Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > 3,564 Clappers Later

Decisions, Decisions

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

coming to a compromise. And singing.

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2017-07-21 - 4824 words - Complete

Chapter 21: Decisions, Decisions

Jareth left the apartment building feeling numb, not knowing where he was headed. He barely noticed where his feet took him as he walked the deserted streets of Denver, lit by the strange, harsh yellowed glow of the street lamps, leaching the world of color until it was as grey as his thoughts. It was a little after midnight - only the bars were still open - when he found himself standing outside the Gem, where he had first encountered her again. Ah, how simple the plan had been - charm his way back into her life and take what was rightfully his without so much as a by-your-leave. No, life was far more complicated than that. She had grown up. She was no longer that little girl who played princess and daydreamed all day, waiting for Prince Charming to come and save her. She had saved herself - she’d left home for college on grants and scholarships, worked hard, gotten good grades and a good degree and a good job. Aside of some emotional and psychological baggage she had moved on. It was he who was standing still.

Foolish, he thought. She’s always been able to look after herself. If she is to be truly happy she must be free to make her own decisions. And if she decides that she doesn’t want me… He hated entertaining the idea but he had to face it - they hadn’t exactly been seeing eye-to-eye lately. He had to make things right between them, he at least owed her that much. Jareth noticed sudden commotion coming from a nearby alley and he stealthily walked over to investigate.

There was a group of five boys - four of them dressed completely the same - and one that was cornered to the wall. Their slang and cursing were so heavy and frequent that Jareth could barely make out what they were saying but the gist of the situation was very clear: this was the beginning of a turf fight between rival gang members; someone was obviously in the wrong part of town. Jareth had seen plenty of street violence in his day but it genuinely surprised him how young they all were - the eldest couldn’t have been older than fifteen. The cornered loner was only ten and it was painfully clear that in spite of his bravado he was in for the beating of his life, that he had walked right into this completely unawares. Jareth knew the act the boy was trying to pull off far too well.

Don’t get involved…sigh damn, here we go again. The eldest had just drawn a Spyderco razor and Damien braced himself for the first slash, closing his eyes against it, there was no way he could reach his back pocket in time…but the cut never came. When he opened his eyes he saw all four of the other gang members lined up against the side wall facing forward with their hands up. All of them had an unspeakable look of silent terror as a strange man with long blonde hair, nice clothes and tight black leather gloves casually rifled through their pockets, throwing out weapons, paraphernalia, and even some drugs. It was like they were all frozen to the spot like some alien abduction movie! Scared to death but amazed, Damien watched as the man stepped away from the last thug and suddenly clenched his right hand into a into a fist: all of the objects on the pavement - guns, knives, needles, pills, even cigarettes - immediately turned to dust. The stranger looked at all four of them; there was danger in his eyes.

“Get out of here,” he growled. None of them thought twice - they all ran for their lives. He then turned to Damien, who automatically started backing away with his hands up as if to fend off this bizarre apparition.

“Whoa, man, I wasn’t doin’ nothin’!”

“Of course you weren’t,” Jareth replied with brittle faux sympathy, giving a civil little smile, walking towards the boy, “but it’s awfully late for a growing boy to be up and about. There are all kinds of people that one doesn’t want to run into at this time of night.” With a flick of Jareth’s wrist Damien’s arms shot up like the others had been only moments before and he found that he couldn’t move at all! Jareth strode right up to the shocked boy, reached around him and pulled a long knife out of Damien’s deep back pocket, eying the weapon, tisking before it became powder in his hand.

“Hey! Do you have any fricken’ clue how hard it was for me to get that thing?!”

“I can imagine,” Jareth replied dryly. Suddenly Damien regained the control of his limbs and did a full body shiver, lowering his arms. “You should be thanking me. You know, they would’ve killed you without even a trace of remorse.”

“Why do you even care?! Who are you?!”

“One who does not wish to see a ten-year-old needlessly murdered in cold blood.”

“You think I’m only ten? I’m fifteen, I’m just short!”

“It is pointless trying to lie to me, Damien,” Jareth continued calmly. “Find yourself some different friends - I won’t be here to save you again. Now run home.”

Damien was floored. His anger and even his fear were starting to melt away. He desperately had to know. “Who are you?”

Jareth smirked and suddenly his skin and hair seemed paler, brighter, almost glowing. Mischievous sparks flashed in his mismatched eyes. Large white feathers floated by out of nowhere. And then he was gone. Damien’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates as he stared at the place where the stranger had been standing.

He’s an angel!!! “I’m going to church every Sunday!” he called up at the sky as he ran away.

Jareth quietly laughed as he watched the boy go, stopping the glamour. He knew that he was no saint but he might’ve just saved a soul. Now, if he remembered correctly, the street mall Sarah had taken him to a couple of days ago was about five blocks…in that direction. Jareth knew that it would all be closed for the night but it mattered not. He wasn’t there to shop. He was there to think.

What a mess, he thought dejectedly, running a hand through his straightened hair. Not enough power to go home and out of favor. He was so damn close! And he wasn’t going to even make it after all that……… She found him annoying and immature, a startling blow to the pride of someone who had lived so long. She was openly shunning him now. He had to let her know that he finally understood. Let her know how he felt, just how much she meant to him. Not that it matters, he thought coldly.

There were a few bums out on the sidewalk. A couple over here were sleeping beneath dingy blankets, propped up against their few worldly belongings. One old woman in a threadbare shawl was wide-eyed, staring straight ahead and mumbling to herself, clutching an old teddy bear wearing a little Halloween devil costume. She almost reminded him of one of his junkyard goblins in a weird sort of way. She looked up at him fiercely as he passed by but he just smiled at her. There was music coming from further on down the street, a lone string player was plucking out a tune from the same kind of instrument that he had played for Sarah at the Merc…that was it! He still owed her a song; she had ached to hear his voice again. Hear it she shall, he thought as he briskly made his way down the next two blocks to the musician.

Miguel was a small man but strong from having to constantly walk everywhere and thin from never having quite enough to eat; the chili at some of the shelters was literally dangerous, bad meat and cooking practices were unfortunately commonplace. Sometimes it was preferable to just be hungry. A walking cane lay beside him on the cement - his right knee had gone out years ago and he never had enough money to see a real doctor. Check that, see a real doctor and drink. Whiskey was his physician of choice - at least it dulled the pain. The tramp was sitting Indian-style playing his guitar in the large median sidewalk between the bus lanes, a battered old fedora in front of him with some change thrown into it. Jareth casually approached him.

“A pretty tune, that. What do you call it?”

Miguel paused for a moment to eye the stranger before continuing.

“Thought everybody knew ‘Stairway to Heaven.,’ what rock have you been living under?”

Jareth had to smile at the man’s brazen contempt of the world. He seemed to have good reason.

“How much would you take for your instrument?”

“Not for sale,” was his stamp reply. “This old guitar here…,” he paused playing to look down at it fondly, “she keeps me company. More faithful than any of the friends I ever had. Doesn’t drink my whiskey. Doesn’t steal my stuff. Besides, if you haven’t noticed, some of us have to actually work for our daily bread.”

Jareth scanned the area to make sure that there was no one around to see what he was about to do. He crouched down on his heels and discreetly lay $500 in twenties in the man’s hat, fanned out so he could see.

“Would that amount change your tune?” he asked quietly. The tramp looked down and stopped playing when he saw the money, shell-shocked, and quickly scanned Jareth up and down, from his platinum hair and perfect teeth to his expensive-looking leather boots.

This freak’s gotta be some kind of drug lord. He narrowed his eyes. “Are you sure about that, mister?”

Jareth nodded. “It’s an emergency.”

Miguel hadn’t seen money like that at his disposal since he’d worked that bar down on Federal years ago. And he suddenly smiled, laughing right in Jareth’s honest face.

“Lady Fair hath scorned you,” he declared a bit drunkenly, “or did she just get around to kicking your butt out of the mansion?”

Jareth paled, noticeably concerned. “Is it that obvious?”

Miguel chuckled, almost sobbing at the fair stranger’s innocence. Fate certainly played favorites - as surely as he played poker. He patted him on the shoulder and Jareth had to fight the urge to dust off his sleeve - it had almost immediately begun to itch.

“Why the hell else would you be bothering me at 1:00 in the morning and offering a king’s ransom no less for this beat up, weather-worn guitar?”

Jareth smirked, forced to concede. “You hold a valid point.”

The tramp shook his head in amused disbelief. “Well I have to hand it to ya: in spite of your pansiness you still have the balls to actually try.” Miguel carefully scooped the bills out of the hat and quickly stuffed them into the front pocket of his dirt-brown cargo pants. He pulled the guitar strap off from over his head and handed the instrument to Jareth, who put it on immediately, discreetly disinfecting it. “All I can say is you’d better take care of her; I’ve had her forever. Oh, and watch the fifth string; it always slips right when you need it.”

Jareth stood back up, holding the guitar as if he were about to play it. “I shall keep her in tune and in good repair. Thank you…Miguel,” he said, turning and walking away, starting to pluck out chords.

“Wait a second, how did you know my…”

All he got for a reply was Jareth’s laughter echoing eerily down the corridor of connected buildings. Sometimes it was good to be the king.


Sarah woke suddenly to the sound of something hitting her bedroom window. She groggily grabbed the clock and checked the time - 3:23 - before shoving it away and rolling over. A second volley of gravel hit the pane of glass and Sarah suddenly realized what she was hearing. She put on a robe and carefully made her way to the window and cracked the blinds - Jareth was down pacing on the sidewalk with a guitar of all things. Where in the world did he get that at this hour?! She drew the blinds and opened the window and he automatically looked up expectantly.

“What on earth are you doing down there?!” she whisper-shouted. “You’ll wake the neighbors!”

“But I haven’t even started to play yet,” he teased.


“Will you let me come up, then?”

“…fine. You’ve got five minutes.”

He bowed slightly in acknowledgement and disappeared, only to reappear almost instantaneously in her room. She whipped around when she heard him walking toward her. “Where did you get that guitar?”

“From the salt of the earth,” he declared grandly, “and their dirt,” he levelly added, brushing his shoulder clean at last.

“And you got a guitar from a bum in the middle of the night why?”

“Because you expressed the desire to hear me sing and I still owe you a song. I write better if I have an instrument at hand.”

Sarah sighed slouching , exhausted, closing her eyes. “Jareth, can’t this wait until morning?”

“No.” He knelt where he was on the floor, keeping his eyes locked with hers, both an act of submission and defiance, holding his ground. The pale, tinged lamplight came through the open window, illuminating half his face. Sarah resignedly sat on the edge of the bed; he clearly wasn’t going anywhere until he’d had his song. He looked down at the neck of the guitar and delicately plucked out the first arpeggiated chords. He looked right into her shadowed face and began to sing.

Dear I know that things haven’t been easy,
And I realize that you’ve changed and grown,
You’re no longer a child with stories,
But a woman with tales all her own.

You’re smart and you’re brave and you’re beautiful,
And I know that I can’t keep you, dear,
Locked up with your fears and your fancies,
You were meant to fly away from here.

So, fly, my princess
Go on, fly, you’re free
Taste the sky, my angel
But please, fly back to me.

I know that I’m not always patient,
And rarely, if ever, I’m good,
I’ll never live up to Prince Charming,
Help me treat you the way that I should.

I will treasure each moment, each lifetime,
Forever is all you must ask,
But I’m so afraid I can’t hold you,
I’m scared that forever won’t last.

So, fly, my princess
Go on, fly, you’re free
Taste the sky, my angel
But please, fly home to me.

Bring me back just a taste of your freedom,
Can’t you see all these chains that I’m in?
I can’t break them because you’re bound to me,
And I know that I never can win.

So just take all my stories and poems,
I surrender them all as we part,
Just remember as you’re soaring from me,
Please remember you’re taking my heart!

Go on, fly, dear Sarah,
You have always been free,
Go on, soar, my angel
But, please, think of me.

By the time he strummed cadence there were tears in her eyes. He slowly got up.

“May I take my rest in your living room?”

Her throat was dry; all she could do was nod.

“Thank you,” he whispered. Her eyes followed him as he walked back over to the window and shut it, closing the blinds as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and walked out of the room without another word, quietly closing the door behind him.

Sarah fell back on the bed and cried her heart out. He loved her, he actually loved her enough to let her go and she had been so thoughtlessly cruel. She had all but ripped his heart out and here he was holding it out on a platter for her to do with as she wished. It was too much - how could she even live with herself if she didn’t say anything now? She couldn’t stand it another second: she tore out of her bedroom and ran into the living room, nearly tackling him to the floor she embraced him so hard. He hadn’t realized that his musical arrow was going to penetrate her so deeply and profoundly and he immediately returned the hug, holding her protectively close, the fingers of his right hand closing in her thick, soft hair.

“I’m sorry,” she sobbed into his neck. “I’m so -”

“Shhh, I know,” he murmured reassuringly in her ear, stroking her back, “it’s alright. You had every right to be angry with me.”

“No I-”

Jareth ducked in and cut her off with a passionate kiss. She instantly responded, melting into him as he broke away, smoothing her cheek with his thumb, resting his forehead against hers.

“You and I bicker even when we’re making up,” he teased with just a whisper of a smile. “It’s either a bad habit for both of us or the fates have some strange ideas about the laws of attraction.”

“Why not find out?” Sarah added brazenly without even thinking about it, heading back for his mouth. Jareth suddenly pulled away.

“We’re both tired and emotional; I don’t want to do anything you are going to regret.”

Sarah sighed. Darn logic.

“I’ll be here tomorrow; we can talk then. Yes, I know you don’t want to talk and, frankly my dear, neither do I,” he grinned wickedly, “but we must before this gets too much farther out of hand. I shall see you at breakfast but know in advance that whatever your decision is I am willing to abide it….oh what the hell.” He leaned in and took her by surprise again with another quick, luscious kiss only to pull away teasingly, leaving her body adrift, craving his taste, his touch. “I warned you I’m no Prince Charming,” he lightly taunted, his voice thick and dark with sensual intent. “Goodnight, Sarah.”

“Goodnight, you.”

He smirked and crashed out on the air mattress, too exhausted to make the grandiose bed let alone change, as Sarah drifted off to her own room, dreams crowding her mind far before she ever fell asleep.


The next morning was rather sober. Both ate breakfast in silence, neither wanting to have to make the first move. After it was finished, they adjourned to the living room and both sat on the couch. Sarah finally broke the silence with a sigh.

“What in the world are we supposed to do? I mean, getting married always means a certain amount of personal sacrifice but this…”

Jareth took her hand. “I know. It’s far too much to ask. If I was only a citizen of the High City and not who I am, believe me, I would stay. It would be much easier for me to adjust to a new world than you. I actually like yours for the most part. It’s almost started to feel like home.”

Sarah just closed her eyes and shook her head. “There’s no point of even considering it if it’s impossible.”

Jareth looked at her earnestly. “So where does that leave us?”

“I don’t know! If I had the answers we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

“I know. I’m sorry,” he said, putting an arm around her and nuzzling her hair for a moment.

“You have enough power to go back though, right?”

“In theory, yes, but just barely.” He suddenly looked thoughtful. “Actually, I couldn’t be certain I could successfully pull you through with me anyway.”

Sarah’s eyes went wide with the implication: no matter what happened he was going to have to initially leave her behind! It was a really really good thing they hadn’t joined!

“The thing is, I could fetch you later. But you already said you didn’t want that,” he added quietly. It was the worst rock-and-hard-place scenario on record. They simply sat for a while, Sarah resting on his chest as he held her close. She didn’t want to lose him but that was exactly what was going to happen if they couldn’t come to some sort of an arrangement soon. Jareth was having more-or-less the same thought. He knew he could simply use his magic to influence her decision but in good conscience he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t force her to go. Sarah swallowed and steeled her nerves.

“What’s your world like?”

Jareth was almost scared to breathe. Was she saying what he thought she was? He closed his eyes and collected his thoughts.

“Do you remember standing on that hillside before you entered my Labyrinth, Sarah?”


“The sun was coming up just then, warm on your face. If you were paying attention - but of course you weren’t - you could have smelled the air: crisp, clean, just a little dried plant smell. Naturally, you were then plunged into somewhere not terribly enjoyable, but if you had gone the other way over that hill you would have seen the High City in the distance in all its glory and splendor. True, it is not a city like Denver, with its overly tall buildings and closely compacted living quarters and work areas. It is an ancient site, older than any surviving city on earth. Some of the structures are original, held together with little more than glamour and paint, but it’s still a spectacular sight - it stretches out for miles and miles and miles.”

“It is chiefly populated with my kind, and since we have no use for most things you would consider necessities to live, many from the lower classes are extremely unique artisans in their own fields of work, inventing trinkets and diversions you could not even begin to imagine. I suppose in a way the society isn’t all that different from what you would experience somewhere on earth where people have titles and there is a defined hierarchy. As unpopular as I am, I’ve always been toward the top so I can’t honestly say I know what life for the lower classes of sidhe and other species totally is but I can say with certainty that no one is ever in real want or hunger. The Federation sees to that - in fact, I think that’s the one thing that they actually do and do well.”

“There are other petty ‘kingdoms’ surrounding mine and Queen Amara, who is to the northeast of us, has the human colony close to our eastern border. I don’t frequent it as often as I used to but I still do occasionally. I have to tell you it gets a bit surreal even for me to think that I personally carried these people’s ancestors over what seems like eons ago for them. There’s respect but distance in that direction; the situation is understandably awkward but the Goblin Kingdom is officially on amiable terms with the human colony and I import some of our necessities from them. What they can’t supply I buy or trade for from Syl, mostly. I mentioned that his kingdom to the north of mine is the breadbasket of the region. It’s beautiful country up there: vast rolling hills and streams they divert for irrigation, with some forest between us, so lush and green parts of it are almost tinged blue.

“We really don’t know the boundaries of our world; away from the populated epicenters the borders change frequently. The mapmakers can’t keep up. And I mean drastic changes: oceans and deserts and wastelands and seemingly unending forests appear and disappear regularly in a matter of days. Scholars have studied the phenomena for millennia and we’re still far from understanding it. It just seems to be a slight anomaly of the dimension we’re in. We used to camp as near the edge as we dared as children: you could hunt small prey in the forest, swim in a warm sea, and explore ranges of sand dunes all in the same place in the same week if you were lucky. I have sometimes thought that perhaps our whole world is traveling but we simply do not notice it, in the way that you see the changing bodies in the heavens rather than feeling the movement of the planet beneath you as it spins and orbits the sun. The religious hypothesis is that the gods are moving us where the winds of fate are favorable and the magic is strongest but really it’s as much a guess as anything else. Every once in a great while someone will actually spot another person out in that wilderness - nomads of some kind - but no one has ever been able to get close enough to even say hello before they run away or vanish. By the accounts, they look a lot like us, but the hue of skin differs dramatically with each story. Perhaps they are as confused at being adrift as we are. Anything is possible in my world if you believe strongly enough, although most people - even trained sidhe - lack the confidence to truly act on that. They are as content in their small circles, their routines, as most people on earth. But really - truly - anything is possible. That’s what it’s like, Sarah.”

A brave new world, Sarah thought. Some of the things he had brought up were staggering to the imagination. Some of it just sounded a lot like the Old World with magical beings. But he still hadn’t mentioned… “And what about life with all those goblins and the other… colorful inhabitants of your realm?”

Jareth grimaced. “Annoying.”

“Annoying? That’s it? After that huge, glowing report on the rest of your world the corner that you rule is just annoying to you?”

“Sarah, you asked for the truth and this is it. I have nothing to offer you personally. My kingdom is inhabited by hyperactive cretins whose idea of a good time is seeing how fast they can get under my skin so I bog one! And they just keep coming back for more! The forest is dangerous and the Labyrinth, which accounts for over 90% of the land, is almost totally uninhabited, and completely unusable for anything else! I am not going to candy-coat my life; it is not an easy one and I can think of thousands of places where you would no doubt be happier. But it’s all I have.”

Sarah thought. “Are you ever able to get out and about?”

“Seldom, but I imagine you could if you so desired.”


“What’s the castle like?”

“Well, it was built as a fortress and a prison so it’s all stone but there are many different rooms. My living quarters are in the top tower and a couple other rooms are kept well-furnished in case I ever have company. There’s a library.”

“And the rest of the castle?”

He put a hand over his eyes, massaging his temples.

“- is currently a sty.” He stopped abruptly. “Come to think of it, the whole castle is probably trashed at this point; I’ve been away for so long they’ve no doubt taken the place completely over. With any luck, it’s still standing.”

“And you’re expecting me to move into that mess without even trying to clean first?”

“Of course not, how could I?! That would be…so…Sarah,” his eyes were wide with hope and disbelief, “are you …actually saying-”

“What I’m saying is…I’ll plan on it. I can’t go right away. There’s a lot at stake here.”

Jareth felt as if his heart would burst and took her reverently in his arms.

“Then I will have to move the stars to make life in my home perfect,” he kissed the side of her neck, “unmitigated,” he kissed the hollow of her throat, “bliss,” he murmured against her skin. Within moments they were kissing and nothing else in the world mattered.
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