the doors but I assure you it isn’t against the rules for a woman to do this here. Besides, who knows what would happen to you if you did.”

“I would either get instant third-degree burns or virulent poisoning. Or both.”

Sarah swallowed, eyes wide and blinking. “…there you go.”

Jareth walked past her with a nod of recognition through the now-open door, careful not to touch the frame, and looked up at the night sky as they walked to the next building. The moon was at about half-full but it looked cold and distant; it was always close and brilliant at home no matter what the phase. But that wasn’t what was troubling him.



He looked right at her, his expression a mixture of dire concern and utter despair.

“Why are there no stars?”

Sarah stopped walking; the question had caught her off-guard. The sadness in his mismatched eyes almost hurt, as if she had been the one guilty of such an unspeakable calamity. She had to fight to compose herself before she could answer him.

“They’re still there, I promise, it’s just that the city is shining so brightly that it’s drowning them out, sort of like the sun does during the day.”


“Oh yeah,” she sounded matter-of-fact now, “you can actually see our larger cities at night from outer space - we have the pictures to prove it.” She smiled at him lightly and started walking again.

What a bizarre world, where even the stars don’t matter anymore, he reflected, his hands held behind his back as he paced on. ‘I’ll leave my love between the stars.’ ‘I move the stars for no one.’ No wonder it meant nothing to her. He almost failed to notice that she was heading toward another building and she had to call after him to break his reverie.


He suddenly looked up at her and had to backtrack to the entrance while she waited for him. Sarah was beginning to think that he was having trouble trying to walk slowly to keep pace with her since his legs were so long in comparison to his body - he always picked up speed effortlessly when he wasn’t paying attention. The bright, inviting glow before him was, rather, another art gallery. This one had a poster on the door that said there was work by no less than three artists inside.

Better odds at least, he thought dryly as he walked through the umpteenth door she’d had to open for him that night. The gallery was split up into a ground level, a loft level, and a small side room with a T.V. The place was totally deserted aside of the help at the merchandise area near the front. To Jareth’s surprise and amusement, Sarah gravitated toward that first, eying some pieces of natural-looking jewelry. A necklace with a spiral carved out of bone, amber bead earrings, and ‘fairy vials’ filled with herbs were among the offerings as well as the regular hand-dyed scarves, glasswork, pottery, and few articles of altered clothing with prints. Suddenly something caught her eye and a wisp of a bittersweet smile crossed her face.


He looked up.

“Something for you.” She was holding up yet another formless t-shirt; this one was black and had the phrase “I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” on it in silver.

He quirked a smile. “I think not, but this one would look nice on you,” he reached past her and grabbed one hidden deep in the pile. It had the same slogan painted on askew, but this one had once been a tank top and had been converted into a bodice top of sorts, ribbon and bead decorations along the seams, lacing up in the back in such a way that the spine was exposed.

“I couldn’t possibly-”

“Nonsense, and it will match nearly everything you own.” The sad thing was he was actually right; it looked like the kind of thing that could be dressed up or down as the situation required. She took it from him, checked the price tag and winced. “I’ll repay you.”

She looked incredulous. “Are you planning on taking a day job?”

“I have my resources,” he looked away sideways.

“You’d better not be stealing,” she muttered.

He was cheerfully unfazed. “I won’t.”

Sarah paid with a check so she’d have time to make another deposit to cover it and they went into the movie room. All the lights had been turned off and the credits were rolling. Jareth watched the glowing names scroll up the screen, mesmerized. She lightly tugged his sleeve.


“Did you want to just stand there? Let’s go sit down.” There were carpeted blocks of wood fashioned into an amphitheater of sorts and he chose to sit in the very middle. Jareth pointed up at the monitor.

“What is that remarkable device? I noticed that you have one also but there was no manual to instruct me how to use it so I left it alone.”

Sarah just bowed her head and covered her face with one hand, dragging it down, knowing full well that they were within easy hearing range of the counter. She whispered just loud enough for him to hear, “It’s a television set, and would you mind terribly not asking me these things in public?”

“How else am I ever going to learn?”

“I know, I know.”

He suddenly lip-smiled, turning to look at her, amused. “I embarrass you, don’t I?”

Her tone was apologetically cautious. “Well, it isn’t exactly you, but people do tend to stare at you like you’re from outer space when you say things like that.”

“I shall strive to remember my queries and put them to you privately then, but I will expect full explanations for my trouble,” he teased, wagging a finger at her.

“Fine, whatever. Shh, it’s starting.”

They watched the title go by - Aztec Fertility Dance - and for once Jareth actually knew what they were talking about and smirked in anticipation of Sarah’s reaction; it would be strong one way or the other… Heavy percussion and tribal singing came from the surround speakers and the documentary-shaky film suddenly started. A dancing man, shown from the chest down only, seemed to have blood and paint smeared down his chest and religious regalia on his wrists and ankles, beads and feathers. But Sarah barely noticed: there was a bright blue feather boa attached to his groin, wriggling all around and…and…

“Oh my god, that’s sick!” Sarah breathed, suddenly crossing her legs as far as they would go.

Jareth burst into laugher at her open disgust and briefly applauded her. “It is refreshing to know that you have grown up, dear, but we are adults here. That’s a representation of their feathered-serpent god, Quetzalcoatl.”

“I don’t care what it’s supposed to be, it’s …..oh! My mind is officially scarred now; I’ll never be able to hear the word ‘Aztec’ ever again,” she said, standing up and making a hasty retreat toward the door to the rest of the gallery with her purchase, still blinking in shock. Oh my virgin eyes, that was just wrong! And he knew that was going to happen?! Yuck!

How the times change, Jareth wanly smiled, shaking his head, following her out. They made the mandatory circuit downstairs but Sarah wasn’t really paying attention, much to Jareth’s amusement. “You obviously have just witnessed something which has deeply disturbed you. Would you care to discuss your feelings?” It was a perfect psychiatric tone.

“Absolutely not.”

“You know you’re not doing yourself any favors by repressing it, love. It’s bound to pop up sooner or later.”


“…very well, I shall be silent.”

“Yes, but it never lasts,” she finally got a barb in.

“I suppose that’s true.”


His gaze was one of wearing patience; the game was getting old in a hurry and she wisely dropped the conversation much to his surprise.

She’s voluntarily backing down?! Perhaps I’m gaining ground with her after all.

Sarah finally ascended the spiral staircase in the back of the gallery to access the landing and he followed, careful not to touch the steel railing. “Ah, now this is more like it,” he said, his interest suddenly refreshed: it was a set of computer-graphic augmented ‘faery portraits.’ “Although they could’ve utilized a more glamorous species than those little ankle-biters.”

“Oh, like you.?”

“Well…yes, I have had my portrait commissioned; it’s a life-size. Used to hang in the front hall but it kept getting vandalized. I had to resort to locking it away in my study.”

“Only the best.”

The sarcasm wasn’t lost on him and he reflected that such a process must be a rarity in her world where so much technology was at everyone’s disposal. He had barely been there a couple of days and he already could not imagine human existence without the internet.

“They aren’t real, you know,” Sarah added, just to make sure.

“I guessed as much. I doubt they’d stand still long enough.”

Sarah sighed. Sure, he was stuck up, but did photography even exist in his world? Portraiture was, in all probability, still the only way of saving a likeness. She smirked. At least it isn’t a statue, I’ll bet that’s next… “I can’t believe I’m saying this but have you ever considered putting some kind of repellent spell on it?”

He turned to meet her eyes, genuinely intrigued. “Not enough to hurt them but just something to throw whatever vile substance it is this time-”

They ended together -

“back in their face!”

Sarah closed her mouth in surprise and looked away, a bit embarrassed.

Jareth surrendered a smile. “No I hadn’t. It’s a good idea, actually.”

She blinked and made her way to the wall, slightly shaking her head. “Alright, I’ve been spending way too much time with you - I’m even starting to think like you!”

He laughed. “You’ve barely spent any time at all, dear. And when you have, believe me, you’ll know.”

She didn’t answer. Instead she was finally admiring a work of art for the first time all evening: it was a crouching fairy woman with monarch butterfly wings, a leaf dress, and a mask of mist that trailed far back through a verdant maze of circular tree branches, forming a tunnel of sorts. Sarah glanced at the title and smiled, nodding: Labyrinth.

Of course it is! Why would it be anything else? she thought sarcastically. There were a myriad of faces in the smoke; the curling roots looked like arms. In spite of how close to the viewer the front figure was the gaze was immediately drawn back in farther.

Sarah didn’t even notice that Jareth had walked away until she went to look at the next piece. He was already several down the line, not content to wait for her for once. He was currently drinking in the sight of the back view of a mature female nude with small feathered wings. She had just hatched from an egg and was still dripping in amniotic fluid, gluing her thick, long, blonde hair to one wing, draped over. The small of her back was temptingly exposed with golden sunlight shining through the rest of the egg, hinting powerfully at what was left hidden, highlighting her supermodel face, her shoulders, her sumptuous curves perfectly against the green grass backdrop. Lush was an inadequate description, the attention to detail was mind-boggling for an oil paining. Sarah rolled her eyes and shook her head with a slightly disgusted little smirk. Figures. She walked past him to the edited photo right after - a small glowing, androgynous fairy on a mushroom, covered in tattoos from head to foot was about to be surprised by an equally golden tabby cat sneaking up on it from behind in the tall grass.

“Beauty is beauty and should be appreciated as such…especially when it is on display.” He turned to see her slightly surprised expression and smiled a secretive little smile.

I don’t care what he says he is, he’s a man. That was when the next painting took Sarah’s breath away. The subject matter was an old theme - a faun playing a double-flute - but it was the way it was portrayed. Most of the picture was in muted, earthy tones since it was autumn and most of the leaves were off the trees of the forest and carpeting the ground, but it only made the faun’s startling green gaze only pop all the more at the viewer. He was seated beneath a large oak tree in an easy, open-legged crouch. In spite of the fact that he was covered in ruddy fur from the waist down, it left nothing to the imagination. It was obvious that the painting was one of shamelessly casual seduction. His long, frizzy red hair cascaded behind his perfectly sculpted and tanned nude torso. There was undeniable heat in his eyes as he drank in the viewer as if she were every bit as naked as he was. Sarah could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks but she couldn’t look away. She didn’t even notice Jareth sneak up behind her until he whispered in her ear, making her jump.

“I believe you just accused me of voyeurism moments ago, and yet…”


“I’ll leave you two in peace,” he smiled teasingly at her shocked expression as he walked away to the far wall. The man was infuriating! …but what was even more infuriating was that he had been right yet again and she hated herself for it. How did he always manage to see through her so easily? But he was never judgmental, just a casual observer who wasn’t afraid to face her with the fact that she was human - and he was okay with it. All of it. It almost made her feel guilty at times and yet…strangely at ease around him; it was so odd. She turned to see who he was admiring this time, perhaps a bit more daring and uninhibited than she had been before since he had given her the okay to do likewise. She was openly appreciating the ‘beauty on display.’

God, he’s gorgeous, even from behind! Broad-shouldered yet wasp-waisted, Jareth cut a pleasingly striking figure, even in his more modest ‘earth clothing.’ He didn’t seem to notice her attention as he usually did - he was too wrapped up in what he was seeing. Sarah carefully walked up behind him and quickly realized why: the picture was of a female angel, her huge wings spread behind thick rusted iron prison bars against a gray stone background as if it were a dungeon. She sat at the opening of the cage - deliberately made too small so she couldn’t get her wings out and escape - hugging her knees to her, head bowed. She was nude but not exposed because of her pose, bespeaking less sensuality and more frailty. Her blonde hair fell forward, concealing her face.

Sarah was amazed at Jareth’s uncharacteristically open reaction. There wan an intense empathy and sorrow in his usually bright, haughty eyes, eyebrows knit, mouth slightly parted, as if he were feeling her pain himself. He reached out and gently stroked the crying figure, almost as if he forgot for a moment that it wasn’t real. The tenderness took Sarah’s breath away; she could’ve cried herself seeing him so deeply moved. Almost without her own volition she put her right hand on his left shoulder. He started and turned to look at her, the emotion still clouding his mismatched eyes. He was amazed to see the sympathy and understanding in her own eyes. She nodded her head without saying a word and he placed his own right hand over hers with a sad little smile, stealing one last look at the caged angel before taking the hand that had been on his shoulder warmly in both of his hands, silently leading her to the edge of the landing.

The rest of the crowd had caught up with them; the floor was packed but no one had yet ventured upstairs. Sarah leaned against the railing, gripping it, looking down and out and Jareth had to fight the urge to do the same - the railing was steel, too. The Burning Man bus had just pulled up to the curb and its eccentrically costumed occupants were taking the gallery by storm. Sarah watched them mingle freely with the crowd, baffled.

“What in the world…”

“Living art, Sarah.”

“I thought you hated this kind of thing!”

He stood behind her to the left with his hands clasped behind his back, speaking conspiratorially into her closest ear. “There is a difference between random bizarrity for its own sake and mythic figures. Now I will admit that I don’t know the cultural contexts for many of these but I recognize a few of them.” He scanned the floor. “Take that gentleman over there,” he pointed discreetly, “what do you make of him?”

Jareth had gestured toward a young shirtless man in cargo shorts. He wore a wreath of fake grapevines on his head with the clusters of grapes still attached but his hands were manacled in front of him and there was a strip of duct tape over his mouth.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Come, come, Sarah, it’s not that hard,” he lightly reprimanded her, “let us take this apart logically. What do you recognize?”

“…well, grapes were originally worn by the Greek god Dionysus, god of wine and revelry.”

“Don’t forget theatre,” he added pointedly, “very good, though. Now, what’s amiss with this fine character, hm? Just think about it logically, Sarah.”

“He has a bondage fetish.”

Jareth laughed. “I think you can do better than that, dear, although you may have a point; it wouldn’t be out of character. It’s something more obvious.”

“He’s restrained and he can’t talk.”

“You’re right on the cusp…”

“…it’s about repression! He’s creative and loves to have a good time but he’s not allowed to speak or act freely - society has bound him!”

“Bravo, Sarah! See, that wasn’t so hard now, was it?” But someone had just caught his eye because she was staring right at them and…no… yes, damn! He forced himself to smile at the stranger and gently took Sarah by the wrists, pulling her away from the edge of the landing, still wearing the fake expression.

“What’s going on?” Sarah asked playfully. “Do you want to leave that badly? Jareth?”

He didn’t speak until they were in the corner of the room. He suddenly stopped smiling.

“Now, I don’t want you to be frightened or even to look it; I need you to be the brave little actress that I know is still in there.”

Concern flooded her features in spite of herself. “Why? What’s going on?”

Jareth brought his tone of voice down to a barely audible whisper - they were no longer alone on the landing.

“I’ve just been spotted. Clean through the glamour,” he gritted his teeth. Sarah gasped, eyes wide. She quickly forced herself to conceal the reaction. “I thought all the witches in this country had been killed and the practice outlawed over a century ago! Now - your job is going to be to follow my lead and not to let on that anything is wrong: we have to get out of here before she makes it to the stairwell or we’ll be trapped! I know she means to wait for me down there if she can get through the crowd. Give us your left hand. Come on, there isn’t much time!”

Sarah cautiously did so and he squeezed it - hard - unceremoniously yanking a bit of energy from her.

“My apologies, Sarah, but this is extremely serious business. Are you alright?”

She felt as if she had just run for half a city block and was lightly panting. “What the hell did you just do?!”

He discreetly formed a small, light green crystal in his right hand. “I didn’t have enough power for the spell. This should distract her long enough for us to escape as well as acting to confuse her memory of us. Are you ready?”

Sarah pulled her hand free of his grasp, slightly disgusted with him, and caught her breath.


Chelsea could scarcely believe her eyes - or her luck - but there he was, plain as day: a full-blooded Sidhe on the second floor! His smile, while obviously forced, was dazzling. He was using a light glamour but it wasn’t enough to conceal his true identity if one knew how to look. The truly strange thing was that he was in the company of a human woman, one without the ‘sight’ to boot.

She might not even know! she thought as she began to try to work her way through the thick crowd to the small stairwell at the back of the room. Perhaps she could talk to him - it was a chance not to be missed! What happened next happened so quickly that she didn’t even have time to react: instead of throwing the crystal or floating it down somehow (far too conspicuous), Jareth simply willed it to her. She was suddenly dazzled and lightheaded, the lights were too bright, the room too hot. Or was it? She had come this far into the crowd for a reason but for the life of her she couldn’t remember what it was! Perhaps she was dehydrated, everyone was shimmering. No, she was looking for someone, but who? Her friends wouldn’t be there for another hour. People were beginning to descend the spiral staircase but she could scarcely make out their faces. Had someone slipped her a drug? She wouldn’t drink any more from her glass. Finally some recess in the back of her mind managed to register that it felt like a spell. A spell! But who had cast it? If only she could remember! She tried to consciously fight it but it was no use; the magic was far too strong. A couple was coming down the thin stairwell but the man wasn’t even touching the railing in spite of how tight the angle of the screw was, how odd.

And he just smiled at me walking by! Should I know him? Oh well, they’re on their way out, I couldn’t reach them anyway. I’ll probably remember who he is once I’m feeling better and kick myself for not recognizing him. Chelsea was beginning to feel a little bit better as she forced herself to walk to the refreshment stand and asked for a bottled water, discarding the drink in her hand. Sarah almost felt sorry for the hopelessly confused woman as they headed out the door - she remembered that feeling. She turned to Jareth, distaste and questioning in her eyes as they briskly hiked back to her car - the nearest paid parking lot had been a few blocks away. He turned and read her expression.

“Don’t worry, Sarah, it’s already wearing off. She’ll eventually remember what happened and piece it together but both of us should remain a blank - she won’t be able to recall clearly what either of us looked like.”

The rest of the walk was as swift as it was silent, as was the drive back to her apartment, the evening thoroughly ruined for both of them. When they got into her apartment, Jareth immediately walked over to the recliner and collapsed into it, eyes closed, panting in relief that they had made a clean getaway. Sarah just stood there glaring at him, not sure whether to be more relieved that they had made it unscathed or irritated with him for casually toying with that poor woman just now, even if she had been some kind of a threat to his safety. He shook his head and eyed her wearily.

“That was far too close for comfort. I’ll have to create better shields in my glamour, ones that can withstand prying eyes.”

“Yes, you do that, because I don’t want you bespelling every hundredth person we meet!”

He looked suddenly worried. “Are there really that many of them?”

“…I don’t know,” she answered honestly, “but this isn’t your world and I don’t like you screwing with the people in it!”

He regarded her for a moment before closing his eyes again and slightly nodding his head, conceding. On impulse Sarah grabbed a thick art book off the shelf behind her and tossed it at him.


He did catch it - with one hand, the spine mere inches from making contact with his groin. He looked up at her smug smirk with just a hint of danger.

“You enjoy baiting me, girl.”

“Just returning the favor,” she teased. “Goodnight.” She turned and walked down the hall to her room.

“…goodnight, Sarah.” Sighing, he turned his attentions to the tome that she’d deliberately hurled at him and smiled appreciatively: it was a collection of Waterhouse paintings.
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