Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > 3,564 Clappers Later


by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

Shopping at the street mall and a casual experiment with vampyrism.

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2017-07-20 - 10461 words - Complete

Chapter 12 - Fashion

The heels of Jareth’s ever-present boots made a distinct clicking sound as he and Sarah made their way along the sidewalk down the extensive row of shop fronts at the 16th St. Mall in downtown Denver. Sarah glanced down at them for a moment, shaking her head with a wry smile. He noted her sarcasm.

“Oh what?”

“I know you’re a clothes horse, J., but those boots can’t be comfortable. Don’t they ever hurt your feet?”

He smirked at the comment. “You might be surprised at how comfortable they are.”

“Yeah right, and stilettos are for hikes in the mountains.”


“The evil spike-heels they put on some women’s formal shoes.”


She was staring straight ahead but he could still feel her attention and gave a laugh, watching her, amused.

“You really don’t believe me in spite of the impending wrath of the heavens if I truly lie.”

“Nope.” They had walked into a covered dead-end with shops all around and a few park benches surrounding a large planter built off the ground with a tree and flowers in it. He sat down and pulled his boots off, exposing his bare feet. It occurred to Sarah that she had never actually seen him barefoot before - he usually wore thin stockings that matched his breeches the few times she had seen him sans shoes.

“It’s hot; you’re not wearing socks yourself,” he observed with a sly little smile, noting that her attention had immediately been drawn down. Humans did their natural fetishes, feet and particularly toes being one of the most logical after the reproductive organs and the face considering the sensations those parts often experienced at the very heights of passion. Oh, to be able to feel like a human! Jareth had the rough approximation of nerve endings where he wanted them due to his ability to shift: he had to be in control of where they ended up and what they did along with everything else, which meant that most of the sensations he experienced were not only anticipated but controlled to a certain degree. It was debated among the Leanaan Sidhe that having little or no control over where and how much sensation was felt was far more pleasurable. Some had been known to seduce humans out of sheer envy, vicariously spurring on and exploitatively enjoying their victim’s sensations only to drop them as soon as it was over, leaving the poor human to waste away most of the time, unable to find any physical comfort in another human after what they had experienced with the greedy fae; the stories were notorious on both sides.

He said nothing for a moment, allowing Sarah to take in the sight of his feet. They were large, yet retaining a certain graceful, earthy line that almost bordered on an effeminate beauty like the rest of him. Unlike his hands, his feet were perfect. Sarah had never been one for feet but she knew she was about to make an exception; there was something about Jareth’s that was unspeakably sensual.

“Walk in my shoes for a bit,” he teasingly invited, holding the tall boots out to her. “Go on, try them out.”

“But they’re too big!”

“They won’t be,” he murmured without moving his lips. They were in an extremely public place; one couldn’t be too careful. Sarah sighed in faux exasperation and took them, sitting alongside Jareth as she ripped off her recycled Mary-Janes and tucked her capris up so she could put them on. It immediately struck Sarah as strange that they only smelled like very old leather in spite of the fact that he had apparently been walking in them barefoot all day.

Benefits of magic, she thought as she pulled them all the way up. No stinky feet. In contrast to the shine, they were softer than suede on the inside. To her surprise, they immediately fitted to her calves and feet as soon as they were completely on! They had a decent-sized heel but it didn’t feel as high as it looked. In fact, if she closed her eyes she couldn’t tell she was wearing them at all! Sarah got up and tentatively took a few steps…then skipped and leapt from the sheer ease of the movement, drawing a few curious looks from passers-by. They were almost unnaturally comfortable with support in places Sarah wouldn’t have ever thought of putting it. Jareth smiled, watching her enjoy them, solidly forcing her to put her rigid notions of hideously uncomfortable human footwear aside for the moment. Clothing was usually deceptive in Jareth’s world: who in their right mind would wear something truly constricting or painful?! It simply didn’t make sense! Goblins, of course, being the exception to the rule but since when was even having sense a priority with them? Coverings were specifically made to fit the personage intended and not the other way around.

“Light as air and fast as the wind - the cobbler did well when he crafted those. Apart from my crest it is the only article of clothing I wear that I cannot truly change.”

“Okay, you’ve made your point,” Sarah said resignedly, walking back to the bench. She was loath to have to take them off now, they made any of her regular shoes seem bulky and awkward in comparison. As she began to reluctantly pull on them to take them off, they automatically loosened for her so she could slip her feet right out. She handed them off.

“I’ll see if I can send you back a pair if we survive this ordeal,” he said, putting them back on under his black jeans. “They’re men’s boots but I have noticed that gendered clothing rules aren’t as strict in your world as they used to be. They could look quite nice with the right dress I suppose, not to mention under or over a variety of leg coverings. When did women begin to wear trousers here anyway? I don’t remember it always being so.”

But before Sarah could answer Jareth had looked up and noticed a shop he hadn’t seen before that had oddly familiar formal clothing hanging in the window and without any warning he made a beeline for it! Sarah looked up, startled, and suddenly realized where he had gone…

Oh for crying out loud…He had just made a mad dash straight into Goth-n-Go with the look of one who had just seen water in the desert! Sighing, Sarah got up and went in after him. Blaring heavy metal greeted her at the faux-rusty gates of the goth emporium as she entered. Sarah found him at the far back left, digging through poet’s shirts and pleather, vinyl and velvet pants. He had made his leather gloves reappear so he could handle pieces with metal without getting hurt. “What in the world are you doing in here? This is a teenager outlet!”

Jareth stopped to look up at her. “You have admonished my taste in clothing time and again for being inappropriate and out-of-time. Do you not remember our agreement from the previous night? Well, here it is, dear, and it all looks wonderful,” he pronounced triumphantly with a cocky smile. “It appears that you just lost your bet. Not to worry - I shan’t clean you out.”

“You’d better not; you still have plenty left yourself,” she whispered in his ear. He nodded with a half-smile.

“One pair of trousers and a shirt. Anything else I’ll catch.”


Not knowing what would fit (the quandary itself was novel) Jareth took several sizes of everything to the dressing room as Sarah perused the bizarre, morbid knick-knacks and jewelry along the brick wall. Why on earth anyone would be so interested in death was beyond her, but she could understand the attraction of fancier clothing: hot pink, green, and black corsets, all dripping in black lace and faux-silk ribbons; long intricately linked slave bracelets that attached not only the center finger to the wrist but higher up the arm as well; big theatrically flamboyant boots that ranged from black vinyl hooker thigh-highs and huge platforms to something straight out of a Victorian novel. There were even a couple of full velvet dresses with long, flowing Lilith sleeves and detailed edge embroidery hanging near the ceiling, one black with a burgundy centerpiece, the other pure ivory. The fronts laced up in ribbons with the middle panel in behind with the waists v-ed low in the center. Sarah reached up and felt the hem of the ivory one.


She quickly turned around when she heard Jareth’s voice. He had come out of the dressing room in a black poet’s shirt that laced loosely all the way up the collar tucked into bright, sparkly maroon vinyl pants that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Sarah swallowed, blinking.

“Well, the shirt’s fine I guess but those pants make you look like a gigolo.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh really?” he seductively drawled, taking slow, measured steps towards her with his thumbs looped into the front pockets, leading with the waist, his heated eyes never leaving her face. Sarah flushed profusely at the role he was suddenly playing and had to force herself to breathe.

“I meant they make you look cheap! Go change!”

“Very well,” he smiled a knowing smile, backing away to duck behind the velvet curtain again - she had just looked down at his package in spite of herself. How did the old human axiom run? ‘If you got it, flaunt it’ - wasn’t that it? Oh never mind, Sarah no doubt got an eyeful every day with his usual wardrobe; she wasn’t used to even seeing that much. The men here were almost ridiculously modest, seemingly scared of what it was that made them men! Moments later he came back out in polyester black slacks which didn’t fit to his taste but nevertheless met with approval. Putting back what hadn’t worked, he made his way around the rest of the store. While most of the material held a morbid obsession with mortality, suffering and bondage, there were some interesting ideas; these people certainly had a sense of humor if the t-shirts were anything to go by. The whole store smelled of Nag Champa and Dragon’s Blood incense. He finally made his way over to the back wall by the ceiling where Sarah had spent most of her time; she was currently digging through the lipstick, trying to find a color she would even consider wearing and mostly finding various shades of black. He looked up and saw not only the ivory dress but a long Victorian dress-coat in tapestried black and grey with silver skulls for the buttons that would work well with his outfit. Roughly guessing that Sarah was a medium, he got an employee to take down both items, catching up to her by the perfume side of the counter. “If I bought this for you, would you wear it?”

“I’ve already got a warm coat - thanks, though,” she teased him with a big smile.

“Very funny, Sarah.”

“Well you’re the one that wants to be a goth,” she countered. “A lot of them cross-dress.”


Sarah nodded.

“You never answered my question.”

“J., where would I even wear something that fancy?”

“Anywhere you want!” he exclaimed almost rapturously. “You used to-”

“J. - look - I used to do a lot of things that I don’t do anymore, okay? I haven’t pretended to be a princess since I was very young, since I…” she suddenly stopped, hurt and lost innocence clouding her eyes for a moment before her gaze dropped to the floor. She silently shook her head no. They had come a surprisingly long way in getting her to vent her emotions about the past but it should’ve been no surprise that the subject was still a bit tender considering what all had been going on in her life at the time even before she took that fateful trip. There had been a reason she had been trying to escape. He gently caught her chin, directing her gaze back up.

“Well, I shall just hope that you change your mind, then,” he said gently with a hint of a smile. “I still have to try the coat on; I’m nearly finished.”

She gave a curt nod, taking the shirt and pants from him, paying for them while she waited. And waited. And waited. Leaving the bag behind the register with the cashier, she walked back to the dressing room.

“Jareth? Is everything alright in there?”

“I can’t get into this confounded jacket; I haven’t had to do this manually since I was a very small boy! I can get in one arm or the other but I can’t get it to swing around to the other side it’s so close of a fit.” Sarah couldn’t believe what she was hearing!

“You’re telling me you actually can’t do it?” she asked, her amusement quickly growing.

“…yes,” he admitted through gritted teeth. How she must be enjoying this. Sarah silently laughed, shaking her head and putting a hand over her eyes; it would be just like teaching Toby all over again.

“Okay. Put the jacket on the floor upside-down and inside up, facing you.”

“But the floor’s dirty!”

“Then put it on the bench!”

“Fine. Now what?”

“You’ve done it?”

“Yes,” he tersely replied, growing impatient.

“Alright, I just didn’t know.”

“Can we get on with this?!”

“Okay, alright! Put your arms into the arm holes and fling the entire thing over your head; it should slip right on.” Sarah heard a whoosh of air as the drape billowed slightly. The idea was logical enough but whoever invented it hadn’t known about tight-fitting coats, Jareth thought as he struggled with the shoulders momentarily. At last it was on.

Yes, this will work nicely, he thought, watching himself turn in the mirror. He pulled aside the burgundy velvet dressing curtain. “Well?”

“Turn around.”

He complied, smiling.

“Yeah, that one’s you,” she sighed tiredly with a wry smile herself.

“You realize, of course, that I’m getting that dress for you anyway.”

Sarah shrugged. “It’s your money to waste; I can’t think of one occasion I’d wear it.”

“Then think of it as an early wedding present.”

Sarah blinked, looking equal parts suspicious and confused. “I’m sorry I don’t follow?”

“It would make a lovely gown if you could ever find the right gent,” he said with a rakish smile. Sarah eyed the dress and then him - she couldn’t tell if he was teasing or if he was being perfectly serious and either way it was bizarre beyond belief.

“…okay, that’s officially the weirdest thing that anybody’s ever offered to buy me but I guess it can’t hurt. Who knows? You might be saving me a few hundred dollars somewhere down the road.”

“Both wise and prudent,” he agreed with her decision.

What’s that playful little expression of his for? He conceded to let her help him out of the jacket and finally went to the counter to pay. There were different-colored sunglasses behind the glass counter case and a pair with red glass caught his eye. He had a rough idea of what they were for because he saw people wearing them constantly when it was too sunny but he’d never seen any like this; the glass was a deep crimson in elongated octagonal frames and there was a sideways ankh design that served for the earpieces! Fitting for one such as he. When Sarah saw what he was motioning the kid behind the counter to get him Sarah grabbed his arm and urgently whispered into his ear, “Those frames have iron - your face isn’t protected!”

He looked aside at her. “I guessed as much but thank you for the warning.” He took them from the boy with his still-leather-encased hands. Sarah could’ve sworn that the frames had suddenly flashed right before he tried them on. Whatever he’d just done had obviously kept them from hurting him but what? When he handed them back to the boy to add to his purchases the kid seemed surprised by the weight of the glasses, then quickly shook his head with his eyes closed for a moment as he rang it all up and bagged it. It was a bit suspicious that Jareth actually had that much cash on him but after the first bills were tested with a special pen the rest was quickly accepted and he was given his change and a receipt. “May I change in your dressing room and wear it all out?”

“Absolutely; go for it, man.”

Sarah followed him back to the end of the store for what she dearly hoped was the final time; the music was starting to get to her. After a few minutes he came back out in the new outfit - coat, sunglasses and all - with only one bag, the one that had her dress in it.

“Aren’t you hot in that jacket?”

“Not uncomfortably so. I think it’s mostly for show; it’s far too thin to offer any real protection.” Sarah had to admit that he actually looked pretty sharp in spite of his own taste. Dark and sinister, but sharp. “Are you sure you won’t try the dress on? Not even to humor me?”

Sarah looked at the bag with a bit of annoyance. He could be pestering at times. She guardedly met his eyes. “I’ll try it on but I’m not wearing it.”

“Of course not.”

She hadn’t seen him this passive in ages. What was it about this silly dress that had him so emotional? He was only passive when he didn’t like his natural responses; he could be so reserved in his outward demeanor that at times it seemed alien. This was one of those odd moments of not human and Sarah hoped it would quickly pass as she grabbed the bag from him and went into the dressing room. A couple of lights shaped like torches that were held in place by faux-iron sconces were the only source of light in the red room. Sarah sat down on the bench and stripped off her t-shirt, and capris and slid the dress over her head standing up. She had to work a bit to get the bodice laces adjusted - somebody before her had knotted them in an odd place - but once it was on it was really fairly comfortable in spite of the pretence. And, to Sarah’s dismay, incredibly flattering.

He’ll force me to wear it, she thought ruefully.

“May I see you?” His voice was normal again. Sarah took a deep breath and slowly drew the curtain aside, more than a little self-conscious. Jareth’s breath audibly hitched in his throat as he drank in the sight of her.

“Absolutely lovely,” he breathed, shaking his head in disbelief. He never could’ve been prepared for how good it looked on her. “A princess, once and always.”

“Jareth,” she looked away, embarrassed. Before she could protest he stepped into the dressing room with her, closing the curtain, turned her solidly-but-not-roughly to face the mirror and stepped in behind her a bit to one side, placing his hands lightly on her shoulders as if it were a pose for a formal portrait.

“What a pair we make,” he joked conspiratorially with a wry smile. They really did look as different as day and night; light and darkness; good and evil. But it wasn’t that simple anymore. Nothing had turned out to be as it had originally seemed. After a moment she stepped out of his grasp and back over to her pile of clothing, starting to struggle with the laces again. When he didn’t move she turned back around.

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all,” he smiled, crossing his arms.


He chuckled and strode back out into the store proper, closing the drape behind him. She was right that they had once seemed polar opposites and in many ways still were. But what is the night without the moon?

At last she reappeared in her street clothes, dress in tow.

“Ready to go?”

She nodded with a smirk. Stepping out of the store, Sarah fought back a wave of immediate apprehension - he stood out far too much for her comfort now. He was more or less a walking target. Jareth seemed rather blithe and unaware of the discreet stares they were receiving as they continued down the walk. At least until a woman wolf-whistled at him; he glanced back over the top of his sunglasses and flashed her a devastatingly gorgeous smile, surprising her to the point that she dropped a shopping bag.

“So much for trying to keep a low profile,” Sarah sighed.

“You worry too much, love. I’m less conspicuous now as far as glamour goes.”

“I could’ve gotten you human clothing ages ago if I’d known it was a problem!”

“Yes, but I didn’t want it. This I can take with me.”

Sarah just shook her head. “You’re still really singling yourself out this way, J. You look like a vampire for crying out loud!”

He glanced at her and gave her a slow, teasing smile. She forgot to breathe for a moment as her pulse started pounding in automatic fight-or-flight response: he had real fangs! He genuinely laughed at her reaction and quickly ran his tongue across his top row of teeth, making the canines even length again. Sarah was still staring in shock but there was a frowning, creeping smile.

“Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not.”

“Oh come now, who outlawed fun?” he teased her. Or was that a flirt? Sarah quickly changed the topic.

“What did you do to those sunglasses anyway?”

He shrugged. “I just turned the metal to silver, same as all the buttons and whatnot on the rest of it,” he said, making a sweeping gesture to the coat.

Her eyes went wide. “You’re joking.”

“No, why? Is it a problem?” He looked confused.

“I guess it isn’t but I wouldn’t be advertising it too loudly if I were you - you’re worth knocking over all-of-a-sudden.”

“You mean to tell me that precious metals are so rare in your world that someone would try to steal the buttons right off my jacket?”


He looked sobered as they walked on in silence. A skateboarder zipped by.

“It’s called a skateboard,” Sarah informed him, anticipating the question.

“Do you tire of my queries or can I ask you something?”

“It’s like living with a little kid sometimes but shoot. What were you thinking about?”

He hesitated for a moment. “Is your country poor, Sarah?”

She looked at him in surprise. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, with what you just said about silver being so precious, it made me wonder, that’s all. I’ve noticed that your money is mostly base metal and what isn’t is paper and plastic. The currency where I am from is gold and silver - this little display would only be paramount to wearing a few coins. I thought nothing of it. To not even have enough copper for your smallest spare change…”

“Well, that is a very good question but I’m afraid it’s not going to be an easy one to answer. There used to be a gold standard in the government to back up each of these cents; every last dollar bill was representative of a certain amount of gold in the treasury. The problem is the standard has been slipping for years due to a number of factors and our dollars have less and less worth and now people can buy on credit besides. Our own government owes billions to different countries all over the world and there’s no way we can ever pay them off.”

“So this entire nation is just waiting to collapse?”

“I hope not,” Sarah sighed. “I hope we have a ways to go but with the economy being as shitty as it is and getting worse every year you never know.”

Jareth proceeded to stare at the sidewalk in front of his boots. He seemed to be mulling something over.

“I know that look. The wheels are turning in there. What are you thinking about?”

“What would happen if a wealthy benefactor from a different country, say, a king, just decided to pay off your nation’s debt - strictly as a matter of future goodwill?”

“It would never work,” Sarah smiled, shaking her head, “but it’s a nice thought.”

“I just don’t care for the idea of you living somewhere unstable.”

“You think this is unstable? When was the last time you read the newspaper?”

“Sunday,” he grimaced.

“Oh, right,” she laughed.

“How quickly we forget.”

“It’s all a part of being human. Did you know that we forget at least 80% of everything that happens to us every day?”

He blinked in surprise. “No, I didn’t.” How much has she forgotten about? It seems a crime not to remember one’s life, especially when it is so short. Or those one loves. The processing mechanisms must not allow. But still. What will she forget about me? What has she already forgotten? He knew he would certainly think twice before administering the forgetting potion again - the creatures barely remembered anything as it was! There had to be a way he could let her stay in contact. “I was just thinking-”

“No kidding.”

He glanced at her and smirked. “I was just thinking, you’re going to have some power when this is over since I don’t plan on stripping it all; I have to have some way of repaying you for all of this! Would you like me to teach you how to use it?”

“How involved is it?”

“Scrying crystals; nothing you haven’t done before. You’ll simply be learning to perform solo. You could even look in on me from time to time.” It was left unspoken, he was too proud, but it was there: the silent plea not to forget him. Sarah nodded, putting her hand in the crook of his elbow, taking him by surprise.

“I think I’d like that.”

They had walked almost the entire length of the mall (it was several city blocks long) and Jareth couldn’t use the bus shuttle because the numerous metal railings were too easy to bump into. Sarah was about to turn them both around when she saw Corners Bookstore and decided to go in. Bright and busy as always, there were books even stacked up on the floor in places around the grand entryway there were so many. Sarah could’ve spent the entire day just in here; perusing the history and art sections, pouring over the new science magazines, maybe even looking for a new CD or two. She mostly listened to the public radio station in the car and it had exposed her to many different niche artists, mostly categorized as folk or world music, with some old jazz and classical thrown in just to even things out. Couple that with the motley group of musicians at the Merc and one arrived at a very diverse taste in listening material. Up until this point she had been so busy just corralling Jareth and trying to keep him preoccupied that it hadn’t dawned on her that he might actually not care for what she was playing for him; he never said boo to any of her decisions but he never really seemed interested, either, beyond a vague curiosity. For a natural musician, it was strange and possibly condescending behavior, as if he thought this was all there was so there was no use in complaining.

The store was awfully big and the chances of them getting separated were surprisingly high. Knowing that both of them would be stuck there for hours if they started reading, she took his hand and led him up the broad, long staircase to the second floor. Jareth was doing his best not to openly gawk but this place was more vast than his own personal library and he couldn’t help but think of all the new books with all the new learning and knowledge inside them that were lining every inch of wall and shelving in sight. Technical books that he could take home and use. Art books for his soul and his pleasure. Thorough and updated Aboveground history. And it was all there for the taking. But he didn’t have long to take it in because before he could even get his bearings Sarah was dragging him upstairs by his left wrist with purpose in her eyes.

Armies can’t stop her when she has that look, he thought, bemused. He allowed himself to be led past a myriad of shelves full of books - some lined up this direction, others lined up that (to be more aesthetically pleasing no doubt) until they came to a section of shorter, tiered wooden displays tightly bunched together, holding row upon row upon row of the little plastic cases that Jareth had been taught housed compact disks with recorded music. Sarah had at least the foresight to show him the difference between a CD, a DVD, a CD-Rom and which player was suitable for which so he wouldn’t accidentally make someone go deaf.

“If you want to listen to something other than what I’ve got, now is your chance to get it. I’ll just be on the other side over there,” she turned around and pointed to the classical section near the back. “If you want to hear something to see if you’ll like it or not, just put on a pair of headphones and scan the barcode on the back of the CD in question; it’ll play you some samples.”

Goodness, Jareth thought, watching her walk away before eying the shelves. She had been smiling as if she had guessed that this would be his weakness. Which one, which one? They all seemed to be somewhat categorized with the last names of the musicians in alphabetical order. He decided to first look for this David Bowie fellow he kept hearing that he resembled - he should at least know whether the association was a compliment or an insult. He finally found him under the ‘rock’ category and actually blinked in shock as he picked up an album with his photograph on the cover: apart from the bright orange hair, he was near-mirror image! There were extremely subtle differences here and there but the likeness on the whole was so striking that it was almost eerie. Perhaps the man had a drop of Sidhe blood in him and against incredible odds all of the recessive traits had come to the fore at once. It was highly improbable but not unheard of. Extremely curious now, he gingerly put on the headphones as Sarah had instructed, inwardly cursing the fool who had invented steel (it was everywhere), and ran the lines on the back of the package under a small series of blinking red lines. Joyously blaring electric guitar greeted his ears as the man began to tackle all manner of strange material, from outer-space aliens to the occult to pop culture and back again with odd observations and viewpoints along the way. The voice was definitely listenable but it was much more human than his appearance; it was gravelly and a bit nasal but it seemed to suit the genre well enough, very distinctive. This Bowie person had been performing for decades and had about two-dozen albums. If the covers were anything to go by, he changed his look drastically every so often, even trying to pass himself off as a woman occasionally. The completely unattainable urge to shape-shift probably, he thought grimly. It was all good music on the whole - he was a very clever writer - but Jareth wasn’t planning on getting a bunch so he just grabbed a ‘best of’ and moved on.

If the amount of reading material to be had in this world was staggering, the sheer volume and varieties of music was mind-boggling. It would take centuries just to listen to everything in this store. Jareth smiled. For once, time was on his side. Perhaps he didn’t have to be so cut off from the world if he could managed a wireless internet hookup at his castle. Goodness knows there were piles of dead computers in that junk heap just outside the city; now that he was aware of what they truly were maybe he could get one of them to work. It was worth a try.

Knowing that he didn’t have the luxury of time currently, he briefly skimmed through the different sections, trying to get at least a taste of each genre. Most of them had a very distinctive sound (and in spite of his personal conflicts with the Church he could see how Gospel music could inspire someone). The New Age category, however, had him completely stumped. The only unifying theme seemed to be that none of these artists had anything to do with each other. Yet here was otherworldly music; an Enya ‘best of’ quickly made it to the stack. The so-called ‘fairy music’ was a huge disappointment, though, far too cute and happy (he thought the ‘heavy metal’ category better suited the little beasts). Then something amazing caught his eye.

Estampie? Surely not… But indeed it was, and even though the instruments were better and many of the tunes had new accompaniment it was enough to make him wax extremely nostalgic. He hadn’t heard music like this since he was a young man; he had thought the last surviving manuscripts in the human world to have been lost to the sands of time, crumbled into so much dirt and debris like so many aspects of other human cultures that he had seen come and sadly watched passing. Yet here it was, right in his hands. Changed but surviving. Just like him. For some strange reason the album called Ondas was playing full songs instead of samples so he kept listening. By the time Sarah had picked out some Grieg and was ready to check out, he was still standing there. She walked over to get him and saw the emotion in his eyes; he looked extremely distant and a bit misty. After a moment he realized that she was there and he smiled, trying to blink it away.

“I simply cannot believe my ears, that this lasted to be performed again. Here, listen,” and with that he took off the headphones and carefully positioned them on Sarah, adjusting the headpiece. The lengthy piece ‘Reis Glorios’ was over half-finished but was still building in its stately, atmospheric manner, the lady’s voice soaring over the slow, warm accompaniment. The music was so rich that it alone conjured images: sunlight coming through the high windows of a fortress, bright with dust; tapestries hung over stone walls; banners in the wind; torches burning against the night. For a moment she thought she saw Jareth sitting on the rock sill of a large window with one leg carelessly draped over the edge, the other bent at the knee, pensively looking out over a forest; it was either dusk or dawn from the color of the sky. She blinked and looked at him, surprised. He simply nodded - she had seen true. One glimpse of the past. He hadn’t changed at all. She thought her heart would pound out of her chest as he went to stroke her hair. With the music playing it was as if she could see into his very soul through his usually impenetrable eyes, as if he was saying ‘this is who I really am’. Suddenly the song ended and she was stranded in the here and now, the moment over. She took off the headphones and placed them back over the wooden peg.

“It’s very pretty but I don’t understand a word she’s saying,” she smiled.

“It isn’t the original arrangement either but it still works.”

“Oh, I didn’t say I didn’t like it, I just wish-” She caught herself right before saying it. Jareth smiled conspiratorially.

“You’re learning.”

“Well, yeah, I don’t have much of a choice. Were you about finished or did you want to look around a little more? I noticed that you made a whole circuit of this area.”

“Sarah, I could spend years in here but there is one last thing before we go,” he said, grabbing the entire Estampie repertoire. “Is there a decent history section?”

“It’s only a fifth of the store,” she smiled. “What were you interested in?”

“Recent history. From 1500 on to the present.”

Sarah bit back a surprised laugh. “I’m not sure that’s classified as ‘recent’ but there must be some textbooks - that would probably be your best bet for thorough. Let’s go see what they have.”

He grabbed the entire stack of Estampie and a couple of newer Mediaeval Baebes albums and they went back downstairs to the history section. While there were books devoted to different figures or even single battles, they did locate some ridiculously huge tomes as bic as a college dictionary in the oversize section that started in 1492.

That should cover everything, Sarah thought wryly as she tried to pry the stupid thing out of the bookshelf - it weighed a ton.

“Allow me.” Jareth put down his stack of CDs on the shelf and picked it up as if it were as light as a magazine. Balancing it in the crook of his elbow, he placed the CDs on top of it as Sarah just stood, shaking her head.

“What? You couldn’t lift it.”

“It isn’t that, it’s just that you take so many things in the stride that…”

“…are out of the ordinary?”

She gave a laugh and nodded. “Clark Kent you aren’t.”


Sarah suddenly paled with a light gasp. “Oh crap, you don’t know a thing about our culture, do you? How could I have been so stupid?! Come on!”

They ran back upstairs to the DVDs and Sarah began rapidly scanning the shelves, picking out a few: the original Superman with Christopher Reeve, West Side Story, a documentary on the Apollo moon landings, Forrest Gump. She already had some of the old classic musicals and Disney movies at home and she could borrow more material from the library but there were just certain references that couldn’t go unchecked without raising suspicion. They finally checked out at one of the registers downstairs and left with their purchases. On the way home Sarah pulled into the drive-up of a La Fresca Organic Coffee and Juice Bar and ordered a large cup of joe, black - then got a small mocha at Jareth’s insistence. Well, sort of.

“But I wanted to try what you’re having!”

“Jareth, coffee is an acquired taste like alcohol: the first time you have it you hate it. I ordered yours mixed with chocolate, milk, and sugar; you’ll probably like it better that way. You can have first sip of mine but consider yourself warned.” She pulled up to the window, paid the lady at the register, and set the drinks in the car cupholders. Jareth picked up Sarah’s and took the promised sip - and immediately grimaced at the bitterness.

“This is awful!” he declared, putting it back down. “How on earth can you drink that?!”

“I told you,” Sarah laughed, “black coffee isn’t for all tastes. Yours should be a little safer.”

Not having any idea what to expect now, Jareth tentatively tasted his own…and was pleasantly surprised. It had a rich, sweet, earthy taste…with a bitter after flavor. But it wasn’t as offensive as the stuff was plain. He proceeded to insist on listening to the rest of the Estampie album Ondas for the remainder of the trip and much to Sarah’s amusement he sort of danced along in the car seat with his eyes closed. At last they got back to the small apartment complex and hauled everything up the stairs and inside. Sarah started washing and chopping vegetables for a casserole.

“Would you care for some help?”

“Nope, it’s my turn,” she grinned. “Why don’t you go pick out a movie.” He went to the living room and started digging through the bag of DVDs on the couch.

“What’s this West Side Story about?”

“Updated Romeo and Juliet.”

“Hmm, sounds interesting. Would you mind seeing it tonight?”

“No, that’s fine.” Guess we’ll start with the familiar stuff, Sarah thought. I still can’t quite believe that he was around for the real thing! I wonder if he ever saw any of those staged… Unfortunately with her mind in one place and her chopping hand in another, she missed the end of the carrot she was quickly cutting into thin circles and got her pointer finger instead. She let out a yelp of pain and surprise and immediately thrust it into her mouth out of habit. And suddenly had a horrible idea. She pulled it back out to look; it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been but it was still pretty deep and bleeding a lot. Jareth was immediately at her side.

“What happened? Are you alright?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” she said, washing it under cold water with soap, “just daydreaming at the wrong time and I accidentally cut myself.” She went to the bathroom to get a bandage but the idea was still turning over in her brain; she couldn’t shake it, it just wouldn’t let go. It might actually work. She didn’t put any ointment on it, just in case. Feeling jittery, she walked back to the kitchen to find all of the vegetables chopped and Jareth sautéing them. “Oh really, you didn’t have to do all that!”

“Are we going to be more careful?”

She let out an exasperated sigh rolling her eyes. “Yes.”

He glanced over to her with a quiet little smile and handed her the wooden spoon. She started stirring then suddenly stopped, moving the skillet over and turning off the burner. He was still there, worriedly watching. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, leaning on the oven handle.

“I have to ask you something.”

“Would you care to sit down?”

She immediately nodded, suddenly feeling very small. He took both of her hands and gently clasped them in his, leading her to the couch. They both sat simultaneously. He removed his small fashion glasses and set them on the coffee table before holding her hands once more, massaging her palms with the thick of his thumbs. It felt wonderful and from the sparkle in his eyes it looked like he knew it.

“Now, what’s on your mind?” he asked quietly.

You sure know how to distract a girl, Sarah thought, now ruing what she had to say because it would totally ruin the moment. “Have you seen any of the original Shakespeare performances?”

He laughed. “A few. Titus Andronicus. Macbeth. A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” he smiled, “but I get the feeling there was more than that.” His expression had turned serious. There was no escaping this. She closed her eyes.



“Are …are any of your kind…oh I can’t say it!”

“Should I just look?” he prompted gently. She quickly shook her head no.

“Vampires?” she managed to blurt out. His thumbs immediately stopped and she opened her eyes, daring to glance at him. He gave a sad sigh and swallowed. This did not bode well.

“Allow me to start by stating that, to the best of my knowledge, I am not. With that said, yes, but it is an extremely individual trait. Either one is or one isn’t and the degree of dependence varies as well. The urge usually appears during the nymph stage and thank the gods the savage days are behind us. In my grandsire’s day the first kill was the rite of adulthood whether one had any desire for human blood or no. Society has greatly reformed since then and, with the odd masochist aside, the mortals involved are merely donors now. A feeding sidhe usually has several that they can call upon at healthy intervals in return for some kind of service. I’ve heard of everything from money to inspiration being used in exchange and the arrangements that seem to last longest are those that are most amiable to the donor. In your vernacular, they’re the ones calling the shots,” he smirked.

“If I remember correctly, Keats was a beneficiary of just such an arrangement. His was a woman.” He looked down for a moment, thinking. “Actually, the majority of them are female, but nobody can figure out why. There’s no genetic reason for such a differentiation in gender. The closest thing we have to an answer lies in reproduction: those who feed seem to be more fertile on the whole than those who do not. It is even craved universally during pregnancy. It is as if there is some vital nutrient that is completely alien to our world and is only found in this one source…”

Sarah sat there, speechless in shock, fear, revulsion, and amazement. After hearing that speech, she certainly wasn’t hungry now.

“I’m sorry if that was upsetting for you to hear but you asked to always have the truth.” And the truth hurts like hell, he thought regretfully. She didn’t want to pursue this one step further but she knew it was now or never - she’d never have the nerve to do this again.

“Do you just get nutrients when you do that or do you get energy, too?”

Jareth’s eyes widened in alarm as he realized just what she was considering.

“No, Sarah! I forbid you to toy with this; it’s much too dangerous!”

“But why? You just said you weren’t. We’re running out of options, J. It’s something we haven’t tried.”

“And there’s a damn good reason! Do you have any idea what you are asking me to visit upon you?”

“No, I don’t! Why don’t you just spare me the theatrics and just tell me why this doesn’t work!”

Jareth took a deep breath and began again more calmly. “I told you that it most often surfaces during the nymph stage.”

“Yes,” Sarah replied uneasily.

“The other time is when a sidhe first begins to age.”

Sarah suddenly gasped in comprehension. “Your age!”

He nodded gravely. “I have never tasted human blood. I cannot say with certainty that this would not be the catalyst. The first time the urge hits one, instinct overrides everything else and the experience can be quite violent. A feeding sidhe has remarkable strength; it can take as many as four adult sidhe to restrain one in this state. Nearly all of the deaths associated with the activity now are a direct result of lack of intervention with a first-timer: if left unchecked they can actually fail to realize that they are killing the poor mortal until up to an hour after the event with almost no recollection of what happened. I simply cannot allow even the chance.”

Sarah sighed dejectedly, sitting back into the couch. So much for that brilliant idea.

Jareth knew in his heart he was doing the right thing here in dissuading her from trying this course of action… but why was he feeling more energy just talking about it? He was experiencing no craving whatsoever. Was this how it was the first time? A slow buildup to the berserker state? Not this. Anything but this, he silently pleaded to whoever might be listening.

Sarah sighed. “I know that must’ve sounded crazy but I was just thinking…I mean, sure, we’ve made progress since you’ve been here but it’s all been really, really slow. All except the night we were at that gallery and you startled and just took some. I’ve offered to do it again and again and you keep refusing but I’m seriously starting to believe that this…” She shook her head. “I don’t know, what do you think?”

“I think that you’re playing with fire, love,” he responded gravely. His gaze dropped to their hands. Her injured finger. “But I’m afraid you might actually be right.” He tentatively met her eyes again. Her eyebrows shot up and she felt a tremor of fear. Had he just agreed to do it anyway? He felt her pulse quicken, felt the adrenaline on her skin and for the first time in a very long time he momentarily despised what he was. There had to be a way to safeguard her. He would have to plan this carefully. A time limit, a safety release… “Do you have a portable timing device that sounds when the set time is up?”

“My cellphone.”

His eyes were serious. “Get it.”

Sarah nervously pulled her purse over and got it out.

“Set it for one minute precisely and not a second more. Do not start it until I do.”

She carefully punched in the time without hitting the start button. Without prompting she tore off the bandaid quickly, wincing; it was soaked and the cut was still bleeding slightly.

“Now, this is how this is going to work: we are going to try this for one minute. If I do not immediately stop when the timer sounds or if I start getting rough and try to bite you elsewhere before time, you are to wish me away to the Federation of the Leanaan Sidhe, do you understand? There I will answer to the authorities for my actions.”

“But what about the-”

“Your safety is paramount here. I would rather be deposed and imprisoned than have you die by my hand.”

His hand was held out, waiting for hers. He was trying to keep it in check but there was a great deal of emotion in his eyes: regret, fear, sympathy, and something soft he couldn’t quite name. She swallowed and steeled her nerves, tentatively placing her had in his open, upturned one. He gently caught it with both hands and brought it up to his face. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, seemingly trying to strengthen his own resolve. She had the cellphone in her free hand, ready. But when he opened his eyes again, they were hot with desire. To her complete surprise he brought her wrist to his lips and lightly tasted her pulse point, eyes locked and she he gasped at the unexpected wave of pleasure. He trailed the very tip of his tongue up to the heel of her palm and began a line of impassioned kissed up to the top of her finger, stopping before he reached the cut, leaving her breathless. He looked at her from underneath his bright eyelids.

“Forgive me, Sarah,” he breathed.

And with that he gently enveloped the tip of her finger and began to suckle the wound. Sarah almost forgot to hit the button but she remembered just in time. While she couldn’t deny there was something strangely exciting about having her finger in Jareth’s mouth, there was this welling feeling that she had just lit a bomb and she was hoping that the fuse was very long. This simple almost mundane act of vampirism was a far cry from the Hollywood version. There was still something sickening about it that didn’t sit well but it almost didn’t even hurt. She had weakened at first but she felt fine now and put it down to nerves. far so good… Unfortunately Sarah’s observation had been completely accurate. Jareth received an incredible boost for about three seconds and then it dropped to almost nothing. But that was currently the least of his problems. He could feel something beginning to stir within him, something so deep beneath the surface that he had never even realized that it was there. Something that liked this taste.

You can’t have her! She’s far too precious! he hissed back at it and to his profound relief it simply turned over and slumbered on and the flavor went bitter once more. Surely this ordeal had to be over soon. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold out against himself like this.

5...4...3...2...1... A cheery little melody greeted his ears and he immediately took her finger out of his mouth, sinking back in relief.

“How are you, love?”


He nodded. “That’s about how much it did,” he pronounced flatly.

Her look of shock immediately registered. “Are you serious?!”

“I’m afraid so. At any rate, it’s very strange. How could so much only enact so little?”

“Well I don’t have a clue - it doesn’t even make any sense!”

“I know! That’s just it! …unless…”

“Unless what?”

Jareth sighed. “Unless it runs on intention alone.”

Sarah blinked. “But that puts us right back at square one! No wait, that can’t be the whole story because I would love for nothing more than to be able to return you and you’re still sitting here. Is there anything else that we might be overlooking here? Anything else that could potentially effect this? Anything? Think! There’s always some sort of bizarre trick to these things in all the old stories.”

Jareth had to concede that she might be onto something; in her case she had had to recite lines from a specific play that he had created no less! How obscure was that! But there wasn’t anything literary that could possibly have any bearing on their current situation - no myths, no stories, no ballads. The only way there could be a holdup is if he’d magically locked himself into the situation somehow in a way that had nothing to do with Sarah championing the Labyrinth. He was almost beginning to get a headache when suddenly it was as if a crystal bell had sounded. He had!!! Right at the very end during Sarah’s moment of power he foolishly spoke to try to distract her; everything was on the line, if only he could’ve kept her from remembering within the last six seconds he would’ve won. But she remembered, and in doing so closed in his hasty, thoughtless remarks as if they were words of power also - effectively trapping him until they were fulfilled. ‘Just let me rule you. Fear me, love me, do as I say…’ It almost mimicked the sidhe handfasting vows! “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

“What is it? Did you remember something?”

He gave a mirthless little laugh. “I hope you don’t mind having a lodger, dear,” he sighed, looking straight ahead. “It looks like we’re in for the long run.”

“Oh Jareth, I’m so sorry,” she said, putting her hand on his. He looked at the extreme sympathy on her face and genuinely laughed warmly.

“I can think of many a worse fate than being stuck with you,” he quirked a little smile. “I guess theoretically-speaking it isn’t entirely impossible. Let’s just say that it’s highly improbable.”

“Like hell freezing over.”

“…not that improbable.”

“I can’t help you if you won’t even tell me what it is!”

“It wouldn’t help if you knew, love. Not to worry, it’s not like we’re giving up. Morgan has yet to contact me but when she does I’m going to ask her to look through our books of law to see if there is an escape clause for this kind of situation. Now then…”

Sarah watched curiously as Jareth raised his left palm to his amulet. Without any warning he took the piece of jewelry in his free hand and used one of the end tips like a knife, slashing it open, only wincing slightly from the quick pain.


“It’s all right,” he said calmly. A white liquid had oozed from the wound and he carefully scraped off a bit of it with the side of the amulet. To Sarah’s amazement the cut healed up in mere seconds before her very eyes. There was no trace that it had ever existed at all. “Let’s see that finger of yours.”

“What is that?”

“Just a little blood. Our rate of cellular regeneration is what allows us to transform and live for thousands of years. I’m no healer, Sarah, but this is standard aid for one not of our species.”

“It’s safe mixing blood that different?”

He shrugged. “Safe enough. The cells spend themselves very quickly. Now if I may before this dries.” He took her hand in his and carefully coated the entire area with the thick, sticky substance. There was an immediate cool sensation as it completely seeped in, quickly followed by the most incredible itching Sarah had ever experienced in her life! She gritted her teeth to try to withstand it but it was almost too much. Jareth caught both of her wrists, firmly keeping her hands apart. “Don’t scratch, love, it’s almost over,” he crooned. Within the next second the itching ceased and she cried out in blessed relief. He released her and she looked down at her hand: it was perfectly healed, not even a light scar.

“Thank you…I think…” she said, looking a bit unsure about what had just happened.

“It’s the very least I could do; you never set terms of payment.”

She blinked in surprise. “But it was just an experiment!”

“And I appreciate the generous sentiment but never give your lifeblood lightly, never.”

Sarah looked down at her lap, thinking something over. “Jareth?”


She blushed very lightly but he still saw it. “Why did you kiss me?”

“I suppose I had hoped that if I could distract you even if only momentarily perhaps you would not be so afraid.” A ridiculously loud clap of thunder crashed right above them, making Sarah jump, but Jareth seemed to know what was going on as he yelled at the ceiling. “All right! And I’d wanted to! Am I not allowed any creative license anymore?!” He suddenly flinched in pain, leaning forward.


But the tension in the room was gone as he rubbed the back of his sore head, slowly shaking it. “I guess not.”

“What just happened?! Are you okay?”

He nodded assent. “Take a wild guess.”

“…that was the Court?!!”

He nodded again, looking a bit worn, sighing. “Apparently they aren’t going to tolerate any more polite beating-about-the-bush.” He held her eyes for a moment. “I can’t lie. I am attracted to you, Sarah. You are beautiful as well as intelligent and you can breathe fire as well as you take it,” he lightly teased her. She smiled self-consciously, feeling all of his attention. There were butterflies in her stomach. But her logical mind had to break in and burst her bubble. She sighed.

“Jareth…how could it ever work? I mean, besides the obvious differences you’ll eventually go away and I’ll never see you again.”

His face was impassive as he got up from the couch. She hoped she hadn’t hurt him too badly. It wasn’t like she hadn’t thought of it herself but it just didn’t wash in the end. There was no reason to start something that was doomed from the very beginning.

“No doubt you’re right. You’re a practical girl.” Fantasies used to hold such sway over you. Oh Sarah, what’s happened to you? He made his way over to the computer terminal and logged onto the internet. “But you have given me an idea in a truly roundabout sort of way.”


“I haven’t even begun to utilize my devotees as I potentially could.”

“Oh Jareth, not more fangirls!” she groaned.

“Don’t slight them, Sarah” he admonished her. “They are the main reason that I’m sitting here comfortably in a civilized home instead of living off of mice in a park.” He sat there typing for a moment, intently studying the search list on the screen for a prospective group of followers that most closely resembled a cult when he suddenly remembered dinner out of the blue and gasped, looking over his shoulder at her.

“Sarah, are you still hungry?”

“Not really,” she said, shakily getting up. He was instantly on his feet and walking to the end table. He picked up the phone and hit one of the speed-dial options to Sarah’s bewilderment. I never programmed any of those - he must have! He began talking in his most social tone.

“Hello? Yes, I’d like a number 47 with the steamed rice and a large egg drop soup for delivery.”

“Jareth, this is ridiculous, I’m not even sick!” she laughed.

“Could you wait a moment please?” he covered the receiver with his hand, looking at her with a teasing seriousness. “You know the rule, Sarah: no one is allowed to go hungry under this roof even if they want to. We can reuse the vegetables you just prepared for the soup.” He uncovered the receiver with a cocky smirk. “Are you still there? Good, this will be in cash…”

She just shook her head with a reluctantly growing smile as he proceeded to rattle off her address and apartment number as if he’d known them forever.
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